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are all interested in maintaining the supreme authority of slave-holders. But although no laws can in fact restrain the power of the master, yet laws to a certain degree indicate what kind of treatment is tolerated by public opinion. Thus, when we find the laws of South-Carolina limiting the time which slaves may be compelled to labour to fifteen hours a day, we may form some opinion of the amount of toil which Southern masters think it right to inflict upon the slaves; and when we recollect, that the laws of Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia forbid that the criminals in their penitentiaries shall be made to labour more than ten hours a day, we discover the relative place which white felons and unoffending slaves occupy in the sympathies of slaveholders.
‹ The slave is at all times liable to be punished at the pleasure of his master; and although the law does not warrant him in murdering expressly justifies him in killing him, if he dare to resist:that is, if the slave do not submit to any chastisement which a brutal master may of his sovereign pleasure choose to inflict, he may legally be shot through the head.
"In South-Carolina, if a slave be killed " on a sudden heat or passion, or by undue correction," the murderer is to pay a fine, and be imprisoned six months. What would be thought of such a punishment for the murder of a white apprentice?
In Missouri, a master is by law expressly authorized to imprison his slave during pleasure; and thus may a human being be legally incarcerated for life, without trial, or even the allegation of a crime. The despotism of the slave-holder is a negotiable despotism; it is daily and hourly bought and sold, and may at any moment be delegated to the most brutal of the species.
The slave, being himself property, can own no property. He may labour fifteen hours a day, but he acquires nothing by his labour. In South-Carolina, a slave is not permitted to keep a boat, or to raise and breed for his own benefit any horses, cattle, sheep, or hogs, under pain of forfeiture, and any person may take such articles from him.
'In Georgia, the master is fined thirty dollars for suffering his slave to hire himself to another for his own benefit. In Maryland, the master forfeits thirteen dollars for each month that his slave is permitted to receive wages on his own account.
In Virginia, every master is finable who permits a slave to work for himself at wages. In North-Carolina, "all horses, cattle, hogs, or sheep, that shall belong to any slave, or bear any slave's mark in this State, shall be seized and sold by the county wardens."
In Mississippi, the master is forbidden, under the penalty of fifty dollars, to let a slave raise cotton for himself, "or to keep stock of any description."
Such is the anxiety of the slave laws to repress every benevolent desire of the master to promote in the slightest degree the independence of the slave.
Slaves, being property, are, like cattle, liable to be leased and mortgaged by their owners, or sold on execution for debt.
A slave, having no rights, cannot appear in a court of justice to ask for redress of injuries. So far as he is the subject of injury, the
law regards him only as a brute, and redress can only be demanded. and received by the owner.
The slave may be beaten, (robbed he cannot be,) his wife and children may be insulted and abused in his presence, and he can no more institute an action for damages than his master's horse. But cannot he be protected by his master's right of action? No. The master must prove special injury to his property to recover damages. Any man may, with perfect impunity, whip another's slave, unless he so injure him as to occasion "a loss of service, or at least a diminution of the faculty of the slave for bodily labour." Such is the decision of the Supreme Court of Maryland. In Louisiana, if a third person maim a slave so that he is "for ever rendered unable to work," the offender pays to the owner the value of the slave, and is also to be at the expense of his maintenance; but the unfortunate slave, mutilated or crippled for life, receives not the slightest compensation. The master's right of action is a protection to his property, not to the comfort or security of the slave: indeed, it tends to degrade the latter to the level of the other live stock on his master's farm.
A necessary consequence of slavery is the absence of the marriage relation. No slave can commit bigamy, because the law knows no more of the marriage of slaves than it does of the marriage of brutes. A slave may indeed be formally married; but so far as legal rights and obligations are concerned, it is an idle ceremony. His wife may at any moment be legally taken from him, and sold in the market. The slave laws utterly nullify the injunction of the Supreme Lawgiver "What God hath joined, let not man put asunder."
'Of course these laws recognize not the parental relation as belonging to slaves. A slave has no more legal authority over his child than a cow over her calf.
