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IpfTRODUCTIOlC . . . . . • PAGE 13



I. Why first appeal to Abolitionists — result of their measures
doubtful. — Writer, once an abolitionist — how cured.

II. Ultraism of the present day — in theology — and benevolence.

III. Writer's views of slavery — caused by man's depravity — no
remedy but Christianity — moral influence of our national pros-
perity. — Coronation of England's queen — Dr. franklin.

IV. Circumstances in which slavery may be a blessing — theory
and practice of abolitionists inconsistent — reference to St. Paul
— objections to holding slaves.


V. Action and measures of abolitionists, why wrong — abolition
periodicals — Mr. Garrison — editor in New York— should be
judged charitably.

VI. Slaveholders' ideas of abolitionists — why — many slave-owners
anxious to get rid of slavery — what abolitionists ought to have
done — arguments not admitted — abolitionists seriously ques-

VII. Abolition in District of Columbia opposed — why 1 p. 21



I. Design of the writer. Slaveholders and abolitionists ignorant
of each other.

II. Character of abolitionists misunderstood — enthusiasts — in-
creased by opposition — many of them well-meaning men.

III. Slavery, general view — negroes human beings, capable of

IV. Power of the master — slaveholders interrogated. Fearful
responsibility in holding human beings as slaves.

V. The Bible on that responsibility.

VI. Brief survey of practical slavery — moral aspect — ignorance
— dishonesty, facts in proof — licentiousness, slaveholders aware
of the evil.


VIL Influence of slavery on individuals — character of slaves —
their influence on masters — on poor white men.

VIII. Influence of slavery on national prosperity — monopoly of
cotton — southern system not favourable to improvement —
comparison with imperial Rome — with Peru and Mexico.

IX. A better system recommended to the South. Question of
moral right will be agitated among slaveholders.

X. Slaveholders plead that a manufacturing country makes actual
slaves — some weight in the plea — radical difference. Southern
states should depend on agriculture. " Plan " of independence

XI. Views of the North on slavery — tendency of abolition —
ridiculous action among some northern manufacturers.

XII. Dissolution of Union threatened — its preservation urged upon
the South. North not inimical to the South.

XIII. The probable result of the controversy. Influence of British
emancipation. Modern slavery compared with Roman and
Grecian. Conclusion . . . . . p. 63



I. Free and slave states diametrically opposed — what influence
this should exert on the former — why oppose the spirit of abo-
lition — how the South may be reached.


II. Why slaveholders should be judged charitably — and the sub-
ject investigated — northern ministers appealed to — northern
men at the South — severe taskmasters — why.

III. Power of habit, the stronghold of slavery, influence of filial
and venerable associations among slaveholders — opposed to
unconditional emancipation — why.

IV. Universal conviction of the right of property. — Value of
slaves. — Ignorance of northern men respecting slavery.

V. Condition of the slave — observations of the writer — house
servants many advantages — field labourers — negro houses —
bad — ^mode of feeding slaves — various resources among them
— public opinion in favour of humanity — dress of slaves —
personal treatment — mode of labour — general appearance and
manners — many of them in places of trust — general views of
the whites — influence of the age on the slave.

VI. Free blacks of the South — situation unfavourable to improve-
ment — interesting exceptions.

VII. Condition of the free blacks at the North — anecdote — de-
graded — outcasts — vicious — ^neglected by the whites — deep-
rooted prejudice against them — proofs — what justice requires
of the free states. — North not guiltless respecting slavery —
what atonement for her own wrongs.

VIII. South devoted to the Union. — Interference of the North,
on the question of moral right — appeal to the free states —
to the clergy — examine motives — forbearance recommended
among equals — injurious eflfects of northern denunciation. —
Example of the Saviour. . . . . . p. 116




I. What can be done i Subject of vast magnitude — radical
difference of opinion.

II. Three modes of settling the question stated.

III. Faint hope that either side will abandon its position — ultra
slaveholders — violence of southern excitement a favourable omen
— no prospect of the North becoming in favour of slavery — rea-
sons — will not use force against it.

IV. Dissolution of the Union considered — its probable conse-
quences and result.

V. Third mode of settling the question — by compromise and
concession — why it may be hoped for — desirable that southern
men should express their views — prevented by abolition move-

VI. Colonization recommended — abolitionists opposed — mista-
ken philanthropy — colonization emancipation must become a
national question. South will reject every other mode — urged
from motives of regard for the welfare of the coloured race — ne-
groes cannot rise to equality with the whites- — proved in the free
states — in Philadelphia — slaves to remain in the country as hired
servants considered — South will oppose it, and why — no encour-
agement from the example of the North. British emancipation
referred to — final consequences not known.

