natural alienation of their hearts from God, render abortive the slight efforts of most masters to induce their attendance on the domestic services of of. “We do not wish to exaggerate the description of this deplorable religious condition of our colored population. We know that instances .# true piety are frequently found among them; but these instances we all know to be awfully disproportionate to their numbers, and to the extent of those means of grace which exist around them. When the missionaries of the cross enter a heathen land, their hope of fully Christianizing it rests upon the fact, that they can array and bring to bear upon the minds of these children of ignorance and sin, all those varied means which God has appointed for the reformation of man. But while the system of slavery continues among us, these means can never be efficiently and fully employed for the conversion of the degraded sons of Africa.”

In an official report of the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia, embracing all the ministers and lay representatives from all the churches of that denomination in these two states, adopted at its session in Columbia, S. C., and published by order of the Synod, in the Charleston Observer of March 22, 1834, we find the following testimony.

“Who would credit it, that in these years of revival and benevolent effort, in this Christian republic, there are over two millions of human beings, in the condition of HEATHEN, and, in some respects, in a worse condition? From long continued and close observation, we be: lieve that their (the colored population's) moral and religious condition is such, as that they may be justly considered the heathen of this Christian country, and will bear comparison with heathen in any country in the world. Before we attempt to set forth the duty, [to evangelize these “heathen,'] it will be proper to show, that the negroes are destitute of the privileges of the gospel, and ever will be under the present state of things.” There are some exceptions to this, they say, and they * rejoice' in it; “but although our assertion is BRoad, we believe, that, in general, it will be found to be correct. . . . It is universally the fact, throughout the slaveholding states, that either custom or law prohibits to them the acquisition of letters, and consequently they can have no access to the Scriptures, so that they are dependent for their knowledge and Christianity upon oral instruction, as much so as the unlettered heathen when

Wol. III. 74

first visited by our missionaries. Have they, then, that amount of oral instruction, which, in their circumstances, is necessary to the enjoyment of the gospel 2. In other words, have they a regular and effcient ministry 2 THEY HAve Not. In the vast field extending from an entire state beyond the Potomac to the Sabine river; and from the Atlantic to the Ohio, there are, to the best of our knowledge, not twelve men exclusively devoted to the instruction of the negroes! The number, [' two millions of souls and more,'] divided between them would give to each a charge of near one i. and seventy thousand!!! As to ministers of their own color, they are destitute infinitely both in point of numbers and qualifications; to say nothing of the fact, that such a ministry is looked upon with distrust, and is discountenanced by the present state of feelin the South, such a ministry could neither be obtained Nor Toler ATED. But do not the negroes have access to the gospel, through the stated ministry of the whites? We answer, No . The white population itself is but partially supplied with ministers. Such being the fact, what becomes of the colored? And the question may be asked with still greater emphasis, when we know that it has not been customary jor our ministers when they accept calls jor settlement to consider servants as a regular part of their charge. . . . If we take the supply of ministers to the whites now in the |...}. the amount of their labors in behalf of the negroes is small.” The Synod assert that something has been done towards the ‘religious instruction of the negroes;' but they say, “we venture the assertion, that if we take the whole number of ministers in the slaveholding states, but a rers small portion pay any attention to them.” . . . . “No effort is made to draw them out (to church); but let them come to hear the preaching of ministers to white congreations, and such is the elevation of their anguage, &c. they might as well preach in Hebrew or Greek. The negroes do not understand them. Hence their stupid looks and their thin attendance.”

