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forced by solemn injunctions and appeals to with the utmost degree of moral excellence; this the authority and power of God. Masters is only to say that prudence and virtue are not are ordered to give unto their servants that incompatible. But the doctrine of expediency which is just and equal; and servants are com- in its most liberal application can never justify a manded to obey in all things, their masters, ac- connivance at crime, much less an encouragement cording to the flesh, nor with eye-service as to commit it. This explanation of our author men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart fearing destroys all consistency of conduct, as well as all God. These injunctions were repeated over inflexibility of principle in the Apostles, makes and over, and are invariably enforced by the will them truckle to fear in a single instance, while and authority of God. The inference moves the daily dared death in every other; and besides with stern precision from such premises to the this, it does not affect the real difficulty in the conclusion that slavery is not a crime or anything case. If they had merely failed to denounce that approaches it. But the argument is pro- the sin, they would have been inexcusably redigiously strengthened by the fact that the apos- creant to their high commission; but to suppose tles, while demanding the surrender of all things them as not merely failing to denounce, but acfor the sake of Christ, and declaring that with- tually regulating by law, and enforcing it by the out holiness no man should see God, yet admitted solemn sanctions of religion, is to imagine a deslave-holding Jews and Gentiles in crowds to the gree of absurdity hardly consistent with the rite of baptism and the full privilege of commu- frailest virtue-much less with the stern integrity nism in the Church, styled them brethren faith- of the commissioned ambassadors of God. Wayful and beloved, admitted them to their entire land also attempts to evade the force of this plea, confidence, and by the whole course of their pol- by stating that if the Apostles did sanction slavery icy confirmed the existing order of society in re- in the Roman Empire they thereby sanctioned all lation to slavery. Yet modern churches have the absurd and inhuman laws of the Roman slave cast out of the synagogue and delivered over to code. But this argument is of a piece with his the polite and tender attentions of the devil, plea against the testimony of the slave laws of those whom Paul and his coadjutors would have Moses, to the morality of slavery. We do not received to the full confidence of Christian affec- argue that the Apostles sanctioned slavery and tion. Is it possible to desire a more convincing everything connected with it in the Roman laws; proof that the spirit which animates the moderns we assert that they sanctioned it, even in spite of is a very different spirit from the guide of the that terrible code; nor can the most acute ingeancient church? Now sum up the substance nuity torture a sanction of a thing, into a perof this argument, and consider it at a glance. mission of any thing not essential to the original At the time of the early rise of Christianity subject of the sanction. The argument simply slavery universally prevailed in the world; yet states that the Apostles could not sanction a sin the Apostles of Christ went forth denouncing per se ; but they did sanction slavery, and thereevery form of vice, waging extinguishable war- fore slavery is not a sin, as the abolition theories fare upon all the popular superstitions of the assert it to be. The savage character of the times, daring the vengeance of noble and priest, Roman slave code adds strength to the argument magistrates and populace in unsparing assaults from the New Testament writers; if they allowed upon every shape and degree of sin and irreli- a relation when covered with such barbarous adgion; and so far from denouncing this enormous juncts, much more would they approve it in a and disgraceful sin of slavery, they framed laws milder type. Dr. Wayland should have rememfor its regulation, gave new sanctions, drawn from bered that the Apostles were prevented by the the principles of religion to enforce its duties, inspiration of God from committing the blunder, and admitted slaveholders to all the privileges of which penetrates the whole of his argument with the Church they were commissioned to erect. absurdity-of confounding the adjuncts of slavery If slavery is a sin, per se, the inspiration of the with slavery itself, and blending in one undistinNew Testament is absurd. guishable condemnation, the relation itself and the objectionable laws that governed and controlled it.
