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New England forced slavery.

On October 5, 1778, the general assembly of Virginia passed an act (the first of the session) prohibiting from that date the importation of any slave into the Commonwealth, by sea or land. Twenty-nine years before England, twenty-nine years before the congress of the United States prohibited the slave trade, Virginia placed her abhorrence of it on the statute book. By whom was this law repealed? In effect, by the vote of a solid New England, in the convention of 1878. What old England began, New England completed. In the sale of opium to China who is the arch sinner—England or the Chinese? In the importation of slaves by the slave trade, was it the slave trader, or his customer, who first and foremost was responsible? ‘This infernal traffic,’ said George Mason, ‘originated in the avarice of British merchants. The British government constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stopto it. He lamented that some of our eastern brethren had from a lust of gain embarked in this nefarious traffic.’ ‘Twenty years,’ said Madison, ‘will produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty to import slaves.’ As between Virginia's cession of her northwest territory for the sake of the union; and New England's refusal (for the sake of union) to relinquish, until twenty years had passed, ‘this nefarious traffic,’ which denotes sacrifice for union, for freedom, and union for the sake of freedom? ‘We demand,’ said New England, ‘our rights to fasten upon you the fangs of this “nefarious traffic” for twenty years to come.’ If New England can forgive herself for this, what should she not forgive? She did forgive herself without a groan.

It was not slavery, it was the slave trade, which John Wesley called ‘the sum of all villainies.’ This was what New England made the condition precedent to Union. The capital invested in the lucrative exchange of rum for negroes could not (or would not) sooner adjust itself to the impractical views of Madison and Mason. The constitutional power of amendment was inhibited from touching this provision. By profits thus derived, the sons of New England, their legatees and distributees, have been enriched. Which of them has flung upon the ground the tainted money? Of them who received the [314] tainted spoil in their own hands, which one failed to close upon it a tenacious grip, ‘with the face which good men wear when they have done a virtuous action?’ An old maxim tells us: ‘the receiver is as bad as the thief.’ None, with which I am acquainted, makes him worse. Old England and New England handed the forbidden fruit to the South—themselves blind and deaf to the torments of the middle passage (to the negro) in their zeal to do so. Then rolling up the whites of their eyes, they join to upbraid the South for retaining property sold for each still unreturned by the vendors. They retained the approving conscience of well-filled pockets. That was a wonderful built of sale, having no parallel, which assured to one side excommunication and anathema and to the other ‘prevenient grace.’ The excommunicated were the same who with all their strength had protested against the wrong. They who hurled the curse were the same, who, over protest, had inflicted the wrong.

What created the difference between States with negro slaves and States without them? Difference of climate, soil, production. Parallels of latitude voted for or against the negro. The southern man said, ‘where we are, there is your home.’ The logic which defined the chasm between convictions was the pitiless logic of a line. Right and wrong were geographical.

My friend, as I esteem it a privilege to call him, Major John W. Daniel, in an address at the University of Virginia, quotes Mr. Hoar, late senator from Massachusetts as saying of Jefferson, ‘he stands in human history as the foremost man of all whose influence has led men to govern themselves by spiritual laws.’ Of all emancipationists, Jefferson was by far the greatest. As early as 1778 he sought to begin the work of emancipation in his own Commonwealth. His words of sympathy for the slave are often quoted at the North. He was, however, an emancipationist, not because of ill will to the master, but because of good will to the slave. He was the friend, powerful and sincere, of the great struggling masses. It was as the sincere democrat that he was hated. That part of the constitutional compact which could lend itself to forward the views of this man and his school (i. e. the three-fifths representation of slaves in States, which cast votes for his school) was obnoxious to them to whom his views were visions, not desired to be realized. It [315] could not be because of any wish to increase or prolong slavery that the Missouri compromise fell upon the ear of Jefferson ‘like a fire bell in the night.’ ‘They are taking advantage,’ he said, ‘of the virtuous feeling of the people to effect a division of parties by a geographical line.’ ‘The movement,’ he said, ‘is under the false front of lessening the evils of slavery, but with the real view of producing a geographical division of parties.’ To William Pinckney he wrote: ‘The leaders of federalism defeated in their schemes of obtaining power, by rallying partizans of the principle of monarchism—a principle of personal not of local division—have changed their tack, and thrown out another barrel to the whale.’ To Mr. Short he wrote: ‘I envy not the present generation the glory of throwing away the fruits of their fathers' sacrifices of life and fortune, and of rendering desperate the experiment which was to decide ultimately whether man is capable of self-government. This treason against human hope will signalize their epoch in future history.’ To LaFayette he wrote: ‘It is not a moral question, but one merely of power * * * to raise a geographical principle for the choice of a president.’ To Mr. Holmes (then of Massachusetts), he wrote these prophetic words: ‘A geographical line conciding with a marked principle, moral or political, will never be obliterated, and every new irratation will mark it deeper and deeper.’ ‘Thank God,’ he wrote to John Adams, ‘I shall not live to witness its issue.’ His race was run. Not for himself, but for his country, was his warning. It may be that in his far famed ‘Declaration’ there is ‘glittering generality.’ It may be ‘all that gltters is not gold.’ But no false philosophy lurks in this brief chronicle. It is the aged wisdom of one who from youth to hoary age was freedom's friend. It is his last word and testament. ‘Every new irritation’ reveals new depths to it. It is that dying declaration, when the eye, in the presence of death, is purged of the films of self. To him the Missouri question was the cover under which absolutists stalked their prey. Let the foe tear down the outer wall for any purpose, it will be abased for all. He saw a movement to make the name of freedom do yeoman service for them who were in arms against the reality. Geography would henceforth be their tireless recruit and slavery the flail wherewith to beat down freedom. His was the despair of one who embodied, [316] as did no other, the democratic idea. His instinct taught him when to fear and when to hope. He had hoped for a rule whose force would be justice. He now forsaw a reign whose justice would be force. The sanguine labor of his life seemed lost at the close. Events seemed to say: ‘Aha, Jefferson, we have thee on the hip at last.’ Realizing in his old age the triumph which had come to stay of nominal over real, he turned his face to the wall.

