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The problem at the North.

Connecticut will serve to illustrate the simplicity of the problem encountered at the North. In 1784 a scheme of gradual emancipation was enacted for the slaves, some three thousand in number, then in the State. It was not until 1848 that the emancipation of this small number was completed. Down to 1848 by the law of the State slaves were chattels, which could be sold by legal process, and which were assets in the hands of an executor. Gradual as this emancipation was, the preamble to the act of 1784 declares that it was, as soon as it could be done ‘consistent with the rights of individuals and the public safety.’ What ‘individual right,’ what ‘public safety’ was ever cared for by the inimical commonwealths which banded with such zeal for the reproof and edification of the [274] South? Having no longer any sins of their own to repent of, there was nothing left for them to do but to repent day and night of the wickedness of the South. There were allevations to this kind of repentence, which reduce its heroic dimensions. It was a vicarious transaction, which eluded altogether the crown of thorns for the angels of repentence, and plaited it exclusively for the brows of those whose sins they ransomed. They repented proudly. One might speculate, as to what might have been the effect upon their trivial task, had Canada possessed the power and disposition to play their part (with the unrestricted right to do so, which resided no longer in the North); had every wind from that further North borne the poisioned arrow of a hate which never slept. Is it the rule for men to be convinced by execration and imprecation? It were a severe tax upon credulity to be expected to believe that the benevolence which referred to slave-holders as ‘blood-hounds,’ and to their community as the ‘small-pox’ seriously desired to convert the sinners so approached. If missionaries thus approach the heathen, their rate of progress is accounted for. This was not the frame of mind wherewith to convert opinion, but was the frame of mind wherewith to persecute opinion.

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