New Orleans (LA) Picayune, "Runaways in Canada," August 9, 1856

Source citation
"Runaways in Canada," New Orleans (LA) Picayune, August 9, 1856, p. 6: 2-3.
Newspaper: Publication
New Orleans Daily Picayune
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Runaways in Canada
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Newspaper: Column
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Michael Blake, Dickinson College
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

Northern abolitionism is threatened with a rebuke, if not a check, from an unexpected quarter.  The people of Canada are getting to be restless at the number and quality of the runaways, which the underground railroad of the American kidnappers is pouring in upon them.  There has been but little pause in the zeal of cooperation among the philanthropists of the Northern States in seducing slaves from their masters, and hurrying them into Canada.  Most of the very States in which this practice flourishes best have laws which fix the negro race in a condition of political slavery, and habits which condemn it inexorably to social inferiority, and some of them positively exclude it  from the State, as unfit to be inhabitants.  It has been easy for these people to practice their depredations upon the South at small coast to themselves.  They could steal and help steal negroes by the thousands- for they felt no obligation to take care of them, and would not have them as permanent dwellers amongst themselves.  There is Canada at hand, into which they could hurry the runaway, and leave him to the chances of British hospitality.  An ignorant and idle class- and it appears also, frequently, a wornout and worthless class- are thus passed by the abolitionists through their own region, and rushed into that of Queen Victoria, to be a source of uneasiness and a burden there.  The Canadians have stood it for a long time, not without a little wincing.  They could not like to be made the general refuge for constantly increasing multitudes, which are dangerous as marauders or burdensome as paupers; for whom they would have to provide specially, in order to guard themselves against crime, and not to relieve them from absolute want by public charity.  they have been at last compelled to speak out - in their Parliament as well as in their public journals- and to begin considering how they are to abate this nuisance, and escape from the consequences with which it threatens them.   The subject has been brought before the Canadian Parliament, and a plan proposed and advocated there, and among the people, of providing by law for the return to the United States all persons immigrating there from into Canada who may be incapable of supporting themselves, or who may become dependent upon the public for support.

It is to be observed that in this project the question of civilization and humanity, which has figured foremost in pleas for the reception and care of escaped slaves, is disposed of and put out of the way altogether.  The Canadians will keep all the stolen or runaway negroes who can pay their way.  Those who are sick or feeble, too old or too young to work and provide for themselves, are to be sent or kept out of Canada.  Philanthropy, for its won sake, for the relief of the sick and the needy, the infirm or the old, will not pay; and the Canadians are unwilling to submit any longer to be taxed on these grounds.  They very naturally turn upon the American abolitionists and ask them to be at the cost of maintaining the pauperism which they have been so freely pouring into Canada.  the Quebec Mercury, in discussing this subject, says:

We say by all means let us have as many able bodied colored men as they can obtain, let us shelter and provide work and food for as many able bodied negroes and colored men of other shades and complexions as the country may be able to receive; let us take from the South, in fact, the men whom the slave owners would [illegibe] retain, and only send back those whom they wish to get rid of.  An act of Parliament should be passed without delay, by which persons from the United States, incapable of supporting themselves, should be returned to the country from which they came, whenever they become dependent upon the public for support.

The effect of this measure would be that the free States, on receiving a return of physically or mentally impotent negroes from Canada, would sent hem back to the South, and insist upon their masters supporting them, as by law they are bound to do.  On the other hand, an able bodied immigrant from the  United States ought to be just as welcome as from Europe, and it is little matter whether the man be black or of any other color.  As for the objections raised on the introduction of another race into the country, we are only sorry that there is not an immigration of able bodied and healthy colored labourers into Canada from the States, equal in amount to that from the old world.

The argument of this writer in favor of discriminating among these negroes, keeping the working ones, and sending the useless back to the free States, to be returned to their toasters, is strengthened by the calculation that most of the black fugitives worth having are males, and that, therefore, their progeny in Canada will be mulattoes, and the result will be an amalgamation, identifying them, in another generation, with the British races there.  The harboring of runaway negroes is thus treated as an emigration question, and a population question, for increasing the cultivation of Canada, and improving the breed of its inhabitants!

It would be a just retribution upon the Northern slaves stealers and their abettors if Canada could carry out this scheme, of turning back upon their hands for support the worthless and unprofitable part of their plunder.  The idea that it could be returned upon the South is an absurdity.  The men who establish depots, and employ agencies, and arrange transportation of fugitives from labor, have no way of identifying the parties whom they have robbed, and no means of returning the useless and burdensome plunder.  If the Canadians can succeed in establishing this discrimination, they will impose upon abolitionism a task which it has ever been found unwilling to undertake- that of contributing from its own means to a permanent provision for those whom it has seduced to abandon the homes where they had legal rights to provision, and always enjoyed it.

By and by, two consequences would follow.  The zeal of the anti-slavery plunderers would begin to abate sensibly, as soon as it was found that they had to bear the cost of their own exertions, in the necessity of keeping among themselves the useless and vicious multitudes, whom they have quietly got rid of heretofore by shipping them into her Majesty's dominions.

In the next place, the rule of discrimination once begun, the Canadians would find it difficult to draw the line to define what clack runaways would be good colonists.  The best of the slave population, in their new strange homes, in an uncongenial climate, and amidst forms of labor to which they are unaccustomed, and without any training of possible self-dependence, would be found to be an unproductive class of laborers, and in the main, a demoralized and dangerous class.  A few years' experience would justify the alarms which one part of members in the Canadian Parliament express against the whole class of American negroes as a nuisance, which no legislation, discrimination, or care, could convert into a desirable population.  The natural inferiority of the race, the total want of culture, the helplessness of a sudden relief from a life-time of restraints, and the inevitable  excesses of unregulated habits and passions, would soon prove that all schemes or separate colonization in Canada will be miserable failures, and that the disgusting amalgamation project will have no better success.  When they begin to look into their dealings with American abolitionism in this practical manner, taking account of what they are to loose or again by opening Canada to cheap use of their late customers, it will not be long before they will find that at the beat they have the worst of the bargain; that negrophilism ,while it contributes nothing to the immediate relief or permanent improvement of the American blacks, is a heavy charge and a weary burden to Canada.

The border States of the North would, doubtless, protest against the return upon their hands of the victims of whom they have already rid themselves, so much to their own satisfaction, at the cost of the Canadians.  But the stand taken in Canada might have the effect of making them more cautious in their plans of robbery.  They will not be so ready to encourage an indiscriminate exodus from the South, if they are to be held responsible in their purses for the support of all whom they cannot pass on into Canada as able workers.  The Canadian scruples of interest will have an even more powerful influence upon New England thriftiness and Northwestern heedlessness, in displaying to them the possible expensiveness of the underground railroad.  A few dozen turned back from the Canadian shore upon the support of the kidnappers who are hurrying them out of the country, would be preachers of patience under other people's afflictions, much more effective than a text of scripture, or a clause from the constitution of the United States.

We should like to see the effect of this argumentum in crumenam - the logic addressed to the purse of the abolitionist.  There would be a sensible abatement of the shrieks for freedom if the shriekers could begin to see about themselves the fruits of the policy they are attempting to force upon others, or be compelled to bear their share of the burden and the cost.  It would be a wise retribution if Canada would only gather together the wretches whom border philanthropy has made and emptied into her territory, and compel them to take care of their won victims and pay the cost of their own scheming.

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