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Vi. Slavery under the Constitution.

  • Persistent hostility of Congress to Slavery Extension
  • -- purchase of Louisiana -- El Whitney and his Cotton-Gin -- Colonization.

it has been plausibly argued that the constitutional provision for the surrender of fugitive slaves, and the inhibition of Slavery in the Territories simultaneously embodied in the Ordinance of 1787, were parts of an implied, rather than clearly expressed, compact, whereby Slavery in the old States was to be protected, upheld, and guaranteed, on condition that it should rest content within its existing boundaries. In seeming accordance with this hypothesis, the first Federal Congress, which met at New York on the first Wednesday in March, 1789, proceeded forthwith to adopt and reenact the prohibition of Slavery in the Territories, already contained in the Ordinance of ‘87 aforesaid, and to adapt that Ordinance in all respects to the new state of things created by the Federal Constitution. No voice was raised in dissent from this action. On the other hand, the next Congress proceeded to enact, with very little opposition, a stringent and comprehensive fugitive slave law.1

North Carolina, on the 22d of December, 1789--one month after ratifying the Federal Constitution — passed an act ceding, on certain conditions, her western territory — now constituting the State of Tennessee--to the Federal Union. She exacted and required Congress to assent to this, among other conditions:

Provided always, that no regulation made, or to be made, by Congress, shall tend to emancipate slaves.

Georgia, likewise, in ceding to the Union (April 2, 1802) her outlying territories, now forming the States of Alabama and Mississippi, imposed upon the Union, and required Congress [50] to accede to, the following condition:

Fifthly. That the territory thus ceded shall become a State, and be admitted into the Union as soon as it shall contain sixty thousand inhabitants, or at an earlier period, if Congress shall think it expedient, on the same conditions and restrictions, with the same privileges, and in the same manner, as is provided in the ordinance of Congress of the 13th day of July, 1787, for the government of the western territory of the United States; which ordinance shall, in all its parts, extend to the territory contained in the present act of cession, the article only excepted which forbids Slavery.

Congress was thus precluded, by the unprecedented and peremptory conditions affixed to their respective sessions of their western territory by North Carolina and Georgia, from continuing and perfecting the Jeffersonian policy of fundamental and imperative Slavery inhibition in the Federal Territories. Had Mr. Jefferson's Ordinance of 1784 been passed as he reported it, this beneficent end would have been secured. Accident, and the peculiar requirements of the Articles of Confederation, prevented this. Mr. Dane's Ordinance of 1787 contemplated only the territories already ceded to the Confederation, leaving those still to be ceded to be governed by some future act. The assumption, however, that there was between the North and the South an original and subsisting compact, arrangement, understanding, or whatever it may be called, whereby so much of the common territories of the Republic as lay south of the Ohio, or of any particular latitude, were to be surrendered to Slavery, on the condition that the residue should be quitclaimed to free labor, is utterly unfounded and mistaken. The author of the original restriction was himself a slaveholder; yet he contemplated and provided for (as we have seen) the consignment of every acre of those territories, north as well as south of the Ohio, and down to the southernmost limit of our domain, to Free Labor evermore. A majority of the States which sustained that proposition were then slaveholding, and had taken no decided steps toward Emancipation. Yet they none the less regarded Slavery as an evil and a blunder,2 to be endured, [51] perhaps, for a season where already established, rather than to invoke greater mischiefs and perils by its too sudden and violent extirpation than were likely to flow from its more patient and gradual extinction. But to plant Slavery on virgin soil — to consecrate vast and yet vacant territories to its extension and perpetuation — to conquer and annex still further domains expressly to increase its security and enlarge its power — are guilty dreams which never troubled the repose of the great body of our Revolutionary sages and patriots. Enlightened by their own experience as to the evils and dangers of arbitrary, despotic, irresponsible power, they were too upright and too logical to seek to fasten for all time on a helpless and inoffensive race chains far heavier and more galling than those they had just shaken off. Most of them held slaves, but held them under protest against the anomaly presented to the world by republican bondage, and in the confident hope that the day would soon dawn that would rid themselves of the burden and their country of the curse and shame of human chattelhood.3 Had they been asked to unite in any of [52] the projects of the Sam Houstons, William Walkers, Quitmans, and Slidells of our day, they would have retorted as indignantly as the astonished Syrian to the Hebrew prophet--“Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” Oh that they had but known and realized that the wrong which to-day is barely tolerated for the moment, is to-morrow cherished, and the next day sustained, eulogized, and propagated!

When Ohio was made a State, in 1803, the residue of the North-West Territory became Indiana Territory, with William Henry Harrison — since President of the United States--as Governor. Its earlier settlements were mainly on the banks of the Ohio and of its northern tributaries, and were principally by emigrants from Virginia, Kentucky, and other Slave States. These emigrants, realizing an urgent need of labor, and being accustomed to supply that need by the employment of slaves, almost unanimously memorialized Congress, through a Convention assembled in 1802, and presided over by their Governor, for a temporary suspension of the sixth article of the Ordinance of ‘87, whereby Slavery was expressly prohibited. Their memorial was referred by the House of Representatives to a Select Committee of three, two of them from the Slave States, with the since famous John Randolph of Roanoke, then a young member, as its chairman. On the 2d of March, 1803, Mr. Randolph made a unanimous report from this Committee, recommending a denial of the prayer of the petitioners, for these reasons:

The rapid population of the State of Ohio sufficiently evinces, in the opinion of your Committee, that the labor of slaves is not necessary to promote the growth and settlement of colonies in that region; that this labor — demonstrably the dearest of any — can only be employed in the cultivation of products more valuable than any known to that quarter of the United States; that the Committee deem it highly dangerous and inexpedient to impair a provision wisely calculated to promote the happiness and prosperity of the North-Western Country, and to give strength and security to that extensive frontier. In the salutary operation of this sagacious and benevolent restraint, it is believed that the inhabitants of Indiana will, at no very distant day, find ample remuneration for a temporary privation of labor, and of emigration.

The session terminated the next day; and the subject was, the next winter, referred to a new committee, whereof Caesar Rodney, of Delaware, was chairman. This committee reported in favor “of a qualified suspension, for a limited time,” of the inhibition aforesaid. But Congress took no action on the report.

The people of Indiana Territory persisted in their seemingly unanimous supplication to be allowed, for a limited period, the use of Slave Labor; and Mr. Garnett, of Virginia, on the 14th of February, 1806, made [53] another report from a Select Committee in favor of granting their request. But Congress never took this report into consideration. At the next session, a fresh letter from Governor Harrison, inclosing resolves of the Legislative Council and House of Representatives in favor of suspending temporarily the inhibition of Slavery, was received, and referred (January 21, 1807) to a Select Committee, whereof Mr. B. Parke, Delegate from said Territory, was made chairman. This Committee, composed mainly of members from Slave States, made (February 12th) a third report in favor of the petitioners; but Congress never acted upon the subject.

At the next session, the matter was brought before the Senate, on the apparently unanimous prayer of Governor Harrison and his Legislature for permission temporarily to employ slaves; but there was now, for the first time, a remonstrance of citizens of the Territory against the measure. The Senate referred the subject to a Select Committee of three, whereof Mr. Jesse Franklin, of N. C., was chairman; and Mr. Franklin, on the 13th of November, 1807, reported briefly against the petition, closing as follows:

Your Committee, after duly considering the matter, respectfully submit the following resolution:

Resolved, That it is not expedient at this time to suspend the sixth article of compact for the government of the Territory of the United States North-West of the river Ohio.

And here the long and fruitless struggle to fasten Slavery upon the vast Territory now forming the States of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, appears to have ended. By this time, emigration from the Free States into that Territory had begun. But it is probable that, at any time prior to 1818-20, a majority of the white settlers actually resident in that Territory would have voted in favor of the introduction of slaves.

For a counter-revolution had been silently proceeding for some years previous, and had almost eradicated the lessons and the principles of the Revolution from the hearts of the South, saving, of course, those portions wherein they seem to have never been learned. The bases of this revolution are the acquisition of Louisiana and the invention of the Cotton Gin;4 events for which Thomas Jefferson and Eli Whitney — neither of them pro-slavery — are primarily responsible. The acquisition of Louisiana, though second in occurrence and in importance, first attracted and fixed the attention of mankind, and shall, therefore, be first considered.

