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in some measure, the unwise struggle of the slaves for their rights, - rights to which, as human beings, he knows they are entitled ; rights which we acknowledge are “self-evident,” whilst, doubtless, he is shocked at the sanguinary deeds, thought necessary to keep them as slaves. But extraordinary instances aside, he is " disgusted and incensed” that the people of the Free states have not succeeded, as well as he has, in dulling and putting asleep their good feelings for the slaves. But Mr. Underwood must know, that, in the evil day when slavery was temporarily allowed to the South, - and we fully believe that this allowance was only temporary, — that there were persons in the Free states who could feel for the slaves; who could view them as their brethren their wronged and suffering brethren ; whose opposition to Slavery would grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength, and to whom laws and constitutions, no matter how solemnly enacted, requiring them to behave meanly and inhumanly, would be as bands of burnt flax to the strong man. Let him know, that these persons, when they see the South faithless to its promises — attempting to convert these temporary provisions into permanent ones; when they see that the government of the Union is controlled by slaveholders who seek to use that very government for advancing and establishing slavery rather than liberty, and openly to extend the curse of slavery to climes that may be said never to have known it, - let him learn, we say, that these persons look with abhorrence and detestation on laws and constitutions so perverted; and that these laws and constitutions never can be steadily enforced, unless it be by a tyranny too rigid, a despotism too unlimited, to be quietly borne by us here.*
Now, after Senator Underwood has sung this “ Io Triumphe,” and, with becoming modesty, has told the abolitionists of the North that they do not understand the subject of Slavery, about which they write and speak so much, and all this, too, without the slightest attempt, on his part, to enlighten them, - it turns out, a good deal to our surprise, we acknowledge, that he avows himself “no advocate for the institution of Slavery.” Not he; and why is he not as credible in this matter," for he is an honorable man,” though he hold his fellow-being in slavery, - as was our late President, who is represented as a "peace man," though he invaded Mexico, and tried his best to subdue it by arms; or as the duellist, who says he is opposed to fighting, and who fights, not for the love of it, because there is too much risk of life in fighting, but only when he thinks it necessary? We see, then, no judging by this standard, — a standard which, in spite of all acts to the contrary, takes the culprit's testimony in his own behalf to acquit him, — why we should not set down Senator Underwood as no advocate of Slavery. But it is on the condition of colonization. His plan is a short one; it has, at least, that good quality, if no other, and therefore we will give it :
* The surprising want of accurate knowledge, possessed even by slaveholding Senators, in regard to legislation by the Free states inflicting penalties on their own officers for aiding in retaking fugitive slaves, – a business confined by the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted by a judicial decision, to officers of the United States, - was fully shown in the debate in the Senate, Jan. 22nd, 1849, on the presentation of the resolutions by the Leg. islature of New York.
“Let a future day be fixed,” says he, “after which every slave child born shall be the property of the State; [for instance, Kentucky;] place the children, when weaned, in the hands of those who will raise them females till they are eighteen years of age, and males till they are twenty-four or twenty-five, and upon their reaching these ages, send them to Africa. These, in a few words, are the whole scheme.”
This project of emancipation was broached by Mr. Underwood, perhaps, fifteen or sixteen years ago, in an address delivered by him to the Kentucky Colonization Society. We believe it has found but few to favor it. But we have no more doubt of its proving effectual, if it can be carried out, than we have that the most destructive fire can be extinguished by pouring enough water on it. But the difficulty is, always has been, always will be, how the water shall be obtained, conveyed, and applied to it. The Senator's scheme has one defect, which all others of similar character have, and which gives it but few supporters : it is intended to put an end to Slavery. A plan to remove free colored persons to a distant land, to build up with them there a great empire, has about it a good deal of the romantic to attract men.
But when you propose to take the slaves, at the most valuable period of their lives, out of the hands of their masters, on whose plantations they may have been born, with a view of removing them to Africa, the country to which they are going all at once becomes sickly; the colony is already over-crowded; the scheme loses its romance, ceases to be pleasing to slaveholders, and finds few supporters among them. The plan of Mr. Underwood will hardly be revived, except now and then by himself, and for the reason we mentioned. Whenever the slaveholders make up their minds to abolish slavery, - and we see not how they can be brought to this point but by the action of the government, — they will adopt a much more simple plan than Senator Underwood's. Admitting them to be brought to it, however, we have no doubt that they would choose immediate, unconditional, and universal emancipation as the wisest, safest, and happiest plan that could be adopted. But till then, any proposition — we care not whether it is immediate and universal, or partial and prospective — that seems efficient to that end, will meet with their opposition or neglect. In these remarks we say nothing as to the policy or humanity of sending the colored man, the laboring man of the South, out of the country in which he was born, while we are welcoming, almost every day, unacclimated laborers from any and every land under the sun, except Africa. But as we think the whole scheme impossible, even if it was desirable, we care less for its consequences in this way. But the bare attempt, - the harassing, the persecution of the free colored man, the breaking in upon his quiet and improvement, — we look on as impolitic as it is inhuman and wicked.
