After ages of conflict with each other, the Nations of the world are now almost entirely occupied with internal struggles. Politicians and statesmen have ceased to regard the foreign relations of a State as the primary object of consideration, and have united with the philosopher in examining the foundations and structure of Society itself. Conquest and Dominion no longer engross attention, but the various portions of society have turned upon each other to scrutinize their respective claims to power and property, and to insist upon new principles of adjustment and distribution. In Europe, on the one hand the Socialists of France leagued with their allies, the Chartists, of England, and the Neologists, of Germany, assail existing institutions, and contend for a vague principle of absolute equality; while on the other, are found the combined forces of all who would preserve existing orders and relations.
The upheavings of this mighty conflict have reached our own country, and are indicated by the convulsions which are still agitating our peace. Following the example of the crafty and far sighted men, who have shaped the policy of England, the leading minds of the North have sought to turn the current which was bearing down upon themselves, into a more distant channel, which might give vent to its fury without injury to themselves. Seeing successfully the people of England had been amused with the notion of human progress, by emancipating the slaves in the West Indies, these votaries of a charity which begins and ends at home, have followed in the same track in our country, and, with equal success, have diverted the attention of the whole band of Social Reformers from themselves, and turned them upon us of the South and our Institutions. We are set down among the enemies of human rights, (as they call them,) and to reform us is the first great duty with which they have charged themselves. Such a scheme, unhappily for us, falls in with the views of both the contending parties in Europe. The Socialists rejoice at the prospect of another advance of their system; while the Aristocrat and Monarchist, add to the hope of overturning the only sanctuary of Constitutional Liberty, the certainty of diverting the attention of their own turbulent multitudes. “
These mighty influences have turned the attention of the civilized world upon the South and her institution of Slavery. We stand surrounded by a host of enemies, and when to these are added the sectional politicians of our own country, who have joined in the crusade from a desire to secure to their own section the political power and patronage of the Federal Government, it seems wonderful that the South has withstood the first sweep of the tempest. So far, however, from being over- whelmed, its force has but served to clear away the surface and enable us to discern more accurately the true nature of our soil. We were told that our foundations rested upon a volcano— nay, worse — that beneath us were caverns filled with armed men, who upon the first opportunity would break forth upon us, in the persons of our slaves, and desolate our land. Instead of this, not a stone has been moved, not a pillar has been shaken, and our enemies are confounded at the calmness and quiet determination with which we are preparing for the next rush of the tempest.
Under such circumstances, it has seemed to me a task not unworthy of the occasion upon which we are now assembled, to examine more minutely the structure of Society at the South, and ascertain the exact value of those aspersions upon us and our institutions, which are advanced by our enemies. They affirm that Slavery is a great social evil which lies as a curse upon us as a people, and operates as a blight upon our progress; that even its proximity is contaminating, and its injustice so great that they feel called upon as Christians and as men to put an end to its existence. These charges, one or all, have been repeated in so many ways, and have been so completely engrafted into the literary and educational works circulated through even our Southern country, that they had ceased to be controverted; and even now there are many amongst us who, having received them without examination, tacitly admit their truth, and offer in extenuation the excuse of necessity. So greatly did this opinion prevail, that had the abolitionists been content to leave things alone, it is hazarding little to say, that in Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland, opinion would by this time have ripened into action. But agitation has induced inquiry, and inquiry elicits truth, and truth enables us now to stand erect before the world. That calm determination which accompanies consciousness of right, has taken the place of the restlessness and impatience with which we met the discussion of this subject. The truth is, that, when men doubt the justice of their cause, they have a secret misgiving that they must fail in argument, and they therefore prefer the uncertain order of battle. But when they are settled in a conviction of right, firmness and courage find a resting place, and there is no farther danger from the impulses of passion. If, then, the Institutions of the South rest upon just and solid foundations, it is of the utmost importance that our people should thoroughly understand and be prepared to defend them. It is with this view that I proceed to inquire into the nature of African Slavery, and to ascertain whether it be an Institution favorable or injurious to the moral and physical progress of a Nation.
I undertake to assert not only that the Institution of African Slavery, as it exists at the South, is not a National evil, but that it is positively favorable to the moral and physical progress both of the master and of the slave. I am fully aware of the extent of this assertion, and of the shock which it will carry to some minds ; but the time has come that Truth must awaken from the dreams of morbid sentiment.
