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No sooner did the new religion gain power in the world, § e
than the slave law, and the slave system of the Empire,
No. began to be undermined by its influence. In unconscious - so alliance with Stoicism, to which among all the ancient sys-> 3 7 for tems of Philosophy it had the most affinity, Christianity : 3.
broke in upon the despotism of the Master, as well as upon ~5 , so i the despotism of the Father and the Husband. The right of ^o 3 -:
** f life and death over the Slave was transferred from his owner . . to the magistrate. The right of correction was placed under so. is Sehumane limitations, which the magistrate was directed to so - maintain. All the restrictions on the enfranchisement of s_Slaves were swept away. The first Christian Emperor recognized enfranchisement as a religious act, and established § the practice of performing it in the Church before the Bish-Yo op, and in the presence of the congregation. The liberties ~ 3. of the freedman were at the same time cleared of all odious and injurious restrictions. This remained the policy of the Christian Empire. The Code of Justinian, the great mon- so 3 ument of Imperial jurisprudence, is highly favorable to S. 3 enfranchisement, and that on religious grounds. The facility of enfranchisement, and the prospect of enlarging that facility, would conspire with political prudence to prevent Christianity from coming into direct collision with Roman slavery. Hope was not denied to the Roman slave. But hope is denied, or almost denied, to the American slave. In most of the Southern States the law withholds the power of enfranchisement from the master, against whose benevolence and generosity it seems the State is more concerned to guard than against his cruelty and lust. A slave can be emancipated only by the authority of the Legislature or by a Court of Law, and upon special cause shown; and further, the condition of a Negro when emancipated is such as to make freedom at once a very qualified and a very precarious boon. The free Negro is still to a great extent excluded from the rights of a citizen and a man. His evidence is not received
AMERICAN SLAVERY 2 103
against a white man; * the law does not secure to him the safeguard of a trial by a jury of his peers; he has no vote or voice in framing the laws by which he is governed, and degrading restrictions are imposed even upon his religious worship. He is liable to be brought back into slavery in many ways, – among others, by being married to a slave; and if his freedom is challenged, he must bring white witnesses to prove himself free.f. By the Roman Law the presumption was in favor of freedom, and under the Empire, freedmen not only enjoyed full liberty, but from their industry and pliancy often engrossed too much power in the State.
But the Roman world was doomed; and it was doomed partly because the character of the upper classes had been deeply and incurably corrupted by the possession of a multitude of slaves. The feudal age succeeded; the barbarian conqueror took the place of the Roman master, and a new phase of slavery appeared. Immediately Christianity recommenced its work of alleviation and enfranchisement. The codes of laws framed for the new lords of Europe under the influence of the Clergy, show the same desire as those of the Christian Emperors, to break in upon the despotism of the Master, and assure personal rights to the Slave. The laws of the Lombards, for instance, protected the Serf against an unjust or too rigorous master; they set free the husband of a female slave who had been seduced by her owner; they assured the protection of the Churches to slaves who had taken refuge there, and regulated the penalties to be inflicted for their faults, instead of leaving them subject to an arbitrary will. In England the Clergy secured for the Slave
* “It is an inflexible and universal rule of slave-law, founded in one ol two States upon usage, in others sanctioned by express legislation, that the testimony of a colored person, whether bond or free, cannot be received against a white person.” – Wheeler's Law of Slavery, quoted by Goodell,
rest on the Sunday, and liberty either to rest or work for
the Clergy of the Established Church have gone with the 'upper classes, the Free Churches, more unbiassed organs of
a Christianity, have almost universally kept the faith.
If, then, we look to the records of Christianity in the
Bible, we find no sanction for American Slavery there. If we look to the history of Christendom, we find the propagators and champions of the faith assailing Slavery under different forms and in different ages, without concert, yet with a unanimity which would surely be strange if Christianity and Slavery were not the natural enemies of each other. On the other side of the Atlantic two communities are now grappling in deadly conflict. The principle of one of them is Free Labor, while that of the other is Slavery; and few can doubt that this is the root of their antagonism, whatever may be the immediate cause of the present war. It can hardly be denied that the community of New England, of which Free Labor is the principle, was founded under the auspices of Christianity, though it may have been Christianity of an austere and narrow kind, such as persecution produces in peasant hearts. The avowed object of the settlement was “the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith ”; and one of the fathers of the Colony said: “It concerneth New England to remember that they were originally a plantation religious, not a plantation of trade. If any man among us make religion as twelve, and the world as thirteen, such an one hath not the spirit of a true New Englandman.” The settlers at first, like the Early Church, had all things in common, till the natural desire of separate property arose, and in this, as in other respects, the little religious community became a nation. The primary germ of the Puritan settlement has, of course, been overlaid by a vast alien immigration; the original character of the people has to a great extent disappeared under the vast growth of the commercial element; and other things have taken place which would make it difficult for one of the Pilgrim Fathers, if he could return to life, to recognize the offspring of his “religious plantation” in the America of the present day. Still the great Christian idea so far survives that it remains the fundamental principle of the community to treat all men as equally entitled to the full benefit of the social union, and to make the State a brotherhood of which all are equally recognized as members. And the destinies of a community of which this can be said, whatever may be its defects, its errors, or its misfortunes, cannot cease to be an object of interest to Christendom. Virginia and the Confederate States, on the other hand, of which Slavery is declared to be the fundamental principle, were assuredly not founded under the auspices of Christianity. They were founded by mere commercial adventurers of the very lowest kind. They were fostered by that darker Power which waits on the beneficent genius of commerce, and of which slave-trading Bristol was then the chosen seat. This power has been worshipped in all ages with human misery and blood. It has led men in all ages to reduce their fellow-men to slavery for their own profit. It leads men now to put their own children under the lash of the overseer. Nor does the Slave Power fail, in its extremity, to receive the sympathy of the element from which it is sprung. The heart of capitalist tyranny everywhere is with that supreme tyranny of capital which makes its victims slaves. Feudalism, too, knows its own, and feels its affinity to a system under which, as in the times of serfdom, the laborer is under the absolute dominion of the lord. Christian England tampered with Slavery for wealth. She has paid the penalty of her offence in the depraving influence of the West Indian slave-owners on the character and manners of this nation, in the heavy sum which, when the hour of remorse arrived, was given to purchase Emancipation, and in the burden and expense of holding a number of useless dependencies in the West Indies; a burden and expense which will probably be greatly increased if a great Slave Power is established on the neighboring shore. The Christian States of North America have tampered with Slavery