The Effect of Slavery on the American People (XHTML)
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
Geo C. Rand & Avery, Printers, 5 Cornhill, Boston.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” What our fathers said in their Declaration.
“Whatsoever ye would that such men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” What Jesus said, in the seventh chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew, the twelfth verse.”
There are three great events in American history. The first is the Discovery of the Continent; the second, the Landing of the Pilgrims in New England, who brought the Teutonic seed of a new form of civilization; the third, the Declaration of Independence, when new Ideas of Government were clearly set forth, destined to have a great influence on the development of mankind. This is not only the national anniversary; it is the birthday of whole families of republics that we know not of as yet, for it must have a future more glorious than the past or the present.
Let you and me make the highest religious use of this great day. Religion includes all duties, individual and social, the Self Protection that I owe to my own person, the Philanthropy due to my kind, and Patriotism, that I owe my nation. Each man has a human character, general elements common to mankind; an individual character, special elements peculiar to himself, and a national character not less. Patriotism is a great religious duty; it is philanthropy modified by the need of the hour, and intensified toward one special people—not that we love mankind less, but our country more. It is the application of Justice to our own nation.
The Americans are making a new experiment in human history. The discovery of the continent was not more strange in 1492 than the American Republic is now. This, also, is a New World amongst the governments of the earth. Great abstract truths become great facts in the institutions of the people; the word becomes flesh; what at first is a great thought is at last to be millions of men, their character moulded by the institutions.
Commonly political parties in any country agree in the end they seek, varying only in the means thereto. So the difference between them is not moral, belonging to the ethics of government; but economical, belonging to the technics of administration: it relates to measures, not principles. But today it is not so with us. There are two parties in America, neither yet completely understanding its principles or its destination. One is the party of Freedom, tending to Democracy, which must secure welfare and progress to the whole people; the other is the party of Slavery, tending to Despotism, which must diminish progress, lessen welfare, and end in the ruin of the people.
On this great day, remembering that we are all Americans, each having his stake in the common fence, religiously owing great patriotism to our common country, let us look at our special duty, as citizens of this new republic; and so I ask your attention to some thoughts on the Effect of Slavery on the American People. I shall say much of principles, ideas and facts; of individual men very little.
To understand the matter fully, and see the effect of slavery, look a minute at some of the chief peculiarities of our political institutions.
In the Middle Ages, throughout the great part of Europe, there prevailed a form of government which looks strange to you and me. Vicariousness was the general rule in religion and politics; neither Church nor State was amenable to the people.
First, the clergy were responsible for the Religion of the People; that is, one man in three or four thousand was thought answerable for the future welfare of all the rest. The clergy made an ecclesiastical theology, and called it Divine Revelation; they established
ecclesiastical ceremonies, which they named the Ordinances of God. The people were only to believe the one and practise the other, and their calling and election was made sure; for the priest claimed to speak with authority superior to human consciousness. “Believe” and “Obey” were his two commands; “trust our office, and not your soul!”
Second, the King and the Aristocracy were responsible for the Politics of the people; they made, expounded and administered the statue laws, claiming authority above the collective interests or collective conscience of the people. The magistrate’s statues were a finality, the people’s Need and Right was none. The official did not propose statues; he made them and enforced. Then the church and state were both accounted divine,—that is, the final and ultimate authority. The priest, king, or noble all claimed to hold of God, not of mankind; they were feudatories under Him, responsible to God, not to man. The ecclesiastical or political ruler had all the command and right; only obedience and duty belonged to the ruled. The king or noble was the state, the priest the church.
So the Political Man said to the people, “Keep the statue law we make for you; pay the taxes, or money in peace time, of blood and yet more money in war time, of blood and yet more money in war time; and then mind your own business. Leave us alone, either to enjoy the passive dignity of reigning, of ruling, like King Snake. So shall it go well with you here. We are responsible to God for you, and in heavy pains and penalties shall we hold you in bond in this life. God is our law, and we are yours.”
This royal vicariousness went through all society; the title to office and land all run from the kind or noble, not from the individual possessor, or the collective mass of men.
The Ecclesiastical Man said to the people, “Believe the doctrines we teach. You may understand them when you can; that is not necessary to salvation, for the Scripture says, ‘He that believeth shall not be damned,’ but it says nothing against him that understandeth not. Belief on hearsay is better than knowledge by reason and conscience. You can get things by rote, if you cannot by heart. Comply with the ceremony, confess and do penance; bring your babies to baptism, else they are damned for your neglect, and you for their ruin; pay the tithes and other church dues; and then mind your own business. Leave it for us to make the Catechism, you are only to commit it to memory; for us to administer the ceremonies and propitiate God with our prayers and self-mortification of the flesh; --so shall it go well with you hereafter, and we will put you through this life into the kingdom of heaven. We are responsible to us for your deeds, words, thoughts, feelings, belief; and you shall hear the crackling of fagots unless you do as we bid. Don’t talk to us about your ‘souls;’ human nature is good for nothing. God is our religion and we are yours.”
This sacerdotal vicariousness likewise ran through all society. No church-doctrines held under humanity, either of reason or instinct, individual or collective; all held under the priesthood, which had eminent domain over human consciousness. Salvation depended on the church, not on the faith or works of saint or sinner. The priest opened and shut the gates of heaven; tickets of entrance were to be bought at his office, and could not be had elsewhere, either of man or God.
