~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
O tempera! O mores! – HORACE
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Third. IN the days of the Commonwealth, in England, a sect arose, called the The fifth monarchy men, who held that the four monarchies spoken of in the scriptures, were out, and that Christ would assume his throne on earth and give the kingdom to the saints; and that all earthly monarchy would cease. Oliver Cromwell favored the views of these people; and when he assumed the protectorship, he assured them that he did it to have it in his power to give it up to Christ the more readily. That monarchy has existed from that time to this, and still exists, is a known truth.
Fourth, Some men among us profess to be greatly alarmed at the spread of the Roman Catholicks. They say there are six hundred thousand within the limits of the United States; all busy at work, like a worm under the bark of a tree, to sap our free government, and set up papal hierarchy with all the horrors of an inquisition. This alarm has the complexion of design, to move men to advance their money to make and send missionaries to check the religion of others: for no man who has the soul of an American, and the heart of affection for our democratic institutions, will either fear or wish to injure the papists. Supposing the number should be one million; what could that one million do in a country of fourteen millions? Is it probable that the Catholicks will increase faster, either by births or emigration, than the Protestants? If not, where is the ground of alarm? Their freedom of religion is guaranteed to them in our constitution of government, and no benevolent man can wish to have them oppressed us they are in Ireland. In the American Revolution, and in the formation of the Constitution under which we live and prosper, the tocsin sounded loud, “America shall be an asylum for the distressed of every nation to flee to,” and who can wish to subvert that freedom? The French Catholicks were great helpers to Americans in their struggles for independence, (Lafayette among the rest,) and now to deny them the hospitalities of good friends would be base ingratitude. If any of them commit overt acts, punish them; but let them have free scope to publish their religion. If they send their missionaries among those of a different religion to make proselytes, it is doing no more than Protestants do. Should they by fair persuasion (for they cannot do it by force until they become a majority) increase in number above all other sects collectively; in that case they must of right have the rule; for no man who has the soul of an American will deny the maxim, that “the voice of a majority is the voice of the whole.” The men of this generation have neither power nor right to say what laws a future generation shall be governed by. An express declaration of their opinion is all that belongs to thorn.
Fifth. There are a great many slaves in the United States; the exact number I cannot ascertain; (say one million, be the same more or less,) the condition of whom, has given patriots, philanthropists and religionists great searchings of heart. The abolitionists of late have come forward, and seem to demand the unconditional manumission of all of them, without prescribing any rational mode for their future subsistence. If these prophets can prove their commission, like Moses, or have any reason to believe that God will feed the liberated slaves with manna, it is hoped that the slave-holders will obey, and not harden their hearts: otherwise their exertions seem calculated to alienate the slave holding states from the others, and make the condition of the slaves more miserable. But notwithstanding the measures of the abolitionists are reprobated by every friend to his country; yet the question, “What shall we do with the slaves?” must at some time, in some shape, be met and decided. The emancipators have effected nothing. The Liberia exportation affords nothing very flattering; what then shall be done? It cannot be expected that a question, encumbered with so many conflicting interests and opinions, can be easily answered: the most rational solution may be fraught with serious consequences. To proclaim a jubilee and set them all free, without house or home, tools or money, or friends to take them in, would be sacrificing them to starvation. In such a state they would wander in droves into all the states, seeking supplies for the calls of nature. Would the abolitionists be pleased to have thousands of them scouring the states in which they live, and groups of them at their dwellings, begging or stealing?
Let Congress locate a section of territory for the accommodation of as many as choose to go with the consent of their masters – let their expenses be borne, and their equipage of clothing, provisions, implements of husbandry and mechanism, with all that is necessary for three years, including teachers to learn them to read and write, by the treasury of the United States. So far Congress can proceed towards the liberation of the slaves. This would give relief lo those slaveholders, who in heart are opposed to slavery, and would gladly set their slaves free, if they could be provided for.
If the legislatures of the slave holding states, in behalf of their constituents, should pass laws for the gradual manumission of all the slaves – that all of them who were in existence at the time of passing those laws should be held in servitude for life, except, with the Consent of their masters, they should choose Togo to the land provided for them, and that those who should be born after the passing of those laws should be free at the age of twenty-one years, the children of whom should be free borne it would gradually lower the price of slaves, as property, and gradually learn them to bear their liberty. it would also give time to the masters to new meddle their systems to live without the labor of slaves.
The United States have now territory at command, and a surplus treasury of rebellions: can it be applied to a better use than of liberating human beings, who are deprived of their natural rights by force and not for crime? Whether Congress dispose of the surplus revenue direct, or whether they apportion it anions the states; in either case, the presumption is that it will be applied for splendor, rather than to establish permanent funds in the states to pay the taxes. If a part of the surplus national property is appropriated to procure a home and support for liberated slaves, and the slave-holding states do not meet the measure by corresponding laws, the proof will be conclusive that they deny to others the freedom which they claim for themselves as a natural right.
Should this plan, or one like it, take eject, in a few years the question could be decided by experimental evidence, “whether the African Moors have intellect sufficient for self-government, or whether they are a degraded race of beings, between the human and animal departments, made to serve their betters, and do that part of drudgery which is above the capacity of beasts.” They are now considered in a complex character, in the United States, possessing three-fifths of humanity and two-fifths of animal property.
I have spent fifteen years of my life in a slaveholding state, (Virginia); calling led me to mingle with the slaves, as well as with their masters and I believe there are as many of the slaves, (in proportion to their numbers,) who join the Christian churches, as there are of the whites. Some of them can read – others hear and believe, and a number of them are zealous preachers and exhorters. Redemption by the blood of Christ – a gracious change of heart – and holiness of life, are their favorite topics. The slaves generally put more confidence in the preachers of their own color, than they do in the whites, from a belief that they are less likely to deceive them. Of course, should they be removed into a section assigned them, there would be neither need nor propriety for government to furnish them with religious teachers.
In the year 1780, and a few years following, when the people were rapidly removing from the old states into Kentucky and Tennessee, there were more than thirty Baptist preachers, whom I personally knew, and many more that I heard of, who emigrated with them. Nothing can be more false than the idea that the Valley of the Mississippi is peopled with irreligious characters altogether, who are perishing for want of missionary preaching. The truth is, that many religious people remove into the valley, and many preachers go with them. Many also are turned to the Lord in the place, and a portion of them commence preaching. Rev. Daniel Parker, who lives on the ground, and who has been publishing a religious periodical, speaks of five Baptist Associations within the limits of Illinois and Indiana: and he complains of some missionaries who intrude, and seek to control because they are sent by the Board of Missions. My information is not Sufficient to speak of the prevalence of any other religious society in the valley.
Elder John Leland
Published in 1836
The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland
Published originally 1845
Pages 671 – 674