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laws are what they should be on all subjects. Those of Kentucky are not by any means perfect. Yet the gentleman ought not, in his denunciation, to forget that even the law of Moses permitted the master to enforce obedience by chastisement.-E.cod. xxi: 20, 21. “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money." Will the gentleman say, this law related not to slaves, but to hired servants? This will not mend the matter; for it will prove, that even hired servants might be severely chastised. The truth is clear, that the master was' allowed to enforce obedience by chastisement, whilst all the protection possible was extended to the slave. Will Mr. B. denounce the Bible, and be governed by nature's light? If so, we may hope, that he will not be so inconsistent as to abandon the Declaration of Independence, and permit the negroes to be deprived of the right to vote in making the laws by which they are to be governed. Just now he seems pressed by the principles of abolitionism.
He has read what the Synod of Kentucky said against what is called the system of slavery. Am I here to defend any system of slavery? Does the question before us relate to the system of American slavery? When I deny that slaveholding is in itself sinful, do I thereby defend all the laws by which in any of the States it may be regulated ? Or do I approve the cruelty of wicked men ? I agree with the Synod of Kentucky, that there is much evil connected with slavery. I believe that the State of Kentucky would do wisely to get rid of it. I do desire that it should everywhere come to
But Mr. B. has referred to my venerated kinsman, Rev. David Rice, to prove that in Kentucky the slave has not the same protection from the cruelty of his master, which a child has from the cruel treatment of his father.
It is true, that David Rice was an eminently wise and good man-one whose memory is dear to many an aged disciple in Kentucky. He said, slavery degrades human beings. Admit it; but is every slave-holder obliged thus to tread down his slaves, as much as the civil laws permit? Or is a slave-holder who does no such thing, still chargeable with heinous and scandalous sin? But as to the protection afforded the slaves in Kentucky, does the pamphlet of Rev. David Rice treat of their present condition? It was written when he was a young man, before the constitution was adopted. He lived to an advanced age, and has been a number of years in his grave. His pamphlet, therefore, can give no information concerning the state of things now. He spoke of slavery as it existed, not particularly in Kentucky, but in New York, and in other States. As to his anti-slavery views, it is proper to remark, that he was a member of the convention by which the contitution of the State was formed. Standing in that position, he plead that slavery should be excluded by the constitution, and that Kentucky should be a free State. Would to God that convention had listened to him and adopted his views. My native State would have been greatly the gainer thereby. So the majority of the people, I presume, now believe. With my present views I would take the same ground, if placed in similar circumstances, which he took. But his wise counsels were not heeded; and slavery was admitted. Our discussion relates exclusively to the duty of individuals living in those States where the evil has been admitted. David Rice, having failed to exclude slavery from the State, preached the gospel ever afterwards both to master and slave, just as did Paul and the other apostles of Christ. Never did he treat masters as criminals, simply because they were masters. He opposed the system, as it is called, but very properly distinguished between the duty of the State and the duty of individuals living in the State, after slavery was admitted. I choose to pursue the same course. It is wrong, then, to quote that venerable man as teaching doctrines different from those I am defending. But abolitionism sustains itself by misrepresentations of this kind.
recently a black man was murdered in the streets of Indianapolis, for no crime whatever. Had such a thing happened in a slave-holding State, we should not soon have heard the last of it. It would have stood prominent in abolition books, tracts and papers. But it happened in a free State; and therefore, we hear little concerning it. The gentleman has not had occasion to speak of it! Why are such things so lightly passed over, when they occur in a free State, and so bitterly denounced when they occur in the slave-holding States ? Let impartial justice be done.
But, as we have had so many facts stated, showing the cruelty of slave-holders, it may be proper for me also to state a few. Some years since, as I am credibly informed, a citizen of Danville, Ky., sold a negro woman from her husband to a slave-trader. It was soon known in the town; and such was the excitement that he was constrained to follow the slave-holder, and re-purchase the woman at considerable loss. He could scarcely have lived there, if he had not done so. Not a great many years ago, a prominent citizen of Lexington came near being mobbed, because he had cruelly chastised a negro woman. And Dr. Drake, of Louisville, whilst travelling through Alabama, not long since, met a sheriff and his posse returning from the penitentiary where they had safely lodged a man who owned a plantation and a number of slaves. He had been convicted of the murder of one of his slaves, chiefly on circumstantial evidence derived through his slaves, and was sentenced for ten years, if my memory serves me. Such facts show the real state of feeling in the slave-holding States.
