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“stripes, not exceeding thirty-nine, on his or her bare “ back.” *
By the same act, any negro or mulatto found at Washington, and who shall not be able to establish his or her title to freedom, shall be committed to jail as an absconding slave.f
There is a still more recent act of slavery legislation. The act against assemblages of coloured people was found insufficient, and the following was passed :“All secret or private meetings, or assemblages what“soever, and all meetings for religious worship, beyond “ the hour of ten o'clock at night, of free negros, “ mulattoes, or slaves, shall be, and they are hereby “ declared to be, unlawful,” under a penalty of six dollars fine for each offence, if the offender was a free man or colour, or of flogging on the bare back if the offender was a slave. By this law, therefore, passed only twenty-six years ago, eight years after we passed the Catholic Emancipation Bill, any female slave who attended a prayer-meeting of any kind after ten at night was sentenced to be flogged on her bare back, with any number of stripes not exceeding thirty-nine.
I need say no more. These are a few of the glimpses of slavery, which caught my eye, unwillingly, during my residence in slavedom. Thank God, that as far as Washington is concerned, I have been writing of the ENGLAND AND AMERICA.
* Act 1827, § 4.
+ Ibid. 8 10.
BEFORE I part with Washington, it may be well to say something now, once and for all, as to the feeling entertained by Americans towards England. In the metropolis of the Federal States this feeling is exhibited in its most rational and least offensive form. There is no mob at Washington, no strong commercial interest, and more of cosmopolitan sentiment about its temporary residents than is found in other parts of the North. There is no doubt, strange as it may seem to us, that the feeling against England is strongest in those parts which are most akin to the mother country. In New England, and in Boston, there is far greater animosity expressed towards this country than in New York, or in the West; why this should be the case, I will speak of presently.
Let me state, first, without comment of my own, the case of America as against England, as I have often heard it given in substance by men of education, well acquainted with Europe. The sins, then, alleged against us, are rather of omission than commission. We are blamed, not so much for what we have done as for what we have left undone. The recognition of the Confederates as belligerents is believed, whether justly or not, to have inflicted incalculable injury on the North, by raising the hopes of the insurgents in foreign intervention, and thus giving the rebellion a tenacity of life, which it could not otherwise have acquired. But still, candid Americans do not profess to believe that this step was deliberately taken by our Government with a view to injure the North. The unfortunate precipitation with which our proclamation of neutrality was issued four-and-twenty hours previously to Mr. Adams' expected arrival, created, not unreasonably, a good deal of annoyance. It is a pity that an act which, whether well advised or not, could not fail to be offensive to a nation preparing to fight for its existence, should have been done in such a form as to give unnecessary offence. Our subsequent proceedings with regard to privateers are admitted by temperate critics to be the logical and inevitable consequence of our having once admitted the belligerent character of the South, while, with regard to the Trent affair, it is owned, though reluctantly, that England was in the right, even if she exacted her full right to the extreme letter. It is not for what we did, but for the manner in which we did it, that we are condemned. To understand this feeling, it is necessary to appreciate the estimate which the Americans form themselves of the history of the insurrection.
When secession first began (I am giving, let me repeat, the opinions I heard constantly expressed, without now endorsing them as my own), the country was utterly unprepared for war, disbelieved even in the possibility of war. The Government was still in the hands of men who supported secession, passively in all cases, actively in most. The North was divided among itself, and even in the Free States a numerous and powerful party looked with distrust and dread on the incoming Administration. The fall of Fort Sumter startled us, so Northerners would say, out of a dream. We had had no serious foreign war for half a century; the very idea of a civil war was as strange to us as it is to you -a soldier was almost unknown in our streets : what troops, and ships, and ammunition we bad, were chiefly in the hands of the insurgents. We had few generals or statesmen, and of those we had, we could not tell who was faithful to our cause. Under these circumstances we claim it as a credit that we did not despair of the commonwealth. When the nation once awoke to the consciousness that the existence of the Union was at stake, and the Capitol itself in danger, there was neither delay nor doubt. From every portion of the North volunteers flocked to the defence of the country; from every class and state, men left their homes, forsook their businesses, and risked their lives at the call of duty. In four months' time we, who on the fall of Fort Sumter had not 12,000 available troops, had raised, without conscription or compulsion, 500,000 men in arms, undisciplined if you will, but still prepared to fight. Unused to war, and over-confident in the force of numbers, we pushed on to action hastily; fortune did not favour us. Partly from mismanagement, partly from ill-luck, still more from want of training, we endured a succession of repulses, inflicted in a manner most disheartening to the spirit of the people; still, not for one moment did the North despair—we-were confident in our strength and in our cause. Throughout the long months of trying inaction, the country consented to bide its time; and even when things seemed darkest, there was no cry for submission or compromise ; no voice heard except to demand resistance to the death. In the midst of our troubles we found ourselves in a position in which, whether from our own fault or not, we had to choose between a galling act of national humiliation, extorted from us by a foreign power, and the surrender of our hopes of restoring the Union. Here, again, there was no hesitation ; we were ready to submit to anything, sacrifice anything, sooner than fail in maintaining the integrity of our country. This was the unanimous voice of the nation, and we acted on it; as we have begun, so we shall continue till the end. We may be mistaken in our views—the end we are fighting for may not be