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Gurney's Letter To Henry Clay: Extract

Gurney's Letter To Henry Clay: Extract image
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"Allhough, in travelling throi'gh some K)f your slave states, I have often observad iho negroes weil ciad, and in good bodily condition, their general aspect has not appeared to me to be thatof huppiuess.- .Seldom have I seen any thing amotig them, like tho cheerful smile of the -peasant of Jamaica; and sometimes, they have been half-naked, and wretched in their demeuner, When I saw large cernpanies of black people following eilher the piasters who owned, or the merchants who had bought them, to sornc distant state, the lame ones -compelled tokeep uo vvith their associates, and yet limping beiiinrl from very weakness - when, in one of the sea Islands of South Carolina, I looked on a gang of them, colton. working as if they were oü the tread whec!, their sweat hiüing from them like rain, and the overseer sitting by, wiïh his cowhide alongside of liim - wiien, in the negro jail at Charleston, I was aurrounded by a large number of ncgroeg, who had been sent hither, wiihout any intervention of law or magistracy, but at the sole will of their hoiders, to be punished op the treadwheel, or with i whipping (not exceeding fifieen lashesj according lo directions on an accompanying ticket - wHen, lastly, in tiie iron-yrated'olepül at Bliimore, í risited tliepoor crcanrrcá who had been soid away from their faniiües and friends, and wero about to be trausmitted, on speculation, like so many bales of cotton or worsted, to the far-distant South - when these scènes passed, one after another, in review before rne, it v-'as imposBible tbr me to think highly of the cömj'orts of your enslaved ncgroes.The slave market at Charleston is held, as I underslanc!, in the open streets, imrnes diately underthc walls of ilie exchange. - There, our fellow men are bought and sold without reserve. Trtie indeed it is, th;it many high-minded, benevolent holders, refuso to sell their sluves under any eircumstances, and that many othera avoid selling them,except in undivided families. - Bui the laws o! 'bankrupicy and cxecmorship, are fraught wilh no such temlerj'eelings; and in the breaking up and disposal of estatcs, husbands and wives, parenis 'and children, are öften sold - irrespectively of each otlier - each to the highest bidder. With such liabilities at hand, where can ba tho solid happmes8 of' the slave of North America? I woutd, however, recur to my orignial grouud - no man. who has 6ense and knowledrre enough, to refiect upon hinieelf, can enjoy true comfort, while íiie ay regards him as the property of another. One of your most enlightened eenntors, (urnished me with an instructive flnecdote in reference to thiá subject. A pro-s'i.ivei'y Methodist minister, in our (riend's presence, was, one day, questionnga well educated negro, much respecten' ly his mastcr, and ajnplysupplied wilh the eoaveniences o( life; "You have your u'ife and fumily about you,1' said the minister; 'kyou havo a good house; you and yoar children are well ciad; you sitdown, day byday, lo a wcll-providcd table; you are even engaged as a preacher to yojir brelhren- why thenareyou an.xious to be free? what can you whth fnr more?" - 'Sir," replied the negro, "Í wish to lay my hand on my hcart, and say, My flesh is MY OWN." "That slavery is sinful, not on!y in ils abuse, but in its own nature, eeema to me to bc evident from ils practical rcsults. - Two of these, with which an American etatesman cannot fuil to bc familiar, I may now briefly mention - they are in themselves amply sufficient to prove my ense. Tfio first, is the drendful licentiousnsss vhich notoriously prevaila in your slave tatcs, not merely anjong the negroes themselves, but more eepecially between whites and blacks, Here indeed amalgaraation speeds its course without reserve, and in a criminal form. An ipstitution "which constantly leads to this result - under which fathers are sometimes known to bequeath or sell their own children - must need8 be, in itself, a desperate moral evil. The second result alluded to, is compulso yy ignorance. Evil in its root- incurablyevil- opposed (o the will of an intelligent and benevolent Creator - and deadly in its moral tendency - must be asystem, which shuts out half, or two thirds of the popuiation of a state, from even sipping at the ' founlain of knowledge - which proclaims to a muUitudinous rising generation the stern deciee, "You shall never be ta'jht toread the Bible!"