Such was once the theory of the Divine State and Divine Church, the two-fold kingdom of God on earth. It was the best thing men had in those days; let us not grumble. Man is honest always and does the best he knows how. You and I were as faithful when we stumbled and babbled, as today when we talk and go alone. Mankind was a baby once, a stupid boy it seems to you and men, but he turns out a pretty promising child. Let us not quarrel with the hole in which our fathers once burrowed, nor the rude wigwam which they built over it and named the divine church and state. Each was once the best of its kind on earth; and if our building be better, it is because theirs was worse and came earlier.
So much for these Vicarious Institutions.
Now in America we have somewhat changed that state of things. The political and ecclesiastical functionary is the servant, the People master now. Yet it is true that here and there in religious affairs some ecclesiastical man still claims divine right to dictate to the people, setting his authority above their reason, and magisterially telling what they must take for piety, theology and morality. But he does it with such self-distrust and painful fear, he is so afraid of disturbing any powerful wicked-
ness, that is plain he thinks the popular stream, fed by all the rains of heaven, is stronger than the ecclesiastical dam said to be built as miraculously as the Neptunian walls of Troy divine. Nay, he fears lest, by some freshet of humanity, caused through the breaking up of winter, or the melting of distant and time-honored snows, thought everlasting, it may be swept off, carried out to sea, and whelmed forever in the ocean, nor never heard of more. So the man hoists “the gate of the churl’s dam and lets the stream run free.” This sacerdotal vicariousness will not last long in America. The ecclesiastical Ezekiel stands in the church valley of dry bones, and says, “Come from the four winds, O Spirit! And breathe upon these slain, that they may live!” But the Angel of Humanity answers, “Son of man, not so!” Let the dead bury their dead! follow thou me; behold I make all things new. Egyptian and ecclesiastical mummies come not back again. Forward, O son of man! Forward!”
In the State the political man counts himself servant, not master. Let President Voltedin say in his proclamation to the people, “Gentlemen, I am your superior, and you are my servants; you are to do as I say;” would be a state of things presently. The People alone are primitive and final, the magistrate derivative, provisional and responsible. The American Legislative, Judiciary or Executive, is only an attorney of the manifold and thirty-million-headed People; a servant hired express to make; expound and administer certain statue laws, which are amenable to the people and reversible thereby. Magistrates are “Selectmen,” not the town which “selects” them. Mr. Banks is the hired man of Massachusetts, set to do the governing of the Commonwealth, responsible to his employers not less than if he were still the hired man of Mr. Strikeandblow, and set to do blacksmithing. The President and Vice-President, the two and thirty Governors, the Judges, the chief and puny, all the honorable Members of Congress, three hundred of them, all the State Legislators, about six thousand by my counting,--these are all servants, operatives in that great national mill which is owned by Mr. American People, a respectable gentleman who is rather a new comer on this continent, though of pretty ancient family. He has some personal property, three million square miles of real estate, well fenced on the East and West by a natural ditch, pretty distinctly bounded on the North by the grounds of his father, old Mr. English People, a very respectable gentleman, and a rich, not to be meddled with in hast, a citizen of very eminent gravity. On the South the border line is not less clear, but more variable; there Mr. People abuts on his poor relations, whom he respects not because he fears not, and so he turns his cows into their pastures, and sends his naughty boys to rob their hen-roosts and steal their watermelons and commit manifold waste and damage. I say all these functionaries are but servants in the great mill where Mr. American People is trying to manufacture welfare. Ministers abroad are his bagmen, runners, drummers, and other factotums, whom he sends off on his public business. Generals and commanders, with epaulettes on their shoulders, and plumes in their bonnets, and red coats on their backs, and tinkling subordinates, are only the sea and land police, to prowl about this great national mill, and see that no stranger comes to steal or kill. Let them wear their finery with what pride they may, and strut their hour, and talk big; he holds them all to strict account; and to the chiefest of them every four years says, “Depart thou hence; thou must be no longer steward; give place to a more honorable man than thou!” In the State all this vicariousness is gone; office is a trust, not a right; the select man is a servant, the selecting People master. For personal conduct and reputation each man is amenable to the common humanity of all; for personal character, amenable only to God. But each official operative in the national mill, for conduct and character, must answer not only to his God, but to the People, the mill owner.
Theocracy, the priest power, monarchy, the one-man power, and oligarchy, the few-men power, are three forms of vicarious government over the People, perhaps for them, not by them. Democracy is Direct Self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all the people. Our institutions are democratic: theocratic, monarchic, oligarchic vicariousness is all gone. We have no divine vicar who is responsible to God for our polities and religion; only a human attorney, answerable to the people for his official work. The axis of rotation has changed: the equator of the old civilization
passes through the poles of the new. This makes some change in the geography of both church and state.
Then the American government is industrial as well as democratic. The nation is not organized to plunder, but to earn; the people are not military, disposed to fight, but yet have great fighting power. Such is the individual variety of action, your and my personal freedom, such the national unity of action, compacting all to one great body, that the people will prove terrible fighters, whenever the worse comes to the worst—and in this state of civilization I think the ploughman is not safe unless he have a sward as well as a share. Yet the Americans are not military, disposed to kill and plunder, but industrial, inclined to create and earn; hence, in power for present welfare and future progress, we have an immense superiority over other nations of the world.
