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The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 4 of 4 by American Anti-Slavery Society

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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 prey.

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 1., 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combined military force of the country; and were these repealed, and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 clauses:--

"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 those clauses which have been
mentioned by the worthy member. The first part 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 government 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 five 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
over awed 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 those
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 motto--"EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL--NO UNION WITH

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 equality 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--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, accused 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 Mathew 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 be 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 take 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

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 the 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."[94]

[Footnote 94: 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

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

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 Texas.

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_," and which
pledges to the South the military force of the country, to protect
the masters against their insurgent slaves: 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

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 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 framers 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[95] informs us
that the clause in question, as it came out 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

[Footnote 95: 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,[96] 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 concession."

[Footnote 96: 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 man, to multiply her children from half a million to nearly
three millions; by exacting 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 timeserving and
temporising 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 any thing 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

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 fullness 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

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 favoured 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 not
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
GOVERNMENT AT HOME AND ABROAD, and warping it to the sordid private
interest and oppressive policy of 300,000 owners of slaves.

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. And 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,
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 departments, 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 thousands.

* * * * *

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 slaveholding 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. 13.


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It appears from the census of 1830, that there were then 319,467
free colored persons in the United States. At the present time the
number cannot be less than 360,000. Fifteen States of the Federal
Union have each a smaller population than this aggregate. Hence if
the whole mass of human beings inhabiting Connecticut, or New Jersey,
or any other of these fifteen States, were subjected to the ignorance,
and degradation, and persecution and terror we are about to describe,
as the lot of this much injured people, the amount of suffering would
still be numerically less than that inflicted by a professedly
Christian and republican community upon the free negroes. Candor,
however, compels us to admit that, deplorable as is their condition,
it is still not so wretched as Colonizationists and slaveholders,
for obvious reasons, are fond of representing it. It is not true
that free negroes are "more vicious and miserable than slaves _can_
be,"[97] nor that "it would be as humane to throw slaves from the
decks of the middle passage, as to set them free in this country,"[98]
nor that "a sudden and universal emancipation without
colonization, would be a greater CURSE to the slaves themselves,
than the bondage in which they are held."

[Footnote 97: Rev. Mr. Bacon, of New Haven, 7 Rep. Am. Col. Soc.
p. 99.]

[Footnote 98: African Repository, Vol. IV. p. 226.]

It is a little singular, that in utter despite of these rash
assertions slaveholders and colonizationists unite in assuring us,
that the slaves are rendered _discontented_ by _witnessing_ the
freedom of their colored brethren; and hence we are urged to assist
in banishing to Africa these sable and dangerous mementoes of liberty.

We all know that the wife and children of the free negro are not
ordinarily sold in the market--that he himself does not toil under
the lash, and that in certain parts of our country he is permitted
to acquire some intelligence, and to enjoy some comforts, utterly
and universally denied to the slave. Still it is most unquestionable,
that these people grievously suffer from a cruel and wicked
prejudice--cruel in its consequences; wicked in its voluntary
adoption, and its malignant character.

Colonizationists have taken great pains to inculcate the opinion that
prejudice against color is implanted in our nature by the Author of
our being; and whence they infer the futility of every effort to
elevate the colored man in this country, and consequently the duty
and benevolence of sending him to Africa, beyond the reach of our
cruelty.[99] The theory is as false in fact as it is derogatory to
the character of that God whom we are told is LOVE. With what
astonishment and disgust should we behold an earthly parent exciting
feuds and animosities among his own children; yet we are assured,
and that too by professing Christians, that our heavenly Father has
implanted a principle of hatred, repulsion and alienation between
certain portions of his family on earth, and then commanded them, as
if in mockery, to "love one another."

[Footnote 99: "Prejudices, which neither refinement, nor argument,
nor education, NOR RELIGION ITSELF can subdue, mark the people of
color, whether bond or free, as the subjects of a degradation
_inevitable and incurable_."--_Address of the Connecticut Col.
Society_. "The managers consider it clear that causes exist, and are
now operating, to prevent their improvement and elevation to any
considerable extent as a class in this country, which are fixed, not
only beyond the control of the friends of humanity, but of _any
human power_: CHRISTIANITY cannot do for them here, what it will do
for them in Africa. This is not the _fault_ of the colored man,
_nor of the white man_, but an ORDINATION OF PROVIDENCE, _and no
more to be changed than the laws of nature_."--15 Rep. Am. Col. Soc.
p. 47.

"The people of color must, in this country, remain for ages,
probably for ever, a separate and distinct caste, weighed down by
causes powerful, universal, invincible, which neither legislation
nor CHRISTIANITY can remove."--African Repository Vol. VIII. p. 196.

"Do they (the abolitionists) not perceive that in thus confounding
all the distinctions which GOD himself has made, they arraign the
wisdom and goodness of Providence itself? It has been His divine
pleasure, to make the black man black, and the white man white, and
to distinguish them by other _repulsive_ constitutional
differences."--Speech in Senate of the United States, February 7,

In vain do we seek in nature, for the origin of this prejudice. Young
children never betray it, and on the continent of Europe it is
unknown. We are not speaking of matters of taste, or of opinions of
personal beauty, but of a prejudice against complexion, leading to
insult, degradation and oppression. In no country in Europe is any
man excluded from refined society, or deprived of literary, religious,
or political privileges on account of the tincture of his skin. If
this prejudice is the fiat of the Almighty, most wonderful is it,
that of all the kindreds of the earth, none have been found
submissive to the heavenly impulse, excepting the white inhabitants
of North America; and of these, it is no less strange than true,
that this divine principle of repulsion is most energetic in such
persons as, in other respects, are the least observant of their
Maker's will. This prejudice is sometimes erroneously regarded as
the _cause_ of slavery; and some zealous advocates of emancipation
have flattered themselves that, could the prejudice be destroyed,
negro slavery would fall with it. Such persons have very inadequate
ideas of the malignity of slavery. They forget that the slaves in
Greece and Rome were of the same hue as their masters; and that at
the South, the value of a slave, especially of a female, rises, as
the complexion recedes from the African standard.

