« AnteriorContinuar »
Some few years ago, when certain ethnographical oligarchs proved to their own satisfaction that the negro was an inferior "type of mankind,” they chuckled wonderfully, and avowed, in substance, that it was right for the stronger race to kidnap and enslave the weaker—that because Nature had been pleased to do a trifle more for the Caucasian race than for the African, the former, by virtue of its superiority, was perfectly justifiable in holding the latter in absolute and perpetual bondage ! No system of logic could be more antagonistic to the spirit of true democracy. It is probable that the world does not contain two persons who are exactly alike in all respects ; yet “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." All mankind may or may not be the descendants of Adam and Eve. In our own humble way of thinking, we are frank to confess, we do not believe in the unity of the races. This is a matter, however, which has little or nothing to do with the great question at issue. Aside from any theory concerning the original parentage of the different races of men, facts, material and immaterial, palpable and impalpable—facts of the eyes and facts of the conscience—crowd around us on every hand, heaping proof upon proof, that slavery is a shame, a crime, and a curse—a great moral, social, civil, and political evil-an oppressive burden to the blacks, and an incalculable injury to the whites—a stumblingblock to the nation, an impediment to progress, a damper on all the nobler instincts, principles, aspirations and enterprises of man, and a dire enemy to every true interest. Waiving all other counts, we have, we think, shown to the satisfaction of every impartial reader, that, as else where stated, on the single score of damages to lands, the slaveholders are, at this moment, indebted to us, the nonslaveholding whites, in the enormous sum of nearly seventy-six hundred millions of dollars. What shall be done with this amount ? It is just ; shall payment be demanded ? No; all the slaveholders in the country could not pay it ; nor shall we ever ask them for even a moiety of the amount-no, not even for a dime, nor yet for a cent; we are willing to forfeit every farthing for the sake of freedom ; for ourselves we ask no indemnification for the past : we only demand justice for the future.
But, Sirs, knights of bludgeons, chevaliers of bowieknives and pistols, and lords of the lash, we are unwilling to allow you to swindle the slaves out of all the rights and claims to which, as human beings, they are most sacredly entitled. Not alone for ourself as an individual, but for others also—particularly for five or six millions of Southern non-slaveholding whites, whom your iniquitous statism has debarred from almost all the mental and material comforts of life—do we speak, when we say, you must emancipate your slaves, and pay each and every one of them at least sixty dollars cash in hand. By doing this, you will be restoring to them their natural rights, and remunerating them at the rate of less than twenty-six cents per annum for the long and cheerless period of their servitude, from the 20th of August, 1620, when, on James River, in Virginia, they became the unhappy slaves of heartless masters. Moreover, by doing this you will be performing but a simple act of justice to the non-slaveholding whites, upon whom the institution of slavery has weighed scarcely less heavily than upon the negroes themselves. You will also be applying a saving balm to your own outraged hearts and consciences, and your children-yourselves in fact-freed from the accursed stain of slavery, will become respectable, useful, and honorable members of society.
And now, Sirs, we have thus laid down our ultimatum. What are you going to do about it? Something dreadful, as a matter of course! Perhaps you will dissolve the Union again. Do it, if you dare! Our motto, and we would have you to understand it, is the abolition of slavery, and the perpetuation of the American Union. If, by any means, you do succeed in your treasonable attempts to take the South out of the Union to-day, we will bring her back tomorrow—if she goes away with you, she will return without you.
Do not mistake the meaning of the last clause of the last sentence ; we could elucidate it so thoroughly that no intelligent person could fail to comprehend it ; but, for reasons which may hereafter appear, we forego the task.
Henceforth there are other interests to be consulted in the South, aside from the interests of negroes and slaveholders. A profound sense of duty incites us to make the greatest possible efforts for the abolition of slavery ; an equally profound sense of duty calls for a continuation of those efforts until the very last foe to freedom shall have been utterly vanquished. To the summons of the righteous monitor within, we shall endeavor to prove faithful ; no opportunity for inflicting a mortal wound in the side of slavery shall be permitted to pass us unimproved. Thus, terror-engenderers of the South, have we fully and frankly defined our position ; we have no modifications to propose, no compromises to offer, nothing to retract. Frown, Sirs, fret, foam, prepare your weapons, threat, strike, shoot, stab, bring on civil war, dissolve the Union, nay, annihilate the solar system if you will—do all this, more, less, better, worse, anything—do what you will, Sirs, you can neither foil nor intimidate us; our purpose is as firmly fixed as the eternal pillars of Heaven ; we have determined to abolish slavery, and, so help us God, abolish it we will ! Take this to bed with you to-night, Sirs, and think about it, dream over it, and let us know how you feel to-morrow morning.
CHAPTER II I.
SOUTHERN TESTIMONY AGAINST SLAVERY
If it please the reader, let him forget all that we have written on the subject of slavery; if it accord with his inclination, let him ignore all that we may write hereafter. We seek not to give currency to our peculiar opinions ; our greatest ambition, in these pages, is to popularize the sayings and admonitions of wiser and better men. Miracles, we believe, are no longer wrought in this bederiled world ; but if, by any conceivable or possible supernatural event, the great Founders of the Republic, Washington, Jefferson, Henry, and others, could be reinvested with corporeal life, and returned to the South, there is scarcely a slaveholder between the Potomac and the mouth of the Mississippi, that would not burn to pounce upon them with bludgeons, bowie-knives and pistols ! Yes, without adding another word, Washington would be mobbed for what he has already said. Were Jefferson now employed as a professor in a Southern college, he would be dismissed and driven from the State, perhaps murdered before he reached the border. If Patrick Henry were a bookseller in Alabama, though it might be demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that he had never bought,