In Advocacy of Enslaving the Irish – Philanthropos, 1838 (Satire)

In Advocacy of Enslaving the Irish – Philanthropos, 1838 (Satire)

This article was originally titled “A Measure of Expediency”, which was likely a title with a dual meaning,
one implying it is a measure rooted in expediency, and the other being a reference to the, implicitly presumed,
excesses of expedient thinking. There is a high probability this was written by Willian Lloyd Garrison, or
a supporter and was written for the purpose of utilizing the pro-slavery position to sway support from the
Irish and the broader lower classes who, often, were party loyal Democrats, they did this by advancing a
position that wholly disregarded moral conceptions, except only to demonstrate hypocrisy, this being the
intent of the author, and solely advancing slavery for the purposes of the accruing of capital. I have
transcribed it and am presenting it due, although satirical and written solely for duplicitous purposes,
to its’ novel presentation and thorough outlining of the position it intends to ridicule.

Mr. Garrison:-Believing that you are moved by a truly philanthropic spirit, and that you have sufficient liberality withal,
to grant those a hearing who may chance to disagree with you in some of your principles, I ask the privilege, through
the columns of your paper, of calling the attention of the community to a subject which has lately presented itself to
my mind, and which, I think, cannot fail to meet with the attention it deserves from the philanthropic of our land. From
what I know of your principles, I cannot suppose that you will do much to advance my project; but may I not indulge
the hope that you will at least refrain from any strictures which may discourage or disincline those who might otherwise
be favorably disposed to it. Let not the difference in our principles blind you to the merits of the proposed philanthropic
enterprise. And allow me to state in the outset, in order to guard against misapprehension, that I am no pro-slavery
man. I abominate slavery. I hate it as bad as you do, in the abstract. I wish it were never necessary; from my heart
I do.-But when our lot falls upon such evil times, and in such a state of society, that it is obviously for the benefit of
all parties, that some should be reduced to slavery, what would you have us do? Disregard the interests of all? March
blindly forward in pursuit of a shadow-or of something you cannot see at all, and in the face and eyes of acknowledged
expediency? I am aware that you are the advocate of this absurd doctrine; and herein lies your great error-herein
the people do not agree with you. You seem to derive your principles of action from some other rule than the simple
and long established one of ‘the greatest good of the greatest number.’ You would overlook a measure of the highest
expediency, if it chanced to contain a single wrong element, or form ever so slight an angle with the direct line of
your moral code. You attempt to balance, and even think to weigh down substantial gold and silver, by such shadowy,
unsubstantial things as truth and justice. Do not understand me to speak against truth and justice. They are very good
in their places, and ought to be more regarded than they are.

But when they are permitted to usurp the place of policy, to push aside expediency and the greatest good of the greatest
number, common sense teaches, does it not, that they are clearly out of their place? This disregard of expediency is the
fundamental error in all your doctrines-the unsound core at the centre of your writings. While you cling to it, the people
will not go with you. They have too much faith in things outward and real-things that they can see and handle and taste,
to exchange their good old doctrine of expediency, for your new-fangled one, Fiat Justitia ruat caelum. Now if you could
renounce your strong faith in each invisible things as truth and justice, or exchange it for faith in the solid products of the
earth-the real benefits of life, I think you would favor the project herein recommended. You must be aware, sir, that emigrants
from Ireland have been pouring into our free country for the last ten years, at such a rate, that we are now literally flooded
with Irish population. You must know, too, that many of them, are miserably destitute and vicious-and that multitudes are
to be found in our jails and poor-houses. It has long been a subject of deep and fearful interest with the patriotic of our
land, and the friends of humanity and good order, to determine how the rapid increase of this class of population could
best be checked, and how the existing portion among us could be best disposed of. A plan has lately suggested itself
to my mind, which I think perfectly practicable; and withal so expedient, that I am surprised it has sever been proposed
before. It may have been; if so, I have not seen it. The plan I have to recommend is this. That the legislatures of the
several States enact laws whereby all the Irish in our land, or all who have any Irish blood in them, derived through their
mothers, be reduced at once to slavery. Do not think from this proposition that I am friendly tol slavery. By no means.
As I told you before, I abhor slavery front my inmost soul. But circumstances seem not only to justify, but to call for this
measure. We ought, as philanthropists, to adopt it. For just examine the project in the light of expediency;-this is the
great test you know:-and you will perceive, I think, that there are many obvious advantages attending it;-and other
good reasons besides.

