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persons may become slaveholders in the
of the law without their own consent, as by heirship; they sometimes become so voluntarily to befriend a fellow-creature in distress, to prevent his being sold away from his wife and family ; persons sometimes purchase slaves for the sole purpose of emancipating them. In these, and other circumstances which might be mentioned, no reasonable man either North or South would ever think of pronouncing the relation a sinful
Nor is it my design to question the conscientiousness or piety of all slaveholders at the South, both among the laity and clergy. Whoever makes the sweeping assertion, that "no slaveholder can be a child of God," gives fearful evidence that he himself is deficient in that
charity” which “hopeth all things." There is an obvious distinction between those who hold slaves for merely selfish purposes and regard them as chattels, and those who repudiate this system, and regard them as men having in common with themselves human rights, and would gladly emancipate them were there not legal obstacles, and could they do it consistently with their welfare, temporal and eternal.
Nor is it my purpose to advocate immediate, universal, unconditional emancipation without regard to circumstances. This doctrine is not held by the great mass of northern Christians. There are, no doubt, some cases where immediate emancipation would inflict sad calamities, both upon the slaves themselves and the community. The opinions of northern men have often been misunderstood and misrepresented on this subject. The ground that calm, reflecting opponents of slavery take, is, that slaveholders should at once cease in their own minds to regard their slaves as chattels to be bought and sold and worked for mere profit, and that they should take immediate measures for the full emancipation of every one, as soon as may be consistent with his greatest good, and that of the community in which he lives.
This, it is true, is virtually immediate emancipation; for it is at once giving up the chattel principle, and no longer regarding servants as property to be bought and sold. It is to act on the Christian principle of impartial love, doing to them and with them, as, in a change of circumstances, we would have them do to and with us.
This does immediately abolish, as it should do, the main thing in slavery, and brings those who are now bondmen into the common brotherhood of human beings, to be treated, not as chattels and brutes, but on Christian princi
ples, according to the exigencies of their condition as ignorant, degraded, and dependent human beings, "endowed, however, by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which rights should be acknowledged, and with the least possible delay be granted.
· Nor is it my design to reproach my southern brethren as being to blame for the origin of slavery in these United States. Slavery was introduced into this country by our fathers, who have long been sleeping in their graves, and the North, if they did not as extensively, yet did as truly, and in many cases did as heartily, participate in it, as the South; so that, in respect to the origin of American slavery, we have not a word to say, nor a stone to cast. And besides, our mother country must come in and share with our fathers to no small extent in the
wrong of introducing domestic slavery to these colonies. Happily, as we think, slavery was virtually abolished at the North by our ancestors of a preceding generation; but for their act we are entitled to no credit. Your ancestors omitted to do this; but for their omission you are deserving 1 of no blame. We would never forget, that slavery was entailed upon our southern brethren, and for this entailment they are no more respon
sible than for the blood that circulates in their veins.
If you will be so kind as to keep these disclaimers in mind, I think you will better understand and appreciate what I shall hereafter say on the subject. With the kindest wishes for you and yours, I remain, in the best of bonds,
YOUR CHRISTIAN BROTHER.
THE REAL SUBJECT. — NOT TO BE CONFOUNDED WITH ANCIENT
SERVITUDE. - NOR TO BE JUDGED OF BY ISOLATED CASES.
NORTHERN MEN COMPETENT AS OTHERS TO DETERMINE ITS TRUE CHARACTER. SLAVERY IGNORES OUR DECLARATION OF
INDEPENDENCE. — IS INCONSISTENT WITH OUR CONSTITUTION.
MY DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER, — I propose in this and subsequent letters to take a brief, candid view of some of the prominent characteristics of American slavery. I speak of servitude, not as it existed in patriarchal times, for that is essentially a distinct matter. While it had some things in common with American slavery, there was so much that was dissimilar in the relation of master and servant, that analogy is in a great measure destroyed.
Neither do I speak of slavery as I saw it developed on your plantation, and on those of your immediate neighbors. When I went to the South, I confess I went with strong prepossessions, (prejudices if you choose so to call them,)