صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

the slave. Reduce the quantity of cotton, pushed to surplusage on the consumption of the world. Give labor now and then a holiday. Send a less quantity to market; and bring home as much, or more money, for it.

"Employ the slave in some other vocation, if not of profit, it may be of ornament, and adorn your country. Labor for something which cannot be swallowed. Raise monuments, or after generations may never know that you have existed. Let the little tyrants of these days, like some of the greater ones of ancient times, build pyramids of bricks; and no longer toil to scale the highest heavens, on bales of cotton.

"Sir, disguise this question as you will, it is, after all, a crusade against free white labor; first preached on this floor and now put in the form of war, by the owners of slaves. It is the maker of cotton, against the grower of wool: the mere tiller of the ground, against the keeper of sheep; and because the first brother of our race did, in such a strife, succeed in committing the oldest fratricide on record, the movers of this controversy seem satisfied to earn a like malediction, if they can but succeed in performing a kindred achievement.

"Sir, I repeat it, this controversy is a war against the free white labor of the country; a war levied by the owners of slaves. How often have you been told on this floor, first in the voice of complaint, but now in the tones of insolent menace, that the free laborers of the North could earn fifty cents a day, while the slaves of South Carolina could not earn more than twelve and a half cents? How often has the same voice told us, that manufacturing capital used by this free labor, cleared a profit of twenty per cent. per annum; while slaves and land, the cotton raising capital of the South, would not, in any year, come up to six? This base, inglorious question is now agitating our country. We are told that our great system of national policy encourages the labors of the free, and renders capital in their hands highly profitable; but the same system discourages the labor of slaves, and renders them, and the capital employed with them, in growing cotton, rice, and tobacco, not profitless, but merely less profitable to the owners. These men aver that the

same system of laws is encouragement to the free, but discouragement to the slave labor of the country; and that all the great interests of all the free labor, in the United States, must be, nay, shall be, sacrificed, not to preserve, but to render more profitable, the capital vested in Southern slaves. Dare these men place such an issue before the country, in all its naked, base, and odious deformity? Dare they tell to the world of Christian nations the true state of this question? Would not those nations who have universally excluded slavery from their civil policy, would they not hear with a shout of indignation, that one of these States had taken up arms against the Union, and sworn to destroy that Union, for the glorious purpose of rendering their negro slaves more valuable, by rendering the labor of those slaves more profitable? They have not dared to do it. They have put a mask on this base-born controversy of avarice. Under this mask, this Shylock question of interest, of mere money, of so many dollars and cents, has been changed in appearance; and is now, to the deceived eye of the nation, a question of State rights-State sovereignty-freedom-chivalry -nullification. Egregious masquerade of valor and patriotism! Brave cavaliers-for how much money-for how many pounds of flesh-will you sell all these painted, pasteboard glories? For the base and grovelling provisions of this Bill; for their negro cloths at five per cent; their own coats at twenty; and cotton, calico or plain, both for themselves and slaves, at the same rate of impost.

"Does not this strip the question of all its paintings? Yes, Sir, they plainly tell us that the great cotton and tobacco interest of Southern slavery cannot thrive, unless the greater interest of Northern freedom in manufactures and agriculture shall be destroyed. Are these two interests indeed hostile to each other; and cannot the same system of laws give to each of them, the same encouragement and protection now, which was so liberally bestowed on both by those laws in 1816? No one ever dreamed of this hostility of interests, until within the last eight years. Until then, our great system established to promote the general welfare, did equally advance the individual and

particular interests of all. If then, by some strange perversity of purpose, or of accident, any particular interest has, since that time sprung up in our country, hostile in its nature to the general welfare, can the owners of that interest call upon the nation to cultivate this their deleterious plant, and to promote its growth, demand that every other interest which has hitherto flourished in our land, shall be extirpated and destroyed? Who would pluck up fields of wheat, that he might thereby encourage a more vigorous growth of hemlock? Does not the less always give place to the more useful plant? Let then these politicians beware how they undertake to prove to the American People, that their production of rice, cotton, and tobacco, by the labor of slaves, is hostile to that general welfare, which has been for more than forty years established and promoted by our great system of encouragement and protection. Admit that it were so. Do the owners of slaves believe that the system of encouragement is to be abolished, and more than seven hundred thousand free white people, now employed in mechanic and manufacturing labor, and more than nine hundred thousand employed in agricultural labor, are to be thrown out of employment, and reduced to poverty, merely to render slave labor, employed in growing cotton, rice and tobacco, somewhat more profitable? Sir, you may as soon tear this steadfast earth from her axis ;' roll the moon into our orbit, and compel this globe, to spin round that, as a mere satellite."

Mr. Burges proceeds to a minute detail of the comparative value of slave-labor and free-labor; the large profit derived from capital invested in lands and slaves in the Southern States, compared with the profit derived from agriculture and manufactures in the Northern States. He believes the Bill aims a blow at protection itself, and that it will not stop at the overthrow of mechanical and manufacturing industry. The fisheries, the ship-building trade, the internal navigation interest, the foreign navigation and commerce, the navy, internal improvements, as these all belong to the protective policy, so they are to be destroyed by a competition with the exhaustless capital and labor of foreign nations. "Is the defence of our country," says he,


"a part of our great system of protection, devised for the security of the labor and capital of all the people? then does this Bill, anti-protective in its very principles, remove that defence.Destroy those interests, which have called together in cities, towns, villages, hamlets, near your waterfalls, bays and harbors, and covered the agricultural districts around them, with a dense population, and these people, like the oppressed Hebrews, while gathering straw, will be, in pursuit of labor and bread, scattered abroad throughout all the land. Where will be your militia, once in the neighborhood of your fortifications, and ready to man them on the approach of the enemy? Gone, Sir, dispersed ; and, perhaps, on your other frontier, conflicting with the savages of the western prairies. If your forts are defended, it must be by a standing army. At all events, the troops of your present military establishment must be recalled from those stations, in the South, where they have been located, to protect the master and his family from the insurrectionary spirit of his slaves.

"To this protection, though hardly to be found in the Constitution, the free people of the North have never objected. They have felt a deep and anxious interest in your safety. I know your Southern chivalry scoffs at all this; and holds our sympathy in utter derision. Be assured that I am not ignorant of the contempt you feel, and the scorn you express, when any New-England man happens to speak of you, on this floor, in terms of fraternity. For myself, I claim brotherhood with no man; unless, by blood or affinity, I stand in that relation with him. Be assured that I shall never affront any of your lofty feelings, by any expression of any relationship with any of you, other than that of citizenship and humanity. We are Americans; and we are men. There is no alienage between us.The freemen of the North, and I as one of them, claim it as a right, to desire the safety of all men. We will travel far, and labor hard, to achieve that safety for all the American people. If the safety of Southern planters cannot be secured without aid from the troops of the United States, that aid will not, by us, be refused, for their protection.

"It must, nevertheless, not be forgotten by them, that if we are at last to protect them and their families, by armed force,

they must not feel themselves at liberty, to withdraw the protection of the laws from us and our labors. Under these conditions, the arm of our strength will always be near to you, and lifted up for your defence. Do not expect more from the working men of the North, than can be performed by man. Dare you repeal the laws enacted for your protection? Will you break up the instruments of your labor and livelihood? Shall our free working men, with their wives and children, be turned, by you, into the world, naked, and without shelter or food? Do you expect their sympathy will be alive to the cry of your distress, when their children cry to them for that bread which you have plucked from their mouths? When your wives and daughters fly from that servile brutality which has cloven down their husbands and brothers in their defence; can the shrieks of their agony reach the ears of those whom you have left out to the winter storms, in houseless nakedness and famine ? The men whom you have maddened with the bitterness of that misery which you have heaped upon them, who, but for that, would die for your safety, will laugh when ruin visits your abodes; and shout, and clap their hands, when the whirlwind of retribution sweeps through your land.

"Sir, can it be expected that the free people of the North will be annually taxed, to purchase a protection for you, when you will not permit a law, which costs you nothing, to remain unrepealed in your statute-book; because that law gives protection to the labor and the instruments of industry, by which they feed and clothe themselves and families? How do you hope to be secured in the possession of that labor, which gives you wealth, and enjoyment, and political power? How but by the provisions of that Constitution which makes us a nation, and protects your interests, by the whole power of our national arms? In no other Christian nation are such rights, as you enjoy in this country, made a part of the national polity, and secured by the provisions of the Constitution. The spirit of emancipation is abroad in the earth. What is now doing in England, the most free and powerful nation on earth? Ay, Sir, in England, to which, as it is said, some States in the South

« السابقةمتابعة »