arms? I know the idea of the danger of mixing up church and State has
EPHRAIM JOINED TO HIS IDOLS. c^g
come to us from the British government. But there we see the church
havmg a representation in the House of Lords. I did not intend to make
an argument, but I rose merely to give the information I hold in my hand
But, I repeat, there is no reason why we should exclude them. They have
the same rights as we have; they are of an age required by law; they are
native Americans, or, if not, naturalized citizens; they submit cheerfully to
the law ; they are a virtuous body, and they contribute to the support of the
government, and, what is more, to the educational part of the country they
have contributed more than any other class. Why is it we call gentlemen to
pray for us every day? It is to address the throne of grace. ' But,' says
the gentleman from Mason, ' there is danger to the country, and, therefore,
we must have the preamble which has been offered, and the exclusion of the
clergy.' I am utterly against the preamble and against the exclusion."
The vote was taken and the result showed that " Ephraim was
joined to his idols." It stood seventeen against, to seventy-four for,
the clerical disability clause. "The Redeemer of mankind," said
Waller, " was crucified between two thieves, and the memory of that
event can be well perpetuated by classifying his ministers with thieves
C^O ^EN HARDIN.
A KENTUCKY MASTER AND HIS RELATION TO DOMESTIC
hA R. HARDIN spent his life in slave-holding communities.and was
/ V himself a slaveholder. For this reason, some notice of that insti-
tution and his relation to it seems necessary to a justification of some of
his views and sentiments, and a proper estimate of his character.
More than a score of years has elapsed since domestic slavery ceased
to exist among Americans. Many of its incidents and characteristics
are growdng dim in the memory of a new generation. Its history and
peculiarities have been discolored and exaggerated in literature to
such an extent that it will be difficult for posterity to justly estimate
its lights and shadows â€” its virtues and infirmities. In saying there
was virtue in it, it is very far from the present purpose to make any
defense or apology for it. The former slave States are happily rid of
it, and few and far between are those who do not rejoice thereat. It
is, however, due the subject of this work to say that there was noth-
ing connected with the institution as it existed in Kentucky repugnant
to justice or morality, or incompatible with refinement or humanity.
Comparing the social, moral, and rehgious condition of slave-holding
communities of Kentucky with the average communities in non-slave-
holding States, their respective balance sheets of virtue and vice would,
doubtless, not materially differ in the estimation of impartial judges.
If on one hand slavery had its evils, on the other it had its compen-
African slaves dwelt on George's creek in Pennsylvania, when and
where Mr. Hardin was born. The earliest American Hardins were
slaveholders. After American independence was achieved, Pennsyl-
vania had by law provided for the prospective emancipation of her
slaves. The denizens on George's creek were unconscious that they
were affected by the proposed emancipation. They supposed they
dwelt in the territory of slave-holding Virginia. Only when, about
that period, the dividing line between the two States w^as surveyed, did
they learn their error. It has been supposed (with some show^ of
THE "SLAVE CODE." 54I
probability) tliat their desire to retain their slave property was one of
the causes resulting in the emigration of the Hardin family to Ken-
Prior to it becoming a State, slavery existed in Kentucky, by virtue
of the laws of Virginia, of which Kentucky was part. No obstruc-
tion prevented slaveholders from the latter emigrating to Kentucky.
Not so as to the slave-owners of other States. Virginia had already
adopted the policy of preventing other than the natural increase of
her slave population by interdicting importation from other States
and abroad. But this interdiction was not rigidly enforced. Immi-
grants from Maryland and the Carolinas flowed into Kentucky in a
steady stream. It was believed to be beyond the power of Virginia
law-makers to forbid bona fide settlers from bringing their slaves with
them for their own use. The right to do so was claimed under the
Federal constitution, then newly adopted. But having conceded this
right, no emigrant was allowed to bring with him slaves imported
from Africa, the West Indies, or elsewhere beyond the sea, subse-
quent to the year 1789. No slave whatever, could be brought for the
purposes of merchandise. The same policy marked the legislation of
Kentucky after it became a State, a policy that had its culmination in
the law of 1833, absolutely forbidding importation from other States.