John Quincy Adams noted in his diary: ‘The discussion disclosed a secret. It revealed the basis for a new organization of parties.’

The Bill of Abomination.

The convention of Northern States which met at Harrisburg to outline the tariff of 1828, known as the ‘Bill of Abomination’ was the confirmation of Jefferson's forebodings.

Had parliament granted to the colonies the right to appear by representatives (easily outnumbered by the rest of the commons), how nugatory would have been the colonial vote. So specious was the scheme to make the South the milch cow for the North. Real consent of the governed would be violated at the threshold. ‘I will,’ said John Randolph, ‘put it in the power of no man or set of men who ever lived, or who ever shall live, to tax me without my consent. It is wholly immaterial whether this is done, without my having any representation at all, or, as it was done in the case of the tariff law, by a phalanx, stern and inexorable, who, have the majority and having the power, prescribe to me the law I shall obey * * * The whole slave-holding country, the whole of it from the Potomac to Mexico, was placed under the ban and anathema of a majority of two.’ The logic of liberty thus spoke. That wizzard glance, flashing with a supernatural insight into the heart of things, saw in this the shadow of a stroke which would one day fall with destructive force; and which destructively has fallen. The ounce of prevention would have saved what whole cargoes of cure are powerless to remedy. The power which buys legislation wholesale is sequence from this antecedence. The injury of the many for the profit of the few cannot well have other sequence. Once more, the issue between good government and bad government; between free government and slave government turns on this—Is public good or selfish [317] greed the propelling power? A liberty to be corrupt! Death and decay have that.

Was it not natural for ‘practical politicians,’ who had this matter at heart to ponder, by what common bond the States once assembled at Harrisburg might be massed again in more formidable phalanx and for the answer to flash—are we not the States called free, the other, the States called ‘slave?’ Freedom against slavery—could battle cry be more sublime than that? Lifting up their eyes, they looked across the Potomac, the Monongahela, the Ohio and whispered with burning breath—‘Lo Naboth's Vineyard.’

Freedom and profits.

They who might so easily be solid for the name of freedom, why not also for the reality of profits? All that was needed was a swap of the moral force of freedom for the material force of empire, brutalizing and diabolizing; all the more infernal, because masquerading under the name of love for others-taking in vain that holy name. The dangerous enemies of a republic are not the men who make open war upon it; but the men who insidiously undermine.

Events were moving on toward completion, when Andrew Jackson, in his message of January 2, 1835, found it needful to denounce the use of the United States mails for the circulation of inflammatory appeals addressed to the passions of slaves. In such use of the mails, the hero of New Orleans could see but one object, viz.: ‘To produce all the horrors of servile war.’

Mr. William Chauncey Fowler, in his book, ‘The Sectional Controversy’ (published in 1864), when the author was a member of the Connecticut legislature) says, that some fifteen or twenty years earlier, as a leading member of congress, who afterwards became a member of a presidential cabinet, was coming out from a heated debate, he was asked by the writer, an old college friend: ‘Will you inform me, what is the real reason why Northern men encourage these petitions?’ (For the abolition of slavery.) He said to me: ‘The real reason is, that the South will not let us have a tariff; and we touch them where they will feel it.’ It was as if, in the darkness, a voice was heard which only the wisest then knew how to translate, saying: ‘Go [318] to; we will wage our war against the name of slavery as the most effectual way to defeat once more the ever baffled fight against the reality; make African slavery free that industrial liberty may be enthralled; in the name of equality rivet inequality; break one set of fetters for power to force another.’

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