Much confusion and greater obloquy to this opinion, have risen from the vague ideas which are attached to the word Slavery. In the imagination of persons not acquainted practically with our institution, slavery is associated with chains and tortures, and nameless cruelties. Sterne’s highly wrought picture comes up with the name of slavery, and the iron is supposed to be entering into every poor slave’s soul. And when the Southern planter invites the enthusiast to the hut of the slave to observe the original of his picture, and points to the blazing pine knot, and the raised bedstead, with its ample covering of blankets, and the evening meal simmering at the fire place, and the wife and children merrily laughing around, or perhaps Cuffee himself, and his dame, coolly puffing forth volumes of smoke from their well filled pipes, he insists that the scene is unreal, and will not believe but that it was got up for the occasion. If, again, the planter shall insist upon taking him to his fields, and there show him the slave returning from his labor a few hours after midday, free from any further claims on his time until next morning, and at perfect liberty to work for himself, or otherwise to dispose of his time at his pleasure, the enthusiast again refuses to believe. He cannot bear to see overturned his favorite Dogma, namely, that slavery gives up the whole moral and physical existence of the slave to the power of the master.
In this small germ lies the great fallacy which misleads those who have no experience of this subject. They regard slavery as asserting a claim in one man to dispose of the entire moral and physical action of another, and thereby destroying his moral responsibility; whereas, it is nothing more than a claim to his labor ; the same sort of claim which, when created by contract, the law enforces upon the freeman himself. It is true, that in the case of the slave, it involves in some degree a right to his person, physically considered, but this right is merely given as a means to enforce the right to his labor, and stands in the place of the power which the law gives to enforce contracts for labor between freemen. In neither case does it interfere with the moral being or relations of the individual. It is analogous to the right which the Municipal law gives to a husband over his wife, and to the parent over his child. The exercise of this right necessarily includes a power over the person, physically, but does not interfere with the discharge of the duties of the moral agent. As a husband — a father — a child — a creature of God — the duties of the slave are less interfered with, by their masters, than are those of many of their masters by the circumstances which surround them. It is no objection to this view that many abuses exist; for doubtless abuses of even greater extent exist in other relations, and it would be the wildest fanaticism to destroy the institution of marriage, because many husbands illtreat their wives, or to overturn parental authority, because parents frequently abuse their power.
What, then, it will be asked, is it which makes the man a slave? I answer in the words of a profound thinker of our day. It is “the obligation to labor for another, determined by the Providence of God, independently of the provisions of a contract. The right which the master has, is a right not to the man, but to his labor ; the duty which the slave owes, is the service which, in conformity with this right, the master exacts. The essential difference between free and slave labor is, that one is rendered in consequence of a contract; the other is rendered in consequence of a command. The laborers in each case are equally moral, equally responsible, equally men. But they work upon different principles.”
It is necessary to clear up the confusion of ideas which exists on this point, because it is made a stumbling block in the way of our first great position, that Slavery is sanctioned by the Law of God. I am free to express my opinion that nothing can promote the permanent good of a Nation which is opposed to God’s Law. “Righteousness indeed exalteth a nation, but Sin is a reproach to any people.” Therefore, when the opponents of slavery charge upon the institution that it assumes to convert a man into a thing, and to deprive him of moral responsibility, they make a charge which, if true, would unquestionably condemn the institution as sinful. For it is plain that man cannot overturn the moral law or responsibilities which God has established. But surely the Almighty Himself is the best interpreter of his own law, and of the duties which it creates ; and he who would appeal to a higher tribunal, proclaims himself an Infidel and an Atheist. To all, therefore, who receive the Bible as the Word of God, the sanction of that Book to the relation of master and slave, is just as conclusive evidence of its morality, as of the relation of husband and wife. And as well might it be contended in the one case, that because the Municipal law gives up the wife to the power and absolute control of the husband, her moral being and responsibility are destroyed ; as in the other, that the master’s right to the labor of his slave has destroyed his moral being. The truth is, that in either case, though there may be physical restraints, yet in the case oi the slave, his moral action is perhaps the more untrammelled of the two. For in this relation he is usually as free as his master himself. His duties are different, but his obligation to perform them the same ; and as such they are prescribed and regulated and enforced by the Word of God, just as are those of the child, the wife, or the citizen.
I do not propose to occupy your time by renewing the proofs from the Old and New Testament, that the institution of slavery received a Divine sanction under both dispensations. It has always appeared to me, that to those who receive the Bible as the Word of God, a single proof under each dispensation is perfectly conclusive. Under the old dispensation, the ultimate basis of all moral right and duty is found in the Ten Commandments; and if an honest Abolitionist were asked for the foundation on which rests his moral right to his wife or his house, he would answer that the Tenth Commandment prohibits another from even coveting them. Is it not strange that he should overlook the very next words of the same Commandment, which equally forbids the coveting of his slave. For every Bible scholar knows that the word translated “servant” in our version, is “slave” in the original Hebrew.
So, too, under the New Testament, St. Paul’s epistle to Philemon, a slaveholder, seems to have been preserved for the very purpose of instructing this generation. Philemon’s heathen slave runs away from his master, and at a far distant town hears St. Paul preach, and becomes converted. St. Paul’s first act is to persuade him to return to his master, and he sends him with this most touching Letter, in which he begs the master by the title of a “Brother beloved in the Lord,” to forgive and receive back his slave, assuring him that he will find him doubly valuable, as he has now become a Christian. Surely those who are not convinced by this testimony, could not be convinced if one rose from the dead.