Among the earliest acts of statehood, Kentucky adopted the
statutes of Virginia then in force, respecting slaves and slavery.
These have sometimes been called, by those who condemned them,
the "slave code." To judge it or the men who framed it from the
altered standpoint of these times, would be foolish and unfair. To
understand those laws, and appreciate the motives of the men who
framed them, the situation of the country, the nature and surround-
ings of slavery, and the prevailing current of thought of that day
must all be taken into account. If it seem harsh that a slave caught
away from his owner's premises without a written pass was subject to
lashes, it should be remembered that his young master, attending
the old-field school-house, was receiving similar fare for no greater
The personal treatment of slaves under the "code" will bear
favorable comparison with the treatment of white sailors in the
American and British navies for the same period. The "code"
itself does not fully or fairly indicate the contemporary sentiment
of the State as to slavery. The latter, practically, modified the
harsher features of the former. So public sentiment, in later times,
542 BEN HARDIN.
suspended the "blue laws" of New England. Practically, the rela-
tion of the Kentucky master to his slave was not that of owner and
chattel, but was patriarchal in character. The slave was a dependent
in the household of wiiich the master was head.
The pioneers brought their slaves with them in their earliest jour-
neys across the mountains. The slave shared the dangers that beset
his master, and oftentimes his bloody fate. Stories are plentiful in State
history and tradition of black heroes encountering death at the hand
of savage foes to protect the master and his family. Not only did he
share the perils of his master, but likewise the toils and vicissitudes
of the wilderness. In sports, master and man were not wholly sepa-
rated. If the one spent his days in fox-chasing or deer-driving, at night
a sportsman not less enthusiastic emerged from the "quarters,"
accompanied by his faithful dog in quest of opossum, coon, or rabbit.
The incense of the saddle of venison on the master's table, was fairly
rivaled by the not less savory roast rabbit and opossum that graced
the board of the dependent.
Not unnaturally, the slave became identified in feeling and sentiment
with his master's family. He rejoiced at its prosperity, and was gen-
uinely distressed by its sorrows and misfortunes. If he gave his labor
to his master, the latter in return sheltered and clothed him ; defended
him from the injuries of others ; supported him when sick or too old to
labor, and, at last, gave him Christian burial. Examples of the child-
like affection and confidence existing between these humble depend-
ents of the household and the master and mistress could be indefi-
nitely multiplied. " Let Mas' John hold my hand," said a slave near
death, "and I will not mind dying," and as the master did so, the
sinking soul fluttered fearlessly and peacefully out to meet the Merci-
ful Master of all.
Large slaveholders in Kentucky were the exception. This circum-
stance ameliorated the relation. Mr. Hardin thus expressed himself
on this point in a speech in Congress in 1820:
"Do we not know that the happiness and comforts of slaves depend
upon a few being owned by one man ; for. when hundreds are thrown
together upon one place, under an owner who knows them not, who has no
affection for them, miserable, indeed, is their condition ; but, on the other
hand, when a few only belong to one man he knows them, he loves them,
he considers them a part of his family ; some have been the companions of
his youth ; others are raised by him, and are the playmates of his children.
There is, then, a mutual affection between the white and black part of the
LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. 543
family. When in this situation they are trul\ happy, so far, at least, as is
consistent with slavery. They want nothing ; they are crossed by nothing.
The last is a source of felicity that we poor busy politicians never know."
Agriculture was the chief pursuit in which slave labor was
employed. The master usually directed their labors. The able-
bodied sons of the family shared, not unfrequently, the toils of the
field. Some of the best work was performed when a slave competed
m skill and endurance with a Caucasian rival. Associations of this
kind created ties not forgotten when the young master succeeded to
the rights of his ancestor. At corn-shuckings, log-rollings, road
workings, and other gatherings of the laborers of the neighborhood,
the color line was no obstruction to the free and hearty enjoyment of
all. In almost every slave-holding family there was an institution
known as the old nurse, whose gentle lullaby was among the earliest
of musical sounds that had fallen on the ears of her infant "mas-
ters" and "mistresses." She had watched her young charges like
unfolding buds bloom and blossom in all the interesting stages from
babyhood to maturity. She had been all this time a second mother
â€” watching in sickness, counseling in trouble, and soothing in sorrow.
