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

Part 48 out of 52

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If it be asked to what purpose are these animadversions, since the
clause alluded to has long since expired by its own limitation--we
answer, that, if at any time the foreign slave trade could be
_constitutionally_ prosecuted, it may yet be renewed, under the
Constitution, at the pleasure of Congress, whose prohibitory statute
is liable to be reversed at any moment, in the frenzy of Southern
opposition to emancipation. It is ignorantly supposed that the bargain
was, that the traffic _should cease_ in 1808; but the only thing
secured by it was, the _right_ of Congress (not any obligation) to
prohibit it at that period. If, therefore, Congress had not chosen to
exercise that right, _the traffic might have been prolonged
indefinitely under the Constitution._ The right to destroy any
particular branch of commerce, implies the right to re-establish it.
True, there is no probability that the African slave trade will ever
again be legalized by the national government; but no credit is due
the framers of the Constitution on this ground; for, while they threw
around it all the sanction and protection of the national character
and power for twenty years, _they set no bounds to its continuance by
any positive constitutional prohibition._

Again, the adoption of such a clause, and the faithful execution
of it, prove what was meant by the words of the preamble--"to form
a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity,
provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity"--namely, that the parties to the Constitution regarded only
their own rights and interests, and never intended that its language
should be so interpreted as to interfere with slavery, or to make it
unlawful for one portion of the people to enslave another, _without an
express alteration in that instrument, in the manner therein set
forth._ While, therefore, the Constitution remains as it was
originally adopted, they who swear to support it are bound to comply
with all its provisions, as a matter of allegiance. For it avails
nothing to say, that some of those provisions are at war with the law
of God and the rights of man, and therefore are not obligatory.
Whatever may be their character, they are _constitutionally_
obligatory; and whoever feels that he cannot execute them, or swear to
execute them, without committing sin, has no other choice left than to
withdraw from the government, or to violate his conscience by taking
on his lips an impious promise. The object of the Constitution is not
to define _what is the law of God_, but WHAT IS THE WILL OF THE
PEOPLE--which will is not to be frustrated by an ingenious moral
interpretation, by those whom they have elected to serve them.

ARTICLE 1, Sect. 2, provides--"Representatives and direct taxes shall
be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within
this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be
determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including
those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not
taxed, _three-fifths of all other persons_."

Here, as in the clause we have already examined, veiled beneath a form
of words as deceitful as it is unmeaning in a truly democratic
government, is a provision for the safety, perpetuity and augmentation
of the slaveholding power--a provision scarcely less atrocious than
that which related to the African slave trade, and almost as
afflictive in its operation--a provision still in force, with no
possibility of its alteration, so long as a majority of the slave
States choose to maintain their slave system--a provision which, at
the present time, enables the South to have twenty-five additional
representatives in Congress on the score of property, while the North
is not allowed to have one--a provision which concedes to the
oppressed three-fifths of the political power which is granted to all
others, and then puts this power into the hands of their oppressors,
to be wielded by them for the more perfect security of their tyrannous
authority, and the complete subjugation of the non-slaveholding

Referring to this atrocious bargain, ALEXANDER HAMILTON remarked in
the New York Convention--

"The first thing objected to, is that clause which allows a
representation for three-fifths of the negroes. Much has been said of
the impropriety of representing men who have no will of their own:
whether this be _reasoning_ or _declamation_, (!!) I will not presume
to say. It is the _unfortunate_ situation of the Southern States to
have a great part of their population as well as _property_, in
blacks. The regulation complained of was one result of _the spirit of
accommodation_ which governed the Convention; and without this
considering some _peculiar advantages_ which we derive from them, it
is entirely JUST that they should be _gratified_.--The Southern States
possess certain staples, tobacco, rice, indigo, &c.--which must be
_capital_ objects in treaties of commerce with foreign nations; and
the advantage which they necessarily procure in these treaties will be
felt throughout all the States."

If such was the patriotism, such the love of liberty, such the
morality of ALEXANDER HAMILTON, what can be said of the character of
those who were far less conspicuous than himself in securing American
independence, and in framing the American Constitution?

Listen, now, to the opinions of JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, respecting the
constitutional clause now under consideration:--

"'In outward show, it is a representation of persons in bondage; in
fact, it is a representation of their masters,--the oppressor
representing the oppressed.'--'Is it in the compass of human
imagination to devise a more perfect exemplification of the art of
committing the lamb to the tender custody of the wolf?'--'The
representative is thus constituted, not the friend, agent and trustee
of the person whom he represents, but the most inveterate of his
foes.'--'It was _one_ of the curses from that Pandora's box, adjusted
at the time, as usual, by a _compromise_, the whole advantage of which
inured to the benefit of the South, and to aggravate the burthens of
the North.'--'If there be a parallel to it in human history, it can
only be that of the Roman Emperors, who, from the days when Julius
Caesar substituted a military despotism in the place of a republic,
among the offices which they always concentrated upon themselves, was
that of tribune of the people. A Roman Emperor tribune of the people,
is an exact parallel to that feature in the Constitution of the United
States which makes the master the representative of his slave.'--'The
Constitution of the United States expressly prescribes that no title
of nobility shall be granted by the United States. The spirit of this
interdict is not a rooted antipathy to the grant of mere powerless
empty _titles_, but to titles of _nobility_; to the institution of
privileged orders of men. But what order of men under the most
absolute of monarchies, or the most aristocratic of republics, was
ever invested with such an odious and unjust privilege as that of the
separate and exclusive representation of less than half a million
owners of slaves, in the Hall of this House, in the chair of the
Senate, and in the Presidential mansion?'--'This investment of power
in the owners of one species of property concentrated in the highest
authorities of the nation, and disseminated through thirteen of the
twenty-six States of the Union, constitutes a privileged order of men
in the community, more adverse to the rights of all, and more
pernicious to the interests of the whole, than any order of nobility
ever known. To call government thus constituted a Democracy, is to
insult the understanding of mankind. To call it an Aristocracy, is to
do injustice to that form of government. Aristocracy is the government
of the _best_. Its standard qualification for accession to power is
_merit_, ascertained by popular election, recurring at short intervals
of time. If even that government is prone to degenerate into tyranny,
what must be the character of that form of polity in which the
standard qualification for access to power is wealth in the possession
of slaves? It is doubly tainted with the infection of riches and of
slavery. _There is no name in the language of national jurisprudence
that can define it_--no model in the records of ancient history, or in
the political theories of Aristotle, with which it can be likened. It
was introduced into the Constitution of the United States by an
equivocation--a representation of property under the name of persons.
Little did the members of the Convention from the free States imagine
or foresee what a sacrifice to Moloch was hidden under the mask of
this concession.'--'The House of Representatives of the U. States
consists of 223 members--all, by the _letter_ of the Constitution,
representatives only of _persons_, as 135 of them really are; but the
other 88, equally representing the _persons_ of their constituents, by
whom they are elected, also represent, under the name of _other
persons_, upwards of two and a half millions of _slaves_, held as the
_property_ of less than half a million of the white constituents, and
valued at twelve hundred millions of dollars. Each of these 88 members
represents in fact the whole of that mass of associated wealth, and
the persons and exclusive interests of its owners; all thus knit
together, like the members of a moneyed corporation, with a capital
not of thirty-five or forty or fifty, but of twelve hundred millions
of dollars, exhibiting the most extraordinary exemplification of the
anti-republican tendencies of associated wealth that the world ever
saw.'--'Here is one class of men, consisting of not more than
one-fortieth part of the whole people, not more than one-thirtieth
part of the free population, exclusively devoted to their personal
interests identified with their own as slaveholders of the same
associated wealth, and wielding by their votes, upon every question of
government or of public policy, two-fifths of the whole power of the
House. In the Senate of the Union, the proportion of the slaveholding
power is yet greater. By the influence of slavery, in the States where
the institution is tolerated, over their elections, no other than a
slaveholder can rise to the distinction of obtaining a seat in the
Senate; and thus, of the 52 members of the Federal Senate, 26 are
owners of slaves, and as effectively representatives of that interest
as the 88 member elected by them to the House.'--'By this process it
is that all political power in the States is absorbed and engrossed by
the owners of _slaves_, and the overruling policy of the States is
shaped to strengthen and consolidate their domination. The
legislative, executive, and judicial authorities are all in their
hands--the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of the black
code of slavery--every law of the legislature becomes a link in the
chain of the slave; every executive act a rivet to his hapless fate;
every judicial decision a perversion of the human intellect to the
justification of _wrong_.'--'Its reciprocal operation upon the
government of the nation is, to establish an artificial majority in
the slave representation over that of the free people, in the American
Congress, and thereby to make the PRESERVATION, PROPAGATION, AND
GOVERNMENT.'--'The result is seen in the fact that, at this day, the
President of the United States, the President of the Senate, the
Speaker of the House of Representatives, and five out of nine of the
Judges of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the United States, are not
only citizens of slaveholding States, but individual slaveholders
themselves. So are, and constantly have been, with scarcely an
exception, all the members of both Houses of Congress from the
slaveholding States; and so are, in immensely disproportionate
numbers, the commanding officers of the army and navy; the officers of
the customs; the registers and receivers of the land offices, and the
post-masters throughout the slaveholding States.--The Biennial
Register indicates the birth-place of all the officers employed in the
government of the Union. If it were required to designate the owners
of this species of property among them, it would be little more than a
catalogue of slaveholders.'"

It is confessed by Mr. ADAMS, alluding to the national convention
that framed the Constitution, that "the delegation from the free
States, in their extreme anxiety to conciliate the ascendancy of the
Southern slaveholder, did listen to a _compromise between right and
wrong--between freedom and slavery_; of the ultimate fruits of which
they had no conception, but which already even now is urging the Union
to its inevitable ruin and dissolution, by a civil, servile, foreign
and Indian war, all combined in one; a war, the essential issue of
which will be between freedom and slavery, and in which the unhallowed
standard of slavery will be the desecrated banner of the North
American Union--that banner, first unfurled to the breeze, inscribed
with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence."

Hence, to swear to support the Constitution of the United States, _as
it is_, is to make "a compromise between right and wrong," and to wage
war against human liberty. It is to recognize and honor as republican
legislators _incorrigible men-stealers_, MERCILESS TYRANTS, BLOOD
THIRSTY ASSASSINS, who legislate with deadly weapons about their
persons, such as pistols, daggers, and bowie-knives, with which they
threaten to murder any Northern senator or representative who shall
dare to stain their _honor_, or interfere with their rights! They
constitute a banditti more fierce and cruel than any whose atrocities
are recorded on the pages of history or romance. To mix with them on
terms of social or religious fellowship, is to indicate a low state of
virtue; but to think of administering a free government by their
co-operation, is nothing short of insanity.

Article 4, Section 2, declares,--"No person held to service or labor
in one State, _under the laws thereof_, escaping into another, shall,
in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from
such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party
to whom such service or labor may be due."