The river Mississippi was first discovered in 1541, by the Spanish adventurer De Soto, in the course of his three or four years fantastic wanderings and fightings throughout the region which now constitutes the Gulf States of our Union, in quest of the fabled Eldorado, or Land of Gold. lie left Spain in 1538, at the head of six hundred ambitious and enthusiastic followers, all eager and sanguine as himself in their quest of the fountain of perpetual youth and life. He died of a malignant fever on the bank of the Mississippi, in the spring or early summer of 154:2; and his body, [54] to conceal his death from the surrounding hostile savages, was sunk by his surviving followers in the deep current of that mighty stream. Of the entire expedition, less than half, an enfeebled and wretched remnant, finally reached the coast of Mexico, in the summer of 1543, glad to have escaped with their bare lives from the inhospitable swamps and savages they had so recklessly encountered. It does not appear that any of them, nor even De Soto himself, had formed any adequate conception of the importance of their discovery, of the magnitude of the river, or of the extent and fertility of the regions drained by its tributaries; since more than a century was allowed to transpire before the Mississippi was revisited by civilized men. And its next discoverers were not Spaniards, but Frenchmen ; although Spain had long possessed and colonized Florida and Mexico on either side of its mouth. But the French--now firmly established in Canada, and penetrating by their traders and voyageurs the wild region stretching westward and south-westward from that Colony — obtained from the savages some account of this river about the year 1660; and in 1673, Marquette and Joliet, proceeding westward from Montreal, through the Great Lakes, reached the Mississippi above its junction with the Missouri, and descended it to within three days journey of its mouth. In 1682, La Salle descended it to the Gulf of Mexico, and took formal possession of the region in the name of his king and country. A fort was erected on its banks by Iberville, about the year 1699; and in 1703, a settlement was made at St. Peters, on the Yazoo. New Orleans was first chosen as the site of a city in 1717, laid out in 1718, when the levees which protect it from the annual inundations of the river were immediately commenced, and steadily prosecuted to completion, ten years afterward. The colony of Louisiana (so named after Louis XIV.) remained a French possession until 1762, when it was ceded to Spain. New Orleans gradually increased in trade and population, but the colony outside of that city was of slight importance under its Spanish rulers, who did little to develop its resources, and were not popular with its mainly French inhabitants. In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte, then First Consul, induced the feeble and decaying Bourbons of Spain, then in close alliance with revolutionary France, to retrocede to her Louisiana, almost without consideration; and the French flag once more waved over delighted New Orleans.

In the United States, however, the transfer was regarded with regret and apprehension. Our settlers beyond the Alleghanies, who must export their surplus products through the lower Mississippi, or see them perish useless and valueless on their hands, had been for fifteen years in a state of chronic and by no means voiceless dissatisfaction with the alleged jealous hostility and obstructive regulations of the Spanish rulers of that essential outlet. Threats were freely uttered that they would soon descend the river and clear its lower banks of the Dons and drones who seemed to burrow there only as an impediment and a nuisance. The Spaniards were charged with fomenting intrigues in Kentucky and Tennessee, which had for their object the alienation [55] of the entire valley of the Ohio from the Union; and certain discontented or desperate spirits were pointed at and named by their neighbors as having sold themselves for money to the Spanish governor at New Orleans, agreeing to lend all their energies to the promotion of his absurd scheme. So long as Spain held the gateway of the Mississippi, it seemed that no other sway there could be more unpopular or odious with our Western pioneers.

But a “sober second thought” was evinced from the moment that her flag had been supplanted by that of republican France. It was instinctively and universally felt that even the growls and threats, in which our people so freely indulged so long as the effete and despised Spaniard was their object, would no longer be politic nor safe. Directly after the general pacification of Europe, in 1802, by the treaty of Amiens, a powerful French expedition had sailed for the West Indies; and, though its ostensible and real destination was Hayti, the apprehension was here general and reasonable that it would ultimately, if not immediately, be debarked on the banks of the Mississippi. The privileges of navigation and of deposit, which had seemed so niggardly when conceded by the weakness of Spain, were now rather contracted than enlarged, and were likely to be withdrawn altogether. We had freely contemned and denounced the stupidity and blindness of King Log, but became suddenly grave and silent on the unexpected advent of King Stork.

Mr. Jefferson, who had recently been called to the Presidency, and who mainly did the deeper thinking of the young and vigorous party which now ruled the country, regarded the change with alarm from still another aspect. Popular sympathy with and admiration for republican France, with a corresponding aversion to and hatred of aristocratic England, were among the most potent influences which had combined to overthrow the Federalists here and bring the Republicans into power. But all this was now morally certain to be reversed. France, planting herself, as it were, at our back door, there erecting fortifications, and jealously scrutinizing, if not positively arresting, every one who should undertake to pass in or out, became inevitably and predominantly the object of American distrust and hostility.5 And now the great advantage [56] hitherto accruing to the Republican or Democratic party from our relations with Europe, and our sympathies with one or the other of the parties which divided her, would be transferred at once to the Federalists, and probably doubled or quadrupled in intensity and efficiency. The vigilant and far-seeing Jefferson, always a patriot, and always intensely a partisan, perceived the peril at once to his country and his party, and resolved by a bold stroke to avert it. He determined that Louisiana should be ours, and perceived, in the gathering storm of war, destined so soon to sweep away the fragile frost-work of the recent and unreal peace, a means of bending the astute and selfish Napoleon to his will. Louisiana, so recently and easily reacquired by France, must become a peril and a burden to her upon the outbreak of fresh hostilities with a power so superior in maritime strength as Great Britain. Tamely to surrender it, would be damaging, if not disgraceful; to hold it, would cost a fleet and an army, and the transfer of this fleet and army to a point so distant as the Mexican Gulf was at best a hazardous enterprise. France badly needed money; we needed, or at least coveted, Louisiana: and, where the rulers on either side are men so capable and clear-sighted as Bonaparte and Jefferson, an arrangement mutually advantageous is not likely to fail. After some skillful diplomatic fencing--Mr. Jefferson talking as if the island of Orleans and the Floridas were all that we greatly cared for, when he meant from the first to have the whole — and after some natural giggling about the price, the bargain was struck on the 30th of April, 1803. The hungry treasury of France was richer by twelve millions of dollars; four millions more were paid by our government to our own citizens, in satisfaction of their righteous claims against France for spoliations and other damages; and the United States became the unquestioned owner and possessor of the entire Valley of the Mississippi; acquiring by this bloodless purchase an area of virgin soil, subject to the Indians' rights of inheritance and occupancy, worth many times its entire cost.

There is no evidence that this purchase was made in the interest of Slavery, or with any reference to the perpetuation of its existence or the increase of its power. But this does not at all impinge on the fact that [57] Slavery in our Union did secure by this acquisition a vast extension of its power and influence. Louisiana came to us a slaveholding territory; had been such, whether under French or Spanish rule, for generations. Though its population was sparse, it was nevertheless widely dispersed along the Mississippi and its lower tributaries, there being quite considerable settlements at and in the vicinity of St. Louis. Slavery had thus already achieved a lodgment and a firm foothold in this vast, inviting domain. Possession is notoriously nine points of the law; but in this case the tenth was not wanting. The white inhabitants were habituated to slaveholding, liked it, and indolently believed it to be conducive to their importance, their wealth, and their comfort. Of the swarm of emigrants and adventurers certain to pour in upon them as a consequence of our acquisition, a large majority would naturally come from the States nearest them, that is, from the preponderantly and inveterately Slave States; while the Northern adventurers, hying with alacrity to such a tempting field for speculation and experiment, were pretty sure to interpose no fanatical objection to a social condition unanimously pronounced so pleasant and profitable by all who were permitted to speak at all on the subject. Moreover, the treaty of cession had expressly stipulated that the inhabitants of Louisiana “should be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and admitted, as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States. And, in the mean time, they should be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they professed.” A just — no, even a literal construction of this provision, giving to the word “inhabitants” its natural and full signification — might have secured liberty, with the enjoyment of all the “rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States,” to the colored as well as the white Louisianians of that day. But it is hardly supposable that this was really intended by the treacherous murderer of Toussaint, just signally baffled in his formidable attempt to reenslave the freedmen of Hayti. It is very certain that this construction was never put in practice, but that those who had been slaves under Spanish and French rule in Louisiana remained so under the flag of our country, dying in bondage unless specially emancipated, and leaving their children the sole inheritance of their sad condition; and that slaveholders, whether in fact or in purpose only, eagerly hastened to our new purchase and rapidly covered its most inviting localities with cotton-fields and slavehuts. The day that saw Louisiana transferred to our Union is one of woeful memory to the enslaved children of unhappy Africa.

