The Project Gutenberg eBook of Lectures on the Philosophy and Practice of Slavery

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: Lectures on the Philosophy and Practice of Slavery

Author: William A. Smith

Editor: Thomas O. Summers

Release date: October 11, 2012 [eBook #41019]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Matthew Wheaton and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


Philosophy and Practice

Duties of Masters to Slaves.



Nashville, Tenn.:

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by
In the Office of the Clerk of the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.



PREFACE Page vii
General subject enunciated—Why this discussion may be regarded as humiliating by Southern people—Other stand-points, however, disclose an urgent necessity, at this time, for a thorough investigation these lectures to conduct the mind 11
If the system be sinful, per se, the sin of it must be found in the principle—Is the principle sinful?—The principle defined—Objections to the term “submission” answered—The effects of Mr. Jefferson’s doctrine upon many conscientious persons in the Southern States 31
Objections classified—Popular views discussed—“All men are born free and equal”—“All men are created equal”—“All men in a state of nature are free and equal”—And the particular form in which Dr. Wayland expresses the popular idea, viz., “The relation in which men stand to each other is the relation of equality; not equality of condition, but equality of right”—Remarks on Dr. Wayland’s course—His treatise on Moral Science as a text-book. 60
Why it is necessary to define the term rights—The right in itself defined to be the good—The doctrine that the will of God is the origin of the right considered—The will of God not the origin of the right, but an expression of the right which is the good—Natural rights and acquired rights, each defined 77
Government, human as well as Divine, is a necessity of man’s fallen condition—All men concur in this—Man did not originate government: he has only modified the form—The legitimate objects of government, and the means which it employs to effect these objects—The logical inferences: 1. Although he has the power, he has no right to do wrong; 2. As a fallen being, he is, without a government over him, liable to lose the power of self-control—What are the rights of man, 1. In a state of infancy, 2. In a state of maturity, and, 3. In a savage or uncivilized state—Civil government is not founded on a concession of rights 104
The true subjective right of self-control defined according to the Scriptures—The abstract principle of slavery sanctioned by the Scriptures—The Roman government—Dr. Wayland’s Scripture argument examined and refuted—The positions of Dr. Channing and Professor Whewell examined and refuted 132
The question stated—The conduct of masters a separate question—The institution defined—The position of the abolitionists, and that of the Southern people—The presumption is in favor of the latter—Those who claim freedom for the blacks of this country failed to secure it to those on whom they professed to confer it—The doctrine by which they seek to vindicate the claim set up for them, together with the fact of history assumed to be true, is false 153
There should be a separate and subordinate government for our African population—Objection answered—Africans are not competent to that measure of self-government which entitles a man to political sovereignty—They were not prepared for freedom when first brought into the country; hence they were placed under the domestic form of government—The humanity of this policy—In the opinion of Southern people, they are still unprepared—The fanaticism and rashness of some, and the inexcusable wickedness of others, who oppose the South 176
The attempts made at domestic colonization—The result of the experiment in the case of our free colored population—The colonization experiment on the coast of Africa—The example of the Canaanitish nations—Summary of the argument on the general point, and inferences 192
Gradual emancipation the popular plan—It would operate to collect the slaves into a few States, cut them off from contact with civilization, and reduce them to barbarism—It would make an opening for Northern farmers and their menials to come into those States from which they retired—The modifications which the system of slavery has undergone within late years—A comparison of the menials of the free and of the slave States, and the only plan of emancipation admissible—The gospel the only remedy for the evils of slavery—Paul’s philosophy and practice, 1 Tim. vi. 1-5 210
Superiors frequently neglect inferiors—The policy of the South vindicated by necessity—The results that would follow an attempt to establish a system for instructing the blacks in letters, and those which would follow the establishment of such a system—The domestic element of the system of slavery in the Southern States affords the means for their improvement adapted to their condition and the circumstances of the country—It affords the natural, safe, and the effectual means of the intellectual and moral elevation of the race—The prospects of the Africans in this country, and their final removal to Africa—The country never will be entirely rid of them—The Southern policy wise and humane 228
Preliminary remarks—American party—The present and prospective condition of our country—The large number of voters in the free-soil States who will be under a foreign influence, political and religious, inducing them to discard the Bible and the right of private judgment—The freedom of the Southern States from this anti-Christian and anti-republican influence—The presence of the African race in the Southern States secures them this advantage—The unpatriotic policy of freesoilism 257
“Masters, give unto your servants (δούλοις, slaves) that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”—Col. iv. 1.The duty of masters and the rights of slaves reciprocal—1. The duty of masters to their slaves considered as “their money:” in regard to working, resting, feeding, clothing, housing, and the employment of persons over them: also to the sick and the aged. 2. Their duty to their slaves considered as social beings—Punishments and the social principle discussed. 3. Their duty to their slaves considered as religious beings—Public instruction on the Sabbath and at other times, and the opportunity of attending—The employment of preachers, and the religious instruction of children 276

[Pg vii]


The following pages contain the substance of Lectures on the subject of Domestic Slavery in the United States, which for several years have been delivered to the classes in Moral Science in Randolph Macon College.

Since the year 1844, I have been frequently called on to discuss this subject on various popular occasions in Virginia and North Carolina. My classes in college were compelled to deal with the subject of domestic slavery. Not only the popular ideas in regard to African slavery in this country, but the specific treatment of this topic by numerous text authors in Moral Science, rendered this unavoidable. A deep conviction that the minds of young men were receiving a wrong, and, in the present state of the country, a fatal direction,[Pg viii] both as regards the principles of the institution, and the institution itself, induced me to substitute the text authorities on the subject by a course of lectures. These lectures, therefore, were originally drawn up with a view to oral delivery. They were modified by the circumstances of their origin. In preparing them for the press, however, I was led to consider the class of persons for whose use they were chiefly designed, and at the same time to adapt them as far as possible to the general reader. I was aware of the difficulty of fixing definitely on the mind of the student the nature and limits of abstract truths, and that this difficulty is, if any thing, greatly increased when we pass to those whose reading is not characterized by habits of thought,—as would be the case with many of those whose interest in the general subject of slavery might induce them to read these lectures. The task of meeting these difficulties was encountered with a measure of painful distrust.

My views on the subject of slavery, as a practical question, will be found very generally to accord with the popular ideas of those communities[Pg ix] in which the African population chiefly resides. But, as a question of Moral Science, I will be found to differ, and in some aspects very materially, from those who have spoken and written on the subject.

The closing lecture is on the duties of masters to slaves. On this point it may also appear that my views do not accord with those of some others. There are men whose views I judge to be entirely too loose on the whole subject. But I should consider any treatise on the subject of slavery as inexcusably defective that did not embrace the duties of masters to slaves; and I persuade myself that the number, if any, who take a different view of the subject will be found to be exceedingly small.

Whether I have acted wisely in endeavoring to combine in one performance a treatise adapted to the habits of the student, and at the same time to the habits of the general reader; and whether I have succeeded to any desirable extent in so difficult an undertaking, it is not for me to determine. I can only say, that in giving these lectures to the public, I have yielded to the earnest desire, often[Pg x] expressed, of a large number of friends whose judgment is entitled to my highest respect and confidence. In meeting their wishes, I have endeavored to do justice to the subject. I have written honestly, and with a sincere desire to do good.

For the many imperfections of this volume, the author persuades himself that the assurance that it has been written and prepared for the press under the pressure of other important and frequently distracting avocations, will be received as some apology. In the humble hope that it may, nevertheless, shed some light on the difficulties of the general subject, and thereby contribute to diffuse sounder views on the principles involved, quiet the irritation of the public mind, and give more stability to our political union, and, at the same time, impress masters more deeply with the importance and obligations of their providential position, it is with diffidence submitted to the judgment of the public.

Randolph Macon College, Va.,
August 18th, 1856.

[Pg 11]

Philosophy and Practice of Slavery.


General subject enunciated—Why this discussion may be regarded as humiliating by Southern people—Other stand-points, however, disclose an urgent necessity, at this time, for a thorough investigation of the whole subject—The results to which it is the object of these lectures to conduct the mind.

The great question which arises in discussing the slavery of the African population of this country—correctly known as “Domestic Slavery”—is this: Is the institution of domestic slavery sinful?

The position I propose to maintain in these lectures is, that slavery, per se, is right; or that[Pg 12] the great abstract principle of slavery is right, because it is a fundamental principle of the social state; and that domestic slavery, as an institution, is fully justified by the condition and circumstances (essential and relative) of the African race in this country, and therefore equally right.

I confess that it is somewhat humiliating to discuss the question enunciated—Is the institution of domestic slavery sinful? The affirmative assumes that an immense community of Southern people, of undoubted piety, are, nevertheless, involved in great moral delinquency on the subject of slavery. This is a palpable absurdity in regard to a great many. For nothing is more certain than this, that if it be sinful, they either know it, or are competent to know it, and hence are responsible. And as no plea of necessity can justify an enlightened man in committing known sin, it follows that all such Southern people are highly culpable, which is utterly inconsistent with the admission that they are pious. To say, as some are accustomed to do, that “slavery is certainly wrong in the abstract,” that is, in plain terms, in itself sinful, but that they cannot help themselves, appears to me to be wholly unfounded. It assumes that a man may be absolutely compelled to commit sin. This certainly cannot be true. All candid minds will readily allow, that so far as[Pg 13] Deity has yet explained himself, he has in no instance enjoined upon man the observance of any principle as his duty, which he may be compelled, in the order of his providence, to violate. It is equally false in fact, for it is not true that we are absolutely compelled to be slaveholders. If government be, as it undoubtedly is, the agent of the people, and the people choose, they are certainly competent by this agent to free themselves from this institution. True, the immense cost of such an enterprise would be the least in the catalogue of evils resulting from it; for the total ruin of the African race in this country may be put down among the rest. But what of all this? Nothing can justify an enlightened and civilized people in committing sin. No; not even the sacrifice of life itself. Withal, if the civil society refuse to make so costly a sacrifice to avoid sin, there is nothing that can compel any individual citizen to remain a slaveholder. He can live in the community, as some do, without even hiring or owning a slave; or he can remove to one of the so-called free States. We should give no countenance, therefore, to any such mere attempts to apologize for domestic slavery. The conduct of bad men may sometimes find apologists. The conduct of good men always admits of defence. Hence, with many others, I have often been[Pg 14] grieved by the repeated attempts of certain pseudo-friends to pass off this flimsy and ridiculous apology as an able defence of the South.

In maintaining the institution of domestic slavery, we are either right or wrong, in a moral point of view. We ask no mere apology on the score of necessity, and we can certainly claim none on the ground of ignorance. Those who affirm that we are wrong, directly attack our morals. In doing this, they arraign the character of many thousands, who are among the most civilized and pious people now living. This fact alone is a sufficient refutation of so foul an aspersion; and in this view, it may be readily admitted that any attempt at a more formal refutation is a humiliating condescension, to which few Southern men can willingly submit.

But there is another stand-point from which this subject is to be viewed, and which reflects it in a very different light, and clearly indicates the duty of submitting it to the test of the soundest principles of philosophy and religion. It is this: the ascendency which certain popular errors on the subject of African slavery have acquired, and the extent to which they peril the peace of the country, if not the very liberties of the whole republic. I allude to the fact that there are many in the country—and not a few of this number spread[Pg 15] through our Southern States—who would not intentionally arraign the piety of their fellow-citizens, but whose minds (it is painfully humiliating to know) are in a state of great embarrassment on this subject; so much so, that they are constantly liable to be made the victims of any fanatical influences abroad in the land, no less than the dupes of that large class of political aspirants who, reckless of both truth and morals, would secure their elevation at any price.

Nor need we wonder at the ascendency of erroneous opinions on the subject of slavery, any more than at the results which they threaten.

At an early period in our history, Thomas Jefferson denounced domestic slavery as sinful, per se, and declared that “there was no attribute in the Divine mind which could take sides with the whites in a controversy between the races:” thus assuming in this remark, that the providences as well as the attributes of the Deity are against the slaveholder. Owing to the prominence given by our Puritan fathers to the higher institutions of learning, together with the fact that the soil and the climate of New England were unfavorable to agricultural pursuits, citizens of these States have, from an early period in the history of the republic, supplied the most of the text-books for the schools and colleges of the whole country. This[Pg 16] grossly offensive error of Mr. Jefferson has been more or less diffused through the whole of these text-books. It has been among the first of speculations upon abstract truth presented to the minds of the American people. It has been studiously inculcated from professors’ chairs in colleges and universities in the Northern States, while Southern literary institutions have been for the most part silent. The pulpits of the South have also lent their aid, and in some instances have been zealous and active in propagating this error.

As early as 1780, the Methodists declared, in a general convention of preachers, that “slavery is contrary to the laws of God, man, and nature, and hurtful to society; contrary to the dictates of conscience and pure religion; doing that which we would not that others should do to us and ours; and that we pass our disapprobation upon all our friends who keep slaves, and advise their freedom.” This doctrine was reässerted after the organization of the Church in 1784, and, with short intervals of time, and unimportant variations of phraseology, the essential features of this doctrine have been adhered to until the present time, by this most numerous body of professing Christians in this country. At an early day, Bishop Coke, of the M. E. Church, openly advocated this doctrine in the pulpits of the country, until[Pg 17] silenced by the force of public opinion; yet he did not cease, while he remained in the country, to exert the full amount of his personal influence in private and social circles against the institution of domestic slavery. His example was followed by a large number of his preachers, and many ministers of other Christian denominations, who imbibed the same doctrine and were animated by the same spirit of hostility to the institution; and who, like himself, were only held in abeyance by the same force of public opinion. Many politicians, also, there were, from time to time, who did not scruple to avow Mr. Jefferson’s doctrine, and like him affect to foresee dreadful calamities overhanging the country as a consequence of domestic slavery. In view of these facts, it cannot be a matter of surprise that abolition opinions and sentiments should pervade the non-slaveholding sections of the country; and that at least a private but painful impression or suspicion that there must be something wrong in the principle of domestic slavery, should be found to pervade a portion even of the Southern mind. Reluctant as we may be to admit the truth, necessity compels us to do so. Let the following facts bear witness.

No communities on earth are so free from domestic insurrections, and the disturbing influences which come up from the lower orders of society[Pg 18] as those of the Southern States of this Union. The social condition of England and Ireland, and the states of the continent of Europe, are perpetually subject to the disturbing and ruinous influence of local, and often widely spread, insurrectionary movements against the social order, and even the safety of the governments. Nor are the Northern States of this Union any more free from these agrarian movements, than may be accounted for by the relative sparseness of their population. Yet a general feeling of security pervades all these people, whilst it is notorious that there are a great many in Southern communities who are in a constant state of feverish excitement on the subject of domestic insurrections. Any announcement of that kind is sufficient to convulse a whole community. The trifling affair of Nat. Turner (trifling compared with the frequent disturbances and loss of life common in the communities just referred to) painfully agitated the whole State of Virginia; and occupied her Legislature through a whole winter in grave discussions as to the “best means of freeing the State from the incubus of slavery.” These results have all followed from the causes at which we have glanced.

In this state of things, it is in vain to appeal to the fact that Mr. Jefferson, though a profound[Pg 19] statesman, and to some extent a logician, was neither a divine nor a metaphysician; and that no people on the globe have shared more largely in the blessings of a bountiful Providence than those of the Southern States of this Union. In the progress of civilization and religion, they have advanced more rapidly than any communities in the country. Still, Mr. Jefferson’s name does not lose its enchantment; and having already learned to despise the unexampled blessings of Providence, many of the Southern people actually believed—until railroad communications began to dispel the illusion—that their own happy States were really falling back in civilization to the darkness of the middle ages. Add to all this, the halls of legislation continue to echo the opinion that “domestic slavery is a great moral, political, and social evil.” In this connection, the phrase, moral evil, is restricted to its appropriate meaning, sin. No doubt, Messrs. Doddridge, Rives, Clay, Webster, and many others—illustrious names!—who have substantially used this language in various connections, only meant to deprecate the evils of slavery in strong terms, that they might propitiate a more favorable consideration of what they had to say in its defence. But if we be correct in the position already postulated, it is quite time our politicians, no less than our ecclesiastics, had[Pg 20] learned to chasten their language on this subject. The fountains of public thought and feeling have, to a great extent, been poisoned: that is, the abstract opinions and religious sentiments of the people have been corrupted and perverted.

The three great Protestant denominations[1] of the country have been torn asunder. The flags of their time-honored unions are trailing in the dust; and they have ceased to operate as bonds to our political union. A secret suspicion of the morality of African slavery in the South, occupies the minds of many of our best citizens—citizens who are at a vast remove from the fanaticism which stigmatizes those who are known as the ultra abolitionists of the country. The great family of Methodists in the District of Columbia, the slave States of Delaware and Maryland, in Western Virginia, and a part of Missouri, retain their connection with the abolition division of the M. E. Church. All along the line of division between the M. E. Church, North, and the M. E. Church, South,—running through Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri,—the evils resulting from the [Pg 21]conflict and strife of opinions on this subject are daily multiplying. The experiment of abolition fanaticism is progressing; and the souls as well as the bodies of men are in the crucible. It is clear that “whilst we have slept, an enemy hath sown these tares,” in our literature, our politics, and our theology.

[1] The Methodists and Baptists, it is well known, divided directly upon the subject of slavery; and the Presbyterians mediately upon a question of constitutional law; but there is reason to believe that the slavery agitation in the Presbyterian Church precipitated a division, which otherwise would probably have been averted.

Two striking phenomena remain to be noticed and accounted for. Amid all the conflict of opinion and feeling upon this subject,—which was inseparable from doctrines so utterly at war with the practices of the country—a conflict which at an early period found its way into the halls of legislation, civil and ecclesiastical, and has not ceased to the present time to modify the federal politics of the country,—the African population has yielded only to certain physical and moral laws as to the place of its location; whilst the institution of slavery, which embodies the great mass of that population in the country, has held on the even tenor of its way, unchecked in the slightest degree by the antagonistic doctrines and sentiments which have warred so fiercely against it, and which at so many periods have threatened the country with a legion of disastrous consequences. In the first place, the African population has gradually receded to those sections of the Union which, from their climate and soil, were better[Pg 22] adapted to slave labor. Why did not the abstract opinions and sentiments set forth by Mr. Jefferson and the M. E. Church, and which are supposed to have given birth to the emancipation laws of the Northern States, operate to retain within those States the large portion of slave population then held, and secure their practical freedom? Why did they escape the supposed charity of these doctrines, and find their way, not as freemen, but as slaves, to a climate and soil more congenial to their nature and destiny? Are these doctrines real abstract truths, as their advocates profess to believe them to be? Then they are fundamental—they are vital—they are life-giving, and can never fail to impress their own essential character upon every system to which they are applied. The citizens of the Northern States adopted these doctrines. Then it was an affair of conscience. Emancipation laws were said to be the result. But that these laws, supposed to be founded in the belief of certain great abstract truths, which secured to the African his civil freedom, should operate only to transfer him to a climate and soil better suited to his condition as a slave, is a phenomenon for which the hypothesis does not account. And again, the institution itself, of domestic slavery, by reason of causes which are evidently, though mysteriously, at work, is this[Pg 23] day more firmly grounded in the confidence of the great mass of the Southern people, and more extensively ramified and interlocked with other civil institutions of the whole country, than at any former period of its history! How is this? The abstract opinions and sentiments in question, pervading our literature, our politics, and our theology, have been adopted by so many of our citizens as to entitle the doctrine to be regarded as a kind of national belief—the sentiment a kind of national feeling. We are told that all men believe slavery to be wrong in principle; that is, wrong in itself! and that all men feel that it is wrong! And certain it is, there is more truth than fiction in all this! It is strictly true, as to the citizens of the so-called free States. The same doctrine is not without advocates at the South; whilst many more, as we have before stated, who may not be said to believe it, are nevertheless often the subjects of painful misgivings. They fear it may be true. The causes to which we have traced this, fully account for it; and we need not fear to state the truth. But then again, the question recurs—How is this, that the institution itself, a great practical truth, should daily, for a long series of years, become more and more practical—a fixed fact in the country? Truly, this is a phenomenon for which the philosophy of the day will not[Pg 24] account. If those who believed this doctrine were ruthless fanatics—ultra abolitionists in the strictest sense—if those who oppose it were really “pro-slavery” men, in the bad sense in which certain persons understand this phrase, that is, men who, on the subject of slavery, wickedly do what they know and feel to be wrong: on either hypothesis we could account for the phenomenon in question. But these are not the men with whom I deal in these lectures. I lay all such out of the account. They are men not to be reasoned with. No: the men of whom I speak, both North and South, are candid, honest men. I personally know many of them at the North. I have met them on great battle-fields, where more than blood was shed! I know them to be good men and true, and I believe the same of the large class they represent. With many of those at the South who affiliate with them in opinion as firm believers in Jefferson’s doctrine, or whose embryo opinions excite painful misgivings of mind, I have often communed freely, and have equal confidence in their integrity and honesty. The whole taken together form a very numerous class, and may be safely regarded as embodying the national belief and feeling on the subject of slavery. And yet we find that slavery is a great practical truth, a fixed fact in the country. Now, can it be true[Pg 25] that this opinion and feeling embodies a great abstract truth—a fundamental, vital, immutable principle, which never did and never can fail to hold practical error in check, because it takes hold of the conscience of an honest people—and whose tendency, therefore, is always to an ultimate practical triumph, with all those who honestly receive it? We dare not affirm this.

It is not mere belief, nor is it mere honesty, that produces results in practice; but it is the reception of the truth in an honest heart, which can never fail to result in practice. Now in this case the people are honest, and the people believe; and if it be essential truth which they thus believe, then, we say, the fact that in all those States of this republic in which climate and soil are adapted to African labor—that precisely there the institution of domestic slavery should be rooted in the practice of a large portion of this believing and honest people, and that it should strike its roots into the federal constitution, and penetrate deeper and deeper every year into the legislation of the whole country, and thus implicate more and more the whole mass of this believing people in the sin of it, is a phenomenon, for which the postulate, that it is the truth they believe, does not account—nor can it be made to account.

A false principle may be believed to be the truth.[Pg 26] And a false principle believed, has its results, because it is believed; and they very much resemble the results of truth believed. But we dare not admit that error can take hold of the conscience as pure principle, essential truth will do it. But, again, there is another great psychological fact, which is often overlooked. A false principle may be honestly believed by minds which, at the same time, adopt antagonistic principles that are essential truths; but, owing to various causes calculated to confuse the ideas, the inconsistency is not perceived. Now, in such a case as this, the principle of essential truth is really brought into practical antagonism with essential error, and that in the same minds and upon the same subject. And as truth is more powerful than error in the minds of all honest people, the truth holds its way in practical results, in defiance of false principle, which is relatively powerless in the presence of truth. The antagonism between the false principle and the practical results of things may be perceived and acknowledged; whilst the antagonism of the false principle with the true principle, which underlies and produces these practical results by a law of its own operation, is not only not perceived, but actually denied to exist. Now so long as this false principle is honestly believed to be true, and clearly perceived to be in conflict with the practice,[Pg 27] but not perceived to be in conflict with other and more latent principles, which are in themselves truths, and admitted to be truths, and which produce this practice, just so long will this false principle wage war, by the simple law of belief, against this practice. But as this war is not sufficiently potent to overturn this practice, because it is founded on the belief of principles true in themselves, the practice will remain; and so long as this false belief remains, the strife with the practice must remain. Hence, if this be the state of the public mind in this country on the subject of African slavery, and it find no efficient remedy, we can see nothing awaiting us but interminable strife—men against themselves—the country against the country! We forbear to sketch the future.

But, young gentlemen, I submit if this psychology may not furnish a solution of the phenomena I have brought to your notice, and also a remedy against that otherwise interminable strife which has already done so much to impair the moral power and blight the fairest hopes of the country. May it not be that in admitting the great abstract doctrine of Mr. Jefferson, that the principle of African slavery is, per se, sinful, and that, as such, the attributes and providence of Deity are opposed to all who practice it, we have most[Pg 28] unwisely admitted a false doctrine? And as this false doctrine, though honestly believed by a number sufficiently large to designate it as the national belief and the national feeling, has utterly failed to abolish or even to modify the institution of African slavery, does it not afford a strong and clear presumption, to say the least, that this system which has held unbroken dominion over the African race in this country for over two centuries, and which continues to strike its roots deeper and deeper into all the relations of society, North and South—that this system, so potent in practical results, and so heedless of the fierce war that is waged against it, is, after all, underlaid somewhere by a vast mine of principlespure essential truths—which are firmly rooted in the belief of all civilized and honest men, and which, all along, have imparted a spontaneous being and activity to the system, and will continue to do so perhaps as long as any considerable portion of the race shall remain in the country?

If this hypothesis shall prove true, the sovereign remedy for the otherwise interminable strife, so potent for mischief, is at hand. Let us then free ourselves, let us free the country, of the dominion of Mr. Jefferson’s philosophy, because it is false. In doing this, we shall terminate the conflict which now rages with so much violence. We shall be[Pg 29] free to address ourselves to any modifications in the system of African slavery which may be demanded to adapt it to the progress of civilization.

Regarding the whole subject in this light, the duty of thoroughly investigating it seems to me to be laid upon the country as a moral necessity. It is useless to talk of “delicacy and humiliation,” in the presence of such fruits as a false philosophy has already borne plentifully throughout the land.

As your chosen instructor, I owe you a service. I dare not give up your minds to the dominion of Wayland’s Philosophy, (your text,) nor to any other text on this subject, now known to the country. I propose to lead your way in exploring the mine of truth which we may assume to underlie the system of African slavery. We may look with confidence to reach these results:

1. That the philosophy of Jefferson is false, and that the opposite is true, namely, that the great abstract principle of domestic slavery is, per se, right; and therefore it is not in the use but in the abuse of this principle that we are liable to sin, and thereby incur the Divine displeasure.

2. That we should have a Southern literature. Our schools must be supplied with correct text-books on this subject. The poison which our texts now contain must be distilled from them by the learned of the land. The Church should not[Pg 30] only right herself as she has done in the South, but her voice should be heard in the pulpit enforcing right principles, as well as right duties, upon this subject. Truth is at all times intolerant of any abuse. Her voice should certainly be heard under circumstances so urgent as the present. It is due to many in Southern communities whose minds are, more or less, disturbed by the long-continued abuse of the pulpit, and the social influence of mistaken ministers of religion in private life. It is due to the interests of our common country. We have lost much already in suppressing the truth. We have much to gain by boldly asserting her claims—for “truth is great, and will prevail.”

“Truth crushed to earth will rise again:
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies amid her worshippers.”

[Pg 31]


If the system be sinful, per se, the sin of it must be found in the principle—Is the principle sinful?—The principle defined—Objections to the term submission answered—The effect of Mr. Jefferson’s doctrine upon many conscientious persons in the Southern States.

I now propose to enter directly upon the inquiry, Is the institution of domestic slavery sinful? My plan will make it necessary, in this lecture, to limit the inquiry to the principle of the institution. If the institution be sinful, it must be so either in the abstract principle it involves, or in the specific form under which it embodies that principle, or in both. In either case, Mr. Jefferson’s doctrine is verified; for if the abstract principle be wrong, then the institution which envelops the principle, and from which it derives its character, is of course wrong. It certainly is never right to act upon a wrong principle. Injustice,[Pg 32] as a principle, is confessedly wrong in itself, according to the ideas of all mankind. No form which an action can take will make it right, if it proceed upon an unjust principle. Hence, no circumstances can justify any man in knowingly doing an act of injustice. If the institution of domestic slavery envelops the idea of injustice, or any similar element, as its generic or abstract principle, in such case it would certainly be wrong both in principle and in practice; that is, wrong in itself; and we should, without scruple, abandon the controversy. But a similar conclusion will not follow from a contrary proposition; that is, it will not follow, that if the abstract principle of the institution be right, the institution itself is right; because the truth of a conditional proposition does not turn on the hypothesis, but on the consequent, as both true in itself and dependent upon the antecedent condition. That this is not the case in this instance is developed by the fact that the affirmative proposition involved in this conditional is, in itself, an absurdity, viz., “An abstract principle of action being right, the action itself is right.” This is absurd. For instance, justice, in itself, is a right principle of action, according to the ideas of all mankind; but it does not follow that all actions which proceed upon the principle of justice are right actions. A. justly[Pg 33] owes B. one hundred dollars: now, to enforce the payment of this money would be in itself a just act, because the money is honestly owed by A.; but if, in doing this, B. should take the last bed from under the wife and children of A., and deprive them of the last morsel of bread, the act itself would be a very wicked one, and he would be judged by mankind as but little less guilty than a highway robber, because this is a case in which the claims of benevolence march before the claims of mere justice. Not to respect the claims of benevolence in such a case is to act upon the principle of pure selfishness. This act, then, would envelop also a wrong principle—selfishness; and it is the nature of a wrong principle to spread the hue and poison of guilt over every act into which it enters. Truth, and its opposite, as principles, are striking examples. If we speak at all, we should speak the truth. Every utterance into which, in its proper, generic sense, the lie enters, even in the least degree, is a poisoned act; and he who does this, is to that extent a basely wicked man, however smooth his tongue or winning his manners. Guilt has poisoned his utterance; and if this vice be not speedily arrested in its progress, it will spread itself through the whole mass, and break down his entire moral constitution. But it does not certainly follow that all utterances which[Pg 34] are in themselves truths, are right utterances. There are many facts, to which, if we were to give utterance, we should only speak the truth, but at the same time we all know that they should lie buried (perhaps for ever) in the depths of our own hearts. To injure our neighbor by speaking the truth when no claim of paramount justice demanded it, and the claims of charity or kindness forbade it, would be a wicked act. For a child in a similar way to injure a parent would be the conduct of a demon. All such acts, though they envelop a right principle—truth—do at the same time envelop a wrong principle—malevolence; and it is the nature of wrong principle to stamp every act into which it enters with the character of guilt—it is wrong.

The conclusion we reach is this: If the abstract or generic principle of an action be wrong, the action itself is therefore wrong; but that, if the abstract principle be right, it does not follow that the action is therefore right, but that the action itself is either right or wrong, as may be determined by the presence or absence of certain other coincident principles; or, as we usually say, as may be determined by the circumstances.

If, then, the abstract principle of the institution of domestic slavery be wrong, the institution itself is wrong, and ought to be abolished; but if[Pg 35] the principle be correct, the institution itself is or is not right, just as the circumstances of the case may or may not require that it be maintained; as in the case of any other act involving correct principle. The points to be settled, then, are—

I. Is the abstract or generic principle of domestic slavery right or wrong? And if it be right, then,

II. Is the system (so far as it is a system, simply) of domestic slavery, enveloping this abstract principle, justified by the circumstances of the case? If so, the system itself is also right. Whether many slaveholders or few, or any at all, are themselves doing right in the exercise of the legal functions of that relation, are questions foreign from the present inquiries, even on the hypothesis that the system itself is right. Their conduct, be it right or wrong, (and in many cases it is right, and in many others it is no doubt wrong,) does not at all affect the truth or error of the questions now before us. It is not with the conduct of individual men that we now deal; but with the act of that great being, the State—the system of African slavery established by law in the country—and with that profound principle of truth or error which not only makes it a system, but makes it a right system or a wrong system, as the case may be.

[Pg 36]

The philosophy which prevails on the question before us has originated two schools—the abolitionist and the anti-slavery. The abolitionist maintain that the abstract principle of the system is wrong, and that therefore the system itself is wrong under all circumstances. The anti-slavery school agree with the abolitionist that the principle is wrong, but divide among themselves as to the conclusion they draw. Some hold that the institution itself is not wrong under all circumstances, and that therefore slaves may be held under it in given cases without guilt; and others, that the institution is wrong in itself, and should be abolished by the State, but that the holding of slaves under this wrong system is not an act in itself wrong in all cases.

A strict analysis of the subject will show that here is a strange medley of principles and conclusions. I shall be found to agree with each, and to disagree with each. I disagree with both on the abstract principle. Hence, I disagree with the abolitionists on the whole proposition. But I agree with the abolitionists that if the abstract principle be wrong, the institution is wrong in all cases. I say with them that all who grant the antecedent of this conditional are bound to admit the consequent. Hence I disagree with the anti-slavery school in admitting that the principle is[Pg 37] wrong; but in so far as they admit that the system may be right under given circumstances, or that slaves may be held under it without guilt, we agree. I stand, therefore, committed to the affirmative of the question, both in regard to the principle and to the institution, and hence proceed to discuss the question:

I. Is the abstract principle of domestic slavery right or wrong?

I have already noticed that the public mind has been so long abused on this subject, that it is usual for highly intelligent persons, who have no idea of affirming that the slaveholder is necessarily a sinner, to allow that slaveholding is wrong in principle. But this, to say the least, is a strange abuse of terms. The right or wrong of an action, in itself considered, is determined by the principle which it envelops, and the moral character of the actor is determined by his intention in the performance, or by his voluntary or involuntary ignorance of the principle. It is reasonable, therefore, to infer that the public attach no well-defined meaning to the phrase, the abstract principle of slavery. Its definite meaning, however, is indispensable in this investigation; and, indeed, on all occasions, if we would speak correctly, and avoid a misapplication of this term.

[Pg 38]

What, then, is the principle of the system of domestic slavery?

Observe that it is the principle for which we inquire. What, then, is the system itself? For (to speak with strict philosophical propriety) our idea of the system is the chronological condition of our idea of the principle, as our idea of the principle is the logical condition of our idea of the system. We must perceive an action before we can determine what is the principle of it, although we must have an antecedent knowledge of the principle before we can determine what character that principle gives to the action.

The system is made up of two correlative relations—master and slave. Here there are but two ideas—the idea of master and the idea of slave, as correlatives. These are all the ideas that enter into the system, as a system merely. Whatever abstract principle, therefore, this system envelops, is to be found in these two terms. It need not and should not be sought for anywhere else; for these two relations make the whole system. Without these it could not be a system of slavery; and with these, it is therein, and in virtue of that fact alone, a system of slavery. The answer to the question depends upon the meaning of these terms alone. What, then, is the correlative meaning of these terms?

[Pg 39]

Master. The Latin is magister, compounded of the root of magis, major, greater; and the Teutonic, ster, Saxon, steoran, to steer.” The word, then, signifies a chief directorone who governs or directs either men or business. The leading idea is that of governor by his own will.

Slave. The derivation of this word is not a settled question. There is no difficulty, however, in fixing the meaning—one who is subject to the will or direction of another.

As a concrete, master means one who is governing in some particular instance or form by his own will; and slave, one who is so governed in some particular instance. But these are abstract terms. The ideas they convey may be conceived and held in the mind, apart from any particular application of the one or the other. And whether they are considered as abstract or concrete terms, they are correlatives—the one implies the other.

A system of slavery is a state or order of things established by law or custom, in which one set of men are the masters to a given extent, and another are the slaves to that extent.

Domestic slavery is an instance in which the order or state of things constituting the system itself, is made a part of the family relation. The head of the family is the master, and the slave is subject, as to the use of his time and labor, to the[Pg 40] control of the master, as the other members of the family. Domestic slavery, therefore, is one of the forms of the general system of slavery. The system has existed under various forms. The ancient system of villanage in England, of serfdom in Russia, the peon system of Mexico, as well as domestic slavery in the United States, are all examples of slavery proper. This leads us to remark that the terms master and slave are not only abstract but general abstract terms: general, because the abstract ideas they convey are common to each of these conditions. Each of these systems is pervaded by generic principles or ideas, which classify the whole as belonging to the same genus—system of slavery. The abstract principle of slavery is therefore the general idea, which is enveloped alike in each and every form or system of slavery. Hence, as the abstract idea of master is governing by one’s own will, and that of slave is submission or subjection to such control; and as a system of slavery is a condition into which these ideas enter in correlation—it follows that the abstract principle of slavery is the general principle of submission or subjection to control by the will of another. This is the fundamental idea which is common to every form of slavery. No condition into which this does not enter as a fundamental idea is a state of slavery. Every condition[Pg 41] into which it enters is a state of slavery to the extent in which it does so enter.

Submission or subjection to control by the will of another being our definition of the abstract principle of the system of slavery, two questions arise: First—Is this a correct definition? and second—If it be correct, is it a sound, legitimate principle, which may and ought to be adopted in practice, whenever it may be wise to do so?

First—Is the definition correct?

Subjection is the being put under the control of another. Submission is the delivery of one’s self to the control of another. The one implies the consent of the will, and the other does not. That subjection is an idea which fulfils the condition of slavery will not be disputed by any. Hence our definition is sufficiently wide to embrace that which is conceded by all. But our definition gives much greater breadth to the principle. It takes in submission as well as subjection. It assumes that the willing or the nilling of the subject of this form of control does not necessarily enter into the principle which logically defines it. He who is subjected to such control is a slave; and he who submits to such control is not the less so. This principle might therefore be still further generalized—control by the will of another, with its correlative idea submission or subjection only implied.[Pg 42] But we prefer to define it in the terms employed, as being more likely to be appreciated in the sense intended. Are we correct in giving this wide compass of meaning to the principle in question? Do we assume too much when we say that a man is not the less a captive, and subject to the control of the captor, because he voluntarily gives himself up as such? Is a man then the less a slave who voluntarily consents to be controlled by the will of another? The popular use of terms in all languages shows that mankind have conceded this point. They all apply the idea of slave to such a case. Nay, more, they furnish a constructive meaning of the term based upon this meaning. They call a man a “slave to his passions,” who has voluntarily given himself up to be controlled in his future volitions by his passions as the subjective motive of his actions. “No bondage is more grievous than that which is voluntary,” says Seneca. “To be a slave to the passions is more grievous than to be a slave to a tyrant,” says Pythagoras. “No one can be free who is intent on the indulgence of evil passions,” says Plato. And Cicero says, “All wicked men are slaves.” St. Paul, Rom. vi. 16, uses the term in the same sense, and with the greatest propriety: “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants [δούλους, slaves] to obey, his[Pg 43] servants [slaves] ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness?” (See Dr. A. Clarke, in loc.) And again, Ephesians vi. 5-7: “Servants, [δοῦλοι.] be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your hearts as unto Christ: not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” Doing the will of God—with good will. We must certainly understand that it was the duty of those slaves to give both assent and consent to their condition, as a thing coming to them in the order of God’s providence, and pleasing to him; and therefore serve their masters with the same willing obedience, because therein they were serving the Lord. For these persons, we may suppose, were originally made slaves by subjection. They are exhorted to submit themselves not only to the particular commands of their masters, but also to their providential condition. The commands of their masters might be obeyed from mere prudential considerations. In this case, their obedience would be without the religious element. Paul exhorts them to religious obedience. Many, no doubt, obeyed: gave the consent of their wills, as they gave the assent of their[Pg 44] understandings; and hence, cheerfully submitting to their providential condition as from the Lord, they obeyed their masters “in singleness of heart, as unto Christ.” They submitted, as any other good man submits, with consent as well as assent to his providential condition, and goes forth to the duties of that condition with a cheerful heart. Their condition was therefore changed from that of subjection to one of submission, and for as long a time as God might be pleased to continue it. Did they, by reason of such submission, cease to be slaves? Certainly not. They were slaves when in a state of subjection. They were not the less so when, from the high Christian motives commanded by the apostle, their condition was changed to one of submission. Be this, however, as it may, the following case is decisive of the whole question. The ancient Jew, who gave himself into slavery, was not the less a slave because he did it voluntarily; and the Mosaic law provided that such should be held and treated as slaves in perpetuity. See Exodus xxi. 5, 6: “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children: I will not go out free; then his master shall bring him unto the judges: he shall also bring him unto the door, or to the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.”[Pg 45] Thus the law of God made a man a slave who became so by his own voluntary act. A state of submission, therefore, to control by the will of another, is no less a state of slavery than a state of subjection. If the state itself be one of slavery, the idea, submission, which makes it so, is in this case an element of the system. Hence, the true philosophical definition of the principle, as before stated, is control by the will of another, with its correlative (subjection, or submission, as the case might be) implied. It may be the one; it may be the other; and whichever it is in a given case, is the mere logical accident of that case, and does not at all affect the principle itself.