II. I propose next to apply another test to the institution of slavery, which in other cases is usually regarded as conclusive. It is an appeal to the history and experience of mankind, in relation to this institution ; and a deduction from them as to its influences. It is a most remarkable fact that the three Nations which have exercised the greatest influence over the destinies of man, are precisely those in which slavery has existed in its full vigor, and under the sanction of their laws. I allude to the Hebrews, the Greeks and the Romans. And what makes this fact still more remarkable, is, that the people who exerted this immense influence, in each case occupied a territory so small as scarcely to be appreciated in its relations to the rest of the world — a proportion seemingly as inconsiderable as a drop to the Ocean.
The Hebrews occupied a small section of Syria, less than one hundred miles square, and yet they reached such a state of civil and social development as seems almost incredible. Conceive of a country smaller than South Carolina, interrupted by mountains and occasional deserts, without one navigable stream, or commercial facilities of any kind, supporting in abundance a population of six millions of people — able to resist, for a time, the whole power of the Roman Empire, at the period of its greatest strength ; and with a people so brave, and leaders so skilful, that the Roman General himself acknowledged that but for the manifest interposition of Deity, he could not have overcome them. Look at the influence of their writings and of their institutions! They yet control the world, and will do so in all time to come. It is true that this is owing to their Divine Inspiration ; but that only varies the form, not the substance of the proposition. If slavery had been an institution unfavorable to the religious advancement of a people, it would be impious to involve the honored name of God in its support, directly or indirectly. The political institutions of the Hebrews, as well as their laws, were framed under the direction of God himself. Their Government and Religion were parts of one entire whole, and Blasphemy against God was Treason against the State. In such a Government every positive institution has a Divine sanction, and when Moses, under such sanction, prescribes the powers by which slavery is to be established and continued ; and regulates the rights and duties incident to it, it is the most authentic declaration that such an institution was consistent with the moral duty and the social happiness of the people; and when the oracles and institutions of God are delivered by him to such a people for safe-keeping and propagation, and he makes use of these men, slaveholders as they are, to write down his Revealed Truths, and to hand them down from age to age, it is the strongest possible recommendation of them and their institutions to the favor of mankind. Well might they claim for themselves the highest rank among their fellow men.
We are not informed as to the number of slaves which existed among the Hebrews. ‘I’he few facts, however, which the Bible mentions incidentally, enable us to perceive that the institution must have taken deep root. Abraham, the Head and Father of the nation, himself, owned 318 slaves born in his own house — that is to say, born of slave parents belonging to him. By the Laws of Moses, a Hebrew could sell himself into slavery, and although he was to go out free the seventh year, yet, if he married a slave, his wife and children were to remain slaves with their master. And so far from this being regarded as a hard case or unjust, and so far from attempting to deliver the wife and children from what Abolitionists would call the tyranny of the master, the law proceeded in the opposite direction, and prescribed that the husband and father might continue with his wife and children by returning to his condition of slavery; and upon indicating his desire before the Judges, he was thenceforth to “serve his master forever.”
It is also to be observed that the Hebrews established their polity in a conquered country, and that a large number of the conquered people remained among them. These were all reduced into the condition of slavery, and they and their descendants were, by positive law, consigned to that condition forever. In this law is practically established, that great principle upon which African Slavery rests, namely : that two races of people differing essentially in civilization and character, can live in the presence of each other only in the relation of master and slave. This principle has since been tested by the experience of after ages; but the Hebrew Law Giver was guided by a wisdom which needed no light from experience ; which saw the end from the beginning, and which could not err. The Hebrew Nation, so long as it retained its institutions in their purity, advanced in power and civilization, until under David and Solomon, their sway extended from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, and their commerce controlled the Treasures of Ophir and the Ships of Tarshish.
The support which is given to the institutions of the South, by the laws and institutions of the Hebrews, has induced not only Abolitionists, but many others, who, without being Abolitionists, are opposed to slavery, to place those institutions on other foundations, than upon the positive sanction of God. They suppose that God, in deference to human passion or prejudice, permitted, under the Hebrew Government, evils which could not be removed, and that slavery was among these evils. The supposition in the first place confounds the distinction between permission and command. Sin and crime are permitted by the Providence of God; but they are never commanded. We read no where of any institution of the Hebrews, whereby sin or crime in any form is sanctioned or continued. If slavery were a sin, the command to the Hebrew to go before the Judges and express his desire to continue therein, and the direction to continue therein forever, would be as impious as a similar declaration to the adulterer, or the thief, or idolator.
