« PreviousContinue »
The states in which slavery at pre- in the production of the long staple, or sent prevails are fifteen in number, sea-island cotton-a species of vegetable and occupy the southern and south- wool, which excels every other in the western part of the Union. With the length of its fibre, and almost rivals silk exception of Kentucky and Missouri, in strength and softness."—White Slade, they are all south of the parallel of P. 360'30' N., and skirt the shores of the This fringe extends inland for Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico; or (as twenty or thirty miles. To the lower is the case with Arkansas, Missouri, lands tbe negroes repair at the proper Kentucky, and Tennessee) lie along season of the year, and put in, tend, the great rivers which traverse the or reap the sea-island cotton and rice, wide valley of the Mississippi. · The which yield great returns. The white free population of those fifteen states masters, and even the overseers, visit is 6,393,758, and the number of them as rarely as possible, the climate slaves they contain 3,175,783.
in the hot season being rife with fever, It is interesting to remark how in and fatal to the constitution of the this, as in so many other parts of the white man. world, the home of slave labour and Within this fringe of rich low-land, of permanent slavery is, in a great to which the black skin is only better degree, determined and limited by suited than the white, lies a belt of climatic, physico-geographical, and barren sand, generally unfit for cultigeological conditions. It is along the vation, and which, for hundreds of immediate coast-lines of the Atlantic miles in length, girdles in the flat and of the Mexican Gulf, and along the fertility of the Atlantic coast. Exbanks and branches of the great Mis- tending inland to a distance of eighty sissippi, that slavery found at first, and or a hundred miles from the coast, still finds, its most congenial abode- and occupying in South Carolina, for we had almost said its natural dwell- example, one-half of the surface of ing- place. A fringe of rich low the state, this region forms, as most land, varying in breadth, skirts these American travellers have seen, seas and rivers, and yields the rice
“ One of the most barren, miserable, and sugar and cotton which are the
uninviting countries in the universe. staples of southern culture. Such is
general, the soil is nothing but a thirsty the tract of country in South Carolina
sand, covered for miles and miles with and Georgia, which produces the
forests of the long-leaved pine. These famous sea-island cotton. The coast tracts are called, in the expressive phrase from the Santee river to the Saran of the country, pine barrens. For a nah in the former state, and south great distance inland, these barrens preward into Georgia, consists of
serve almost a perfect level, raised but a
few feet above the surface of the sea. A series of islands,—the famous sea The tall, straight, branchless trunks of islands of the cotton markets. The main the seattered pines, rise like slender land, which is separated from these columns, and are crowned with a tuft of islands by innumerable narrow and wind.
gnarly limbs, and long bristly leaves, ing channels, is penetrated, for some dis
through which the breezes murmur with tanoe inland, by a vast number of creeks a monotonous sound, much like that of and inlets. The islands present a bluff falling waters, or waves breaking on s shore and a fine beach towards the ocean, beach... but the opposite sides are often low and “Throughout this extent of country marshy. They were originally covered there are only some small traets, princiwith a maguificent growth of the live or pally along the watercourses, which the evergreen oak, one of the finest trees costly and thriftless system of slave anywhere to be seen. The soil is light, labour has found capable of improvement. but it possesses a fertihty never yet at All the rest still remains a primitive wiltained in the dead and barren sands of derness, with scareely anything to interthe interior. These lands are protected rupt its desolate and dreary monotony." by embankments from the tides and floods, and the fields are divided and drained by
Within this singular sandy zonefrequent dikes and ditches. Sach of between it and the first rise towards them as can be most conveniently irri- the Allegbanies-runs another belt of gated with fresh water are cultivated as land, upon which, far as the eye can rice fields ; the remainder are employed carry, only patural grasses exist, un
less where settlements have been which greatly favours the extension of made, and the arts of husbandry have a wealthy planting proprietary. The introduced a new vegetation. From country, as we have said, is naturally the endless pine-forest the traveller dry, and, as in our own chalk disescapes into a treeless prairie, distin- tricts, water is only to be obtained guished by a soil resting on chalk by sinking through the chalk. In or chalky marl, and, like the soils of 1849 there were already 500 wells in our English chalk downs, absorbent that state, sunk to a depth of from of moisture, and naturally dry. 400 to 600 feet, one being generally
Of these three belts or zones, the sunk on each plantation. Petty low allavial flat is widest in the south- farming, and a minute division of the ern states, and along the Gulf of land, becomes, under such conditions, Mexico; the pine belt probably in in a new country, all but impossible. Georgia; and the chalk mari in Hence the slave culture of the low Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. sea-board has leaped over the pine Coloured labourers alone can culti- barrens-narrow in Alabama-and vate the richest parts of the first; settled itself where free labour in the second is for the most part in a another century, when the virgin state of nature; the third produces freshness of the soil shall have gone, Georgian wheat, and other crops, if will alone be found remunerative. occasionally watered, but is naturally The following section across the unfavourable to slave labour. But country, from the sea to the mounin regions where slavery prevails, tains, represents to the eye the suband field labour is supposed to de- stance of the preceding popular degrade the white man, the institution of scription, and exhibits at the same slavery spreads wherever slave labour time the close relation which exists can be employed without actual loss; between the geological structure of so that over the chalk region of Ala- the whole, and the kinds of culture bama slave plantations are spread, and and of human labour which appear at there is among the natural physical con- present the best adapted to each of its ditions of the country a circumstance several parts :
