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EServer » Antislavery Literature » Tracts, Essays, Speeches » A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the United States, without Danger or Loss to the Citizens of the South » A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the United States, without Danger or Loss to the Citizens of the South (XHTML)
Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

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The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the United States, without Danger or Loss to the Citizens of the South (XHTML)


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            It appears superfluous, in proposing a plan for the general abolition of slavery from the United States, to observe upon the immensity of the evil, and the gloomy prospect of dangers it presents to the American people—disunion, bloodshed, servile wars of extermination, horrible in their nature and consequences, and disgraceful in the eyes of the civilized world.
            It is conceived that any plan of emancipation, to be effectual, must consult at once the pecuniary interests and prevailing opinions of the southern planters, and bend itself to the existing laws of the southern states.—In consequence, it appears indispensable, that emancipation be connected with colonization, and that it demand no pecuniary sacrifice from existing slave-holders, and entail no loss of property on their children. The following plan is believed to embrace all these objects, and is presented to some southern and northern philanthropists, in the hope that, if meeting with their approbation, it will also meet with their support. It was originally suggested by the consideration of the German society, lately conducted by Mr. Rapp, at Harmony, Indiana and (since the purchase of that property, by Mr. Owen) at Economy Pennsylvania.

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            It appears unnecessary to enlarge on the probable effect, which a mild but steady system of order and economy, together with the improved condition and future destinies of the children, and an induced personal and family interest in the thriving of the establishment, will produce on the dispositions and exertions of the parents. The better to insure those effects, the parents will be gradually brought to understand, in weekly evening meetings, the object of the establishment, and taught orally (in simple language) the necessity of industry, first for the procuring of liberty, and afterwards the value of industry when liberty shall be procured. Any deficiency of exertions, or other misconduct, may also be explained to them as charged to their account, and binding them to a further term of service.
            The duration of the term of service must be somewhat decided by experience. It must cover the first purchase money; the rearing of infancy, and loss of sickness or other accidents; and bring replacing labor into the community, according to the estimate subjoined. To prevent the separation of families, it would be proposed to value the labor, not by heads, but by families, retaining the parents for an additional number of years, rather than manumitting them and retaining the children to a certain age. It would be advisable also, to continue the labor for an additional year or years, the profits of which should defray the expences of removal, and supply implements of husbandry and other necessaries to the colonists.
            The term of five years has been chosen as an average term, in which a good laborer will return his first purchase money with interest. On sugar, rice, and some cotton lands, the term is now esteemed much shorter—from one to three—on other cotton lands, from four to five―in Kentucky, from six to ten—in Virginia, it is difficult

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to arrive at any estimate, so completely is the value of slave labor depressed. But as the proposed system admits of all kinds of industry—agriculture and manufactural—it may be expected to raise the value of labor in Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, to meet the term of five years; in which case, supposing an improvement in the labor of all the slave states, the average will not be taken too favorably. It should be observed, further, that so long as colonization shall be connected with emancipation, it may always relieve every establishment from the support of age; removing the parents annually, before the period of infirmity, in company with a vigorous youth, sufficient for their support.
            It is hoped that, after one successful experiment, a similar establishment will be placed in each state; and that when the advantages of the system shall be ascertained, many planters will lease out their property, to be worked in the same way, receiving an interest equal or superior to that returned at present, while the extra profits may be devoted to the forwarding of the general system.
            The experiment farm, which it is proposed to establish by subscription, will, as it is hoped, among other advantages, offer an asylum and school of industry for the slaves of benevolent masters, anxious to manumit their people, but apprehensive of throwing them unprepared into the world.
            It may not be superfluous to observe, that due care shall be taken to prevent all communication between the people on the proposed establishment, and laborers on the plantations. And to prevent this more effectually, it may be advisable, that the property shall be somewhat isolated.—Of course every possible facility to be afforded to planters and other strangers, for examination of the property and principles on which it shall be conducted.

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            Should it be objected, that the price of laborers will rise in proportion to their scarcity: it may be answered, that, supposing the success of the emancipating system of labor to have reached the point at which the rise in the price of people would be anticipated, the supposition involves the competition of valuable with valueless or inferior labor; and that, consequently, the price of the old laborers could not rise. In general, however, these anticipations look too far ahead to admit of accuracy, either in objection or answer.
            It remains to meet a difficulty, frequently started at a first view of the plan. In removing the old laborers, how do you supply their place? It must, in general, be answered, that in all cases the supply is soon found to meet the demand. It is presumed, however, that a very large portion of the southern states is perfectly suited to white labor; and that this could, in a great measure, be furnished from the class of poor whites, throughout that section of the union, depressed by the slave system, and excluded from industry, to their loss and ruin.
            It must be remembered, also, that with the same facility that the door of colonization is opened, so also can it be closed. Whenever and wherever the improved system of black labor shall appear of value, it may be continued by retaining (on the footing perhaps of tenants, removable at will) as many, and no more, than the property can employ. The internal slave trade, which now paralizes the industry and disgraces the character of Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky, may thus gradually decline, until the legislatures of those states, and other of other states, see proper to check it entirely.
            It is thought unnecessary, at present, to specify any place, or country, for the reception of the colonists.—Many ideas prevail on this subject; and all, perhaps may be consulted. Independent of Hayti, there is the

