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[85]

All this, you will say, comes too late; the curse is upon you, the evil in the vitals of your state, the desolation widening day by day. No, it is not too late. There are elements in the Virginian character capable of meeting the danger, extreme as it is, and turning it aside. Could you but forget for a time partisan contest and unprofitable political speculations, you might successfully meet the dangerous exigencies of your state with those efficient remedies which the spirit of the age suggests; you might, and that too without pecuniary loss, relinquish your claims to human beings as slaves, and employ them as free laborers, under such restraint and supervision as their present degraded condition may render necessary. In the language of one of your own citizens,1‘it is useless for you to attempt to linger on the skirts of the age which is departed. The action of existing causes and principles is steady and progressive. It cannot be retarded, unless you would blow out all the moral lights around you; and if you refuse to keep up with it, you will be towed in the wake, whether you will or not.’

The late noble example of the eloquent statesman of Roanoke, the manumission of his slaves,


1 Speech in Virginia legislature, 1832.

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