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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1598   View pdf image (33K)
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their midst and leave their children in at
least a state of half-slavery? Not one out of
twenty will do it; but day and night they
will be going off and carrying their little
ones with them. Yon lose the labor you
now have.
Another reason why I oppose the creation
of this system is this: You are going to turn
loose upon your State thousands and tens of
thousands of men and women. You are
giving them motives of industry and so-
briety, and correct habits. How do you
give them these motives? By robbing their
homes of all that makes home pleasant and
agreeable, loving and endearing? Will you
say to the man and woman, you can go off in
freedom, but your children must remain in
servitude? What is the consequence? Dis-
satisfaction among them as a class. They
have no object for which to labor; no child
to educate; no pride to take in their chil-
dren; nothing to live for save each other.
What is to be the result of that? They will
be idle. Idleness will beget intemperance in
them. Yon know how wretchedly the negro
goes through any trouble, idleness will fol-
low; universal pauperism will follow. And
these people, instead of being an element of
strength and prosperity in the State, will be-
come its curse, simply because we have taken
from them all motive for honest and honora-
ble exercise. Is not that going to be so?
Try its effect by its application to your
own feelings and your own consciences.
What is the great spur to the exertions of
every man? We have children. For them
we toil. For them we spend. For them we
labor early and late. For them we are
sober, discreet, temperate, all that a man
should, be. Is it not so with this race? They
have their human feelings, their human sym-
pathies. Give them some motive for exer-
tion if you do not want them to curse you,
and curse the community, and curse the
What will follow? If they do not, now
that they have an opportunity to labor for
themselves, and to enjoy the fruits of their
labor, become good, sober, honest citizens,
or residents, if you do not like the term citi-
zens, of the community, the law as it stands
to-day, and as I propose to embody it in my
substitute, will enable you to go into the or-
phans' court and require of the court that
they apprentice to you in preference these
children. That is right. We do not want
vagrancy. I will go as far as any gentleman
in this ball to guard against negro vagrancy.
I never want to see it. I will be willing to
resort to anything in the world to prevent it.
But, in my humble opinion, the only way to
.prevent this class from becoming vagrants as
a class, is to give them proper motives for
exertion, labor, sobriety, and every virtue
they ought to practice.
I hope there will be a disposition on all
sides of this house to accept in a spirit of
conciliation and compromise the offer made
here to meet on the basis of the existing laws
of the State; not requiring us, who are
pledged to the contrary course, to create a new
system, hilt to meet on the existing laws of
the State, simply declaring in this section of
our constitution that it shall be the duty of
the orphans' court to give a preference to the
master in all cases where apprentices must
be indented. For that proposition I will
vote with all my heart, and against the pro-
position as originally presented, I must as
earnestly enter my protest, believing as I do
that the acceptance of that proposition would
work barm to the present master, to the
negro, and to the State; because I do believe
that if the negro population of the State to-
day bad any idea that yon intended to de-
prive their children of the benefits of the
emancipation promised them by this con-
vention, they would go from you in a month
in swarms.
Before we passed our twenty-third article,
it was directly met by gentlemen in our sec-
lion of the country who owned negroes, and
who urged immediate and speedy action in
this matter on the very ground that the ne-
groes were deserting them and going off in
crowds. It will be so again, If you talk of
the creation of an apprenticeship system,
they will go from your land in swarms, as the
Hebrews went from Egypt, and depopulate
your State, take away from yon the labor you
say you want, and leave us then to till the
soil with our own hands or to starve.
1 tender again to gentlemen on the oppo-
site side the olive branch which I bold out in
the substitute I propose to offer, that these
'negroes shall be indentured under the laws of
the. State as they exist this day, and that in
thus indenturing them, their masters, where
they are proper persons to have them, shall
have the preference. So far I will go. For
that proposition I will vote with all my heart;
and against the other I must as clearly enter
my protect.
Mr. PURNELL, I would like to ask the gen-
tleman the question whether by the act of
emancipation all indented negroes are set
free? Does that liberate all the apprenticed
negroes, the free negroes now in the State?
Mr. SANDS. How can it free a negro that
has never been a slave ?
Mr, PURNELL. I should like to have a cat-
egorical answer, yes or no, whether they are
liberated who are held in apprenticeship ?
Mr. SANDS. I will read the article and the
gentleman will see.
Mr. PURNELL, I have it before me and can
read it for myself; I wish to hear from you.
Mr. SANDS. I should like to know what
construction of it justifies that view of the
case ?
Mr. PURNELL. Then I understand the gen-

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1598   View pdf image (33K)
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