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Mexican territory of Texas, touching the line of the United States, free to all colors, with a climate suited to the complexion of the negro race, and a fine region beyond the rocky mountains, within the jurisdiction of the United States.
            This plan, proposed in a spirit of equal good will to master and slave, is intended to consult the interests of both. To prepare the later for liberty, before it is granted, and in no case to grant liberty, but in accordance with the laws of the state, by removal out of the state.—To remove, by gradual and gentle means, a system fraught with danger, as well as crime—To turn labor to account, which is, in many places, worse than profitless, and every where to heighten its value—To assimilate the industry of the south to that of the north, and enable it to multiply its productions, and improve all the rich advantages of southern soil and climate—To open also the field of industry to free white labor, now in a great measure closed throughout a large portion of this magnificent country.
            Estimate of the first cost of the proposed Establishment.
100 Slaves, averaging $300                                      $30,000
            2 Sections of government land                       1,600
            Provisions, clothing, medicines, $35 each     8,500
40 Axes                                                                                80  
60 Hoes                                                                               30
40 Grub Hoes                                                                    300
15 Ploughs                                                                        120
18 Horses         $40 each                                               1,720
Harness                                                                             150
Horse keeping for the first year                                  1,549
30 Cows at $15                                                                 450
20 Hogs                                                                            100
Cotton, gin, and mill                                                    1,000
Overseer's wages                                                            300
                                                Carried over.              40,608

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                                    Brought forward                       40,668
Incidental expenses                                                        1,500
            Allowing 1,000 lbs of cotton to each hand,
 (200 lbs less than the statements furnished by
   southern planters,) at 12 ½ cts:                                   $12,500
            Deduct interest of money at 6 pr ct.                       2,520
                                                            Nett Profit                   9,980
            Taking this low estimate, both as to price and quantity, it will be seen that hands, (between nine and fifty years of age,) will repay the purchase money, with interest, in less than four years. But allowing deductions for sickness and deaths, the average term is stated at five years.
            The above estimate is based upon the actual gains of southern slave labor, without any calculation as to expected advantages, to arise from an improved system of labor.
            This estimate shows how advantageous an investment of capital might be found in the proposed establishment. One experiment may suffice to convince the Southern planters of its safety and its efficacy, and lead them to attract within their borders a portion of that floating capital, foreign and domestic, which is now employed in developing the resources of Mexico, Colombia and Peru.
            The location, as above stated, will, in the first instance, be preferred in a good Upland Cotton country, as demanding less capital. If, however, an establishment shall be attempted in Virginia, Maryland, or generally within that section of the country where existing labor is valueless, all the advantages of the improved system may be yet more forcibly developed.

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Shewing at what period the labor of 100 people (doubling itself every five years) might redeem the whole slave population of the United States.

       AT PRESENT.
Begin with 100                          Begin with 800
                   200                                          1,600
                   400                                          3,200 
                   800                                          6,400
                1,600                                        12,800
                3,200                                        25,600
ral in-         3,920,000
                6,400                                        51,200
               12,800                                     102,400
               25,600                                     204,800
               51,200                                     409,600
              102,400                                    819,200
              204,800                                 1,638,400
              409,600                                 3,276,800
Do               7,840,000
              819,200                                 6,553,600

It is not supposed that the end is to be obtained in the manner above shown. The calculation is only presented to evince the general redeeming power of labor, if all its earnings be preserved and applied to one purpose. Numerous establishments must be required to embrace so large a population. To form any calculation of accuracy, it would be necessary, on one side, to subtract the people as sent off from the establishments, and on the other side, that is to say, from the sum of the slave population, the people who enter the establishments, together with their natural increase.

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            NOTE:―It may be necessary to state more distinctly, that masters desirous of emancipating their people, but withheld from so doing by inability to meet the expenses usually attendant on manumission, and anxious to procure for them, some preparatory instruction, will find free access to the society. It will be necessary first to send a statement of the age, sex, number, and previous employment of such slaves, to some agent for the establishment, who will, in return, supply any information that may be required.
            For such information, apply to Benjamin Lundy, No. 52, Camden street, Baltimore.

* Ed. – The pagination numbers of this 12-page tract are erroneous from this point forward. [JL]