Here is a third clause, which, like the other two, makes no mention of
slavery or slaves, in express terms; and yet, like them, was
intelligently framed and mutually understood by the parties to the
ratification, and intended both to protect the slave system and to
restore runaway slaves. It alone makes slavery a national institution,
a national crime, and all the people who are not enslaved, the
body-guard over those whose liberties have been cloven down. This
agreement, too, has been fulfilled to the letter by the North.

Under the Mosaic dispensation it was imperatively commanded,--"Thou
shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from
his master unto thee: he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in
that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh
him best: thou shalt not oppress him." The warning which the prophet
Isaiah gave to oppressing Moab was of a similar kind: "Take counsel,
execute judgment; make thy shadow as the night in the midst of the
noon-day; hide the outcasts; bewray not him that wandereth. Let mine
outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face
of the spoiler." The prophet Obadiah brings the following charge
against treacherous Edom, which is precisely applicable to this guilty
nation:--"For thy violence against thy brother Jacob, shame shall come
over thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. In the day that thou
stoodst on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away
captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast
lots upon Jerusalem, _even thou wast as one of them_. But thou
shouldst not have looked on the day of thy brother, in the day that he
became a stranger; neither shouldst thou have rejoiced over the
children of Judah, in the day of their destruction; neither shouldst
thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress; neither shouldst thou
have _stood in the cross-way, to cut off those of his that did
escape_; neither shouldst thou have _delivered up those of his that
did remain_, in the day of distress."

How exactly descriptive of this boasted republic is the impeachment of
Edom by the same prophet! "The pride of thy heart hath deceived thee,
thou whose habitation is high; that saith in thy heart, Who shall
bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle,
and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee
down, saith the Lord." The emblem of American pride and power is the
_eagle_, and on her banner she has mingled _stars_ with its _stripes_.
Her vanity, her treachery, her oppression, her self-exaltation, and
her defiance of the Almighty, far surpass the madness and wickedness
of Edom. What shall be her punishment? Truly, it may be affirmed of
the American people, (who live not under the Levitical but Christian
code, and whose guilt, therefore, is the more awful, and their
condemnation the greater,) in the language of another prophet--"They
all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh,
and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his
mischievous desire: _so they wrap it up_." Likewise of the colored
inhabitants of this land it may be said,--"This is a people robbed and
spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in
prison-houses; they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil,
and none saith, Restore."

By this stipulation, the Northern States are made the hunting ground
of slave-catchers, who may pursue their victims with blood-hounds, and
capture them with impunity wherever they can lay their robber hands
upon them. At least twelve or fifteen thousand runaway slaves are now
in Canada, exiled from their native land, because they could not find,
throughout its vast extent, a single road on which they could dwell in
safety, _in consequence of this provision of the Constitution_? How is
it possible, then, for the advocates of liberty to support a
government which gives over to destruction one-sixth part of the whole

It is denied by some at the present day, that the clause which has
been cited, was intended to apply to runaway slaves. This indicates,
either ignorance, or folly, or something worse. JAMES MADISON, as one
of the framers of the Constitution, is of some authority on this
point. Alluding to that instrument, in the Virginia convention, he

"Another clause _secures us that property which we now possess_. At
present, if any slave elopes to any of those States where slaves are
free, _he becomes emancipated by their laws_; for the laws of the
States are _uncharitable_ (!) to one another in this respect; but in
this constitution, 'No person held to service or labor in one State,
under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence
of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or
labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such
service or labor may be due.' THIS CLAUSE WAS EXPRESSLY INSERTED TO
than any that now exists_. No power is given to the general government
to interpose with respect to the property in slaves now held by the

In the same convention, alluding to the same clause, Gov. RANDOLPH

"Every one knows that slaves are held to service or labor. And, when
authority is given to owners of slaves to _vindicate their property_,
can it be supposed they can be deprived of it? If a citizen of this
State, in consequence of this clause, can take his runaway slave in
Maryland, can it be seriously thought that, after taking him and
bringing him home, he could be made free?"

It is objected, that slaves are held as property, and therefore, as
the clause refers to persons, it cannot mean slaves. But this is
criticism against fact. Slaves are recognized not merely as property,
but also as persons--as having a mixed character--as combining the
human with the brutal. This is paradoxical, we admit; but slavery is a
paradox--the American Constitution is a paradox--the American Union is
a paradox--the American Government is a paradox; and if any one of
these is to be repudiated on that ground, they all are. That it is the
duty of the friends of freedom to deny the binding authority of them
all, and to secede from them all, we distinctly affirm. After the
independence of this country had been achieved, the voice of God
exhorted the people, saying, "Execute true judgment, and show mercy
and compassion, every man to his brother: and oppress not the widow,
nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you
imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to
hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that
they should not hear; yea, they made their hearts as an adamant
stone." "Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not
my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"

Whatever doubt may have rested on any honest mind, respecting the
meaning of the clause in relation to persons held to service or labor,
must have been removed by the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court
of the United States, in the case of Prigg versus the State of
Pennsylvania. By that decision, any Southern slave-catcher is
empowered to seize and convey to the South, without hindrance or
molestation on the part of the State, and without any legal process
duly obtained and served, any person or persons, irrespective of caste
or complexion, whom he may choose to claim as runaway slaves; and if,
when thus surprised and attacked, or on their arrival South, they
cannot prove by legal witnesses, that they are freemen, their doom is
sealed! Hence the free colored population of the North are specially
liable to become the victims of this terrible power, and all the other
inhabitants are at the mercy of prowling kidnappers, because there are
multitudes of white as well as black slaves on Southern plantations,
and slavery is no longer fastidious with regard to the color of its

As soon as that appalling decision of the Supreme Court was
enunciated, in the name of the Constitution, the people of the North
should have risen _en masse_, if for no other cause, and declared the
Union at an end; and they would have done so, if they had not lost
their manhood, and their reverence for justice and liberty.

In the 4th Sect. of Art. IV., the United States guarantee to protect
every State in the Union "against _domestic violence_." By the 8th
Section of Article I., Congress is empowered "to provide for calling
forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, _suppress
insurrections_, and repel invasions." These provisions, however
strictly they may apply to cases of disturbance among the white
population, were adopted with special reference to the slave
population, for the purpose of keeping them in their chains by the
combined military force of the country; and were these repealed, and
the South left to manage her slaves as best she could, a servile
insurrection would ere long be the consequence, as general as it would
unquestionably be successful. Says Mr. Madison, respecting these

"On application of the legislature or executive, as the case may be,
the militia of the other States are to be called to suppress domestic
insurrections. Does this bar the States from calling forth their own
militia? No; but it gives them a _supplementary_ security to suppress
insurrections and domestic violence."

The answer to Patrick Henry's objection, as urged against the
Constitution in the Virginia convention, that there was no power left
to the _States_ to quell an insurrection of slaves, as it was wholly
vested in Congress, George Nicholas asked:--

"Have they it now? If they have, does the constitution take it away?
If it does, it must be in one of the three clauses which have been
mentioned by the worthy member. The first clause gives the general
government power to call them out when necessary. Does this take it
away from the States? No! but it _gives an additional security_; for,
beside the power in the State governments to use their own militia, it
will be _the duty of the general government_ to aid them WITH THE
STRENGTH OF THE UNION, when called for."

This solemn guaranty of security to the slave system, caps the climax
of national barbarity, and stains with human blood the garments of all
the people. In consequence of it, that system has multiplied its
victims from seven hundred thousand to nearly three millions--a vast
amount of territory has been purchased, in order to give it extension
and perpetuity--several new slave States have been admitted into the
Union--the slave trade has been made one of the great branches of
American commerce--the slave population, though over-worked, starved,
lacerated, branded, maimed, and subjected to every form of deprivation
and every species of torture, have been overawed and crushed,--or,
whenever they have attempted to gain their liberty by revolt, they
have been shot down and quelled by the strong arm of the national
government; as, for example, in the case of Nat Turner's insurrection
in Virginia, when the naval and military forces of the government were
called into active service. Cuban bloodhounds have been purchased with
the money of the people, and imported and used to hunt slave fugitives
among the everglades of Florida. A merciless warfare has been waged
for the extermination or expulsion of the Florida Indians, because
they gave succor to these poor hunted fugitives--a warfare which has
cost the nation several thousand lives, and forty millions of dollars.
But the catalogue of enormities is too long to be recapitulated in the
present address.

We have thus demonstrated that the compact between the North and the
South embraces every variety of wrong and outrage,--is at war with God
and man, cannot be innocently supported, and deserves to be
immediately annulled. In behalf of the Society which we represent, we
call upon all our fellow-citizens, who believe it is right to obey God
rather than man, to declare themselves peaceful revolutionists, and to
unite with us under the stainless banner of Liberty, having for its

It is pleaded that the Constitution provides for its own amendment;
and we ought to use the elective franchise to effect this object.
True, there is such a proviso; but, until the amendment be made, that
instrument is binding as it stands. Is it not to violate every moral
instinct, and to sacrifice principle to expediency, to argue that we
may swear to steal, oppress and murder by wholesale, because it may be
necessary to do so only for the time being, and because there is some
remote probability that the instrument which requires that we should
be robbers, oppressors and murderers, may at some future day be
amended in these particulars? Let us not palter with our consciences
in this manner--let us not deny that the compact was conceived in sin
and brought forth in iniquity--let us not be so dishonest, even to
promote a good object, as to interpret the Constitution in a manner
utterly at variance with the intentions and arrangements of the
contracting parties; but, confessing the guilt of the nation,
acknowledging the dreadful specifications in the bond, washing our
hands in the waters of repentance from all further participation in
this criminal alliance, and resolving that we will sustain none other
than a free and righteous government, let us glory in the name of
revolutionists, unfurl the banner of disunion, and consecrate our
talents and means to the overthrow of all that is tyrannical in the
land,--to the establishment of all that is free, just, true and
holy,--to the triumph of universal love and peace. If, in utter
disregard of the historical facts which have been cited, it is still
asserted, that the Constitution needs no amendment to make it a free
instrument, adapted to all the exigencies of a free people, and was
never intended to give any strength or countenance to the slave
system--the indignant spirit of insulted Liberty replies;--"What
though the assertion be true? Of what avail is a mere piece of
parchment? In itself, though it be written all over with words of
truth and freedom--Though its provisions be as impartial and just as
words can express, or the imagination paint--though it be as pure as
the Gospel, and breathe only the spirit of Heaven--it is powerless; it
has no executive vitality: it is a lifeless corpse, even though
beautiful in death. I am famishing for lack of bread! How is my
appetite relieved by holding up to my gaze a painted loaf? I am
manacled, wounded, bleeding, dying! What consolation is it to know,
that they who are seeking to destroy my life, profess in words to be
my friends?" If the liberties of the people have been betrayed--if
judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off, and
truth has fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter--if the
princes of the land are roaring lions, the judges evening wolves, the
people light and treacherous persons, the priests covered with
pollution--if we are living under a frightful despotism, which scoffs
at all constitutional restraints, and wields the resources of the
nation to promote its own bloody purposes--tell us not that the forms
of freedom are still left to us! "Would such tameness and submission
have freighted the May-Flower for Plymouth Rock? Would it have
resisted the Stamp Act, the Tea Tax, or any of those entering wedges
of tyranny with which the British government sought to rive the
liberties of America? The wheel of the Revolution would have rusted on
its axle, if a spirit so weak had been the only power to give it
motion. Did our fathers say, when their rights and liberties were
infringed--"_Why, what is done cannot be undone_. That is the first
thought." No, it was the last thing they thought of: or, rather, it
never entered their minds at all. They sprang to the conclusion at
once--"_What is done_ SHALL _be undone_. That is our FIRST and ONLY

"Is water running in our veins? Do we remember still Old Plymouth
Rock, and Lexington, and famous Bunker Hill? The debt we owe our
fathers' graves? and to the yet unborn, Whose heritage ourselves must
make a thing of pride or scorn?

