of slaves in the Southern States
, was inaugurated and gradually extended, in violation of the compromises of the Constitution
, as well as of the honor and good faith tacitly pledged to the South
, by the manner in which the North
disposed of her slaves.
Such, in substance, is the statement of Mr. Davis
in his late message ; and he then proceeds, seemingly as if rehearsing the acts of this Northern majority in Congress, to refer to the anti-slavery measures of the State Legislatures
, to the resolutions of abolition societies, to the passionate appeals of the party press, and to the acts of lawless individuals, during the progress of this unhappy agitation.
The South Formerly opposed to Slavery.
Now, this entire view of the subject, with whatever boldness it is affirmed, and with whatever persistency it is repeated, is destitute of foundation.
It is demonstrably at war with the truth of history, and is contradicted by facts known to those now on the stage, or which are matters of recent record.
At the time of the adoption of the Constitution
, and long afterwards, there was, generally speaking, no sectional difference of opinion between North and South, on the subject of Slavery.
It was in both parts of the country regarded, in the established formula of the day, as “a social, political, and moral evil.”
The general feeling in favor of universal liberty and the rights of man, wrought into fervor in the progress of the Revolution, naturally strengthened the anti-slavery sentiment throughout the Union
It is the South which has since changed, not the North
. The theory of a change in the Northern
mind, growing out of a discovery made soon after
1789, that our soil and climate were unpropitious to Slavery, (as if the soil and climate then were different from what they had always been,) and a consequent sale to the South
of the slaves of the North
, is purely mythical — as groundless in fact as it is absurd in statement.
I have often asked for the evidence of this last allegation, and I have never found an individual who attempted even to prove it. But however this may be, the South
at that time regarded Slavery as an evil, though a necessary one, and habitually spoke of it in that light.
Its continued existence was supposed to depend on keeping up the African slave trade; and South
as well as North
as well as Massachusetts
, passed laws to prohibit that traffic; they were, however, before the revolution, vetoed by the Royal
One of the first acts of the Continental Congress, unanimously subscribed by its members, was an agreement neither to import, nor purchase any slave imported, after the first of December, 1774.
In the Declaration of Independence
, as originally drafted by Mr. Jefferson
, both Slavery and the slave trade were denounced in the most uncompromising language.
In 1777 the traffic was forbidden in Virginia
, by State law, no longer subject to the veto of Royal Governors.
In 1784, an ordinance was reported by Mr. Jefferson
to the old Congress, providing that after 1800 there should be no Slavery in any Territory, ceded or to be ceded to the United States
The ordinance failed at that time to be enacted, but the same prohibition formed a part by general consent of the ordinance of 1787, for the organization of the north-western Territory.
In his Notes on Virginia
, published in that year, Mr. Jefferson
depicted the evils of Slavery in terms of fearful import.
In the same year the Constitution
It recognized the existence of Slavery, but the word was carefully excluded from the instrument, and Congress was authorized to abolish