As the whole of the abstract idea of the system of slavery is to be found in the terms master and slave in correlation; and submission and subjection to control by the will of another is the whole idea contained in the correlative sense of these terms, (certainly nothing more and nothing less,) the definition given is the whole, and nothing more, of the abstract principle of the institution. Whoever is in this condition is to that extent a slave. Whatever system envelops this principle—it matters not what form it may take, what coincident principles it may include, or what name may be given to it, or how far the practical working of this principle may be modified—it is nevertheless[Pg 46] to the extent that this principle enters into it a system of slavery. It may be a wise system, because it is a necessary means for the accomplishment of some desirable end; or it may be an unwise system, because it is a means unsuited to the end proposed. But neither hypothesis will at all affect the principle. That is the same in the one case as in the other; that is, whether it be abused or properly used, the principle itself is the same. But can it be properly used at all? This leads to the second inquiry—Is this a sound, legitimate principle, which may and should be adopted in practice whenever it may be wise to do so?

We need not scruple to admit that if injustice or any similar idea should be found to enter as an element into the abstract principle, it is a poisoned principle, upon which no honest man will allow himself to act. But is this the case? Doubtless, there may be injustice in slavery, as in every system which has persons for its subjects: that is, any master acting under the authority of this system may perpetrate great injustice; but we maintain that when he does so he introduces a principle foreign to the system, and for which he is individually responsible: he does that which mars the character of the whole performance, and stamps his own personal conduct with the guilt of injustice.

[Pg 47]

However carelessly many persons are accustomed to speak on this subject, yet we may assure ourselves that a little reflection will satisfy any candid mind that the principle is a legitimate one, and cannot with any degree of propriety be regarded as sinful. It will readily occur to all intelligent minds, that this principle enters more or less as an essential element into every form of human government. No government can be appropriate to human beings, in their present fallen condition, that does not embody this generic element in a greater or less degree.

A form of control, clearly embodying the idea of government, and at the same time conferring absolute freedom, is a solecism. If men would uniformly govern themselves aright by their own wills, there could be no necessity for government, or room for its exercise, at least in the sense in which we now understand the term. A government adapted to such a people, I allow, might be without the element of physical control, so indispensable in human governments. It would be (compared to human) a modification of government—if government it might be called—for which our language supplies no term. We cannot conceive it to be appropriate to any intelligences this side of the “spirits of just men made perfect in heaven.” These, we conceive, are sufficiently[Pg 48] intelligent to understand clearly and correctly all the duties appertaining to the various relations they sustain, and so perfected in moral feeling as to fulfil these duties from the impulses of their own spontaneous volitions. Government, as it may be understood and applied to such intelligences, must be essentially different from that which is appropriate to beings of arbitrary volition; and who, therefore, should be held to accountability in the exercise of their freedom by the most rigid restrictions from penal sanctions. To these latter a government that did not embody the principle of slavery would be no government at all.

Authoritative control, with its correlative, (according to the more general classification given,) is the abstract principle of slavery. But a state of freedom is the opposite of a state of slavery. The abstract principle of a state of freedom or liberty is, therefore, the opposite to that of slavery. Hence self-control is the abstract principle of freedom, as its opposite—control by another—is the principle of slavery.

Now every government adapted to fallen beings whose personal or mental liberty consists in arbitrary volition, is necessarily a combination of these two opposite elements—the principle of freedom and the principle of slavery. Either of these entering alone into the system of government,[Pg 49] would in the end defeat the legitimate object of government—the happiness of the people. If the government were based upon the principle of freedom alone, allowing every man the unrestricted liberty of self-control, the wildest anarchy would result: if to avoid this the opposite principle should be adopted, allowing no liberty of self-control, but subjecting all to control by the will of another, it would be found as impracticable as the other was disastrous, and, as far as successful, only appropriate to idiots and infants. A good government is such a harmonious union of these opposing elements, as adapts it to the wants of the people. For as, in chemistry, elements in opposite states of electricity unite and form valuable compounds, so in political science, antagonistic principles enter necessarily into the composition of government. The character or kind of the government is defined by the ratios in which these elements enter into its formation. If the principle of slavery enter very largely into the government, in a highly consolidated form, it is then an absolute monarchy or military despotism. If the exercise of this supreme power is distributed among the heads of families, it assumes the patriarchal or domestic form. If this principle enter in a less degree, but still in a much greater degree than the principle of self-control, some one of the[Pg 50] forms of constitutional monarchy or hereditary aristocracy will result. If these opposite principles enter into the government in somewhat equal ratios, it is then a democratic republic—a well-balanced government—such as ours is designed to be. Hence we see that God has rendered the blessing of civil freedom inseparable from the presence and operation of the principle of slavery. Such is the present arrangement, that government can no otherwise secure freedom to its subjects than by abridging them to a certain extent of self-control; or, in other words, government must place its subjects under the operation of the principle of slavery in some things, the more effectually to secure their practical freedom in other things. And the citizen who may be determined not to submit to this order of things, and shall persist to do, from the action of a depraved will, what the State—his master—says he shall not do, will, sooner or later, find himself reduced to a condition of most abject slavery, within the walls of a public prison.

It is entirely obvious that a government, to secure the highest amount of happiness to its subjects, must be adapted to their social and moral condition. This adaptation, as before intimated, can only be effected by the ratios in which the antagonistic elements of liberty and of slavery shall[Pg 51] enter into the composition of the government. Now this is virtually the position, after all, of a no less distinguished abolitionist and literary man than Dr. Wayland, the author of your text. On the subject “of the mode in which the objects of society are accomplished,” after bringing to view the different forms of government—“wholly hereditary”—“partly hereditary”—“partly elective”—and “wholly elective”—he asks, “Which of these is the preferable form of government?” and adds, “The answer must be conditional. The best form of government for any people, is the best that its present moral and social condition render practicable. A people may be so entirely surrendered to the influence of passion, and so feebly influenced by moral restraint, that a government which relied on moral restraint could not exist for a day. In this case a subordinate and inferior principle yet remains—the principle of fear; and the only resort is to a government of force, or a military despotism.” Now what is all this but a statement of the great truth which we have already discussed, only in different terms, that a government over a people, in the moral and social condition described by Dr. Wayland, which relied upon “moral restraint,” that is, upon the principle of self-control, “could not exist for a day;” and that for such a people, “the only resort is to a government of force, or a[Pg 52] military despotism”—that is, the highest conceivable form or system of slavery. Now this is said, by Dr. Wayland, after waging a relentless war against both the principle and practice of slavery! Is not this an instance in which a great and honest mind, having adopted certain false notions in antagonism with the system of slavery, wars against this system; whilst, at the same time, this system is underlaid, even in his own method of reasoning, by a vast mine of fundamental principles which, in spite of him, give it both being and activity? Why need one so learned as Dr. Wayland allow the truth to escape his notice, because in one connection it wears the livery of one form of words, and in another connection very properly assumes the livery of a different form of language?

To proceed: History informs us of many such communities as those defined by Dr. Wayland, to which any other form of government would be entirely inappropriate but the one he calls a “government of force or a military despotism,” which is none other than the very highest form of slavery. And your own good sense, young gentlemen, must assure you that it would be grossly absurd to confer on reckless boys of fifteen, or a mass of stupid pagans, all the rights of free citizens of this great republic. No: the one class should be retained under the slavery (for let[Pg 53] us not scruple to call things by their right names) of authoritative control by their parents; and the other should be subjected to the operation of the same general principle by the State. And to adopt Dr. Wayland’s own language on this point—suicidal as it is to him—we add, in regard to such citizens as are “entirely surrendered to the influence of passion,” that “after a government of force has been established, and habits of subordination have been formed, while the moral restraints are yet too feeble for self-government, an hereditary government, which addresses itself to the imagination, and strengthens itself by the influence of domestic connections and established usage, may be as good a form of government as they can sustain. As they advance in intellectual and moral cultivation, it may advantageously become more and more elective; and in a suitable moral condition, it may be wholly so.” Now, to vary the language in which these important facts are expressed, so as to bring out the great philosophical principles which so evidently underlie them, we would say, that when the government adapted to an ignorant and depraved people has operated under wise appliances to form habits of subordination among the masses, a modification of the elements of government is indicated as best suited to their condition. Some one of the forms of[Pg 54] hereditary government may be adopted. In this government, the principle of slavery is made to operate less actively, and there is more room for the play of the opposite principle of self-control. But as the moral principle is yet too feeble for self-government proper, it is still held in strong check by its antagonistic principle—the principle of slavery. As they advance in intellectual and moral cultivation, a further modification of the relative operation of these principles is indicated as proper. It may become more and more elective: that is, more and more of a democratic republic; and in a suitable moral condition it may be wholly so: that is, a government in which the principle of slavery and the principle of liberty operate in about equal ratios. We call this a well-balanced government. If it fulfil this condition, it is because these opposing principles so check and counterpoise each other that the government is not likely to be unbalanced. One holds the other in equilibrio. The principle of self-control is in such vigorous operation among the masses, and so craned up to a vigilant activity by coincident forces derived from intelligence and interest, that the principle of slavery—control by the will of another, which in this instance is the will of the majority—is not competent, according to the theory of this government, to override and crush the[Pg 55] liberties of the country. On the other hand, the principle of slavery, which is the great practical force of the government, enfeebled as it is by a prevailing popular enthusiasm for the widest freedom, and deriving no present aid from interest, finds this deficiency so fully supplied by the fact that its impersonation is the will of the majority, that it is competent to resist the most violent shocks which may come up from the misguided self-control of the masses. How often have we seen, in the history of our glorious republic, the excited passions of the masses, misdirecting their power of self-control, sweep like a hurricane over the bosom of our political sea, and lash the waters into a storm that threatened to engulf the hopes of the nation! But so vital and so active was that principle which constitutes the true force of the government, that that great ideal, the State—the “Ship of State!”—outrode the tempest in perfect safety; and last, as first, the flag of liberty still streamed from the mast-head.

Now, this is as far as the science of free government, so called, has been carried into practical operation; and in this we cannot fail to see that the restraining and controlling principle of slavery is still in vigorous operation. We call it, by way of eminence, a free government; and so it is, relatively to other forms, a very free government. But[Pg 56] then it is only relatively, not absolutely, so; for if it were rendered entirely free, by excluding the operation of the principle of slavery altogether, it would be reduced at once to a form of government which authorizes every man to do in all things and in all respects just as he might please to do—a guaranty which in the present state of fallen human nature it could never make good, and, therefore, virtually it would be no government at all.

Seeing that the abstract principle of slavery enters necessarily and essentially as an element into every form of civil government, it is worse than idle to affirm that it is wrong, per se. But more than this, it has the sanction of Jehovah: for government, of which we have seen it is a necessary element, is expressly declared in Holy Scripture to be his ordinance. It entered largely into the theocracy by which he governed the Jewish nation; and indeed is equally prominent in the government which he exercises over all mankind, if we take it in its wide sense as comprehending the ultimate rewards and punishments that await us in a future state. How imbecile then is it to say of the system of slavery that it is wrong in the abstract—wrong in principle! How little do men consider what they affirm in this declaration! Certainly no man in his senses[Pg 57] will gravely affirm of an essential principle of government that it is wrong! We repeat, then, it is really time that certain politicians, as well as ecclesiastics, had learned to chasten their language on this subject. They have already accomplished incalculable mischief. They have conceded that to the folly of fanaticism which, if it were true, would render domestic slavery, with every other form of civil government, wholly indefensible, and their supporters the objects of the pity and scorn of the civilized world.

There are many among ourselves who, though they are not sufficient metaphysicians to detect and expose the error of a conclusion, are sufficiently candid to admit that if the conceded dogma of Jefferson be true, domestic slavery can never be justified in practice by any circumstances whatever; and they have pious feeling enough to prompt them to great hesitation in supporting the institution in view of this admission, although they are pressed to do so by circumstances of urgent duty to the slaves themselves. In this state of things there arises in many sensitive minds a most painful state of feeling. Pressed on the one hand by what is assumed to be correct principle, and on the other by the claims of a high moral necessity,—the necessity of governing and providing for their slaves, which they erroneously suppose to[Pg 58] be in conflict with right principle,—they really find themselves in a most embarrassing situation, from which they sigh to be released. Many such have quietly retired from the State of their nativity and choice as their only alternative. (This may account for more of those removals, usually attributed to worn-out lands, than many of our politicians wot of.) Others remain, it is true, but it is rather an act of subjection than submission. Citizens of this class (and it is not a small class) are of course always liable to become the victims of any fanatical movement on the subject of slavery that may be afoot in the land. To all this mischief, the speakers and writers in question have contributed their full share. Yea, for myself, I doubt not they have contributed much more to dissatisfy the religious community of the South—the large majority of the whole population—than all the abolitionists of the North put together. It is doubtless the magic of their names which at present enables the M. E. Church (the most regular and well-defined anti-slavery, if not indeed abolitionist, association this day existing in the country) to maintain its footing in the District of Columbia, the States of Delaware and Maryland, and along the northern border of Eastern and through a large part of Western Virginia, together with a portion of Kentucky and Missouri.[Pg 59] It is the authority of their names, also, which so disquiets the feelings of many good people in the whole country as to make them the victims of the political legerdemain of certain politicians, who, under cover of “free-soilism,” “fugitive slave law,” and “Nebraska” excitements, are overriding their rights and insulting the whole country before the civilized world; and who, last though not least, are daily oppressing the African population by the incubus of a morbid sensibility in regard to them, which utterly prevents the system under which they live from any thing like a reasonable participation in the progress of civilization. In view of these facts, we again assume that it is really time they had learned to chasten their language on the subject of African slavery. Public opinion in the whole country must soon become intolerant of so great an abuse of the truth.

[Pg 60]


Objections classified—Popular views discussed—“All men are born free and equal”—“All men are created equal”—“All men in a state of nature are free and equal”—And the particular form in which Dr. Wayland expresses the popular idea, viz., “The relation in which men stand to each other is the relation of equality; not equality of condition, but equality of right”—Remarks on Dr. Wayland’s course—His treatise on Moral Science as a text-book.

It is now appropriate to consider some of the speculations in Moral Science which may be supposed to invalidate the position discussed in the preceding lecture. As far as they have come under my notice, they all belong to one class. The general objection may be thus stated: Slavery is an abridgment of rights to which the enslaved are entitled by nature; or, more logically, slavery is an abridgment of inalienable rights. This doctrine is expressed in different forms of language, but is essentially the same in meaning. It is with the[Pg 61] popular view of this subject that I propose to deal in this lecture. Hence I shall restrict my remarks, in the first place, to the objection as it usually exists in thought, and notice several popular forms of expression:

1. “All men are born free and equal.”

Until within a few years past, this dogma was stereotyped in all the text-books of the country—from the horn-book to the most eminent treatise on Moral Science for colleges and universities. From the days of Jefferson until now, it has been the text for the noisy twaddle of the “stump-politician,” and the profound discussions of the grave senator in the Congress of the United States. If this dogma, as it generally exists in thought, be true, it will follow, that any and every abridgment of liberty is a violation of original and natural right—that is, inalienable right. Hence every system of slavery must be based upon a false principle. The popular sense in which this language is generally understood, from father to son, is evidently the literal sense. But taken in this sense, the doctrine is utterly false. For men are born in a state of infancy, and grow up to the state of manhood; and infants are entirely incapable of freedom, and do not enjoy a particle of it. They are not, therefore, born equally free, but in a state of entire subjection. They grow up, it is[Pg 62] true—if they be not imbeciles—to a degree of mental liberty, that is, the liberty of arbitrary volition in the plain matters of right and wrong, and hence are accountable; but the degree of this liberty, or how far they are thus mentally free, depends upon the accident of birth, education, and numerous coincident circumstances, which destroys all equality of mental freedom; and as to equality in other respects, it is scarcely a decent regard to the feelings of mankind to affirm their equality. They are not physically equal. No two men will compare exactly in this respect. They are not politically equal. The history of all human governments, throughout all time, shows this. To be “hewers of wood and drawers of water,” in unequal and subordinate positions, to the few, has been the lot of the great mass of mankind from the days of Adam. But, says the “socialist,” (to whom the doctrine is far more creditable,) “this latter is precisely the state of things we deprecate, and affirm that such was never the intention of Deity, but that it is his will that there should be no such inequality among men; that his will is in itself the right; and what it is his will we should be, it is right for us to be, and it is our right to be; and that system which makes our condition other than this, deprives us of our rights.” This is the philosophy of socialism.

[Pg 63]

Now it is true that much of the inequality of condition among men is owing to an abuse of the superior power which intelligence confers upon the few; but this admission does not advance the cause of socialism. For if it were allowed that the will of God is the only rule of right—that is, in itself the right, instead of this, that that which in itself is the right is the will of God—it will not help the argument. For, on this hypothesis, the will of God is the only rule of right, as on the other it conforms to the only rule of right; so that on either, the will of God may be taken as a certain rule of right. What then does he will? In regard to the present subject of inquiry, we can only judge what he wills from that which he has done. Now we have seen that he has not endowed the souls of men with equal capacity, nor has he even placed them in circumstances of providential equality, favorable to an equal development of the unequal capacities he has given them. Superior intelligence is the condition of inequality. Where this exists, there is essential inequality, and practical inequality cannot usually be avoided. Hence superior and inferior, and cognate terms, are found in all languages, and the conditions they represent are found amongst all people. Hence inequality among men is the will of God; and if his will is the rule of our rights, we have no abstract[Pg 64] right to equality. It is rather our duty to submit to that inequality of condition which results from the superior intelligence or moral power of others. Superior physical power may, for a time, give us the ascendency; but things will find their level. Superior intelligence will ultimately bear its possessor to his destined eminence. A state of oppression is not one of inequality merely. It is one in which superior intelligence has degraded and afflicted those who rank below it, in an inferior condition; or it is an instance in which, by the aid of brute force, those of inferior condition have, for a time, risen at the expense of those of superior intelligence. If we are oppressed, in either of these ways, we have a right to complain, because our oppressors violate the will of God concerning us—violate our rights; but we have no right to complain of inequality merely. Inequality is the law of Heaven. He who complains of this is not less unwise than the prisoner who frets at his condition, and chafes himself against the bars and bolts of the prison which securely confines him!

But if the dogma in question cannot be made to serve the cause of truth, it has often been made to serve the cause of policy. Many there are who have not scrupled to use it as a tocsin to call together a clan, not their inferiors merely, but so degraded in their inferiority, that, for the price of[Pg 65] being honored with the distinction of “free and equal fellow-citizens,” they have been ready as menials to bow their necks to their masters, debase themselves, dishonor the state, and insult Jehovah!

2. “All men are created equal.”

This is only another form in which the social philosophy is pleased to express its one idea. We need only notice the additional error acquired by the change of language. “All men,” it is said, “are created.” It is written in the first of Genesis, that “God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them.” The term “man” is, of course, to be understood in its generic sense, and all that is affirmed is, that God directly created Adam and Eve, and all their posterity seminally in them; and from whom, therefore, they have proceeded, as to both soul and body, by generation, and not by a separate act of creation by Jehovah. Now of these two created beings, one was placed in direct and immediate subordination to the other; and although it be true, as it often practically is, that the fall has reversed this order of things, and placed the wife at the head of affairs, still the doctrine of headship, the doctrine of inequality, prevails in the one case as in the other. It is not amiss, however, to remark in passing, that even so great and humble a man as the Apostle Paul[Pg 66] preferred the old-fashioned doctrine: he insists that we observe the original order of things: “I suffer not a woman to usurp authority over the man;” 1 Tim. ii. 12; “but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” 1 Cor. xiv. 34.

As to other points in this dogma, they have been already treated. We only add that philosophy, no less than religion and true patriotism, cannot fail to regret that a dogma setting each of their claims aside, and teaching the purest agrarianism, and that under the most deadly form—the form of pure abstract truth—should have found its way into that immortal instrument, the Declaration of American Independence. We cannot otherwise account for it than by the fact that one of the presiding minds of that great paper had become strongly tinctured with the infidel philosophy of France.

3. “All men in a state of nature are free and equal.”

This is the form of words by which that great man, Locke, involved himself in the doctrine of socialism. The school of philosophy has freed itself of the errors of Locke, and of much of the infidelity of Hume which those errors precipitated upon the world. The error now under notice, in the unsettled political state of France, was seized[Pg 67] upon by the Communists: infidelity and anarchy followed. From them, it was consecrated in an abridged form of words in the greatest state paper that was ever written,—the “Declaration of Independence,”—and incorporated into the popular language of the American people, and, indeed, into that of every people where the English language is spoken. Great and good men, who abhor the folly of socialism, do not scruple to assert that the true theory of all governments is, that they are an abridgment of original and natural rights; forgetful of the fact that it is from the fountain of socialism that they draw their original supply of ideas. Those of the republican type maintain that the government should be founded upon the concessions of the majority, and that any thing else is tyranny. I propose to deal with this idea in a future lecture. I now only consider the dogma in the literal sense—the form in which it exists in popular thought.

Literally, what is the state of man by nature? and, Is he free and equal in that state? We can conceive of man as existing only in one or the other of two states; one of which is his natural state, and the other merely hypothetical: that is, the simple, or individual state, and the complex, or social state. To conceive of men in their simple state, or as not in a state of society, is to conceive[Pg 68] of them as existing as mere individuals: that is, without connection or relation one with the other. Is this the natural state of man—the state intended for him by nature? Certainly not. It is not known to history, any more than to us, that any set of men ever existed in this way. This, then, is a merely hypothetical state. In reality, there never was such a state of things, and never will be. Indeed, on the hypothesis that such was the original state of men by nature, or as intended by the Lord, it would follow as a mere truism that each one of those separate individuals was free from control by any one or all of the others: that is, they were all free and equal. That this truism expresses the truth of the case, no doubt exists in the thought of a great many; but they overlook the hypothesis which makes it a hypothetical truism, merely because it never had any existence in fact, and never can have.

To conceive of men in the social state is to conceive of them in their relations to each other. Hence it is a complex state. Several ideas enter into this state—not only individuality, as in the former case, but also contiguity of time and place, variety, and often contrariety of relations, together with all the ideas which, as sequences, grow out of these. Now, a leading idea involved in this state, and inseparable from it, is the idea of government:[Pg 69] that is, the political is inseparable from the social state. These various and conflicting relations must be defined by certain rules, carrying the full idea of control. Without this, these relations could not operate in harmonious agreement for a single day. Now, as the natural state of man is the state for which he was made,—the state to which alone his entire nature is adapted,—there can be no dispute, the social state is the natural state of man. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him an helpmeet for him.” He was made, then, for society, and society was immediately furnished him. But the law of relation, we find, was coincident with the relation itself: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.” Gen. ii. 24. And so also, every one born into the world was born in a state of society—the social state—and has always existed in this state: that is, under government. But we have before proved that a state of slavery is fundamental in the complex idea of government. There is, there can be, no government without it. Therefore, the natural state of man, or the state to which he is adapted by both his mental and physical constitution, is a state of slavery in combination with liberty, which is the complex idea of government.

[Pg 70]

4. “The relation which men sustain to each other is the relation of equality: not equality of condition, but equality of right.”

This is the form in which Dr. Wayland prefers to express the doctrine of equality.[2] He explains himself thus: “Each separate individual is created with precisely the same right to use the advantages with which God has endowed him as any other individual.” From this position, as thus explained, he deduces an argument the force of which, without expressing it in so many words, is constructively made to pervade the whole performance. For his whole argument may be embodied thus: the government which places an individual in any other condition than that of political equality is an odious tyranny: the government which establishes domestic slavery does this, and is therefore an odious tyranny.

[2] Moral Science. Part II., Division I—Reciprocity.

Now, the proposition, as he explains it, may be admitted as a truism; but then the doctrine of essential equality of right will not follow from such an admission: that is, social and political equality. For what if it be true that “each separate individual has precisely the same right to use the advantages with which God has endowed him?” It only follows that each one has a [Pg 71]common right in this respect merely, but not that there is an essential equality of right in any available sense in which we are accustomed to understand the phrase. For if so, it will follow that brutes have an essential equality of rights with men, and that both men and brutes have an essential equality of rights with angels. This is not pushing the argument too far in either direction. For brutes, in a sense well defined by Dr. Wayland himself, have rights. No one but a moral brute would deny the right of his fellow-creature—the brute—to appropriate an accessible bucket of refreshing water to slake his burning thirst. Nothing is more certain than that brutes, men, and angels have a common right to appropriate the advantages with which God has endowed them. Brutes could not have lower, and angels could not have higher, rights in this respect. But surely it cannot be said that this common right confers on brutes, men, and angels, essential equality of rights in any practical sense whatever; for then it will follow that brutes, men, and angels have an equal right to social and political equality—a bold and reckless absurdity.

We admit that one man has a common right with each and all other men in the respect stated; but not that they have common rights in other respects. The common right to use our [Pg 72]advantages to promote our happiness” will not constitute us equals in any proper sense, unless our advantages be equal. Now, Dr. Wayland himself allows, in the very terms of his proposition, that men are not equal in condition—that is, not equal in advantages. And nothing is more obvious than that men are not equal in that intellectual and moral condition which would enable them to use certain social and political advantages for the benefit of themselves and others: consequently, upon his own admission, they would have no right to them. Unless, then, it can be shown that God has endowed all human beings with intellectual and moral capacities sufficiently developed to enable them to be used for the common welfare, they have no right to what we call political freedom. But it is unquestionable that men are not universally nor even generally so endowed. It is not the case with minors. Political freedom is withheld from them by the laws of all States, for the obvious reason that it is not among the privileges which God, as yet, endowed them with the ability to use for the common welfare. Still, no one, so far as we are aware, ever dreamed that minors were herein abridged of their natural rights, and that government and parents were “odious tyrants” because they subjected them to one of the known forms of domestic slavery! We are not surprised,[Pg 73] therefore, that Dr. Wayland found himself compelled to admit that minors were exceptions to his rule; which, however, he had argued as universal—universals admit of no exceptions.

Again, it is not true of barbarians, through any of the stages of barbarism. At no period are they in that state of intellectual and moral development in which they could use for the common welfare the blessings of civil freedom, as understood and enjoyed by a highly civilized people. If they were, they would not be barbarians, but a civilized people, to whom the right of civilization—political freedom—would inure.

Now I assume here, what I shall prove in a future lecture, that the African came into this country in a state of extreme barbarism; and that, in the judgment of Southern people—whom prejudice itself can hardly deny are honest and the only competent judges in this matter—they are still, as a race, in a state of semi-barbarism, to say the least. If we are right in this position, they also are an example of persons who are clearly not entitled to the rights which inure only to a state of civilization. With what propriety, therefore, could any decent man, whose object is not to insult, affirm that we are “odious tyrants,” for withholding from the African the rights which are appropriate only to a state of civilization: unless[Pg 74] he were prepared first to show that we are wrong in our position as to the question of fact, that they are still in a state of semi-barbarism, and, therefore, not entitled to civil freedom?

How shall we characterize the course of Dr. Wayland! After drawing an ingenious argument through many pages of his performance: appealing to the facts and principles of Holy Scripture: not failing, in the progress and application of his false position, to stigmatize the system of African slavery as an odious tyranny, and this for the obvious purpose of degrading the Southern States of this Union in the eyes of the whole civilized world: then, when he is confronted, as he necessarily was, in the progress of his own argument, by the only material fact in the whole discussion, he adroitly evades all consideration of it whatever! On page 216, fourth edition, he states the position of the South, that the “slaves are not competent to self-government,” and shortly replies, “This is a question of fact which it is not the province of Moral Philosophy to decide.” Why then did he decide it by an application of his false position to the South? Echo answers, Why?

Had he confined the application of his principles to the rights which belong to a civilized people, we should have no cause to complain; or had he adduced facts to invalidate the position of the[Pg 75] South in regard to its African population, we should be bound to regard him as maintaining an honorable discussion; or, yielding this point, had he attempted to define that form of government most appropriate to a mass of semi-barbarians, dwelling in the midst of a highly civilized people, with whom they could not amalgamate; or, declining this, had he frankly confessed his incompetency (as indeed will really appear upon a discussion of his basis principle) to do justice to the subject of Moral Philosophy at this point at least—in either case we should be bound to respect his effort. But departing, as he evidently does, from all these obvious lines of duty in the pathway of his desolating errors, and inflicting so deep a wound upon the feelings of the whole Southern community, it must be allowed that our charity is heavily taxed in accounting for his course. He can have no cause to complain that we adopt the opinion that he has permitted an early prejudice to grow into a feeling of fanaticism, so fixed as to warp his judgment on points of very simple application in Moral Science.

Dr. Wayland’s treatise is a text-book in many of our literary institutions, and he himself is eminently distinguished both in the religious and literary world. Such a text-book, thus endorsed by both piety and learning, put into the hands of our[Pg 76] young men, could rarely fail of its object—especially if the professor concur in enforcing its doctrines. This is frequently the case in Northern institutions, and has often occurred in Southern; and where it has not, the professor, as a general thing, is either silent, or he concedes the doctrines of the text, and rests the defence of the South upon the false position, that “she cannot help herself!” The assumption that God has placed men in circumstances in which they cannot avoid a violation of his own immutable principles of right, may be so entirely overlooked, as to leave the doctrines and arguments of the text to work an increasing conviction that there is moral wrong in African slavery. If this state of things continue, we must not be surprised if abolition fanaticism should have a still more rapid growth in our land.

[Pg 77]


Why it is necessary to define the term rights—The right in itself defined to be the good—The doctrine that the will of God is the origin of the right considered—The will of God not the origin of the right, but an expression of the right which is the good—Natural rights and acquired rights, each defined.

There are questions which lie back of this discussion—errors, as I think, which underlie the popular ideas of both government and rights. We should not consider that we had fully met the difficulties of the subject if we passed them by.

Domestic slavery, it is said, is an abridgment of inalienable rights; and legitimate government is a voluntary concession of certain alienable rights.

Natural rights are, of course, such as are inherent in the constitution of man: inalienable, because in point of fact he cannot be substantively deprived of them. The law which in any case provides to[Pg 78] do this, treats him as though he were not a rational, but a mere sentient being—and therein alienates his rights. Domestic slavery is said to treat the slave as a mere chattel, a thing, not an entity, and hence deprives him by provision of law of the right of being treated as a rational being as he is, and not a mere thing. This is said, because it places his time and labor at the disposal of another man. How far this reproach is just, turns upon a definite answer to the question—What are rights?

Government is a voluntary concession of certain alienable rights.” If this concession be made by the majority of the citizens, the government is called republican; if otherwise, it is called despotic. In this theory of government, certain rights are assumed to be given up, in order to secure other and more important rights. I have shown government to embody, of necessity, two great abstract principles in harmonious operation—though, in their essential nature, the one antagonizes the other. Now the principle of slavery—control by the will of another—certainly operates an abridgment of the exercise of self-control, which is the principle of liberty. And so far as the principle of slavery operates, in any given instance of government, is that, in such instance, a giving up, to that extent, of the right of self-control, in order to secure a right to the self-control which remains[Pg 79] ungiven up? Is this so? This question also turn upon the solution of that other question—What are rights?

And again, self-control, we say, is the principle of liberty. Practical freedom is the exercise of the right of self-control. How far does the right of self-control extend? I say that an instance in which a body of men emerged from a state of nature, (so called,) and formed a government by an original act, is unknown to history. It never occurred. Man was placed originally by Jehovah himself under political law. The very moment that he placed the first being in a relation to another by giving him a “helpmeet,” he gave him a law to govern that relation, as we have seen; and all the subsequent acts of men in the matter of government-making, have been such modifications of the existing form of government as they supposed would better suit their circumstances. But it is said that when society meets in convention to agree upon certain principles called a constitution, under which the laws shall be made, men do virtually, for the time being, resolve themselves into their original position or state without government; and that the constitution so formed is virtually an original formation. Well, for the sake of the argument, let it be so. When, therefore, society thus falls back upon its original[Pg 80] position, men stand upon the basis of what are supposed their original rights! What is that? Why, the right that each man has to do as he may please. They form a government: that is, give up a part, more or less, of their original right. Of course a part remains ungiven up, and the giving up cannot be to secure the possession of that which is already in possession! What is it that invests these questions with difficulty? Is it not the ambiguity of the term rights? Let us then define rights, if we would not be for ever entoiled by these absurdities.

And still again: Is liberty the right of self-control? Is not man—accountable man—free in virtue of his very humanity? Does this freedom imply absolute liberty? If so, absolute liberty is inherent in his very constitution—it is inalienable. What right, then, can he have to give it up, or any part of it? If so, he has the right to do that which subjectively he cannot do. If, then, government be a concession of the right of self-control in this sense, it is the concession of an inalienable right, and should be abandoned as a piece of folly.

It is entirely obvious, therefore, that we cannot advance in these inquiries at all without first settling the question, What are rights?

The English language is allowed to be one of great power, compass, and accuracy, and therefore[Pg 81] eminently adapted to reasoning. It derives this quality in a good degree from its flexibility, the different varieties of idea, and often the different shades of meaning in these varieties that may be expressed by one word. No language is supposed to compare with it in this respect. But whilst this adapts it to the purpose of correct reasoning, it opens also a wide field for errors in argument. Men usually differ widely in opinion, but they do not often differ in sentiment. All intelligent and good men feel right, and mean right. They often differ in opinion because they differ in the meaning they attach to the language, the same language, which is the medium through which each views the same subject. Different men use the same word in different senses. The same man often uses the same word by habit in different senses in the same connection. They come to different conclusions, of course, and the same man often entoils himself by his own argument. Now, there are few words with which men have more to do in discussions and opinions about liberty and government—the next most important matters to personal religion—than with the word rights; and there are few words which are capable of more varied application, and which are in truth oftener applied to express different shades of meaning, than this word rights. Webster gives[Pg 82] correctly some forty different meanings of this term, together with several subordinate senses in which it occurs, all of which are in common use. Our language—and of what language is not the same true?—our literature, our theology, our politics—society on all sides—is bristling with rights! Now, is it not obvious that there must be some generic idea which classifies all the different meanings and applications of this term, and which has its foundation in the common sense, the common reason of all mankind?

If, then, we inquire what are our rights in any given case, this question directly involves that other and ultimate question, What is the right in itself? the solution of which solves at once the general question in regard to all cases. And although the case in which our rights may appear must be first in point of time before our minds, to call up our idea of the right, still our definite antecedent idea of the right is the logical condition on which we determine whether the right appears in that case.

Call then, to your mind, an instance of justice, and one of injustice: a case of virtue and a case of crime: an example of heroism and an example of weakness: does not each of these cases embody, the one class your idea of the right in itself, and the other your idea of the wrong in itself?[Pg 83] But your conception of the cases in which your antecedent idea of the right and the wrong appears, and your antecedent idea of that right and of that wrong, are very different ideas: that is, the case itself and your idea of the principle are distinct: the one a thing, the other an idea of something real. What, then, is your idea of the right, which is so distinct in your mind from the case in which it appears? Interrogate your reason and consciousness. Interrogate the reason and consciousness of all mankind.

Take this example: “The father of Caius Toranius had been proscribed by the triumvirate. Caius Toranius, coming over to the interest of that party, discovered to the officers who were in pursuit of his father the place where he concealed himself, and gave withal a description by which they might distinguish his person when they found him. The old man, more anxious for the safety and fortunes of his son than about the little that might remain of his own life, began immediately to inquire of the officers who seized him, whether his son were well, whether he had done his duty to the satisfaction of the generals. ‘That son,’ replied one of the officers, ‘so dear to thy affections, betrayed thee to us: by his information thou art apprehended, and diest.’ The officer, with this, struck a poniard to his heart, and the[Pg 84] unhappy parent fell, not so much affected by his fate as by the means to which he owed it.”[3] Here is an example of the greatest filial impiety, and of the highest parental affection. The one fulfils our idea of the right, the other our idea of the wrong. Now, what is this idea of the right and the wrong in which all are supposed to agree? We would not ask, with the disciple of Paley, of Condillac, or of Helvetius, what the “wild boy, caught years ago in the woods of Hanover,” would have thought of this case; nor what the savage, without experience and without instruction, cut off in his infancy from all intercourse with his species, would think of it. No: “the savage state offers us humanity in swaddling-clothes, so to speak—the germ of humanity, but not humanity entire. The true man is the perfect man of his kind: true human nature is human nature arrived at its development.”[4] We utterly deny that, in order to arrive at the judgment of human nature, we need consult a savage in such circumstances, or indeed to consult a savage at all. And yet we say that even a savage of good mind, who has lived long enough in society to get the idea of the relation of parent and child—such as even savages have—would pronounce the conduct of the one to [Pg 85]be right, and of the other to be wrong, and have a definite idea of that right and that wrong, each in itself. And we furthermore say, that human nature cultivated to the highest degree bears the same testimony to the difference in the conduct of this father and this son, and attaches essentially the same ideas to that difference. In calling the one right and the other wrong, men say, and they mean to say, that the one is good and the other is evil. This is the uniform judgment of human reason—the permanent belief of mankind. To this common sense bears ample testimony. Grammarians have not invented languages. Government itself dates back of legislators—they have only modified it. Philosophers have not invented beliefs: without concert, without conventions, the world has fallen upon certain beliefs, and certain signs to express these beliefs. In the secret chambers of the soul, not of any one individual man, but of all men individually, consciousness bears testimony that such and such is the belief of all men, and this we call the judgment of common sense; and such is also her testimony in all languages as to the thing that is right, and that the right in any given case is the idea we have of the good in that case. The right, then, is the good.

[3] Paley’s Philosophy.—Moral Science.

[4] M. Cousin.

“Right, rectus,” says Webster, “straightness, rectitude;” which he explains to be conformity to[Pg 86] rule or law, and that the will of God is the ultimate rule or law which determines the right or the wrong in all cases. Hence conformity to this rule is the generic idea of the right in itself, according to Webster. In this view, Horne Tooke, in his Diversions of Purley, concurs. As his criticism is ingenious, instructive, and generally truthful, I quote the more material portion of his article on rights. After telling us in his dialogue that Johnson only informs us that right is not wrong, and wrong is not right, he adds:

“H. Right is no other than Rectum, (regetum,) the past participle of the Latin verb regere, etc.

“In the same manner, our English word just is the past participle of the verb jubere.

Decree, Edict, Statute, Institute, Mandate, Precept, are all past participles.

“F. What then is law?

