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American slave trading. The American slaves were stolen in the persons of their ancestors, and are held by the title by which men hold stolen goods. I remember, when a student, the account given by one who had been in the slave trade. He said he had been a seaman before the mast upon the African coast, in a vessel engaged in this traffic; and that their custom was to take out boxes of muskets, powder, gunflints, and whiskey, and distribute them among the petty kings along the coast; and, at night, they could see the flaming villages, fired by these chiefs, in their savage marauds upon each other's territory, for slaves to freight the vessel in the offing; that they could sometimes hear the shouts of the conflict, and see the naked and affrighted wretches by the light of their flaming dwellings, flying from immediate death, or, what is worse, an eternal slavery in an unknown land. These wretches, captured in this revolting manner, in wars, stimulated and set on by the traders, were the ancestors of our slaves. That is the way, and such the title we have obtained to them. More than this, multitudes are now kidnapped, thus, brought direct to the United States, and “ broken in" upon our plantations, being introduced in contempt of the law making it piracy, through Florida, and, at points along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The number thus introduced has been variously estimated, by speakers in Congress, but never lower than 13,000 per annum, besides the multitudes smuggled into Texas from the Island of Cuba, or openly received in some instances, as has been stated, in contempt of law. Thus ALL our slaves were stolen from Africa, directly in their own persons, or in the persons of their ancestors, and doubly stolen when infants at their birth : for human beings are BORN free. Now, with these facts kept in view, what does my broth
? "Erom the heathen ye shall steal ? No! « From them shall ye buy bondmen,” etc.
Thus his own text, with his own interpretation, will not justify American slave-holding; for our slaves were stolen-stolen in their persons or their parents—stolen by the aid of boxes of mus
er's text say
kets, powder, gunflints, and savage chiefs made drunk and employed as agents to steal them. Now his text has not a word about stealing. And my brother himself, does not go quite so far as to say that it is no sin to steal slaves; he only contends that it is right to hold them after they are stolen. Thus, even his own text with his own interpretation yields no justification to American slavery, without grossly perverting his own meaning of it.
But I now proceed to my brother's entrenchments—to his main grand proposition : Did God permit the Jews to hold slaves ? I deny it. And if he fails here, his whole argument fails; for it all depends on God's permission to the Jews to hold slaves.
This whole question turns on the status, the civil and social condition of the Hebrew “bondmen" named in his text. Were they slaves or not? I shall not here stop to go into Hebrew criticism with my brother. It is easily shown, taking a common Hebrew Bible and Gesenius's Lexicon, that the phrase, (Lev. xxv, 46.) "they shall be your bondmen forever," does not mean, that each man of them should be a slave during his life; but, “they," i. e., that sort of people, "shall be your bondmen forever”—that is, that sort of people shall always supply your bond-servants. Thus it is in the Hebrew—“ Forever of them shall ye serve yourselves.” “You shall always get that sort of servants from that sort of people.' The Hebrew word, translated “buy," meaning, “get," "obtain," "procure," " buy." I shall not, however, stop, to translate Hebrew, or read commentators; but shall inquire directly, into what state were those servants, thus procured of the heathen, brought, WHEN THEY CAME AMONG THE JEWS ?
And, in the first place, they were brought into a country, and among a people, who possessed, like Ohio, a free constitution. They were brought from slave States into what I shall show was a free State: it was as if the people of Ohio were allowed to procure servants from the people of Kentucky, and when thus procured, they were free, after paying
their redemption-money, by serving you six years. The soil of Ohio has never been legally defiled by slavery. If a slave is brought here by his master's consent, he is, from that moment, a free man—though that unhappy clause respecting fugitives from service still exists--a provision perfectly anomalous in such a government as ours; and though certain odious and unconstitutional State statutes have been enacted to carry it out.
