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[46]

Appendix D, p. 37.

In his message to the Confederate Congress of the 29th April last, Mr. Jefferson Davis presents a most glowing account of the prosperity of the peculiar institution of the South. He states, indeed, that it was “imperilled” by Northern agitation, but he does not affirm (and the contrary, as far as I have observed, is strenuously maintained at the South) that its progress has been checked or its stability in the slightest degree shaken.

I think I have seen statements by Mr. Senator Hunter of Virginia, that the institution of slavery has been benefited and its interests promoted, since the systematic agitation of the subject began; but I am unable to lay my hand on the speech, in which, if I recollect rightly, this view was taken by the distinguished senator.

I find the following extracts from the speeches of two distinguished southern senators, in “The Union,” a spirited paper published at St. Cloud, Minnesota:

It was often said at the North, and admitted by candid statesmen at the South, that anti-slavery agitation strengthened rather than weakened slavery. Here are the admissions of Senator Hammond on this point, in a speech which he delivered in South Carolina, October 24, 1858:--

And what then (1833) was the state of opinion in the South? Washington had emancipated his slaves. Jefferson had bitterly denounced the system, and had done all that he could to destroy it. Our Clays, Marshalls, Crawfords, and many other prominent Southern men, led off in the colonization scheme. The inevitable effect in the South was that she believed slavery to be an evil — weakness — disgraceful — nay, a sin. She shrunk from the discussion of it. She cowered under every threat. She attempted to apologize, to excuse herself under the plea — which was true — that England had forced it upon her; and in fear and trembling she awaited a doom that she deemed inevitable. But a few bold spirits took the question up — they compelled the South to investigate it anew and thoroughly, and what is the result? Why, it would be difficult to find now a Southern man who feels the system to be the lightest burden on his conscience; who does not, in fact, regard it as an equal advantage to the master and the slave, elevating both, as wealth, strength, and power, and as one of the main pillars and controlling influences of modern civilization, and who is not now prepared to maintain it at every hazard. Such have been the happy results of this abolition discussion.

“So far our gain has been immense from this contest, savage and malignant as it has been.”

And again he says:--

The rock of Gibraltar does not stand so firm on its basis as our slave system. For a quarter of a century it has borne the brunt of a hurricane as fierce and pitiless as ever raged. At the North, and in Europe, they cried “ havoc,” and let loose upon us all the dogs of war. And how stands it mow? Why, in this very quarter of a century our slaves have doubled in numbers, and each slave has more than doubled in value. The very negro who, as a prime laborer, would have brought $400 in 1828, would now, with thirty more years upon him, sell for $800.

Equally strong admissions were made by A. H. Stephens, now Vice-President of the “Confederacy,” in that carefully prepared speech which he delivered in Georgia in July, 1859, on the occasion of retiring from public life. He then said:--

Nor am I of the number of those who believe that we have sustained any injury by these agitations. It is true, we were not responsible for them. We were not the aggressors. We acted on the defensive. We repelled assault, calumny, and aspersion, by argument, by reason, and truth. But so far from the institution of African slavery in our section being weakened or rendered less secure by the discussion, my deliberate judgment is that it has been greatly strengthened and fortified--strengthened and fortified not only in the opinions, convictions, and consciences of men, but by the action of the Government.

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