Journey to Providence. --Nullification. --Slavery and "American" Language --Dexter Asylum for the Poor. --Friends' School. --Views of Slavery and Abolitionists --"Canterbury Tale." --Miss Crandall --Origin, nature, and "constitutionality" of the Law passed to put down her School. --Connecticut persecution of knowledge --Stage -opinions of the School-mistress. --Return to Hartford.
One of the passengers was a Yankee, (as the New-Englanders are exclusively called,) who had been residing some time in Georgia. After a long silence, which I had interrupted two or three times by vain attempts to promote conversation, my neighbor from the south observed to me that he was surprised to find the doctrines of nullification had made so much progress in the north. In reply, I said that the objection to protecting duties seemed to me, from the different discussions I had heard on the subject, to be confined to the principle. He assured me that such was by no means the case: --that the question would shortly be agitated more warmly than ever; and that nothing would satisfy the nonmanufacturing States but a total change of system or a separation. This bugbear of nullification is likely to be knocked on the head in a quicker and a more quiet way than by lowering the import duties, or arming the executive with summary powers. South Carolina has herself set up factories; and will, if she can work them profitably with slaves, be as little hostile to the tariff as she was at its first introduction.
Turning abruptly to another topic, my fellow traveller
observed, that the dangerous experiment, which England was making with
her colonies, had so much alarmed the slave States, that the species of
property most likely to be affected by it had fallen twenty per cent. The
planters, he said, would have no objection to emancipation, if it were
accompanied by compensation. I felt as little inclined to discuss this
matter as the former. To say that our slaves have been emancipated, while
they are still compelled to labor, is an abuse of terms; and to talk of
compensation, when the toils and sufferings of the injured are still unremumerated
and unrequited, is something worse.
Adjoining the school is the Dexter
Asylum for the Poor--so called in honor of the founder Ebenezer R.
The blacks, who form a large proportion of the inmates,
take their meals and work with the whites: whether this regulation is to
be ascribed to a more liberal spirit than generally prevails elsewhere,
or to a desire of making a retreat to the alms-house more repulsive and
degrading in the eyes of those who might feel disposed to prefer its accommodations
to scanty fare at home I did not inquire.
The population of Providence was upwards of 16,000 at the last census; and probably exceeds 20,000 at present. Of these, 1500 or 1600 are colored. The latter, I was told by a person well acquainted with them, are a respectable class; and superior in their houses and habits of life, to men of the same rank among the whites. Here, however, as at every other place, they are prevented by the prejudices of their fellow countrymen from engaging in many occupations, by which they might be enabled to raise themselves to an equality with them, and provide a more honorable asylum in sickness or old age, than the poor-house can afford. They have, however, a few friends, who do honor to the city of Providence by their disinterested exertions in behalf of a persecuted race. Most of them are young men, and unfortunately not of the wealthy class. They are subject to much obloquy and abuse. One of them had already suffered for his zeal in a kindred cause, and had been compelled to give up the business in which he was engaged. He was a baker; and having joined a Temperance society, many of his customers, who were connected with the spirit trade, would no longer deal with him, and refused to eat his bread because he refused to drink their brandy; thus shewing that the consumer of the staff of life is not necessarily "dependent" upon the producer-unless the latter be a foreigner.
Among the abolitionists, with whom I became acquainted through a letter of introduction, was one who had resided a long time in Georgia. The accounts he gave me of the cruelties he had witnessed in that State, were more dreadful than the narratives we had so often from our West Indian colonies --tales of woe ridiculed by the planters and their paid agents, and discredited by those who are now striving to gain "golden opinions" from the British nation, by a shew of kindness towards the objects of its generous sympathy. Of these atrocities I need say nothing. Of the depravity that must prevail where slavery exists, one example of the many I heard is too characteristic of the system to be omitted A black Baptist minister, of the name of Andrew Marshall, and possessed of property supposed to be worth 30,000 or 40,000 dollars, was living at Savannah with his wife and his children --the latter, with their mother, were his slaves. A planter in the neighbourhood solicited this man's daughter to live with him. She refused; and, when urged by her father to accept the offer, alleged as a reason for not complying with their joint importunities that her affections were engaged to a colored man, whom she had promised to marry. Her plea and her entreaties were equally unavailing. The wretch sold her to the less guilty seducer; and she was living, when my informant left the place, with her master; having had a family of nine children by him: --all slaves, destined to share the fate of their mother, and be sold, perhaps in the same way, by their father*.
On the 5th of August, I left Providence by the stage for Brooklyn in Connecticut, on my way to Canterbury, where a lady of the name of Crandall, a name that had been heard in every hamlet and house throughout the Union, --had set up a school for colored girls. My object, in thus going out of my road, was to see what could have caused so much ire to the liberal minds (animis coelestibus) of republican America.
* All the particulars of this case were afterwards related to me by a man I met at New York, who knew the parties well, had corroborated the above statement, with the addition of facts still more revolting.
After some "confab" upon indifferent subjects, [the stage driver] asked, whether I had heard of what had lately taken place at Canterbury. As I wished to know what he had to say on the subject, I replied in general terms; and, after detailing the particulars, he launched out in praise of Miss Crandall's magnanimity and in censure of her persecutors. "For my part," said this single-hearted fellow, "I cannot see why a black skin should be a bar to any one's rising in the world or what crime there can be in trying to elevate any portion of society by education. It is prejudice alone that has made the distinction and, if a white man will not enter my coach because I have admitted, and always will admit, a colored person into it, all I can say is, he must find some other conveyance; or I must find some other employment. It is my firm belief, from what I know of these people, that if they had the same advantages as we have, they would be superior to us. But they have no chance as things are at present. Often, when they work for our people, they are unable to get their wages; and, as they know how strong the prejudice is against them, they dare not complain to a magistrate; besides, they are generally ignorant and thoughtless. One man, I knew myself, who worked for a farmer in this neighbourhood for a year. I often noticed him: he was an honest hard-working creature; --yet when the term had expired, his employer would not pay him one cent for his services." "Did no one," said I, "offer to assist him in obtaining justice?" "No! --he went off to another place, and I don't know what is become of him."
My other companion was of the same way of thinking. He was a laboring man --another proof that the country is less infected than the towns with this shocking antipathy; and that the humble tillers of the ground have, in this respect, more real dignity of character than the purse-proud merchant, or the flippant shop-boy, from whom the small vulgar borrow opinions and habits.
Having breakfasted at Brooklyn, the distance of which from Providence is about thirty miles, the Rev. Mr. May, to whom I had been introduced by a letter I brought with me, drove me over in his gig to Canterbury, seven miles off. The manner in which Miss Crandall, whom I had come to visit, has been calumniated and persecuted by her neighbors for doing what, in any part of Europe, would be considered as an act at least harmless, if not meritorious, affords, perhaps, the most striking instance of intolerance and bigotry that its most uncivilized parts can exhibit in the nineteenth century. As, upon the principle involved in the decision of this case, depends the character of those republican institutions which are supposed to exist in the United States, some detailed history of these extraordinary proceedings may be excused. The chief facts of an occurrence in which the name of a young woman of mild disposition and retiring habits, has, without any fault of her own, been mixed up, are as follow.
Miss Crandall, the heroine of this "Canterbury tale," had for some time conducted, to the satisfaction of the inhabitants, at whose request, or by whose sanction, she had come into the village, a school for young females; and had admitted, as a scholar, the daughter of a respectable neighbor, whose quarterings were unfortunately not of pure European tinge. There was nothing objectionable in the conduct or character of the person thus introduced. She was a very fine young woman, about twenty years of age, if I might judge from her appearance. She had, indeed, so small a portion of the prohibited fluid in her veins, that she might have escaped observation at a soiree in London or Paris, except for her good looks and graceful manners. It should be observed, that the nearer the two castes approximate each other in complexion, the more bitter the enmity of the privileged; the jealousy of encroachment being sharpened in proportion as the barriers that separate them are removed. Shades of color like differences of religious opinion, augment by their minuteness, the hatred of the orthodox and predominant party. The pressure from above increases with the elastic force below. Forbearance may be shewn, where admittance to equality is rarely, if ever, claimed; --but contempt and contumely and persecution are sure to be the lot of those who seem to stand on the "vantage ground," and claim the full and free payment of their rights.
It soon, however, became apparent, that this violation of "the established order of things" was viewed with an unfavorable eye by the aristocracy of Canterbury; that the pale faces were gradually disappearing from the ladies' school; and that the whole flock would, before long, dwindle away into one solitary "black sheep."
Resolved not to dismiss, whatever might be said or hinted, the innocent cause of this discontent, the mistress of the establishment had recourse to the only expedient which would enable her to do justice both to her pupil and to herself. She changed her white school into a colored school. In vain her former friends and supporters entreated, remonstrated, and threatened. She persisted in spite equally of advice and opposition. The hallowed soil of Canterbury was polluted by the feet of colored "misses." The sacred privacy of Andrew J. Judson was "broken in upon" by the sable visages at Miss Crandalls windows. What was to be done under such an intolerable insult? How were the rights and privileges of the good citizens of this patrician town to be protected from the intrusion? Immediate application was made to a paternal government; and the legislature passed a law that it was hoped would effectually abate the nuisance, as no colored children from other States could, under its Provisions, be introduced into the place against the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants. They had, however, miscalculated the temperament of their victim. She set both her oppressors and their ex-post-facto statute at defiance. She persisted in keeping her school. She was prosecuted; and declining, by the advice of her lawyer, to give bail, she was sent to prison, and confined (not intentionally it was afterwards stated) in the very room which a murderer had just quitted*.
The next day, she was released, on producing the securities required; and when I was there, the trial was expected to take place in a few days. An appeal from the verdict, if against her, was to be made to the proper tribunal of the State; and from thence, if necessary, to the Supreme Court of the federal government. In the mean time, her enemies, by employing every weapon that baffled resentment and vulgar malice could suggest, were endeavoring to drive her from the place, or render her stay uncomfortable and dangerous. She had been openly insulted and derided; she had been surrounded or followed, when walking out with her pupils, by troops of boys, who annoyed her by blowing horns, beating drums, and playing "rough music" with tongs and other noisy instruments. A large stone was one night, about nine o'clock, thrown in at the window, when the family happened to be upstairs. The window was left in the same state as it was in, after the outrage; and the stone, which was as broad as my fist, though not quite so thick, was put into my hands. Had it struck any of the females --there was not a man in the house --the blow might have inflicted a very serious injury.
In England, the subject has a better chance for justice against the Sovereign, than in this country a citizen has against a State. The crown is never its own arbiter; and they who sit in judgment, have no interest in the event of their decision."
--Mr. Bayard on the Judiciary in Congress--1802.
If it were not for the Supreme Court of the United States, which checks their arbitrary dispositions, the local legislatures would degenerate into the vilest tyrannies the world ever saw. It is on this account that those States which are most aristocratical are least inclined to acquiesce in its decisions; and more opposition has been made to its authority by the slave oligarchies than by the free democracies --a fact which shows that the republican principle is not necessarily weakened by strengthening the general government.
In addition to these annoyances, no tradesman in the place would supply her with what she wanted; and she was obliged to send either to Norwich, fourteen miles off, or to Providence, more than twice that distance, for her groceries and other articles of domestic consumption. When I add, that no one had ever cast the slightest doubt upon her character, and that she was at the time in a weak state of health, the baseness of her unmanly tormentors will be still more striking.
"To MISS PRUDENCE CRANDALL.
"When the Committee visited you last February, stating their objections to your school, they understood from you, by your voluntary suggestion, that you should never desire, and never would put your colored schollars into the meeting-house --that you would have preaching at your own house, either black or white; and you also added, that the citizens of Canterbury need have no anxiety on that account, they might be assured no such request would ever be made.
"It appears now that you have departed from this Voluntary declaration, and put your colored schollars into pews ever occupied by the white females of the parish. We ask you to inform us soon by whose licence you have thus taken possession of the meeting-house."Please inform Dr. Harris to-day.""SOLOMON PAYNE,
SOCIETY COMMITTEE, 26th July, 1833.
ToSOLOMON PAYNE, &c.
Canterbury, 29th July, 1833.
"I received a letter from you on the 21st,*in which you ask me to inform you, by whose licence I have taken possession of that part of the meeting house that was occupied by my scholars on the Sabbath previous. I can inform you, that the authority, whether lawful or unlawful, by which I permitted my family to enter the gallery of your church, was permission received from two of the Society's committee, viz.: --Dr. Harris and Deacon Bacon.
* There seems to be a mistake here in the dates: --owing perhaps, to the hurry of transcription.
"On Saturday, the 6th of this month, I sent a verbal request, by Samuel L. Hough, to the gentlemen whom I address, asking your permission to attend Divine worship with you on the Sabbath. I asked Captain Hough to inform you that I would purchase seats sufficient for my scholars, if agreeable to you; if not, any part or portion of the meeting-house you might see fit for us to occupy would be acceptable. Of this Mr. Hough said he informed you. Dr. Harris, in answer, said, we might occupy the seat in the gallery appropriated to colored persons. Mr. H. then remarked, that the seat would not be sufficient to seat the scholars. Deacon Bacon then replied, that we might take the next pews, until we had enough to be seated.
"Truly I said this to the Committee that visited me on February last: --'The scholars that come here shall not trouble you on the Sabbath; for we can have preaching either by colored or white ministers in our own house.' The Committee made me no reply at the time, if I am not mistaken, --and I think I am not.
