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Speech Of Mr. Giddings, Of Ohio: Delivered In The House Of R...

Speech Of Mr. Giddings, Of Ohio: Delivered In The House Of R... image
Parent Issue
Day
19
Month
May
Year
1841
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

[CONTINÜED.IBut, sir, tliís transactioa, and o'.hers equally abusive,were soon known throughout Florida. The Indians and negroes were thus admonished of the necessity of uniting their eftorts and energies in defence of their liberty and lives. Governor Duval, speaking of tliis transaction, in a letter to the Secretary of War, duted the 23d May, says, '"it is an outrage well ca I - culated to rouse the Indians to hostility." These are the acts that have led us on, etep by step, until we have found oursclves in the midst of a most disastrous war. The men who committed these robberes, and kidnnpped these negrocs, were well known, for the acts were committed in openday; their names and places of residence are distinctly mentioned; but I have yet to learn that any one of them has been punished in any mannor for this warfare against the liberty of the blacks and the rights of the Indians. Indeed, it seems to have been an object with some of the officerd employed in Florida, to induce government to enter into the business of capturing and selling slaves. J. VV. Harr9, disbursing agent of Government, in a lelter to the Commissary General of Subsistence, dated December 30, 1836, ays: "I would respectfully suggest, that you recommend to the honorable Secretary of War that the annuiiy due to the hostile Indians be retained to defray the expenses of this war; and that the slaves who shall be captured, whom I believe to have been generally active instigators to our present troubles, be sold at public sale, and the proceeds appropriated to the same object " This ia the first official proposition that has come to my knowledge, for the Government to enter into competition with the "negro stealers," by capturiug and sellingslavea. If they were captured, they would be prisoners of war; and for us to sell them a9 slaves, would be as tnuch a violalion o( our national honor, as n would have been for them to have sold, B9 8lavee, such ot our peupïe as ihey veré able to capture. Í may, perhaps, be permüted to remark, that ainong the people of the free States, nothing is regarded with so niuch disgust and abhorrence as the buying and selling of men, women, and children, and that this feeling is comtnon among all classes and all poluical parlies. Mr. Cliairman, I have called the attention of the Commiüee to what is oflfeially announced as the íirst and principal cause of this war, and also to some of the proxiinate and imrnediale causes. I think no man can doubt that it originated in the attempts of the Executive to support slavery by the influence and efïorts of our national Government, in violalion, as I think, of the Constitutiwn and of the righte of the free Siates. 1 propose to investígate the flubject a little further, and to examine into the cause that led to its rencwal and continuance. On the Oth day of March, 1837, General Jesup entered into a conventional J rangement with the Seminóle Indians, by which il was greed that hostilities should mmediately ceuse ; that the indians should emigrate west of the Miissippi that they ' 8hould be secure in their lives and property ; ! ancP'that neroea, their bona fine properiyf" should accompany them. By the terms of this compact, no negroes were included except those who were called the "bona fide property" of the Indians, altnoughGov. Duval, Gen. Jesup, and the Indian Agent, all unite in saying that the Indians were controlled by the blacks.- These blacks cornprised' both fugitive laves and free people of color, who were connected with the Indiana by marriage and onsanguinity. The attempt to I tata them appears to me to have been hopeless. The Indian who had married a fugitive lave, and reared a farnily of children, would not, in mv opinión, qoietly fold bis !arras and view hisofispringand their mother marched off into interminable alavery, while he bimeelf ibould go West. Nor do [ believe that will ever be done. They are all the enemies of uur country, fighting in arms agairtst us. They have already cost us much treasure aml the blood of many freernen. If they will uow surrender ihemselves "prisoners of war," I would send tliem all west together. No person can doubt our perfect right to do so; and I think justice to the nation and the Indiana requires it; and my amendment will be to thal effect. General Jesup'a atlempt to separate them failed, and I believe all further attempts of that kind will tui!. This compact between General Jesup and the Indians bears date on the Oth ol March. On the lNih of !he sume month, a solemn remonstranee against this arrangement was signed by a number ol gentlemen of high standing in Florida, and transmitted to the Secretary of Wur. - These gentlemen totally objëded to any pacification lliat did uot provide for 1 1 1 o reIcaplure of their lugitive slaves. 