“H. It is merely the past tense and past participle of the Gothic and Anglo-Saxon verb which means something or any thing laid down as a rule of conduct. Thus when a man demands his right, he asks only that which it is ordered he shall have. A right conduct is that which is ordered: a right reckoning is that which is ordered: a right line is that which is ordered or directed, (not a random extension, but) the shortest between two points: the right road is that ordered to be passed[Pg 87] (for the object you have in view:) to do right is to do that which is ordered to be done: to be in the right is to be in such situation or circumstances as are ordered: to have right or law on one’s side is to have in one’s favor that which is ordered or laid down: a right and just action is such an one as is ordered and commanded: a just man is such as he is commanded to be—qui leges juraque servat—who observes and obeys the things laid down or commanded; and the right hand is that which custom and those who have brought us up have ordered or directed us to use in preference, when one hand only is employed; and the left hand is that which is leaved, left, or which we are taught to leave out of use on such occasions. So that left, you see, is also a past participle.

“F. Every thing, then, that is ordered and commanded is right and just?

“H. Surely; for that is only affirming that what is ordered and commanded, is ordered and commanded.

“F. Now what becomes of your vaunted rights of man? According to you, the chief merit of man is obedience; and whatever is ordered and commanded is right and just. This is pretty well for a democrat. And those have always been your sentiments?

[Pg 88]

“H. Always; and those sentiments confirm my democracy.

“F. Those sentiments do not appear to have made you very conspicuous for obedience. There are not a few passages, I believe, in your life, where you have opposed what was ordered and commanded. Upon your principles, was that right?

“H. Perfectly.

“F. How now! Was it ordered and commanded that you should oppose what was ordered and commanded! Can the same thing be at the same time both right and wrong?

“H. Travel back to Melinda, and you will find the difficulty easily solved.” (The people of Melinda are all left-handed, i. e., their right is our left. But they are as right-handed as we are; for they use that hand in preference which is ordered by their custom, and is therefore their right hand, and leave out of employ the other, which is, therefore, their left hand.) “A thing may be at the same time both right and wrong, as well as right and left. It may be commanded to be done and commanded not to be done. The law—that which is laid down—may be different by different authorities.

“I have always been most obedient when most taxed with disobedience. But my right hand is not the right hand of Melinda. The right I[Pg 89] revere is not the right ordered by sycophants: the jus vagum, the capricious command of princes or ministers. I follow the law of God, (what is laid down by him for the rule of my conduct,) when I follow the laws of human nature: which without any human testimony we know must proceed from God; and upon these are founded the rights of man, or what is ordered for man. I revere the constitution and constitutional laws of England, because they are in conformity with the laws of God and nature; and upon these are founded the rational rights of Englishmen. If princes, or ministers, or the corrupt sham-representatives of the people, order, command, or lay down any thing contrary to that which is ordered, commanded, or laid down by God, human nature, or the constitution of this government, I will still hold fast by the higher authorities. If the meaner authorities are offended, they can only destroy the body of the individual, but never can affect the right, or that which is ordered by their superiors.”[5]

[5] See his whole article on Rights.

Thus he is found to agree with Webster, that the will of God is the ultimate genus of the right. That is right, which conforms to the will of God as laid down in law—whether that law be a written revelation, nature, or the customs of society, (as in [Pg 90]the case of the right and left hand,) as the exponent of that will—they are what is ordered in the case, and make the right. Hence he condemns as “wretched mummery” the distinction admitted by M. Portalis, between obedience to a command, and obedience to what is right and just in itself, and, on the same ground, pronounces it “highly improper” to say, with Mr. Locke, “God has a right to do it: we are his creatures.” For truly if his will be the ultimate genus of right, then he can have no rights, for there is certainly no superior to whose commands he conforms in the acts of his will. But precisely at this point let us take our stand. I affirm on the authority of Scripture, no less than sound philosophy, (always in harmony,) that God has rights, and that the distinction of M. Portalis is in many instances correct; and that hence Tooke, Dr. Paley, (who also concurs in this view—see his article Rights, in his Moral Philosophy,) Dr. Webster, with many others of great distinction, strangely err, not in their etymology of this word, but in that hypothesis by which they make it a significate of the will of God. We cannot agree with them that rights and duties which are reciprocal, are resolvable only into the will of God—have his will alone for their ultimate foundation. I take ground back of this. True, I say with them—and I claim full[Pg 91] credit in the declaration—that the volitions, the acts of God, are always right; but I do not say that his will makes the essential or true distinction between right and wrong. We dare not assume that God, could, by an act of volition, make the right to be the wrong, and the wrong to be the right—good evil, and evil good! It is absurd to assume that God can do things that are in themselves contradictory. Omnipotent, we know, he is; but such things are not the objects of power, any more than things which are the objects of power, are, in the same sense, the objects of Omniscience. To affirm that he could make the right to be the wrong, is as false as it would be impious to affirm that he would do it, if he could—false, because, if he can, he has not deposited the truth in that great master-work of his hand, the mind of man; for, by the power of the intuition he has given us, we are assured that the idea is in itself a gross absurdity. And if this be not decisive of the question, then neither intuition nor the deductions of intuition are of any authority. Man is the victim of a false guide within! He may “eat and drink, for to-morrow he dies!” There will be no more of him; or, what is worse, he is but a link in a chain of sentient beings who are governed by a cruel fate, which regards not the distinctions of right and wrong; and he may[Pg 92] be the sport of wickedness in the world to come, as he has been the victim of deception in this! I think it more than error to reason thus! I think it profane!

We may take ground back of this—ground as honorable to God as it is exalting to man and encouraging to his hopes. It is true, that both rectitude and duty, together with liberty, are resolvable into the essential good. Or, in other words, freedom, rectitude, and duty are the modes of thought in which we conceive of the good as existing in the soul of man, and that they are, each of them, in their distinct nature and harmonious union, the true ideal of the good—the modes of thought, also, in which the intuition of man perceives the good in the case of every moral action which is good. And concerning the good in itself, which is thus in an humble degree perceived by us, it is certainly a reality which is immutable and eternal. God did not make it—nor was it made. It is of the essential nature of God, and eternal. He is the great impersonation of the good. His will, his volitions, in all cases, are but the expressions of this high attribute. His will, therefore, always conforming to the essential good, is a perfect rule of what is right in itself, and proper to be observed by us, as a rule of duty or conduct. Such a rule, it will be seen, is eminently adapted to[Pg 93] the wants of humanity; but, at the same time, his will and the good are different realities. The one is an essential quality of his holy nature, and the other is, to a certain extent, an expression of this attribute in the form of volitions. That the will of God did not make the right in itself, will readily appear. Is it to be conceived that there ever was a period in eternity past, when truth was not truth, or when truth did not exist? when the good was not the good, or when the good did not exist? But does it not accord with the clearest teachings of reason, that the truth always was the truth, and ever will be the truth? that the good always will be the good? That two and two are equal to four; that to affirm a thing to be and not to be at the same time is an absurdity and a contradiction; and that things equal to one and the same thing are equal to one another, we say are all intuitive truths—we cannot be mistaken about them. So also in morals: that the truth is good; that virtue is good; that a good action is not an evil action; and that to affirm that a good action is not a good action is an absurdity, a contradiction, we say, are all intuitionswe cannot be mistaken about them. But is it not equally intuitive that these things were always so—that these truths were always truths—the good was always the good, just as certainly as that they are so[Pg 94] now? Then the eternity of these things is just as certainly an intuition, as that they exist now is an intuition. Hence the eternity of God, who is the great impersonation of this high quality, or whose attribute it is, is an intuitive truth. Hence his will did not make it, for it is absurd to say that he made himself. His will, therefore, which, in given cases, is his volition, is but the expression of this essential quality of his holy nature. Hence his will is a rule of right, because in all cases it conforms to the good, but it did not make the good.

Therefore the right, as it conforms to the essential good, is of the nature of the good. It is properly a significate of the good, and not a significate of the will of God. Things agreeing with one and the same thing agree with each other. Hence it coincides with the will of God. But such coincidence does not constitute any thing right in itself; but it is because, like the will of God, it conforms to, or is of the nature of, the essential good, that it is right. The right then, in itself, is the good. The good is the true generic idea which classifies all the different applications of this term. So far as any thing is of the nature of the good, it is in itself right. So far as any thing, to which the idea of the right applies, is negative of the good, i. e., is evil, it is wrong.

[Pg 95]

The good, therefore, as an ultimate genus, is much more extensive in meaning than the right. It extends to all physical as well as moral good. Our subject requires us to consider it only so far as it applies to humanity. And how far is this? When Jehovah created man, he pronounced him to be “very good,” i. e., essentially good in the attributes of his nature. He was created in “his own image: in the image of God created he him.” “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” That is, he was created a pure spiritual intelligence. He had a clear and correct perception and judgment of pure abstract truth, and of the relations of truth; with the corresponding feelings of obligation to duty, and a power of will sufficient to control the mental states within the sphere of its operations. Now, as a pure intelligence, thus endowed, he is within the limits of his capacity a cause within himself—strictly a self-acting agent, and hence accountable. And as he was created with a feeling of obligation to observe the good as a rule in all his conduct, he was created a subject of duty—he was under obligation to do, to act; and as in each of these respects, and in all others, he was created in conformity with the essential good, he was rectus, right. All this is implied in[Pg 96] that declaration of his essential nature, as a pure spiritual intelligence, (who was therein made in the image of God,) which defined him to be “very good.” Nor can we think of this good as a quality or attribute of humanity, without being conscious, if we reflect closely, of associating in our minds the idea that the being who personates it is for that reason free; that for that reason he is rectus, straight, conformed to the good as the rule, that is, right; and that for the same reason he is under obligation—it is his duty to act according to that rule. Every instance of moral action that is good implies these ideas: it is free, it is rectus, straight, and it is done in accordance with duty. In the same sense in which life, sense, and motion enter into and so form the comprehension of the creature, animal; so liberty, rectitude, and duty form the comprehension of moral good, so far as it applies to humanity. These are distinct ideas. Still they coincide, and either implies the others as correlatives. Hence we say of a free action that it is good, implying that it is at the same time rectus, and done in accordance with duty; and of an action in conformity to a proper rule, that it is good, implying at the same time that it is free, and done in accordance with duty; and also of an action in compliance with duty, that it is good, implying that it is also free, and straight, i. e.,[Pg 97] conformed to rule: thus in each case we imply the correlative ideas.

Now, whatever is in my possession by natural endowment is mine, in the strictest sense. Hence, freedom is mine, duty is mine, and rectitude is mine, because the good is mine, and those are the elements of the good, each one implying the others.

Hence arises the idea of natural right: that is, the right with which I am endowed by the constitution of my nature as a rational being. But what is that right? Evidently, the good. The good as an attribute is in my possession. I am constituted with it and by it. Hence it is inalienable. Divest me of the good as an attribute of my nature, i. e., liberty, rectitude, and duty, and I sink at once in the scale of being: I cease altogether to be a rational or accountable being.

Let no one imagine that this position conflicts with the well-known fact that man is a fallen being. For although fallen, he is still accountable. True, his moral nature is in ruins, but still it is a moral nature. Though disordered, it is not eradicated. Hence the restoration by grace is called a conversion; but if the essential moral nature of man had been destroyed by the fall, and an attribute of essential evil had taken the place of it, his restoration could not be called, as it is, a[Pg 98] change, but should be called in the strictest sense an original creation. Hence, although man is fallen, depraved—and we need not object to the strong terms in which this depravity is usually expressed—still we find that the sentiment of all mankind is on the side of virtue, on the side of the good; and that men, though unchanged by sovereign grace, are still required to be honest, gentlemanly, and in all things regardful of each other’s rights. We admit of exceptions or modifications of this only in the case of those in whom humanity has not been fully developed, as before noticed, and those in civilized life who have so far abused their moral nature as, in the language of Paul, to fit themselves for destruction. Therefore, it still remains that the good in the form of rectitude, right, is in some modification an endowment of my nature: the right, in itself, is mine by nature.

But the good, as an attribute, is an active principle. We were endowed with it for the purpose of movement—for results. It is my duty to act right—straight, or in accordance with the good as a rule. Hence, whatever is a necessary condition of the operation of this active principle, the essential good, is in itself a good which is either in my possession, and hence is mine by possession; or it ought to be in my possession, and hence is mine[Pg 99] by just title. Hence, to breathe, under all circumstances, together with all physical motion and the sustenance of the body, which involves the right of property to a certain extent, each in given circumstances, is the natural right of every one. So also the right of the embryo-man, the idiot, the imbecile, the uncivilized, or the savage, to protection and defence, is a natural right; and for the same reason, to be protected and defended from certain helpless conditions by others, is the natural right of every one in all states of humanity. Because each of these, and of all similar things, is in itself good, being a necessary condition of the operation of the essential good, and is either in our possession or ought to be in our possession; each one is also a natural right, the good that is or ought to be in our possession.

But there are acquired rights.

It is the duty of man to act, from the very fact that he is endowed with the attribute of the good, which envelops the idea of duty. He also has power to act from the very same natural constitution. Now, if he use this power as duty and rectitude indicate that he should do, all nature teaches, what the Bible confirms, that he will glorify God, i. e., exemplify his goodness, and therein promote his own happiness and the happiness of those with whom he is associated; or, in[Pg 100] other words, he will secure for himself and confer upon his fellows eminent benefits resulting from the performance of his duty. Now, whatever results to him in this way is certainly his by possession, or by Divine grant, as much so as any natural right; but these benefits, being of the nature of the essential good, (for the reason that they are benefits, are in themselves right,) result to him in the performance of his duty, and therefore are his rights. But the acquisition is made to depend upon the exercise of his arbitrary volition. If he use this in pursuance of duty, they follow. If he use it in violation of duty, they do not follow. Hence, if he realize them at all, either by possession or by title, they are acquired, and therefore are acquired rights or benefits.

Therefore, acquired rights may be defined, such good, in the form of benefits or privileges, as results from the performance of duty. Logically, they belong to the class of the essential good called benefits or privileges, with the “essential difference” that they are such as result from the performance of duty. Any other result, though in itself of the nature of the essential good, yet, as it conferred no benefit, could not be said to be our right. Capital punishment, for example, when in accordance with the Divine will, is in itself of the nature of the essential good; still, it would be an[Pg 101] abuse of language to say, in any ordinary case, that it was the right of the criminal to be hung! because for no reason that we can imagine does it confer any benefit or privilege upon the criminal. To be acquired rights, therefore, they must not only be of the nature of the good—that is, actual benefits—but this good must result from the performance of duty, and not from the non-performance of duty, as in the example given.

The definition corresponds with the language of common sense. All men, in speaking of cases which are supposed to involve the question of rights, employ the term in this sense. You say, of a farmer in a given case, that he had no right to an abundant harvest: why? because he neglected his farm: his lands were not properly prepared, and the growing crop was left open to depredations from stock: that is, he neglected his duty; he had no right to the benefit of an abundant harvest. And again, you say to a neighbor, You should have paid a certain sum of money to A., in a given case. He had a right to the money, because he complied with the conditions on which the money was to be paid. He did his duty, and therefore had a right to the money. Thus, the neglect of duty negatives right in the one case, and the performance affirms it in the other, according to the common usage of language.

[Pg 102]

Another idea which clearly enters into the common and correct use of this term is that it is reciprocal with obligation: that is, wherever there is a right in one person, there is a corresponding obligation, duty, upon others. If one man has a right to an estate, others are under obligation, that is, it is their duty, to abstain from it. If the letting of it alone be the result of duty on the part of others, the enjoyment of it by him must also result from duty on his part, or the ideas do not coincide: that which was duty in one set of men would not be duty in another, in regard to the same thing, and in correlative circumstances. This would be absurd: therefore, the duty of one set of men to let another alone in the enjoyment of a certain benefit, implies the correlative idea that they enjoy the benefit in virtue of doing their duty. Hence, those benefits which are our rights result to us from the performance of our duty.

The points established in this discussion are:

1. That conformity to what is ordered or commanded is not the true generic idea of the right in itself. What is ordered or commanded can only interpret the right, when the command itself conforms to the essential good, as in the case of the Divine will. This is always right, because it so conforms, or is always an expression of the essential good.

[Pg 103]

Hence, the good is the true generic idea of the right. This alone can interpret the right in any case. Therefore, although man, in virtue of his constitution as a pure intelligence, has the power to do wrong, he has not, and never can have, the right to do wrong. For wrong is the negative of right; and any thing, whether attribute, quality, opinion, doctrine, or act—every thing, whether moral or physical—to be right, must be of the nature of the good: all else is wrong, not right. And it further follows, that the only true subjective right which any man has to exercise his power of self-control, is in doing that which is good, and not in doing that which is evil.

2. The natural rights of man are,

First—The essential good in his possession by natural endowment, and which is therefore inalienable. And, Second—The necessary conditions, whatever they may be, of the operation of the inherent good as an active principle. Some of these are inalienable, and others are alienable. To this view of natural rights the common usage of language conforms.

3. The acquired rights of man are, such good, in the form of benefits or privileges, as results to him from the performance of duty.

[Pg 104]


Government, human as well as Divine, is a necessity of man’s fallen condition—All men concur in this—Man did not originate government: he has only modified the form—The legitimate objects of government, and the means which it employs to effect these objects—The logical inferences: 1. Although he has the power, he has no right to do wrong; 2. As a fallen being, he is, without a government over him, liable to lose the power of self-control—What are the rights of man: 1. In a state of infancy; 2. In a state of maturity; and, 3. In a savage or uncivilized state—Civil government is not founded on a concession of rights.

Philosophers, it seems to me, strangely overlook the tendency of man’s fall to modify the operation of the laws of mind; and those who admit the fall still overlook this fact, that the depravity of man’s nature was the result of deprivation, and not the infusion of an evil principle as an attribute of his nature. But it is not with the theology of this subject that we are now dealing. The fact that, as a fallen being, he was deprived of the im[Pg 105]mediate presiding influence of the Divine Spirit, is the matter that more immediately engages our attention. His lower physical nature, the great medium of the soul’s communication with the outward world, and of consciousness in the embodied state, originally operated in perfect and harmonious subordination to his higher spiritual nature. In this condition, his appetites, propensities, and passions presented no bar to his happiness, or to that of his fellows. The government or control which his situation demanded, we may suppose, was simple, and concerned chiefly his relation to the Deity. But when, on the great occasion of his trial, he exercised his power of self-action, and exalted this nature as a rule of moral action, instead of the essential good of his higher nature, of which the will of God in the given case was the full and just exponent, there resulted a deprivation of the Divine Spirit, such as entirely changed the relation of those departments of his nature. Under the clouded condition of intellect consequent upon this deprivation, his lower nature, with its appetites, propensities, and passions, is brought into constant and fierce conflict with his spiritual nature. This change in the condition of his humanity presents his case in an aspect altogether new. The history of each individual man becomes the history of a warfare—a warfare with[Pg 106] himself, and a warfare with his fellows. With a highly vigorous moral nature, he is also the subject of a carnal or depraved nature. In this state of things, government becomes an actual necessity of his condition. The Divine government, with all the aids and appliances afforded by the grand scheme of atonement, must appeal to his passions, both of hope and of fear. For it is only by reducing his lower nature to its originally subordinate and harmonious position that an equilibrium will be established, and his primordial happiness regained. But the Divine government, though operating in harmony with the claims of his moral nature, and founded upon the relation which he sustains to Jehovah, and indispensable to his happiness here and hereafter, of itself alone does not meet a great many of the immediate demands of his condition. Hence the statement of Solomon: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” The consequences of obedience, high and holy as they are, and the consequences of disobedience, great and terrible as they are, are too remote from man, in many states of intellect and feeling in which he often places himself, to meet the immediate demands of his nature. Hence, that modification of government called civil government, is no less demanded[Pg 107] by the necessities of his condition than the Divine.

Civil government deals chiefly with the relations of man to his fellow-man. It coincides with the Divine government. They each aim at the control of the lower nature of man, and the development of his higher nature. The means they employ are the same in principle. They address the same passions. The rewards and punishments of the one are in this life, and of the other chiefly in the life to come. Withal, the civil has the sanction of the Divine, and the Divine should always have the sanction of the civil, government. But still they are entirely distinct, and should not be confounded either in theory or in practice. The one is secular, and the other is Divine.

Now, we say that civil government—for of that we are called more particularly to speak—is a necessity of man’s condition. It dates back as early as the creation of man. God himself established it in the law he gave to govern the first relation that existed on earth—the relation between Adam and his “helpmeet.” After the fall, a necessity arose which gave it a new and more important bearing. We soon see it ramifying itself through all society, and dealing with all the relations of life.

Its necessity and authority, as a great means of[Pg 108] controlling the lower nature of man, is among the permanent beliefs of mankind. Neither legislators nor philosophers originated these beliefs. They are among the intuitions of man. The common judgment of mankind is not more assured that man exists, than that fallen man must be controlled in his appetites, propensities, and passions—the sum of what is often considered his interest and his happiness—by the physical powers of government. Each individual man feels that he needs its powerful sanctions to arm him against himself, when violently tempted to do wrong; and that he needs its sanctions to protect him from outrage and wrong from his fellow-men, when moved by similar forces. The instincts of animal nature are not more certain in their movements than are the intuitive perceptions and spontaneous feelings of mankind, causing them to lean upon the strong arm of civil government, to control the propensities and passions, and to promote the free exercise of the higher moral nature of man.

Government is the whole society in action. No people was ever known to exist for any definite period without government. Sometimes, it is true, the form has been the result of implied understandings among the people—as when “there was no judge in Israel:” at others, a master-spirit has assumed the reins, and been deferred to by[Pg 109] common consent; and at others, it has been modified by formal processes—such as conventions and constitutions. Be this, however, as it may, government has always existed. Legislators did not make it. They have had much to do in modifying, directing, and often in corrupting the form; but nothing to do in originating government, in any proper sense of the term. It sprang spontaneously from the common sense of mankind. An agent indispensable to self-preservation was certainly coeval with the race.

In its true generic sense, that is, in a sense equally applicable to all forms, government is control by the authority of God and the people. God, in his word, declares the authority of the magistrate to be his ordinance; and this accords with the intuitive belief and feeling of necessity of all mankind: not that either approves in all cases of the form which government assumes, but that the generic principle, in all cases, has the sanction of each.

The legitimate object of government is to secure to the people the highest amount of freedom which their moral condition and relative circumstances will admit. The means which it employs to effect this object, are, 1. Suitable penalties, addressed to their hopes and fears, to lay them under such restraints as to the indulgence of their appetites,[Pg 110] propensities, and passions, as thereby to prevent them from operating as a bar to the free exercise of their intellectual and moral powers in pursuit of the essential good; and, 2. The security which it offers to every man, in the exercise of the higher powers of his nature, that he may do it without restraint from the passions of men; or, in other words, to guarantee to every man the free exercise of his essential power to do good.

That both the object of government, and the means which it employs, are correctly stated, will not be disputed. All men concur in these views. They underlie all our opinions and reasonings on the subject of civil government. But in assenting to this much, (and how can it be avoided?) may we not stand committed to much more than many theoretical politicians are aware?

Let us trace the logical inferences which arise from the principles discussed.

I. Man, we find, is endowed with a self-acting power of will, which is called mental liberty, and hence he is accountable. For although it is admitted that there cannot be a volition without a motive, yet it is an idea inseparable from our notions of mental liberty, that there cannot be any thing in these motives necessitating the volition; for in that case it would not be free. But he is free to adopt either the right or the wrong motive[Pg 111] of volition, and therefore he is accountable for his actions. Nor does it follow that this liberty confers the right to do wrong. His liberty, as we have shown, is to be understood in a sense agreeing with the coincident ideas of right and duty. We are all conscious, that so soon as we perceive the good, in any case, we have a feeling of obligation to observe it as the rule of conduct, and to avoid the contrary as wrong; that is, each man has a conscience. Hence, although man has the power to do wrong, he has no right to do wrong; but only a right to do that which is good. Such, and such only, is the true subjective right of self-control. It is not a right to do as we may please, unless we shall please to do that which, in itself, is right; that is, the good.

II. His fall, we have seen, has had the effect to place him in such circumstances, that the attributes of his lower nature, his appetites, propensities, and passions, often have such ascendency as motives of action, that he is always liable to do wrong. Many reasons, à priori, could be given for this. The mind is first brought into contact with the outward world through the bodily senses. They come first into play; and hence the natural sensibilities are first developed. The will, in the form of spontaneous volition, is accustomed, from earliest life, to act from these as a motive, for the reason[Pg 112] that there is no other from which it can act. The pure intelligence, the percipient of the good, and the corresponding feelings of obligation, unfold themselves slowly; and long before it may be said that the mind is matured, the will is accustomed to make the natural sensibilities the motive of spontaneous volition. Now the will is, like all other faculties of the mind, subject to the great law of habit; and if not checked, restrained according to the true idea of government, a habit of submission is formed, which, if not early dissolved, becomes a confirmed habit. The will, instead of being the governing power of the mind, becomes, in truth, the faculty governed. It has lost the power of self-control. It has become the slave of passion—confirmed in the habit of submission. It is precisely at this point of mental degradation that Paul declares of “vessels of wrath,” those who have brought themselves into this state by their own act, that “they are fitted to destruction.” Now, in view of these facts and the principles already established, what are the rights of man?

First. In the state of infancy. It has been proved that the subjective endowments of humanity, and whatever is necessary to their existence and operation, are the natural right of man. That the undeveloped good is the endowment of this form of humanity will not be disputed: hence[Pg 113] whatever is necessary to its existence and operation, is the natural right of infants. But it is obvious that a governing power, existing somewhere, is indispensably necessary in the case of the child; that is, a power must exist sufficiently potent to control the spontaneous volitions of the will, or, in the circumstances of its position, it will probably extinguish its own liberty, by the law of habit. Government, then,—absolute government,—is necessary to the existence and operation of the endowment of humanity in the state of infancy; and therefore absolute government is the natural right of the infant. Hence all civil governments have exercised (so far as the will and physical condition are concerned) an absolute despotism over the child, and have recognized the parent, or some one appointed in the place of the parent, as the agent of its functions in this respect. Not to accord to the infant this extreme form of control, would be a practical denial of its natural rights. Therefore this extreme form of despotism, so far from being a curse, is the natural right of infants—the good to which they are entitled by nature. And again, the civil government accords to the child a progressive modification of this form of government under given circumstances. It requires its agent to relax the stringency of this control, and to extend a privilege of self-control,[Pg 114] in the ratio in which the pure intelligence and feelings of obligation or duty are practically developed. For a child who had become, to a certain extent, a subject of duty, and was disposed to fulfil this duty, but was kept, per force, in the physical condition of infancy until he lost the use of his limbs, would be considered as deprived of the right of self-control to that extent, and thereby cruelly treated. The agent in such a case would be severely punished, and the child committed to other hands.

Hence, in the ratio in which the pure intelligence is unfolded, and feelings of obligation arise, or conscience is developed, and becomes the practical rule of action, the individual acquires the right of self-control, and only in that ratio. This right may ultimately reach to all things in themselves good—the civil government always holding the authority to punish departures from duty, and thereby always abridging men of the moral power to do wrong, (because it never could be their right to do wrong,) and always fortifying them in the right exercise of liberty of will, by furnishing motives, addressed to their intelligence and passions, to observe the right and to avoid the wrong in the exercise of the volitive power. Therefore, the natural right of man is the right to such absolute control by others, in the earlier[Pg 115] periods of his life, as that his will may retain its self-acting power unimpaired, as his mind is naturally unfolded by time and circumstances; and to such modification of this absolute control in after life, as may afford him due restraint under temptation to do wrong, and proper encouragement, at all times, to do right.

Second. The right of man in a state of maturity.

1. The government should accord him all his natural rights, and protect him in the exercise of the same. That is, the political government should coöperate with the Divine to preserve his will in its normal condition as a self-acting power, and to guarantee to him the exercise of this power of self-action in all things good. The man who is protected in the enjoyment of this inherent liberty of will, is a free man in the strictest sense of the word. The government over him may be concentrated in the hands of one man, or it may be divided among an aristocracy, more or less numerous, or it may be what is called a democracy, but this does not of itself affect the fact of his freedom. If the government secure him in the enjoyment of these rights, and of all which necessarily attaches to them, he is essentially free. The kind of government, as a hereditary monarchy, or a democratic republic, does not, of itself, determine the actual freedom of its subjects. History furnishes[Pg 116] many examples of government in which the power of control was concentrated in the hands of but one, or of a few individuals, which afforded its subjects the highest amount of essential liberty. To this day, “the freedom of the British Constitution”—as much as we justly prefer our own—is by no means an idle boast. It is a great mistake to suppose that a government which deposits the sovereignty among the great mass of the people, is the only free government. We are constrained to acknowledge that it is better to be oppressed by one, or by a few tyrants, than by a multitude of tyrants. It is not this or that kind of government that makes the subject essentially free. But it is the fact that the controlling power, whether wielded by one or by many, secures each man in the enjoyment of his natural rights—affords him that system of appliances which develops and matures the self-acting power of his will—discourages all abuse of this power, and fully protects him in the proper exercise of it in the pursuit of the essential good. It is this that makes him free.

We prefer, for those to whom it is applicable, a democratic republic; because it is a more secure government, and less liable to an abuse of power; not because it is necessarily a more free government than any other. Another form of government may secure equal freedom in every essential[Pg 117] particular; and this form may be as oppressive as any other; and whenever it is so, the condition of the down-trodden minority is far more hopeless than is that of the oppressed majority under some other form of government. Still, in certain conditions of the people, it is a much more secure form of government. The sovereigns of a state should always be socially equal, and, at the same time, honest as well as intelligent. Such rulers will not be oppressors. If the sovereigns of a democracy are intelligent, for the reason that but few participate directly and personally in the administration of government and the spoils of office, they have but few inducements to corruption, and are more likely to be honest. The mass of the people, though often wrong in opinion, are always right in sentiment—they mean to do right, and they desire to do right. If they do err in a given case, they may usually be set right, for they have no motive to stay wrong. Hence, we think that when the condition of intelligence is fulfilled in the case of those occupying a social footing, we may expect a wiser and purer government; whilst the extent to which they may participate in the affairs of government, giving it a firmer hold upon their affections, cannot fail to make it a more secure government. It is widely different in the case of a government concentrated in the hands of[Pg 118] a few. The sovereigns are at the same time the administrators of law. They share not only the honors of sovereignty, but also the immediate profits of sovereignty—the spoils of office. Temptations to abuse power are always present and active. Hence we find that such governments are more frequently oppressive. Withal, even in cases in which they are not, (for they need not be,) for the reason that the mass of the people do not immediately participate in the affairs of government, they are not as devoted to its interests, and hence the government cannot be as secure. For these reasons, a democratic republic is called by way of eminence a free government; but, evidently, not because it is the only form which secures freedom to its subjects. Any of these forms are legitimate when they are so adapted to the condition of the people as to secure to them the highest amount of freedom of which that condition will admit.

2. The government should secure to him all his acquired rights, or the rights which he acquires by the proper use of his essential rights. Of these, we notice,

1. His rights of social equality with those with whom he holds common interests, pleasures, benefits, happiness, and duties. These rights usually vary with the condition of different individuals,[Pg 119] or different classes of individuals. It will not be maintained that an infant or idiot, and a man of rude intellect and vulgar habits, have interests and duties common to each other, and common to persons in a different condition, in any such sense as would entitle them all to social equality. Both their mental and physical condition would be a bar to any such equality. So in the case of the sexes, difference in physical condition is a bar, except in the marriage state. So also certain races of men are by their physical condition barred from social equality, in many respects, with those of other races. Those duties required by one condition in order to attain the essential good are very different from those of another condition which are necessary to attain the same object. But the privilege of social equality with all in a similar condition, which results from the discharge of the duties of that condition, is the right of every one. Some will require positive law to secure them; as in the marriage relation, the social as well as other rights of the parties must be secured by law; whilst others will be better secured by leaving them to be regulated by the conventional usages of society—only another form of government. But there is an obvious difference in the social rights of men which government is bound to respect, unless it would arrest the progress[Pg 120] of civilization; because it is an inequality founded in that difference of condition, against which no government can provide, nor was it intended that it should provide. We notice,

2. That government should secure to him all those political rights to which he is entitled by making a proper use of his essential rights.

We need not specify all the political rights which may be regarded acquired rights. It is sufficient to consider this topic in regard to the question of sovereignty. We say, that all the members of a given society, having a common interest in that society, are entitled to share the sovereignty of its government on certain conditions, and on no other conditions. We take the ground that mere humanity, in itself considered, does not entitle any one to the rights of political sovereignty. If this were so, we should be bound to place females, together with minors of both sexes, and the inmates of State prisons, among the sovereigns of society. They are all perfect specimens of humanity. Of the first it may be said, they are often equal in intellect with the other sex, and in other respects are generally superior specimens of humanity. These all have an interest in society common to all other members of it, and yet it is admitted that they should not be numbered among the sovereigns of the land. What is it,[Pg 121] then, that entitles a man to the right of political sovereignty? First—He should have reached that point in mental development in which he will have a capacity, in common with others, to understand and appreciate the leading principles of government and their applications. Second—He should have reached that period in life in which there is usually a corresponding development of the moral sense—the feeling of obligation to do right—which affords a reasonable guaranty for the faithful application of his knowledge in discharging the duties of sovereignty. Third—He should be in that state of social equality which gives him a common interest, a common happiness, and common duties as a citizen, with other sovereigns, which will also afford a necessary guaranty for the faithful performance of his duties. And, Fourth—He should be in that physical condition, also, which is necessary to the duties of so responsible a position, under all ordinary circumstances. If one or more of these conditions exclude a whole sex, together with all minors, idiots, felons, and foreigners, they at the same time limit it to a definite class of males, and bar all others from any title to it. No sensible man would admit that the power of sovereign control inherent in government could, with safety to the only legitimate object of government, the happiness of the subjects,[Pg 122] be deposited with any other class of men. But those who fulfil these conditions have a right to rule. They have acquired it by the performance of those duties which have elevated them to the condition of being qualified for sovereignty. It should not be withheld. If those in a society qualified for sovereignty be numerous, the government should take the popular form—a democratic republic. But if those qualified to rule are a limited portion of the whole society, some other form of government is more appropriate.

But our subject leads us to notice:

Third. The rights of man in the savage or uncivilized state.

No savage community was ever known to rise unaided to a state of civilization; and every example of savage society furnishes evidence that it is a state into which they have fallen by the tendencies of depraved nature. They are instances in which the government originally enjoyed—both human and Divine—has failed to preserve to the individual that liberty of will in the pursuit of the good which government is designed to secure. The pure intelligence is not sufficiently developed to constitute an enlightened conscience. Dwelling apart from civilized society, the absence of all the artificial wants of civilization is highly favorable to many of the natural virtues—such as hospitality[Pg 123] to strangers, truth, fidelity, and generosity to their friends; but the undeveloped state of the pure reason leaves the moral sense in a state of so much immaturity, as to characterize them as unfaithful, cruel, and revengeful to their enemies. These are characteristics which, in their condition of physical maturity, make them terrible to their neighbors.

Now the question is, What are the rights of such a people? It is useless to discuss this question so far as it relates to mere savage government; for in this view it is a question of no interest. But the question, What rights can they claim of a civilized people? is the one with which we have to deal.

They certainly have a natural right to protection under given circumstances, and freedom from oppression under all circumstances. If a civilized people, holding a balance of power in virtue of superior intelligence, have an undisputed right to protect themselves from the cruelty and infidelity of neighboring savages, still it will be admitted that oppression in any proper sense of the term would be an invasion of their natural rights. They have a right to be left in the enjoyment of the highest amount of freedom which their mental state will allow them to use legitimately. And more than this, their natural rights claim for them[Pg 124] reasonable exertions to elevate their moral condition. Hence the noble efforts now being made by the Christian people of this country to evangelize the savages on our border, and the no less commendable efforts of the United States government to favor this design, by an annual appropriation from the national treasury. All this is only according them their rights. But do these rights entitle them to claim social equality with a civilized people? That which it is the right of another to claim of me, it is my duty to grant. Is it then my duty to grant social equality to any or to every wandering savage that may chance to pass my dwelling? Should I not only extend to him the rights of hospitality due to a wandering savage—give him food and shelter in given circumstances, and treat him kindly in all respects—but extend to him true social equality, such as it is my duty to do to other men in certain states of civilization! No man—himself not a savage—would dare affirm this! The savage has no right to claim it. The reason is obvious on the principles discussed. Certain social rights arise only on certain conditions of moral development, and the fulfilment of the duties which attach to that state. The savage has not reached this condition; hence has not fulfilled its duties, and is not entitled to the right of social equality which attaches to that state. For[Pg 125] a sensible man to affirm that he has this right in virtue of his mere humanity, would be simply ridiculous. And this being so, it follows, a fortiori, that it is much less our duty to allow him an equal participation in the sovereignty of the State—allow him a control in the affairs of government—share the authority to regulate our relations, domestic and foreign; and even to participate in governing our families.

The man who should gravely propose in Congress to annex the savage tribes of our border, as sovereign States of this Union, would, by all right-minded men, be regarded as insane. No one of the managers of looms, spindles, and other machinery, among the agrarian portion of our northern community, with all their boasted knowledge of the natural rights of man, and their readiness to accord equal rights to all men, and to protect them in asserting those rights, have, as yet, made up their minds to go thus far—although we may be at a loss to account for it that they so far falsify their principles as not to do so.

Now, as it is not our duty to do this in behalf of a neighboring race of uncivilized people, for the reason that they have no right to it, how does the question stand in regard to a numerous class of such persons, spread through a definite section of our country? Does this change of position and[Pg 126] contact with civilization confer on them higher rights than it has already been admitted belong to them in a separate state in virtue of their humanity? Is it our duty to accord to them equality of political rights? and for the reason that they are diffused through the mass of society? Can this position be maintained? On the contrary, the change of position, and the service which in that position they render to the cause of civilization, which is assumed to acquire for them a right that does not belong to their class of persons in a separate position, so far from affording a vindication of this doctrine, furnishes a still stronger reason against it. They are not only uncivilized, but are now in a position to exert an evil influence, which in a separate state they could not do, although they might dwell upon our border. In a separate state, the artificial wants of civilized life are unknown to them. The great sources of temptation to do wrong by invading the rights of neighbors, is not supplied to them by their position. But when in immediate contact with civilization, a great many of these artificial wants are learned by them, and felt to be objects of desire. These desires, by a fixed law of the human mind, must be a constant source of temptation—they clamor for gratification. If the indulgence should not be restrained, either by a system[Pg 127] of laws which reached the case, or by the motives which a state of civilization supplies, they would inevitably result in a disregard of the rights of property, and a general depravation of morals. They are without the latter, for they are uncivilized. Hence the demands of their position must be met by laws appropriate to an uncivilized people. The laws appropriate to a state of civilization, coöperating as they do with the motives supplied by that state, are not more than equal to the task of restraining the passions of civilized men. To rely upon them in the case of uncivilized men would be the grossest folly. Hence if it were not our duty to share our political rights with such a people, dwelling upon our border, in a separate state, for a much stronger reason it is not our duty to do this for those dwelling in our midst. If it is not our duty to do it, it cannot be their right to claim it; for rights and duties are always reciprocal. But, on the contrary, for the same general reasons by which it becomes the duty of a civilized state to place all its minors under the despotism of parental control, as before defined, it is the duty of the state to place an uncivilized race which may chance to dwell within its borders, under a similar form of government. This despotism need not be oppressive in the one case any more than in the other. It is the proud boast of[Pg 128] all our native citizens that they have always lived under a free government; and yet they were brought up to the age of twenty-one under a pure despotism. But this does not deprive them of their right to boast. True, the government conferred almost absolute control upon the parent, or guardian, or master of the apprentice! These might have oppressed them. But the government, which stood ready to vindicate their rights, did not do it. The government, in what it did, only accorded them their natural rights, as we have seen—provided to confer on them the highest amount of freedom of which their condition would admit. It was to them essentially a free government, though in one of the forms of despotism. So in that form of despotism appropriate to a race of uncivilized people dwelling in the midst of a civilized people, if adapted to their condition, or securing to them (as in the case of minors) their natural rights, it is, for them, and to them, a free government. So far from being a curse, as many of our philosophers teach, it is a blessing, which their essential rights entitle them to claim. Any other form of government would be, in their case, as well as in that of minors, a practical denial of their rights; because it would result in the annihilation of their essential rights; that is, the enslavement of their wills to the basest passions of fallen nature.

