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SOUTHERN AND WESTERN
MAGAZINE AND REVIEW.
CHARLESTON, S. C., JULY, 1845.
SLAVERY.* As there is no subject more closely interwoven with the political and social well-being of the southern and south-western States of this confederacy, than that of slavery, so there will probably be no time, from the present moment to the settlement of this important question, more suitable than now, to awaken the public mind to the discussion of it. We have no hope, and we might add, no desire, of producing any result worth the labor, abroad. We are taught by the history of our race, that fanaticism has always been beyond the reach of reason, and as "you might as well attempt to paint a sound," as endeavor to convince un abolitionist that slavery is not an evil, we will address ourselves to those alone, who are, or who ought to be interested in this question, let it reach or affect whom it may. Happily for us, it is not necessary that we should feel any very great solicitude about the opinions of others on this subject, for though we are willing that this contest should be decided by truth alone, yet we are fully competent to use other weapons in defence of our institutions. We are fortunately not in the condition of the British West India Islands, before the Emancipation Act, where this great question may be decided by the influence of fanaticism, or commercial rivalry, or mere government policy. Slavery has been engrafted upon our insti
. tutions for good or for evil, and we have its destinies in our own hands.
In discussing this subject, we choose to call it by its true name. It has often offended us in the sharpest degree, to hear a “robustious, periwig-pated fellow,” in alluding to slavery in the southern portion of this confederacy, with a squeamishness unworthy of manhood, term it “our peculiar institution," as if he were ashamed of it. If slavery is wrong, why defend it? And if it is not, why be ashamed of it?' We dislike the expression besides, because it is untrue. Pe
* Tracts Nos. 6, 7 and 8. Published by the New-England Anti-Slavery Tract Association. J. W. Aden, Publishing Agent: Boston.
VOL. II. —NO. I.
culiar to whom?—to our southern and south-western States? Why, slavery has hitherto existed from the age of Noah, down to our times, and it exists at this moment among four out of five of the nations on the earth. It has only been abolished, nominally, by the greater part of the States of Europe, within the last three or four centuries, and let no man acquainted with the condition of the free, but destitute and beggarly millions, whose unheeded cry ascends daily towards heaven for bread, presumptuously say, it was wisely done.
We have before us, three abolition pamphlets, published at Boston, sometime during last year. The first of them is Tract No. 6, and entitled “The Duties and Dignities of American Freemen," by Jas. C. Jackson; the same person we presume, who, at a meeting, lately held in the city of New-York, and composed of men, women and children—white and black, used the following language, “We want them (the blacks) to cross and improve our breed. We are not more than half men—we want negro blood to make men of us, and thus to elevate ourselves to the position we held sixty years ago." (Great applause.) Abolition is not content with its own color and
but would bring in another, more susceptible, as it is said, to the softer emotions; thus adding another illustration to the truth of the remark made by Robertson, in his history of Charles V. that, "the excesses of enthusiasm have been observed in every age to lead to sensual gratifications, the same constitution that is susceptible of the former, being remarkably prone to the latter."
This Tract is a political paper, and the author discloses the great secret of the abolition party in this country—the desire for political ascendancy. Philanthropy and religion are the watchwords, but power and influence are the objects and the rewards of their labours. All history proves, that no folly, or fanaticism has ever taken deep root, or existed more than for a moment, unless guided by a keen selfinterest, or founded on the lust of power. Matthias, Boccold and Cripperdoling, were not mere blind enthusiasts, heated by religious frenzy and laboring for the wind. Their objects were wealth and power, and they waded through rapine and blood, to the supreme control, in the city of Munster. Who will believe that the Mormon Prophet, was the bald, moon-stricken fanatic he is generally represented to have been? He too, aspired to political power. Joe Smith had his visions of unbridled license and supreme command. The most fatal evil that could befall the abolitionists in the United States, as a party, would be to grant them the very boon they ask. Abolish slavery, and the act would spread dismay and confusion throughout their ranks. Their leaders would curse the gift they have themselves demanded, and seek out some new illusion, in which the same follies would be repeated, and to be followed by the same results.
“What can I do for the Abolition of Slavery?" is the title of Tract No. 8, by R. Hildreth, from which we make one extract, to show the strict agreement between northern cupidity and northern fanaticism, and, that while the constitution has never been in the way of the one, in taking away the profits of our labor, it would not be in the way of the other, in taking away the laborers themselves.
"I know there are some who cry out, there is a lion in the way; who point to the constitution of the United States, as having guarantied the perpetual existence of slavery; or at least as having reserved that question for the exclusive handling of the slave-holding States, and as having thus put it beyond our reach. That is the way the slave holders and their servants at the north have expounded the constitution; but give us a majority of the voters, declaring by their votes their detestation of slavery and determination to abate it, and I have not the slighest doubt that the lawyers and the courts will very soon find out that they have all along shockingly misconstrued the constitution.”