Were we to inquire into the geography of this prejudice, we should
find that the localities in which it attains its rankest luxuriance,
are not the rice swamps of Georgia, nor the sugar fields of Louisiana,
but the hills and valleys of New England, and the prairies of Ohio!
It is a fact of acknowledged notoriety, that however severe may be
the laws against colored people at the South, the prejudice against
their _persons_ is far weaker than among ourselves.

It is not necessary for our present purpose, to enter into a
particular investigation of the condition of the free negroes in the
slave States. We all know that they suffer every form of oppression
which the laws can inflict upon persons not actually slaves. That
unjust and cruel enactments should proceed from a people who keep
two millions of their fellow men in abject bondage, and who believe
such enactments essential to the maintenance of their despotism,
certainly affords no cause for surprise.

We turn to the free States, where slavery has not directly steeled
our hearts against human suffering, and where no supposed danger of
insurrection affords a pretext for keeping the free blacks in
ignorance and degradation; and we ask, what is the character of the
prejudice against color _here_? Let the Rev. Mr. Bacon, of
Connecticut, answer the question. This gentleman, in a vindication
of the Colonization Society, assures us, "The _Soodra_ is not
farther separated from the _Brahim_ in regard to all his privileges,
civil, intellectual, and moral, than the negro from the white man by
the prejudices which result from the difference made between them by
THE GOD OF NATURE."--(_Rep. Am. Col. Soc._ p. 87.)

We may here notice the very opposite effect produced on Abolitionists
and Colonizationists, by the consideration that this difference
_is_ made by the GOD OF NATURE; leading the one to discard the
prejudice, and the other to banish its victims.

With these preliminary remarks we will now proceed to take a view of
the condition of the free people of color in the non-slaveholding
States; and will consider in order, the various disabilities and
oppressions to which they are subjected, either by law or the
customs of society.


Were this exclusion founded on the want of property, or any other
qualification deemed essential to the judicious exercise of the
franchise, it would afford no just cause of complaint; but it is
founded solely on the color of the skin, and is therefore irrational
and unjust. That taxation and representation should be inseparable,
was one of the axioms of the fathers of our revolution; and one of
the reasons they assigned for their revolt from the crown of Britain.
But _now_, it is deemed a mark of fanaticism to complain of the
disfranchisement of a whole race, while they remain subject to the
burden of taxation. It is worthy of remark, that of the thirteen
original States, only _two_ were so recreant to the principles of
the Revolution, as to make a _white skin_ a qualification for
suffrage. But the prejudice has grown with our growth, and
strengthened with our strength; and it is believed that in _every_
State constitution subsequently formed or revised,[excepting
Vermont and Maine, and the Revised constitution of Massachusetts,]
the crime of a dark complexion has been punished, by debarring its
possessor from all approach to the ballot-box.[100] The necessary
effect of this proscription in aggravating the oppression and
degradation of the colored inhabitants must be obvious to all who
call to mind the solicitude manifested by demagogues, and
office-seekers, and law makers, to propitiate the good will of all
who have votes to bestow.

[Footnote 100: From this remark the revised constitution of New York
is _nominally_ an exception; colored citizens, possessing a _freehold_
worth two hundred and fifty dollars, being allowed to vote; while
suffrage is extended to _white_ citizens without any property


It is in vain that the Constitution of the United States expressly
guarantees to "the citizens of each State, all the privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several States:"--It is in vain that
the Supreme Court of the United States has solemnly decided that this
clause confers on every citizen of one State the right to "pass
through, or reside in any other State for the purposes of trade,
agriculture, professional pursuits, or _otherwise_." It is in vain
that "the members of the several State legislatures" are required to
"be bound by oath or affirmation to support" the constitution
conferring this very guarantee. Constitutions, and judicial decisions,
and religious obligations are alike outraged by our State enactments
against people of color. There is scarcely a slave State in which a
citizen of New York, with a dark skin, may visit a dying child
without subjecting himself to legal penalties. But in the slave
States we look for cruelty; we expect the rights of humanity and the
laws of the land to be sacrificed on the altar of slavery. In the
free States we had reason to hope for a greater deference to decency
and morality. Yet even in these States we behold the effects of a
miasma wafted from the South. The Connecticut Black Act, prohibiting,
under heavy penalties, the instruction of any colored person from
another State, is well known. It is one of the encouraging signs of
the times, that public opinion has recently compelled the repeal of
this detestable law. But among all the free States, OHIO stands
pre-eminent for the wickedness of her statutes against this class of
our population. These statutes are not merely infamous outrages on
every principle of justice and humanity, but are gross and palpable
violations of the State constitution, and manifest an absence of
moral sentiment in the Ohio legislature as deplorable as it is
alarming. We speak the language, not of passion, but of sober
conviction; and for the truth of this language we appeal, first, to
the Statutes themselves, and then to the consciences of our readers.
We shall have occasion to notice these laws under the several
divisions of our subject to which they belong; at present we ask
attention to the one intended to prevent the colored citizens of
other States from removing into Ohio. By the constitution of New York,
the colored inhabitants are expressly recognized as "citizens." Let
us suppose then a New York freeholder and voter of this class,
confiding in the guarantee given by the Federal constitution removes
into Ohio. No matter how much property he takes with him; no matter
what attestations he produces to the purity of his character, he is
required by the Act of 1807, to find, within twenty days, two
freehold sureties in the sum of five hundred dollars for his _good
behavior_; and likewise for his _maintenance_, should he at any
future period from any cause whatever be unable to maintain himself,
and in default of procuring such sureties he is to be removed by the
overseers of the poor. The legislature well knew that it would
generally be utterly impossible for a stranger, and especially a
_black_ stranger, to find such sureties. It was the _design_ of
the Act, by imposing impracticable conditions, to prevent colored
emigrants from remaining within the State; and in order more
certainly to effect this object, it imposes a pecuniary penalty on
every inhabitant who shall venture to "harbor," that is, receive
under his roof, or who shall even "employ" an emigrant who has not
given the required sureties; and it moreover renders such inhabitant
so harboring or employing him, legally liable for his future

We are frequently told that the efforts of the abolitionists have in
fact aggravated the condition of the colored people, bond and free.
The _date_ of this law, as well as the date of most of the laws
composing the several slave codes, show what credit is to be given
to the assertion. If a barbarous enactment is _recent_, its odium is
thrown upon the friends of the blacks--if _ancient_, we are assured
it is _obsolete_. The Ohio law was enacted only four years after the
State was admitted into the Union. In 1800 there were only three
hundred and thirty-seven free blacks in the territory, and in 1830
the number in the State was nine thousand five hundred. Of course a
very large proportion of the present colored population of the State
must have entered it in ignorance of this iniquitous law, or in
defiance of it. That the law has not been universally enforced,
proves only that the people of Ohio are less profligate than their
legislators--that it has remained in the statute book for thirty-two
years, proves the depraved state of public opinion and the horrible
persecution to which the colored people are legally exposed. But let
it not be supposed that this vile law is in fact obsolete, and its
very existence forgotten.