"Upon mature consideration, (as regular preaching here was not very readily obtained,) I considered that I had done entirely wrong in depriving my scholars from attending religious worship in this village.
"These are my reasons for asking the privilege of entering your church; and all the licence I have is as given above.Yours, with respect,
If I might judge of what I saw, both of this lady and of her establishment, during the three or four hours I remained there, never was there a person less deserving of such treatment. As for her pupils, --it would be no easy matter to explain to an European, how any man of common sense could fancy the tranquillity of a country village could be disturbed, and the "rights of its inhabitants" (such was the jargon used on this occasion) could, by any possible combination of "untoward" circumstances, be invaded by nineteen young women; --unless it were, that their good looks and lady-like deportment might excite jealousy and envy among the belles and matrons of the district. Most of them had better claims to grace and beauty than an equal number of Anglo-American females taken indiscriminately. Some were scarcely to be distinguished from whites; and all were dressed with as much taste and propriety as could be found in any other school of the same kind.
Trifling as this event may seem, it had created no slight degree of interest in the friends of the Pariah caste, and a much greater degree of alarm among its enemies, as it may lead to consequences destructive of the contemptuous ascendancy assumed by the latter. Among the many letters of condolence, and congratulation, and abuse which Miss Crandall had received, was one with this remarkable superscription:
"To Miss Prudence Crandall, (inhumanly and despotically imprisoned by a people calling themselves freemen,) Brooklyn, &c." The Montreal postmark was upon it; but, as "private" was written inside, the writer's name was not mentioned to me. Such proceedings might well excite indignation in a free country like Canada.
After all the ink shed in prose and verse about this little establishment, it must occasion a smile to hear that nothing like rivalry with "fashionable ladies" could ever be promoted by it; that none of the ornamental branches of education were taught there; and the utmost ever contemplated was to afford the simple accomplishments of reading, writing, and arithmetic; with a general knowledge of common subjects. To qualify its inmates by these, and the aid of religious principles, for the active duties of life; and raise, by their example and influence, an unhappy race from a state of degradation and despondency, to brighter hopes, and a more honorable rank in society, is the only crime that has ever, with the least shadow of truth, been imputed to the "village school-mistress" and her friends.
Mr. Judson, whose name occurs most frequently in this business, as the chief actor, is the lawyer and great man of the place. Soon after he had displayed so much zeal in the same cause as that which the Colonization Society have undertaken, he was elected Secretary of the Windham County Colonization Society; --an appropriate reward for his services.
Miss Crandall's trial came on at Brooklyn in August. Judge Eaton, who tried her, was one of the committee of the legislature that drew up the law under which she was indicted. He charged the jury three times to convict her; and evinced throughout a marked spirit of hostility against her *.
Five of the jury were for her, and seven against her each time. As they could not agree, she was discharged. The second trial ought to have taken place in December following before the same judge; but, in October, she was indicted under a new writ, and brought before Judge Daggett, who was well known, both for his attachment to the colonization cause, and for the active part he had taken against a projected college for colored young men at Newhaven, the University of which, it was alleged, would be injured by its establishment. It was not likely, therefore, that the question at issue would meet with an impartial and unbiassed consideration in that quarter*.
* The judges in Connecticut are appointed by the legislative power; and, if I mistake not, are, with the exception of those in the supreme and superior courts, who hold office quam diu se bene gesserint, removable on an address to the executive by two thirds of the two houses of assembly. "If the legislature," says Daniel Webster, "may remove judges at pleasure, assigning no cause for such removal, of course it is not to be expected that they would often find decisions against the constitutionality of their own acts. If the legislature should unhappily be in a temper to do a violent thing, it would probably be in a temper to take care to see that the bench of justice was so constituted as to agree with it in opinion." Webster's Speeches, p. 220.
The prisoner was convicted; and appealed, from the sentence, to the Court of Errors, where the original proceedings were quashed on the ground of an alleged informality --a very convenient loop-hole to creep out at.
* How far the judges are inclined to be subservient to the legislature, (or whatever may be the appointing power,) may be seen in the case of Judge Clayton, whose example would inform them what price they must pay for independence. He was dismissed from his office in Georgia for the opinion he had given in favor of the Cherokees --an opinion confirmed by the high authority of Chancellor Kent, who thus expressed himself in a letter to him, dated Oct. 13, 1831. "I am most entirely persuaded that the Cherokee title to the sole use and undisturbed enjoyment of their mines is as entire and perfect as to any part of their lands, or as to any use of them whatever."
The law, under which Miss Crandall was arraigned, is as follows:
"Whereas attempts have been made to establish literary institutions in this State, for the instruction of colored persons belonging to other states and countries, which [meaning, probably, the attempts] would tend to the great increase of the colored Population of the State, and thereby to the injury of the people: therefore it is enacted, that no person shall, set up or establish, in this State, any school, academy, or literary institution, for the instruction or education of colored persons, who are not inhabitants of this State, nor [or] instruct or teach in any school, academy, or literary institution; or harbor or board, for the purpose of attending or being taught or instructed [meaning, probably, harbor for the purpose of teaching] in any such school, any colored person not an inhabitant of any town in this State without the consent, in writing, first obtained of the majority of the civil authority and select men of the town, where such school is situated [to be situated] on penalty," &c.It was at first proposed to enforce an old law against Miss Crandall; but its "damnatory clauses" went too far even for the liberty these people wish to exercise. By a similar enactment in Rhode Island, the majority of any town may remove from among them any one settled there, if so disposed. Not long ago a Methodist preacher took up his abode in a country village of that State, and excited, by his sermons, a spirit of great animosity among the people. They notified to the town clerk their wish that he should forthwith quit, or be expelled at the cart's tail. The man in office had happily more discretion than his neighbours; and the intruder, though fully aware of the light in which he was viewed, remained.
An old law of Connecticut, dated 1650, says: "no master of a familye shall give interteinment or habietation to any younge man to sojourne in his familye, but by the allowance of the inhabitants of the towne where he dwells, under the penalty of twenty shillings per week." It was reserved for the nineteenth century, and the town of Canterbury, to exclude females.
The whole question turns upon one point; whether blacks (a term that includes all the various shades of color) can be citizens. Mr. Justice Daggett maintained that they are not citizens, and quoted, in support of his dictum, the opinion of Chancellor Kent. The passage cited, however, is very far from confirming the position thus assumed. It is to be found in his 2d vol., p. 250. "In most of the United States there is a distinction, in respect to political privileges, between free white persons, and free colored persons of African blood: and, in no part of the country, do the latter, in point of fact, participate equally with the whites, in the exercise of civil and political rights. The African race are essentially a degraded caste*,
of inferior rank and condition in society. Marriages are forbidden between them and whites in some of the States; and, when not actually contrary to law, they are revolting, and regarded as an offence against public decorum."
* If by the word "essentially" he meant a distinction founded in nature, the author contradicts here what he said at the New York State Convention, that the distinction of color was unknown in Europe." If he intended to say, that the minds of his countrymen are essentially imbued with a feeling that opposes itself to the elevation of the class alluded to, he merely asserts what every body knows, and what, he must be well aware is connected with causes, that explain its existence, while they demonstrate its injustice. The ex-chancellor is too shrewd a man to misunderstand the text in Tacitus --"proprium humani generis odisse quem laeseris"--and too good a man to took for its commentary in his own bosom. What must be the force of prejudice, when such a mind can bend before it!
The commentator then refers to the Statutes of Illinois and Massachusetts which I have before quoted, and proceeds: "A similar statute-provision exists in Virginia, and in North Carolina. Such connexions in France and Germany constitute the degraded state of concubinage, which is known in the civil law--" (the learned author means that such connexions are analogous to what are classed, under the civil law, under the term concubinage; not that marriage between blacks and whites is prohibited in France or Germany --no such absurd restriction being known in either.) "But they are not legal marriages, because the parties want the equality of state or condition, which is essential to the contract." The author has declared, in another passage, that "Indians never can be made citizens"; but, he is so far from asserting the same of the people in question that he says, in the 1st vol. page 215 of his Commentaries, and in the 2d vol. page 71, directly the reverse.
In the former he says, "The general qualification of electors of the Assembly, &c., are, that they be of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, and free resident citizens, &c. In some of the States they are required to possess property and to be white as well as free citizens." In the latter these are his words: "The article in the constitution of the United States, declaring that citizens of each State were entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States, applies only to natural born, or duly naturalized citizens; and, if they remove from one State to another, they are entitled to the privileges that persons of the same description are entitled to in the State to which the removal is made, and to none other. If, therefore, for instance, free persons of color are not entitled to vote in Carolina, free persons of color emigrating there from a Northern State, would not be entitled to vote."
It may well be doubted whether the restriction here employed is warranted by the words in the constitution, in which nothing is said about "persons, of the same description": --a paraphrastic mode of interpretation, rather convenient than honest. There can be no doubt, however, that the allusion either acknowledges the right of citizenship in the black, or is perfectly nugatory and irrelevant.
By the first section of the second article of the constitution of New York State, "No man of color, unless he shall have been for three years a citizen of this State (New York), and for one year next preceding any election, shall be seised and possessed of a freehold estate of the value of 250 dollars, over and above all incumbrances, charged thereon, and shall have been actually rated and paid a tax thereon, shall be entitled to vote at any such election;" --(i.e. for representatives.)
This is a question of the utmost importance: for as none but citizens can hold land in most of the States, or vote for members of Congress, not only would the titles of estates purchased of blacks by many whites be shaken; but the whole frame of government, with all its obligations, internal and external, and all its statutes, made by legislators to whose election blacks have contributed, might be endangered, if it were decided by the highest authority of the land that no one of African descent can be a citizen of the United States *.
A few observations more upon this point may be pardoned. In the different Acts of Congress, which have been passed to establish rules of naturalization, "any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States." Then follow the conditions and qualifications. Now, if, as the Judsonians maintain, a colored person can never be a citizen, why was the epithet "white" employed on the occasion? Had no blacks been admitted to citizenship at home, Congress would not have thought of excluding them from it when aliens. Exclusion by legislative enactment implies the absence of previous disqualification by the constitution. In most of the States, the word "white" is used in fixing the qualification for voters, with the express object of excluding colored persons who would otherwise have been entitled to the franchise.
* Aliens cannot hold land in the United States unless, as the Act of Congress of April, 1802, directs, in Sect. 4, they are "naturalized or admitted to the rights of citizenship." Whether the law of Ohio, authorizing them to hold land, be constitutional or not, is another question; but in New York State, they certainly cannot. Now persons of color, as I have just shewn, not only hold land in that State and vote for representatives, but must have a freehold estate of the value of 250 dollars to have a vote at all.
A free mulatto convicted of a crime, which, by a law passed in 1823, subjected him to be sold, was purchased and taken from Virginia to Tennessee; the Circuit Court of which, on his petition, decided in favor of his freedom, on the ground that the statute under which he had been condemned was contrary both to the Bill of Rights of Virginia, and to that clause in the constitution of the United States which prohibits bills of attainder. Considering the origin and object of this instrument, the protection thus afforded must have been given to him as a citizen.
The Secretary of State is empowered by an act of Congress, to grant passports to American citizens visiting foreign countries. Mr. Purvis, son-in-law of James Forten, a man highly respected, in spite of his African blood, at Philadelphia, received one not long ago on application. As it described him as a person of color, another passport, through the kindness of Mr. Roberts Vaux, was procured for him in the usual form. Here is a recognition from the highest authority to every foreign nation, that a colored man is a citizen of the United States. It may appear tedious to dwell so much on this point; but what must be the state of feeling in any country, when a judge, who depends upon it for his bread, can risk his professional reputation in asserting what any stranger, who happens to be travelling through it, can see at once to be as unfounded in principle as it is iniquitous in its motive and object?
our return to Brooklyn, Mr. May introduced me, after I had partaken
of his hospitality, to a very interesting old man, who has been for more
than sixty years an uncompromising abolitionist. He was then in his 80th
year, and was enjoying the retrospect of a good and useful life, and doubling
its term by recalling past events in the bosom of his family. Here I spent
the remainder of the evening, with as much pleasure as if I had been surrounded
by the friends of my youth. It was a lovely night; and we sat chatting
in the porch before the door, till the hour of retiring to rest dispersed
the group, the female part of which had already been drawn away by a young
man, whose voice, accompanied by a guitar he held in his hand, had greater
attractions for his fair audience than a philosophical discussion on the
aristocracy of the skin, or a moral estimate of the influence which public
opinion in Europe might exercise upon public conduct in America.
At this particular time there was an interest attached to the spot, that will render it memorable in the annals of the nation. A new aera was commencing for no inconsiderable portion of its population; and the success which awaits the noble efforts made in their behalf, will be associated in the memory of a grateful race with the humble but honored name of a school-mistress in the neighborhood --a "village Hampden, that with dauntless breast the little tyrant of" her "fields withstood."
The plague-spot that has infected the cities and towns
and hamlets of the whole commonwealth, has been thrown off from the healthy
and manly minds of many of the farmers in the neighborhood of Brooklyn.
One of them said to me in his frank and open manner, that he knew no distinction
between man and man; and should think himself disgraced if be refused to
sit down at the same table with any human being who differed from him in
complexion only. This same man, when it was proposed at a public meeting,
to remove the people of color to seats more remote, from the body of the,
church, to which he belongs, strongly opposed the proposition, and declared,
that, if the resolution were carried, they should sit in his own pew. The
thin-skinned whites took nothing by the motion.
