The Right to Enslave – Unknown, 1861

The Right to Enslave – Unknown, 1861

Liberty, it was once said, was the inalienable right of all; but men having observed certain stubborn facts, they are now
little pleased to see how they were led to believe in a falsehood so manifest. All who are free can do as they like; none
can do as they like, therefbre none are free. All are conscious of being in many ways restrained from some things and
compelled to do other things. No one is free who, on account of expediency, acts contrary to his inclinations. It is but
seldom that any man can do as lie likes best to do. No one has the right to do wrong. No an iron collar. From the stern
necessity of the case, this must, be the idea, unless they would agree with thieves, the persons strenuous for the true
meaning of the word. But they glide from the professed meaning to the true, frequently without being aware of it; and
whenever it is the object to carry some favorite measure by exciting enthusiasm or fanaticism, the true meaning is
used. It is by this constant use of the true meaning, when another meaning is pretended, that the Ship of State is at
length stranded. “Give me liberty or give me death,” is one of the phrases lacquered over with this fantastic glitter;
but the brass is instantly tarnished, when common sense substitutes good gorernment fbr liberty. And what is a good
government? Is it a free government? The first object of any possible government is to interfere with the freedom of men;
it is to compel them to do some things and refrain from other things. A government may derive just powers from the
consent of the governed, but as they are often led to consent to what is unjust, a better warrant exists in the fact that just
powers ought to receive the consent of the governed. A government, good and suitable for some, is unfit for others; and,
for many, slavery is the best form of government when rightly administered. Suppose two boys, armed with penknives, begin
a fight in the presence of a man who, without interfering, looks on with indifference or pleasure for an hour till both are
exhausted. Is that man blameless or guilty of murder? When two nations are at war, it is deemed right for a third to interfere,
that is, technically, to mediate, not only with words, but with force sufficient to make a just peace instantly, and that without
the request of either of the hostile powers; and if a nation, able to mediate, neglects it it partakes of the guilt of the other two.

When a whole tribe continually does wrong, being worse than any two civilized nations engaged in war, “filled with all
unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity;”
when they have continued thus several thousand years, indolently neglecting to provide for their wants, and every one
hurting himself and his neighbor, it is manifestly not right for them to live so, and they have no right to live so a single
day. Is not interference as necessary, as when two nations or two men are hostile? Proper mediation would make a
murderous, barbarian tribe a large civilized nation. Good advice, the cheapest kind of mediation, is not the most effectual.
They need a man to mediate who would mildly use the proper means to bring them to subjection, superintend all their
affairs minutely, persuade and compel them to labor as they ought, defend them from enemies, prevent crimes hurtful
to themselves, and so, from the first, confer benefits before unknown. What can be more just than for them to pay the
expense of the very great benefit received when enslaved to those who govern them rightly? Men are neither willing
nor able to bear the great expense of such mediation, especially when they consider the risk and the opposition from
the worshippers of liberty. So without the profits of their labor the benefit cannot be given. Who have the right thus to
interfere? Any who are able. Those able and willing to exercise such power rightly should not hesitate to confer the
benefit. If they neglect it, they partake of their iniquity. It is not the design here to contend that every half civilized man
has the right to enslave any other man, who is not above one-half a savage, and treat him with undue severity ; but
rather to illustrate the principle that men should do to others as they might wisely wish others to do to them. Suppose
all the earth highly civilized, except a single isolated tribe, as indolent and vicious as the blacks in Africa. ‘Would it
be right for the rest to leave them for ages to themselves? Or should they, viewing them as incompetent persons,
immediately give them the best government they were capable of receiving?

Ought not the tribe to consent? and would they not consent if wise? Would the best be a republic which would do little
else than lay taxes, punish part of the crimes, and let them be as idle as they chose for generations to come? Should
they not rather have guardians to do as well as possible for them, hour by hour, as on the best of the Southern plantations? According to the higher law, every offence and fitilure in duty, idleness especially, is ground for punishment, when justice
is strictly executed and those who will not perfbrm the labor necessary for their own best interests, should be compelled
to perform it, and be punished for previous neglect, and they can have no claim to any kind of government which would
fail to compel them ; that is, the millions of savages in Africa and other places have no right to any other form of government
than slavery. Slavery is a government which, when rightly administered, does nothing wrong, but executes justice more
strictly than any other. aising it; and the shop of the shoemaker is more destructive than the rice plantation. In such unhealthful employments many thousands at the North are forced to bury themselves, and to these employments they are tied down,
and are unable to exchange them for others more suitable, except at wages so inferior as to make the prospect less tolerable.
Still, while competing for the privilege of toiling in the most sickening drudgery, they boast of liberty, and dream of making
others as free as themselves. Families are continually separated in order to obtain less painful situations, in which, by
labor, to weary themselves ; and multitudes are unable to support and have a wife, and so have reason to complain that
their wages are less than the wages of slaves, while their work is harder. Emancipation can never give liberty. It is but the
substitution of one government for another; whether more just, more agreeable, and attended with fewer abuses, would
depend less on the formalities, of that government than on the character of those concerned-people, chiefs and neighbors. Emancipation is a sin in many cases; it is so in most cases where those emancipated would make progress back toward
barbarism. If they were as fond of labor as the Chinese, and as fond of hoarding money as they, it might be done with more
propriety than at present.

The history of the world gives abundant information concerning the working of the various kinds of government, republics
and empires-some tyrannical, and others the best that have existed; and it gives one well-marked example of the results
of liberty. The experiment was continued not a few years only, but for a very long time, so that a thorough trial was made.
The people had a wide extent of rich country entirely for their own use, The most perfect liberty possible for men they
had; and they must have had that liberty for many centuries, with gold beneath their feet—none to interrupt. The natives
of Australia were strongly fixed in the opinion that they all were equal. They would acknowledge no one as a chief, and
would do nothing that could imply that any one was superior to another. They had no kind of established gov-ernment
whatever; and if they cannot lay claim to the fruits of liberty then none can.

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