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In our remarks on this subject, which is as vitally interesting to a large part of this Union, as it is to the West Indies, we are aware that it is one of peculiar delicacy-that it agitates different parts of our confederacy with the most opposite feelingsand that, in proportion as we are able to keep that middle course, in which truth and wisdom are commonly found, if at all, we shall be likely to offend the violent of both sides, since nothing short of bigotry is acceptable to bigots.
There are, indeed, two descriptions of persons with whom all temperate reasoning on this subject is thrown away. One comprehends those who declaim against slavery, as utterly inconsistent with religion or morals; and who extend their hatred of slavery in the abstract, to the owners of slaves. This class of persons would be piously angry with one for being a Mahometan in Constantinople-a Catholic in Spain-a Presbyterian in Scotland and they philosophically regard war as legalized murder and robbery-government as another name for despotismand law, as only a more regular system of oppression and fraud. The other class comprehends those who are averse to any disCusion of the subject whatever. With these, an inquiry into the mischiefs of domestic slavery, excites an impatience that is equalled only by that with which they hear proposals for a remedy: Believing the evil incurable, they reluctantly admit it to be an evil. They exhibit, in short, the same sort of sensibility, as those who are infected with a loathsome disease, whenever it happens to be mentioned. We take this occasion to state, that we belong to neither of these classes;-not to that of the Saints, as they affect to be considered, nor of Mr. Stephen, nor of the English reviewers, on the one hand; nor yet to those fiery spirits of the south, on the other, who treat their opponents in the same lordly style as they would reprove their slaves, and who manifest too little temper or moderation, to afford the promise of much wisdom, in a subject so replete with difficulty. But we belong to a class which is illustrated by the names of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Marshall, Crawford, Pinkney, Lowndes, men not more distinguished for their patriotism, than their prudence-who are or were slave owners, and the enemies of slavery; but who, in their desire to better the condition of the bondsman, have not forgotten the welfare and safety of his master.
Widely as the two parties differ in opinion and feeling on this great subject, there is one error which is common to both. They agree in thinking, that slavery, with us, affects the interests only of those states in which it has the sanction of the law. The slaveholders of the southern states, tax their northern brethren, who show solicitude on the subject, with meddling in what does not
concern them; and the enthusiasts, in like manner, never seem to recollect, that the evils of a precipitate, or ill-advised emancipation, would extend more or less to themselves. But a little reflection would teach both parties, that the present consequences of slavery-its remote effects-the mischiefs and the benefits attendant on any remedy, immediately concern every member of the confederacy. They all therefore have the same interest, though not to the same extent; and all who are sensible of this interest, have the right, and indeed, owe it as a duty, to discuss every question of policy concerning it. Claiming this right, and feeling this duty, we shall speak freely and plainly, both of the mischiefs of slavery, and of the policy of its remedies; and although we do not delude ourselves with the belief, that we are entirely free from all bias on the subject, we can give this manifestation of impartiality, that we feel wedded to neither party, and think we see faults in both.
Mr. Barclay shows, by details founded on personal observation, that the condition of the slaves in the British West Indies has been greatly meliorated since the abolition of the slave trade in 1807-that the laws afford them more protection, and the owners treat them with more kindness. The most important changes are exhibited in the following summary:
"At no very distant period, when savage Africans were pouring into Jamaica, and while there were yet but few natives or Creoles, the master's power of punishing his slaves was little restrained by law; and was exercised to a great extent, by the subordinate white people, and the drivers."
"Ten years ago, chains were in common use on the plantations, for punishing criminal slaves."
"Twenty years ago, there was scarcely a negro baptized in Jamaica." "Twenty years ago, the churches were scarcely at all attended by the slaves."
"Twenty years ago, negroes were buried at midnight, and the funeral rites, in the forms of African superstition, were the occasion of continual excesses among those who attended."
"Ten years ago, the marriage rite was altogether unknown among the slaves."
"While the importation of Africans was continued, the practice of Obeah was common and destructive."
"It is now limited to thirty-nine stripes, to be inflicted by order, and in presence of the master or overseer, and ten by subordinate agents: and, comparatively speaking, is but seldom required at all. There is not now one punishment for twenty that were inHicted fifteen or twenty years ago."
"The use of them is now entirely abolished."
"Now they are nearly all baptized.”
"Since then, the number of churches, or places of worship, of one kind or other, has been more than doubled, in fact nearly trebled, and yet, in the districts where I have had an opportunity of seeing them, they are all fully attended, and principally by slaves."
"Negroes are now buried during the day, and in the same manner as the white people."
"The number now married is not inconsiderable, and is fast increasing.”
"It is now seldom heard of."
"The working of sugar mills encroached on Sunday, during crop."
"Formerly the negroes cultivated their grounds on Sunday-white persons were even sent to superintend them."
"When the abolition of the African trade took place, a large proportion of the slaves were newly imported Africans, maintained with provisions raised or bought by the master; or lodged with other slaves, who had grounds which they assisted in cultivating."
"Manumissions were, at one time, burthened with heavy taxes."
For cruel or improper punishnents, slaves had formerly no adequate redress."
"Formerly, the trial of slaves was, I believe, by parol; and the power of death was intrusted to the slave courts, who could order the criminal to immediate execution."
"For ten slaves that were executed twenty years ago,
"Twenty years ago, the coasting vessels of Jamaica were almost exclusively manned with slaves."
"The operative mechanics about towns-carpenters, ship-builders, &c., were mostly slaves."
"A few years ago, marriage was unknown among the free people of colour."
"The number of free persons in Jamaica, in 1787, was estimated at only 10,000."
"It is now prohibited by law, and Sunday is strictly a day of rest."