The stage was nearly full; and the conversation turned upon the subject of the Canterbury school. A military man, who was one of the passengers, observed, that he had never heard so much about the blacks as he had during his short stay in Brooklyn, to which he had come on a visit from Pittsburgh, where he was quartered. All parties were agreed in condemning poor Miss Crandall. One said that she was a mere tool in the bands of agitators and fanatics, who had gained her over to their cause by paying her debts: another assured the person, with whom he was zealously discussing the matter, that, to his certain knowledge, all the disturbance had originated with Mr. Judson's enemies --who were his enemies he did not say. The friends of a man, who could persecute an unprotected unoffending female, can be bound to him by no tie that honor or humanity would acknowledge. Having listened very patiently for some time to what was said, I at last, remarked that it seemed to me to be "much ado about nothing," and that, as an European, I thought it highly ridiculous that a great nation should see civil war and commotion in a swarthy skin. I could not understand, I said, how it was that, in the very place where the white and black children of the humbler classes were educated together, any one should insult the parents of the latter by openly asserting that schools for the wealthier classes ought not to admit a colored pupil among them. This citizen of a republic must be either above or below public opinion. He does not want the suffrages of his neighbours, or he despises them. If the carpenter's and mason's child escape contamination in the public schools, the lawyer need not fear for his daughter's "gentility" and purity, even though a brunette should be admitted to her presence.
Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Hartford. --Girl, deaf, dumb, and blind --Impressment of British Sailors. --Deed of Sale. --Universalists. --Female Seminary. --Lunatic Asylum.
THE day after my return to Hartford, I went to the Deaf
and Dumb Asylum with Mr. Wells, the treasurer.
Among them was a black boy, or rather a mulatto, who had been sent by the State of Massachusetts to the Asylum. As it is very unusual to see the different colors thus harmoniously mixed in a place of this sort, I felt anxious to know whether any proof of the supposed difference of intellect between the two races was to be found here. There had been two or three instances of a similar kind in the house before. It was probably through the influence of the superintendant, who is a very liberal man, and at the suggestion of his brother, whose mind has long been thoroughly cleared of the "perilous stuff" of prejudice, that such a departure from a general rule was permitted. I wrote down on a piece of paper the following ,question, and put it into the teacher's hands: "Is the black as intelligent as the white?" He directly wrote with his pencil, "No, Sir! he has a pretty good mind." I wrote again: --"Is it so with all the blacks?" The answer was, "No, Sir!." Thinking he might suppose I asked if they all had pretty good minds, --I added: "I mean, is the black race inferior to the white?" "No," was his reply. On asking an elderly woman who appeared to be the matron, whether any repugnance or feeling of displeasure had been shewn, on his arrival, towards the colored boy by his companions, "not the least," she replied, "on the contrary, they all crowded about him when first he came, and seemed highly delighted with him. He is a great favorite with all of them, and more beloved than any of the others."
Had the Judsonian law for the suppression of knowledge,
been enacted three years sooner, this poor fellow might have been excluded
from the Asylum, and remained a burthen to that society of which he will
now be an useful member. It was found, on inquiry some years ago, that
there was in the State of Pennsylvania, one person deaf and dumb to every
2000 among the whites. If the same proportion holds throughout the Union;
and if there are everywhere, as is said to be the case in New York State,
two blacks to one white thus afflicted, it must be as impolitic as it is
illiberal, to exclude this class of the population from institutions that
are open to every other.
the churches is one belonging to the Universalists, .... Observing
a black about to enter, I asked a man, who was standing on the steps, whether
they admitted persons of that description in the body of the chapel among
the whites. No, he replied: "they set here, as in all other meetinghouses,
in little slips set apart for them. They don't ought to be among
us; so they have places by themselves. It is giving the poor creturs
He then repeated that part of the declaration of independence, in which
a nation, one fifth of which is in a state of abject slavery, or social,
degradation, proclaims to the world, that all men are created equal, and
said that he could not sufficiently admire the intrepid signers of that
Salary of Preacher. --Country People --Albany. --Autographs
--Marriage Ceremony. --Shakers. --Saratoga. --Utica. --Sale of Negro by
himself. --Auburn. --Convict labor unpopular. --Canandaigua. --Avon. --Geneseo.
The next morning I started early in a light carriage for
lad who drove, was very loquacious.
We were talking about the Irish laborers, who bear but an indifferent character everywhere. "They are an ugly set of people," said the boy: --"but, there are no people I hate so much as the niggers --I always drive over 'em, when they get in my way." "But why do you hate them? --I suppose they are much the same as other people." "So they are, to be sure: --I don't know why I hate 'em: but I do hate 'em." There was no answering this. It had good classical authority. Martial himself could not have given a better reason.
Shakers allow no distinction whatever between man and man, but what
is founded on moral worth, and admit persons of all colors to the same
privileges. Hence, probably, arose those bitter and cruel persecutions
to which they were at first exposed, rather than from the charge of alienating
children from their parents and disturbing the natural order of society.
One of the drivers made a singular remark to me. He was saying that many of the Dutch or German settlers have colored servants*,
who generally prove honest and industrious in return for the kindness shewn to them. "You Europeans," said he, "must be astonished at the superstition you see here. It is disgraceful to our national character, and contrary to common sense and justice to despise a whole race, who are just as good as we are. It is cowardly to insult people who cannot defend themselves, and ungrateful to oppress those who are working for us." These were nearly the very words he used. The customs here are certainly capricious and somewhat puzzling. If a black man be free, he is not allowed to get into the stage --if he be a slave, he is. An American will tell you that the exclusion is owing to the olfactories; --what is the admittance owing to? The day before, I observed a black woman, with some ladies and other persons, in one of the cars. She was the slave of one of them. In England, a man would be considered ill-bred, if he were to put his livery-servant into a stage-coach with gentle-women. Yet even "a natural antipathy" is sacrificed in America to the vanity of one section of the Union and the servility of the other. If the Northern States had a proper spirit of independence or becoming pride, they would adopt some retaliatory measure, and prohibit the introduction of slaves from every State that prohibits the introduction of their colored citizens. But this they dare not do. Well may the planters laugh at the "pedlars." They outvote them in Congress; and they thrust their "niggers" into their stagecoaches under their very noses.
The "Dutch " farmers are accused, most absurdly, of employing these men, because they can get them at lower wages than whites --as if there could be two rates of remuneration in the same place for the same kind of work. I once heard a black and a white laborer comparing the amount of what they could earn as farming men. I was sitting by them on the top of a stage, and listened to their conversation.
next day I went on to Utica (thirty-seven miles). In
the evening, as I was strolling about, I entered into conversation
with one of my swarthy friends, and obtained from him a singular piece
of information. He had been sold not long before by his own consent. Upon
inquiring into the particulars of what I had hitherto thought a very uncommon
occurrence, he assured me that such kinds of bargain were by no means so
rare as one would imagine. The manner in which he disposed of himself was
this. He agreed with the captain of a vessel from Albany, to go out with
him to Martinique, where he was purchased by a planter for 500 dollars,
and received half of the sum as his share of the bargain. On the departure
of the vendor, who had made a previous arrangement with the commander of
another vessel to take him off the island, he made his way, with the assistance
of the port-officer, whom he bribed, to the latter; and, before the ship
that had taken him out returned, got back to New York, with his freedom
safe, and what he had received for a few hours' slavery in his pocket.
He told me he had had several offers since to engage in a similar speculation;
but had declined, as he could not trust the proposers.
still pressed her; but she declined the money. He was a Southerner:
--a New-Englander would not probably have accepted the proffered kindness
so ungraciously. As the stage was proceeding --"I should not have expected,"
said he, "to find so much disinterested civility in this part of the country."
This was as chilling and as illiberal as Moliere's "la vertu-ou va-t-elle
se nicher?" It was not very complimentary to the people of the northern
section. One or two of them were present; but said nothing at the time.
The remark, however, was not lost upon them, any more than upon myself,
as the comment made upon it afterwards convinced me; while it confirmed
the inference I naturally drew from this trifling incident, as to the difference
of rank, and its accompanying respect, that prevails in the Slave-States
Country Gentleman's House. --English Settler. --American Hospitality. --Emigrants to the West. --Buffalo. --Seneca Indians . --Canada. --City of Ararat. --Falls. --Eccentric Englishman. --Canada Farm --Difference of Prices in the two Countries. --Strike of Masters against Servants. --Low Life above Stairs. --Brock's Monument.
remained but one day at Buffalo, and spent part of it in a visit to
a settlement of Seneca Indians, between three or four miles from the city.
I was accompanied by an Englishman, who is resident at the latter.....
His domestics had all left him; and no one would take their places. The cause of this desertion was, that he had told the females they should no longer sit in the same room with their mistress. This resolution so exasperated them that in resentment for what they viewed as an unjustifiable infringement of their privileges, they left the house immediately.
Pride of Skin. --Toronto. --Canadian Methodists. --Indian Preacher and his English Bride. --Latter insulted. --Improvement of Upper Province. --Fugitive Slaves protected. --Lewiston. --Smugglers. --Custom-house Anecdotes --Tuscorora Indians. --Curious Incuriosity of Scotchman. --Rochester Polemics. --Morgan's Abduction --Masonic Oaths . --Anti-masons. --Mormonites.
I was now on British ground; and I felt that I was breathing the pure air of liberty, after having so long inhaled the foetid atmosphere of mock equality; --that I was treading upon soil, which no slave could pollute with his presence*;
* A slave could not breathe the free air of France, long before we had any right to make that boast. "Toutes personnes sont franches en ce royaume; et, sitot qu'un esclave a atteint les marches diceluy se faisant baptizer, il est affranchi." Institutes Coustumieres, p. 2. Paris, 1679.--and that I was among men who would not insult any one for the color of his skin, or the form of his hair. Some of the waiters in the hotel at Niagara were colored. I asked one of them) whether the same prejudice prevailed in that place as on the other side of the river. " No!", he replied, " we receive the same treatment as the whites: --we eat at the same table together, and associate as equals. I know what you allude to: I have been into the States; and the only feeling I had on seeing so much pride was that of pity for the white man's folly." I was assured by a person well acquainted with both the Canadas, that the colored servants are considered the most industrious and trustworthy of any.
It is really painful to the friends of America to see her disgrace herself in the eyes of common sense and common justice, by her petty paltry persecutions of her most valuable citizens. It would be endless as well as tedious to relate all I heard upon this subject. Some of the "fantastic tricks" of this childish spirit, that pouts its lip and knits its baby brow at the approach of a fellow mortal, are highly ludicrous, and would afford an amusing subject for the comic pencil of H.B.(**?)A young Frenchman, who is settled in the State of Massachusetts, told me, that he once unintentionally and unconsciously "frighted the propriety" of a whole steam-boat load of white China, by lighting his cigar at the mouth of a piece of black "earthenware". As he was walking on deck, he observed a man of color smoking near him; when he borrowed a light from him."As soon as I had done so, said he, "I remarked that every person's eyes were fixed upon me, and followed my steps whichever way I went. At last a young man stepped forward and informed me that I had committed an act which all present were shocked at, as it was contrary to the usages of the country." The matter was easily explained. Monsieur was a stranger just arrived from a country where such refinements are unknown; and where every man is allowed to do as he likes. He assured the young gentleman that he had not the slightest intention to offend any one; and resolved, in his own mind, not again to risk his reputation and his reception by committing such an unpardonable crime.
Frenchman (the French, be it observed, are honorably distinguished
for their liberal and generous feelings on this point) was pelted with
brickbats in the streets of New York, for merely speaking civilly to a
woman of color belonging to the house in which he lodged. But
the most laughable circumstance connected with this subject, was told
me by an American --an intelligent, and in other respects, an estimable
man. Some years ago he was in London, where he became intimate with a young
Oxonian, with whom he one day made an appointment to visit some place.
On proceeding to the spot, he met his friend arm-in-arm with --a colored
man! Horror-struck at the sight, he turned away abruptly, and went off
in another direction. When next they met, the Englishman asked why he had
"cut" him so pointedly. "Cut you! "replied he; "how could I do otherwise?
Why, I had made up my mind never to speak again to a man who could associate
with such people as I saw you in company with."What!" said the other, "do
you mean that young man who was with me when we met each other? Why, he
is an old college acquaintance: --one of my most intimate friends." This
contemptible folly reminds one of Horace's bombastic poet, who tumbled
into the gutter while he was star-gazing. It calls itself Pride; but it
is no more connected with that feeling, than Prudery with Modesty, or Bigotry
with Religion. Some
years ago, one of those whom it delights to mortify and insult, was
living at Hartford, possessed of a handsome competency, and respected as
far as his external appearance would admit. This man was frequently heard
to say, in the most solemn and emphatic manner, that he would joyfully
submit to be flayed alive, if he could rise from the operation with a white
skin. The very same expression was used by a black woman who, lived as
a servant with a person from whom I had the anecdote. Though treated with
great kindness in the family, (her master, indeed, is incapable of unkindness
to any human being,) she felt she was a Pariah, and could not be happy.