In 1829, a very general effort was made to enforce this law, and
about _one thousand free blacks_ were in consequence of it driven
out of the State; and sought a refuge in the more free and Christian
country of Canada. Previous to their departure, they sent a
deputation to the Governor of the Upper Province, to know if they
would be admitted, and received from Sir James Colebrook this
reply,--"Tell the _republicans_ on your side of the line, that we
royalists do not know men by their color. Should you come to us, you
will be entitled to all the privileges of the rest of his majesty's
subjects." This was the origin of the Wilberforce colony in Upper

We have now before us an Ohio paper, containing a proclamation by
John S. Wiles, overseer of the poor in the town of Fairfield, dated
12th March, 1838. In this instrument notice is given to all
"black or mulatto persons" residing in Fairfield, to comply with the
requisitions of the Act of 1807 within twenty days, or the law would
be enforced against them. The proclamation also addresses the white
inhabitants of Fairfield in the following terms,--"Whites, look out!
If any person or persons _employing_ any black or mulatto person,
contrary to the 3d section of the above law, you may look out for
the breakers." The extreme vulgarity and malignity of this notice
indicates the spirit which gave birth to this detestable law, and
continues it in being.

Now what says the constitution of Ohio? "ALL are born free and
independent, and have certain natural, inherent, inalienable rights;
among which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty,
_acquiring, possessing, and protecting property_, and pursuing and
attaining happiness and safety." Yet men who had called their Maker
to witness, that they would obey this very constitution, require
impracticable conditions, and then impose a pecuniary penalty and
grievous liabilities on every man who shall give to an innocent
fellow countryman a night's lodging, or even a meal of victuals in
exchange for his honest labor!


We explicitly disclaim all intention to imply that the several
disabilities and cruelties we are specifying are of universal
application. The laws of some States in relation to people of color
are more wicked than others; and the spirit of persecution is not in
every place equally active and malignant. In none of the free States
have these people so many grievances to complain of as in Ohio, and
for the honor of our country we rejoice to add, that in no other
State in the Union, has their right to petition for a redress of
their grievances been denied.

On the 14th January, 1839, a petition for relief from certain legal
disabilities, from colored inhabitants of Ohio, was presented to the
_popular_ branch of the legislature, and its rejection was moved
by George H. Flood.[101] This rejection was not a denial of the prayer,
but an _expulsion of the petition itself_, as an intruder into the
house. "The question presented for our decision," said one of the
members, "is simply this--Shall human beings, who are bound by every
enactment upon our statute book, be _permitted_ to _request_ the
legislature to modify or soften the laws under which they live?" To
the Grand Sultan, crowded with petitions as he traverses the streets
of Constantinople, such a question would seem most strange; but
American democrats can exert a tyranny over _men who have no votes_,
utterly unknown to Turkish despotism. Mr. Flood's motion was lost by
a majority of only _four_ votes; but this triumph of humanity and
republicanism was as transient as it was meagre. The _next_ day, the
House, by a large majority, resolved: "That the blacks and mulattoes
who may be residents within this State, have no constitutional right
to present their petitions to the General Assembly for any purpose
whatsoever, and that any reception of such petitions on the part of
the General Assembly is a mere act of privilege or policy, and not
imposed by any expressed or implied power of the Constitution."

[Footnote 101: It is sometimes interesting to preserve the names of
individuals who have perpetrated bold and unusual enormities.]

The phraseology of this resolution is as clumsy as its assertions are
base and sophistical. The meaning intended to be expressed is simply,
that the Constitution of Ohio, neither in terms nor by implication,
confers on such residents as are negroes or mulattoes, any right
to offer a petition to the legislature for any object whatever; nor
imposes on that body any obligation to notice such a petition; and
whatever attention it may please to bestow upon it, ought to be
regarded as an act not of duty, but merely of favor or expediency.
Hence it is obvious, that the _principle_ on which the resolution is
founded is, that the reciprocal right and duty of offering and
hearing petitions _rest solely on constitutional enactment_, and not
on moral obligation. The reception of negro petitions is declared
to be a mere act of _privilege or policy_. Now it is difficult to
imagine a principle more utterly subversive of all the duties of
rulers, the rights of citizens, and the charities of private life.
The victim of oppression or fraud has no _right_ to appeal to the
constituted authorities for redress; nor are those authorities under
any obligation to consider the appeal--the needy and unfortunate
have no right to implore the assistance of their more fortunate
neighbors: and all are at liberty to turn a deaf ear to the cry of
distress. The eternal and immutable principles of justice and
humanity, proclaimed by Jehovah, and impressed by him on the
conscience of man, have no binding force on the legislature of Ohio,
unless expressly adopted and enforced by the State Constitution!