The plant known as Cotton, whence the fiber of that name is mainly obtained, appears to be indigenous in most tropical and semitropical countries, having been found growing wild by Columbus in St. Domingo, and by later explorers throughout the region of the lower Mississippi and its tributaries. [58] Cortes found it in use by the half-civilized Mexicans; and it has been rudely fabricated in Africa from time immemorial. India, however, is the earliest known seat of the cotton manufacture, and here it long ago attained the highest perfection possible prior to the application of steam, with complicated machinery, to its various processes; and hence it appears to have gradually extended westward through Persia and Arabia, until it attracted the attention of the Greeks, and was noticed by Herodotus about 450 B. C., as the product of an Indian tree, and the staple of an extensive manufacture. Later Greek accounts confirm the impression that the tree or shrub variety was cultivated in India previously to the plant or annual now by far the more commonly grown. The Romans began to use cotton fabrics before the time of Julius Caesar, and the cotton-plant was grown in Sicily and along the northern coast of the Mediterranean so early as the tenth century. The culture, however, does not appear to have ever attained a great importance in any portion of the world regarded by the Greeks and Romans as civilized, prior to its recent establishment in Egypt, in obedience to the despotic will of Ibrahim Pacha.

In the British colonies now composing this country, the experiment of cotton-planting was tried so early as 1621; and in 1666 the growth of the cotton-plant is on record. The cultivation slowly and fitfully expanded throughout the following century, extending northward to the eastern shore of Maryland and the southernmost point of New Jersey--where, however, the plant was grown more for ornament than use. It is stated that “seven bags of cotton-wool” were among the exports of Charleston, S. C., in 1748, and that trifling shipments from that port were likewise made in 1754 and 1757. In 1784, it is recorded that eight bags, slipped to England, were seized at the custom-house as fraudulently entered: “cotton not being a production of the United States.” The export of 1790, as returned, was eighty-one bags; and the entire cotton crop of the United States at that time was probably less than the product of some single plantation in our day.

For, though the plant grew luxuriantly and produced abundantly throughout tide-water Virginia and all that portion of our country lying southward and south-westward of Richmond, yet the enormous labor required to separate the seed from the tiny handful of fibres wherein it was imbedded, precluded its extensive and profitable cultivation. It was calcuted that the perfect separation of one pound of fibre from the seed was an average day's work; and this fact presented a formidable barrier to the production of the staple in any but a region like India, where labor can be hired for a price below the cost of subsisting slaves, however wretchedly, in this country. It seemed that the limit of American cotton cultivation had been fully reached, when an event occurred which speedily revolutionized the industry of our slaveholding States and the commerce and manufactures of the world.

Eli Whitney, a native of West-borough, Worcester County, Massachusetts, born December 8, 1765, was [59] descended on both sides from ancestors of English stock, who dated their migration from the old country nearly back to the memorable voyage of the Mayflower. They were generally farmers, and, like most farmers of those days, in very moderate circumstances. Eli's father, poor, industrious, and ingenious, had a workshop wherein he devoted the inclement season to the making of wheels and of chairs. Here the son early developed a remarkable ingenuity and mechanical skill; establishing, when only fifteen years of age, the manufacture by hand of wrought nails, for which there was, in those later years of our Revolutionary struggle, a demand at high prices. Though he had had no instruction in nail-making, and his few implements were of the rudest description, he pursued the business through two winters with profit to his father, devoting the summers, as before and afterward, to the labors of the farm. After the close of the war, his nails being no longer in demand, he engaged in the manufacture of the pins then in fashion for fastening ladies' bonnets, and nearly monopolized the market through the excellence of his product. Walking-canes also were among his winter manufactures, and were esteemed peculiarly well made and handsome. Meantime, he continued the devotion of his summers to the labors of the farm, attending the common school of his district through its winter session, and being therein noted for devotion to, and eminent skill in, arithmetic. At fourteen, he was looked upon by his neighbors as a very remarkable, energetic, and intelligent youth. At nineteen, he resolved to obtain a liberal education; but it was not until he had reached the mature age of twenty-three that he was enabled to enter college. By turns laboring with his hands and teaching school, he obtained the means of prosecuting his studies in Yale, which he entered in May, 1789. lie borrowed some money to aid him in his progress, giving his note therefor, and paying it so soon as he could. On the decease of his father some years afterward, he took an active part in settling the estate, but relinquished his portion to his co-heirs. It is scarcely probable that the amount lie thus sacrificed was large, but the generous spirit he evinced is not thereby obscured.

While in college, his natural superiority in mechanism and proclivity to invention were frequently manifested. On one occasion, a tutor regretted to his pupils that he could not exhibit a desired philosophical experiment, because the apparatus was out of order, and could only be repaired in Europe. Young Whitney thereupon proposed to undertake the repair, and made it to perfect satisfaction. At another time, he asked permission to use at intervals the tools of a carpenter who worked near his boarding-place; but the careful mechanic declined to trust them in the hands of a student, unless the gentleman with whom Mr. W. boarded would become responsible for their safe return. The guarantee was given, and Mr. Whitney took the tools in hand; when the carpenter, surprised at his dexterity, exclaimed: “There was one good mechanic spoiled when you went to college.”

Mr. Whitney graduated in the fall of 1792, and directly engaged with a Mr. B., from Georgia, to proceed to [60] that State and reside in his employer's family as a private teacher. On his way thither, he had as a traveling companion Mrs. Greene, widow of the eminent Revolutionary general, Nathaniel Greene, who was returning with her children to Savannah, after spending the summer at the North. His health being infirm on his arrival at Savannah, Mrs. Greene kindly invited him to the hospitalities of her residence until he should become fully restored. Short of money and in a land of strangers, he was now coolly informed by his employer that his services were not required, he (B.) having employed another teacher in his stead! Mrs. Greene hereupon urged him to make her house his home so long as that should be desirable, and pursue under her roof the study of the law, which he then contemplated. He gratefully accepted the offer, and commenced the study accordingly.

Mrs. Greene happened to be engaged in embroidering on a peculiar frame known as a tambour. It was badly constructed, so that it injured the fabric while it impeded its production. Mr. Whitney eagerly volunteered to make her a better, and did so on a plan wholly new, to her great delight and that of her children.

A large party of Georgians, from Augusta and the plantations above, soon after paid Mrs. G. a visit, several of them being officers who had served under her husband in the Revolutionary war. Among the topics discussed by them around her fireside was the depressed state of Agriculture, and the impossibility of profitably extending the culture of the green-seed Cotton, because of the trouble and expense incurred in separating the seed from the fiber. These representations impelled Mrs. Greene to say: “Gentlemen, apply to my young friend, Mr. Whitney--he can make any thing.” She thereupon took them into an adjacent room, where she showed them her tambour-frame and several ingenious toys which Mr. W. had made for the gratification of her children. She then introduced them to Whitney himself, extolling his genius and commending him to their confidence and friendship. In the conversation which ensued, he observed that he had never seen cotton nor cotton-seed in his life.

Mr. Whitney promised nothing and gave little encouragement, but went to work. No cotton in the seed being at hand, he went to Savannah and searched there among ware-houses and boats until he found a small parcel. This he carried home and secluded with himself in a basement room, where he set himself at work to devise and construct the implement required. Tools being few and rude, he was constrained to make better — drawing his own wire, because none could, at that time, be bought in the city of Savannah. Mrs. Greene and her next friend, Mr. Miller, whom she soon after married, were the only persons beside himself who were allowed the entree of his workshop — in fact, the only ones who clearly knew what he was about. His mysterious hammering and tinkering in that solitary cell were subjects of infinite curiosity, marvel, and ridicule among the younger members of the family. But he did not interfere with their merriment, nor allow them to interfere with his enterprise; and, before the close of the winter, his [61] machine was so nearly perfected that its success was no longer doubtful.

Mrs. Greene, too eager to realize and enjoy her friend's triumph, in view of the existing stagnation of Georgian industry, invited an assemblage at her house of leading gentlemen from various parts of the State, and, on the first day after their meeting, conducted them to a temporary building, erected for the machine, in which they saw, with astonishment and delight, that one man with Whitney's invention could separate more cotton from the seed in a single day than he could without it by the labor of months.

Mr. Phineas Miller, a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale, who had come to Georgia as the teacher of General Greene's children, and who, about this time, became the husband of his widow, now proposed a partnership with Mr. Whitney, by which he engaged to furnish funds to perfect the invention, secure the requisite patents, and manufacture the needed machines; the partners to share equally all profits and emoluments thence resulting. Their contract bears date May 27, 1793; and the firm of Miller & Whitney immediately commenced what they had good reason to expect would prove a most extensive and highly lucrative business. Mr. Whitney thereupon repaired to Connecticut, there to perfect his invention, secure his patent, and manufacture machines for the Southern market.

