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To The Abolitionists Of The United States

To The Abolitionists Of The United States image
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I was commissioned by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, to present a memorial from them lo your President, and proceed to Washington a few days rjto, accompaniod by John G. Whittier,oí Massachusetts and a frlena nrum uiu auuu of Delixware. ít was rny first visit to the scat of legis!ation of your great republic. On our arrival wowent tí the House of Representativa, ihen in session. A member from Maryland was speaking on our entrance, who was the authorof a resolution which liad beon carried in a former Congress, excluding nearly three millions of your countrymen, on whom every species of wrong and outrage is committed with impunity, from all rightofpetition, either by themselves or their friends. He was advocatTng the reenaetment of this very resolution for the present Congress, and slated that he had a letter from your President approving the measure. Allhoughl believe í do not speak loo strongly when I say an attempt to enforce such a resolution byany crowned liead inthe civilized world wou Id be inevítáfbly fullowed byarevolution, yet t seemed evident that no small p'ortion of ymir present members were in favor of it. It w&s with no ordinary emotion that I sawthc venerable ex-president AckiTür at his post, uoïAy cuntenüing against this violation of tho rights of his countrymen, and I could not but regret 4hat, with one or two exceptions, he appeared to find litlle support from his young ercotieagues from the free stales. The same day we visitedone of the wol! i KnowT) elave trading cstablishments at Alexandria. On passing to it we were shown the costly mansion of its late propri etor, who has recently retired on a large property acquired bythesaleoi native bom Americans. In an open enclosure, with high walls which it 3 impossible to scale, with a slrong iron-barred door, and in which we were told that therc were sometjmes from three to four hundred persons crowded, we sawabout fifty slaves. Amongst the number thus incarcerated was a woman with nine children, who had been crueliy separated from their husband and falher, and would probably be shortlyj sent to New Orleans, wliere they wouíd never be likely to see him again, and where the mother may be forevcr severed frora every of her children, and each ofthemsoldto a separate master. - l'rom whence we want to the Alexandria cty jai!, where we saw a young man who was admitted to be freo even by the jailer nimseli. He had been seized and commilted in the hope that he might prove a slave, and that thé party detoïning him would receive a reward. He had been nept there nearly twelve.months because lie could not pay the jail fee?, nnd, instead 01 oblainingany redress for false imprison! ment, was about to be sold into slavery tor-a term, to reimburse these fees. The next morning I was desïrous of hand ing to the President the Memorial, of wnich the following is a copy. We omitthe memorial for want of room. I thought it most candid to address a letter to the President, informing him of thecharacter of the foregoing memorial, r&Uier than take advantage of a merely iormal introduction to present it without such an explanation. To this letter no reply was r'ïcfiivecl, nor was there an allusion madeto it by the Presidentatat subsejucnt introduction whicli we had to him It may be proper to state in this connection, tnat memorials of a similar character, bear'ng upon the slavc trade and sla very ,signed y the venerabte Clarkson, have been preented to different heads of governmentp, m other parts of the world, and have been uniformly received with respecr. Previoua to our departure, we visited a private slavetrading establishment in the city, and looked in upon a group of human bcings herded together likc cattle for mar Ket, within an enclosure of high brick valla surrounding the jail. The young man in attendance informed us that there wsre five or six other regular slave-dealers ia the city, who, having no jails of their own, either placed their slaves in thistablishmenf ,or in the public city PRISON The former was generally preferred, on account of ts superior accommodations in respect to food nnd lodging. On my making some rernarks to the young man on the nature of his occupation, he significantly,and, as I think very juslly replied that he kncw of noreason lor condemnine plave-traders. which did not equally anply to slave-holdcrs. You wil] bear in rnind that this was said wiihin view of the cap itol, where slave-holders control your nationallegislation,and within a few minutes walk of that mansion where a slaveholder sits in the Presidential chair, placed there by your votes; and it is certainly no marvel, that, with such high examples in his favor, the humble slave-dealerof the District sliould feel himself in honorable company. and really regard his occupation as one of respectability and public utility. From thcnce we proceeded to the city pnson, an old and loathsome building where we examincd two rangos of small stone celis, in which were a largo number of colored prisoners. Wc noïiced five or six in a single cell, barely largc enough for a single tenant, undcr a heat as'intensnas that of the tropics. The keeper stated hat inraiiiv seasons the prison wns nn_ comfortably wet. .face nací to usa minfül interest, fröin the fuct that here )r. Crandall, a citizen of the freo States, vas confineduntil hisheaUh was complete .y broken down, and was iinally released only to fiad a grave, for the crime of havng circulated a pamphleton ernancipation vriten byoneofthe friends who accomanied me. On nquiry of the keeper, he nformed us thatslaves were admitted into lis cel Is, and kepi for their owners at the ate of 34 cents perday, and that transfers f them trom one master to another some imes took place during thcir confinement - thus corroborating the testimon)' of the teepor of the private jail before mentioned lat this city prison, the property of the eopleofthe United States, and for the )uilding of which a large sum of your mony has been appropriated, is made use of y the dealers in human beings as a place f deposite and rnarket; and ihus you, in omrnon with your fellow ci'.izens, are made indirect participators in a traffic eual in alrocity to that foreign trade, the uppression of which, to use the words of your President in his late message, "is required bythe public honor and the prompt ingsof humanity." As one who bas devotcd much of his humble Iabors to the cause you wish to promote, I perhaps shall be excused for thua staling these facls to you, as they all passed before my personal obaervation, n in the course of a few hours. Recollect they all occurred and exist within the District of Columbia, and that those who elect the legislators who uphold the slave system are justly responsible for it in the sight of God and man. Is it not all the natural consequences of your electingslaveholders and iheir abettors to the higheat offices of your state and nation? Some of your most intelligent citizens have given it as their opinión that fully two thirds of the populatton of the United States are in favor of tho abolition of slavery;and my own observation, since I landed'on these shores not only confírms this opinión, but has convinced mo that thero is a very rapid accession to their number3 daily taking place; and yet we have the extraodinary fact exhibited to the world, that about two hundred and fifty thousand slave-holders, a large proportion of whom, bankrupt in fortune and reputalion, have involved many of the North in their disgrace and ruin, hold in mental bondage the whole population of this great republic, who permit themselvea to bc involved in the common disgrace of presenting a spectacle of national inconsistency although without a parallel. I confess that, although an admircr of many of the institulions of your country, and deeply lamentirig tho evils ofmyown government, I find it difïïcultto reply to those who are opposed to any ex tensión of the political rights of Englishmen, when they point to America, and say that where all have a control over the legslation but those who are guilty of a dark skin, Slavery and the Slave-trade romain not only unmitigated, but continue to extend; and that while there is an onward movement in favor ofits extinction, not only in England and France, but even in Cubia and Brazil, American legislators cling to this enormous evil, without attempting to relax or mitígate its horrors. Allow me therefore, to appeal to you by every motive which attaches you to your country, seriously to consider how far you are accountable for this state of things by the want of a faithful discharge of those duties for which every meruber of a republican government is so deeply responsible; and may I not express the hope that, on all future occasions, you will take care to pro mote the election of none as your representatives who will not practically act upon the principie that in every clime, aad of every color, "all men are eiual." Your sincere friend,