Charles Olcott.

Two lectures on the subjects of slavery and abolition online

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A BO L 1 T I O M

cr Compiled for the special use of Anti-Slav cry Lecturers and

Debaters, xfl

0?" And intended for Public Reading. ^}

Open thy mouth for the Ihmb Plead the cause of the Poor and Needy.-

Proverbs xxxi 8, 9.

Prove all things ; bold fast that which is good.— 1st Thessaloniam, v 21.

And as he reasoned Felix trembled, ^c— Acts xxiv 25.


i&assfUoii; tDlifo




Inability to comply with several invitations, to lecture on the subjects of Slavery and Aboli-
tion, umtod with a strong desire to contribute a share to the overthrow of Slavery, and the es-
tablishment of "equal rights" every whore, suggested the project of publishing the' arguments I
have usually employed for those purposes, in the form of Lectures, intended for the special use
of Jntl-Slavery Lecturers and Debaters. Could I be instrumental in preparing, perhaps thousands
of such agents, the sphere of my usefulness would, necessarily, he greatly enlarged. The cause
requires the aid of Lecturers, qualified at home, in all parts of the country : 1 humbly hope that
this effect yv.1I, to a considerable extent, be actually produced by the publication : and lor that
special purpose I recommend it to the public. For, notwithstanding the imperfections of the
performance, if the arguments contained in it, and the references to sustain them, be profoundly
studud the proposed lecturer or debater may, I think, by adding thereto the arguments of oth-
ers and the fruit of h,s own reflections, soon equip himself for the great moral combat now ra-
ging, in any circumstances, where intellectual skill is permitted fully to exert itself Even
without such preparations, simple reading of the Lectures will, in general, produce an excel-
lent effect: for the arguments they contain can never be refuted to the satisfaotioa o," a ,v i ,.
telhgent audience. And though individual hearers may not have sufficient candor to acknowl-
edge their convictions, their conduct will testify that the arrow is fixed in their consci.
never to be withdrawn. Even infidel hearers will be converted, to at least on. dor;

Christianity; and no intelligent person will ever rise, from their attentive and candid perusal
without the congest conviction of the truth and justice of anti-slaverv principles and practice
It will have this effect, I presume, even on slaveholders. I feel fully warranted in makini
; se declarations, from personal observation, of the effects of the mere reading of the Lee

Hires, on mixed audiences of advocates and opposers of Abolition.

The reason of annexing so many Scripture references, was to give a full exhibition of the
Spirit of the Scr.ptures, ,n relation to Human Oppression, and its opposite, Abolition I have
been long impressed with the truth and importance of Mrs. Child's opinion, that W(
never to trust to any thing but this spirit, (that is, the general and collective meaning of The
benptures,) for the derivation of Chrisiian doctrines and principles. I do not pretend I
erences are all equally pertinent to prove the various doctrines stated ; but I think that a critical
investigation will satisfy every candid reader, fhat most of them are peculiarly aopropriate for
the objects .mended. And I have purposely omitted quoting the xoords of the references in or-
der .0 compel the readers to examine for themselves,— ,hicb. they are earnest!;.

* J l l M CaS '° n ' !iUc i wiso i afrordcd ™™ "cellent opportunity for displaying the wondei

..* and harmony ,n doctrine of all parts of the Scriptures, in relation to the great doctrines

treated of; tnis purity and harmony of those Books being to me a strong proof of their Divinr

origin They exhibit the perfection of the morality of the Bii>le,-and how far they ar.

oein j/,,^ deVc]oped ln this publication, the use of a good Concordance .— I I

soon discover. The complete harmony of the Scriptures. in pecepl and example, .

aeserving of further research : and much of such research will indeed be necessary, (o

comp.ishcd lecturer. I am sensible of the defects of the Lectures ; and, though tl

rcenta under winch they were compiled maj apologize for a part of «,ose defects, I

ware that much profitable , dded t0 :he work Th

may profitably do, by pasting slips of paper by the edges, between the leave* of th

containing memoranda of additional arguments and references. And, with such assistance, I
hope the Lectures will prove the most useful Vade Mecum to anti-slavery Lecturers and Deba-
ters that has been publisher. They are written in the plainest style, which renders them ea-
sily intelligible to the smallest capacity. On no subject does there seem to bo mere ignor-
ance and error in the United States, than upon that of human Rights, especially on their origin
and inalienable nature. With a view, also, to enlighten and disabuse the public mind, in re-
lation to these great and vital doctrines, this publication is issued. Those who receive copies
are requested to circulate them into the possession of such persons as are willing and desirous
to prepare themselves for lecturing and debating on the great subjects they treat of. And the
holders of copies are respectfully requested, to take the trouble to sew stout covers on them,
writing the title on the covers ; for by so doing, they may be preserved for a long time.

