Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

when there is the form, (for there are southern clergymen who are willing to mitigate the horrors of slavery) some ministers add a clause in the marriage service which shows that they are not married. Rev. Mr. Smith, of Sumpter coun ty, Ala., informed me that when he married slaves, instead of pronouncing the clause “until death you do part,” that he added, “ until death or some other cause beyond your control.” I might also have added that one Baptist association formally decided that a slave may lawfully have several wives:—That if a slave is sold off a plantation ten, twenty, or thirty miles or more, and takes another woman, it shall not in injure his standing in the Baptist church. Now what did my friend say in reply? I confess I was pained to hear such remarks fall from such a gentleman. I was sorry, not particularly in reference to this debate, but for the sake of the public morals. He asked me to point to the place in the Bible where the recognition of the civil law was made necessary to the validity of marriage. Can it be that he means to teach that a man and a woman may meet in a private place and marry each other by the law of God; and they who do thus are married ?

Gentlemen, if I am asked, to point to the text requiring the recognition of the civil law to marriage; I point to the whole Bible practice of marriage, from Samson downward. The Jews of all nations, were the most ceremonious observers of the outward forms of marriage. Samson had a marriage feast of seven days, at the house of the bride, and a solemn procession at the close, like that alluded to by Christ in the parable of the virgins. Such were some of the formal ontward recognitions of eastern marriages. I never heard before; I hope I shall never again hear from Presbyterian lips; that the recognition of the civil law was not necessary to constitute marriage. Joseph meets Betsey, some where, at some time or other and marries her—and that is all, according to the principle of my brother's reply, which was requisite to make them one!

One or two other remarks of his require notice.

He tells us in his printed discourse, which, being issued since it was agreed upon, is a part of this debate; and he tells us, also, orally, iterum iterum que; that thė churchcourts will regulate and correct all the ills of slavery. If any thing is done amiss just go to a southern church-session —that immaculate umpire—and all will be healed, mended and remedied. Take slavery before a Presbyterian session and that will plaster it up, bleach it all white, and sweep away all its abuses by the magic of its wand.

Well :—the only thing I have to say in reply, is to give the testimony of Rev. James Smylie (who belongs, I believe, to the same ecclesiastical organization with brother Rice) who states over his own signature, not as a doctrine, but as a fact; that three-fourths of all the Presbyterians, in eleven States "hold slaves for gain.And these are the churchcourts to which he sends us to reform the abuses of slavery ! He sends us to elders who “hold slaves for gain” to redress the evils of slave-holding As an example of what might be expected of such courts, I will relate a fact which was a common story in the newspapers of the day several years ago, which was as follows: Richard, a sexton of a Presbyterian church (in Danville, I think) who was a colored man and member of the church, was sold by his brother in the same communion, away from his wife and four small children, into Jessamine county. There was no church action heard of on that account. Another case is that of the Rev. Dr. STILES, then of Kentucky, now of Virginia, who was stated in the papers of the day, to have sold eight slaves, just before he left Kentucky, to attend the last triennial Assembly in Philadelphia. So far from disgracing him, that Assembly (with which I am connected, perhaps, until after its next meeting) appointed him one of three to administer the sacrament of the Lord's supper. Such are the men who compose the church-courts, to which my friend would send us to reform the abuses of slavery. Further, in 1818, the General Assembly adopted a rule, in reference to the subject, declaring it to be the duty of Christians to instruct their slaves, pre

pare them for emancipation, and labor for the destruction of slavery, throughout Christendom. (See Minutes of 1818.)

The Rev. J. D. Paxton, of Virginia, well known by his “letters from Palestine,” which were published in this city, undertook to practice upon this injunction. He instructed his slaves, and finally set them free. This was before the date of abolitionism proper, which began in 1832, in a printing office in Boston, where a society was formed, consisting of twelve men. While that good man was thus conscientiously obeying the law of the church, he was slandered as a dangerous fanatic, and eventually driven from his church into a free State, for no offence whatever but what he had given in emancipating his slaves.

This was the only case I have heard of, where any attempt was made to obey the injunction of the Assembly of 1818. I must say, therefore, that it is not entirely fair for a gentleman as well informed on this subject as my friend, to say to this audience that the southern church-courts will forthwith, on application, redress all the abuses of slavery, when he must know that the church has never disciplined the first man for such offences.