Gray Plymouth Rock hath yet a tongue, and Concord is not dumb; And
voices from our fathers' graves and from the future come: They call on
us to stand our ground--they charge us still to be Not only free from
chains ourselves, but foremost to make free!"

It is of little consequence who is on the throne, if there be behind
it a power mightier than the throne. It matters not what is the theory
of the government, if the practice of the government be unjust and
tyrannical. We rise in rebellion against a despotism incomparably more
dreadful than that which induced the colonists to take up arms against
the mother country; not on account of a three-penny tax on tea, but
because fetters of living iron are fastened on the limbs of millions
of our countrymen, and our most sacred rights are trampled in the
dust. As citizens of the State, we appeal to the State in vain for
protection and redress. As citizens of the United States, we are
treated as outlaws in one half of the country, and the national
government consents to our destruction. We are denied the right of
locomotion, freedom of speech, the right of petition, the liberty of
the press, the right peaceably to assemble together to protest against
oppression and plead for liberty--at least in thirteen States of the
Union. If we venture, as avowed and unflinching abolitionists, to
travel South of Mason and Dixon's line, we do so at the peril of our
lives. If we would escape torture and death, on visiting any of the
slave States, we must stifle our conscientious convictions, bear no
testimony against cruelty and tyranny, suppress the struggling
emotions of humanity, divest ourselves of all letters and papers
of an anti-slavery character, and do homage to the slaveholding
power--or run the risk of a cruel martyrdom! These are appalling
and undeniable facts. Three millions of the American people are
crushed under the American Union! They are held as slaves--trafficked
as merchandise--registered as goods and chattels! The government gives
them no protection--the government is their enemy--the government
keeps them in chains! There they lie bleeding--we are prostrate by
their side--in their sorrows and sufferings we participate--their
stripes are inflicted on our bodies, their shackles are fastened on
our limbs, their cause is ours! The Union which grinds them to the
dust rests upon us, and with them we will struggle to overthrow it!
The Constitution, which subjects them to hopeless bondage, is one that
we cannot swear to support! Our motto is, "NO UNION WITH
SLAVEHOLDERS," either religious or political. They are the fiercest
enemies of mankind, and the bitterest foes of God! We separate from
them not in anger, not in malice, not for a selfish purpose, not to do
them an injury, not to cease warning, exhorting, reproving them for
their crimes, not to leave the perishing bondman to his fate--O no!
But to clear our skirts of innocent blood--to give the oppressor no
countenance--to signify our abhorrence of injustice and cruelty--to
testify against an ungodly compact--to cease striking hands with
thieves and consenting with adulterers--to make no compromise with
tyranny--to walk worthily of our high profession--to increase our
moral power over the nation--to obey God and vindicate the Gospel of
his Son--to hasten the downfall of slavery in America, and throughout
the world!

We are not acting under a blind impulse. We have carefully counted the
cost of this warfare, and are prepared to meet its consequences. It
will subject us to reproach, persecution, infamy--it will prove a
fiery ordeal to all who shall pass through it--it may cost us our
lives. We shall be ridiculed as fools, scorned as visionaries, branded
as disorganizers, reviled as madmen, threatened and perhaps punished
as traitors. But we shall bide our time. Whether safety or peril,
whether victory or defeat, whether life or death be ours, believing
that our feet are planted on an eternal foundation, that our position
is sublime and glorious, that our faith in God is rational and
steadfast, that we have exceeding great and precious promises on which
to rely, THAT WE ARE IN THE RIGHT, we shall not falter nor be
dismayed, "though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be
carried into the midst of the sea,"--though our ranks be thinned to
the number of "three hundred men." Freemen! are you ready for the
conflict? Come what may, will you sever the chain that binds you to a
slaveholding government, and declare your independence? Up, then, with
the banner of revolution! Not to shed blood--not to injure the person
or estate of any oppressor--not by force and arms to resist any
law--not to countenance a servile insurrection--not to wield any
carnal weapons! No--ours must be a bloodless strife, excepting _our_
blood be shed--for we aim, as did Christ our leader, not to destroy
men's lives, but to save them--to overcome evil with good--to conquer
through suffering for righteousness' sake--to set the captive free by
the potency of truth!

Secede, then, from the government. Submit to its exactions, but pay
it no allegiance, and give it no voluntary aid. Fill no offices under
it. Send no senators or representatives to the National or State
legislature; for what you cannot conscientiously perform yourself, you
cannot ask another to perform as your agent. Circulate a declaration
of DISUNION FROM SLAVEHOLDERS, throughout the country. Hold mass
meetings--assemble in conventions--nail your banners to the mast!

Do you ask what can be done, if you abandon the ballot box? What did
the crucified Nazarene do without the elective franchise? What did
the apostles do? What did the glorious army of martyrs and confessors
do? What did Luther and his intrepid associates do? What can women
and children do? What has Father Matthew done for teetotalism? What
has Daniel O'Connell done for Irish repeal? "Stand, having your loins
girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of
righteousness," and arrayed in the whole armor of God!

The form of government that shall succeed the present government of
the United States, let time determine. It would he a waste of time to
argue that question, until the people are regenerated and turned from
their iniquity. Ours is no anarchical movement, but one of order and
obedience. In ceasing from oppression, we establish liberty. What is
now fragmentary, shall in due time be crystallized, and shine like a
gem set in the heavens, for a light to all coming ages.

Finally--we believe that the effect of this movement will be,--First,
to create discussion and agitation throughout the North; and these
will lead to a general perception of its grandeur and importance.

Secondly, to convulse the slumbering South like an earthquake, and
convince her that her only alternative is, to abolish slavery, or be
abandoned by that power on which she now relies for safety.

Thirdly, to attack the slave power in its most vulnerable point, and
to carry the battle to the gate.

Fourthly, to exalt the moral sense, increase the moral power, and
invigorate the moral constitution of all who heartily espouse it.

We reverently believe that, in withdrawing from the American Union, we
have the God of justice with us. We know that we have our enslaved
countrymen with us. We are confident that all free hearts will be
with us. We are certain that tyrants and their abettors will be
against us.

In behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Anti-Slavery

WM. LLOYD GARRISON, _President_.

WENDELL PHILLIPS, }_Secretaries_.

Boston, May 20, 1844.


BOSTON, 4th July, 1844.

_To His Excellency George N. Briggs:_

SIR--Many years since, I received from the Executive of the
Commonwealth a commission as Justice of the Peace. I have held the
office that it conferred upon me till the present time, and have found
it a convenience to myself, and others. It might continue to be so,
could I consent longer to hold it. But paramount considerations
forbid, and I herewith transmit to you my commission, respectfully
asking you to accept my resignation.

While I deem it a duty to myself to take this step, I feel called on
to state the reasons that influence me.

In entering upon the duties of the office in question, I complied with
the requirements of the law, by taking an oath "_to support the
Constitution of the United States_." I regret that I ever took that
oath. Had I then as maturely considered its full import, and the
obligations under which it is understood, and meant to lay those who
take it, as I have done since, I certainly never would have taken it,
seeing, as I now do, that the Constitution of the United States
contains provisions calculated and intended to foster, cherish, uphold
and perpetuate _slavery_. It pledges the country to guard and protect
the slave system so long as the slaveholding States choose to retain
it. It regards the slave code as lawful in the States which enact it.
Still more, "it has done that, which, until its adoption, was never
before done for African slavery. It took it out of its former category
of municipal law and local life; adopted it as a national institution,
spread around it the broad and sufficient shield of national law, and
thus gave to slavery a national existence." Consequently, the oath to
support the Constitution of the United States is a solemn promise to
do that which is morally wrong; that which is a violation of the
natural rights of man, and a sin in the sight of God.

I am not in this matter, constituting myself a judge of others. I do
not say that no honest man can take such an oath, and abide by it. I
only say, that _I_ would not now deliberately take it; and that,
having inconsiderately taken it; I can no longer suffer it to lie upon
my soul. I take back the oath, and ask you, sir, to receive back the
commission, which was the occasion of my taking it.

I am aware that my course in this matter is liable to be regarded as
singular, if not censurable; and I must, therefore, be allowed to make
a more specific statement of those _provisions of the Constitution_
which support the enormous wrong, the heinous sin of slavery.

The very first Article of the Constitution takes slavery at once under
its legislative protection, as a basis of representation in the
popular branch of the National Legislature. It regards slaves under
the description "of all other _persons_"--as of only three-fifths of
the value of free persons; thus to appearance undervaluing them in
comparison with freemen. But its dark and involved phraseology seems
intended to blind us to the consideration, that those underrated
slaves are merely a _basis_, not the _source_ of representation; that
by the laws of all the States where they live, they are regarded not
as _persons_, but as _things_; that they are not the _constituency_ of
the representative, but his property; and that the necessary effect of
this provision of the Constitution is, to take legislative power out
of the hands of _men_, as such, and give it to the mere possessors of
goods and chattels. Fixing upon thirty thousand persons, as the
smallest number that shall send one member into the House of
Representatives, it protects slavery by distributing legislative power
in a free and in a slave State thus: To a congressional district in
South Carolina, containing fifty thousand slaves, claimed as the
property of five hundred whites, who hold, on an average, one hundred
apiece, it gives one Representative in Congress; to a district in
Massachusetts containing a population of thirty thousand five hundred,
one Representative is assigned. But inasmuch as a slave is never
permitted to vote, the fifty thousand persons in a district in
Carolina form no part of "the constituency;" _that_ is found only in
the five hundred free persons. Five hundred freemen of Carolina could
send one Representative to Congress, while it would take thirty
thousand five hundred freemen of Massachusetts, to do the same thing:
that is, one slaveholder in Carolina is clothed by the Constitution
with the same political power and influence in the Representatives
Hall at Washington, as sixty Massachusetts men like you and me, who
"eat their bread in the sweat of their own brows."