All human property is the result of Toil, which is hand-work, and Thought, which is head-work. In the industrial democracy, wealth is rated proportionally higher than in the vicarious governments of ancient and modern Europe; for here it is not balanced by any corresponding weight. There the father bequeathed his irresponsible office as family estate to his son or daughter, who were held royal, noble, gentle, because they inherited more than the mass of men. Here no man bequeaths offices, honor, title; only Money, which represents power to buy all marketable things—and in America there are few things not marketable. Hence money is valued not simply as personal and immediate power of use and beauty, but also as the power of powers, future ability to determine the social rank of the next generation. If the grandson of Dr. Franklin be poor, and a tallow chandler, nobody thinks much better of him because he had the greatest of all Americans for his ancestor; and if he is rich, nobody will much care whether he is the son of a tallow chandler or the greatest American. In Boston, when men set up a picture or statue of that great, noble man, they do not ask the tallow chandlers, the working men, nor the philosophers, the thinking men, to come and do it; they ask only the rich men, who represent the wealth of labor, and rhetoricians, whose words but ventilate the thought of some great actual thinker—probably a dead one; they do not ask either the present or the future Franklins to do the work.
In a New England town, within forty years, four men—each poor at first, rather mean and dishonorable, with great mercantile talent for acquisition,--the hungry eye of covetousness, and the iron fist of accumulation—have died and left some eight millions of dollars; their children now occupy the foremost social positions in that town. So long as the live money is above ground and circulating, nobody counts them dishonored by the humble station and pecuniary vices of the dead covetousness beneath. If they have money, wit is imputed; when the money fails, the respectability will slide with it. In the industrial democracy, money is proportionally more powerful than elsewhere, for “it answereth all things.” Hence it is the chief object of ambition with the hopeful youth, and the chief object of veneration with servile men, young or old. This is better than of old time; it is better that we worship the dollar, which represents creative toil, than the sword, which is the symbol of destruction and violence.
Property is created by Toil and Thought. In the Free States it is commonly easy for the industrious, forecasting and temperate man to obtain a generous competence; but great fortunes are made only by using the toil and thought of many men. In the North, great fortunes are commonly made in trade; the merchant is a trader—he buys to sell, and hires to let. If honest, he thereby injures no one; but if also successful, he grows rich through help of the toil and thought of other men, who are stimulated and served by him as much as he by them. Yet the prizes are few and not too great for the risk. In the North, the trading class is held in great honor. It is industrial, and so in harmony with out institutions; it is likely to become rich, and so possessed of the object of youthful ambition and servile veneration. Here it is what the priests are in Italy, what the high soldiers are in Russia and France, and the nobility and gentry in England. The ablest practical talent does not go to science, literature, politics, but to trade.
This scheme of government works pretty well for us; it leads to Welfare now, and promises Progress for the future. I will not say that our industrial democracy secures all the advantages of each other form of government, and escapes from all their ills. It is a new experiment, not complete nor perfect. Its present form, even in the most enlightened State, is quite imperfect. What the steam engine and printing press were fifty years ago compared with what they are now, that is the industrial democracy of this day
compared with its future glories. But two things are indisputable.
First, it thrives best where it is purest, least mixed, with any alloying element; and so in the North it produces more welfare and progress than in the South.
Second, it produces its most beneficial results where it has been longest at work. This appears by comparing the old States of New England with the New States of the West; for here the higher results of Democracy appear in the form of science, literature, art, philanthropy, better developed character; all these things require time, for they are plants of slow growth.
So march for the General Institutions of America, which distinguish our government from others.
Now see the Effect of Slavery on the People under these peculiar institutions.
Slavery is an exceptional institution, which we have taken or kept from old time. It belongs to that rule of vicariousness, or rather to a time of barbarism before that. It is wholly foreign to a democracy, hostile to its fundamental principle. Slavery is property in man. By nature, each man is a unit of human substance, having all the primitive, natural rights of humanity. By slavery, he is reduced to a fraction, with none of the primitive, natural rights of humanity. He is bound to do the duties his master sets, and not only has no remedy, but no right.
In America slavery is mainly limited to such as have African blood in their veins, though this is sometimes pretty well mixed with Saxon blood. The influence of slavery appears in two forms; first, as it affects the Colored Man, and next, as it affects the White Man.
I. Of its effects upon the Colored Man. All compulsory toil is not necessarily degrading. Farmer Hillside has two lazy-bodied sons; he makes them work and earn; else they get neither breakfast, nor dinner, nor supper, only a hard, cold bed. It is for their good, not their harm, nor merely through his selfishness, that he does so. Professor Blackboard has two lazy-minded daughters. He makes them study and learn, for their sakes more than his; it does the girls good; by and by they will be thankful for it. Grim necessity forces the human race to toil and think; mankind is not degraded, but elevated, by this compulsion of the infinite Father, who in our flesh enacts the benignant law, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat break.” Toil and thought are alike an honor and a dignity to mankind. But slavery degrades its victims, worsens and belittles them in the qualities of man. I do not deny that to the bondmen slavery teaches certain special things which they would not have learned so soon in Africa, perhaps not at all; things, too, which under other circumstances had been a virtue and an elevation; now they are forced on them, not only against their will, but for their master’s good, and meant for the slave’s hurt.
1. Slavery degrades the Slave. It aims to pervert his nature. It is the excellency of the Slave that he repudiates his own individualism, is pliant before his master’s foreign will. It is the excellency of the Man that he keeps his individualism at the utmost cost, and holds himself rigid and impenetrable against all foreign will. In order that every man may be able to do this, God gives us his terrible Power of Wrath,—such a defence even to feeble men, and such a terror to the invasive and usurping will, even when it is of the strongest sort. Slavery emasculates all virile individualism away. This is the maxim of humanity, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” This is the maxim of slavery, “Submission to tyrants is obedience to God.”
This degradation is not an accident of slavery, it is essential to it. It is a function of its prime quality. It does that as certainly as fire burns. By its accidents, slavery may improve the bondman in many things; nothing can compensate for thus unmanning him. If the 4,000,000 slaves were today set down in Africa, in many special things they might surpass their kinsfolk there,—in agriculture and the mechanic arts, in their idea of comfort and beauty, in comprehensive power of thought and toil; but in general manhood, in self-respect, they would be exceedingly inferior. No finery in dress, no mechanical skill, no art, no literature, no science, no power to sing Methodist hymns and pray Methodist prayers, can ever make up for the loss of that substantial manhood, which cringes to none, but looks each man in the eye, and says to the invader, “I also am a man, and if not a brother whom you will respect, then at least an enemy whom you shall fear.”
Man subdues other animals, transfigures their nature by the process, and makes a new creature. The dray-horse, the house-dog, the domestic sheep, are the works of man, almost
as much as the printing press, or these roses, which have departed so slowly from their primitive parent. He does them no wrong, for they are his natural servants; his natural food when a wild man, and his property when civilized—not for abuse and cruelty, but for kind and honest use; he does them no damage; their welfare is not thereby necessarily injured in build or in kind; the farmer’s horse is as happy as the horse of the wilderness. But yet all these will animals repudiate this alteration of nature, counting it as high treason. Turn a domestic bull into a herd of wild cattle, or a tame crow among his savage kinsfolk, and they tear him to pieces forthwith; even their brutal instinct repudiates this transformation.
Now, when a man enslaves his brothers, he does them a Damage, by personally worsening both the amount and kind of their welfare; he does them a Wrong, by perverting their nature and hindering their progress in the qualities of men. The obedient slave, content to be property, differs from the natural man, civilized or savage, more than the lap-dog or the turn-spit differs from the wild dog of the Siberian or Canadian woods. What if my father had kept me always a boy, that he might dandle me on his knees; or my mother had forced me to be always a baby, that she might cradle me in her bosom? In its mildest form, from its very nature, slavery makes dwarfs of what would be men, and might be giants. In the most brutal population of London, there are women who steal the children of honest folk, put out their eyes, and then use them as the instruments of their idle avarice. What the beggar, in the rarest of examples, does to the child she steals, that the slaveholder, as a general rule, does to his bondmen; he puts out the eyes of their manhood, and though he burn them out with the gentlest of hot irons, he makes them not less blind. It has long been known that slavery itself was a degradation; that in making the slave it unmakes the man; “The first day of bondage takes half the man away,” said Ionian Homer 3000 years ago. The contempt which all men, even the anti-slavery philanthropists, feel for the contented slave, is mankind’s testimony against this high treason towards humanity. The fact itself begins to be comprehended in America. Once this was a common argument: “Slavery is bad in itself, good in its uses; it elevates the human savage, and makes him a man, even a Christian.” Now this is abandoned by economists and politicians, and is left only for that class of ministers
“Whose neck-cloth white
Is black at night.”
See the changes in the slaveholder’s idea of a slave. In 1776 he was a man unjustly held in bondage against the law of nature, but held transiently and provisionally. Next, a man held permanently, but wrongfully,—an inferior kind of man held as an apprentice to a superior; certain rights allowed him, his gain of welfare greater than his loss of freedom. Now, he is declared to be an “animal incapable of civilization;” he has “no rights which white men are bound to respect.” A popular southern writer says: “Hay is good for horses, bad for hogs; so liberty is good for white men, bad for negroes;” he does not know whether they “have any souls or not.” The Supreme Court of Virginia has just decided that a slave has no legal power of assent or dissent. The general public opinion of the South now is, that the white man has the same natural right to enslave an African as to tame a horse!
2. Slavery degrades also the Free Colored man in the eyes of his neighbors, and, still worse, in his own eyes. White men in America change their names to get rid of being associated with disgraceful relatives. If I had a brother hanged for an infamous crime, my own self respect would be greatly lessened—not before God, but certainly before men. The position of the free colored man in America is of all others the most unhappy. The poorest Spaniard our filibusters war against, can point to his European home and boast of the magnificent exploits of this nation, that discovered the new world, and say
“We were the first
That ever burst
Into the silent sea.”
