THE original plan of the author was the preparation of a larger work than the present, on the subject-matter in hand. The vast accumulation of materials, after a long course of investigation, convinced him that that would be very cumbersome, and satisfy but a few. The state of the public mind demanded something that any man could buy and read of an evening. And yet, the subject demanded that critical minds should be supplied with sufficient authorities on the points handled. Not only the common reader, then, was to be supplied, but lawyers, clergymen, statesmen, politicians, and reformers.
To effect this, the author has reduced a work of more than one thousand pages to the present form, which every man, however poor, can purchase, and which the statesman may carry in his pocket.
This volume, then, is for the whole people, though addressed as letters to a particular class. The author has chosen this method—that of letters addressed to pro-slavery men—for reasons which will appear obvious to the reader as he passes along.
The time has come when every lover of his country and of humanity should understand the true basis of civil association and government. He should know what slavery has done, and is doing, by an inevitable law of nature, to destroy free institutions, and convert society into a chaos.
He should be able to see at a glance the tendency of every measure of government that is suicidal to the State. His soul should be aroused by the example of past times; his mind fortified with those absolute principles of right which the Almighty has developed in the history of all nations.
And, feeling the ground of righteous law to be indeed the rock of eternal ages, he should stand upon that, fearless and firm, making no compromise with wrong; but openly, honorably, fearlessly, and with well-directed power, strike down the evils that make war upon the "rights of human nature."
To furnish every American—every man, indeed, who cares lor the right—with a good armory and a well-stored magazine, accumulated from the good and great of all nations and ages, that every one may choose what best fits him in the great contest upon which we have now entered, is purpose of this volume.
The author has endeavored to furnish in marginal references all that the most inquisitive could desire, or the greatest sticklers for authority could wish. Errors may have crept into this department, in the typographical execution, which future editions will correct. The true critic will have charity.
I. Ancient GreeceMAN is the same in every age, in every clime. He may differ in certain phenomenal respects, under the physical influences of locality, and the modifying play of native institutions; yet, in no aspect, are the fundamental principles which constitute him man, altered or annuled. All that he has been, all that he is, all that he can be, lie infolded as capacity, as capability, as potential power, as much in one man as in another.
Not that all are equal poets, or philosophers, or mechanics. But all possess the essential elements of humanity, so that no one can be declared, a priori, incapable of any particular human development. One specimen of a man among the Africans is enough to prove the title of his race to manhood; otherwise idiots and fools in other races might overbalance the evidence in their favor.
All that any member of humanity may be, as a man, he has the right to become. All that the most favorable circumstances can aid him in becoming as a man, he has the right, as a man, to seek and appropriate, providing he pushes no one else from his equal right.
To suppose God has created any rational capacity, without giving the right of its proper development, is equivalent to the supposition there is no God. There is no God who is not consistent with himself. You must either
deny that Jehovah [the Lord] has created those you enslave, men, or
you must allow them the rights of men, else you deny the supreme right of Divinity to command you to deal justly [the slaver untermenschen view].
Your position involves atheism—a crime against reason, justice, Divinity.
All that is righteous within reach of any human being, by virtue of power conferred by the Almighty, any man has a Divine charter of rights for attaining, without asking consent of any human corporation. Nor has any body of men, be they King, Lords and Commons, or President, Congress, or the nation, the right or authority to push him aside, much less to make him a slave.
His Divine title holds good against all the powers of earth and hell. Their attempt to defeat him is war de facto against Eternal Justice. Nor is this all.
The war against the just right of one man is waged against the equal right of all. Claim the right to make a slave of one man, you deny your own right to freedom. If yon may make a beast of him, he may make a beast of you. In making a beast of him, you make a beast of yourself.
Man was made before society. Society can have no right that man has not allowed it. He cannot delegate to society what he has no right to allow to himself. He has no right to enslave another; society can have no such right; society cannot guarantee a right that is wrong. The rights of society are the aggregation of individual rights.
Every man may protect the just claims of himself and his brother. Society has the right to protect the just claims of all. Nay, further: Men associate and organize for rational purposes. The principal purpose, the grand aim, is protection of human rights. Power is conferred upon government for this sole purpose. No man enters society to be a slave, but that he may have his jost claims protected, by the superior power of it, in case any member, or body of its members, attempt to rob him.
Can the supreme power side with the robbers? Not by any right it possesses; not without opposing its own right of authority. Its authority was given to do justice, and that alone. To side with the aggressive power, with the robber, the oppressor, is abrogation of its authority, an abandonment of government, an assumption of despotism. From a protector of human rights it becomes their sworn enemy. It turns its sword upon society and hews it in pieces.
Justice existed before the forms of government. It is the law of one man, the law of every man, the law of
society, the law of government. Men make society, society make governments, and governments rule for society by authority of the rights of mankind. That is not government but tyranny that rules by injustice.
Heaven ordains no law for man that is not as good for one as for another. Government, not tyranny, is the ordinance of God. It is by His law that it rules; that law "regards not the person of any man [Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14; Acts 10:34]," it is "a terror to evil doers," not to "those who do well" [Romans 13:3].
Equal and impartial, it can do no less for the beggar than for the millionaire; not acting by human senses, but by its own divine spirit, it knows no difference between the African and the Anglo-American.
Do you say this is all mere rhetoric? Tyrants and demagogues have always said that; the former to justify themselves in their injustice, the latter to excuse their own consciences for duplicity.
All good men, all wise statesmen, all benefactors of the human race, from Confucius [551 B.C.- 479 B.C.] down to [William] Blackstone [1723-1780] and Isaac T. Hopper [1771-1852], have held to the same [equal justice] principles.
Only the robbery and pirates, the despots and their cringing minions, have denied them. They have been recognized in all the legitimate civil systems whose histories and laws are known in the world.
Where is the nation whose history does not show that its fundamental law is that of equal justice and the rights of all men to freedom? I care not how ancient, I care not how modern the nation, its one fundamental law is the same.
For wherever humanity was, wherever it is, its rights have been and are declared in the first principles of society.
They [rights] followed the Nomads, settled with the Shepherds who watched the stars and the robbers who stole their flocks, stood by the hardy Yeoman in defence of the products of his toils. When men assembled in cities, the defence of right was the aim—protection against the human wolves who lived upon the spoils of human rights.
Nor was it till these monsters climbed into the fold of government that civil power offered to protect injustice and robbery. Nor was it till then that political demagogues had birth, whose mother is hypocrisy, and whose father, tyranny. These are the men, who, gaining the favor of the people by hollow flattery, persuade them that good
government being impossible, they can only expect a little right and a great deal of wrong. But, say they, "As we are the friends of right, we will very cheerfully aid the dear people as well as circumstances will allow."
"We are practical men," say these demagogues; "we do, while others think, and dream, and philosophise."
Yes, gentlemen, you do, for ever do for yourselves, while the dear people delegate you to act for them. They send you to restore right, to root up the poisonous weeds of the civil garden. You return to them, having plucked the flowers for the adornment of your own persons.
We have boasted that the American governments are founded upon principles new to the world. It has become a fashionable saying with some that the good whig fathers were the first who said, "all men are born free and equal;" as if mankind had lived thousands of years in ignorance of a self evident principle of their own nature. The truth is, it was known and declared more than a thousand years before America was dreamed of by its discoverer.
Nor is this all. The same fundamental principles of the American constitutions were ever recognized as the only legitimate principles of government. We have only a variation of form. While the form has changed in every age, the principles of society have ever been permanent.
It would be an easy, and, withal, a profitable task, to show the exact likeness—the identity of the primary principles—of American state constitutions with those of all nations. Easy, I say, in respect to the fact, aside from the labor of collecting the materials necessary to its elucidation.
The evidence on this head demonstrates that slavery cannot, by any possibility, be recognized by legitimate, but only by a bastard government, a system of tyranny. Let us try this in a small way, for I cannot expatiate at large.
