Nathan Lewis Rice Jonathan Blanchard.

A debate on slavery: held in the city of Cincinnati,on the first ..., Part 4 online

. (page 9 of 46)
Online LibraryNathan Lewis Rice Jonathan BlanchardA debate on slavery: held in the city of Cincinnati,on the first ..., Part 4 → online text (page 9 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


violation or disregard of the injunction here given, in its
true spirit and intention, ought to be considered as just
ground for the discipline and censure, of the Church." Yet
he tells us that this Act of 1818 is not a ^Haw" but an
exhortation. Surely, my friend must have forgotten, in the
multitude of his engagements, what he printed! a month ago!

My friend cautions me, with some little parade, against
what he thinks the fault of abolitionists, viz : the making of
assertions against slavery, without proof. I have read my
proofs, where proofs were required. Yet all that I have said,
or can say, is not a blister, to the bloody inflictions of slavery j
inflictions, the merciless reality of which, I pledge myself
to establish, if necessary: and you may remember, and See
if I redeem my pledge.

Mr. Rice read to you, from a Scotch paper, " The Wit-
ness," what he calls a false and abusive statement, respect-
ing slave-holders' cruelty, to the eflfect that ministers might
whip slave women cruelly before preaching on the Sabbath,
without disgrace. I suppose that story was taken from the



Digitized byVjOOQlC



ON SLAVERY. W

Statement of Rev. James Nourse, of Mifflin county, Penn-
sylvania, a brothier whom I know, and who declares, in
substance, that upon a visit to a brother minister, he found,
tied to the post in front of his house, a woman, with her
neck and shoulders bare, whom the brother minister was
about to flog. Mr. Nourse plead with the brother minister
not to whip her; but he did not defer, the chastisement, even
4br the sake of his visiter, but proceeded to the infliction,
in his presence. He applied the raw-hide with ;such force
that the welts rose upon her back, under every lash.

Now, if ministers, under the restraints of reputation, and
in the presence of visiters, when offending children com-
monly escape, can inflict suck sconrgings upon women, — if
these things are done in the green tree, what may be done
in the dry? — out of sight, in the garret, or cellar, and when
no visiters are present?

My friend said, also, with an apparent candor which
touched my heart, that if I could show that these crueUies,
such as the practice of forbidding slaves to read, and the
^separation of families, were not mere adjuncts, but integral
parts of slavery, he would, go with me, for immediate abo-
lition. If he will stand by that pledge, I do not despair
that we may yet hold abolition meetings together. For
you all can see, that if, for example, the sheriff were not
allowed to sell slaves on execution without regarding family
ties, the property-holding power would soon be abraded and
wasted away : or if administrators were not permitted to sell
separately at auction the slaves of an intestate ; the same re-
sults. If men were compelled to sell six or eight horses in a
bunch whenever they sell one, is it not plain that it would
bwer and nearly destroy the property value of horses ?
But I have prepared an argument expressly on that point:
^ and I trust in God that he will give me strength to present
it in its place.

i now resume the course of my argument. I was show-
ing thzit^^lavery in law, is slavery in fact, that the slave's ac-
tual conditi^is that of property. And the next proof which



Digitized byCjOOQlC



94 msoussioN

I bring, is the fact that the State pays for the slaves which it
hangs. See the Kentucky law of 1798. ^ When courts
within this commonwealth shall determine that any slave
shall suffer death according^ to law," &c. The auditor is
to issue his warrant for the value of said slave, and the State
treasurer is to pay the same to the owner on the clerk's presen-
tation of the sheriff's certificate of the slave's sentence and
execution !

This shows that the property taw is a law " stronger than
death ;" that it outlives the slave, and is executed after he is
in eternity 1

My last argument, showing that slaves are actual prop-
erty, is, that the reported cases in the bodks, are full of in-
stances, showing that practical slavery is what theoretical,
legal slavery is, vi2 : the human species made property. In
the Supreme Court of Tennessee, in 1834, there came up
for judgment the following case, to wit :