The explanation which Wayland attempts to make of this most extraordinary procedure of the Apostle, actually increases, instead of remo- Our anti-slavery philosopher makes a third atving the difficulty it creates on the abolition the-tempt to evade the force of the argument from ory; he declares they failed to denounce it from the mutual duties defined and enforced upon motives of expediency,† and are not to be consid-master and servant in the Epistles of Paul, by ered as giving their sanction to the relation. No stating that the patience and meekness, the fideldoubt expediency may be sometimes consistent ity and charity required by the Apostle are obligatory upon all men, and of course upon masters;
* See Fuller and Wayland, pp. 86-87.
* Col. iv. 1 and iii. 22.
† See Fuller and Wayland, pp. 63–70.
and by inquiring whether our obligations to prac-slave and the humanity of the master, not only tise honesty and charity, and avoid purloining as fatal to his cause, but as affording a most triand eye-service, depend on the justice of the au- umphant vindication of the morality of the thority which the master claims over the ser- slavery relation. If God will be honored by the vant. The fatuity and confusion of this ques-discharge of its duties, then those duties must be tion are really amazing. The obligation to hon-worthy of his approval; nor can any ingenuity esty and zeal in the abstract depends solely upon separate the connection between his smile of apthe authority of God; but the obligation to be dili-proval, and the worthiness of its object. gent and faithful in discharging the duties of a par- One of the most common and popular arguticular relation, does most certainly depend upon ments against slavery consists in the charge that the moral character of the relation itself. No man it reduces the slave from a man to a brute, from is under obligation to be faithful in discharging the a person to a thing, and divests him of all the duties of an unholy relationship; on the contrary essential characteristics of humanity at the same he is under the highest obligations not to perform time that it arms the master with unlimited power them at all. We may assert that with a propri- over the body, mind, soul, and every right of the ety identical with that exhibited by our author slave. This plea has not only been the univerthat the law of fidelity is binding upon all, and sal reliance of the multitude, but what is surupon adulterers among others. Surely if fidelity passing strange it has imposed upon some of the and zeal in the discharge of duty operate with finest thinkers of the country and forms a standout regard to the moral nature of the relation, ing proof of the absurdities into which even high then the moral law becomes the warrant for the intellect may be seduced by preconceived prejumost extraordinary zeal and fidelity in carrying dice and opinion. We must permit Dr. Thornout the business of a thief and receiver, or of an well to assist us in replying to this folly: adulterer and adulteress. The obligation to fidelity is one thing, and the relation to which it is to be applied is another; fidelity in the abstract is moral; but fidelity in discharging the duties of a sinful relation is only faithfulness in crime, of which the most treacherous desertion is the only virtue. The duty to be faithful in discharging a relation necessarily sanctions the relation itself; it is impossible to make a moral application of the obligations of virtue to a sinful or criminal relation; such a supposition is to say in effect that it is duty to be faithful in crime, and the more faithful and consistent is the criminal career, the more completely are the claims of duty fulfilled; a to man-a form of civil society of which persons paradox in which it is impossible to distinguish are the only elements, and not a relation of man between the superior claims of folly and wicked- to things. Under the Roman code. in which ness. When the President of Brown University more offensive language than that employed by informs us that Christ is honored by the obedi- ourselves was used in reference to the subject, ence of the slave, but that the right of the mas- slave as lost or swallowed up in the propriety of the Apostles did not regard the personality of the ter is not recognized by the law which enforces the master. They treat him as a man possessed his rights to the services of the slave, he is utterly of certain rights, which it is injustice to disreunconscious that he is really uttering a most de- gard, and made it the office of Christianity to testable insinuation against the Saviour. The as- protect these rights by the solemn sanctions of sertion that Christ is honored by the discharge of cessity, the moral obligation, of rendering to their religion to enforce upon masters the moral nethe duties of a positively sinful relation, is an in- bondmen that which is just and equal. Paul sult to his honor; it is the same as to say he is treats the services of slaves as duties-not like honored by the performance of what is wrong in the toil of the ox or the ass-a labor extracted itself, and is all the more honored as the wrong by the stringency of discipline-but a moral debt is more consistently and perseveringly committed. in the payment of which they were rendering a It is a simple and absolute impossibility to dis- social and political economy, in which relations homage to God. He considered slavery as a tinguish in point of morality between a relation, subsisted betwixt moral, intelligent, responsible and the offices which are necessary and peculiar beings, involving reciprocal rights and reciprocal to it. We regard this admission of Wayland's obligations. There was a right to command on that Christ is honored by the obedience of the one hand-an obligation to obey on the other. Both parties might be guilty of injustice and of wrong-the master might prostitute his power by tyranny, cruelty, and iniquitous exactions
indignant at its outrages and wrongs, but that it has been so slow in detecting its enormities, that mankind, for so many centuries, acquiesced in a system which contradicted every impulse of nature, every whisper of conscience, every dictate of religion-a system as monstrously unnatural as a general effort to walk upon the head or think with the feet. I have however no hesitation in saying, that whatever may be the technical language of the law, in relation to certain aspects in which slavery is contemplated, the ideas of vade the whole system. It is a relation of man personal rights and personal responsibility per
* Fuller and Wayland, pp. 81-82. † See Fuller and Wayland, p. 81.