If a Hebrew bought a bond-servant from the heathen, and brought him into the Jews' land, and if he was not kept in slavery there; their taking slave-men into a free land is not, cannot be, any justification for taking free men into a slave land. By the Jewish constitution, the status into which the servant was brought, was nothing like the status into which the African slave is brought, when introduced into our country. The pith and point of the whole question turns on what was this status? It is of no use, in this question, to peddle commentaries, and criticise words and marshal and march such witnesses as mere verbal critics, who are such thorough-paced slaves to authority, whose ideas have been baked so stiff by half a century spent in their study, that they can hardly go to bed without the concurrence of a committee. [A laugh.] But, for the settlement of this question, we must go to the history of the times, and consider the facts connected with the whole case, and draw just conclusions from known principles and admitted facts. It is wholly a practical question. The testimony of mere verbal commentators, and lexicographers, and grammarians ought not to decide in a question like this. Men of mere learning, for the most part, are timid drudges, useful and indispensable in their place, but they should not be brought to decide questions of this kind. They cannot be expected to study them profoundly as broad practical questions affecting the human race should be studied. It is not in their profession. They are commentators upon the language of scripture, and they are obliged to consider every question that can arise relating to the interests of man
kind, in all time and in all eternity; and to consider perfectly an infinite range of topics, they must have a mind like God's. It would be a miracle, if they could enter into a thorough practical consideration of every subject which they are obliged, as commentators, to write about. They are men who, like almanac-makers, take the tables which have been prepared by other men, and adopt them as 1 authority in their own works. It is no reproach to them to say so. They would not feel it such. And for my brother to stand here quoting them as absolute authority, upon the great moral and practical question of slavery, is, in my view,“ operose agere
nihil.” The whole question turns on the single question what was the status of these Hebrew bond-servants? And I shall show you that, whatever it was, it was not slavery. My first argument, and one which I beg you to weigh with great attention, is this. If they were slaves, the translators of our Bible would have called them so. They have never in one instance, translated the Hebrew word ebedh ?" (which my brother pronounces ebed, though he says, in his pamphlet, that abolitionists have little learning, and perhaps, I have no right, and ought not to criticise him) by the English word slaves. Our version of the Bible was issued by royal authority, in the year of our Lord, 1607; the year of the first settlement of the United States, at Jamestown, Virginia: in an age of Biblical study, and by fortyseven men learned, not only in books, but in affairs. Now in only two places in the Old and New Testament, have the translators used the word slaves. One is Jeremiah, II, 14, in which instance it is put in Italics, showing there is no corresponding word for it in the Hebrew. And the other is Revelation, XVIII, 13, (where the original Greek is not “ Doulos” but “ Somaton" the genitive plural of “ Soma"_"a human body.") Where “slaves and souls of men” are spoken of as the traffic of the mother of harlots.
[MR. RICE'S TWELFTH SPEECH.] Gentlemen Moderators, and Fellow Citizens : I perceive that
friend is determined to occupy my time as far as possible in correcting his statements. He first misrepresents even my pronunciation of a Hebrew word, and then sneers at my mispronunciation !
The gentleman complains of my remark concerning the state of his church. I should not have said a word concerning it, had he not told us, that the churches in the slave-holding States were withering under the influence of slavery: my reply was designed to prove by facts that his representation is not correct, but that, on the contrary, there are multitudes of churches at the South and West more flourishing than his. It was a fair reply, because those churches are involved in the sin, (if it be in itself a sin,) of slave-holding, and his church is under the influence of the purest abolitionism. The Second Presbyterian church in St. Louis, for example, which was organized in 1836, as a small colony, has grown in the
space of seven years to the number of about 450 members; and in the mean time, has sent out one or two colonies to organize new churches. Thus it is proved by facts, the best kind of evidence, that slave-holding is not so heinous a sin as to wither the piety of the churches, and provoke God to withhold his spirit and blessing.
My brother says he would not have invited the present discussion, but for my lectures recently delivered in this city; but he took care not to tell you, that those lectures were delivered in consequence of the violent attacks made upon report of the last General Assembly by the Watchman of the Valley, and the Morning Herald, abolitionist papers of this city. The attack began on the part of the abolitionists themselves; yet now he would represent himself in this debate, as acting only on the defensive!
Mr. B. attempts to escape from the contradiction in which he involved himself, by saying, that a part of my doctrine is quite acceptable to pro-slavery men in the South. This fact,