The humblest German who has nothing but his tobacco his lager-bier and his Kauderwelsch, the patois of some little district he was cradled in, has behind him the noblest of earth’s noble nations! all generous glories which have accumulated from fight Arminius down to thoughtful Von Humboldt, weave a halo round the head of Fritz and Gretchen, cradled in the poorest German home. The rudest Irishman comes from a country which is rich in great names; every O’Brien claims to be a descendant form Brennus who smote Rome to its very foundations; once, Irishmen led western Europe in civilization and bought fair-
haired Saxon girls of Britain for their own slaves. When New England was poor, old Ireland sent books for yonder college and bread for this town. No nation has been so despised as the Hebrews; but in the worst ages, in the darkest persecution, hated, outcast, smitten, despised, their venerable beards spit upon by every Christian, and Jew looked back to darker days and saw the Pillar of Fire with Moses walking underneath and leading the world’s civilization; he reads his Hebrew Bible, full of sublimest poetry, and bethought him that Judea was on of the queens of civilization, when all Europe was a wilderness, save a little fringe of more than Cytheraean beauty, wrought round the borders of the mid-land sea. He turned to the Mahommedans with their scimetar in their hand and said, “Three quarters of your religion is only Old Testament; all that is good for anything comes from us; the commonplaces of a Hebrew poet are the inspiration of your Prophet.” Did the Christians mock? The Hebrew said, “Your Saviour was nothing but a Jew. ‘God in heaven’ is he? A few hundred years ago he was a Jewish carpenter at Nazareth, doing job work, making plows and ox yokes for the farmers.” Today at Constantinople the Jew, an exile from Spain, is poor—no where else in the whole globe of lands; even his thrift forsakes him there; despised by the Christian and the Turk, he open Isaiah or the Psalms, and remembers that he comes from a line of men who two or three thousand years before, bore in their ark the treasure of humanity, and he feels an inward self-respect which neither Christian nor Turk can ever insult. But the poor Negro has no history to look back upon; no science, no arts, no literature, not even a great war, no single famous name! He looks round him, and his race is enslaved. I do not wonder at his despair, especially amid a tribe of men who are stirred with such intensity of national pride as has marked the Saxon, the Teuton, since he first crossed swords with Roman, Slavonian and Gaul.
The effect of slavery on the colored men, bond or free, is evil, perhaps only evil. I know the wrong which they suffer awakens very little sympathy with the mass of men, who in their rudeness reverence Strength and not Justice. But the colored men are one seventh part of our population, and America does not rise as the Negro falls; you and I go down with him; for if one seventh of the people be degraded it is the Nation that is debased. Would you feel safe if every seventh house in Boston was full of the yellow fever and every seventh man was dying of it? There is a moral degradation which is contagious not less than the plague.
There is solidarity in mankind. You lift yourselves up by your attempts to elevate your neighbor. The New Englander sends a missionary to India: he does more good in New Haven, in Boston, in Andover, than ever in Beloochistan or Siam. You enslave yourselves when you enslave your brother man.
I just now said no nation is safe without the power to fight. In case of war with England, of the four million slaves at least three millions would take sides with the enemy; most of the free blacks would spontaneously do the same. Would you dare to blame them and then look at yonder monument? Did not our fathers draw the great and terrible sword against our own mother nation that had injured us, and yet but little? Revenge is natural to savage bosoms: God enthroned it there that when the tyrant trembled at nothing else, he might quake at the foeman’s lifted arm and the fear of assassination.
Napoleon has put down open resistance and is not afraid of that; there is nothing left for the people but what Italians and Frenchmen have been trained to love—the assassin’s dagger—and he trembles at that. If America keeps the slave from developing the noblest quality of his nature, then he falls back on the lowest. The power of wrath never fades out form human bones; the animal instinct is older than the spiritual cultivation.
Wise rulers do not like to have in any community a class of men who are not interested in its welfare and progress, for such are always ready for rebellion and care not who breaks through the hedge they have not a stake in. Even carpenters in their shops have the shavings carefully swept up at night, lest a spark should burn their riches down. But no nation has so dangerous a class of proletaries as America. Paris has her Faubourg St. Antoine, and the forts have their cannon so planted that they can play upon it and make spring into the air with their perpendicular or horizontal shot. London has its St. Giles, a double police guarding it through the day and twofold lanterns illuminating it by night. But our Faubourg St. Antoine extends over fifteen States in America; there are four millions of
Paupers in St. Giles. No carpenter’s shop is so littered with inflammable material as America. Why, a loco-foco match thrown by a Democratic hand might fire these shavings of humanity which we planed off from the African tree,—and then where are we? Be sure of it, unless we amend, one day there will be a St. Domingo in America, and worse wrongs will be requited worse.
So much for the Effect of Slavery on the Colored man.
II. As the feeling for four or five million of colored men is so weak that the politicians despises it, counting it not one of the forces that sway the popular opinion; as the fear of outbreak or invasion is so small that no northern man is troubled at it, look at the Effect of Slavery on the White Man. To understand it thoroughly look briefly at some of its details.
The chief work of mankind may be thus lotted out. First there is the Industrial Activity, which aims at Knowledge—to acquire and distribute thought. This is represented by the Press and the School; its result is Popular Intelligence, Education in all its forms.
The third is the Religious Activity which aims at Rest in God, Completeness and Perfection of Character. This is represented by the Church; and the results are Noble Character; Noble Life—individual and social, in the family, in the community, in the state and in the world.
The fourth is the Political Activity which aims at Socialilty, companionship of man with man, the enjoyment of all individual and social rights. This is represented by the State; its highest result is National Unity of Action, all working as one, and Individual Variety of Action, each having his personal freedom.
I have so often and so long spoken of these things, that today I need not say much thereof.
First, Slavery degrades the Industrial Activity and hinders the creation of wealth. No doubt it enriches the slaveholders, but it impoverishes the community. So piracy is profitable to pirates, though ruinous to the merchant who falls into their hands, and perilous to trade in general. Slavery degrades work, makes men despise it, as the business only of bond-men. Looked at economically it is a poor tool for the work of productive industry. See how the facts look in figures.
In 1850 the fifteen slave states had 850,000 square miles of land; the sixteen free states but 612,00 square miles. But the actual valuation of the slave land was only $13,000,000, while the free land went up to $2,440,000,000. 240,000 square miles less was worth &1,100,000,000 more.
In 1856, the total value of the slave states was $2, 500,000,000; the total value of the free states was $5,700,000,000. So the North could buy up all the land and goods which the South possesses, and then buy the whole population at $300 a head—black and white, bond and free.