'l'hey obIjected to tlie Indiana going west until they should take and return to their ownerr the slttves who had cscaped f rum their masters in Florida. The renionslrance may be found at 55ih page of the Executive document of the House of Representatives, No. 225, of the 3d sesion of the 25th Congress. h isan interesting paper, but of too great length for me to read at this time. It shows, in a most palpable light, the view entertained by those gentlemen in regard to the cause and object of this war. Wha'.ever otliers may have thought upon that subject, it is clear ihat they supposed the war lo have been commenced and cai ried on fur the purpose of aiding them in holding their alavés; and ikey declare it incompatible with the honor and dignity of the na'.ion to permit ilie [ndians to emigrate uniil thev ehall briog the slaves buck to iheir owoers. I have no doubt they feit that they were correct in their views; nor du 1 believe they entertained a doubt of the justice and propriety of taxing the free States to any extent in support of slavery. There was however a cessation of hoslilities, notwithstanding these remonstrances. The Indians ceased for a lime to plunder the defenceless families of Florida, lo burn their cabins, and murder the delenceless women and children; but, sir, the lugitive slavcs remained hidden in the swamps and everglades of that uutraversed country. - 'Peace, on such terms, appears to have ben unacceplable ttpeople of Florida. I will n ii euk t kconclusions of my own mind, hpwever, mn this subject, but will give you B f a high ufficer of Government, who was on the Spot land who spoke trom positive knowledge, I refer to General Jesup, who, in a letter datcd 29th March, Ib37, and directed to Colonel John Warren, speaking of the 'anxiety of tliu India ai to inaintatn the I peace agreed upon, says: "There is no disposition on the part of the great body of the Indiana to renew hostilitiVs; and they : will, lam sure, fuithfully fufil their engagements, if the ohabitanta of the Territory be prudent. But any attempt to seize their ncyroes or other property would be fullowed by an immediate resoit toarms." Thus wc have the authority of General Jesup for saying that iho Indiana w anxious to tnaintutfl peace. That he was 'at the same time, apprehensive that the people would attempt to leize the Iridian negrues. Whal reasuo GeneraJ Jesup had to suspect that the people oí Florida would beotheiwise tlian prudent, or whai reason he bad tofear thaithey wouM the Indian negroe?, I know not. He certainly exhibiied feara u)on the subject. - Fur on the Oth April, being seven daya subsequent to this letter lo Oolonel Warren, wu liad Ihat he issued a general order in the (bllowing rarda: '-The. Cómnoanding General has reason to believe that the interlurence of unprincipied white men with ihe negro property oí the Seminole Indians, if not immediately cbei ked, will prevent their emigration, and lead to ;m immediate re-newal of boatilities.11 - The order goea on to prohibit any person connected with the public service (rom en tering upon the territory assigned to die Iiidians. In this order we have official intclligence that the whites did in tact interfere with the Indian alavés, or, in olher word, they begun to rob the Indians of their slaves almost as soon as hostilities ceased. As to die outrages cummitted upon the free blacks during the cessation of hostilities, we have no Information in tliis order, and are lelt. to infer the course pursued towardsthem from the evidence ' iiave previously given. If these people were eufficiently rapacious to rob the Indians of their negroes undcr such circumstances, it is easy to form an opinión as to the safety of the free colored people found with the Indians. How many of them, if any, were made slaves, we know not. On the 18th April, twelve daysafter the dato of his letter to Colonel Warren, i eral Jesup wrote loGovernor Cali, saying: "If the citizens of iho Territory he ident, the war may be consiclcred at an end. Bul any altempt to interfere wilh the Indian negroes would cause an immediate rcsort to hoslilities. The negroos control their mastcrs, and they have heard of the act of your legislalivecouncil. Thirty or more of the í odian negro men were at and near my camp on the VViihlacoochie lute in JVItirch. ut the arrival oftwoor three citizens of Florida, said to be in search of negroes, caused them to disperse at once, and I doubt whether they will come in again. At all evcnts, the eniigration will be delayed a month, I apprehenrl, in consequence of the alarm of these negroes." The cmbarrassment into which General Jesup was thrown is quite apparent, notwithstanding his order of the 4th April. The people werc anxious to hunt for slaves. The negroes, it would seem, were under constant apprehension, and fled when a siave catcher carne inio their vicinity. Whether the Indian negroes had cauce for that feai, we are unal.le to judge, except frorn llio documenta before us. BeIwecn the Indians and our army,it appears, tbere was nodifficulty whatever. Dut the difficulty appearfl to have been between the Indians and negroes on one side, and those whosoughtto rob the Indians and en slave the Niicks on the other. It is also quite evident that some of the people of Florida were restless uuder the order of the 5th April, prohibiting them from entering the ludían country. VVhen in" telligence respecting that order reached St. Augustine, it seems a public meeting Ul and a committee appointed to procure lts repeal, in order that the wl.itc people might enter the Indian country for the purpose of seizing slaves. Tliis committee said to be composed of men ol'high standing, addressed a long letter to General Jesup, in which they say, -peuking of the people of Florida: "While they believe that the accorrplishrnont of a coi tu i ti pacifica tion must, as it ought, be an object