|Chapter Number||VOLUME II: IX|
|Newspaper Title||The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||American Notes for General Circulation|
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
The upholders of slavery in America, of the atrocities of which system, I shall not write one word for which I have not ample proof and warrant, may be divided into three great classes.
The first, are those more moderate and rational owners of human cattle, who have come into the possession of them as so many coins in their trading capital, but who admit the frightful nature of the in- stitution in the abstract, and perceive the dangers to society with which it is fraught ; dangers which however distant they may he, or howsoever tardy in their coming on, are as certain to fall upon its guilty head, as is the Day of Judgment.
The second, consist of all those owners, breeders, users, buyers and sellers of slaves, who will, until the bloody chapter has a bloody end, own, breed, use, buy, and, sell them at all hazards ; who dog- gedly deny the horrors of the system, in
the teeth of such a mass of evidence as never was brought to bear on any other subject, and to which the experience of every day contributes its immense amount ; who would at this or any other moment, gladly involve America in a war, civil, or foreign, provided that it had for its sole end and object the assertion of their right to perpetuate slavery, and to whip and work and torture slaves, unquestioned by any human authority, and unassailed by any human power ; who, when they speak of Freedom, mean the Freedom to oppress their kind, and to be savage, merciless, and cruel ; find of whom every man on his own ground, in republican America, is a more exacting, and a sterner, and a less responsible despot, than the Caliph Ha- roun Alraschid, in his angry robe of
The third and not the least numerous or influential, is composed of all that delicate gentility which cannot bear a superior, and cannot brook an equal ; of that class whose Republicanism means, "I will not tolerate a man above me : and of those below, none must approach too near ;" whose pride, in a land where voluntary servitude is shunned as a disgrace, must be ministered to by slaves ; and whose inalienable rights can only have their growth in negro wrongs.
It has been sometimes urged that, in the unavailing efforts which have been made to advance the cause of human freedom in
the republic of America (strange cause for history to treat of !), sufficient regard
has not been had to the existence of the
first class of persons ; and it has been con- tended that they are hardly used, in being confounded with the second. This is, no doubt, the case ; noble instances of pecu- niary and personal sacrifice have already had their growth among them ; and it is much to be regretted that the gulf between them and the advocates of emancipation should have been widened and deepened by any means : the rather, as there are, beyond dispute, among these slave-owners, many kind masters who are tender in the exercise of their unnatural power. Still it is to be feared that this injustice is insepa- rable from the state of things with which humanity sad truth are called upon to deal. Slavery is not a whit the more endurable because some hearts are to be found which can partially resist its hardening influences, nor can the indignant tide of honest wrath stand still, because in its onward course it overwhelms a few who are comparatively innocent, among a host of guilty.
The ground most commonly taken by these better men among the advocates of slavery, is this : " It is a bad system ; and for my- self I would willingly get rid of it, if I could ; most willingly. But it is not so bad, as you in England take it to be. You are deceived by the representations of the emancipationists. The greater part of my
slaves are much attached to me. You
will say that I do no not allow them to be severely treated ; but I will put it to you whether you believe that it can be a general practice to treat them inhumanly, when it would impair their value, and would be obviously against the interests of
Is it the interest of any man to steal, to game, to waste his health and mental faculties by drunkenness, to lie, forswear himself, indulge hatred, seek desperate re- venge, or do murder ? No. All these are roads to ruin. And why, then, do
men tread them ? Because such inclina- tions are among the vicious qualities of mankind. Blot out, ye friends of slavery, from the catalogue of human passions, brutal lust, cruelty, and the abuse of irres- ponsible power (of all earthly temptations the most difficult to be resisted), and when yo have done so, and not before, we will inquire whether it be the interest of a
master to lash and maim the slaves, over whose lives and limbs he has an absolute
But again : this class, together with that last one I have named, the miserable aris- tocracy spawned of a false republic, lift up their voices and exclaim, " Public opinion is all sufficient to prevent such cruelty as you denounce." Public opinion ! Why, public opinion in the slave States is slavery, is it not ? Public opinion, in the slave States, has delivered the slaves over, to the gentle mercies of their masters. Public opinion has made the laws, and denied them legislative protection. Public opinion has knotted the lash, heated the branding-iron, loaded the rifle, and shielded the murderer. Public opinion threatens the abolitionist with death, if he venture to the South ; and drags him with a rope about his middle, in broad unblushing noon, through the first city in the East. Public opinion has, within a few years, burned a slave alive at a slow fire in the city of St. Louis ; and public opinion has to this day maintained upon the bench that esti-
mable Judge who charged the Jury, im- panelled there to try his murderers, that
their most horrid deed was an act of public
opinion, and being so, must not be punished by the laws the public sentiment had made. Public opinion hailed this doctrine with a howl of wild applause, and set the prisoners free, to walk the city, men of mark, and influence, and station, as they had been before.