Her motherly rights â€” thus earned â€” were, as a rule, always affection-
As in all times, in all countries, and among all people, there have
ever been good and bad people, so there were good and bad masters,
and good and bad slaves. To judge the institution by the conduct of
bad masters and bad slaves, would not be less fallacious than to con-
demn all parents because here and there brutal ones may be found.
Cruel and hard masters there were, whose harsh treatment of their
slaves was without palliation or excuse.
They always lived, however, under the ban of a just public senti-
ment. When now and then an outraged slave stealthily avenged his
wrongs, there was a sense of public relief when the law allowed him
to go free. Good masters usually made good slaves. Bad masters
and vicious slaves gravitated toward each other. The former rarel}-
sold his slave voluntarily, except to unite husband and wife, or for
some like commendable purpose. When death or financial misfort-
unes caused compulsory sales, good masters were usual)}' tlic most
generous buyers. The character and disposition of a slave alwa\-s
entered largely into the question of value. As a rule, he was as com-
fortably clothed and lodged, and as bountifully fed, as the laborer of
free communities. Care was taken in regard to his licaltli Medical
attention was furnished in sickness. It most usually happened that
indisposition resulted from his own indiscretion disconnected with his
master's service. Few were the slaves injured by over-work. Health
and vigor were elements of value which no sensible master would
There was much ground for the argument that slavery had ceased
to profit the slaveholder of Kentucky, years before its overthrow. It
is true there was, if rightly managed, a profit on the labor of the able-
bodied slave. But this profit most usually was largely consumed in
maintaining that part of the colored household unable to labor from
youth, disease, or infirmity. This was Mr. Hardin's experience. "If
it were not," said he, "for supporting my slaves, I would never go
near a court house." The law made it the duty of masters to main-
tain their old and helpless slaves. This duty passed by inheritance to
the heir at law.
Slaves rarely ever received any education in the ordinary branches
of learning. It was not practicable to educate them thus. It was not
necessary to their efficiency in the sphere they occupied. While it was
unfortunate that this was so, in view of the moral teaching they might
otherwise have enjoyed, there was compensation in their exemption
from the temptation into which crazed enthusiasts (who thought insur-
rection and murder commendable virtues) might have led them. While
one wrong does not justify another, yet self-preservation is the high-
Slaves were allowed the privilege of religious instruction and divine
worship. In every church edifice, seats were set apart for the occu-
pancy of colored worshipers. Yet they not unnaturally preferred the
religious ministrations of their own race. The educated white minis-
ter was not as fully apprehended as the less cultured but more sym-
pathetic and unctuous colored one. Almost every neighborhood had
its negro preacher, whose credentials (if his own assertion was to be
taken), came directly from the Lord. He was usually, though not
always, sufficiently educated to read the Bible and hymn book, and
had views more or less lucid on a few doctrinal points. He had a
general idea of the moral law, and felt himself the inferior of none as
a discerner of spiritual things. Once in a while, a colored preacher
lost influence with his congregation by drinking too deeply of the
Pierian spring. Too much learning raised him out of their orbit. An
unfortunate of this class was given to saying many fine things that fell
on stony ground. On one occasion before a crowded church full of his
SLAVEkV AGITATION. 34:
own race, save a few white auditors on a rear bench, old Peter thus
broke forth : â€¢ ' One of the most glorious events recorded on the pages
of history is the voyage of Christopher Columbus when he crossed
the Atlantic and discovered a new world. But grander and more glori-
ous was that later voyage, when the Mayflower outrode the storms of
the ocean and brought the Bible to America."