[Lucius Annaeus] Seneca [4 B.C. - 65 A.D.] affirms that
Upon what principle could slavery enter into such a social compact? Upon what principle could any
|"the strength which individual man wants [lacks] without society, he finds when united with his fellows as equals."*|
* Senec. de Benef., 1. 4. c. 18.
member claim that superiority which would entitle him to be the arbitrary lord of others? In what way could he appropriate the fruits of any other's labors, without his consent, and without a fair equivalent, to say nothing of making his brother a chattel?
Yet you, sirs, contend that the slaves of America are "members of society," and, in the same breath, that the members of society, in respect to their rights, are not equal; you therefore oppose the fundamental principles of legitimate society, and introduce a bastard system, that will allow of lordship, kingship, mastership, slavery.
Even Aristotle [384 B.C. - 322 B.C.], though a Grecian aristocrat, a despiser of the humanity of all other nations as barbarous, fit only to be enslaved by the lordly Greeks, yet acknowledged that the law of human equality was the only legitimate basis of society, rendering slavery unjust and inadmissible.
Could the fundamental principle of every free American constitution be more clearly expressed.
It was not for the good of Greece that her authorities allowed a large portion of the community to be excluded from her protection, and contrary to the law of social organization, be held the absolute slaves of a privileged order.
|"It is neither for the good, nor is it just," says he, "seeing all men are by nature alike and equal, that one should be lord and master over others where there is no law, nor is it for the public good, nor just that one should be a law to the rest, where there are laws; nor that any one, though a good man, should be lord over other good men, nor a bad man over bad men."*|
- This was allowing a state of war de jure in the body politic, which could not be prevented from becoming a war de facto to the destruction of the commonwealth. [Judge Handy verifies].
- It was allowing as paramount the partial and unjust claims of a select class in a community that could have no stability, no existence, in fact, without the actual, the decided recognition of that universal law, that guarantees to all men equal rights and denies to any, counter claims.
- It was allowing pirates and robbers a license to trample upon those fundamental and
* Pol., lib. 3. See [John] Milton's Defence of the People of England [in Answer to Salmasius's Defence of the King (1651 rev 1654)].
eternal principles, the sacred regard of which, alone, on the part of government, preserves society from becoming the certain prey of impious men.
The best minds and hearts of Greece saw and felt this; and they raised their voice against slavery. They denied the justice of the claim of any, upon the involuntary and unrequited services of unfortunate men.
- It was breaking down the only guards and fences which the Almighty has placed around freedom, and allowing the wolves and bears of society to enter and devour the weak and the defenceless.
- It was casting the social superstructure from the immovable rock of absolute justice, and founding it upon the quicksands of passion and lust—the sensuous power of lawless tyrants.
- It was entering into a war de jure et de facto against the ordinances of nature and the judgment of heaven and was certain to be rigorously punished with the total ruin of the state.
|"Equal law was the decree of the gods. Jove created none to tyrannize over others. All men had descended from the gods with the same natures, the same liberties, the same rights. They had sent heroes to exterminate tyrants and monsters who preyed upon human society."|
They delighted in the liberty of mankind; they had given freedom as a sacred birth-right of all—had written it upon the soul of the poorest and the weakest as a divine diploma which no tyrants could efface.*
Euripides [480 B.C. - 406 B.C.], in his play called "The Suppliant," introduces Theseus, King of Athens, as saying,
|"Tyranny," said Aristotle [384 B.C. - 322 B.C.], "is against the law of nature."†|
So slavery was declared to be contrary to the Grecian constitution, by some of the most eminent among the Greeks.§ Nor could it be regarded by Socrates [470 B.C. - 399 B.C.] in any
|"I have advanced the people themselves into the throne, having freed the city from slavery, and admitted the people to a share in the government, by giving them an equal right of suffrage."‡|
* Arist. Pol., 1. 1, c. 3.—Plato [427 B.C. - 347 B.C.]. De Leg., 1, 9. p. 660.—Cudworth, b. 1, c. 5.—Plato in his Eighth Epist.—Isocrat. [436 B.C. - 338 B.C.] Orat. de Permutat.
† Pol., 1. 3, c. 12.
‡ As quoted by [John] Milton [1608-1674], in his Defence of the People of England.
§ Thucyd. [471 B.C. - 400 B.C.], 1. 4, c. 86.
other light than as a system of robbery.* It was at war with society. It could not be sustained without force, contrary to right.
It was acknowledged that before men made war upon one another, slavery [had] had no existence; that, rightfully, every man was by nature free, and had a right to defend his freedom against all force to subject him to bondage.†
Indeed, this [self-defense against being enslaved] was honorable, said the Greeks; "it is noble," said Cyrus, "to fight, in order not to be made a slave."‡ Nor can there be found a single dissenting voice among the best Greek authors on this point.
Yet it was held the moment a man was conquered by another he lost his title to manhood and became the absolute slave of the conqueror. It mattered not how distinguished the captive had been, nor how honorable. The slavery of the captive was the reward of valor, prowess, and strategem—thus wholly excluding the law of absolute right, the law of society. Force without law begat slavery, and only force without law could sustain it.
But force without law was at irreconcilable warfare with the righrs of mankind and the principles of society. Therefore, slavery could never be incorporated into society. It could only be introduced as its enemy. It could only be attached to society as a sinking weight that would drag it under the waves. The captive, the slave, was the natural enemy of his oppressor, and of all who took sides with the tyrant against him.
Greece was in almost a constant state of civil warfare after the establishment of slavery. The principles of the constitution were disregarded. One state made war upon another as a band of robbers. Greek enslaved Greek. Justice and equity fled. Policy and stratagem, bribery and corruption, force and slavery, anarchy and dissolution, took the place of humanity, justice, virtue, unity, and peace.
|Ed. Note: For more on the 'slavery-by-war' concept, see Samuel Sewall, Selling Of Joseph (1700),|
pp 9-10; Somerset v Stewart (1772), p 27; and Alvan Stewart, Legal Argument (1845), p 10.
* Xen. Mem., 1. 4, c. 2.
† Xen. Cyrop., 1. 3, § 2.
‡ Ibid. "At the second period the Athenian citizens were 21,000," "while the slaves numbered 400,000." [Mitford, vol. 1, pp. 354, 355.] Who can wonder that Greece fell.
Tradition, in the age of Herodotus [485 B.C. - 428 B.C.], preserved the memory of a time when slavery was unknown in Greece. Herodot., 1. 6, p. 137. Sparta, as a band of robbers, made war upon Helos, and reduced all the people to perpetual slavery.
Yet you, sirs, advocate this as a worthy example for America to follow. Yon would have us all slaveholders. You would have us turn robbers, pirates, tyrants. You would drive justice from the land, liberty from the state, religion from the temple, and God from our souls.
Antiquity enrolled Hercules amongst the gods, because he punished Busiris, Diomedes, and other tyrants—the pests of mankind and monsters of the world.*
It was seen by Plato [427 B.C. - 347 B.C.] that slavery segregated and destroyed Grecian society. It
|"We have all our beast within us," said Aristotle [384 B.C. - 322 B.C.],† "and whoever is governed by a man without justice and law, is governed by a man and by a beast."|
Yet you point to the ancients, and say, "Slavery always existed. It was recognized in the republics of Greece." Ah, yes! Always recognized by tyrants, and by those whom slavery had so much degraded as to render unfit and despicable as the interpreters of law.
Remember, sirs, who trampled upon the liberties of Greece; who were left to wander amid her ruins; whose careless feet kicked the bleached skulls of tyrants and slavemasters. Go, sirs, and interrogate those classic remains! Call up the spirits of the ancient dead! Ask, why these solemn ruins? Why this lonely desolation? Why has fled society, and left the owl and the bat, the serpent and the wolf; to people the palaces and temples of the classic land? From out the depth of old ruins shall come the answer, These are the works of masters and of slaves.
There is but one foundation for society, that is, absolute
- was partial to the claims of injustice us right;‡
- favored the few in the robbery of the many;
- destroyed the honor of free labor;
- drove the virtue of humanity out of the hearts of the people;
- made them venal, sensuous, fraudulent;
- while it exalted the power of unprincipled slaveholders, made them over-reaching, proud, domineering, the sworn enemies of society, and the founders of the most despicable of all tyrannies—an oligarchal despotism in the name of democracy.