"If this be a just description of slavery, the wonder is, not that the civilized world is now
the servant might evade his duty from indolence, a ja t claim of one to the perpetual services of treachery, or obstinate self-will. Religion held the other. It is a contradiction in terms to say the scales of justice between them and enforced that slavery is not a relation of property. The fidelity upon each by the awful sanctions of eternity. This was clearly the aspect in which the Apostle contemplated the subject."*
property character of slavery is fully recognized in those passages where slaves are numbered with other articles of property, and where they are said to be a possession taken as an inheritance
In addition to this it may be said that the idea of slavery making a brute of a man, and chang- for children. There is a peculiar effrontery in ing him from a person to a thing, is an absolute the denunciation of chattel slavery as an offence absurdity; there is no meaning or sense what- against God, when the tenth commandment forever in the expression; the absurdity is so mon- bids one man to covet the servants of his neighstrous as to set all comprehension at defiance. bor, on the very ground that they are property. How can a man be reduced into any other na- Should it be said that the prohibition to covet ture than the human; how can he be metamor- the man-servant or the maid-servant, no more phosed from a person into a thing? No circum- proves them to be articles of property, than the stances can alter the essential nature of a par- prohibition to covet the wife of our neighbor, ticular form of existence. It is mere folly of the proves a wife to be a proper article of propertymost transparent description to say that the sub- it will be enough to reply that the question jection of the slave to the will of his master, so whether the servants are to be properly classed changes the nature of things as to make his obe- with the wife or with the houses and cattle is dience of the identical nature of the obedience of fully settled by interpreting the passage, in the a tool to the hand of a workman, or the obedi- light of those passages which expressly number ence of a horse to the rein and spur of the rider. slaves with oxen and sheep, and those which deDr. Thornwell very properly remarks, that "obe- fine slaves to be possessions liable to inheritance dience, except as a figured term, can never be and devise. But the effrontery in the denunciaapplied to any, but rational, intelligent, respon- tion of chattel slavery is surpassed by its absurdsible agents." If the action of one man under ity; there is but one kind of slavery, and if the the direction of another essentially changes the property character of the relation is destroyed, very nature of the agent, we should witness the the relation itself is annihilated. All the commost extraordinary demissions of humanity every plaints and invectives urged against slavery as time an agent acted for a principal; and every involving a right of property, are drawn from a time a lawyer yielded to the suggestions of a cli- definition of slavery and a definition of property, ent he would immediately become a very curious which are marvels of inaccuracy and want of specimen of legal machinery, in which motions precision. Slavery is commonly defined to be a and demurrers moved with the precision of a property in man, and when Wayland defines cog-wheel, and clattered with all the noisy vehe- property to be the right to use something as one mence of a cotton-gin. We have already seen chooses, provided the use of it does not interfere in this review that while slavery might share re- with the rights of his neighbor, it is immedisponsibility in one sense between the master and ately perceived that a property in man gives the the slave, yet in another, it not only preserved, master a right to do as he chooses with the slave. but enlarged the just accountability of both for the When this portentous conclusion is thus inevitaproper observance of the mutual duties growing tably fastened upon the institution of slavery, out of their new relation. It would be as much heaven and earth are called to witness against a relation which gives such unprecedented power as any man's reputation for sense or sanity was worth, to say that the acting of one man under to one man over another. Hence we are inthe direction of another, changed the essential formed with a gravity and earnestness that strip nature of the agent; yet men have been allowed the absurdity of ridicule and convert it into a to assert this very absurdity in relation to slavery fearful fanaticism, that slavery gives a man a with entire impunity. But the most triumph- right to blind the mind, debauch the morals, deant refutation of this celebrated argument is to stroy the life or ruin the soul of his servant, or be found in the proper character of slavery; to whatever else his caprice or passion may dictate. Hence it is said that slavery changes the nature this we would now solicit the attention of our of the slave, and works that incomprehensible readers. mystery of changing a person into a thing.
