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rather than settled rage, malignity, or revenge. If horses and dogs
were intelligent beings, and still held as property, their opposition
to the wishes of their owners, would exasperate them immeasurably more
than it would be possible for them to do, with the minds of brutes.
None but little children and idiots get angry at sticks and stones
that lie in their way or hurt them; but put into sticks and stones
intelligence, and will, and power of feeling and motion, while they
remain as now, articles of property, and what a towering rage would
men be in, if bushes whipped them in the face when they walked among
them, or stones rolled over their toes when they climbed hills! and
what exemplary vengeance would be inflicted upon door-steps and
hearth-stones, if they were to move out of their places, instead of
lying still where they were put for their owners to tread upon. The
greatest provocation to human nature is _opposition to its will_. If a
man's will be resisted by one far _below_ him, the provocation is
vastly greater, than when it is resisted by an acknowledged superior.
In the former case, it inflames strong passions, which in the latter
lie dormant. The rage of proud Haman knew no bounds against the poor
Jew who would not do as he wished, and so he built a gallows for him.
If the person opposing the will of another, be so far below him as to
be on a level with chattels, and be actually held and used as an
article of property; pride, scorn, lust of power, rage and revenge
explode together upon the hapless victim. The idea of _property_
having a will, and that too in opposition to the will of its _owner_,
and counteracting it, is a stimulant of terrible power to the most
relentless human passions and from the nature of slavery, and the
constitution of the human mind, this fierce stimulant must, with
various degrees of strength, act upon slaveholders almost without
ceasing. The slave, however abject and crushed, is an intelligent
being: he has a _will_, and that will cannot be annihilated, _it will
show itself_; if for a moment it is smothered, like pent up fires when
vent is found, it flames the fiercer. Make intelligence _property_,
and its manager will have his match; he is met at every turn by an
_opposing will_, not in the form of down-right rebellion and defiance,
but yet, visibly, an _ever-opposing will_. He sees it in the
dissatisfied look, and reluctant air and unwilling movement; the
constrained strokes of labor, the drawling tones, the slow hearing,
the feigned stupidity, the sham pains and sickness, the short memory;
and he _feels_ it every hour, in innumerable forms, frustrating his
designs by a ceaseless though perhaps invisible countermining. This
unceasing opposition to the will of its 'owner,' on the part of his
rational 'property,' is to the slaveholder as the hot iron to the
nerve. He raves under it, and storms, and gnashes, and smites; but the
more he smites, the hotter it gets, and the more it burns him.
Further, this opposition of the slave's will to his owner's, not only
excites him to severity, that he may gratify his rage, but makes it
necessary for him to use violence in breaking down this
resistance - thus subjecting the slave to additional tortures. There is
another inducement to cruel inflictions upon the slave, and a
necessity for it, which does not exist in the case of brutes.
Offenders must be made an example to others, to strike them with
terror. If a slave runs away and is caught, his master flogs him with
terrible severity, not merely to gratify his resentment, and to keep
him from running away again, but as a warning to others. So in every
case of disobedience, neglect, stubbornness, unfaithfulness,
indolence, insolence, theft, feigned sickness, when his directions are
forgotten, or slighted, or supposed to be, or his wishes crossed, or
his property injured, or left exposed, or his work ill-executed, the
master is tempted to inflict cruelties, not merely to wreak his own
vengeance upon him, and to make the slave more circumspect in future,
but to sustain his authority over the other slaves, to restrain them
from like practices, and to preserve his own property.