The missionaries were accompained by a half-caste Indian on his return from England. The tribe, of which he has the spiritual charge, are settled on the Credit river, about twenty-five miles from the capital. I had a good deal of conversation with him, and was much pleased with the sensible manner in which he expressed himself. While at New York, he had married an Englishwoman, who had formed an attachment to him, and had just arrived in that city from London. This event, which would have excited neither surprize nor displeasure in a good or pure mind, was seized hold of by the press as a fit occasion to exhibit its subserviency to the base passions of "the great vulgar and the small." A long article appeared in a paper conducted by a Mr. or a Colonel Stone --Secretary to the New York Colonization Society, and one of the bitterest revilers of Miss Crandall and her friends. The writer, by his own account, was present at the marriage ceremony, and described most minutely what passed on the occasion. The whole paragraph, the substance, if not the words, of which, was inserted in the other journals and found its way into every part of the Union, was written with the express object of insulting both the bride and the bridegroom; accusing the former of infatuation, and the latter of fraud, and holding up to ridicule and contempt two strangers who were passing through the country, and had done nothing, that might exclude them from those courtesies which every community, that has the slightest pretension to civilization, is accustomed to shew to foreigners.
No one who had any acquaintance with Peter Jones, while he was in London, would think even an American female could be disgraced by becoming his wife. This intrusion upon the sanctities of domestic life, in a land, too, where women are always treated with respect, ought to be reprobated by every generous and manly mind. One would have thought that an Englishwoman, who had just quitted her own country, and needed support under the pressure of those painful feelings that the abruption of family ties and the most endearing connections leaves, would have met with forbearance, if not with kindness, from strangers, of whom she asked nothing but an unmolested passage to an unknown home. Talk of our Halls, our Hamiltons, and our Fidlers, indeed! When did they ever, in any instance, single out an innocent female as a mark for ribaldry and raillery? When did they treat it as a crime, to have been taught by religion and nature, that character not complexion is to be the test of worth and the measure of respect? With what face can these people complain that English travellers judge of American manners by an European standard, while they condemn European feelings because they are not modified and moulded by American prejudices: absurdities which the philosopher would be contented to laugh at, if he could forget the pride they foster and the pain they inflict.
As for the bugbear of "amalgamation," about which so much is said as to sicken every European who visits the country, the only question he will ask himself, when he sees its effects every where, from Maine to Mexico, is --will it be brought about by marriage or concubinage? Shall the future occupants of the New World owe their existence to virtue or to vice? That the majority will, in the course of time, be of mixed blood, is by no means impossible, --long, however, before that period, the Haytian government will have had a resident ambassador at Washington; and a more liberal spirit will animate both nations*.
Our colonies benefit more by the connection than the mother country; and its dissolution is less to be dreaded by the latter. The Canadas, if separated from England, would not be able to maintain their independence against a powerful neighbor, who would soon find or seek cause of complaint against them on the subject of the asylum afforded, more particularly by the Upper Province, to runaway slaves from the Southern States*.
* "Are we yet prepared to send and receive ministers to, and from Hayti? Could the prejudices of some, and the, perhaps, just fears of others, be quieted? We think not: the time has not yet come for a surrender of our feelings about color; nor is it fitting, at any time, that the public safety should be endangered." --Niles's. Reg., 1823.
This is fair and honest and consistent. But pseudo-republicanism has its esoteric and its exoteric doctrines. The reasons assigned for not acknowledging the independence of Hayti are so "frivolous and vexatious", that their allegation would not be credited, were not the documents in which they appear matter of history. The United States' Envoy Extraordinary to Panama, was instructed, in 1826, to state to the South American Delegates that the President was not at that time prepared to say that Hayti ought to be recognized as a Sovereign Power, because, among other things, of the little respect which is there shewn to other races than the African."
It is laughable enough to see one nation blaming another for pursuing the same conduct towards foreigners that has long disgraced herself, and making the natural consequences of her own folly the ground of continuing it.
This was one of the secret causes of the last war, which was as popular in the slave section as it was odious in the other. Our government, when applied to, refused to give up the fugitives; but the reply, which was accepted, however unwillingly, from England, would hardly meet with the same acquiescence, when given by a young and weak State. It was with great reluctance that the Tory ministry, compelled by public opinion, rejected a request, with which some of its members would doubtless have been happy to find some good reason for complying.
* A report having been spread that the Canada Land Company intended to introduce large bodies of negro settlers into the Upper Province, and the inhabitants of Gosfield and Colchester having petitioned the legislature against the admission of such a population, the House of Assembly passed certain resolutions on the subject in 1830. They stated, in the fifth, that this class of people had proved " highly inconvenient and dangerous" to the neighbouring States; thus giving implicit credit to the falsehoods and calumnies of their oppressors: and, in the sixth, recommended the adoption, if practicable, of a Bill for preventing "the introduction of blacks and mulattoes, as settlers, participating in all the civil rights of the people" of the province. If they were admitted on these terms, they would prove not only a source of wealth but an arm of defence to the colony. They would have something to fight for, and something to fight against. On the one side high wages, on the other the whip; they would be animated by all the gratitude that kindness can inspire, and all the desperation that the dread of a baffled master's revenge can instil into the human breast.
It is worthy of remark, that the majority in Congress who voted for the war was chiefly of members from the south. Of all those who came from the States north of the Delaware, amounting to 68, 21 only were in favor of that measure. In a house that contained 128 members, 79 were for the war; and 62 of these were from the south. Of the 32 senators, 19 were on the same side; and-of these 14 were southerners.
Mr. Barbour, the American Minister at the Court of St. James's, said, in a letter to Mr. Clay, dated Oct. 2, 1828, "Lord Aberdeen remarked that similar complaints had been preferred by other Powers, having West Indian possessions; that whilst he would be happy to grant the most substantial remedy, yet, in the present state of public feeling on this subject, which he said might properly be called a mania, the application of the remedy was an affair of some delicacy and difficulty; that the law of parliament gave freedom to every slave who effected his landing on British ground."
Not long before I was in Canada, an application that had
been made to the government for the delivery of some slaves who had escaped
from Detroit in Michigan, across the border, was rejected, on the ground
that "the laws of the province do not recognize the giving up of persons
guilty of such an offence as that said to have been committed by the fugitives."
It does not appear that the legislature has been yet called upon to create
a new offence. Kentucky cannot make the inhospitable soil of Canada a bugbear
to her slaves, as Martinique would point to Antigua.
went to Lockport by the upper road, and passed through a settlement
of Indians of the Tuscorora tribe. ...
Rochester. --Rules and Remedy for bad Roads. --Fence Laws. --Trenton Falls --Erie Canal. --Governor Clinton --Fulton. --West Point Academy. --Kosciuszko's philanthropy. --Poor Laws. --Sermon on Wilberforce. --Colonization Society again --Chancellor Walworth --Antipathy. --Africo-American craniology. --Young Lady's "Notions" upon Marriage. --Civilization of Africa.
twenty-two miles from the latter place, at one of the prettiest spots
between Albany and Rochester, is an Indian reservation, on which a considerable
number of the Oneida tribe are settled, and possess farms of some extent.
The cadets have raised at West Point a monument to the memory of Kosciuszko. It would have been more honorable both to themselves and the object of the national gratitude they felt, if they had exerted themselves to carry into effect the last wish of his benevolent heart towards a race with whose wrongs his own had taught him to sympathize. Niles mentions, in his register, that the Polish hero left 20,000 dollars to purchase and educate black female children. By the laws of Virginia, where the bequest was to be carried into effect, the object was defeated. The same writer says, under date August 1826: "an institution, under the title of the Kosckiusko school, is about to be established near Newark (New Jersey). It has been organized at a recent meeting of the trustees of the African education society in that place. The intention is to appropriate the Kosckiusko fund, and to raise a similar sum for its endowment."
The will, by which this illustrious exile thus manifested
his love of liberty, was, on his last visit to the United States, put into
the hands of Thomas Jefferson, whom he had appointed his executor. The
money was to be employed in the purchase of slaves and giving them such
an education as, in his own words, "would make them better sons and better
daughters." Jefferson transferred to Benjamin L. Lear the office of carrying
into effect the wishes of the testator; but nothing has yet been done towards
their fulfilment. In 1830, the bequest, which amounted to the sum of 25,000
dollars, was claimed by the legal heirs of the donor; and is now sub
judice in the supreme court of the United States. Mr. B. L. Lear, a
few years ago, recommended that the fund, if recovered, should be employed
by the trustees, in buying and educating slave children, with the view
of sending them to Liberia:-an object so far from being in accordance with
the wishes of the founder, that there can be little doubt such a cruel
scheme of expatriation would never have been made a condition of receiving
his bounty by so benevolent and patriotic a man.
long after my return to my old quarters at New York, I attended, one
Sunday, the "African" Episcopal Church, as it is absurdly called. The minister
(Mr. Williams, of whom I have before spoken) is supported by his congregation,
as his white brethren are by their respective flocks; that part of the
stipend, however, which he receives out of the Trinity fund is less than
what they are paid from the same source. Yet, when contributions are raised
in the churches of this denomination for religious or charitable purposes,
it sometimes happens that St. Philip gives more than the wealthier members
of the white congregations.
Before I relate what passed at the "African" church, I will mention a curious fact, which I had from the sexton. The skulls of those who have been buried many years in the grave-yard, belonging to the congregation, were, he said, both thicker and more depressed in the front than those of recent interment. This he had found to be invariably the case. As it may fairly be assumed that the former were the remains of native Africans, (he confined his remarks to adults, and those chiefly old persons,) and to men who had enjoyed few of the advantages of civilization, it would seem, that, as the intellectual faculties expand by cultivation, a commensurate change takes place in the external structure of the head *.
The fact is certain, whatever inference may be drawn from it. My informant is a man of highly respectable character, and not likely, to assert a falsehood for the sake of a favorite theory, as he believes that there is some difference between the European and African skulls. He once played off an amusing trick against the late Dr. Paschalis --a physician in the city. The doctor was pointing out to several persons the peculiarities of form which he said distinguished the two races, when the sexton, who had just brought a cranium from the cemetery under his care, placed it before the learned physiologist. It was immediately pronounced to have belonged to a white; when the other, who had taken off some hair that happened to be sticking upon it when he took it up, produced the woolly locks, and turned the laugh against the phrenologist.
* When Dr. Spurzheim visited the Children's Hospital in Edinburgh, in 1828, he "took occasion to remark the very great contrast exhibited by the heads of those children whose parents are in general of the very lowest ranks of life, as compared with the heads of the children of the higher classes. Though here and there was an exception, the heads were in general very low:-narrow in the frontal and sincipital regions." --Phren. Journal.
To return to the Africo-American church and its minister. The service was read by a white clergyman, (the pastor of Trinity Church,) and the sermon delivered by my excellent friend, Mr. Williams. The subject of the discourse was the death of Wilberforce. After a brief narrative of the philanthropist's early career, the preacher touched upon the difficulties which surrounded him in the pursuit of that humane object, to which he had devoted his life: --the prejudices of early education --the indifference of friends --the allurements of fortune --the world's hostility and scorn. He surmounted all: and found in the triumph which ultimately crowned his exertions, the reward of his labors, and a reputation which has identified his name with all that is celebrated in eloquence and beloved in humanity. "To him," exclaimed the preacher, "our gratitude will be for ever due. To his indefatigable zeal in our cause we owe the redress of our wrongs; --to his example shall we be indebted for the recovery of our rights; when the prejudice, which now separates us from our fellow-countrymen, shall yield to juster notions of religious duty and social obligations. Let all, who are now suffering under unmerited opprobrium or the lash of the task-master, be patient; for the day of redemption draweth nigh. The chains of the slave have been broken by that nation which first abolished the cruel traffic that had torn him from his native land; and this example of a generous policy will not be lost upon our country." The congregation were exhorted by every consideration, which respect for their benefactors and friends --a deep sense of duty towards their Heavenly Father and themselves --and the laudable wish to throw off the stigma of undeserved humiliation, can inspire, to cultivate their minds and dispositions; and to think no effort too great, no sacrifice too dear, by which they might be enabled to vindicate their claim to equal acceptance and estimation with their white brethren; and to devote themselves to the highest level of attainments, which honest industry can reach, and virtuous motives suggest. The sermon concluded with an application to the consciences of all present of those great and momentous truths, which were so strongly exemplified, by their influence upon his opinions and conduct, in the venerable subject of his eulogy.
This is but the substance of what was said. I cannot do justice to the simplicity of language, and propriety of illustration, which characterised the composition. I was with an English friend; and we both remarked, that all who were present were particularly attentive to their devotions, and respectable in their appearance. There was a good organ, and the singing was excellent. The women were generally as well-dressed as any I had seen in other places of worship. There was less display of finery, however, among them; a plain straw bonnet with ribands being the most prevalent "head-gear." Upon our entrance we had been invited to take seats in a pew, from which the occupant retired and placed himself in another behind us. I begged he would return, and he resumed his seat. If this was done from a feeling of courtesy, it was honorable to the young man: if from deference to the prejudices of his white brethren, it was anything but honorable to them. How deeply, indeed, must he have felt the "proud man's contumely", when the simple circumstance of sitting in the house of God between two white men, should make him say, as he afterwards did to my companion: "My heart is full: --this is the happiest day of my life." I can truly say that I never saw the Church service better performed; more devotion and regularity in the responses; or a purer spirit of Christian charity and concord. And these are the people who are described, by the Colonization Society, as the vilest and basest of mankind. At one of the public meetings, with which these hypocritical conspirators against human freedom are striving to delude the country, the Chancellor of the State (Walworth) asserted that the free blacks were "a wretched and degraded race with nothing of freedom but the name" - *;
--thus committing the very offence, which had been imputed with so much bitterness, during the evening, to Garrison, --calumniating his own countrymen.
