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SLAVERY TRANSFORMS MEN TO CHATTELS. SOUTHERN LAWS.
SLAVE-AUCTIONS.—MEN PLACED ON A LEVEL WITH BRUTES. NO REDRESS FOR WRONGS. - IGNORANCE PERPETUATED BY LAW.
MY DEAR CHRISTIAN FRIEND, — A second
· characteristic of American slavery is, It regards human beings, declared to be in the " image of God," as “chattels," — things or articles of mer
chandise. “ Slaves,” say the laws of South Carolina and Georgia, " shall be deemed, sold, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.” *
6 A slave,” says the code of Louisiana, “is one who is in the power of his master, to whom he belongs. The
, master may sell him, dispose of his person, his
* See 2 Brevard's Digest, 229; Prince's Digest, 446.
industry, and his labor; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire any thing, but what must belong to his master." *
Thus, rational, immortal beings, children of our common Father in heaven, are taken from the exalted scale in which God placed them, and degraded to that of the brute creation. They are, as you know, advertised, mortgaged, attached, inherited, leased, bought, and sold like horses and cattle. Like them they are brought to the auction block, and like them subjected to a rigid examination as to their age, and soundness of wind, chest, and limb. Said a gentleman to me: “ When I was at I visited the slave mart; and as I saw one and another and another of my fellow-beings brought forward to the block, and rudely exposed and minutely examined, in order to ascertain their marketable value in dollars and cents, and then struck off to the highest bidder, amid the gibes and jeers of the vulgar, my heart was nigh unto bursting, and I was obliged to turn away my eyes and weep, exclaiming, O God! can it be! thy children! my brothers and sisters of humanity,
! perhaps my fellow-heirs of heaven, - precious souls for whom the Saviour died, whose names
* Civil Code, Art. 35.
be written in the Book of Life, and over whose repentance angels may have rejoiced! Can it be?"
For myself, I never witnessed any such scenes, and heaven grant I never may. It is enough, and too much for me to know, that they exist. I allude to them in this connection, not to awaken and pain your sensibilities, but simply to illustrate the fact, that American slavery sanctions them, and by its operation brings down the noblest work of God to a level of the beasts that perish. As far as it can do so, it dehumanizes man, and treats him as a thing without a soul. It may be remarked, however, in passing, “ A man's a man, for a' that.”
I might speak in this connection of the obstacles which are thrown in the way of the slave's. obtaining redress for his wrongs should he unfortunately get into the hands of a cruel and unreasonable master, being forbidden to defend himself, and not allowed the testimony of his brethren to be given in his behalf; but there are other features of this system which more urgently demand our attention.
Neither will I dwell upon the ignorance and mental degradation which are an essential part i of the system. You need not be informed, that, in ten States, knowledge is kept from the slave 1 by legal enactments, – that teaching him to read is regarded a crime, to be severely “punished by the judges.” I was happy to find that you and a great many others totally disregard that law, ánd, in spite of legislators and penal statutes, you teach your slaves to read, and in some cases to write.
For this crime, I doubt not but heaven, at least, will forgive you. I shall allude to this latter topic again in a future letter.
Most truly and affectionately, yours, etc.
DOMESTIC LIFE. - THE MARRIAGE RELATION. — DOMESTIC HAP
PINESS A RELIC OF PARADISE. ITS ENDEARMENTS. ITS VALUE. - THE BARBARISM OF INVADING THE DOMESTIC SANOTUARY. AN ILLUSTRATION.
MY DEAR BROTHER, — I come now, in the third place, to speak of slavery as it is related to the endearments and duties of domestic life. On this subject my heart is full. I am almost afraid to speak, lest I say what I ought not; and yet I cannot keep silence. I can, in a good
Ι measure, sympathize with Elihu when he said,
“For I am full of words,
We now approach a topic more intimately.
* Job ch. 32, v. 17-20, Barnes's translation.