Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

tated, and superannuated negroes to escape from their servi. tude, to be not only on an equality with, but also a burden to the people of the north, after they have spent their health and strength in their tyrants' service, thousands of whom are now in Philadelphia, who in the winters have to be supported by public donations.

Can they expect that we will tamely and supinely con. tinue to suffer such barbarous impositions ? Can they expect that we will lend our names, our hands, or our hearts, to support, abet, and encourage a cruel traffic, a savage war, that has first drenched the plains of Africa, and crimsoned the waves of the Atlantic with human blood, and which now cries to heaven for vengeance, not only against the tyrants individual. ly, but the nation collectively? For God considers every nation who legalizes villany, by suffering it to prosper, though in the most secret recesses of the community, I say he considers such nations guilty in their collective body, and punishes them accordingly. If when the fraud or villany is' detected they punish, or endeavour to punish and extirpate the perpetrators of the same, as the Israelites did in the case of Achan, they are, of course, guiltless ; but if they wink or connive at the injustice of individuals, or bodies of the people, they make the crimes of a few the crimes of the whole, and are punished accordingly. Witness the tragic overthrow of the above communities for an irrefragable proof of these arguments. These are serious considerations, in which every member of the state is deeply interested. Moderation induces me to believe, and candour constrains me to acknowledge the same, that there are many virtuous and honourable characters in the southern states, who abhor slavery as much as I can do, and deprecate the introduction of anarchy with horror, and I was going to say, though I would belie my conscience in so doing, that even some of the slave dealers are virtuous and honourable men ; indeed it is with regret I expose the cruelty of their measures, but conscience com. mands and I must obey.

I hope, I fondly hope, the people of the south, (I mean the slave dealing and slaveholding people,) have too much good sense and common justice to impose measures upon their brethren of the north, which they would themselves reject with anger and disdain. They cannot surely think

that we have so soon forgotten the lessons we learned in our revolutionary war. But if they should be so unjust and ungenerous, so weak and so wicked, as to suppose that we would suffer ourselves to be seduced from the path of political rectitude and republican consistency, by the duplicity and finesse of the dealers in human flesh ; if they think that we will be dragooned into measures against our own will, and contrary to our own reason and interest, they will find them. selves wretchedly mistaken ; they will find that the people of the north have spirits no ways inferior to their own. Citizens of the south ! I conjure you, as you value the peace and tranquillity of your country, as you value the privileges and the rights of the soil that has given you birth, if you are not lost to every sense of feeling for your character and reputa. tion as men, I conjure, I entreat, I beseech you by the ex. piring honour of your country, by the sacred charter of humanity, which you once helped to seal with your blood, by every honourable and virtuous motive, and by the obvious dangers with which your political horizon is impregnated; finally, by all that is sacred and divine, I conjure you to rally round the constitution, and be the first in resolving to transmit it to posterity as a sacred deposite, untarnished and unadul. terated. And remember that nothing but local relinquishments can consolidate public tranquillity. In your legislative deliberations, ever remember, that on the sordid, the narrow basis of monopoly you never can erect a temple to the liberty of your country. The broad basis of public justice is alone the foundation.

If I see a man in power behave tyrannically to my fellow citizens, I must believe that he would behave in the same manner to myself, were I in his power, and that it is the fear, and not the love of God or man that restrains him from committing acts of hostility prejudicial to my interest, as well as that of my neighbour. Wherefore a man, though a rogue or a fool, must be diffident in trusting the professions of a slave dealing legislator. Do you conceive that the in. formation of the citizens of the north has been stationary, while that of all Europe, nay, of all the world, has been pro. gressive? Let not those who wish to enrich themselves by the abuses of governments think that the world is blinded to their duplicity, and insensible of their knavery; as well may

If

eyes of

they attempt to metamorphose the philosopher to an ignora. mus, or cause the patriot to unknow what he already knows. you

wish to effect a counter revolution in the minds of your injured fellow citizens, you must first cause them to unlearn what they learned in “ the times that tried men's souls ;" you must destroy their memories ; you must draw a mighty veil before their intellectual eyes, to screen the tragical end of slavery in the now republic of Hayti; you must consign every copy of the Rights of Man, and every other patriotic work, disseminated over the face of the earth, to the flames; you must destroy the liberty of the press, that glorious privi. lege of freemen ; you must finally destroy our post offices, and every conduit and vehicle of. intelligence. Before you can fetter the understanding and blind the your

fellow citizens, you must accomplish all these things and many more. They will not always patiently endure the imposi. tions of those who have been nursed in the lap of venality, who have been educated to ridicule the idea of the universality of that liberty which they exclusively appropriate to them. selves. My dear fellow citizens of the south, I feel the most tender, the most social and sympathetic emotions arise in my breast, while I suggest these desultory strictures, on which your present and future peace is ultimately suspended : there is not a particle of party rancour impregnates my mind; not a motion of personal acrimony accelerates my pen ; nor a drop of ungenerous blood flows through my veins while I am addressing you. The searcher of all hearts is

my

witness, that I rather feel commiseration for your infatuation, than detestation at the criminality of your measures. I well know that the punishment of tyranny runs exactly parallel with the magnitude of the crimes, and the language of Deity to tyrants is, “ Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”