But as the legislature has thought proper thus to set at defiance the
moral sense of mankind, and to take refuge behind the enactments of
the Constitution, let us try the strength of their entrenchments. The
words of the Constitution, which it is pretended sanction the
resolution we are considering are the following, viz.--"The _people_
have a right to assemble together in a peaceable manner to consult
for their common good, to _instruct their representatives_, and to
apply to the legislature for a redress of grievances." It is obvious
that this clause confers no rights, but is merely declaratory of
existing rights. Still, as the right of the people to apply for a
redress of grievances is coupled with the right of _instructing
their representatives_, and as negroes are not electors and
consequently are without representatives, it is inferred that they
are not part of _the people_. That Ohio legislators are not
Christians would be a more rational conclusion. One of the members
avowed his opinion that "none but voters had a right to petition." If
then, according to the principle of the resolution, the Constitution
of Ohio denies the right of petition to all but electors, let us
consider the practical results of such a denial. In the first place,
every female in the State is placed under the same disability with
"blacks and mulattoes." No wife has a right to ask for a divorce--no
daughter may plead for a father's life. Next, no man under
twenty-one years--no citizen of any age, who from want of sufficient
residence, or other qualification, is not entitled to vote--no
individual among the tens of thousands of aliens in the
State--however oppressed and wronged by official tyranny or
corruption, has a right to seek redress from the representatives of
the people, and should he presume to do so, may be told, that, like
"blacks and mulattoes," he "has no constitutional right to present
his petition to the General Assembly for any purpose whatever."
Again--the State of Ohio is deeply indebted to the citizens of other
States, and also to the subjects of Great Britain for money borrowed
to construct her canals. Should any of these creditors lose their
certificates of debt, and ask for their renewal; or should their
interest be withheld, or paid in depreciated currency, and were they
to ask for justice at the hands of the legislature, they might be
told, that any attention paid to their request must be regarded as a
"mere act of privilege or policy, and not imposed by any expressed
or implied power of the Constitution," for, not being voters, they
stood on the same ground as "blacks and mulattoes." Such is the
folly and wickedness in which prejudice against color has involved
the legislators of a republican and professedly Christian State in
the nineteenth century.


The Federal Government is probably the only one in the world that
forbids a portion of its subjects to participate in the national
defence, not from any doubts of their courage, loyalty, or physical
strength, but merely on account of the tincture of their skin! To
such an absurd extent is this prejudice against color carried, that
some of our militia companies have occasionally refused to march to
the sound of a drum when beaten by a black man. To declare a certain
class of the community unworthy to bear arms in defence of their
native country, is necessarily to consign that class to general


No colored man can be a judge, juror, or constable. Were the talents
and acquirements of a Mansfield or a Marshall veiled in a sable skin,
they would be excluded from the bench of the humblest court in the
American republic. In the slave States generally, no black man can
enter a court of justice as a witness against a white one. Of course
a white man may, with perfect impunity, defraud or abuse a negro to
any extent, provided he is careful to avoid the presence of any of
his own caste, at the execution of his contract, or the indulgence of
his malice. We are not aware that an outrage so flagrant is
sanctioned by the laws of any _free_ State, with one exception. That
exception the reader will readily believe can be none other than OHIO.
A statute of this State enacts, "that no black or mulatto _person_ or
_persons_ shall hereafter be permitted to be sworn, or give evidence
in any court of Record or elsewhere, in this State, in any cause
depending, or matter of controversy, when either party to the same
is a WHITE person; or in any prosecution of the State against any
WHITE person."

We have seen that on the subject of petition the legislature regards
itself as independent of all obligation except such as is imposed by
the Constitution. How mindful they are of the requirements even of
that instrument, when obedience to them would check the indulgence of
their malignity to the blacks, appears from the 7th Section of the
8th Article, viz.--"All courts shall be open, and every _person_, for
any injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall
have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered
without denial or delay."

Ohio legislators may deny that negroes and mulattoes are citizens, or
people; but they are estopped by the very words of the statute just
quoted, from denying that they are "_persons_." Now, by the
Constitution every _person_, black as well as white, is to have
justice administered to him without denial or delay. But by the law,
while any unknown _white_ vagrant may be a witness in any case
whatever, no black suitor is permitted to offer a witness of his own
color, however well established may be his character for
intelligence and veracity, to prove his rights or his wrongs; and
hence in a multitude of cases, justice is denied in despite of the
Constitution; and why denied? Solely from a foolish and wicked
prejudice against color.


No people have ever professed so deep a conviction of the importance
of popular education as ourselves, and no people have ever resorted
to such cruel expedients to perpetuate abject ignorance. More than
one third of the whole population of the slave States are prohibited
from learning even to read, and in some of them free men, if with
dark complexions, are subject to stripes for teaching their own
children. If we turn to the free States, we find that in all of them,
without exception, the prejudices and customs of society oppose
almost insuperable obstacles to the acquisition of a liberal
education by colored youth. Our academies and colleges are barred
against them. We know there are instances of young men with dark
skins having been received, under peculiar circumstances, into
northern colleges; but we neither know nor believe, that there have
been a dozen such instances within the last thirty years.

Colored children are very generally excluded from our common schools,
in consequence of the prejudices of teachers and parents. In some of
our cities there are schools _exclusively_ for their use, but in the
country the colored population is usually too sparse to justify such
schools; and white and black children are rarely seen studying under
the same roof; although such cases do sometimes occur, and then they
are confined to elementary schools. Some colored young men, who
could bear the expense, have obtained in European seminaries the
education denied them in their native land.

It may not be useless to cite an instance of the malignity with
which the education of the blacks is opposed. The efforts made in
Connecticut to prevent the establishment of schools of a higher order
than usual for colored pupils, are too well known to need a recital
here; and her BLACK ACT, prohibiting the instruction of colored
children from other States, although now expunged from her statute
book through the influence of abolitionists, will long be remembered
to the opprobrium of her citizens. We ask attention to the following
illustration of public opinion in another New England State.

In 1834 an academy was built by subscription in CANAAN, New Hampshire,
and a charter granted by the legislature; and at a meeting of the
proprietors it was determined to receive all applicants having
"suitable moral and intellectual recommendations, without other
distinctions;" in other words, without reference to _complexion_.
When this determination was made known, a TOWN MEETING was forthwith
convened, and the following resolutions adopted, viz.

"RESOLVED, That we view with _abhorrence_ the attempt of the
Abolitionists to establish in this town a school for the instruction
of the sable sons and daughters of Africa, in common with our sons
and daughters.

"RESOLVED, That we will not associate with, nor in any way
countenance, any man or woman who shall hereafter persist in
attempting to establish a school in this town for the _exclusive_
education of blacks, _or_ for their education in conjunction with
the whites."

The frankness of this last resolve is commendable. The inhabitants
of Canaan, assembled in legal town meeting, determined, it seems,
that the blacks among them should in future have no education
whatever--they should not be instructed in company with the whites,
neither should they have schools exclusively for themselves.

