Puslapio vaizdai

The ordinance of 1787 was reported by a committee of five members, of whom the majority were from Virginia and South Carolina, and was adopted unanimously by the states present, including Delaware, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. With the exception of Mr. Yates of New York, every delegate present voted in favor of its adoption. Unlike the resolve of 1784, the ordinance prohibited slavery immediately. This was an advance. But unlike that resolve it provided for the return of runaway slaves. This was a great compromise the first great step in the downward path. It was the deliberate abandonment of a general rule of law in order to give greater security to slave property. True, the entire nation was united in favor of excluding slavery from what, literally speaking, was the only territory to which at that time the confederacy had a joint title ;” but only upon the condition that fugitive slaves should remain slaves and be delivered up. When afterwards the cessions of territory south of the Ohio were made, Congress not only did not take even this ground, but in 1790 actually accepted the cession made by North Carolina, upon this express condition, “ that no regulations made or to be made by Congress shall tend to emancipate slaves." Where then was the spirit of liberty which in 1784 was ready to abolish slavery after 1800 in all the Western Territory. If in 1790 two thirds of the entire nation had been (as in 1784,) willing to extinguish slavery in the territory south of the Ohio, the act would have been done, and the condition proposed by North Carolina would have been rejected, because under the Constitution, unlike the Articles of Confederation, only two thirds of the Senate and Representatives are required in order to pass a law, even against the veto of the President.

But let us take the principle of the ordinance of 1787, and see how far it has been adhered to. Do we as a nation take the same stand which was taken in 1787 ? Do even the people of the free states take the same stand ?

no! In 1819 and 1820 the question of extending slavery into the new territory west of the Mississippi came up, and instead of the nation uniting in wholly excluding it or in excluding it upon the condition of the ordinance of 1787, another compromise was made. Though the people of the free states had a

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the constitutions between the thirteen original states, and each of the states described in the said resolve of the 23d of April, 1784.” On the question of commitment, 8 states voted in favor and 4 against it. Of the 26 delegates present, 18 voted in favor to 8 against it.

decided majority in the House of Representatives, Congress, (March 2, 1820,) owing to the recreancy of Massachusetts men, refused to require Missouri to interdict slavery in its limits, by a vote of 27 to 15 in the Senate and 90 to 87 in the House of Representatives, and finally adopted what is called the Missouri Compromise line, without even a division in the Senate, and in the House by a vote of 134 to 42. Even this compromise seems not to have been adhered to, for by act of Congress, 1836, c. 86, the western boundary of Missouri was extended over what by the compromise was to be for ever considered free territory, and not a word is said in the act about restricting slavery, though in the act admitting Arkansas, passed at the same session, and approved only eight days after, the Missouri compromise is referred to. It may be said that it was not necessary to expressly exclude slavery or to refer to the compromise act. Not so did Congress think in 1802, in 1816, and in 1818—for the people of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, as a condition of admission into the Union, were expressly required to make constitutions so as to exclude slavery. Congress did not think it safe to rely upon the provision of the ordinance of 1787, although declared to be unalterable.

The preservation of slavery in Texas was openly avowed by our government as a prominent reason for annexation. The joint resolution for annexation disregards even the Missouri compromise, and simply excludes slavery from such new states as may with “ the consent” of Texas be formeů out of its territory north of the compromise line. But without the consent of Texas thus to create new states, slavery was not to be interdicted anywhere. This resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 27 to 25, and the House by a vote of 120 to 98.* A constitution was accordingly framed establishing slavery without any limitation, and Texas was admitted as a slave state by a vote of 31 to 13 in the Senate, and 141 to 56 in the House.

The Wilmot Proviso is copied from the ordinance of 1787, and not only is it evident that the slave states repudiate it, but as yet not even the representatives from the free states have been willing to support it as a fundamental principle not to be departed from. They have never shown themselves to be so thoroughly convinced that slavery is a curse as to be op

* The joint resolution passed the House by a vote of 120 to 98. An amendment was adopted in the Senate, and, as amended, the resolution was ordered to a third reading by a vote of 27 to 25, and was finally passed without a divi. sion. The House concurred in the Senate amendment by a vote of 132 to 76.

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posed under all circumstances to its extension. Even whilst we are writing it is a matter of serious debate in the Senate not whether the ordinance of '87 shall be extended to the territory of Oregon, — not whether the existence of slavery shall be left to be decided by the people there, - but whether the people shall not be explicitly prevented from excluding slavery!

Delegates from every state represented in the Continental Congress (including all but Georgia) signed the non-importation agreement of 1774, by which they bound their constituents from and after Dec. 1st, 1774, wholly to discontinue the slave-trade, and neither to be concerned in it themselves nor hire their vessels nor sell their commodities or manufactures to those who were concerned in it. Their successors, the Congress of the United States, by the acts of 1807 and 1818, (and others might be cited,) permitted the sale of freemen into slavery, and seventy years afterwards admitted Florida into the Union with a constitution which provides that the general assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves," the House, by a vote of 87 to 76, refusing to require this clause to be stricken out!