It seems proper to add, that the expenses of the publication and its distribution, have been
principally defrayed by the liberal contributions of abolitionists and others in Medina county,
whose example will I hope, be extensively and liberally followed.

a o.

Medina, Ohio, July, 1837.

t,e«ture First,

S L A V E K \

TIIE object of the l^irst of these Lectures is to prove, that Slavery ia as great a crime a-
gainstthe Law of Gorl, as murder, or any other crime ; and that it is, also, a great crime a •
gainst the Common Law. The object of the Second Lecture is to prove, that the immediate
abolition of Slavery, is not only a just and righteous measure, but is at all times, and under
all circumstances, perfectly safe and greatly beneficial to all persona or parlies concerned 01
interested therein, and that it is tho only kind of sale Abolition.

It has been truly said, that "to reach the heart wo must begin ai tli ! head"— that is, to en-
list the sympathies, engage the affections, and command tho will, we must first convince the
understanding. In order to convert wo must first convict. This is, also, tho true Scriptural
method — vide Luke ii. 46, Acts ix. 22, xviii. 28, xxiv. 25. With the sole view to produce this
happy result, the following Lectures will consist almost entirely of a series of arguments.

By way of introduction to tho main subject of this lecture, which is to prove that Slavery is
a great Sin, I will remark, that wo may leadily know Slavery to be a great crime or sin, be-
cause nothing but crimes can support tho practice of it. No person can support slavish op; res-
sion ten minuter without breaking the moral law. A man cannot stir, or move, or begin to act, ei-
ther in support of slavery, or in opposition to its immediate abolition, without committing
crimes or sins of some sort or oiher. If he does not proceed to the use of open violence and
illegal force for that purposo, he ia yet compelled to resort to falsehood, sophistry and slander;
to either tho one or the other, even if ho does nothing at all, ho is guilty of a criminal silence,
which is a groat sin of omission. And, according to the Scriptures, sins of omission t or the
breach of positive commands, are as great as those of commission, or the breach of negative
commands — vide Kxodus xxi, 29, Deut. sxviii 15, 63, Pro v. i, 24, 29 I liah lvi 10, ll, Matt.
xxv, 24, 29, Heb. ii, 3, xii,25, and a hundred other passages equally plain. Many affect lo be
neutral in the great abolition conteBt ; but the Scriptures inform us the: \s is n,> such thing as
neutrality in such a contest — vide Matthew xii, 30. It is also easy to show, as I shall soon
attempt to, ; that slavery has from first to last, been supported directly and solely by crimes, and
that '.lie commission of nearly every crime in the Bible calendar, and many crimes against the
common law, are absolutely necessary to support it and give it full effect. It is a fact equally
curious and 'rue, as anyone may be convinced by reflection, that crime of any kind can only
be supported by crime ; and that in order to persevere in the commission of one crim •. and
nt its detection and punishment, it is necessary to commit stiii furtiier crimes. To know,
''' w ' ither a practice is sinful or not, we have usually only to enquire, whether crimes are
3 support; and where a practice like slavery, re-mires the aid of all other crimes
ary support, we may be certain that it is one of the worst of crimes and £.•


ol sins. In the pungent language of John Wesley, it must be "th« execrable sum of all villa-
nics.' 1

Slavery is declared by its enemies to be a sin. In order then to understand its true nature
clearly, wo must determine in the first place what Sin is. Sin is defined, in the Scriptures,
to be a 'transgression or broach of law.' — vide 1st John lit, 4. Law must, therefore, first exist
lo be broken, otherwise sin cannot exist. For as the apostle Paul justly argues, 'where no law
is there is no transgression,' or sin— vide Rom. iv, 15, iii, 20.

When a law of any description is broken, it is said to be sinned against. The breach of ti-
ny good law, whether Divine or human, always incurs moral if not legal guilt. The breach of
the Law of God, as it is called, incurs the highest moral guilt of which intelligent beings are
capable. As the law of a country is the will of its legislature, so the Law of God is the will
of God revealed to his intelligent creatures ; which they are under the highest of obligations to
obey, and for the least breach of which men are accountable. — vido Dcui. xxvii, 6, Matt, v,
19, James ii 10. 1 propose now to show that human slavery is one of the greatest of sins or
transgressions of the Law of God, incurs the highest consequent guilt, and subjects the trans-
gressor to the heaviest Divine retribution.

