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rence of slavery." These are some of the words of the illustrious Henry. Washington avowed that it was among his first wishes "to see some plan adopted by which slavery may be abolished by law." Unfortunately these generous and truthful sentiments were confined to a comparatively few liberal and enlightened men. The uneducated and unreflecting mass-especially in the South-did not share them. The following interesting and consequential extract is from one of Jefferson's letters written to a friend in his old age:

"From those of a former generation who were in the fullness of age when I came into public life, I soon saw that nothing was to be hoped. Nursed and educated in the daily habit of seeing the degraded condition, both bodily and mentally, of these unfortunate beings, not reflecting that degredation was very much the work of themselves and their fathers, few had yet doubted that they were as legitimate subjects of property as their horses and cattle. The quiet and monotonous course of colonial life had been disturbed by no alarm and little reflection on the value of liberty, and when alarm was taken at an enterprise of their own, it was not easy to carry them the whole length of the principle which they invoked for themselves. In the first or second session of the legislature after I became a member, I drew to this subject the attention of Colonel Bland, one of the oldest, ablest, and most respectable members, and he undertook to move for certain moderate extension of the protection of the laws to these people. I seconded his motion, and, as a younger member was more spared in the debate; but he was denounced as an enemy to his country, and was treated with the greatest indecorum."

Partly on account of the principles enunciated in

the Declaration of Independence, upon which the Revolution was begun, the sentiments of Jefferson made considerable progress among the more enlightened strata of the people of Virginia, and as elsewhere related, she passed the act prohibiting the slave-trade, and conferred upon her citizens greater freedom of emancipation. But apart from such meagre and even doubtful rights as the acts conferred upon the down-trodden, and much abused, Negro race, the conduct of Virginia, like that of other Southern states, and even the National government itself, was strongly contradictory to the asserted natural equality of mankind, and the expressed inalienable rights of every human being, as contained in the Constitution of Virginia, as well as in the Declaration of Independence, and the later Constitution of the United States. In 1785 Washington complained in a letter to LaFayette that certain "petitions for the abolition of slavery, presented to the Virginia Legislature, could scarcely obtain a hearing."

Other states followed the example of Maryland and Virginia in prohibiting the further introduction of Negroes, stolen or captured in Africa, but we enter a profound protest against the absurd claims of partisans that such legislative acts are to be credited to these states as evidence of regard for the rights, or interests, of the black man. On the contrary they were conceived in fear and selfishness, and enacted for the purpose of warding off the self-incurred penalties of murder and insurrection, as elsewhere pointed out. In further substantiation of our view we give an extract from the preamble of an act of the North Carolina legislature, done in 1786, which is highly commendable in that it confesses its real motives in plain words. This preamble declares the introduction of new captives from Africa

to be "Of evil consequences and highly impolitic," and affixes a penalty of five pounds per head on all subsequent importations.

Thus we find that at the time of the adoption of the present Constitution the Southern section of the country was tightening rather than loosening its grasp upon the abhorrent practice of human chattelism, while in the North there was a distinct and growing belief that apart from any moral considerations, such gross violations of fundamental moral principles must necessarily entail and precipitatein the not distant future-its inevitable penalties. And justice requires us to add that the more northernly states lacked the incentive of the South, in holding to slavery, for it had been found that the institution was little if at all profitable north of Maryland.


From the Adoption of the Constitution, in 1788, to the Year 1860-The Growing Sentiment in


Opposition to Slavery

REAT rejoicing throughout the new and sovereign states of America followed the glad tidings of ratification of the Constitution. The oppressed colonists had reluctantly declared, and triumphantly gained their independence, by the most perfect if not the most humane, of all arbitraments-that of arms-and were now securely bound together by ties of common interests and a government for mutual benefit.

The question of slavery was now to have a protracted period of comparative rest. The pressing needs of national quiet and time for physical rehabilitation after the seven years' struggle for freedom, deprived the people of time to discuss any question that could be postponed. Although living in a land of plenty the exigencies of war had so depleted the available supplies of all kinds that farming, home-making, and the setting in order the machinery of a new government, demanded all the energies of the people. The work of putting into practical operation the newly written Constitution was no easy task, especially when we remember that the coffers of the national treasury were empty. The makers of the new organic law of the land had only blazed an unbroken track through the tangles of an unknown political wilderness. It remained for American statesmen to clear the way for the ship of State


and devise ways and means for the establishment and co-ordination of the several departments of ernment. Apparently on account of this pre-occupation, it was thirty years before the question of Negro slavery again came prominently to the front.

While those who took part in the framing of the Constitution evaded direct reference to Negro slavery, the majority were, nevertheless, opposed to it, and firmly believed that the instrument contained the disguised leaven which would in the end work the complete eradication of the evil; and in this their augury was accurate.

This majority consented to such clauses in the Constitution as we have quoted-making slavery temporarily possible-only because such a course was an acceptance of the lesser of evils; they did not endorse the practice in any other sense. The question which they had to decide was: Shall we accede to the demands for the continuation of slavery, or shall we fail to unite these disjointed states into a stable government, under a written Constitution. They saw that the Constitution must be adopted even at the cost of the perpetuation, or continuation, of slavery; so they minimized the necessary endorsation of human chattelism, and gained the complete triumph of the greatest conservative force for human rights the world has ever known.

There are some among us who teach that no compromise with justice can be right; but as the case in question aptly illustrates, such propaganda is the veriest sophistry. All sound logicians will assent to the axiom that when confronted with a choice of evils-which language implies that we cannot avoid a decision between them-it is the part of wisdom to accept the lesser, though we confess a certain amount of inherent injustice. The Constitution

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