* [John Lord Somers, et al.] Judgment of Whole Kingdoms and Nations [Concerning the Rights, Power, and Prerogative of Kings, and the Rights, Priviledges, and Properties of the People, Shewing the Nature of Government in General, Both from God and Man, An Account of the British Government, and the Rights and Priviledges of the People in the Time of the Saxons and Since the Conquest; The Prophets and Ancient Jews Strangers to Absolute Passive Obedience; A Large Account of the Revolution; Several Declarations in Queen Elizabeth's Time (London: T. Harrison, 1710)], par. 32 [reprinted, New York: Garland Pub., 1979]. (See Background).
† Pol., 1, 3, c. 11.
‡ Plato de Leg., 1. 9.
|Ed. Note: This book is also cited at page 46 and 68-71.
Note the principle that a prophet, e.g., Jeremiah “is commissioned to utter the divine words [Jeremiah 1:9]. These . . . contain the absolute standards of all right conduct, and therefore determine the fate, not of Israel alone, but of all nations. The prophet utters the final standards and speaks by the authority of the Lord of the universe.” And “since he spoke in the name of a God of righteousness, he could not limit his message to his own people, for righteousness knows no frontiers.” “A man's birth makes him an American or a Jew [or whatever nationality] and so qualifies him to speak to his own people. It also limits him in his sympathies and his appeal. Jeremiah is set apart [Jeremiah 1:5] before his birth, because he has to speak to all nations (cf. Isa. 49: 5f).” Reference article, “Jeremiah,” by Prof. Adam C. Welch (Prof. of Hebrew and Old Testament Literature, New College, Edinburgh, Scotland), in The Abingdon Bible Commentary (New York and Nashville: The Abingdon Press, Inc., 1929), p 680.
Note the precedent of Ancient Israel's wicked King Ahab, 1 Kings 20-22, 2 Chronicles 18. When the national leader sins, behaves immorally, judgement/national penalty ensues. Such "judgment pronounced was not only righteous, but alike the necessary sequence of God's dealings throughout . . . history, and of Ahab's bearing in it. And in the judgment [penalty] the people as a whole must share. For even if theirs had not been the same [wicked] spirit [attitude/policy] as that which had prompted the conduct of Ahab, yet the public acts of rulers are those of the nation, and national sins are followed by national judgments [consequences/penalties]. Ahab had been on this triumphant return to [the capital] Samaria, there to receive the popular applause for his achievements [doings]," says Alfred Edersheim [1825-1889], Bible History (c. 1885), Vol VI,
Chap. III, last paragraph, p 423. Public support for rulers = public partaking of rulers' evils. Partaking of others sins is expressly forbidden by Divine Command and principles, see, e.g., Ephesians 5:7, 1 Timothy 5:22, John 17:15, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, and Revelation 18:4. Instead, people are to become partakers in the holy divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4. Example: “Let him that stole steal no more,” Ephesians 4:28. Don't be overcome by evil, Romans 12:21. Resist the devil, James 4:7 and 2 Peter 5:8-9.
Be holy, 1 Peter 1:16. Abstain from lusts, 1 Peter 2:11.
right—as solid and immovable as eternity. Build upon that, for all hell can't prevail against it.
But tyrants seek other foundations. They prefer the quagmire of lust, the quicksands of sensuousness. They entice the people away from the ordinances of heaven, and make them the instruments of their own slavery.
To suppose that the rights common to all men are not the fundamental principles of society, is impossible. Yet you, sirs, are forced to involve yourselves in that monstrous dilemma,
The latter position is diabolical in the extreme. Open rebellion against the government of Heaven is more than any human being, under Christen light, would be willing to declare.
You must then, confess yourselves hung upon the other horn. You must confess that you wholly deny that the Almighty is infinitely just, and has established justice as the eternal rule of society; that, there being no justice for the equal regulation of the conduct of men in respect to each other, there is no wrong in one man robbing and enslaving another.
This was the position which the pro-slavery school of Greece were forced to take.* For it was as impious in the sight of the Grecians to declare war with the Supreme Deity as it would be now.
It was easier for tyrants and robbers then, as now, to create doubt in the minds of many that the eternal justice was the immutable law of society. It was easier, by appealing to the selfish passions of men, to sophisticate the reason and drown the voice of conscience, and upon the ruins of faith in right build a system of robbery and despotism.
These Grecian sophists who supported slavery said, as
- of either denying that society has immutable foundations of moral law, that there is equal law of justice established by Jehovah for the government and regulation of men's lives in respect to one another as brethren, or
- you [slavers] must, in justifying robbery and slavery, admit that you have turned rebels against Infinite Justice [God] and have joined the enemy of all mankind [the devil] in subjecting Humanity to beastly servitude.
* They were forced to reason against the existence of natural justice, and declared there was no injustice but that which was conventionally so. See Plato de Repub., 1. 2.
you say, "Slavery has always existed somewhere; nothing is that the gods have not created; therefore slavery is a divine institution." So every open robber and pirate reasoned. The filthy debauchee used the same arguments.
Thus the same arguments you are forced to use in support of slavery and robbery, the corrupting sophists of Greece resorted to in justification, not only of slavery, but of all the crimes in the calendar. Is it a wonder, then that Greece fell? Once destroy faith in the principle by which one criminal action is made to be criminal, and you have mined away the whole foundation of moral rectitude. Then you may enact that virtue itself shall be a crime.
II. Ancient RomeWHAT nation was ever destroyed by the equity and justice of its laws? What nation of antiquity, whose ruins remain to tell the tale of long-gone woes, fell not by the hands of both tyrants and slaves?
There was a time when ancient Rome [founded 753 B.C.] recognized the equality of all men in her fundamental principles of social compact. Had she held by these, and maintained them by rigid virtue—even had the penalties been as severe as they are said to have been—Rome would have remained firm and unshaken through all the fierce onsets of barbarous tribes.
|Ed. Note: See details by Hendrik Van Loon, The Story of Mankind (New York: Garden City Pub Co, Inc, 1921), pp 95-96. Essentially Rome was so egalitarian as to allow its neighbors throughout the Italian peninsula equal status.
And, "in truth, the discovery that by nature all men are free, belongs neither to England nor France, but is as old as ancient Rome; and the law of Rome repeatedly asserts, that all men by nature are free, and that slavery can subsist only by the laws of the State. (Digests, B. 1, T. 1, s. 4; B. 1, T. 5, ss. 4, 5)." Reference: People ex rel. Napoleon v Lemmon, 5 Sand SCR 681; 7 N Y Super 681 (12 Nov 1852) aff'd 26 Barb 270, 287-289 (30 Dec 1857) aff'd 20 NY 562; 1860 WL 7815 (March 1860).
But [long after 753 B.C.] a few ambitious [Roman] men
blew the trump of conquest,
marshaled the spirit of the people from peaceful labors into freebooting bands,
and on they rushed upon [to conquer] the nations.
The conqueror returned with spoils, with long processions of miserable captives, and these were sold into perpetual bondage.
Every new conquest crowded the markets with thousands of slaves. So numerous at one time had they become, that men were sold for less than a dollar per head.
It is awful as well as instructive to mark the results of this horrid system of barbarity—to observe how the Almighty Judge, by an inevitable law, turned the whole weight of this curse, the Romans were heaping upon wretched foreigners, upon their own heads. As the slaves increased, free labor was destroyed and became a disgrace.
Every Roman citizen who had the means, purchased the right of becoming a tyrant by purchasing a slave. Effeminacy seized upon the once virtuous and industrious workers. Those who had been most successful in foreign robbery, and were the most artful, now commenced a system of robbery at home. The wealthier citizens secured a supremacy of power.
The great body of the citizens [farmers] who had cultivated their own plots of ground were unable to
bear up under the burthen of playing gentlemen and having their small patches cultivated by slaves. What every man had once effected by his own industry, it now required two or three slaves to effect. To work himself was to place himself in the condition of a slave. For honor he was therefore obliged to sell both his lands and his slaves, which the rich managed to obtain for a song.