Public opinion ! what class of men have an immense preponderance over the rest of the community, in their power of repre- senting public opinion in the legislature ? the slave owners. They send from their twelve States one hundred members, while the fourteen free States, with a free popu- lation nearly double, return but a hundred and forty-two. Before whom do the pre-
sedential candidates bow down the most
humbly, on whom do they fawn the most fondly, and for whose taste do they cater the most assiduously in their servile pro- testations ? The slave owners always.
Public opinion ! hear the public opinion of the free South, as expressed by its own members in the House of Representativee at Washington. " I have a great respect for the chair," quoth North Carolina, " I have, a great respect for the chair as an officer of the house, and a great respect for him personally ; nothing but that re- spect prevents me from rushing to the table and tearing that petition which has just been presented for the abolition of slavery in the district of Columbia, to pieces."—" I warn the abolitionists." says South Carolina, " ignorant, infuriated barbarians as they are, that if chance shall throw any of them into our hands, he may expect a felon's death."—" Let an aboli-
tionist come within the borders of South Carolina," cries a third ; mild Carolina's colleague ; " and if we can catch him, we will try him, and notwithstanding the in- terference of all the Governments on earth, including the Federal government, we
will HANG him."
Public opinion has made this law.—It has declared that in Washington, in that city
which takes its name from the father of
American liberty, any justice of the peace may bind with fetters any negro passing down the street and thrust him into jail ; no offence on the black man's part is ne- cessary. The justice says, " I choose to think this man a runaway ;" and locks him up. Public opinion impowers the man of law when this is done, to adver- tise the negro in the newspapers, warning his owner to come and claim him, or he will be sold to pay the jail fees. But sup- posing he is a free black, and has no owner, it may naturally be presumed that he is set at liberty. No : he is sold to recompense his jailer. This has been done again, and again, and again. He has no means of proving his freedom ; has no ad- viser, messenger, or assistance of any sort or kind ; no investigation into his case is made, or inquiry instituted. He, a free man, who may have served for years, and bought his liberty, is thrown into a jail on no process, for no crime, and on no pre- tence of crime : and is sold to pay the jail fees. This seems incredible, even of America, but it is the law.
Public opinion is deferred to, in such cases as the following ; which is headed in the newspapers.
" An interesting case is now on trial in the Supreme Court, arising out of the fol- lowing facts. A gentleman residing in Maryland had allowed an aged pair of his slaves, substantial though not legal freedom for several years. While thus living, a daughter was born to them, who grew up in the same liberty, until she married a free negro, and went with him to reside in Pensylvania. They had several children, and lived unmolested until the original owner died, when his heir attempted to regain them ; but the magistrate before whom they were brought, decided that he had no jurisdiction in the case. The
owner seized the woman and her children
in the night, and carried them to Mary-
" Cash for negroes," "cash for negroes," " cash for negroes," is the heading adver- tisements in great capitals down the long columns of the crowded journals, Wood- cuts of a runaway negro with manacled hands, crouching beneath a bluff pursuer in top boots, who having caught him, grasps him by the throat, agreeably diver- sify the pleasant text. The leading article protests against " that abominable and hellish doctrine of abolition, which is re- pugnant alike to every law of God and nature." The delicate mama, who smiles her acquiescence in this sprightly writing as she reads the paper in her cool piazas, quiets her youngest child who clings about her skirts, by promising the boy " a whip to beat the little niggers with." But the negroes, little and big, are protected by public opinion.
