This site reprints the 1853 book, The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896).
Before the 1861-1865 War, a number of Christian abolitionists (Rev. Cheever, Fee, Weld, Rankin, Foster, Goodell, Pillsbury, etc.) opposed slavery. Nowadays, their Bible-based reasons for doing so are generally unknown.
This series of websites educates by making the text of some of those writings accessible.
Whether or not you agree with their position, it is at least a good idea to know what their views were! and not be relying on merely what century-later revisionists claim those views were.
“It is not enough to know the past. It is necessary to understand it.”—Paul Claudel (1868-1955).
For more, see www.iath.virginia.edu/utc/uncletom/key/keyII14t.html.
The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin
Presenting The Original Facts
And Documents Upon
Which The Story Is Founded,
Together With Corroborative Statements
Verifying The Truth Of The Work,
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
(Boston: John P. Jewett & Co,
Cleveland, Ohio: Jewett, Proctor & Worthington,
London: Low and Co, 1853)
This site presents a book by one of the activists, Harriet Beecher Stowe, from the period before the War (1861-1865).
Mrs. Stowe had seen slaves' desperate efforts to escape the savagery of American slavery. She wrote in short story form, a number of narratives, to describe some of those abuses.
Her 44 separate writings were published on different occasions, each one time only, in a newspaper, over 44 different issues, as per the publishing style of that era.
But public demand for reprints, led to them being later consolidated, collected together from being 44 separate out-of-print newspaper columns, into one more-convenient and accessible volume, collectively gathered under one title, as Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Some Southerners accused her of misrepresenting slavery, exaggerating its savagery. She responded by this scholarly researched treatise on the subject, being reprinted here. She cites the accusations, then gives her responses, chapter by chapter.
(Currently only the Preface, Part II's Chap. 12 (Roman law) and 14 (Hebrew law), and Part IV's Chapters 5 - 6 (New Testament teaching) and Appendix (1840 Census data), are available in full here.)
Note her citing official Southern court precedents on slaver crimes including torture-murders, some still available at your law library, the Mann case, the Souther case, the Castleman case, etc.
The book is available with two different page numbering systems, one 259 page version with double-columns and one 508-page version with single columns. The site is in process of providing both sets of numbering, for your use, depending on which version you have.
|I. — Introduction||5|
|II. — HALEY: Author's experience. — Trader's letter.— Kephart's examination. —Invoice of human beings. — Various classes of traders.||5|
|III. — MR. AND MRS. SHELBY: Account of a well-regulated plantation.—Extract from Ingraham.||_|
|IV. — GEORGE HARRIS: Advertisements. — Lewis Clark. — Mrs. Banton. — Story of Lewis' sister.—Mr. Nelson's story.— Frederick Douglas.—Josiah Henson's account of the sale of his mother and her children. —Recent incident in Boston. — Advertisements for dead or alive.||_|
|V. — ELIZA: Author's experience. — History of a slave-girl and her escape.||21|
|VI. — UNCLE TOM: Similar case. — Old Virginia family servant. — Bishop Meade's remarks. —Judge Upshur's servant. —Instance in Brunswick, Me. — History of Josiah Henson. — Uncle Tom's vision. — Similar facts. — Story of a Boston lady. — Instance of the Southern lady on a plantation. — Story of an African woman. —Account of old Jacob.||23|
|VII — MRS. OPHELIA: Prejudice of color —Instance in a benevolent lady. — Dr. Pennington. —Influence of this upon slave-holders. — True Christian socialism. — Amos Lawrence.||_|
|VIII. — MARIE ST. CLARE: The Northern Marie St. Clare.—The Southern Marie St. Clare.—Degrading punishment of females. — Dr. Howe's account.||_|
|IX. — ST. CLARE: Alfred and Augustine St. Clare representatives of two classes of men. —Letter of Patrick Henry. — Southern men reproving Northern men.—Mr. Mitchell, of Tennessee. —John Randolph of Roanoke, — Instance of a sceptic made by the Biblical defence of slavery.—Baltimore Sun on Biblical defence of slavery.—Specimen of pro-slavery preaching.||35|
|X. — LEGREE: No test of character required in a master. — Mr. Dickey's account in "Slavery as It Is."—"Working up slaves"—Extracts from Mr. Weld's book. — Agricultural society's testimony. — James Q. Birney's testimony.—Henry Clay's testimony.— Samuel Blackwell's. — Dr. Demming's. — Dr. Channing's. — Rev. Mr. Barrows'. — Rev. C. C. Jones'. — Causes of severe labor on sugar plantations. —Professor Ingraham's testimony. — Periodical pressure of labor in the cotton season. —Letter of a cotton-driver, published In the Fairfield Herald.—Testimony as to slave-dwellings.—Mr. Stephen E. Maltby.—Mr. George Avery.—William Ladd, Esq.—Rev. Joseph M. Badd, Esq. —Mr. George W. Westgate. — Rev. C. C. Jones. — Extract from recent letter from a friend travelling in the South.—Extracts with relation to the food of the slaves. — Professor Ingraham's anecdotes.||_|
|XI. — SELECT INCIDENTS OF LAWFUL TRADE. Separation of an aged mother from her son authenticated. — Selling of the woman to the trader authenticated. — Parting the infant from the mother verified. — Suicide of slaves from grief authenticated.—Parting of "John aged 30" from his wife authenticated. — Case of old Prue in New Orleans authenticated.—Story of the mulatto woman authenticated.||47|
|XII. — TOPSY: Effect of the principle of caste upon children. — Letter from Dr. Pennington.—Instance of the Southern lady. — Story of the devoted slave.||_|
|XIII. — THE QUAKERS: Trial of Garret and Hunn.—Imprisonment of Richard Dillingham. —Poetry of Whittier.||_|
|XIV. — SPIRIT OF ST. CLARE: Containing various testimony from Southern papers and men in favor of Uncle Tom's Cabin.||_|
|I. — INTRODUCTION: Accusations of the New York Courier and Enquirer — Extract from a letter from a gentleman in Richmond, Va., containing various criticisms on slave-law. — Writer's examination and general conclusions.||67|
