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HARPER ON SLAVERY.
The institution of domestic slavery exists over far the greater portion of the inhabited earth. Until within a very few centuries, it may be said to have existed over the whole earth
at least in all those portions of it which had made any advances towards civilization. We might safely conclude then, that it is deeply founded in the nature of man and the exigencies of human society. Yet, in the few countries in which it has been abolished-claiming, perhaps justly, to be farthest advanced in civilization and intelligence, but which have had the smallest opportunity of observing its true character and effects-it is denounced as the most intolerable of social and political evils. Its existence, and every hour of its continuance, is regarded as the crime of the communities in which it is found. Even by those in the countries alluded to, who regard it with the most indulgence or the least abhorrence, who attribute no criminality to the present generation-who found it in existence, and have not yet been able to devise the means of abolishing it —it is pronounced a misfortune and a curse injurious and dangerous always, and which must be finally fatal to the societies which admit it. This is no longer regarded as a subject of argument and investigation. The opinions referred to are assumed as settled, or the truth of them as self-evident. If any voice is raised among ourselves to extenuate or to vindicate, it is unheard. The judgment is made
up We can have no hearing before the tribunal of
the civilized world. Yet, on this very account, it is more important that we, the inhabitants of the slaveholding States of America, insulated as we are, by this institution, and cut off in some degree, from the communion and sympathies of the world by which we are surrounded, or with which we have intercourse, and exposed continually to their animadversion: and attacks, should thoroughly understand this subject, ani our strength and weakness in relation to it. If it be thu; criminal, dangerous, and fatal; and if it be possible to devise means of freeing ourselves from it, we ought at once to se about the employing of those means. It would be the mos wretched and imbecile fatuity, to shut our eyes to the im pending dangers and horrors, and “drive darkling down the current of our fate,” till we are overwhelmed in the final de struction. If we are tyrants, cruel, unjust, oppressive, let u humble ourselves and repent in the sight of heaven, that the foul stain may be cleansed, and we enabled to stand erect a having common claims to humanity with our fellow-men.
But if we are nothing of all this; if we commit no injustice or cruelty ; if the maintenance of our institutions be essentia to our prosperity, our character, our safety, and the safety o all that is dear to us, let us enlighten our minds and fortify our hearts to defend them.
It is a somewhat singular evidence of the indisposition o the rest of the world to hear anything more on this subject that perhaps the most profound, original, and truly philo sophical treatise, which has appeared within the time of my recollection,* seems not to have attracted the slightest atten tion out of the limits of the slaveholding States themselves If truth, reason, and conclusive argument, propounded wit! admirable temper and perfect candor, might be supposed to
* President Dew's Review of the Virginia Debates on the subject o Slavery.