of primary importance in these negotiations, they persuade theinselves that the preservation of the negro property belonging to the inhabitants of this des-; olated country, must be secn by him to be au oliject of scarcely less moment." It is a most undeniable fact, borne out by every part of these official document?, that the people of Florida supposed that the great j object of the war was to aid the slaveholders in capuiring and recovering their slaves. This same protest goes on to re" count facts in regard to their slaves having run away, and íinding a place of refuge in the Indian country, and the concluding of au armislice by General Jesup, without getting thcir Blavei back, and then the signers add : "Agaiust such a cojrse, a oourse so destructive oflheir rights and interest?, the ciiizens of St. Augustine,' and oihers, in (jubjic meeting assembled, for thenaaelvea, and in behalf of thc inhabitants of Eust Florida, gcnerally, do most solemnly protest.1' This, sir, is the solenin ptolett of thc citizens of Florida, against any cessation of hostilities upon other terms tlian of grtting back llieir slaves, or rather of pennitting ihem toenter the Indian country to obtain their slaves. Thc horror with which the negroes, both Indians and free blacks, regardcd (hosc who ca me wiihin their territory for the parpose of calching .-laves, is al. un y iiwa l-ll.r ..I .. IIBiml Imj J" quoled; in which he states that thirty hidiau negroos, in and abotit his camp, at once run away when they heard that two men were (hen in quettof slaves. Wnh these people, thr greal , mportantj and absorbing euliject Bppeftri lo have been -laves, not peace. Indeed we bave their solomn protest against extinguiihing the flames of svar, or itopping ibe torren) "I blood which h.ul so tong flowed, until they should have thcir slaves lecured to them. Tlicy are UDwilling that the ticasure of thc nation ihould oeaie lo be poured out, until they should bave theii rellow fneu brought back into bondage. But,sir, I ihould fatigue ibe dommiui e too much were I to reler a tenth piirt of tlio. documentary cvidnncc which 1 huve belore me on thra subject, or that part which goes to prove the attempte of our government ofiicers to get back tho slaves who had escaped from their mattere; or the manncr iii which thnt oliject entered into the plans of the war depnrtment. Nor have I time togive any considerable portion of the evidence showing how this object of capluring slaves and supporting slavery entered into the de igns, and was carried out in the movements of the army. The time which may reasonably be claimed by me, will only permit me to glance at the subject, and to lay befare ihis committee and the peoplc of this nation a s,...ill portion of the facta which I wilh l were able to present to them. It will bc surli ent in this place to remark, that immedialely after these proteatations against peace- these official Communications showing t hut the i Indians had no desire to renew the war, i and that the only dunger to be i ded was the unlawful interference by the i poople of Florida with the Indian negroes, the flamea of war wero ngain lighted up; Iour troops were again put in mol ion; the treasury of our nation was again placed tinder contribution; and the blood of defenceless women and helpless children again flovved, in order, as it appears, ihat slnveholders might recover their slaves. 1 spoak, f ir, from official documentary evidence. These facts, and those wlueh I intend to refer to, are on record in the archives of our nation, and will descend in all coming time, to give charactcr to this unholy war. It would appear, from a perusal of the documents before me, ihat General Jesup was unable to fulfil his covenant wilh the Indians, to protect thein; but on this point we have no direct evidence. Cerlain t is, that he was unable to bring the negroes to submission. I use the term negroes, because he says, officially, that "the negroes controlled the Indians." Being unable to subdue the enemy, hia troops falling a prey to ihe unhealthy climate in wlucli he was situated, the citizens being murdered, iheir habiiations burned, and his army discournged, he issued the order, No. 190. to which I will now culi tbc attention of the committee. That part to which 1 particularly referís in the followiug words: "All lndian property captured from this date will belong to the corps or detachment making it." The sense in which the term pronerty was used in this order ia fully explained in a letter of General Jesup to Co'onel Warren, duted a few days subsequent, in which, speaking of the Seminóle, he says: "Their negroes, cattle, and horses, will beiong to the corps by which they are captured." This order beara date on the 3d of August, 1837, and may be found on pafje 4 of the documenls communicated to this House by the Secretary of War, on the 27ih day of February, 1839. I think that history will record this as the first general order issued by the commander of an American army in which the catching of alavés is held out as au incentive 10 military duty. I menlion this fact, and bring it to the consideration uf the committee wilh feelings of deep mortification. As an American, 1 feel humbled at this act, which cannot be v ie wed by the civilized world otherwise than dishonorable to our arms and nation. That thia officer, entruated with the commanc! of oar army and the honor of our flag, should appeal to the cupidity, the desirc, and the worst of human