But his just and sanguine hopes were destined to signal and bitter disappointment. His invention was too valuable to be peacefully enjoyed; or, rather, it was the seeming and urgent interest of too many to rob him of the just reward of his achievement. He ought not to have expected that those who lived idly and luxuriously by stealing the wife from her husband, and the child from its mother, would hesitate to steal, also, the fruit of his brain-work, in order to render thereby the original theft ten-fold more advantageous than it otherwise could be. Reports of the nature and value of his invention were widely and rapidly circulated, creating intense excitement. Multitudes hastened from all quarters to see his original machine; but, no patent having yet been secured, it was deemed unsafe to gratify their curiosity; so they broke open the building by night, and carried off the wonderful prize. Before he could complete his model and secure his patent, a number of imitations had been made and set to work, deviating in some respects from the original, in the hope of thus evading all penalty. Before Whitney had been three days on his northward trip, a letter from his partner followed on his track, which said:

It will be necessary to have a considerable number of gins made, to be in readiness to send out as soon as the patent is obtained, in order to satisfy the absolute demands, and make people's heads easy on the subject; for I am informed of too other claimants for the honor of the invention of the cotton gins, in addition to those we knew before.

Messrs. Miller and Whitney's plan of operations was essentially vicious. They proposed to construct and retain the ownership of all the machines that might be needed, setting one up in each cotton-growing neighborhood, and ginning all the staple for every third pound of the product. Even at this rate, the invention would have been one of [62] enormous benefit to the planters — cotton being then worth from twenty-five to thirty-three cents per pound. But no single manufactory could turn out the gins so fast as wanted, and planters who might readily have consented to the terms of the patentees, had the machines been furnished so fast as required, could hardly be expected to acquiesce so readily in the necessity of doing without machines altogether because the patentees could not, though others could, supply them. And then the manufacture of machines, to be constructed and worked by the patentees alone, involved a very large outlay of money, which must mainly be obtained by borrowing. Miller's means being soon exhausted, their first loan of two thousand dollars was made on the comparatively favorable condition of five per cent. premium, in addition to lawful interest. But they were soon borrowing at twenty per cent. per month. Then there was sickness; Mr. Whitney having a severe and tedious attack in 1794; after which the scarlet fever raged in New Haven, disabling many of his workmen ; and soon the lawsuits, into which they were driven in defense of their patent, began to devour all the money they could make or borrow. In 1795, Whitney had another attack of sickness; and, on his return to New Haven, from three weeks of suffering in New York, learned that his manufactory, with all his machines and papers, had just been consumed by fire, whereby he found himself suddenly reduced to utter bankruptcy. Next came a report from England that the British manufacturers condemned and rejected the cotton cleaned by his machines, on the ground that the staple was greatly injured by the ginning process! And now no one would touch the ginned cotton; and blockheads were found to insist that the roller-gin — a preposterous rival to Whitney's, whereby the seed was crushed in the fibre, instead of being separated from it — was actually a better machine than Whitney's! In the depths of their distress and insolvency, Miller wrote (April 27, 1796) from Georgia to Whitney, urging him to hasten to London, there to counteract the stupid prejudice which had been excited against ginned cotton; adding:

Our fortune, our fate, depends on it. The process of patent ginning is now quite at a stand. I hear nothing of it except the condolence of a few real friends, who express their regret that so promising an invention has entirely failed.

Whitney endeavored to obey this injunction, but could nowhere obtain the necessary finds; though he had several times fixed the day of his departure, and on one occasion had actually engaged his passage, and taken leave of some of his friends. October 7, 1797, Mr. Whitney wrote to an intimate friend a letter, wherefrom the following is an extract:

The extreme embarrassments which have been for a long time accumulating upon me are now become so great that it will be impossible for me to struggle against them many days longer. It has required my utmost exertions to exist, without making the least progress in our business. I have labored hard against the strong current of disappointment, which has been threatening to carry us down the cataract; but I have labored with a shattered oar, and struggled in vain, unless some speedy relief is obtained. I am now quite far enough advanced in life to think seriously of marrying. I have ever looked forward with pleasure to an alliance with an amiable and virtuous companion, as a source from whence I have expected one day to derive the greatest happiness. But the accomplishment of my tour to Europe, and the acquisition of [63] something which I can call my own, appear to be absolutely necessary, before it will be admissible for me even to think of family engagements. Probably a year and a half, at least, will be required to perform that tour, after it is entered upon. Life is but short, at best, and six or seven years out of the midst of it is, to him who makes it, an immense sacrifice. My most unremitted attention has been devoted to our business. I have sacrificed to it other objects, from which, before this time, I might certainly have gained twenty or thirty thousand dollars. My whole prospects have been embarked in it, with the expectation that I should, before this time, have realized something from it.

At length the ridiculous prejudice against cotton cleaned by Whitney's gin gradually and slowly gave way, and the value of the invention began to be perceived and acknowledged. But Miller & Whitney's first suit against infringers now came to trial, before a Georgia jury; and, in spite of the judge's charge directly in the plaintiffs' favor, a verdict was given for the defendant — a verdict from which there was no appeal. When the second suit was ready for trial at Savannah, no judge appeared, and, of course, no court was held. Meantime, the South fairly swarmed with pirates on the invention, of all kinds and degrees. In April, 1799, Miller writes to Whitney as follows:

The prospect of making anything by ginning in this State is at an end. Surreptitious gins are erected in every part of the country; and the jurymen at Augusta have come to an understanding among themselves that they will never give a cause in our favor, let the merits of the case be as they may.

It would not be surprising if the firm would now have gladly relinquished the working of their machines, and confined themselves to the sale of patent rights. But few would buy what they could safely steal, and those few gave notes which they generally took care not to pay. If sued, juries would often return a verdict of no consideration, or a trial would be staved off until collection was barred by the statute of limitation, which outlawed a debt that had existed through a period of four years. On one occasion, the agent of the patentees, who was dispatched on a collecting tour through the State of Georgia, was unable to obtain money enough to pay his expenses, and was compelled to draw on his employers for nearly the full amount.

Finally, in 1801, this agent wrote to his principals that, though the planters of South Carolina would not pay their notes, many of them suggested a purchase of the right of the patentees for that State by its Legislature; and he urged Mr. Whitney to come to Columbia, and try to make an arrangement on this basis. Whitney did so, taking some letters and testimonials from the new President, Jefferson, and his Secretary of State, Madison, which were doubtless of service to him in his negotiations. His memorial having been duly submitted to the Legislature, proposing to sell the patent right for South Carolina for one hundred thousand dollars, the Legislature debated it, and finally offered for it fifty thousand--twenty thousand down, and ten thousand per annum for three years. Whitney, in a letter written the day after the passage of the act, says:

The use of the machine here is amazingly extensive, and the value of it beyond all calculation. It may, without exaggeration, be said to have raised the value of seven-eighths of all the three Southern States from fifty to one hundred per cent. We get but a song for it in comparison with [64] the worth of the thing; but it is securing something. It will enable Miller & Whitney to pay all their debts, and divide something between them. It establishes a precedent which will be valuable as it respects our collections in other States, and I think there is now a fair prospect that I shall in the event realize property enough to render me comfortable, and, in some measure, independent.

He was mistaken. The next Legislature of South Carolina nullified the contract, suspended payment on the thirty thousand still due, and instituted a suit for the recovery of the twenty thousand that had been already paid! The pretenses on which this remarkable course was taken are more fully set forth in the action of the Legislature of Georgia in 1803, based on a Message from the governor, urging the inexpediency of granting any thing to Miller & Whitney. The Committee to whom this matter was referred, made a report, in which they--

cordially agreed with the governor in his observations, that monopolies are at all times odious, particularly in free governments, and that some remedy ought to be applied to the wound which the Cotton-Gin monopoly has given, and will otherwise continue to give, to the culture and cleaning of that precious and increasing staple. They have examined the Rev. James Hutchinson, who declares that Edward Lyon, at least twelve months before Miller & Whitney's machine was brought into view, had in possession a saw or cotton-gin, in miniature, of the same construction; and it further appears to them, from the information of Doctor Cortes Pedro Dampiere, an old and respectable citizen of Columbia county, that a machine of a construction similar to that of Miller & Whitney, was used in Switzerland at least forty years ago, for the purpose of picking rags to make lint and paper.