We know these people are here among us; and they are what they are. To ‘colonize’ them. or send them back to their
father-land, may doubtless scan to many as the most be-nevolent and christian-like method of disposing of them. But
this, it will be readily perceived, would be attended with immense expense to our country-so great as to render it
impracticable; and then the Irish themselves would not be much benefitted, so crowded is the population of the
Emerald Isle already. They must therefore remain among us. This being necessary, I hope to show, by the light of
expediency, that our government ought to reduce them at once to slavery. 1. First, it is manifest that the States have
a right to enact such a law. Most undoubtedly. Has not a free country the right to enact such laws as are expedient?
Surely no one but yourself, or they who adopt your ultra code of morals, will deny this. Nothing is plainer than that
a free State has a perfect right to enslave any portion of its own citizens, when, in the opinion of its legislators, such
policy is deemed expedient. Then, a fortliori, has she the right to enslave those who came, or whose ancestors came
from a foreign land. And not only has she the right, but it seems equally plain, that it is her duty to do so, whenever
the expediency of the measure can be demonstrated. The right and the duty are plainly correlative, and both
coincident wiith the right of enacting laws to promote the greatest good of the greatest number. 2. The right of our
free States to pass the proposed enactment being admitted, I proceed to show its expediency;-the duty follows of
course. And the first obvious advantage of this treasure that strikes me, is the remedy-it would bring to the crying
-evil of immigration. I think it would certainly have the good effect to keep from our shores all the sons of Erin, and
drive from among us many that are now here ;-the law leaving it optional with them either to depart or be enslaved;
-for even the most degraded of them would not probably relish the idea of becoming slaves. Thus our country
would be relieved of a great and oppressive burden, and the danger to the morals, institutions and liberties of
our free land, so justly apprehended from the increasing tide of population, would be effectually removed.

Further, consider what a source of revenue to our country, this measure presents. I am aware that this is an
argument which you will not appreciate. You cannot. You have no faith in the substantial treasures of life-in solid
gold. But the people have. And I arn sure that this argument will have its due influence with them; especially at
the present time, when every body wants capital.-Now in some of our towns there are more than one hundred
Irish families. And I should think, though I have no data which will allow me to be positive, that in many of the
States, they would average at least ten families to each town, and five persons to a family. And allowing them to
be worth $500.00 each-a moderate estimate-a capital of $25,000,00 in Irish slaves would at once be placed at
the disposal of every town in the country. And allowing an increase of only five slaves a year from these ten
families, at the price fixed above, we should have from this source alone, an annual income of 92,500,00 to
each town-a sum sufficient to support all our public schools. Then if they were placed under smart masters,
the value of their labor above the cost of their maintenance, would aflbrd a revenue more than sufficient to pay
the salaries of our ministers, and defray the expenses of the civil list. Thus it is plain that in a few years, every,
or almost every man among-us, would become independent-able to live like a prince. There might arise in some
minds, a question as to the manner of distributing or disposing of these slaves. I would recommend that this be
left with the county commissioners, or with a committee appointed by each town for the purpose. This committee
would be able to appoint toasters, who could get the most out of the slaves at the least expense, and the masters
should be required to render to them annually, an exact account of their proceeds,. There would be no public
expense, you perceive, save in the small item of whips, stocks, thumb-screws, and a few other such necessary
concomitants of our system;-for we have plenty of land to cultivate-much more than is now well tended.

