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Communications: Rights Of The Slave

Communications: Rights Of The Slave image Communications: Rights Of The Slave image
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Messrs, Edit&rbi - I have long boen of the opinión that anti-slavery men and the anti-slavery pres do not tafce broad ground enough ín maintainfng the pmctical rights of the slave. ït is trae that they all contend that he has alT the natural rights that any other man hasj and our Fathera proclaimed the sêtms thing in the Declaration of Independence, and then framed and adopted a Constítatíon which sanctioned the enslavement of a large portion of the peopie. The reiteration of these rights does no more good now than then, if there be nopractical use mada of them. And how shall we carry these principies into practice? I wiiï not undertake to enumérate the acts a man should perform to maintain the natural rights of himself and his countrymen; but I will state a few things which ín my humble opinión he ought not to do. He ought never to decline assístance to a renaway slave through fear of the slaveholder, nor frora his regard fcsr any law that was ever made by the, guilty peopie of this nation to sustain slavery. I do not mean to say that erery man has a right for any and every cause to get up an insurrection against a kw that he believeo to be wrong, but he has a moral right to disobey any law that is contrary tö natural right, and suffer the penaliy, ifh cannot escape it. Every slave has a nat uraï right to líberty ana consequently a moral right to maintain and defend it. - Then if it ís morally right for the slavo to maintain his liberty, it cannot be mor rally wrong to assist him ín doïng an act which ís ín iiself right. I do not say that any man ís under any obligation to hazard his life or his property in defending theliberty of íhe slave, (unless he has been a party lo his enslavement,) but if he ís disposed to do so, hís act is morally right so far as its direct tendency ís to assist the slave ín doing that which it is morally right for the slave to do; though by so doing he viólate all the laws in Christendom. Th en the sentiment I wish to advanee and maïntain when summed up and condensed, amounts to this, that all laws created for the purpose of mainfainingsla very, ought to be entirely disregarded by all men. except from fear of their penalties. One of the great principies of the abolitionists is that there is no moral obligarion to obey a law that requires the performance of a wrong act, and if there is no moral obligation to obey such a law, there cannot be any obligation at all% and if there is no obligation to obey, obcdience then becomes a naked act of voluntary wickedness. The slave hasi right peaceably to assume his liberty, that is to walk away from the premises of his pretended owner, and seek his own happiness in hia own way, so long as he does not interfero with the rights ofothers. He has additional claims upon the people of this country. They have long held hím as a prisoncr of war of the most unfust charactei ; the war was commenced upon him when he was reduced to slavery, at whatever age if might be. Thev, fhe peoole.have oppressed him wrongfully and wickedly, and are moraUy bound to redress the wrongs they have inflicted upon ]iim. They, the people, are his coramon enemy and if they reíuse to make an honorable peace with him, and to restore to him his natural rights of which they have deprived him, he has a right to regain his riglits by contesting or evading the power of his enemy as he best can: he has a right to use their property for that purpose, wherever and whenever hecan find it. If while peaceably abouthis own business he be assailed, he has a right to defend himself; and he has a right to seize from his enemy the musket or the bayonet for fhat purpose; or the horse on which to make his escape. It has been repeatedly decided by the highest courts in this country and in Eng. land that the laws of slavery are local in their eflects, and do not extend beyond the limits of the State that enacts them. Consequently the moment, a slave escapes trom a slaveholding State to a non-slaveholding, State he is restored to all his nataral rights. So far as slave laws aro ïoncerned, he is as Cree as when roamng in the wilds of África, and is entitled o all the rights of self defence whichJong to other citizens of the State. It is true that there is, in the case supposed, one reguJarly commissioned land pirata with the power to employ special agents, authorized to pursue and capture the man (not slavc, for his shackles have fallen off,) and reduce him to slavery. This Pirate is commissioned by the People of the United States of America in Congresa assembled, at the city of Washington. - Yes, by "the People of the United States" -Yes, reader, you and I as part of the people, regularly commission land pirates to come among us, and capture the fugitive whom porhaps we have just fed an'4.


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