This astonishing Committee closed their report with the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Senators and Representatives of this State in Congress be, and they hereby are, instructed to use their utmost endeavors to obtain a modification of the act, entitled, “An act to extend the privileges of obtaining Patents for useful discoveries and inventions, to certain persons therein mentioned, and to enlarge and define the penalties for violating the rights of patentees,” so as to prevent the operation of it to the injury of that most valuable staple, cotton, and the cramping of genius in improvements on Miller & Whitney's patent Gin, as well as to limit the price of obtaining a right of using it, the price at present being unbounded, and the planter and poor artificer altogether at the mercy of the patentees, who may raise the price to any sum they please.

And, in case the said Senators and Representatives of this State shall find such modification impracticable, that they do then use their best endeavors to induce Congress, from the example of other nations, to make compensation to Miller & Whitney for their discovery, take up the patent right, and release the Southern States from so burthensome a grievance.

North Carolina, to her honor be it recorded, in December, 1802, negotiated an arrangement with Mr. Whitney, whereby the legislature laid a tax of two shillings and sixpence upon every saw employed in ginning cotton, to be continued for five years, which sum was to be collected by the sheriffs in the same manner as the public taxes; and, after deducting the expenses of collection, the avails were faithfully paid over to the patentee. The old North State was not extensively engaged in cotton-growing, and the pecuniary avails of this action were probably not large; but the arrangement seems to have been a fair one, and it was never repudiated. South Carolina, it should in justice be said, through her legislature of 1804, receded from her repudiation, and fulfilled her original contract.

Mr. Miller, the partner of Whitney. died, poor and embarrassed, on the 7th of December, 1803. At the term of the United States District Court for Georgia, held at Savannah [65] in December, 1807, Mr. Whitney obtained a verdict against the pirates on his invention; his patent being now in the last year of its existence. Judge Johnson, in entering judgment for the plaintiff, said:

With regard to the utility of this discovery, the court would deem it a waste of time to dwell long upon this topic. Is there a man who hears us, who has not experienced its utility? The whole interior of the Southern States was languishing, and its inhabitants emigrating for want of some object to engage their attention, and employ their industry, when the invention of this machine at once opened views to then which set the whole country in active motion. From childhood to age, it has presented to us a lucrative employment. Individuals who were depressed with poverty, and sunk in idleness, have suddenly risen to wealth and respectability. Our debts have been paid off. Our capitals have increased, and our lands trebled themselves in value. We cannot express the weight of the obligation which the country owes to this invention. The extent of it cannot now be seen. Some faint presentiment may be formed from the reflection that Cotton is rapidly supplanting Wool, Flax, Silk, and even Furs, in manutactures, and may one day profitably supply the use of specie in our East India trade. Our sister States also participate in the benefits of this invention; for, beside affording the raw material for their manufacturers, the bulkiness and quantity of the article afford a valuable employment for their shipping.

Mr. Whitney's patent expired in 1808, leaving him a poorer man, doubtless, than though he had never listened to the suggestions of his friend Mrs. Greene, and undertaken the invention of a machine, by means of which the annual production of cotton in the Southern States has been augmented from some five or ten thousand bales in 1793 to over five millions of bales, or one million tons, in 1859; this amount being at least three-fourths in weight, and seven-eighths in value, of all the cotton produced on the globe. To say that this invention was worth one thousand millions of dollars to the Slave States of this country, is to place a very moderate estimate on its value. Mr. Whitney petitioned Congress, in 1812, for a renewal of his patent, setting forth the costly and embarrassing struggles he had been forced to make in defense of his right, and observing that he had been unable to obtain any decision on the merits of his claim until he had been eleven years in the law, and until thirteen of the fourteen years lifetime of his patent had expired. But the immense value of his invention stood directly in the way of any such acknowledgment of its merits and his righteous claims as the renewal he sought would have involved. Some liberal members from the cotton-growing region favored his petition, but a majority of the Southrons fiercely opposed it, and it was lost.

Mr. Whitney, in the course of a correspondence with Robert Fulton, inventor of the first successful steamboat, remarks:

The difficulties with which I have had to contend have originated, principally, in the want of a disposition in mankind to do justice. My invention was new and distinct from every other: it stood alone. It was not interwoven with anything before known; and it can seldom happen that an invention or improvement is so strongly marked, and can be so clearly and specifically identified; and I have always believed that I should have had no difficulty in causing my rights to be respected, if it had been less valuable, and been used only by a small portion of the community. But the use of this machine being immensely profitable to almost every planter in the cotton districts, all were interested in trespassing upon the patent right, and each kept the other in countenance. Demagogues made themselves popular by misrepresentation and unfounded clamors, both against the right and the law made for its protection. Hence there arose associations and combinations to oppose both. At one time, but few men in Georgia dared to come into court and testify to the most simple [66] facts within their knowledge, relative to the use of the machine. In one instance, I had great difficulty in proving that the machine had been used in Georgia, although, at the same moment, there were three separate sets of this machinery in motion within fifty yards of the building in which the court sat, and all so near that the rattling of the wheels was distinctly heard on the steps of the courthouse.

In 1798, Mr. Whitney, despairing of ever achieving a competence from the proceeds of his cottongin, engaged in the manufacture of arms, near New Haven; and his rare capacity for this or any similar undertaking, joined with his invincible perseverance and energy, was finally rewarded with success. He was a most indefatigable worker; one of the first in his manufactory in the morning, and the last to leave it at night; able to make any implement or machine he required, or to invent a new one when that might be needed; and he ultimately achieved a competency. He made great improvements in the manufacture of firearms — improvements that have since been continued and perfected, until the American rifled musket of our day, made at the National Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, is doubtless the most effective and perfect weapon known to mankind. In 1817, Mr. Whitney, now fifty-two years old, found himself fully relieved from pecuniary embarrassments and the harassing anxieties resulting therefrom. He was now married to Miss Henrietta F. Edwards, daughter of the Hon. Pierpont Edwards, United States District Judge for Connecticut; and four children, a son and three daughters, were born to him in the next five years. In September, 1822, he was attacked by a dangerous and painful disease, which; with alternations of terrible suffering and comparative ease, preyed upon him until January 8, 1826, when he died, not quite sixty years of age.6

The African Slave-Trade, so far as it had any legal or tolerated existence, was peremptorily closed, as we have seen, on the 1st day of January, 1808. This was the period from which, according to the fond anticipations of optimists and quietists, Slavery in our country should have commenced its decadence, and thence gone steadily and surely forward to its ultimate and early extinction. And these sanguine hopes were measurably justified by the teachings of history. In all former ages, in all other countries, Slavery, so long as it existed and flourished, was kept alive by a constant or frequent enslavement of captives, or by importations of bondmen. Whenever that enslavement, that importation, ceased, Slavery began to decline. The gratitude of masters to faithful, devoted servants, who had nursed them in illness, [67] or adhered to them in times of peril or calamity, or who had simply given the best years of their lives to the enlargement of their wealth, had been effectual in reducing, by manumission, the aggregate number of slaves much faster than it was increased by the preponderance of births over deaths. The chances of war, of invasion, and still more of insurrection and civil convulsion, had operated from time to time still further to reduce the number of slaves. Even the licentious and immoral connections between masters and their bondwomen, so inseparable from the existence of Slavery, tended strongly toward a like result; since it was seldom or never reputable, save in slaveholding America — if even there — for a master to send his own children to the auction-block and consign them to eternal bondage among strangers.7 Quite often, the slave-mother, as well as her child or children, owed her emancipation to the affection, the remorse, or the shame, of her master and paramour. So long as slaves were mainly foreigners and barbarians, often public enemies, of fierce, strange aspect and unintelligible speech, there would naturally be little sympathy betwixt them and their masters; but when children who had grown up together — sprung, indeed, from different castes, but still members of the same household — familiar from infancy, and to some extent playmates, came to hold the relation, respectively, of master and slave, it was inevitable that kindly feelings should frequently be reciprocated between them, leading often to devotion on the one hand and emancipation on the other. It was not without reason, therefore, that the founders of our Republic and the framers of our Constitution supposed they had provided for the gradual but certain disappearance of Slavery, by limiting its area on the one hand, and providing for an early inhibition of the Slave-Trade on the other.

But the unexpected results of the purchase of Louisiana and the invention of the Cotton-Gin were such as to set at naught all these calculations. The former opened to slaveholding settlement and culture a vast domain of the richest soil on earth, in a region peculiarly adapted to the now rapidly and profitably expanding production of Cotton; for Whitney's invention had rendered this staple far more remunerative to its producer than any rival which the South [68] had ever, or has ever yet, attempted to grow; while the nearly simultaneous inventions of Hargreaves, Arkwright, and others,8 whereby steam was applied to the propulsion of machinery admirably adapted to the fabrication of Cotton, secured the cultivators against all reasonable apprehension of a permanently glutted market. As the production was doubled, and even quadrupled, every few years, it would sometimes seem that the demand had been exceeded; and two or three great commercial convulsions gave warning that even the capacity of the world's steadily expanding markets could be over-estimated and surpassed by the producers of Cotton and its various fabrics. But two years at most sufficed to clear off the surplus and enlarge this steadily growing demand up to the full measure of the momentarily checked production. The five millions of bales, produced by the United States in 1859-60, were sold as readily and quickly as the one million bales produced in 1830-31, and at considerably higher prices per pound.