|II. — WHAT IS SLAVERY? Definitions from civil code of Louisiana. — From laws of South Carolina.—Decision of Judge Ruffin. —Involve absolute despotism. —Do not admit of humane decisions. —Designed only for the security of the mailer, with no regard for the welfare of the slave. —Judge Ruffin. —No redress for personal injury that does not produce loss of service. — Case of Cornfute v. Dale. — Decision with regard to patrols.—Decisions of North and South Carolina with respect to the assault and battery of slaves. — Decision in Louisiana, by which, if a person injures a slave, he may, by paying a certain price, become his owner.—Decision in Louisiana, Berard v. Berard, establishing the principle that by no mode of suit, direct or indirect, can a slave obtain redress for ill-treatment. — Case of Jennings v. Fundeburg. — Action for killing negroes. — Also Richardson v. Dukes for the same. — Recognition of the fact that many persons, by withholding from slaves proper food and raiment, cause them to commit crimes for which they are executed. — Is the negro a person in any sense? — Judge Clark's argument to prove that he is a human being. —Decision that a woman may be given to one person, and her unborn children to another. — Disproportioned punishment of the slave compared with the master. — Case of State v. Mann, showing that the owner or hirer of a slave cannot be punished for inflicting cruel, unwarrantable and disproportioned punishments. — Judge Ruffin's speech.||70|
|III. — SOUTHER v. THE COMMONWEALTH. THE NE PLUS ULTRA OF LEGAL HUMANITY: Writer's attention called to this case by Courier and Enquirer. — Case presented. — Writer's remarks. — Principles established in this case.||79|
|IV. — PROTECTIVE STATUTES: Apprentices protected. — Outlawry. — Melodrama of Prue in the swamp. —Harry the carpenter, a romance of real life.||83|
|V. — PROTECTIVE ACTS OF SOUTH CAROLINA AND LOUISIANA. — THE IRON COLLAR OF LOUSIANA AND NORTH CAROLINA.||87|
|VI. — PROTECTIVE ACTS WITH REGARD TO FOOD AND RAIMENT, LABOR, ETC.: Illustrative drama of Tom v. Legree, under the law of South Carolina. — Separation of parent and child.||_|
|VII. — THE EXECUTION OF JUSTICE: State v. Eliza Rowand.—The "Ægis of protection" to the slave's life.||92|
|VIII. — THE GOOD OLD TIMES.||_|
|IX. — MODERATE CORRECTION AND ACCIDENTAL DEATH.—STATE v. CASTLEMAN.||_|
|X. — PRINCIPLES ESTABLISHED. — STATE v. LEGREE; A CASE NOT IN THE BOOKS.||103|
|XI. — THE TRIUMPH OF JUSTICE OVER LAW.||_|
|XII. — A COMPARISON OF THE ROMAN LAW OF SLAVERY WITH THE AMERICAN.||107|
|XIII. — THE MEN BETTER THAN THEIR LAWS.||110|
|XIV. - THE HEBREW SLAVE-LAW COMPARED WITH THE AMERICAN SLAVE-LAW.||115/223|
|XV. — SLAVERY IS DESPOTISM.||120|
|I. — DOES PUBLIC OPINION PROTECT THE SLAVE?||124|
|II. — PUBLIC OPINION FORMED BY EDUCATION: Early training. — "The spirit of the press."||129|
|III. — SEPARATION OF FAMILIES.||133|
|IV. — THE SLAVE TRADE: What sustains slavery?—The FACTS again, and the comments of Southern men. —The poetry of the slave-trade.||143|
|V. — SELECT INCIDENTS OF LAWFUL TRADE; OR, FACTS STRANGER THAN FICTION: What "domestic sensibilities" Violet and George had. — Testimony of a sea-captain, and of a fugitive slave.||151|
|VI. — THE EDMONDSON FAMILY: Old Milly and her household. — Liberty and equality. — The schooner Pearl. — An American slave-ship.—Capture of fugitives. —Indignation. — Captives Imprisoned. —Voyage to New Orleans and return. — Affecting incidents. — Final redemption.||155|
|VII. — EMILY RUSSELL: Price of her redemption.—Not raised.—Sent to the South. — Redeemed by death. — Daniel Bell and family. — Poor Tom Ducket. — Facsimile of his letter.||_|
|VIII. —KIDNAPPING: Causes which lead to kidnapping free negroes and whites.—Solomon Northrop kidnapped. — Carried to Red river.—Parallel to Uncle Tom.— Rachel Parker and sister.||173|
|IX. — SLAVES AS THEY ARE, ON TESTIMONY OF OWNERS: Color and complexion. — Scars. — Intelligence. — Sale of those claiming to be free.—Illustrated by advertisements. — Inferences.||175|
|X.—POOR WHITE TRASH: Slavery degrades the poor whites. — Causes and process. — Materials for mobs. — Fierce for slavery. — Influence of slavery on education. — Emigration from slave states.—N. B. Watson advertised for a hunt.—John Cornutt lynched.—No defence in law.—Justice prostrate.—Rev. E. Matthews lynched. — Case of Jesse McBride.||184|
|I. — INFLUENCE OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH ON SLAVERY: Power of the clergy. — The church, what? — Influence.—Points Self-evident.—Course of ecclesiastical bodies.—Sanction of American slavery, as it is, by Southern bodies. — Summary of results.||193|
|II. — AMERICAN CHURCH AND SLAVERY: Trials for heresy. — Course as to slavery heresies. — Course of the Methodist Church.— Course of the Presbyterian Church, before the division.—Course of the Old School body. — Course of the New School body. — Results. — Congregationalists. — Albany convention. —Home Missionary Society. —The protesting power.—Practical workings of the general system.—Pleas for inaction.— Appeal to the church.||205|
|III. — MARTYRDOMS: Power of Leviathan. — He cares more for deeds than words. — E. P. Lovejoy at St. Louis. — At Alton. — Convention. — Speech. — Mob. — Death.||223|
|IV. — SERVITUDE IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH COMPARED WITH AMERICAN SLAVERY: Fundamental principles of the kingdom of Christ. — Relations to Slavery. —Apostolic directions. — Case of Onesimus.||228|
|V. — TEACHINGS AND CONDITION OF THE APOSTLES: Apostles and primitive Christians not law-makers. — Preaching of modern Law-makers.||234|
|VI. — APOSTOLIC TEACHING ON EMANCIPATION.||235|
|VII. — ABOLITION OF SLAVERY BY CHRISTIANITY: State of Society. — Course of councils. — Influence of bishops for freedom. — Redemption of captives.—Contrast.||237|
|VIII. — JUSTICE AND EQUITY VERSUS SLAVERY: Regulation of slavery impossible.— Contrast of its principles and provisions with justice and equity.||241|
|IX. — IS THE SYSTEM OF RELIGION WHICH IS TAUGHT THE SLAVE THE GOSPEL? Points to be conceded.—What is taught?—Principles and discussion.—Necessary results of the system. — Specimens of teaching and criticisms.||244|
|X. — WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Work of the church in America.—Feelings of Christians in all other countries. — Eradication of caste, and repeal of sinful laws against free colored people.—Various duties and measures as to slavery. — Closing appeal.||250|
|APPENDIX. — Statistics Abused — Falsified 1840 Census.||257|
|"$100 will be paid to any person who may apprehend and safely confine in any jail in this state a certain negro man, named ALFRED. And the same reward will be paid, if satisfactory evidence is given of his having been KILLED. He has one or more scars on one of his hands, caused by his having been shot.