* A magistrate of Port-au-Prince, in a printed declaration against the free blacks of St. Domingo, used the following expression, in 1770 : "They will not behave well, unless their minds are broken down." "Il existe parmi nous" --these are his words --"une classe naturellement notre ennemie, et qui porte encore sur son front l'empreinte de l'esclavage; ce West que par des lois de rigueur qu'elle doit être conduite. Il est necessaire d'appesantir sur elle le mépris et l'opprobre qui lui est devolu en naissant. Ce West qu' en brisant les ressorts de leur ame qu'on pourra les conduire au bien."
The room was so crowded on this occasion, that I was driven away as much by the heat as the unchristian spirit of the speakers. In the same room, (the masonic hall,) there had been, in the summer, a similar assemblage, at which I was present; when a gentlemanly young man, with a slight tinge of African jet about him, came forward to answer the infamous charges that were, at that moment, resounding in the ears of a delighted auditory. He was not allowed to speak. "Off! off!" was the general cry. "Do us justice here," he exclaimed, "before you send us to Liberia." To condemn any one unheard has passed into a proverb for its injustice. Yet here is the decided and deliberate reply of an American judge, in the fifty-seventh year of his country's independence, to millions of his fellow-countrymen, who appeal to his "native justice and magnanimity," for that "equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them": --"you are a wretched and degraded race!"
In the course of his harangue, this keeper of the States' conscience professed his belief most strongly that there were not to be found, north of the Potomac, half a dozen virtuous women who would --willingly allow their children to --marry colored persons! *
* In the Courier and Inquirer-the "Times" of New York ---an attack was made in October, 1833, upon Mr. May of Brooklyn, (Connecticut,) a most amiable man, and one whose sole object seems to be "to do justly and walk humbly." The paragraph is headed, black and white," and refers to a remark made by Mr. May, that he saw nothing in reason or in religion that could make it an impropriety for persons who differed from each other in color to intermarry. "This man may marry a woolly head, or suffer his daughter to become the wife of a blackamoor, if his tastes run in that way; but we have only to say to him, that, entertaining such notions of propriety, he is an exceedingly impudent member of a decent community, to remain among white folks. His appropriate position is somewhere in South Africa, where we have no doubt such sentiments will make him popular. He has no business to associate with American citizens as one of them. . . . The, avowal of such feelings is disgustful in our society: and he, who does avow them, should be spurned from it. . . . The man capable of insulting the white citizens of the country in this way, has disentitled himself to the common courtesies of life; and, having identified himself with the Ethiopian, &c., should expect nothing better than Ethiopian treatment."
"Dii meliora piis, erroremque hostibus illum!"Thus the consequences of debasement are adduced as its justification. It would be strange, indeed, if any woman, between the Potomac and the Penobscot, would like to see her son-in-law or her daughter-in-law frowned upon by the Chancellor of New York! Mark the chancellor's logic. "My daughter will not marry you, because you are degraded: therefore you deserve to be degraded, and if my voice have any weight, shall be degraded, because my daughter will not marry you." Who would like to be tried for murder by this "second Daniel," if he could not get a wife, because he had been called a murderer? His honor must order him for execution, because his neighbors' daughters had all refused him. No one denies that our happiness depends upon the fair sex: but it is rather hard upon us that we are to incur a double risk; and lose our reputation if we lose the lady.
It is inexpressibly ridiculous to hear a few fastidious "palefaces" expressing themselves in such contemptuous terms of the great majority of the human family: but what say the objects of their scorn on this delicate question? One of them, (Walker, of Boston, who three or four years ago, spread the utmost consternation among the planters of the south, by a little pamphlet this self-taught man wrote, and who there is too much reason to believe expiated the offence with his life;) --Walker thus expresses himself: "I would wish candidly, before the Lord, to be understood, that I would not give a pinch of snuff to be married to any white person I ever saw in all the days of my life. And I do say it, that the black man, or man of color who will leave his own color (provided he can get one who is good for any thing) and marry a white woman, to be a double slave to her, just because she is white, ought to be treated by her, as he surely will be, viz., as a niger."
The judges of this State vacate office when sixty years of age --a regulation which its citizens had reason to lament when Chancellor Kent retired. Whatever may be thought of a man's mind when he has arrived at that period of his life, it is just possible that it may want both equity and common sense before he reaches it. The present chanceller's observations about marriage were equally illiberal, indelicate, and unphilosophical. Disguise it as you will, the love, which alone he would allow to be legitimate, is, however, "well refined through some certain strainers;" the very passion which Pope has spoken of in such plain terms. What is it, but the habitual association of a visible object with qualities which have engaged our affections, that produces attachment? The appearance of the one naturally recalls the other to the mind; and we transfer to the outward form, whatever it may be, --all those agreeable feelings which the virtues of its Possessor have excited in our bosoms. Our love and our hatred are equally affected by the same principle. His Honor, in denying its influence in the former, gives the strongest proof of its operation in the latter; and, while he cannot or will not see, the case of other men, the connecting link that honors our nature, all men can see, in his own, that which degrades it. The pride, which carries itself so high, is like Virgil's oak. Its lofty head shews where it is rooted.
The more I saw and heard of this odious and disgusting antipathy, the more convinced I felt that a civilized nation, thus tatooed and crippled in mind, is, in point of moral dignity, below those savage tribes that merely paint the body or compress the skull; and I felt ashamed when I looked a black man in the face, lest he should despise me for the silly and childish superstition with which those around him who resembled me were infected.--"Quantum se vertice ad auras
AEtherias, tantum radice ad Tartara, tendit."
On the evening of the day I had heard the sermon which was preached at St. Philip's, I was asked by a young lady what church I had attended, and the answer I gave brought on a general conversation about negro intellect and negro emancipation. In the course of the discussion, my fair neighbor, who was very animated upon the subject, quoted Scripture in support of her opinions, and asserted that the distinction, upon which the exclusion objected to was founded, was intended as a mark of inferiority by the Creator. I did not stop her to ask on which side the inferiority lay. She declared with equal delicacy and liberality, that it would be unnatural for the different colors to be mixed by matrimony. We are told upon pretty good authority, that "marriage is honorable in all men." She would add a little to the text, and provide for a contingency, which the sacred writer, who could not probably foresee the discovery of a new continent, never contemplated. I did not introduce the subject, because I consider it a nice ground to touch upon in the presence of young females; ground where a man may stumble inadvertently and give offence unintentionally, and because it has nothing whatever to do with the merits of the question. Let men and women, --black, red, white, copper-colored, or whatever tint they may have on their skins, marry to please themselves; but I enter my solemn protest against a regulation which makes prohibition from marriage, and non-admittance to the family circle the same thing; and which might have cut off from my sojourn in America some of the most agreeable hours I spent there.
With regard to the intermixture of the two races, whether social, or of a closer nature, it is certain that there will be, at the end of half a century, nearly ten millions of colored persons, bond or free, in the United States --if the prolific power (and what can arrest its progress ?) be as great in the future, as it has shewn itself during the past and the present time. No Liberia --no Wilberforce colony --no Haytian settlement can any more prevent or retard this consummation, than the influx of the Irish into the States has diminished the number of human beings in "old Erin". To none but the perpetrators of injustice, or the slaves of a silly superstition, can this addition to the population of those vast and fertile regions, occasion the slightest feeling of apprehension or regret. To the eye of humanity and common sense is presented the delightful prospect of pride subdued or softened into kindness; --mutual estrangement converted into mutual confidence; resentment and despondency succeeded by gratitude and reliance upon an equitable appreciation: --and "all men" living together "equal" who are declared to have been "created" so.
It is in the highest degree ludicrous to witness the anxious interest expressed by the present generation of whites for the condition and complexion of their distant descendants. They deprecate amalgamation as something abhorrent to nature: an unheard-of and an unutterable monster; --as if the realization of their fears would not be the surest evidence of their absurdity; or as if they did not know that the half-castes and quadroons, and the diluted subdivisions of the intermixture in the South, are almost, if not quite, as numerous as the pure blacks. If the two races intermarry, there can be no natural repugnance between them. If there be a natural repugnance, they cannot intermarry.
Another cause of uneasiness to these timid "children of a larger growth," arises from the dread they entertain that the species will be deteriorated by "crossing the breed"; though every one knows, who is capable of comparing forms and figures, that the finest specimens of beauty and symmetry are to be found among those whose veins are filled with mixed blood. Posterity will have little reason to be thankful to those now in existence for this excess of solicitude for their welfare, if the feeling, from which it springs, is transmitted to them, with all the hostility and suspicion and resentment it will, in its descent, have engendered in the bosoms of a numerous and increasing race. "We should recollect", said the Rev. David Rice, more than thirty years ago, in a speech he delivered at Danville in Kentucky, --"We should recollect, that it is too late to prevent this great imaginary evil: the matter is already gone beyond recovery; for it may be proved, with mathematical certainty, that if things go on in the present channel, the future inhabitants of America will inevitably be Mulattoes."*
It is thus that the same people will have exterminated the American tribes, and merged in the African; and the black man will have avenged the wrongs of the red man.
* "In Maryland and N. Carolina the black population increases more than twice as fast as the white; and, in Virginia, more than one-third faster."
--Raymond's Pol. Economy, II.367.
As for the settlement of Liberia, it is as little likely to promote the ostensible, as the real, object of its founders, or to be more successful in improving the one country than in draining the other. The attempt to colonize Africa with people of the same race as the aborigines, is, indeed, a hazardous experiment. There is no small risk of bringing into more frequent and more powerful action the principles of repulsion between the two bodies than those of attraction and adhesion. Centuries of civilization have given to the Europeans an undisputed superiority over the barbarous tribes among which they have been settled in the darker quarters of the globe; yet how difficult they have found it to maintain their position against the natives, is too well known. To the various causes, however, which produce or prolong hostilities, is, in this case, to be added that tendency to jealousy on one side, and contempt on the other, which a common origin and a contrariety of habits are sure to create.
Self-interest would probably for some time suspend or suppress these feelings; but, if once excited by any of those collisions of which the history of colonization presents so many deplorable examples, they would be exasperated by the defeat or victory of either party. From information supplied by the captain of a trading vessel, who had been for two or three years near that part of Africa, and had frequently visited Liberia, it appears that the colonists hold their barbarous neighbors in sovereign contempt. They carry on a lucrative trade of rum and gunpowder with them; and the terms and mode of barter serve to increase that feeling of scorn which opposes itself to a friendly intercourse.
What occurred in the case of those colored people who emigrated, some years back, from the United States to Hayti, strengthens, if it does not confirm, these doubts about the practicability of the colonization scheme. Many of them were much disappointed at the reception they met with*.
They had been led to expect, from a fancied idea of their own superiority, that they would meet with the greatest respect and deference in their intercourse with the Haytians. The reverse was the case. Though well treated by the Government, many became a prey to cunning and unprincipled men, from whose arts it could afford them but slight protection; and all had to encounter difficulties and annoyances, for which they were unprepared, because they had not good sense enough to anticipate them. These facts I have from the best authority; and may therefore be excused, if I cannot see the wisdom or expediency of entrusting the arduous task of conciliating an untamed and jealous people to men who have had little or no opportunity, in their own country, of acquiring sufficient experience to govern others, or sufficient self-restraint to govern themselves. A few well-educated blacks from the south, where the climate has, in some measure, inured them to such sultry heats and unhealthy exhalations as prevail on the coast of Africa, would, if sent to that continent as missionaries, with a competent knowledge of medicine and the useful arts, have much greater effect in advancing the civilization, while they increased our knowledge, of that mysterious and interesting portion of the globe, than a hundred Liberias, constructed of such materials, and exposed to such influences, as that nondescript offspring of the American Colonization Society.
* There is too much reason to suspect that some of these emigrants were induced, by artful misrepresentations, to return, and were kidnapped into the Slave states. That many quitted Hayti may be proved by official documents. Inginac, the Secretary General of that republic, published a notice upon the subject in 1825, declaring that no further aid would be rendered to such emigrants than an allowance of four months' provision, and a lot of ground for cultivation, on paying its value. The Haytian government had hitherto defrayed the entire expenses, not only of the passage, but, in some instances, of their removal from the interior of the United States to the Places of embarkment. "It cannot be denied," says the Secretary, "that captains, not satisfied with persuading emigrants, who had settled in the republic, to return to the United States, have even shared with them the profits of the speculation. How many persons have been known to demand the means of returning almost before they had debarked, and before the expiration of the four months for which rations had been granted by the State?" Several families, he declares, demanded permission to return three days after they had landed.
The best way of concealing these frauds, and securing future victims, was to dispose of those who went back, so as to give the captains an additional profit on a new speculation. Slaves, like dead men, tell no tales. Persons have told me that they have seen among them the very men who had embarked some time before for Liberia.
Free Blacks. --Abolition of Northern Slavery. --Discussion on Rights of Man. --Congress at Panama. --Too much Freedom in South American States. --Saint Domingo excluded from West India Trade. --Philosophy of the Skin. --Mulatto's Parental Feelings --Chivalry of Slave-Owners and Cruelties of Slavery. --The Fanatics mobbed. --Abolitionists. --Non-intercourse and Non-consumption.
