The State And Slavery -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 019:76 (Oct 1862)
Article: The State And Slavery
Author: E. P. Barrows


The State And Slavery

Prof. E. P. Barrows

The treatment received by the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, too truly represents the fate that has overtaken the question of American slavery. It has fallen into the hands of partisan politicians, and been made by them a powerful engine for the advancement of sectional interests, while the true welfare of the nation as a whole, and of the slaveholding states in particular, has been forgotten. This was not always so. It is well known that the patriots of the revolution, both North and South, regarded slavery as a great evil, and earnestly desired its extinction.

“Slavery has been opposed by eminent men in America from the beginning. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Jay, Hamilton, and many more of those who took a conspicuous part in laying the foundations of the government, regarded slavery as a great evil, inconsistent with the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the spirit of Christianity, They confidently expected that it would gradually pass away before the advancing power of civilization and freedom; and, shrinking

from what they regarded as insurmountable obstacles to emancipation in their own time, they consented, in the formation of the constitution, to give the system certain advantages, which they hoped would be temporary, and therefore not dangerous to the stability of the government.”1

This statement admits of abundant corroboration from the documents that have come down to us from the early history of our government. Mr. Jefferson attempted to incorporate into the Declaration of Independence a clause reproaching Great Britain in the most severe terms for the introduction into the colonies of slavery and the slave-trade, which he calls “a war against human nature itself,” and a piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers.” But the clause, being objected to, was struck out.2 Again, in 1787, when the ordinance was passed excluding slavery from the territory north-west of the Ohio river, all the Southern States then represented in Congress voted in its favor; and, according to Mr. Benton, it was “pre-eminently the work of the South. The ordinance, as it now stands, was reported by a committee of five members, of whom three were from slaveholding states, and two (and one of them the chairman) were from Virginia alone.” 3 This ordinance was coeval with the formation of our present federal constitution, and the Southern States insisted upon the insertion into it, as into the constitution, of...

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