Staunton Spectator: September 13, 1859Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
For the Spectator; Thoughts on the Renewal of the African Slave Trade
(Column 5)Summary: Essay opposing reopening the African slave trade, as it is just a plot to split the Union. Blames non-slaveholders who wish to acquire slaves cheaply. Wants Virginia to oppose it. Draws analogy between Slave Trade agitators and Black Republicans as both wanting disunion.
Editorial Comment: (on page 2) "We publish on the first page of this paper the first part of a communication on the African slave trade, written by a gentleman of another county. The writer, although never an active politician, has always sustained the Democratic party. The conclusion will appear next week"
Full Text of Article:
It is a frightful sign of our times if we consider the carelessness with which we behold crime, and calmly listen to palliations adduced by those who openly favor its commission. It has often been observed that the eve of great revolutions has been marked by such a state of public and private morality as exists among us now. We have not for a good many years called things by their right names. The vilest demagoguery has now assumed the name of patriotism, the evasion of a just debt by a sovereign State, or swartwouting in private life, is merely a specimen of financiering and murder in the open streets is merely an unfortunate recontre--but it has been reserved for the last five years to attempt to revive a piratical traffic which has received the united execration of the world, and to endeavor to justify it upon political, moral, and even religious grounds.
The agitators of the reopening of the African Slave Trade allege that they are moved solely by the consideration of Southern interests.--They tell us that they are the only party which is true to the South. They have held Conventions, set up newspapers, and pressed their views upon the people in season and out of season--upon Virginia always out of season.
Does a man of these most earnest advocates expect to land a single negro in the United States legally? Not a bit of it--they all know that the Union will never allow the Trade to be reopened. They therefore intend to persevere in their scheme, in order to split the Union as soon as they can.
The advocates of the Trade are for the most part those who cannot get place and political distinction in our Union--so they hope to succeed in a Southern Confederacy. Accordingly we find that the most distinguished among them have been young men in search of notoriety, or second and third rate politicians, who could not upon any lawful issue obtain political distinction even in their own States. Yet these men have produced some effect. Already do we find that a class of politicians of much higher caliber are beginning to advocate the views of their inferiors to a greater or less extent. The cause is evident; they are afraid of the small fry getting the start of them; for already has the agitation produced a very great effect in certain quarters. More higher class politicians will be drawn in after a while, for the agitators below them have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing to excite the public mind.
It was said in the last Southern Convention that the non-slave holders in the Cotton States are to the slave-holders as two to one. This is the secret of the strength of this party. All these non-slave holders wish to own negroes as well as their neighbors. They can never give $1500 for an able-bodied field-hand; so they wish to put down the price by the importation of savages from Africa. If the trade be re-opened on a large scale, the slave-traders assure us that a wild negro will be worth only $150 just one tenth of what they would have to give now for a field hand. With such a tempting bait as this reduction of price is it to be wondered at that already the reopening of this commerce is so popular? One thing is certain--the agitators have a party sufficiently large to command great influence. It is said that they are very powerful in South Carolina and Mississippi, and strong enough to control the politics of Georgia. We shall, it is to be feared, have great trouble with this faction. As Conspirators against the Union know that they have not yet the majority of the South, nor can ever obtain it by legitimate arguments, they have with great craft endeavored to form a new test of devotion to the South--this test is their Slave Trade.--Unless a man gives into their views, they assume him to be "unsound" on the slavery question, and affect to rank him with Seward and Giddings. This impudent assumption has had its effect. Many a man has had the cry of abolitionists successfully raised upon him simply because he in his judgment has advocated a more conservative course than is profitable to the demagogues of the day. It is reserved for our times to hear that the State of Virginia is censured on the question of slavery, because forsooth she does not wish again to see the floodgates of African barbarism let loose upon us.
We live in an age of wonders, and we should be astonished at nothing within the range of possibility; but we should be astounded indeed if any arguments based upon political reasons, or any others should induce Virginia ever to consent to the reopening of the African Slave Trade-- we may as well expect the sky to fall or her everlasting mountains to be cast into the Atlantic.