passions, in order to stimulate his men to effurt, is, 1 think, to be regretted by men of all pariesy in all sections our country. Our nationul flag, which floa'ed in proud triumph at Saratoga, which was enveloped in a blaze of glory at Monmouth and Yorklovrn, secms to have been prostiiuted in Florida to the base purpose of leadingon an organ ized eompany .f "negro catchers.11 Sir, no longer is ''our country" the baltic cry of our army in their advnnce to victory ; but "slaves" has become the watchword to inspiro them to eflbrt. No longer does the war-worn vetcran, amitl the battle? rage, (hink of lus country's glory, and nerve his arm in beha If of freedom, but with c.ilc cycs he watches ihe wavenng ranks of the enemy, and as the smoke rises from the battle field, bc plunges amid their Heeing cohorts (o seize upon the sable loe, that he may makc bina his future slavc. Uut I intend to pursue this subject furthcr. I slidll ii show that this Government - this nation, composcd of twentyMI States, some holding elavcs,and some denjing Ihsrightof maf) to huid his fellow man in slavcry - has been made to deal in to become the owncr oí slaves; tint thia adtninittration, now just gning oul of power, h;s deelt in "bumaa flesh;" ihattha tumis of goverarnonl] drawn from the pocki is of free laborera, have been paid for the capture ni fugitiva slaves, and tbc parchase of laves captured from the Seminóle Indians. And för that parpóte, I refer to No. 175, datad al Tampa Bay, September 6, 1837. Itreads as iollows: "1. The Seminóle negroea capturad by the army will be taken un account ol Government, and held subject to the order of the Secretui v ol War. 11 'J. The sum of eight ihousand dollars will be paid to the Creek chiefs and warriors, by whom they were enptured, or who were present at the capture, in full lor their claim to them. "í. To induce the Creek Indians to take alive, and not destroy the negroes of citizens who had been captured by tho Seminóles, a reward was promised them for all they should secure. Thoy captured and secured thirty-five, who had been returned to íhcir owners. 'i lie owners liuve paid nothing, but the promise to the Indians tnust lie l'ulfillcd. The sum of twenty dollars will be allowed to them for cach from the public fuuds. "4. Lieutenant Searlo Í9 charged with the execution of this order" Thia order, taking the negroes "on account of Government," bears date on the Uth September. FfOOl that time thoy were tu bc "held subject to the order of the Secretary of War." On the 7thOctober this Drder of Gen. Jesup was approved by the liunornhle Secrotary of War, ns may bo(seen by refercnce to page 43 of the docu; ment juet quoted. Thus, sir, we have of ificial documentary evidence that the pco- pie of this natioo, in their national capacity, becnme the "purchasers of human bengs." The raoney of our people, of the freeman of tlvis nation, was paid for the purchase of slaves. Thiá fund, most of it coltected in the freeStates, and coming fromthe hard earninga of free whites, was appropriated for hepurchase of Indian slaves, and of tl. ce who had sought freedom amid the swampa and everglades of Florida ; while our moet vital interest at the North are abandonen, andeven the implements necessary tocarry on our harbor improvements have been sold, and the nioney thus obtained placed in the common fund, and, perhaps, paid' for the purchaee of these slaves at theSouth. 1 hear it said in au urulertone near me, that the purchase of these fugitive slaves was justiñable and correct. I may differ wilh gentlemen as to the justicet or honor of that proceeding; but I cannot enter jnto that subject at this time. I would merely say, if' the slaveholders wieh. lo have their slaves repurchased, I desire them to furnish the funds, Mr. Chairman, aud not thrust their hands into the pockets of your conslitueuts and mine to obtain the money to pay for them. [Mr. Blackr of Georgia, desired to 5e intormed whether the member frorn Ohio alluded to the citizens of Georgia?] Mr. Giddings resumed. 1 deny the right of membera to interrupt me for the purpose ot inquiring whether I allude to ihein or to their constituents. If the garrneiit does not fit them, why do they attempt to force it on? I allude to the facf, that money is, and has been collected in ihe free States, and used to buy up the fugitive slaves of the South, while our most important interests at the North are aban- doned. J see gentlemen here who are tremulously sensitive if the word tariff, or harbor, or manufacture, is but mentioned ; and I should like to compare the benefits to the natitin, arising from the forty millions expended in the Florida war, with the ihirteen millioas expended throughout the United States for harbor purpose 8: but I have not time to do it now. 1 was speaking upon the subject of retaking lugitive slaves; and 1 think it due to the people of the nation that ihey should be informed of the assiduous manncr in which our troopc pursued the business of catching slaves. In a letter, dated at 1'ampa Bay, 25th May, 1837, directed to Lieut. Col. Harney, General Jesup says: "It you see Powell, (Osceola,) teil him I shall send out and lake all the negroes who belong to the hile people. And he must not allow the Indian negroes to mix with them. Teil him I am sending to Cuba for bloodhounds to irail them; and I inlend to hang every one of tbem who doea not come in." [Concluded in our next.]

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