1800s Slavery Debate
Last night, I decided to look up historical sources concerning the debate over slavery in the 1800s. The anti-slavery source is A Condensed Anti-Slavery Bible Argument. The pro-slavery source is Cotton is King. First, I introduce the definition of slavery which both sides present. Anti describes it as dehumanizing men into chattel. Pro says they are not chattel and that slavery is a misnomer. Anti cites scripture. Pro ridicules and also cites scripture. Anti lists a horde of scripture. Pro refers to the love of the master for the slave. Anti calls slavery criminal. Pro describes how the slaves benefit through housing, healthcare, and freedom from poverty. Anti is Republican. Pro is Democrat.
Anti-Slavery: Slavery has two definitions —the direct and the indirect. The first of these is that it is
the total deprivation of human rights ; the other that it is the reducing of human beings to the condition of property, the same as other goods, wares, merchandise and chattels.
A Wrong is defined to be, any voluntary act which disturbs, interrupts, hinders, or destroys the free exercise of the rights of others—every such act being strictly forbidden by the law of God, and every other just law. Right and Wrong are, therefore, the everlasting moral and political opposites and antagonists of each
other. Mr. Weld, in his valuable " Bible Argument," says, " Enslaving MEN IS REDUCING THEM TO ARTICLES OF PROPERTY making free agents, chattels—converting persons into things—sinking
immortality into merchandize. A slave is one held in this condition. (pg 7, pdf 17)
Pro-slavery: In the following pages, the words slave and slavery are not used in the sense commonly understood by the abolitionists. With them these terms are contradistinguished from servants and servitude. According to their definition, a slave is merely a. "chattel" in a human form; a thing to be bought and sold,
and treated worse than a brute ; a being without rights, privileges, or duties. Now, if this is a correct definition of the word, we totally object to the term, and deny that we have any such institution as slavery among us. We recognize among us no class, which, as the abolitionists falsely assert, that the Supreme Court decided " had no rights which a white man was bound to respect." (intro pg V, pdf 11)
The true definition of the term, as applicable to the domestic institution in the Southern States, is as follows
Slavery is the duty and obligation of the slave to labor for the mutual benefit of both master and slave, under a warrant to the slave of protection, and a comfortable subsistence, under all circumstances. The person of the slave is not property, no matter what the fictions of the law may say ; but the right to
his labor is property, and may be transferred like any other property, or as the right to the services of a minor or an apprentice may be transferred. Nor is the labor of the slave "solely for the benefit of the master, but for the benefit of all concerned; for himself, to repay the advances made for his support in childhood, for present subsistence, and for guardianship and protection, and to accumulate a fund for sickness, disability, and old age. (intro, pg VII, pdf 13)
Anti-Slavery: though all the crimes against God and his religion have been legalised by men in this
world, they are all plainly described and condemned in the Scriptures, so that mankind are without any moral or just excuse for committing them. But that the practice of human slavery is thus condemned, is plainly proven, as follows :
I. By our slaveholding definitions, human slavery is described as property in man, and slaves are declared to be the property of their masters or owners, and cannot own, possess, or enjoy anything but what belongs to their owners. But by our common law definitions, human slavery is compounded of the crimes of kidnapping, assault and battery, and false imprisonment.
In ^Ex. xxi. 16 is a short description of the kidnapping and sale of one person by another, described as "man-stealing," the same being an entirely different transaction from the voluntary sales of servants by themselves, as described in ^Gen. xlvii. 19—23, ^Ex. xxi. 2—6, ^Lev. XXV. 39—47, ^Deut. xv. 12, &c. By force of this one short Levitical statute, the act of man-stealing (kidnapping), manselling (slave-trading), and man-holding (slaveholding), are, like several other crimes, condemned by the Levitical law ; declared by the statute to be punishable with sure death—it being very remarkable that the sentence of punishment is expressed in the strongest terms, see ^Lev. xxiv. 17, 2 Numb. xxxv. 30, 31, &c.
thereby indicating that, in the sight of God, these acts are equal to the greatest crimes in guilt and enormity. (pg ,9, 10 pdf 19 20)
Pro-slavery: Each one of these reasons is not only exceedingly weak in itself, but it is inconsistent with the others. For if a precept forbidding slavery were purposely omitted, in order to teach mankind to be governed by principle and to disregard permissions, then the omission could not have arisen from a love of brevity.
