Washington (DC) National Era, “Exemption of Slave Property,” September 10, 1857

    Source citation
    “Exemption of Slave Property,” Washington (DC) National Era, September 10, 1857, p. 148: 3.
    Original source
    Charleston (SC) Courier
    Newspaper: Publication
    Washington National Era
    Newspaper: Headline
    Exemption of Slave Property
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Patrick Sheahan, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    From the Charleston Currier.

    We find the following paragraph in the Cheraw Gazette:

    “The Commercial Convention. – This body adopted a resolution in favor of State legislation, to secure to every slave-owner one slave, exempt from sale by execution. This resolution we consider to be a move in the right direction. We believe the institution could in no other way be so effectually strengthened, as by such exemption to a much greater extent. The pillars that now sustain the British Crown are her laws that prevent the entire alienation of property. And such would be the effect of similar legislation in sustaining the institution of Slavery. Let the industrious man, who sets out in the world to earn a living with his own labor, be assured that an investment in a slave will be placing his hard earnings beyond contingency, and he will soon become a slave-owner.”

    There is much to recommend the adoption of this proposition of the Convention. There can be no doubt but that, as the Gazette says, the institution would thereby be very greatly strengthened. For though it may be a very melancholy commentary upon the weakness of poor human nature, it is nevertheless the truth, that the opinions and sentiments of the larger portion of mankind are not the result of examination and reflection, but rather of interest and education, not to say of prejudice. And it is with the institution of African Slavery, as it is with everything else, very sadly to our disadvantage too; for if “the world” would but hear us in the argument – if it would lay aside preconceptions and prejudice and sentimentality, and accept facts and logic, our form of society would have a better chance of being recognized in its true character.

    And, for that matter, if the men of the South would rid themselves entirely and at once and forever of the prejudices which have come up from abroad, it would be the better for all concerned. But it will not be so. Those of us of course, who examine into the theory and practical working of African Slavery, are convinced of its justice and value. But all of us have neither the time nor the inclination to make such an examination. So it is that the larger portion, perhaps, of slaveholders, are slaveholders from interest, or because they happen to be. They never inquire into the propriety of the matter, but just do as others do. Their ancestors owned slaves, and they own them; they see their neighbors buying slaves, and they buy them. They invest their money in this sort of property, just as they invest it in cattle or real estate, leaving to others to discuss the right and justice of the thing. It is needless to add, that this class of slaveholders are likely to give the strongest practical support to “the Constitution,” and to hearken very little to the nonsense of the apostles of reform. And “when these things are so,” it would seem to be the part of a wise legislator to take advantage of them. Every new slaveholder is a positive and certain increment in the strength of African Slavery. Whoever owns his negro servant is going to talk for him, vote for him, and, if necessary, fight for him. If the realization of this proposal of the Commercial Convention, therefore, will encourage the investment of money by the middle classes of the people in this sort of property, there can be little doubt but that it would give strength to our institutions and form of society, and be of lasting benefit, therefore, to the whole South.

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