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Address Of Chester Gurney Esq.: President Of The Michigan State Anti-slavery Society

Address Of Chester Gurney Esq.: President Of The Michigan State Anti-slavery Society image Address Of Chester Gurney Esq.: President Of The Michigan State Anti-slavery Society image
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It is a gratification of no ordinary kind to be permiited to address so numerous and respectable an auditory upon any occasion. But the pleasure is grcnlly enhanced wben thal occasion is the Anniversary of a Society whose princples and progresa hitherto, are calculated, not merely to arrest the attenlion of the philanthropist and the philosapher, but to enlist the deepest sympathy of the entire community, and even the wholec'vilized world : For if there be one subject more than nny other, whosb hearings and tendency upon the temporal and eternal interests of man, are purely benevolent and God-Iike, it is the promotion of the equal rights, and universal liberiy and brotherhood of man. In other wórds, the adoplion and practical consummation of that iruly, and only Iruly democratie as well as religious principie, so sublimely taught by the benign and adorable Redeemerof the world, "All things whatsoever, ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." And, fellow citizens, were the talents of your Speaker, in any degree equal to bis zeal and ardor in the giorious cause, none would leave this place unenlightened - none unmoved - none unconvcrled to the immensely important and ovenvhelming interests, which hau prodaced this groat and noble gathering. But I see, in the earnest and devoted countenances before me ('and I rejoice in the encouragingossurance) a pledge that whalever of truth may be evolved, nlthough in the garb of tho humblestmediocrity, will be kindly received and duly appreciaied. The aspects of the Anlislavery cause, as a civil, politicnl and religious enterpriso, are so various, interesting and absorbing, that it is wiih difliculty the mind can be brought. in the brief space allotted to an anni versary address, to the useful discussion in a consecutive form, of any one feature, so as to produce an enlightenedconviction in the mind,capable of leading it to intelligent, consistent and uscful action - and it need not here be said, that a conviction which produces no corresponding action, is entirely inconsistent with enüghtened reason and social progress. But, still something, nay rnuch can be clone. And it is proposed to occupy your attention a short time with a statement of some facts, and Üience drawir.g someconclusión, which, if successfully developed, will show you that the systeni of American Slavery as it is, (notthc utopk an system which oían}' of our staiesmen and divines have in their hcated imaginaiions, rearod in theory, bul which never did, never wíl!, and never can exist in fact,) is morally, civilly, and polilically DANGKRous - dangerous not mercly to our National welfare and moral progress, but lo our very exisionce, as a free, enlightcneci and republican nation. It might be supposed that a bare reference toour history and present condition and aspeets as a Nation, would be all that is necessary to convince us of the trqth of thiá proposition, startling as it is, that the fact, thatsome pf our íeading slatesmen, public officers and divines, have assumed the fenrful posilion, that there is one subject, or one instilution, entering largely into the very elements of our social, and even political condition, which may, not only, not be discussed, but not even named, without personal danger 10 him who shall have thetemerity to broívch it ! ! That the fact that for more than half a century, none but peíly despots and tyrants (1 speak advisedly in using these tilles ns will be shown bofore Iconclude) have beon nermitted as a rule, and with very few exceptions to that rule, to govern this nation, either civilly, judicially or politicnlly, were we not, as as a people, perfectly bjsoited, in our devotion to the slave power - would long since hnve aroused every citizen of this republie, lo his' utmost energy and exertioh, to throw oíF this wor&e than torpodo prostration at the shrine of oppression, ignorance, licentiousness and semi-barbarism. But, such alas ! is not the fact - and herein consistsour greal, if not our grealest danger ! ! Rome, Republican Rome, was for centurieb4, struggüng in the agonies of political dissolution, before, in her vanity and national pride, she was awareshe had already descended fur into the dizzy Macfcromof onarchy, despotism and political death. We too, seem not awaro, that like Rome we have long been, and still are, planting the fruitful seeds of depotism through our syslem of slavery and its hoxious influences ;and with it, like tliem, are preparing the way for the luxuriant growth of misrule, which, if not checked, will nece.ssarily, soon plunge us into the same vortex of anarchy, strife and bloodshed, by which our liberties must also incviiably bc overwheln.ed. When it is confessed by slaveholders themselves, that in Kenlucky and in nearly all ihe other Northern Slave States, there is probably, not a single! f all blooded African : when also, it is adopted asa principie, as it sin all slaveholdingstates, that any mixture of African b!ood on the molker's side, produces the contatninalion of degraded