As the poorer citizen turned his energies to other sources for a livelihood where there was less disgrace, alas! he was soon met with the same dread images of slavery and death. Slaves! slaves!! slaves!!! he saw everywhere, and dreaded everywhere. Every where and every moment they haunted his visions. They were always devouring the last crumbs of his famishing children. Thousands of these once industrious citizens became beggared; thousands became petty criminals of all shades.
There was no honorable calling but in the army or in civil offices, and these were controlled by the wealthy nabobs. The beggared Roman still boasted of his freedom, though robbed of all but the name. Equality was destroyed, and liberty had become a mockery.
What a tale does [Cornelius] Tacitus [55 A.D. - 117 A.D.] tell in these few lines:
|"After the conquest of Asia the whole state of our affairs was turned upside down; nothing of the ancient integrity of our fathers was left amongst us; all men cast away that former equality which had been observed."*|
And this he repeats with mournful emphasis.
[Charles de Secondat, baron de] Montesquieu [1689-1755], who devoted his life to the study of the laws of all nations, and a great portion of it to the study of the Roman system, attributes the downfall of the Republic to the influence of slavery;† and, in his learned work on the Spirit of Laws, with his eyes upon sad examples of slavery in the Grecian and Roman Republics, he says:
|Ed. Note: Thus, "the freeborn farmer [found] that the large landowners who worked their estates with slaves could underbid him all along the line. [Eventually] they ["the freeborn farmers"] "left the [rural] country and . . . went to the nearest city."—Hendrik Van Loon, The Story of Mankind, supra, p 110.
The Roman Republic's "wealthy nabobs" constituted a "cruel aristocracy," says Prof. Ernest Renan, The Apostles (New York, Carleton; Paris, Michel Levy Frères, 1866), pp 263-264. Said "wealthy nabobs" / "cruel aristocracy" murdered Julius Caesar in retaliation against his efforts to ameliorate conditions, says Prof. Michael Parenti, Ph.D., The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome (New York: The New Press, 2003) (Excerpt, video).
|"In democracies, where they are all upon an equality, . . . slavery is contrary to the spirit of the constitution; it only contributes to give a power and luxury to [some of] the citizens which they ought not to have."‡|
And again, alluding directly to the system of
* Tacit. Ann., lib. 3.
† See Montesquieu's [Reflections on the Causes of the] Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire [London: Innys, Davis, Manby, and Cox, 1752]. [Ed Note: Translated from Considerations sur les Causes de la Grandeur des Romains, et de Leur Decadence (Amsterdam: Chez J. Wetstein, 1746)].
‡ [The] Spirit of Laws [London: J. Nourse and P. Vaillant, 1750], b. 15, c. 1. [Ed. Note: Translated from De l'Esprit des Loix, ou, Du Rapport que les Loix Doivent avoir avec la Constitution de Chaque Gouvernement, les Moeurs, le Climat, la Religion, le Commerce, &c.: Quoi l'Auteur a Ajout des Recherches Nouvelles sur les Loix Romaines Touchant les Successions, sur les Loix François, & sur les Loix Fodales (Geneve: Chez Barrillot & fils., 1749)].
Roman despotism which came to exist in consequence of the slavery, and which was exercised in the name of law and order, as you now carry it out in the Republic of America, he says:
Plato [427 B.C. - 347 B.C.] had made almost the same expression in respect to the tyrannical course of civil power in the name of law and order. "The most complete injustice," said he, "is to seem just, not being so."†
It is hence that Montesquieu, speaking of the "law" or act "of slavery," says, "It is contrary to the fundamental principle of all societies."‡
Rome, like Greece, violated the great social law in allowing slavery. She made war upon the spirit of her own constitution as a republic—as a democracy. The citizens became petty tyrants. Wealth seized the supreme control. Free labor was annihilated. The whole nation became enslaved. And when all had become mendicant freemen, bloated tyrants, and miserable slaves, [Gaius Julius] Cæsar [100 B.C. - 44 B.C.] found no obstructions ia establishing a despot's throne.
|"No tyranny can have a severer effect than that which is exercised under the appearance of laws and with the plausible colors of justice."*|
This infamous double robber crushed the hearts of the citizens. Poor and despised, they refused to enlist in the armies to defend their robbers and themselves; "nor did they," says Plutarch, "take any care of the education of their children."
Thus ignorance, imbecility, vagabondism, loathsome vice, and universal ruin, followed in the train of Roman slavery. Yet you point to the Romans in justification of this mother of desolation—refer to it as a blessing to be fostered by the Republic of America.
|"The country," says Plutarch [46 A.D. - 120 A.D.], "swarmed with a numerous company of barbarous slaves, whom the rich men employed in cultivating their ground which they had acquired by dispossessing the citizens."|
If you had gone to Polybius [205 B.C. - 125 B.C.], he would have told you that
Had you gone to
|“none but unprincipled and beastly men in society assume the mastery over their fellows, as it is among bulls, bears, and cocks.”§|
* Montesquieu's Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 14.
† Repub. 1. 2.
‡ Spirit of Laws, b.15, ch. 2.
§ Polyb., lib. 4.
[Marcus Tullius] Cicero [106 B.C. - 43 B.C.], and the most eminent of the Roman lawyers, they would have told you that slavery was at war with the fundamental principles of the Roman nation and the grand "law of nature, by which all men are born free." They would have told you that the "Law of Nature," which is "the law of all nations, forbids one man to pursue his advantage at the expense of another."*
And Cicero would have told you in particular, heathen as you may call him, that this "law of nature"—this fundamental principle of all societies of men as well as of every individual man—
Thus, in Rome, the "Higher Law," which you affect to despise, and call in ridicule "Babel-building," was regarded as the fundamental and absolute law of the nation by the highest legal authorities. Nor was it allowed by the best Roman minds that any decree of the Senate counter to this Higher Law was obligatory upon the people.
"is universally binding upon all men;"
that you are "not allowed to retrench it in any part, nor to alter it, much less to abolish it;"
that it was "obligatory upon Rome and upon Athens;"
that it "is the same to-day, tomorrow, and is eternal and invariable, because God, who is its author, and has published it himself, is always the sole master and sovereign of mankind;"
that "whoever violates it, renounces his own nature, divests himself of humanity, and will be rigorously punished for his disobedience."†|
There was a class of pettifoggers in that age, as there is now, who sophisticated the subject of law, and tried to make unrighteous legislation reasonable and acceptable. The "Higher Law" school, at the head of which stood Cicero, advocated that unjust ordinances and decrees were equivalent to an attempt to "create law," which was in itself impossible.‡
It was contended by these noble civilians [moralists] that that is not law, and, therefore, not obligatory, which is not in itself just. Nor could the people alter any thing in this respect. They were bound by the eternal law as much
See also the Roman maxim that any doubts in cases of freedom or slavery, should be resolved in favor of liberty.—William E. H. Lecky (1838-1903), The Substance of History of European Morals (from Augustus to Charlemagne), 2 vols, ed. Clement Wood (New York: Vanguard Press, 1926), I, p 295.
Roman jurist Domitius Ulpianus (c. 160 A.D. - 228 A.D.) said, "by the law of nature all men are equal."—Digest, L, 17.32; and in On Sabinus, Book XLIII, "natural law regards all men as equal."
* De Offic., 1. 3, c. 6. Ibid. Also 9th Law Dig. et Justit et Jure, 1. 1, tit. 1.
† De Repub., 1. 3. Apud Soct. Inst. Div., 1. 6, c. 8. See also Marcus Tullus Orat. de lege Agra. Also Theophilus de Jure Nature et gent., § 6. Also Soto. De Just. et Jure, 1. 4.
‡ See Cicero De Leg., 1.1.
as the Senate. They had no power to make injustice right, nor to bind any man to the performance of an unjust act.
