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for an extensive voluntary association in the South, to suspend business intercourse with our citizens. A regard for the character of our State, for the public interest, for the preservation of peace among our citizens, as well as a due respect for the obligations created by our political institutions and relations, calls upon us to do what may be done, consistently with the great principles of civil liberty, to put an end to the evils which the abolitionists are bringing upon us and the whole country. With whatever disfavor we may view the institution of domestic slavery, we ought not to overlook the very formidable difficulties of abolishing it, or give countenance to any scheme for accomplishing this object, in violation of the solemn guarantees we are under not to interfere with this institution as it exists in other States.
Domestic slavery existed in almost every State when the Federal Union was formed. Its character was as well understood then as it is now. The men who founded the General Government had as much philanthropy, and as just an appreciation of moral and religious duty, and knew as well what was due to the cause of human rights as the present generation; yet so great did they regard the difficulties of abolishing slavery, and so disastrous to the public welfare would be, as they apprehended, any intermeddling with it in the respective States, except by the citizens and civil authorities thereof, that they delegated to Congress no power to act on this subject, further than to prohibit the importation of slaves after the year 1807; but they recognized the right of the several States to continue slavery, without interference, by obliging them to deliver up to each other all fugitive slaves. They left the right to abolish slavery where only it could be safely left— with the respective States wherein slavery existed.
The State of New York had this right, and although the difficulties and dangers of exercising it, by reason of the small number of slaves in proportion to the whole population, were trivial compared with those which would attend the exercise of it in the southern States, where this number is proportionably large; yet slavery was not finally abolished here until 1827. We were left to come to this result in our own time and manner, without any molestation or interference from any other State. I am very sure that any intermeddling with us in this matter, by the citizens of other States, would not have accelerated our measures, and might have proved mischievous. Such services, if they had been ten
dered, would have been rejected as useless, and regarded as an invasion of our rights.
If we view the labors of the abolitionists in the calm light of reason, undisturbed by any morbid sympathy and uninfluenced by the spirit of fanaticim—if we look at their object, connected as it must be with the means they are using to attain it—if we regard the utter improbability of their ever reaching the end by the use of these means, and the certain consequences which must result from pushing forward their efforts in the present direction, we must, I think, characterize their schemes as visionary and pernicious.
Their avowed object is to abolish slavery in the southern and southwestern States; and their means thus far have been confined to the organization of societies among us and to publications of various kinds on the subject of slavery, which are regarded throughout these States as libels on their citizens, and provocatives to insurrection among their slaves. So far as their proceedings are designed to operate upon this State, we may inquire what end or object they have in view. It cannot be to abolish slavery here, for it does not exist among us. Is it to convince the people of this State that slavery is an evil? Such is now the universal sentiment, and no man can be found among us who entertains a thought of returning to our former condition in this respect. If the abolitionists design to enlist our passions in their cause, such a course would be worse than useless, unless it had reference to some subsequent action. If it is expected in this manner to influence the action of Congress, then they are aiming at an usurpation of power. Legislation by Congress would be a violation of the Constitution by which that body exists, and to support which every mem- . ber of it is bound by the solemn sanction of an oath. The powers of Congress cannot be enlarged so as to bring the subject of slavery within its cognizance, without the consent of the slaveholding States. The proceedings of the abolitionists have rendered their object in this respect absolutely unattainable. They have already excited such a fceling in all those States, that a proposition so to enlarge the powers of Congress, would be instantly rejected by each with indignation. If their operations here are to inflame the fanatical zeal of emissaries, and instigate them to go on missions to the slave-holding States, there to distribute abolition publications and promulgate abolition doctrines, their success in
this enterprize is foretold by the fate of the deluded men who have preceded them. The moment they pass the borders of those States, and begin their labors, they violate the laws of the jurisdiction they have invaded, and incur the penalty of death or other ignominious punishment. I can conceive no other object that the aboJitionists can have in view, so far as they propose to operate here, but to embark the people of this State, under the sanction of the civil authority, or with its connivance, in a crusade against the slave-holding States, for the purpose of forcing abolition upon them by violence and bloodshed. If such a mad project as this could be contemplated for a single moment as a possible thing, every one must see that the first step towards its accomplishment, would be the end of our confederacy, and the beginning of a civil
So far, therefore, as it respects the people of this State, or any action that can emanate from them, I can discover no one good that has resulted, or can be reasonably expected to result, from the proceedings of the abolitionists; but the train of evils which must necessarily attend their onward movements, is in number and magnitude most appalling.