"Now they have by law twenty-six working days in the year for this purpose: every manager must swear that he has given them this number of days; and no slaves now work at their grounds on Sunday, but such as are more inclined to make money than to attend church. A law to forbid their working at all would be of doubtful policy, until they learn to employ the day better than in idling and drinking."
"Now the plantation slaves in Jamaica have all houses of their own, and grounds of their own, and are, in every respect, more comfortable and independent. They form more steady connexions, pay more attention to their families in the way of keeping them clean, and dressing them neatly; and, in short, have acquired more taste and desire for domestic enjoyments."
"They are now perfectly free."
"Now they are manumised, and provided with an annuity for life; and magistrates are appointed a council of protection, to attend to their complaints."
"Now the whole evidence and conviction must be transmitted to the governor: and, unless in cases of rebellion, the sentence cannot be carried into execution without his warrant."
"There is not now more than one, and I think not even that proportion." "From the increase of the free population, the coasting vessels are now more commonly manned with free men."
"This description of work is now performed principally by free people. of colour."
"It is now becoming common, and many of them are careful to preserve the sanctity of the institution."
"It is now 35,000, and rapidly increasing, by manumissions as well as births."
This comparison exhibits an improvement in the condition of the slaves in the West Indies, that is very gratifying to the abolitionists to the friends of emancipation to every man, indeed, that is not indifferent to the welfare of his species; and although the melioration may be regarded partly as a propitiation to the friends of the blacks in Great Britain, yet much must be also attributed to the spirit of the age, since a correspondent change has taken place in the treatment of slaves in this Union, where every
state is free to make its own laws, and consequently the improved condition of the slaves could have proceeded only from a change in the public sentiment. Every one capable of making a comparison, knows, that the slaves in all parts of our country, are better fed and clothed than they formerly were-are allowed more indulgences-and are punished with less severity and frequency. They have become, in fact, a superior class of beings, and they can be now operated on by other motives than fear.
There is one striking difference, however, in the circumstances attending the melioration of slavery in the United States, and in the West Indies. Here, it has been altogether the voluntary change of individuals-there, much has been effected by legislative enactment. Although the statute books of the several states, show us provisions for the defence of the slave, and some, indeed, of a contrary character, his enjoyments have been steadily augmenting, and his privations diminishing. A knowledge of this fact, makes us deduct somewhat from the credit which Mr. Barclay claims for these legislative provisions, since they evince not only the liberal feelings of the legislature, but also the frequency of the offence. And the forbearance of our legislatures to impose restrictions on branding slaves, or putting collars on their necks, may have the same justification as was given for not assigning a punishment for parricide.
The success which has thus far attended the exertions of the abolitionists, has encouraged them to extend their views still further. Indeed, this object was always distinctly and honestly avowed by Mr. Wilberforce, the great champion of the African race. Having succeeded, after a parliamentary struggle of nearly twenty years, in putting a stop to further importations of slaves from Africa, they have insisted that the colonial legislatures should impose some restraints on the authority of the master. This further object being in like manner attained, they begin now to look to a general emancipation. Nor, if this were effected, would they stop there-the same party would not be satisfied with a mere exemption of the blacks from personal servitude, but would insist that there should be an equality of rights between the two races-every other privilege and distinction-that of birth, of wealth, of religious opinion, being fully tolerated, except the peculiarly odious one of a white skin. For this they can have no toleration. They would then eventually claim for the blacks the right of voting at elections-of being eligible to all offices-and of intermarrying with the whites.
That the friends of the blacks will not stop short in the midst of their successful career, that they will urge these further concessions on the part of the whites, we have clear indications. The leaders of this party do not hesitate already to avow, that such are their views; and what they now advance as speculative VOL. II.— -NO. 3.
truth, the multitude will by and by clamorously demand, and per fas aut nefas enforce.
Thus, the Westminster Review of Jan. 1826, in a plan of gradual emancipation which it proposes to the southern states, gravely recommends the admission of the free coloured man, to all the powers and privileges of a white man, and the removal of all the disabilities and prohibitions which operate against the marriage of white, with free coloured persons.
When the friends of the blacks in Great Britain have been thus steadily rising in their demands, it is not surprising that the slave owners, who consider that all they hold dear would be endangered by such a course of policy, whether their inferences be well or ill founded, should resist that policy, not merely on account of the inconvenience which any particular measure may produce, but of the much greater mischief to which it ultimately tends. Those who in England make their efforts in the cause of negro slavery a matter of conscience-who turn their eyes from the million of suffering paupers in their own country, and the three or four millions in Ireland-from the eighty millions of Hindoos in a state of abject political vassalage, and many of them actual slaves, and those who, deaf to these calls upon their sympathy, have set their hearts upon raising the slave to the level of the white, may continue to goad the West India planter to further concession, and wring from his fears, what they could not obtain from his interest or inclinations. But the friends of the blacks in this country, and those who are opposed to slavery, as much on account of the whites, as of the negroes, must pursue a very different course, if they would succeed in their wishes. Emancipation can never take place here, but by the consent and co-operation of the slaveholding states themselves. They must take their own time-form their own plans-pursue their own measures and they never can be brought to move in the business, until they are convinced that it is their interest to do so. But if they believe that the advocates for emancipation, in their zeal to effect their favourite object, will be utterly regardless of their feelings-prejudices, if you please-and that they will ultimately entertain such wild and preposterous notions as have been quoted from the Westminster Review-such belief will prejudice. them against every plan of melioration, however temperate or feasible. While, therefore, the abolitionists of England, who have to operate on the fears of the whites of the West Indies, may succeed in proportion to their zeal, those of the United States must owe their success entirely to their moderation, and the conviction they can produce on the minds of the slaveholders. Any scheme which they may propose, must then not only be shown to be conducive to the interests and security of the whites, but must not offend their settled prejudices. Of this character