[Pg 129]

Hence, we find that government, both human and Divine, is a special necessity of man’s fallen condition, and coeval with the history of the race: that its legitimate object is to preserve him from that annihilation of his essential liberty of will which would inevitably follow if there were no government, and to secure him in the enjoyment of the highest amount of this liberty which his condition will allow: that to do this, various forms of civil government are admissible; and that the one best adapted to the condition of the people is the one that should be applied, and is the only strictly free government for the people to whom it is appropriate. A democracy applied to minors or savages, in the midst of a civilized people, would be the most grinding of all oppressions. We have seen that the means appropriate to government are suitable penalties addressed to our passions of hope and fear: that the only right which a man has to exercise his inherent liberty—that is, the only right he has of self-control—is the authority to do that which, in itself, is right—not a right to do wrong: that the exclusive authority of government is to restrain man from doing wrong, and to protect and encourage him in doing right—restrain his power to do wrong, not his power to do right—this it seeks to strengthen. We have seen that the rights of man in a state of[Pg 130] minority—and the same of uncivilized men dwelling in a community of the civilized—are to the benefits of an absolute form of government; any other would be only a system of ruinous oppression to them: that at his maturity as a civilized man, he should be protected in the exercise of all the rights which naturally belong to a state of maturity, and also the enjoyment of all those rights which he has acquired by availing himself of the privileges afforded by his condition. Of his acquired rights, we see that on certain conditions he is entitled to social equality; and that on certain further conditions, he is entitled to the right of political sovereignty.

Now, we ask, in what sense can it be said that legitimate government is a concession of some rights, in order to secure others? Certainly, in no good sense, seeing it only limits his power to do wrong, by laying him under suitable disabilities, and that it does this in order to secure both the power and the privilege of doing right. But by falsely assuming that government is a concession of rights, and that the government in which every citizen does not make a voluntary concession of the rights exercised by government is a cruel oppression, men fall upon conclusions which, when carried out, (and principles will tend to work out their results,) lead to agrarianism: that is, the[Pg 131] destruction of all rights, by the annihilation of all civilization.

And again we ask, How does it follow that the domestic slavery of the negro in America is an abridgment of his inalienable rights? Certainly not from the fact that he is placed under an absolute form of control, for we have seen that, in certain conditions of humanity, that is the only form of government that will secure any freedom at all: as in the case of all minors, and the case of an uncivilized race that may chance to be diffused among the mass of a civilized people. If, then, his government be an oppression at all, it is because his state of civilization, and the relative circumstances of his condition, have acquired for him the rights of social equality and the rights of political sovereignty. These are questions of fact that will be considered in their proper place.

[Pg 132]


The true subjective right of self-control defined according to the Scriptures—The abstract principle of slavery sanctioned by the Scriptures—The Roman government—Dr. Wayland’s Scripture argument examined and refuted—The positions of Dr. Channing and Prof. Whewell examined and refuted.

The inquiry, if the institution of domestic slavery existing amongst us agrees in its details with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, is reserved for a future lecture. We now inquire how far it agrees with the Holy Scriptures in its great fundamental principles?—the abstract principles which, thus far, have been shown to be right.

We, of course, acknowledge the full authority of the Scriptures. Although not a formal philosophical treatise, the Bible embodies no other than the profoundest principles both of mental and moral science; and all its teachings are in accordance[Pg 133] with them. “To the law,” then, “and to the testimony.” Do they sanction the principles I have sought to establish? Do they accord to man any other subjective right of self-control than simply the right to do that which in itself is right—that is, good? True, they assume that he has the power to do wrong, but at the same time they deny to him all right to do wrong. All those scriptures which forbid his doing wrong, and enjoin it upon him to do right, under severe penalties for disobedience, are in proof. They are too numerous and familiar to require that I quote them. They all assume that he has power to do either right or wrong, but only a right to do that which is right. Whoever, then, sets up a right to do a thing, and can give no better reason for it than that he has power to do it in virtue of his humanity, and that therefore others should not interpose obstacles in the way of his doing it, on peril of abridging him of a natural right, assumes far more than the Scriptures allow him; nay, he assumes that which is forbidden him in Holy Scripture, no less than in reason and common sense; and if allowed to exercise such lawless power, under the plea of natural right, he could not fail to put an end to all law, and to precipitate society into a state of anarchy. Therefore, the government which places minors, aliens, and[Pg 134] citizens, who at the same time allow themselves to be subjects of a foreign prince, together with uncivilized persons, in circumstances in which they cannot, or are not likely, to injure their neighbors, or to injure society, does not, for that reason, deprive them of a natural right, unless it could be shown that they have a natural right to do the very thing which the Scriptures declare they have no right to do, that is, to injure their neighbors! It further follows, that the right to do an act which involves accountability, is the right to do that which, in itself, is right; or, in other words, the only natural right of self-control is the right to do that which is good. Hence, those who claim for any class of society a right to political sovereignty, should be prepared to show that the essential good requires that such privilege be accorded them, or they fail to establish their right, for the reason that no right can ever be justly acquired which does not coincide with the natural right to do good.

Again, we have shown that the abstract principle of slavery is control by the will of another, with its correlatives: that this is an essential element of all government; for a government which did not exercise the right to control men, even against their wills, under given circumstances, would be no government at all. Do these views accord[Pg 135] with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures? That control is an essential idea of government, is an intuitive perception, and needs no proof. The question then resolves itself into this: Do the Scriptures sanction government? That the Bible itself is only a system of government, will not be disputed. It forbids and commands, and requires all men to conform their volitions to its requirements, as to that which is in itself good. Moreover, it sanctions civil government in the most express terms: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power,” that is, the authority of government, “resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation,” etc. (Rom. xiii. 1-7. See A. Clarke’s notes.) This was said to the Roman Christians, and was an injunction to obey Caesar’s government. In that government, it is well known, the slavery element greatly predominated: but little room was left for the exercise of self-control; political sovereignty being denied to the people. In declaring government, even in this extreme form of controlling the wills of men, to be his appointment, God establishes the principle, as in itself right. Dr. Wayland, however, (see article, Modes in which Personal Liberty[Pg 136] may be violated,) affirms, “that the gospel is diametrically opposed to the principle of slavery.”

The moral precepts of the Bible, which he assumes to be diametrically opposed to the principle of slavery, are, (as quoted by himself,) “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; and all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” He says that, “were this precept obeyed, it is manifest that slavery could not in fact exist for a single instant. The principle of the precept is absolutely subversive of the principle of slavery.” That the gospel should, nevertheless, acknowledge slaveholders (for neither the Jewish nor the Roman law required any citizen to hold slaves) as “believers,” and “worthy of all honor,” and require of the Christian slaves held by them to acknowledge them as brethren, that is, good men, and accord them all honor, is evidently a troublesome question to the Doctor. There is no room for surprise. The second scripture quoted, it is allowed, interprets the first. In what sense then are we to understand the duty inculcated in the second? There are only two senses in which the form of the expression will allow us to evolve any significance whatever. The first is, Do unto another whatsoever you would have him to do unto you, if you were in his situation; and the second is,[Pg 137] Do unto another whatsoever you would have a right to require another to do unto you, if you were in his circumstances.

Now if we could suppose that the Saviour intended his language to be understood in the first sense, it will not perhaps be disputed that it is our duty to abolish domestic slavery, for we should, no doubt, desire to be released, if we were in a state of domestic slavery. But, unfortunately for the argument, this interpretation would not stop at the abolition of domestic slavery in the case of the African. It would reach to the domestic slavery of the child also. There is scarcely a wayward lad in Christendom who could not justly claim release from parental restraint on the same principle! Nay, more, the criminal at the bar of civil justice, the inmates of State prisons, and the poor man in his hovel, would all claim release! And as that which is duty in others, in such cases, is a right in them, not to grant them release would certainly be a denial of their just rights! Is this the sense in which Dr. Wayland would have us understand the Saviour of mankind? Certain it is, that this is the only sense in which his words can be understood so as to involve the necessary abolition of slavery! We cheerfully acquit Dr. W. from the purpose to teach any such agrarian folly. Still, we can see no good reason why one[Pg 138] so eminent, as a Christian and a scholar, should permit even an early prejudice as to a practical question, about which he allows that he is uninformed, to betray him into such views of a plain principle as logically involve him in the grossest absurdities.

That the second sense given is the proper one in which to understand the Saviour’s doctrine can admit of no dispute. What we should have a right to claim, if we were in the circumstances of a slave, is precisely that which we are to accord to such slave, according to the precept of the Saviour. If we should have a right to claim political sovereignty, in those circumstances, we are bound to allow them such sovereignty, that is, release them from slavery. This directly involves the question, Whether they are fitted for that self-government which is involved in such sovereignty? That they are not so in virtue of their humanity merely, we have proved; and whether they are so or not, by acquirement, is a practical question which Dr. Wayland allows that he is not competent to decide. This question will be met in another place. It is sufficient here to state, that the scripture so confidently relied on as repudiating the principle of slavery, is found not to reach the question of the principle at all, and, therefore, is wholly misapplied.

The patriarchal form of government, which existed[Pg 139] before the theocracy of the Jews, constituted the patriarch (he being the head of the family) the owner of slaves. Abraham, Lot, and others, held them in large numbers. These men enjoyed the unqualified approbation of Jehovah, and in their character of slaveholders, no less than in many other respects. According to Dr. W., they enjoyed the Divine approbation in the practice of iniquity; for he says, the Bible condemns both the principle and the practice of slavery!

It is evident that the Jews brought slaves with them from Egypt; for the terms of the Decalogue not only imply that they were familiar with domestic slavery, but also that it was, at that time, an existing practice among them. But more than this, the Decalogue is strictly the constitution which Jehovah himself gave to the Jewish nation. Now to assume that he provided in this constitution to protect in all time to come (for it is allowed to embody immutable principles) a relation which was, in itself, an iniquity, is more than a mere absurdity—it is profanity. And it is certain that the tenth article of this constitution provides to protect the right of property in slaves: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.”

The Saviour has recognized this law, as it was[Pg 140] originally designed to be, of universal obligation and force: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matt. v. 17.

In accordance with this fundamental law of the nation, God proceeded to provide in their civil institutions for the operation of a regular system of domestic slavery. Under these institutions, a Hebrew might lose his liberty and become a domestic slave, in six different ways. (See A. Clarke, on Ex. xxi.)

1. In extreme poverty, he might sell his liberty. Lev. xxv. 39: “If thy brother be waxed poor and be sold unto thee.”

2. A father might sell his child. Ex. xxi. 7: “If a man sell his daughter to be a maid-servant.”

3. Insolvent debtors became the slaves of their creditors. 2 Kings iv. 1: “My husband is dead, and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondsmen.” Also, Matt. xviii. 25.

4. A thief, if he had not money to pay the fine laid on him by the law, was to be sold for his profit whom he had robbed. Ex. xxii. 3: “If he have nothing, then he shall be sold for the theft.”

5. A Hebrew was liable to be taken in war, and sold for a slave. 2 Chron. xii. 8.

6. A Hebrew slave who had been ransomed from a Gentile by a Hebrew, might be sold[Pg 141] by him who ransomed him to one of his own nation.

All who became slaves under this system were emancipated in the seventh year, except those who should refuse to accept liberty. Ex. xxi. 2-6. They were emancipated in the year of jubilee.

But then, the law further provided for domestic slaves in perpetuity.

“Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession; and ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession: they shall be your bondmen for ever; but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule over one another with rigor.” Lev. xxv. 44-46.

The attempts which are sometimes made to prove that δοῦλος, of the Septuagint, and servus, of the Vulgate version, translated indifferently servant or slave, means only a hired servant, need only to be mentioned to be refuted. That these terms defined an actual state of slavery among the Greeks and Romans, no one acquainted with[Pg 142] the facts will deny. But whatever might be their original meaning, they are to be understood, as Bible terms, in the sense of the original Hebrew, which they are employed to express. Now, nothing is more certain than this, that the Hebrew Bible (and the same is true of the English translation) speaks of servants, hired servants, and bond servants. The term servant is the generic form, and evidently means, a person who is controlled by the will of another: hired servant is one who serves in that way by contract for a definite period; whilst bond servant is one who has either contracted to do so through his whole life, or who, by the usages of war, or by inheritance, or by purchase from another, was so bound to service—(such as Paul calls a “servant under the yoke.” 2 Tim. vi. 1.) These different relations are distinctly marked by the use of these terms in the Bible, and especially the meaning of bond servant, in distinction from a hired servant: “If thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee, thou shall not compel him to serve as a bond servant, but as a hired servant, and as a sojourner, shall he be.” Lev. xxv. 39, 40.

Thus we find that the Jewish constitution provided to protect the right of property in servants or slaves in the generic sense: that is, whether in the one form or the other; and that He who gave[Pg 143] them their civil institutions, also provided under their constitution for the organization of a regular system of domestic slavery, in two distinct forms: the one, the enslavement, in the true generic sense, of Hebrews in given circumstances, for a definite period; and the other, the enslavement, in the same sense, of the neighboring heathen, in perpetuity.

Such was the legal origin of domestic slavery among the Jews. During all the calamities that have befallen that people, this constitution and these laws have known neither repeal nor modification. At no period of their history were they without domestic slaves; and when the Saviour dwelt among them, the whole land was filled with such slaves. No State in this Union can with more propriety be regarded a slaveholding community, than was that of the Jewish people in the days of the Saviour. In every congregation which he addressed, bond slaves may have mingled. The hospitalities of every family of which he partook, were probably ministered to him, more or less, by domestic slaves. And in all this time, and under all these circumstances, not a word is known to have escaped him, either in public or in private, declaring the relation of master and slave to be sinful! But, on the contrary, Paul’s denunciation—1 Tim. vi. 3—of the teachers[Pg 144] of abolition doctrines, that they “consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is sufficient reason to believe that he was always understood to approve of the relation, and to condemn in express terms all attempts to abolish it as a duty of the religion which he taught. And certain it is, that this relation is made the subject of some of his most eloquent allusions, and the basis of some of his most instructive parables: “One is your Master, even Christ,” Matt. xxiii. 10: “Good Master, what shall I do?” Mark x. 17: “No man can serve two masters,” Matt. vi. 24—are specimens of the former; whilst the parable, Matt. xiii. 24-28, “And the servants said, Wilt thou that we go and gather them up?”—of the vineyard, Matt. xxi.; of the talents, Matt. xxv.; and others of a similar nature, are striking examples of the latter. And yet, young gentlemen, the author of your text says, the doctrines of the Bible, and especially the teachings of the Saviour, are “diametrically opposed to both the principle and the practice of domestic slavery.” If this be true, it is really passing strange that Jehovah himself should provide, in the organic law of the Jewish commonwealth, for the working of a system of domestic slavery, and, by a series of laws drawn up under this constitution, set such a system in[Pg 145] actual operation; and that the Saviour of mankind should also give, according to every legitimate interpretation that can be put, either upon his language or his conduct, his unqualified approbation to that which was so flatly opposed to all his doctrines! It is saying but little of all this to affirm that it is grossly absurd! It can appeal to no doctrine that we are aware of for its defence, unless it be the kindred absurdity that the will of God is not the rule of right, in this sense, that it always conforms to that which, in itself, is right, i. e., good; but that it is the rule of right in this other sense, that it is absolutely, in itself, the only rule of right; and that, in the case under consideration, domestic slavery was right for the Jews, because God so willed it, but the same thing in principle, and under similar circumstances, would be wrong for any other people, because in regard to them God had willed differently: thus assigning to Deity the power to make the wrong the right, and the right the wrong! We regret to know that this absurd view of the Divine volitions has found its way beyond the pages of Dr. Paley. It is countenanced by some writers of eminent distinction in theology. But to give it a definite application in any case, is all that is required for its entire refutation. We rely with confidence on the conclusion that what God thus provided for in[Pg 146] the Jewish constitution, was right in principle in itself, and that, under the circumstances of the Jewish people, it was right in practice.

Among the strange, if not wholly unaccountable, misconceptions, if not gross misrepresentations, of the fundamental ideas of domestic slavery, we may place those of Dr. Channing and Prof. Whewell. The latter, in his “Elements of Morality,” states that “slavery converts a person into a thing—a subject merely passive, without any of the recognized attributes of human nature.” “A slave,” he further says, “in the eye of the law which stamps him with that character, is not acknowledged as a man. He is reduced to the level of a brute;” that is, as he explains it, “he is divested of his moral nature.”

Dr. Channing, the great apostle of Unitarianism in America, says, “The very idea of a slave is that he belongs to another: that he is bound to live and labor for another; to be another’s instrument, that is, in all things, just as a threshing-machine, or another beast of burden; and to make another’s will his habitual law, however adverse to his own.” He adds, in another place, “We have thus established the reality and sacredness of human rights; and that slavery is an infraction of these, is too plain to need any labored proof. Slavery violates not one, but all; violates them not incidentally,[Pg 147] but necessarily, systematically, from its very nature.”

These, together with your text, young gentlemen, are leading authorities on this subject. Following these, we should adopt the belief that the principle of slavery in question is, as they express it, “an absorption of the humanity of one man into the will of another;” or, in other words, that “slavery contemplates him, not as a responsible, but a mere sentient being—not as a man, but a brute.”

If this be so, the wonder is not, as they affirm, that the civilized world is so indignant at its outrageous wrongs, but that “it has been so slow in detecting its gross and palpable enormities: that mankind, for so many ages, acquiesced in a system as monstrously unnatural as would be a general effort to walk upon the head or to think with the feet!” We need have no hesitation in flatly denying the truth of this description, and pronouncing it a caricature. For if this be a faithful description, we can safely affirm that no instance of slavery ever existed under the authority of law in any nation known to history.

In the first place, the state of things so rhetorically described is a palpable impossibility. The constitution of the human mind is in flat contradiction to the idea of the absorption of the will,[Pg 148] the conscience, and the understanding of one man into the personality of another! This is a state of things which the human mind cannot even conceive to be possible, but does intuitively perceive to be utterly impossible. In the next place, we affirm that the idea of personal rights and personal responsibility pervades the whole system. Both the Divine and human laws which recognize the system assume the personality and responsibility of the slave. Even under the Roman and Grecian codes—which recognized far more stringent forms of slavery than that of the African in this country, at any period of its history—this view of the system will find no support. Paul and Peter, who wrote with special allusion to slaves under these laws, so far from regarding this personality as lost and swallowed up in the humanity of the master, expressly assumed their personality and responsibility. For whilst they recognize him as a servant, they treat him as a man: they declare him possessed, though a slave, of certain rights, which it was injustice in the master to disregard, and under obligation to certain duties, as a slave, which it would be sinful in him to neglect; and, moreover, that it was the office of that religion whose functions they filled, to protect these rights and duties with its most solemn sanctions. Hence they enjoin upon masters the moral obligation of[Pg 149] rendering to their bondmen “that which is just and equal,” and upon servants to “be subject to their masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man, for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” Was this treating them as beings whose wills were absorbed in the humanity of the master, who therefore was the only accountable person for all their conduct! Nothing could be more alien from truth, and significant of falsehood! No: obedience is never applied, except as a figurative term, and especially by the apostles, to any but rational and accountable beings. And with such inspired requisitions before us—“obedience from the one, and justice from the other”—it is grossly absurd to affirm that the relation of master and slave regards the slave as a brute, and not as an accountable man. “The blind passivity of a corpse, or the mechanical obedience of a tool,” which Channing and Whewell regard as constituting the essential idea of slavery, seems never to have entered the minds of the apostles. They considered slavery as a social and political economy, in which relations involving reciprocal rights and duties subsisted, between moral, intelligent, and responsible beings, between whom, as between men in other relations, religion held the scales of justice.

[Pg 150]

The right of property in man, as man, is nowhere taught in Scripture, although it distinctly recognizes the relation of master and slave. The right which the master has in the slave, according to the Scriptures, is, not to the man, but to so much of his time and labor as is consistent with his rights of humanity. The master who disregards these claims, denies his slave that which is “just and equal.” The duty which the slave owes, is the service which, in conformity with these rights, the master exacts. A failure in either party is a breach of Scripture.

The only difference between free and slave labor is, that the one is rendered in consequence of a contract, and the other in consequence of a command. Each is service rendered according to the will of another; and each may, or may not, be according to the consent of the party rendering service. The former is often as involuntary, in point of fact, as the latter. Hirelings assent to it, in most cases, as a necessity of their condition. They do not consent to it—they are far from choosing it. A few persons reach that high attainment of a pure Christianity, in which they learn in every state in which they are placed, in the providence of God, “therewith to be content”—they choose it. But in the general, hired service is, in point of fact, as involuntary as slave labor.

[Pg 151]

A right, therefore, to the time and labor of another to a definite extent, by no means involves the right to his humanity. Such right is a mere fiction, to which even the imagination can give no significance or consistency. “It is the miserable cant of those who would storm by prejudice what they cannot demolish by argument.”

Thus, young gentlemen, that the abstract principle of the institution of slavery, and the principles of natural rights, coincide, and that both have the unqualified approbation of Holy Scripture, cannot be successfully controverted. Natural rights and the principle of slavery do not conflict. No man has a natural right to do wrong. That wherein the principle of slavery is in itself right, is that, when carried out in the form of civil government, it furnishes an instance in which the subjects of government who are liable to injure society by doing wrong, are placed under such disabilities, or in such circumstances, in which they cannot or are not likely to do this wrong, but to do that which they have a natural right to do, that is, do good. In all cases in which this principle enters into the government in such ratio or modification as to secure these ends, it coincides with natural rights, and insures to the subject the highest amount of freedom of which his moral condition will admit; it is to him essentially a free government,[Pg 152] although, in adapting itself to his moral condition, it may assume an extreme form of despotism.

Whether the Southern States of this Union have wisely adapted this principle to the moral condition of the African population residing within their borders, and thereby secured to them an essentially free government, remains to be considered.

[Pg 153]


The question stated—The conduct of masters a separate question—The institution defined—The position of the abolitionists and that of the Southern people—The presumption is in favor of the latter—Those who claim freedom for the blacks of this country failed to secure it to those on whom they professed to confer it—The doctrine by which they seek to vindicate the claim set up for them, together with the fact of history assumed to be true, is false.

Having proved that the abstract principle of the institution of domestic slavery is a legitimate principle, both in itself, and in this, that it coincides with the great fundamental principle of right, and does not necessarily conflict with the right, and is therefore in itself good, and not evil; the next inquiry that arises is this: “Is the institution of domestic slavery, existing among us, and involving this principle, justified by the circumstances of the case, and therefore right?”—according to the doctrine evolved in the second lecture, namely, that the[Pg 154] principle of an action, being itself right, the action is right, provided other and coincident principles justify the action, or, as we usually say, provided the circumstances require it.

Let it be observed, that the conduct of individual slaveholders, in the exercise of any discretion conferred on them by the nature of their relation as masters, is still a separate question, and not here to be taken into the discussion. We inquire as to the propriety of the institution: Is it demanded at all by the circumstances of the case? This is eminently a practical question, and is the only one which involves the morality of the institution itself, now that the abstract principle is shown to be legitimate.

Domestic slavery is one of the subordinate forms of civil government. It may be defined an imperium in imperio—a government within a government: one in which the subject of the inferior government is under the control of a master, up to a certain limit defined by the superior government, and beyond which both the master and the slave are alike subject to control by the superior government. The question now arises, Is this a suitable government for the negro race in America? Without doubt, this question is to be settled on the same general principles by which we should settle a similar question in regard to[Pg 155] the suitableness of any other form of government for any other people. For example, the same principles which determine the fitness of a military despotism, a constitutional monarchy, or a democratic republic, to any particular community of white persons, will determine the suitableness of this form of government to the African race in this country. They are all different forms of control, belonging to the same genus—government; and pervaded by the same generic elements—the principles of slavery and liberty combined in different ratios, in order to secure the greatest amount of happiness to those communities to which they are fitly applied. The claims of the African might be separately examined in regard to each of these forms of government; but this course is not demanded by the interests of this discussion. Nor need we stop to inquire, how the Africans came into this country: whether lawfully or unlawfully—whether by their own act, or the act of another. These are in truth side issues, and do not necessarily attach to this discussion. They will be treated as incidental to the main question; for although it were allowed that they are here unlawfully, and that it is our duty to remove them, yet it is still true that they are here, and cannot be immediately removed, and must therefore be subjected, as human beings, to[Pg 156] some one of the known forms of civil government. What form of government shall this be? According to principles well established, and admitted on all sides, it should be such a form of government as, from its adaptation to their intellectual, moral, relative, and physical condition, is best calculated to promote their happiness and the happiness of those with whom they are necessarily associated. But what form of government is it which will most probably accomplish this object?

The anti-slavery party, as well as the abolition faction, claim for the Africans a democratic republic: that is, that they should have equal political privileges with the whites, and only be subject with them to the same modified form of slavery! On the contrary, we of the South maintain that, from their present state of mental imbecility, moral degradation, and physical inferiority, they should be placed under that more decided form of control called domestic slavery. Who is right?

In discussing this question, we take the ground, first, that, in advance of all direct argument, we are entitled to the full benefit of the presumption in argument—the burden of proof lies upon those who dispute our position; and, secondly, that we are right in fact—that the circumstances of the case demand this form of government on behalf of the race, as their right, their blessing; because[Pg 157] this form of government, duly and properly administered, as it may be, and ought to be, is calculated to afford them the highest, if not the only amount of political freedom and happiness to which their humanity is at present adapted, and especially in view of their existing relations to a higher form of civilization, in the case of those among whom they dwell.

1. We are presumptively right. The onus lies wholly upon those who oppose our position.

In taking this ground, we readily waive the presumption founded upon the mere fact that domestic slavery is an existing institution, and is entitled to stand as good, until the contrary is made to appear. We go back of this. We throw ourselves upon original ground. We say, that if this were now an original question in the country, the presumption would be, that this was the appropriate form of government for the African race in this country.

As an original case, it would be an undisputed fact that the race was in an uncivilized state. We have demonstrated, in a former lecture, that an uncivilized people is not adapted to a state of political freedom. To such a people dwelling in the midst of a civilized people, it could not be a right, because it would not be a good, but an evil, a curse. There is no reason to assume that to[Pg 158] place them in this condition would elevate them at once to such fitness as would make it a blessing, but there is every reason to presume that the reverse would follow an elevation to political freedom. If any think otherwise, the burden of proof lies upon him.

This presumption is greatly strengthened by the fact that they who claim political freedom for the Africans now in the country, have signally failed to secure it for those upon whom they have professed to confer it. Essential freedom is inseparably interlaced with social equality. Without the latter, the former cannot possibly exist. The Northern States have long since conferred the forms of civil freedom upon the African portion of their population, but to the present hour they have denied them social equality. Herein, they extinguish all the lights and comforts of essential freedom. They settle upon them a suffocative anhelation, which is truly the most oppressive form of slavery. The social inequality of the races, it is well known, exists in a much more modified form at the South than at the North. That those who have made, as we allow, an honest effort to confer essential freedom upon them, have signally failed, greatly strengthens the presumption that we are right in believing that the end they proposed was impracticable, and[Pg 159] that we need not be so unwise as to imitate their folly.

But this presumption is still further strengthened by the fact that the basis argument upon which the abolitionists usually rest the claims of the African, is entirely sophistical. It is this: Slave property was originally acquired by robbery and violence, and therefore can never become lawful property. Hence we should confer upon them political freedom, regardless of whatever consequences may follow; seeing that an act of robbery can never extinguish the original right of the person robbed, or confer original title upon the robber.

The doctrine assumed in this argument is, that possessions unjustly acquired originally, can never become legal possessions; or that a state of things originally resulting from wrong, can never, by lapse of time, or the force of any circumstances, become right. The fact assumed as the basis of this doctrine in its application to the African is, that they were stolen while in a state of freedom, and reduced to a state of slavery. But we deny both the doctrine and the hypothetical assumption on which it is based.

1. If the doctrine be true, it will follow that all wrong is without any remedy, except in the few cases in which things may be restored to their original[Pg 160] state. This would be a deplorable state of things indeed. It would work special disaster to our Northern brethren. For, first, if this doctrine be true, they own scarcely one foot of honest land; nor is there any in the whole country, save the original purchase of William Penn, and a few other unappreciable portions of territory. The Indians were the original and rightful owners of this whole country, according to the theory of rights which forms the basis of this doctrine. From the most of their possessions they were forcibly ejected at the peril of life as well as liberty; and from the remainder they were driven by a policy which in civilized life would be held and treated as knavery. These lands, according to this doctrine, should in all honesty be restored to their rightful owners, or to those who inherit them under their title, or the present holders are robbers. Second. The Africans, it is said, were stolen! If so, those who received them in this country can only be regarded as the receivers of stolen property—no better, if not worse, than the original thieves. But on this hypothesis, Who stole them? and who received this stolen property, knowing it to be so stolen? These questions admit of but one answer: The forefathers of the present generation of New England population! From their ports, vessels were fitted out,[Pg 161] and employed in this system of “man-stealing.” They became the receivers of this stolen property. Those who were not demanded by their own agricultural pursuits, were sold in Southern markets. As the climate and soil of the South were better suited to such labor, the larger portion of all this stolen property was accumulated in the South. The product of the lands of New England, and the product of these sales of stolen Africans, have been, from time to time, invested in commercial and manufacturing pursuits. These constitute the chief sources of the great wealth of the New England States, to the present day; and these, it is well known, are mainly supported by the products of slave labor at the South. This being so, the great wealth of the Northern States can be regarded only as so much dishonest gain! Really, it is time they were looking to the duty of restitution! But the disaster of this doctrine does not exhaust itself with our Northern brethren. The Norman Conquest of Great Britain is that by which all the land-titles of England are held to the present day. All these titles are held under the rights acquired by this conquest. Now it is well known that the Norman Conquest was the most lawless piece of injustice and butchery, the record of which ever disgraced the pages of human history! Upon the basis of the doctrine in question, it is equally certain[Pg 162] that there is scarcely an honest shilling in all England! Nor is this all: the present titles of all Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa, are traceable, more or less remotely, to a source equally cruel and unjust! Thus there is an end pretty much to all honesty, as to the possessions of the civilized world! Surely, the absurdity of this conclusion is sufficient to invalidate the soundness of the doctrine from which it arises.

Now we are far from affirming that wrong—which is the negative of right—can ever become, by circumstances or any thing else, otherwise than it is, that is, wrong, namely, not right. But the state or thing which, under one set of circumstances, is wrong, may, under other circumstances, become right. It is not the wrong in itself which, in such a case, changes to right; but, by a change of circumstances, the wrong no longer inheres, but the right inheres in that which formerly involved the wrong; and therefore the state or thing which was before wrong, now becomes right. Hence, although it be admitted that the land-titles of the civilized world were originally founded in wrong, and therefore were unjust titles, it may not follow that those who now hold them, do so by an unjust title, because the original title was unjust. The facts may be thus stated in regard to the most of them. The titles were originally acquired by[Pg 163] wrong; in many instances, cruel wrong! The authors of these wrongs were usually the heads of government, who, in their circumstances, were beyond control. They did the wrong. The ultimate results of their doings, by the lapse of time with its perpetual changes, upset all the existing relations of society, merged the descendants of the actors and sufferers in these wrongs into the mass of society, beyond the power of just discrimination, and introduced an altogether new state of things. Under these circumstances, the original wrong was ultimately placed beyond all remedy. The restoration of the lands to the original and lawful owners became an impossibility. To attempt such a work could only be followed by the grossest injustice to all the parties concerned. In this state of things, the question of title—Who shall own these lands? becomes an original question. And in this state of the case, the simple fact of present possession—there being no one to claim antecedent possession—according to the fundamental belief of all mankind, confers moral title, and should therefore be made legal. Hence the title is just, because the idea of the right in itself—that which is good—now inheres in the man who holds property under such circumstances. The argument authorizes this prescriptive principle in political science: That when the original[Pg 164] wrong cannot be remedied, without inflicting greater injury, on all the parties concerned, than to permit the existing state of things to remain, in this state of the case, the existing state of things is in itself right, and should be permitted to remain.

Upon the basis of this principle—without which, we have no scruple to say, society could nowhere harmonize for a single hour—we have no difficulty in vindicating the honesty of the descendants of the Puritans, or the land-titles of the civilized world, or the thousand other titles which are equally involved by the absurd doctrine under consideration. Nor do we find any difficulty in allowing them a just title to all the proceeds of the African traffic, even though it should be conceded that their forefathers were, as they characterize them, a set of mere men-stealers!

Having invalidated this doctrine as a piece of gross sophistry, we remark:

2. That we also deny the hypothesis upon the basis of which this false doctrine has been made to apply to the Africans of this country; that is, we deny that African slavery in this country had its origin or was founded in cruelty and robbery.

There is no reason to doubt the statements of history, that many slave-ships originally (as perhaps is still the case to some extent) acquired[Pg 165] their cargoes, some by robbery and violence, and some by purchase. The sufferings of what is called the “middle passage” are, no doubt, correctly stated in history. We have no motive to controvert these statements, nor indeed to inquire into their authenticity. We are not even the apologists of any of the actors in these scenes, much less their defenders. There may have been cruel wrongs, and under circumstances of even greater aggravation than those recorded in history. Be it so! The actors have long since gone to their account, and we may safely leave them to Him who judgeth righteously. The conduct of these agents, whether cruel or kind, is not an element in this discussion. Our inquiry goes to the foundation of this matter—the true producing cause for the introduction of the African into this country, and his position as a slave. What was this? It will not be maintained that these agents, whether humane or not, can in any proper sense be said to be the cause or foundation of African slavery in this country. With much greater propriety it may be said that the artisans of Boston were the founders and builders of the city. They were necessary agents. They might have done their part well. They might have done it dishonestly, cruelly. Neither hypothesis will entitle them to rank as the true and proper founders[Pg 166] and builders of the city. So neither are the men in question to be regarded as the founders and builders of African slavery in America. Whether they did their part as they should have done, or should not have done; or whether they did the work at all, or not, is the mere logical accident of a cause, which lay back of all they did, and of all they might have done, whether good or bad. This cause is evolved by the inquiry, Why did they bring them into the country at all? If some potent cause had not been at work, would they or any others have brought them into the country? Certainly not. This cause, then, whatever it was, is without doubt the true foundation, the immediate cause, of African slavery in America. What, then, was this cause? But one answer can be given to this inquiry. On it there can be no division of opinion. It was the state of public opinion in Great Britain, and the state of public opinion in her colonies in this country at the time. This state of public opinion demanded their introduction and employment as slaves, and hence they were introduced and so employed. Whatever demerit or merit, then, was in the origin and maturity of this state of things, is traceable directly to public opinion, and attaches directly as a virtue or a crime, as the case may be, to those who controlled public opinion, through the[Pg 167] long period of its inception, formation, and maturity, and to them alone. This being the true origin and foundation of the system, if it had its foundation in robbery and violence, it was because public opinion, through that long period, was so eminently corrupt as to set itself, deliberately and of full purpose, to work to perpetrate robbery and violence, without any redeeming virtue; for such crimes admit of none. Was this so? Can we be prepared to believe it? In default of all history at this point to detail the origin and progress of public opinion on this subject, we are left to form our judgment from our knowledge of the men whom we know to have participated more largely than any others in directing public opinion in their day, and to the history of the times in which they lived.

In the seventeenth century, African slaves were first introduced into this country, and the practice was continued, under the sanction of law, until the years 1778 and 1808, inclusive. At an early period, public opinion was matured on this subject both in England and in the colonies, and we see that for a long period it sustained the practice of introducing slaves directly from Africa into this country. Now, we affirm that the position postulated in regard to this case is among the most palpable absurdities that can be conceived.[Pg 168] The character of the men who controlled public opinion in that day, and the patriotic and Christian age in which they lived, utterly disprove the gross assumption that they yielded themselves up to falsify the truth and the conscience that was in them, and become a mere corporation of landpirates and freebooters! If our ignorance of the history of those times should disqualify us to account for the existence of this state of public opinion on any strictly rational grounds, common sense would forbid that we assign for it so unreasonable a cause as this; whilst the least that charity could suggest would be, that we place it among those things for which we were unable to account.

From the time they were first introduced into the colonies, about 1620, to the time the system may be considered as permanently established, makes a period of some hundred and fifty years. Among the eminent personages who appeared in Great Britain during this period, and did not fail to impress their genius and moral character upon the age in which they lived, we may mention, James I., Cromwell, and William III., Burnet, Tillotson, Barrow, South, with Bunyan and Milton; and also Newton and Locke.

In the colonies, during this time, there lived Cotton Mather, Brainerd, Eliot, and Roger Williams;[Pg 169] Winthrop, Sir H. Vane, and Samuel Adams, with Henry, Washington, and Franklin.

These great men, and some of them eminently good men, stood connected with a numerous class of highly influential men, though inferior in position, and all together may be regarded as embodying and controlling public opinion in their day. Some of them were preëminently distinguished for their patriotic devotion to the rights of humanity. Many others were men of wide views on all subjects, and of broad and expansive feelings of benevolence, and indeed of the soundest piety. Add to all this, many of them are to this day without a peer in intellectual distinctions, if indeed the same may not be said of their attainments in literature and science. The age of Barrow, and of Locke, and Newton, in philosophy, and of Washington and Franklin, in patriotism, public benevolence, common sense, and general learning, still stands on the pages of history without a rival. But these men, and their numerous compeers and co-laborers, were no better than a hoard of mountain robbers! They coolly coincided with each other, without formal concert or convention, but by the common attraction of their natural affinity for power and plunder, to murder, rob, and enslave thousands of their innocent and defenceless fellow-creatures—the helpless victims of[Pg 170] public cupidity! Such is the shameless position strangely postulated in regard to these men and their times! We scruple not to affirm that this is more than a stupid gratuity! It is a gross calumny upon humanity itself, of which the authors should be profoundly ashamed!

