Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/329

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.


On October 5, 1778, the general assembly of Virginia passed an act (the first of the session) prohibiting from that date the importation of any slave into the Commonwealth, by sea or land. Twenty-nine years before England, twenty-nine years before the congress of the United States prohibited the slave trade, Virginia placed her abhorrence of it on the statute book. By whom was this law repealed? In effect, by the vote of a solid New England, in the convention of 1878. What old England began, New England completed. In the sale of opium to China who is the arch, sinner—England or the Chinese? In the importation of slaves by the slave trade, was it the slave trader, or his customer, who first and foremost was responsible? "This infernal traffic," said George Mason, "originated in the avarice of British merchants. The British government constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it. He lamented that some of our eastern brethren had from a lust of gain embarked in this nefarious traffic." "Twenty years," said Madison, "will produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty to import slaves." As between Virginia's cession of her northwest territory for the sake of the union; and New England's refusal (for the sake of union) to relinquish, until twenty years had passed, "this nefarious traffic," which denotes sacrifice for union, for freedom, and union for the sake of freedom? "We demand," said New England, "our rights to fasten upon you the fangs of this 'nefarious traffic' for twenty years to come." If New England can forgive herself for this, what should she not forgive? She did" forgive herself without a groan.

It was not slavery, it was the slave trade, which John Wesley called "the sum of all villainies." This was what New England made THE CONDITION PRECEDENT TO UNION. The capital invested in the lucrative exchange of rum for negroes could not (or would not) sooner adjust itself to the impractical views of Madison and Mason. The constitutional power of amendment was inhibited from touching this provision. By profits thus derived, the sons of New England, their legatees and distributees, have been enriched. Which of them has flung upon the ground the tainted money? Of them who received the