Richlands, Onslow Co., May 16, 1838."
|"RANAWAY, my negro man RICHARD. A reward of $25 will be paid for his apprehension, DEAD or ALIVE. Satisfactory proof will only be required of his being KILLED. He has with him, in all probability, his wife, ELIZA, who ran away from Col. Thompson, now a resident of Alabama, about the time he commenced his journey to tbat state.
|"About the 1st of March last the negro man RANSOM left me without the least provocation whatever; I will give a reward of twenty dollars for said negro, if taken, DEAD OR ALIVE,—and if killed in any attempt, an advance of five dollars will be paid.|
|"RANAWAY from the subscriber, a negro man named SAMPSON. Fifty dollars reward will be given for the delivery of him to me, or his confinement in any jail, so that I get him; and should he resist in being taken, so that violence is necessary to arrest him, I will not hold any person liable for damages should the slave be KILLED.
|"$300 REWARD.—Ranaway from the subscriber, in November last, his two negro men, named Billy and Pompey.
"Billy is 25 years old, and is known as the patroon of my boat for many years; in all probability he may resist; in that event 50 dollars will be paid for his HEAD."
|"Ye see," said Marks to Haley, stirring his punch as he did so, "ye see, we has justices [of the peace] convenient at all p'ints along shore, that does up any little jobs in our line quite reasonable [easily, cheaply bribed!].
"Tom, he does the knockin' down, and that ar; and I come in all dressed up,—shining boots,—everything first chop,—when the swearin' 's to be done. You oughter see me, now!" said Marks, in a glow of professional pride, "how I can tone it off. One day I'm Mr. Twickem, from New Orleans; 'nother day, I'm just come from my plantation on Pearl river, where I works seven hundred niggers; then, again, I come out a distant relation to Henry Clay, or some old cock in Kentuck.
"Talents is different, you know. Now, Tom's a roarer when there's any thumping or fighting to be done; but at lying he an't good, Tom an't; ye see it don't comes natural to him; but, Lord! if thar's a feller in the country that can swear to anything and everything, and put in all the circumstances and flourishes with a longer face, and carry 't through better'n I can, why, T'd like to see him, that's all!
"I b'lieve, my heart, I could get along, and make through, even if justices [of the peace] were more particular than they is. Sometimes I rather wish they was more particular; 't would be a heap more relishin' if they was,—more fun, yer know."
|Ed. Note: It was Southern policy to NOT allow the Gospel to be preached to slaves. See Part 4, chapter IX, pp. 244-250.|
|"Certainly they are, in law, if she could have a fair hearing [due process as per the Constitution]; but they will come to your house in the night, with an officer and a warrant; they will take her before Justice D—, and swear to her [being a slave]. He's the man that does all this kind of business, and he'll deliver her up, and there'll be an end to it."|
|He said that, when on a visit to his brother, in New Orleans, some years before, he found in his possession a most valuable negro man, of such remarkable probity and honesty that his brother literally trusted him with all he had. He had frequently seen him take out a handful of bills, without looking at them, and hand them to this servant, bidding him go and provide what was necessary for the family, and bring him the change. He remonstrated with his brother on this imprudence, but the latter replied that be had had such proof of this servant's impregnable conscientiousness that he felt it safe to trust him to any extent.
|I have passed ten days in New Orleans, not unprofitably, I trust, in examining the public|
|institutions,—the schools, asylums, hospitals, prisons, &c. With the exception of the first, there is little hope of amelioration. I know not how much merit there may be in their system; but I do know that, in the administration of the penal code, there are abominations which should bring down the fate of Sodom [Genesis 19:24-25] upon the city. If Howard or Mrs. Fry ever discovered so ill-administered a den of thieves as the New Orleans prison, they never described it.
In the negro's apartment I saw much which made me blush that I was a white man, and which, for a moment, stirred up an evil spirit in my animal nature.
Entering a large paved court-yard, around which ran galleries filled with slaves of all ages, sexes and colors, I heard the snap of a whip, every stroke of which sounded like the sharp crack of a pistol. I turned my head, and beheld a sight which absolutely chilled me to the marrow of my bones, and gave me, for the first time in my life, the sensation of my hair stiffening at the roots. There lay a black girl flat upon her face, on a board, her two thumbs tied, and fastened to one end, her feet tied, and drawn tightly to the other end, while a strap passed over the small of her back, and, fastened around the board, compressed her closely to it. Below the strap she was entirely naked.
By her side, and six feet off, stood a huge negro, with a long whip, which he applied with dreadful power and wonderful precision. Every stroke brought away a strip of skin, which clung to the lash, or fell quivering on the pavement, while the blood followed after it.
The poor creature writhed and shrieked, and, in a voice which showed alike her fear of death and her dreadful agony, screamed to her master, who stood at her head, "O, spare my life! don't cut my soul out!" But still fell the horrid lash; still strip after strip peeled off from the skin; gash after gash was cut in her living flesh, until it became a livid and bloody maas of raw and quivering rnuscle.
It was with the greatest difficulty I refrained from springing upon the torturer, and arresting his lash; but, alas! what could I do, but turn aside to hide my tears for the sufferer, and my blushes for humanity!
This was in a public and regularly-organized prison; the punishment was one recognized and authorized by the law.
But think you the poor wretch had committed a heinous offence, and had been convicted thereof, and sentenced to the lash? Not at all. She was brought by her master to be whipped by the common executioner, without trial, judge or jury, just at his beck or nod, for some real or supposed offence, or to gratify his own whim or malice. And he may bring her day after day, without cause assigned, and inflict any number of lashes he pleases, short of twenty-five, provided only he pays the fee.
Or, if he choose, he may have a private whipping-board on-his own premises, and brutalize himself there.
A shocking part of this horrid punishment was its publicity, as I have said; it was in a court-yard surrounded by galleries, which were filled with colored persons of all sexes—runaway slaves, committed for some crime, or slaves up for sale. You would naturally suppose they crowded forward, and gazed, horror-stricken, at the brutal spectacle below; but they did not; many of them hardly noticed it, and many were entirely indifferent to it. They went on in their childish pursuits, and some were laughing outright in the distant parts of the galleries; so low can man, in God's image, be sunk to brutality.
See also our background site.
And in modern context, see, e.g., Ray
McGovern, "'Christians' Wink at Torture"
(ConsortiumNews.com, 1 August 2009).
Chapter IX. St. Clare.
Dear Sir: I take this opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of Anthony Benezet's book against the slave-trade; I thank you for it.
Is it not a little surprising that the professors of Christianity, whose chief excellence consists in softening the human heart, in cherishing and improving its finer feelings, should encourage a practice so totally repugnant to the first impressions of right and wrong? What adds to the wonder is, that this abominable practice has been introduced in the most enlightened ages.
Times that seem to have pretensions to boast of high improvements in the arts and sciences, and refined morality, have brought into general use, and guarded by many laws, a species of violence and tyranny which our more rude and barbarous, but more honest ancestors detested.