Again, look at the benefit of this measure to the Irish themselves., And this is what, I think, as philanthropists and
republicans, we ought mainly to consider. The interests of the poor Irish have too long already been overlooked by
our government and much as I abominate slavery in the abstract. i cannot refrain from urging strongly, a measure
which cannot fail to commend itself to every benevolent mind by its near alliance to the best interests of this neglected
class, as well as to those of our beloved country. The Irish themselves may not-probably will not be able at once to
perceive the obvious advantage of such a policy to themselves. Why should they? They are most of them very ignorant
and vicious, and think that freedom is a mighty fine thing, because it affords them a better opportunity for vicious
indulgence. And very many of them having never enjoyed the luxury of decent food, clothing and lodging, do not
know how to appreciate them. So it is clear that their feelings are not to be taken as the test by which to decide the
point now under consideration. They are too ignorant to know what is for their own interest,—are mere creatures
of impulse, and would as likely decide against as for their own good. It would be unjust as well as inexpedient,
therefore, to leave the decision of the question to them. It can be rightly decided, like all other great questions
of state policy, only by wise and learned men-men of enlarged minds, who can take in at one glance the whole
field of human interests and political economy. Now, Sir, look at our Irish population. A small fraction of it perhaps,
respectable, educated, refined. A much larger, in our jails and poor-houses. And the largest of all, intemperate,
vicious, miserably fed, clothed and lodged. Many of them-really suffer for want of food and s shelter. They are
indolent, saucy, turbulent, and the chief disturbers of public order and good morals. They are really as unfit to
have the care of themselves, and to go at large, as ‘the lions and tigers’ of a,’ menagerie.’ They ought to be
caged-chained-reduced to slavery. Their own good not less than that of society demands it.

For there they would ail be taken from our jails, compelled to work, and comfortably clothed, fed and lodged.
And cases of actual suffering, which are now so frequent, would then be as rare as they are among the black
slaves at the south. And as to public brawls, and mobs, we should have comparatively none It of them-none
but by gentlemen. The only question in the matter that presents any difficulty, and which I would say a word
to remove, is in regard to enslaving all of the Irish-the respectable and educated, as well as the rest. In answer
to this difficulty, I would say in the first place, this number is quite small. And second, suppose it was not, men
are the property of the State now, as much as they were in the times of Lycurgus; and may therefore be disposed
of in the manner deemed expedient by her legislators. We may grant that it is a misfortune to these few, that
they fall within the proscribed class. But may not a State require a few of her citizens to suffer to promote the
greater good of all? Has she not the right to enslave, when the good of society demands it, as she has to take
the lives of her citizens for the public good? Certainly no one will deny. this, tot those-yourself perhaps atnong
the number-who profess to derive right from something else than expediency; andwould therefore take from
government all right or power of passing the most expedient law, if a single unrighteous element could be
pointed out in it. Government thus abridged of its inherent rights, would be a mere ghost of a government.
Society would be plunged into chaos and barbarism. With those who hold the fanatical doctrine, therefore,
that expediency does not make right, I shall not argue. This right to enslave the unexceptionable portion under
consideration, becomes plainer from its necessity. For who should determine, or how could it be determined,
what degree of intelligence and refinement is exempt from slavery? Or who possessed the requisite degree?
You perceive it would be impossible to draw the line.

And to make a distinction based on any amount of property, possessed, would, if not so difficult, be more unjust:
So it would seem equally right, and far more convenient and expedient to sweep the whole. I think if this project
could be presented to the minds of the people as it deserves to be, it has too much of expediency to recommend
it, not to be immediately adopted. If it be expedient, as I think has been clearly shown, is it not the duty of our
State governments to adopt it? If they can thereby improve their own condition and the condition of the Irish, are
they not bound to do it, just as much as our Southern brethren are to continue their system of negro slavery?
No one can reject the project, who has any faith in the visible realities of life, and is not wholly reckless of his
own and his country’s interests, and of the great principles of human government. Let the wise, the philanthropic
and patriotic of our land, weigh the subject carefully. And if they think expediency a good and suffic-ient basis on
which to rest the question of the continuance of slavery at the South, let them be consistent, and show their
philanthropy by espousing the expedient measure above proposed.

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