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No subject exhibited for popular investigation, so imperiously demands the attention of the patriotic citizens of America as the present, which is so essentially connected with their interest, and the prosperity of their children, and their children's children for ever. While our presses are crowded with the futile productions of the novelist and ro. mancer, may we not indulge a hope, that a subject so mo. mentous and interesting will command some attention. I am more capacitated to discuss a subject of this nature, than those characters who generally receive their information by hearsay; and surely none can be under greater obliga. tions to expose the complicated guilt of tyrannical slave traders, as well as the deleterious evils resulting from the im. politic commerce and slavery of the human species, than a “penitential tyrant.” Had I ten thousand tongues, and ten thousand pens, they should all be employed in disclaiming against a traffic, as impolitic as it is impious, as injudicious as it is villanous. Having relinquished the most sanguine prospects of worldly accumulation and prosperity, from conscientious motives, and having a spirit above flattering villany, offering incense at the shrine of vanity, or adulation to cha. racters clothed with a little brief authority, whether they are honourable or excellent, wealthy, royal, or reverend sin. ners ; I consequently cannot expect a patron. But I claim the liberty of dedicating my works to those who are all their masters, the patriotic, the virtuous, the enlightened, and the independent citizens of America ; and if my simple argu.
ments are instrumental in impressing them with a tenfold solicitude for the honour and safety of their incomparable Constitution and glorious Independence, which is their own richest patrimony while untarnished, and the greatest temporal blessing they can bestow on their children, and transmit to posterity, my object is gained, and I am amply rewarded. To consolidate their happiness in particular, and the political emancipation of the African race in general, is the primary object of this performance. Indeed it irritates me, when I re. member that the tyrants of the south gain an ascendency over the citizens of the north, and enhance their paramount rights of suffrage and sovereignty, accordingly as they enslave and subjugate the inoffensive, the exiled sons of Africa. I am astonished at the stupidity of our citizens, in suffering such palpable injustice to be rewarded by political, as well as pe. cuniary gratifications. To suppose that the citizens of the north will peaceably submit to be robbed of all their rights of suffrage by the slave-dealers of the south, is to suppose that a drop of the blood of their fathers does not flow in their veins; and that they are all worse than cowards, traitors, and enslavers of their own children. They should invincibly protest against this infamous inequality, and resolve, with a manly and honourable assiduity, not to have either hand, act, or part in negro slaves, and their tyrants' votes.
We cannot always expect to be at peace; and many hun. dreds of thousands of the oppressed Africans look with anxious solicitude for that moment to arrive, when the nation is en. gaged in domestic or foreign hostility-when they expect to avenge their wrongs, and vindicate their rights—the natural rights of man.
To the mortification of philanthropy, to the grief of hu. manity, to the indignation of morality, and the astonishment of patriotism, the degrading tale must be told : that in this country, where so much precious blood has been spilt in the cause of freedom, where so many heroic and patriotic lives have been sacrificed at the shrine of liberty, in this free country where the motto of the keystone state is, and that of the union should be, “ Virtue, Liberty, Independence !" and from which it has been proclaimed to a world of vassals and despots, that the basis of our incomparable constitution, as well as of our political sentiments, is, “ that all men are born
free and equal,” and yet, in this free country, inconsistent as it must appear, though a contradiction in terms and ideas, it is a fact as stubborn as melancholy, that those republicans whose bosoms glow at the name of liberty, who profess to be her most zealous votaries, and indefatigable defenders, in the commencement of the nineteenth century, have not only established but consolidated the most horrid despotism, and riveted the chains of the most diabolical slavery that ever tormented and disgraced the human species.
The unutterable sufferings of the human beings who are the victims of our avarice, were an exhibition which would occasion a shock humanity could not bear; consequently I must draw a veil over scenes too melancholy for recital, and too tragical for the sympathetic ear of philanthropy to endure.