A multitude of facts, illustrating the position that slaveholders
treat their slaves _worse_ than they do their cattle, will occur to
all who are familiar with slavery. When cattle break through their
owners' inclosures and escape, if found, they are driven back and
fastened in again; and even slaveholders would execrate as a wretch,
the man who should tie them up, and bruise and lacerate them for
straying away; but when _slaves_ that have escaped are caught, they
are flogged with the most terrible severity. When herds of cattle are
driven to market, they are suffered to go in the easiest way, each by
himself; but when slaves are driven to market, they are fastened
together with handcuffs, galled by iron collars and chains, and thus
forced to travel on foot hundreds of miles, sleeping at night in their
chains. Sheep, and sometimes horned cattle are marked with their
owners' initials - but this is generally done with paint, and of course
produces no pain. Slaves, too, are often marked with their owners'
initials, but the letters are stamped into their flesh with a hot
iron. Cattle are suffered to graze their pastures without stint; but
the slaves are restrained in their food to a fixed allowance. The
slaveholders' horses are notoriously far better fed, more moderately
worked, have fewer hours of labor, and longer intervals of rest than
their slaves; and their valuable horses are far more comfortably
housed and lodged, and their stables more effectually defended from
the weather, than the slaves' huts. We have here merely _begun_ a
comparison, which the reader can easily carry out at length, from the
materials furnished in this work.

We will, however, subjoin a few testimonies of slaveholders, and
others who have resided in slave states, expressly asserting that
slaves are treated _worse than brutes_.

The late Dr. GEORGE BUCHANAN, of Baltimore, Maryland, a member of the
American Philosophical Society, in an oration delivered in Baltimore,
July 4, 1791, page 10, says:

"The Africans whom you despise, whom you _more inhumanly treat than
brutes_, are equally capable of improvement with yourselves."

The Rev. GEORGE WHITEFIELD, in his celebrated letter to the
slaveholders of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and
Georgia, written one hundred years ago, (See Benezet's Caution to
Great Britain and her Colonies, page 13), says:

"Sure I am, it is sinful to use them as bad, nay worse than if they
were brutes; and whatever particular _exceptions_ there may be, (as I
would charitably hope there are _some_) I fear the _generality_ of you
that own negroes, _are liable to such a charge_."

Mr. RICE, of Kentucky in his speech in the Convention that formed the
Constitution of that state, in 1790, says:

"He [the slave] is a rational creature, reduced by the power of
legislation to the _state of a brute_, and thereby deprived of every
privilege of humanity.... The brute may steal or rob, to supply
his hunger; but the slave, though in the most starving condition,
_dare not do either, on penalty of death, or some severe punishment_."

Rev. HORACE MOULTON, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in
Marlborough, Mass. who lived some years in Georgia, says:

"The southern horses and dogs have enough to eat, and good care is
taken of them; but southern negroes - who can describe their misery and
their wretchedness, their nakedness and their cruel scourgings! None
but God. Should we _whip our horses_ as they whip their slaves, even
for small offences, we should expose ourselves to the penalty of the

Rev. PHINEAS SMITH, Centerville, Allegany county, New York, who has
resided four years in the midst of southern slavery -

"Avarice and cruelty are twin sisters; and I do not hesitate to
declare before the world, as my deliberate opinion, that there is
_less compassion_ for working slaves at the south, than for working
oxen at the north."

STEVEN SEWALL, Esq. Winthrop, Maine, a member of the Congregational
Church, and late agent of the Winthrop Manufacturing Company, who
resided five years in Alabama, says -

"I do not think that brutes, not even horses, are treated with _so
much cruelty_ as American slaves."

If the preceding considerations are insufficient to remove incredulity
respecting the cruelties suffered by slaves, and if northern objectors
still say, 'We might believe such things of savages, but that
civilized men, and republicans, in this Christian country, can openly
and by system perpetrate such enormities, is impossible'; - to such we
reply, that this incredulity of the people of the free states, is not
only discreditable to their intelligence, but to their consistency.

Who is so ignorant as not to know, or so incredulous as to disbelieve,
that the early Baptists of New England were fined, imprisoned,
scourged, and finally banished by our puritan forefathers? - and that
the Quakers were confined in dungeons, publicly whipped at the
cart-tail, had their ears cut off, cleft sticks put upon their
tongues, and that five of them, four men and one woman, were hung on
Boston Common, for propagating the sentiments of the Society of
Friends? Who discredits the fact, that the civil authorities in
Massachusetts, less than a hundred and fifty years ago, confined in
the public jail a little girl of four years old, and publicly hung the
Rev. Mr. Burroughs, and eighteen other persons, mostly women, and
killed another, (Giles Corey,) by extending him upon his back, and
piling weights upon his breast till he was crushed to death [17] - and
this for no other reason than that these men and women, and this
little child, were accused by others of _bewitching_ them.

