« PreviousContinue »
greater injury, when I deprive him of his liberty, than when I rob him of his property. It is in vain for me to plead' that I have the sanction of law; for this makes the injury the greater, it arms the community against him, and makes his case desperate.
If my definition of a Slave is true, he is a rational creature, reduced by the power of legislation to the state of a brute, and thereby deprived of every privilege of humanity, except as above, that he may minister to the ease, luxury, lust, pride, or avarice of another, no better than himself.
We only want a law enacted that no owner of a brute por other person, should kill or dismember it, and tlien in law the case of a Slave and a brute is in most respects parallel; and where they differ, the state of the brute is to be preferred. The brute may steal or rob, to supply liis hunger; the law does not condemn him to die for his of fence, it only permits his death; but the Slave, though in the most starving condition, dare noi do either, on penalty of death, or some severe punishment.
Is there any need of arguments to prove, that it is in a high degree unjust and cruel, to reduce one buman creature to such an abject wretched state as this, that he may minister to the ease, luxury or avarice of another? Has pot that other the same right to have him reduced to this state, that he may minister to his interest or pleasure? On what is this right founded? Whence was it derived? Did it come from heaven, from earth, or from hell? Has the great King of heaven, the absolute sovereign disposer of all men, given this extraordinary right to white men over black men? Where is the charter? In whose hands is it lodged? Let it be produced, and read, that we may know our privilege.
Thus reducing men is an indignity, a degradation to our
own pature. Had we not lost a true sense of its worth and dignity, we should blush to see it converted into brutes. We should blush to see our liouses filled, or sure rounded with cattie, in our own shapes. We should look upon it to be a fouler, a blacker stain, than that with which the vertical suns bave tinged the blood of Africa. When we plead for slavery, we plead for the disgrace and ruin of our own nature. If we are capable of it, we may. ever after claim kindred with the brutes, and renounce our own superior dignity.
From our definition it will appear, that a Slave is a creature made after the image of God, and accountable to him for the maintenance of ionocence and purity; but by law reduced to a liableness to be debauched by men, without any prospect or hope of redress.
That a Slave is made after the image of God, bo christian will deny; that a Slave is absolutely subjected to be debauched by men, is so apparent from the nature of slavery, that it needs no proof. This is evidently the unhappy case of female slaves; a number of whom have been remarkable for their chastity and modesty. If their master at-tempts their chastity, they dare neither resist, nor conplain. If another man should make the attempt, though resistance may not be so dangerous, complaints are equally vain. They cannot be heard in their own defence;their testimony cannot be admitted. The injurious person has a right to be heard, may accuse the innocent suffer, er of malicious slander, and have her severely chastised.
A virtuous woman, and virtuous Africans no doubt there are, esteems her chastity above every other thing; some have preferred it even to their lives: then forcibly to deprive her of this, is treating her with the greatest injustice. Therefore, since law leaves the chastity of a female
Slave entirely in the power of her master, and greatly in the power of others, it permits this injustice; it provides no remedy; it refuses to redress this ipsufferable grievance; it denies even the small privilege of complaining
From our definition it will follow, that a Slave is a free moral agent legally deprived of free agency, and obliged to act according to the will of another free agent of the same species: and yet be is accountable to his Creator for the use he makes of his own free agency.
When a man, though he can exist independent of anoth er, cannot act independent of him, bis agency must depend upon the will of that other; and therefore he is deprived of his own free agency: and yet, as a free agent, he is accountable to his Maker for all the deeds done in the body. This comes to pass through a great omission and inconsistency in the legislature. They ought farther to have enacted, in order to have been consistent, that the Slave should not have been accountable for any of his actions; but that his master should have answered for him in all things, here and hereafter.
That a Slave has the capacities of a free moral agen: will be allowed by all. That he is, in many instances, deprived by law of the exercise of these powers, evident, ly appears from his situation. That he is accountable in his Maker for his conduct, will be allowed by those, who do not believe that human legislatures are omnipotent, and can free men from this allegiance and subjection to the king of heaven.
The principles of conjugal love and fidelity in the breast of a virtuous pair, of natural affection in parents, and a sense of duty in children, are inscribed there by the fin. ger of God; they the laws of heaven: but an enslaving law directly opposes them, and virtually forbids obedience,
The relation of husband and wife, of parent and child, are formed by divine authority, and founded on the laws of nature. But it is in the power of cruel master, and often of a needy creditor, to break these tender connexions, and forever to separate these dearest relatives. This is ever done, in fact, at the call of interest or humour. The poor sufferers may expostulate; they may plead; may plead with tears; their hearts may break; but all in vain. The laws of nature are violated, the tender ties are dissolved, a final separation takes place, and the duties of these relations can no longer be performed, nor their comforts enjoyed. Would these Slaves perform the duties of husbands and wives, parents and children? The law disables them, it puts it altogether out of their pow
In these cases, it is evident that the laws of nature, or the laws of man, are wrong; and which, none will be at a loss to judge. The divine law says, Whom God hath joined together, let no man put.asunder: the law of man says, to the master of the Slave, Though the divine law has joined them together, you may put them asunder, when you please. The divine law says, Train up your child in the way he should go: the law of man says, You shall not train up your child, but as your master thinks proper. The divine law says, Honour your father and mother, and obey them in all things: but the law of man says, Honour and obey your master in all things, and your parents just as far as he shall direct you.
Should a master command his Slave to steal or rob, and he should presume to disobey, he is liable to suffer every extremity of punishment, short of death or amputation, rom the hand of his master; at the same time he is liable to a punishment equally severe, if not death itself, should
he obey. He is bound by law, if his master pleases, to do that for which the law condemns him to death.
Another consequence of our definition is, that a Slave, being a free moral agent, and an accountable creature, is à capable subject of religion and morality; but deprived by law of the means of instruction in the doctrines and duties of morality, any farther than his master pleases,
It is in the power of the master to deprive him of all the means of religious and moral instruction, either in private or in public. Some masters have actually exercised this power, and restrained their Slaves from the means of instruction, by the terror of the lash. Slaves have not opportunity, at their own disposal, for instructing conversation; it is put out of their power to learn to read; and their masters may restrain them from other means of information. Masters designedly keep their Slaves in ignorance, lest they should become too knowing to answer their selfish purposes, and too wise to rest easy in their degraded situation. In this case, the law operates so as to answer an end directly opposed to the proper end of all law. It is pointed against every thing dear to them: against the principal end of their existence. It supports, in a land of religious liberty, the severest persecutions; and may operate so as totally to rob. multitudes of their religions priviliges, and the rights of conscience,
If my definition is just, a Slave is one who is bound to spend his life in the service of another, to whom he owes nothing, is under no obligation; who is not legally bound to find him victuals, clothes, medicine, or any other means of preservation, support, or comfort.
That a Slave is bound to spend his life in the service of his master, no one will dispute; and that he is not indebted to his master, is under no obligations to bim, is also evident. How can he possibly be indebted to him, who de