The same corrupting and destructive sophistry was then stealing its way into Roman society, under the influence of slaveholders, which is now so alarmingly prevalent in portions of American society, namely: that whatever the supreme power decrees in a nation is right, and, therefore, binding.
Cicero saw the fatal consequences of this [pro-slavery] sophistry, and met it as it deserves to be met in America. "If," said he, "there be such a power in the decrees and commands of fools, that the nature of things is changed by their votes, why do they not decree that what is bad and pernicious shall be regarded as good and wholesome? or why, if the law can make wrong right, can it not make bad good?"†
Natural law—equal and eternal justice—is the basis of all human law, said Gicero,‡ and this was according to the arguments of all wise men who had preceded him.§
|"If laws," said he [Cicero], "could be created by the ordinances of the people, the decrees of princes, or the sentences of the judges," as was the doctrine of some, then "robbery might be lawful, adultery might be lawful, setting up forged wills might be lawful, if these should be approved by the votes the ordinances of the multitude."*|
It was all to no purpose [avail], however, that Cicero attempted to beat back the flood of legal corruption that was overwhelming the nation. The supporters of injustice—the aristocracy, the slaveholder—who had already gone far in robbing the people, in crushing free labor, in making the
|"I see this," says he [Cicero], "to have been the opinion of the wisest men, that law is not something wrought out by man's ingenuity, nor is it a decree of the people, but it is something eternal, governing the world by the wisdom of its commands and prohibitions." Hence he declared that "those who had made pernicious and unjust decrees . . . had made any thing rather than laws."|
* De. Leg., 1, 17.
‡ Ibid, 1. 2.
§ Ibid, 1. 4.
people the infamous tools of their own ruin, in corrupting the Senate, the judges, and every possible source of right, had too firmly established themselves for [Marcus Tullius] Cicero [106 B.C. - 43 B.C.] to succeed
in restoring the nation to first principles.
When the sources of legislation become so corrupt that there is not moral energy enough to recover first principles, the ruin of the civil state, the destruction of society, is as inevitable as if the avenging angel dashed his exterminating thunders upon the nation in one awful blaze.
Roman slave-holders triumphed; they warred against God and his law of nations; they destroyed free labor, common education, robbed the people of their lands, covered them with slaves; and Rome the Republic fell [40's B.C.], and [Gaius Julius] Cæsar [100 B.C. - 44 B.C.] ascended the throne.
Ah, sirs, once break down the law of right—let a nation once concede that one man may without crime hold another in slavery, and rob him of his rights—once let the people join with the slaveholder and say there is no higher law than the decrees of the slave power—once compromise justice for the sake of union and peace—and every pillar of the civil temple has become rotten, cankered, and eaten by worms; then but a footfall, we jar of the passing train, a single human voice, may throw the pile of ages into a heap of desolate ruins.
Society from everlasting is built upon the same principles. Those principles are God's, not man's. They are for the safety of no class to the exclusion of others. They are for the equal safety of all. Lay your impious hands upon them for their destruction, and your own ruin is certain. Break down the fences and guards around freedom, and you shall be the first to be made a slave when the master-tyrant comes. Open the way for despots, and you shall be the first to be crushed under his iron heel.
What did [Gaius Julius] Cæsar [100 B.C. - 44 B.C.] do when he had conquered the coward slavemasters by the sound of his name? He saw the shameful degradation of the people, the despotism of the petty tyrants, the land crowded with slaves and all in ruins. He called to him the wisest of the Romans. Were these the friends of slavery? Far from that. Of Agrippa and Mæcenas he asked what was best to be done. The
power, said he, is now in my hands; what shall I do with it? Shall. I re-build the lost Republic? or shall I hold the power as the supreme head, and make my decrees absolute? And Agrippa replied:
|"Restore the Republic to her ancient laws of freedom and equality, for they who are born in the same state desire equality, of which being possessed, they rejoice, and grieve when deprived of it; and all men, as they are descended from the gods, and are to return unto them, look upwards, and will neither be ever under the dominion of one, nor patiently bear to be partakers of labors, dangers, and expenses, and be deprived of the communication of better things."|
But this did not so well please Cæsar. There was no virtue to cement a new Republic. There were few but masters and slaves. These could make no Republic.
Then Mæcenas advised that Cæsar should retain the supreme power, and, as the saviour of his country, restore freedom and equality to the people, and force the robbers to give back the stolen lands to the rightful owners, and revive the honor of free labor. But Cæsar the conqueror was himself a slave, and he feared to restore justice, lest justice should restore him.
Other emperors succeeded. Some recorded their acts in blood and the tears of widows and orphans and wretched men; others with noble deeds, gave their names to the pleasant-memories of all future ages.
There were three [emperors] who would have restored all men to freedom and their equal rights, but had too little faith in the power of the people to sustain them in the immediate and entire emancipation of the slaves, and the full restoration of free labor to its honor and lost rights. Besides, the wealthy citizens, who were the slaveholders, held many of the offices of government, and those who held no office had the power of corrupting those who had.
Antoninus Pius [138 A.D. - 161 A.D.], Theodosius the Younger [379 A.D. - 395 A.D.], and Justinian [527 A.D. - 565 A.D.], (the three emperors referred to) found themselves obliged to resort to more indirect methods to destroy slavery and restore the sinking power of the nation. Their first step was to encourage manumissions, and to confer Roman citizenship upon those manumitted.
The learned Gothofred, referring to the three noble edicts of these emperors for conferring citizenship upon the manu-
mitted slaves, says, "Thus good Princes are usually wont to surpass each other in governing their subjects with equal right.*
Another indirect means was to restore, in form at least, the grand fundamental law of society and government. The most eminent jurists were employed to look into the laws of all nations—to digest their principles and develop them in form. The ancient laws of Rome were to be especially regarded. In the results of this immense labor, of the wisest lawyers under the wisest of the emperors, we have developed what I have asserted, namely, that the fundamental laws of all societies and governments are the same, and those are "the laws of nature," which in their legitimate action render slavery impossible.
The Roman jurists found that the basis of law in every nation was "common impartial justice"—"equal right"—"equity"—a recognition of the "natural right to freedom of every man." "All nations governed by laws and customs," said they, "make use partly of their own law and partly of the law common to all men."†
This latter [Marcus Tullius] Cicero [106 B.C. - 43 B.C.] had observed, and said of it, "The law of all nations forbids one man to pursue his advantage at the expense of another."‡
And the Digest declared, as well as the Institutes, that
Thus the fundamental law of all nations, in the time of the Romans, declared the equal freedom of all men, and this law,
|"the natural law, equally recognized among all nations, being created by Divine Providence, always remains firm and immutable;"§ and that "the law which natural reason has established among all men, is equally held by all, and is called the Law of Nature, as a law which all nations use;"|| and then, that "Jure Naturale omnes liberi nascuntur"—that "by the Law of Nature all men are born free."|
|"being created by Divine Providence," said the Roman jurists, "always remains firm and immutable." "Nor can it be altered nor amended," said Cicero, "much less abolished."|
* Bollan Cont. Corr., p. 60.
† Dig. 1.1, tit. 1. See also Inst., 1.1, tit. 2, § 1.
‡ De Off., 1. 3, c. 5.
§ Dig., 1. 1. Inst., 1. 1, tit. 2.
|| Instit., 1. 1, tit 2, § 1.
This immutable principle was affirmed and re-affirmed by the best of the Roman emperors; but, joined with all their wisest statesmen and jurists, they were impotent to save Rome. The slavemaster had struck the parricidal blow which no physician could heal. The last drops of virtuous blood were ebbing quite away, and only the black blood of vice remained. Thus Rome died the victim of slavery.
III. Natural Law
Is it not as absurd to suppose that society organizes without its "natural law" as that crystalization or germination and growth occur without their definite and invariable laws? Is not association as natural to man as it is to the bee and the beaver? Does not human society spring spontaneously from the soul and sentiment of human nature, the roots of which shoot down into the moral element of the universe?