Those devastations which in the course of providence are sometimes permitted to visit populous and opulent cities, suddenly prostrating the monuments of art and sweeping away the vast accumulations of years of patient and well directed industry--great and severe as we now feel them to be are small indeed compared with the ruin and desolation which would attend the subversion of our federal government, and the progress of a civil and a servile war, spreading its ravages through half the States of this confederacy. Such are the fatal issues to which, in the judgment of our southern brethren, the abolition efforts tend; and the recent indications of insurrcctionary movements among the colored population of the slave-holding States, show that these fears are not entirely imaginary.
As all the schemes of the abolitionists are professedly prosecuted with particular reference to results to be produced in the slaveholding States, it is proper that we should inquire into the manner in which they design to bring about these results. Is it expected to operate on the slave population, and by their own immediate agency to effect their emancipation? This can only be done by
violence. The very first act in this scheme of abolition, which is carried on under the guise of religion, morality and love for mankind, would open with insurrection, massacre and a servilo war in which, if the slaves triumph, their masters must be the victims. Throughout those States, such is generally believed to be the deliberate design of the abolitionists. That their measures tend to such disastrous results, cannot, I think, be denied; but that the authors of them clearly foresee these results, and recklessly push on to them willing to participate in such crimes, and to meet the fearful responsibility they would incur, I am not prepared to believe. So far as reason prevails among these deluded men, they will undoubtedly deny that this mode of effecting their object is embraced within their plan of operation. It is inore charitable to presume that they mean to stop short of this bloody catastrophe; that thcy are willing to spread dire alarm among the white population of those States, with a view to make them feel that life, property and all human comforts are insecure where domestic slavery prevails, and by these means so to aggravate its evils that they will be led by the mere pressure of them to emancipate their slaves. Such a mode of attempting to effect this object, is characterized alike by folly and wickedness. To suppose that such means will conduce to such an end, betrays a lamentable ignorance of the universal laws of human action. If the slave owners ever concur in any plan for the abolition of slavery, it must arise from a better motive than fear. They will secure themselves from danger by acting on the objects from which it is apprehended—not by emancipation, but by multiplying safeguards, by increasing restraints, by preventing intercourse as far as practicable among the slave population, by withholding from them all moral and religious instruction, and by cvery conceivable means of making them harmless machines. To satisfy ourselves that such will be the consequences of exciting alarms, we have only to look at what they have already done and are preparing to do. Manumission is discouraged, and measures are about to be adopted to expel all free persons of colour from the slave-holding States. Instead of an increasing disposition to co-operate in any plan of emancipation, there is now exhibited a more fixed determination than heretoforc to maintain the institution of slavery.
The great engine which the abolitionists profess to wield, and by the operations of which they hope to bring their object within (Assem. No. 2.)
their reach, is free discussion. By the potency of abolition arguments, the slaveholders are to be instructed in their duty; to be taught lessons of humanity, of moral obligation and civil liberty; and to be induced to strip the bonds from their slaves, and receiv them into social and political fellowship. After all that has been done to accomplish this end, it may not be unprofitable to look at the results. If we believe the concurring testimony of the citizens of the slaveholding States, not one convert has been made among them: On the contrary, their passions are aroused; a deep sense of indignation at unprovoked wrongs and a mischievous intermeddling with their domestic concerns, excites and agitates the entire mass of the white population. The abolitionists, and all their works, are loudly and universally denounced as seditivus, incendiary and wicked; and the bonds of amity and concord which unite us to the people of the South, are threatened with severance because we tolerate within our borders these disturbers of their
peace and violators of their laws. Such, we are assured, is the progress which the arguments of the abolitionists have made in bringing the slaveholders to a concurrence in their views.
When we consider the matter and manner of these appeals, and the character of the people to whom they are made, we ought not to be sorprised that they have been indignantly rejected. In all that regards the civilities of life, in high intellectual cultivation and endowments, in moral conduct and character, in comprehension of the principles of civil and political liberty, in ability to give these principles a practical application, in love of country and devotion to its best interests, the people of the South have furnished as many eminent examples as any other section of the Union. When an attempt from any quarter, or under any pretence, is made to disparage them, if we forebore to vindicate their character, we might seem to be unmindful of what is due to them for the distinguished part they have acted in all the trials and conflicts through which our country has passed, from the earliest stages of the Revolution down to the present time. In all the views I have been able to take of the labors of the abolitionists, I have not discovered that they have produced a single benefit; but every step in their movements, thus far, has been attended with evil consequences. I will not undertake to describe the calamities which, in all probability, would result from their further progress, not only to the people of the several States, but to the whole human race,