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to justify those who, at a future day, may enslave our chil. dren. Such, however, I need scarcely say, is not the fact. In the slave-holding, as well as in the free States, it is admitted and maintained, that to reduce a free man into a state of slavery, is a crime of the first magnitude. Far from defending the African slave trade, we abhor and denounce it as piracy. We, therefore, maintain, that American slavery ought never to have existed. But the slave-holding States have inherited this evil; and the important and difficult question now arises—how shall the evil be removed? The present owners of slaves did not reduce them to their present condition. They found them in a state of slavery; and the question to be solved is—how far are individuals bound, under existing circumstances, to restore them to freedom? For example, it would be very wicked in me, whether by force or fraud, to reduce a rich man to poverty, but how far I am bound to enrich a man reduced to poverty by others, is a very different question.
2. The question before us is not whether the particular laws by which slavery has been regulated in the countries where it has existed, are just and righteous. What has the present discussion to do with Aristotle's description of slavery, which the gentleman has given us ? Or what has it to do with the laws by which in the Roman empire slavery was regulated ? Does the gentleman really expect me, in proving that slave-holding is not in itself sinful, to defend the slave laws of Rome? It is impossible not to see, that those laws have nothing to do with the question he stands pledged to discuss. Still he entertains us with Aristotle's definition of slavery, and with Gibbon's account of slavery in the Roman empire. Many of those laws, it is readily admitted, were unjust and cruel in a high degree. But by the same kind of logic it would be easy to prove, that the conjugal and parental relations are in themselves sinful. I do not place the relation of master and slave on an equal footing with those relations; but I do maintain that the gentleman has no right to use an argument against the
former, that would bear with equal force against the latter. The Roman laws gave the father power over the life of his child, and the husband power to degrade and tyrannize over his wife; and the same is true of almost all
countries. But shall we denounce the conjugal and parental relations as in themselves sinful, because they were regulated by bad laws? Those relations, we contend, are lawful and right; but the particular laws by which in many countries they are regulated, are unjust. So the fact that many of the laws of Rome concerning slavery were cruel, does not prove, that the relation is in itself sinful. The gentleman's argument proves too much, and, therefore, according to an admitted principle of logic, proves nothing.
Many of the laws by which in our country slavery is regulated are defective, and ought to be amended; or unjust, and ought to be repealed. But are those laws essential to the relation between master and slave? They are not ; for different laws have existed in different countries, whilst the relation itself has remained the same. Moreover, the laws in the same country or State have been materially different at different times. In Kentucky, for example, they have been gradually changed and improved; but the relation between master and slave yet exists. They may be still further modified without affecting it. Indeed it is perfectly clear to the most superficial thinker, that the relation between master and slave is not identical with the particular laws regulating it. The laws may be most unjust, and yet the relation may not be in itself sinful.
3. The question is not whether masters may treat their servants cruelly, either by failing to give them abundant food and raiment, by inflicting cruel chastisement, by separating husbands and wives, parents and children, or by neglecting to give them religious instructions. A master, a father, or a husband, may be cruel. There is no relation in human society, that may not be abused by wicked men. But is the master obliged to treat his slaves cruelly? Must he of necessity starve them, or abuse them? Is he compelled, pel; and
because he is a master, to separate husbands and wives ? or
sustain to them the relation of master. But the gentleman commenced his speech by telling us what a melancholy interest was thrown around this discussion by the fact, that a slave-gang recently passed near this city. Why not say, a melancholy interest is thrown around the marriage relation, because not a great while ago a man in Cincinnati murdered his wife and three children in a few moments? Were I to employ my time in searching for them, I could furnish thousands of examples of inhuman cruelty in connection with the conjugal and parental relations, in the free States, as well as elsewhere. Will the gentleman denounce these relations because they are abused ? because wicked men take advantage of them to tyrannize over the weak? True, cruelty is often found in connection with slavery; but it is equally true that many slave-holders treat their slaves with uniform kindness, as rational, accountable, immortal beings. We are not discussing the question whether cruelty of any kind is right.