According to the census of 1830, and the _ratio_ of representation
based upon that, slave property added twenty-five members to the House
of Representatives. And as it has been estimated, (as an
approximation to the truth,) that the two and a half million slaves in
the United States are held as property by about two hundred and fifty
thousand persons--giving an average of ten slaves to each slaveholder,
those twenty-five Representatives, each chosen, at most by only ten
thousand voters, and probably by less than three-fourths of that
number, were the representatives not only of the two hundred and fifty
thousand persons who chose them, but of property which, five years
ago, when slaves were lower in market, than at present, were
estimated, by the man who is now the most prominent candidate for the
Presidency, at twelve hundred millions of dollars--a sum, which, by
the natural increase of five years, and the enhanced value resulting
from a more prosperous state of the planting interest, cannot now be
less than fifteen hundred millions of dollars. All this vast amount of
property, as it is "peculiar," is also identical in its character. In
Congress, as we have seen, it is animated by one spirit, moves in one
mass, and is wielded with one aim; and when we consider that tyranny
is always timid, and despotism distrustful, we see that this vast
money power would be false to itself, did it not direct all its eyes
and hands, and put forth all its ingenuity and energy, to one
end--self-protection and self-perpetuation. And this it has ever done.
In all the vibrations of the political scale, whether in relation to a
Bank or Sub-Treasury, Free Trade or a Tariff, this immense power has
moved, and will continue to move, in one mass, for its own protection.

While the weight of the slave influence is thus felt in the House of
Representatives, "in the Senate of the Union," says JOHN QUINCY ADAMS,
"the proportion of slaveholding power is still greater. By the
influence of slavery in the States where the institution is tolerated,
over their elections, no other than a slaveholder can rise to the
distinction of obtaining a seat in the Senate; and thus, of the
fifty-two members of the federal Senate, twenty-six are owners of
slaves, and are as effectually representatives of that interest, as
the eighty-eight members elected by them to the House"

The dominant power which the Constitution gives to the slave interest,
as thus seen and exercised in the _Legislative Halls_ of our nation,
is equally obvious and obtrusive in every other department of the
National government.

In the _Electoral colleges_, the same cause produces the same
effect--the same power is wielded for the same purpose, as in the
Halls of Congress. Even the preliminary nominating conventions, before
they dare name a candidate for the highest office in the gift of the
people, must ask of the Genius of slavery, to what votary she will
show herself propitious. This very year, we see both the great
political parties doing homage to the slave power, by nominating each
a slaveholder for the chair of State. The candidate of one party
declares, "I should have opposed, and would continue to oppose, any
scheme whatever of emancipation, either gradual or immediate;" and
adds, "It is not true, and I rejoice that it is not true, that either
of the two great parties of this country has any design or aim at
abolition. I should deeply lament it, if it were true."[12]

[Footnote 12: Henry Clay's speech in the United States Senate in 1839,
and confirmed at Raleigh, N.C. 1844.]

The other party nominates a man who says, "I have no hesitation in
declaring that I am in favor of the immediate re-annexation of Texas
to the territory and government of the United States."

Thus both the political parties, and the candidates of both, vie with
each other, in offering allegiance to the slave power, as a condition
precedent to any hope of success in the struggle for the executive
chair; a seat that, for more than three-fourths of the existence of
our constitutional government, has been occupied by a slaveholder.

The same stern despotism overshadows even the sanctuaries of
_justice_. Of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United
States, five are slaveholders, and of course, must be faithless to
their own interest, as well as recreant to the power that gives them
place, or must, so far as _they_ are concerned, give both to law and
constitution such a construction as shall justify the language of John
Quincy Adams, when he says--"The legislative, executive, and judicial
authorities, are all in their hands--for the preservation,
propagation, and perpetuation of the black code of slavery. Every law
of the legislature becomes a link in the chain of the slave; every
executive act a rivet to his hapless fate; every judicial decision a
perversion of the human intellect to the justification of wrong."

Thus by merely adverting but briefly to the theory and the practical
effect of this clause of the Constitution, that I have sworn to
support, it is seen that it throws the political power of the nation
into the hands of the slaveholders; a body of men, which, however it
may be regarded by the Constitution as "persons," is in fact and
practical effect, a vast moneyed corporation, bound together by an
indissoluble unity of interest, by a common sense of a common danger;
counselling at all times for its common protection; wielding the whole
power, and controlling the destiny of the nation.

If we look into the legislative halls, slavery is seen in the chair of
the presiding officer of each; and controlling the action of both.
Slavery occupies, by prescriptive right, the Presidential chair. The
paramount voice that comes from the temple of national justice, issues
from the lips of slavery. The army is in the hands of slavery, and at
her bidding, must encamp in the everglades of Florida, or march from
the Missouri to the borders of Mexico, to look after her interests in

The navy, even that part that is cruising off the coast of Africa, to
suppress the foreign slave trade, is in the hands of slavery.

Freemen of the North, who have even dared to lift up their voice
against slavery, cannot travel through the slave States, but at the
peril of their lives.

The representatives of freemen are forbidden, on the floor of
Congress, to remonstrate against the encroachments of slavery, or to
pray that she would let her poor victims go.

I renounce my allegiance to a Constitution that enthrones such a
power, wielded for the purpose of depriving me of my rights, of
robbing my countrymen of their liberties, and of securing its own
protection, support and perpetuation.

Passing by that clause of the Constitution, which restricted Congress
for twenty years, from passing any law against the African slave
trade, and which gave authority to raise a revenue on the stolen sons
of Africa, I come to that part of the fourth article, which guarantees
protection against "_domestic violence_," which pledges to the South
the military force of the country, to protect the masters against
their insurgent slaves, and binds us, and our children, to shoot down
our fellow-countrymen, who may rise, in emulation of our revolutionary
fathers, to vindicate their inalienable "right to life, _liberty_, and
the pursuit of happiness,"--this clause of the Constitution, I say
distinctly, I never will support.

That part of the Constitution which provides for the surrender of
fugitive slaves, I never have supported and never will. I will join in
no slave-hunt. My door shall stand open, as it has long stood, for the
panting and trembling victim of the slave-hunter. When I shut it
against him, may God shut the door of his mercy against me! Under this
clause of the Constitution, and designed to carry it into effect,
slavery has demanded that laws should be passed, and of such a
character, as have left the free citizen of the North without
protection for his own liberty. The question, whether a man seized in
a free State as a slave, _is_ a slave or not, the law of Congress does
not allow a jury to determine: but refers it to the decision of a
Judge of a United States' Court, or even of the humblest State
magistrate, it may be, upon the testimony or affidavit of the party
most deeply interested to support the claim. By virtue of this law,
freemen have been seized and dragged into perpetual slavery--and
should I be seized by a slave-hunter in any part of the country where
I am not personally known, neither the Constitution nor laws of the
United States would shield me from the same destiny.

These, sir, are the specific parts of the Constitution of the United
States, which in my opinion are essentially vicious, hostile at once
to the liberty and to the morals of the nation. And these are the
principal reasons of my refusal any longer to acknowledge my
allegiance to it, and of my determination to revoke my oath to support
it. I cannot, in order to keep the law of man, break the law of God,
or solemnly call him to witness my promise that I will break it.

It is true that the Constitution provides for its own amendment, and
that by this process, all the guarantees of Slavery may be expunged.
But it will be time enough to swear to support it when this is done.
It cannot be right to do so, until these amendments are made.

It is also true that the framers of the Constitution did studiously
keep the words "Slave" and "Slavery" from its face. But to do our
constitutional fathers justice, while they forebore--from very
shame--to give the word "Slavery" a place in the Constitution, they
did not forbear--again to do them justice--to give place in it to the
_thing_. They were careful to wrap up the idea, and the substance of
Slavery, in the clause for the surrender of the fugitive, though they
sacrificed justice in doing so.

There is abundant evidence that this clause touching "persons held to
service or labor," not only operates practically, under the Judicial
construction, for the protection of the slave interest; but that it
was _intended_ so to operate by the farmers of the Constitution. The
highest Judicial authorities--Chief Justice SHAW, of the Supreme Court
of Massachusetts, in the LATIMER case, and Mr. Justice STORY, in the
Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of _Prigg_ vs. _The
State of Pennsylvania_,--tell us, I know not on what evidence, that
without this "compromise," this security for Southern slaveholders,
"the Union could not have been formed." And there is still higher
evidence, not only that the framers of the Constitution meant by this
clause to protect slavery, but that they did this, knowing that
slavery was wrong. Mr. MADISON[13] informs us that the clause in
question, as it came of the hands of Dr. JOHNSON, the chairman of the
"committee on style," read thus: "No person legally held to service,
or labor, in one State, escaping into another, shall," &c. and that
the word "legally" was struck out, and the words "under the laws
thereof" inserted after the word "State," in compliance with the wish
of some, who thought the term _legal_ equivocal, and favoring the idea
that slavery was legal "_in a moral view_." A conclusive proof that,
although future generations might apply that clause to other kinds of
"service or labor," when slavery should have died out, or been killed
off by the young spirit of liberty, which was _then_ awake and at work
in the land; still, slavery was what they were wrapping up in
"equivocal" words; and wrapping it up for its protection and safe
keeping: a conclusive proof that the framers of the Constitution were
more careful to protect themselves in the judgment of coming
generations, from the charge of ignorance, than of sin; a conclusive
proof that they knew that slavery was _not_ "legal in a moral view,"
that it was a violation of the moral law of God; and yet knowing and
confessing its immorality, they dared to make this stipulation for its
support and defence.

[Footnote 13: Madison Papers, p. 1589.]

This language may sound harsh to the ears of those who think it a part
of their duty, as citizens, to maintain that whatever the patriots of
the Revolution did, was right; and who hold that we are bound to _do_
all the iniquity that they covenanted for us that we _should_ do. But
the claims of truth and right are paramount to all other claims.

With all our veneration for our constitutional fathers, we must
admit,--for they have left on record their own confession of it,--that
in this part of their work they _intended_ to hold the shield of their
protection over a wrong, knowing that it was a wrong. They made a
"compromise" which they had no right to make--a compromise of moral
principle for the sake of what they probably regarded as "political
expediency." I am sure they did not know--no man could know, or can
now measure, the extent, or the consequences of the wrong that they
were doing. In the strong language of JOHN QUINCY ADAMS,[14] in
relation to the article fixing the basis of representation, "Little
did the members of the Convention, from the free States, imagine or
foresee what a sacrifice to Moloch was hidden under the mask of this

[Footnote 14: See his Report on the Massachusetts Resolutions.]