[Footnote 17: Judge Sewall, of Mass. in his diary, describing this
horrible scene, says that when the tongue of the poor sufferer had, in
the extremity of his dying agony, protruded from his mouth, a person
in attendance took his cane and thrust it back into his mouth.]

Even the children in Connecticut, know that the following was once a
law of that state:

"No food or lodging shall be allowed to a Quaker. If any person turns
Quaker, he shall be banished, and not be suffered to return on pain of

These objectors can readily believe the fact, that in the city of New
York, less than a hundred years since, thirteen persons were publicly
burned to death, over a slow fire: and that the legislature of the
same State took under its paternal care the African slave-trade, and
declared that "all encouragement should be given to the _direct_
importation of slaves; that all _smuggling_ of slaves should be
condemned, as _an eminent discouragement to the fair trader_."

They do not call in question the fact that the African slave-trade was
carried on from the ports of the free states till within thirty years;
that even members of the Society of Friends were actively engaged in
it, shortly before the revolutionary war; [18] that as late as 1807,
no less than fifty-nine of the vessels engaged in that trade, were
sent out from the little state of Rhode Island, which had then only
about seventy thousand inhabitants; that among those most largely
engaged in these foul crimes, are the men whom the people of Rhode
Island delight to honor: that the man who dipped most deeply in that
trade of blood (James De Wolf,) and amassed a most princely fortune by
it, was not long since their senator in Congress; and another, who was
captain of one of his vessels, was recently Lieutenant Governor of the

[Footnote 18: See Life and Travels of John Woolman, page 92.]

They can believe, too, all the horrors of the middle passage, the
chains, suffocation, maimings, stranglings, starvation, drownings, and
cold blooded murders, atrocities perpetrated on board these
slave-ships by their own citizens, perhaps by their own townsmen and
neighbors - possibly by their own _fathers_: but oh! they 'can't
believe that the slaveholders can be so hard-hearted towards their
slaves as to treat them with great cruelty.' They can believe that his
Holiness the Pope, with his cardinals, bishops and priests, have
tortured, broken on the wheel, and burned to death thousands of
Protestants - that eighty thousand of the Anabaptists were slaughtered
in Germany - that hundreds of thousands of the blameless Waldenses,
Huguenots and Lollards, were torn in pieces by the most titled
dignitaries of church and state, and that _almost every professedly
Christian sect, has, at some period of its history, persecuted unto
blood_ those who dissented from their creed. They can believe, also,
that in Boston, New York, Utica, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Alton, and
in scores of other cities and villages of the free states, 'gentlemen
of property and standing,' led on by civil officers, by members of
state legislatures, and of Congress, by judges and attorneys-general,
by editors of newspapers, and by professed ministers of the gospel,
have organized mobs, broken up lawful meetings of peaceable citizens,
committed assault and battery upon their persons, knocked them down
with stones, led them about with ropes, dragged them from their beds
at midnight, gagged and forced them into vehicles, and driven them
into unfrequented places, and there tormented and disfigured
them - that they have rifled their houses, made bonfires of their
furniture in the streets, burned to the ground, or torn in pieces the
halls or churches in which they were assembled - attacked them with
deadly weapons, stabbed some, shot others, and killed one. They can
believe all this - and further, that a majority of the citizens in the
places where these outrages have been committed, connived at them; and
by refusing to indict the perpetrators, or, if they were indicted, by
combining to secure their acquittal, and rejoicing in it, have
publicly adopted these felonies as their own. All these things they
can believe without hesitation, and that they have even been done by
their own acquaintances, neighbors, relatives; perhaps those with whom
they interchange courtesies, those for whom they _vote_, or to whose
_salaries they contribute_ - but yet, oh! they can never believe that
slaveholders inflict cruelties upon their slaves!