But the relatively frigid climate and superficially exhausted soil of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina--wherein the greater number of slaves were originally held — were poorly, or not at all, adapted to the production of cotton, whereof slave-labor early claimed, and succeeded in substantially maintaining, a monopoly. No other out-door work afforded such constant and nearly uniform employment for this description of labor. Throughout the greater part of the South-West, plowing for the cotton-crop may be commenced in January; to be followed directly by planting; this by weeding; and hardly has the cultivation of the crop been completed when the picking of the more advanced bolls may be commenced; and this, with ginning, often employs the whole force of the plantation nearly or quite up to the commencement of the Christmas holidays. These being over, the preparation of the fields for plowing is again commenced; so that there is no season when the hands need stand idle; and, though long spring and summer rains, impeding tillage while impelling the growth of weeds and of grass, sometimes induce weeks of necessary hurry and unusual effort, there is absolutely no day of the year wherein the experienced planter or competent overseer cannot find fill employment for his hands in some detail of the cultivation of Cotton.

The forest-covered and unhealthy, but facile and marvelously fertile, South-West hungered for slaves, as we have seen evinced in the case of Indiana Territory. Impoverished, but salubrious and corn-growing Maryland, Virginia, etc., were ready to supply them. Enterprising, adventurous whites, avaricious men from the North and from Europe, but still more from the older Slave States, hied to the South-West, in hot pursuit [69] of wealth by means of cotton-planting and subsidiary callings; and each became a purchaser of slaves to the fill extent of his means. To clear more land and grow more cotton, wherewith to buy more negroes, was the general and absorbing aspiration — the more negroes to be employed in clearing still more land and growing still more cotton. Under this dispensation, the price of slaves necessarily and rapidly advanced, until it was roughly computed that each average field-hand was worth so many hundred dollars as cotton commanded cents per pound: That is, when cotton was worth ten cents per pound, field-hands were worth a thousand dollars each; with cotton at twelve cents, they were worth twelve hundred; and when it rose, as it sometimes did even in later days, to fifteen cents per pound for a fair article of middling Orleans, a stout negro, from seventeen to thirty years old, with no particular skill but that necessarily acquired in the rude experience of farm labor anywhere, would often bring fifteen hundred dollars on a New Orleans auction-block. Hence the business of negro-trading, or the systematic buying of slaves to sell again, though never quite reputable, and, down to the last thirty or forty years, very generally regarded with abhorrence — became a highly important and influential, as well as gainful, occupation. The negro-trader, often picking up bargains at executors' or assignees' sales in the older States, or when a sudden shift must be made to save a merchant from bankruptcy or a farm from the sheriff, controlled large sums of money, often in good part his own. He was the Providence to whom indolent, dissipated, easy-going Virginians looked for extrication, at the last gasp, from their constantly recurring pecuniary embarrassments; while, on the other hand, a majority of the South-Western planters were eager to buy of him at large prices, provided he would sell on one or two years credit. He patronized hotels and railroads; he often chartered vessels for the transportation of his human merchandise; he was necessarily shrewd, keen, and intelligent, and frequently acquired, or at least wielded, so much wealth and influence as to become almost respectable. Quite usually, he was an active politician, almost uniformly of the most ultra Pro-Slavery type, and naturally attached to the Democratic party. Traveling extensively and almost constantly, his information and volubility rendered him mail and telegraph, newspaper and stump orator, to those comparatively ignorant and secluded planters whom lie visited twice or more per year, as buyer or seller, or collector of his dues for slaves already sold; while his power as profitable customer on the one hand, or lenient creditor on the other, was by no means inconsiderable. It was this power, in connection with that of the strongly sympathizing and closely affiliated class of gamblers and blacklegs, by which Van Buren's renomination for the Presidency was defeated in the Baltimore Convention of 1844, and the Democratic party committed, through the nomination of Polk and its accessories, to the policy of annexing Texas, thus securing a fresh and boundless expansion to Slavery. When that Annexation was suddenly, and to most unexpectedly, achieved, at the close of John Tyler's administration, [70] relays of horses, prearranged in the absence of telegraphs, conveyed from the deeply interested negro-traders, who were watching the doings of Congress at the national metropolis, to their confederates and agents in the slave-selling districts of the neighboring States, the joyful tidings which insured an advance of twelve to fifteen per cent. in the market value of human flesh, and enabled the exclusive possessors of the intelligence to make it the basis of extensive and lucrative speculations.

Slave-breeding for gain, deliberately purposed and systematically pursued, appears to be among the latest devices and illustrations of human depravity. Neither Cowper, nor Wesley, nor Jonathan Edwards, nor Granville Sharp, nor Clarkson, nor any of the philanthropists or divines who, in the last century, bore fearless and emphatic testimony to the flagrant iniquity of slave-making, slave-holding, and slave-selling, seem to have had any clear conception of it. For the infant slave of past ages was rather an incumbrance and a burden than a valued addition to his master's stock. To raise him, however roughly, must cost all lie would ultimately be worth. That it was cheaper to buy slaves than to rear them, was quite generally regarded as self-evident. But the suppression of the African Slave-Trade, coinciding with the rapid settlement of the Louisiana purchase and the triumph of the Cotton-Gin, wrought here an entire transformation. When field-hands brought from ten to fifteen hundred dollars, and young negroes were held at about ten dollars per pound, the newly born infant, if well-formed, healthy, and likely to live, was deemed an addition to his master's wealth of not less than one hundred dollars, even in Virginia or Maryland. It had now become the interest of the master to increase the number of births in his slave-cabins; and few evinced scruples as to the means whereby this result was attained. The chastity of female slaves was never esteemed of much account, even where they were white; and, now that it had become an impediment to the increase of their masters' wealth, it was wholly disregarded. No slave-girl, however young, was valued lower for having become a mother, without waiting to be first made a wife; nor were many masters likely to rebuke this as a fault, or brand it as a shame. Women were publicly advertised by sellers as extraordinary breeders, and commanded a higher price on that account.9 Wives, sold into separation from their husbands, were imperatively required to accept new partners, in order that the fruitfulness of the [71] plantation might not suffer. We need not dwell on this new phase of Slavery, its revolting features, and still more revolting consequences. The simple and notorious fact that clergymen, marrying slaves, were accustomed to require of them fidelity in their marital relation, until separated by death, or by inexorable necessity, suffices of itself to stamp the social condition thus photographed with the indignant reprobation of mankind. And when we add that slave-girls were not only daily sold on the auction-blocks of New Orleans, and constantly advertised in her journals, as very nearly white, well-educated, and possessed of the rarest personal attractions, and that they commanded double and treble prices on this account, we leave nothing to be added to complete the outlines of a system of legalized and priest-sanctioned iniquity, more gigantic and infernal than heathenism and barbarism ever devised. For the Circassian beauty, whose charms seek and find a market at Constantinople, is sent thither by her parents, and is herself a willing party to the speculation. She hopefully bids a last adieu to the home of her infancy, to find another in the harem of some wealthy and powerful Turk, where she will achieve the life of luxury and idleness she covets. But the American-born woman, consigned by the laws of her country and the fiat of her owner to the absolute possession of whomsoever bids most for her, neither consents to the transfer, nor is at all consulted as to the person to whom she is helplessly consigned. The Circassian knows that her children will be free and honored. The American is keenly aware that hers must share her own bitter and hopeless degradation. It was long ago observed that American Slavery, with its habitual and life-long separations of husband from wife, of parent from child, its exile of perhaps the larger portion of its victims from the humble but cherished homes of their childhood to the strange and repulsive swamps and forests of the far South-West, is harsher and viler than any other system of bondage on which the sun ever shone. And when we add that it has been carefully computed that the State of Virginia, since the date of the purchase of Louisiana, had received more money for her own flesh and blood, regularly sold and exported, than her soil and all that was upon it would have sold for on the day when she seceded from the Union, we need adduce no more of the million facts which unite to prove every wrong a blunder as well as a crime — that God has implanted in every evil the seeds of its overthrow and ultimate destruction.