I verily believe that, giving all due consideration to the benefits
conferred upon this nation by the Constitution, its national unity,
its swelling masses of wealth, its power, and the external prosperity
of its multiplying millions; yet the moral injury that has been done,
by the countenance shown to slavery; by holding over that tremendous
sin the shield of the Constitution, and thus breaking down in the eyes
of the nation the barrier between right and wrong; by so tenderly
cherishing slavery as, in less than the life of a man, to multiply her
children from half a million to nearly three millions; by enacting
oaths from those who occupy prominent stations in society, that they
will violate at once the rights of man and the law of God; by
substituting itself as a rule of right, in place of the moral laws of
the universe;--thus in effect, dethroning the Almighty in the hearts
of this people and setting up another sovereign in his stead--more
than outweighs it all. A melancholy and monitory lesson this, to all
time-serving and temporizing statesmen! A striking illustration of the
_impolicy_ of sacrificing _right_ to any considerations of expediency!
Yet, what better than the evil effects that we have seen, could the
authors of the Constitution have reasonably expected, from the
sacrifice of right, in the concessions they made to slavery? Was it
reasonable in them to expect that, after they had introduced a vicious
element into the very Constitution of the body politic which they were
calling into life, it would not exert its vicious energies? Was it
reasonable in them to expect that, after slavery had been corrupting
the public morals for a whole generation, their children would have
too much virtue to _use_ for the defence of slavery, a power which
they themselves had not too much virtue to _give_? It is dangerous for
the sovereign power of a State to license immorality; to hold the
shield of its protection over anything that is not "legal in a moral
view." Bring into your house a benumbed viper, and lay it down upon
your warm hearth, and soon it will not ask you into which room it may
crawl. Let Slavery once lean upon the supporting arm, and bask in the
fostering smile of the State, and you will soon see, as we now see,
both her minions and her victims multiply apace, till the politics,
the morals, the liberties, even the religion of the nation, are
brought completely under her control.

To me, it appears that the virus of slavery, introduced into the
Constitution of our body politic, by a few slight punctures, has now
so pervaded and poisoned the whole system of our National Government,
that literally there is no health in it. The only remedy that I can
see for the disease, is to be found in the _dissolution of the

The Constitution of the United States, both in theory and practice, is
so utterly broken down by the influence and effects of slavery, so
imbecile for the highest good of the nation, and so powerful for evil,
that I can give no voluntary assistance in holding it up any longer.

Henceforth it is dead to me, and I to it. I withdraw all profession of
allegiance to it, and all my voluntary efforts to sustain it. The
burdens that it lays upon me, while it is held up by others, I shall
endeavor to bear patiently, yet acting with reference to a higher law,
and distinctly declaring, that while I retain my own liberty, I will
be a party to no compact, which helps to rob any other man of his.

Very respectfully, your friend,





"We have slavery, already, amongst us. The Constitution found it among
us; it recognized it and gave it SOLEMN GUARANTIES. To the full extent
of these guaranties we are all bound, in honor, in justice, and by the
Constitution. All the stipulations, contained in the Constitution, _in
favor of the slaveholding States_ which are already in the Union,
ought to be fulfilled, and so far as depends on me, shall be
fulfilled, in the fulness of their spirit, and to the exactness of
their letter." !!!

* * * * *




The benefits of the Constitution of the United States, were the
restoration of credit and reputation, to the country--the revival of
commerce, navigation, and ship-building--the acquisition of the means
of discharging the debts of the Revolution, and the protection and
encouragement of the infant and drooping manufactures of the country.
All this, however, as is now well ascertained, was insufficient to
propitiate the rulers of the Southern States to the adoption of the
Constitution. What they specially wanted was _protection_.--Protection
from the powerful and savage tribes of Indians within their borders,
and who were harassing them with the most terrible of wars--and
protection from their own negroes--protection from their
insurrections--protection from their escape--protection even to the
trade by which they were brought into the country--protection, shall I
not blush to say, protection to the very bondage by which they were
held. Yes! it cannot be denied--the slaveholding lords of the South
prescribed, as a condition of their assent to the Constitution, three
special provisions to secure the perpetuity of their dominion over
their slaves. The first was the immunity for twenty years of
preserving the African slave-trade; the second was the stipulation to
surrender fugitive slaves--an engagement positively prohibited by the
laws of God, delivered from Sinai; and thirdly, the exaction fatal to
the principles of popular representation, of a representation for
slaves--for articles of merchandise, under the name of persons.

The reluctance with which the freemen of the North submitted to the
dictation of these conditions, is attested by the awkward and
ambiguous language in which they are expressed. The word slave is most
cautiously and fastidiously excluded from the whole instrument. A
stranger, who should come from a foreign land, and read the
Constitution of the United States, would not believe that slavery or a
slave existed within the borders of our country. There is not a word
in the Constitution _apparently_ bearing upon the condition of
slavery, nor is there a provision but would be susceptible of
practical execution, if there were not a slave in the land.

The delegates from South Carolina and Georgia distinctly avowed that,
without this guarantee of protection to their property in slaves, they
would not yield their assent to the Constitution; and the freemen of
the North, reduced to the alternative of departing from the vital
principle of their liberty, or of forfeiting the Union itself, averted
their faces, and with trembling hand subscribed the bond.

Twenty years passed away--the slave markets of the South were
saturated with the blood of African bondage, and from midnight of the
31st of December, 1807, not a slave from Africa was suffered ever more
to be introduced upon our soil. But the internal traffic was still
lawful, and the _breeding_ States soon reconciled themselves to a
prohibition which gave them the monopoly of the interdicted trade, and
they joined the full chorus of reprobation, to punish with death the
slave-trader from Africa, while they cherished and shielded and
enjoyed the precious profits of the American slave-trade exclusively
to themselves.

Perhaps this unhappy result of their concession had not altogether
escaped the foresight of the freemen of the North; but their intense
anxiety for the preservation of the whole Union, and the habit already
formed of yielding to the somewhat peremptory and overbearing tone
which the relation of master and slave welds into the nature of the
lord, prevailed with them to overlook this consideration, the internal
slave-trade having scarcely existed, while that with Africa had been
allowed. But of one consequence which has followed from the slave
representation, pervading the whole organic structure of the
Constitution, they certainly were not prescient; for if they had been,
never--no, never would they have consented to it.

The representation, ostensibly of slaves, under the name of persons,
was in its operation an exclusive grant of power to one class of
proprietors, owners of one species of property, to the detriment of
all the rest of the community. This species of property was odious in
its nature, held in direct violation of the natural and inalienable
rights of man, and of the vital principles of Christianity; it was all
accumulated in one geographical section of the country, and was all
held by wealthy men, comparatively small in numbers, not amounting to
a tenth part of the free white population of the States in which it
was concentrated.

In some of the ancient, and in some modern republics, extraordinary
political power and privileges have been invested in the owners of
horses but then these privileges and these powers have been granted
for the equivalent of extraordinary duties and services to the
community, required of the favored class. The Roman knights
constituted the cavalry of their armies, and the bushels of rings
gathered by Hannibal from their dead bodies, after the battle of
Cannae, amply prove that the special powers conferred upon them were
no gratuitous grants. But in the Constitution of the United States,
the political power invested in the owners of slaves is entirely
gratuitous. No extraordinary service is required of them; they are, on
the contrary, themselves grievous burdens upon the community, always
threatened with the danger of insurrections, to be smothered in the
blood of both parties, master and slave, and always depressing the
condition of the poor free laborer, by competition with the labor of
the slave. The property in horses was the gift of God to man, at the
creation of the world; the property in slaves is property acquired and
held by crimes, differing in no moral aspect from the pillage of a
freebooter, and to which no lapse of time can give a prescriptive
right. You are told that this is no concern of yours, and that the
question of freedom and slavery is exclusively reserved to the
consideration of the separate States. But if it be so, as to the mere
question of right between master and slave, it is of tremendous
concern to you that this little cluster of slave-owners should
possess, besides their own share in the representative hall of the
nation, the exclusive privilege of appointing two-fifths of the whole
number of the representatives of the people. This is now your
condition, under that delusive ambiguity of language and of principle,
which begins by declaring the representation in the popular branch of
the legislature a representation of persons, and then provides that
one class of persons shall have neither part nor lot in the choice of
their representatives; but their elective franchise shall be
transferred to their masters, and the oppressors shall represent the
oppressed. The same perversion of the representative principle
pollutes the composition of the colleges of electors of President and
Vice President of the United States, and every department of the
government of the Union is thus tainted at its source by the gangrene
of slavery.

Fellow-citizens,--with a body of men thus composed, for legislators
and executors of the laws, what will, what must be, what has been your
legislation? The numbers of freemen constituting your nation are much
greater than those of the slaveholding States, bond and free. You have
at least three-fifths of the whole population of the Union. Your
influence on the legislation and the administration of the government
ought to be in the proportion of three to two--But how stands the
fact? Besides the legitimate portion of influence exercised by the
slaveholding States by the measure of their numbers, here is an
intrusive influence in every department, by a representation nominally
of persons, but really of property, ostensibly of slaves, but
effectively of their masters, overbalancing your superiority of
numbers, adding two-fifths of supplementary power to the two-fifths
fairly secured to them by the compact, CONTROLLING AND OVERRULING THE
the sordid private interest and oppressive policy of 300,000 owners of

From the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United
States, the institution of domestic slavery has been becoming more and
more the abhorrence of the civilized world. But in proportion as it
has been growing odious to all the rest of mankind, it has been
sinking deeper and deeper into the affections of the holders of slaves
themselves. The cultivation of cotton and of sugar, unknown in the
Union at the establishment of the Constitution, has added largely to
the pecuniary value of the slave. Aud the suppression of the African
slave-trade as piracy upon pain of death, by securing the benefit of a
monopoly to the virtuous slaveholders of the ancient dominion, has
turned her heroic tyrannicides into a community of slave-breeders for
sale, and converted the land of GEORGE WASHINGTON, PATRICK HENRY,
RICHARD HENRY LEE, and THOMAS JEFFERSON, into a great barracoon--a
cattle-show of human beings, an emporium, of which the staple articles
of merchandise are the flesh and blood, the bones and sinews of
immortal man.

Of the increasing abomination of slavery in the unbought hearts of men
at the time when the Constitution of the United States was formed,
what clearer proof could be desired, than that the very same year in
which that charter of the land was issued, the Congress of the
Confederation, with not a tithe of the powers given by the people to
the Congress of the new compact, actually abolished slavery for ever
throughout the whole Northwestern territory, without a remonstrance or
a murmur. But in the articles of confederation, there was no guaranty
for the property of the slaveholder--no double representation of him
in the Federal councils--no power of taxation--no stipulation for the
recovery of fugitive slaves. But when the powers of _government_ came
to be delegated to the Union, the South--that is, South Carolina and
Georgia--refused their subscription to the parchment, till it should
be saturated with the infection of slavery, which no fumigation could
purify, no quarantine could extinguish. The freemen of the North gave
way, and the deadly venom of slavery was infused into the Constitution
of freedom. Its first consequence has been to invert the first
principle of Democracy, that the will of the majority of numbers shall
rule the land. By means of the double representation, the minority
command the whole, and a KNOT OF SLAVEHOLDERS GIVE THE LAW AND
PRESCRIBE THE POLICY OF THE COUNTRY. To acquire this superiority of a
large majority of freemen, a persevering system of engrossing nearly
all the seats of power and place, is constantly for a long series of
years pursued, and you have seen, in a period of fifty-six years, the
Chief-magistracy of the Union held, during forty-four of them, by the
owners of slaves. The Executive department, the Army and Navy, the
Supreme Judicial Court and diplomatic missions abroad, all present the
same spectacle;--an immense majority of power in the hands of a very
small minority of the people--millions made for a fraction of a few

* * * * *

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, and of the slaveholding States, at home and
abroad; and at the very time when a new census has exhibited a large
increase upon the superior numbers of the free States, it has
presented the portentous evidence of increased influence and
ascendancy of the slave-holding power.