Frederick^ a slave of Col. Patton, of the North Carolina
line, with his master's consent, enlisted and fought through
the war of the American revolution. Now, if ever there
was an instance where the Shylock's bond of human flesh
might have been relaxed — where the laws of slavery might
have been mitigated in practice— it ought to have been in
the case of this veteran slave soldier. Gentlemen and fel-
low-citizens, I beg you will mark the illustration of the
slave-condition which this case affords. On the 8th of
August, 1821, as Frederick's name was found in the muster
roll, a warrant was issued to Frederick, giving him the sol-
dier's bounty of one thousand acres of land. The question
before the Court was, whether that thousand acres of land
belonged to Frederick, or to his master ? Remember, now,
that this is not a statute which I am reading, but an adjudged
case. Judge Catron's decision is in these words: << Frede-
rick, the slave of Col. !Patton, earned this warrant by his
services in the Continental line. What is earned by the
slave belongs to the master by the common law, the civil
law, and the recognized rules of property in the slave-hold-



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



ON SLAVEBT. 06

ing States of this Union." This decision is a triple legal
cord, binding Frederick to the condition of a brute ! The
land went not to Frederick, but to the heirs of Col Patton*
Aye, gentlemen, seven years' fighting for his country's
liberties, could not, and did not^ entitle Frederick to be con-
sidered a man. Nor could service during the war of the
Revolution entitle him to soil enough in the country which
his courage had helped to save, to bury his broken heart in.
Whenthis war-worn veteran returns home, amid a nation's
shouts for liberty, and finds that, in the midst of those whom
his toil, and sufierings, and dangers have made free, he is
stUl a slave !

" O shall we scoff at Europe's kings,
While freedom's fir^ is dim with us ;
And round our country's altar clings

The damning shade of slavery's cone 1
Go 1 Let us ask of Constantino

To loose his hold on Poland's throat,
Or beg the Lord of Mammouhd's line

To spare the struggling Suliote.
Will not the scorching answer come,

From turban'd Turk and fiejy Russ;

* Go ! Loose your fetter'd slaves at home —

Then turn and ask the like of us 1 ' "

Oh ! Sirs, ** I tremble for my country when I remember
that God is just! and that his justice will not sleep forever."

Gentlemen and fellow-citizens, I have done with thia
branch of my argument. I will simply recapitulate the
points which I have sought to establish. First — ^that slaves
are not only theoretically, but actually, in a property condi-
tion. The chattelizing statute— the frequent Legislatures
adding to and repealing parts of the slave code — the laws
made for enforcing and regulating this chattelship — sheriffi
and administrators advertizing slaves with cattle, swine, and
other property — ^the laws licensing auctioneers, and declar-
ing slaves to be merchandize — ^the fact that the laws to pro-
tect the master's property-right in slaves, provide carefully
for their own execution by paying prosecutors, informers,
^., while no such provision is made to execute lav/s which



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



96 DISCUSSION

pretend to protect the lives or limbs of slaves — the feet that
slaves convicted of crimes are not punished by the human
penal code, but according to the punishment of brutes — that
slaVes are by law forbidden all weapons of defence, even to
possessing a club — ^that slaves criminally executed are paid
for by the State — and that slaves fighting for their country
through the American Revolution cannot gain a title to a
foot of soldier's bounty land, nor even to the ragged regi-
mentals which they have worn out in the service— all these
fects show, if aught can show, that the American slaves are
actual as well as legal property. And when professed
ministers of Christ vindicate the holding of slaves in this
condition, and then tell the public that they are opposed to
holding slaves as "mere" property, they discredit either
their heads, or their hearts, or both. They must be, as I
humbly conceive, either unfeeling men, or men wedded to
error.

I now take up a second branch of my argument. My
friend has said that " in Kentucky the slave has the same
protection that the child has." — Rice^s Lectures, p. 17.
And you have observed how he is constantly struggling to
put in the slavery-relation among the holy domestic and
home-bred relatioi)s of our race, such as marriage and pa-
rentage ; I must be excused for saying that there is nothing
which I have so prayed for, as for patience — while listening
to sentiments like these from my brother's toouth. Mar-
riage is a relation God-given, and Heaven-derived ; — institu-
ted in Eden ; and, thanks to the most merciful God, not ta-
ken away from our race at their fall. I have remembered
the sweet assemblage of holy sanctities which belong to the
marriage hour. When the young man first trembles to find
her leaning upon him, who shall thenceforth lean upon him
throughout after life : when both bow in the consummation
of that union which each hopes will be perfected in heaven
by a union of both in Christ. And when I heard him tell
me that I have no better relation to my wife than the slave-
holder to the miserable object of his avarice or his lust, I have



