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as we flatter ourselves to have shown, that, according to the spirit and reason, not only of English law,-but of all law,-no human being can be thus estimated, or have a price, in other words-no human being, therefore, can possess that circumstance which alone constitutes the foundation of property. Every man must here judge for himself. Every man thinks his own life and liberty above all price; and yet they are the only equivalents, which the law will now accept, for the life of his fellow men, whether they be black, or white.
We return to this principle so often, because it is, in our opinion, the only one by which the English, in particular, can get along with the gradual abolition of negro slavery. So far, they have gone on well. By gradually amending, and finally abolishing, the slave-trade, (we set them the example), they have not only lessened the number of African wars, which used to be undertaken to fill up its market,—but have materially bettered the condition of the slaves, who had already been its victims, by exciting masters to that comparative leniency and carefulness of treatment, which, since importation is almost out of the question, must, through what is called the breeding system, be now the source of their future supply. But abolitionists were now to become eman. cipationists; and measures have, accordingly, been set in train for the additional melioration of West Indian slavery. We cannot enter into the detail of the Registry Bill, of which our readers must all know something; but, we must observe, that, if the authors of it will still consent to have slaves denominated property, they cannot execute the measure, without a gross violation of colonial rights, and of the British Constitution. The Abolition was confessedly an act of external regulation;-the Registry is no less cer. tainly a measure of internal amendment. The former related to the general subject of trade; which no one disputes the authority of Parliament to regulate;the latter, on the contrary, goes into the domestic economy of particular dependencies, and aims at the control of subjects, which have been expressly placed in different hands. One provision of the Registry Bill, indeed, brings into discussion again the questions, which separated the United States from the mother country; and, on this subject, we think the colonial legislators and writers have decidedly the victory over their antagonists in England. The expense of registration will cost each colony an annual tax of some thousands of pounds; and yet this tax is to be levic d, by the Parliament, without any representation from the Colonies; when it is a proverbial maxim of that Parliament, that taxation and representation shall go together, and when the Year Books expressly state, that. a tax granted by “the parliament of England shall not bind the dominions of Ireland, '(it makes no difference what particular country it is), because they are not summoned to our parliament;' and again, that · Ireland
(or Jamaica, we may add) hath a parliament of its own, and • maketh and altereth laws; and our statutes do not bind them, be
'cause they do not send knights to parliament.'* These, and a variety of other objections, which we cannot spare room to particularize, have induced the Parliament to postpone, at any rate, the adoption of the Registry measure. It was most ably and strenuously opposed, by the colonial legislatures, and by their writers in England. Frequent allusion was made to the case of America; and, though the mother country might, perhaps, be conscious of abundant power to get under the rebellion, which was hinted at; yet it was clearly seen, we apprehend, that a war with the West Indians would be attended with incalculable disadvantages,--and that the question was not, whether they might not be ultimately subdued, but whether they would be worth the expense of life and treasure, which the subduction must cost. The Colonies saw, or thought they saw, that the measure was a death-blow to what they considered as their property; and, if they were to fall, they aad determined, we have no doubt, to fall with harness on their backs. They talked language, which was by no means conciliatory:-their number was even ominous, and England must have had some strange reminiscencies, in contemplating a war with another Thirteen United Provinces. She will find, in the end, we imagine, that Colonists must be dealt with as reasonable beings; and not voted this way and that, by a body of men three thousand miles off, without listening to their expostulations, or answering their arguments. They are permitted to rest under a full conviction, that their slaves are absolute property; while measures are on foot to make that property insecure. We do not think this is the right way of going to work. The emancipationists should labour, first, to convince the planters, that slaves are not, and cannot be, property; and they can, then, proceed in the good work with truth and justice on their side.
