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Page:Register of debates in congress, v6.djvu/55

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owner is presented by the example of certain benevolent associations and charitable individuals elsewhere. Shedding weak tears over sufferings which had existence only in their own sickly imaginations, these “friends of humanity” set themselves systematically to work to seduce the slaves of the South from their masters. By means of missionaries and political tracts, the scheme was in a great measure successful. Thousands of these deluded victims of fanaticism were seduced into the enjoyment of freedom in our Northern cities. And what has been the consequence? Go to these cities now, and ask the question. Visit the dark and narrow lanes, and obscure recesses, which have been assigned by common consent as the abodes of those outcasts of the world—the free people of color. Sir, there does not exist, on the face of the whole earth, a population so poor, so wretched, so vile, so loathsome, so utterly destitute of all the comforts, conveniences, and decencies of life, as the unfortunate blacks of Philadelphia, and New York, and Boston. Liberty has been to them the greatest of calamities, the heaviest of curses. Sir, I have had some opportunities of making comparisons between the condition of the free negroes of the North and the slaves of the South, and the comparison has left not only an indelible impression of the superior advantages of the latter, but has gone far to reconcile me to slavery itself. Never have I felt so forcibly that touching description, “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man hath not where to lay his head,” as when I have seen this unhappy race, naked and houseless, almost starving in the streets, and abandoned by all the world. Sir, I have seen in the neighborhood of one of the most moral, religious, and refined cities of the North, a family of free blacks, driven to the caves of the rock, and there obtaining a precarious subsistence from charity and plunder.

When the gentleman from Massachusetts adopts and reiterates the old charge of weakness as resulting from slavery, I must be permitted to call for the proof of those blighting effects which he ascribes to its influence. I suspect that when the subject is closely examined, it will be found that there is not much force even in the plausible objection of the want of physical power in slave holding States. The power of a country is compounded of its population and its wealth; and, in modern times, where, from the very form and structure of society, by far the greater portion of the people must, even during the continuance of the most desolating wars, be employed in the cultivation of the soil, and other peaceful pursuits, it may be well doubted whether slave holding States, by reason of the superior value of their productions, are not able to maintain a number of troops in the field, fully equal to what could be supported by States with a larger white population, but not possessed of equal resources.

It is a popular error to suppose, that in any possible state of things, the people of a country could ever be called out en masse, or that a half, or a third, or even a fifth part of the physical force of any country could ever be brought into the field. The difficulty is not to procure men, but to provide the means of maintaining them; and in this view of the subject, it may be asked whether the Southern States are not a source of strength and power, and not to weakness, to the country? whether they have not contributed, and are not now contributing, largely, to the wealth and prosperity of every State in the Union? From a statement which I hold in my hand, it appears that, in ten years (from 1818 to 1827 inclusive) the whole amount of the domestic exports of the United States was five hundred and twenty-one millions eight hundred and eleven thousand and forty-five dollars. Of which, three articles, the product of slave labor, namely, cotton, rice, and tobacco, amounted to three hundred and thirty-nine millions two hundred and three thousand two hundred and thirty-two dollars; equal to about two-thirds of the whole. It is not true, as has been supposed, that the advantages of this labor is confined almost exclusively to the Southern States. Sir, I am thoroughly convinced that, at this time, the States North of the Potomac actually derive greater profits from the labor of our slaves, than we do ourselves. It appears, from our public documents, that, in seven years, (from 1821 to 1827 inclusive) the six Southern States exported to the amount of one hundred and ninety millions three hundred and thirty-seven thousand two hundred and eighty-one dollars; and imported to the value of fifty-five millions six hundred and forty-six thousand three hundred and one dollars. Now, the difference between these two sums, near one hundred and forty millions of dollars, passed through the hands of the Northern merchants, and enabled them to carry on their commercial operations with all the world. Such part of these goods as found its way back to our hands, came charged with the duties, as well as the profits of the merchant, the ship owner, and a host of others, who found employment in carrying on these immense exchanges; and, for such part as was consumed at the North, we received in exchange Northern manufactures, charged with an increased price, to cover all the taxes which the Northern consumer had been compelled to pay on the imported article. It will be seen, therefore, at a glance, how much slave labor has contributed to the wealth and prosperity of the United States; and how largely our Northern brethren have participated in the profits of that labor. Sir, on this subject I will quote an authority which will, I doubt not, be considered by the Senator from Massachusetts as entitled to high respect. It is from the great father of the American System—honest Mathew Carey; no great friend, it is true, at this time, to Southern rights and Southern interests, but not the worst authority, on that account, on the point in question.

Speaking of the relative importance to the Union of the Southern and the Eastern States, Mathew Carey, in the sixth edition of his “Olive Branch,” page 278, after exhibiting a number of statistical tables, to show the decided superiority, of the former, thus proceeds:

“But I am tired of this investigation. I sicken for the honor of the human species. What idea must the world form of the arrogance of the pretensions on the one side, [the East] and of the folly and weakness of the rest of the Union, to have so long suffered them to pass without exposure and detection? The naked fact is, that the demagogues in the Eastern States, not satisfied with deriving all the benefit from the Southern section of the Union that they would from so many wealthy colonies; with making princely fortunes by the carriage and exportation of its bulky and valuable productions, and supplying it with their own manufactures, and the productions of Europe, and the East and West Indies, to an enormous amount, and at an immense profit, have uniformly treated it with outrage, insult, and injury. And, regardless of their vital interests, the Eastern States were lately courting their own destruction, by allowing a few restless, turbulent men, to lead them blindfold to a separation, which was pregnant with their certain ruin. Whenever that event takes place they sink into insignificance. If a separation were desirable to any part of the Union, it would be to the Middle and Southern States, particularly the latter, who have been so long harassed with the complaints, the restlessness, the turbulence, and the ingratitude, of the Eastern States, that their patience has been tried almost beyond endurance. ‘Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked;’ and he will be severely punished for his kicking, in the event of a dissolution of the Union.”

Sir, I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not adopt these sentiments as my own. I quote them to show that very different sentiments have prevailed in former times, as to the weakness of the slave holding States, from those which now seem to have become fashionable in certain quarters. I know it has been supposed, by certain ill informed