Not one of these acts of national degradation could have been accomplished if only the people of the free states had remained loyal to the principle of freedom. That these acts have been consummated is evidence that the spirit of freedom has decayed even in the free states. We do not hesitate to attribute this decay to the demoralizing influence of the compromises of the Constitution. Our fathers thought that they might establish justice for themselves and injustice for the slaves; that they might secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, and at the same time hold in slavery a portion of their fellow men. They did not see that to require an oath to support these compromises from members of Congress, the state legislatures and all the executive and judicial officers of the United States and the states would either prevent real lovers of liberty from holding all these offices, or would cause the love of liberty to lessen and in time to die out. How can a man whose whole soul is filled with abhorrence of slavery conscientiously take the oath to support the return of runaway slaves ? He must either at the outset disregard his clear sense of right, or his standard of right must gradually become corrupted. If he takes the oath meaning to keep it, he means to do that which from his very soul he knows to be morally wrong. If he takes it meaning to disregard it, he simply commits per

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jury. The Constitution, therefore, requires a lover of liberty to act immorally as a qualification for all the offices of honor and trust — state and national! Is it to be wondered at that the result is what we have described ? Would it not be a cause of surprise if the nation did not have less love of liberty now than it had sixty years ago ?

In order that this love may not wholly die, it is necessary to put an end to the compromises which have caused it thus to languish. It is time for all those who really wish to establish justice and to secure the blessings of liberty to their posterity, to refuse on all occasions to take this oath, and openly to declare that they ought not and will not any longer support these compromises. We may and should yield a ready support to all clauses really intended “ to establish justice,” but to clauses intended to countenance or support slavery our answer and unalterable resolve should be, we will yield no support whatever, but will use all just and pacific means completely to nullify them. This advice may seem to some persons as no-gov. ernmentism. Such persons cannot see that almost every right of value is supported now by state laws. Neither can they see any power beyond the ballot-box, though the votes of the people are nothing but the expression of the sentiments of the people. They do not see that this popular sentiment may be regenerated by free and continual discussion, and as effectually, perhaps, by individual repudiation of these compromises. They smile when we assure them that “truth next unto God is almighty.” But we are thankful that we have faith in Milton's words. If not abolished in blood, and we trust it never will be, we believe that slavery will be ended by means of a public sentiment which will disregard all dead paper barriers in its peaceful advance towards the accomplishment of its noble end the freedom of millions! There is a good time coming. Tokens of its approach are visible in the rending of churches and parties. A determination to overthrow slavery, as unyielding as can be wished, is thoroughly aroused in a large minority of the people, and it needs not the gift of prophecy to foretell what must be the result. When this result is attained, universal annexation will be truly equivalent to universal good will and peace. Nations will ask admission into our confederacy, not as now for the sake of protecting the dying institution of slavery, but to add another to the band of states which will urge each other towards the most perfect practical development of the great principles of freedom.


Some remarks in our last number in an article upon the “ Causes and Prevention of Idiocy” seem to have been misunderstood, and to have been construed into a reproach of men whom we deem to be worthier than ourselves. We said,

“There is yet another institution, by which the rich man uses the whip and spur of necessity, to make the poor always ready to work for him. He gatherg together hundreds and thousands of men, women, and children, and matching their living muscles against his tireless machines, from the rising to the setting sun, and even far into the night, exacts of them an amount of physical labor, which, while it barely feeds and clothes their bodies, starves their souls.”


“ We are not dealing with single cases of total idiocy, but with causes which lead to the moral idiocy of whole classes of men; and doubtless slavery as practised in this country, and the factory system as practised in England and elsewhere, do tend to brutalize and to make moral idiots of whole classes. The deep and damp gorges of the Alps do not more certainly produce goitres, cretinism, and idiocy, than do the factories and plantations of some refined and Christian gentlemen produce depravity, inbecility, and crime."

After stating some of the most cruel effects “ of all work and no play” upon children, we said,

"It is very probable that these and other like abuses have ceased since the evidences of them were obtained, for such monstrosities perish when dragged into the light of day; nevertheless, it is unquestionably true that even now, in Christian countries, a few men, for the unnecessary increase of their own wealth and luxury, do hold hundreds and thousands of operatives to such severe and ceaseless labor all day that their souls are virtually stunted, blighted, and killed."

Now, since some suppose we meant to say that such inhuman scenes as were brought to light in England and France a few years ago, do exist, or ever have existed in the factories of New England, we hasten to deny it. We have taken some pains, in our day, to ascertain by personal inquiries the moral and intellectual condition of the workmen and women in our factories. We undertook the task soon after seeing the wretched, starved, and degraded helots who toil on after the tireless steam-engine, in England, France, Germany, and whose sweat and blood, whose hunger and nakedness, whose ignorance and vice, were brought vividly to mind by every piece of silk or linen, of cotton or woollen goods that met our sight. Every beautiful dress of calico or de laine recalled the squalid creatures whose lean'fingers had worked at its texture; the polish of cutlery was dimmed by the sweat of the boys who had handled it at the furnace; the genial warmth of coal could not dispel a shudder at the thought of the begrimed girls who had dragged it along from its bed; and the

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