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Value Of Slaves

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The slaveholders do not despise their slaves in all points of view. They think highly of them as property. In making up their inventories, they figure largely. As long ago as the formation of the Constitution, the value of the Southern Slaves was rung in the ears of Northern freemen. During the debates in the Convention of S. C. Mr. Pinckney moved to amend Mr. Randolph's motion, so as to make "blacks equal to the whites in the ratio of representation." This he urged was nothing more than justice. The blacks are the laborers, the peasants of the Southern States. They are as productive of pecuniary resources as those of the Northern States. They add equally to the wealth, and considering money as the sinews of war, to the strength of the nation. It will also be politic with regard to the Northern States, as taxation is to keep pace with representation." Mr. Mason said: "It is certain that the slaves are valuable, as they raised the value of land, increased the exports and imports, and of course the revenue would supply the means of supporting and feeding an army, and might in cases of emergency become themselves soldiers. As in these important respects they were useful to the community at large, they ought not to be excluded from the estimate of representation. He could not, however, regard them as equal to freemen, and could not vote for them as such. He added as worthy of remark, that the Southern States have this peculiar species of property, over and above the other species of property, common to all the States." Every body has heard of Henry Clay's estimating the value of the Southern Slaves at $1200,000,000, or $400 a piece. What is there so valuable about a slave that does not pertain to a freeman? Mr. Mason, in the extract above, says, they raise the value of land. Do they raise the price more than freemen would? Contrast the lands of Massachussetts with those of Virginia or South Carolina, and then judge. He says they increase the exports and imports. True, but to nothing like the amount produced by a free laborer. As to their becoming soldiers in case of emergency, we imagine that that emergency will be severe indeed, which will induce South Carolina, or Louisiana to arm their slaves to repel a foreign invader. It is true that Mr. Mason was candid enough to admit that they were not equal to freemen in these respects, but southern patriarchs of the present day praise the institution as "the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world" - "the corner-stone of our republican edifice" &c. Suppose the State of Georgia has purchased 100,000 prime laboring slaves as $1,000 each. Their market value is $100,000,000. This is a very large sum surely. But are these 100,000 slaves worth any more to the State of Georgia than 100,000 of the working men of Massachusetts who were never sold in the market, are worth to that State? This latter State might just as well, yea, much better, boast of having a hundred million invested in free working men, as for a Southern State to pride itself on its slave property. The Philanthropist well remarks: "How men will suffer themselves to be deluded by words! What is it in a slave that is valuable? His body and soul would be worthless to the slaveholder, were he unable to labor. But, do not the free States own this species of property? Does not their laboring population perform indeed more labor than that of the slave States? What nonsense then to talk of the superior wealth of the latter because they own human property! The sole value of this property is its ability to produce - but, this ability, so far from being diminished by the enfranchisement of the laborer, is greatly augmented, as every one knows." Hence we see that this immense property of which we have heard so much, so far as the prosperity and strength of the State are concerned, amounts to nothing at all. If you look at the two and a half millions of slaves as men, you find them a set of of poor, miserable, ignorant, unskillful, unenterprising citizens. The South ought to be ashamed of them. They are so poor that they own nothing: so miserable that they are the pity of the civilized world - so ignorant that many of them cannot count the number at work in a field- so unskillful that northern mechanics have to build nearly all the machinery - and so unenterprizing that they live without beds, chairs, tables, knives and forks, or half enough clothes for comfort. What reason the South has to boast of them! On the other hand, if you look at. them as beasts of burden - as divested of the character of citizens - is having no more concern with the affairs of community than the horses with which they labor - the moment you view them in this light the population of the 13 slave States dwindles from 7,322,326 down to 4,812,873 citizens. In gaining so many valuable animals, the South loses an equal number of those who might become valuable citizens. The States, as such, are evidently losers by the exchange, unless they can demonstrate that human beings are worth more to the State when manufactured into cattle, than when exerting themselves as free and independent citizens.