How orderly, how regular is crystalization! How admirable is the formation of organic being! Not, however, unless their fundamental laws are dominant. Let other and foreign forces enter, and how ugly every thing becomes! In all the orderly processes of nature, every part that enters to make up the great whole has a common interest. It has its state and place, but its relation is equal. The sublime law that guides it to its place has no respect to parts. They are all divine, and have a sacred mission.
So in the orderly processes of legitimate society. The law of their occurrence is common, universal. Every individual part, every man, has his equal right with every other. He has his state and place determined him, not by the arbitrary will of a few, but by that common law—God's enactment—that determines the state and place of every man as he freely moves in the Maelstrom of the world.
The moment one part, or one man, assumes to himself what is not common to all, disturbance enters the mass, distraction seizes other members; orderly arrangement, then, is impossible. Yet the law that struggles for this will still be seen, but the result is an irregular formation, as much different from legitimate society as a rough lump of dingy quartz is unlike the transparent and geometrical crystal. Hence Plato [427 B.C. - 347 B.C.]:
|"That which is of a common or|
It was the latter that ruined Greece—the private interest of slaveholders. The same destroyed Rome. The common law of association—the equal right of all—was forced aside. It was denied its action. Partial legislation was allowed.
Ah, sirs, how ruinous to all government is that! It licenses rights (wrongs) to a few it would be impossible for all to exercise! How has government the authority to do for the few what it cannot do for all? All associate and appoint government for the common benefit of all. There is no legitimate right short of that. The assumed right of the slaveholder is not the common right of all, else all would have the right to enslave all. That is impossible.
Common right is universal, equal, opposed to the assumed right of the few. Government, then, cannot allow it, as it is built on common law, common right, justice. Government cannot, then, sanction slaveholding—that would be justice sanctioning injustice. It would be favoring assumed partial right in its warfare against common right—against the fundamental principle of government.
Not government, then, but arbitrary power, sanctions slavery. For common-right law is fundamental—the first, prime, sole law of social organization—the primal law of human relations. It is absolute. Would you go behind that? you shall meet face to face the Eternal God. Would you pierce beneath it? you shall meet the impenetrable rock of Divine Justice. Would you soar above it? then you shall pass into the heavens of Infinite Love!
America is following Greece and Rome. She has rebelled against her law of laws. She has abandoned common right. She [unconstitutionally] legislates for slaveholders. Had Rome gone so far towards ruin three hundred years from her foundation? How old is America? Where is her nationality? What is her name abroad?
When Rome had become rotten with this sin, the barbarians came forth and dragged her carcase to the pit. Yet
|public nature unites, while private interest segregates and dissociates."*|
* De Leg., 1. ix, p. 660.
you quote Rome. "The Romans held slaves," say you, "and, therefore, Americans may hold slaves." Why not say, "America has a right to rebel against Heaven [like Ancient Judah], and defy Eternal Justice—commit suicide?"
I have shown that the fundamental principles of Roman law, as well as those of all other nations, recognized the common right of all men, and were, therefore, opposed to slavery. When the Barbarians overran the Roman Empire, and, at length, began to organize into associations, the same law of common right was developed as the basis of government.
Normans, Saxons, Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Lombards, all recognized this primal principle as the sacred basis of their civil societies. There is a universal concurrence among all the best writers on this* point.
The fundamental law of human rights was also distinctly developed in the civil constitutions of Sweden,†
Arragon and Navarre,||
Spain and Portugal.¶
This was by no mere voluntary choice. It was a matter of absolute necessity. The law of nature obliged it, as it obliges the crystelic energy to fulfil its definite action to produce a crystal. Men may choose to associate, but they cannot associate in organic form without acting according to the common law of social organization.
Hence slavery is at war with legitimate government, and, therefore, legitimate government is at war with it. When slavery trnunphs, government is overthrown. When slavery takes the place of government, society is overthrown; for society can be protected only by legitimate government, either internally, from the righteousness of every man; or externally, by the dread mandates of justice, in the forms of outward law, prohibiting wrong and affixing penalties to the infringement of common rights.
* See Hale's Hist. Com. Law. Stuart's Constit. of Eng. Rapin's Origin and Nature of Eng. Com. Law. Hallam's Mid. Ages. Hume's Eng. Dunham's Mid. Ages.
† Johan Magnus Hist., 1.15 & 29. Crantzius, 1. 5.
‡ Pontanus, 1. 8.
§ Donsinius, Decad 4, 1. 9.
|| Chalcondile, I. 5.
¶ Molina, de Hist. Primog. c. 2, n. 13. Greg of Tours, 1. 2. Lindenburg, 1. 2, tit. 2. 17 tit. Ord. Portugal, 1.2, § 2, 3, et seq. Also Lind., l. 1, tit. 7.
While society in the Roman Empire was becoming a chaos of corruption, under the disorganizing influence of slavery, [Jesus] Christ [c. 4 B.C. - 31 A.D.] was born within it as a new germinating and organizing energy. Only masters and slaves were to be found. Those who boasted of their freemanship were the oppressors of those called slaves.
All the common offices of life had become degraded. Common charity had grown into a monstrous hypocrisy. Justice had fled, and left tyranny with its scepter of iron to rule in the name of law. Public virtue, there was none; and the common rights of humanity were as if they had never been.
The indolent proud lived upon the toils of those they had degraded into beasts of burden, and looked with sanctimonious contempt upon the sons of labor, whom they called slaves; as if labor had been designed by the Creator a degradation, and those were to be scorned and crushed under the iron heel of tyranny who performed the most useful, indispensable offices of life.
[Jesus] Christ broke in upon this monstrous system, by taking upon himself the form of a slave [Philippians 2:7], and acting in the service of humanity, without regard to the conventional rules of Scribes, Pharasees, slave-masters. He washed his disciples' feet, and said,
There shall be, henceforth, no degradation in the offices of life. Ye shall have no slaves to serve you. Service, labor, usefulness, is henceforth to be viewed by you as holy.
|"If I whom you call Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet" [John 13:13-14].|
|"All ye are brethren."*
"Call no man master, neither be ye called master."*
"Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them; but so it shall not be among you; but whosoever will be greatest among you, shall be your minister, and whosoever of you will be chiefest shall be the servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."†
"Be not like the Scribes and Pharasees." "They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay
* Matt. 28: 8-11.
† Matt. 10: 42-46.
|them on men's shoulders, while they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers" [Matthew 23:4].
They boast of their regard for the law, but "omit its weightier matters," "judgment, mercy and faith" [Matthew 23:23].
They make "long prayers," but "devour widows' houses" [Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47].
They are "full of extortion and excess," and " like whited sepulchres, beautiful without, but within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" [Matthew 23:25-27].
They build tombs for the ancient prophets, but murder those who are sent to teach them" [Matthew 23:29-34].
"Be not like the Scribes and Pharasees."|
|But "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets" [Matthew 7:12]. If ye would that men should slave for you, ye must likewise slave for them.|
Life is a ministry. All labor is holy, that ministers to the benefit of man. None shall be masters, none slaves, but all ministers of good, God's freemen; above none, beneath none.
It is that state wherein freedom and slavery meet; that is,—the labor which those who boast of being free, leave in their pride to be performed by crushed humanity; Christians shall do for each other and for the world as God's freemen, so that there shall be in the church no worldly distinctions of bond and free, Greek and Jew, but all shall be equal, all ministers.
|"Brethren," says Paul, "ye have been called unto liberty," "not " that liberty "which is an occasion" or license "to the flesh;" but that liberty in which, "by love we slave for one another" [Galatians 5:13].|
Such was the grand idea of Christian life. It was wholly at war with slavery. Hence the purest of the church fathers labored against slavery. The Christians in Asia Minor at a very early period
|Ed. Note: "All the believers together had everything in common; they sold their possessions and their goods, and distributed among all in accordance with each one's need" (Acts 2:44-45).
"The heart of the multitude of believers was one and their soul was one, and not a single one said anything of what he had was his, but all things were in common. . . . There was no poor person among them, since whoever possessed fields or houses sold them, bore the proceeds of the sale and placed them at the feet of the apostles; and a distribution was made to each one in accordance with his need" (Acts 4:32, 34-35).