We must lightly touch upon one subject more, to which the doctrine we have advocated might be practically applied. We have heard loud complaints from all sides, against the practice, which subsists in our Southern States, as well as in the West Indies, of apprehending and selling idle and loitering negroes, who cannot prove their freedom; upon the general presumption of their being slaves. It is called reducing freemen to bondage; and it seems to be more accordant with the spirit of law, that we should presume every person to be innocent of slavery, until he is proved to be guilty. Yet, as long as a state of slavery is acknowledged to exist, we do not see any impropriety in the practice here alluded to; and nothing is more certain, than that it is warranted by the analogies of English law. The last statute on this subject, and the first of Edward VI., is very much to the point. If any person • shall bring to two justices of the peace any runnagate servant, or
* These passages are cited by Judge Blackstone from the 20 Hen. VI. 8, and the 2 Ric. III. 12.; and we have preferred to quote him on this occasion, because he has taken the pains to alledge authorities which completely subvert his own subsequent reasoning. See Introd. pp. 101, 108-9.
other which liveth idle and loiteringly, by the space of three days, the said justices shall cause the said idle and loitering ser'vant or vagabond, to be marked with a hot iron on the breast, with the mark V, and adjudge him to be the slave of the same person that brought or presented him, to have him, his executors, or assigns, for two years after; so shall he take the said slave, and give him bread, water or small drink, and refuse meat, and cause him to work by beating, chaining, or otherwise, in such work or labour as he shall put him unto, be it never so vile. "And if such slave absent himself from the said master within the *said term of two years, by the space of fourteen days, then he
shall be adjudged by the two justices of the peace, to be marked on the forehead, or the ball of the cheek, with a hot iron, with * the sign of an S, and further shall be adjudged to be slave to the
said master for ever. By this statute, there was a line of distinction drawn between those who had V's on their breasts, and those who had not. The V was conclusive and final evidence of slavery; and the reason why it became necessary to inflict such a mark, was, that nature had not stamped, upon any of the English, a characteristic sign, by which one class might be distinguished from the other. Had she, in a whimsy, concluded to give these
idle and loitering persons a V on the breast, there would have been no occasion to sear it on with a hot iron; but as all men were alike in almost every particular, it became necessary, as we just said, to make an artificial characteristic, to distinguish the free from the slave. Now, it will not be pretended, that an African ever came to the United States, or to the West Indies, of his own mere motion and choice. All who have landed, in either of ihe two countries, were indubitably slaves; and, if any have obtained their freedom, they still form exceptions only to the general rule. Here there never was any necessity for a V on the breast, or any other artificial distinction; for nature had stamped negroes all over with a characteristic mark, which was unequivocal and indellible. Our readers, therefore, cannot but see, we think, how nearly the two cases are analogous; and, when the Reporter of the African Institution makes such a doleful plaint, because the Colonial Courts now answer to all arguments for the freedom of a vagabond negro,
that his skin is black-he should have recollected, that, former. ly, under the same circumstances, the English Courts would have
rejoined' he has a V on his breast. If our laws will recog. nise such a state as that of slavery, there is no help for the necessary and concomitant evils; and the only way, it strikes us, in which the presumption here spoken of can be destroyed, is, by denying, at once, that any human being is, or has been, or can be, a slave.
But, we shall be told, that the consequences of this doctrine do not stop here; that, by denying the existence of slavery at all, we not only loosen,--but absolutely cut asunder, the tenure by which 2 master holds his negroes; and that there can be no difference be
tween disproving their bondage, and telling them to go about their business. Those, in short, who think we have entered precipitately upon this question, will accuse us of aiming at immediate and simultaneous emancipation and of exposing our southern tellowcitizens to all the pitiless storms of such a revolution, as suddenly emancipated slaves are known to carry on. Now, all these consequences we utterly disclaim. We have as little disposition, as any of our readers, to make a Kakatopia of the Southern States, or of the West Indies; and we are as well convinced of the disastrous effects attending sudden emancipation, as if we had been stoned and beaten, along with a certain Knight of La Mancha, for the imprudent humanity of liberating the galley-slaves. The general good must be our guide, in this, as well as in all other cases; and, when we speak of the general good, we include the blacks, as well as the whites. We believe no philanthropist has the madness to pretend, that a simultaneous liberation of the negroes, in any place, where their numbers are equal or superior to those of the white men, would not, almost inevitably, induce the mutual destruction of both parties. When a man has not reason enough to know what his rights are, or a sufficient sense of duty to exercise them, without abuse, the law takes those rights in keeping, till he has; and Congress, or Parliament, have just the same reason to hold negroes under restraint, as courts of justice have, to prevent madmen from going abroad, or to throw criminals into prison. All we ask for the African, is, therefore, that he shall no longer be considered as a slave; that, on the contrary, he is entitled to the same rights as other men; that he should be put in the way of understanding those rights; and that he should have possession of them, as fast as he understands them. There must be a beginning; and, unless we begin by denying the legal existence of slavery, masters will still consider negroes as their property, and resist all attempts to shake the security of their tenure. Our object is, not to deprive the master of his slave's services; but to make those services voluntary, which are now compulsive.