It will be seen by the letterpress so that he would not take the trouble beneath this section, that each change of probibiting it. “I would not take in the agricultural character and value pains uselessly to re-affirm an ordiof the surface is coincident with a nance of nature, por to re-enact the similar change in the geological char- will of God." Yet all experience, acter and age of the underlying rocks; ancient and modern, in Europe and so that the existence of slavery and America, is opposed to Webster's the economy of slave labour appear doctrine. Taking its rise in some to be determined by the united influ- more favoured region, it is the tenence of physical and geological influ dency of the system to diffuse itself ences. It was not without a show of over regions in wbich it is healthy for broad natural reason, therefore, that the white man to labour, as upon the Daniel Webster declared bis conviction uplands of Alabama and Georgia, and that California and New Mexico were the inland states of Kentucky and unsuited to the condition of slavery, Tennessee. And no one will deny
that the lords of the soil in California their own masters—which goes so far and Sonora might as profitably employ towards making a man,) superior to the slave population in their silver mines generality of the plantation slaves. The and gold-washings, as the conquering system hangs like a millstone about their Spaniards did the native races whom neck, since it makes almost every kind of they successively subdued.
manual labour disgraceful ; and apart So much on the physical characters
from manual labour, how few other of the slave region, and their relation
chances have the poor to acquire that
capital necessary to give them a start in to the mstitution of slavery but at the world! And yet, with all these imnot less interesting feature, in connec. pediments in their own way, it is still tion with these states, is found in this class of the poor free whites which the classes of men by whom they are forms the substratum and basis of our inhabited. We are accustomed to southern civilisation, such as it is--which think only of the slaves and the free, insists most strenuously on the natural as the main divisions of society in superiority of the white man, and is most the southern states. But the free shocked at the idea of allowing freedom form two classes the rich and the to the' niggers."" -The White Slate. poor-which are as distinct from each other as the latter are from the slaves.
Another writer speaks more calmly Manual labour is beneath the dig
thusnity of a white man, so that if he is
« The Southern non-slaveholding white too poor to buy land and slaves, only
has not money to buy an education, and
ha the lowest and meanest pursuits of the public does not provide it for him. life are open to him ; and he gradually Partly from the policy of keeping him sinks into a misery and degradation, ignorant for the purposes of the slaveand his children into a brutal igno- holder, partly from the essential difficulrance, which are only less profound ties of instituting common schools in a than among the mass of the slaves. country cut up into large tracts for planTo this fact one author alludes in the tations, the common-school system does following terms :
not exist in the slave states. The non
slaveholding white grows up ignorant, “ In Carolina, as in Lower Virginia,
and continues so; and with ignorance the poor whites are extremely rude
come its natural companions-shiftless
ness, poverty, love of low vices, want of and ignorant, and acquainted with but few of the comforts of civilised life.
self-respect, servility. In 1840, according They are idle, dissipated, and vicious, and
to the census of that year, more than one with all that vulgar brutality of vice
free person in nine in North Carolina
was unable so much as to read and write. which poverty and ignorance render so conspicuous and disgusting. Without
In 1830, Governor Campbell of Virginia
told his legislature, that of 4614 men, land, or, at best, possessing some little tract of barren and exhausted soil, which
applicants for marriage-licences, 1047 they have neither skill nor industry to
could not write their names." – Fire render productive; without any trade or
Years' Progress of the Slate Power, p. 6. handicraft art ; and looking upon all manual labour as degrading to freemen,
Struck with these statements, we and fit only for a state of servitude
naturally ask what numerical proporthese poor white men have become the tion the poor bear to the rich, or jest of the slaves, and are at once feared slaveholding whites, in these states ; and hated by the select aristocracy of and the answer to this question only rich planters. It is only the right of adds to our surprise. No general suffrage which they possess that pre- census of the number of slaveholders serves them the show of consideration in the states has ever been taken ; and respect with which they are yet but in 1848 such a census was taken treated. “It is this which makes the chief
in the state of Kentucky. This state difference between the slaves and these
possessed then 192,470 slaves, and poor whites. In North Carolina, a very
only 8,743 slave-owners, being an great number of them can neither read average of more than twenty - two nor write, nor tell their own age; nor are slaves to each master. From this and they, in any intellectual or moral respect, other data, it has been estimated that (except that consciousness of their being the number of slaveholding voters does not exceed 100,000; and, allow- redundancy of white men. It is not ing six to a family, that not more surprising, therefore, that as many of than 600,000 persons are directly in the poor as can find the means should terested in and supported by the wish to leave the slave states, and labour of slaves. But the white popu- that the population should, in conlation of the slave states amounts to sequence, rapidly decrease. 6,169,387,* so that of this poor and Leaving now the seat of slavery in degraded class there are not less than North America-its physical charac5,569,387, or they are to the rich and teristics, and the classes of men by educated as 9 to 1! Whatever whom it is occupied—we turn to the temptations the free states may pre- institution itself; and the first thing sent to our emigrating population, in regard to it that strikes every one neither the charms of society, nor the not a citizen of the United States, is love of knowledge, nor the hope of the inconsistency of its existence with speedily bettering his condition, can the early history of the commonlure a man to leave his paternal home wealth, and with their famous Declafor a residence in the southern states. ration of Independence.