The advantages enjoyed in this day, by the great success which has attended the art of printing—an art for which we are indebted to the genius of a former age—would no doubt afford us a satisfactory history of the rise and progress of public opinion on such a subject, if it were to occur in this age. The state of the art at that period, the proscription of the press, and especially the new and unsettled condition of the colonies, furnishes good cause for the deficiency. We may not, therefore, account for public opinion as satisfactorily now, as might have been done at that time. Still we have abundant materials for a charitable construction of the conduct of our forefathers—both here and in England. The savage, and indeed the brutal condition of the larger portion of Africa, had long since been a matter of history. All well-informed men were familiar with the facts of African history. They were not only Pagans, but Pagans of the most stupid and enslaved kind—without the knowledge of God, or the rudest forms of civilization. The population[Pg 171] was divided into tribes, each governed by an ignorant petty king, who ruled his equally Pagan subjects as absolute slaves. In the place of the knowledge and worship of the true God, which was found to exist among the savages of America, the African worships the devil—the evil spirit, and that by the most humiliating and debasing rites of superstition. His superstitions furnished frequent occasions for wars. These wars were highly sanguinary—often exterminating, as all wars amongst an ignorant and highly superstitious people have always been. To spare the life of an enemy in war, make him a prisoner, guard him as such, or make him labor as a slave for his support, is an advance of civilization. To continue to put the enemy to death to the end of the war, is the necessary condition of a state of war in uncivilized life. Such was the known condition of all the African population south of Egypt and the States of Barbary. Did not their condition appeal, as it still does, to the benevolence of the civilized world? But what could they do? Send Christian missionaries? No. We, in this country, have succeeded, to some extent at least, in civilizing the savage tribes upon our border! But the Indians were not, like the Africans, idolatrous Pagans. Be this as it may, the competency of missionary enterprise to civilize and[Pg 172] christianize Pagans, was, as it still is to any very material extent, an untried experiment. The opinion then obtained, and to this hour it is not wholly invalidated, that to reduce Pagans to a state of labor was, among other agencies, a necessary condition of their civilization. What then could Christians do in that age for African civilization? They could not introduce them as laborers in England, or on the continent of Europe. Such a step would have denied bread to the multitudes who already filled the menial offices of society. It was impracticable to do this, and inhuman to attempt it. Thus for long ages had degraded and enslaved Africa “stretched forth” her imploring hands, appealing to the benevolence of the world for relief. But the wisest and best men of the times saw no means of relief, and attempted none. In this state of African history, colonial settlements were ultimately effected on the coast of North America. At an early period an experiment was made by a Dutch Manhattan, to introduce African labor into the colonies. Here a wide field was open for their labor. It was greatly demanded. To labor here denied bread to no other laboring poor, as would have been the case in England. The idea was caught at in both hemispheres, as a “God-send” for the African—for the colonies, and a common civilization. No one[Pg 173] dreamed of robbery, injustice, or wrong to any one! All considered it a wide door which a kind Providence had opened, and which piety itself bade them enter! No man who was worthy of the age authorized any one to fit out a ship, from the port of Boston or elsewhere, go to the coast of Africa, steal a cargo of natives, murder all who stood in the way of his schemes, tumble them into the hold of their ship, without regard to health or comfort, and make their way with their piratical cargo to Boston and other markets, and turn them into money! Those who did this—as many no doubt did—acted on their own responsibility, and have long since given their dreadful account to God! But the men who were worthy of the age, and who would be worthy of any age, did authorize, by a common public opinion, the practice of going to Africa, and negotiating a purchase with those who had long held and treated them as slaves, and especially those who by the usages of barbarous war were condemned to death. They considered that thus to arrest the practice of putting prisoners to death was humane, and worthy of a Christian people; that to introduce them into civilized society, teach them the habits of civilized life, the principles and experience of Christianity, and ultimately perhaps to send them back to regenerate their fatherland, was an achievement[Pg 174] worthy of the highest attainments of piety! Hence they had no scruple to purchase them when brought to the country. The most eminently patriotic and benevolent of the colonists purchased them. The most pious members of churches, and distinguished Christian ministers, did the same. The immortal Whitefield did not scruple to sustain his pious foundation in Georgia by a large income, for the times, from slave property. Were they correct in these views? We appeal to facts. Multitudes were brought to the country who had otherwise perished in barbarous warfare, or been murdered as captives, and the others would have remained in a state of Pagan ignorance, superstition, and slavery. By coming into the country, they have been greatly improved in their mental, moral, and physical condition. I do not stay to trouble you with statistical details. But my investigations warrant a statement, which you can test at your leisure; it is this: the number of Africans who have died in the communion of the Methodist and Baptist churches of America to the present time—and who, therefore, we may assume, were christianized by their residence in this country—exceeds the whole number of all the heathen who have been christianized by the labors of all the Protestant denominations of Christendom since the days of Luther. Hence,[Pg 175] we conclude, that whatever were the cruelties of individuals engaged in the original slave trade, (for which they were responsible,) and whatever may have been the abuses of the system since, by individual slave owners, the system itself was originally founded in a profound view of the principles of political science, so far as regards this country, and of political economy, and the claims of Christian benevolence, so far as it regards the Africans themselves. The resources of this vast country have been rapidly developed. It is already the asylum of the oppressed, and the home of the poor, of all lands. Slave labor has had no small share in all this. The regeneration of the continent of Africa has already commenced, and the ultimate result is looked to with increasing confidence.

Thus we have invalidated the doctrine, and also the hypothesis, which form the basis on which the abolitionists rest their argument against the justice and policy of the South. That their position is not tenable is no direct proof that ours is right; but it does afford a presumption that we are right. This presumption we claim, for the several reasons given. The direct argument in vindication of the system of domestic slavery, upon its own merits, is reserved for the next lecture.

[Pg 176]


There should be a separate and subordinate government for our African population—Objection answered—Africans are not competent to that measure of self-government which entitles a man to political sovereignty—They were not prepared for freedom when first brought into the country, hence they were placed under the domestic form of government—The humanity of this policy—In the opinion of Southern people they are still unprepared—The fanaticism and rashness of some, and the inexcusable wickedness of others, who oppose the South.

It having been proved that both the doctrine and the assumption of fact by Northern fanatics, in regard to the claim of the African to a republican form of government, are false, and that the presumption is in favor of the position of the South, that domestic slavery is the appropriate form of government for them, we are now left free to pursue our inquiry, without offset from[Pg 177] these vagaries, into the merits of this system, and its appropriateness to the African race in this country.

The African is now here. Whether right or wrong originally, is not the question before us. He is here. What form of government is best suited to him, and those with whom he is necessarily associated? And,

I. Let it be observed, that they are a distinct race of people, separated by strongly marked lines of moral and physical condition from those amongst whom they reside. This difference is so strongly marked that there can be no spontaneous amalgamation by intermarriage, and consequently no reciprocity of social rights and privileges between the races. Their history in the whole country shows this to be the case. They must therefore continue to exist as a separate race. To this state of things the government over them should be adapted, unless we would violate a material condition of the problem to be solved. For if the law should not provide for this state of the case, the conventional usages of the superior race amongst whom they dwell will certainly do so. This is in proof from the example of all those States which have failed to provide for the African as a separate and distinct race; for the usages of society always supply the deficiency. [Pg 178]This omission on the part of the law is evidently to the injury of the African. The history of the race in the Northern States will show this. Essential liberty is founded in, and is inseparable from, certain social rights and privileges. But in these respects, the African is a far more proscribed and degraded race in the Northern than in the Southern States.

A government, then, should be provided for the African, as a distinct and separate race, existing in the bosom of another and superior race. Of course this will be an imperium in imperio. And as they are confessedly the inferior race, who can never enjoy essential liberty or reciprocity of social condition with the whites, the government adapted to them must be inferior and subordinate to that of the whites amongst whom they dwell. It must be subordinate; for, in the nature of things, it must be an independent or a subordinate one. But two independent civil governments cannot coëxist, and control distinct races dwelling together in the same community. It follows that it must be subordinate. As subordinate, it must either assume some form of military government, or it must conform to the patriarchal species of government—a kind of family government—that is, the domestic form for which we contend. And as between a subordinate[Pg 179] military or patriarchal form of government, both as regards the expense and the comfort, there can be no controversy, we may consider the claims of the patriarchal form, or the system of domestic slavery, as established in this case.

But it may be supposed that the experiment in the Northern States invalidates the position, that this, being a distinct race of people, must be controlled by a separate and subordinate form of government. These States have a portion of this race, and it is said they find no difficulty to result from having placed them on a political footing with other citizens. But this is a mere assumption. It is not borne out by the facts of history.

As before stated, the conventional usages of society have denied them the social rights and privileges of free citizens! They have proscribed them as an inferior and degraded race.

The usage which forbids intermarriage is at once a bar to all social equality. The road to offices of trust, honor, and profit, is closed against them—nay, even the means of subsistence beyond a scanty supply of the necessaries of life. These facts are undeniable. Now, to talk of liberty when we effectually deny to a people all that essentially constitutes it, is idle in the extreme. It is a mere paper liberty!—liberty to submit to the crushing usages of society!—liberty to[Pg 180] perish, in many instances, and that without sympathy from the State. In these respects the condition of the race is unquestionably better in the Southern States. If they must be a degraded race in the North as well as in the South, I hesitate not to affirm that our domestic system affords them a much better security for a competent and comfortable living. It makes better provision for them in old age and in youth, in sickness and in health, than is secured to them by their so-called liberty in the Northern States.

Of course, poor families (in the literal sense) in the South do not own slaves. They are usually held by those who at least enjoy the necessaries of life. Now, the progress of civilization has established the custom in all such families of sharing with their slaves the necessaries, and, not unfrequently, many of the comforts of life. The exceptions only make the rule general.

Again, the Southern system, by making the African a part of the family circle, brings him into more immediate contact with the habits of civilized life, and cultivates a high degree of sympathy between him and his owners. Hence, the well-known attachment of slaves to the families in which they were brought up; and their utter repugnance to being hired to a Northern family, whatever may be their reputation for piety.[Pg 181] They are without practical sympathy for them. They often subject them to a degree of hard labor to which they are not accustomed. Many humane men in the South decline hiring their servants to such persons.

There are evils, it is true, inseparable from the presence of the race in this country, under any circumstances. By conferring on them a mere paper liberty, the Northern States have adroitly freed themselves of a portion of these evils; but then they have evidently accumulated them upon the African. The policy is marked by no sympathy for the blacks. There is much more of selfishness than of benevolence in the working of the system. We conclude that our position is true, that the Africans, being a separate and distinct race of people, who cannot spontaneously amalgamate with the whites, should be placed under a separate and subordinate form of government, if we consult either their welfare or our own. The examples referred to, as proof of the contrary, are strongly confirmatory of the position.

But to claim for the African political equality with the whites is subject to still stronger objections. We may further appeal to facts in support of our proposition.

II. They are not, in point of intellectual and moral development, in the condition for freedom:[Pg 182] that is, they are not fitted for that measure of self-government which is necessary to political sovereignty. It cannot, therefore, be justly claimed for them. They have no right to it. It would not be to them an essential good, but an essential evil, a curse. To confer it on them, either by an act of direct or gradual emancipation, would be eminently productive of injury to the whole country, and utterly ruinous to them.

This proposition is capable of division. We will discuss the points in the order in which they stand.

First. They are not, in point of intellectual and moral development, fitted for that measure of self-government which is necessary to political sovereignty.

We have said they are an inferior race. That they are so in the original structure of their minds I pretend not to affirm—nay, I do not believe it. I believe in the unity of the races—that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men.” Acts xvii. 26. But that the race in this country are inferior, in the general development of their intellectual and moral faculties, I am free to affirm. This I attribute to the crushing influence of the ages of barbarous and pagan life to which their forefathers in Africa were subjected. For, as, in the progress of civilization, each succeeding generation[Pg 183] of civilized persons occupies a higher intellectual and moral platform, so, in the descending scale of barbarism, each succeeding generation of barbarians occupies a lower platform of intellectual and moral development. Hence, we can account for the exceedingly barbarous condition of the race when first brought into this country. It also follows, that a race of men whose intellects have been long stultified by ages of barbarism, cannot, by any contact with the principles and usages of civilized life, be speedily thrown up to an elevated platform.

This also accounts, in a good degree, for the slow progress which the race has made in civilization, since their introduction into the country.

To recur now to the fact, which cannot be controverted, that they were brought into this country in a state of extreme barbarism and Pagan ignorance: in the first place, were they then in a condition which fitted them for political sovereignty, and equality of social rights and privileges with the whites? If they were not for the latter, it is very plain that they were not for the former. It is quite certain that they were not prepared for either. If they were, why did not the Puritans of New England allow them this sovereignty and equality? By their consent and active coöperation, they were brought into the country. Shall[Pg 184] we revilingly say, with some of their ungrateful descendants, that the good sense and love of liberty which had so lately driven them from their fatherland, to find an asylum here from the galling yoke of British oppression, had been so entirely absorbed in the passion for gain, as to cause them to be deaf to the claims of justice and humanity in behalf of the African! Shame on their graceless accusers! No: their good sense forbade that a race of barbarous Pagans, who could not be absorbed by intermarriage, but who must continue to exist amongst them as a separate and inferior race, should be placed on a common platform with free citizens! Their humanity, no less than their good sense, induced them to adopt the plan of domestic government, or slavery, sanctioned by the usages of all civilized nations in similar circumstances. If, for any cause, a horde of barbarians should be introduced into New England in the present day, in numbers too great to be absorbed without injury, and in a physical condition making it improper to permit their absorption by intermarriage with themselves, as in the case of the Africans, does any man in his senses pretend to believe that those States would confer on them either social equality or political freedom? They would certainly consider it due to themselves, no less than to the barbarians, to place[Pg 185] them under a subordinate government of some kind. Well, this is precisely what their forefathers did in the case of the Pagan Africans; and what the Southern colonies did when the New Engenders brought them South. Thus the origin of domestic slavery, as a political institution, in the country, shows that it was founded in the humanity of our forefathers, no less than in their good sense. Hence the second position stated: Political equality cannot be justly claimed for them. They have no right to it. To them it would not be an essential good, but an essential evil—a curse.

On the basis of the doctrine of rights discussed in a preceding lecture, this proposition follows as a conclusion from the fact here established in regard to the Africans of this country.

But it may be said that the barbarous character of the race has greatly improved since their first introduction into this country. This is true—eminently so. And standing, as this fact evidently does, connected with the civilization and redemption of a whole continent of barbarians, upon whom the crushing sceptre of Pagan ignorance has lain for unnumbered ages, it fully vindicates both the wisdom and benevolence of the providence of God, which permitted their introduction in such vast numbers into civilized life, as affording the only means of accomplishing his humane design.

[Pg 186]

But the question of practical interest at this point is, Have they been so far raised in the scale of intellectual and moral elevation as to acquire for them the right in question? This point can be settled only by an appeal to facts. I hesitate not to allow, that if they are, it may be justly claimed for them, because they are in that moral condition which justly entitles them to it. It is also admitted that if at the same time, they are in a condition to be absorbed by a spontaneous amalgamation, they are entitled to it here; and much more so than a certain other class, who are flocking into the country, and to whom the right is accorded without scruple! This latter, however, is certainly not the case, as the facts before alluded to do clearly show. If, then, they be entitled to political freedom, they should be removed to another territory. Africa is the rightful home of the Africans. Thither they must go, if they should ever be fitted for self-government. Providence has wisely forecast this result, and is rapidly building up a free government on the coast of Africa, as their future home, and the centre of civilization and Christianity to that long-benighted continent.

But what of the question—Are they indeed fitted for political sovereignty? That many of the free colored population, and some among the[Pg 187] slaves, may be so, I think is more than probably true. Of the former I would say, that it is a duty they owe themselves no less than the country to accept the offer of the Colonization Society, and remove to their native land. For, although it be allowed that they are in the moral condition of freedom, it is obvious that they never can be essentially free, in the bosom of a people with whom they can never amalgamate by marriage. And in regard to the latter, I have to say that such of their owners as give that play to their benevolent feelings which their circumstances admit, and, as far as they can do so with propriety, facilitate their removal to Africa by consent, entitle themselves to high commendation, and it is usually awarded them with great unanimity by Southern people.

But that the same admissions can be made in regard to the masses of this population in the country, I utterly deny. On the contrary, I affirm that duty to ourselves and humanity to them alike forbid that civil liberty be conferred on them in Africa, or elsewhere, and least of all in this country.

The assumption of Northern agitators, that the Southern people are not competent judges in this matter, because they are too much interested in their bondage, is as untrue in fact as it is offensive[Pg 188] to our good sense and morals. No doubt there are many in the South capable of any form of wickedness; nor need it be denied that we are as liable to be misled in our judgments as other people. But it is equally true, that the good sense and integrity of the great mass of our population is a full counterbalance to the acknowledged cupidity of the few. And for a set of Northern agitators, who never resided at the South, and who know but little or nothing of the African character, to affect to understand it better than the intelligent communities of the South, is perhaps the coolest piece of impertinent self-conceit to be found on record!

The intelligent and honest portion of the country will scarcely fail to allow that the judgment of the Southern people as to the character and capabilities of the African is entitled to the highest confidence, and may be regarded as an authoritative settlement of this question. What, then, is the concurrent opinion of the Southern people? I think myself well and fully informed on this point. I hazard nothing in asserting, that it is the general and well-nigh the universal opinion of the intelligent and pious portion of our entire population, that our African subjects, taken as a whole, are not fitted for any form of political freedom of which we can conceive; that they are not in a condition to use it to their own advantage, or[Pg 189] the peace of the communities in which they reside; and that to confer it upon them, in these circumstances, would in all probability lead to the extirpation of the race, as the only means of protecting civilization from the insufferable evils of so direct a contact with an unrestrained barbarism. It is also an opinion equally sanctioned, that if they were prepared for political freedom, it would be scarcely less disastrous to confer it upon them in this country. The reason is obvious. As they cannot spontaneously amalgamate with the whites, they could not, in the nature of things, enjoy freedom in their midst. Hence, if the masses should ever reach that point, in the progress of civilization, at which it might be proper to confer on them the rights of political freedom, another location would have to be sought for them.

The Southern people (using the term in the sense specified) constitute a large portion of the whole Union. They have progressed as far in civilization, and, in many respects, much farther than any people in the whole country. A very large portion of them are confessedly pious, as well as intelligent. Taken as a whole, they are as eminently entitled to be regarded a religious people as any other people on the face of the globe. Now, that such a people, so obviously entitled to the highest consideration throughout[Pg 190] the civilized world, should, in their circumstances of proximity to the African race, and long-continued personal acquaintance with their habits and character, their capabilities and their liabilities, be of the settled and almost undisputed opinion that they are not competent to self-government; and that, in their present circumstances, both the law of reciprocity and the law of benevolence to the African forbid that the rights of political freedom be accorded to them, does appear to me to afford the most conclusive settlement of this question of fact that the subject is capable of receiving. For, although a question of fact, it is capable of no more conclusive settlement than an enlightened public opinion can afford; and who are so well situated to form an opinion as the free and intelligent communities of the South? and who can be more honest in its expression?

As we cannot suppose the agitators of the country on this subject to be ignorant of the fact that such is the opinion of the Southern people, and as we cannot allow that they are incapable of appreciating the weight of this testimony, we reach the conclusion that they are the victims of a fanaticism resulting from a mistaken religious opinion and feeling, which hurries them madly forward, as regardless of the extent to which they implicate their own good sense as they are of the[Pg 191] extent to which they are aspersing the reputation of their fellow-citizens, or the degree to which they are actually putting to hazard the lives of the very people for whom they piously persuade themselves they are laboring.

Those whose conduct does not admit of this apology are generally men who occupy the arena of political agitation. Their object, evidently, is to accumulate political power in the so-called free States, and to promote the ends of personal ambition. The fanatical excitement of the country may be turned to the account of these objects. Hence, they labor with a zeal worthy of a better cause. We of the South regard the agitators in Congress, for the most part, to be of this class. We consider them highly culpable, if, indeed, they be not actually criminal. For we cannot suppose them to be ignorant of the facts and reasonings here adduced. And besides these, there are other facts of great and conclusive authority in the settlement of this question, which we cannot suppose have escaped the attention of men occupying their high stations. I propose to notice some of them in the next lecture.

[Pg 192]


The attempts made at domestic colonization—The result of the experiment in the case of our free colored population—The colonization experiment on the coast of Africa—The example of the Canaanitish nations—Summary of the argument on the general point, and inferences.

“That the Africans are not, in point of intellectual and moral development, fitted for that measure of self-government which is necessary to political sovereignty: that political equality cannot be justly claimed for them—they have no right to it: that to them it could not be an essential good, but an essential evil, a curse; and that to confer it on them, by an act of direct or gradual emancipation, would be eminently productive of injury to the whole country, and utterly ruinous to them.”

This is the general proposition still under consideration.[Pg 193] We have already discussed to some extent the first two points. I reserve the subject of emancipation for future lectures. I now proceed to exemplify the truth of the positions discussed on this general proposition, and thereby show the actual necessity that we sustain, in the present circumstances of the race, the system of domestic slavery. And,

First. We adduce the fact of domestic colonization.

This has been frequently attempted in the Southern States, and has as often failed for the want of success. Eminently humane, though mistaken men, have tried this experiment with their slaves. Some have tried it on a small scale: standing only as their nominal owners, and giving them the control of their time and labor, and the use of necessary lands for cultivation. Others have tried the same plan on a more extended scale of operations. But if there is a single successful experiment now in operation in the Southern country, I am not aware of it. In every instance the owners have been compelled to resume the control of their slaves, to prevent them from becoming a tax on the community, and a nuisance in the neighborhood.

Second. The result of the experiment in the case of the free colored population, is equally in[Pg 194] proof that the race, taken collectively, is not fitted for self-government.

Humane individuals have, from time to time, freed their slaves. In this way a large number has been accumulated. There is not a county in any one of the older States in which there are not many, and in some a large number. In this experiment we have a full test of what the African is in the enjoyment of civil liberty, or of his capacity for self-government, at least in the midst of a people with whom he cannot amalgamate. The result is daily before our eyes, and may be known and read of all men. After a few honorable exceptions, the multitude are by no means as well fed or clothed, and otherwise provided for, as the slaves in their vicinity. They make but little provision against the inclemency of winter, and in sickness are often the objects of public charity. A disposition to live by petty depredations upon society, instead of by honest industry, and a general depravation of morals, are characteristic of the caste. Their retrograde tendency is so obvious, that no doubt is entertained among men of reflection that, but for the props and checks thrown around them by the laws and usages of civilization, they would soon relapse into the savage state. These facts are so obvious as long since to have engaged the attention of our domestics.[Pg 195] Among them, the term “free nigger” is one of deepest reproach. Those who respect themselves, it is well known, form no matrimonial alliance with them, from sheer contempt of their degradation. I have frequently met, in my travels, with old men, in independent circumstances, who by the doctrines of the pulpit, enforced by the personal influence of a favorite minister in private life, were induced, in early life, to free their slaves, who now confess, with the result of their mistaken piety before their eyes, that they conferred no boon upon them, but rather inflicted an injury both upon them and upon society. They console themselves with the reflection that they intended all for the best. This picture is not surcharged. You will do me the justice to remember that no dark picture can be drawn without dipping the pencil in dark colors.

I have an interest in a slave, who is no doubt in the moral condition of freedom, as before defined. I have assured this man that he ought to go to Liberia, in Africa, and have insisted on his consenting to go. But still I am so deeply convinced of the truth and importance of the facts here stated in regard to our free colored population, that a sense of duty to him and to the community forbid that he be placed among the number.

But it may be supposed that a popular feeling[Pg 196] of selfish hostility serves to crush a people who would otherwise rise at once in the scale of civilization. But this is not so. I repeat, with confidence, this is not so. The honorable exceptions, to which allusion has already been made, are universally respected. “John” (to use a general title) “is as honest a man, and has as much self-respect, as any man in the neighborhood,” is a meed of praise which is readily accorded to free blacks, by all intelligent citizens, and with peculiar satisfaction, whenever it can be done. Such men of course enjoy the confidence and respect of their white neighbors in a high degree. But, I repeat, that examples of this kind are rare among our free colored population. No! an original cause of this general degradation is found in the fact stated, that is, that they are not prepared for self-government, and therefore can derive but little, if any, benefit from its political and social advantages. The crushing weight of ages of barbarism still presses heavily upon the intellect of the African, and in his present circumstances, to say the least, he is too feeble to rise. It is the accident of his position that he is free, and not the law of his intellectual and moral nature that makes him so. He is a slave in fact; and without the restraints of the domestic system, the tendencies of his barbarous nature are left, in a good degree, to take their[Pg 197] downward way. In many counties within our knowledge containing a large population of free colored persons, I am satisfied that nothing but the humanity developed by a high state of civilization, prevents the adoption of a summary process, by which the nuisance would be abated.

But if the objection I am combating be modified and restricted to the influence of that usage which denies them social freedom, I will agree that it has weight. It certainly retards the progress of those who are rising to the moral condition of freedom: hangs like an incubus upon those who have already risen to that state, and effectually shuts the door of enjoyment against them. This is no doubt true. But why are they denied social freedom? The answer is, Because they cannot amalgamate by a spontaneous intermarriage with the whites. But this is a disability under which God, by the nature of their physical constitution, has placed them, and which the progress of civilization itself forbids the whites to disregard. Therefore it is obvious that they never can be free in a community of whites. Because, as there is no essential freedom, but that which is inseparable from social as well as political freedom, and as there can be no social freedom, but that which coincides with the law of amalgamation by intermarriage; and as Divine Providence has closed[Pg 198] the door against this, it follows that the African never can be free in the midst of a community of whites.

But still, that this is not the primary and essential cause of the extreme degradation of those Africans upon whom the experiment of freedom has been tried in this country and found to be a failure, and that it is originally traceable to the fact that they are not, intellectually and morally, prepared for self-government, is still more clearly deducible from a

Third consideration—the colonization experiment on the coast of Africa.

The colony of Liberia has already taken its place among the nations of the earth as a free and independent government. No colony has ever prospered as that has done. As a rising nation, it shares the sympathy of the civilized world. It is destined to become the asylum of the Africans of America, and the centre of civilization to the long-benighted continent of Africa. Thither all eyes are turned as the oasis of hope in her desert history.

But let us briefly trace the progress of this hopeful colony. How has it arisen to its present position? It has been built up from the free colored population of this country—colonized by their own consent. Herein Divine Providence has[Pg 199] wisely discriminated the proper subjects for this great enterprise. His own established order of things has effected a judicious discrimination of the proper persons for this work. The sacrifices to be made were great. The climate was inhospitable. Extreme hazard of life, in all cases, was to be encountered in the process of acclimation. A Pagan and savage population were to be encountered and subdued. Every thing gave undoubted indications, that if ever the tree of African liberty should be made to flourish upon that Pagan coast, its roots must be watered by the blood of many patriot martyrs. In these circumstances, it is obvious that there would be no volunteers in this work but men of the right stamp. Those only whose intellects furnished the flint and steel from which the spark of liberty could be struck, and upon the altar of whose hearts the fires of freedom could be kindled, to light their pathway to that far-off and inhospitable land, would embark in this great work. Those who were in the condition of freedom—whose hearts throbbed with the pulsations of liberty—were the first to embark in the cause of African civilization. For several years the work went on—slowly, but surely. Many fell in the conflict. Still the work went on! The spirit which animated the patriot colonists is eloquently expressed in the dying words of the[Pg 200] immortal Cox: “Let a thousand missionaries fall, ere Africa be given up!”

Thus far the work went on in the order of Divine Providence. The voluntary principle was discriminating. Those who were in the moral condition of freedom gladly embraced the opportunity. Those who were below that condition were deaf to the call. But this divinely sanctioned process was quite too slow for the fiery zeal of emancipationists. The door of Providence did not open fast enough! Encouraged by past successes, they attempted to hasten the work. Forgetful of the original and avowed objects of the Society—the colonization of the free people of color, with their own consent—the friends of colonization began to preach manumission to the owners of slaves. Many hearkened to the call as a Macedonian appeal to their feelings of benevolence. The slaves upon large plantations were emancipated, and funds placed at the disposal of the Society, to remove and settle them as free citizens in the new colony. They were sent off in considerable numbers, for several years. The result was disastrous. It threatened speedily to reduce the whole colony to a savage state. They were not in the moral condition of freedom—they were not prepared for that degree or form of self-government. They could not be absorbed by the[Pg 201] body politic, without imparting their character to the body. The full measure of their golden dreams was simply liberty to do nothing. We need only glance at the results. Mr. Ashman, at that time Governor of the colony, remonstrated, in official communications, with the Colonization Society in this country: the officers generally, and other eminent citizens, also remonstrated in private letters to their friends—all begging to be spared the calamities that awaited them from so great an influx of population, evidently unprepared for freedom, and praying that they might be strengthened, as heretofore, by a judicious selection of persons in some degree, at least, qualified for civil liberty!

If the colonization experiment has proved the capacity of the African, under suitable developments, for self-government, (which, in our view, it has very satisfactorily done,) it has proved, with equal clearness, that without those developments he is wholly unfit for it; and that the masses of the race are, as yet, undeveloped, and consequently unfit for political sovereignty.

These facts are open to the observation of all men. They strongly rebuke the restless agitators of the country. They clearly confirm our position that the Africans in America are not, as yet, in the moral condition for freedom. I have proved[Pg 202] in a former lecture that political sovereignty is not a natural but an acquired right. The facts here adduced demonstratively prove that they have not yet acquired this right, and that therefore it cannot be justly claimed for them. But more than this—they afford the strongest presumption (and further than the presumption in its favor, I do not design to notice this topic at this time) that the emancipation of the slaves, in their present moral condition, confers no benefit upon them, but is calculated to inflict a deep injury both upon them and upon society.

It is a general, and indeed an almost universal opinion in the South, that any thing like a system of emancipation, whether direct or gradual, by which the number of free colored persons should be materially increased in the Southern States, would inevitably be followed by their indiscriminate massacre, as the only means of abating an insufferable nuisance, unless the citizens were to forsake the soil in favor of a barbarous horde. Such an opinion, (I may repeat,) so generally entertained by so large a community of enlightened and virtuous citizens, who are in immediate proximity with the race, and acquainted with their character from early life, taken in connection with the historical facts here enumerated, affording to any mind so clear a proof of the correctness of[Pg 203] their opinion, should be admitted as an authoritative settlement of the position I have taken on this branch of the subject. Hence, we may conclude that the law of reciprocity and the law of benevolence require that the Africans be continued under an inferior and subordinate government.

The question again recurs, What form of government shall this be? Of course, it must be a modification of a military despotism, or a modification of the patriarchal form of government. I am free to say that I can conceive of none so appropriate as that adopted by civilization, for the purpose of controlling a barbarous or semi-barbarous race (and especially such as could not amalgamate) dwelling in the midst of a civilized community: that is, the system of domestic government now in operation in the Southern States. If any shall devise another, it will, at least, have the merit of novelty to commend it to public attention.

The correctness of the doctrine here assumed, that domestic slavery is the appropriate form of government for a people in the circumstances of the Africans in America, is very strikingly exemplified by the history of the remnant of Canaanites, who still dwelt in the land after its subjugation and settlement by the ancient Israelites. An inquiry into the Divine policy in regard to these[Pg 204] heathen will fully vindicate this position. The civil code of a nation is admitted to be the best index of the habits and morals of the people. This remark, however, cannot always be taken without modification. We shall greatly underrate the civilization of the Israelites, who first settled the land of Canaan, if we judge them alone by their civil code. Smiting and cursing father and mother, brutal assaults upon pregnant married women, digging pits to destroy neighbors’ cattle, (Ex. xxi.,) seduction, adultery, dealing with familiar spirits and witchcraft, and various wickedness which delicacy forbids to repeat, (see Lev. xviii.,) unnatural marriages, such as with mothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren, (Lev. xviii.,) are all practices which are mentioned in a manner that shows they were common in that day. If we judge the morals of the Israelites by the statutes here referred to, we shall certainly conclude that they had not the slightest claim to the character of a civilized people; but it is equally certain that such judgment would be wide of the truth. For although in many respects the national morals and standard of public opinion and feeling were in a feeble condition, as seen in their obvious proclivity to idolatry, still those laws are far from being characteristic of the morals of the nation. The Divine record does not leave us to[Pg 205] conjecture the cause for these laws. It is written, Lev. xviii., “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these; for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you. For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;” and, “Ye shall not walk in the manners of the nations which I cast out before you; for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.”

We can be at no loss to see that the remnant of heathen who survived the slaughter, and still dwelt in the land which the Israelites settled, were in such power, and accustomed to such opinions and habits of bestiality, as to render the progress of civilization, in unrestrained contact with them, at least a problem, if not an absolute impossibility.

Equality of political and social condition with the Jews would have made short work of civilization in that age. Hence we find that bold lines of demarcation were drawn between the Jews and those depraved “strangers.” Both political and social equality were forbidden. The Jews were authorized (Lev. xxv.) to make “bond-men and bond-maids” in perpetuity (unlike the slavery of their brethren, which was for a definite period) of the “heathen that were round about them, and of[Pg 206] the children of the strangers that sojourned among them; of them they should buy and of their families that were with them, which they begat in the land”—“they should take them as an inheritance for their children, and they should be their bond-men for ever.” The theory of certain pseudo-philanthropists of the present day, would have led them to prate loudly in behalf of equality, and the duty and practicability of speedily elevating this people in the scale of civilization. But He who was too wise to err and too good to do wrong, knew better, and ordered differently. Barbarism—long-continued barbarism—cannot be speedily elevated by any contact with the forms of civilization. He who denied them political sovereignty, (except on certain conditions, which clearly indicated such an appreciation of the privilege as properly entitled them to the right,) at the same time provided that they be denied social equality, and reduced to a state of absolute slavery—they were made bond-slaves in perpetuity. Herein they were placed under the ban of social as well as political proscription—a position in which they could do the least possible mischief to the progress of civilization, but would contribute greatly to its advancement, and thereby promote their own improvement much beyond any thing they could have attained in their original heathen state.

[Pg 207]

The Africans when first brought into this country were not a whit better in morals, and were greatly inferior in intellect to the ancient inhabitants of Canaan. And, although it be admitted that they have improved, the facts given clearly prove that they are still incompetent to self-government. They are, therefore, no more entitled to the right of political sovereignty than the Canaanites were. But more than this, the Canaanites did not materially differ from the Jews in their physical condition. There were no physical reasons against amalgamation. Intermarriage, it is true, was forbidden, but it was for reasons growing out of their heathen state alone. Whilst that state should last, the common interests of each in civilization forbade such social equality; but this cause out of the way, the Canaanites could be absorbed and lost in the stream of posterity. But not so with the African, as we have shown. He is destined to exist as a separate people. We do not say he shall not, but he cannot to any material extent amalgamate with the Caucasian race. If, therefore, it was proper for the Jews to make slaves of the Canaanites, for a much stronger reason it is now right for us to retain the African in a similar state, and until such time as Providence shall—if ever—open the door for his return to his fatherland.

[Pg 208]

On the general question, Is the system of domestic government existing amongst us, and involving the abstract principle of slavery, justified by the circumstances of the case, and therefore right? we reach an affirmative conclusion, for the reasons:

I. That the Africans are a distinct race of people, who cannot amalgamate to any material extent with the whites, and who, therefore, must continue to exist as a separate class.

II. That they are, as a class, decidedly inferior to the whites in point of intellectual and moral development, so much so as to be incompetent to self-government. Although they have shared largely in the progress of civilization, they have not reached this point. The proof is:

1. Such is the almost universal opinion of the most intelligent and pious communities throughout the whole Southern country, who certainly are well acquainted with their character and capabilities, and therefore fully competent to judge in their case.

2. The experiments at domestic colonization which have been made in this country prove it.

3. The experiments in the case of the free colored population spread through the country are equally in proof.

4. The colonization experiment on the coast of Africa is still more conclusive.

[Pg 209]

III. That domestic slavery is the appropriate form of government for a people in such circumstances, is fully exemplified by the Divine procedure in the case of the heathen subdued by the ancient Israelites.

We infer:

1. That they have no right to social equality or to political sovereignty—that to accord them either, in their present moral condition, would be a curse instead of a blessing. It would in all probability lead to the extermination of the race, and inflict a deep injury both upon the moral and physical condition of the whole country.

2. That every consideration of humanity and prudence requires that, until a better form of subordinate government shall be devised, they must be continued under the system of domestic slavery now in operation.

[Pg 210]


Gradual emancipation, the popular plan—It would operate to collect the slaves into a few States, cut them off from contact with civilization, and reduce them to barbarism—It would make an opening for Northern farmers and their menials to come into those States from which they retired—The modifications which the system of slavery has undergone within late years—A comparison of the menials of the free and of the slave States, and the only plan of emancipation admissible—The gospel the only remedy for the evils of slavery—Paul’s philosophy and practice, 1 Tim. vi. 1-5.

Immediate emancipation is the scheme of the abolitionists proper, whilst gradual emancipation is the favorite plan of the anti-slavery party. The ground we should take is this, that no plan of emancipation, either immediate or gradual, is adapted to the present moral condition and relative circumstances of our African population. Nothing of the kind could at this time be attended with good, but only with evil.

I limit this discussion to the subject of gradual[Pg 211] emancipation, because the reasons by which we invalidate this doctrine will, a fortiori, disprove the doctrine of immediate emancipation.

It is said that a system of gradual emancipation succeeded well in the Northern States, and that it would succeed equally well in the Southern. But I deny the assumption in each case.

There never was a large slave population in the Northern States, owing to the unsuitableness of the climate. The question arises, How did this system operate with the few they had? It is well known that the owners anticipated the time appointed for the law of emancipation to go into operation, and sold their slaves in the South! This law only operated to transfer the slaves, for the most part, to a climate and soil more congenial to their constitution and habits. The operation of the scheme, therefore, resulted only in the emancipation of a few of the whole number, (see Lecture I., page 22;) and these few, as has been proved, have, by the social, and, we may add, in many instances, by the municipal regulations of the States within which they reside, been essentially injured by the change instead of benefited. Hence the scheme did not succeed well in the Northern States. And can it be assumed that it would succeed better in the Southern States? On the contrary, the result would be much more fatal[Pg 212] in the Southern, for the reason that we have a much larger African slave population than existed in the Northern States at the time their emancipation laws were adopted. Now, suppose (what, however, can scarcely, if at all, be allowed a supposable case) that all the Southern States should simultaneously pass laws, providing for the gradual emancipation of the slaves, and hence, ultimately, effect their emancipation, as provided for by law, for the reason that there would be no market open for the sale of them, as was the case when the scheme was attempted at the North: even in such a state of things, you cannot fail to perceive that the propriety of such a measure turns entirely upon the truth or error of a position already discussed.

If my position be correct, (and it is evidently established by the facts adduced in the preceding lecture,) that their mental imbecility and moral degradation is such that, whilst it remains a fact that for physical and uncontrollable causes they cannot amalgamate, any material addition to our present number of free colored population would result in their extermination, humanity, leaving all other reasons out of the account, would forbid the measure! Nor can I persuade myself that there is an emancipationist, however fanatical, this side the strange delirium of a deliberately wicked[Pg 213] purpose to do wrong, who would not “pause upon the brink of this Rubicon,” when assured that the Southern people generally believed that extermination would, in all probability, be the result of his priceless experiment.

But it is extremely idle to suppose that all the Southern States would simultaneously pass such a law; nor does the scheme assume that they would do so. No: the plan advocated is, that the District of Columbia, and the States of Delaware and Maryland, should first emancipate their slaves; then Virginia, then Kentucky, then Missouri, and so on, until the work should be consummated by a gradual process, requiring several years in each State. Let us now inquire what this plan promises.