Those who take this view of the Hebrew Government are moreover superficial observers, who have never realized the profound and superhuman wisdom with which that Government is framed. It may surprise even some of us to be told that the great principle of a Federative Republic, which is supposed to be the discovery of our American Constitution, lies at the foundation of the Hebrew Polity. Their system, like ours, embraced a Federal and a State Government. Each tribe, for local purposes, was independent of every other, just as our States are; and what is remarkable as a coincidence, they had thirteen of these States, just as we had when we commenced. For general purposes they had a General Government over the whole thirteen tribes, consisting of a Chief Magistrate, first called a Judge, and afterwards a King, assisted by a Council of seventy Elders, called afterwards the Sanhedrim, and a larger body called in the Scriptures, the “Heads of the Congregation.” The analogy which this form of Government bears to our own, is still more remarkable from the fact that the Chief Magistrate, as originally constituted, was elective, and continued so for some time, even when, contrary to the original plan of God, they persisted in making him a King. The same organization of a Chief Magistrate, Senate, or Council, and Congregation, appears also to have existed in each tribe. We read of some of the tribes seceding from the others, and even making war on them; and the final rending asunder of the two Kingdoms of Judah and Israel was a breaking up of the Federal Union of the tribes, because of the threatened tyranny of Rehoboam, the Chief Magistrate, and the formation of, two new Confederacies. The slaveholding Hebrews, therefore, had embodied into their system, the supposed great discovery of the 19th century in Government, 3000 years before that century began.
But there is one other feature in the Hebrew Polity still more remarkable, and showing still more clearly that it was established by a wisdom beyond human power. This feature is, that its whole structure rests upon a principle which directly overturns all the wild theories of the Communists and Socialists of the present day, and supports those systems of society which have hitherto proved most stable and happy. The Socialist contends for a system in which there are but two parts, individuals upon an absolute equality, and the State or Government as the common head of all. The State, as the common parent, must provide equally for the support, for the education of all ; the individual is merged in the common mass ; a mere unit in a common whole, and acting not for himself but for the common benefit. Every intermediate power or control, or authority, is disclaimed as an infringement upon the absolute equality of the individual and no right to command nor duty to obey, is recognized, save that which emanates from the collective will of the State.
The Hebrew polity proceeds upon a principle diametrically opposite. The State takes no notice of the individual as such — it is a mere aggregation of tribes. The tribe is a mere aggregation of families ; and in the family at length the individual is first recognized. But so far from equality prevailing here, it is just the reverse. The father of the family is an absolute Monarch — a Patriarch. His will is the law of the household. He is clothed with an authority derived from God himself; and full in view before the child, is presented as one of the Ten Commandments, the Commandment with promise : “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land.” The details of the law follow up this injunction, and death is ordered to be inflicted upon a rebellious and irreverent child. Reverence and obedience is taught by every prophet, and age is looked up to as something sacred. “Thou shall rise up before the hoary head and honor the face of the old man.” This principle works from the family to the tribe. The Council or Senate, is composed of Elders; and the Congregation, of Heads of Families; and still further in their General Government, the Sanhedrim is composed of Elders and Patriarchs. Everywhere, throughout the Hebrew polity, the same principles of Reverence and Submission are taught, and the principle of equality is repudiated. Every where is it made the duty of the parent to direct, to educate and provide for the child; everywhere the duty of the child to reverence and obey his parent. “Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother.” And in the fearful case of Eli, God himself sends his message in the following awful terms: “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it, shall tingle. In that day, I will perform against Eli, all things which I have spoken concerning his house; when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not ; and therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever.”
Here, then, in the Hebrew polity, we have the Family as the basis and origin of all government. The individual is only known as one of a Family. His duties and rights are measured by his position there. If he is the father, he commands ; if the son, he obeys. In the one case he provides and gives ; in the other, he takes and receives. Inequality and dependence prevail throughout; all benefit or all suffer from the good or evil of each. The duties of each are correspondent, and the result is mutual support, confidence and affection. The union of families, then, forms the tribe, and the union of tribes forms the nation, and the same principle of reverence and submission is transferred from one to the other. And thus, by a chain as simple and universal as that which keeps the planets in their spheres, the simple precept of the Fifth Commandment, is made to bind together States and Empires, and to cause government to be administered in harmony and peace.
A few moments reflection will show that Southern Society, in common with that of the most stable Governments known to history, rests upon this Family or Hebrew basis. The great distinguishing difference between English and French Society is, the greater dignity which the family enjoys among the English. The home of the Englishman is his castle, both in law and in fact; around it cluster all his sympathies, and to its happiness and welfare, all his powers are devoted. The French, on the other hand, are fond of general society; of public intercourse. The family circle is merged in the larger circle of the Opera and the Saloon. The English are the most conservative and orderly people known ; the French the most fickle and revolutionary.