THERE is not , I believe, one trade in New York, in which its colored inhabitants are allowed to work with the whites. There are nearly 20,000 of them in the city, and more than twice that number in the State. It will hence be seen at once how closely the self-interest of the mechanics and other journeymen is connected with the continuance of a prejudice, which thus shuts the door against so many competitors. All classes would gladly get rid of them, if they could; for the same feeling prevails everywhere, though it may vary in degree, with that exhibited by the Kentuckians, when they formed their State Colonization Society in 1827, because, as they stated, the scheme of the parent association was calculated, "to relieve the citizens of that commonwealth from the serious inconveniences, resulting from the existence among them of a rapidly increasing number of free persons of color, who are not subject to the restraints of slavery." It is seldom that a pleonasm is so full of meaning.
Apprenticeship was substituted for slavery in the year 1827, by an act which was passed by the legislature of the State of New York about ten years before; all above 27 years of age being declared free at that period, and all below to serve as apprentices till they arrived at the same time of life. No compensation was allowed to the owners; and no injury resulted to either party from this measure of justice. Though so many of these "scourges" were let loose upon the public, (there were 10,000 in 1820,) --no throats were cut and no houses burnt down. Matters soon adjusted themselves to the new order of things; and the good effects arising from the natural stimulus thus applied to industry were visible in the improved condition of those who had been emancipated, and who may now be seen, in great numbers, in the streets of New York, and of other cities as decently dressed and as well behaved as their skin-proud countrymen.
The transition from slavery to freedom was simple and unimpeded; as the former had long been found to be unprofitable, and the latter was not retarded by bounties to its rival or restrictions upon itself. Standing armies and stipendiary magistrates were not wanted to protect the few against the many, in the plunder they still retained, and provide employment for the friends of a distant government.
completely was the system extinct, that many masters were willing to
give away their slaves, and advertisements in the newspapers announced
their intention. That the abolition of slavery in New England was attended
with little or no loss to the owners of that species of property, is well
known. "Negro children," says Dr. Belknap, "were reckoned (in Massachusetts)
an incumbrance in a family; and, when weaned, were given away like puppies.
They have been publickly advertised in the newspapers to be given away."
"In the country, the negroes lived as well as their masters, and often
sat down at the same table, in the true style of republican equality."
-Hist. Coll. iv. 200.
There was little merit in relinquishing what it would have been bad policy to withhold; and no gratitude was due for a gift, which was clogged with conditions that robbed it of its justice while it left it none of the graciousness of a favor.
If to support and sanction by words and by actions those principles, on which alone the practices they have laid aside are founded, be criminal, the difference of guilt between the workers of iniquity and its abettors, is all that the citizens of the non-slave-holding States can claim. Not a shadow of excuse, in deed, or palliation can they adduce for their conduct. When pressed by an appeal to their sense of religion and justice, they are utterly at a loss to explain their behavior by motives consistent with either. It was inexpressibly painful to my mind to witness the blindness and self-delusion under which these people labored. It was a psychological anomaly that I could not comprehend --an irreconcileable contradiction to every idea I had formed of intelligent and reasonable creatures --an afflicting picture of "a naked human heart," with all its inconceivable incongruities. Night and day was I tormented by the most bitter reflections. I was living with men I could not esteem. I felt it was unmanly to be silent: and I knew it was vain to remonstrate.
Sometimes my zeal got the better of my prudence, and I fell into discussions which experience told me were useless. I had, one day, a long controversy with a young lawyer upon the subject, and was shocked at the arrogance with which he spoke of men whom I knew, from personal observation, to be fully equal to himself in every respect but that which mere circumstance of birth had produced. His arguments (if arguments they might be called, in which fact, hypothesis, and conclusion were equally remote from truth, and from each other) were of the usual preposterous kind. Some of his assertions were to the last degree absurd. The negro, he said, must be inferior to the white, became his father, who was a physician (a Virginian) had once proved, in a public lecture, that the black had a long heel, and a short forehead*.
From this antithesis between the sinciput and the os calcis it followed, as a matter of course, that his intellect was inferior to that of a man whose extremities are contrasted in a reverse manner! --nothing could be plainer, except the inference, that he was a proper subject for coercion and contempt. On the score of conscience, my opponent felt perfectly at ease. The colored man had no sort of reason to complain of ill-usage. It was the custom of the country; and the whites were not in the least to be blamed, because they had determined to act as they did. The "African" was little better than an ourang-outang; and, as Nature did nothing in vain, the final cause, for the peculiarity of structure was to be found in the profit and amusement of "Heaven's last, best work" --the Caucasian. Having, hinted, that complexion could afford no certain criterion of moral qualities, as its color might be changed by accident, (by the nitrate of silver, for instance,) I was assured by this infallible disputant, that I must be in error, because his father was a physician; and, if such effects had ever been produced by the improper use of medicine, he would not have omitted to inform his son of such an extraordinary circumstance. This was unanswerable.
* The same argument, drawn by the Anglo-American from an assumed physiological fact for enslaving the Africo-Americans, may be used by their dear and faithful ally, Russia, for her treatment of the Poles. According to a sketch given by Blumenbach of a Pole's head, and that of a negro, the facial angle is precisely, the same in both specimens. See Lord's Popular Physiology, 4,69.
Such is the sort of logic used by those who suffer the understanding to be led by the feelings without inquiring how they came by them. Talk to them upon common subjects, and they are as clear-headed and acute as other people; but touch upon this topic, and the best educated man amongst them will utter more nonsense in a given time than the most unlettered clown in the three kingdoms. How ridiculous to challenge the admiration of the world, when every philosopher that has enlightened it, every poet that has delighted it, every divine that has instructed it, cries "shame!" upon them for their want of wisdom, generosity, and religion!
It is curious to observe how the foreign policy of the nation is influenced by these feelings. Whether the Emperor Alexander*
* "Early in 1825, the United States made overtures to Russia and France, having for their object to procure an acknowledgment of the independence of the American republics on the basis of guaranteeing to Spain the possession of Cuba and Puerto Rico."--American Annual Reg., 1825.
"You are authorized, in the spirit of the most perfect frankness and friendship, which have ever characterised all the relations between Russia and the United States, to disclose, without reserve, the feelings and the wishes of the United States in respect to Cuba and Puerto Rico. They are satisfied with the present condition of those islands, now open to the commerce and enterprise of their citizens. They desire, for themselves, no political change in them. If Cuba were to declare itself independent, the amount and the character of its population render it improbable that it could maintain its independence. " --Extract of a letter from Mr. Clay to Mr. Middleton, 10 May, 1825.
The annals of human adulation cannot exhibit a more disgusting instance of fawning flattery than is to be found in the pages of the American Annual Register, in its eulogy upon the Emperor Alexander.
be solicited to urge upon Ferdinand the recognition of South American independence; --whether fears be entertained that Cuba should fall into the hands of England or of Mexico; whether Hayti is to take her place in the rank of Free States; --the actuating motive is an apprehension lest the black man should break his chains, and rise to a level with his oppressor. An amusing instance of this occurred at the Panama Congress, the President of which had published a discourse that gave great offence to the people of the United States, It came out, however, that it had not been spoken on that occasion; and the members, when applied to by Mr. Poinsett, the American Minister, disavowed, in general terms, any participation in some of its sentiments.
Mr. Poinsett thus writes to Mr. Clay from Mexico, to which the Congress had adjourned --(Sept. 6, 1826): --"I adverted, in the course of conversation, to the very extraordinary sentiments contained in Vidaurre's speech on the opening of the Congress. They assured me that Vidaurre never delivered that discourse, but published it without the knowledge of his colleagues; that, on the following day, they, the Mexican plenipotentiaries, remonstrated verbally, both against the publication of the discourse, and against the sentiments it contained; and the Columbian plenipotentiaries, delivered in a written protest to the same effect. I suggested the propriety of publishing a notice of what took place on that occasion, as the whole tenor of Vidaurre's discourse is calculated to produce an unfavorable impression. I believe this will be done. Might it not be as well to do so in our papers?"
There is nothing in the Peruvian minister's address that would appear extraordinary to any but the "free and enlightened" citizens of the North American confederation. It was probably the following paragraph that gave rise to this dignified remonstrance. "The basis of our confederation is firm; --peace with the whole world; respect for European governments, even where their political principles are diametrically opposed to those acknowledged in America: free commerce with all nations, and a diminution of imposts on the trade of such as have acknowledged our independence; religious toleration for such as observe different rites from those established by our constitution. How emphatically have we been taught by the blood which fanaticism has spilt, from the time of the Jews to the commencement of the present century, to be compassionate and tolerant to all who travel to the same point by different paths. Let the stranger, of whatever mode of faith, come hither; he shall be protected and respected, unless his morals, the true standard of religion, be opposed to the system given us by the Messiah. Let him come and instruct us in agriculture and the arts. Let the sad and abject countenance of the poor African, bending under the chains of rapacity and oppression, no longer be seen in these climes: let him be endowed with equal privileges with the white man, whose color he has been taught to regard as a badge of superiority: let him, in learning that he is not distinct from other men, learn to become a rational being. Immortal Pitt! eloquent Fox! interrupt for a moment your slumbers; and, --raising yourselves from the tomb, behold that the regions, once emphatically the regions of slavery, are now those where your philanthropic precepts are most regarded."
The secretary of state of the Mexican Republic, says, in his report to the Senate: --"The assembly not only did not hear this harangue, nor approve this measure, but did not agree with the views it contained of the business that had been concluded nor in the designation of those objects which were intended to form the subject of their future sessions. The minister himself, who subscribed that paper, was satisfied of the propriety of this conduct." This meagre disavowal answered the purpose for which it was made. The new republics, menaced by European despotism, were not inclined to disoblige a powerful neighbor.
is scarcely , among the former possessions of Spain, a single nation
with which the liberal
statesmen at Washington might not find matter
for a quarrel, if so inclined. The preamble to the decree of Central America,
in declaring the abolition of slavery, must have been highly galling to
their sensitive feelings. Veritas odium parit. "The General Assembly
of the United Provinces of Central America, conceiving that the system
of government adopted by this republic, would differ in nothing from that
heretofore imposed by Spain, were not the principles of liberty, equality,
and justice to be extended to every citizen of these States; and believing
that it would be unjust in a free government to suffer a portion of our
fellow men to remain in slavery, and not to restore them to their natural
condition, the possession of liberty," &c.
Mr. Salazar, minister from Columbia, in a letter to Mr. Clay, (dated Washington, Nov. 2,1825,) thus expresses himself: --"The descendants of this portion of the globe have succeeded in founding an independent republic, whose government is now recognized by its ancient metropolis. On what basis the relations of Hayti and of other parts of our hemisphere, that shall hereafter be in like circumstances, are to be placed, is a question simple at first sight, but attended with serious difficulties when closely examined. These arise from the different manner of regarding Africans, and from their different rights in Hayti, the United States and in other American States. This question will be determined at the Isthmus; and, if possible, an uniform rule of conduct adopted in regard to it, or those modifications that may be demanded by circumstances."
Speaking of the new States in South America, the North American Review says, (April, 1821), "The state of society and of life among them forbids our feeling a sympathy with them." "We hold it to be a maxim clearly established in the history of the world, that none but the temperate climates, and the climates which produce and retain the European complexion of skin in its various shades, admit of the highest degree of national character." "We believe the isothermal lines of character might be drawn with nearly as much precision as those of temperature." This is inimitable! The greater part of our species is to be disinherited of its hopes, that the scornful feelings of these pseudo-republicans towards their fellow-citizens, may find that palliation which the understanding and the heart, in their natural state, would neither suggest nor accept. While the Caucasians of the New World despise the other races, into which it has pleased their high-mightinesses to separate the human race, they complain that the Caucasians of the Old World despise them for the same reason --a supposed inferiority of intellect. Both accusations were once believed; because the accused were not allowed a fair hearing. If we may credit a writer in the New England Magazine for 1831, the tables are turned with a vengeance in the one case; and who knows that they may not be so, one day, in the other too?
"The most grievous charge," he says, speaking of English calumnies against America, "is to come. It was laid against our intellect; --that power which governs the whole being of man, gives effect to his exertions, and makes him what he is. It was confidently affirmed, not only by men of ordinary standing, but by those whom the world called philosophers, that in all its attributes, the American mind was of an inferior cast: in terms apparently coined for the occasion: 'that the man of America, was essentially belittled.' No doubt, a belief to this effect, pronounced and supported by such high authority, had much influence in inducing the British Parliament to issue their resolve that they had 'a right to bind us in all cases.' In their pride, power, and rapacity, why should they not thus resolve and act, when they had (in their own opinion) so much to gain by it and nothing to lose?" &c. A passage in a second article upon this important subject, settles the matter at once, by placing the sculptor's chisel in the lion's paw, to be transferred, we may hope, at no very distant day, to one from Juba's "arida nutrix leonum."