The Effect of Slavery on the industrial activity of the country, its business and wealth, is terrible. It degrades labor, it impoverishes the People. It concentrates their riches into the hands of a few, who, like Senator Hammond of South Carolina, call American working men slaves, and like him add their sons and daughters to the assessable property of their estates.
Slavery is the great enemy of the laboring man who is not a slave. The New England thinker makes a steam shovel which takes up two and a half tons of weight at a lift and strikes four times in three minutes, and with four men to attend it does the work of ninety-six more. This elevates labor, it improves the condition of the workingman; it promotes also his education, by mixing thought with his toil: while the common digger gets but a dollar a day, the thoughtful man who can manage a steam engine gets from three and four dollars. Great inventors are the Evangelists and Apostles to the Gentiles who announce a new Kingdom of God which is a Kingdom of righteousness, the reign of peace on earth and good will amongst men. But he who kidnaps a man and forces him to work, degrades labor itself and commits high treason against the industrial democracy. I know the Catholic-Irishman’s right eye is put out by the priest, and his left is covered up by the thumb of the American demagogue: but, with both his eyes treated thus, I should think he would yet have human instinct enough to know that whoever enslaved a negro, degraded likewise every working Irishman. But yet not only Irishmen do not know it, a quarter part of the American working men, native born, are not aware of this most obvious fact.
Second. Then Slavery degrades Literary and Scientific Activity.
It hinders the Education of the people. Look at this. In 1850, the South had but 18,000 public schools, the North 62,000; the South had 19,000 teachers, the North 73,000; the South had 700,000 pupils in schools, academies, and colleges, the North 2,900,000—2,200,000 more than all the South. In 1854, Virginia paid $70,000 for educating her poor; $73,000 for a Public Guard, to keep the slaves from rising up and saying, Sic semper tyrannis. One day $73,000,000 will not do it. Sic semper tyrannis will be the slave’s motto, as it is his master’s now.
Out of a white population of less than 6,000,000, the South has 500,000 native white inhabitants who cannot read the word Buchanan; while out of a white population of 13,500,000, the North has not quite a quarter of a million natives who cannot read the New Testament all through, and the Declaration of Independence besides.
Whence comet the Practical Inventions patented at Washington? Eleven-twelfths of them come from a Northern brain, and the one-twelfth which has emanated form the Southern mind is hardly worth the parchment which records it.
Whence comes the Literature of the nation—its histories, essays, romances, poems, plays, great sermons? All from the North. For fifty years the South has not produced a great writer, who has even a national reputation; no historian, no philosopher, no poet, no moralist, even no preacher.
Whence comes the nation’s Science? From the same quarter. Yet I do know two eminent men of science of whom Virginia may well be proud that she gave them birth, as Massachusetts that she gave them a home each a home: but their parents were Scotch, married in Scotland; the children were only born in Virginia. It was the Scotch egg of freedom which was brooded over only in the Virginia nest of slaveholders—and it was not a slaveholder which brooded that.
Slavery strikes the Southern mind with palsy; the people cannot be educated there. Talent enough, no doubt, is born there; it cannot be bred. If the star of genius stands still over a southern home, yet the “desire of all nations,” whose birth it heralds, is stifled by the asses that bray around the young child’s cradle and seek its life.
But the influences of Slavery extends beyond the South, and poisons also the literature of the Northern men who support it. Look at he newspapers of the slave editors of the North,--some of you read them every day; listen to the orations of slave orators—you can hear enough of them tomorrow; hearken to the sermons of the slave preachers—you may hear such today; and learn the ghastly effect of slavery on the literary activity of the people. Nay, look at the school books composed by such men, and see how the slave power, afar off, can debauch even a northern mind. More than thirty years ago, Von Humboldt, the grandest scholar of all Christendom, wrote a political essay on the Island of Cuba. It circulates in the court of every tyrant of Europe; it is welcome in Spain, translated into that sonorous tongue. He tells the tale of the black man’s wrong, and the woe which may one day spring out of the ground which has been fattened by his twaddling partisanship, sustaining slavery, and declaring that free society is a mistake. I do not wonder the indignation of the old man, almost four score and ten years venerable, is stirred within him when he learns the disgraceful fact.
Third. Then Slavery degrades the Religious Activity of the People. At the South it is only the least enlightened sects which prevail; such as have the lowest ideas of Man and God, and their Relation to each other. Southern men are proud of this, and make it their boast that “there are no Unitarians of the South,”—that is, none who preach an intelligible rational idea of the oneness of God. They are proud that they “have no Universalists,”—none of think that God is too good to damn even a slaveholder forever and ever. Nay, they declare that Heresy rends not asunder the seamless vail of the pro-slavery Church, behind which the slaveholder and the slave-hunter stand. They make it their boast that there are no Tylerites nor Taylorites, no Bushnellites nor Beecherites, among them, but that all equally accept the faith once for all delivered to the saints, for the enslavement of the negro and the salvation of the slaveholder, the slave-hunter, the slave-driver, the slave-trader, the slave-breeder, not out of his sins, but in his sins. For eighty years the Southern church has contributed nothing to the theology
of America—not a new thought worth the nation's hearing, no great truth on any theological, religious or moral theme. Nay, there is not a single hymn sung by a Southern voice that finds its way into a Northern church.