They can give full credence to the kidnapping, imprisonment, and
deliberate murder of WILLIAM MORGAN, and that by men of high standing
in society; they can believe that this deed was aided and abetted, and
the murderers screened from justice, by a large number of influential
persons, who were virtually accomplices, either before or after the
fact; and that this combination was so effectual, as successfully to
defy and triumph over the combined powers of the government; - yet
that those who constantly rob men of their time, liberty, and wages,
and all their _rights_, should rob them of bits of flesh, and
occasionally of a tooth, make their backs bleed, and put fetters on
their legs, is too monstrous to be credited! Further these same
persons, who 'can't believe' that slaveholders are so iron-hearted as
to ill-treat their slaves, believe that the very _elite_ of these
slaveholders, those most highly esteemed and honored among them, are
continually daring each other to mortal conflict, and in the presence
of mutual friends, taking deadly aim at each other's hearts, with
settled purpose to _kill_, if possible. That among the most
distinguished governors of slave states, among their most celebrated
judges, senators, and representatives in Congress, there is hardly
_one_, who has not either killed, or tried to kill, or aided and
abetted his friends in trying to kill, one or more individuals. That
pistols, dirks, bowie knives, or other instruments of death are
generally carried throughout the slave states - and that deadly affrays
with them, in the streets of their cities and villages, are matters of
daily occurrence; that the sons of slaveholders in southern colleges,
bully, threaten, and fire upon their teachers, and their teachers upon
them; that during the last summer, in the most celebrated seat of
science and literature in the south, the University of Virginia, the
professors were attacked by more than seventy armed students, and, in
the words of a Virginia paper, were obliged 'to conceal themselves
from their fury;' also that almost all the riots and violence that
occur in northern colleges, are produced by the turbulence and lawless
passions of southern students. That such are the furious passions of
slaveholders, no considerations of personal respect, none for the
proprieties of life, none for the honor of our national legislature,
none for the character of our country abroad, can restrain the
slaveholding members of Congress from the most disgraceful personal
encounters on the floor of our nation's legislature - smiting their
fists in each other's faces, throttling and even _kicking_ and trying
to _gouge_ each other - that during the session of the Congress just
closed, no less than six slaveholders, taking fire at words spoken in
debate, have either rushed at each other's throats, or kicked, or
struck, or attempted to knock each other down; and that in all these
instances, they would doubtless have killed each other, if their
friends had not separated them. Further, they know full well, these
were not insignificant, vulgar blackguards, elected because they were
the head bullies and bottle-holders in a boxing ring, or because their
constituents went drunk to the ballot box; but they were some of the
most conspicuous members of the House - one of them a former speaker.

Our newspapers are full of these and similar daily occurrences among
slaveholders, copied verbatim from their own accounts of them in their
own papers and all this we fully credit; no man is simpleton enough to
cry out 'Oh, I can't believe that slaveholders do such things;' - and
yet when we turn to the treatment which these men mete out to their
_slaves_, and show that they are in the habitual practice of striking,
kicking, knocking down and shooting _them_ as well as each other - the
look of blank incredulity that comes over northern dough-faces, is a
study for a painter: and then the sentimental outcry, with eyes and
hands uplifted, 'Oh, indeed, I can't believe the slaveholders are so
cruel to their slaves.' Most amiable and touching charity! Truly, of
all Yankee notions and free state products, there is nothing like a
'_dough face_' - the great northern staple for the southern
market - 'made to order,' in any quantity, and _always on hand_. 'Dough
faces!' Thanks to a slaveholder's contempt for the name, with its
immortality of truth, infamy and scorn.[19]

[Footnote 19: "_Doe_ face," which owes its paternity to John Randolph,
age has mellowed into "_dough_ face" - a cognomen quite as expressive
and appropriate, if not as classical.]

