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CHRISTIAN INVESTIGATOR.-No. 8.
Whitesboro, N. Y., September 1842.
AND THE WRONGS
RH O DE
COMPRISING VIEWS OF LIBERTY AND LAW, OF RELIGION
Rights and Wrongs of Rhode Island.
“The question now is, What can we do, and what ought we to do, in order to obstruct and check the growth and spread of
ARBITRARY POWER among our churches, and ASPIRING ECCLESIASTICS ?"
Emmons, Vol. I. p. 36. In answer to the above question of the late Dr. Emmons, we would suggest that the very first thing to be done, is to convince the people that their liberties are in danger from that quarter. And the story of the actual subversion of liberty and law, and the establishment of “arbitrary power" in Rhode Island, through the influence and by the aid of " aspiring ecclesiastics," seems well suited to that object.
LIBERTY AND LAW, RELIGION AND RIGHTS, IN RHODE
ISLAND. Great events are transpiring. They must be studied and understood.' The Rhode Island controversy is no mere local con: cernment. It touches vitally, and harshly, the great interests of liberty and law, of religion and rights, not only in Rhode Island, but in the whole country. By neglecting or mistaking the facts and principles involved, the American people may unconsciously rivet their own fetters, and the American churches and ministry, instead of interposing a barrier against oppression and disorganization, may only swell and hasten the rising tide of destruction.
This, the story of Rhode Island will make manifest. Civil and political liberty have been violently subverted in that State, and a military despotism enthroned on the ruins (though in the abused name) of constitutional "law and order." The PEOPLE -the only lawful sovereign, under God, of a free civil government, have been overawed, and deposed, by aristocratic usurpation. The many, with the right on their side, have heen crushed by the comparatively few, on whose side there was wealth, and
station, and influence, and arms, and Presidential favor, and cleri-
In the present case, we count it needful to notice briefly, some
TREATIENT OF THE COLORED PEOPLE.
The friends of human rights abroad, are told that they ought not to sympathize with the suffrage men in Rhode Island, nor plead their cause, because, in their efforts to obtain their rights, ihey did not include the people of color.-Whatever the facts of the case may be, the principle of the objection is false, and to practice upon it would be fatal. On such a principle, no message of
merey could ever have reached our lapsed race. It is the same plea made by those who would blunt our sympathies for the Africans, because they enslave each other at home. On this principle, we should have withheld our sympathies and aid from Cinque, and such of his comrades on board the Amistad as had been engaged in the slavetrade. If abolitionists may stand aloof from the oppressed white men of Rhode Island, because they, and their friends in other States, stand aloof from the oppressed colored men of the country, then may the oppressed whites of R. Island, and their friends, on the same principle, stand aloof from the efforts of abolitionists, on the ground that they do not care,
equally, for the rights of the poor and wronged whites. Such a prejudice against abolitionists has extensively existed, from the beginning, because, it has been said, there are aristocrats in their ranks. How much occasion there has been for this objection, remains, perhaps, to be ascertained. If abolitionists can see white liberty crushed in Rhode Island, without alarm and sympathy, the objection will acquire vast force. A “liberty party" for the benefit of colored inen only, would become as ridiculous as a " democratic party” for, the exclusive benefit of the whites. If we would be men of principle, and have the credit of being such, we must apply our principles impartially, and every where. As we do not cease to demand the political rights of the free people of color, though the majority of ihem do not join with us in pleading for the enslaved, so, likewise, we must not omit to demand the political rights of the disfranchised whites on account of their injustice to the people of color. The cause of liberty is one, and if its friends can not seek its unity, they might as well surrender, first as last, especially, since it has become manifest that the Northern and Southern aristocracy, hitherto rivals, have confederated for their overthrow. Abolitionists have long predicted that the Slave Power would crush Northern freedom, and they have hoped that the first instance that should occur, would rouse the free North. Shall they now acquiesce, or be silent, or neutral, while their predictions are fulfilling ?
But the facts of the case have been misrepresented. Until within a few days, we have not, ourselves, got hold of the whole truth. It is noi true that the suffrage men of R. Island (however deficient) have wholly forgotten or neglected the claims of the colored man. Still less is it true, that, in this respect, they have been behind their opponents. The chief leaders of the free suffrage movement were, from the first, in favor of making no distinction of color, and they have not yielded their object. This fact was seized upon by their opponents, and no pains spared to prejudice the public against them, on that ground. As two-thirds of the people of the State were disfranchised, there can be no question that such a weapon was found available, since prejudice against color exists every where. In the Convention by whom their Constitution was formed, it was deemed advisable, by the majority, to insert the word "white" among the qualifications of voters, but at the same time, they provided, in another clause, that the proposition to strike out ihat word "white" should be submitted to the people, at the first annual election after the first session of the Legislature under the Constitution, and there is no doubt it would have been stricken out, if their government had not been forcibly overturned. Their opponents, the landholders, in framing