The proprietors of the academy supposing, in the simplicity of their
hearts, that in a free country they might use their property in any
manner not forbidden by law, proceeded to open their school, and in
the ensuing spring had twenty-eight white, and fourteen colored
scholars. The crisis had now arrived when the cause of prejudice
demanded the sacrifice of constitutional liberty and of private
property. Another town meeting was convoked, at which, without a
shadow of authority, and in utter contempt of law and decency, it
was ordered, that the academy should be forcibly removed, and a
committee was appointed to execute the abominable mandate. Due
preparations were made for the occasion, and on the 10th of August,
three hundred men, with about 200 oxen, assembled at the place, and
taking the edifice from off its foundation, dragged it to a distance,
and left it a ruin. No one of the actors in this high-handed outrage
was ever brought before a court of justice to answer for this
criminal and riotous destruction of the property of others.

The transaction we have narrated, expresses in emphatic terms the
deep and settled hostility felt in the free States to the education
of the blacks. The prejudices of the community render that hostility
generally effective without the aid of legal enactments. Indeed,
some remaining regard to decency and the opinion of the world, has
restrained the Legislatures of the free States, with _one exception_,
from consigning these unhappy people to ignorance by "decreeing
unrighteous decrees," and "framing mischief by a law." Our readers,
no doubt, feel that the exception must of course be OHIO.

We have seen with what deference Ohio legislators profess to regard
their _constitutional_ obligations; and we are now to contemplate
another instance of their shameless violation of them. The
Constitution which these men have sworn to obey declares, "NO LAW
SHALL BE PASSED to prevent the poor of the several townships and
counties in this State from an _equal_ participation in the schools,
academies, colleges, and universities in this State, which are
endowed in whole, or _in part_, from the revenue arising from
_donations_ made by the United States, for the support of _colleges
and schools_--and the door of said schools, academies, and
universities shall be open for the reception of scholars, students,
and teachers of every _grade_, without ANY DISTINCTION OR PREFERENCE

Can language be more explicit or unequivocal? But have any donations
been made by the United States for the support of colleges and
schools in Ohio? Yes--by an act of Congress, the sixteenth section of
land in _each_ originally surveyed township in the State, was set
apart as a donation for the express purpose of endowing and
supporting common schools. And now, how have the scrupulous
legislators of Ohio, who refuse to acknowledge any other than
constitutional obligations to give ear to the cry of distress--how
have they obeyed this injunction of the Constitution respecting the
freedom of their schools? They enacted a law in 1831, declaring that,
"when any appropriation shall be made by the directors of any school
district, from the treasury thereof, for the payment of a teacher,
the school in such district shall be open"--to whom? "_to scholars,
students, and teachers of every grade, without distinction or
preference whatever_," as commanded by the Constitution? Oh no!
"Shall be open to all the WHITE children residing therein!!" Such is
the impotency of written constitutions, where a sense of moral
obligation is wanting to enforce them.

We have now taken a review of the Ohio laws against free people of
color. Some of them are of old, and others of recent date. The
opinion entertained of all these laws, new and old, by the _present_
legislators of Ohio, may be learned by a resolution adopted in
January last, (1839) by both houses of the legislature. "RESOLVED,
That in the opinion of this general assembly it is unwise, impolitic,
and inexpedient to repeal _any_ law now in force imposing
disabilities upon black or mulatto persons, thus placing them upon
an equality with the whites, so far as this legislature can do, and
indirectly inviting the black population of other States to emigrate
to this, to the manifest injury of the public interest." The best
comment on the _spirit_ which dictated this resolve is an enactment
by the _same_ legislature, abrogating the supreme law which requires
us to "Do unto others as we would they should do unto us," and
prohibiting every citizen of Ohio from _harboring or concealing_ a
fugitive slave, under the penalty of fine or imprisonment. General
obedience to this vile statute is alone wanting to fill to the brim
the cup of Ohio's iniquity and degradation. She hath done what she
could to oppress and crush the free negroes within her borders. She
is now seeking to rechain the slave who has escaped from his fetters.


It is unnecessary to dwell here on the laws of the slave States
prohibiting the free people of color from learning to read the Bible,
and in many instances, from assembling at discretion to worship their
Creator. These laws, we are assured, are indispensable to the
perpetuity of that "peculiar institution," which many masters in
Israel are now teaching, enjoys the sanction of HIM who "will have
all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth," and
who has left to his disciples the injunction, "search the Scriptures."
We turn to the free States, in which no institution requires, that
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should be prevented from
shining on any portion of the population, and inquire how far
prejudice here supplies the place of southern statutes.

The impediments to education already mentioned, necessarily render
the acquisition of religious knowledge difficult, and in many
instances impracticable. In the northern cities, the blacks have
frequently churches of their own, but in the country they are too few,
and too poor to build churches and maintain ministers. Of course they
must remain destitute of public worship and religious instruction,
unless they can enjoy these blessings in company with the whites.
Now there is hardly a church in the United States, not exclusively
appropriated to the blacks, in which one of their number owns a pew,
or has a voice in the choice of a minister. There are usually, indeed,
a few seats in a remote part of the church, set apart for their use,
and in which no white person is ever seen. It is surely not
surprising, under all the circumstances of the case, that these
seats are rarely crowded.

Colored ministers are occasionally ordained in the different
denominations, but they are kept at a distance by their white
brethren in the ministry, and are very rarely permitted to enter
their pulpits; and still more rarely, to sit at their tables,
although acknowledged to be ambassadors of Christ. The distinction
of _caste_ is not forgotten, even in the celebration of the Lord's
Supper, and seldom are colored disciples permitted to eat and drink
of the memorials of the Redeemer's passion till after every white
communicant has been served.


