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Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Part 12 out of 12

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But it is not true. The people of the free states have defended,
encouraged, and participated; and are more guilty for it, before
God, than the South, in that they have not the apology of education
or custom.

If the mothers of the free states had all felt as they should,
in times past, the sons of the free states would not have been
the holders, and, proverbially, the hardest masters of slaves;
the sons of the free states would not have connived at the extension
of slavery, in our national body; the sons of the free states would
not, as they do, trade the souls and bodies of men as an equivalent
to money, in their mercantile dealings. There are multitudes of
slaves temporarily owned, and sold again, by merchants in northern
cities; and shall the whole guilt or obloquy of slavery fall only
on the South?

Northern men, northern mothers, northern Christians, have
something more to do than denounce their brethren at the South;
they have to look to the evil among themselves.

But, what can any individual do? Of that, every individual
can judge. There is one thing that every individual can do,--they
can see to it that _they feel right_. An atmosphere of sympathetic
influence encircles every human being; and the man or woman who
_feels_ strongly, healthily and justly, on the great interests of
humanity, is a constant benefactor to the human race. See, then,
to your sympathies in this matter! Are they in harmony with the
sympathies of Christ? or are they swayed and perverted by the
sophistries of worldly policy?

Christian men and women of the North! still further,--you have
another power; you can _pray!_ Do you believe in prayer? or has
it become an indistinct apostolic tradition? You pray for the
heathen abroad; pray also for the heathen at home. And pray for
those distressed Christians whose whole chance of religious
improvement is an accident of trade and sale; from whom any
adherence to the morals of Christianity is, in many cases, an
impossibility, unless they have given them, from above, the courage
and grace of martyrdom.

But, still more. On the shores of our free states are emerging
the poor, shattered, broken remnants of families,--men and women,
escaped, by miraculous providences from the surges of
slavery,--feeble in knowledge, and, in many cases, infirm in moral
constitution, from a system which confounds and confuses every
principle of Christianity and morality. They come to seek a refuge
among you; they come to seek education, knowledge, Christianity.

What do you owe to these poor unfortunates, oh Christians?
Does not every American Christian owe to the African race some
effort at reparation for the wrongs that the American nation has
brought upon them? Shall the doors of churches and school-houses
be shut upon them? Shall states arise and shake them out?
Shall the church of Christ hear in silence the taunt that is thrown
at them, and shrink away from the helpless hand that they stretch out;
and, by her silence, encourage the cruelty that would chase them
from our borders? If it must be so, it will be a mournful spectacle.
If it must be so, the country will have reason to tremble, when it
remembers that the fate of nations is in the hands of One who is
very pitiful, and of tender compassion.

Do you say, "We don't want them here; let them go to Africa"?

That the providence of God has provided a refuge in Africa, is,
indeed, a great and noticeable fact; but that is no reason why
the church of Christ should throw off that responsibility to this
outcast race which her profession demands of her.

To fill up Liberia with an ignorant, inexperienced,
half-barbarized race, just escaped from the chains of slavery,
would be only to prolong, for ages, the period of struggle and
conflict which attends the inception of new enterprises. Let the
church of the north receive these poor sufferers in the spirit of
Christ; receive them to the educating advantages of Christian
republican society and schools, until they have attained to somewhat
of a moral and intellectual maturity, and then assist them in their
passage to those shores, where they may put in practice the lessons
they have learned in America.

There is a body of men at the north, comparatively small,
who have been doing this; and, as the result, this country has
already seen examples of men, formerly slaves, who have rapidly
acquired property, reputation, and education. Talent has been
developed, which, considering the circumstances, is certainly
remarkable; and, for moral traits of honesty, kindness, tenderness
of feeling,--for heroic efforts and self-denials, endured for the
ransom of brethren and friends yet in slavery,--they have been
remarkable to a degree that, considering the influence under which
they were born, is surprising.

The writer has lived, for many years, on the frontier-line
of slave states, and has had great opportunities of observation
among those who formerly were slaves. They have been in her family
as servants; and, in default of any other school to receive them,
she has, in many cases, had them instructed in a family school,
with her own children. She has also the testimony of missionaries,
among the fugitives in Canada, in coincidence with her own experience;
and her deductions, with regard to the capabilities of the race,
are encouraging in the highest degree.