Slavery is the property right of one man to the services of another; or it is such a relation This contemptible sophistry has imposed upon between two individuals, as forms the basis for some of the first philosophical writers of the
* Thornwell's Discourse, pp. 19-20-21.
+ Sermon p. 20. See previous remarks.
*Lev. xxv. 44-46. Gen. xx. 14.
t Elements of Moral Science. p. 229.
Northern States; Channing, Whewell, and Way- | property forbids that the right of slavery should laud have all fallen into the blunder, and when we extend farther than the mere use of the man acsee the philosophical and discriminating minds cording to his nature, or his employment in of the country run wild on an absurdity so prepos- agreement with the rational and just way of terous, we cease to wonder at the rage and ha- making his labor subservient to the interest of the tred with which the masses of the Northern peo- master. This simple conception of the nature of ple are taught to regard the institutions of the property cuts through the whole of those pathetic South. If such a couception of slavery were declamations of Wayland and his abolition coadjust, the only wonder is that the opposition to it jutors over the power of slavery to change the has been confined to political and moral weapons; nature of a man, and make a person a thing. It the sword of indignant humanity should sweep is really a pity that people will not condescend the curse from the earth. to understand what they mean themselves, before they undertake to become the teachers of the public. The finishing clause of Wayland's defi
But the horrible conclusions, which we have just reviewed, cannot be escaped if the premises of the argument are admitted to be true. If nition gives the finishing stroke to its precision property is the right to do as one chooses with and correctness; it is not true in every case that the article of property, and slavery be a property property essentially implies non-interference with in man, we are not able to perceive what it is the rights of others. For instance, a parent may that the master may not do with the slave, disinherit his children and convey his estate to whether it be to use him for service, or torture an indifferent party; the title of the legatee him at the stake, or cook him for the fox hound. would be valid, although the real rights of the The conclusions are inevitable from the premises, children were utterly exploded; he forgets that aud if the premises contain the essential and ne- there are rights of different kinds and that the cessary elements of slavery, the conclusions they right of one may successfully oppose a different produce prove beyond all doubt that slavery is and less forcible right of his neighbor. the most atrocious of all possible relations among men. It is absolutely marvellous that the enormity of these conclusions did not throw suspicion upon the soundness of the premises.