Of the prevalence of that power, you have had continual and conclusive
evidence in the suppression for the space of ten years of the right of
petition, guarantied, if there could be a guarantee against slavery,
by the first article amendatory of the Constitution.

No. 12.








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Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? In 1776 THOMAS
JEFFERSON, supported by a noble band of patriots and surrounded by
the American people, opened his lips in the authoritative declaration:
"We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
inalienable rights; that among these are life, LIBERTY, and the
pursuit of happiness." And from the inmost heart of the multitudes
around, and in a strong and clear voice, broke forth the unanimous
and decisive answer: Amen--such truths we do indeed hold to be
self-evident. And animated and sustained by a declaration, so
inspiring and sublime, they rushed to arms, and as the result of
agonizing efforts and dreadful sufferings, achieved under God the
independence of their country. The great truth, whence they derived
light and strength to assert and defend their rights, they made the
foundation of their republic. And in the midst of this republic,
must we prove, that He, who was the Truth, did not contradict
"the truths" which He Himself; as their Creator, had made
self-evident to mankind?

Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? What, according to
those laws which make it what it is, is American slavery? In the
Statute-book of South Carolina thus it is written:[1] "Slaves shall
be deemed, held, taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels
personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their
executors, administrators and assigns, to all intents, construction
and purposes whatever." The very root of American slavery consists
in the assumption, that law has reduced men to chattels. But this
assumption is, and must be, a gross falsehood. Men and cattle are
separated from each other by the Creator, immutably, eternally, and
by an impassable gulf. To confound or identify men and cattle must
be to lie most wantonly, impudently, and maliciously. And must we
prove, that Jesus Christ is not in favor of palpable, monstrous

[Footnote 1: Stroud's Slave Laws, p. 23.]

Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? How can a system,
built upon a stout and impudent denial of self-evident truth--a
system of treating men like cattle--operate? Thomas Jefferson shall
answer. Hear him. "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 his worst passions, and thus nursed, educated,
and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with
odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy, who can retain his
manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances."[2] Such is the
practical operation of a system, which puts men and cattle into the
same family and treats them alike. And must we prove, that Jesus
Christ is not in favor of a school where the worst vices in their
most hateful forms are systematically and efficiently taught and
practiced? Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? What, in
1818, did the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church affirm
respecting its nature and operation? "Slavery creates a paradox in
the moral system--it exhibits rational, accountable, and immortal
beings, in such circumstances as scarcely to leave them the power of
moral action. It exhibits them as dependent on the will of others,
whether they shall receive religious instruction; whether they shall
know and worship the true God; whether they shall enjoy the
ordinances of the gospel; whether they shall perform the duties and
cherish the endearments of husbands and wives, parents and children,
neighbors and friends; whether they shall preserve their chastity
and purity, or regard the dictates of justice and humanity. Such are
some of the consequences of slavery; consequences not imaginary, but
which connect themselves with its very existence. The evils to which
the slave is _always_ exposed, _often take place_ in their very
worst degree and form; and where all of them do not take place,
still the slave is deprived of his natural rights, degraded as a
human being, and exposed to the danger of passing into the hands of
a master who may inflict upon him all the hardship and injuries
which inhumanity and avarice may suggest."[3] Must we prove, that
Jesus Christ is not in favor of such things?

[Footnote 2: Notes on Virginia, Boston Ed. 1832, pp. 169, 170.]

[Footnote 3: Minutes of the General assembly for 1818, p. 29.]

Is Jesus Christ in favor of American slavery? It is already widely
felt and openly acknowledged at the South, that they cannot support
slavery without sustaining the opposition of universal Christendom.
And Thomas Jefferson declared, "I tremble for my country when I
reflect that God is just; that his justice can not sleep forever;
that considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, a
revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is
among possible events; that it may become practicable by
supernatural influences! The Almighty has no attribute which can
take sides with us in such a contest."[4] And must we prove, that
Jesus Christ is not in favor of what universal Christendom is
impelled to abhor, denounce, and oppose; is not in favor of what
every attribute of Almighty God is armed against?

[Footnote 4: Notes on Virginia, Boston Ed. 1832, pp. 170, 171.]


It is no man of straw, with whom, in making out such proof, we are
called to contend. Would to God we had no other antagonist! Would to
God that our labor of love could be regarded as a work of
supererogation! But we may well be ashamed and grieved to find it
necessary to "stop the mouths" of grave and learned ecclesiastics,
who from the heights of Zion have undertaken to defend the
institution of slavery. We speak not now of those, who amidst the
monuments of oppression are engaged in the sacred vocation; who, as
ministers of the Gospel, can "prophesy smooth things" to such as
pollute the altar of Jehovah with human sacrifices; nay, who
themselves bind the victim and kindle the sacrifice. That they
should put their Savior to the torture, to wring from his lips
something in favor of slavery, is not to be wondered at. They
consent to the murder of the children; can they respect the rights
of the Father? But what shall we say of distinguished theologians of
the north--professors of sacred literature at our oldest divinity
schools--who stand up to defend, both by argument and authority,
southern slavery! And from the Bible! Who, Balaam-like, try a
thousand expedients to force from the mouth of Jehovah a sentence
which they know the heart of Jehovah abhors! Surely we have here
something more mischievous and formidable than a man of straw. More
than two years ago, and just before the meeting of the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian church, appeared an article in the
Biblical Repertory,[5] understood to be from the pen of the
Professor of Sacred Literature at Princeton, in which an effort is
made to show, that slavery, whatever may be said of any abuses of
it, is not a violation of the precepts of the Gospel. This article,
we are informed, was industriously and extensively distributed among
the members of the General Assembly--a body of men, who by a
frightful majority seemed already too much disposed to wink at the
horrors of slavery. The effect of the Princeton Apology on the
southern mind, we have high authority for saying, has been most
decisive and injurious. It has contributed greatly to turn the
public eye off from the sin--from the inherent and necessary evils
of slavery to incidental evils, which the abuse of it might be
expected to occasion. And how few can be brought to admit, that
whatever abuses may prevail nobody knows where or how, any such
thing is chargeable upon them! Thus our Princeton prophet has done
what he could to lay the southern conscience asleep upon ingenious
perversions of the sacred volume!

[Footnote 5: For April, 1836. The General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church met in the following May, at Pittsburgh, where,
in pamphlet form, this article was distributed. The following
appeared upon the title page:

_For gratuitous distribution_.

About a year after this, an effort in the same direction was jointly
made by Dr. Fisk and Professor Stuart. In a letter to a Methodist
clergyman, Mr. Merrit, published in Zion's Herald, Dr. Fisk gives
utterance to such things as the following:--

"But that you and the public may see and feel, that you have the
ablest and those who are among the honestest men of this age,
arrayed against you, be pleased to notice the following letter from
Prof. Stuart. I wrote to him, knowing as I did his integrity of
purpose, his unflinching regard for truth, as well as his deserved
reputation as a scholar and biblical critic, proposing the following

1. Does the New Testament directly or indirectly teach, that slavery
existed in the primitive church?

2. In 1 Tim. vi. 2, And they that have believing masters, &c., what
is the relation expressed or implied between "they" (servants) and
"believing masters?" And what are your reasons for the construction
of the passage?

3. What was the character of ancient and eastern slavery?--
Especially what (legal) power did this relation give the master over
the slave?


ANDOVER, 10th Apr., 1837

REV. AND DEAR SIR,--Yours is before me. A sickness of three
month's standing (typhus fever) in which I have just escaped death,
and which still confines me to my house, renders it impossible for me
to answer your letter at large.

1. The precepts of the New Testament respecting the demeanor of
slaves and of their masters, beyond all question, recognize the
existence of slavery. The masters are in part "believing masters," so
that a precept to them, how they are to behave as masters,
recognizes that the relation may still exist, _salva fide et salva
ecclesia_, ("without violating the Christian faith or the church.")
Otherwise, Paul had nothing to do but to cut the band asunder at once.
He could not lawfully and properly temporize with a _malum in se_,
("that which is in itself sin.")

If any one doubts, let him take the case of Paul's sending Onesimus
back to Philemon, with an apology for his running away, and sending
him back to be his servant for life. The relation did exist, may
exist. The _abuse_ of it is the essential and fundamental wrong.
Not that the theory of slavery is in itself right. No; "Love thy
neighbor as thyself," "Do unto others that which ye would that others
should do unto you," decide against this. But the relation once
constituted and continued, is not such a _malum in se_ as calls
for immediate and violent disruption at all hazards. So Paul did not

2. 1 Tim. vi. 2, expresses the sentiment, that slaves, who are
Christians and have Christian masters, are not, on that account, and
because _as Christians they are brethren_, to forego the reverence
due to them as masters. That is, the relation of master and slave is
not, as a matter of course, abrogated between all Christians. Nay,
servants should in such a case, _a fortiori_, do their duty
cheerfully. This sentiment lies on the very face of the case. What
the master's duty in such a case may be in respect to _liberation_,
is another question, and one which the apostle does not here treat of.

3. Every one knows, who is acquainted with Greek or Latin antiquities,
that slavery among heathen nations has ever been more unqualified
and at looser ends than among Christian nations. Slaves were
_property_ in Greece and Rome. That decides all questions about
their _relation_. Their treatment depended, as it does now, on the
temper of their masters. The power of the master over the slave was,
for a long time, that of _life and death_. Horrible cruelties at
length mitigated it. In the apostle's day, it was at least as great
as among us.

After all the spouting and vehemence on this subject, which have been
exhibited, the _good old Book_ remains the same. Paul's conduct
and advice are still safe guides. Paul knew well that Christianity
would ultimately destroy slavery, as it certainly will. He knew,
too, that it would destroy monarchy and aristocracy from the earth:
for it is fundamentally a doctrine of _true liberty and equality_.
Yet Paul did not expect slavery or anarchy to be ousted in a day; and
gave precepts to Christians respecting their demeanor _ad interim_.

