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GERRIT SMITH ON LAND REFORM, AND WILLIAM LOYD GARRISON ON NO-GOVERNMENT.
Within the last week, we have received the Land Reformer, an agrarian paper, just started in New York, in which we are sure we recognize the pen of Gerrit Smith, the leader of the New York abolitionists; and also a No. of the Liberator, in which Mr. Garrison, the leader of the New England abolitionists, defines his No-Government doctrines.
In calling attention, North and South, to opinions openly and actively promulgated by such distinguished men, which opinions are at war with all existing institutions, we are rendering equal service to all sections of our common country.
Mr. Smith says:
"Why should not this monopoly be broken up? Because, says the objector, vested rights forbid it. But there can be no vested rights against original and natural rights. No claim of a part of the human family to the whole earth can be valid against the claim of the whole human family to it. No passing of papers or parchments in former generations can foreclose the rights of the present generation. No bargains and no conventional titles
can avail in justice against the great title-deeds, by which Nature grants and conveys herself to each generation, as it comes upon the earth; and by which she makes the living (simply because they are the living, and not at all because of their relation to the dead) the equal owners of her soil and seas, her light and air. No arrangements, by which the six thousand, who have monopolized the lands of Ireland, should be allowed to overcome the title of the six millions to it. If the natural and inherent right of the whole is not paramount to that, which the fractions claim to have acquired, then are the six millions born into the world trespassers; and then is the Creator chargeable with a lack of wisdom and goodness. If it is right that the mass of men should hold their standing-place on the earth by mere sufferance, or upon terms dictated by their fellows, then is it not true that God is an Impartial Father-for then it is not true that he has given the earth to all his children, but only to a select."
We, too, think Free Society a very bad thing, and a decided failure, but not half so bad as Mr. Smith paints it. There is a poor-house system in Ireland, which, to some extent, recognizes the doctrine that all men are entitled to live on the earth, and be supported from it. In practice, the system does not always work well; yet we are confident it works much better for all parties, than would Mr. Smith's plan of agrarianism.
But slavery does, in practice as well as in theory,
acknowledge and enforce the right of all to be comfortably supported from the soil. There was, we repeat, no pauperism in Europe till feudal slavery was abolished.
It will be strange, indeed, if the voters in New York, a majority of whom own no land, do not take Mr. Smith at his word, and assert their superior claim, under his Higher Law and "Fundamental Principles," to all the land. 'Tis a concise and ingenious syllogism, to this effect: "The earth belongs equally to all mankind, under the Higher Law, or Law of God, which is superior to all human laws; therefore, the lackland majority have a better right to the soil than the present proprietors, whose title is derived from mere human law."
It never did occur to us, that the paupers had the best right to all the farms, until we saw this new application of the Higher Law. But 'tis clear as noon-day, if you grant the Higher Law, as expounded by Mr. Seward; and we expect soon to hear that they are bringing their titles into court. Anti-rentism looked this way, and anti-rentism chose its own Governor and Judges.
But Mr. Garrison outbids Mr. Smith all hollow for the pauper vote. He promises not only to every one his "vine and fig-tree," but a vine and fig-tree that will bear fruit without culture. He is going to get up a terrestrial paradise, in which there will be no jails, no taxes, no labor, no want,
no sickness, no pain, no government-in fact, no anything. But he shall speak for himself. We find the following in the Liberator of 1st August:
"Indeed, properly speaking, there is but one government, and that is not human, but divine; there is but one law, and that is the Higher Law;' there is but one ruler, and that one is God, in whom we live and move, and have our being.' What is called human government is usurpation, imposture, demagoguism, peculation, swindling, and tyranny, more or less, according to circumstances, and to the intellectual and moral condition of the people. Unquestionably, every existing government on earth is to be overthrown by the growth of mind and moral regeneration of the masses. Absolutism, limited monarchy, democracy—all are sustained by the sword; all are based upon the doctrine, that 'Might makes right;' all are intrinsically inhuman, selfish, clannish, and opposed to a recognition of the brotherhood of man. They are to liberty, what whiskey, brandy and gin are to temperance. They belong to the Kingdoms of this World,' and in due time are to be destroyed by the Brightness of the coming of Him, 'whose right it is to reign;' and by the erection of a Kingdom which cannot be shaken. They are not for the people, but make the people their prey; they are hostile to all progress; they resist to the utmost all radical changes. All history shows that Liberty, Humanity, Justice and Right have ever been in conflict with existing governments, no matter what their theory or form."
Mr. Greely's Phalansteries, Mr. Andrews' Free Love, Mr. Goodell's Millenium, and Mr. Smith's Agrarianism, all pale before this Kingdom of Mr. Garrison's. He is King of the Abolitionists, Great Anarch of the North.
We cannot reconcile this millennial doctrine of Mr. Garrison's with another doctrine, which we have seen imputed to him in the Richmond Examiner, to wit, that there is no God, because no beneficent Creator would have so constituted mankind as to have made slavery almost universal. Now, assume, as he does, that slavery is a cruel, sinful and wicked institution, destructive alike of human happiness and well-being, and his conclusion is irresistible. To be consistent, all anti-slavery men should be atheists. Ere long, we suspect, their consistency will equal their folly and profanity..
With us, who think slavery a benevolent institution, equally necessary to protect the weak, and to govern the wicked and the ignorant, its prevalence is part of that order and adaptation of the universe that "lifts the soul from Nature up to Nature's God."