VII. Why the coloured man should go to Africa — climate con-
sidered — comparisons invited- -America owes it to Africa to send


back her children. God intends it by our prosperity — government
must do it — influences of colonization on Africa. Question of
expense alluded to — money lost in Florida war.

VIIL Some slave states have begun the vpork — reasons for
government interference — partizan politics, the curse of our coun-
try — the only hope of benevolence in the future. . p. 1 6 1

Conclusion ,, . . • .... p. 205


The story of Washington and the Declaration
of Independence are the first lessons treasured up
in the memory by American youth ; and one of
the first subjects on which the reasoning powers
are exerted, is an attempt to reconcile slavery with
the declaration that all men " are created free and
equal," and " entitled to life, liberty, and the pur-
suit of happiness." The youth of ingenuous dispo-
sition, educated in the free states, in reflecting upon
this subject, early obtains a deep impression of the
fallibility and inconsistency of human character.

First, all men are free and equal; — secondly,
some of the men most distinguished in American
history were slaveholders, that is, bought and sold
their fellow-men like cattle ; — thirdly, among these
distinguished men, some (as the author of the
Declaration of Independence) condemned slavery
in the strongest terms of language while they hved,
and others, (as General Washington,) in their final
acts, cancelled the obligation of the slave, and gave
him freedom.

These reflections greatly puzzled the writer of


the following pages in his boyhood, and induced a
spirit of inquiry on the subject of American slavery,
which has increased with maturer age. In common
with the youth of the free states, he early imbibed
a strong prejudice against slavery, as being in-
compatible with the freedom of our government :
although this prejudice was subsequently somewhat
softened, by reflecting, that some of the men whom
Americans are taught from their childhood to
venerate as great and good, were slaveholders;
and also, by the consideration that the government,
in all its acts and subordinate departments, has,
(until very recently at least,) recognised the law-
fulness of slavery. There are multitudes, doubtless,
at the North, who will at once comprehend the
embarrassment of the writer at this period, by their
own experience ; — fully convinced of the wrong of
slavery as an abstract question, and yet notfeehng
authorized to openly denounce it, under the cir-
cumstances in which it is tolerated in our country:
and it was not until the writer had mingled with
slavery, and observed its practical operation and
bearing upon the community, with a circumspection
prompted by the curiosity and unsatisfied inquiries
of twenty years' residence in the free sates, that he
was enabled to form an opinion of its merits, as it
exists in the United States — and also to see the
.reason why great men had been engaged in it, and
why the people of the South so tenaciously adhered
to the practice. The result of these observations
is given in the following pages ; and the writer


feels an anxious interest in the diffusion of inform-
ation on this subject at this time, for two reasons :
1st. A crisis is approaching. Every man of com-
mon observation must be aware of the fact, that
this subject — the moral and political influence of
slavery — has been increasing in public interest for
the last few years ; and there are evidently causes
at work, which will continue to increase this in-
terest, until public opinion shall be centred upon
it with a force, which can neither be evaded nor
repulsed. The rancor of a most bitter political strife
has for a time withdrawn public attention from it,
but the elements are yet in a state of commotion,
and only wait a favourable opportunity to burst
forth and overspread the whole horizon. And no
honest man can, in view of our national interests,
wish the settlement of this great question delayed.
If slavery is that grievous, heaven-daring oppres-
sion, which some of its opposers are clamorous in
denouncing, it should be speedily abolished ; if it
can be shown that the practice is consistent with
republicanism and Christianity, the slaveholder
should be relieved of that load of obloquy which
many now heap upon him, and be permitted to hold
his possession in peace.