We have not the slightest doubt of it either, but we take this occasion to assure the author of this tract, and all abolitionists whomsoever, that the people of the slave-holding States, regard the constitution of the United States, as one of the very least safeguards, under which they hold their property. Though it has always been one of the strongest articles of our political faith, to respect and adhere to all written political compacts, yet we agree with M. Guizot, in attaching but little value to any constitutions that have not gained the assent of the understandings, or are not written in the hearts of the people for whom they are designed-un remède écrit est pen efficace.
“William Goodell, Esq.," is the author of Tract No. 7, which is entitled, “One more Appeal to Professors of Religion, Ministers and Churches, who are not enlisted in the struggle against Slavery." The author of this tract, runs up a formidable catalogue of the wrongs done to the slave, by their owners at the south. The incidents of slavery, which he mentions, are unimportant, greatly exaggerated, or justified by the sacred Scriptures, when true, but for the most part are grossly and entirely false. “See them chattelized”—he observes, sreduced to the condition of things, reputed and adjudged in law to be brute beasts." Slaves are mere chattels. Well, it is a matter of no great consequence, and we admit it; though in the more restricted sense of the word, slaves would not be comprehended, as the term chattel is said to be derived from the technical Latin word catalla, which meant beasts of husbandry or cattle; but in the sense in which it came to be used, that is, in opposition to a feud, they would be included.*
If it were worth the trouble of a serious argument, we could very easily point out very many passages in the Old Testament, where slaves were so looked upon by the chosen people of God, as a justification to ourselves for so regarding them. A few passages shall suffice. Isaac "had possession of flocks and possession of herds and great store of servants.”+ Jacob "increased exceedingly and had much cattle, and maid servants and men servants and camels and asses." I "He that is born in thy house and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised.''s In the first promulgation of the divine law, through Moses, 10 the people of Israel, it was provided, that if a master struck his slave and he died immediately, he should be punished. “Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two he should not be punished, for he is his money."* One more text, and we dismiss the subject and suffer the abolitionists to make what they can of the word chattel. “But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house they shall eat of his meat.”+
* Black. Com. II. 389.
† Gen. xxvi., 14. Great store of servants—yewgyia modda --Septuagint TEN. KEH. NS. 14. : Gen. xxx., 43.
$ Gen. xvii., 13 and 27.)
Slaves are brutes. General expressions are not always accurate, but it is a common remark with us, that northern men, who become owners of slaves, are the hardest task-masters. There may be men amongst us, who are brutes themselves, and who look upon their slaves in that light; but that they are so regarded and treated by the great body of southern slave holders, we unhesitatingly and entirely deny. In respect of their habitations, their fuel, their clothing, their food, their hours of labor, the means of religious instruction afforded them, their treatment in sicki ess and old age, they will compare advantageously with the laboring classes in the northern States, and their condition in all those elements of comfort, are infinitely superior to the working classes in Europe, as every one well knows who pretends to any acquaintance with the subject.
As to the personal comforts of slaves with us, we have often challenged inquiry, and as the truth is so manisest, we have nothing to apprehend from misrepresentation and falsehood on that score. As to the means of religious instruction afforded them, the number of communicants among them, in the different religious denominations, show, that the like cannot be found among the laboring classes elsewhere. Their treatment in sickness and old age. In this consists the blessing of slavery. The hired servant—if he is arrested in the prime of life by disease, his wages are stopped, and with them his bread: after his youth and manhood are worn out, for a pittance, which barely supplies—and often does not-the commonest wants of our nature-if he has not the rare good fortune to possess offspring or friends who can aid him-has no resource but the uncertain and capricious support of a benevolent society or the stinted charity and chilling atmosphere of an alms house, and lays himself down to die, neglected and unlamented. If the slave sickens, self-interest, if not humanity supplies the means for his recovery; when old age and infirmities come on, though his labors cease forever, his clothing, his food and his comforts are not diminished; there is still an eye that watches over him, and when death ensues, he is decently interred and perhaps a tear shed over his grave. An abolitionist would probably smile at any exhibition of feeling in a master towards his slave. It exists nevertheless, and no man dares say it is not sincere.
Instances are not rare of extraordinary attention and kindness bestowed upon decrepid and worn-out slaves, and it would be difficult to find a slave holder whose memory cannot furnish examples like the following, that would scarcely find credit among such as have not witnessed the operation of the system in the slave-holding States. In the division of an estate among the heirs, which consisted chiefly of negroes, and which we witnessed, several years since, there was • Exod. xxi., 20, 21.
+ Levit. xxii., 11.