In this country ignorance and poverty are almost inseparable
companions; and it is surely not strange that those should be poor
whom we compel to be ignorant. The liberal professions are virtually
sealed against the blacks, if we except the church, and even in that
admission is rendered difficult by the obstacles placed in their way
in acquiring the requisite literary qualifications;[102] and when once
admitted, their administrations are confined to their own color.
Many of our most wealthy and influential citizens have commenced
life as ignorant and as pennyless as any negro who loiters in our
streets. Had their complexion been dark, notwithstanding their
talents, industry, enterprize and probity, they would have continued
ignorant and pennyless, because the paths to learning and to wealth,
would then have been closed against them. There is a conspiracy,
embracing all the departments of society, to keep the black man
ignorant and poor. As a general rule, admitting few if any exceptions,
the schools of literature and of science reject him--the counting
house refuses to receive him as a bookkeeper, much more as a
partner--no store admits him as a clerk--no shop as an apprentice.
Here and there a black man may be found keeping a few trifles on a
shelf for sale; and a few acquire, as if by stealth, the knowledge
of some handicraft; but almost universally these people, both in
town and country, are prevented by the customs of society from
maintaining themselves and their families by any other than menial

[Footnote 102: Of the truth of this remark, the trustees of the
Episcopal Theological Seminary at New-York, lately (June, 1839)
afforded a striking illustration. A young man, regularly
acknowledged by the Bishop as a candidate for orders, and in
consequence of such acknowledgment entitled, by an _express statute_
of the seminary, to admission to its privileges, presented himself
as a pupil. But God had given him a dark complexion, and _therefore_
the trustees, regardless of the statute, barred the doors against him,
by a formal and deliberate vote. As a compromise between conscience
and prejudice, the professors offered to give him _private_
instruction--to do in secret what they were ashamed to do openly--to
confer as a favor, what he was entitled to demand as a right. The
offer was rejected.

It is worthy of remark, that of the trustees who took an _active_
part against the _colored_ candidate, one is the PRESIDENT _of the
New York Colonization Society_; another a MANAGER, and a third, one
of its public champions; and that the Bishop of the diocese, who
wished to exclude his candidate from the theological school of which
he is both a trustee and a professor, lately headed a recommendation
in the newspapers for the purchase of a packet ship for Liberia, as
likely to "render far more efficient than heretofore, the enterprize
of colonization."]

In 1836, a black man of irreproachable character, and who by his
industry and frugality had accumulated several thousand dollars, made
application in the City of New York for a carman's license, and was
refused solely and avowedly on account of his complexion! We have
already seen the effort of the Ohio legislature, to consign the
negroes to starvation, by deterring others from employing them.
Ignorance, idleness, and vice, are at once the punishments we
inflict upon these unfortunate people for their complexion; and the
crimes with which we are constantly reproaching them.


An able-bodied colored man sells in the southern market for from
eight hundred to a thousand dollars; of course he is worth stealing.
Colonizationists and slaveholders, and many northern divines,
solemnly affirm, that the situation of a slave is far preferable to
that of a free negro; hence it would seem an act of humanity to
convert the latter into the former. Kidnapping being both a
lucrative and a benevolent business, it is not strange it should be
extensively practised. In many of the States this business is
regulated by law, and there are various ways in which the
transmutation is legally effected. Thus, in South Carolina, if a
free negro "entertains" a runaway slave, it may be his own wife or
child, he himself is turned into a slave. In 1827, a _free woman
and her three children_ underwent this benevolent process, for
_entertaining_ two fugitive children of six and nine years old. In
Virginia all emancipated slaves remaining twelve months in the State,
are kindly restored to their former condition. In Maryland a free
negro who marries a white woman, thereby acquires all the privileges
of a slave--and generally, throughout the slave region, including
the District of Columbia, every negro not known to be free, is
mercifully considered as a slave, and if his master cannot be
ascertained, he is thrown into a dungeon, and there kept, till by a
public sale a master can be provided for him. But often the law
grants to colored men, _known to be free_, all the advantages of
slavery. Thus, in Georgia, every _free_ colored man coming into the
State, and unable to pay a fine of one hundred dollars, becomes a
slave for life; in Florida, insolvent debtors, if _black_, are SOLD
for the benefit of their creditors; and in the District of Columbia
a free colored man, thrown into jail on suspicion of being a slave
and proving his freedom, is required by law to be sold as a slave,
if too poor to pay his jail fees. Let it not be supposed that these
laws are all obsolete and inoperative. They catch many a northern
negro, who, in pursuit of his own business, or on being decoyed
by others ventures to enter the slave region; and who, of course,
helps to augment the wealth of our southern brethren. On the 6th
of March, 1839, a report by a Committee was made to the House of
Representatives of the Massachusetts Legislature, in which are given
the _names_ of seventeen free colored men who had been enslaved at
the south. It also states an instance in which twenty-five colored
citizens, belonging to Massachusetts, were confined at one time in a
southern jail, and another instance in which 75 free colored persons
from different free States were confined, all preparatory to their
sale as slaves according to law.

The facts disclosed in this report induced the Massachusetts
Legislature to pass a resolution protesting against the kidnapping
laws of the slave States, "as invading the sacred rights of citizens
of this commonwealth, as contrary to the Constitution of the United
States, and in utter derogation of that great principle of the
common law which presumes every person to be innocent until proved
to be guilty;" and ordered the protest to be forwarded to the
Governors of the several States.

But it is not at the south alone that freemen may be converted into
slaves "according to law." The Act of Congress respecting the
recovery of fugitive slaves, affords most extraordinary facilities
for this process, through official corruption and individual perjury.
By this Act, the claimant is permitted to _select_ a justice of the
peace, before whom he may bring or send his alleged slave, and even
to prove his property by _affidavit_. Indeed, in almost every State
in the Union, a slaveholder may recover at law a human being as his
beast of burden with far less ceremony than he could his pig from
the possession of his neighbor. In only three States is a man,
claimed as a slave, entitled to a trial by jury. At the last session
of the New York Legislature a bill allowing a jury trial in such
cases was passed by the lower House, but rejected by a _democratic_
vote in the Senate, democracy in that State, being avowedly only
_skin_ deep, all its principles of liberty, equality, and human rights
depending on complexion.