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



ON SLAVEEY. 97

wept ! and inly prayed to God for such strength of body
and powers of mind, as will enable me to show this mon-
strous doctrine in its true light. I wish to show that the
slavery relation is piratical and contrab^d ; that it has no
more business among the sacred relations of the family than
the Devil had in Eden. To class it among them is a sex^ti-
ment alien from God and man, and unworthy of human
lips. My whole argument thus far bas been on the naked
question:— What is this relation of master and slavey— .and
how it stands related to the gospel of Christ, which is the
*' kingdom of heaven " on earth 1 I shall gO steadily for-
ward ; and if my friend, as he says, cannot find enough to
answer me as we go along, let him sing anthems, and wait.
[^Applause] I am here to show that this relation of master
and slave is not a natural relation. I'hat it has no founda-
tion in natural law. I stand with the pious John Wesley,
and exclaim, '< I stiike at the root of thia complicated villai-
ny. I absolutely deny all slave-holding to be consistent with
any degree of natural equity." — Thoughts on Slavery.

And it falls directly in my course to examine at length
the proposition of my opponent that in Kentucky slaves are
protected as children are. Wha.t does my brother mean
when he says that "/?& Kentucky the slave has the same pro-
tection that a child has f" Upon what principle is he op-
posed to slavery, ii he believes the relation in itself not sin-
ful, and that the slaves have the same protection that chil-
dren have ? And what becomes of him if I show that he
has deliberately made a statement so grave and momentous,
wiihout any authority whatever, and that his whole pamph-
let is made up of such statements ?

My brother knows that, in Kentucky, the slave child has
no legal parents to protect it. Slaves have no leged marriage :
that the slave has tio family ; that his wife is the property
of another man ; that his children are sold, at the master's
will, to the cotton-field and sugar-plantation of the South. —
What does he mean? Is parental protection nothing? Almost
every free child in Kentucky is connected more or less with



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



98 DISCUSSION

property ; and ^ money," says Solomon," is a defence." (I have
quoted one Scripture, at all events.) [A laugh.] But slaves
can have no legal connection with any property whatever.
Is the protection of property nothing^ Further: the slave
child has no legal father, mother, uncle, aunt, or grand-pa-
tent, brother, sister, or cousin ; whilst the free child has
some or all of them; Are all these nothing? Will Dr. Rice
say that some slaves have &inilies, and that in the eye of
God they are married? What protection does the law of
Kentucky give them in that relation? That is the point
For he says, *> In Kentucky^ the slave has the same protec-
iion that the child has." — Lectures, p. 17.

I wish you to put down a pin at this place, for I am going
to show, that this declaration, thus deliberately uttered, and
afterward printed by him, that, " in Kentucky the slave has
the same protection that the chUd has," is made totally with-
out all authority, and is as perfectly opposed to the truth as
any proposition which can be put into human language.

I'Hme expired.



Wednesday Evening, 9 1-2 o'olook.

[MR. RICJS*S FOTTRTIJ SPEECH.]

Gentlemen Moderator s, and Fellow-Citizens :

1 will not charge the gentleman with intentional depar-
ture from the truth ; yet I am constrained to expose two very
gross misstatements in his last speech. I have long since
learned th^t abolitionism cannot sustain itself, except by
weapons of this kind. It does not march up to the question,
and rely upon sound argument and established facts. The
gentleman stated, that the General Assembly of 1818 passed
a law requiring slave-holders in their communion to prepare
their slaves for freedom, and then to manumit them.

Mr. Blakchard here explained. I did not say so, but said^,
"with a view to set them free."
Mr. RicR The explanation does not remove the difficulty.



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



ON SLAVERY. 99

The Assembly, he says, passed a law requiring the membeiB
of these churches to prepare their slaves for freedom, with
a view to their liberation. I denied that any such law was
passed. Mr. B. produced my Lectures on Slavery, and told
you, he would quote "Dr. Rice" against himself; but he
took care not to read the quotation. I beg leave to supply
his " lack of service." The language of the Assembly is as
follows:

" We enjoin it on all church sessions and presbyteries un-
der the care, of this Assembly, to discountenance, and as far
as possible, to prevent all cruelty, of whatever kind, in the
treatment of slai?;es : especially the cruelty of separating hus-
band and wife, parents and children ; and that which con-
sists in selling slaves to those who will either themselves de-
prive these unhappy people of the blessings of the gospel,
or will transport them to places where the gospel is «iot pro-
claimed, or where it is forbidden to slaves to attend upon its
institutions."