Is it not amazing that at a time when the rights of humanity are defined and understood with precision, in a country above all others fond of liberty,—-that in such an age and in such a country we find men professing a religion the most mild, humane, gentle and generous, adopting such a principle, as repugnant to humanity as it is inconsistent with the Bible, and destructive to liberty! Every thinking, honest rejects it in speculation. How free in practice from conscientious motives!
Would any one believe that I am master of slaves of my own purchase? I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living here without them. I will not, I cannot, justify it. However culpable my conduct, I will so far pay my devoir to virtue as to own the excellence and rectitude of her precepts, and lament my want [lack] of conformity to them.
I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil. Everything we can do is to improve it, if it happens in our day; if not, let us transmit to our descendants, together with our slaves, a pity for their unhappy lot, and an abhorrence for slavery. If we cannot reduce this wished-for reformation to practice, let us treat the unhappy victims with lenity. It is the furthest advance we can make towards justice. It is a debt we owe to the purity of our religion, to show that it is at variance with that law which warrants slavery.
I know not when to stop. I could say many things on the subject, a serious view of which gives a gloomy prospect to future times!
|Ed. Note: Patrick Henry is right to refer to such pretended "Christians" as merely "professors of Christianity," a depravity their "more honest ancestors detested."
Rev. Parker Pillsbury would later excommunicate such alleged Christian clergy, as not in fact Christian.
The vast majority, 99%, of U.S. were wrong on slavery.
They “had simply no moral sense,” said Kentucky clergyman Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge, p 9. Their scandalous behavior was the “acmé of piratical turpitude,” says Lewis Tappan, Address (1843), p 19.
|The great relation of servitude, in some form or other, with greater or less departure from the theocratic equality of men, is inseparable from our nature. Domestic slavery is not, in my judgment, to be act down as an immoral or irreligious relation. The slaves of this country are better clothed and fed than the peasantry of some of the most prosperous atates of Europe.|
|Sir, I do not go the length of the gentleman from Massachusetts, and hold that the existence of slavery in this country is almost a blessing. On the contrary, I am firmly settled in the opinion that it is a great curse,—one of the greatest that could have been interwoven in our sytem. I, Mr. Chairman, am one of those whom these poor wretches call masters. I do not task them; I feed and clothe them well, but yet, alas! they are slaves, and slavery is a curse in any shape. It is no doubt true that there are persons in Europe far more degraded than our slaves,— worse fed, worse|
Select Incidents of Lawful Trade.
|While at Robinson, or Tyree Springs, twenty miles from Nashville, on the borders of Kentucky and Tennessee, my hostess said to me, one day, "Yonder comes a gang of slaves, chained."
I went to the road-side and viewed them. For the better answering my purpose of observation, I stopped the white man in front, who was at his ease in a one-horse wagon, and asked him if those slaves were for sale. I counted them and observed their position. They were divided by three one-horse wagons, each containing a man-merchant, so arranged as to command the whole gang.
Some were unchained; sixty were chained in two companies thirty in each, the right hand of one to the left hand of the other opposite one, making fifteen each side of a large ox-chain, to which every hand was fastened, and necessarily compelled to hold up,—men and women promiscuously, and about in equal proportions,—all young people. No children here, except a few in a wagon behind, which were the only children in the four gangs.
I said to a respectable mulatto woman in the house, "Is it true that the negro-traders take mothers from their babies?"
"Massa, it is true; for here, last week, such a girl [naming her], who lives about a mile off, was taken after dinner,—knew nothing of it in the morning,—sold, put into the gang, and her baby given away to a neighbor. She was a stout young woman, and brought a good price."
Chapter I. Introduction
The media has a rigorous policy of censorship, adhered to for centuries. See
|She has done it [he says] by attaching to them as slaveholders, in the eyes of the world, the guilt of the abuses of an institution of which they are absolutely guiltless. Her story is so devised as to present slavery in three dark aspects:
To show the first, she causes a reward to be offered for the recovery of a runaway slave, "dead or alive," when no reward with such an alternative was ever heard of, or dreamed of, south of Mason and Dixon's line, and it has been decided over and over again in Southern courts that "a slave who is merely flying away cannot be killed." She puts such language as this into the mouth of one of her speakers:—"The master who goes furthest and does the worst only uses within limits the power that the law gives him;" when, in fact, the civil code of the very state where it is represented the language was uttered—Louisiana—declares that
In the General [Supreme] Court of Virginia last year, in the [torture-murder] case of Souther v. the Commonwealth [48 Va 673 (1851)], it was held that the killing of a slave by his master and owner, by wilful and excessive whipping, is murder in the first degree, though it may not have been the purpose of the master and owner to kill the slave! And it is not six months since Governor Johnston, of Virginia, pardoned a slave who killed his inofiter, who was beating him with brutal severity.
And yet, in the face of such laws and decisions as these, Mrs. Stowe winds up a long series of cruelties upon her other black personages, by causing her faultless hero, Tom, to be literally whipped to death in Louisiana, by his master Legree; and these acts, which the laws make criminal, and punish as such, she sets forth in the most repulsive colors, to illustrate the institution of slavery!
So, too, in reference to the separation of children from their parents. A considerable part of the plot is made to hinge upon the selling, in Louisiana, of the child Eliza, "eight or nine years old," away from her mother; when, had its inventor looked in the statute-book of Louisiana, she would have found the following language:
The privation of religious instruction, as represented by Mrs. Stowe, is utterly unfounded in fact. The largest churches in the Union consist entirely of slaves. The first African church in Louisville, which numbers fifteen hundred persons, and the first African church in Augusta, which numbers thirteen liundred, are specimens. On multitudes of the large plantations in the different parts of the South the ordinances of the gospel are as regularly maintained, by competent ministers, as in any other communities, north or soutri. A larger proportion of the slave population are in communion with some Christian church, than of the white population in any part of the country. A very considerable portion of every southern congregation, either in city or country, is sure to consist of blacks; whereas, of our northern churches, not a colored person is to be seen in one out of fifty.
The peculiar falsity of this whole book consists in making exceptional or impossible cases the rep-
This work, professing to have been compiled with great care from the latest editions of the statute-books of the several states, the author supposed to be a sufficient guide for the writing of a work of fiction.*
|This cursed business, accursed of God and man,—what is it? Strip it of all its ornament, run it down to the root and nucleus of the whole, and what is it? Why, because my brother Quashy is ignorant and weak, and I am intelligent and strong,—because I know how, and can do it,—therefore I may steal all he has, keep it, and give him only such and so much as suits my fancy!
I defy anybody on earth to read our slave-code, as it stands in our law-books, and make anything else of it. Talk of the abuses of slavery! Humbug! The thing itself is the essence of all abuse. And the only reason why the land don't sink under it [yet], like Sodom and Gomorrah, is because it is used in a way infinitely better than it is.
For pity's sake, for shame's sake, because we are men born of women, and not savage beasts, many of us do not, and dare not,—we would scorn to use the full power which our savage laws put into our hands. And he who goes the furthest, and does the worst, only uses within limits the power that the law gives him.