Virginia has still some respect left for the ten Commandments. One of them is "Thou shalt do no murder." It is a known fact that for every negro imported in the slave ships, ten are slaughtered in Africa, or die of disease in the "Middle Passage." She has always abhorred this infernal commerce. Protest after protest against it did our noble old colony send over to the Crown of England, all of which were treated with contempt, and at last we risked our all in the cause of the Revolution, our greatest grievance being this abominable trade. Virginia has not changed her views on this subject, and never can. What was murder a hundred years ago we look upon as murder still, and no appeals of ambitious demagogues in other States can make us think otherwise. So even in a moral point of view--little as morality is regarded now-a-days-- there is no chance of the disunionists to occupy an inch of ground in the glorious Old Dominion; she is not to be "bluffed off" by charges of "unsoundness" on the Slavery Question. She despises such charges, which come with a bad grace from those who in their Report on the Slave Trade to a late Southern Convention speak respectfully of but one part in the Union, viz: the Black Republicans--utterly repudiating any consideration for the Democratic or American parties, and treating them as packs of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing, so as more effectually to deceive and devour the South.--Accordingly they empty the vials of their wrath upon them; for both these parties profess to be devoted to the Union, in which "these small flies cannot be heard to buzz."
Both the Slave Trade faction and the Black Republicans play into each other's hands, and both are working with all their might for one object, viz: disunion.
It is very strongly suspected that Black Republican leaders are secretly engaged in fitting out the great number of vessels now in northern ports known to be destined to land Africans on the Florida coast. It is not to be supposed that those who will be on the shore to await the landing of the human cargo will be ignorant as to who procured it.
These "ventures in Ebony" serve a double purpose; they put money into the pockets of the Black Republicans, and at the same time they serve to excite the northern sentiment yet more violently against the south and her institutions. There will be crimination and re-crimination, which the slave trade men hope will band together the whole South against the whole North, and bring about disunion. They then expect to float into power upon a fragment of the wreck of our present happy country.
All sorts of arguments are urged to advance this project for the destruction of our Government. The first and most effectual is that the non-slave-holders ought to have a source whence they may procure slave labor which they cannot obtain at present prices. By this argument they hope to make disunionists of the non-slave-holders of the South, the small slave-holders, and those of the larger slave-holders who in their greed for wealth wish to own more slaves than they now have.
They also assert that the political status of those now owning slaves will be more secure as they declare that the non-slave-holders in the mass cannot be true to our institutions, and therefore that all who are interested in the preservation of slavery should support the views of these new preachers of political economy.
They also attempt to influence the Union men of the South by telling them that if cheap slaves could be introduced, the unsettled Territories can be secured to the South, and that thus by the reopening of the Trade the balance of power may be restored, and that thus only the Union can be preserved.
These men know well enough, all the same, that the Trade can never be introduced in our Union, but they hope that this foolish argument may stop the opposition of some weak-minded union men and secure them to their cause.
They also boldly assert that the prohibition of the traffic is unconstitutional. This position supposes that the people are such asses as not to know where to find the first clause of the ninth section of the first article of the Constitution.
But the queerest argument used by this faction is that which is based upon religion. They say the only way to christianize Africans is to enslave them.
We almost despair of introducing in the Eastern mind of the negro proper conceptions of our holy religion; but, admitting this to be possible, the people of Virginia will never consent to the doctrine that it is christianity to butcher ten men that one may be the recipient of religious instruction.
Trailer: [To Be Concluded]
Proceedings of Council
(Column 2)Summary: Report of Town Council meeting. Issues discussed include reservoir repairs, street signs, and application to extend town limits.Washington Monument
(Names in announcement: Imboden, Baylor, Bell)
(Column 2)Summary: A box has been placed in the Post Office to receive contributions for the construction of the Washington monument.For the Spectator; Agriculture of Augusta County
(Names in announcement: Capt. Stevenson)
(Column 4)Summary: Report on the history and geography of Augusta agriculture.
Trailer: J. L. Campbell; Washington College; Sep. 8, 1859Hon. A. H. H. Stuart
(Column 3)Summary: Writer thinks that the Opposition should unite behind Stuart in the 1860 election. Writer praises Stuart and notes that Stuart is well-respected and liked in the North.
(Names in announcement: Alexander Stuart)Origin of Article: Richmond WhigTrailer: NelsonMasonic
(Column 6)Summary: Announces Masonic Lodge meeting.I.O.O.F.
(Names in announcement: W.A. Burke, D.C. McGuffin, W.S. Salthis, J.P. Hulst, J.F. Patterson)
(Column 6)Summary: Announces Independent Order of Odd Fellows meeting.
(Names in announcement: George CochranJr., E.H. Peck, D.C. McGuffin)
(Column 2)Summary: Married on September 8.Married
(Names in announcement: Rev. J.C. Hestall, James Hats, Sophia Byrd)
(Column 2)Summary: Married near Sherando on September 8.Married
(Names in announcement: Rev. Mr. Wirgman, James Dedrick, Rosannah Coyner)
(Column 2)Summary: Married in Staunton on September 9.
(Names in announcement: Rev. William Baker, William Newman, Rebecca Trayer)
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