With sincere and paternal regard,

Your friend and brother,


--This, sir, is doctrine that will stand, because it is _Bible
doctrine_. The abolitionists, then, are on a wrong course. They have
traveled out of the record; and if they would succeed, they must
take a different position, and approach the subject in a different

Respectfully yours,



What are we taught here? That in the ecclesiastical organizations
which grew up under the hands of the apostles, slavery was admitted
as a relation that did not violate the Christian faith; that the
relation may now in like manner exist; that "the abuse of it is the
essential and fundamental wrong;" and of course, that American
Christians may hold their own brethren in slavery without incurring
guilt or inflicting injury. Thus, according to Prof. Stuart, Jesus
Christ has not a word to say against "the peculiar institutions" of
the South. If our brethren there do not "abuse" the privilege of
enacting unpaid labor, they may multiply their slaves to their
hearts' content, without exposing themselves to the frown of the
Savior or laying their Christian character open to the least
suspicion. Could any trafficker in human flesh ask for greater
latitude! And to such doctrines, Dr. Fisk eagerly and earnestly
subscribes. He goes further. He urges it on the attention of his
brethren, as containing important truth, which they ought to embrace.
According to him, it is "_Bible doctrine_," showing, that "the
abolitionists are on a wrong course," and must, "if they would
succeed, take a different position."

We now refer to such distinguished names, to show, that in attempting
to prove that Jesus Christ is not in favor of American slavery, we
contend with something else than a man of straw. The ungrateful task,
which a particular examination of Professor Stuart's letter lays
upon us, we hope fairly to dispose of in due season. Enough has now
been said to make it clear and certain, that American slavery has its
apologists and advocates in the northern pulpit; advocates and
apologists, who fall behind few if any of their brethren in the
reputation they have acquired, the stations they occupy, and the
general influence they are supposed to exert.

Is it so? Did slavery exist in Judea, and among the Jews, in its
worst form, during the Savior's incarnation? If the Jews held slaves,
they must have done in open and flagrant violation of the letter and
the spirit of the Mosaic Dispensation. Whoever has any doubts of
this may well resolve his doubts in the light of the Argument
entitled "The Bible against Slavery." If, after a careful and
thorough examination of that article, he can believe that
slaveholding prevailed during the ministry of Jesus Christ among the
Jews and in accordance with the authority of Moses, he would do the
reading public an important service to record the grounds of his
belief--especially in a fair and full refutation of that Argument.
Till that is done, we hold ourselves excused from attempting to
prove what we now repeat, that if the Jews during our Savior's
incarnation held slaves, they must have done so in open and flagrant
violation of the letter and spirit of the Mosaic Dispensation. Could
Christ and the Apostles every where among their countrymen come in
contact with slaveholding, being as it was a gross violation of that
law which their office and their profession required them to honor
and enforce, without exposing and condemning it?

In its worst forms, we are told, slavery prevailed over the whole
world, not excepting Judea. As, according to such ecclesiastics as
Stuart, Hodge and Fisk, slavery in itself is not bad at all, the term
"_worst_" could be applied only to "_abuses_" of this innocent
relation. Slavery accordingly existed among the Jews, disfigured and
disgraced by the "worst abuses" to which it is liable. These abuses
in the ancient world, Professor Stuart describes as "horrible
cruelties." And in our own country, such abuses have grown so rank,
as to lead a distinguished eye-witness--no less a philosopher and
statesman than Thomas Jefferson--to say, that they had armed against
us every attribute of the Almighty. With these things the Savior
every where came in contact, among the people to whose improvement
and salvation he devoted his living powers, and yet not a word, not
a syllable, in exposure and condemnation of such "horrible cruelties"
escaped his lips! He saw--among the "covenant people" of Jehovah he
saw, the babe plucked from the bosom of its mother; the wife torn
from the embrace of her husband; the daughter driven to the market
by the scourge of her own father;--he saw the word of God sealed up
from those who, of all men, were especially entitled to its
enlightening, quickening influence;--nay, he saw men beaten for
kneeling before the throne of heavenly mercy;--such things he saw
without a word of admonition or reproof! No sympathy with them who
suffered wrong--no indignation at them who inflicted wrong, moved
his heart!

From the alleged silence of the Savior, when in contact with slavery
among the Jews, our divines infer, that it is quite consistent with
Christianity. And they affirm, that he saw it in its worst forms;
that is, he witnessed what Professor Stuart ventures to call
"horrible cruelties." But what right have these interpreters of the
sacred volume to regard any form of slavery which the Savior found,
as "worst," or even bad? According to their inference--which they
would thrust gag-wise into the mouths of abolitionists--his silence
should seal up their lips. They ought to hold their tongues. They
have no right to call any form of slavery bad--an abuse; much less,
horribly cruel! Their inference is broad enough to protect the most
brutal driver amidst his deadliest inflictions!


And did the Head of the new dispensation, then, fall so far behind
the prophets of the old in a hearty and effective regard for
suffering humanity? The forms of oppression which they witnessed,
excited their compassion and aroused their indignation. In terms the
most pointed and powerful, they exposed, denounced, threatened. They
could not endure the creatures, "who used their neighbors' service
without wages, and gave him not for his work;"[6] who imposed
"heavy burdens"[7] upon their fellows, and loaded them with
"the bands of wickedness;" who, "hiding themselves from their own
flesh," disowned their own mothers' children. Professions of piety
joined with the oppression of the poor, they held up to universal
scorn and execration, as the dregs of hypocrisy. They warned the
creature of such professions, that he could escape the wrath of
Jehovah only by heart-felt repentance. And yet, according to the
ecclesiastics with whom we have to do, the Lord of these prophets
passed by in silence just such enormities as he commanded them to
expose and denounce! Every where, he came in contact with slavery in
its worst forms--"horrible cruelties" forced themselves upon his
notice; but not a word of rebuke or warning did he utter. He saw
"a boy given for a harlot, and a girl sold for wine, that they might
drink,"[8] without the slightest feeling of displeasure, or any mark
of disapprobation! To such disgusting and horrible conclusions, do
the arguings which, from the haunts of sacred literature, are
inflicted on our churches, lead us! According to them, Jesus Christ,
instead of shining as the light of the world, extinguished the
torches which his own prophets had kindled, and plunged mankind into
the palpable darkness of a starless midnight! O savior, in pity to
thy suffering people, let thy temple be no longer used as a
"den of thieves!"

[Footnote 6: Jeremiah, xxii. 13.]

[Footnote 7: Isaiah, lviii. 6, 7.]

[Footnote 8: Joel, iii. 3.]


In passing by the worst forms of slavery, with which he every where
came in contact among the Jews, the Savior must have been
inconsistent with himself. He was commissioned to preach glad
tidings to the poor; to heal the broken-hearted; to preach
deliverance to the captives; to set at liberty them that are bruised;
to preach the year of Jubilee. In accordance with this commission,
he bound himself, from the earliest date of his incarnation, to the
poor, by the strongest ties; himself "had not where to lay his head;"
he exposed himself to misrepresentation and abuse for his
affectionate intercourse with the outcasts of society; he stood up
as the advocate of the widow, denouncing and dooming the heartless
ecclesiastics, who had made her bereavement a source of gain; and in
describing the scenes of the final judgment, he selected the very
personification of poverty, disease and oppression, as the test by
which our regard for him should be determined. To the poor and
wretched; to the degraded and despised, his arms were ever open.
They had his tenderest sympathies. They had his warmest love. His
heart's blood he poured out upon the ground for the human family,
reduced to the deepest degradation, and exposed to the heaviest
inflictions, as the slaves of the grand usurper. And yet, according
to our ecclesiastics, that class of sufferers who had been reduced
immeasurably below every other shape and form of degradation and
distress; who had been most rudely thrust out of the family of Adam,
and forced to herd with swine; who, without the slightest offence,
had been made the footstool of the worst criminals; whose "tears
were their meat night and day," while, under nameless insults and
killing injuries they were continually crying, O Lord, O Lord:--this
class of sufferers, and this alone, our biblical expositors,
occupying the high places of sacred literature, would make us
believe the compassionate Savior coldly overlooked. Not an emotion
of pity; not a look of sympathy; not a word of consolation, did his
gracious heart prompt him to bestow upon them! He denounces
damnation upon the devourer of the widow's house. But the monster,
whose trade it is to make widows and devour them and their babes, he
can calmly endure! O Savior, when wilt thou stop the mouths of such


It seems that though, according to our Princeton professor,
"the subject" of slavery "is hardly alluded to by Christ in any
of his personal instructions,"[9] he had a way of "treating it."
What was that? Why, "he taught the true nature, DIGNITY, EQUALITY,
and destiny of men," and "inculcated the principles of justice and
love."[10] And according to Professor Stuart, the maxims which our
Savior furnished, "decide against" "the theory of slavery." All, then,
that these ecclesiastical apologists for slavery can make of the
Savior's alleged silence is, that he did not, in his personal
instructions, "_apply his own principles to this particular form of
wickedness_." For wicked that must be, which the maxims of the
Savior decide against, and which our Princeton professor assures
us the principles of the gospel, duly acted on, would speedily
extinguish.[11] How remarkable it is, that a teacher should
"hardly allude to a subject in any of his personal instructions,"
and yet inculcate principles which have a direct and vital bearing
upon it!--should so conduct, as to justify the inference, that
"slaveholding is not a crime,"[12] and at the same time lend its
authority for its "speedy extinction!"

[Footnote 9: Pittsburg pamphlet, (already alluded to,) p.9.]

[Footnote 10: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 11: The same, p. 34.]

[Footnote 12: The same, p. 13.]

Higher authority than sustains _self-evident truths_ there cannot
be. As forms of reason, they are rays from the face of Jehovah.
Not only are their presence and power self-manifested, but they
also shed a strong and clear light around them. In their light,
other truths are visible. Luminaries themselves, it is their
office to enlighten. To their authority, in every department of
thought, the same mind bows promptly, gratefully, fully. And by their
authority, he explains, proves, and disposes of whatever engages his
attention and engrosses his powers as a reasonable and reasoning
creature. For what, when thus employed and when most successful, is
the utmost he can accomplish? Why, to make the conclusions which he
would establish and commend, _clear in the light of reason_;--in
other words, to evince that _they are reasonable_. He expects that
those with whom he has to do will acknowledge the authority of
principle--will see whatever is exhibited in the light of reason. If
they require him to go further, and, in order to convince them, to
do something more than show that the doctrines he maintains, and the
methods he proposes, are accordant with reason--are illustrated and
supported with "self-evident truths"--they are plainly "beside
themselves." They have lost the use of reason. They are not to be
argued with. They belong to the mad-house.