It is true, the Assembly enjoined something; but what is it?
That body enjoined it upon sessions and presbyteries to pre-
vent all cruelty in the treatment of slaves by the members
of their churches; but where is the injunction to prepare
them for freedom? This was recommended, not enjoined.
Yet the gentleman turned to th^ very page on which this quo-
tation was found. I hope, for his own sake, he had not read
it. I expose this matter that you may see how carelessly he
makes bold assertions. The injunction of which he spoke
is not here ; as he would have proved, had he read the quo-
tation which he commenced reading. Why did he stop iso
suddenly?

But, he has also misrepresented my statement, that the
slave in Kentucky has the same protection which the child
has. I spoke, as the connection will show, only of protec-
tion from cruel treatment. If a father can be proved to have
treated his child cruelly, he is liable to suffer the penalty of
the law ; and if a master can be proved guilty of cruel treat-
ment of his slave, he is likewise liable to prosecution before



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



100 DISCUSSION

the civil tribunal. So that the slave has the same protection
from cruelty from his master, which the child has from cru-
elty from his father. If the gentleman ^o glaringly misrep-
resents what is before his eyes, or what he has just heard,
how can we rely on his statement of facts ?

My second argument against abolitionism was founded on
the fact, that individuals or associations are never found to be
heretical on one fundamental principle of morality, or one
fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and sound on all others.
I called on Mr. B. to produce an exception to the statement.
He gives as such an exception the Pharisees in our Savior's
time ! They, he tells us, were orthodox on all points but
one, viz: the rejection of the pr<Mnised Messiah I Never be-
fore did I hear a minister of the gospel assert, that the Phari-
sees were orthodox On all points but one. Did not the Sav-
ior charge them with tithing mint, anise, and cummin, and
neglecting " the weightier matters of the law, justice, judg-
ment and mercy?" Did he not compare them to "whited sepul-
chres," and charge them with cleansing " the outside of the
cup and platter," whilst they left the inside in its filth? Did
they not wholly err in regard to the nature and design of
the ceremonial law, relying upon the strict observance of its
ceremonies for justification and salvation ? Nay — ^in reject-
ing Jesus Christ as an impostor, did they not necessarily re-
ject every distinguishing doctrine of his gospel? Being
ignorant or God's righteousness, they went about to establish
their own righteousness. The gentleman knows they were
in gross error concerning almost every fundamental doctrine
of revelatioii ; and yet he produces them to prove, that men
may be heretical on one fundamental principle of morals or
doctrine of the gospel, and yet orthodox on all others I These
are the men who are compared with the Christians of the
slave-holding States, who are admitted to be sound on all
points of doctrine and morals, tmless they err concerning the
sin of slave-holding ! Verily, the gentleman needs the ap-
plause of his friends to enforce such arguments 1

I have called on Mr. B. to inform us by what principle
4



Digitized byVjOOQlC



ON SLAVERY. 101

of morality he, whilst admitting the right of the slaves to be
equal with their masters, proposes to deprive them of the
right to vote — ^to aid in making the laws under which they
live ; and, if he may go so far, Avhy not go farther? In re-
ply he asks, are the German emigrants shves before they are
permitted to vote? And then he tells us of ^' inalienable
rights,'' viz : " life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness " —
Does he not know that the Declaration of Independence,
which he so freely quotes, was drawn up in view of, and be-
cause of, the fact, that tbe British Government insisted on
taxing us without our consent 1 Was it not on this account
that those noble spirits of the Revolution sunk their tea into
the ocean? Did not the authors of the Declaration of Inde-
pendence regard it as one of their ^Unalienable rights" to
aid in making the laws by which they were to be governed?
Yet the gentleman intimates that we may prevent the color-
ed people from voting, may make laws for them, and impose
taxes on them, without infringing their ^'inalienable rights V*
If this be true, of what worth is the Declaration of Inde-
pendence? He quotes that noble instrument as declaring
that '^ all men are born free and equal " How can he carry
out this doctrine, and yet allow one class of men to impose
laws and taxes upon another, without allowing them a voice?
Is there one kind of freedom, of ^< inalienable rights," for
the blacks, and another for the whites ? After all the gen-
tleman's declamation about the Declaration of Independ-
ence, and " the one-bloodism of the New Testament," he
admits that he is not unwilling to deprive the African race
of the right to vote and hold civil offices ; thus, " for the pub-
lie good," abandoning his own principles 1

Mr. B. made another statement concerning the cruelty of
Christian slave-holders, which is about as correct as those
already exposed. I refer to the story, he said, was related
by Rev. Jas. Nourse, of Mifflin county, Pa. I have no per-
sonal acquaintance with Mr. Nourse ; but I have just been
informed by a gentleman in the house, who was a member



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



102 DISCUSSION

of Mr. N.'s church, that he heard him deny having said that
he witnessed any such cruelty.