Exception was taken to my affirmation, that slavery has not improved—that it was always the same in all ages, and countries of the world-in Rome, in Greece, in Gaul, in Britain, and in America and that the property-holding of men is a principle which is not susceptible of amelioration. My friend insists, on the contrary, that slavery has improved, and that what I advanced on that head is without proof. In reply, I have only to state, that in the speech of Hon. Joshua R. Giddings, in the House of Representatives, on the Florida

war, there is an abundance of documentary proof, that the runaway negroes who had taken refuge in Florida, actually fought for the privilege of remaining slaves to Indian

savages, rather than go back and be slaves to the whites. This is a perfect illustration of the point which I made, viz: that as civilization advances, the burdens of civil society increase, and the task of the slave grows heavier in proportion.

There are ten thousand comforts, conveniences and luxuries required in a civilized state of society, which were unknown to the barbarous period. The burdened class, therefore, becomes more oppressed. Hence, it was, that those Florida fugitives accounted slavery among the Indians, as liberty, in comparison with slavery to the whites.

I have to notice one thing more before I proceed. My friend has complained repeatedly of the course I have thought proper to take in this argument. I recollect, however, that my friend said, that though he felt it his duty to complain of my course, in order to expose the unfairness of it, yet he was rather pleased than angry with it: to give him the victory over me he could wish me to pursue no other, etc.

I wish to say simply, in reply, that my object in coming here is not to gain a victory over Dr. Rice. I desire no victory over him. I do not wish to deprive him of one sprig of the laurels which he may acquire in his crusade to establish the doctrine that slave-holding is not sin.

But I have come here, prepared to discuss this subject of slavery, so that it will stay discussed. I have attended to the subject and prepared myself as well as I am able. I should not have treated you with proper respect, had I not.

one, have not invited you here to regale you with feats of logical skill, with tricks of polemicism and syllogism. I have marked out a consecutive train of thought, bearing on the point in debate, and I now regret that I did not furnish him with a syllabus of my whole argument when we begun. I mean to linger upon the subject of slavery till I am convinced that we all perceive distinctly what slave-holding is. I will then go to the word of God, and with his help, ascertain whether it is right or wrong. This, as the affirmant in this debate, I suppose it is my right to do; and I hope, meantime, my brother will address himself to disprove my sentiments, and abstain from complaint, as if I was departing from the just and ordinary rules of debate.

My desire is, so to settle this question of the sinfulness of slavery, that your minds will be at rest upon it.

I, for

Now, their main grand position is, that slavery and slaveholding are not in themselves sinful, but that many laws, regulating slavery, are cruel and unjust :-that all the evil lies in these cruel laws.

Now, I wish to show that this ground of theirs is simply no ground:-rather it is a yielding of the whole ground. For slavery is a thing created by these very laws. And if the laws are admitted to be cruel and sinful, then slavery, the product of those laws, is likewise sinful. Slavery is not a natural relation. It is the creature of laws. Repeal the slave laws and you repeal slavery. Such is the late decision of the Hon. John McLean, of this city: so all the jurists. So Chief Justice Shaw, of Massachusetts, in the case of the slave child “Med": that slavery is against nature, the creation of positive law, so that if a slave goes beyond the slave code's jurisdiction, with the consent of his master, that fact frees him.

I therefore put it to every legal mind in the audience, whether the pretence of opposing the laws regulating slavery, while justifying slave-holding, can be anything but pretence. Repeal those laws and what becomes of slavery? It perishes with the laws which give it being and birth.

Yet my brother, who is here to defend slave-holding, as sinless, tells us he is opposed to the cruel laws regulating slavery. If he is, why not tell us what laws he opposes? If he is sincere, let him specify the iniquitous statutes, and utter an honest and open condemnation of them. But no— this is precisely what he will not do. He glides delicately over these laws, siccis pedibus-dry-shod. Does he condemn the laws which require sheriffs to put up and sell the slaves of deceased rs, for a division among heirs; or slaves of living masters, to satisfy a judgment: does he condemn those statutes, which sell men, women and children, to the highest bidder, irrespective of family ties? If so, let him say it, and let that go to Kentucky. Thus, let him pass through the whole slave code, put his finger upon each statute, and condemn it as sinful, and let that go to Ken

« AnteriorContinuar »