What is Slavery?
|"A slave," says the law of Louisiana, "is one who is in the power of a master [extortioner, to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry nnd his labor; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything, but what must belong to his master."—Civil Code, Art. 35.|
|South Carolina says "slaves shall be deemed, sold, taken, reputed and adjudged in law, to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, TO ALL INTENTS, CONSTRUCTIONS AND PURPOSES WHATSOEVER."—2 Brev. Dig. 229; Prince's Digest, 446.|
|ture, under the king's peace, with malice aforethought, express or implied, is murder at common law. Is not a slave a reaaonable creature?—is he not a human being? And the meaning of this phrase, reasonable creature, is, a human being. For the killing a lunatic, an idiot, or even a child unborn, is murder, as much as the killing a philosopher; and has not the slave as much reason as a lunatic, an idiot, or an unborn child?|
|"Because individuals may have been deprived of many of their rights by society, it does not follow that they have been deprived of all their rights."|
|"He is still a human being, and possesses all those rights of which he is not deprived by the positive provisions of the law."|
|"The right of the master exists not by force of the law of nature or of nations, but by virtue only of the positive law of the state.|
|He who is the absolute owner of a thing, owns all its faculties for profit or increase; and he may, no doubt, grannt the profits or increase, as well as the thing itself. Thus, it is every day's practice to grant the future rents or profits of real estate; and it is held that a man may grant the wool of a flock of sheep for years.|
|A being, ignorant of letters, unenlightened by religion, and deriving but little instruction from good example, cannot be supposed to have right conceptions as to the nature and extent of moral or political obligations. This remark, with but a slight qualification, is applicable to the condition of the slave. It has been just shown that the benefits of education are not conferred upon him, while his chance of acquiring a knowledge of the precepts of the gospel is so remote as scarcely to be appreciated. He may be regarded, therefore,|
|as almost without the capacity to comprehend the force of laws; and, on this account, such as are designed for his government should be recommended by their simplicity and mildness.
His condition suggests another motive for tenderness on his behalf in these particulars. He is unable to read, and holding little or no communication with those who are better informed than himself, how is he to become acquainted with the fact that a law for his observance has been made?
To exact obedience to a law which has not been promulgated,—which is unknown to the subject of it—has ever [always] been deemed most unjust and tyrannical. The reign of [crazed Roman Emperor] Caligula [27 A.D. - 31 A.D.], were it obnoxious to no other reproach than this, would never cease to be remembered with abhorrence.
The lawgivers of the slaveholding states seem, in the formation of their penal codes, to have been uninfluenced by these claims of the slave upon their compassionate consideration. The hardened convict moves their sympathy, and is to be taught the laws before he is expected to obey them; yet the guiltless slave is subjected to an extensive system of cruel enactments, of no part of which, probably, has he ever heard.
Parts of this system apply to the slave exclusively, and for every infraction a large retribution is demanded; while, with respect to offences for which whites as well as slaves are amenable, punishments of much greater seventy are inflicted upon the latter than upon the former.
|Much has been made of the disparity of punishment between the white inhabitants and the slaves and negroes of the same state; that slaves are punished with much more severity, for the commission of similar crimes, by white persons, than the latter.
The slave has no agency in making them. He is indeed one cause of the apprehended evils to the other class, which those laws are expected to remedy. That he should be held amenable for a violation of those rules established for the security of the other, is the natural result of the state in which he is placed. And the severity of those rules will always bear a relation to that danger, real or ideal [imagined], of the other class.
It has been so among all nations, and will ever continue to be so, while the disparity between bond and free remains.
|A judge cannot but lament, when such cases as the present are brought into judgment. It is impossible that the reasons on which they go can be appreciated, but [except] where institutions similar to our own exist, and are thoroughly understood.
The struggle, too, in the judge's own breast, between the feelings of the man and the duty of the magistrate, is a severe one, presenting strong temptation to put aside such questions, if it be possible.
It is useless, however, to complain of things inherent in our political state. And it is criminal in a court to avoid any responsibility which the laws impose.
With whatever reluctance, therefore, it is done, the court is compelled to express an opinion upon the extent of the dominion of the master over the slave in North Carolina. The indictment charges a battery on Lydia, a slave of Elizabeth Jones . . . .
The inquiry here is, whether a cruel and unreasonable battery on a slave by the hirer is indictable. The judge below instructed the jury that it is. He seems to have put it on the ground, that the defendant had but a special property.
Our laws uniformly treat the master, or other person having the possession
|and command of the slave, as entitled to the same extent of authority. The object is the same, the service of the slave; and the same [extortion] powers must be confided. In a criminal proceeding, and, indeed, in reference to all other persons but the general owner, the hirer and possessor of the slave, in relation to both rights and duties, is, for the time being, the owner. . . . But, upon the general question whether the owner is answerable criminaliter, for a battery upon his own slave, or other exercise of authority of force, not forbidden by statute, the [demonized, Constitution-ignoring] court entertains but little doubt.
That he is so liable has never been decided; nor, so far as is known, been hitherto contended. There has been no prosecution of the sort.
The established habits and uniform practice of the country, in this respect, is the best evidence of the portion of power deemed by the whole community requisite to the preservation of the master's dominion. If we thought differently, we could not set our notions in array against the judgment of everybody else, and say that this or that authority may be safely lopped off.
This has indeed been assimilated at the bar to the other domestic relations: and arguments drawn from the well-established principles, which confer and restrain the authority of the parent over the child, the tutor over the pupil, the master over the apprentice, have been pressed on us.
The [demonized] court does not recognise their application There is no likeness between the cases. They are in opposition to each other, and there is an impassable gulf between them. The difference is that which exists between freedom and slavery; and a greater cannot be imagined.
In the one, the end in view is the happiness of the youth born to equal rights with that governor on whom the duty devolves of training the young to usefulness, in a station which he is afterwards to assume among freemen. To such an end, and with such a subject, moral and intellectual instruction seem the natural means; and, for the most part, they are found to suffice. Moderate force is superadded only to make the others effectual. If that fails, it is better to leave the party to his own headstrong passions, and the ultimate correction of the law, than to allow it to be immoderatrly inflicted by a private person.
With slavery it is far otherwise. The end is the profit of the master, his security and the public safety: the subject, one [unconstitutionally] doomed, in his own person and his posterity, to live without knowledge, and without the capacity to make anything his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits.
What moral considerations shall be addressed to such a being, to convince him what it is impossible but that the most stupid must feel and know can never be true,—that he is thus to labor upon a principle of natural duty, or for the sake of his own personal happiness!
Such services can only be expected from one who has no will of his own; who surrenders his will in implicit obedience to that of another. Such obedience is the consequence only of uncontrolled authority over the body [unlimited right to torture]. There is nothing else which can operate to produce the effect.
THE POWER OF THE MASTER MUST BE ABSOLUTE, TO RENDER [extort] THE SUBMISSION OF THE SLAVE PERFECT.