Are we to honor the Bible, which Professor Stuart quaintly calls
"the good old book," by turning away from "self-evident truths" to
receive its instructions? Can these truths be contradicted or denied
there? Do we search for something there to obscure their clearness,
or break their force, or reduce their authority? Do we long to find
something there, in the form of premises or conclusions, of arguing
or of inference, in broad statement or blind hints, creed-wise or
fact-wise, which may set us free from the light and power of first
principles? And what if we were to discover what we were thus in
search of?--something directly or indirectly, expressly or impliedly
prejudicial to the principles, which reason, placing us under the
authority of, makes self-evident? In what estimation, in that case,
should we be constrained to hold the Bible? Could we longer honor
it as the book of God? _The book of God opposed to the authority of_
REASON! Why, before what tribunal do we dispose of the claims of the
sacred volume to divine authority? The tribunal of reason. _This
every one acknowledges the moment he begins to reason on the subject_.
And what must reason do with a book, which reduces the authority of
its own principles--breaks the force of self-evident truths? Is he
not, by way of eminence, the apostle of infidelity, who, as a
minister of the gospel or a professor of sacred literature, exerts
himself, with whatever arts of ingenuity or show of piety, to exalt
the Bible at the expense of reason? Let such arts succeed and such
piety prevail, and Jesus Christ is "crucified afresh and put to an
open shame."

What saith the Princeton professor? Why, in spite of "general
principles," and "clear as we may think the arguments against
DESPOTISM, there have been thousands of ENLIGHTENED _and good men_,
who _honestly_ believe it to be of all forms of government the best
and most acceptable to God."[13] Now these "good men" must have been
thus warmly in favor of despotism, in consequence of, or in
opposition to, their being "enlightened." In other words, the light,
which in such abundance they enjoyed, conducted them to the position
in favor of despotism, where the Princeton professor so heartily
shook hands with them, or they must have forced their way there in
despite of its hallowed influence. Either in accordance with, or in
resistance to the light, they became what he found them--the
advocates of despotism. If in resistance to the light--and he says
they were "enlightened men"--what, so far as the subject with which
alone he and we are now concerned, becomes of their "honesty" and
"goodness?" Good and honest resisters of the light, which was freely
poured around them! Of such, what says Professor Stuart's "good old
Book?" Their authority, where "general principles" command the least
respect, must be small indeed. But if in accordance with the light,
they have become the advocates of despotism, then is despotism
"the best form of government and most acceptable to God." It is
sustained by the authority of reason, by the word of Jehovah, by the
will of Heaven! If this be the doctrine which prevails at certain
theological seminaries, it must be easy to account for the spirit
which they breathe, and the general influence which they exert. Why
did not the Princeton professor place this "general principle" as a
shield, heaven-wrought and reason approved, over that cherished form
of despotism which prevails among the churches of the South, and
leave the "peculiar institutions" he is so forward to defend, under
its protection?

[Footnote 13: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 12.]

What is the "general principle" to which, whatever may become of
despotism, with its "honest" admirers and "enlightened" supporters,
human governments should be universally and carefully adjusted?
Clearly this--_that as capable of, man is entitled to, self
government_. And this is a specific form of a still more
general principle, which may well be pronounced self-evident--_that
every thing should be treated according to its nature_. The mind
that can doubt this, must be incapable of rational conviction.
Man, then,--it is the dictate of reason, it is the voice of
Jehovah--must be treated as _a man_. What is he? What are his
distinctive attributes? The Creator impressed his own image on him.
In this were found the grand peculiarities of his character. Here
shone his glory. Here REASON manifests its laws. Here the WILL puts
forth its volitions. Here is the crown of IMMORTALITY. Why such
endowments? Thus furnished--the image of Jehovah--is he not capable
of self-government? And is he not to be so treated? _Within the
sphere where the laws of reason place him_, may he not act according
to his choice--carry out his own volitions?--may he not enjoy life,
exult in freedom, and pursue as he will the path of blessedness? If
not, why was he so created and endowed? Why the mysterious, awful
attribute of will? To be a source, profound as the depths of hell,
of exquisite misery, of keen anguish, of insufferable torment! Was man,
formed "according to the image of Jehovah," to be crossed, thwarted,
counteracted; to be forced in upon himself; to be the sport of
endless contradictions; to be driven back and forth forever between
mutually repellant forces; and all, all "at the discretion of
another!"[14] How can man be treated according to his nature, as
endowed with reason or will, if excluded from the powers and
privileges of self-government?--if "despotism" be let loose upon
him, to "deprive him of personal liberty, oblige him to serve at the
discretion of another" and with the power of "transferring" such
"authority" over him and such claim upon him, to "another master?"
If "thousands of enlightened and good men" can so easily be found,
who are forward to support "despotism" as "of all governments the
best and most acceptable to God," we need not wonder at the
testimony of universal history, that "the whole creation groaneth
and travaileth in pain together until now." Groans and travail pangs
must continue to be the order of the day throughout "the whole
creation," till the rod of despotism be broken, and man be treated
as man--as capable of, and entitled to, self-government.

[Footnote 14: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 12.]

But what is the despotism whose horrid features our smooth professor
tries to hide beneath an array of cunningly selected words and
nicely-adjusted sentences? It is the despotism of American
slavery--which crushes the very life of humanity out of its victims,
and transforms them to cattle! At its touch, they sink from men to
things! "Slaves," saith Professor Stuart, "were _property_ in Greece
and Rome. That decides all questions about their _relation_." Yes,
truly. And slaves in republican America are _property_; and as that
easily, clearly, and definitely settles "all questions about their
_relation_," why should the Princeton professor have put himself
to the trouble of weaving a definition equally ingenious and
inadequate--at once subtle and deceitful. Ah, why? Was he willing thus
to conceal the wrongs of his mother's children even from himself? If
among the figments of his brain, he could fashion slaves, and make
them something else than property, he knew full well that a very
different pattern was in use among the southern patriarchs. Why did
he not, in plain words and sober earnest, and good faith, describe
the thing as it was, instead of employing honied words and courtly
phrases, to set forth with all becoming vagueness and ambiguity,
what might possibly be supposed to exist in the regions of fancy.


But are we, in maintaining the principle of self-government, to
overlook the unripe, or neglected, or broken powers of any of our
fellow-men with whom we may be connected?--or the strong passions,
vicious propensities, or criminal pursuits of others? Certainly not.
But in providing for their welfare, we are to exert influences and
impose restraints suited to their character. In wielding those
prerogatives which the social of our nature authorizes us to employ
for their benefit, we are to regard them as they are in truth, not
things, not cattle, not articles of merchandize, but men, our
fellow-men--reflecting, from however battered and broken a surface,
reflecting with us the image of a common Father. And the great
principle of self-government is to be the basis, to which the whole
structure of discipline under which they may be placed, should be
adapted. From the nursery and village school on to the work-house
and state-prison, this principle is ever and in all things to be
before the eyes, present in the thoughts, warm on the heart.
Otherwise, God is insulted, while his image is despised and abused.
Yes, indeed; we remember, that in carrying out the principle of
self-government, multiplied embarrassments and obstructions grow out
of wickedness on the one hand and passion on the other. Such
difficulties and obstacles we are far enough from overlooking. But
where are they to be found? Are imbecility and wickedness, bad
hearts and bad heads, confined to the bottom of society? Alas, the
weakest of the weak, and the desperately wicked, often occupy the
high places of the earth, reducing every thing within their reach to
subserviency to the foulest purposes. Nay, the very power they have
usurped, has often been the chief instrument of turning their heads,
inflaming their passions, corrupting their hearts. All the world
knows, that the possession of arbitrary power has a strong tendency
to make men shamelessly wicked and insufferably mischievous. And
this, whether the vassals over whom they domineer, be few or many.
If you cannot trust man with himself, will you put his fellows
under his control?--and flee from the inconveniences incident to
self-government, to the horrors of despotism?


Is the slaveholder, the most absolute and shameless of all despots,
to be entrusted with the discipline of the injured men who he
himself has reduced to cattle?--with the discipline with which they
are to be prepared to wield the powers and enjoy the privileges of
freemen? Alas, of such discipline as _he_ can furnish, in the
relation of owner to property, they have had enough. From this
sprang the very ignorance and vice, which in the view of many, lie
in the way of their immediate enfranchisement. He it is, who has
darkened their eyes and crippled their powers. And are they to look
to him for illumination and renewed vigor!--and expect "grapes from
thorns and figs from thistles!" Heaven forbid! When, according to
arrangements which had usurped the sacred name of law, he consented
to receive and use them as property, he forfeited all claims to the
esteem and confidence, not only of the helpless sufferers themselves,
but also of every philanthropist. In becoming a slaveholder, he
became the enemy of mankind. The very act was a declaration of war
upon human nature. What less can be made of the process of turning
men to cattle? It is rank absurdity--it is the height of madness, to
propose to employ _him_ to train, for the places of freemen, those
whom he has wantonly robbed of every right--whom he has stolen from
themselves. Sooner place Burke, who used to murder for the sake of
selling bodies to the dissector, at the head of a hospital. Why,
what have our slaveholders been about these two hundred years? Have
they not been constantly and earnestly engaged in the work of
education?--training up their human cattle? And how? Thomas
Jefferson shall answer. "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." Is this the way to fit the unprepared for the duties and
privileges of American citizens? Will the evils of the dreadful
process be diminished by adding to its length? What, in 1818, was
the unanimous testimony of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church? Why, after describing a variety of influences growing out of
slavery, most fatal to mental and moral improvement, the General
Assembly assure us, that such "consequences are not imaginary, but
connect themselves WITH THE VERY EXISTENCE[15] of slavery. The evils to
which the slave is _always_ exposed, _often_ take place in fact, and
IN THEIR VERY WORST DEGREE AND FORM; and where all of them do not
take place," "still the slave is deprived of his natural right,
degraded as a human being, and exposed to the danger of passing into
the hands of a master who may inflict upon him all the hardships and
injuries which inhumanity and avarice may suggest." Is this the
condition in which our ecclesiastics would keep the slave, at least
a little longer, to fit him to be restored to himself?

[Footnote 15: The words here marked as emphatic, were so distinguished
by ourselves.]


The methods of discipline under which, as slaveholders; the Southrons
now place their human cattle, they with one consent and in great
wrath, forbid us to examine. The statesman and the priest unite in
the assurance, that these methods are none of our business. Nay, they
give us distinctly to understand, that if we come among them to take
observations, and make inquiries, and discuss questions, they will
dispose of us as outlaws. Nothing will avail to protect us from
speedy and deadly violence! What inference does all this warrant?
Surely, not that the methods which they employ are happy and worthy
of universal application. If so, why do they not take the praise,
and give us the benefit of their wisdom, enterprise, and success? Who,
that has nothing to hide, practices concealment? "He that doeth
truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they
are wrought in God." Is this the way of slaveholders? Darkness they
court--they will have darkness. Doubtless "because their deeds are
evil." Can we confide in methods for the benefit of our enslaved
brethren, which it is death for us to examine? What good ever came,
what good can we expect, from deeds of darkness?

Did the influence of the masters contribute any thing in the West
Indies to prepare the apprentices for enfranchisement? Nay, verily.
All the world knows better. They did what in them lay, to turn back
the tide of blessings, which, through emancipation, was pouring in
upon the famishing around them. Are not the best minds and hearts in
England now thoroughly convinced, that slavery, under no modification,

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