The agitation of abolition and other questions affecting the institu-
tion of slavery was unfortunate in many respects â€” one of which will
be mentioned. Unaffected by extraneous circumstances, the idea
that slavery was unprofitable in Kentucky would have been productive
of substantial results. At one period, the sentiment in favor of gradual
emancipation had considerable growth. But now and then an emissary
was detected in the State from abroad, either assisting slaves to escape,
or, still worse, inculcating ideas of insurrection. A circumstance of
this kind effectually suppressed the sentiment in favor of emancipation
that had required years for development. When the abolitionist
preached a "higher law-" to nullify those laws protecting slavery, the
slaveholder had recourse to his Bible to justify his right and title.
Sharp debates were held on the theological aspect of the question.
A notorious political divine published a stout volume, in which the
testimony of the patriarchs and prophets, as well as the acquiescence
of the apostles, were placed in the pro-slavery side of the scales.*
Mr. Hardin was the friend of slavery, but questioned its divine origin.
"Neither the Old Bible nor the New Testament," said he, "author-
ized slavery. It was only recognized as in existence."
In the constitutional convention of 1849, ^^ dogma was urged
that slavery could not be disturbed even by constitutional action.
This idea was ridiculed by Mr. Hardin. "I protest," said he,
"against wrapping up negro property as some midwife would wrap
up a woman in sixteen blankets, because she has had hard labor."
He opposed the doctrine of emancipation. He thought it better for
both races that the black remain in bondage. An indulgent and kind
master himself, he decided from the condition of his own slaves as to
what v/as best for all. He owned about forty, one-half being adults.
He never chastised one of his grown slaves, and rareh' one of the
younger. They all reverenced him and obeyed him for that reason,
rather than fear. He clothed and fed them well and allowed them
larger liberties than most masters.
He often brought suits to recover the freedom of negroes held in
slavery. Faithful to all clients, he was not less so to these helpless
*W. G. Brownlow, of Tennessee. ^C
546 BEN HARDIN.
ones. He could have little hope for reward in case of success â€” on
failure, none. A characteristic incident is related of one of this class
of cases. In a suit to recover freedom for a colored client, the evi-
dence necessary for success was a will, executed and probated ( if at
all) somewhere in Virginia. After repeated efforts he had failed to
discover the desired document. Term after term of court he had
manaeed to obtain the continuance of the case, but delay had proved
of no avail. Meantime, his client had been hired out under order of
court, and his wages held subject to the result of the suit, and a con-
siderable fund thus accumulated. Finally, the claimant of the negro
sent his attorney to Mr. Hardin to propose a settlement, by the terms
of which the suit was to be discontinued, and Mr. Hardin to receive
all the proceeds accumulated from the hiring. The case seemed hope-
less, and the offer was tempting. Further contest promised no
benefit to his client, and to be fruitless in a pecuniary view to himself.
But dearer than all price was the sense of duty done. "Tell your
client, "said Mr. Hardin, "that I will not accept his offer; that I
would as soon think of selling my Saviour as abandoning that negro's
case." Virtue, this time, proved its own reward. He obtained one
more continuance, and by another term had procured the missing will,
and won his client's freedom.
A luckless class in slavery days were the free negroes of Ken-
tucky. They largely suffered the disadvantages of both freedom and
slavery, with few of their compensations. They were socially ostra-
cised by the white race. Their association with slaves was looked
upon with distrust. So deplorable was their condition, that at an
early period a colonization society was formed in Kentucky by chari-
table people to encourage their emigration to Africa. A more
friendless, helpless class can hardly be imagined. Nothing better
illustrates this than the fact that so powerful a leader as Charles A.
Wickliffe should have introduced and advocated, in the constitutional
convention of 1849, a proposition to empower the State Legislature to
make laws punishing them, for other offenses than murder, by banish-
ment from the State, or by selHng them into bondage. Mr. Wickliffe
said he thought such laws would have a tendency to rid the State of
that undesirable class of people. He thought the State might some-
where procure territory for a penal colony. Africa was suggested.
Mr. A. K. Marshall opposed the establishment of the penal colony
in Africa, on the ground that it might interfere with the success of
the colonization society in inducing voluntary emigration there. Mr.
