Slavery in the United States <br> Chapter 2



But to return to the point in discussion. The original progenitors of the slaves in the United States, it will be admitted, although it cannot be proved, were born free in their own country, in so far as that actual bondage might not have been inflicted on them at the moment of their birth. But they were not so when they became captives in war and were sold in a foreign country. They did not come within the scope and meaning of the declaration of independence, which asserts the principle "that all men are created equal," for they had forfeited the right to freedom before they set foot on our soil. The slaves of the United States have never been considered as included in any general declaration or constitutional provision, except when expressly designated. They are neither comprehended in the phrase "man," nor "citizen," and constitute exceptions under the general denomination of " all other persons."

The retaining of persons in bondage as captives in war, or selling them, by barbarous nations, who have no other means of rendering them incapable in future of endangering their property and lives, is, if the preceding reasoning be correct, in strict accordance with the right of self-defense, which is the first law of nature. If it should be clearly proved in a succeeding chapter of this inquiry, that the immediate emancipation of the slaves of the southern and southwestern states, will be destructive to the property, fatal to the peace, and dangerous to the lives of the whole white population of that extensive and fertile region, then most undoubtedly, upon the same principle of self-defense, they have a right to keep the posterity of the slaves purchased under such circumstances in bondage until they can be emancipated without danger to themselves.

To apply these principles. Would adopting and bringing into active operation the doctrine, that slavery by inheritance is contrary to the law and rights of nature, contribute to the general happiness of the only two parties concerned in this inquiry, the master and the slave of the United Slates, meaning those at this moment in existence, and not their posterity ten or a hundred generations hence? The advocates of immediate abolition must accept this limitation on their own principle, since if they denounce the lawfulness of sacrificing posterity for the misfortune of the parent, they must also admit the unlawfulness of sacrificing the parent for the benefit of his posterity. Let it be supposed, for a moment, that the owners of slaves throughout the whole of the United States should promptly, and with one accord, yield obedience to this new law of nature, and at once free all their slaves, without exception; the old who are past all labour, and the young not yet arrived at an age to maintain themselves. A consideration of the probable, nay inevitable, consequences of such a procedure will enable us to test it by the great principle adopted by moral writers, to wit, that an action is good or bad in proportion as it increases or diminishes the happiness of those within the sphere of its actual influence. At first view, this definition may seem to sanction the doctrine, that it is lawful to do evil in order to produce good; to rob a man who makes an ill use of his money, that we may apply it to a better; to murder a miser because he has a virtuous heir who will convert his property to purposes of benevolence; or to sacrifice our country for the general benefit of the world. These are not, however, legitimate deductions. Such acts cannot, and will not come to good. A just Providence hath decreed that human happiness can never spring from the polluted source of human crimes.