The first desire of the emancipated slave, generally, is
for _education_. There is nothing that they are not willing to
give or do to have their children instructed, and, so far as the
writer has observed herself, or taken the testimony of teachers
among them, they are remarkably intelligent and quick to learn.
The results of schools, founded for them by benevolent individuals
in Cincinnati, fully establish this.

The author gives the following statement of facts, on the
authority of Professor C. E. Stowe, then of Lane Seminary, Ohio,
with regard to emancipated slaves, now resident in Cincinnati;
given to show the capability of the race, even without any very
particular assistance or encouragement.

The initial letters alone are given. They are all residents
of Cincinnati.

"B----. Furniture maker; twenty years in the city; worth
ten thousand dollars, all his own earnings; a Baptist.

"C----. Full black; stolen from Africa; sold in New Orleans;
been free fifteen years; paid for himself six hundred dollars; a
farmer; owns several farms in Indiana; Presbyterian; probably worth
fifteen or twenty thousand dollars, all earned by himself.

"K----. Full black; dealer in real estate; worth thirty
thousand dollars; about forty years old; free six years; paid
eighteen hundred dollars for his family; member of the Baptist
church; received a legacy from his master, which he has taken good
care of, and increased.

"G----. Full black; coal dealer; about thirty years old; worth
eighteen thousand dollars; paid for himself twice, being once
defrauded to the amount of sixteen hundred dollars; made all his
money by his own efforts--much of it while a slave, hiring his time
of his master, and doing business for himself; a fine, gentlemanly

"W----. Three-fourths black; barber and waiter; from Kentucky;
nineteen years free; paid for self and family over three
thousand dollars; deacon in the Baptist church.

"G. D----. Three-fourths black; white-washer; from Kentucky;
nine years free; paid fifteen hundred dollars for self and family;
recently died, aged sixty; worth six thousand dollars."

Professor Stowe says, "With all these, except G----, I have been,
for some years, personally acquainted, and make my statements
from my own knowledge."

The writer well remembers an aged colored woman, who was employed
as a washerwoman in her father's family. The daughter of this
woman married a slave. She was a remarkably active and capable
young woman, and, by her industry and thrift, and the most persevering
self-denial, raised nine hundred dollars for her husband's freedom,
which she paid, as she raised it, into the hands of his master.
She yet wanted a hundred dollars of the price, when he died.
She never recovered any of the money.

These are but few facts, among multitudes which might be
adduced, to show the self-denial, energy, patience, and honesty,
which the slave has exhibited in a state of freedom.

And let it be remembered that these individuals have thus
bravely succeeded in conquering for themselves comparative wealth
and social position, in the face of every disadvantage and
discouragement. The colored man, by the law of Ohio, cannot be a
voter, and, till within a few years, was even denied the right of
testimony in legal suits with the white. Nor are these instances
confined to the State of Ohio. In all states of the Union we see
men, but yesterday burst from the shackles of slavery, who, by a
self-educating force, which cannot be too much admired, have risen
to highly respectable stations in society. Pennington, among
clergymen, Douglas and Ward, among editors, are well known instances.

If this persecuted race, with every discouragement and
disadvantage, have done thus much, how much more they might do if
the Christian church would act towards them in the spirit of her Lord!

This is an age of the world when nations are trembling and convulsed.
A mighty influence is abroad, surging and heaving the world,
as with an earthquake. And is America safe? Every nation
that carries in its bosom great and unredressed injustice has in
it the elements of this last convulsion.

For what is this mighty influence thus rousing in all nations
and languages those groanings that cannot be uttered, for
man's freedom and equality?

O, Church of Christ, read the signs of the times! Is not
this power the spirit of Him whose kingdom is yet to come, and
whose will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?

But who may abide the day of his appearing? "for that day
shall burn as an oven: and he shall appear as a swift witness
against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow
and the fatherless, and that _turn aside the stranger in his right_:
and he shall break in pieces the oppressor."

Are not these dread words for a nation bearing in her bosom
so mighty an injustice? Christians! every time that you pray that
the kingdom of Christ may come, can you forget that prophecy
associates, in dread fellowship, the _day of vengeance_ with the
year of his redeemed?

A day of grace is yet held out to us. Both North and South have
been guilty before God; and the _Christian church_ has a heavy
account to answer. Not by combining together, to protect injustice
and cruelty, and making a common capital of sin, is this Union to
be saved,--but by repentance, justice and mercy; for, not surer is
the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than
that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on
nations the wrath of Almighty God!

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