It is scarcely possible in the nature of things, that Mexico and the other new States will much longer submit to be insulted. Mr. Berrien, in allusion to the projected conquest of Cuba and Puerto Rico, by the South Americans, said openly in the Senate at Washington, in 1826: --"The question to be determined is this: with a due regard to the safety of the Southern States, can you suffer these islands to pass into the hands of bucaniers, drunk with their new-born liberty?" Mr. Hayne, of South Carolina, declared on that occasion, that the federal government had committed a great error in entering into treaties with Great Britain and Columbia for the suppression of the slave-trade. "That error," he exclaimed, "has been happily corrected. The first treaty has failed; and the second was nearly unanimously rejected by this body. Our policy, then, is now firmly fixed: our course is marked out. With nothing connected with slavery can we consent to treat with other nations; and, least of all, ought we to touch the question of the independence of Hayti, in conjunction with revolutionary governments, whose own history affords an example scarcely less fatal to our repose. Those governments have proclaimed the principles of liberty and equality, and have marched to victory under the banners of 'universal emancipation.' You find men of color at the head of their armies, in their legislative halls, and in their executive departments. They are looking to Hayti*
even now, with feelings of the strongest confraternity; and shew, by the very documents before us, that they acknowledge her to be independent, at the moment when it is manifest to all the world beside, that she has resumed her colonial subjection to France." Worse language than this was used by John Randolph; and the senate exhibited, during the long and protracted discussion, the most rabid symptoms of the endemic monomania.
* The government of the United States, as soon as "a decent regard" for the world's good opinion would admit, acknowledged Miguel de facto King of Portugal, while the Haytian is still in its eyes a rebel. Yet its import trade with the former amounts to no more than 123,816 dollars, and its export to 28,562; while the latter supplies it with goods to the value of 2,853,386 dollars, and takes from it 1,669,003.
"The peace of eleven States in this Union," said Mr. Benton of Missouri, "will not permit the fruits of a successful negro insurrection to be exhibited among them. It will not permit black consuls and ambassadors to establish themselves in our cities, and to parade through our country, and give their fellow blacks in the United States proof in hand of the honors which await them for a like successful effort on their part. It will not permit the fact to be seen and told, that, for the murder of their masters and mistresses, they are to find friends among the white people of these United States. No! Mr. President, this is a question which has been determined here for three and thirty years; --one which has never been open for discussion at home or abroad, either under the Presidency of General Washington, of the first Mr. Adams, of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, or Mr. Monroe. It is one which cannot be discussed in this chamber on this day: --and shall we go to Panama to discuss it? I take it in the mildest supposed character of this congress, shall we go there to advise and consult about it? Who are to advise and sit in judgment upon it? Five nations, who have already put the black man upon an equality with the white, --not only in their constitutions, but in real life: --five nations, who have at this moment (at least some of them) black generals in their armies, and mulatto senators in their congresses!"
I must not forget, while censuring another country, that my own has not only refused to acknowledge the independence of the black republic, but has interdicted all kinds of commerce between her colonies and Hayti, although provisions are five or six times as cheap in the latter. An Englishman, before he boasts of having done justice to the black man, would do well to read the following extract from a statute passed by his government in 1824, and still in force. "And be it further enacted, that no British merchant ship or vessel shall sail from any place in the island of Jamaica to any place in the island of Saint Domingo, nor from any place in the island of Saint Domingo to any place in the island of Jamaica, under the penalty of the forfeiture of such ship or vessel together with her cargo," &c. Intercourse by foreign vessels is prohibited by the same act. And yet we constantly hear surprise or exultation expressed that Hayti has not made greater progress, while her resources are thus crippled.
After what has been said of the low debasing standard, which has been set up in America to measure every one's eligibility to a respectable station in society, it would be doing no injustice to those who have adopted it, to designate them by the appellation of practical materialists; since they act and judge upon the fixed belief that there is an indissoluble tie between the bodily structure of man and his moral endowments. Can a more grovelling superstition be found in "the rude Carinthian boor," or the dusky Hottentot? While the Anglo-American's mind is degraded by this infirmity, he must submit to be placed in the lowest scale of civilised being. He may be admired for his commercial enterprise, his mechanical skill, his railroads, canals and steam-boats: --every thing that contributes to his physical well-being:-but he can never be respected for moral excellence, expansion of mind, or generous sympathies.
If I were to tell my friends in England that one of the most enlightened and estimable men with whom I became acquainted in America, declared to me that he really did not think he could eat his dinner were a colored man sitting at the same table with him, I should be accused of exceeding the limits of a traveller's privilege. To be the dupe of his own imagination, is the fate of almost every one who visits a foreign country: but the conviction of the truth which dissipated the dreams and illusions I had formed of a land so highly favored, brought with it no counterbalance to the painful disappointment it occasioned.
It surely was not unreasonable to expect some portion of Christian love and humility towards their immediate neighbors, among those who were sending out missionaries to evangelize the remotest corners of the globe; --few would have been prepared to find an obstinate denial of justice and charity where Bible societies abounded: and something like liberality of mind and good sense might have been looked for in the home and sanctuary of schools. When a people make a profession of religion, we have a right to ask them why they set at nought the precepts it teaches and the duties it inculcates: and we cannot but be grieved when we see them lay aside its letter, as well as its spirit, like an old almanack, to make way for a code of ethics that has nothing to recommend it but the humiliation it inflicts upon those whom its framers have injured and oppressed.
It may well be doubted whether the priesthood in any country is ever in advance of the spirit of the times. But nowhere, whatever be the sect or denomination, have they so basely prostituted their sacred calling to the furtherance of the very vices they were ordained to correct and control. They have left a stain upon their character which can neither be removed nor palliated. The Quakers form no exception to this disgraceful servility. They are as contemptuous to their sable brethren as the strictest Episcopalian, or the most orthodox Presbyterian. It would seem as if the evil principle were permitted to assume the garb of sanctity, to shew that religion must be true or it could not survive under the weight of such hypocrisy.
It is not to be supposed that she can escape unhurt and uncontaminated from such evil communication. Some observations made to me on this subject by a mulatto, left a strong impression on my mind. I had been surprised, on a former visit to his house, at what I thought his calm resignation under unmerited opprobrium. He was a man of a very powerful mind, and endowed by nature with a depth of reflection far above the average to be found among those who despised him. His son, as I can myself testify from an examination, was a lad of very promising talents and literary habits. The father was but the more distressed and embarrassed what to do with him. He had tried to get him into a theological seminary, that he might become a minister of religion; yet, though he was provided with the best recommendations, and unexceptionable testimonials of the boy's abilities and moral character, the poor lad's application, after a suspense of six months, with all its attendant anxieties and annoyances, was rejected for no other reason but that which was supplied by the outer garment he had received from Nature at his birth. "I strive," said the parent, "to suppress the indignation I feel at the cruelties to which every one of my race is exposed here: --but I candidly confess to you that I am driven almost to desperation. I love my boy: and wish to fulfil my duty towards him by giving him a good education, and placing him where he may be usefully and respectably employed. But all my efforts are useless: my hopes are blasted: --and I know not what is to become of him. My belief in religion is shaken, when I see its professors so little influenced by it. We have committed no crime: --yet we are condemned without a trial, and are allowed no defence. We are held up to the world as the very outcasts of society: --we are outraged and crushed to the earth with impunity. But, perhaps, the most galling of all the accusations brought against us is that of cowardice: happy should I be if I had an opportunity of shewing its falsity! Let us engage hand to hand in equal numbers; --and it will be seen whether courage has any thing to do with complexion." I replied, that I trusted the contest would be decided by other weapons than those of force; and that I firmly believed the day was not far distant, when full justice would be done them.
A few days after this conversation, I was at a dinner party, where I met a planter from the South, who maintained, or rather asserted, that the negro was a species of ourang-outang, and ought not to be considered, and, consequently, not to be treated, as belonging to the human race. His slaves, he added, were his property --his cattle; and he spoke the sentiments of all in the South, when he declared he would draw his sword against any one who should dare to interfere with his rights. This sort of language, though unusual in civilized society, is natural enough. What is gained or held by injustice, is generally defended by violence. In such a case, it would be want of reason to appeal to reason. There is a law of force, when there is no force of law. The employment of the one proves that the other is wanting. If we see a house barricaded in time of profound peace, we suspect that the owner de facto is not owner de jure. The bandit and the pirate are known by the cocked pistol and the grasped dagger. This gentleman felt, or affected to feel, great indifference to the dangers with which the increasing number of slaves menaces their masters; who, he said, could take care of themselves, and did not need any assistance from the free States. It may well be doubted whether this feeling of security be so general as he declared it to be. Cowardice and cruelty usually go together; and the absence of the one is not indicated by the blustering of the other. Well, indeed, may the heartless oppressor listen in the midnight breeze for the shouts of his infuriated victims, led on to vengeance by some sable Spartacus or some colored Kosciuszko. The same sort of language was used in Congress by Mr. Blair of South Carolina, in 1832. "He could tell gentlemen", he said, "that when they moved that question (slavery) seriously, they from the South would meet it elsewhere. It would not be disputed in the house: --but in the open field, where powder and cannon would be their orators, and their arguments lead and steel," The slave states should be the last to cry out against the interference of the general Government with matters within their exclusive jurisdiction. Does it not already interfere in protecting the master against the slave? Then why not interfere to protect the slave against the master? To grant liberty, it seems, is unconstitutional: --to keep up a standing army in time of peace is not so. If the north must not lighten the southern slave's chain, why should the south be permitted to fasten it on the northern free-black? The free States are taxed to keep down the slaves by an armed force; are insulted by the expulsion or exclusion of their citizens from a large portion of the Union, and are then gravely told, that the constitution forbids their meddling with the question of slavery! This boasted constitution is a very convenient instrument for the south. It converts natives into foreigners, and foreigners into natives. It sends away the "Africans" lest they should become Americans*,
and refuses its promised protection to the Cherokees that they may remain Indians*.
* Jefferson said, when objections, on constitutional grounds, were made to a grant from Congress to the Colonization Society, that "a liberal construction, justified by the object would go far, and an amendment to the constitution the whole length necessary."
The abolitionists are told that they must not interfere with this "delicate question", because it is a matter of State regulation and out of the jurisdiction of Congress. But that is the very reason why they should interfere. It is well known that the slaves were worse treated in our chartered colonies than in those under the immediate control of the home government. It is precisely because the general legislature cannot check the local legislatures, that the local legislatures ought to be checked by public opinion. Here, however, the planter takes his stand, and throws down the gauntlet of defiance to every intruder upon his domain.
* The poor Cherokees must be sadly puzzled to understand the logic of the white man. The Supreme Court of the United States refuses them protection because they are not foreigners; while the President of the United States refuses them protection because they are foreigners. "The Court," says the former, "has bestowed its best attention on this question; and, after mature deliberation, the majority is of opinion, that an Indian tribe or nation, within the United States is not a foreign State in the sense of the Constitution, and cannot maintain an action in the Courts of the United States."
"The question presented," says the latter in his first message to Congress, "was whether the General Government had a right to sustain those people (the Cherokees) in their pretensions. The Constitution declares that no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State, without the consent of its legislature. If the General Government is not permitted to tolerate the erection of a confederate State within the territory of one of the members of this Union against her consent, much less would it allow a foreign and independent government to establish itself there."
The following toast, equally remarkable for the elegance of the language and the humanity of the sentiment, was given, in the autumn of 1833, at a public dinner in Georgia: "Southern liberty and southern slavery! --like the Siamese twins, inseparably united and mutually dependent on, and necessary to, the existence of each other." expect if they do not mind their own business. "Let us," says this Cambyses of the American press, "declare, through the public journals of our country, that the question of slavery is not, and shall not be, open to discussion: --that the system is deep-rooted amongst us, and must remain for ever; --that the very moment any private individual attempts to lecture us upon its evils and immorality, and the necessity of putting measures into operation to secure us from them: --in the same moment his tongue shall be cut out and cast upon the dunghill. We are freemen, sprung from a noble stock of freemen, able to boast as noble a line of ancestry as ever graced this earth. We have burning in our bosoms the spirit of free men, --live in an age of enlightened freedom, and in a country blessed with its privileges, --under a government that has pledged itself to protect us in the enjoyment of our peculiar domestic institutions, in peace and undisturbed. We hope for a long continuance of these high privileges; and have now to love, cherish, and defend, property, liberty, wives and children --the right to manage our own matters in our own way; and, what is, equally dear with all the rest, the inestimable right of dying upon our own soil, around our own friends, in struggling to put down all who may attempt to infringe, attack, or violate any of these sacred and inestimable privileges."
Few would deny to this chivalrous descendant of a long line of ancestry, the inestimable privilege of dying, if he can do so, around his own friends in any struggle he may choose to shew his prowess in. And what is this system for which he would wish to die? It is one, rather than live under which, many have died. Of its horrors some faint idea may be formed, from the atrocities committed under the hope of escaping from them. In 1824, four negroes were executed at Greenupsburg in the State of Kentucky, for murdering their owner while he was transporting them down the Ohio to the New Orleans market "They died," according to Niles's Register, "without shewing the least compunction for the crime committed; and one of them, the instant he was launched from the cart, exclaimed 'Death! death at any time in preference to slavery!'" And what is this system for which the white man would wish to live? Let us attend to what a writer in the same journal says of the condition of Maryland. "We think that we speak with an entire understanding of the facts, when we state, that the character of the white laboring population in Maryland, as well as their numbers and efficiency, is declining in all the chief slave-holding counties. Whole families (not one of whom can read or write) find an asylum in our factories. But the greater part, miserably equipped for the journey, desperately aim for Indiana and Ohio. The fee of Maryland (not estimating the counties in which there are few, slaves) is hardly worth one-third of what it was; and hundreds of landholders, whose fathers lived in affluence, are reduced almost to poverty, without any personal act of indiscretion to cause it. This fact is feelingly felt by all those whose recollection serves them for thirty years past: and things are getting worse and worse every day."