The Legislatures of the slave States, when legislating respecting slaves, seem regardless alike of the claims and the affections of our common nature. No right is more sacred, or more universally admitted, than that of self-preservation; but the wretched slave, whether male or female, is denied the right of self-defence against the brutality of any person whomsoever having a white skin. Thus the law of Georgia declares,-" if any slave shall presume to strike any white person, upon trial or conviction before the justice or justices, according to the directions of this act, he shall, for the first offence, suffer such punishment as the said justice or justices shall in their discretion think fit, not extending to life or limb; and for the second offence suffer DEATH."
The same law prevails in South-Carolina, except that death is the penalty for the third offence.
In Maryland, the justice may order the offender's ears to be cropped. In Kentucky, "any negro, mulatto, or Indian, bond or free," who "shall at any time lift his hand in opposition to any white person, shall receive thirty lashes on his or her bare back, well laid on, by order of the justice."
"In South-Carolina, "if any slave, who shall be out of the house or plantation where such slaves shall live or shall be usually employed, or without some white person in company with such slaves, shall
refuse to submit to undergo the examination of any white person, it shall be lawful for any white person to pursue, apprehend, and moderately correct such slave; and if such slave shall assault and strike such white person, such slave may be LAWFULLY KILLED.” pp. 120—123.
In Georgia, any person may inflict twenty lashes on the bare back of a slave found without license off the plantation, or without the limits of the town to which he belongs. So also in Mississippi, Virginia, and Kentucky, at the discretion of a justice.
In South-Carolina and Georgia, any person finding more than seven slaves together in the highway without a white person may give each one twenty lashes.
In Kentucky, Virginia, and Missouri, a slave, for keeping a gun, powder, shot, a club, or other weapon whatsoever, offensive or defensive, may be whipped thirty-nine lashes by order of a justice.
In North-Carolina and Tennessee, a slave travelling without a pass, or being found in another person's negro quarters or kitchen, may be whipped forty lashes; and every slave in whose company the visitor is found, twenty lashes.
In Louisiana, a slave for being on horseback, without the written permission of his master, incurs twenty-five lashes; for keeping a dog, the like punishment.
By the law of Maryland, for "rambling, riding, or going abroad in the night, or riding horses in the day-time, without leave, a slave may be whipt, cropt, or branded on the cheek with the letter R, or otherwise punished, not extending to life, or so as to render him unfit for labour."
Such are a few specimens only of the punishments inflicted on slaves for acts not criminal, and which it is utterly impossible they should generally know are forbidden by law.' pp. 124, 5.
The slave being considered a brute in all cases, except where such a consideration might operate to his advantage, care is taken to prevent all such mental illumination as might assist him in recovering any portion of his rights. However much we may pride ourselves as a nation, on the general diffusion of the blessings of education, it ought to be recollected, that these blessings are forcibly withheld from two millions of our inhabitants; or that one-sixth of our whole population is doomed by law to the grossest ignorance.
A law of South-Carolina, passed in 1800, authorises the infliction of twenty lashes on every slave found in an assembly convened for the purpose of "mental instruction," held in a confined or secret place, although in the presence of a white. Another law imposes a fine of £100 on any person who may teach a slave to write. An act of Virginia, of 1829, declares every meeting of slaves at any school by day or night, for instruction in reading or writing, an unlawful assembly; and any justice may inflict twenty lashes on each slave found in such school.
In North-Carolina, to teach a slave to read or write, or to sell or give him any book (Bible not excepted) or pamphlet, is punished with thirty-nine lashes, or imprisonment, if the offender be a free
negro, but if a white, then with a fine of 200 dollars. The reason for this law, assigned in its preamble, is, that "teaching slaves to read and write tends to excite dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion."
In Georgia, if a white teach a free negro or slave to read or write, he is fined 500 dollars, and imprisoned at the discretion of the court; if the offender be a coloured man, bond or free, he is to be fined or whipped at the discretion of the court. Of course a father may be flogged for teaching his own child. This barbarous law was enacted in 1829.
'In Louisiana, the penalty for teaching slaves to read or write is one year's imprisonment.
These are specimens of the efforts made by slave legislatures to enslave the minds of their victims; and we have surely no reason to hope that their souls are regarded with more compassion.