The Slave Institution at the South, increases the tendency to dignify the family. Each planter is in fact a Patriarch — his position compels him to be a ruler in his household. From early youth, his children and servants look up to him as the head, and obedience and subordination become important elements of education. Where so many depend upon one will. Society necessarily assumes the Hebrew form. Domestic relations become those which are most prized— each family recognises its duty, and its members feel a responsibility for its discharge. The Fifth Commandment becomes the foundation of Society. The State is looked to only as the ultimate head in external relations, while all internal duties, such as support, education, and the relative duties of individuals, are left to domestic regulation. In consequence of this, it has followed, that the South has ever been more steady and conservative than the North. The levelling ultraisms of the day have never found here a congenial soil ; and even the movements of the Government have constantly received their check from this quarter. The constant tendency here, is against the increase of Corporate or Federal power, and in favor of individual development; and the result is a dislike of absolute majorities, or any other central power, which disregards the rights or feelings of its sections or parts.
Having shown so much at large the influences of slavery among the Hebrews, I shall treat more summarily the testimony borne in its favor, by the other two nations most prominent in Ancient history.
The name of Athens is associated in the mind of the statesman, the scholar, and the artist, with the highest attainments of human genius. The men who achieved those great results, with which the history of this people abounds, were Slaveholders. These men have stamped their names upon the memory of ages, and command the reverence and esteem of the human race. The State of which they were citizens, was a little corner of Greece, no larger than the county in which we now are ; yet, to such a pitch of grandeur and excellence did they raise that little commonwealth, that it has exerted a more powerful influence on mankind than the great Assyrian Empire, of Ancient days, or the Russian of modern. Yet this State was a slave State. With a population not exceeding twenty thousand citizens who were able to bear arms, they held no less than four hundred thousand slaves. And this handful of men not only enjoyed internal peace and security ; not only produced the greatest orators and historians, and philosophers, and poets, and statesmen, and painters and sculptors, of the world, but they sent forth armies and navies, and made great empires subsidiary to them. The Slave Institution it was, that enabled them to devolve physical labor upon others, and to devote their whole energies to literary, intellectual, and warlike pursuits. The results of those energies are even here amongst us, in this our Western World. Demosthenes and Aristotle still speak to us the notes of eloquence and philosophy. Pericles and Xenophon stand out before us yet, as the gifted leaders of Senates and of Armies. Themistocles and Salamis, still cause to glisten the eye of the old and the young; and Socrates and Plato, yet speak in our ears the gentle sounds of their Academic teaching. Each one of these was a slaveholder, and lived and died in a slaveholding State, and upheld, and practically supported the Institution of Slavery. And the Athenian Slave Republic will ever stand forth a blazing Beacon to exhibit the fact, that the highest development of man, in every department of literature, art and science, among the Ancients, was attained where Slave Institutions had always existed, and had attained their fullest vigor and maturity.
The same testimony is borne by the Romans, that other greatest people of antiquity. Among them, slavery existed from the days of the Kings to the final extinction of the empire, through a period of more than one thousand years. The power of the master was so absolute as to extend even over the life of the slave. Perhaps at no time known to history, have more civilized nations been combined under one Government, and exhibited more national development, than from the reign of Augustus Caesar to that of Constantine. The public works of this period, and the contributions to literature and science, even now are not surpassed ; and if external conquests, and internal peace, and the growth of arts and population, are indications of national prosperity, then was the Roman Empire foremost of any nation which has yet existed. And what was the social condition and institutions under which this prosperity was attained? As far back as the Decemviri, the Slave Institution had attained full vigor, as is proved by the abuse made of it, in the case of Appins and Virginia. It continued through the whole period of the commonwealth ; and in the early days of the Empire, by a census taken under Claudius Caesar, it appeared that the number of slaves amounted to twenty millions, which was equal to the number of free persons. And yet, with so numerous a body of slaves, a fragment of Italy, consisting of a single city and its adjoining territory, had conquered the civilized world, and then held under their dominion one hundred and twenty millions of men, reaching from Britain to the Indus. So complete was their authority throughout this immense region, that it was exercised without an effort, and commanded equal obedience on the Banks of the Thames, or of the Nile, as on those of the Tiber. And this was a slave State ; and its Senators and Consuls, and Poets, and Philosophers, were all slaveholders. Yes! Cicero was a slaveholder, and Cato was a slaveholder, and Virgil, and Tacitus, and Seneca. From the Caesar on the throne, to the smith who forged for him his sword, all were slaveholders, and never, until these latter days of Abolition discovery, was it surmised that, because they were slaveholders, they or any of their countrymen were less competent to the duties of Roman Citizens. The extent of the institution may be conceived from the fact that, in a single palace in Rome, 400 are mentioned as having been maintained, and Gibbon tells us of an African widow, of a very private condition, who gave up an estate to her son, with four hundred slaves upon it, while she reserved for herself a much larger portion. We also read, in the time of Augustus, of a single freedman. who, though his fortune had suffered greatly in the civil wars, still left an estate with 4,116 slaves upon it.