What is the end of civil society ? The acceleration of social happiness. If, therefore, these premises are allowed to be correct, human beings are held in perpetual servitude, absolute slavery, only by the ties of villany and fraud, injustice and ungenerosity, in open hostilities with reason, and the nature of things, as well as the fundamental principles of all legitimate associations. This must be obvious to every discerning mind; to enlarge, therefore, on the sentiment, would be to insult my reader's understanding ; to suppose he did not see the injustice of slavery himself, is de. grading him to an idiot. But before I proceed any farther, I will advance a few, and only a few reasons, where thousands might be adduced, in order to prove, upon ocular demonstration, that it is the indispensable duty of the legislatures and representatives of the northern states, unanimously to protest against the policy of the southern, and to use their utmost endeavours to get the federal constitution amended in a part that is not only injurious, but an insult to them in. dividually and collectively, and pregnant with the most in. evitable consequences. If the representatives of the north (or the states that oppose slavery practically as well as theoretically) should be discouraged from proposing an amendment to the constitution on account of the preponderating influence of the representatives of the south, I would suggest to them a motion which I think would be proper to be made in the house, and that is that the citizens of the north shall
be entitled to two votes for every five head of horned cattle, horses, &c, they possess, in order to be on an equality with the citizens of the south ; this surely is as reasonable, and a thousand times more just than the present mode of allowing two votes for every five head of negroes in the south.
“ It is unanimously allowed by friends and foes, that the federal union of the states is radically the paramount palla. dium of our republic : dissolve that compact, and we become a prey to intestine commotion, foreign influence, and san. guinary invasion. By the constitution of the United States, it is provided that representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states, which may be included in the union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of
years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.' This principle evidently secures to the qualified voters of a state possessing slaves, the right of choosing a greater number of representatives, in proportion to the free citizens, than is enjoyed by the citizens of a siate, which, from honourable and virtuous motives, refuses to participate in the barbarous oppression and slavery of their fellow creatures; so that 20,000 proprietors of 50,000 slaves have a voice in the elections equivalent to that of 50,000 free persons who are destitute of this species of property. The admission of this deleterious principle into our national compact, was unquestionably the dictate of necessity. The members of the convention from the eastern states consented to it as a choice of difficulties, preferring a partial sacrifice of their rights, with the chance of future remedy, to the hazard of losing the whole constitu. tion. In the same spirit, the principle was supported in the state conventions, by the best talents in the northern states.” The number of representatives of slaves, alias southern pro. perty, has already increased to twenty-five, and they are urging the annexation of new slave states. These considera. tions alone should cause our representatives to be on the alert, even laying aside the principles of natural justice, moral rectitude, and the super-excellent precepts of revelation, which inculcate, “ that we should do to all men what. ever we would that they should do unto us, and that we should love our neighbours (or all mankind) as ourselves."
This is the sum-total of all social duty; these are the princi. ples of evangelical rectitude, which are in determined hostility against all slavery and despotism, political, ecclesiastical, and domestic. It is nugatory to address the advocates of slavery on these principles of morality, while they suppose interest and policy differs from them. My principal object, therefore, shall be in these compendious strictures, to de. monstrate that slavery is as diametrically opposite to sound policy and true interest, as it is to natural justice, and Chris. tian rectitude. Slavery debases and contaminates the immortal soul, as well as torments and lacerates the mortal body of its victims : on the other hand, it has a direct ten. dency to generate the most infamous vices among their oppressors, a recital of which delicacy forbids me to particularize. In short, slavery is a present and eternal injury to the judicially infatuated characters who encourage and support it, as well as those who suffer by it temporally. It is an encouragement, an incitement to indolence, licentiousness, concupiscence, pride, treachery, fraud, falsehood, and a train of evils too tedious to enumerate in the oppressor. And with respoct to the oppressed, it debases the mind and corrupts the moral character very naturally : for what else can be expected of ignorant, unlettered Afric-Americans, groaning under the frowns of oppression, seeing nothing but compli. cated villany and violence; instructed by the treachery and deception with which they are subjected, they naturally learn to disregard the rights of others ; every moral feeling is blunted, and every social virtue is destroyed. Thus, when individuals in the south become proselytes to religion and moral rectitude, they are impelled to liberate their slaves; and as it would be injudicious to let them remain with the other slaves, they will not therefore be employed; they are, of course, exported to the north, where we have to provide for and support them, with all their vices upon them.
But slavery is not only destructive to the morals of society, but to national industry, improvement, and population : it. makes one part of the community indolent by taking away the reward of industry, and the other supine by obviating the necessary stimulus to assiduity. When tyrants can make others the servile instruments of their will, it cannot be supposed that they will pay any attention to industry and labour.