Were it not, indeed, just as easy to give a precept forbidding, as to give one permitting, the existence of slavery? Again, if a great and world-devouring sin, such as the abolitionists hold slavery to be, has been left unnoticed, lest its condemnation should impliedly sanction other sins, then is it not worse than puerile to
suppose that the omission was made for the sake of brevity, or to teach mankind that the permissions of the Most High may in certain cases be treated with contempt, may be set at naught, and despised as utterly inconsistent, as diametrically opposed to the principles and purity of his law?
If the abolitionist is so completely lost in his attempts to mee the argument from the silence of Scripture, he finds it still more difficult to cope with that from its express precepts and injunctions.
Servents obey your masters is one of the most explicit precepts of the New Testament. This precept just as certainly exists therein as does the great principle of love itself. (pg 351, pdf 361)
Anti-slavery: Though plainly and severely as the practice of human slavery is thus condemned in the Scriptures, yet its advocates contend that the same practice is morally justified by them, thus making the
word of God contradict itself, by first justifying and then condemning the same practice, at the same time and in the same code of laws ! ! But I have constantly observed that these advocates never attempt to point out and explain the specific distinction between these two cases, such for instance as those described in Ex. xxi. 2 and 16 ; the first of which is morally approved and justified because regulated by statute, while the other is morally condemned as one of the greatest crimes under the penalty of sure death. Nor do they
ever attempt to settle the specific distinction between the acts described in Lev. xxv. 39, 47, and Deut. xxiv. 7, which are treated in the same manner in the Scriptures. (pg 21, pdf 31)
Perversions of the Scriptures are a turning (perverto) of their true to a false meaning, and are denounced all over the Scriptures as among the greatest sins that men cau commit, as indeed they necessarily must be, because they are attempts to make the Almighty say what He has not said, and to mean what He did not mean, to the destruction of human duty, rights, and happiness. Abolitionists have sometimes been severely censured for the moral severity with which they have condemned the pro-slavery perversions of the Scriptures, but let those who may feel disposed to repeat this censure read the following passages ; Ps. cxix. 126 ; Isa. v. j 20 ; Jer. xviii. 15, xxiii. 36
;Eze. V. 6, 8, xiii. 9-16, xxii. 26, 28, xxxiv. 18, 19 ; Mic. iii. 9
Hab. i. 4; Zep.' iii. 4 5 Mai. ii. 7, 8; Matt. xv. 3,6,9,• Mark
vii. 8 ; Acts xii. 10, xv. 1, 24 ; 2 Cor. ii. 17 ; Gal. i. T;
Col. ii. 8 ; 1 Pet. i. IS ; 2 Pet. ii. 1 ; iii. 16 ; Eev. xxii. 18, 19, and numerous other similar passages. (pg 22, pdf 32)
Pro-slavery: nature. It is not wanting in its enthusiasm and its poetry. The relations of the most beloved and honored chiefs, and the most faithful and admiring subjects, which, from the time of Homer, have been tho
theme of song, are frigid and unfelt, compared with those existing between the master and his slaves ; who served his father, and rocked his cradle, or have been born in his household, and look forward to serve his children ; who have been through life the props of his fortune, and the objects of his care ; who have partaken of his griefs, and looked to him for comfort in their own ; whose sickness he has so frequently watched over and relieved ; whose holidays he has so often made joyous by hia bounties and his presence ; for whose welfare, when absent, his anxious solicitude never ceases, and whose hearty and affectionate
greetings never fail to welcome him home. In this cold, calculating, ambitious world of ours, there are few ties more heart-felt, or of more benignant influence, than those which mutually bind the master and the slave, under our ancient system (pg 411, pdf 421)
Anti-slavery: human slavery is a state or condition of war, as much so as piracy or common robbery on the largest scale are—so that its victims, like those of murder, &.c., have always been compelled by criminal force and violence alone to submit to it, the same as are employed to perpetrate murder, robbery, &c., against the persons of men. (pg 54, pdf 64)
Pro-slavery: [if slaves emancipated] Poverty and distress, bankruptcy and ruin, would everywhere be seen. In one word, the condition of the Southern States would, in all material respects, be like that of the once flourishing British colonies in which the fatal experiment of emancipation has been tried. (pg 411, pdf 421)
"Our slaves all have homes, are bountifully provided for in health, cared for and kindly nursed in childhood, sickness, and old age ; multiply faster, live longer, are free from all the corroding ills of poverty" (pg 539, pdf 549)
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