Rev. C. C. Jones, of Georgia, who has been specially engaged in ascertaining the moral and religious condition of the slaves, prepared an essay a few years since on that subject, under the direction of the Presbytery of Georgia. This gentleman has since been appointed professor in the Theological Seminary of Columbia, S. C. In that essay he says, in answer to the question, “Has the negro access to the Scriptures 2" “The statutes of our respective states forbid it; or when through oversight they do not, custom does. On the one hand he can not be a hearer of the law, for oral instruction is but sparingly afforded him; and on the other hand, he can not search the Scriptures, for a knowledge of letters he has not, and can not legally obtain.” Mr. Jones says further, “It is a solemn fact which we must not conceal, that their private and public religious instruction forms no part of the aim of owners generally. There is no anariety, no effort to obtain such instruction. They are shut out from our sympathies and efforts as immortal beings, and are educated and disciplined as creatures of profit, and of profit only, for this world.” We think that this testimony from such high authorities in the religious communities of the South is entitled to our full credence, the Hammonds and the McDuffies notwithstanding. This testimony fully proves that the slaves of the South are “ in the condition of the heathem.” And yet this Gov. Hammond says, that to transport the slaves of Africa to the slavery of this country would be to cause them “to emerge from darkness into light, from barbarism to civilization, from idolatry to Christianity, from death to life.” With the entire truth of this testimony that we have given, consists the fact, which Gov. H. states, and which we have often heard from pro-slavery quarters, that many of the slaves are communicants in churches, especially in the Baptist and Methodist churches. We might bring abundant testimony, from those who have spent their lives as ministers at the South, to prove, that a very large proportion of these colored communicants have no idea of the essential truths of Christianity, and, on account of their ignorance, are “poor deluded creatures.” But after what has been testified of their ignorance this is unnecessary. We here take our leave of Gov.

Hammond, with what respect for his humanity, veracity, and good manners, our readers must judge. We invite distinct attention, in conclusion, to two topics. The testimony which we have adduced fully evinces, that the idea entertained by the opposers of slavery at the North and in New England, and even by those who are technically called “Abolitionists,” of the cruelties of slavery, is not extravagant. Indeed it falls far short of the dread reality. There is little danger that the human imagination even will exceed that reality. The greatest cruelty in the estimation of those who take right views of eternal things, and consider the results of slavery in the eternal world, is the moral degradation and pollution into which it sinks its subjects. The guilt of the murder of millions of souls is on those who uphold the system. But the cruelties inflicted on the bodies of the slaves are not to be lightly esteemed. Suffered by those who are our brethren by the tie of a common humanity and a common redemption, they should be estimated as though they were suffered by ourselves, or our sons and daughters. They are, we have said, far greater than is generally supposed. “The worst,” says Gov. Swain, “is not generally known.” And from the nature of the case it can not be. These cruelties are generally inflicted in secret, away from the observation of whites, and especially of strangers and visitors.” The only wit. messes fully competent to reveal them all, are the poor slaves themselves, who have no means of declaring their sufferings to the world. We have to judge by laws, and advertisements, and the rare and unwilling testimony of conscientious and humane slaveholders, and the occasional observations of travelers. These fall far short of a full testimony. They are only inklings of the great whole. They are a fearful index of what is unwitnessed and unrecorded, save in the book of the all-seeing Judge. And if such enormities flare into sight through the crevices of the system, what must be the horrid reality within, and how, if fully revealed, would it appall the world ! Well said Gov. Swain, who knew whereof he affirmed, “Were all the miseries, the horrors of slavery to burst at once into view, a peal of seven-fold thunder could scarce strike greater alarm.” There is another inference to which we wish to call special attention. It is this. These cruelties— this buying and selling of human beings—this whipping and branding, and shooting and chaining, and separation of families, are necessarily incidental to slavery. They are, as human nature is, essential parts, or certain results of the system. These enormities are fully acknowledged by our southern breth

* It happens not infrequently that travelers and visitors from the North to the South, return with quite a mollified view of the cruelties of slavery, because they have not witnessed them. The value of such testimony is seen in the light of a statement, like the following, which comes to us perfectly authenticated from a gentleman of great intelligence and moral worth. Several years since, he took a tour through the slave states to ascertain, by personal observation, the treatment of the slaves. He was entertained by many slaveholders in different states, and observed very little of cruelty, and had almost concluded that it did not exist. At length he won the confidence of an intelligent houseservant, and, telling him that he observed but very little . asked him if it was so. The slave, when he began to feel that he could fully confide in him, replied, “Massa, do you whip your children !. company? Now, do you go out at night and watch.” He did so, and late at night from an out-house he heard dreadfif groans, and blows of the whip, and most supplicating cries and promises. Having thus learned to look beneath the veil, he sound, ere his tour was completed, most appalling evidence of cruelty, where all, to a superficial examiner, as he at first was, appeared very mild and fair.