Maximus preached and wrote against it.†
Those who entered upon a religious life gave freedom to their slaves.‡
Theodorus Studita gave particular directions, "not to employ those beings, created in the image of God, as slaves."§
Polycarp [69 A.D. - 155 A.D.] and Ignatious
|"decried the lawfulness of it, denounced slaveholding as a sin, a violation of the law of nature and religion. They gave fugitive slaves asylum, and openly offered them protection."*|
* [John] Fletcher's Lessons on Slavery [Natchez: J. Warner, 1852].
† Maximus Exposit Dom. I., f. 356. [August] Neander [The History of the Christian Religion and Church During the Three First Centuries (London: Rivington, 1841)].
‡ Actis Sanct. Apr. T. I, append, f. 47, § 8.
§ Ibid. L. I., ep. 10. See Leander.
manumitted their slaves on realizing the equality of the Christian law.
[Emperor] Constantine [306 A.D. - 337 A.D.] gave authority to the bishops to manumit slaves,* and [as Emperor] granted Roman citizenship to many of those set free.†
St. Augustine [354 A.D. - 430 A.D.] speaks of the freedom of slaves as a great religious virtue,‡ and declares the Christian law against regarding God's rational creation as property.§
Nor could the corrupting influence which heathenism and barbarism exerted upon the church, entirely destroy this particular mission of the gospel. [August] Neander [1789-1850] speaking of the early oriental Christians, says,
|Ed. Note: Ed. Note: For background on early Christianity, see
Rev. Beriah Green, Chattel Principle (1839), pp 21-22
Rev. John G. Fee, An Anti-Slavery Manual (1851),pp 79-81 and pp 114-121
Harriet B. Stowe, Key (1853), pp 228-240.|
This was the spirit that animated the purest men of the church. By their influence, laws and charters of freedom were obtained, by means of which immense numbers of slaves were made free.**
|"they declared themselves opposed to the whole relation of slavery as repugnant to the dignity of the image of God in all men."||
"I can hardly credit," said Isidore, "that a friend of Christ, who has experienced that grace, which bestowed freedom on all, would still own slaves."¶
|Ed. Note: See writings on the "original grant" concept, e.g.:
Rev. James Rankin, Letters (1823), p 100
Rev. Theo. D. Weld, Bible Against Slavery (1837), pp 28-30
James Birney, Bulwarks (1840), p 29
Rev. Parker Pillsbury, Forlorn Hope (1847), p 8
Rev. John G. Fee, Non-Fellowship (1849), p 6
Rev. John G. Fee, Sinfulness of Slavery (1851), p 10
Rev. John G. Fee, Anti-Slavery Manual (1851), p 116
Sen. Charles Sumner, Barbarism (1860), p 132
Rev. Parker Pillsbury, Acts (1883), p 365.
The "original grant" was rulership, dominion, over the earth, fish, fowl, herbs, THINGS, NOT people.
As ruler, people had God as King. Period. Merely wanting another ruler is rejecting God. 1 Sam. 8:5-9.
God merely tolerates, "suffers," puts up with very temporarily [Acts 13:18], "winks at," disregard of his original intent, but "commands" all to repent and forthwith follow his original intent. Acts 17:30. And, said Peter, "Obey God rather than men." Acts 5:29.
The early era knew God's continued will is that people obey his original intent, original grant, marriage rules, etc., as per his revelation, words and actions, at "the beginning," see
Matthew 19:8 (divorce example, criticizing religious leaders NOT following original intent, thus misleading others).
Later, moral deterioration set in. Blatant sinners, e.g., slavers, people-detainers, were admitted, who defied God's "original grant," "beginning" intent, concept. They had a carnal mind, unconverted, notwithstanding their sham pretense of being 'pro-Bible.'
They [early Christian Church leaders] united their exertions to enlist even the barbarian princes in the cause of the slave. [Archbishop of Reims, St.] Remigius [437-553] thus wrote to [King] Clovis [481 A.D. - 511 A.D.],
Johannes Eleemosynarius, patriarch of Alexandria, addressing himself to a slaveholder, said,
|"Let the gate of your palace be open to all, that every one may have recourse to you for justice. Employ your great revenues in redeeming slaves."††|
So [John] Lingard [1771-1851]
|"Tell me what price can man pay to purchase a man, who was created in the image of God? Hast thou a different soul? Is he not in all things thy equal? There is neither bond nor free; all are one in Christ. We are all equal before Christ. What then is the gold you have paid for a child of God?"‡‡|
* Sozomen, l. 1, c. 9.—Cod. Theod., 1. 1., c. De nis qui in eccl. manumit
† Ibid. I. 2.
‡ Ser. de diversis, 60.
§ Ser. de ch. mo 1. 1.
|| Neander, Hist. Chris. Re. and Ch. vol. 3, p. 99.
** Murat Antiq. Ital, v. 1. p. 84.
†† See Life of St. Remigius.
‡‡ Life of Johannes Eleemosyn., by Leontius. Trans., by Anastasius in Actis.
refers to the divine influence of the Christian church in destroying slavery.*
I have already referred, in the preceding letter, to the efforts of Justinian [527 A.D. - 565 A.D.] to restore the fundamental law of society, by which all men are pronounced free. In 539 he determined by an edict that masters had no power to separate families in the sale of slaves, and that it was a crime.†
And [Pope] Gregory the Great [590 A.D. - 604 A.D.] pronounced it "a cruel evil," "a great crime," and declared a severe punishment upon the bishops who allowed it in their bishoprics.‡
King Charlemagne [768 A.D. - 814 A.D.] issued a decree against it.§
And [Emperor] Constantine [306 A.D. - 337 A.D.] and Constantinus, both made the subjection of females to slavery a capital crime.||
[Pope] Gregory the Great was born in Rome, among the nobility, about 545. He filled for a time the office of prætor, and held numerous slaves. After his conversion, he abandoned his civil office, and devoted himself to the church. On the death of Pelagius II, he was chosen bishop of Rome. His heathenism and pride of superiority clung to him with great tenacity, notwithstanding he acknowledged the equal rights of mankind as recognized not only by the fundamental principles of the state, but by the Christian religion. On granting freedom to his slaves, he gave as his reason the consideration of what Christ had done,
He also admonished slaveholders that those they held in bondage were "their equals," that "by nature they were created upon a level with their slaves."** Still he favored making chattels of the heathen.††
|"that he might free us by his grace from the chains of bondage in which we were enthralled, and restore us to our original freedom. So a good and salutary thing is done," said he, "when men, whom nature from the beginning created free, and whom the customs of nations had subjected to the yoke of servitude, are presented again with the freedom in which they were born."¶|
* See his Ant. Angle Saxon church, c. 1.
† Novell, 162, c. 3.
‡ Greg. 1. 3, ind. 3, ch. 12.
§ Council of Chalons, Can. 30.
|| Cod. Theod, 1. 9, tit. 29, leg. 1, 5.
¶ Greg. Magn. op. Polguss., l. 4, c. 1, § 3.
** Postorulis Curae, 3, c 1, admon. 6.
†† See Greg. Mag., F. E. P., 1. 10, ep. 62, and 1. 2, ep. 39. and 1. 5, ep. 34.
About the eighth century the old Roman slavery had been quite overthrown, but a new form had also been rising to take its place—that, consequent upon the wars of the "Barbarians." The good men of the church had this to contend with.
I have already referred to the letter of St. Remigius to Clovis to induce him to exert his power and bestow his wealth in the cause of suffering captives. Nor did Clovis disregard altogether such admonitions; for he sent a circular letter to all the bishops in his dominions, in which he allowed them to give liberty to any of the captives he had taken, and thus save them from slavery.*
A volume might be filled with the most interesting incidents, showing the noble exertions of the purest and best men of the church in that fearful period, against the barbarous institution.
