This an interesting take on that peculiar institution.
Piney Flats, TN
The Daily Dispatch: March 6, 1865.
Monday morning...March 6, 1865.
Lord John Russell winds up his latest speech on American affairs with the expression of his great satisfaction that the war will put an end to the horrible barbarity and sin of slavery.
Now, here is "a angel," a regular angel, with the wings, as Mr. Thackeray would say, sprouting visibly from his shoulders an immaculate, semi-hating angel, too good for this world, and deserving to be prime minister in some better and brighter sphere than this fallen planet. This unhappy war, most sad for Earl Russell to think of, and truly afflicting to all lovers of humanity; but then, drying his eyes, there is this consolation, quoth the angel, that the reign of sin and Satan, in the shape of human slavery, will thereby come to an end.
Is it not possible, we ask with profound reverence, we should abhor ourselves for indulging such a suspicion, were it not sanctioned by high authority, that Satan sometimes appears in the form of an angel of light? Is he ever so execrable, is he ever so disgusting, as in that particular form? When he walks out in his proper uniform, with his sooty countenance, his horns and tail, cloven feet and pitchfork, he makes a much less revolting appearance in every way than when he dresses himself in the "livery of the Court of Heaven" and undertakes to reprove sin. It is worthy of observation, that whilst the Divine Founder of our Faith never uttered a word against slavery, but, on the contrary, enjoined servants to be obedient to their masters, the most fearful denunciations that ever fell from his lips were directed against hypocrisy. What a dreadful suspicion it is that Lord John Russell may be the greatest hypocrite on the face of the earth !
If slavery be the sum of all wickedness and crime, whose approaching over throw fills his benevolent soul with such seraphic satisfaction, why has he advised his countrymen that they may sell muskets, shells, gunpowder and cannon to the party that perpetrates, equally with the party that opposes, that most horrible crime? that they may sell ships like the Alabama to those outrageous criminals, to worry and devour and drive from the ocean the nation which is laboring to overthrow the great sin against humanity? Is it possible that the sin and iniquity and total depravity of the United States having ships and commerce is an even more hideous and appalling crime in the British code of morality than human slavery?
The ingenuous angel admits that "it was the crime of Englishmen to introduce slavery to America"--a fact which is too evident for even Exeter Hall to deny. Yes, it was their act, against which America in vain remonstrated; and, being so, why do they make us responsible for their crime? We did not bring the negroes here. They might have lived in Africa to this day for any agency that we ever had in removing them from their native land. If there was a crime in bringing them, Englishmen were the criminals. But here they are, brought by those Englishmen, as Russell himself admits; here Englishmen planted the tree, and watered and nourished it until generation has succeeded generation, and the institution has become so interwoven with the whole framework of society that to pull it down is to overturn the whole social structure. We have done the best we could with the people forced upon us by the British Government; we have transformed them from naked heathens and cannibals to worshippers of the true God; we have fed and treated them well, as their rapid multiplication proves. If the act of Russell's slave-trading ancestors was a crime, why must we, the innocent inheritors of the property purchased by our ancestors from his ancestors, be made to suffer the penalty of their iniquity? Or, if it is our duty to give up the slaves, give us back the consideration, Lord John Russell, which our ancestors paid to your ancestors for them, and which your countrymen have put into their own pockets. If American slavery is a crime, let England disgorge all the ill gotten gains which she has derived from that system. If it is our duty to give up slavery and all the wealth of which it is the foundation, then it is the duty of England to give up all the accumulated treasures which our slave labor has poured into the lap of her commerce and manufactures, so that no living man, no corporation, no city in England, shall continue to own a dollar's worth of property of any kind which is the product of the slave trade or of slave labor. Does Lord John Russell hold that the original African thief, and the principal receiver of the profits of the stolen goods, is the only criminal who is not to do penance for the crime?
When this exemplary and philanthropical and pious peer rejoices that this unhappy war will bring this consolation to all saints, that it will put an end to the great sin and crime of slaveholding in America, is it possible that, by that shuffling, canting, Pecksniffian talk, he simply means that all pious, excellent, holy persons in England will be consoled for the afflictions that America has suffered in this war by her future inability, in consequence of the abolition of slavery, to raise any more cotton and have any more commerce? We know, well enough, that if Africans are going voluntarily to cultivate the soil in the Southern States, to become industrious, systematic, productive laborers, it will be the first example of the kind in the whole history of the world. He knows from Jamaica, from St. Domingo, from every spot of earth where the experiment has been tried, that free negro labor, instead of converting a wilderness into a garden, converts a garden into a wilderness. He knows that the only result of such experiments is the ruin not only of the soil, but of the African race, who, left to themselves, uniformly relapse into depravity and barbarism.--Yet, with this knowledge of this fact, attested by all history, he expects us to believe that it is the probable extinction of the "crime of slavery," and not the probable extinction of the property of America, which fills his soul with joy and gladness. It is the disappearance of a foul blot upon humanity, not the disappearance of a commercial and manufacturing rival from the world, that transports his sainted soul with holy rapture. Of all the disgusting shapes in which human natures ever appear, surely this thing of hypocrisy is the most nauseating, vile and intolerable.