caste, w ho does not f-ee at once, that 'the way is rnpidly opening, noi only through the induceinents of the baser animal passions, but through tlie sordid urging of avance, covotousness, and loe of despoiic power, (even admitting what is utterly false ín principie, and absurd in ethics - tiiat the Afiican may, under any circumstances, be rightfully enslaved) for the utter degradation, and final ens'avement of much the largest portion of the Anglo-Saxon race in our nation ? But, fellow citizens. we are not left to our own deductions or reasoning, however cogent and conclusive, in endeavoring to arrive at a just conclusión in this matter. The hi-story of our National existence, upon the confession of slavelioldersthemselves, (and f rom tliem, as being in the eves of their supporters and npologisls of the chicalry, and 'herefore the most unexceptionablc witnesses, I shall draw most. if not all the tesiimony for this occasion,) is a history of dangers ; public, private and social, f rom ts earliest daw.Oj to the present moment. During the memorable stritggle of our revered sires (or National Independence, and while the immortal Lafayctte, driven by a superior British force, through the Carolinas and Georgia, unable, by the numerical weWneès of his army, to make a successful stand, called, with earnest and devoted palriotism, upon the people of South Carolina, and Ceorgia, who had i,s yet f urnished scarcely a man to iight the battlesof liberty, for assistance, to enable hiiT), with some hope of success, to face the common foe - what answer did he receive to his earnest appeal ? Let the secret journal of the Continental Congress of March 20th 1779, vol. 1. page 105, teil the shnmeful confession, by the mouth of Mr. Huger, sentón from South Carolina for ihfltt purpose. He said "that they were unable to make any eftectual efforts, with militia, by rea SON of the great proportion of citizens necessary to rema in at homc,to prevent insurreclion among the negroos, and prevent the desertion of them to the enemy- that thestate of i he country, and the great numbers of those pcople among ihem, exposé the inhabitants to greAt dangrrs from the endeavors of the enemy to excite them to revolt or desort." Think you, fellow citizens, the danger is diminished by lapse of time, and increase of knowledge of men's natural rights ? Think you the danger is less when the proportion of slaves to the whites, from being less than one-sixth, has now become but liitle less than one-jlflh? - and in several of the Slave States, a majority (saying noihing about the irc,Q colored people) of the entire population 1 Such was the appalling truth at our outset as a Naüon ! It is no crazy, fanatic ullraisin of modern abolitionists ; but matter of history, commencing with our national birth ! and it has alas ! but oo faithfully developed its true character, instinets and tendency, in our subsequent rogress. That this is true, is proved by our every step, as weshall see by looking only cursorily at the events of the Revoluüon, and times succeeding that period up to the present, and by exámining the opinions of our early patriots and siatesmen, as well as ihose of later days. The illustrious Washington left his soiemn íestimony, not only in the very commencement of our Constitucional existence - but at the close of his Presidential career, he gave ihis interesting and solemn warning ngainst the dangerous tendency of slavery. He says - " In contemplnting the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as' matter of serious concern, that any ground should have bpen furniahed for characlerizing parties by geographical discrimina' lions." Whothat has paid the slightest attention to tho history of our country has failed tosee the literal fulfilmentof this appalling prediction, in the almost numberless broils, jealousies, and heart-burnings exhibited on the loor of Congress end elsewhere, of one portion of the Union towards theothers, approachingsometime., to the very verge of civil war and intöstine commotion, arising directly from the merciles wickt-dness of the slave instimtions of ihe South, and the determiuation of southern soul-driving, soulselling, andsou'-destroying politicians, to rule or ruin the na: ion for the solé use, benefit and behoof oflhe peculiar - the very peculiar CRepublican ? ) insiitution. Madison, also, n namo which will command ihe respect of every well-wisher of his country, in the Convention which framed our abused and Jesccroted, vet glorious national Constitution, said : " The great danger to our General Government, is the great Southern and Northern intcrests of the Continent being opposed to eacli other." In the first Congress underthe new Conslitution, this same distinguished and honest patriot, speaking of the refusal of South Carolina ond Geornia to come into the Union, said, [and O ! that his words might sink, liUe molten lead, upon tlie consciences of modern Northern Democratie and Whig politicians] " Every adütion they [South Carolina and Georgia ] receive to their slaves, tends to weaken them, and renders them'esscnpable of self-dcfence. - In case of hostilities with foreign nalions, they will be the means of inviting atlack, instead of repclVing invasión." Jeflerson, hns also uttered iiis warning voice, in languoge so fervent, so philosophical and patriotic, and of such solemn ndmonition, thal it shouhl causo every thinking