A very affecting instance of the powerful impression made, upon the mind by the cruelties, which every slave is made to feel or witness, took place a short time ago, in the State of Kentucky. The Hopkinsville Advocate calls it "a curious case." "A negro woman," says that paper, "the property of Wilson Cooxy, was arraigned for killing her own child. She was seen to retire on a Sunday evening, apparently cheerful and contented, to the house in which she usually slept. The next morning the child was found dead, and laid out; having been killed by a blow upon the head with an axe. The mother was missing, and could not be found for several days; and, when found, seemed in a state of stupid derangement, and almost famished with hunger. For some time, she refused to talk at all; but, at length voluntarily broke silence, and confessed that she had had it in contemplation, for several years, to kill her child and then to kill herself; --that she thought both she and her child would be happier in another world than in this; --that about three years ago, she set off to go to a very deep spring in the neighborhood, for the purpose of drowning herself; but that, on her way, she reflected that her child would be left behind, in this world, to suffer in slavery: --that she then determined to return and kill her child, and then to kill herself; but that she had not the firmness sooner to carry her resolution into effect. She had been observed to treat her child with more than ordinary tenderness. She was tried and found guilty of murder; sentence of death was passed upon her; but her execution was deferred, she being enceinte."
The medical jurist would probably consider this a case of monomania, aggravated, if not brought on, by the peculiar circumstances in which the unfortunate patient was placed at the time of the infanticide. In most countries she would have been acquitted of the murder on this ground: --but here was a crime, by which property had been destroyed. If declared "not guilty," she would have been no longer of value to her master: --if condemned, the State would give him some compensation for the loss. The plea of pregnancy, as a reason for delaying the execution of a sentence, is generally granted from motives of justice and humanity. Here there was a more powerful advocate than either. The owner had a pecuniary interest in the birth of the child.
So much care is taken to conceal what is passing on the plantations in the South, that it is incidentally only, and when the liberal limit to cruelty is exceeded, that publicity is given to deeds of extraordinary atrocity. Enough, however, is on record, of what is daily practised without observation or animadversion, to stamp the whole system with the indelible marks of unmitigated and inevitable atrocity.
Two very shocking cases of brutality are mentioned by the American Annual Register, as having taken place in Virginia, in 1826. The one was that of a poor boy, whom his master (Captain Carter) ordered, for some offence he had committed, to be suspended by a rope from the ceiling of a smoke-house. There he was left; --and there he died. This occurred in Richmond, The other case was attended with circumstances, if possible, more horribly revolting. A negro, of the name of Isaac Reed, was flogged with a cowhide by three men, --Grace, Whipplo?, and Henderson, --and then suspended. from the beams of a house with his toes just touching the ground. They left him in this state of torture; and on their return, found him dead. They were, with much difficulty, secured by the proper officers, and sent to gaol. The most distressing part of the story remains to be told. The poor sufferer was wholly innocent of any offence towards these fiends. He had been pointed out by an old woman, who had the reputation of a witch, as the person who had robbed Grace of some money he had lost. The money was soon after discovered; and it was proved that Reed, could not possibly have taken it. It is not stated whether the perpetrators of these diabolical outrages were punished or not. There is nothing even said of Carter's arrest. The chances of impunity may be seen in the following case, which I have copied verbatim from the same publication: --premising that another of the same kind is recorded by it of a Negro, named William, who was burnt alive, at Greenville, (South Carolina,) in August, 1825.
July (1827). Burning a negro. --In the early part of this month, in the Northern part of Perry county, (Alabama,) a Mr. M'Neily having lost some clothing, or other property of no great value, the slave of a neighboring planter was charged with the theft M'Neily, in company with his brother, found the negro driving his master's wagon. They seized him; and either did, or were about to, chastise him, when the negro stabbed M'Neily so that he died in an hour afterwards. The negro, was taken before a justice of the peace who, after serious deliberation, waived his authority --perhaps through fear, as a crowd of persons had collected to the number of seventy or eighty near Mr. People's (the justice's) house. He acted as president of the mob, and put the vote; when it was decided he should be immediately executed by being burnt to death. The culprit was led to a tree, and tied to it, and a large quantity of pine-knots collected and placed around him, and the fatal torch applied to the pile, --even against the remonstrances of several gentlemen who were present, --and the miserable being was in a short time burnt to ashes. An inquest was held over the remains. This is the second negro who has been thus put to death without judge or jury in this county." One would hope that "thus" does not mean that the other suffered in the same way*.
The former case of burning alive was in another State. The repitition of this enormity, under the eyes and with the sanction of a magistrate, proclaims, in language that cannot be misunderstood, the character of a system, to which West Indian barbarity is mercy and mildness.
* Niles, after giving an account of an auto da fe in Spain, where a poor Jew was burnt alive for the good of his soul, exclaims with honest indignation, "What a pack of infernal scoundrels! may they be rewarded! --but can it be true?" This incredulity from the citizen of a country where human beings are publicly burnt alive without a trial, and in the presence of a magistrate, is highly complimentary to Spain.
The spirit that is now abroad has made it a matter of prudence with the editor of the American Annual Register, or rather Niles, from whom he gets the facts, not to hurt the feelings of his readers by narratives of this description.
It is to put an end to these and similar horrors that the abolitionists are making an appeal to the conscience and honor of their country. It is for their exertions in furtherance of this sacred duty, that they have been stigmatized as incendiaries, and pointed out to the lowest rabble as the proper objects of their blind and bloodthirsty violence. I was present at the formation of the New York anti-slavery society; and was an eye-witness of the dangerous risks to which humanity exposes herself when she dares to tell a free people of their crimes and their faults.
It was about seven or eight in the evening, when thirty or forty persons, pursuant to an advertisement which had been previously published, assembled in a place of worship; the room that they had engaged at the Clinton Hall having been refused them by the trustees of that hotel. After they had formed themselves into an association for the abolition of slavery, they were about to disperse as quietly as they had met, when the doors were suddenly thrown open, and a mob of three, or four hundred men, who had given notice of their approach by a most tremendous shout, rushed in, uttering threats and execrations against the emancipationists, among whom Garrison, who had just arrived from England, and was supposed to be present, was particularly designated by name as the chief object of their fury. This gang was part of a body consisting, as the papers informed the public next morning, of seven or eight thousand men, who had met together with the avowed object of putting down the meeting; and finding their prey escaped from the Clinton, had retired to another inn, and passed their own resolutions unanimously. Many of them, if credit is to be given to their own party, were armed with dirks and daggers; and all were animated by a spirit from which neither freedom of discussion, nor personal safety to their opponents, could be expected. It was fortunate, however, for all parties that the adjourned meeting had been dissolved, as the projected meeting had been adjourned before the arrival of the enemy at the respective points of attack. Garrison, whom they sought, was incognito among the seekers; and it happened that there was, at the same moment, a school society assembled above. This piece of intelligence was communicated to the mob on their reaching the place; and the difficulty of distinguishing between the two meetings checked their career, and facilitated the escape of the company, among whom were two female Quakers with fewer signs of alarm about them than the rest. I remained some time on the spot to see what was coming next, when a wretched looking old black was seized hold of by some one, who thought him, as he stood in the door-way, a good subject for ribaldry, and hurried him to a bench, upon which he was mounted and installed as chairman: mock resolutions were then passed, and the poor fellow, who had thus been elevated to be insulted, evinced his superiority to the "lords of misrule" by humoring the scene. The noise and laughter that prevailed, prevented my hearing the whole of what passed; and I left the church with no favorable impression of a people, who could thus outrage the feelings of a rational being in the very place dedicated to the service of their common Father.
It would be unjust to involve the inhabitants of New York in the disgrace and odium of these proceedings. The furious passions exhibited on this occasion had been excited by some Southerners, of whom there were a great number in the city at the time, and who had addressed the citizens through the columns of a morning paper, remarkable for its low scurrility and vulgar brutality, calling upon them to meet in such force at the Clinton, as should for ever silence the Garrisons and Tappans. It is due also to the respectable portion of the press to state, that, both before and after the riot, it reprobated the intention of employing intimidation, and remonstrated most strongly against the introduction of a precedent, which would substitute physical force for argument, and subject freedom of debate to the will of a lawless mob.
It is in vain that the advocates of impartial justice are called upon by the timid and the time-serving to desist or delay. The cause in which they are, heart and hand, engaged, is every day gaining new converts. They are prepared for every sacrifice and every trial; and are resolved to persevere in the task they have chosen, till their country be for ever free from the disgrace and dangers of slavery.
America is deeply in debt to outraged humanity. She has enriched herself by plunder and oppression. --The day of settlement is at hand; --the creditors are clamorous and impatient: --there will be no peace for her till her drafts on Africa are paid. Not the least part of the debt is involved in the cruel indignities to which the free sons of those who were stolen from their native land are subjected by the descendants of the robbers. The heart sickens at the recital of their wrongs. I can say, with the utmost sincerity, that I left England with a wish to do justice to America. I thought her character had been misrepresented, and I was anxious to collect facts that I might adduce in her vindication on my return. I soon found, however, that I must throw up my brief: --the libel had become a criminal indictment; and the former plaintiff was the defendant. I am now in the witness-box; and I trust the claims of justice will still be satisfied. Why should ridicule be prosecuted, if oppression is to go unpunished and unrebuked? What are the insults the Americans complain of having received from strangers, --compared with the injuries they have heaped upon their own countrymen?
If the charge of vulgarity be so galling, though uttered in a distant land by a few narrow-minded men, what must be the cry, of utter and hopeless debasement, raised and repeated by millions against those among whom they are doomed to live? Is calumny detestable when it distorts or derides, and blameless when it plants a dagger in the heart? If the whites had been slaves to a civilized community of blacks; and had, when emancipated, been subjected to the same social excommunication to which they have condemned the free blacks, it may well be doubted whether they would not, at this moment, have been sank to a level of civilization and respectability below that to which the latter have risen.For myself , I have no doubt upon the subject: and it gives me an exalted idea of human energy, when I thus see it surmounting difficulties and discouragements, which the pride and wickedness of the old world never, in its worst periods, employed, to arrest the progress of human improvement. Will it be easier to resist the just claims, than it has been to check the career, of a people who possess the elastic force of Antaeus? They well know that justice is not denied them in France or in England? Will the same man who is respected in London submit to be degraded in New York? Will he be contented to lay down or assume his "indefeasible rights" as he finds himself in Boston or in Paris? It cannot be: they are already more numerous than the whites were when they obtained their independence;*
and every day, while it adds to the strength of the one, diminishes the relative superiority of the other. It will not be long before they will be released from a yoke, compared with which the wrongs of the colonists were but an imaginary grievance. Rights of man, indeed! --the text of the declaration should be revised, and "white" inserted: wherever in that lying instrument, the words liberty --independence --honor, --religion, occur, an enormous "caret" should mark the passage.
* In 1790 there were 694,280 slaves.
1800 . . . . . . . . . . . . .889,118
1810 . . . . . . . . . . . 1,191,364
1820 . . . . . . . . . . . 1,538,178
There are at present considerably more than two millions, according to the census; exclusive of the free blacks.
One of the expedients adopted by the American abolitionists to obtain their object is to abstain entirely from the use or purchase of every thing produced by slave-labor, and to encourage the introduction of free labor goods. This determination is but a retaliatory measure. Some years back, when the anti-tariff standard was hoisted in the South, John Randolph, of Roanoke, declared that "he had not purchased a dollar's worth from northern factories; and, so help him God! he never would; and, if southern gentlemen had one drop of the blood of their ancestors, they never would. He would neither eat, drink, nor wear anything from the north of the Patapsco. There were two remedies for the south; the first, a rigid non-consumption of American fabrics; and the second he would not indicate. It was not to be resorted to until the other had first been tried and failed." The cry of nullification arose from a deeper feeling than any the protecting policy could inflict. It was but an expression of that sensitiveness which the haughtiness of slaveholding and the jealousy of northern interference combined have engendered. A placard had been stuck up some years before in Philadelphia, defying the free States, and urging a separation. The words were: "The Potomac the boundary: --the negro States by themselves." Every man of discernment must see that there is a fatal want of cohesion and homogeneity between the two great sections of the Union; and that communities, in which industry is either debased or discouraged, cannot be permanently incorporated with those that owe their prosperity and security to the wealth it creates and the respect it commands.
The federal form of government seems to be cherished by modern republicans because it is an instrument of domestic tyranny, as it was hated by their ancient prototypes because it was a shield against foreign oppression. But it was easier for the Romans to destroy it in Greece, than it will be for the Americans to preserve it at home*.
* "La Republique d'Achaie, étoit formáe par une association de villes libres ; le Senat dáclara que chaque ville se gouverneroit doránavant par ses propres lois, sans dependre d'une autorite commune. La Republique des Báotiens etoit pareillement une ligue de plusieurs villes; mais, comme dans la guerre contre Persáe, les unes servirent le parti de ce Prince, les autres celui des Romains, ceux-ci les reçurent en grace, moyennant la dissolution de l'alliance commune."
-Montesquieu -Grandeur et Decadence, &c. Chap. VI.
G. Woodfall, Printer, Angel Court, Skinner Street, London.