ren to be great sins; but, it is said, “These are the abuses of the system, and the system is not proved evil by its abuses. We may remove these abuses, and let the institution, which is good in itself, remain.” And thus they excuse themselves; and thus many at the North excuse them, for not aiming at its extinction. Now we say, that these enormities are as a general rule inseparable from slavery. And when slavery is spoken of as it is, and must be, the word should convey the idea, not merely of the abstract institution, but of the institution with these enormities. It should convey the idea, not merely of bondage, but of stripes, and branding, and chains, and shrieks, and groans—the idea of a sundering of domestic ties which lacerates the hearts of husbands and wives, of parents and children—the idea of intellectual degradation, and moral pollution, and education for hell. The word means all this, in fact, and will mean all this, till this world is a world of angels. Take for instance the sale of slaves, and the sundering thereby of . domestic ties. In the first place, were the masters ever so much disposed, it could not be prevented. Slaves are deemed property. They constitute an important part of estates. When estates are settled, the slaves must be divided, and often by being sold. And when slaves are sold to the highest bidder, and to suit purchasers, what can prevent the husband being torn away from the wife, and the parent from the child As property, they are liable also to be attached for debt, and often are the only property which can be laid hold of by legal process. Slavery can not exist two generations, nor two years, without the sale of human beings as merchandise, nor can it without the sundering of conjugal and filial ties. But the question whether the sale of human beings and the sundering :

of domestic ties can be prevented, if all parties are so disposed, is not the practical question. That question is, will these evils be prevented while slavery exists, human nature remaining as it is With all there is in the human heart and life, of avarice, and extravagance, and lust, and selfishness in its varied forms, will these evils be prevented 2 And here, what has been, is the answer to the question, what will be Just as certain as man is a depraved being, will the sale of immortal beings and the reckless sundering of conjugal and filial ties accompany slavery. It is a violation of truth, and a deception of ourselves and others, to speak of the system of slavery as not involving these enormities. So with cruel punishments. They are necessary to the system. It can not be kept in existence without them. So long as man loves the enjoyment of his divinely given and inalienable rights, so long will the slave love liberty, and endeavor to gain it when there is a ray of hope, by running away. This running away must be prevented by severe punishments, or the system will soon vanish. Hence the cruel laws licensing the horrid whipping and the shooting of runaways. Hence the iron collars with prongs, and the chains, and cobbles, and fetters, and gun-shot wounds, and branding, and maiming. And even if they would not try to escape, there must be cruelty, in a vast many cases, in order to secure labor. For, slavery renders inoperative almost all the motives which are peculiar to a rational being, and leaves its subject to the influence of those only which are common to man and the brute. As the Kentucky Synod say, and as we have quoted for another purpose on another page, “he (the slave) is stripped of the nobler attributes of humanity, and is degraded into a creature of mere appetite and passion. . . . . He sinks far down toward a level with the beast of the

field, and can be moved to action only by such appeals as influence the lunatic and the brute.” Hence masters must flog. Flogging, and brutal o is essential to the system. It is far more necessary in the management of slaves than of brutes, inasmuch as the will of men is stronger, and their consciousness that they are deeply wronged renders their will often inflexible by the appliances of oppression. In support of this position, that slavery, by rendering inoperative almost all the motives which are peculiar to a rational being, and leaving its subject to the influence of those only which are common to man and the brute, makes it necessary that the master should have, and certain that often he will cruelly use, and necessary too that he should sometimes cruelly use, unlimited power over the slave's body, we will here quote a very important and pointed passage from a decision of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, in Wheeler's Law of Slavery, pp. 244-247.

The State rs. Mann. Dee. T. 1829. 2 Derereaur's North Carolina Rep. 203. “The defendant was indicted for an assault and battery upon Lydia, the slave of one Elizabeth Jones. On the trial it appeared, that the defendant had hired the slave for a year; that during the term the slave had committed some small of fense, for which the defendant undertook to chastise her ; that while in the act of so doing, the slave ran off; whereupon the defendant called upon her to stop, which being refused, he shot at and wounded her. The judge in the court below charged the jury, that if they believed the punishment inflicted by the defendant was cruel and unwarrantable, and disproportionate to the offense committed by the slave, that in law, the defendant was guilty, as he had only a special property in the slave. . A verdict was returned for the state, and the defendant appealed. * Per Cur. Ruffin, J. A judge can not but lament, when such cases as the present are brought into judgment. It is impossible that the reasons on which they go can be appreciated, but where institutions similar to our own exist, and