REMARKS AGAINST BANISHMENT. 547
Hardin was not only opposed to a penal colony, but also to banish
ment or selling into slavery as a punishment for crime. The following
are the reasons by which he enforced his views, reasons which testify
also to the clear head and sound heart of their author :
" I want to strike out those words because I do not think we have the
power to expel a free negro from this State. The free negro, sir, has a
vested right to his freedom, and a vested right to his residence here. Vou
may pass laws prohibiting a man from setting the slaves he may now own,
or their increase, free ; you may pass laws providing that if he does, they
shall not remain in Kentucky ; you may pass laws prohibiting free negroes,
from other States, from coming here; but you can not pass a law, according
to my understanding, to compel a free negro who is here to leave ; and, to
convict him for refusing to do that, is, in my opinion, to convict him for
what is no offense. He has, it is true, no political rights in Kentucky, and
we know that he is excluded by public sentiment from many social rights ;
but he owes us allegiance, and we owe him the corresponding right of pro-
tection. He is bound to obey our laws; he is bound to contribute toward
the support of our government according to his property, and we owe him,
in return, what is called local protection.
"Sir, the Spanish government once put in jail a man of the name of
Richard Meade ; they had no right to do this, because he had been a long
time a resident of Spain, and Spain owed him protection. He had not
become a subject of Spain, but she owed him local protection because he
owed to that government, while there, local allegiance ; and upon that state
of case being represented to Spain they released him. If you look into the
decisions of the Supreme Courts of the United States, and those of the
admiralty of Great Britain, you will find that an American citizen, domiciled
in Great Britain when war is declared, is entitled to protection, and their
vessels, then in British ports, can not be captured, because Great Britain
owed them local protecdon; and the same rule applies to British subjects and
British vessels in this country under similar circumstances.
" Now we owe to the free negro local protecdon, and he owes us local alle-
giance. That allegiance is to submit to our laws, to obey our laws, and to pay
taxes according to the property he may possess. I would submit to this honor-
able convention that these negroes are poor human beings, and. upon the
score of humanity, I would ask, would you treat them thus ? Prevent, if
you choose, the owner from setting his negro free, but every precej)! of
humanity, every law of Christianity, forbids that we should treat them worse
than we would treat dogs. They have a right to enjoy their freedom, when
free, as we have to enjoy ours. They have no political rights, but they have
every civil right that we have ; and what is more, their skin will not be
black when they go to heaven, and stand before the judgment seat of
548 BEN HARDIN.
Christ ; there, sir, they will be robed as white as we are, and we are to
answer for our treatment to them here. I hope my colleague will not press
that amendment ; it is at war with every feeling of my heart. They have
the same inheritance in the blood of Christ that we have, and we are bound
to treat them with humanity.
" Sir, what does the amendment propose ? That you have a right to send
them into banishment, or involuntary servitude, for crime. Then, sir, if
you carry that amendment, we have a right to define crime. Now, I deny
the policy of that, and I deny the right of it. And you are to sell them out
of the State, not as a punishment to keep them from crime hereafter, but
you are to subject them to slavery upon what we, the whites, call crime.
Sir, I object to this.
" But it is said we may transport them. I deny it. Can you send your
officers with a human being beyond the limits of this State ? Have you
jurisdiction to send a gang of negroes to any place in the United States ?
No, sir. But the gentleman says we may send them to some country whicli
we may acquire. But we can not acquire any country. If we acquire any
country from foreign nations, it is forbidden by the constitution of the United
States, which provided that ' no State shall enter into any treaty, alliance,
or confederation, grant letters of marque and reprisal, coin money, emit
bills of credit, make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment
of debts, pass any bill of attainer, ex post facto law, or law impairing the
obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility,'
" Now, sir, no State can make any treaty with any foreign nation. There
is no reservation of such a power. Can we make any negotiations with any
lawful prince or king of Africa to which we may banish negroes and make it a
kind of Botany Bay ? No, sir, we can not do it at all. This is a matter which
Congress itself can not do. Congress can not appropriate money for the
purpose of colonizing negroes ; it is not within the power of Congress to do