The conflicting, currents of American thought and action with regard to Slavery — that which was cherished by the Revolutionary patriots, and gradually died with them, and that by which the former was imperceptibly supplanted — are strikingly exhibited in the history and progress of the movement for African Colonization. Its originator was the Rev. Samuel Hopkins, D. D., who was settled as a clergyman at Newport, R. I., in 1770, and found that thriving sea-port a focus of Slavery and the Slave-Trade, upon both of which he soon commenced an active and determined war. The idea of counteracting, [72] and ultimately suppressing, the Slave-Trade, through a systematic colonization of the western coast of Africa with emancipated blacks from America, was matured and suggested by him to others, even before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war; and its realization, interrupted by that struggle, was resumed by him directly after it had been closed. This was anterior to the British settlement of Sierra Leone, and preceded the appearance of Clarkson's prize essay, commanding public attention to the horrors of the Slave-Trade. Among Dr. Hopkins's European correspondents were Granville Sharp and Zachary Macaulay, who were among the earliest and least compromising of British abolitionists. Through his influence and efforts, three colored youth were educated in New England, toward the close of the last century, with express reference to missionary labor in Africa in connection with the Colonization movement. Two of these ultimately, though at a mature age, migrated to Liberia, where they died soon after. Thirty-eight American blacks emigrated to Sierra Leone in 1815, under the auspices and in the vessel of one of their own number. The initial organization of the American Colonization Society took place at Princeton, N. J., in the autumn of 1816; and that Society was formally organized at Washington, by the choice of officers, on the 1st of January, 1817. Its first attempt at practical colonization was made in 1820 on Sherbro Island, which proved an unfortunate location; its present position on the main land, at Cape Mesurado, was purchased December 15, 1821, and some colonists landed on it early in the following year. About one thousand emigrants were dispatched thither in the course of the following seven years, including a small church of colored persons which migrated from Boston in 1826. The additional number dispatched during the succeeding thirty years was not far from eight thousand. The city founded by the original emigrants received the name of Monrovia, and in 1847 the colony declared itself an independent republic under the name of Liberia. That republic still exists, enjoying a moderate and equable prosperity, in spite of its unhealthiness for whites, and for all but duly acclimated blacks, on account of its tropical and humid location.

But the Colonization movement, though bountifully lauded and glorified by the eminent in Church and State, and though the Society numbered among its Presidents Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, James Madison, and Henry Clay, has not achieved a decided success, and for the last twenty years has steadily and stubbornly declined in importance and consideration. It has ceased to command or deserve the sympathy of abolitionists, without achieving the hearty confidence, though it has been blessed or cursed with the abundant verbal commendations, of their antagonists. It was soon discovered that, while it was presented to the former class as a safe and unobjectionable device for mitigating the evils, while gradually undermining the existence, of human bondage in our country, it was, at the same time, commended to the favor and patronage of slaveholders as a means of relieving the South of its dangerous free-negro element, and [73] thus augmenting the security and insuring the perpetuity of their beloved institution. Moreover, as the enhanced and constantly increasing market value of slaves obstructed and diminished manumissions with a view to colonization, the class of subjects for deportation to Africa steadily fell off in numbers, and in the quality of those composing it. When, at last, the South, under the lead of Mr. Calhoun, quite generally adopted the novel and extraordinary doctrine of the essential righteousness and signal beneficence of Slavery — when the relation of life-long servitude and utter subjugation to the will of a master was declared the true, natural, and most enviable condition of the laboring class anywhere — the condition most conducive to their happiness,10 moral culture, and social well-being — the idea of liberating individuals or families from this subjugation, and sending them from peaceful, plentiful, and prosperous America to benighted, barbarous, and inhospitable Africa, became, in this view, a transparent absurdity. No disciple of Calhoun could be a logical, consistent colonizationist, any more than a follower of Garrison and Wendell Phillips. The constantly and widely diverging currents of American opinion soon left the Colonization movement hopelessly stranded. The teachings of the new Southern school tended palpably toward the extirpation from the South of the free-negro anomaly, through reenslavement rather than exile. Legislative efforts to decree a general sale of free negroes into absolute slavery were made in several States, barely defeated in two or three, and fully successful in one. Arkansas, in 1858-9, enacted the enslavement of all free colored persons within her limits, who should not remove beyond them before the ensuing 4th of July, and this atrocious edict was actually enforced by her authorities. The negroes generally escaped; but, if any remained, they did so in view of the fact that the first sheriff who could lay hands on them would hurry them to the auction-block, and sell them to the highest bidder. And this was but a foretaste of the fate to which the new Southern dogma was morally certain, in a few years, to consign the whole free colored population of the [74] Slave States, had not those States been precipitated into their great Rebellion. Individuals would have resisted and protested, but only to be overborne by inexorable logic, and even more inexorable majorities.

1 For this act, see Brightley's Digest, p. 294.

2 The Rev. Jonathan Edwards (son of the famous Jonathan Edwards, who was the greatest theologian, and one of the greatest men whom New England has ever produced), preached a sermon against the African Slave-Trade, September 15, 1791, at New Haven, Connecticut, then a Slave State. Text: The Golden Rule; Matthew VII., 12.

It is so commonly urged that the Abolitionists condemn a relation whereof they are grossly ignorant, that the following extract from that sermon is of interest, as the testimony of one living amid Slavery, and as proving how essentially identical are the objections urged to human chattelhood at all times, and under whatever circumstances. Mr. Edwards said:

African Slavery is exceedingly impolitic, as it discourages industry. Nothing is more essential to the political prospect of any State than industry in the citizens. But, in proportion as Slaves are multiplied, every kind of labor becomes ignominious; and. in fact, in those of the United States in which slaves are the most numerous, gentlemen and ladies of any fashion disdain to employ themselves in business, which in other States is consistent with the dignity of the first families and the first offices. In a country filled with negro slaves, labor belongs to them only, and a white man is despised in proportion as he applies to it. Now, how destructive of industry in all of tile lowest and middle class of citizens such a situation, and the prevalence of such ideas will be, you can easily conceive. The consequence is that some will nearly starve, others will betake themselves to the most dishonest practices to obtain a means of living. As Slavery produces an indolence in the white people, so it produces all those vices which are naturally connected with it, such as intemperance, lewdness, and prodigality. These vices enfeeble both the body and the mind, and unfit men for any vigorous exertions and employments, either external or mental. And those who are unfit for such exertions are already very degenerate; degenerate, not only in a moral, but a natural sense. They are contemptible too, and will soon be despised, even by their negroes themselves.

Slavery tends to lewdness, not only as it produces indolence, but as it affords abundant opportunity for that wickedness, without either the danger or difficulty of an attack on the virtue of a woman of chastity, or the danger of a connection with one of ill fame. A planter, with his hundred wenches about him, is, in some respects at least, like the Sultan in his seraglio: and we learn too frequently the influence and effect of such a situation, not only from common fame, but from the multitude of mulattoes in countries where slaves are very numerous.

Slavery has a most direct tendency to haughtiness also, and a domineering spirit and conduct in the proprietors of slaves, and in their children, and in all who have control of them. A man who has been brought up in domineering over negroes can scarcely avoid contracting such a habit of haughtiness and domination as will express itself in his general treatment of mankind, whether in his private capacity, or any office, civil or military, with which lie may be vested. Despotism in economics naturally leads to despotism in politics, and domestic Slavery in a free government is a perfect solecism in human affairs.

How baneful all these tendencies and effects of Slavery must be to the public good, and especially to the public good of such a free country as ours, I need not inform you. --Sermons, 1775-99, p. 10.

3 The opinion of the Father of his Country respecting the “peculiar institution” of the South may be perceived from the following extracts. In a letter to Lafayette, bearing date April 5, 1783, he says:

The scheme, my dear Marquis, which you propose as a precedent to encourage the emancipation of the black people in this country from that state of bondage in which they are held, is a striking evidence of the benevolence of your heart. I shall be happy to join you in so laudable a work; but will defer going into a detail of the business until I have the pleasure of seeing you. --Sparks's Washington, vol. VIII., p 414.

Again, in a letter to the same, of May 10, 1186:

The benevolence of your heart, my dear Marquis, is so conspicuous upon all occasions, that I never wonder at any fresh proofs oa it; but your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view to emancipate the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit might diffuse itself in the minds of the people of this country! But I despair of seeing it. Some petitions were presented to the Assembly at its last session, for the Abolition of Slavery, but they could scarcely obtain a reading. --Ibid., vol. IX., p. 163.

In a remarkable and very interesting letter written by Lafayette in the prison of Magdeburg, he said:

I know not what disposition has been made of my plantation at Cayenne; but I hope Madam De Lafayette will take care that the negroes who cultivate it shall preserve their liberty.

