previous next

[31] speak words of impartial truth. As I have already stated, the declaration of South Carolina, of the causes which prompted her to secede from the Union, alleged no other reason for this movement than the enactment of laws to obstruct the surrender of fugitive slaves. The declaration does not state that South Carolina ever lost a slave by the operation of these laws, and it is doubtful whether a dozen from all the States have been lost from this cause. A gross error on this subject pervades the popular mind at the South. Some hundred of slaves in the aggregate escape annually; some to the recesses of the Dismal Swamp; some to the everglades of Florida; some to the trackless mountain region, which traverses the South ; some to the Mexican States and the Indian tribes; some across the free States to Canada. The popular feeling of the South ascribes the entire loss to the laws of the free States, while it is doubtful whether these laws cause any portion of it. The public sentiment of the North is not such, of course, as to dispose the community to obstruct the escape or aid in the surrender of slaves. Neither is it at the South. No one, I am told, at the South, not called upon by official duty, joins in the hue and cry after a fugitive; and whenever he escapes from any States south of the border tier, it is evident that his flight must have been aided in a community of slave-holders. If the North Carolina fugitive escapes through Virginia, or the Tennessee fugitive escapes through Kentucky, why are Pennsylvania and Ohio alone blamed? On this whole subject the grossest injustice is done to the North. She is expected to be more tolerant of slavery than the South herself; for while the South demands of the North entire acquiescence in the extremest doctrines of slave property, it is a well-known fact, and as such alluded to by Mr. Clay in his speech on the compromises of 1850, that any man who habitually traffics in this property is held in the same infamy at Richmond and New Orleans that he would be at Philadelphia or Cincinnati.1

While South Carolina, assigning the cause of secession, confines herself to the State laws for obstructing the surrender of fugitives, in other quarters, by the press, in the manifestoes and debates on the subject of secession, and in the official papers of the new Confederacy, the general conduct of the North, with respect to Slavery, is put forward as the justifying, nay, the compelling cause of the revolution. This subject, still more than that of the tariff, is too trite for discussion, with the hope of saying any thing new on the general question. I will but submit a few considerations to show the great injustice which is done to the North, by representing her as the aggressor in this sectional warfare.

The Southern theory assumes that, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, the same antagonism prevailed as now between the North and South, on the general subject of Slavery; that, although it existed to some extent in all the States but one of the Union, it was a feeble and declining interest at the North, and mainly seated at the South; that the soil and climate of the North were soon found to be unpropitious to slave labor, while the reverse was the case at the South; that the Northern States, in consequence, having, from interested motives, abolished Slavery, sold their slaves to the South, and that then, although the existence of Slavery was recognized, and its protection guaranteed by the Constitution, as soon as the Northern States had acquired a controlling voice in Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures, against the rights of the owners

1 See Appendix, C.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
C. M. Clay (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1850 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: