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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 554   View pdf image (33K)
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showing the evil effects of slavery on the
masters, says:
"And with what execration should the
statesman be loaded, who, permitting one-half
of the citizens thus to trample on the rights of
the other, transforms those into despots and
these into enemies, destroys the morals of the
one part and the amor patrice of the other ;
for if a slave can have a country in this
world, it must be any other in preference to
that in which be is born to love and labor
for another. * * * And can the liberties
of a nation be thought secure when we have
removed their only firm basis—a conviction
in the minds of the people that these liberties
are the gift of God? that they are not to be
violated but by His wrath? Indeed, I trem-
ble for my country when I reflect that God is
just; that His justice cannot sleep forever;
that considering numbers, nature and natural
means only, a revolution of the wheel of for-
tune, an exchange of situation, is among
possible events. * * * The Almighty
has no attribute which can take side with
us in such a contest.''
Washington, in a letter to John F. Mer-
cer, already quoted here this morning, dated
September 9,1786, says:
" I never mean, unless some particular cir-
cumstances should compel me to it, to pos-
sess another slave by purchase, it being
among my first wishes to see some plan
adopted by which Slavery, in this country,
may be abolished by law."
And in addition to these I may remark
that the immortal Franklin, one of our rep-
resentatives abroad during the Revolution,
was the first President of the Pennsylvania
Abolition Society.
Mr. BERRY, of Prince George's. From what
does the gentleman read ?
Mr. TODD. I read an extract from a news-
paper, which quotes from the authorities, and
I have seen these very extracts in books I have
I but reiterate the self-evident declaration
of those honored men when I say that slavery
is the invasion of a natural right. This propo-
sition requires no further argument, and I
proceed to the discussion of the second reason
which occurs to my mind to prove that slavery
is a great evil and ought to be abolished, and
it is this:
2. Because it can only exist in violation of
the dearest and most sacred social and domestic
What is my slave, according to the laws of
the State of Maryland? A mere chattel,
which I may dispose of as I may of a horse
or any other piece of property, at my option.
I may regard his feelings and his wishes or
not, just as pleases my caprice. By a mere
whim I may compel him to celibacy; or, if
he have one who stands to him in the en-
dearing relation of wife—a partner of his
joys and sorrows—though I believe the slave
code does not recognize any such legal rela-
tion as husband and wife among its unhappy
subjects—I may, with an arbitrary disregard
to all the finer sensibilities of human nature
which reside even in the breasts of savages,
tear him from the bosom and embrace of his
weeping and frantic companion , deprive his
innocent little ones, who have learned to call
him father, of the affection, and the little pro-
tection which .he, as a slave, may be able to
afford them, and transport him to a land
foreign to him; where, with the hopes and
affections of his heart all crushed and bleed-
ing, he is left to mourn with no earthly pros-
pect to cheer or comfort him; and with the
constantly recurring memories of the dearest
ties, rudely and hopelessly sundered, to lace-
rate forever his wounded and despairing soul,
This sir, is no fancy sketch. Most of us
have stood by the auctioneer, where human
flesh and blood and life and service, have
been exposed to public sale, and looked upon
living pictures, of which this sketch is but
an indistinct photograph.
I forbear, sir, except by simple allusion, to
refer to the, if possible, more revolting scenes,
where licentious power, armed with the mere
authority of corrupt will, invades the sanctity
and privacy of the domestic circle, and
violates the protective restraints thrown
around chastity by the common instincts of
the commonest humanity. On this point, let
the facts that stare us in the face everywhere
in the slaveholding States, utter their decisive
A third reason which influences my vote
on this question in favor of emancipation in
the State of Maryland is :
3. Because slavery ministers to the demora-
lization of all classes within the sphere of its
This proposition is proven in part by what
I have already said. But more particularly—
this institution ministers, first, to the intel-
lectual demoralization of all classes, it does
this, so far as negroes, both slave and free are
concerned, by discouraging, to an extent that
amounts to a prohibition, all literary educa-
tion. The protectors and propagandists of
slavery have seen and felt the force of the
fact, that education is incompatible with the
existence and benefits of slavery—that if you
educate the negro, you create in him the
thirst for freedom, or, at least develop it;
and hence your statute books, and the history
of your State abound with facts going to
show that every precaution has been resorted
to to prevent tire light of literature, even in
its most elementary branches, from staining
into the enslaved mind of the African in our
But the same principle affects also, and to
an almost equal extent, the poorer classes of
the white population. What has been the
fate of all bills introduced in the Legislature
of our State for the promotion of general and

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 554   View pdf image (33K)
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