Thus have we brought under review the testimony afforded by the social condition of the three most cultivated and influential nations of antiquity. It establishes that slavery, if not the actual cause of their advancement, singularly coincided in contributing to it, and was at least no hindrance to the attainment of the highest excellence. An examination of modern experience will equally conduce to the same result. The Providence of God has spread before us so many facts bearing upon this point, that even the blind may read them. This Western World of ours is the great field upon which they are exhibited. The first of these to which I shall refer, is the spectacle of three millions of negroes now here among us, and I would ask you to compare their condition with their countrymen in Africa. The history of the world cannot produce such an instance of the advance of any barbarous people in civilization. The savage has been converted into a civilized man. Instead of brutal ignorance and degradation, he is advanced to a condition of comfort and intelligence, and social progress, equal, if not superior, to many portions of Europe. Another fact still more striking, which these same slaves exhibit, is, that this same traduced Slave Institution has been the instrument, under God, for converting more Pagans to Christianity, than all the other efforts put together, of all the Christian world. Among the Baptist and Methodist Denominations alone, there are, at this moment, more slave Christians in full standing as Communicants, than all the heathen converts in all the Missions put together, at all the Missionary Stations throughout the world. And all these persons, but for the slave institutions, would have been as far beyond Christian effort as their countrymen still are in the Africa which they have left. It is clear, therefore, that so far as the Negro is concerned, his social progress has been greatly advanced.
That this result is due, not only to the removal of the Negro to this country, but to his continuance in slavery, will appear by contrasting their condition with that of the Indians. In North America, or rather in the United States, where the Indians were never reduced to slavery, the race is nearly exterminated ; while among the Spaniards, where whole nations were reduced to slavery, and sometimes under circumstances of very great cruelty, the native Indians have been preserved to such an extent, that they have taken the country from the Spaniards, their conquerors. In the West Indies, another course was taken. The good Las Casas, with the mistaken philanthropy of the Wilbsrforces and Buxtons, of our day, introduced the hardier Negro to save the Indian from the cruelties of slavery. The result is, that the free Indian is exterminated, while the slave Negro is under every plaintain bush and hedge, thriving among his pumpkins. Thus, too, in the United States, the tender mercies of the free States have exterminated the Indian, are thinning off, and will soon expel the Negro from amongst them, while at the South, the Negro in his state of slavery thrives and extends and becomes a Christian man.
Another page of these great facts is opened to us, in the comparative condition of nations where the Negro and the white man are brought together under relations of freedom and of slavery. In Africa, where the Negro is master, he remains in savage barbarism, and will not tolerate the presence of the white man. In St. Domingo, Jamaica and other West India Islands, the experiment was made of reducing him to slavery and subjecting him to the dominion of the white man. The result was a progress in agricultural and commercial development, not surpassed in the history of the world. These Islands became gardens, and the value of their products was so great, that they became prizes for the great contending powers of Europe.
Their progress was first interrupted by the change of their social order, first introduced by France in the Island of St. Domingo. The horrors which followed the attempt to convert the slaves into freemen, have been recorded by history ; but the final result is now in the course of action. The Island has already receded into barbarism —pagan rites have actually been resumed in various parts. A tyrannical military despotism is the only semblance of Government ; and the only portion of the Island which can be recognized as part of the former garden of the Antilles, is the little corner which has remained under the Spanish authority, and which still retains the slave institution.
The absolute failure of this experiment to place the Negro and white man upon an equal footing, induced the British Philanthropists to proceed on another plan. Historians and Philosophers had condemned the French attempt as sudden and ill-conducted. The English, therefore, determined to try their experiment in Jamaica, upon a more just and gradual system. The owner of the slave was to receive compensation, and the slave himself to pass through an apprenticeship of training for his new condition. The wisest and best men of England thoroughly digested their scheme; and the military and naval powers of a great empire were put in requisition to carry it out. The horrors of St. Domingo have indeed been saved; but desolation and ruin have nevertheless followed. Jamaica, like St. Domingo, now exhibits abandoned fields and ruined houses. Her commerce has shrunk away — her white population is daily disappearing, and even the English fathers of the scheme have been compelled to acknowledge that, the Negro himself has been the greatest sufferer from its failure. The white man abandons his home and property and escapes, while the Negro indulges his natural indolence, and relapses into barbarism.1
Alongside of these dilapidated and almost ruined Islands, separated from one of them only by a narrow strait, stands the Island of Cuba, where the Slave Institution exists in full vigor. With all the disadvantages of a Colony subject to a foreign master, and that master, the Spanish Government, this Island exhibits every indication of agricultural and commercial prosperity. Not only does it sustain its own Colonial Government and people in abundance, but millions are contributed annually to the support of the worn out monarchy, which claims its allegiance. Every traveller who visits the Island, returns with marvellous accounts of its beauty, resources and development, and the cupidity of the world has been awakened for its possession. While the other islands, one and all, are in the process of decay, this is in full progress to national greatness and development. In the other Islands, slavery has been abolished ; in this it has been preserved.