man to tremble. IJe says - " The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions - the most unremilting despolism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the othcr. - Our childrensce this and learn to imítate t. The parent storms, the child looks on, catches tlie lineaments of wratli, puts on the same aira in ihc circle of smaller slaves, gives loosc to the worst passions ; and thus nursed, cducuted, and doily exercised In tyranny, cannol but be stamped by it, with the most odiuus pcculiaritics. With what execration should the statesrmn be loadcJ, who, permitting one half the eitizons thus to tram pi e on the o'.her, transibrms those into drspos, these into eneviies; destroys the mor ah of the one part, and the amor palriac of the other. And can our liberiies be tho't secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a convicción in the mindsof the people, that ihcse liberties are the giit of God ? Indeed, I tremble for my country, when I reflect that God is just, ind that his justice cannot sleep foveer. " Monroe, succossor of Madison to the Presidenpy, has loít on record this brier, but pungent and alarming declaration, delivered in t"he Virginia Convention - " We have found that tbis eviJ [slavery] has preved upon the very vitáis of the Union."William Pinkney, in ihe Maryland [Jouseof Delegates in 1739 said - " Eteinal infamy awaitsihe abandoned mUcreant wliose selflshsouls could ever prompt tlium to rob unhappy Áfrico of her sons, and freight them hither by thousands, to poison the fair Eden of Liberiy, with ;he rank weed of individual bondage! Nor is ït more to the credit of our ancestors, thatihey did not command theso savnge spoilers to bear their hateful cargo to anothershore! But whorcfore should we confine the edgo of our censure to our ancestors, or those frorn whom they purchased 1 Are wo not equally guilty 1 - They strewed aroijnd the seeds of slavery - we cherished and sustained the growth. They introduced the system - we enlarge, invigorate and confirm it For shame, sir ! Let us throw ofT the mnsk ; 'tis but a cobweb one at bet, and the world will seo through it. Il will not do thus to talk like philosopbers, and act like unrelenting tyranls - to be perpetually sermonisingit, willi liberty for our lext, and actual oppression for jut commentary. Whatamotley appearance must Maryland at this moment make in the eyes of thoss who view her with deliberation ! ís shc not at once, the fair temple of freedom, and the abominable nursery of slaves - the school for patriots, and the fosler mother of fclty dcspots - the asserter ef human rights, and the patrón of wanton oppression. That the dangcrous consequences of this system of bondage, have not as yet been feit, does not prove thoy never will be. To me sir, nothing, for which I have not the evidence of my senses, is more clear, than thnt it will, one day, destroy that reverenee for liberty, which is the vital principie of a Republic." I might add the lestimony of Martin, Randolph, Brodnax, Curtís, Henry, Faulkner, and a host of other statesmen of the same period, of the Slavo States, all deprecating the dangers of slavery, but time will not permit. And now let us barely granee at the period of the late war wiih Great Britain. Doyou remember the history of New Orleans, and the State of Louisiana in the autumn of 1814 and winter of 1315 ! - If you do, you will not have forgotien the f act, and the admittcd necessily for thatfact - that Gen. Jacks.jn proclaimed, and for a long time, continued to enforce martial law, in the city and adjacent country - and what vvas tho avoiced and admilled cause for this enforcement of arbitrary military power, always dangcrous to civil liberty ? That which alone could have nuthoiized, or even been an j apology for it. The danger of sorvile j surrection - that danger that the accursed j oppressions of American [Reaiblicans ?] would fill the ranks of theenemy wiih fugitives from the institutionsof ourown land of blood and tyranny ; and thus pull down our glorious temple of liberty by means of the peity depotism nurtured in ourown busom. Anothcr fact in the history of Gen. Jackson's campm'gn in 1814 and '15 at New Orleans, will not to strike my intelligent audience, as, at the lime, a singular and terrible illustration of the dangers of slavery, and of the outrngeous falsehoods and iiigratitude of this government, in its support and perpetuation. - 1 ullude to another proclamttion of the same commnndcr, ofiering freedom to ihose slaves who would join his standard, and to the fact that a Regiment was soon raised under this promise, who nobly fought to defend their country, and to obtain their own liberty, and forced ironi the General, by their bravery and qooá conduct, a general order after the memorable ballle of the 8th of January 1815, promising thal their services should be suitably noticed and rewardcd by the nntion. But when and where was that just, honest and patriolic promise redeemrd by the Government 1 1 blush for my country, to be compelled to ac-knowledge - Nevcr ! no Never ! ! And tyhy ? Because it would show lo the na:ion and the world, laf, that emancipntion is perfecty safe - 2d, that tbc slaves love freedom, and would fight to obtain the precióus boon ; and 3d, that they aro capable of defendingthemselves. Thcrefore, strango and unaccountablo as it may appear} i they were never, even mentioxkd