The Law of God is discovered from two sources— His Word and His Works. The former
is sometimes called the reveal'.d or written Law of God, or Law of Revelation ; the other is cal-
lod the unwritten Law of God, or Law of Nature. The Law of Revelation, is that great col-
lection of commands, precepts and examples, given by God to man, by express revelation, as
rules for his religious and moral conduct. It is contained in the Bible, the various books com-
posing which are authenticated as the word of God, by far better evidence than any other an-
cient books whatever. The Law of Nature is wholly discovered in the phenomena of nature, -
animate and inanimate, around us. The perfect harmony of these two great laws, shows the
identity of their origin ; and their perfect excellence is tested by their invariable tendency,
when obeyed, to produce perfect happiness. These tico maks in reality, but or.o law, called the
Law of God. Against this Law thus discovered, Human Slavery is one of the greatest of
crimes. To show this fact clearly, it is necessary to define Slavery itself. To understand
the nature and tendency of Slavery, we ;nu«t understand the system or principle of it.

Slavery has two definitions, the direct and indirect. The first, or direct, definition is, the
total deprivation or all human rights. The other, or indirect, definition is, the redu-

human beings to recome property, as goods and chattels, transferable as articles of merchan-
dise. Either definition will answer for the purposes of argument, though the first or direct de-
finition is to be preferred. But to understand this definition clearly : it is also necessary to de-
fine Human Rights.

A Right is defined to be, a privilege or liberty of doing, being, possessing, using - , or suffer-
ing something, without the interference, molestation, or hindrance of our fellow men. Thus,
for example, there is the Right to be secure in our persons, called the right of Personal Stcuri-
ty ; the Right to go, or travel and return, when, where, and as we please, called the right ot
Personal Liberty ; and the Right to hare, procure, possess, enjoy and dispose of, as our own ex-,
clusively, all sorts of material objects or Substances, except each other, called the right of Pri-
vate Property. These are the three great, absolute, natural Rights, of which all the rest are
mere auxiliaries or appendages. And these, I say, are the gilt of God to every human being,
plainly granted lo him, both in the Law of Revelation and in the Law of Naturft; or by the
express and implied will of God. Thn word 'right/ applied in its modern sense, as the gift of
the Almighty to his intelligent creatures, is not often used in the Bible; yet sufficiently often
to prove the proposition directly, that Rights arc the gift of God, to all the human Fpecies, —
Deut. xxi, 17, Ruth ii, 20, iv, 6, 1st Kings viii, 45, 2d Chron. vi, 35, 39, Job .\x\iv. C, 17, xxxvi,
6, Ps. ix, -1, xvii, 1, cxl, 12, Prov. xvi, 8, Isaiah x, 2. Jer. v, 28, xvii, 1!. xxxii, 7. 8; Lam.
ni, 35; Eze. xxii 29, Amos v 12, Mai. iii 5 ; anj several other passages. But the casHVl an3
plainest method of demonstrating that the Law of Revelation grants and guarantees, the na-
tural end aH other just rights to ?!l mankind, is by showing indir&tly, that the vj '
enjoined on us in II \ cannot be properly performed at all, without the complete

possession and enjoyment of these Rights. The gift will thus ap?*«r, from expie.s
bv nwworjj Implication. It is well observed by Dr. Gbanning, that Duties and R \
eiprocal ; that is, whatever it is r.:s<]u our Duty to do, we have, and must have, a corres-
ponding Right to do ; and vice versa, whatever wo have a Right to do, it must be our Duty to
do. Common sense intuitively perceives the truth of this great maxim. It would be the high-
eat impiety and absurdity to believe that our Croator has issued contradictory commands ; <»
on hi, the performance of which He intended to be impossible, nu-
gatory and vain, that we should have" HO right to perform. God never docs any thing IA
vain,— vide Ps. cxi 7, Isa.xlv IS, li G, lv 11, Jer. xxxi 35, 36, Eaa. vi 10, Mat', r. '20, xxiv 35,
Luke xii G, Rom. ii 2, iv 1G. 2d Tim. ii 19, and various other passages. God is, also, no res
pectcr of persons,— vide Deut. i 17, xvi 19, 2d Sam. xiv 14, 2d Chro J. six 7, Job xxxiv 19,
Prov. xxiv C3, xxviii 21, Acts x 34. Rom. ii 11, Gal. ii G, Eph. vi 9, Col. ii i 17,