W«it a beautiful example we have in the life of Cesarius in the sixth century! When the Franks and Burgundians laid seige to Arls, and a great many captives were brought into the city to be sold, this good Christian hastened to the church, stripped all the silver ornaments from the pillars and rulings, took the sacred vessels, the silver censers, chalices and all, for the relief of the captives and the freedom of those in bonds, saying,—
There were Pharasees then, as now, who regarded such an act as a great sacrilege. The good man replied
|"Our Lord celebrated his last supper in mean earthen dishes, not in [silver] plate, and we need not scruple to part with his [Church] vessels [utensils] to ransom those he has redeemed with his life."†|
The wiser and better men of the church always commended this. Lactantius said of it:
|"I would fain know if those who censure what we do, would not be glad to be ransomed themselves in like manner, were the same misfortune to befall them."‡|
And again he says:
|"It is justice which the free owe to those in bonds."§|
|"Justice teaches men to know God and to love men, to love and assist one another, being all equally the children of God."|||
* Life of St. Remigius.
† Life of St. Cesarius.
§ Lactant, Div. Just. p 587.
This had been a frequent practice in the church. St. Ambrose [340 A.D. - 397 A.D.] ordered [as Bishop of Milan] the priests to sell all the sacred vases in order to redeem slaves and set them free.
|"The Lord," said he, "will say to us, 'why are so many unfortunate beings subject to slavery, even death, for want of being redeemed? Men are better worth preserving than metals.'
"What have you to reply? Must we deprive the temples of their ornaments?
"But the Lord will say—'It is not necessary that the sacred things be clothed in gold.'"*
St. Augustine [354 A.D. - 430 A.D.] also practised the like thing repeatedly, and justified it as a duty the free owed to those in slavery.† If Christ could lay down his life for the redemption of mankind, how could the church refuse its treasures for the redemption of captives. Christ came to break the bonds in sunder and to let the captive go free. Nor did Augustine [Bishop of Hippo, 396 A.D. - 430 A.D.] shun to rebuke the oppressors and enslavers of mankind.
There were Christians in those days of peril, who did not fear to meet tyrants face to face. Death was no terror to them. They were ready to die for the oppressed. Many went so far as to enslave themselves for the freedom of others. They conferred not with flesh and blood. They took their lives in their hands and went out amid the barbarians to save humanity from degradation and miserable thraldom. Heaven was the only reward they expected. By their energy, countless slaves were made free.
|"Those are not societies" said he, "whose supreme law is not justice, they are only magna latrocinia, great confederacies of thieves or robbers. Society cannot consist without justice."‡|
In the name of God and Christ and humanity they accosted the slave masters. St. Cyprian [Bishop of Carthage, 248 A.D. - 258 A.D.] said to Demetrius the tryant,
|Ed. Note: See also summaries of early church anti-slavery activity, by
Rev. John G. Fee, Anti-Slavery Manual (1851), pp 72-85, 109-121
Harriet B. Stowe, Key (1853), pp 228-240.|
|"You, man of a day, expect from your slave obedience. Is he less a man than you? By birth he is your equal. He is endowed with the same organs, with the same rea-|
* St. Amb. Trent, de Offic, p. 103.
† Life of St. Augustine—Possid, vit. Aug. caput 24.—Cyril of Jerusalem taught the same. Vide. Theodoret, 1. ii. c. 27. Also, Acacius of Amida. Vid, Socrat, 1. 7. c. 24.—So also Deigratias of Carthage. Vid.—Vict, de Persec. Vandal, 1. i.
‡ August, de Civit. Dei. 1. 4. c. 4.
|soning soul, called to the same hopes, subject to the same laws of life in this and in the world to come. You subject him to your dominion. If he, as a man, disregard or forget your claim, what miseries you heap upon him. Impious master, pitiless despot! You spare neither blows nor whips, nor privations; you chastise him with hunger and thirst, you load him with chains, you incarcerate him within black walls; miserable man! While you thus maintain your despotism over a man, you are not willing to recognize the Master and Lord of all men."*|
How does this compare with the "South side view of slavery," with the letter of a "northern presbyter," with the reasoning of Dr. Blagden.
|"Both religion and humanity," said Cyprian, "make it a duty for us to work for the deliverance of the captive. It is Christ himself whom we ought to consider in our captive brothers."†|
Not so! Not so! cry our new light doctors of divinity. "Religion makes it our duty to aid the oppressor, to return the captive to bonds and stripes; and as for humanity, that is only the foam and froth in the boiling pot of society." So these fine [vile and
lusting] doctors of today, advocate the superiority of barbarism, repeat the creed of old tyrants, take the side of heathenism and atheism against Christianity, while yet they pretend to be Christians.
They would send their mothers into slavery if they had been born under a taskmaster and the tyrant demanded the sacrifice; for "this" say they, "is law and order." Such law and order, gentlemen, as sunk Greece, buried Rome, plunged mankind into palpable night, extinguishing the last taper of science and the last star of hope.
* St. Cyp. t. v. Dernet.
† St. Cyprian to the Bishop of Numidia.
IV. Middle Ages Feudalism
FEUDALISM originated as a protective system. The equal rights of the people were to be sacredly regarded. Justice was recognized as the basis. The people entrusted their rights in the hands of chieftains. They, in turn, solemnly pledged themselves to protect those rights with the aid of the people themselves.
The leaders took advantage of the power they found in their hands to enslave their subjects. What had been a mere conditional trust they gradually assumed as an unconditional right. Instead of being magistrates and protectors, they became oppressive robbers, cruel task-masters. The people degenerated into slaves.
As this dreadful state of things progressed over Europe, the blackness of night settled down upon all nations. The elements of society were dissolved. Even those who flattered themselves with the name of freemen were, like the free blacks of the Southern States, but a slight remove from absolute slavery.
Knowledge fled. Master and slave were alike benighted and beastly. The tenant could not dispose of the effects of his own industry,* and he buried his talents and turned his hands to villany. He was forbidden to marry without purchasing the consent of his petty tyrant,† and he stole connections without regard to primal law. He was forbidden to marry beyond the limits of his nabob's dominions.‡ He was thus degraded in all respects as a man.
Black and revolting as feudal slavery was, however, it was a virtuous institution compared with the slavery of the Southern States of America. Not, indeed, in all history—not in the darkest days of ancient barbarism, can be found
* Ducherii Spicel. tom. xi. 374, 375.
† Murat, Ant. Ital. vol. 4, p. 20. Ord. des Rois de France, tom. i. p. 22. Tom. iii. p. 203.
‡ Hist. de Dauphine, tom. i. p. 81.
a system of despotism so utterly destitute of one redeeming quality as that of American bondage. Even in the worst days of Roman and European slavery, the miserable wretches were not forbidden to acquire knowledge. Some Roman slaves were eminently learned. No special measures were instituted to prevent bondmen from becoming noble specimens of humanity.
Thus heathen barbarism was more Christian in its system of slavery than the [demonized] Christian barbarism in America. You, sirs, resort to the most diabolical measures to crush the minds out of the human beings you enslave. Where was despotism ever found equal to the present educational laws of Virginia!*
In the European slavery in its worst days, a slave on taking holy orders became free.† American slaves, on becoming ministers of Christ, are still held slaves. So on any agreeable event, European princes used to testify their gratitude by enfranchising great numbers of slaves.‡
But when to you has ever come the occasion that brought with it such gratitude to God? So the Christian Church, as I have already shown, regarded it as a mark of the purest religious fervor for a master to manumit his slaves§ without pecuniary considerations; while your [vile] church makes slavery a virtue—a divine right, and freeing men from bondage, a vice—a sin.
In the darkest period of European history, there were some men who violently opposed freeing slaves.
"It is dangerous," said they.||
Fools! dangerous to whom? to society? As if a band of robbers were a society! Does the existence of society depend upon the smallest possible amount of freedom, and the greatest possible amount of slavery?
This, sirs, is your cry—"danger to society!" This is your plea for not favoring manumissions. As if freedom were a greater evil to society than slavery; as if society could be preserved by slavery, and annihilated by every
* Educational Laws of Virginia. Boston: Jewett & Co. [Ed. Note: Details.]
† Murat, Ant. p. 842.