4. The question before us is not whether it is sinful to speculate in human beings. The slave-trader is looked upon by decent men in the slave-holding States with disgust. None but a monster could inflict anguish upon unoffending men for the sake of accumulating wealth. But since Mr. B. feels so deeply on account of the multiplication of slavegangs in Kentucky, it may be well for him to know, that this is one of the sad effects of the doctrine and practice of the abolitionists. They have sought to make the slaves discontented in their condition; they have succeeded in decoying many from their masters, and running them to Canada. Consequently masters, for fear of losing their slaves, sell them to the hard-hearted trader; and they are marched
to the South. Thus they rivet the chains on the poor
slave, and aggravate every evil attending his condition. Such is human nature, that men provoked by such a course of conduct as that of the abolitionists, will, in many instances, resort to greater severity; and upon those who thus provoke men, rests in no small degree the responsibility of increasing the sufferings of the slaves.
5. The question before us, is not whether it is right for a man to treat his slaves as mere chattels personal, not as sentient beings. The Scriptures condemn cruelty not only toward man, but toward irrational animals.
“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.” A man ought to be excluded from the church, who would treat his horse inhumanly. Even the civil law would punish him for such cruelty. Yet it is not a sin to own a horse.
Christianity prescribes the duties of both masters and servants. The servant is required to render obedience to his master with all fidelity “as unto Christ;" and the master is required to treat his slaves with all kindness, even as rational, accountable, immortal beings. Cruelty toward slaves, therefore, would prove the master destitute of piety, and would be a just ground for his exclusion from the privileges of the church. On this subject the law of the Presbyterian church is clear and explicit. Sessions and Presbyteries were enjoined by the General Assembly of 1818, to prevent all cruelty in the treatment of servants; and to subject those chargeable with it to the discipline of the church. Let the abolitionists
member of our church has been guilty of cruelty toward his slaves, and I pledge my word, he will be disciplined. Let it be tried, and if it be ascertained, that the Presbyterian church will not exclude men from her pale, who are guilty of such conduct, then I will denounce her.
6. The question is not whether a great amount of sin is in fact committed in connection with slave-holding. This is admitted. Wicked men will act out their wickedness in every relation in life. Wicked husbands in ten thousand instances
treat their wives most cruelly; and ungodly parents inflict great suffering on their children. No wonder, then, that in this relation a great amount of sin is committed. But the question is not how much men can sin in this relation, but whether the relation is in itself sinful, whether a man is to be denounced as a heinous sinner, simply because he is a master. Abolitionists dwell upon, and magnify the sins of men committed in this relation; but the relation may, and in multitudes of instances does exist without the oppression and cruelty of which they speak. Consequently the sin is not in the relation itself.
7. Nor is the question before us, whether slavery is an evil, a very great evil, which should be removed as speedily as it can be done by the operation of correct principles. This I cheerfully admit. But there are many evils and great evils in connection with human society, which cannot be immediately removed. Whilst, therefore, I admit that slavery is an evil, I utterly protest against upturning the very
foundation of society in order to abolish it. Shall we do evil that good may come? Nay-shall we in the mad attempt to remove immediately one evil introduce others a hundred-fold greater? The question, I repeat, is not whether slavery is an evil, but whether we are to denounce and excommunicate every
individual who is so unfortunate as to be connected with it.
8. The question before us does not relate to the duty or the policy of Kentucky or any other State concerning slavery. There is a broad distinction to be made between the duty of a State as a body politic, and the duty of individuals residing in the State. I might maintain, that it is the duty of the State of Kentucky immediately to adopt a plan of gradual emancipation, and yet contend, with perfect consistency, that so long as slavery is continued by the civil government, individuals may own slaves without sinning. The duty of the State is one thing; the duty of individuals quite another. Moreover, I might maintain what I firmly believe to be true—that slavery is a commercial evil in Kentucky, and