I most freely confess my sense of the harshness of this proposition. I feel it as deeply as any man can. And, as a principle of moral right, every person in his retirement must repudiate it. But, in the actual condition of things, it must be so. There is no remedy. This [torture] discipline belongs to the state of slavery. They cannot be disunited without abrogating at once the rights of the master, and absolving the slave from his subjection. It constitutes the curse of slavery to both the bond and the free portions of our population. But it is inherent in the relation of master and slave.
That there may be particular instances of cruelty and deliberate barbarity [e.g., the Souther case], where in conscience the law might properly interfere, is most probable. The difficulty is to determine where a court may properly begin.
Merely in the abstract, it may well be asked which power of the master accords with right. The answer will probably sweep away all of them.
But we [demonized judges] cannot look at the matter in that [moral] light. The truth is that we are forbidden to enter upon a train of general reasoning on the subject.
We [thus depraved] cannot allow the right of the master to be brought into discussion in the courts of justice. The slave, to remain a slave, must be made sensible that there is no appeal from his master; that his power is, in no instance, usurped, but is conferred by the laws of man, at least, if not by the law of God. The danger would be great, indeed, if the tribunals of justice should be called on to graduate the punishment appropriate to every temper and every dereliction of menial duty.
No man can anticipate the many and aggravated provocations of the master which the slave would be constantly stimulated by his own passions, or the instigation of others, to give; or the consequent wrath of the master, prompting him to bloody vengeance upon the turbulent traitor; a vengeance generally practiced with impunity, by reason of its privacy. The court, therefore disclaims the [habeas corpus] power of changing the relation in which these parts of our people stand to each other.
I repeat, that I would gladly have avoided this ungrateful question. But, being brought to it, the court is compelled to declare that while slavery [unconstitutionally] exists amongst us in its present state, or until it shall seem fit to the legislature to interpose express enactments to the contrary, it will be the imperative duty of the judges to recognize the full dominion of the owner over the slave, except where the exercise of it is forbidden by statute.
And this [disregard of the above] we do upon the ground that this [unconstitutional] dominion is essential to the value of slaves as property, to the security of the master and the public tranquillity, greatly dependent upon their subordination; and, in fine, as most effectually securing the general protection and comfort of the slaves themselves. Judgment below reversed; and judgment entered for the defendant.
|Ed. Note: See related court cases:
See also Nazi-era context.
|Ed. Note: For another analysis, see, e.g., Mark V. Tushnet, Slave Law in the American South: STATE v. MANN in History and Literature (University Press of Kansas, 2003); and book review by Keith E. Whittington.|
Souther v. The Commonwealth—The
Ne Plus Ultra of Legal Humanity.
|"Yet in the face of such laws and decisions as these! Mrs. Stowe, &c."—Courier & Enquirer.|
|"And yet, in the face of such laws and decisions as these, Mrs. Stowe winds up a long series of cruelties upon her other black personages, by causing her faultless hero, Tom, to be literally whipped to death in Louisiana, by his master Legree; and these acts, which the laws make criminal, and punish as such, she sets forth in the most repulsive colors, to illustrate the institution of slavery!|
|Ed. Note: Reader Advisory: This is a torture-murder case, by 'poor white trash.'
And see overall slavery-characteristcs list.
The killing of a slave by his master and owner, by wilful and excessive whipping, is murder in the first degree; though it may not have been the purpose and intention of the master and owner to kill the slave.
Simeon Souther was indicted at the October Term, 1850, of the Circuit Court for the County of Hanover, for the murder of his own slave The indictment contained fifteen counts, in which the various modes of punishment and torture by which the homicide was charged to have been committed were stated singly, and in various combinations. The fifteenth count unites them all and, as the court certifies that the indictment was sustained by the evidence, the giving the facts stated in that count will show what was the charge against the prisoner, and what was the proof to sustain it.
The count charged that on the lst day of September, 1849, the prisoner tied his negro slave, Sam, with ropes about his wrists, neck, body, legs and ankles, to a tree. That whilst so tied, the prisoner first whipped the slave with switches. That he next beat and cobbed the slave with a shingle, and compelled two of his slaves, a man and a woman, also to cob the deceased with the shingle. That whilst the deceased was so tied to the tree, the prisoner did strike, knock, kick, stamp and beat him upon various parts of his head, face and body; that he applied fire to his body , * * * that he then washed his body with warm water, in which pods of red pepper had been put and steeped, and he compelled his two slaves aforesaid also to wash him with this same preparation of warm water and red pepper. That after the tying, whipping, cobbing, striking, beating, knocking, kicking, stamping, wounding, bruising, lacerating, burning, washing and torturing, as
RESIGNATION OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE
We publish below the letter of Chief Justice Ruffin of the Supreme Court, resigning his seat on the bench
This act takes us, and no less will it take the state, by surrprise The public are not prepared for it, and we doubt not there will scarcely be an exception to the deep and general regret which will be felt throughout the state. Judge Ruffin's great and unsurpassed legal learning, his untiring industry, the ease with which he mastered the details and comprehended the whole of the most complicated cases, were the admiration of the bar; and it has become a common saying of the ablest lawyers of the state, for a long time past, that his place on the bench could be supplied by no other than himself.
He is now, as we learn, in the sixty-fifth year of his age, in full possession of his usual excellent health, unaffected, so far as we can discover, in his natural vigor and strength, and certainly without any symptom of mental decay.
Forty-five years ago  he commenced the practice of the law. He has been on the bench twenty-eight years [since 1824], of which time he has been one of the Supreme Court twenty-three years [since 1829]. During this long public career he has, in a pecuniary point of view, sacrificed many thousands; for there has been no time of it in which he might not, with perfect ease, have doubled, by practice, the amount of his salary as judge.
|aforesaid, the prisoner untied the deceased [Sam] from the tree in such wiiy as to throw him with violence to the ground; and he then and there did knock, kick, stamp and beat the deceased upon his head, temples, and various parts of his body.
That the prisoner [Souther] then had the deceased carried into a shed-room of his house, and there he compelled one of his slaves, in his presence, to confine the deceased's feet in stocks, by making his legs fast to a piece of timber, and to tie a rope about the neck of the deceased, and fasten it to a bed-post in the room, thereby strangling, choking and suffocating the deceased.
And that whilst the deceased was thus made fast in stocks as aforesaid, the prisoner did kick, knock, stamp and beat him upon his head, face, breast, belly, sides, back and body; and he again compelled his two slaves to apply fire to the body of the deceased, whilst he was so made fast as aforesaid.
And the count charged that from these various modes of punishment and torture the slave Sam then and there died. It appeared that the prisoner [Souther] commenced the punishment of the deceased in the morning, and that it was continued throughout the day; and that the deceased died in the presence of the prisoner, and one of his slaves, and one of the [poor white trash] witnesses, whilst the punishment was still progressing.