upon i tbc records of the war depurlment ! - These are but few of Hip manv evidences which might be ndduced, co;inectod with that portion of our nationat history. - But I must pass. And now we will npproaeh our own times, and the evidence of living slaveholders. John C. C;ilhoun, in bis speech on the Ashburton Treaty, AugïTst 1842, speaking of the closingof the slive maikets of Brazil, and their production of cotton, said " he had no objeeiion to see Brazil develope her resources to the ful I - but he didbeicpc thnt higher considertions, connected wiih her safelif, and thut of ths Spanish colonieíj made it theirinterest, ihat their market [for slaves] sliould be closed against the iraffic." Now, fellow citizens, if slnvery be a snfe, consistent and stable foundation for our Rcpulican Ediice, can you - eim Mr. Calhoun himself inform us, why it is not equally safe, consistent andstablo for Brazil ? The text is abundantly sufficient for the foundation of an entire address, but must bo left to your own roflections atid deductions, while I proceed tocite an authority to which some of my audience will doubtless bow with great respect and doference. ín the Senateof the United States on the 7th of Feb. 1S39, upon the discussion of the somewhat famous Gag Rulequestion, Henry Clay, speaking of the dangert apprehended by the founders of our present Constitution, said: - "The other cause, [of dnnger] Domestic Slavery, happily iho so!e remaining cause, which is likely to disturb our harmony, continúes to exist. It was this which created the greatest obstaele, and the most anx ious solicilude in the deliberations of the Convention that adopted the general Constitution. And it is this subject, that has ever been regardedwith the deepest anxiety, by all who nre sincerely desirous of the permanency of our Union, The Father of his country, in his last nfTecting and solemn appea! to his fellow citizens, deprecated, as a most calamilous event, " the geographical divisions, which it miglit produce." Then, why nor, Mr. Cliy, put it away ? Even at the hazard of wenrying my respecteá audience, I now proceed to read some passages froni Mr. Upsher'slate report as Secrelary of the Navy, in 1841, of a character, it would seem, to setile the question of the danger of slavery, f any evidence short of the testimony of actual experience, can influence our minds. You will ree. ollect this report was made under the expectation of a war wilh Great Britain, origina ting from the North Eastern boun dary difFiculties, and 1 need not say his rensonings and conclusioas, are of solema weight and import to us and to the nation. Among mány other argumente, which I amcorapellod to omil, Mr. Up. sher says- " If one of the European nations, to avenge a supposed injury - to draw olT a port ion of i!s belJigerent and trouulesorne, if not dangerous subjects, to gain the appiause due to those who re. lieve the oppressed, from cupidity, the desire to monopolize the trnde, from ambition, or from any other or worse motive, should send i fleet with 8 or 10,000 warriors, enen with the promise of promotion, [if net with a commission in his pocket] to take effect upon their arrival in America ; and land this nucleus of en army at or near Charleston, or somo other Southern port, oiTering ?ecuritv, free trade andspeedy fortune to the renegade whi es, and Uberiy and land to the blacks ; who can doubt, but that such an army, composed of the very elite of the military men of modern Europe, now out of employ and ripe for any warlike adventure, trained under Bonaparte, Wellington or Blucher, could, by such promísps, in a fevr week, seduce to their standard one hundred thousand able-bodied colored men ; and with these, march from New Orlennsor Augusta, to Philadelphia or New York, ravaging the intervening country with fire andsword; and laying evcry city, town and village along the scaboard under contribution ; and thus make us pay the expenses of the war England was deterrcd from daing this iluring the last war, onJy from a fea r of their own Islands. That ohock is now entirely removed. ït is obvious that a war thus conducted, musí be succeisfül to n very great extent, in spite of all the defences on land which we could contrive. Nothing lesst than the conversión of one half of our country into a military garrison could pro. lectus against it." With regard, lo. tle naval furce required by our then situaiioa and prospects-, Air. Upshur said : - " W'o cannot safely stop short of half ihe Na-, val forco of the stmngest maraiimo power ia the world. With less than this, our fleetá would oníy servo to swell the triumph, and foed the. cupidily of our en-, emy." The expense of a Navy suchas derribed and proposed hy tho Scretary, at the rale of expense of our prosent Na vy. wouïd cost us 850,000,000 annually, besides the cost nf constructian, which would probnbly exceed three times that. amount. VVhat a fearful, y et a faithful i-icture havo we here, without one word of the Seeretary's appalüng admissions in the same report, respecting th hoslile elements of our social system, bging arrayed against ench othpr,", wjth the vividness of tho üghtning's finsh, tho horrid volcano just ready to explode wiiii teniffic ruin benea;hour fee! ! We migfit ndd the opinions and nrgmentsof Prosi cient Tvler, Generáis Jessup n,d Butler, Col. Henderson, and many other slaveholders, mosily military men, to the same