Considering the wonderful ease and expedition with which fugitives
may be recovered by law, it would be very strange if mistakes did not
sometimes occur. _How_ often they occur cannot, of course, be known,
and it is only when a claim is _defeated_, that we are made sensible
of the exceedingly precarious tenure by which a poor friendless
negro at the north holds his personal liberty. A few years since, a
girl of the name of Mary Gilmore was arrested in Philadelphia, as a
fugitive slave from Maryland. Testimony was not wanting in support
of the claim; yet it was most conclusively proved that she was the
daughter of poor _Irish_ parents--having not a drop of negro blood
in her veins--that the father had absconded, and that the mother had
died a drunkard in the Philadelphia hospital, and that the infant
had been kindly received and _brought up in a colored family_. Hence
the attempt to make a slave of her. In the spring of 1839, a colored
man was arrested in Philadelphia, on a charge of having absconded
from his owner _twenty-three_ years before. This man had a wife and
family depending upon him, and a home where he enjoyed their society;
and yet, unless he could find witnesses who could prove his freedom
for more than this number of years, he was to be torn from his wife,
his children, his home, and doomed for the remainder of his days to
toil under the lash. _Four_ witnesses for the claimant swore to his
identity, although they had not seen him before for twenty-three years!
By a most extraordinary coincidence, a New England Captain, with
whom this negro had sailed _twenty-nine_ years before, in a sloop
from Nantucket, happened at this very time to be confined for debt
in the same prison with the alleged slave, and the Captain's
testimony, together with that of some other witnesses, who had
known the man previous to his pretended elopement, so fully
established his freedom, that the Court discharged him.

Another mode of legal kidnapping still remains to be described. By
the Federal Constitution, fugitives from _justice_ are to be
delivered up, and under this constitutional provision, a free negro
may be converted into a slave without troubling even a Justice of
the Peace to hear the evidence of the captor's claim. A fugitive
slave is, of course, a felon--he not only steals himself, but also
the rags on his back which belong to his master. It is understood he
has taken refuge in New York, and his master naturally wishes to
recover him with as little noise, trouble, and delay as possible.
The way is simple and easy. Let the Grand Jury indict A.B. for
stealing wearing apparel, and let the indictment, with an affidavit
of the criminal's flight, be forwarded by the Governor of the State,
to his Excellency of New York, with a requisition for the delivery
of A.B., to the agent appointed to receive him. A warrant is, of
course, issued to "any Constable of the State of New York," to
arrest A.B. For what purpose?--to bring him before a magistrate
where his identity may be established?--no, but to deliver him up to
the foreign agent. Hence, the Constable may pick up the first likely
negro he finds in the street, and ship him to the south; and should
it be found, on his arrival on the plantation, that the wrong man
has come, it will also probably be found that the mistake is of no
consequence to the planter. A few years since, the Governor of New
York signed a warrant for the apprehension of 17 Virginia negroes,
as fugitives from justice.[103] Under this warrant, a man who had
lived in the neighborhood for three years, and had a wife and
children, and who claimed to be free, was seized, on a Sunday evening,
in the public highway, in West Chester County, N.Y., and without
being permitted to take leave of his family, was instantly
hand-cuffed, thrown into a carriage, and hurried to New York, and
the next morning was on his voyage to Virginia.

[Footnote 103: There is no evidence that he knew they were negroes;
or that he acted otherwise than in perfect good faith. The alleged
crime was stealing a boat. The _real_ crime, it is said, was
stealing themselves and escaping in a boat. The most horrible abuses
of these warrants can only be prevented by requiring proof of
identity before delivery.]

Free colored men are converted into slaves not only by law, but also
contrary to law. It is, of course, difficult to estimate the extent
to which illegal kidnapping is carried, since a large number of
cases must escape detection. In a work published by Judge Stroud, of
Philadelphia, in 1827, he states, that it had been _ascertained_
that more than _thirty_ free colored persons, mostly children, had
been kidnapped in that city within the last two years.[104]

[Footnote 104: Stroud's Sketch of the Slave Laws, p. 94.]


The feeling of the community towards these people, and the contempt
with which they are treated, are indicated by the following notice,
lately published by the proprietors of a menagerie, in New York.
"The proprietors wish it to be understood, that people of color are
not permitted to enter, _except when in attendance upon children and
families_." For two shillings, any white scavenger would be freely
admitted, and so would negroes, provided they came in a capacity
that marked their dependence--their presence is offensive, _only_
when they come as independent spectators, gratifying a laudable

Even death, the great leveller, is not permitted to obliterate, among
Christians, the distinction of caste, or to rescue the lifeless form
of the colored man from the insults of his white brethren. In the
porch of a Presbyterian Church, in Philadelphia, in 1837, was
suspended a card, containing the form of a deed, to be given to
purchasers of lots in a certain burial ground, and to enhance the
value of the property, and to entice buyers, the following clause was
inserted, "No person of _color_, nor any one who has been the
subject of _execution_, shall be interred in said lot."

Our colored fellow-citizens, like others, are occasionally called to
pass from one place to another; and in doing so are compelled to
submit to innumerable hardships and indignities. They are frequently
denied seats in our stage coaches; and although admitted upon the
_decks_ of our steam boats, are almost universally excluded from
the cabins. Even women have been forced, in cold weather, to pass
the night upon deck, and in one instance the wife of a colored
clergyman lost her life in consequence of such an exposure.

The contempt poured upon these people by our laws, our churches, our
seminaries, our professions, naturally invokes upon their heads the
fierce wrath of vulgar malignity. In order to exhibit the actual
condition of this portion of our population, we will here insert
some _samples_ of the outrages to which they are subjected, taken
from the ordinary public journals.

In an account of the New York riots of 1834, the _Commercial
Advertiser_ says--"About twenty poor African (native American)
families, have had their all destroyed, and have neither bed,
clothing, nor food remaining. Their houses are completely eviscerated,
their furniture a wreck, and the ruined and disconsolate tenants of
the devoted houses are reduced to the necessity of applying to the
corporation for bread."

The example set in New York was zealously followed in Philadelphia.
"Some arrangement, it appears, existed between the mob and the white
inhabitants, as the dwelling houses of the latter, contiguous to the
residences of the blacks, were illuminated and left undisturbed,
while the huts of the negroes were singled out with unerring
certainty. The furniture found in these houses was generally broken
up and destroyed--beds ripped open and their contents scattered in
the streets.... The number of houses assailed was not less than
twenty. In one house there was a _corpse, which was thrown from the
coffin, and in another a dead infant was taken out of the bed, and
cast on the floor, the mother being at the same time barbarously
treated_."--_Philadelphia Gazette_.