Though the people of the free states affect to disbelieve the
cruelties perpetrated upon the slaves, yet slaveholders believe _each
other_ guilty of them, and speak of them with the utmost freedom. If
slaveholders disbelieve any statement of cruelty inflicted upon a
slave, it is not on account of its _enormity_. The traveler at the
south will hear in Delaware, and in all parts of Maryland and
Virginia, from the lips of slaveholders, statements of the most
horrible cruelties suffered by the slaves _farther_ south, in the
Carolinas and Georgia; when he finds himself in those states he will
hear similar accounts about the treatment of the slaves in _Florida_
and _Louisiana_; and in Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee he will hear
of the tragedies enacted on the plantations in Arkansas, Alabama and
Mississippi. Since Anti-Slavery Societies have been in operation, and
slaveholders have found themselves on trial before the world, and put
upon their good behavior, northern slaveholders have grown cautious,
and now often substitute denials and set defences, for the voluntary
testimony about cruelty in the far south, which, before that period,
was given with entire freedom. Still, however, occasionally the 'truth
will out,' as the reader will see by the following testimony of an
East Tennessee newspaper, in which, speaking of the droves of slaves
taken from the upper country to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc.,
the editor says, they are 'traveling to a region where their condition
HELL.' See "Maryville Intelligencer," of Oct, 4, 1835. Distant
cruelties and cruelties _long past_, have been till recently, favorite
topics with slaveholders. They have not only been ready to acknowledge
that their _fathers_ have exercised great cruelty toward their slaves,
but have voluntarily, in their official acts, made proclamation of it
and entered it on their public records. The Legislature of North
Carolina, in 1798, branded the successive legislatures of that state
for more than thirty years previous, with the infamy of treatment
towards their slaves, which they pronounce to be 'disgraceful to
humanity, and degrading in the highest degree to the laws and
principles of a free, Christian, and enlightened country.' This
treatment was the enactment and perpetuation of a most barbarous and
cruel law.

But enough. As the objector can and does believe all the preceeding
facts, if he still '_can't_ believe' as to the cruelties of
slaveholders, it would be barbarous to tantalize his incapacity either
with evidence or argument. Let him have the benefit of the act in such
case made and provided.

Having shown that the incredulity of the objector respecting the
cruelty inflicted upon the slaves, is discreditable to his
consistency, we now proceed to show that it is equally so to his

Whoever disbelieves the foregoing statements of cruelties, on the
ground of their enormity, proclaims his own ignorance of the nature
and history of man. What! incredulous about the atrocities perpetrated
by those who hold human beings as property, to be used for their
pleasure, when history herself has done little else in recording human
deeds, than to dip her blank chart in the blood shed by arbitrary
power, and unfold to human gaze the great red scroll? That cruelty is
the natural effect of arbitrary power, has been the result of all
experience, and the voice of universal testimony since the world
began. Shall human nature's axioms, six thousand years old, go for
nothing? Are the combined product of human experience, and the
concurrent records of human character, to be set down as 'old wives'
fables?' To disbelieve that arbitrary power naturally and habitually
perpetrates cruelties, where it can do it with impunity, is not only
ignorance of man, but of _things_. It is to be blind to innumerable
proofs which are before every man's eyes; proofs that are stereotyped
in the very words and phrases that are on every one's lips. Take for
example the words _despot_ and _despotic_. Despot, signifies
etymologically, merely one who _possesses_ arbitrary power, and at
first, it was used to designate those alone who _possessed_ unlimited
power over human beings, entirely irrespective of the way in which
they exercised it, whether mercifully or cruelly. But the fact, that
those who possessed such power, made their subjects their _victims_,
has wrought a total change in the popular meaning of the word. It now
signifies, in common parlance, not one who _possesses_ unlimited power
over others, but one who exercises the power that he has, whether
little or much, _cruelly_. So _despotic_, instead of meaning what it
once did, something pertaining to the _possession_ of unlimited power,
signifies something pertaining to the _capricious, unmerciful and
relentless exercise_ of such power.

The word tyrant, is another example - formerly it implied merely a
_possession_ of arbitrary power, but from the invariable abuse of such
power by its possessors, the proper and entire meaning of the word is
lost, and it now signifies merely one who _exercises power to the
injury of others_. The words tyrannical and tyranny follow the same
analogy. So the word arbitrary; which formerly implied that which
pertains to the will of one, independently of others; but from the
fact that those who had no restraint upon their wills, were invariably
capricious, unreasonable and oppressive, these words convey accurately
the present sense of _arbitrary_, when applied to a person.

How can the objector persist in disbelieving that cruelty is the
natural effect of arbitrary power, when the very words of every day,

Online LibraryAmerican Anti-Slavery SocietyThe Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 3 of 4 → online text (page 26 of 85)