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ture be intended, unless to inflame the passions of slaves ? * And why engrave it, except to multiply copies for extensive distribution ? But it was not pictures alone that operated upon the passions of the slaves; but speeches, publications, petitions presented in Congress, and the whole machinery of abolition societies. None of these things went to the understandings of the slaves, but to their passions, all imperfectly understood, and inspiring vague hopes, and stimulating abortive and fatal insurrections. Societies, especially, were the foundation of the greatest mischiefs. Whatever might be their objects, the slaves never did, and never can, understand them but in one way: as allies organized for action, and ready to march to their aid on the first signal of insurrection. It was thus that the massacre of San Domingo was made. The society in Paris, Les Amis des Noirs, friends of the blacks, with its affiliated societies throughout France and in London, made that massacre. And who composed that society? In the beginning, it comprised the extremes of virtue and of vice; it contained the best and the basest of human kind. Lafayette and the Abbe Gregoire, those purest of philanthropists; and Marat, and Anacharsis Cloots, those imps of hell in human shape. In the end, (for all such societies run the same career of degeneration) the good men, disgusted with their associates, retired from the scene, and the wicked ruled at pleasure. Declamations against slavery, publications in gazettes, pictures, petitions to the constituent assembly, were the mode of proceeding; and the fish women of Parishe said it with humiliation, because American females had signed the petitions now before us—the fish women of Paris, the very poissardes from the quays of the Seine, became the obstreperous champions of West India emancipation.
The effect upon the French islands is known to the world; but what is not known to the world, or not sufficiently known to it is, that the same societies which wrapt in flames and drenched in blood the beautiful island, which was then a garden and is now a wilderness, were the means of exciting an insurrection upon our continent, in Louisiana.
At the session of 1839, the slavery question being under discussion in the Senate,
Mr. Benton said, I was on the subject of slavery, as connected with the Missouri question, when last on the floor.
The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Hayne), could see nothing in the question before the senate, nor in any previous part of the debate, to justify the introduction of that topic. Neither could I. He thought he saw the ghost of the Missouri question brought in among us. So did I. He was astonished at the apparition. I was not : for a close observance of the signs in the west had prepared me for this development from the east. I was well prepared for that invective against slavery, and for that amplification of the blessings of exemption from slavery, exemplified in the condition of Ohio, which the Senator from Massachusetts indulged in, and which the object in view required to be derived from the north east. I cut the root of that deri. vation by reading a passage from the journals of the old Congress; but this will not prevent the invective and encomium from going forth to do their office; nor obliterate the line which was drawn between the free State of Ohio and the slave State of Kentucky. If the only results of this invective and encomium were to exalt still higher the oratorical fame of the speaker, I should spend not a moment in remarking upon them. But it is not to be forgotten that the terrible Missouri agitation took its rise from the "substance of two speeches" delivered on this floor; and since that time, anti-slavery speeches, coming from the same political and geographical quarter, are not to be disregarded here.
What was said upon that topic was certainly intended for the north side of the Potomac and Ohio; to the people then, of that division of the Union, I wish to address myself and to disabuse them of some erroneous impressions.
To them I can truly say, that slavery, in the abstract, has but few advocates or defenders in the slaveholding States, and that slavery as it is, an hereditary institution descended upon us from our ancestors, would bave fewer advocates among us than it has, if those who have nothing to do with the subject would only let us alone. The sentiment in favor of slavery was much weater before those intermeddlers began their operations than it is at present. The views of leading men in the North and the South were indisputably the same in the earlier periods of our government. Of this our legislative history contains the highest proof. The foreign slave trade was prohibited in Virginia, as soon as the Revolution began.
It was one of her first acts of sovereignty. In the convention of that State which adopted the federal Constitution, it was an objection to that instrument that it tolerated the African slave trade for twenty years. Nothing that has appeared since has surpassed the indignant denunciations of this traffic by Patrick Henry, George Mason, and others in that convention.
Sir, I regard with admiration, that is to say, with wonder, the sublime morality of those who cannot bear the abstract contemplation of slavery, at the distance of five hundred or a thousand miles off. It is entirely above, that is to say, it affects a vast superiority over the morality of the primitive Christians, the Apostles of Christ, and Christ himself.
Christ and the apostles appeared in a province of the Roman empire, when that empire was called the Roman world, and that world was filled with slaves. Forty millions was the estimated number, being one-fourth of the whole population. Single individuals held twenty thousand slaves.
A freed man, one who had himself been a slave, died the possessor of four thousand-such were the numbers. The rights of the owners over this multitude of human beings was that of life and death, without protection from law or mitigation from public sentiment.
The scourge, the cross, the fish-pond, the den of the wild beast, and the arena of the gladiator, was the lot of the slave, upon the slightest expression of the master's will.
A law of incredible atrocity made all slaves responsible with their own lives for the life of their master; it was the law that condemned the whole household of slaves to death, in case of the assassination of the master-a law under which as many as four hundred have been executed at a time.
And the slaves were the white people of Europe, and of Asia Minor, the Greeks and other nations, from whom the present inhabitants of the world derive the most valuable productions of the human mind.
Christ saw all this—the number of slaves their helpless condition-and their white color, which was the same with his own; yet he said nothing against slavery; he preached no doctrines which led to insurrection and massacre ; none which, in their application to the state of things in our country, would authorize an inferior race of blacks to exterminate that superior race of whites, in whose ranks he himself appeared upon earth.
He preached no such doctrines, but those of a contrary tenor, which inculcated the duty of fidelity and obedience on the part of the slave-humanity and kindness on the part of the master. His apostles did the same.
St. Paul sent back a runaway slave, Onesimus, to his owner, with a letter of apology and supplication.
He was not the man to harbor a runaway, much less to entice him from his master; and least of all, to excite an insurrection.
SESSION OF CONGRESS OF 1839-THB GAG RULE-SLAVERY
AGITATION IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND RETIRING OF SOUTHERN MEMBERS FROM THE HALL.
(From "Benton's Thirty Years' View.")
The most angry and portentous debate which had yet taken place in Congress, occurred at this time, in the House of Representatives. It was brought on by Mr. William Slade, of Vermont, who, besides presenting petitions of the usual abolition character, and moving to refer them to a committee, moved their reference to a select committee, with instructions to report a bill in conformity to their prayer. This motion, inflammatory and irritating in itself, and without practical legislative object, as the great majority of the House was known to be opposed to it, was rendered still more exasperating by the manner of supporting it. The mover entered into a general disquisition on the subject of slavery, all denunciatory, and was proceeding to speak upon it in the State of Virginia, and other States, in the same spirit, when Mr. Legare, of South Carolina, interposed, and hoped the gentleman from Vermont would allow him to make a few remarks before he proceeded for. ther. He sincerely hoped that the gentleman would consider well what he was about, before he ventured on such ground, and that he would take time to consider what might be its probable consequences. He solemnly entreated him to reflect on the possible results of such a course, which involved the interests of a nation and a continent. Ho would warn him, not in the language of defiance, which all