I call the attention of southern men to this point.
Free discussion is the only method of eliciting light,
and estabhshing correct principles in this land of
liberty. We have here no absolute monarch to
think, and speak, and act for the people " by the
grace of God." Free discussion is not only the


prerogative but the genius of our people. It is
the great manufactory of pubUc opinion, which is
the supreme law of the land. Every question,
whether of village or national notoriety, must be
submitted to it, and decided by it. It is as impos-
sible to prevent this as to stop water from running
down a declivity ; and the attempt to arrest the
progress of discussion on this great subject, if per-
sisted in, must lead to the most disastrous results.
A practice that will not bear investigation is always
liable to suspicion. If the South are determined
to resist every attempt to discuss and investigate
the merits of slavery, it will not only increase the
prejudice of its opposers, but the consequence will
be to produce rival orders of public opinion at the
North and South, diametrically opposed to each
other, and tending to cherish sectional and jarring

Without a free interchange of sentiment, there
cannot be such an enlightened understanding of
the subject as will lead to a righteous decision by
this people. Even now there are many anxious
minds labouring under an impression that slave-
holders are unwilling to bring the question of slavery
to a free and full discussion of its merits ; and this
impression is strengthened by the acts of tlie
national legislature. At both the sessions of the
twenty-fifth Congress, the House of Representa-
tives voted (after much animated and excited
debate) to reject ail petitions, and to allow no dis-
cussion on the subject of slavery. This act is to


be regretted. Its policy is more than questionable :
it is unwise. It is like checking a current in its
natural channel : the accumulated waters may
be arrested for a time, but when the barrier gives
way^as it surely must — the torrent will sweep
every thing in its course. The calm which seems
to acquiesce in this act, is no evidence of its approval.
The jfires are becoming more intense in the pent-up
volcano. On a subject not involving the safety of
the dearest interests of the community, a reflecting
people will yield an unwilling assent to the decision
of a large majority, and submit to the rejection of
their petitions, constitutionally expressed and of-
fered ; until the manifest justice of their cause, and
the exertions of its friends, have removed the op-
position to their wishes. This mode of rejecting
petitions is manifestly unjust — contrary to the spirit
and letter of the constitution — and can only be de-
fended on the ground that extreme exigences war-
rant the setting aside of established constitutional
provisions. The slaveholder pleads that the reckless
violence of the abolitionists has produced this
result, and no doubt this is true ; but whether the
ultimate decision of the country will sustain the
act, and thereby declare that the exigence required
the sacrifice, time only can determine. It cannot
be questioned that one effect of this act will be, a
stronger conviction among the people of the North,
that the South are inclined to shut up every avenue
to the investigation of slavery. And the final
consequences of such a conviction at the North, or


such a determination at the South none can foresee,
but all must dread.

2d. The object of the writer is to diffuse infor-
mation on the subject among the popular ranks
of his countrymen.

Many books have been already written on both
sides of the question ; but they have generally been
elaborate treatises: on one side condemning slavery
on the abstract principles of moral right, or on
the other defending the practice, from the usages
of mankind in all agps ; or by denying and contro-
verting the opinions of their opponents. Such
works are but little suited to the popular taste, and
produce but little practical effect upon the body of
society. The great mass of the people, the owners
and cultivators of the soil, and the artizans — men
who acquire a proud independence by honest and
persevering toil — who are seldom concerned in
tumults or mobbish excesses, — and to whom dema-
gogues and enthusiasts generally preach in vain —
a class of men to stand by the laws in the hour of
peril, and which holds in check that spirit of insub-
ordination, which seems eager to destroy — these
are the men, who are to pronounce sentence upon
this momentous subject ; and the sentence they
pronounce they will carry into execution. But
they will not decide this question, however enthu-
siasm may invoke, or uncurbed passion may
menace, until they have had opportunity to ascer-
tain facts, to hear evidence, and weigh the subject
in all its bearings. They constitute the supreme


court of the country, from whose decision there is
no appeal. These men have little knowledge of
Latin, or the logic of the schools, and little time to
study the elaborate productions of doctors of law
or metaphysics. With them a well-attested fact
is of more value than a cart load of suppositions;
and their assent is given to theory, when it is re-
duced to practice. They require no other wisdom
than that plain sense with which God has endowed
them — and which their observation and industry
keep in constant exercise and improvement — to
decide upon the most important subjects of na-
tional interest when fairly brought to their com-

To this class of his fellow-countrymen, both
North and South, the writer addresses these pages,
without reference to politics, party, sect, or section.
They have an unspeakable interest in this question ;
for it needs not the spirit of prophecy to foretell,
that unless it be amicably settled, a crisis is ap-
proaching, which will involve the whole country,
and come home to every man's bosom, from Maine
to the Sabine. Already the agitation is begun,
and a spirit is awakened which cannot be put to
rest, till a final verdict is rendered by the people.
Notwithstanding the magnitude of the subject, it is
becoming one of absorbing interest, and every man
in the nation must look it in the face.