It is, perhaps, true, as the gentlemen says, that a white man is rarely executed for the murder of a negro; and I may add, they are not very frequently executed for the murder of white men. The laws, it is adınitted, are not strictly executed. His non-resistant brethren of New England, however, are for abolishing all capital punishment. Yet, our western abolitionists maintain that slave insurrections are right, and that it would be a damning sin to suppress one of
them! May we not hope they will catch the pacific spirit of some of their eastern brethren?
I must here say a few words in regard to the protection the slaves enjoy, from cruel treatment, in Kentucky. I did not say, as the gentleman seems to understand me, that the slave has all the advantages of a child, but simply that he is, by law, protected from cruelty on the part of the master. My remarks on this subject were made in view of the following article in the Watchman of the Valley.
“Nothing wrong in the relation itself.—Dr. Edward Beecher, at the late meeting of the Massachusetts Abolition society, adduced the following law case: a man was tried in North Carolina, for shooting his own female slave. Judge Ruffin decided, that, according to slave law, the act could not be pronounced criminal, because the master must have unlimited control over the body of his slaves, OR THE SYSTEM
In regard to this decision, the judge confessed, that he felt its harshness, and that every person in his retirement must repudiate it; but in the actual state of things it must be so: there is no remedy."
“According to the decision, then, of a southern judge, extorted from him by the inexorable necessity of his legal logic, in opposition to his humane feelings, the relation of slavery, as constituted by law, is, in itself, cruel, authorizing the unlimited control of the master over the body of his slave, life not excepted. Why? Because without such control, the system could not stand; i. e. the relation could not exist, as it is now legally constituted. No sin in such a relation? Then there is no sin, a Carolina jurist being judge, for doing whatever is necessary (be it stripes, torture, or death,) to preserve this sinless, lawful relation !"
Dr. E. Beecher, and the editor, were agreed that the relation of master and slave could not continue, unless the master had the right to kill his slave! Now let us look at the law of Kentucky, on this subject, passed in 1830—long since Dr. Bishop had his difficulty. You see, this law affords evidence conclusive, that the condition of the slaves has improved, the gentleman's assertion to the contrary notwithstanding. The law is as follows:
“ If any owner of a slave shall treat such slave cruelly and inhumanly, so as in the opinion of the jury to endanger the life or limb of such slave, or shall not supply his slave with sufficient food and raiment, it shall and may be lawful for any person acquainted with the fact or facts, to state and set forth in a petition to the Circuit Court, the facts, or any of them aforesaid, of which the defendent hath been guilty, and
pray that such slave or slaves may be taken from the possession of the owner, and sold for the benefit of such owner, agreeably to the 7th article of the Constitution.”
According to this law, you perceive, if a jury of twelve disinterested men can be convinced, that a master treats his slave cruelly, or fails to supply him with sufficient food and raiment, the slave is sold into better hands; and the master pays the costs of the suit. Has the child more protection against the cruel treatment of a father? May not a father chastise his child very severely without being exposed to the penalty of the civil law? I do not undertake to defend the slave laws of Kentucky, but only to make good the statement called in question by the gentleman.
I have now paid due attention to all the gentleman has offered. He says, I ought rather to answer the arguments he offers, than complain that he does not present others. The question under discussion is this : “ Is slave-holding in itself sinful, and the relation between master and slave a sinful relation?" If he will mention one argument he has offered on this point, I will immediately reply to it. He and I agree that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith and practice, and that nothing can be condemned as sinful, unless it can be shown to be contrary to that rule. If I were debating with an infidel, I might take different ground; but, as a minister of the gospel, he is bound to abide by the decision of the law which he holds to be inspired of God. Has he adduced one solitary passage of Scripture to prove that slave