James ii 1, 9. He has made it our Duty to obey all his command.:,— vide Dout. xxvii 20, xx-
viii 1, Ps. cxix 96, Jcr. xi 3, 1, Matt, v 18, 19, Luko xvi 17, Gal. iii 10, James ii 10, 1st Pet.
i 25. It follows therefore, cf course, that we liavo a corresponding Right to, oboy them all, to
their full extent md spirit, and io the use of all the means necessary to enable us to obey
them, the natural Rights with the rest. And as the Scriptures make no exception of any part
of mankind, expressly declaring that 'God is no respecter of persons, (vido ante.) it follows
clearly that He has given all these rights to all human beings equally, as their inheritance or
property, and that they i.a":"-t, therefore, bo taken from them witliout crime, except uport
forfeiture 1 6tj crime ; otherwise all tho Bible commands might be rendered ineffectual and vain,
by lawful human agcttcy, which is absurd : for if men can have a right to enslave each other,
they must necessarily have bright to prohibit each other from obeying the commands ol
which i3 most absurd. Tho rights of men would lawfully conflict with obedience to the
laws of God, which is an impious supposition. It would give to man the right to annul the
law of God, (as all slaveholders do) which is a most impious absurdity.

All tho natural rights being necessary to enable mankind to obey the commands of God,
they arc thus clearly demonstrated, to be His gift to all mankind. This gift h one of His un
alterable laws, and r.o man or body of men can lawfully infringe it, except as n punishment
for tho commission of crime, which exception is mado by the Law of God itself. Thus is it de-
monstrated in the clearest manner, that all men have a right vested in them by their Creator,
to obey all hrs commands. And if any of tha laws or customs of men, directly or indirectly,
prohibit or infringe this right, they are in the sight of God null and void. The holy prophet!
and apostles and other saints, uniformly treated them as such, — vide Ex. i 17, Josh, xxiv 15,
1st Kings xviii 21, Est. iii 2, 5, Dan. iii 4, 5, 12, 16, 17, vi 7, 10, 13, Malt, vi 21, Acts iv 19,
v 29, and other passages. .Such blasphemous laws and customs, are an impious interference
with the prerogatives and supremacy of Jehovah. God alone can lawfully own manl vid

Ezc. xviii 4. The holy martyrs were all persecuted for breaches of such laws. Had they dis-
obcyod the laws of God, by yielding obedience to them, their lives and safely would have been
secured. As particular statutes of a State, made in opposition to its constitution, are void, BO
all human la^s and customs, and constitutions, made in derogation of the Law of God, are in
His sight Utterly vain, and without any moral obligation. For this reason it is the abolition
ists have proclaimed, that before God all the laws and customs of slavery aro null a-
They are valid only in the corrupt irmtiment of wicked, impious men, as all other wicked laws
only arc. They have no moral or religious obligation whatever , their only binding authority
being wicked force and violence; or, as it is sometimes called, 'the right of the Mr
whoso 'might makes their right' only, which is always an eternal wrong. The wieked laws and
customs of tyrants, pirates, robbers, heathens and savages, have no other or greater validity.—
^... unjust wicked law or custom, introduced to legalize cm. ,

and instead of justifying nets done by its authority, before God, increases their moral emit and
risibility. Such corrupt laws and customs are national sins, and merit national punwh-
men;. Union in wickedness or community in crime is excessively sinful — vide Ps. xxxiii 3, 5,
Prov. i li), 1C, Isa.xxviii 13, Jer. v 25, 29, xi, 19, 20, Ese. xxx 6, xxxv, 15. Oba. 10, 15, and
many other pass..^


Human slavery, directly or indirectly, interferes with, disturbs, hinders, interrupts or prohi-
bits, the performance of every one of the duties enjoined on mankind by the express commands
of the Almighty. If any ono, who well understands tho nature and operation of slavery, doubts
(he truth of this surprising declaration, iet him take up the Bible, examine the long list of the
Divine commands and precepts contained in that Book, and reflect if it be possible for slaves,
fettered, cramped and ignorant as they are, to obey one of these commands in its full spirit &
extent. I say they cannot ; and that every can jid person may be convinced of the awful fact,
by a candid and careful examination. Let any such person ask himself for instance, how it is
possible for any slave to obey the commands contained in the following passages, either in the'r
letter or spirit— Rom. "xii 19, Eph. v 2, 3, 4, 22, 25, vi 1, 4, 9, 2d Pet. ii 12, 17, 18, 2."., iii 1,
8,9. These are referred to merely as specimens. Surely no slave can practice any of these
commands at all, in the spirit of their requirements ; not only for want of free agency, but on
account of ihe manifold temptations and provocations, by which he is beset, and at all times
surrounded. Special grace must be nocessary to enable a slave to obey any of these com-
mands. The most perfect free agency is necessary, to enable the subjects of God's commands,
to yield perfect obedience to them. The candid inquirer will also recollect, that slaves are
purposely kept in the greatest possible ignorance of the Bible and its contents ; they could
not be kept a* slaves, if they were not ; and that their natural passions and appetites sel-
dom receive any .voluntary check <r control. Temporal bondage necessarily produces spiritual
slavery. It must be near a miracle for slaves to obey any Divine commands. Under such cir-
cumstances, there can be no doubt but God will 'wink at' the fins of the poor slaves; but their
wretched masters cannot reasonably expect any tiling else but 'a certain tearful looking for,' —
vide Prow xxiv 1, Luke xii 17, 48, Heb. x 27, &c.