“ Such hypocritic foes their toils shall know,

And every hand shall work its share of wo. Thus you now work, and thus I fear you will work your own overthrow; and in your fall you will, Sampson like, remove the pillars of our constitution, and precipitate the majestic fabric into one promiscuous heap of ruins. Like the patient who abhors the appearance of the physician who points out his disease, and prescribes the antidote, so will you, I fear,

The Coras

abhor my candid remonstrances. But when your eyes are opened to see your real danger, you will, like the Athenians in the case of Socrates, repent the harshness of your cen. sures, and you will thank me, living or dead, for my candid and reasonable admonitions. But I pay no deference to th adulation or the animadversion of friends or foes. scious sensibility that I have done, or endeavoured to do my duty, will be more than paramount to the hosannas of thou. sands, not only during my pilgrimage through this vale of tears, but also when I anticipate the solemnities of a dying hour, and when myself and those whom I now address, will have to appear in the presence of an assembled world, and hear the mighty clangour of the angelic trump of God, like the shrill clap of thunder that re-echoes over the topmast of a sinking ship in a boisterous ocean : in that dread moment, when slaveholders and their slaves will be convened face to face, at the august, the magnificent, the tremendous tribunal of the architect of nature, I will feel the conscious sensibility and satisfaction, that I gave the tyrant a timely warning, which if he will not hear, will enhance, not mitigate his mighty guilt, and which the register of eternity, in unison with his own immortal knowledge, will amply testify. Then who will be able to defend the cause of the cruel slave dealer, when the Almighty, who is so well acquainted with every part of his unjust conduct, will be his plaintiff, his judge, and his witness ? Bụt I must cease giving even the outlines of the tragical sequel, and take another part of the subject. The thought still recurs, and my breast is rent with a conflict of emotions when I see the madness, the folly, and cruelty of the southern legislatures. Sorrow for their depravity, sym. pathy for their infatuation, charity for their intellectual blind. ness, surprise at their unparalleled duplicity, astonishment at their effrontery, terrible apprehensions at their political hy. pocrisy. Fain would I stop here and paint no more the hateful picture, but I well know that the deceitful calm is more fatal than the tremendous storm, the cunning of the serpent more destructive than the fury of the lion.

I, in the language of unbelief exclaim, it is surely impossi. ble that the enlightened legislatures of the independent states of America can declare in one breath, that “all men are born free and equal," and the self same moment rivet the

[ocr errors]

fetters of slavery on the lacerated limbs of nearly two and a half millions of them. It is impossible that those legislatures can spend whole days deliberating on matters of the most superficial nature, or nodding over the case of the highway robber, who they at last condemn to death for pilfering secretly, or forcing violently from his neighbour part of his property; while they not only take part of the property of thousands of their fellow worms, but their lives and liberties in the bargain, with impunity.

They call to mind Plutarch's fable of the wolf and the shepherds. “A wolf peeping into a hut where a company of shepherds were regaling themselves with a joint of mut. ton; · Waugh !' said he, . what a clamour would these men have raised if they had catched me at such a banquet. the slaveholders of the south, while they condemn an individual villain for defrauding his neighbour of a little paltry property, do not scruple to do the same themselves with an hundred fold magnitude. If the effects of their hypocrisy and injustice were all we had to dread, it would not be quite so bad; but the consequences resulting from their impolicy is what I shudder even to anticipate. Methinks I see the sword, the terrible sword of retaliation suspended by a single hair over the nation. The Afric-Americans, whose political information is as much superior to that of their brethren in the West Indies, as one is to a hundred, may yet meditate revenge, and in order to be able to ascertain the magnitude of that revenge, let us only ask our own hearts what resentment and fury would be boiling in our veins if we were reduced to their degraded situation.

Ah! should that fatal day come, (I shudder while I view it even at a distance,) when the opportunity will be afforded them to scourge their oppressors and drive them back to the regions of confusion and despair, from whence they themselves will emerge

TYRANTS ! behold the tragical, the terrific scene, and re. linquish in time the impious work of blood, in which you have so long imbrued your hands, and tremble at the desperation of your revolting slaves. Repent, I conjure you, repent in sackcloth and ashes, lest you who have been by the divine munificence exalted to the pinnacle of civil liberty, may be precipitated into the abyss of savage bondage. For

« EdellinenJatka »