[ocr errors]

are thoroughly understood. The struggle, too, in the judge's own breast between the feelings of the man and the duty of the magistrate is a severe one, presenting strong temptation to put aside such questions, if it be possible. It is useless, however, to complain of things inherent in our political state. And it is criminal in a court to avoid any responsibility which the laws impose. With whatever reluctance, therefore, it is done, the court is compelled to express an opinion upon the extent of the dominion of the master over the slave in North Carolina.” . . . “The inquiry here is, whether a cruel and unreasonable battery on a slave, by the hirer, is indictable. The judge below instructed the jury that it is. He seems to have put it on the ground, that the defendant had but a special property. Our laws uniformly treat the master or other person having the possession and command of the slave, as entitled to the same extent of authority. The object is the same, the service of the slave; and the same powers must be confided. In a criminal proceeding, and indeed in reference to all other persons but the general owner, the hirer and possessor of the slave in relation to both rights and duties, is, for the time being, the owner. This opinion would, perhaps, dispose of this particular case; because the indictment, which charges a battery upon the slave of Elizabeth Jones, is not supported by proof of a battery upon defendant's own slave; since different justifications may be applicable to the two cases. But upon the general question, whether the owner is answerable criminaliter, for a battery upon his own slave, or other exercise of authority or force, not forbidden by statute, the court entertains but little doubt. That he is so liable, has never been decided ; nor, as far as is known, been hitherto contended. There has been no prosecution of the sort. The established habits and uniform practice of the country in this respect, is the best evidence of the portion of power deemed by the whole community requisite to the

reservation of the master's dominion.

f we thought differently, we could not set our notions in array against the judgment of every body else, and say that this or that authority may be safely lopped off. This has indeed been assimilated at the bar to the other domestic relations; and arguments drawn from the well established principles, which confer and restrain the authority of the parent over the child, the tutor over the pupil, the master over the apprentice, have been pressed on us. The court does not recognize their application. There is no likeness between the cases. They are in opposition to each other, and there is an impassable gulf between them. The differ

ence is, that which exists between freedom and slavery—and a greater can not be inagined. In the one, the end in view is the happiness of the youth, born to equal rights with that governor on whom the duty devolves of training the young to usefulness, in a station which he is afterwards to assume among freemen. To such an end, and with such a subject, moral and intellectual instruction seem the natural means; and for the most part they are found to suffice. Moderate force is superadded, only to make the others effectual. If that fail, it is better to leave the party to his own headstrong passions, and the ultimate correction of the law, than to allow, it to be immoderately inflicted by a private person. With slavery it is far otherwise. The end is the profit of the master, his security and the public safety; the subject, one doomed in his own person, and his posterity, to live without knowledge, and without the capacity to make any thing his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits. What moral considerations shall be addressed to such a being, to convince him what, it is impossible but that the most stupid must feel and know can never be true; that he is thus to labor upon a principle of natural duty, or for the sake of his own personal happiness. Such services can only be expected from one who has no will of his own; who surrenders his will in implicit obedience to that of another. Such obedience is the consequence only of uncontrolled authority over the body. There is nothing else which can operate to produce the effect. The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect. 1 most freely confess my sense of the harshness of this proposition. I feel it as deeply as any man can. And as a principle of moral right, every person in his retirement must repudiate it. But in the actual condition of things, it must be so. There is no remedy. This discipline belongs to the state of slavery. They can not be disunited, without abrogating at once the rights of the master, and absolving the slave from his subjection. It constitutes the curse of slavery to hoth the bond and the free portions of our population. But it is inherent in the relation of master and slave. That there may be particular instances of cruelty and deliberate barbarity, where in conscience the law might properly interfere, is most probable. “The difficulty is to determine, where a court may properly begin. Merely in the abstract it may well be asked, which ower of the master accords with right. he answer will probably sweep away all of them. But we can not look at the matter in that light. The truth is, that we are forbidden to enter upon a train of

« 上一頁繼續 »