Let us try this public opinion by another test, which is important in three points of view: first, as showing how desperately timid of the public opinion the slave- owners are, in their delicate descriptions of fugitive slaves in widely circulated newspapers ; secondly, as showing how perfectly contented the slaves are, and how very seldom they run away ; thirdly, as exhibiting their entire freedom from scar, or blemish, or any mark of cruel in- fliction, as their pictures are drawn, not by lying abolitionists, but by their own
The following are a few specimens of the advertisements in the public papers. It is only four years since the oldest among them appeared ; and others of the same nature continue to be published
every day, in shoals.
" Ran away, Negress Caroline, Had on a collar with one prong turned down."
" Han away, a black woman, Betsy. Had an iron bar on her right leg."
" Ran away, the negro Manuel. Much
marked with irons."
" Ran away, the negress Fanny. Had
on an iron band about her neck."
" Ran away, a negro boy about twelve years old. Had round his neck a chain dog-collar with ' De Lampert' engraved
"Ran away, the negro Hown. Has a ring of iron on his left foot. Also, Grise, his wife, having a ring and chain on the left leg."
" Ran away, a negro boy named James. Said boy was ironed when he left me."
" Committed to jail, a man who calls his name John. He has a clog of iron on his right foot which will weigh four or five pounds."
" Detained at the police jail, the negro wench, Myra. Has several marks of LASHING, and has irons on her feet."
"Ran away, a negro woman and two children ; a few days before she went off, I burnt her with a hot iron, on the left side of her face. I tried to make the letter M."
" Ran away, a negro man named Henry ; his left eye out, some scars from a dirk on and under his left arm, and much scarred with the whip."
" One hundred dollars reward, for a negro fellow, Pompey, 40 years old. He is branded on the left jaw."
"Committed to jail, a negro man. Has no toes on the left foot,"
" Ran away, a negro woman named Ra- chel. Has lost all her toes except the large one."
" Ran away, Sam. He was shot a short time since through the hand, and has se-
veral shots in his left arm and side."
" Ran away, my negro man Dennis. Said negro has been shot in the left arm between the shoulders and elbow, which has paralysed the left hand."
"Ran away, my negro man named Simon. He has been shot badly, in his back and right arm."
" Ran away, a negro named Ar-
thur. Has a considerable scar across his breast and each arm, made by a knife ; loves to talk much of the goodness of God."
" Twenty-five dollars reward for my man Isaac. He has a sear on his fore-
head, caused by a blow ; and one on his back, made by a shot from a pistol."
" Ran away, a negro girl called Mary. Has a small scar over her eye, a good many teeth missing ; the letter A is branded on her cheek and forehead."
" Ran away, negro Ben. Has a scar on his right hand ; his thumb and fore- finger being injured by being shot last fall. A part of the bone came out. He has also one or two large scars on his back and hips."
" Detained at the gaol, a mulatto, named Tom. Has a scar on the right cheek, and appears to have been burned with powder
on the face,"
" Ran away, a negro man named Ned. Three of his fingers are drawn into the palm of his hand by a cut. Has a scar on the back of his neck, nearly half round, done by a knife."
" Was committed to jail, a negro man. Says his name his Josiah. His back very much scarred by the whip ; and branded on the thigh and hips in three or four places, thus (J. M.). The rim of his right ear has been bit or cut off."
" Fifty dollars reward, for my fellow
Edward. He has a scar on the corner of his mouth, two cuts on and under his arm, and the letter E on his arm."
" Ran away, negro boy Ellie. Has a
scar on one of his arms from the bite of a
" Ran away, from the plantation of James Surgett, the following negroes :— Randal, has one ear cropped ; Bob, has lost one eye ; Kentucky Tom, has one jaw broken."
" Ran away, Anthony. One of his ears cut off, and his left hand cut with an
" Fifty dollars reward for the negro Jim Blake. Has a piece cut out of each ear, and the middle finger of the left hand cut off to the second joint."
" Ran away, a negro woman named Maria. Has a scar on one side of her
cheek, by a cut. Some scars on her
" Ran away, the Mulatto wench Mary. Has a cut on the left arm, a scar on the left shoulder, and two upper teeth miss- ing.
I should say, perhaps, in explanation of this latter piece of description, that among the other blessings which public opinion secures to the negroes, is the common practice of violently punching out their
teeth. To make them wear iron collars
by day and night, and to worry them with dogs, are practices almost too ordinary to
" Ran away, my man Fountain. Has holes in his ears, a scar on the right side of his forehead, has been shot in the hind parts of his legs, and is marked on the back with the whip."
" Two hundred and fifty dollars reward for my negro man Jim. He is much marked with shot in his right thigh. The shot entered on the outside, half way be- tween the hip and knee joints."
" Brought to jail, John. Left ear cropt."
" Taken up, a negro man. Is very much scarred about the face and body, and
has the left ear bit off."
" Ran away, a black girl, named Mary. Has a scar on her check, and the end of one of her toes cut off."
" Ran away, my Mullatto woman, Judy, she has had her right arm broke."
" Ran away, my negro man, Levi.
His left hand has been burnt, and I think the end of his forefinger is off."
" Ran away, a negro man, named Washington. Has lost a part of his middle finger, and the end of his little finger."
" Twenty-five dollars reward for my man John. The tip of his nose is bit off." " Twenty-five dollars reward for the negro slave Sally. Walks as though crip- pled in the back."
" Ran away, Joe Dennis. Has a small
notch in one of his ears."
" Ran away, negro boy Jack. Has a small crop out of his left ear."
" Ran away, a negro man, named Ivory. Has a small piece cut of the top of each ear,"
While upon the subject of ears, I may observe that a distinguished abolitionist in New York once received a negro's ear, which had been cut off close to the head, in a general post letter. It was forwarded by the free and independent gentleman who had caused it to be amputated, with a polite request that he would place the specimen in his "collection."
I could enlarge this catalogue with broken arms, and broken legs, and gashed flesh, and missing teeth, and lacerated backs, and bites of dogs, and brands of red-hot irons innumerable : but as my readers will be sufficiently sickened and repelled already, I will turn to another branch of the subject.
These advertisements, of which a similar collection might be made for every year, and month, and week, and day; and which are coolly read in families as things of course, and as a part of the current news and small talk ; will serve to show how very much the slaves profit by public opinion, and how tender it is in their be- half. But it may be worth while to in- quire how the slave owners, and the class of society to which great numbers of them belong, defer to public opinion in their conduct, not to their slaves but to each other ; how they are accustomed to re- strain their passions ; what their bearing is among themselves ; whether they are fierce or gentle ; whether their social cus- toms be brutal, sanguinary, and violent, or bear the impress of civilisation and refine-
That we may have no partial evidence from abolitionists in this inquiry, either, I
will ones more turn to their own news-
papers, and I will confine myself, this time, to a selection from paragraphs which appeared from day to day, during my visit to America, and which refer to occur- rences happening while I was there. The italics in these extracts, as in the fore- going, are my own.
Those cases did not ALL occur, it will be seen, in territory actually belonging to legalized Slave States, though most and those the very worst among them did, as their counterparts constantly do ; but the positions of the scenes of action in re- ference to places immediately at hand, where slavery is the law ; and the strong
resemblance between that class of outrages and the rest; lead to the just presumption that the character of the parties concerned was formed in slave districts and brutalised by slave customs.
" Horrible Tragedy.
" By a slip from The Southport Tele- graph, Wisconsin, we learn that the Hon. Charles C. P. Arndt, Member of the Council for Brown County, was shot dead on the floor of the Council Chamber, by James R. Vinyard, Member from Grant county. The affair grew out of a nomina- tion for Sheriff of Grant county. Mr. E. S. Baker was nominated and supported by Mr. Arndt. This nomination was opposed by Vimyard, who wanted the appointment to vest in his own brother. In the course of the debate, the deceased made some statements which Vinyard pronounced false, and made use of violent and insulting language, dealing largely in personalities, to which Mr. A. made no reply. After the adjournment Mr. A. stepped up to Vinyard, and requested him to retract, which he refused to do, repeating the offensive words. Mr. Arndt then made a blow at Vinyard, who stepped back a pace, drew a pistol, and shot him dead.
" The issue appears to have been pro- voked on the part of Vinyard, who was
determined at all hazards to defeat the appointment of Baker, and who, himself defeated, turned his ire and revenge upon
the unfortunate Arndt.
" The Wisconsin Tragedy.
" Public indignation runs high in the territory of Wisconsin, in relation to the murder of C. C. P. Arndt, in the Legis- lative hall of the territory. Meetings have been held in the different counties of Wisconsin, denouncing the practice of secretly bearing arms in the legislative chambers of the country. We have seen the account of the expulsion of James R. Vinyard, the perpetrator of the bloody deed, and are amazed to hear, that, after this expulsion by those who saw Vinyard kill Mr. Arndt in the presence of his aged father, who was on a visit to see his son,
little dreaming that he was to witness his murder. Judge Dunn has discharged Vinyard on bail. The Miner's Free Press speaks in terms of merited rebuke at the outrage upon the feelings of the people of Wisconsin. Vinyard was within arm's length of Mr. Arndt, when he took such deadly aim at him, that he never spoke. Vinyard might at pleasure, being so near, have only wounded him, but he chose to
"By a letter in a St. Louis paper of the 14th, we notice a terrible outrage at Bur- lington, Iowa. A Mr. Bridgman having had a difficulty with a citizen of the place, Mr. Ross ; a brother-in-law of the latter, provided himself with one of Colt's revol- ving pistols, met Mr. B. in the street, and discharged the contents of five of the barrels at him ; each shot taking effect. Mr. B., though horribly wounded, and dying, returned the fire, and killed Ross on the spot."
" Terrible Death of Robert Potter.
"From the Caddo Gazette, of the 12th instant, we learn the frightful death of
Colonel Robert Potter. * * * He
was beset in his house by an enemy, named Rose. He sprang from his couch, seized his gun, and, in his night clothes,
rushed from the house. For about two
hundred yards his speed seemed to defy his pursuers ; but getting entangled in a thicket, he was captured. Rose told him that he intended to act a generous part, and give him a chance for his life. He then told Potter he might run, and he should not be interrupted till he reached a certain
distance, Potter started at the word of command, and before a gun was fired, he had reached the lake. His first impulse was to jump in the water and dive for it, which he did. Rose was close behind him, and formed his men on the bank ready to shoot him as he rose. In a few seconds he came up to breathe ; and scarce had his head reached the surface of the water when it was completely riddled with the shot of their guns, and he sunk, to rise
no more !"
" Murder in Arkansas.
" We understand that a severe rencontre
came off a few days since in the Seneca Nation, between Mr. Loose, the sub-agent of the mixed land of the Senecas, Quapaw, and Shawnees, and Mr. James Gillespie,
of the mercantile firm of Thomas G. Alli-
son and Co., of Maysville, Benton, County Ark, in which the latter was slain with a bowie-knife. Some difficulty had for some time existed between the parties. It is said that Major Gillespie brought on the
attack with the cane. A severe conflict
ensued, during which two pistols were fired by Gillespie and one by Loose. Loose then stabbed Gillespie with one of those never-failing weapons, a bowie-knife. The death of Major G. is much regretted, as he was a liberal-minded and energetic man. Since the above was in type, we learned that Major Allison has stated to some of our citizens in town that Mr. Loose gave the first blow. We forbear to give any par- ticulars, as the matter will be the subject of judicial investigation."
" Foul Deed.
" The steamer Thames, just from Mis- souri river, brought us a handbill, offering a reward of 500 dollars for the person who assassinated Lilburn W. Baggs, late Go- vernor of this state, at Independence, on the night of the 6th instant. Governor Baggs, it is stated in a written memoran- dum, was not dead, but mortally wounded.
" Since the above was written we re- ceived a note from the Clerk of the Thames, giving the following particulars.
Gov. Baggs was shot by some villain on Friday, 6th instant, in the evening, while sitting in a room of his own house in Independence. His son, a boy, hearing a report, ran into the room, and found the Governor sitting in his chin, with his jaw fallen down, and his head leaning back, on discovering the injury done his father, he gave the alarm. Foot tracks were found in the garden below the window, and a pistol picked up, supposed to have been overloaded, and thrown from the hand of the scoundrel who fired it. Three buck
shots, of a heavy load, took effect, one going through his mouth, one into the brain, and another probably in or near the brain ; all going into the back part of the
neck and head. The Governor was still
alive on the morning of the 7th ; but no hopes for his recovery by his friends, and but slight hopes from his physicians.
" A man was suspected, and the Sheriff most probably has possession of him by
" The pistol was one of a pair stolen some days previous from a baker in Inde- pendence, and the legal authorities have the description of the other."
" An unfortunate affair took place on Friday evening in Chatres-street, in which one of our most respectable citizens re- ceived a dangerous wound, from a poig- nard, in the abdomen. From the Bee (New Orleans) of yesterday, we learn the following particulars. It appears that an article was published in the French side of
the paper on Monday last, containing
some strictures on the Artillery Battalion for firing their guns on Sunday morning, in answer to those from the Ontario and Woodbury, and thereby much alarm was caused to the families of those persons who were out all night preserving the peace of the city. Major C. Gally, commanding the battalion, resenting this, called at the office, and demanded the author's name : that of Mr. P. Arpin was given to him, who was absent at the time. Some angry words then passed with one of the pro- prietors, and a challenge followed ; the friends of both parties tried to arrange the affair, but failing to do so. On Friday evening, about seven o'clock, Major Gally met Mr. P. Arpin in Chatres-street, and accosted him. " Are you Mr. Arpin ?"
" ' Yes, Sir.'
" ' Then I have to tell you that you are a ——' " (applying an appropriate epithet.)
" ' I shall remind you of your words,
" ' But I have said I would break my
cane on your shoulders.'
" 'I know it, but I have not yet received
" At these words, Major Gally, having a cane in his hands, struck Mr. Arpin across the face, and the latter drew a poig- nard from his pocket and stabbed Major Gally in the abdomen.
" ' Fears are entertained that the wound will be mortal. We understand that Mr. Arpin has given security for his appearance at the Criminal Court to answer the charge."
" Affray in Mississippi.
" On the 27th ult., in an affray near Carthage, Leake county, Mississippi, be- tween James Cottingham and John Wil- burn, the latter was shot by the former, and so horribly wounded, that there was n0 hope of his recovery. On the 2nd in- stant, there was an affray at Carthage be- tween A. C. Sharkey and George Goff, in which the latter was shot, and thought mortally wounded. Sharkey delivered himself up to the authorities, but changed his mind and escaped !"
"An encounter took place in Sparta, a few days since, between the barkeeper of an hotel, and a man named Bury. It ap- pears that Bury had become somewhat noisy, and that the barkeeper, determined to preserve order, had threatened to shoot Bury, whereupon Bury drew a pistol and shot the barkeeper down. He was not dead at the last accounts, but slight hopes were entertained of his recovery."
" The clerk of the steamboat, Tribune, informs us that another duel was fought on Tuesday last, by Mr. Robbins, a bank officer in Vicksburg, and Mr. Fall, the editor of the Vicksburgh Sentinel. Ac- cording to the arrangements, the parties had six pistols each, which, after the word 'Fire!' they were to discharge as fast as they pleased. Fall fired two pistols with- out effect. Mr. Robbins's first shot took
effect in Fall's thigh, who fell, and was
unable to continue combat."
" Affray in Clarke County.
" An unfortunate affray occurred in Clarke County, (Mo.) near Waterloo, on Tuesday, the 19th ult., which originated in settling the partnership concerns of Messrs. McKane and McAllister, who had been engaged in the business of distilling, and resulted in the death of the latter, who was shot down by Mr. McKane, because of his attempting to take possession of seven barrels of whiskey, the property of Mr. McKane, which had been knocked off to McAllister, at a sheriff's sale, at one dollar per barrel. McKane immediately lied, and at the latest dates had not been
" This unfortunate affray caused con- siderable excitement in the neighbourhood, as both the parties were men with large families depending upon them, and stood well in the community."
I will quote but one more paragraph, which, by reason of its monstrous ab- surdity, may be a relief to these atrocious
Affair of Honour."