Then, too, consider the cruelty. Remember that the South solemnly burns alive, with green wood, criminals from the humblest class of society, as sport to the "gentlemen" of the land. Remember that when an assassin dealt your noble Senator a coward's blow, more bitter than death, remember that all the Southern religion said it was a good thing! Thus see the effect of slavery on your own brothers, in their own churches, called after Christ, with the same gospel before them out of which the grand truths of humanity so preach themselves to you and me!
How Slavery degrades the churches of the North! Some men it silences, and they dare not speak of the great outrage against the Democratic Institutions of America, against the natural Eights of Man, the Law of God. Other men it makes madmen or idiots in their religious faculty, and they boldly proclaim that this great crime against mankind is a "Revelation from Almighty God."
My ears are not preternaturally delicate, yet from childhood up I could not hear profane words profanely spoke, without a shudder; but no swearing of the lowest men I ever encountered in an Ohio railroad car, or met in an Illinois bar-room, has ever filled me with such horror as the profanity of ministers in their pulpits, out of this Bible which they call God's word, in the name of Jesus whom they affect to worship as God, attempting to justify the foulest wrong which man ever does to man. The State makes slavery a Measure, but the Church baptizes it as a Principle.
Look at the Bible Society, counting its money by millions, which has not a New Testament for a slave. Look at the Foreign Missionary Society; where are its Evangelists to preach the "acceptable year of the Lord" unto American heathen, who fill up whole Gallilees of southern Gentiles? Look at the American Tract Society; it has not a word against the great wickedness of a nation which enslaves one seventh part of the People and imperils the rights of all the rest Then you see how Slavery debases the holiest thing it lays its hands upon.
Finally, it degrades the Political Activity of the American people in their industrial Democracy.
At the South, it rears up a Privileged Class—350,000 slaveholders—who monopolize all the
education—and do not get much—who monopolize the money, respectability, and the political power. They are the masters of the bondmen whom they own, and of the "poor whites" whom they control. So in the midst of our industrial democracy there grows up a class who despise the industry which feeds and clothes them. Not a Southern State has a "Republican form of Government." These men are seeking to revive that old Vicarious-ness of the dark ages, and that in its worst form. See how they degrade the mass of the people, hindering their education, their religion, their self-respect; hindering even their industry. The greatest intellect of the South runs to politics, and yet, in the last thirty years, the South has not produced one single great statesman. Over her head there hangs a peril more disastrous and more imminent than impends over Italy, over Spain, over France, even over Turkey, and yet, in that democracy of the South, not a single politician has risen up and dared to cope with this giant ill, and warn his nation against it!
There is no great political talent developed at the South, no statesmanship. Power of intrigue, power to take the lumps of dough which we send from the North, and fashion them to vessels of dishonor, and fill them with the shame they are only fit to hold,—this is the extent of the South's political talent.
This slave power has its vassals all over the North. They abound in the great cities,— Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, Boston. Read their journals, listen to their orations, hear what they propose for laws, and see the baneful influence of slavery on the political development of the North.
But this privileged class, this oligarchy of slave-holders, slave-hunters, and slave-breeders, has long controlled the politics of the nation. Once it ruled the Whig party; then the Know-Nothing party; the Democratic party it has controlled for a long time. See its measures: The Fugitive Slave Bill, the Dred Scott Decision; the spread of slavery into Kansas and other territory; the acquisition of new territory to spread it into; the re-opening of the African slave trade, to fill the South with men whose masters shall force them to work, and degrade still further the labor of every Irish
man, German, or American born to the soil! Take the last three administrations,—include, if you will, the present; study their great acts; look at their representative men; consider the principles they lay down, and the measures they thereon build up. Compare those with the three first administrations,—of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Try them by the two texts of this morning's sermon,—the Golden Rule, which is now a maxim of humanity; the noble word of our fathers, also a self-evident truth,—and then you see the effect of Slavery on American politics.
The slave power violates the conscience of the American people, and then scales to muzzle the mouth. In the South there must be no discussion of Slavery. Ministers are mobbed, tarred and feathered, and driven off. Even a bookseller is not allowed to retail his liberal wares in Alabama, which Mr. Clay, its representative Senator in Congress, says is a "model slave State." So indeed it is! This is the test of institutions: Can they bear to be looked at in the daylight, and talked about by every tongue? Napoleon and the Pope, say tyranny cannot be looked at; the South says the same. Has the North any institution that it is afraid to have looked at and talked about? Senator Hammond says, "Who will send our missionaries to the North, to talk about the wrongs of the people! The wrongs of the Northern People! where a shoemaker turns into a Senator, and nobly fills the place, — far bettor than the accomplished scholar, who but trod on it before; where we turn blacksmiths into Governors, and have Colleges for the People by every valley, and beside every little stream that runs among the bills! Mr. Hammond's father, a native of this State, went to the South in a humble capacity, to seek his fortune, and found it by marrying a plantation; and from that wedlock has this Senator Hammond sprung, who says that the working people of the North are "the mud-sills of society," "essentially slaves," only not so well paid and cared for as his own! While he was uttering this, the valuation of all the lands and goods in South Carolina was not quite $148,000,000, but the valuation of assessable property in Boston was $268,000,000. The "mud-sills," the "slaves" of the North, in a single city, had $110,000,000 more of property than the whole great State of South Carolina, and her Senator thrown in.
Such are the Effects that slavery has on the Industrial, Intellectual, Religious and Political Development of the people. It is a four-fold curse upon the master, not less than upon the slave.