If we turn our eyes to our own country, we shall find results which lead to similar conclusions. We have been so much in the habit of receiving all our facts and reasonings, as we receive our goods, from the North, that we have never disputed their assertion that our institutions had operated unfavorably upon our relative progress. We are greatly indebted to Elwood Fisher for leading the way to right conclusions on this subject. We have been so much accustomed to regard Steamboats and Railroads and great cities as the true indications of national prosperity, that we had lost sight of the great truth, that national prosperity is really but the aggregation of the happiness and prosperity of individuals. Railroads and Steamboats and great cities are to be found in Egypt, and Russia, and India, as well as in New York and Massachusetts, while the masses are actually suffering from want. The greatest public work now standing in the world, the Pyramids of Egypt, is really a monument of the individual wretchedness which must have been suffered by the vast multitude, whose labor was compelled to rear them.
A just comparison, then, of the condition of two people, can only be made by comparing the relative comforts, happiness, intelligence and virtue of its individuals. The facts for such a comparison between the North and the South are numerous ; but for an occasion like the present, the detail of them would be a tax upon your patience. But it may be proper to remark generally, that pauperism and crime, which are the two great indications of want and vice, are much greater at the North, in proportion to the population, than at the South, even after making proper allowances for the immigrant population among them. In New York in 1844, one out of every five of the inhabitants received public charity, in Massachusetts one out of every twenty. Large numbers of able bodied men are included. In 1848 in Boston, there were 19,000 paupers, of whom 7,413 only were foreigners, in New York and Massachusetts together there are 100,000 paupers, and they increase at the rate of 200 per cent, for ten years, while the population itself only increases 20 per cent. Let any Southern man compare these facts with what he sees around him and draw his own conclusion.
So, too, with crime. The number of convicts in the three Penitentiaries of New York was 2,000, at the same time that in all the Stale of Virginia there were but 200 white and black. If we take what its people are pleased to call the land of steady-habits, namely, all New England, and compare their Penitentiary convicts with those of Virginia, they are just twice as numerous in proportion to the population. The statistics of the city of New York exhibit that a larger number of criminals exist in that one city, than in all the Southern States put together. And if we go back to New England, we find in Massachusetts alone 7,009 committed in a single year, and of these only 1,165 were foreigners. But to come still nearer the point of comparison, take Ohio and Kentucky, which are only separated by the Ohio River. In Ohio there are 470 criminals in the Penitentiary; in Kentucky only 130 — and of this 130, one half are at Louisville, on the border, and a third of the whole number are from free States.
So, too, if we appeal to the positive indications of prosperity, the same surprising results will be found. The vast emigration into the North, and the expenditure there of most of the Federal Revenues, give so much activity and bustle to everything, that our senses are imposed upon by appearances. But the rigid forms of figures which our ten years census afford, will not bend to fancy. These tables, made out by Northern men themselves, exhibit the surprising fact that the native population of the South increases faster than that at the North. Leaving out the emigrants to the North from 1840 to 1850, their population has increased 19 per cent.; while in the South it has increased 28 per cent., nearly 50 per cent, more than the natural increase of the North. We have before us now the results of 60 years, from the first census in 1790 to the last in 1850. From these we may fairly institute a comparison, and in doing so, we will allow the North to select their own four model New England States, and compare them with the Southern State which they traduce and vilify most, namely, South Carolina. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island, like South Carolina, were parts of the original 13. The area of the four New England States is 23,117 square miles, and their aggregate population in 1790 was 827,867. Their aggregate population in 1850 was 1,831,234, a little under 122 per cent.
The area of South Carolina is 24,000 square miles, or nearly the same as the four New England States. By the census of 1790 her population was 249,073. By the census of 1850 it is 668,557, a little over 168 per cent. Let it be observed, moreover, that the whole emigrant population is included in the Northern census, of whom, in Boston alone, there are 60,000, and in the State of Massachusetts one-fifth of the entire population, while at the South there is no such population to any extent. And thus it appears that under all these disadvantages, the increase of South Carolina under Slave Institutions is 46 per cent, greater than the model States of the North.
If the comparison were extended between the State of Georgia and the North, the difference would be still more remarkable. For this great State has increased in population nearly 50 per cent, in the last ten years, and excels in rapidity of growth any that can be brought in competition.
But we are told that we are behind the age in all the enterprises of our day. Let us point to the Charleston and Hamburg Railroad, and to the Georgia Railroad, which were for years the longest Railroads in the world, and the pioneers of those enterprises. Let us invite them to this flourishing city and visit its Manufactories and see its energy ; to ride even to Chattanooga and look through the Tunnel in the Cumberland Mountain — and let them examine our Rivers and see where Steamboats are absent where Nature will permit their presence. And above all, let us take them to our farms and plantations and homes, and shew them our people, white and black, well clothed, well fed, and well housed, contented and happy if they would but leave us to ourselves.