If the owners of slaves in the States which first in order passed such a law, did not anticipate the time of its taking effect, (as in the case before referred to,) and sell them in the States where no such law had, as yet, been passed, the result would be, as already stated, an accumulation of free colored population, with its inevitable consequences. But this would certainly not be the general operation of such a law. For if cupidity should not prompt a different course, the owners, foreseeing the results of such an accumulation of free colored population, both to the whites and[Pg 214] the blacks, would anticipate the law, in by far the greater number of instances, and sell their slaves in the States in which no such law had been passed. Still, many, no doubt, would not take this course: a want of forecast, and most generally a mistaken notion of humanity, would prevent its adoption. In this way, we cannot hesitate to believe that the accumulation of free colored population would be so great as to induce their extermination at no distant day. This calamity could be averted only by a sale of the slaves into some other State in anticipation of the law providing for their manumission.

Now, whatever of mere selfishness there may be in the proposed measure, nothing is more certain than that it is entirely destitute of all humanity for the slave, and of all just regard to his progress in civilization, and his more speedy elevation to moral fitness for freedom. For by the time this work had progressed through the District of Columbia, the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and, it might be, North Carolina and Tennessee, the far greater part of the numerous slave population of the whole country would be accumulated in the remaining States of the South and South-west. This would be the inevitable result. For the free-soilers, it seems, are determined, if the effect of agitation[Pg 215] can accomplish it at the ballot-box, that there shall be a cordon of free States, formed by the newly acquired territory of New Mexico and California; and in this case there would be no further outlet for the retiring slave.

Let us now inquire what would be the effect of the accumulation of the race within the limits of a few States:

At present, that element of slavery which is properly called domestic, confers incalculable advantages on the slave. By this feature of the system, as it now operates, the slaves are distributed in small numbers in different families. There they are brought, every one of them, into more or less of immediate contact with a high state of civilization. Many of them pass the early part of their lives in the dwelling-houses, and around the tables and firesides of their owners, and in the midst of all the company visiting the house. Others are engaged in field and mechanical pursuits, requiring frequent intercourse with the whites. Their Sabbaths are often spent (and it is daily becoming more and more so) in the midst of our worshipping assemblies. In all these ways, to go no farther, they enjoy the means of improvement, and are making daily progress in civilization. This, without doubt, is the plan indicated by Providence, as affording the most natural[Pg 216] means of accomplishing their ultimate fitness for a more desirable form of civil liberty.

That it cannot be said of any material portion of them that they have thrown off the incubus of preceding ages of barbarism, may be true; yet it is equally true that their progress in civilization, and that in an increasing ratio, is perfectly obvious to any man whose age and acquaintance with the race would entitle his opinion to credit. Any old man amongst us is prepared to speak of the great improvement of slaves within thirty or forty years past. The domestic element of the system has accomplished this improvement, and will certainly in process of time greatly elevate the race above what it now is; and they are now a very different people from their forefathers who first came into this country. I have no hesitation in believing that it is the grand design of Providence that they shall be thus fitted (the far greater portion of them) for position in Africa as the source of civilization to that long-benighted continent.

Now, to take from the present system its domestic element, or, what is virtually the same thing, to place it under such disabilities as to prevent its benevolent results, would arrest the progress of African civilization, and put off his moral elevation for ages to come. And this is precisely the effect which the accumulation of all the slaves of[Pg 217] the whole country within the limits of a few States must have. The domestic element of the system would be effectually crippled, if not entirely destroyed. A large number of slaves would be congregated on single plantations. The whole territory would be in the possession of but a few wealthy planters. They would chiefly reside in the cities and more healthy districts of the country. Their plantations would be under the control of stewards. The steward and his family (usually small) would constitute the whole white population on a plantation, numbering, as would often be the case, several hundred slaves; and the same state of things would exist, to a greater or less extent, through large districts of country. This would be a condition of the race essentially different from that in which they are placed by the present system; and we cannot fail to perceive that they would be well-nigh cut off from all contact with civilization. Instead of continuing to rise in the scale of civilization, as they will do under the present system, they would begin at once to relapse into the barbarism of their original pagan state. This result would be inevitable—only so far as their downward progress might be arrested by the occasional voice of the self-sacrificing missionary, calling to the altars of Christian worship! Would this be humane? Rather, would[Pg 218] it not be brutal? Yet such would be the result of the scheme of “gradual emancipation!”

There is, however, another result of this pseudo-philanthropy that I need not omit to mention: the removal of the slaves from the States named, and the extermination of the remaining free colored population, should they be found to exist (as it is most likely they would) in numbers so great as to constitute a nuisance requiring summary abatement, would make a fine opening for the enterprising farmers of the Northern States to come in and possess these fertile hills and valleys, abounding in wealth and blessed with a most salubrious climate. It would also afford a fine outlet for their own menial population, which threatens so many and serious results to them—the papal vice and ignorance from Ireland and the continent of Europe, which is now flooding the free States. How far these lofty considerations may constitute items in the catalogue of motives which prompt the political agitators of the country to press the subject of African emancipation, I pretend not to say! One thing, however, I may say in behalf of the Southern people, and that is, that as they have no idea of perpetrating these cruel wrongs upon the unfortunate race which Providence has thrown amongst them, so they expect to have no use for those depraved and[Pg 219] perishing menials. They prefer the slaves, in any view of the subject. We may conclude, then, that the position established is not weakened in any degree by considerations of either direct or gradual emancipation. No: the emancipation and removal to Africa of those, and those only, whose moral and social condition entitles them to a higher form of political freedom, as the voluntary act of the individual owner, is the only natural and safe method of emancipation. It affords the only hope of Africa, and of the African in America.

The proposition discussed, and, I think, clearly established, relates to the essential propriety and the fitness of the system of domestic slavery as an institution. Whether this institution is capable of improvement, and, if so, what improvements are demanded by the progress of civilization, are questions quite independent of any thing yet discussed. These topics may engage our attention at a future period in these lectures. I would only remark, in this place, that the system has undergone great modifications since its adoption. Laws and usages that were, no doubt, eminently adapted to the extremely barbarous character of the race, when first brought into the country, have long since become obsolete, and the same may be said of many subsequent regulations. Even the stringent measures adopted on the rise of abolition[Pg 220] excitement in late years, have had but a brief authority. The progress of civilization is the same in its results in this case as in that of any other people. As a state of barbarism yields to the light of civilization, men are more and more disposed to do right, and the laws and usages which were before necessary to compel them to do right, are thereby superseded, and soon grow into disuse. Hence, many of our Northern citizens who form their opinions (as many do) of the practical character of this institution at the present day from the historical account of the laws and usages of a former period, regardless of the fact that they have become, for the most part, obsolete, entertain a very incorrect opinion. The institution at this day is a very different affair, practically, from what they suppose it to be, judging, as they do, from the laws and usages appropriate to a more barbarous condition of the race.

I have no hesitation in affirming that in by far the greater number of instances, the condition of Southern families, embracing domestic slaves, is much better (that is, both whites and blacks) than that of the larger number of Northern families, with hired domestics, on large farms. The labor is much less severe, and the discipline much less strict. The Northern family has more frequently to appeal to the authority of civil law, and to the[Pg 221] right of dismissing unfaithful servants, than the Southern has to appeal to domestic discipline. And still further, the Southern domestic is practically, in all respects save one, quite as much upon a social footing with the white members of the family as the Northern domestic is with the family in which he is employed, whilst the sympathy existing between these different castes in the Southern family is much greater than that which exists in the Northern.

I acknowledge but one difference in regard to practical social equality between the domestics of these families. The white domestic, from the fact that he belongs to the same race, is capable, by industry and enterprise, of rising to an entire social footing with his employer, whilst the African domestic cannot do so. Although the civil law should confer on him the right to do so, the paramount usages of civilized life, founded upon his physical condition, would forbid it. This advantage, we admit, is above all price; but having its foundation in the wise and inscrutable providence of God, it is without remedy by any means which we can adopt; and, indeed, why should we wish even to alter a condition of things founded in physical nature by Him “who is too wise to err and too good to do wrong,” simply because to our limited view of the Divine economy it presents[Pg 222] points of friction which, viewing them from another stand-point, we should desire to avoid! But aside from this advantage, I feel free to affirm, that in every neighborhood which is brought permanently under the influence of the apostolic precepts enjoining the relative duties of master and slave, the practical working of the system secures to the African a higher degree of essential happiness than is found to exist with the whites who fill the menial offices of society in the free States. No white man can be satisfied with the position of a menial in society. Perpetually chafed by the chains which fetter all his attempts to rise in the scale of social equality, he is the subject of a constant and painful irritation. Every failure in an enterprise which promised to elevate him to social equality with those around him, is a new cause of heart-burning and jealousy of all about him, and often an overwhelming source of temptation, not only to distrust the providence of God, but to employ the political franchise to unsettle the foundations of society, by levelling down the whole to a common platform. Hence the agrarian doctrines which find embodiment in various social organizations in the free States. Nothing but that religion which both teaches the duty and imparts the moral power to “be careful for nothing, but in every thing to give thanks,” and in every condition[Pg 223] in which Divine Providence places us, “therewith to be content,” can reconcile a white menial to his condition in such a country as ours. The government itself can only be secure in a republic so long as a pure Christianity (for that only can do it) operates to elevate the social condition of those laboring classes who would otherwise be menials, or reconcile them to a station to which the accident of birth, miscarriage in business, or inferiority in intellect, inevitably consigns them in the competition of business life; or so long as pure religion shall so operate as to leave the balance of political power with those who are either so elevated or so reconciled to an inferior condition. But little, if any thing, of all this, so far as it relates to our colored menials, is to be found at the South. Always conscious of their intellectual inferiority (I speak of the masses) from constant contact with the superior moral power of the whites, and equally conscious that their physical condition is an impassable bar to all social equality by marriage, they not only do not aspire to it in their feelings, but, in all cases in which they are treated as the Scriptures require masters to treat their servants, they learn to be contented with their lot, and, looking to their owners as their lawful and safe protectors, become affectionately attached to the whole family, and, dismissing all care, are the most[Pg 224] cheerful and, indeed, merry class of people we have amongst us. A slave who did not think more of himself, and feel himself to be better off, in all respects, than the state which agreed with his idea of what he calls “poor white folks” and “free niggers,” really would not be worth having as a house servant in any Christian family of my acquaintance. Indeed, in freedom from care, and all the elements of a mere temporal happiness, the slaves of an enlightened and well-ordered family are often in a much more desirable situation than the heads of the family, who are occupied with the duty of caring for all and of providing for all. For the master of such a family to plod his weary way to daily labor on his farm, with a care-worn countenance, which traces itself in his slow and measured step, whilst the loud laugh of his merry hearted slaves is echoing around him, is no uncommon thing in the South. As to the corroding cares which weigh down the spirits and often bring on premature old age, the condition of heads of families do not perhaps materially differ in any part of our country. But, I repeat, the difference is very great between the menials of families in the free and in the slave States, and this difference is greatly in favor of the slaves of the South. The one—especially in the cities—is often oppressed by a grinding poverty, and an[Pg 225] active discontent which is as corroding to the heart as it is dangerous to the state; whilst the other is a stranger, for the most part, to real want—is free from painful cares, contented and cheerful in his condition—adding daily to the progress of civilization and the permanency of the government. The emancipation and removal to Africa of those whose progress in civilization has so far developed their minds as to constitute them exceptions to this remark, for the reason that they are by their moral condition fitted for a higher form of civil freedom, may be allowed as the voluntary act of the owner. But all other schemes of emancipation, whether immediate or gradual, are totally inadmissible. For if successful, for the reason that they cannot share social equality with the whites, they sink in the scale of civilization, and become a nuisance in the community requiring abatement; and if the scheme should prove a failure, the result of the effort can only be, as we have seen, to accumulate large bodies of slaves within small districts of country, cut them off from a more direct contact with civilization, and arrest their progress in improvement. No: emancipation in the popular sense offers no relief to any of the evils, real or imaginary, of African slavery in America; but rather aggravates all that now exist, and threatens to multiply them a thousand-fold.[Pg 226] If any in the whole country be moved with sympathy for the race—as many think themselves to be—let them diffuse the charities of a pure gospel through the whole extent of our country. No field was ever more “white to the harvest,” and none perhaps in which laborers could be employed to greater advantage in the cause of humanity. They will promote a charity which shall save the country from discord and civil war. They will give efficiency to those precepts of the Scriptures which enjoin the duties of masters and slaves. By doing this they will lighten the task of masters, and, at the same time, interest them more deeply in all that concerns the welfare of the slave. They will greatly improve the physical comfort of the slaves, and, what is of far greater importance, they will develop their moral natures, and therein add to their present cheerful and contented state, the enjoyment of that religion which, as it fits them for the higher walks of life on earth, at the same time fits them for the rest of heaven. In a word, they will effect all that the most devoted friend of the slave can reasonably desire. For in this state of advanced progress, whatever modification of the system or change in either the condition or location of the race may be demanded by sound principles, will be readily adopted, and as peaceably effected. Thus the long-disputed problem[Pg 227] of emancipation will be found to solve itself. But instead of this active and efficient service in the cause of humanity, to stand aloof and pronounce silly and sluggish invectives—for such they really are—against the South, for not following the example of certain Northern States in manumitting their slaves,—which, by the way, we have shown they never did to any material extent,—is calculated only to produce an irritation which must result in the most incurable prejudices. These invectives are often founded upon certain abstract principles of political philosophy which are usually misunderstood, and still more frequently misapplied to the South. Such men, together with the nature and results of their labors, are graphically described by the Apostle Paul, as “proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil-surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness.” The whole paragraph from which this quotation is made—1 Tim. vi. 1-5—is commended to particular attention. And I submit, that if the apostle understood the subject of domestic slavery, either as a philosophical or a practical question, the class of men now engaged in agitating our country on the subject do not!

[Pg 228]


Superiors frequently neglect inferiors—The policy of the South vindicated by necessity—The results that would follow an attempt to establish a system for instructing the blacks in letters, and those which would follow the establishment of such a system—The domestic element of the system of slavery in the Southern States affords the means for their improvement adapted to their condition and the circumstances of the country: it affords the natural, the safe, and the effectual means of the intellectual and moral elevation of the race—The prospects of the Africans in this country, and their final removal to Africa—The country never will be entirely rid of them—The Southern policy wise and humane.

One point remains to be considered to complete a full and candid view of the institution of domestic slavery.

It is erroneously said that “we keep the African in a state of barbarism, and then plead that barbarism in vindication of our policy.”

Every thing is liable to abuse. I know that there are instances in the South of great neglect[Pg 229] of the slaves, both of their moral and physical condition. The same may be said of individuals at the North. Superiors often neglect their inferiors, and that, in many instances, to a very culpable degree. I know no efficient remedy for this, but that which the diffusion of a pure Christianity is calculated to afford. If any complain of these neglects in a captious spirit, we have nothing to hope from them. But from those who claim to be sincere, we have a right to expect an active and hearty cooperation in diffusing Christianity, as the only thing calculated to afford a remedy.

But it is said that a feature of the system, as established by law, necessarily produces this result: that is, the law which excludes the African from the benefits of school instruction.

The term necessarily is in this instance certainly misapplied. The barbarism in question is not the result of this law, necessarily, or otherwise. It existed originally. It still exists, and to a great extent, though greatly modified; and in the present circumstances of the race, an authorized system of school instruction would cause it to continue to exist, and perhaps in a much greater degree than it now does, and for a longer time than it promises to do under the present system. If this be so, it is the semi-barbarism that creates[Pg 230] the necessity for the law, and not the law that makes the barbarism the necessary result.

An unwieldy mass of semi-barbarism dwelling in the midst of a civilized community, with whom they cannot amalgamate by intermarriage, will, at all times, require a peculiar system of appliances for their improvement, so as to make it consistent with the common welfare. The principle of slavery must, of course, be kept in vigorous operation, and the means of improvement be wisely adapted to the state of the pupil. Otherwise, there may not only be a very improvident expenditure of means, but the most disastrous results. The horn-book might be a valuable agent in the hands of a child, but the instruments and agents in a chemical laboratory might prove its ruin.

Should the time ever arrive (which in the opinion of some will be the case, at some distant day) when the progress of African civilization will justify it; and when an asylum in Africa is provided for them—together with the means of their removal in large numbers—I have no doubt that a system of popular education would not only be indicated as proper, but afford one of the most brilliant fields for the display of public and of individual benevolence, that has ever yet presented itself in behalf of that degraded race. But what I have to say of this hypothesis is, that if it ever[Pg 231] should, the generations—both North and South—that may then live, I have no doubt, will have both sagacity enough to perceive it, and benevolence enough to improve it to the mutual advantage of themselves and the African race. But it is very evident that neither of these conditions has been fulfilled as yet. In this state of things, it cannot be supposed that the Southern people are prepared for any enterprise of the kind. I cannot imagine that any public movement, having for its object the instruction of the blacks in reading and writing, could be made without involving the most disastrous results.

Let us suppose that a majority in our legislative councils were in favor of such a measure, and were actually to tax the people to support a system of primary education for the blacks: any man would certainly be excessively stupid who would not allow that a minority would, at all times, (in the present state of public experience,) exist, who deemed the law sufficiently oppressive to justify repudiation and physical resistance. If this object were sought to be accomplished by individual enterprise, the results could scarcely be less embarrassing. This will readily appear; for it would have to be effected either in the common schools of the country, or by the establishment of separate schools for the Africans. But I am not[Pg 232] aware that the former is allowed to any material extent even in the free States, where certainly, if the scheme were practicable, the free blacks might be educated in the same schools with the whites. The usage of civilization, which denies them a social footing in so many other respects, must, of course, so far deny them this privilege as to render the scheme mainly ineffectual in the accomplishment of good, or the usage is singularly inconsistent with itself.

And can it be supposed that such a scheme would operate better in the South, where the reasons against it are a thousand-fold stronger, growing out of the large number of the African population? Certainly nothing could be more utopian than an enterprise of this kind. Public opinion would scarcely be sufficiently divided to justify even the wildest schemer in making a serious attempt to effect it. The latter plan might perhaps be attempted, but, on account of the evils it would involve, it would still be subject to impassable objections.

Slaves, though not owned by the poor, are held for the most part by farmers and planters whose pecuniary circumstances are what is called moderate. There are exceptions. Occasionally, they are held by men of wealth; but in the older States particularly, (and of these I speak from[Pg 233] personal knowledge,) the great mass of those who own them cannot be said, in any popular sense of the term, to be rich. Now, the habits of half-labor, as any Northern man would regard them, in which the slaves are usually indulged, would put it quite out of the power of most of slave-owners to afford the necessary support for such schools, however favorable they might be to the scheme. Withal, there is but little if any room to doubt that a great many, both among the rich as well as the poor, would oppose the measure, for what appeared to them reasons of sound policy. This would leave the scheme to be supported entirely by the few rich men, whose benevolence might lead them to overlook the strong popular objections against it. It requires no particular sagacity to foresee the practical mischiefs which would attend the efforts of a few rich men who might attempt to override the popular feeling on a subject of this kind. Public opinion would put it down! This would be the end of it in one direction, but not in another.

The whole movement would be attended, from first to last, with an irritation of the public mind in the highest degree unfavorable, and, indeed, dangerous to the peace and prosperity of the commonwealth. All irritations of the public mind in regard to the blacks, it is well known, result[Pg 234] injuriously to them, generally abridging them of their civil privileges and social comforts. In this instance, viewing the subject as a practical question, I cannot see that it would be attended with a single redeeming virtue, so far as the blacks are concerned. But to place it in the most favorable light, let us suppose that, by some means, one or the other of these plans had actually gone into operation—which, by the way, can scarcely be conceived to be possible in the present state of society—and had already made a decided impression upon the public mind of the Africans. Even in this case it would still be liable to strong and impassable objections. It would be educating them in advance of their circumstances and prospects. In their circumstances, it would be even more objectionable than it could be to take the time and labor of a white youth, which (we will also suppose) were required for the immediate support of himself and of those depending upon his labor, and educate him for the learned pursuits of a Newton or a Macaulay, whilst at the same time, for causes beyond his control, he was doomed for the remainder of his days to work in the mines of Cornwall or Chesterfield, by the light of Sir Humphrey Davy’s lamp! No one of the important objects of so high an education is accessible to him. The least part of the objection to[Pg 235] such a course as this is, that it would be a useless expenditure of time and labor.

But the reason is much stronger in the case of the African. The civil offices are all closed against him. No one of the learned professions is open to him. The law of caste which forbids his amalgamation bars him out from every thing of the kind. He is doomed to occupy, so long as he remains in the midst of a white community, the position of an inferior. God himself has so ordered it. The bold line of distinction he has drawn between the races, is fully declarative of his will. He only can reverse the decree, “The Ethiopian cannot change his skin,” any more than “the leopard can change his spots.” In this state of facts, would not the public mind—whose decisions must be authoritative in the settlement of such a question—very naturally inquire for the good that it was thought might result from so material a change in the circumstances of the institution? And is it not obvious that no answer could be given that would insure satisfaction? No power of eloquence with which it is competent to enforce the claims of education, could possibly move the public mind from the sober conviction that the advantages and privileges of education, so necessary to a state of civil liberty, and so appropriate in other respects to that state, could not, with any[Pg 236] degree of propriety, be demanded in behalf of a necessary condition of slavery!

Thus far, the principles of political economy, alone considered, would, in the public estimation, fully settle this question. But this is not all. The question has much graver aspects than money can possibly give it. The effect of generally enlisting the African mind in literary pursuits and inquiries, is too obvious either to be overlooked or slightly regarded. A state of popular disquietude must inevitably result, and this, too, at a time when the door of Providence remains effectually closed against his release from slavery and his removal to Africa. This disquietude could not fail to lead to many fanatical and fruitless attempts to effect a change in the political condition of the race. Such a state of popular solicitude among the blacks would of course be followed by much greater solicitude and even irritation on the part of the whites. So potent a cause would certainly precipitate its appropriate results. The oppressive and, in some respects, the savage laws by which ancient Sparta, Greece, and Rome governed their slaves—some of whom were highly educated men—would of necessity be reenacted in this country. Our present mild form of slavery would be substituted by a form of oppression unknown to the history of this country, even in the most barbarous[Pg 237] condition of the African race. And thus would end the chapter of abolition benevolence in behalf of the African race in the United States.

In view of these considerations, the policy of the South on this subject, allow me to affirm, is founded no less in benevolence to the African and the peace of the commonwealth, than in the soundest principles of political economy. It relies upon the domestic element of the system of slavery, as the natural, the only safe, and ultimately the effectual means of the intellectual and moral elevation of the African—so far as any means can be effectual in the accomplishment of that object.

1. It is the natural way—that is, the way adapted to their condition as an inferior and naturally distinct race, who, both on account of the physical facts which constitute them a distinct race, and the low state of civilization (if it may be called civilization at all) which they have yet been able to attain, should not be admitted to a social footing by intermarriage with the superior race.

In a former lecture, it was demonstrated that an uncivilized race, dwelling in the midst of a civilized community, had no right to social equality, and, for a still stronger reason, no right to political sovereignty in such a community. It was also shown that their natural rights entitled them to protection, and reasonable provision for their improvement,[Pg 238] and, as in the case of minors, to such “authoritative control” as is best calculated to preserve their power of self-action—their power of volition—from that enslavement to the baser passions of depraved nature, which is destructive of all true liberty, and the most degraded and ruinous form of slavery—subjection to the devil; in comparison with which, a physical subjection to a fellow-man, in civilized life, with a power, defined by law, only to control his time and labor to a reasonable extent, is a paradise. These—we of the South say—are their natural rights—the good to which they are entitled in virtue of their humanity. Now as these rights are in their nature relative, they imply the duty on the part of the civilized race amongst whom, in the providence of God, they dwell, to afford them both the protection and control in question. Their duty, in these respects, is clearly reciprocal with the rights of the Africans. They can no more omit these duties to the blacks with impunity, than they can do so to the minors and imbeciles of their own race. Now what form of control will more naturally or appropriately fulfil the conditions of this problem? They are to exercise the sovereign control: all political freedom is denied the blacks by their condition. They have no right to it. It is not, to them, the essential good. Their rights lie,[Pg 239] as in the case of imbeciles of any other race, in being governed, not in governing themselves, in those matters which constitute the objects of civil government. To exercise this sovereign control of the blacks, and at the same time afford them the protection and improvement which are appropriate to a necessary condition of slavery, or state of subjection to such sovereign control, is the solemn duty of the superior race. The position here advocated is, that the domestic element of the present system in operation amongst us, affords a more perfect guaranty that all the conditions of this problem will be fulfilled, than could be effected by any other system, or by the proposed modification of the present system. The element in question constitutes for them an invaluable school of instruction—a school in which both the mental and moral nature is developed. A school for the formal instruction of the blacks in letters, we have seen would operate only to defeat the end proposed by its establishment. To govern and protect them, and at the same time make them useful to themselves and to society, by a system of military police, could find but few if any advocates, even among the visionary. But what more natural than to accomplish all these objects, by a system which distributes them in small numbers through the different families of civilized life? Here they[Pg 240] are brought into immediate connection with much that is calculated to develop the mind, cultivate the moral sense, and train the will to the habit of obedience to its high behests. The law confers upon the head of the family the same right to direct and appropriate the time and labor of the blacks, that he enjoys in the case of his children—and no more. The period of time to which this authority extends, differs in the one case from that of the other; but this is the only difference known to the law. Great abuses of this authority sometimes occur in the case of the blacks; but the same is occasionally true of parental authority in all parts of the civilized world. The former may furnish a fit theme for the perverted genius of Mrs. Harriet Stowe. The fruit of such a genius may have a poetry—of its kind; but it can lay claim to neither philosophy nor common sense. The same force of logic which is hurled against the authority of the master, rakes the authority of the parent in the line of its fire, with an effect no less destructive. Both are equally necessary; both are equally protected by law; and both are open to great abuses. The poetry which invests these abuses with the show of argument against the authority of the master may cater to the corrupt taste of both the “great vulgar” and the “little vulgar;” but it is the same cormorant[Pg 241] appetite which is fed, that leads the mere “readers and cipherers” of the land to turn aside from those valuable productions so appropriate to their real wants, and delight themselves in tragic stories of murder, arson, and rape, from the perusal of which they rise with passions inflamed to crusade against the morals of society. Christianity sternly rebukes the abuses complained of; and equally condemns that perversion of genius which employs those abuses to corrupt the public taste and the public morals. As far as Christianity prevails, the civil law which requires humanity in the exercise of domestic authority, no less in the case of the slave than in the case of the child or the apprentice, is sanctioned, and, in cases demanding it, is duly enforced by public opinion and sentiment. In all communities in which Christianity is the presiding influence, African slavery must, therefore, be a mild form of domestic servitude. It even contributes in a measure to a knowledge of letters. Many servants are raised by their associations with civilized life to a desire to read the word of God. The domestic relation often supplies them with the means of gratifying this desire. Many pious slaves read the word of God as a part of their family worship; and instances are not wanting of those of whom it may be said, they “are mighty in the Scriptures.” Such are the tendencies[Pg 242] and capabilities of domestic slavery as a system recognized by law; and apart from those abuses which all good men deplore—no less in the case of the slave than in the case of the child and the apprentice, who are no further protected from inhumanity by the provisions of law than is the slave. Hence this system is the natural way of protecting, improving, and governing the African for the mutual benefit of society. It is evidently indicated by Providence. No other can be appropriate to a mass of population who can never be politically free in our midst, for the reason that, in the order of Divine Providence, they never can amalgamate with us. But it is,

2. The only safe way.

It is slow, it is true, but it is for that reason only the more safe. Its effects are, for the most part, without observation. Hence, it produces no irritation of the public mind. It develops the law of sympathy on both sides in the ratio in which it unfolds the intellectual and moral nature of the subordinate race. It raises no visionary and fanatical hopes in the one, nor excites any morbid fears in the other. I say, its results march forward without observation. A revenue tariff, for example, affords a full support to the government by a virtual tax upon the pockets of the people; and it does this at a time when they[Pg 243] would not for a moment consent to pay that tax, if it were made a direct tax, to be collected by the authority of an exciseman. So, without observation, the domestic element of slavery is accomplishing its results, with equal safety. Or, more in point, perhaps, it is like the “kingdom of heaven,” which “comes without observation.” The “kingdom of heaven,” in the form of principles, diffuses itself through the mass of society, and ultimately works, as a legitimate result, the boldest political revolutions. But by diffusing itself quietly, or “without observation,” it prepares the public mind for its changes in the exact ratio in which it effects them; and thus accomplishes that, by the popular will, the attempt to do which in another way would have razed the foundations of civil society, and closed the history of civilization for ages to come. So, this divine agent—for such I must consider it—is working constant changes. It is daily modifying the features of the system, and so developing the moral character of the African, as to throw him up, by successive steps, higher and still higher on the scale of civilization. But this it does so quietly, because naturally, that it actually works a specific result on the masters, and accomplishes its objects by the consent of their wills and their own active coöperation.

[Pg 244]

All this, we see, is effected with entire safety. Even in those instances—and they are numerous—in which the working of the domestic element of the system results in teaching the African to read, we are not aware that it involves, or even threatens, society, with any of those evils which it is so obvious a more formal system of school instruction would precipitate. Slaves who are below a certain point in civilization, cannot be induced, by any of the influences employed by young masters and mistresses, (and they are often specific,) to deal with the task of learning to read. Only those who are so far raised in the scale of civilization as to have awakened in them a hallowed desire to learn more of the will of God, and their duty as Christians, ever avail themselves of the opportunities afforded them by their domestic relations, and learn to read. These devote a portion of their spare hours to reading the Bible; and a pious African, who reads his Bible, is always known and appreciated as a better servant, as well as a better man. He enjoys the respect and confidence of his owner, and is highly appreciated by all the family. I have often known the prayer of such a slave to be more relied on in times of domestic affliction than that of any minister whose services could be commanded.

But, more than this, the results which have[Pg 245] been brought to view are not only effected with safety, but also with a high degree of satisfaction to the owners. Everywhere families may be met with, who will call your attention with hallowed satisfaction to what they have done for the improvement or comfort of their slaves. But it will be found that this very good is just such that if you had attempted to effect it by other means than the quiet influences of the domestic element of this system, you would, by a universal law of our nature—self-preservation—have converted each of those families into a kind of Roman amphitheatre, and made the unhappy slaves the chief victims of your rashness. Hence, it is not without the gravest reasons that the intelligence of the South rebukes the fanatical spirit of abolitionists, with the most solemn assurances that they know not the things whereof they speak, when they urge upon the Southern people the duty of schooling and emancipating their slaves.

3. But I also affirm that the feature of the system under consideration will ultimately effect the moral elevation of the African, so far as any means can be effectual in the accomplishment of this object, whilst he remains in the bosom of a community with which he cannot be admitted to a social footing.

[Pg 246]

So unobserved is the influence of this element, that I find but few, even among intelligent and practical men, who, before their attention is particularly called to the subject, are aware of what it has already effected. But in numerous public addresses in the States of Virginia and North Carolina, I have appealed to the oldest and most observant men in large assemblies, and in no instance have I met with a single individual who did not concur in my statement that the present race of Africans were very materially improved, both in their moral and physical condition, above what they were some twenty or forty years ago, and that the change has been much greater with the slaves than with the free colored population. Now, it is obvious that this improvement will continue to go on, and in an increasing ratio. On the same principle that labor applied to capital is productive in an increasing ratio, the means in operation for the improvement of the African will greatly accelerate his progress. Hence, some future period will present a generation of Africans highly improved above what they are now. Consequently, there will arrive, at some distant day, a period at which this people will have reached that point of moral progress at which they will be capable of appreciating, and, in a suitable physical condition, adapting them to social equality,[Pg 247] will be prepared to occupy and wisely improve, the privileges of civil liberty.

It is on this principle that the laws of all civilized States confer the privilege of political freedom on the descendants of their free citizens. At the age of twenty-one they are made politically free. The law assumes, what is found generally to be true, that previously to this period they are incapable of using this privilege to the advantage of themselves and of the community; but that, at this age, their capacities are sufficiently developed to make a proper use of this privilege; and as neither their physical condition nor any accidents of their position operate as a bar to their social equality with other free citizens, it is conferred on them. By analogy, therefore, we may infer, that when the African in America shall have reached a similar moral state, and when his physical condition and the accidents of his position shall fit him for social equality with other free citizens, a similar right of political freedom will inure to him. It will be to him the right—that is, the good—which ought to be allowed him. To withhold it would be despotism. Now, the former condition of this problem, his moral state in this country at some future day may fulfil; but that the latter can never be fulfilled in this country is[Pg 248] obvious from the facts and reasonings already adduced. But when in future time his state shall fulfil the first condition, it is a grave question which we may safely anticipate, whether it will not be the duty of the superior race amongst whom the Africans now dwell, to remove them to a land where they can enjoy social equality. We hazard nothing in deciding this question in the affirmative. Rights and duties are reciprocal. Then whatever it shall be the right of the African to claim of their superiors, it will be their duty to confer. That they would be entitled to removal in large numbers, will appear—1. They will have contributed largely to develop the resources of the country, as the price of their civilization. 2. It would be to them the good, without which their civilization could but partially avail them. Hence, it would be the duty of their superiors to remove them in such numbers as their means of doing so might allow. But more than this, it would be a duty which they owed themselves, even if they were under no obligations to the inferior race. For when a numerous population in our midst, though confessedly inferior, shall arise to the moral condition defined, the difficulties attending their longer continuance in a state of slavery, domestic or otherwise, will be far too great to justify the experiment.

[Pg 249]

Hence I have long thought that there was usually a very unnecessary expenditure of sympathy on behalf of certain enslaved nations of Europe, as well as the African of this country. A nation, the masses of whom have arisen to the moral condition of freedom, will assert their political rights; and they will usually do it on practicable grounds. It is only at this point that they challenge public sympathy. For the mind was never before sufficiently free to make their situation an oppressive one, assuming that their rulers do not abuse their power. Before this period, their rights lay in being governed—not in governing. Political freedom would be as dangerous intrusted to them, as a razor would be in the hands of a child, and should, for the same general reasons, be withheld from them. But withheld by whom? asks the philosophy of Dr. Wayland. I answer, By those who have the intelligence to do it. Both the principle of benevolence and the law of reciprocity require this; and that intelligence which imposes this duty, can never fail to supply the means for the restraint of brute force.

Of the truth of this general position no people appear to be more sensible than the aristocracy of Europe. De Tocqueville clearly asserts this on their behalf, when he states that the object of his tour through the United States arose from the[Pg 250] necessity of becoming acquainted with the spirit and character of democracy, that a proper direction might be given to it in Europe. To direct it wisely might be done; but to crush it was utterly impossible. Now if this author be correct in supposing that the spirit of democracy is truly awake among the masses of European population, and that consequently they are asserting their right to freedom—not from the abuse of legitimate power, which calls for reform merely, but from the power itself, which their improved moral and social condition has rendered no longer appropriate, and which, therefore, they now sensibly feel to be an oppression, calling for revolution—they are following the indications of nature, and there is no power in those nations that can shut the door of Providence against them. An obedient child will cheerfully submit to the reasonable though stringent despotism exercised over him by his parent, and even look back upon it in after life with the highest pleasure. Nevertheless, on reaching his maturity, he will refuse to submit to it any longer, and even feel an attempt to force it upon him as an oppression too intolerable to be borne. So, by parity of reasoning, will the masses of these nations demand an entire abolition of the existing modes of government, and claim such as are adapted to their state of maturity. But, on the other hand, if the[Pg 251] movements in question are the work of only a few master-spirits who have mistaken the actual condition of the masses, who have not yet risen to the moral condition of freedom, they will be found to be fighting against God. The door of his providence is closed against them. There are no means in the compass of their power by which they can force an entrance through this door. They may shed oceans of blood, but it shall not avail. So, in the former case, the aristocracy may exhaust alike their treasures and their diplomatic resources, but it can only be to fill the land with desolation and mourning. The enlightened popular mind and will must prevail. “Verily,” a premature resistance in either case “has its reward”—great suffering, and a vast accumulation of guilt, but not success.

These principles are not without their application to the Africans in this country. Should the remote period arrive when the state of the Africans fulfils the first condition of the problem laid down, they will certainly feel their political condition in this country to be an oppressive one, and, if necessary, assert their right to remove. I say, assert their right to remove; for in the mental condition assumed, they would have far too much good sense to do what many less qualified to judge than they would then be have done—ask for political[Pg 252] equality amongst a people with whom they could never be on a footing of social equality. I am equally satisfied that they would be under no necessity to ask this. The intelligence and virtue, no less than the interest, of that age, will forestall such a necessity, by the measures which justice and humanity will dictate as proper to meet the circumstances of the case.

For my own part, I have no doubt that, under that wise superintending Providence which has so signally marked the progress of African civilization, by introducing so large a portion of the race into this country, that distant day, when it arrives, will provide for itself. Anxious solicitude on the part of the present age is not demanded. Neither the intelligence nor the benevolence of that remote age will be unequal to the task of providing for the necessities of its times. Already, indeed, “coming events cast their shadows before.” The elements have been long combining, both to usher in and to dispose of those events. The domestic element of slavery is, as we have seen, quietly and effectually doing its work. God is raising up a vast government on the coast of Africa, which promises to reach a respectable station among the civilized nations of the earth—in moral and physical resources. In the progress of events, there is no ground to doubt that the abolition spirit, abroad[Pg 253] in so large a portion of our country, will have had its day, and run its course through all the usual stages and phases of fanaticism, and, giving place to a sounder philanthropy and a purer benevolence, those who now advocate it will be prepared to unite with the philosophy of the South, and availing themselves of the vast resources of this great country, and of those of the new government in Africa, will transport large numbers to a community in which their social equality will enable them to enjoy the freedom for which they were fitted in this country. Many of those who remain will, no doubt, amalgamate with the whites, however it may be in violation of the laws of civilization. Those barriers which free-soilism is now erecting on our Southern border, will ultimately yield to a sounder policy, and many of our slaves will find their way to the remote South, where the state of civilization will admit of a more general amalgamation, and be lost in the Mexican races; whilst the remainder—perhaps a large number—will continue in the United States, but in a highly improved condition, and under a form of civil government which will not be felt by them as a political oppression, and continue to bless the country. I have no idea that the race will ever become extinct in this country, or cease to exist under a subordinate government of some kind.

[Pg 254]

I would not claim entire accuracy for these views of the distant future; but of their general accuracy I have no doubt. Future history will, doubtless, challenge the gratitude of the Christian world for that wonderful providence by which the residence of the African in this country was made as the sojourn of Joseph in Egypt. As God sent him before his brethren “to preserve life,” so it will be found that he permitted the introduction of the pagan African into this country, that he might be raised by contact with civilization, redeemed by the genius of the gospel, and returned to bless his kindred and his country. Thus all Africa shall, sooner or later, share the blessings of civilization and religion. I am not able to see any thing that can or will embarrass the progress of this great work, but the spirit of a premature abolition. The doctrines of emancipation and school instruction may keep up an irritated state of the public mind, that must act as a serious check to the civilizing tendencies of the domestic element of the system; for the long-continued agitation of these questions may excite fanatical aspirants to attempt to pass limits which God has declared to be impassable—that is, to procure political freedom for a people who are not prepared for it, and that in the midst of another people with whom they can never generally amalgamate. All[Pg 255] attempts of this sort, it is well known, are extremely hurtful to the progress of the African in civilization. Every consideration, therefore, of policy and of humanity forbids that these doctrines should receive the slightest encouragement from an enlightened people. The race is not prepared for the operation of either of these schemes. No better evidence need be required by those not personally acquainted with the character of the Africans, than the fact that they have never once attempted to assert a right to political freedom. The fact that, nowhere throughout the Southern States, can it be said of even a respectable minority of the race, that they have given the slightest indication of such a disposition, is proof that they have not yet risen to that mental state, and hence are not entitled to the political privileges which are appropriate to it. It is vain to point to the few attempts at local insurrection which have occurred. The highest conception which the masses have ever yet formed of political freedom is simply liberty to do nothing. To win this cherished object of barbarism—not of civilization—a bare handful, on a few occasions, have concocted plans as hopeless as the spirit in which they were conceived was barbarian, and as visionary as the dreams of Miller that he could make an intelligent Christian people believe his vagaries; or the[Pg 256] leaders of the Mormon folly and wickedness, that they could impose their grossly stupid imposture upon the civilized world.

