previous next

A Model Reformer.

"For my own part," says Lord John Russell in his late speech at Blairgowrie, Scotland, "I consider slavery one of the most horrible crimes that yet disgraces humanity." "Gentlemen, this subject affects the future stage of civilization; it affects the well being of the black race, whom it was the crime of our ancestors to introduce to America, and who, if these matters end well, will be, as I believe they are fitted to be, peaceable and intelligent members of a free country."

Does he, Lord John Russell, believe that? If he does, he is an ignoramus; if he does not, he is a hypocrite, and in either case his opinions on the subject deserve only profound contempt.

He considers "slavery one of the most horrible crimes that yet disgraces humanity. " And yet he advises his countrymen that they may sell muskets, shells, gunpowder and cannon to the party that perpetrates equally with the party that opposes that "most horrible crime;" they may sell ships like the Alabama to those outrageous criminals, only they must not sell rams. The most horrible of crimes must not be supported by rams? Everything but these sacred rams may be hold to the horrible criminals, thereby enabling John Bull to turn an honest penny in the way of trade and commerce.

"It was the crime of our ancestors to introduce slavery to America," is an admission which even the fanatic Russell is compelled to make. It was the crime of your ancestors! And why do you make us responsible for that crime? We did not bring the negroes here; if there was a crime in bringing them, Englishmen were the criminals; generation has succeeded generation, and the institution has become so interwoven with the whole framework of society that to pull it down is to overturn the whole social structure. Even conceding that the act of your slave-trading ancestors was a crime, why must we, the innocent inheritors of property purchased by our ancestors from your ancestors, be made to suffer the penalty of their iniquity? Or, if we must give up the slaves, give us back the consideration which our ancestors paid to your ancestors for them, and which you have put into your own pockets. We submit that, if the South ought to give up slavery and all the wealth of which it is the foundation then it is equally the duty of those who, Lord John, Russell admits, introduced that "most horrible crime" to surrender all their gains from the sale of slaves to Americans, and all the accumulated profits of those gains, so that no living man in England shall continue to own a dollar's worth of property of any kind which is the product of the slave trade or of slave labor. What, then, would become of British manufactures and commerce, and of the enormous private fortunes in England which had their origin in the profits of the slave trade?

Nay, more. If the wrongs and crimes of Earl Russell's ancestors are to be rectified by the present generation, why does he not demand that the nobles and landholders of England dispossess themselves at once of every rood of ground which their ancestors obtained by robbery and violence? If England were to set such an example of restoration and restitution there would scarcely be an ancient family in the kingdom with a roof over its head, or land enough to make bread for a single mouth. The very graves which hold its most illustrious dead would have to unearth their tenants, and the throne itself be shaken to atoms in the general convulsion.

But why waste words upon a fanatic who can unblushingly declare that he believes the negroes of the South are fitted to be intelligent members of a free country?

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Blairgowrie (United Kingdom) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
John Russell (3)
John Bull (1)
Americans (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: