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some important particulars from that existing among their cotemporaries in any part of the world. In our examination of the Scriptures, with reference to this subject generally, we shall have occasion to describe the servitude which existed under the laws of Moses, somewhat minutely. It is sufficient, therefore, to remark in this place, that the Hebrews were taught by the principles and by the precepts of their religion, that personal freedom is an inestimable privilege ; and, that wherever involuntary servitude is found to exist, the evils attending it, whether physical or moral, ought, as far as possible, to be mitigated and diminished, in obedience to the law of love to God and love to man. In general, the requirements of the Mosaic code respecting servants who were of the Hebrews, and "bond-men” and “bond-maids” that might be bought of the heathen, were so far observed, that the actual condition of this class of persons in the land of Israel must have been incomparably superior to that of the slaves among the Gentiles. And the evidence is ample and decisive, that even the system of slavery which Moses did not prohibit, but, to a certain extent, suffered to remain among the chosen people, was continually in conflict with uncompromising antagonistical elements, both in the means and ends of the beneficent institutions of the Hebrew commonwealth. The natural effect of those institutions was, to ameliorate the condition of slaves in every respect, and ultimately to abolish the practice of slave-holding. It is a fact worthy of particular notice in this connection, that if a bondwoman bore a child to her master, the child followed the condition of the father. The doctrine of partus sequitur ventrem, is of much later origin.

In several respects the condition of slaves in Mohammedan nations has been similar to that of those among the ancient Israelites; and we shall therefore refer to it in this place, although out of chronological order. Under Mohammedan law, slaves may compel their masters to set a price for their redemption, or to sell them to another master. The Turks make no distinction in the treatment of children born to them by their female slaves and those born in wedlock. The mother of a sultan may be a slave. Christian slaves also may obtain their freedom by professing Mohammedanism. In general, the treatment of slaves wherever this religion prevails, appears to partake of the lenity and humanity of the Jewish system. The condition of Christian captives in the Barbary States may appear to offer an exception; but the cruelties to which they were subjected, may be ascribed either to the desire of revenge, or the hope of extorting a larger or speedier ransom. To recent movements with reference to slavery in those States, we shall refer in another part of our Report.


Returning now to the ancient nations -Homer may be cited in proof of the early existence of slavery among the Greeks. It is to be remembered, that Homer was an Asiatic, and his pictures of domestic life have often an Asiatic coloring. At most he is only authority for the slavery of captives of war. In the nature of things it would seern scarcely possible, that slaves could be numerous among a simple and hardy people.

Slaves in Greece were of two kinds. The Helots of Sparta were serfs (adscripti glebæ) who were bound to the soil which they cultivated, and on which they paid a certain rent. At Corinth and Athens, slaves were chattels personal. They became in time so numerous and skilful, that every species of handicraft was performed by them. With the exception of those employed in the mines, they seem to have been not unkindly treated. They were under the protection of law, and an Athenian slave could take refuge from the cruelty of his owner in the temple of Theseus. He could also compel his master to sell him; but whether he could buy his own freedom is doubtful. But whatever features of mildness slavery may have assumed among the Greeks, can any one, who is at all conversant with their history, believe that they ever reaped any moral or social advantage from it? Did any of them enjoy a purer or more ennobling freedom, by the ignominious thraldom of a portion of their community ?

We find traces of slavery in the earliest history of Rome. Slaves, however, were, at first, very few in number. They were captives, were employed in agriculture, and were treated, probably, like other servants. We find that they sat at the same table with their masters. As luxury increased, the number of slaves became larger. And beside the immense multitude of captives taken in the constant wars of the republic, there grew up a regular slave trade, by which slaves were procured from Asia and Africa. Nevertheless, the dealers in slaves were a disreputable and odious class; and were not allowed to assume the title of merchants.

While the Roman laws allowed the exercise of great severity in the treatment of slaves, even to the extent of taking life, there were yet some important advantages enjoyed by the slaves, as compared with those of our own country. The slave, under certain prescribed conditions, could acquire property. There was no bar to his emancipation by his master, and he became a citizen as soon as emancipated. When slaves were sold, families could not be separated. The general condition of the slaves improved gradually with the advance of Christianity, and the system itself finally disappeared—either being merged in the serfdom of the feudal institutions, or abolished altogether.

From that serfdom to entire enfranchisement, the progress was gradual, but steady. The law seems to have leaned strongly toward liberty; and the lawyers were strenuous in asserting the most liberal interpretation of it. In this way the lord's tenure of his serf was rendered as uncertain and vexatious as possible. What was unjust was made inconvenient. The popular element of the commonwealth asserted itself with more and more distinctness; and serfdom crumbled away like those material relics of the past which are disentombed from ancient repositories of the dead, by the simple contact of a freer atmosphere.

In looking at the several species of human bondage, at which we have thus glanced, while our sympathies are appealed to by their evident injustice, the mind is not impressed with any logical inconsequence. They were in keeping with the spirit and principles of the times. But in considering the slavery of the African race in America, not only are we pained by its inhumanity and its open breach of the acknowledged principles of justice, but we are sensible that it is an anachronism.

Slavery in the ancient world, and at the present day in the East, appears a natural and necessary part of the political fabric. It is supported on every side by kindred institutions, like a stone in mosaic. Natural justice has been the same in all ages; but the limits to the view which each generation is enabled to take of it, are in a great measure defined by habit, education and surrounding circumstances. Thus we find even Luther, taking sides against the insurgent serfs, because the absorption of his mind in one object, as we may conjecture, did not allow him to perceive, that their movement was a fair political corollary from the premises which he had established in spiritual matters. In this way we may conceive, that certain forms of the social system which the pure reason must disown, may still be in unison with the demands of the reasoning faculty, as logical deductions from premises universally granted. But American slavery has no such congruity. On the contrary, it is in direct antagonism to the premises on which our government rests; and involves us every day in fresh contradictions and compromises.

We have now reached the point in our survey where it is proper to state the leading facts in the history of American Slavery-passing at once from the ancient to the modern aspect of the institution.

The first negroes, enslaved by a Christian nation in modern times, were brought to Portugal, about fifty years before the discovery of America. Some of their enslavers, in the first instance, were actuated by motives of benevolence; conceiving that the simple ceremony of baptisın secured their eternal sal


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vation. From this chance seed, nevertheless, sprang the deadly upas of American slaveryThe Portuguese gradually established a traffic in slaves, but not upon a very large scale ; for, except as articles of luxury, there could be no great demand for them in Spain and Portugal. But the discovery of America, by opening new fields for their labor, soon rendered the business permanent and profitable.

As long as Isabella lived, her womanly sympathies were interposed between the happy and gentle islanders of the Caribbean group and their rapacious invaders. She succeeded in preventing their enslavement, at least in name. But Spain was far off and the gold mines were near. A system of involuntary and unrequited labor soon arose, which, shortly after the death of Isabella, assumed the name, as it had already displayed all the attributes, of Slavery. History has but faintly recorded (for words are weak) the atrocities of which the Spanish colonists were guilty toward that race which Columbus described as Christians in all but the name. They who read the past wisely, should not forget how Hayti, where slavery was first planted, went through a fearful purgation of blood and fame.

It is well known, that, when in the sixteenth century it was proposed to different powers of Europe to legislate for the transportation of Africans, as slaves, to supply the alleged necessities of the colonies in America, the purpose shocked the moral sense of all Christendom! And yet not a thousandth part of the atrocities of the slave-trade had begun to be known or imagined. It was only by the most artful and unwearied management and deception, that the sovereigns of Spain, France and England, were induced to give a partial and restricted indulgence to the detestable traffic. A dispute between the Franciscans who encouraged and the Dominicans who denounced both the slave-trade and the system of slavery, was adjudicated by Leo X., whose righteous decision was, that “not only the Christian religion, but nature herself, cried out against Slavery!"

The desire of gold had become only more insatiable by a partial satisfaction. The mines demanded new victims, and, the natives having been literally annihilated, the loss must be supplied from Africa. For more than three hundred years the trade in human flesh has been carried on. For more than three hundred years the slave-ship has been almost the only messenger which Christendom has sent forth to Africa. Denounced by all civilized men, this accursed traffic has still continued to flourish, and must continue while the system that gives it life is tolerated. It should be for our instruction and our gratitude, that our New England ancestors, true to their principles and their piety, strenuously, though ineffectually, withstood the in

troduction of slaves amongst them. But subject as they were to the overshadowing power of the mother country, they could not do as they would ; and a minority of the population prevailed against a decided preponderance of public sentiment.

Sir John Hawkins was the first Englishman who made a voyage to the African coast for slaves. In his second venture Royalty went partner. Slaves were introduced into the Eng. lish colonies in America as soon as it became profitable to introduce them. In Massachusetts the system of slavery never took kindly root, and the first efforts for its abolition were made here. Early in the history of the colony, the captain of a vessel who had brought some negroes hither from Africa was ordered by the General Court to carry them back; and by the very act which gave her existence as an independent State, Massachusetts proclaimed liberty to her bond-men.

If it be undeniable, that a portion of New England commerce for many years participated largely in the "merchandize" of men, it was with no better defence than " the son of perdition" could have made for betraying his Lord “to be crucified and slain." The public sentiment of Massachusetts, and of New England generally, was irreconcilably opposed to the principle and the practice of slave-holding; and the intervals were brief, if they occurred at all, in which there were not in the pulpit and out of the pulpit, unsleeping and indomitable witnesses for truth and righteousness, who “lifted up their voice like a trumpet ” and "spared not,” while a portion of their fellow-citizens, with a few " brethren in the Lord,” delayed to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.

But the two great crises in the history of American slavery, and the consideration of which will be more immediately to our purpose, were the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1787, and the admission of Missouri as a slave State in 1820.

After the war of the Revolution had been brought to an end, it was very generally felt that the holding of slaves was grossly inconsistent with the principles on which were grounded our own claims to freedom. Though the Declaration of Independence, inspired by the sublimity of the occasion, laid down axioms in advance of the public opinion and practice of the day, it accorded well with the undefined feeling of an excited people. But when the ennobling and invigorating impulse of a struggle for liberty was withdrawn from men's minds and allowed them to recede to their habitual level, and when selfish interests were enabled to renew their hold, it was found that the love of gain had lost none of its power; and the conduct of the several States in regard to slavery, was far too much graduated by the scale of profit. In the Eastern States, heredi

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