In view, therefore, of these facts and reasonings, we conclude that the Southern people are not obnoxious to the charge of keeping the Africans in a state of barbarism, by their policy, either on the subject of emancipation or of school instruction; but that they are following the indications of Divine Providence, and serving the cause of humanity in the civilization of the African in America, and the redemption of his fatherland.

[Pg 257]


Preliminary remarks—American party—The present and prospective condition of our country—The large number of voters in the free-soil States who will be under a foreign influence, political and religious, inducing them to discard the Bible and the right of private judgment—The freedom of the Southern States from this anti-Christian and anti-republican influence—The presence of the African race in the Southern States secures them this advantage—The unpatriotic policy of free-soilism

We have seen that nowhere throughout the South have the masses of our African population given evidence of the first intelligent conception of political freedom. As to insurrections, we are freer from their disturbing influences than are the communities of many of the Northern States from the progress of a no less dangerous influence—the agrarian spirit which pervades a somewhat similar portion of society. We of the South fear them less; and we have less cause to fear them. On[Pg 258] this score they make a useless expenditure of sympathy on our behalf. It may be demonstrated that, without a singular interposition of Divine Providence, the South (using the term, as I generally do, for all those States which maintain the system of domestic slavery) will, ere long, be called upon to protect the liberties of the North from the progress of agrarianism, whilst there is not the remotest probability that these will ever be called on to protect the South from the insurrectionary movements of their blacks. I repeat—no! no people in the whole country who fill the menial offices of society are more contented than our blacks, or as much so. There are none who less feel their condition to be oppressive, or who have as little cause to feel it so.

In discussing the proposition enunciated, it is proper to premise, that if I should be found to agree to any extent with the “American party,” whose “councils” are now attracting so much attention, as to the accumulation of a dangerous influence in the country, I find the chief remedy (whatever may or may not be true of those proposed by this party) in a providential arrangement which seems not so much to have engaged public attention.

I propose to submit a brief sketch of the present and prospective condition of our country.

[Pg 259]

We live in a country of vast geographical extent. A large portion of it is uninhabited. It is, however, rapidly filling up. Immigrants from every section of the civilized world are rapidly arriving in our eastern cities, and spreading to remote sections of our republic: men of every conceivable variety of taste, disposition, and opinion, both in politics and in religion. The fertility and abundance of our soil, and the variety of our staple articles of produce, have attracted universal activity and enterprise. To compare the civilized world to one vast city, our republic seems destined to become the great market or business-street of it. Here, all is bustle and activity. Nowhere on the face of the globe is so much energy of character displayed. No attentive observer can fail to perceive the tendency of all this to call off the mind from those moral and intellectual pursuits that so eminently fit men for the sober duties of life and the felicities of heaven. The public mind is already kept in a state of most unnatural excitement, stimulated in the highest degree to the pursuits of wealth and political distinction, to the almost entire neglect of every other interest. This is daily becoming the supreme attraction, to which the popular impulse yields as readily as the unfortunate ship obeys the resistless circles of the maelstrom.

[Pg 260]

Thus far, it is true, we have succeeded to “lay that broad foundation of modern society which promises the noble superstructure of rational liberty. But regarding the tendencies of this restless people, looking at the growth of our own improvidence, and at the copious additions which overstocked and perishing Europe is daily sending us, in multiplied forms of ignorance and superstition, insomuch that in many respects in our Northern States our republican fabric is fast changing and passing away before our very eyes, who can exult in the certainty of success! Who will not despair, except so far as he may be sanguine that a tone and energy of moral effort is put forth, equal to that which achieved our national liberties! For if this be not done, in a day we may go down into hopeless bondage! The physical battle of our liberties has been fought and won, and we are fast rushing up to unparalleled eminence; but from this dizzy height, if we be not sustained by some conservative power, we shall go down in a moment to the degradation of slavery. For let it be remembered that whilst liberty may be achieved by the sword, it cannot be maintained by the sword. Enlightened principles and moral excellence alone can maintain the liberty that force achieves.”

I say nothing of that large class of foreign[Pg 261] population whose education and pecuniary resources enable them to come among us from a choice of our institutions, and the other means of happiness which this great country affords. I bid them all welcome. They add alike to the permanency and strength of our institutions. Nor do I say any thing against that unfortunate multitude which accompanies these, whose ignorance and vice compel them, reluctantly or not, to seek their bread in our fruitful country. So far as we may be able to receive them, I rejoice that we have a home for them. But it is obvious that our safety can be found only in our ability to absorb them into our political body, and impart our character to them; and in those providential arrangements which shall sustain us through the protracted process. Without these, there is no ground to hope for success. For what power is that which (in the language of another) “has been fitly styled the ‘terror of Europe’—the power that has sent earthquake after earthquake, rolling under the deep foundations of governments, till they have rocked to their basis, and tottered to their fall? It is the order, or rather the mass of vicious ignorance and poverty which has there accumulated for ages.” This maniac power must continue to work its extended desolations in Europe, except so far as it may be enervated by[Pg 262] expanding on the wilderness of North America. It is fortunate for Europe that this enfeebling process is rapidly going forward; but it is most unfortunate for us that we are destined soon to concentrate a power which Europe is so happily expanding. We are destined, ere long, to become a great manufacturing, as well as commercial and agricultural people. Our condition is soon to condense millions into cities and manufacturing districts, where, as in Europe, from the class of population flowing in upon us, a distinct class of menial poverty will be formed, “imbecile of mind, and inapt but for one employment.”[6]

[6] Some years ago, a pamphlet fell into my hands, written by some one whose name, if I ever knew it, I have forgotten. I think it likely that this language, or much of it, is to be credited to that pamphlet.

Nor is this all. It lays no claim to prophetic honor to venture the prediction, that the youth of our country who shall survive the next half century, will witness that which many will not believe, “though a man declare it unto them.” But reasoning from the past, or from well-established principles of political economy, it is morally certain that our present population of twenty-three millions will then have swelled to near one hundred millions. “Agriculture, commerce, and manufactures will have expanded their resources [Pg 263]and powers of production to an inconceivable extent. The various portions of our country will be linked together by railroads, canals,” telegraphic wires, and by some other—God knows what!—as yet undiscovered means of connection. Already, the cities of our Atlantic coast converse freely, by means of “lightning post-boys,” with their next-door neighbors—the cities of the great Mississippi valley! “Flourishing cities are now lifting their spires in the hitherto pathless wilds of Iowa, Oregon,” and California, and will soon be in telegraphic connection with those of the East. Who can doubt that in less than ten years the prediction of an eminent son of Virginia, J. E. Heath, Esq., will be verified: “American steamships from the cities of our Western coast shall strike off in the path of the setting sun, and following that burning luminary where he dips his glowing axle in the waters of the Pacific, return in the short space of thirty or forty days, laden with the commerce and population of China, and the isles of the remotest West!”[7]

[7] Literary Messenger.

Can any man doubt the political and commercial changes that will then follow throughout the civilized world? But who can estimate the extent of these changes? Who can tell the result upon the [Pg 264]political and moral destiny of this great country? Who can tell the end of that commercial revolution by which a large portion of the tea trade of China, now in the hands of that greatest of all monopolies—the British East India Company, contributing largely to the support of the British government—shall be transferred to American bottoms, and flow into this country through our cities on the Pacific coast! Already the walls of pagan China have bowed to the thunder of British cannon, and the deep foundations of her ancient government are destined at no distant day to yield alike to American enterprise and American liberty. Thousands of her perishing population—indeed, already they come!—shall, ere long, flow in from the West, and meet the vast tide of papal superstition and vice that has been long setting in from Europe on the east. I am free to own that I contemplate this period with profound amazement! I know not the extent of the vision that confounds me. And when I turn my eyes to the canvas of Divine inspiration, and decipher its unerring pencillings, I cannot doubt that the strange elements that even now are so rapidly combining, and that are soon to concentrate the maddened powers of pagan ignorance, and papal superstition and vice, in the heart of this republic, are, ere long, to make my native land the great[Pg 265] theatre of those eventful battles—the conflicts of truth and error in both politics and religion—so graphically described in the apocalyptic vision of John. And as I believe in the truth of the prophecy, and confide in the promise of Heaven, I cannot doubt the result. But mark you, “the peril of our condition—the peril of that state of things on which our children may be but just entering!” This conflict is to be the more or less fierce, the more or less disastrous to those who shall immediately sustain its calamities, as they shall be the more or less prepared for it. And what are the great agencies that shall prepare us for a successful conflict? What is it that shall give comparative mildness to this great moral and perhaps physical conflict that awaits our children, or the want of which shall arm it with all the terrors of a barbarous warfare? But one answer can be given to these questions. The general education of the sovereigns of the land, and the conservative influence of our institutions, or perdition, is the alternative.

Upon the importance of the great educational movement of the country, I need not remark just now; nor need we notice in this connection the conservative influence of our free institutions, or rather the tendency of the great principle of liberty, (as embodied in our civil and religious institutions,)[Pg 266] which, with all true Americans, is a kind of instinctive belief, to diffuse itself through the mass of society. The two together may justly be regarded as forming a bulwark of American liberty, upon which the intelligent mind of the country may repose with great confidence. But still, history scarcely leaves us room to doubt that a politico-religious priesthood, firmly established in the superstitious devotions of a strong minority even of menials, who at the same time are political sovereigns, presents fearful odds in the strife of principles with the “man of sin.” Nor need we be surprised at this. A large mass of our population—however they may constitute but a minority of the whole population—have been educated from their cradles in the firm belief that it is a sin, involving the damnation of the soul, to read God’s word, or to exercise private judgment upon any matters which such a priesthood may choose to affirm are taught therein, and who are equally established in a superstitious opinion and feeling of devotion and submission, not only to its right to decide all such matters, but also its authority to punish with the highest spiritual torments all who shall heretically disregard its decisions. This power has proved itself an overmatch for the genius of liberty in the states of Europe. Thrones and kingdoms have fallen before it. To this day the despots of[Pg 267] Europe hold their sceptres in virtue of a league with it. Louis Napoleon exercises despotic sway over a large portion of as free a people in their opinions and sentiments on all subjects without the range of priestly dictation and dogmatism as can be found on the globe. But how does he do it? He crushed the measures of liberty in Italy, and restored the Pope to his throne. And why? Not only because a republic in Italy would be a dangerous neighbor, but also because he needed the authority of the priesthood to enforce the politico-religious dogmas upon which alone his despotic throne could repose with safety! Thus a large community who are among the most enlightened and devoted friends of liberty, are ruled by a grinding despotism; and this is only an instance in which the genius of liberty is crushed and trodden under foot by the “man of sin.” Education and the genius of liberty have done much in Europe, and are daily struggling against fearful odds; and may do much more in this country to modify and restrain this power, but they are impotent to its destruction. It is, in itself, so entirely contradictory of all liberty, and at the same time so full of vitality, that God in mercy has only relieved the despair of the world by the assurance that he would destroy it. Thus Paul says: “The man of sin, who opposeth and[Pg 268] exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is Godwhom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” 2 Thess. ii. 1-12. The world has no hope of relief from the oppression of this nightmare of superstition, but that which is found in this promise of God, that the word of his truth shall overthrow and utterly destroy this monster power, which for so many ages has been the terror and the scourge of the civilized world. The Bible—the word of God—freely circulated, read, and expounded, and freely judged of by all who read or hear, according to the dictates of their own judgments and consciences—this is the religion of Protestants! in exact antagonism to the teachings of the “man of sin.” The triumph of the Bible is the overthrow of his power.

Now, the Bible is not only being circulated, and its truths enforced from the pulpit, but a great many arrangements of Divine Providence are in constant operation, not only to secure the prevalence of Bible truths in our land, but also to place these truths in such circumstances as shall secure the permanent establishment of civil and religious liberty. Of these arrangements of Divine Providence, we may select as germane to the general[Pg 269] subject of discussion, the conservative influence of the system of domestic slavery.

That providence of God, by which so large a number of the States of this Union have been supplied with a population who cannot be absorbed by the body politic, but must exist among us, and for so long a time, in a distinct and menial position, provided the means of safety to the whole Union in the coming conflict which is already awakening the fears of the country. If we do not greatly mistake the signs of the times, it is to these States that all eyes and all hopes will be turned as the great bulwarks of American liberty. The African race in these States will give them this advantage of position.

Review the facts of the case. As to that class of population coming into the country with that liberty of choice which intelligence and pecuniary means afford them, the whole land is before them, and few are more welcome than they, whatever may be their errors in religion. But relatively, they make but a small portion of the whole number. The great mass of this coming population necessarily seek the menial offices of society as the only means of living. This evil is already sorely felt in some portions of our country; and as our unoccupied lands shall be filled up by Western as well as Eastern immigration, this will[Pg 270] be still more generally and deeply felt. For all these are absorbed by the body politic, and form a part of the sovereignty of the country.

But what portion of our country is it which now suffers, and is chiefly threatened in future with this heavy calamity? Not the South! This is evident. Our menial offices are already occupied by a race which cannot be absorbed, and who therefore can never form a part of the sovereignty of the country. Hence, there is no room for the menials of either Europe or China. The door of Providence is closed against their admission. The foreign population which finds its way into the South are, for the most part, a valued and welcome class of society. No: it is in the midst of the Northern States, and those new States which repudiate the African race, that these shoals of vice, superstition, and ignorance—these hordes of modern Canaanites—are gathering, “thick as the frogs and flies of Egypt.” Upon these States, and not upon the South, this great and increasing calamity is to display its strength. Are they destined to control the primary schools to a great extent, from which they exclude the Bible, and educate a large mass of the population to abandon the inherent right of private judgment on all matters which the priesthood may please to define—whether correctly or not—as matters of religion:[Pg 271] that is, to abandon those rights of conscience which are guaranteed to every citizen by the constitution of our country? Already, many of these schools are thus controlled, and a large portion of the citizens are thus being educated in the city and State of New York, and other places! But nothing of this sort can exist to any extent in the Southern States. So far as popular education is promoted in these States, it must be strictly Protestant education—Protestant, at least, in its main feature: that is, every citizen brought up among us grows up in the educated belief that, whatever aid he may seek or derive from a gospel ministry, he is still individually and personally responsible to God and his country, for his opinions and his practices, both as to politics and religion. He should, therefore, read, reflect, and judge for himself. No “man of sin,” in the shape of pope, bishop, priest, minister, or preacher of the gospel, or with any other title, has authority to “oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped,” by dispensing either political or religious beliefs; “so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God:” enforcing his right to control the consciences of men, by severe spiritual and temporal penalties—reaching even to “anathema maranatha!” No material portion of Southern[Pg 272] sovereigns can ever grow up in such an utter abandonment of all liberty, whilst the African race shall fill the menial offices of society. All this, however, and perhaps much more, is reserved for those States which repudiate this race. And still further, Is all this calculated to corrupt the purity of elections, as it has done in many sections of New England and the State of New York, and eminently so in the cities of New York and Cincinnati?—and is this evil also destined to reach the national Legislature, either directly, as the result of numerical strength, or indirectly, as the action of a powerful minority, holding the balance of power between contending political parties, and, in either case, sooner or later, seriously threatening if not precipitating evils upon the whole country, of which the oppressions of many of the States of Europe now furnish us the mournful examples! But no such influence can ever reach, to any material extent, the ballot-boxes of the South. With an educated sovereignty, we have only to consummate our triumph over intemperance, and our elections are at once fair exponents of the will of an enlightened people. Our people may err in opinion, but, always right in sentiment, and with no motive to stay wrong, they may, in due time, be put right in opinion also. The Southern States may be labored by the[Pg 273] tempests that shall break upon them from other sources, but not from this, which its history in Europe shows to be the most terrible calamity that ever scourged humanity. With their ships well trimmed and their sails well set, and both worked and governed by an educated sovereignty, it is morally impossible that they should founder in the open sea of free discussion. These States, therefore, will remain, and shall ever remain, through all this fierce conflict, free to settle the great quarrel of the country between light and darkness, between religion and a vile superstition! Upon these States will devolve the duty of holding the balance of power between these great contending forces, and of preserving the ark of American liberty in the politico-religious storms that are to sweep over the land, and shake the foundations of our confederacy.

In view of all the facts, we are at no loss to account for the agrarian doctrines and organizations which are already so common in the Northern States, and which are essentially so entirely subversive of all true liberty. Nor are we at a loss to account for the fact that the Southern States have always, to the present time, stood forth as the authors and uniform expounders of the soundest democratic principles of republican freedom. They owe it, and will for ages to come[Pg 274] continue to owe it, not so much to any superior devotion to sound principles above that of their intelligent and unbiased brethren of other States, but to the fact that only a small portion of their menial population are, or ever can be, sovereigns. The great mass of their menials belong to a distinct and inferior race, who never can be absorbed, and who, therefore, are not and never can become sovereigns of the land. The conservative influence, therefore, of the African race in the Southern States, I set down as a fixed fact, for which, in the prospective condition of the country, we have abundant cause to be devoutly thankful to Almighty God.

In view, therefore, of the condition of the Africans themselves, as well as the calamities which overhang the country, how idly do they talk who would expel the Africans from these States! How madly do they reason who, by a cordon of free-soil States, on the West and South, would shut up the Southern States—as if, with bolts and bars, they would cage a savage beast! False philosophers! Enemies alike to justice and humanity! Worse than Nadab and Abihu, in the republic of Moses! Kindred to Ahithophel and Judas, and, in later days, to Benedict Arnold! The day will come—passing events cast their long “shadows before”—when history will record the[Pg 275] civilization of all Africa, and the final solution of the problem, and the permanent establishment of American liberty. A sound philosophy will be at no loss to trace both one and the other to the agency, and that in no small degree, of that wonderful scheme of Divine Providence, by which so large a number of Africans were introduced into so many of the States of North America. Ay! and long before that day, the North will learn to do justice to their brethren of the South. When the fight shall wax warm, and the “battle-cry” shall be heard throughout all their coasts, then will it be seen and acknowledged that the Southern States—always great in the counsels of the nation—are always, and everywhere, the true friends and invincible supporters of Protestant freedom, or the rights of conscience; and then shall they do justice to these States as the chief bulwarks of American liberty, and equal honor to that wonderful providence which has so signally marked their history, for good to the whole country, as well as to the continent of Africa.

[Pg 276]


“Masters, give unto your servants (δούλοις slaves) that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”—Col. iv. 1.

The duty of masters and the rights of slaves reciprocal.

1. The duty of masters to their slaves considered as “their money”—in regard to working, resting, feeding, clothing, housing, and the employment of persons over them; also to the sick and the aged.

2. Their duty to their slaves considered as social beings. Punishments and the social principle discussed.

3. Their duty to their slaves considered as religious beings. Public instruction on the Sabbath, and at other times, and the opportunity of attending. The employment of preachers, and the religious instruction of children.

It has been shown in previous lectures that the principle of slavery accords fully with the doctrine of abstract rights, civil and social; and that a system of domestic slavery in the United States is demanded by the circumstances of the African population in the country. But it by no means follows that the conduct of all masters, in the exercise of their functions as masters, is proper, any[Pg 277] more than that the conduct of all parents, or the owners of apprentices, is such as it should be. The opinion is entertained that the domestic government of children does not more than approximate propriety as a general thing; and that the government of apprentices and of African slaves falls far short of what is proper. In this lecture it is proposed to deal with the relations of masters to slaves, that is, the duties they owe them. The doctrine that the system of domestic slavery assumes that the slave is a “mere machine—a chattel,” has been fully exploded. The Bible particularly regards the slave an accountable being. It requires him to yield a willing obedience to his master, and teaches him that such service is accepted of the Lord as service done unto himself, Ephesians vi. 5-8; and in the 9th verse, the master is required to “do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven.” And again, (Colossians iv. 1,) “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal.” Hence, in the strictest sense, religion holds the scales of justice between masters and slaves. Each one is held to a strict accountability for the faithful performance of his duty, the one to the other—“for there is no respect of persons with God.”

It behooves us, then, who are masters, or who[Pg 278] expect to become masters, to inquire into the duties of this relation. The master who does not inform himself on this subject, and endeavor conscientiously to do his duty, is strangely wanting in important elements of Christian character, and, indeed, even in some of those attributes which enter materially into the character of a good citizen.

A most fanatical spirit is abroad in the land on the subject of domestic slavery. The inhumanity of masters at the South is greatly exaggerated. (Instances in which the institution of slavery is abused no doubt contribute to this excitement.) Even those who are deficient in the duties they owe their domestics and apprentices—quite as much so as is common at the South with the masters of African slaves—lend a willing ear to political demagogues and fanatical party-leaders in their denunciations of the South. Want of sympathy for hired servants, and instances in which they are overreached and oppressed beyond the means of legal redress, are as common in certain quarters as are the cases of inhumanity to the slaves at the South. But this does not help the matter. Evils of this kind are to be deplored whether they occur at the North or the South. The injunction of the apostle reaches every case of the kind—“Masters, give unto your servants[Pg 279] that which is just and equal: knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”

But what may the apostle mean by this precept? The view before taken of the right will justify a departure from the usual line of thought on this subject. To give any one that which is just is to confer upon him that which is his right. To give that which is just and equal, is a form of expression that may limit the term “just” to its legal sense, that is, confer on him all the rights guaranteed to him by law. There is a special necessity for this command in any state of society. For whatever advantages the law might confer on the slave, his subordinate relation, and the superior position and authority of the master, will of necessity place it in his power to defeat the provisions of the law in favor of the slave. But the command goes farther than this: Give unto your servants that which is equal, equitable, that is, justice in a moral sense, or that which is right—good in itself. Whatever provision the law might make for the benefit of the slave, as a slave, might be secured to him by his master, and yet many of his natural and acquired rights might be overlooked, and the claims of Christian charity annulled. To fulfil the command, however, we must give the slave equity, as well as legal justice: we must do unto the slave what we would have the slave to do[Pg 280] unto us, on a change of relations. It is needless to repeat the discussion of this topic in a former lecture. Suffice it to say, that the master is not required to give to his slave (any more than the parent is required to give to his child) whatever he might wish, but whatever justice and equity claim for him, that is, whatever is right or good in itself; or, if you please, accord to him all his natural and acquired rights, as a slave. For this is precisely that, and no more, to which the master would be entitled on a change of relations.

We now meet the question—What are the rights of the slave? The duties of the master are reciprocal of these. Those who believe, with Channing, that the relation they sustain as masters assumes that their slaves have no rights, we may consider are beyond the reach of reason. If the master owes any duties to his slave, it is because the rights of the slave entitle him to the benefit of the faithful performance of these duties on the part of his master. No point is more fully settled in Scripture than this: masters are held to a strict accountability to God for the faithful performance of certain duties to their slaves. The Bible puts it beyond all dispute that “the master stands to his bond-servant, one bought with his money or born in his house, in a relation widely different from that which he sustains to the hired[Pg 281] servant, or the stranger within his gates, or the neighbor without them.” And as he may be a good neighbor, and yet at fault as a husband and father, so he may be a good husband, a good father, and yet a bad master.

The duties which the master owes the slave are as binding on the conscience as those which the slave owes the master. To neglect either involves the party so neglecting in sin. Indeed, the duties of the master are as binding as those of any relation in life. On many accounts, they are peculiarly solemn. They are duties owed to inferiors, and inferiors in a helpless condition. They appeal to the magnanimity of the master. He who disregards this appeal, not only violates duty, but betrays a want of magnanimity, bordering upon that meanness of spirit which delights to oppress an inferior, whilst it cowers before an equal. A brave man is always magnanimous, and a magnanimous man will rarely fail to respect the rights of the helpless. Guardianship, as well as authority, enters as an element into the idea of master. Masters are not only rulers, but protectors. If the servant is defrauded of his own, if his wants are not regarded and his grievances redressed, or he is otherwise oppressed, to whom can he complain? True, his miseries are not voiceless. His cries “enter into the ears of the[Pg 282] Lord of sabaoth.” But his only earthly appeal lies to his master. He has permitted or done this thing, and it is laid upon the conscience of the slave to submit, “not answering again.” His master is his only earthly protector. His guaranty that his master will protect him, is that he too has a “Master in heaven,” who is no respecter of persons, and that to him belongeth vengeance.

According to principles established in the fourth and fifth lectures, the Africans of this country, in common with minors, imbeciles, and uncivilized persons, have a right to be governed and protected, and to such means of physical comfort and moral improvement as are necessary and compatible with their providential condition. That which it is their right to have as slaves, it is the duty of masters to secure to them. Superior positions devolve higher and more important duties. The master who ignores these claims, and affects to be offended with any who may assert them on behalf of the slave, will do well to consider that the “cries of those who have reaped down their fields,” that is, the claims of those who have labored for them, and have no earthly friend to vindicate their rights, are heard by Him who has said, “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.” But Christian masters, or even men of religious sentiments, who always respect the[Pg 283][Pg 284] claims of the poor, find pleasure in attending to the wants of the helpless, and to none more than those of their own slaves.

Humanity, the claims of religion, and the pecuniary interest of the master, all unite to enforce the claims of the slave. The physical and the moral man are so nicely blended, and the duties we owe the one run so naturally into those we owe the other, that it is difficult to make a well-defined classification, especially in the case of either slaves or children. The following will be found sufficiently accurate for all practical purposes:

I. The duties of masters to their slaves, considered as “their money:” such as relate to judicious labor, and reasonable time for rest, habitations, clothing, food, arrangements for sickness, their own time, and stewards or overseers.

II. The duties of masters to slaves, considered as social beings: such as relate to moral treatment, punishments, matrimonial alliances, family connections, and duties relating to women, children, and the aged.

III. The duties of masters to slaves, considered as religious beings: such as relate to the domestic and public instruction of their slaves in the principles and duties of religion.

I. The duties of masters to their slaves, considered as “their money:”for he is his money,” Ex. xxi. 21.

1. Slaves should be subjected to reasonable labor. Instances are to be found in which ignorance with a natural tendency to idleness, or vast wealth, joined with a kind of sentimental religion, which exhausts itself in a morbid sympathy for the poor, leads to a disregard of that great law of nature under which slaves should be subjected to labor. Many are indulged in idleness. Idleness is a crime in any one. Even those whose wealth and social position in society enable them to indulge in idleness without incurring the ordinary penalties, inflict a great evil upon society thereby. And for those who can only be occupied in the menial offices of society to be indulged in idleness is to create a nuisance. There are families in the Southern country whose slaves can only be regarded as nuisances. Sometimes the ignorance, but more frequently the dissipated habits of the master, lead to this. Again, in some cases, widows with large fortunes in slaves furnish examples of the same. They are not generally in circumstances to manage a farm, without the aid of an intelligent and judicious steward. But a morbid sympathy, joined, perhaps, with parsimony, prevents the employment of such a one. The consequence is, the slaves are indulged in[Pg 285] great idleness. Families are sometimes broken up from these causes, and the slaves sold under the hammer. The separation of family ties, which under given circumstances is a cause for so much regret, is often to be traced to these sources. But long before this result, the slaves are considered and felt to be a nuisance in the neighborhood. Many intelligent and humane neighbors, who deplore the dissolution of the family and the separations consequent upon it, are bound to admit that these disasters after all are the least of evils. Hence, slaves should be subjected to physical labor. “If any man will not work, neither shall he eat”—so God has said, and the master who disregards it either for himself or his slaves shall come to poverty; and this shall be the least part of the evil.

But slaves should be subjected only to reasonable labor. There is an excess of physical exertion which the constitution cannot bear. The laws of nature cannot be violated with impunity. Sooner or later the effects will follow. Excessive labor will result in a peculiar liability to disease, in premature old age, or in death. For the reckless industry of a few years, all this pecuniary loss and great moral evil follows. He who transcends the limits which God has fixed to human labor, pays the forfeit of health, if not of life. “To[Pg 286] coax or bribe one’s slave to go beyond this limit is wretched economy: to force him to do it is cruelty.” The state of the weather is an important element in determining the amount of labor that may be reasonably required. The extremes of heat and cold, or inclement weather, rain or snow, should always be regarded. African slaves can do but little, comparatively, in very inclement weather. A reasonable master will regard the extremes of heat and cold, and especially the latter.

Suitable tools or implements of labor constitute another important item in determining the amount of labor that may be reasonably demanded. It was cruel in Pharaoh to lay upon the Israelites the “same tale of brick,” without supplying them with the usual “quantity of straw.” Ex. v. 7, 8. It is equally unjust to require an ordinary day’s work of your slaves, if you fail to supply them with the tools necessary to perform it. A dull iron or an ill-shaped helve will require a much greater outlay of physical strength to accomplish a certain result. There is certainly an evil in Southern society at this point. Many persons are negligent of the kind and quality of their farming implements. Their slaves do a reasonable amount of labor, still the farm does not prosper. A slave is occasionally sold to meet expenses.[Pg 287] Humane persons struggle with what they call misfortunes. Those who are less careful of the claims of humanity make unreasonable exactions of their laborers. They are sufficiently near to certain neighbors to see that their lands are well cultivated, their fencing is good, their stock is in good condition, their houses neat and comfortable for both man and beast, and their farms wear the appearance of thrift; but they are not sufficiently intimate to know that it is the intelligence or good common sense that presides over these farms, and not the extra amount of labor exacted of the slaves, that makes the difference. The slaves on these prosperous farms, although they are made to observe great constancy and system in their labor, are not subjected to the same amount of hard labor as are those of many less thrifty farmers. The achievements of science in labor-saving machinery are very great. Man is greatly aided in his labors by natural agents. They accommodate his work to his physical structure, relieve his posture, and lessen his fatigue. With sharp instruments, and those of the best kind, labor is no longer such a drudgery. Indeed, labor is lightened by a thousand simple and cheap arts. Science enables us to accomplish with one man the labor of two or more men in almost every pursuit of life. It is a great practical mistake[Pg 288] to suppose that this is only true of manufacturing establishments. It is equally so in the improved methods of farming and the improved implements by which the labor of the farm is accomplished. Farmers of enlightened views give their laborers the benefit of the newest and best improvements in their line. To attempt to rival the productions of such farmers, by exacting extra labor of the hands, is great injustice. For he who has the same work to do as another, with only half his means of doing it, has twice his work to do. “The ease of the patent spring,” and the “speed of the locomotive,” are not more important to the comfort of the traveller and his economy of time, which is money, in accomplishing his journey, than are the improved methods and instruments of farming to the ease, the economy, and the success of the farmer. “But slaves are careless, wasteful, and destructive.” So they are, and so perhaps would you be. There is but little difference between slaves and any others who labor for us in menial offices. All such operatives require a presiding mind to effect a proper division of labor, and have its eye in every place and on every thing. Without this, it is idle to prate about the wastefulness of slaves. If the master is himself too idle or improvident for this, he is culpable: if he has no capacity for it, he is fit to[Pg 289] labor under the direction of another—that is, he is fit to be a slave; but he is not qualified to direct the labor of others—that is, he is not fit to be a master.

Slaves should be allowed reasonable time for rest. All animal nature requires the refreshment derived from sleep. The muscular and nervous system of man requires not less than seven hours in twenty-four to repair the wastes of a day of active labor. This is a general rule. Some do with less: a few require more. But in every case there is a limit beyond which we cannot habitually go, without the sacrifice of health or life. The constitutions of some laboring men can bear a great loss of sleep; but it is on the same principle that a few constitutions can, for a long time, resist the effects of the daily use of alcohol. But still dram-drinking will tell, and so will the loss of sleep.

We unyoke the ox, we stable the horse, and the whole night is devoted to their repose. But this is often not the case with the weary slave, who toiled with them through the day. He is convenient to demands, and a great many extra jobs may be found for him before he reposes. I say “reposes,” for sleep is not all that is required for rest. There is a time of leisure, a waking repose, which is as necessary as sleep. No reasonable[Pg 290] man denies himself the benefit of this. The slave is entitled to the early part of the night for this. No one has a right to require him to take all his rest with his eyes shut, and his senses locked up in sleep. There is the refreshment of mind resulting from repose from ordinary pursuits, and occupation with things which may please the humor or minister to innocent gratification, by which, to a certain degree, the exhausted system is restored as much as by sleep. Indeed, without this, “balmy sleep” is not a “sweet restorer.” The man who works hard the six days of the week, does not require to sleep all Sunday in order to restore his wasted system. There is a transition of mental pursuits from business to devotion, and there is to a virtuous mind the hallowed cheerfulness of that holy day, which contributes to restore the system, no less than cessation from labor, and sleep. The slave, like his master, is entitled to the night. What if he do employ a reasonable part of it to turn a penny, and in arranging for his personal comfort? It gives repose to his mind: it ministers to his cheerfulness: along with sleep it reïnvigorates his whole system, and makes him a more valuable as well as a more happy servant. Who, then, shall deny him the boon? Surely not the economist, who calls him his “money,” and who, by any[Pg 291] other course, would be reducing the value of “his money” below par!

In Virginia—and we are not at liberty to think it is materially different in other Southern States—slaves are generally indulged with time for repose at their day meals, and with the whole night from early nightfall. A clear evidence of the economy of this system is afforded by the striking contrast which in some cases is to be found on plantations between slaves thus treated, and masters of a certain description. The slaves are fat, sleek, cheerful, and long-lived: spending their leisure time in cheerful conversation, in singing, or in those little personal offices which give elasticity to mind and body. But not so with some masters. They sleep as much—that is, lie down as much—as their slaves; but their sleep is disturbed by an incoherent tracing of the anxious thoughts of the troubled day. They are not refreshed. Both mind and body are worn down by excessive friction. They hasten to premature old age; and the weary wheels of life stand still long before the appointed time. Some masters are personally very industrious and enterprising: they work side by side with their slaves. It is their boast that they require no more of their slaves than they do themselves. Yea, they do more than they, having the direction and care of[Pg 292] all. Surely, say they, my slaves have no right to complain. But this reasoning is not always fair. It may be that the master overtasks himself. This does not give the right to overtask his slaves. Withal, he brings to his task a physical system stimulated to a high degree by those mental activities which push him forward to enterprise great things. He labors to exhaustion, and enjoys his rest only the more for having done so. Not so with the slave who works by his side. When he yields to over-fatigue, his thoughts administer no cordial to his weary limbs. It is well if he have not intelligence enough to make them a source of still further prostration.

Again, the man-servant and the maid-servant, as well as the beast, are entitled to the rest of the Sabbath. More than this, we are commanded to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” The head of the family should not only do this himself, but see that all his household observe the Sabbath. It is not enough that the children and servants be left free to keep the Sabbath. The head of the family should see that all the arrangements necessary to promote the due observance of the Sabbath are properly made, so that, whilst he requires the observance of the Sabbath, all the domestic arrangements invite to its observance.

There are certain individuals about many families[Pg 293] whose offices are so difficult to be dispensed with, because they are so necessary to self-indulgence, that they are often deprived of the rest of the Sabbath. Of this class there are two humble but very important personages, which it is neither beneath the subject nor the occasion to notice, namely, the cook and the carriage-driver. To the carriage-driver of some families, all days are alike “days of rest.” He is the most idle personage about the premises. It is well if a farm-hand be not presently sold to support his idleness. But the carriage-driver of another family is himself also a farm-hand. With him the case may be widely different. He may toil on the farm six days in the week, and spend the day of rest in burnishing harness, and with carriage and horses. If he drive to church, the care of his horses is at least a pretext for neglecting the sermon; and if he drive to spend the day with a neighbor, it is not a day of rest, and may not be a day of enjoyment. In either case, there is but little companionship, but few church privileges, and still less opportunity for rest. It may be no better with the cook, and is often not so well. Indeed, the Sabbath is seldom a day of rest with the cook. It is oftener a day of much closer confinement. Stewing, roasting, baking, and broiling the greater part of the day on Sabbath, afford but little time for the[Pg 294] repose for which the fourth commandment provides. These are evils in the land. It lies on right-minded men to correct them. At the least, they can correct their own practices, and in doing this they will do much to reform the habits of society.

2. Slaves should be furnished with suitable habitations. We are considering slaves as property, and the duty of masters as economists. On the principle of good economy, slaves are entitled to habitations sufficiently airy and cool in summer, close and warm in winter. And as it costs no more, why may not their houses be located with due regard to their health, their convenience, and comfort? Let them then be grouped together on the gentle slope of a hill, and, as lime is cheap, let them all be neatly whitewashed. Who could object to a little garden spot attached to each? And why may there not be nice rows of shade trees, and neat grass-plots upon which the children can sport, and where the men and women can sit and enjoy a delightful Sabbath evening? Economy will not object to this. The miserable smoky hovels in low damp situations, black and disagreeable to the sight, in which, in some instances, they are huddled together, cannot be too severely condemned on the principles of economy, no less than on those of good morals. For if the inhabitants[Pg 295] of such buildings are not filthy, degraded, and thievish to an extent that materially depreciates their value, it can only be because they are extraordinary examples of moral purity.

3. Slaves should be comfortably clothed. All those families whose self-respect leads them to regard their position in society, supply their slaves with comfortable clothing, and pay particular attention to the neatness as well as the comfort of those kept about the house. It would indicate a very low state of civilization, if these things should be generally neglected. The improvements in the manufacture of cotton, wool, and leather have been so great that nothing short of these could be tolerated in decent society. Our slaves are no doubt generally better fed, clothed, and housed than are the menials in most of the nations of Europe. Still, there are instances of neglect, which should be noticed. Those who pay but little attention to their habitations, generally neglect their clothing. Feet are to be found unshod when frost is on the ground; the head uncovered in all weathers; and the body far from being suitably protected. The color and tropical habitudes of our slaves render them peculiarly liable to suffer from cold. Health as well as comfort requires them to be warmly clad in cold weather. “A shivering servant is a shame to any master.” It[Pg 296] is economy to sell a slave occasionally rather than let all suffer for the want of clothing. But they should also be supplied with suitable beds and bedding. The expense is really so trifling, and the economy so great, that masters entitled to respect cannot be excused for the neglect of this duty Shucks are plentiful on all farms, and cotton is abundant on many, and can be easily had at cheap rates on those on which it is not raised. These articles make excellent mattresses, and the latter makes most excellent comforts. Those rainy days on which slaves should not be allowed to work out, should be employed in providing these articles. Health and life are often thus preserved. To allow slaves to labor in filth and rags through the week, and lie about or stroll about on the Sabbath in their unwashed rags, should be severely censured. It does not help the matter a great deal to throw them a thin blanket occasionally, with liberty to take repose wherever they can find it. Such masters pay more in doctors’ bills than it would cost to make their slaves as comfortable as those of their more prudent neighbors. It is a shame to them. We cannot give them any more credit for practical sense than for good morals.