If we turn our attention to the external indications of the two regions, they are still more remarkable. Who needs to be told that the great articles which support the commerce of the United States, viz : Cotton, Tobacco and Rice, are the products of the South, and that its Cotton actually controls the commerce and exchanges of the world. And all this is the result of the Slave Institution ; and the people who have effected these results are Slaveholders.
Having compared the two sections as entire Nations, let us now finally compare them as individuals. The Congresses, Synods and Conventions in which they meet are common arenas, on which their intellectual and moral powers are exhibited. In which of all these has it ever appeared that Southern men were not fully the equals of the Northern? Take any department of war or peace, and inquire whence have come the Generals and Statesmen, and Presidents who have stamped renown on our history. Washington and Jefferson, and Madison, and Monroe, and Jackson, and Tyler, and Polk, and Taylor, eight out of twelve Presidents, were Southern men and Slaveholders. The two Generals who have added another volume to the conquest of Mexico, were both Southern men, and the two great Generals of the last war with England were Jackson and Scott, both Southern men and South Carolinians. War, like other convulsions, brings into action the most powerful elements wherever they may happen to lie hid — and this war with Great Britain brought to the aid of the country its truest and best sons wherever they might be. How did the Slave States appear on this occasion? What contribution did they make to the common cause? South Carolina alone, the smallest of them, contributed at the same period a Speaker to the House of Representatives in Congress, (Mr. Cheves 😉 a President of the Senate, (Mr. Gaillard 😉 a Chairman ot the Committee of Foreign Relations, (Mr. Lowndes 😉 a Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, (Mr. Calhoun 😉 four Generals, (Jackson, Pinckney, Hampton, Scott,) and most of these retained their place in the affections and confidence of the people, and exhibited the highest talent and character during their whole lives. Other Southern States have made contributions equally distinguished for genius and statesmanship. The names of Marshall, of Randolph, of Clay, and Mason, and Crawford, and Forsyth, and of the new tribute of South Carolina, in Hayne and Hamilton, McDuffie and Preston, establish beyond doubt the equal if not superior claims ot the South, to the meed of patriotism, genius and virtue.
On every hand, then, we find the evidence accumulating in favor of the results to those regions where slavery has existed. A single fact more will add the climax to what has been said. The only portions of America which have succeeded in forming for themselves stable governments, are precisely those where African Slavery prevails, namely, our own country and Brazil. That this Institution is the important element which leads to this self-supporting result, was shown by that great Master of Political Science, Mr. Burke, long before we ourselves understood its nature. With a penetration and forecast which seems almost prophetic, this great statesman has accurately shewn the elevating and liberalizing influence of the Slave Institution upon the master ; and the history of our country has proven the South to be the great conservative balance wheel of the Confederacy. Neither innovations upon the Constitution, nor any of the ultraisms of the day can take root here; and if the North shall continue their frantic measures against our peace, and compel us to leave them, they will soon discover that they have parted not only with a good customer, but with their best and truest friends.
It is time, however, that the South should put aside its leading strings and claim the rights of manhood. It is time that she should lean more upon herself and develope her internal resources. It is time that she should insist that her property should be respected, and abuse of her institutions should cease. Slavery ought no longer to be received by us as a reproach. We should avow our support of it upon principle. We should maintain its consistency with justice and right, and with our physical, intellectual and moral progress as a people ; and when we shall have been firmly settled in these convictions, we shall be prepared to meet any issue which fanaticism at home or interference from abroad may precipitate upon us.
1Mr. Bigelow, in his work entitled “Jamaica in 1850,” gives a number of facts which, notwithstanding his evident prejudices in favor of emancipation, are conclusive against the scheme. In one part of his work he nays that the great advantage of being proprietors of land, cause the negroes to be very desirous of owning it. And yet in the neighborhood of Kingston, land only sells at $1 per acre. He further tells us that provisions are four times dearer in Kingston than in New York, and that labor is worth 24 cents a day ; that is to say, four days labor will buy an acre of land, where its produce is four times more valuable than in New York Let any one compare this, with the value of land in the neighborhood of New York, ($100 per acre) and he will have some idea of the dilapidation of Jamaica.
But to complete the comparison, another fact stated by Mr. Bigelow should be noted. It relates to the quality of this black labor. “In the sugar mills from 20 to 30 men and women will be employed to do what 5 American operatives would do much better in the same time, with the aid of such labor-saving agencies as would suggest themselves at once to an intelligent mind.” Follow up this ratio of five to one, and an acre of land is in fact worth less than one day’s labor of an American laborer, and that too, in a country where the land is four times more productive. Can anything speak more strongly of the results of this system.