Field, J. delivered the opinion [decision] of the court.
The prisoner [Souther] was indicted and convicted of murder in the second decree, in the Circuit Court of Hanover, at its April term last past, and was sentenced to the penitentiary for five years, the period of time ascertained by the jury.
The murder consisted in the killing of a negro man-slave hy the name of Sam, the property of the prisoner, by cruel and excessive whipping and torture, inflicted by Souther, aided by two of hi» other slaves, on the 1st day of September, 1849.
The prisoner [felt he was wrongly convicted and] moved for a new trial, upon the ground that the offence, if any, amounted only to manslaughter. The motion for a new trial was overruled, and a bill of exceptions taken to the opinion of the court, setting forth the facts proved, or as many of them as were deemed material for the consideration of the application for a now trial. The bill of exception [by Souther] states:
The [county] judge certifies that the slave was punished in the manner and by the means charged in the indictment. The indictment contains fifteen counts, and sets forth a case of the most cruel and excessive whipping and torture.*
It is believed that the records of criminal jurisprudence do not contain a case of more atrocious and wicked cruelty than was presented upon the trial of Souther; and yet it has been gravely and earnestly contended here by his [demonized lawyer] counsel that his [Souther's] offence amounts to manslaughter only.
It has been contended by the counsel of the prisoner that a man cannot be indicted and prosecuted for the cruel and excessive whipping of his own slave. That it is lawful for the master to chastise his slave, and that if death ensues from such chastisement, unless it was intended to produce death, it is like the case of homicide which is committed by a man in the performance of a lawful act, which is manslaughter only.
[The depraved court admitted that] It has been decided by this [demonized] court in [Commonwealth v] Turner's Case, 5 Rand [26 Va 678 (1827)], that the owner of a slave, for the malicious, cruel and excessive beating of his own slave, cannot be indicted [even for simple assault and battery]; yet it by no means follows, when such malicious, cruel and excessive beating results in death [witnessed by whites], though not intended and premeditated, that the beating is to be regarded as lawful for the purpose of reducing the crime to manslaughter, when the whipping is inflicted for the sole purpose of chastisement [for past action].
It is the policy of [the perverted legislators writing] the [unconstitutional] law, in respect to the relation of master and slave, and for the sake of securing proper subordination and obedience on the part of the slave, to protect the master from prosecution in all such cases, even if the whipping and punishment be malicious, cruel and excessive.
But in so inflicting punishment for the sake of punishment, the owner of the slave acts at his peril; and if death ensues in consequence of such punishment, the relation of master and slave affords no ground of excuse or palliation.
The principles of the common law, in relation to homicidc, apply to his case without qualification or exception; and according to those principles, the act of the prisoner [Souther], in the case under consideration, amounted to murder. * * * The crime of the prisoner is not manslaughter, but murder in the first degree.
|Ed. Note: Souther's lawyer would have advised him, 'to avoid conviction next time, privacy, no white witnesses!'|
|Ed. Note: For answer, see Stowe's chapter on poor white trash / rednecks, and references therein, especially Charles Sumner's material on Southern
Torture in the South continued. For examples, see
The negro was tied to a tree and whipped with switches. When Souther became fatigued with the labor of whipping, he called upon a negro man of his, and made him cub Sam with a shingle. He also made a negro woman of his help to cob him. And, after cobbing and whipping, he aplied fire to the body of the slave. . . . . He [Souther] then caused him [Sam] to be washed down with hot water, in which pods of red pepper had been steeped. The negro was also tied to a log and to the bed-post with ropes, which choked him, and he was kicked and stamped by Souther. This sort of punishment was continued and repeated until the negro died under its infliction.
Apprentices protected.—Outlawry—Melodrama of Prue
in the Swamp.—Harry the Carpenter, a Romance of Real Life.
|Ed. Note: For weaknesses of such laws, see Rev. John Rankin, Letters, pp 54-56.|
|Whereas by another Act of the Assembly, passed in 1774, the killing of a slave, however wanton, cruel aod deliberate, is only punishable in the first instance by imprisonment and paying the value thereof to the owner, which distinction of criminality between the murder of a white person and one who is equally a human creature, but merely of a different complexion, is DISGRACEFUL TO HUMANITY, AND DEGRADING IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE TO THE LAWS AND PRINCIPLES OF A FREE, CHRISTIAN AND ENLIGHTENED COUNTRY,
Be it enacted, &c.,
That if any person shall hereafter be guilty of wilfully and maliciously killing a slave, such offender shall, upon the first conviction thereof, be adjudged guilty of murder, and shall suffer the same punishment as if he had killed a free man. Provided always, this act shall not extend to the person killing a slave OUTLAWED BY VIRTUE OF ANY ACT OF ASSEMBLY OF THIS STATE, or to any slave in the act of resistance to his lawful owner or master, or to any slave dying under moderate correction."
|Any person who shall maliciously dismember or deprive a slave of life shall suffer such punishment as would be indicted in case the like offence had been committed on a free white person, and on the like proof, except in case of insurrrection by such slave, and unless such death should happen by accident in giving such slave moderate correction.—Cobb's Dig., 1851, p. 1125.|
|Whereas, MANY TIMES slaves run away and lie out, hid and lurking in swamps, woods, and other obscure places, killing cattle and hogs, and committing other injuries to the inhabitants of this state;
in all such cases, upon intelligence of any slave or slaves lying out as aforesaid, any two justices of the peace for the county wherein such slave or slaves is or are supposed to lurk or do mischief, shall, and they are hereby empowered and required to issue proclamation against such slave or slaves (reciting his or their names, and the name or names of the owner or owners, if known), thereby requiring him or them, and every of them, forthwith to surrender him or themselves;
and also to empower and require the sheriff of the said county to take such power with him as he shall think fit and necessary for going in search and pursuit of, and effectually apprehending, such outlying slave or slaves; which proclamation shall be published at the door of the court-house, and at such other places as said justices shall direct.
And if any slave or slaves agaiinst whom proclamation hath been thus issued stay out, and do not immediately return home, it shall be lawful for any person or persons whatsoever to kill and destroy such slave or slaves by such ways and means as shall think fit, without accusation or impeachment of any crime for the same.
Protective Acts of South Carolina and
Louisiana.—The Iron Collar of
Louisiana and North Carolina.
|If any person shall, on a sudden heat or passion, or by undue correction, kill his own slave, or the slave of any other person, he shall forfeit the saum of three hundred and fifty pounds current money.—Stroud's Sketch, p 40. 2 Brevard's Digest, 241. James' Digest, 392.|
|In case any person wilfully cut out the tongue, put out the eye, * * * or cruelly scald, burn, or deprive any slave of any limb, or member, or shall inflict any other cruel punishment, other than by whipping or beating with a horse-whip, cowskin, switch, or small stick, or by putting irons on, or confining or imprisoning such slave, every such person shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, current money.|
|In case any person shall wilfully cut out the tongue, put out the eye, or cruelly scald, burn, or deprive any apprentice of any limb or member, or shall inflict any other cruel punishment, other than by whipping or beating with a horse-whip, cowskin, switch or small stick, or by putting irons on or confining or imprisoning such apprentice, every such person shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, current money.|
|Now, the reader will perhaps be surprised to know that such an incident as the sale of Casey apart from Eliza, upon which the whole interest of the foregoing narrative hinges, never could have taken place in Louisiana, and that the bill of sale for Eliza would not have been worth the paper it was written on.—Observe. George Shelby states that Eliza was eight or nine years old at the time his father purchased her in New Orleans. Let us again look at the statute-book of Louisiana.
