« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
depend on the moral and intellectual condition of those to be governed. Take, for instance, Blackstone's definition of civil liberty, and our negro slaves enjoy liberty, because the restrictions on their free will and free agency not only redound to public good, but are really necessary to the protection and governnment of themselves. We mean to involve ourselves in no such absurdities. Negroes, according to Blackstone, Paley and Montesquieu, although slaves, are free, because their liberty is only so far restricted as the public interest and their own good require. Our theory is, that they . are not free, because God and nature, and the general good and their own good, intended them for slaves. They enjoy all the rights calculated to promote their own interests, or the public good. They are, at the South, well governed and well protected. These are the aims of all social institutions, and of all governments. There can be no liberty where there is government; but there may be security for good government. This the slave has in the selfish interest of the master and in his domestic affection. The free laborer has no such securities. . It is the interest of employers to kill them off as fast as possible; and they never fail to do it.
We do not mean to say that the negro slave enjoys liberty. But we do say that he is well and properly governed, so as best to promote his own good and that of society. We do mean to say fur
ther, that what we have quoted from these great authors, is all fudge and nonsense. Liberty is unattainable; and if attainable, not desirable.
Liberty of locomotion, which Blackstone boasts of as one of the rights of Englishmen, belongs to the mass of them less than to other people. For five hundred years the poor laws have confined the poor to their parishes, denied them the right to bargain for their own wages, and as late as 1725, set them up in stalls and shambles for hire, like cattle. Liberty in England, as in Rome and Greece, has been, and is now, the privilege of the few—not the right of the many. But in Rome, Greece, and the Southern States of America, the many have gained in protection what they lost in liberty. In England, the masses have neither liberty nor protection. They are slaves without masters. This right of locomotion, of choosing or changing their domicil, is not only denied to the mass of the poor, but in all countries as well as in England, to wives, to children, to wards, apprentices, soldiers, sailors, convicts, lunatics and idiots. Take, then, this test of liberty, and how little of it is there in England ! But, in fact, there is a very large nomadic class of beggars, rogues, and fourneymen workmen, who are always wandering, and yet, who are the most wretched members of society and its greatest pests. So much for locomotion.
Great as the difficulty is to determine what is
Liberty, to ascertain and agree on what constitutes Slavery is still greater. Slavery, in its technical form, has been almost universal, yet not exactly alike in all its circumstances and all its regulations in any two ages, or in any two countries. In very
. many ancient States, the power of life and death was vested in the master. In most countries, the slave cannot acquire or hold property legally. In all, he holds more or less by the permission. In many, his legal right to separate property is protected by law. Even in Cuba, he can compel his master to emancipate him, upon offering an adequate price; and in some cases of irreconcilable disagreement, force his master to sell him to another master. . It is remarkable at first view, that in Cuba, where the law attempts to secure mild treatment to the slave, he is inhumanly treated; and in Virginia, where there is scarce any law to protect him, he is very humanely governed and provided for. In Cuba, many of the slaves are savages, and do not elicit the domestic affection of the master, who sees in them little more than brutes. The master is, besides, often an absentee, and tho' overseers be far more humane than Irish rent-collectors, they have neither the interests nor feelings of resident masters. But the most efficient cause of cruelty and neglect, is the African slave trade, which makes it cheaper to buy than to rear slaves. In Virginia, the slaves have advanced much in mo
rality, religion and intelligence, and their masters and mistresses, living on the farm with them, naturally become attached to them. Self-interest, however, is everywhere the strongest motive to human conduct. Negroes are immensely valuable, and in crease rapidly in value and in numbers when well treated. The law of self-interest secures kind and humane treatment to Southern slaves. All the legislative ingenuity in the world will never enact so efficient a law in behalf of free laborers.
During the decline of the Roman Empire, slavery became colonial or prædial. The slaves occupied the place of tenants or serfs, were “adscripti soli,” and could only be sold with the farm. Many antiquarians consider the colonial slavery of the Romans as the true origin of the feudal system. This kind of slavery was universal in Europe till a few centuries since, and now prevails to a great extent. The serfs of Russia, Poland, Turkey, and Hungary, are happier and better provided for than the free laborers of Western Europe. They have homes, and lands to cultivate. They work but little, because their wants are few and simple. They are not over-worked and under-fed, as are the free laborers of Western Europe. Hence, they never rise in riots and insurrections, burn houses, commit strikes,-nor do they emigrate.
This form of slavery, however, makes the master an idle absentee, depriving the slaves of his guardianship, his government, and his protection. By throwing large masses of the ignorant into exclusive association with each other, it promotes and increases ignorance, negligence and idleness. Men will not improve their condition who have no examples to emulate and no teachers to instruct. Were their farms conducted as ours of the South, the wealthy would have ample employment, and the slaves or serfs find in their masters examples, governors, teachers and protectors.
The right to sell one's children, or one's self, into slavery has been very common, and is now practiced in China. The ancient Germans used to even stake their liberty at games of hazard. This would never have been done, nor would the laws have permitted it, if the situation of the slave had been greatly inferior to that of the free. But how shall we class wives, children, wards, apprentices, prisoners, soldiers and sailors ? They are not free, because their personal liberty is controlled by the will of a superior; not by mere law. They are liable to confinement and punishment by their superiors, whose will stands in place of law as to them. They have no right of locomotion like that enjoyed by the free. They have no liberty secured by law;—they are not free. Are they, therefore, slaves ?
Paley defines slavery to be, “An obligation to labor for the benefit of the master, without the