The following language is also Lafayette's, in a letter to Hamilton, from Paris, April 13, 1785:

In one of your New York Gazettes, I find an association against the Slavery of the negroes, which seems to me worded in such a way as to give no offense to the moderate men in the Southern States. As I have ever been partial to my brethren of that color, I wish, if you are one in the society, you would move, in your own name, for my being admitted on the list. --Works of Alex. Hamilton, N. Y., 1851, vol. i., p. 423.

John Adams, in a letter to Robert J. Evans, June 8, 1819, expresses himself as follows:

I respect the sentiments and motives which have prompted you to engage in your present occupation so much, that I feel an esteem and affection for your person, as I do a veneration for your assumed signature of Benjamin Rush. The turpitude, the inhumanity, the cruelty, and the infamy of the African commerce, have been so impressively represented to the public by the highest powers of eloquence, that nothing that I could say would increase the just odium in which it is, and ought to be, held. Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of Slavery from the United States. * * * I have, through my whole life, held the practice of Slavery in such abhorrence, that I have never owned a negro or any other slave, though I have lived for many years in times when the practice was not disgraceful — when the best men in my vicinity thought it not inconsistent with their character; and when it has cost me thousands of dollars for the labor and subsistence of free men, which I might have saved by the purchase of negroes, at times when they were very cheap. --Works of John Adams, Boston, 1856, vol. x., p. 386.

4 This word is merely a corruption of engine.

5 Upon learning of this important transfer, Mr. Jefferson (April 18, 1802) wrote to Mr. Livingston, our Minister at Paris, as follows:

The cession of Louisiana and the Floridas by Spain to France, works most sorely on the United States. On this subject, the Secretary of State has written to you fully, yet I cannot forbear recurring to it personally, so deep is the impression it makes on my mind. It completely reverses all the political relations of the United States, and will form a new epoch in our political course. Of all nations of any consideration, France is the one which hitherto has offered the fewest points on which we could have any conflict of rights, and the most points of a communion of interests. From these causes, we have ever looked to her as our natural friend, as one with which we could never have an occasion of difference. Her growth, therefore, we viewed as our own — her misfortunes ours. There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market; and, from its fertility, it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce, and contain more than half of our inhabitants. France, placing herself in that door, assumes to us the attitude of defiance. Spain might have retained it quietly for years. Her pacific dispositions, her feeble state, would induce her to increase our facilities there, so that her possession of the place would be hardly felt by us, and it would not, perhaps, be very long before some circumstances might arise, which might make the cession of it to us the price of something of more worth to her. Not so can it ever be in the hands of France. The impetuosity of her temper, the energy and restlessness of her character, placed in a point of eternal friction with us, and our character, which, though quiet and loving peace and the pursuit of wealth, is high-minded, despising wealth in competition with insult or injury, enterprising and energetic as any nation on earth; these circumstances render it impossible that France and the United States can continue long friends, when they meet in so irritable a position. They, as well as we, must be blind if they do not see this; and we must be very improvident if we do not begin to make arrangements on that hypothesis. The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low-water mark. It seals the union of two nations, who, in conjunction, can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment, we must marry ourselves to .the British fleet and nation. We must turn all our attention to a maritime force, for which our resources place us on very high ground: and, having formed and connected together a power which may render re-enforcement of her settlements here impossible to France, make the first cannon which shall be fired in Europe the signal for tearing up any settlement she may have made, and for holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purpose of the united British and American nations. This is not a state of things we seek or desire. It is one which this measure, if adopted by France, forces on us, as necessarily as any other cause, by the laws of nature, brings on its necessary effect. --Jefferson's Works, vol. IV., p. 431.

6 The inventor of the cotton-gin is not deemed worthy of even the slightest distinct biographical notice in the Encyclopoedia Britannica. The only, and not very accurate, allusion to him that I have been able to find in that immense work, is as follows:

The Upland Cotton is a different species from the Sea Island, and is separated with such difficulty from the seed, that the expense of cleaning the wool must have put a stop to its further cultivation, had not a machine, by which the operation of cleaning is easily and successfully accomplished, been invented. This machine was invented in 1795, by Mr. Eli Whitney, of Massachusetts. There are two qualities of this cotton, the one termed Upland Georgia, grown in the States of Georgia and South Carolina, and the other of superior quality, raised upon the banks of the Mississippi, and distinguished in the market by the name of New Orleans cotton, &c., &c. --Encyclopoedia Britannica, Eighth (last) Edition, vol. VII., p. 447.

Truly, the world knows little of its greatest men.


That the practice of buying and selling servants, thus early begun amongst the patriarchs, descended to their posterity, is known to every attentive reader of the Bible. It was expressly authorized by the Jewish law, in which were many directions how such servants were to be treated. They were to be bought only of the heathen; for, if an Israelite grew poor and sold himself, either to discharge a debt or to procure the means of subsistence, he was to be treated, not as a slave, but as a hired servant, and restored to freedom at the year of Jubilee. Unlimited as the power thus given to the Hebrews over their bondservants of heathen extraction appears to have been, they were strictly prohibited from acquiring such property by any other means than fair purchase. ‘He that stealeth a man and selleth him,’ said their great Lawgiver, ‘shall surely be put to death.’ --Encyclopoedia Britannica, vol. XX., p. 319.

The above passage seems scarcely just to the Law given by Moses. The true object and purpose of that Law, so far as bondage is concerned, was rather a mitigation of the harsher features of an existing institution than the creation of a new one. Moses, “for the hardness of your hearts,” says Jesus, allowed or tolerated some things which “ from the beginning were not so.” How any one can quote the Law of Moses as a warrant for Slavery, yet not admit it as a justification of free-and-easy Divorce, is not apparent.

8 James Hargreaves had invented the Spinning-Jenny in 1764; this was supplanted by the invention by Sir Richard Arkwright, in 1768, of a superior machine for spinning cotton thread. James Watt patented his Steam Engine in 1769, and his improvement, whereby a rotary motion was produced, in 1782; and its first application to cotton-spinning occurred in 1787, but it was many years in winning its way into general use. John Fitch's first success in steam navigation was achieved in 1786. Fulton's patents were granted in 1809-11, and claimed the simple means of adapting paddle-wheels to the axle of the crank of Watt's engine.

9 Mr. Edward Yates, a zealous and active friend of the Union cause, in “A letter to the Women of England, on Slavery in the Southern States of America,” founded on personal observation in 1855, gives revolting instances of the brutal handling of delicate and beautiful women, apparently white, by slave-dealers and their customers, in Southern sale-rooms. He adds:

At Richmond and New Orleans, I was present at slave-auctions, and did not see one instance of a married pair being sold together, but, without exception, so far as I was able to learn from the negroes sold by the auctioneers, every grown — up man left a wife and every grown — up woman a husband. * * * I saw Mr. Pulliam (of Richmond) sell, to different buyers, two daughters away from their mother, who was also to be sold. This unfortunate woman was a quadroon; and I shall not soon forget the large tears that started to her eyes as she saw her two children sold away from her.

Testimony like this is abundant.


What disposition God, in His providence, will eventually make of these blacks, cannot be foretold; but it is our duty to provide for our own happiness and theirs as long as we can. In dealing with this question, it will not do to be guided by abstract notions of liberty and slavery. We can only judge the future by the past; and, as experience proves that the negro is better off in slavery at the South than in freedom elsewhere, it is the part of philanthropy to keep him here, as we keep our children in subjection for their own good. --De Bow's Review, vol. II., p. 310.

Mr. Chestnut of S. C., in a long pro-slavery speech in the U. S. Senate, April 9, 1860, presented his views of the inherent excellence of human bondage, as regards the slaves themselves, as follows:

But you say, “I leave out of the consideration the happiness of the race enslaved.” By no means. It is an important element of the moral argument. * * * In the general march of human progress, there is no one interest of humanity which has advanced more rapidly than the institution of African Slavery as it is in the Southern States. It has stood the test of every trial. Its mission is to subdue the unbroken regions of the warm and fertile South, and its end is the happiness and civilization of the human race, including the race of the slave, in all respects.

Said Mr. Jas. M. Mason, of Va., in the debate of the following day:

As to the slave population, I agree with the Senator from South Carolina. if a problem, it has worked itself out; the thing is settled here, so far as the South is concerned, or the opinions and purposes of the South, or their ability to make their opinions and purposes good. It will become, as it has already begun to be, the established policy of the South to have no more emancipation. Let them continue in bondage as they now exist, as the best condition of both races.

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