But this is not all the folly comprehended in that sententious logic by which a property in man gives one man such tremendous power over the fate and fortunes of another. Admitting the defiWayland's definition of property is exceedingly nition of Wayland to be correct, the term prodefective; he declares it to be the right to do as perty in man, which is sufficiently precise for orone chooses with the article of property, unless it dinary purposes of allusion and remark on the interfere with the rights of his neighbor.* This subject of slavery, will never answer as a term is inaccurate and untrue in every particular. The of debate; for when subjected to the rigid aualrights of men do not pertain to things themselves, sis necessary to the success of abstract discusbut to the use of them; men are simply stewards, sion, it is discovered to present no tangible idea not absolute proprietors; even the right to life is to the most eager and minute attempt at comprevested in the use of it, and by no means allows a hension. In what does the property claim of a man to destroy it when he pleases. It is there- right in man actually consist,-is it located in the fore false to say that it gives the owner the right mind, the body, or the moral nature of the slave; to do as he chooses with the article of property, where can it be lodged in the servant so as to bealthough it may not interfere with the rights of come tangible to the owner? A right must be any other man. Property is a right to use the ar- something tangible to the possessor; if it is even ticle of property according to the nature of the ar- a purely speculative or metaphysical right, it must ticle itself. A man has no right to set fire to his at least be tangible to the understanding; where house, to destroy his money or kill his cattle in then can a property right in man be located upon wanton butchery, even though no one else should him. If it exist in the body of the slave, then it be injured but himself. A man has no right to gives license to cannibalism; if it exist in the use an animal in the same manner in which he mind, the master may reduce the intellect to may use a piece of inanimate property; nor has idiocy; if it exist in the moral nature, then the a man the right to use a man in a way which master may lawfully debauch the morals and would be pardonable towards a brute. Property and ruin the soul of his servant. Such is the gives no man a right to destroy it with wanton definition of slavery and such the results which or unreasonable usage; the only right it con- have kindled such fierce enthusiasm against it. fers is a right to use according to the nature of the The utter incomprehensibility of the phrase article itself. So then, even admitting that property in man, and the disastrous consequences there is any sense or meaning in the definition of that flowed necessarily from it, induced those slavery as a property in man, the very nature of writers upon moral and metaphysical science, who have been chiefly instrumental in producing
* See Wayland's Elements of Moral Science, p. 229.
the existing sentiment on the subject of slavery, to be endangered, then it is the right of the master
to use precautionary measures to guard his just
Although the notion of a property in man is so mysterious and incomprehensible, yet the idea of a right to the services of a man, or a property claim upon his producing energies, is level to the apprehension of a child; and this is all of the property character of slavery. It is one thing to have an absolute right to use a man as one chooses, and a very different thing to have a right to use his services according to his nature, in obedience to the rules of reason, and the dictates of moral law. The one right would give the master liberty to abuse his slave to any extent to which his passions might hurry him; the munication, as will at least form the negro to other not merely confines the right of the master honesty and conscientiousness in this world and to the services of the slave, but commands him fit him for eternity. The suppression of one to use those services in accordance with the na- claim of the slave, by the stern hand of social ture of man, forbids him to confound the service necessity, does not necessarily extinguish all owed by a man, as of the same character with others or all forms even of the claim suppressed, the service of a brute; and in every possible and the sermon of Dr. Thornwell gives a pleasway guards strictly the rights of the slave ing testimony to the accuracy with which the as well the rights of the master. The prop- good people of Charleston discriminate between perty right of slavery rests directly in the the effect of circumstances upon the rights of claim to service, and collaterally in every thing their slaves, and affords an instance of self-posnecessary to secure that claim. Slavery secures session and resolute devotion to duty, amid the to the slave all the rights of other men, except tremendous storm of execration and invective the right to control his services and appropriate that thunders from every civilized quarter of the the proceeds, and the main evils connected with globe, against the States of the South.-which slavery, the injustice and oppression for which fully merits the modest self-gratulation with slavery is so frequently held responsible are by which Dr. Thornwell alludes to it. The citino means necessary to the relation itself, arise zens alluded to, satisfied of the impropriety of from a neglect of this great distinction and from giving to their slaves the means of acquiring a a trespass upon those rights of the slave, of which knowledge of the gospel by reading the Bible for his relation to the master has not properly de-themselves, have justly decided, that a loss of the prived him. We said the right of property right to receive religious instruction in one way vested directly in the claim to service, and col- did not deprive them of the right to receive it in laterally in everything necessary to secure that another; and hence the special effort to have them right. If therefore the relation be undisturbed orally informed of the great facts they had no the property right of the master rests simply and right to acquire by reading for themselves. We alone in the service of the slave, but if this right' *Thornwell's Sermon, p. 6.