In the Code Noir we find it set down that
And this humane provision is strengthened by a statute, one clause of which runs as follows:
This penalty is a fine of not less than one thousand nor more than two thousand dollars, and imprisonment in the public jail for a period not less than six months nor more than one year.—Vide Acts of Louisiana, 1 Session, 9th Legislature, 1828-9, No. 24, Section 16. (Rev. Stat., 1852, p. 550, (§ 143.)
|Ed. Note. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens made the same point in 1865.|
The Execution of Justice.
State v. Eliza Rowand.—The "Ægis
of Protection" to the Slave's Life.
|"We cannot but regard the fact of this trial as a solitary occurrence."—Charleston Courier.|
|just the position he would naturally fall into, had he sunk from exhaustion. They wish it to appear that he hung himself. Could this be proved (we need hardly say that it is not), it would relieve but slightly the dark picture of their guilt. The probability is that he sank, exhausted by suffering, fatigue and fear.
As to the testimony of "surgeons," founded upon a post-mortem examination of the brain and blood-vessels, "that the subject would not have fainted before strangulation," it is not worthy of consideration. We know something of the fallacies and fooleries of such examinations.
From all we can learn, the only evidence relied on by the prosecution was that white man employed by the Castlemans. He was dependent upon them for work. Other evidence might have been obtained; why it was not is for the prosecuting attorney to explain. To prove what we say, and to show that justice has not been done in this horrible affair, we publish the following communication from an old and highly-respectable citizen of this place, and who is very far from being an Abortionist. The slave-holders whom he mentions are well knonn here, and would have promptly appeared in the case, had the prosecution, which was aware of their readiness, summoned them.
The account, as published by the friends of the accused parties, shows a case of extreme cruelty. The statements made by our corresondent prove that the truth has not been fully revealed, and that justice has been baffled. The result of the trial shows how irresponsible is the power of a master over his slave; and that whatever security the latter has is to be sought in the humanity of the former, not in the guarantees of law. Against the cruelty of an inhuman master he has really no safeguard.
Our conduct in relation to this case, deferring all notice of it in our columns till a legal investigation could be had, shows that we are not disposed to be captious towards our slave-holding countrymen. In no unkind spirit have we examined this lamentable case; but we must expose the utter repugnance of the slave system to the proper administration of justice. The newspapers of Virginia generally publish the account from the Spirit of Jefferson without comment. They are evidently not satisfied that justice was done; they doubtless will deny that the accused were guilty of homicide, legally; but they will not deny that they were guilty of an atrocity which should brand them forever, in a Christian country.
Principles Established.—State v.
Legree; A Case Not in the Books.
|"He that sitteth upon the circle of the heavens, who bringeth the princes to nothing, and maketh the judges of the earth as vanity." He hath said that "When he maketh inquisition for blood, he FORGETTETH NOT the cry of the humble."|
|"is not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to usward;"|
but the day of vengeance is surely coming, and the year of his redeemed is in his heart.
Chapter XII. A Comparison of the Roman
Law of Slavery with the American.
A Comparison of the Roman
|Ed. Note: See also overview of Roman anti-slavery principles, by Edward C. Rogers, Slavery Illegality in All Ages and Nations (Boston: Bela Marsh, 1855), Ch. II., "Ancient Rome," pp. 15-23.|
|It is clear, that slaves have no legal capacity to assent to any contract. With the consent of their master, they may marry, and their moral power to agree to such a contract or connection as that of marriage cannot be doubted; but whilst in a state of slavery it cannot produce any civil effect, because slaves are [unconstitutionally] deprived of all civil rights.|
|A slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he belongs. The master may sell him, dispose of his person, his industry, and his labor; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to his master. Civil Code, Article 35, Stroud, p. 22.|
|"one doomed in his own person, and his posterity, to live without knowledge, and without the capacity to make anything his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits." Wheeler's Law of Slavery, p. 246. State v Mann.|
|All the acquisitions of the slave in possession are the property of his master, notwithstanding the promise [word] of his master that the slave shall have certain of them. Gist v Toohey, 2 Rich 424.
A slave paid money which he had earned over and above his wages, for the purchase of his children into the hands of B, and B purchased such children with the money. Held that the master of such slave was entitled to recover the money of B. Ibid.
|Slaves shall be deemed, sold, taken, reputed and adjudged in law, to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners and possessors, and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever. Law of S. Carolina, Cobb's Digest, 971.|
|Ran away, a negro woman and two children; a few days before she went off, I burnt her with a hot iron on the left side of her face. I tried to make the letter M.|
|By a decree passed by the Senate, if a master was murdered when his slaves might possibly have aided him, all his household within reach were held as implicated and deserving of death; and Tacitus relates an instance in which a family of four hundred were all executed.|
|Hope, the best comfort of our imperfect condition, was not denied to the Roman slave; and if he had any opportunity of rendering himself either useful or agreeable, he might very naturally expect that the diligence and fidelity of a few years would be rewarded with the inestimable gift of freedom. * * * Without destroying the distinction of ranks, a distant prospect of freedom and honors was presented even to those whom pride and prejudice almost disdained to number among the human species.*
The youths of promising genius were instructed in the arts and sciences, and their price was ascertained by the degree of their skill and talents. Almost every profession, either liberal or mechanical, might be found in the household of an opulent senator.†
The Men Better Than Their Laws.
|Judgment is turned away backward,
And Justice standeth afar off;
For Truth is fallen in the street,
And Equity cannot enter.
Yea, Truth faileth;
And HE THAT DEPARTETH FROM EVIL
The Hebrew Slave-Law Compared
with the American Slave-Law.
|Ed. Note: The Hebrews entering Israel were agrarians. The Bible, Joshua 14-19, records the land grants. This meant being self-employed, everyone self-employed.
Bible "legislation [was] absolutely and entirely against [slavery], legislation in abhorrence of it, legislation condemning and forbidding it under penalty of death," says Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D., On the Subject of the Iniquity of the Extension of Slavery (1856), pp 19-20.
The law permitted someone, however, to become an employee of another person. Of course, this would typically be an unnecessary event; everyone had their own independent land and livelihood. The Bible records NOBODY abandoning their own land, to work that of another's.
You may check Bible references yourself, and are encouraged to do so.