Mr. Blanchard. — ^Please to name himj

Mr Rice. — Mr. James Lindsay, now a member of the
Central Presbyterian Church, of this city.

But admitting this story to be literally true, does it offoid
any ground for the charge, that Christians are eommoTdy
guilty of such conduct 1 Such a- charge would be an
outrageous slander on the ministers of Jesus Christ. Yet
these isolated cases are constantly paraded by abolitionists as
characteristic of slave-holding amongst professing Christians
generally. Thus are the church of Christ and his ministers
traduced and slandered by the pretended friends of human
rights ! I cannot say, of course, that Mr. R does not be-
lieve those improbable tales, for he seems to have a wonder-
ful facility for believing whatever favors his views on this
subject

He promises to prove that laws forbidding slaves to read
are essential to the existence of slavery. Then he will
prove more than he wishes ; for, it so happens, that in Ken-
tucky there are no such laws. He will prove, therefore,
that, -in Kentucky, there is ho slavery ; for the laws of that
State, according to his logic, lack one essential ingredient of
slavery. And in VirginiEi, whatever may be the letter of
the law, slaves are, in many instances, taught to read. Pos-
sibly we may, as the gentleman suggests, yet lecture togeth-
er ; for he is likely to prove Kentucky a free State I Let
him only maintain the position, that a law forbidding slaves
to read, is essential to the existence of the relation between
master and slave, and I will, at once, prove that there is no
slavery in Kentucky !

But the State makes the slave property^ even after he is
dead, says Mr. B. ; and hence, he infers the sinfulness of
the relation between master and slave. Is the master re-
sponsible for all the laws of the State % Would not Mr. B.
rebel, if he were held responsible for all the legislation of
the State of Ohio? Yet where is the difference? Why is



Digitized by CjOOQ IC



ON SLAVERY. lOS

not he as justly responsible for the laws of Ohio, as die
slave-holder for the laws of his State ? Abolitionism can
sustain itself only by charging upon individuals all the in.
justice of the State, and holding them responsible for all that
the State permits. All the bad laws of Louisiana, he con-
tends, are part and parcel of the relation, and are essential
to it ; and the relation is sinful, because the laws are op-
pressive. Yet when I prove that; some of those laws do
not ejist in Kentucky, he insists that the relation, to which
they are essential, sUll exists i We cannot but see that there
is no candor in such reasoning.

We are now about to close a discussion of six hours on
the question : ^ Is slave-holding in itself sinful, and the re-
lation between master and slave a sinful relation?" And
although this question can be determined only by an appeal
Vo the Bible, the gentleman in the affirmative has not quo-
ted even a solitary passage from that book, if, perhaps, we
except that in which the wise man says, money is power.-^
The argument, I presume, would be this: money is pow^er j
therefore, slave-holding is in itself sinful I How conclusive 1
It is truly marvellous that he has not thought it worth while
to quote one passage from the only rule which he and I ac-
knowledge as infallible, by way of proving his proposition!

As I have nothing to r^ply to, it may be interesting to the
audience to hear a brief recapitulation of the gendeman's
arguments. He began with the melancholy interest he felt
because of the slave gang which passed near Cincinnati, a
few days since. 2. He spoke of the condition of the slaves
on the plantations in the South. 3. He complained of their
lack of patronymics^ that they are called Jim, Polly, &c., seem-
ing to forget, that in this respect they were not more degraded,
than Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 4. He told us, that Mr.
Leavit said, the free States are made to support slavery ; and
Dr. Bailey calculated the taxes imposed upon the free States
on account of slavery. 5. He fold us how dear liberty is
to Ohio, and dilated upon the constitutions of Ohio, Illinois



Online LibraryNathan Lewis Rice Jonathan BlanchardA debate on slavery: held in the city of Cincinnati,on the first ..., Part 4 → online text (page 9 of 46)