To prepare the public to act understandingly, it
is important that information should be diffused.
Already, from ignorance of each other's circum-


stances, sectional animosity is gaining ground ;
and it will require all the wisdom which fallible
men can gain from moral obligation and experi-
ence, to arrest the current of sectional prejudice,
and decide the question in the spirit of equity,
and with reference to the great interests at stake.
That the great mass of the people are ignorant of
each other's situation, and sectional and domestic
customs, and therefore greatly liable to err in
judging of them, the writer is abundantly satisfied
from his own experience and views, before and
after witnessing the operation of slavery. Should
he be instrumental in directing this class of men to
a sober and righteous decision on this momentous
subject, his object will be attained. He has no
selfish motives to favor. His own individual sug-
gestions are alone responsible for this work. He
has consulted no man, and but few books. He
has no interests at stake, which will be involved
by the decision of this question, any farther than
as a single member of the community. The sub-
ject has been one of engrossing interest to him
ever since he came to years of manhood, and he
has watched the progress and development of
public sentiment with great sohcitude. His humble
efforts are intended to direct it, in its inquiries, to a
sober and thorough investigation; to a just, and, if
possible, an amicable settlement of the momentous



I. Why first appeal to Abolitionists — result of their measures
doubtful. — Writer, once an abolitionist — how cured.

II. Ultraism of the present day — in theology — and benevolence.

III. Writer's views of slavery — caused by man's depravity — no
remedy but Christianity — moral influence of our national pros-
perity. — Coronation of England's queen — Dr. Franklin.

IV. Circumstances in which slavery may be a blessing — theory
and practice of abolitionists inconsistent — reference to St. Paul
— objections to holding slaves.

V. Action and measures of abolitionists, why wrong — abolition
periodicals — Mr. Garrison — editor in New York — should be
judged charitably.

VI. Slaveholders' ideas of abolitionists — why — many slave-owners
anxious to get rid of slavery — what abolitionists ought to have
done — arguments not admitted — abolitionists seriously ques-

VII. Abolition in District of Columbia opposed — why ?

" One great principle which we should lay down as immovably
true, is, that if a good work cannot be carried on by the calm,
self-controlled, benevolent spirit of Christianity, then the time for
doing it has not come." Chakjting.

I. As you had the honour or dishonour to begin
the modern agitation of that great question, which
has produced so much excitement in the country —
the immediate aboUtion of slavery — it seems very


proper, in taking a survey of the subject, and
showing the bearing it has upon the various sec-
tions of the country, and classes of the community,
to make the first appeal to you. You have declared
a war of extermination against slavery, and per-
sisted in your plans for accomplishing its overthrow,
with an ardour worthy of good men in a good
cause. Whether your efforts will result in the weal
or wo of your country is very problematical. The
principal reason to hope for the former, is, that
wiser and discreeter men may arise, to wield the
elements which your zeal has put in commotion.
Great occasions give being and impulse to great
energies, but the pioneers of a grand enterprise
are seldom the men to guide it to a successful issue.
In our own history, the prudence and deliberation
of Franklin and Washington directed the storm
which the enthusiasm and ardour of the Adamses
and Henrys kindled. Without such an interference
to check your headlong impetuousness, there is
little hope of the future. If your past action in
word and deed is to be the measure of your future
progress and effort, then the patriot can only rest
his hopes upon anticipations of what may be in the
dispensations of Infinite Wisdom and Goodness, be-
yond the vision of erring and short-sighted mortals.
As one who claims an interest in the welfare of
his country, not exceeded by your own — one who
possesses the same freedom of opinion, and right
of discussion ; — as one having the same stake in the
issue, and accountable to the same tribunals here


and hereafter — I take the liberty to make such re-
marks upon your principles and measures, and
offer such views respecting their ultimate tendency,
as reflection and experience have suggested. In
doing this, I shall use great plainness of speech ;
thus, in one respect at least, following your own
example. But be assured, I have no sinister
designs to accomplish ; nofeelingsof enmity to gra-
tify ; and God forbid that I should cast any stum-
blingblock in the way, to impede the progress of
truth, justice, and benevolence.

I was once a decided abolitionist in feeling — one
of the " straitest sect." Looking on that side ex-
clusively, as most of you do, — absorbed in the con-
templation of the injustice and horrors of slavery,
but at the same ignorant of the system — I felt al-
most strong enough, in view of the abstract ques-

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Online LibraryAmericanAn Inquiry into the condition and prospects of the African race in the United States: and the means of bettering its fortunes ... → online text (page 1 of 13)