We have gone so much further than we at first intended, in our remarks on Mr. Underwood's speech, that we have left ourselves but little room — without foregoing our main design too much — to examine the others. We shall therefore be restricted to short samples of them, requesting those who have the curiosity and can spare the time, to read those speeches through. Our first attention shall be given to that of Senator Hunter.
It was, formerly, no mean proof of a pretty thorough-paced slaveholder, that he would not consent, in any way, to have the question of slavery argued in Congress. Although he was lavish in his condemnation of the ignorance and error of the inexperienced, and although he professed to have all the treasures of knowledge confined to himself and his slaveholding confederates, yet there appeared to him something degrading in submitting the alleged evils of a merely domestic matter, as he was wont to regard Slavery, to the consideration of the uninitiated. Especially did he think so, if any thing was to be done to correct them. To abolish the system, more particularly after the Missouri Compromise, never once entered his thoughts. But Senator Hunter, seeing that the ignorant will argue the question, with a view to decide on it, too, whether the learned will assist them or not, descends from this high position, and although he joins in the discussion, he does not forget to admonish all, in the outset, that the things he has heard " are hard to be borne.” To limit a slaveholder to slaveholding regions; to restrain him from going to one of our free territories, and there setting up his impudent pretensions to dominion over his fellow-man, to give him his law,- is," at least, calculated,” as Mr. Hunter thinks, and he has doubtless made the calculation, “ to stir the blood of every Southern man.” But lest his brother Senators might be frightened at the introduction of a lion among them, he tells them, substantially, in his exordium, that he only personates one, that he is “a very gentle beast and of a good conscience;" “ that he will endeavour to keep down any rebellious feeling” that may “struggle for utterance,” and “ discuss this question dispassionately.”
Before Senator Hunter comes to the horrors of doing right, -horrors which he means to hold up, and which, although they are stereotyped, have been so much used that they are now nearly, if not quite worn out,- he makes another appeal, also very old, and far more effectual in by-gone times than now. This appeal is to our fears. Whether he intends that his associate slaveholders shall gird on their swords and do battle, or that they shall quietly dissolve the Union, is somewhat uncertain. Though, as he seems to think they are well prepared for either, they can adopt such a course as appears to them best, even if it be both. But that others may also judge, we will let him explain himself:
“ But can it be imagined,” says he, “ that the Southern states could submit long to a system of such insults and oppression? Why should they? Look to the elements of social strength and greatness already existing in the Slaveholding states. If they submitted, it would not be for want of strength enough to ensure domestic peace and secure themselves from aggression from without. But, sir, does any man believe, that the Southern slaveholder would fold his arms in mute subjection to a system of oppression, which day by day wasted his spirit, wounded his self-respect, and robbed him of his rights? Would he quietly submit to all this for the sake of union with those who were placing himself and his children in a situation worse than that of their slaves ?”
Now, can the people of the North be supposed to be so dull as ever to imagine that the slaveholders want separation to make Slavery more secure ? Of all the events that could happen to abolish it, none could be more effectual than this. The slaveholders know it, and are we to suppose that the most considerate of them, - men who, at last, will bring the rest into their measures, - would adopt an expedient that would certainly defeat the avowed cause of the separation, and make them the most pitiable and helpless, if not the most contemptible people under the sun ? Their talk about dissolving the Union is nothing but a grandiloquent boast, — though they will use it as a device that has been successful heretofore; but when they see the North determined, they will cease even from that; the late Virginia and South Carolina resolutions to the contrary notwithstanding. As to their fighting, and if there be any fighting done, the South must begin it, nothing can be more out of the question and impossible. And as to their fighting the people of the North, nothing can be more absurd. If we could laugh at lunacy, we could laugh at this. It reminds us of a female, weak at best, in a situation more than any other requiring help from her best friends, talking about fighting all who would assist her. If the South come North to fight, leaving her slaves behind, they will certainly lay hands on all within their reach. This consideration wil force the combatants to bring their wives and children along with them, not very good aids in battle--and in the trepidation with which they would be beset, they would not be in the very best condition for fighting. Rely on it, with the exception, perhaps, of a few high-mettled young men, or silly old ones, who ought, by no means, to direct such affairs, there will neither be fighting, nor the inclination to fight. The greatest difficulty will, probably, be in prevailing on the North to maintain the ground already gained, giving ear to no compromises, and advancing to grounds still higher.
* The North has been managed by the South, as far as regards Slavery, on this principle: The North considered the Union, (unimpaired, of course,), as their highest political interest - the South, Slavery. When the South wished to advance Slavery, or defend it from any assault, they had only to threaten the integrity of the Union. The latter endeavoured to convince themselves, that, as Slavery was not among them, it was rather a Southern concern, and controllable exclusively by the South, who alone were affected by it. They, therefore, - for they believed the South, - thought they had driven a good bargain, in making any concession, however great, to Slavery, when, by so small a matter as they considered it, they had preserved what was first with them." To save the Union,” has been the cry of some of our most accomplished demagogues.