Let us illustrate the case, by a few more examples. Honor and reverence to parents is a
plain Divine command, obligatory on all the children in the world — (vide ante.) — So is the pro-
tection and instruction of their children, on all parents — vide Prov. xxii 6, Eph. \i 4 1st Tim. v
8, 2d Tim. iii 14, 15. Now as neither slave parents nor children have any rights at all, they
being merely goods and chattels, it is impossible they should obey these positive injunctions.
According to the laws and customs of slavery, slave parents have no rights or duties at all, o-
ver or in relation to their children ; nor have the children any rights or duties in relation to their
parents — and they, accordingly, seldom exercise, or attempt to exercise, any such rights or du-
ties. They are usually sold and separated from each other forever. So husbands and wives
are positively commanded to live and cohabit together, and discharge all the duties of that en-
dearing relation — vide 1st Cor. vii 3, 5. But slavery wholly forbids the right and practice of
,e to the slaves, and compels them as it were, to break the law of God, by living in un-
lawful and frequently promiscuous concubinage, — vide 1st Cor. vi 13, and several other passa-
ges of similar import. So the duties of citizens, neighbors, friends, <$-c. are all positively en-
joined, — vide Ex. xx 16, Lev. xix 13, 15, IS, Luke x 29, 37, Rom. xii 10, 13, 20, xiii 10. xv 2,
Eph. ii 19. lint slaves have none of the rights attending these relations. It has been solemn-
ly and repeatedly decided, by the highest judicial authority, in the slave states, that slaves are
mere 'goods and chattels,' (vide Stroud); and their treatment in all respects, so far as it is pos-
sible to reduce humanity to that condition, corresponds in those states, with these infamous de-
cisions. Nor, situated as they are, could they fulfil these duties, even if they had the nomin-
al right to. In the eye of slave laws and customs, they have no rights at all, any more than
beasts ; and these have no rights or duties prescribed by any law. How then can they practice
duties to which they have no right ? 'Search the Scriptures,' (vide John v 39, and other pas-
| is another plain command, obligatory on all mankind. But slavery utterly prohibits
the slaves from obeying it. No slave is permitted to learn to read, under the severest penal-
ties ; nor is any one permitted to instruct him in reading, under similar penalties — vide Stroud's
Sketch. Lit one example more suffice. "W e arc positively commanded to 'Prove all things;
hold fast lhat which is good-.-vide 1st Thess. v 21. Now it is impossible for any man to obey
this command, either in its It t W or spirit, unless he has the possession and use of all his nat-
ural rights, Personal Security, Personal Liberty and Private Property, in their fullest extent ;
that is, unless he is a fn>e moral agent. Slavery, therefore, effectually prohibits the slaves

t'rom obeying it at nil Such criminal prohibitions of positive chtistian dutie?, are among the
greatest of sins against the law of God— vide Ex. iii 9, v (J, 7, vi 5, G, Dent, xxiv 4, Ps. xeiv
20, Isa. iii 12—15, v 18, 20, ix lb", 17, x 1, xix 14, Luke xi 57, 1st Tim. iv 3, and many
other passages.

As has been said, it has been repeatedly decided, by the highest judicial authorities in the
slave states, that slaves are, to all intents, conslructions and purposes, goods and chattel*
personal, and that they cannot own, possess, or acquire any thing, but what belongs to linn
owners, (vide Stroud) ; thus placing them on a level with brutes. This is the highest judicial
blasphemy and impiety ; but see the effect of it. Goods and chattels have no rights ; there-
fore slaves havo none, not even to worship their Maker and obey his commands ! One would
hope in a republican country, to find moral integrity on the judicial bench. But so complete-

Online LibraryCharles OlcottTwo lectures on the subjects of slavery and abolition → online text (page 1 of 25)