" We have just heard the particulars of a meeting which took place on Six Mile Island, on Tuesday, between two young bloods of our city ; Samuel Thurston, aged fifteen, and William Hine, aged thirteen years. They were attended by young gentlemen of the same age. The weapons used on the occasion, were a couple of Dickson's best rifles ; the distance, thirty yards. They took one fire, without any damage being sustained by either party, except the ball of Thurston's gun passing through the crown of Hine's hat. Through the Intercessionof the Board of Honor, the challenge was withdraw, and the difference amicably adjusted."
If the reader will picture to himself the kind of Board of Honour which amicably adjusted the difference between these two boys, who in any other part of the world would have been amicable adjusted on two porter's backs and soundly flogged with birchen rods, he will be possessed, no doubt, with as strong a sense of its ludi- crous character, as that which sets me laughing whenever its image rises up
Now, I appeal to every human mind
imbued with the commonest of common sense and the commonest of common humanity ; to all dispassionate, reason- ing creatures, of any shade of opinion ; and ask with these revolting evidences of the state of society which exists in and about the slave districts of America before them, can they have a doubt of the real condition of the slave, or can they for a moment make a compromise between the institution or any of its flagrant fearful features, and their own just consciences ? Will they say of any tale of cruelty and horror, however aggravated in degree, that it is improbable, when they can turn to the public prints, and, running, read such signs as these, laid before them by the men who rule the slaves : in their own acts and under their own hands ?
Do we know that the worst deformity and ugliness of slavery are at once the cause and the effect of the reckless license taken by these freeborn outlaws ? Do we not know that the man who has been born and bred among its wrongs ; who has seen in his childhood husbands obliged at the word of command to flog their wives ; women, indecently compelled to hold up their own garments that men might lay the heavier stripes upon their legs, driven and hurried by brutal overseers in their time of travail, and becoming mothers on the field of toil, under the very lash itself ; who has read in youth, and seen his virgin sisters read, descriptions of runaway men and women, and their disfigured persons, which could not be published elsewhere, of so much stock upon a farm or at a show of beasts ;—do
we not know that that man, whenever his wrath is kindled up, will be a brutal savage ? Do we not know that as he is a coward in his domestic life, stalking about among his shrinking men and women slaves armed with his heavy whip, so he will be a coward out of doors, and carrying
coward's weapons hidden in his breast,
will shoot men down and stab them when he quarrels ? And if our reason did not teach us this and much beyond ; if we were such idiots as to close our eyes to that fine mode of training which rears up such men ; should we not know that they who among their equals stab and pistol in the legislative halls, and in the counting house, and on the market-place, and in all the elsewhere peaceful pursuits of life, must be to their dependants, even though they were free servants, so many merciless and unrelenting tyrants ?
What ! shall we declaim against the ignorant peasantry of Ireland, and mince
the matter when these American task-
masters are in question ? Shall we cry shame on the brutality of those who ham- string cattle : and spare the lights of Free- dom upon earth who notch the ears of men and women, cut pleasant posies in the shrinking flesh, learn to write with pens of red-hot iron on the human face, rack their poetic fancies for liveries of mutilation
which their slaves shall wear for life and
carry to the grave, break living limbs as did the soldiery who mocked and slew the Saviour of the world, and set defenceless creatures up for targets ! shall we whimper over legends of the tortures practised on each other by the Pagan Indians ; and smile upon the cruelties of Christian men ! Shall we, so long as these things last, exult above the scattered remnants of that stately race, and triumph in the white enjoyment of their broad possessions ? Rather, for me, restore the forest and the Indian vil-
lage ; in lieu of stars and stripes, let some poor feather flutter in the breeze ; replace the streets and squares by wigwams ; and though the death-song of a hundred haugh- ty warriors fill the air, it will be music to the shriek of one unhappy slave.
On one theme, which is commonly be- fore our eyes, and in respect of which our national character is changing fast, let the plain truth be spoken, and let us not, like dastards, beat about the bush by hinting at the Spaniard and the fierce Italian. When knives are drawn by Englishmen in con- flict, let it be said and known : "We owe this change to Republican Slavery. These are the weapons of Freedom. With sharp points and edges such as these, Liberty in America doth hew and hack her slaves ; or, failing that pursuit, her sons devote them to a better use, and turn them on each other."