4. Slaves should be well fed. The quality, the quantity of food, and reasonable time to eat it and refresh themselves, are the ideas which enter into[Pg 297] this duty. A sufficient quantity of good substantial food, well prepared, should be furnished. Meat should form a fair proportion of the diet of a laboring African. The Irish, it is true, eat but little meat, and do well,—that is, such as do not perish,—but the African constitution in this climate requires meat, and they must have it if they do full labor. Their food should be well prepared. To secure this, it should be prepared by a cook, and eaten at a common table. To put laboring farm-hands off with an allowance of meat and meal, to prepare it or seek its preparation as they may, is too obviously wrong to require argument. The force of habit is exceedingly stubborn in the African. To eat a piece of meat exhausted of its nutriment by being crisped on the coals, is very much to the taste of those accustomed to it: they will yield with great reluctance. But still, this plan should give place to the better preparation of the public table. An excellent habit of the slaves is to eat slowly. Usually something like two hours in the long days is allowed them to eat and refresh themselves at noon. It is not too much to allow. An hour’s repose after a meat dinner should be allowed to all laborers in the heat of summer. Again, they are entitled to such variety as the season affords. The early roasting ear, the ripe fruit, the melons, the potatoes, the[Pg 298] fat stock, all enter of right in due season and limited proportions into their bill of fare. Better do all this than pay doctors’ bills, or tempt them to steal. Nor do I fall out with the custom of some of our better families, to supply their tables with a portion of all the delicacies of the “great house,” on particular occasions. Some may think this too much for slaves! But the attachment of Southern slaves to the families in which they were born and brought up is proverbial. And let Northern fanatics believe and prate what they will, it is still true that the practical workings of the system generally, on the basis of the duties here inculcated, is in a good degree the cause of this attachment. Every right-minded master contemplates the physique of his servants with emotions of pride and pleasure. Their looks reflect his character. A gang of half-starved, meanly-clad, overworked slaves, with no heart to laugh or sing, and even without that attachment for their owners which the ox and the ass have for theirs, is a disgusting spectacle, and as revolting to every feeling of humanity as it is in violation of every principle of economy.

5. Provision should be made for slaves in times of sickness. Each of the topics discussed derives much of its importance from its connection with this. Reasonable labor, time for repose and sleep,[Pg 299] habitations, clothing, and food, are each and all of them provisions against the occurrence of sickness. Still, the topic deserves a more special notice. All families should have such domestic provisions as anticipate sickness by suitable arrangements for it when it comes—such as comfortable apartments and the ordinary conveniences for nursing. All families and manufactories employing a sufficient number of slaves to require it, should have a hospital: that is, a house so situated as to location and internal arrangements as to be a convenient and comfortable place for the sick, and equally convenient to those who may have to nurse the sick, or to overlook those who do. The economy of such an arrangement on large farms commends itself to approbation. So far from encouraging a well-known disposition among slaves of a certain character to lie by for trifling causes, it will contribute very much to discourage such habits. If slaves are permitted to lounge about their own houses when sick, they may often elude observation, and spend their time in idleness, when they should be at work; and in cases of actual sickness, they are liable to suffer for want of attention. On the hospital plan, the case will be very different with each of these. If all who are sick have to go to the hospital, and take physic, the former will not be so likely to feign[Pg 300] sickness, and the really sick will be better attended to.

6. What is usually called their own time should be strictly allowed them. Besides Christmas, there are frequent holiday occasions through the year, and still oftener a Saturday afternoon at particular seasons, which usage has secured to them as their own time. This time is usually employed by the more provident in cultivating a garden, in mending their clothes, cleansing about their houses, or in various ways earning a few dollars with which to purchase little articles of fancy or comfort in the way of furniture or dress, such as masters do not usually furnish. Some masters obviate the necessity for a portion of this, by cultivating a part of the crop, and dividing the proceeds of its sale among them for their exclusive benefit. None but a tyrant, who is always a bad economist, will disregard their claims to what is known as their own time. Any other man who should attempt it, would soon be taught to feel that the force of public opinion, even among slaves, well sustained as it is on these points, is a matter not to be despised. The claims of slaves and the rights of the public coincide. Plantation slaves who may be no less than a body of ragamuffins, carrying on petty depredations upon the rights of property in the neighborhood, are a serious[Pg 301] nuisance. Public opinion will not tolerate it. The economy of such a master is as bad as his injustice to his neighbors is oppressive.

7. Stewards or overseers. The duty which the master owes his slaves in the selection of a person to be over them is often embarrassing, and at all times important. That which a farmer has time and ability to do for himself, he should not employ an agent to do for him. He has more interest in it than any one else, and will observe more fidelity in its performance. No economist will employ a steward to manage his farm if he can prudently supply his place by his own personal attentions. Some employ them that they may with less loss indulge in idleness: others, because they distrust their own experience in farming; and others again, because more important duties put it out of their power to give the necessary personal attention to their farms. But whether from the one cause or the other, the master owes certain duties to his slave as well as to himself in selecting an individual to take his place over them. Economically considered, the rights of the slave and the interests of the master coincide. Many overlook this. An industrious but heartless business man may be found to act as steward, who, with an interest in the crop, will stir late and early, and drive hard all the day; but the great laws which regulate the[Pg 302] reciprocal operations of labor, sleep, and repose will be strangely disregarded by such a man. He may succeed in a crop for a year, perhaps for a series of years; but the value of the personal property as well as of the lands will be annually depreciating. There is no economy in employing an agent of this class. A plantation is an empire within itself. If the territory be large, and the subjects numerous, the mind that presides, whether as master or steward, must be competent to direct a proper division of labor, and to govern on the principles of justice and equity. In such an empire, talents of a peculiar kind are required. It is only the income from such estates that will justify the employment of the best talents, for these will always command high prices. Masters with less income cannot command the best talents. But, in either case, due regard should be paid to the moral character of the man put over slaves. The authority committed to him is necessarily extensive. Though industrious, he need not be cruel. He should be fully capable of sympathizing with the semi-barbarous subjects of his empire. Industry, good moral habits, and common sense, are essential qualities in an overseer. To be wanting in any of these, constitutes an entire disqualification for the office. To be himself immoral, and to contribute to corrupt the[Pg 303] morals of those under him, involves the master who employs him in the guilt of sin, as well as depreciates the value of his property. When a man of industry, common sense, and virtue is found, pains should be taken to attach him to the estate. If he be a single man, he should be encouraged to marry. His situation should be made as permanent as possible. The man of common sense, who well understands that nothing but industry, carefulness or prudence, and virtue, will secure his situation, will, one year with another, make as good crops as it would be reasonable to expect. More than a fair crop, like all other unfair operations, implies unfairness somewhere. If it be in the voiceless woes of the slave, the master is sadly the loser in the end. He who retains his steward with a view to extra crops by such means, may be likened to a barbarian king in Africa, but does not deserve to be ranked among masters in civilized life. All masters, I should think, owe it to themselves and to their slaves to give a great deal of personal attention to their farms.[8]

[8] I take this occasion to call your attention to a little volume on the “Duties of Masters to Servants,” three premium essays, by the Rev. Messrs. H. N. McTyeire, C. F. Sturgis, and A. T. Holmes, published by the Southern Baptist Publication Society, Charleston, S. C., to which I acknowledge myself indebted for several suggestions on this topic. Read the book.

[Pg 304]

II. The duties of masters to slaves, as social beings.

They are entitled to the restraints, the protection, and the encouragement, which a prudent administration of a system of good laws is calculated to afford. A part of this is secured to them by the civil government; but a large part is left to the discretion and fidelity of the master. The civil government assumes that the pecuniary interest of the master and the duty which he owes his slaves coincide so perfectly, that the performance of certain duties may with propriety be left to him. He is the patriarch of his whole house. His family is his empire, subordinate, it is true, to the civil government, but still an empire. He commands the time and labor of his children and his slaves—the one for a definite period in life, the other for an indefinite period. He gives law to the one and to the other. So long as he does not violate the constitution and laws of the political commonwealth of which he is himself a subject, his authority is absolute. All the rights of his children and his servants appeal to him. He is responsible to the civil government not to violate its provisions, and he is responsible to God for the faithful performance of his duties to his children and his servants; for the sin of omitting to do[Pg 305] his duty to his children or servants could rarely be reached by the civil authority.

The duty of the master to his slaves as social beings is to give them laws within the limits prescribed by the civil government, and to govern them according to the principles of justice and equity.

As his empire is constantly under his eye, or the eye of his immediate agent, it is not necessary that he have recourse to a code of laws definitely drawn up and formally announced. As the teacher in his room, and the mother in her nursery, may have their rules, and have them obeyed without these formalities, so may the master. But these rules should not relate merely to the economical use of the slave’s time and labor, but should be adapted to his character as a social being. Hence, it is not proposed to give a code of laws for the plantation, but to discuss certain principles which should influence the conduct of the master in the government of his domestic empire.

1. In regard to punishments. Neither the magistrate, the parent, nor the master, should bear the sword in vain. Disobedience, which, in all wise governments, is wickedness, must be restrained, and in extreme cases by severe punishments. It would be great weakness to forbear. But one law, however, should govern in the infliction[Pg 306] of punishments. They should be inflicted for the purpose of correction, or as “a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well,” and not to gratify passion or resentment. Punishments inflicted from motives of resentment merely, and often repeated, tend directly to cow the spirit, stultify the intellect, destroy self-respect, and greatly weaken the power of arbitrary volition. Such a man approximates the nature of a brute, and is, in fact, scarcely of the value of a common horse. He is a human being, but in circumstances in which he has few motives of action above those which influence a brute—namely, the indulgence of his animal nature, restrained only by the fear of present punishment. He is not as serviceable as a brute, and is far more dangerous than a brute. A slave to whose sense of what is right and proper to be done nothing can be trusted, and from whom nothing can be gotten but that which is extorted from his fears, is of no value unless it be to a master of the same genus—that is, like himself, a brute. The prodigality as well as wickedness of this course requires no comment. There is a more excellent way of maintaining authority, and it lies upon the conscience of every master no less than upon his purse to observe it as a duty: it is to punish for the purpose of correction only—not to destroy, but to save.

[Pg 307]

Punishments can only be salutary as a means of moral discipline in the measure in which they produce shame and mortification. But one who has no self-respect can have no shame. The effect of punishment in such a case is lost only so far as it may help to brutalize him. A desire to secure the favor and preserve the confidence of those upon whom we are dependent is the highest guaranty for faithfulness. But he only who respects himself will value the respect and confidence of others. And it is difficult for any man to retain his self-respect when he knows that no one respects him. It is not impossible to be done; but only men of great moral firmness and conscious integrity succeed in doing it. We have no right to expect it from slaves. They universally concede the superior intelligence of the whites. And for one of these, accustomed from early childhood to hear himself disparaged in company, and degraded by harsh epithets for his stupidity and disobedience by those whom he thinks to be superior in every thing, to grow up with the necessary self-respect, is not to be expected. It would be singular, indeed, even if one who had been better brought up should be able to retain his self-respect under this kind of treatment. And without self-respect, punishment can have no moral effect. Why then should we thus sin against God? How[Pg 308] much better to regard the counsel of Paul: “And ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven.” Ephesians vi. 9. He hath enjoined upon servants to serve their “masters in singleness of heart as unto Christ,” “with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.” Masters are then commanded to “do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening;” that is, carefully avoiding all those hasty, unjust, and petulant censures, which display themselves in idle threatenings, or scoldings, do your duty to your servants as an act of duty to God; or, with a view to his approbation, govern them according to the principles of justice, equity, and kindness—remembering that your Master is in heaven, from whose forbearance you may have need of more than you now extend to your servants.

“I desire to be kind to my servants; but they are often so perverse, they will not allow me to make their situation as comfortable as I would.” We sometimes meet with these remarks. There is often a great deal of reason for them. Our slaves have many faults. They are ignorant, careless, slothful, and sometimes perverse. These things are at all times vexatious, and sometimes a great temptation to sin. But then it should not be forgotten that our children sometimes give us[Pg 309] more trouble, and furnish stronger temptations to sin, than our slaves could possibly do. Having all the perverseness of the slave, their superior intelligence may make them much more potent for evil. But still they are our children. The wisest and best parents will have to be blind to a great many faults, and ultimately bear in silence with a great deal which cannot be concealed. The parent that does his best, and commits results to God, will find in the end that things turn out a great deal better than his fears dictated they would do. So our slaves are ours still. They are God’s poor, committed to us. We must control and protect them for their profit, as well as work them for our mutual profit. They have great faults. Still, they are our heritage both for good and for evil. We may not dissolve the relation between us and them, any more than that between us and our children. We dare not turn them loose in the savage wilds of Africa, any more than we dare allow them to be hunted down as wild beasts by the advances of a superior race, with whom they cannot be permitted to amalgamate. To govern as well as work them, is, then, a moral necessity. We cannot fulfil our duty without perhaps a great deal of trouble in given cases. At all times we must be blind to many faults, and bear with some others which cannot be concealed. There is no release from[Pg 310] this war. Penalties, severe penalties must be inflicted occasionally. Every steady government will sometimes have to wield authority with a strong hand. This is a source of trouble to all, and often of great pain to good people. Still, there are views to be taken of the condition of the African which go far to relieve the whole subject of its difficulties. Many of those faults which are sources of so much annoyance are to be traced to ignorance and a want of self-respect, and these are oftentimes their infirmities. They are by nature slow to learn, and hence their ignorance; and few perhaps have taken pains to cultivate in them much self-respect. Do not these facts plead in their behalf? Again, what master who desires to do justly can be wholly indifferent to their good qualities? For a more docile and kind-hearted race of people are not to be found than the Africans of the Southern States. Readiness to forgive, gratitude in their rude notions of it, hospitality to strangers, and affection for friends, are characteristics of the race. Cases of ingratitude and resentment are the exceptions, not the rule. Confide, then, in your slaves, as far as these qualities will allow you to do it. They will not disappoint your confidence, as seriously, at least, as many others with the same opportunities would probably do it. Give attention to their comfort in little things. This will not cost you[Pg 311] much, and will show your care for them. Pay due respect to their feelings and their reputation. This may cost you no more than a pleasant look or a kind word. Never be backward under proper circumstances to trust them in any thing in which it is proper to trust persons in a menial position. This course will not be without its effect. Confidence will beget confidence. For one to be respected by others, goes far to beget respect in one’s self. With a reasonable degree of self-respect in the slave, and confidence in the kindness and justice of his master, his discipline cannot fail to be salutary. He may punish in cases of disobedience with great firmness, and to a merited extent, and it will not fail to produce shame and mortification. His authority will be “a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well.” The public opinion of his little commonwealth will fully sustain his administration. The counsels of age, the cutting jokes of early manhood, and the merry laugh of the young, will all unite to teach the offender a valuable lesson. He who governs a plantation of slaves without the aid of a certain measure of public opinion, is a loser in the end. Some masters affect to despise this. Brute force may sustain them; but the public opinion even of so humble a commonwealth as a plantation of slaves is not to be despised. The sensible and[Pg 312] humane master, who would obey the apostolic precept, and maintain a sound and judicious discipline among his slaves, will obey what is equally implied in another injunction, and entitle himself to the respect and confidence of his subjects. Tyrants who have operated upon wider and nobler fields have affected to despise public opinion, and lost their crowns. The petty tyrants of whom we treat cannot fail to lose the respect of their neighbors. It is impossible to respect a man whose policy infests the neighborhood with a band of freebooters, and this policy will rarely fail to reduce such a man to poverty also.

2. In regard to the social principle. They are social beings. There are among them those great impulses of our nature, general love for society, and attachment to the sexes, out of which arise the affection of husband and wife, the love of parents to children, and children to parents, and all the various modifications of affection, resulting from collateral and more distant relationships. Besides these, there is the feeling of friendship between individuals of similar habits and corresponding pursuits. All these social principles are common to our African population. Any evidence to the contrary is only a proof of a low state of civilization. Now, it is an easy matter for some minds to overlook the fact that they are social[Pg 313] and not mere sentient beings. But all the elements of simple society are to be found among them. They associate together as other races. It is not peculiar to them to wish to be together and to find pleasure in each other’s society. They obey the common law of humanity. These elements of the social nature give rise to various relations and duties among themselves. They do not operate mechanically, but morally. Hence their society is subject to all the mutations, the conflict of rights and the violation of duties, of any other simple society, under like restrictions. As in any other society, these relations must be understood and made to operate within certain limits. These rights must be guarded and protected by the observance of certain duties enforced by certain penalties. Otherwise they may herd together, as in the wilds of Africa; but they cannot dwell together as rational beings. For the impulses of nature are not fulfilled when they are permitted merely to herd together. At this point, the master owes an important duty to his slaves. Its observance will greatly promote their progress in civilization, and enhance the value of his property. He is their civil lawgiver, and the judge in all the grave controversies which arise among them. He should not be derelict in duty. He should not think it beneath him to arrest their broils by[Pg 314] authority, and settle their controversies by a kind of judicial decision. A sensible man will not content himself by saying: “There were no bones broken: no one was killed or crippled,” or, “A fine child is born.” These are not the only things which concern his interest or his duty. It is not doing as he would be done by. The civil government which protects him would not be worth a tithe of the taxes, if it concerned itself no further to protect his rights of property and his happiness. His decisions, therefore, should regulate the relations of this society, should protect such rights of property as he allows among them, and enforce the observance of such contracts as he allows them to negotiate either among their own fellow-servants or those of another plantation. At the same time that he sees that they keep themselves within the position which they hold in the great community of whites, in which they are subordinate members, he should see that they are not overborne and oppressed by their superiors.

The first and most important of all the social relations is the marriage relation. The civil government has not thought it wise to interfere with this. It leaves this to the control of the master. His interest and his duty afford a high guaranty that he will consult the interests of his slaves in this matter. He should encourage the young to[Pg 315] marry. He should not only positively forbid the herding together in indiscriminate intercourse, but he should promote marriage by all suitable arrangements and influences. It is an important interest and duty with him to have his slaves suitably married and at home. He should not scruple to buy and to sell to effect proper marriages among the slaves of his own plantation. And when this cannot be done, he should permit his slaves to intermarry with those of a neighboring plantation. There should be in all cases separate apartments for families, and separate houses as soon as they can be provided.

From causes which need not be enumerated, they are peculiarly addicted to licentious indulgences, and particularly disposed to violate the marriage-bed. No master is at liberty to neglect or overlook these immoralities. He should not allow any to marry without understanding the obligations of the relation, and he should enforce, as far as his discipline can reach the case, the obligations of the marriage-bed. The custom of leaving one wife and taking another, should be positively prohibited. Those masters whose policy actually makes this custom in a good degree necessary, cannot be too severely censured. If slaves were mere chattels, as abolitionists affirm they are, there might be an apology[Pg 316] for this. But as it is, there is no apology for it. The custom of separating man and wife is the remnant of a barbarous age: any gentleman should be ashamed of it. The civilization of the age may not be expected to countenance it. Those who think to maintain the institution of slavery under so palpable a violation of the laws of morality, may expect to meet the unqualified censure of the civilized world. No: the marriage relation must be maintained. To be maintained, it must be respected. Indiscriminate intercourse should be restrained. Those masters whose policy renders this custom in a good degree necessary should revise their system, and they must revise their system unless they would continue to outrage the moral sense of their fellow-citizens. For myself, I do not feel at liberty—and I speak as a citizen—to treat the marriage relation among slaves other than as a most sacred relation. Those marriages which are maintained in good faith, no master should feel himself at liberty to violate. Nothing but conjugal infidelity or some capital offence which subjects the party offending to imprisonment for life, to banishment, or to death, can dissolve the marriage obligation. “Those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

I have said that the Africans are a kind and[Pg 317] docile race of people; but still it is true of them, as of all other barbarous people, that they have but little conception of moral influence as an element of government. Fear is the motive to which in all cases they appeal—and with the best intentions. They have but little idea of any thing else. Whatever authority, therefore, is placed in their hands is likely to be exercised with great harshness, perhaps with cruelty. Many masters avail themselves of the services of an intelligent servant, and make him “head-man,” instead of incurring the expense of an overseer. In many cases the plan succeeds remarkably well. But in most cases of the kind, the master owes an important duty to his other slaves: it is to overlook the exercise of the delegated authority, and restrain the tendency to excessive severity.

There are other points at which this tendency is liable to display itself. The husband is likely to exhibit it in the authority exercised over the wife, and both the husband and the wife in the authority exercised over the children. The husband is often found to beat and otherwise maltreat the wife. In fits of passion, some of them are extremely cruel. The children are brought up in the same way. They are often subjected to cruel treatment. Impatience, fretfulness, and stunning blows, make up the system of cabin-discipline.[Pg 318] The child is often stultified in early life, and, without self-respect, grows up a stupid, slovenly, and insufferable eye-servant. Thus, that which made the young slave a source of so much annoyance in the kitchen, the chamber, and the dining-room, began in the discipline of the cabin, and with those who themselves were good servants, and who, for the most part, intended to do their duty in their humble way to their children. Now, there are many families of great moral worth among us who entirely neglect the discipline of the cabin. They take no account of the young negro, nor do they inquire into the treatment of wives. This is a fault—a great fault. It presses with great force upon the interests of the master, as well as upon the domestic happiness of the African family and the moral character of the rising generation. The duty of the master is urgent. He should restrain the exercise of cruelty to wives. He should do the same in behalf of the children. Both his example and his precepts should unite to introduce a sounder system of discipline. A well-trained slave, who respects himself, is far more valuable in any view than a stupid eye-servant. The master who will not condescend to pay some attention to the discipline of the cabin must content himself with the latter.

[Pg 319]

The sick and the aged should be suitably cared for. It is not enough that provision be made for these: the master owes them a duty in the kind of provision which he makes for them. The regular nurse can serve them with a little medicine, a cup of water, and help them to the couch of straw, or support their heads in death; but they are social beings: their claims reach far beyond these things, and the duty of the master is imperative. It certainly should not come short of the service rendered by the good Samaritan. He who can free his conscience short of this, is low enough in the scale of civilization to change places with many slaves of our acquaintance. Humanity claims something for the sick and aged on the score of comfort as well as necessity. Why may they not be frequently ministered unto by their friends? Do we think that the laws of friendship and consanguinity do not operate among them? If so, we are mistaken; for they are social beings, as we are. Why, then, deny them this boon, when it can be afforded them, as it often can, at so small a cost? I do not scruple to say that there are many circumstances in which any humane man would allow the husband and the child to quit even the harvest-field to minister as occasion might demand to the sick wife and mother, and to soothe her sorrows in a dying-hour.[Pg 320] And the aged father! Shall no child or grandchild support his tottering limbs to his couch, and lay him down to die in peace? Shall all these delicate services, if performed at all, be left to stranger hands? Shall those who never knew mother, who never cared for grandfather, or who were never reckoned among their friends, be left to perform these last services? There may be masters whose business or whose want of thought may lead them to be inattentive to the social sorrows of the sick and the aged; but they should remember that “they also have a Master in heaven.” Would they have Him to be as inattentive to their sorrows in sickness and in age? Let them beware “lest the same measure they mete be measured to them again!”

III. The duties of masters to slaves as religious beings.

There are no duties which we owe our slaves as “our money,” or as social beings, which do not derive additional weight and importance from the fact that they are religious beings, and that, as such, we owe them all these duties, and still higher and more solemn duties. “But I am not a Christian, and therefore am not concerned in the discussion of this topic.” But I am not aware that to omit to profess to be an honest man, or to neglect to strive to be an honest man, absolves[Pg 321] one from the obligation to be honest: so neither will a failure to profess Christianity free any one from the duty of being a Christian. Both you and your slaves are religious beings; and if you are not a Christian, you ought to be, and God will hold you to account for all the duties of a Christian life, whether in this world you acknowledge the obligation or not. Your slaves are entitled to the rights which belong to religious beings in their circumstances; and it is your duty to treat them as such; nor is there a single master who will not be held to a strict account for the faithful performance of these duties to his slaves.

The religious sentiment is strong in the African. Both his mind and his heart respond readily to the fear of God, the love of virtue, and the hope of heaven. But they are religious beings in a low state of civilization. Their intellects are usually dull. They are subject to wild, extravagant, and superstitious opinions, and consequently to strong and violent religious emotions. They do not, as some suppose, have stronger feelings naturally than others. They do not differ in this respect from barbarians of any other race of people; but they have a low grade of mental development. Their wills, therefore, are not supplied with those motives which would enable them to hold their attention to views of truth[Pg 322] such as produce a more chastened, substantial, and elevated tone of Christian feeling. For the want of enlightened views, the religious sentiment displays itself in superstitious conceits, which usually lead to wild and sometimes frantic feelings. We need not dwell upon the evils of this state of things. They are too obvious, in their influence upon the blacks, and oftentimes through them upon the nursery of white children, to require discussion. That which demands attention is this: it is a duty which the master owes his slave to pursue that course in the government of his domestic empire which shall contribute to correct these evils, and to fit his slaves for their destiny in the spirit-world, where the distinction of master and slave will no longer exist. Aside, then, from other and less important objects in that Divine economy which introduced the African into this country, God has thereby committed to you these ignorant, these suffering poor. He requires you to care for their souls as well as their bodies. The latter of these duties you may fulfil for your own interests merely. But each one of them you ought faithfully to perform, both for God’s sake and for the common interests of yourselves and your slaves. “And ye masters, do the same things unto them:” that is, as the context shows, serve their interests faithfully, and that for the[Pg 323] sake of Christ, as they are required to serve your commands faithfully, and that for the sake of Christ. But how may you do this?

You should provide for them the means of public religious instruction. The owner of a large plantation of slaves should charge himself with the expense of a minister of the gospel for his slaves. Smaller plantations should unite to employ the services of a minister. The owners of still smaller plantations in thinly settled communities of whites, should see that the usual supply of ministerial service for the neighborhood is sufficient to meet the demands of their slaves. Those who employ a minister, or those who unite with others to employ one to devote himself to the religious instruction of their slaves, should see that he is a man of blameless life, of sound, practical Christian experience, simple in his language, familiar in his manners, and fervent in spirit. He should devote himself to teach the children the oral catechism, to visit the sick, to bury the dead, and preach the gospel regularly on the Sabbath. On all occasions of public worship on the Sabbath, both old and young should be required to be present, and in their best clothes. Masters should occasionally attend all these meetings. Our missions on plantations are fine examples of the system here recommended. The Sabbath—the[Pg 324] Christian Sabbath—is the great civilizer of men. The clean skin, the Sunday suit, the companionship of friends, all unite with the sound instruction of the pulpit, and the warm-hearted reception of the truth, to raise man in the scale of being, to make him a better servant, and a better citizen—an heir, together with the master, of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Those more densely populated white communities which are well supplied with the Christian ministry should afford ample accommodations to the colored population to hear the word of life, and share the blessings of the holy Sabbath. Masters should see to this. They have not done their duty when they subscribe to build a church in the neighborhood, and pay a trifle to the preacher. Their slaves should also be provided for. If they will not go to heaven themselves, their slaves can go there, and many of them desire to go there. Their masters unjustly withhold the means. In many instances, suitable provision is not made. The houses are small. The slaves are crowded out. They hear but little; at least, they are not instructed. A still greater defect of this system in Virginia is, the slaves are but poorly supplied with pastoral labor out of the pulpit. The sick are seldom visited. The dead are only buried in crowds. There is great room,[Pg 325] then, for improvement. Why may not the masters of a neighborhood engage the services of their minister to have a regular appointment for an afternoon on the plantation of some one, for the benefit of the slaves of the neighborhood, and to visit their sick? I know many masters who are always ready to subscribe liberally to their minister if he would engage in this service. Why should he not do it? Perhaps some do. I should rejoice to see this system more generally adopted, and by our circuit preachers especially. They would accomplish great good. I doubt if a better remedy for the wants of the African population in such communities can be found.

But not only to help supply this deficiency, but also on the score of its own intrinsic value, each family should contribute their personal attention to supply the religious wants of their slaves. The Sabbath should be a day of rest, of companionship, and of religious instruction and enjoyment in every family. From no part of these should the slaves be excluded or overlooked in the domestic arrangements. That slaves appear in their clean Sunday-clothes, is the first duty. They should all know that they are expected to be at church. For the invalids and the aged, the means of conveyance should be provided. The old man, the old woman who nursed your parents, and who[Pg 326] have descended to you as the heir-looms of an ancient house; or, it may be, who began life with you, have nursed your children, and helped to build up your house and your fortune—shall they be forgotten in the feebleness of their age? Do they still stand to service, and help to make their bread; and when the merry crowd hies away “to the Sabbath-meeting,” shall the weight of their years make them turn to their seat, because they shrink from the journey of a few miles on foot? This should not be. We should provide for the old and the infirm to ride to meeting. I wonder some masters do not fear that an ungrateful son will one day feed them in their old age in a private room and from a trencher, instead of at the family table and around the domestic hearthstone! To the credit of our system, the old family servants are generally honored. White and black do reverence to their age and their position. This is right.

But why should the master think it beneath him to call the young together on a Sabbath afternoon, and invite the attendance of all the slaves, and instruct them orally in the truths and lessons of our holy religion: What God is: what the Saviour is: what man is: what is to become of us when we die; and how we may be saved. The simple forms of these truths as laid down in our Catechism may by any one be made interesting[Pg 327] to children and instructive to all. The children should be taught by being made to repeat after us and respond all together. Their attention will be aroused, and they will readily catch the idea of a great many truths that may lead them to fear God and desire to do right. Withal, it will make them feel that you care for them. They will think more of themselves. They will rise in the scale of social being. They will be less trouble to you. They will be more happy in themselves, and ultimately share with you the joys of heaven. Much of all that is here enjoined, any gentleman may do and ought to do, though he may not be a Christian. He will himself be profited by the exercise it will give his mind on spiritual subjects.

I should not omit to notice, that in speaking of the duty of the master, I use the term generically—I embrace the mistress. All the duties enjoined require the cordial coöperation of the mistress. Much of it, if done at all, must be done by her. She oftener has a heart to do it. She can do it, and, with a little encouragement, will do it, when other persons perhaps cannot or will not. If, then, the master will not be the high-priest as well as the lawgiver of his house, let him, at least, devolve a portion of the care for the religious interest of the slaves upon his wife, and especially that which relates to the instruction of the young.[Pg 328] She, also, can often employ her own children to aid in this service. It will both interest and instruct them.

So far as my observation goes, I am satisfied that the Southern family in which a proper discipline is maintained, and domestic religion, in that wide sense which embraces both blacks and whites, is duly cultivated, for good order, for peace and quiet, for general morality and general prosperity, in all that concerns the comfort and happiness of a family, stands unrivalled in the history of the country.


Publications of the M. E. CHURCH, SOUTH.

THE HOME CIRCLE; a Monthly Periodical, devoted to Religion and Literature. Rev. L. D. Huston, Editor. Super-royal octavo, 48 pp., each number embellished with one or more engravings.

THE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE, a Religious Family Paper, published weekly. Rev. J. B. McFerrin, D. D., Editor. Price $1.50, invariably in advance.

THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL VISITOR; a Monthly Illustrated Journal, designed for Sabbath-schools. Rev. L. D. Huston, Editor.

Price of single copies, 25 cents per year; from 5 to 20 copies to one address, 23 cents; from 20 to 50 copies, 20 cents; 50 to 100 copies, 18 cents; 100 copies and over, 15 cents.

BEREAVED PARENTS CONSOLED. By the Rev. John Thornton. Carefully revised, with an Introduction and Selection of Lyrics for the Bereaved, by Thos. O. Summers. 18mo, full gilt, 50 cents; gilt backs, 40 cents. 24mo, muslin, 30 cents.

This is a perfect gem. It will be highly prized in the house of mourning. The grounds of consolation here adduced are admirably adapted to sustain the stricken spirit; and the “Songs” are just such as the Christian may sing to profit “in the night” of bereavement and sorrow.


Series I. On Church Economy. 12 pamphlets, 25 cents.
II. On Doctrinal Points. 12 pamphlets, 25 cents.
III. On Romanism. 24 pamphlets, 30 cents.
IV. On Temperance. 12 pamphlets, 15 cents.

SUMMERS ON HOLINESS. Price, neatly bound in muslin, 22 cents, with the usual discount to wholesale dealers.

“Ability, perspicuity, precision, characterize his performance. His method and proofs are eminently striking. * * * The work is valuable as a doctrinal treatise, and is a seasonable addition to Methodist theological literature. We commend it to the Church, to all whose views are unsettled on the subject, and especially to those who differ with us concerning it.”—Southern Methodist Quarterly.

BAPTISM: A Treatise on the Nature, Perpetuity, Subjects, Administrator, Mode, and Use of the Initiating Ordinance of the Christian Church. With an Appendix, containing Strictures on Dr. Howell’s “Evils of Infant Baptism,” Plates illustrating the Primitive Mode of Baptism, &c. By Thomas O. Summers. 12mo, pp. 252.

This book is got up in handsome style, and sold at 65 cents retail, with the usual discount to wholesale purchasers. Competent judges—among them the bishops and editors of the Church—have spoken of this work in unqualified terms of approval. Several thousand copies were sold very soon after its first issue. Dr. M’Clintock, Ed. Meth. Quar. Review, says: “This volume differs from ordinary books on the subject, in treating at some length of the ‘Administrator of Baptism,’ and of the ‘Use of Baptism,’—points rarely noticed, or, if at all, very inadequately discussed, in the current treatises. It differs from them also, and very happily, in the clearness of its arrangement, in the aptness with which the joints of the discussion fit each other, and in the discrimination with which important points are brought out strongly, while minor ones are comparatively thrown into abeyance. In an appendix Dr. Summers reviews Howell’s ‘Evils of Infant Baptism,’ with keen discrimination and with some severity. We cordially commend this little volume as one of the best summaries of Christian doctrine on the subject of baptism that has come under our notice.”

WESLEY’S SERMONS, with copious Indexes, carefully prepared by Thomas O. Summers.

This is an elegant 12mo edition in four volumes, got up expressly for the convenience of ministers, Sunday-schools, and family libraries. Price $2.75—30 per cent. discount to Sunday-schools and wholesale purchasers.—They are also put up in four packages, as Tracts—price $1.25.

SONGS OF ZION. A Supplement to the Hymn Book of the M. E. Church, South. Edited by T. O. Summers. Price 26 cents.

This work, so loudly called for, has been received with great favor: the Press of the Church pronounces it just the thing that was in demand. It should everywhere accompany the Hymn Book.

THE GREEK AND EASTERN CHURCHES: their History, Faith, and Worship. 18mo, pp. 179. Price 30 cents.

We have never met with so much reliable information on the Oriental churches, in so short a compass, as is found in this neat volume.

SEASONS, MONTHS, AND DAYS. By Thos. O. Summers. 18mo, pp. 110. Price 25 cents.

The design of this book is to make the reader acquainted with the origin and import of the names by which the seasons, months, and days are designated, including some of the historical, mythological, and poetical relations of the subject, and suggesting such moral reflections as may lead the contemplative mind through nature up to nature’s God. The embellishments are beautiful and illustrative.

DIALOGUES ON POPERY. By Jacob Stanley. 18mo, pp. 264. Price 35 cents.

A carefully revised and beautifully printed edition of an excellent book: it has had an extensive circulation on both sides of the Atlantic.

THE HEBREW MISSIONARY; Essays Exegetical and Practical, on the Book of Jonah. By the Rev. Joseph Cross, D. D. 18mo, pp. 242. Price 40 cents.

This book is a valuable contribution to our Church literature—it exhibits great research, and abounds in eloquent passages and valuable reflections. The engravings and maps illustrative of Nineveh, as brought to light by Layard and others, add great interest to the work.

PROGRESS: CONSIDERED WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE M. E. CHURCH, SOUTH. By the Rev. W. J. Sasnett, of Emory College, pp. 320. Price 80 cents.

This is an elegantly printed 12mo volume, containing 320 pages. The Advocates speak of it as a book of no common interest. The Home Circle says: “The work is an earnest plea and practical plan for progress in the Methodist Church; yet, with all our love of the old landmarks and prima facie opposition to any interference with them, we have not met with a sentiment or suggestion that we cannot endorse. We therefore express the earnest hope that the book may find immediate access to the entire Church. The sooner we all get our minds fully settled upon the matters of which it treats, the better: and its pages will greatly contribute to such settlement.”

AN APOLOGY FOR THE BIBLE. In a Series of Letters addressed to Thomas Paine, Author of the “Age of Reason.” By Bishop Watson. 18mo, pp. 228. Price 30 cents.

A new and elegantly printed edition of this great Christian classic.

A REFUTATION CF THE THEOLOGICAL WORKS OF THOMAS PAINE, not noticed by Bishop Watson in his “Apology for the Bible.” By Thos. O. Summers. 18mo, pp. 84. Price 25 cents.

The Memphis Christian Advocate speaks of this work as “seasonable”—in view of the revival of infidelity of the Thomas Paine type—and says, “The argument is terse and concise, but satisfactory.” The author aimed at saying a great deal in a few words. The “Refutation” is beautifully gotten up. The “Apology” and “Refutation” are also bound together, price 45 cents.

STRICTURES ON CHURCH GOVERNMENT. By the Rev. R. Abbey Price 5 cents.

This essay has a special bearing on the government of the Baptist Church.

HYMNS FOR SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES, specially designed for the Children cf the Church. Edited by Thos. O. Summers. Net price to Sunday-schools: boards, 10 cents; roan, 21 cents. Retail, 30 cents; roan gilt, 50 cents; morocco, 75 cents. The fine ones are gems. The book consists of 384 pages, and contains 600 Hymns.

“As its title indicates, it is a collection especially designed for the children of the Church, and it has been compiled with the ability, research, and taste which characterize the labors of the accomplished editor in the department of hymnology. We are not saying too much for it, when we affirm that it leaves nothing to be desiderated hereafter in this line.”—Southern Christian Advocate.

THE SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER; or, the Catechetical Office. By Thos. O. Summers. 18mo, pp. 144. Price 30 cents.

This work discusses the most interesting questions connected with the Catechetical System—the Teacher’s Qualifications, Difficulties, and Encouragements. It exhibits the obligations of pastors and teachers to the children of the Church, and shows how they may be discharged.

OLD MICHAEL AND YOUNG MAURICE; or, Country Scenes in England. 18mo, pp. 178. Price 30 cents.

A truthful, fascinating, and instructive volume.

TALKS, PLEASANT AND PROFITABLE. By Thos. O. Summers 18mo, pp. 146. Price 30 cents.

The topics of these dialogues are Orphans, May-Day, Birds, Temperance, Peter and the Tribute-money, Retribution, Recognition of Friends in Heaven. The style is adapted to the minds of intelligent youth The engravings are handsome.

THE WORLD OF WATERS. By Fanny Osborne. With Illustrations Two vols. 18mo, pp. 186, 224. Price 60 cents.

A couple of fascinating and instructive volumes. The tales and narratives beguile, like sailors’ yarns, the voyage over the world of waters. The descriptions and anecdotes blend the charm of romance with the credibility of truth.

SCRIPTURE VIEWS OF THE HEAVENLY WORLD. By J. Edmondson, A.M. 18mo, pp. 249. Price 35 cents.

A neat edition of a book which takes rank with Baxter’s Saints’ Rest—to which great work it is in some respects superior.

TRIAL OF THE WITNESSES OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. By Bishop Sherlock. With an Introduction by Thos. O Summers 18mo, pp. 137. Price 30 cents.

This masterly work is got up in convenient form and beautiful style. The Introduction contains a brief biography of the illustrious author.