Here, again, we shall be told, that our scheme is altogether illusory; that negroes are constitutionally indolent; that, even in Africa, they make no provision for the morrow; and that there is abundant experience of their incapability to do any thing, in America, unless they have the fear of the cartwhip before their eyes. What motive, in the name of all that is logical, have Africans to undertake voluntary work, either in their own country, or in this? In their own land, the perpetual wars between the petty tribes keep the whole country in alarm: no property is secure for two days together; and no man will undertake to sow; for no man can expect to reap. What, indeed, should be the state of industry, in a country, where, as Sedi Hamit tells us, (Riley, 327), the little villages must be fenced in from enemies—and where, on the bare sight of strangers, the inhabitants pop into their miserable huts,
and block up the passage after them? The slave-traders have to answer for not a few of the wars, which have produced this insecurity; and it is provoking, beyond measure, that the very men, who have borne a part in making the negroes indolent, should now adduce the circumstance of that indolence, as a proof of their constitutional laziness. That Africans are not more indolent, by nature, than any other sort of people, is sufficiently apparent from the example of the Kroomen; a nation, who, by living many hundreds of miles in the interior, have probably enjoyed much greater security, than the tribes nearer the coast; and who, as our readers know, are not only found to be indefatigable day-labourers, at Sierra Leone, but to make the best of soldiers, in the British West Indies. Now, the only difference between these soldiers, and the other Africans, in the same islands, is, that the former are hired, and the latter compelled, to work; that the Kroomen go through the manuel exercise, without being flogged, because their engagement was voluntary, and because they know they reap themselves the fruits of their labour; whereas the slaves perform their agricultural tasks, under the actual application, or perpetual fear of the lash, because they are conscious of having been forced into servitude, and because they see that they work only for the good of others. That they would labour, even more than they do now, under a different system of management, the opposers of the Registry Bill have unwittingly furnished us with the most ample grounds for believing. In order to prevent the adoption of that Bill, both the Colonial legislators, and the Colonial pamphleteers, have vied with each other, in painting the happy condition of the slaves; and, if, allowing for the exaggeration into which they would naturally be led, not more than one half of their stories should be set down for truth, we shall yet have facts enough to show, that, under similar circumstances, and with the same 'motives, a negro will be as industrious as a white man.
Of all the Colonial writers on the subject, the author of a work, called The Edinburgh Review und the West Indies, has given us the most copious and satisfactory exposition of the facts. He is himself an old Colonist;' and he has let us into the domestic economy of a plantation, with a forwardness and zeal, which will do no good to the cause he so strenuously endeavours to support. We shall use his own words, in describing the situation of West Indian slaves; though we wish our readers to take his assertions, with a due allowance for the exaggeration, of which we cannot help but suspect him. 'I assert, (says he, p. 148), that which is
capable of proof, namely, that in point of food, lodging, clothing, ·labour, and comfort when sick, and support in old age, there is 'no slave, unless the contrary arises from his own conduct, who is
not in a much better state than any of the labouring classes in this country,' England. Again, I affirm, (says he), that industrious
negroes can afford to wear better clothes and to live on better · food than the white people in subordinate situations in the colo