A knowledge of this condition of On the 4th of July 1776, the delethings explains why there is so large gates of thirteen British colonies in a number of restless men in these North America—the immortal fiftysouthern states ready for every emer- six-were solemnly met in Philagency, and panting after an outlet, just delphia, John Hancock, president, in or unjust, for the exercise of their fes- the chair. On the motion of Richard tering energies. It explains also, what Henry Lee of Virginia, one of their at first sight is very inexplicable on this number, seconded by John Adams side of the Atlantic, that the whole free of Massachusetts, this assembly depopulation of the slave states is actu- clared the said thirteen colonies to be ally decreasing instead of increasing, thenceforward free, sovereign, and inas we are in the habit of believing to dependent states that the political be the case all over the Union. Thus, connection with Great Britain was for in the two censuses of 1840 and 1850, ever cut asunder, and that they relied the total free population in the free for success on the justice of their and slave states respectively was as cause, with a strong confidence in the follows:
overruling providence of God. Every 1840.
year since that famous Declaration, Free states, 9,654,865 , 13,533,328
the 4th of July has been held in all Slave states, 7,290,719. 6,393,7587
corners of the United States as a great
national holiday. Amid universal So that, while in the last ten years rejoicings, the young are publicly the population of the free states has catechised on the events of 1776, increased by nearly four millions, that while the grown-up are harangued in of the slave states, though Texas has set speeches in praise of political been added to them in the interval, liberty, in natural commendation of bas diminished by nine hundred thou- the patriots of the Revolution, and in sand. And if the condition of the equally natural exaggeration of the mass of the whites in these states be tyranny of Great Britain, and her really such as we have above repre.. insufferable oppression. In the presented it, there is a vast useless paration of such addresses, the genius
• Deducting from the total free, 6,393,758, the number of free coloured in these states, which is 224,429.
+ American Almanac for 1852, p. 199.
# We quote the following as samples of the catechetical exercises to which the youth of the United States were subjected on the 4th of July 1842, as reported by an eyewitness. The writer was invited to dine with Squire Smith, of the village of Virgil, in Peoria county, Illinois, when, among other proceedings
"Mr Smith called together his two eldest lads, and his daughter, Pluma Adaliza, and thus examined them :
Q. When was Independence declared ?
of the greatest orators of the country slave population of about half a million. has exercised itself; and it is only And at the very moment when Jefferjust to say, that among them are to son penned, and Congress issued to the be found many bursts of brilliant and world, the above sentence, as an excuse stirring eloquence.
for breaking their allegiance, they The Declaration of Independence were taking measures to rivet imdrawn up by Jefferson commenced movably the chains of slavery on half with these memorable words—“We a million of their own countrymen, hold these truths to be self-evident, whom darker skins and thicker lips that all men are created equal; that rendered unworthy of the liberty they are endowed by their Creator with which was the inalienable birthright certain inalienable rights; that among of the white race! Of what a bundle these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of inconsistencies are we made up! of happiness.” At the time of the The two pictures, the ancient and Declaration, the thirteen confederated the modern, how strangely do they states contained a free population of contrast with each other! In 1776, about two and a-half millions, and a the Parliament of Great Britain
Q. How many states or colonies were there then ?
Å. It was made by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, and seconded by John Adams of Massachusetts.
Q. Where was Congress then assembled ?
A. On the justice of their cause—with a strong confidence in the overruling providence of God.
These answers were given with much precision ; but in the evening another class did not acquit themselves quite so satisfactorily. Mr Smith had driven his guests over to Babylon, a small village on the Spoon river. On the river-side a group of boys, of from nine to fourteen years of age, were collected round one who had a gun, which he was firing off now and then, to the infinite delight of the party. They went up to the boys to interrogate them about the 4th of July.
Well, boys, what day is this?'. Independence, sir.' What do you mean by Independence ?' One looked to another for an answer. At last the gunner replied, 'Wall, I reckon, sir, it was on the 4th the Declaration was signed by John Hancock and them others. We've got it up to our house, right up thar.
Name some of the others ?' *Wall, I forget now. I know John Hancock's the first, (shaking his head knowingly ;) his name's written right big-bigger'n any o' the rest. That's what makes me min'.'
True enough. The brave Hancock was the first to inscribe his name on the immortal document, and he did it with a full pen and a fearless heart.
What are you shooting for?'
And why should they whip the British, and be happy for it?'