Look at New England! She has 60,000 square
miles of land — and what is it? Some of you have tilled it; I also for many a year. The soil is thin and poor; the climate ungenial; the summers short, the winters long and terribly severe. Timber, granite, ice, are our natural staples, wherein yet we have no monopoly. Virginia has 63,000 square miles; she has 1300 more than Now England, with an admirable soil, and "the finest climate in the world." Her surface bears every tiling, from, tropic cotton in the southern valleys to, arctic moss on the mountain top. The earth teems with most valuable minerals. Her coast has the best of harbors; her great rivers are a static power for internal navigation; small ones a dynamic force for manufactures. She had been settled twelve years while New England had no man but the red Indian. Now, Now England has 3,000,000 people, all free; Virginia a million and a half, and 500,000 of them are slaves. New England has 3600 miles of railroad, which have cost $120,000,000; Virginia 1200 miles, which have cost $23,000,000. The value of the land in Virginia, in 1850, was $252,000,000; in New England, $690,000,000. The whole property of Virginia, in land and goods, in 1856, was $330,000,000; of New England, $1,220,000,000. In 1858 Boston only lacks $72,000,000 to be worth as much as all the lands and goods of the great Sate of Virginia, with 1,500,000 people and 63,000 square miles of land. By nature how poor New England; Virginia how rich: by art how poor Virginia; how rich New England I Whence the odds? Here is Freedom; every avenue to wealth, to honor, office, fame, is open to all. There is Slavery; and as men sow, thus shall they reap,—New England, Wealth of her freedom; Virginia, from her bondage Poverty. The exports of New England, they are the products of her toilsome hand and thinking brain; they are books, manufactured articles: New England's hand goes through every land. The exports of Virginia, they are her sons and daughters, bred as slaves, to be sold as cattle; Virginia has 78,000 children at school and college; New England 676,000. From the Aroostook to the Housatonic, from the day of the Pilgrims until now, New England has been a cov-
ered all over with the footprints of human freedom. The poor little school-houses dot the land, everywhere, and the meeting house lifts its finger to heaven as the index of God's Higher Law, his self-evident Truths, the unalienable Right of man to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. "While New England opens her ten thousand schools to all children — Saxon, German, Irish, African—in Virginia the arm of the State shuts a woman in jail because she taught a colored girl to read the Saw Testament. While Massachusetts turns with scorn a Judge of Probate out from his office, because he kidnapped a man, Virginia shuts a northern Sea Captain for forty years in her penitentiary, because he aided 54,000 worth of human property to become free men, who believe sic semper tyrannis. That is the effect of slavery!
Nothing can save Slavery. It is destined to ruin. Once I thought it might end peacefully; now I think it must fall as so many another wickedness, in violence and blood. Slavery is in flagrant violation of the institutions of America—Direct Government,—over all the people, by all the people, for all the people. It is hostile to the interests of industrial Democracy; it lessens wealth— weakening the growth of creative power, Toil and Thought. It lies in the way of all religion. There is one great maxim of morality, older than Jesus of Nazareth, common to the Chinese, Buddistic, Classic, Mohammedan, and Christian religion, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them." Measure Slavery by the Golden Rule and where is it? It conflicts with the self-evident truths of human reason so clear to our Fathers, and first promulgated eighty-two years ago this day. It stands in. the way of that Automatic Instinct of Progress which is eternal in the human race and irresistible in human history.
Democracy is the stone which the builders rejected, in due time it is hoisted up with shouting, and made the head of the corner. It was not the work of wise men, who knew what they did. "It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes;" not your forecast, but the Divine Providence that works by us and through us without our will. "Whoso falleth on that stone shall be broken, but on 'whomsoever it shall fall it will grind him to powder."
Slavery must go down. The course of Trade is against it; the course of Thought; the course of Religion; the course of Politics,—the course of History. All the Caesars could not save Paganism, when the Sun of Christian righteousness shone in the Roman sky. No Julian, the apostate, can turn back the eyes of freemen to love that Vicariousness of government, which our Pilgrim Fathers fled from with devout prayers, and which our Patriot leathers declared against and put down with devout swords. Meetings of Southern planters to restore the slave trade, assemblies of Northern capitalists and their flunkeys to suppress agitation and enforce Kidnapping, conventions of National Politicians to put down the principles of democracy and the Christian religion—can these things save Slavery from its fate? No more than a convention of grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains can protect the savage woods from the axe, or stay the tide of civilized man, which will sweep across the continent, and fill the howling wilderness with farms and villages and cities of Christian men instead of grizzly bears. Let Presidents and Cabinets do their possible, mankind will tread Slavery underneath their feet.
You and I, American men and women, we must end Slavery soon, or it ruins our democracy — the sooner the better and at the smaller cost. And if we are faithful, as our Patriot Fathers and our Pilgrim Fathers, then when you and your children shall assemble eighteen years hence to keep the one hundredth birthday of the land, there shall not be a slave in all America!
Then what a prospect, what a history is there for the American People with their Industrial Democracy! For all men Freedom in the Market, freedom in the School, freedom in the Church, freedom in the State! Remove this monstrous evil, what a glorious future shall be ours! The whole mighty continent will come within the bounds of Liberty, and the very islands of the gulf rejoice.
And, henceforth, there shall be no chain,
Save, underneath the sea,
The wires shall murmur through the main:
Sweet songs of liberty.
The conscious stars accord above,
The waters wild below,
And under, through the cable wove,
Her fiery errands go.
For He who worketh high and wise,
Nor pauses in his plan,
Will take the sun out of the sides
Ere freedom out of man.