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What is slavery? This question has frequently been asked, and many writers have attempted to reply to it, without giving a clear and satisfactory definition. And hence very much of the difficulty in making a Southern slaveholder comprehend an argument to prove that the Bible condemns slavery. Having myself experienced this difficulty when I was the owner of slaves in South Carolina, I have learned in the process of my investigations that I was labouring under an erroneous definition of the term itself; nor was it until I had observed what I had considered the abuses of slavery were the very essence of the thing itself, that I was persuaded to believe that slavery was condemned by the Bible. The amount of it is just this nothing is slavery into which the idea of oppression does not enter. One may have a servant for life and that servant may fall as a part of the inheritance to his heirs, but if the bondman have the legal means of redress and the capability of shielding himself from imposition and wrong, he is no slave. The mere fact of being a servant or even a bondman does not make him a slave;-an apprentice is not only a servant, but in fact he is a bondman-he is bound to a master, but his bondage is for his own benefit. If it turn out that he has no resource from imposition and wrong inflicted by his master, then that apprentice is not only a bondman but a slave.
Slavery, therefore, I define to be that condition in which one is in the power of another, whom he is compelled to serve, without the means of redress when wronged.
Will it be objected to this definition that wives and children are oftentimes in this condition? I reply that if it be so, then such wives and such children are in a state of slavery. A wife who may be wronged by her husband without any way of deliverance from his power, or any means of redress, is to all intents and purposes a slave; and the husband or father that possesses such power is a slaveholder, and he who voluntarily retains such authority is voluntarily an oppressor. But in our country, among the white population, wives, children, and apprentices have the legal means of securing themselves against the oppressive authority of husbands, parents and masters : they are therefore not slaves.
I repeat: A slave is one who is in the power of another, whom he is compelled to serve, without the power of redress when wronged.
That this definition is correct is evident from the fact, that the term slave is every where employed to represent an oppressed condition. If a nation be forced to pay an unjust tribute to another government, it is spoken of as a nation of slaves. Orators