In vain has the Redeemer of the world given the command to preach the gospel to every creature; his professed disciples in the slave States have issued a counter order; and, as we have already seen, have by their laws incapacitated 2,000,000 of their fellow men from complying with the injunction, "search the Scriptures." Not only are the slaves debarred from reading the wonderful things of God; they are practically prevented, with a few exceptions, from even hearing of them.
In Georgia, any justice of the peace may, at his discretion, break up any religious assembly of slaves, and may order each slave present to be "corrected without trial, by receiving on the bare back twentyfive stripes with a whip, switch, or cow-skin."
'In South-Carolina, slaves may not meet together for the purpose of "religious worship" before sunrise, or after sunset, unless the majority of the meeting be composed of white persons, under the penalty of twenty lashes "well laid on." As it will be rather difficult for the slave to divine before he goes to the meeting how many blacks and how many whites will be present, and of course which colour will have the "majority," a due regard for his back will keep him from the meeting.
' In Virginia, all evening meetings of slaves at any meeting-house are unequivocally forbidden
In Mississippi, the law permits the master to suffer his slave to attend the preaching of a white minister.
It is very evident that when public opinion tolerates such laws, it will not tolerate the general religious instruction of the slaves.'
In 1831, the Rev. Charles C. Jones preached a sermon before two associations of planters in Georgia, one of Liberty County, and the other of M'Intosh County. This sermon is before us, and we quote
"Generally speaking, they (the slaves) appear to us to be without God and without hope in the world, a NATION OF HEATHENS in our very midst. We cannot cry out against the Papists for withholding the Scriptures from the common people, and keeping them in ignorance of the way of life; for we withhold the Bible from our servants, and 3 к
keep them in ignorance of it, while we will not use the means to have it read and explained to them. The cry of our perishing servants comes up to us from the sultry plains as they bend at their toil-it comes up to us from their humble cottages when they return at evening to rest their weary limbs-it comes up to us from the midst of their ignorance and superstition, and adultery and lewdness. We have manifested no emotions of horror at abandoning the souls of our servants to the adversary-the roaring lion that walketh about seeking whom he may devour."
'On the 5th December, 1833, a committee of the Synod of SouthCarolina and Georgia, to whom was referred the subject of the religious instruction of the coloured population, made a report, which has been published, and in which this language is used:
"Who would credit it, that in these years of revival and.benevolent effort, in this Christian republic, there are over TWO MILLIONS of human beings in the condition of HEATHEN, and in some respects in a worse condition. From long continued and close observation, we believe that their moral and religious condition is such that they may justly be considered the HEATHEN of this Christian country, and will bear comparison with heathen in any country in the world. The negroes are destitute of the Gospel, and ever will be, under the present state of things. In the vast field extending from an entire State beyond the Potomac to the Sabine river, and from the Atlantic to the Ohio, there are, to the best of our knowledge, not twelve men exclusively devoted to the religious instruction of the negroes. In the present state of feeling in the South, a ministry of their own colour could neither be obtained NOR TOLERATED.
"But do not the negroes have access to the Gospel through the stated ministry of the whites? We answer, NO; the negroes have no regular and efficient ministry; as a matter of course, no churches; neither is there sufficient room in white churches for their accommodation. We know of but five churches in the slave-holding States built expressly for their use; these are all in the State of Georgia. We may now inquire if they enjoy the privileges of the Gospel in their own houses and on our plantation? Again we return a negative answer. They have no Bibles to read by their own firesides-they have no family altars; and when in affliction, sickness, or death, they have no minister to address to them the consolations of the Gospel, nor to bury them with solemn and appropriate services."
In a late number of the Charleston (S. C.) Observer, a correspondent remarked: "Let us establish missionaries among our own negroes, who, in view of religious knowledge, are as debasingly ignorant as any one on the coast of Africa; for I hazard the assertion, that throughout the bounds of our synod there are at least one hundred thousand slaves, speaking the same language as ourselves, who never heard of the plan of salvation by a Redeemer."
The editor, instead of contradicting this broad assertion, adds: "We fully concur with what our correspondent has said respecting the benighted heathen among ourselves."
Such is American slavery-a system which classes with the beasts of the field, over whom dominion has been given to man, an intelligent