"No case is reported of an attack having been _invited_ or _provoked_
by the residents of the dwellings assailed or destroyed. The extent
of the depredations committed on the _three_ evenings of riot and
outrage can only be judged of by the number of houses damaged or
destroyed. So far as ascertained, this amounts to FORTY-FIVE. One of
the houses assaulted was occupied by an unfortunate cripple--who,
unable to fly from the fury of the mob, was so beaten by some of the
ruffians, that he has since died in consequence of the bruises and
wounds inflicted ... For the last two days the Jersey steam boats
have been loaded with numbers of the colored population, who,
fearful their lives were not safe in this, determined to seek refuge
in another State. On the Jersey side, tents were erected, and the
negroes have taken up a temporary residence, until a prospect shall
be offered for their perpetual location in some place of security
and liberty."--_National Gazette_.

The facts we have now exhibited, abundantly prove the extreme
cruelty and sinfulness of that prejudice against color which we are
impiously told is an ORDINATION OF PROVIDENCE. Colonizationists,
assuming the prejudice to be natural and invincible, propose to
remove its victims beyond its influence. Abolitionists, on the
contrary, remembering with the Psalmist, that "It is HE that hath
made us, and not we ourselves," believe that the benevolent Father
of us all requires us to treat with justice and kindness every
portion of the human family, notwithstanding any particular
organization he has been pleased to impress upon them. Instead,
therefore, of gratifying and fostering this prejudice, by
continually banishing from our country those against whom it is
directed, Abolitionists are anxious to destroy the prejudice itself;
feeling, to use the language of another, that--"It is time to
recognize in the humblest portions of society, partakers of our
nature with all its high prerogatives and awful destinies--time to
remember that our distinctions are _exterior_ and evanescent, our
resemblance real and permanent--that all is transient but what is
moral and spiritual--that the only graces we can carry with us into
another world, are graces of divine implantation, and that amid the
rude incrustations of poverty and ignorance there lurks an
imperishable jewel--a SOUL, susceptible of the highest spiritual
beauty, destined, perhaps, to adorn the celestial abodes, and to
shine for ever in the mediatorial diadem of the Son of God--_Take
heed that ye despise not one of these little ones_."

No. 13.


* * * * *

"The preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery
is the vital and animating spirit of the National Government."




The American Anti-Slavery Society, at its Annual Meeting in May, 1844,
adopted the following Resolution:

_Resolved_, That secession from the present United States
government is the duty of every abolitionist; since no one can take
office, or throw a vote for another to hold office, under the United
States Constitution, without violating his anti-slavery principles,
and rendering himself an abettor of the slaveholder in his sin.

The passage of this Resolution has caused two charges to be brought
against the Society: _First_, that it is a _no-government_ body,
and that the whole doctrine of non-resistance is endorsed by this
vote:--and _secondly_, that the Society transcended its proper
sphere and constitutional powers by taking such a step.

The logic which infers that because a man thinks the Federal
Government bad, he must necessarily think _all_ government so, has
at least, the merit and the charm of novelty. There is a spice of
arrogance just perceptible, in the conclusion that the Constitution
of these United States is so perfect, that one who dislikes it could
never be satisfied with any form of government whatever!

Were O'Connell and his fellow Catholics non-resistants, because for
two hundred years they submitted to exclusion from the House of
Lords and the House of Commons, rather than qualify themselves for a
seat by an oath abjuring the Pope? Were the _non-juring_ Bishops of
England non-resistants, when they went down to the grave without
taking their seats in the House of Lords, rather than take an oath
denying the Stuarts and to support the House of Hanover? Both might
have purchased power at the price of one annual falsehood. There are
some in this country who do not seem to think that price at all
unreasonable. It were a rare compliment indeed to the non-resistants,
if every exhibition of rigid principle on the part of an individual
is to make the world suspect him of leaning towards their faith.

The Society is not opposed to government, but only to _this_
Government based upon and acting for slavery.

With regard to the second charge, of exceeding its proper limits and
trespassing on the rights of the minority, it is enough to say, that
the object of the American Anti-Slavery Society is the "entire
abolition of slavery in the United States." Of course it is its duty
to find out all the sources of pro-slavery influence in the land. It
is its right, it is its duty to try every institution in the land,
no matter how venerable, or sacred, by the touchstone of
anti-slavery principle; and if it finds any one false, to proclaim
that fact to the world, with more or less of energy, according to
its importance in society. It has tried the Constitution, and
pronounced it unsound.

No member's conscience need be injured--The qualification for
membership remains the same, "the belief that slave-holding is a
heinous crime"--No new test has been set up--But the majority of the
Society, for the time being, faithful to its duty of trying every
institution by the light of the present day--of uttering its opinion
on every passing event that touches the slave's welfare, has seen it
to be duty to sound forth its warning,


No one who did not vote for the Resolution is responsible for it. No
one is asked to quit our platform. We, the majority, only ask him to
extend to our opinions the same toleration that we extend to him,
and agreeing to differ on this point, work together where we can. We
proscribe no man for difference of opinion.

It is said, that having refused in 1840, to say that a man _ought to
vote_, on the ground that such a resolution would be tyrannical and
intolerant, the Society is manifestly inconsistent now in taking
upon itself to say that no abolitionist _can_ consistently vote. But
the inconsistency is only apparent and not real.

There may he a thousand reasons why a particular individual ought
not to do an act, though the act be innocent in itself. It would be
tyranny therefore in a society which can properly take notice of but
one subject, slavery, to promulgate the doctrine that all its
members ought to do any particular act, as for instance, to vote, to
give money, to lecture, to petition, or the like. The particular
circumstances and opinions of each one must regulate his actions.
All we have a right to ask is, that he do for the slave's cause as
much as he does for any other of equal importance. But when an act
is wrong, it is no intolerance to say to the whole world that it
ought _not to be done_. After the abolitionist has granted that
slavery is wrong, we have the right to judge him by his own
principles, and arraign him for inconsistency that, so believing, he
helps the slaveholder by his oath.

The following pages have been hastily thrown together in explanation
of the vote above recited. They make no pretension to a full
argument of the topic. I hope that in a short time I shall get

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