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rise in judgment. There was John Adams, the VicePresident, great vindicator and final negotiator of our national independence, whose soul, flaming with Freedom, broke forth in the early declaration, that “consenting to Slavery is a sacrilegious breach of trust," 1 and whose immitigable hostility to this wrong is immortal in his descendants. There also was a companion in arms and attached friend, of beautiful genius, the yet youthful and“ incomparable” Hamilton,- fit companion in early glories and fame with that darling of English history, Sir Philip Sidney, to whom the latter' epithet has been reserved, — who, as member of the Abolition Society of New York, had recently united in a solemn petition for those who, though "free by the laws of God, are held in Slavery by the laws of this state.” 2 There, too, was a noble spirit, of spotless virtue, the ornament of human nature, who, like the sun, ever held an unerring course, — John Jay. Filling the important post of Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Confederation, he found time to organize the “Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves" in New York, and to act as its President, until, by the nomination of Washington, he became Chief Justice of the United States. In his sight Slavery was an “iniquity," "a sin of crimson dye," against which ministers of the Gospel should testify, and which the Government should seek in every way to abolish.
“ Till America comes into this measure," he wrote, “ her prayers to Heaven for liberty will be impious. This is a strong expression, but it is just. Were I in your Legislature, I would prepare a bill for the purpose with great care, and I would never cease moving it till it became a law or I ceased to be a member.”] Such words as these, fitly coming from our leaders, belong to the true glories of the country :--
1 Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law: Works, Vol. III. p. 463.
2 Life and Writings of John Jay, Vol. I. p. 231. Slavery and AntiSlavery, by William Goodell, p. 97.
“While we such precedents can boast at home,
Keep thy Fabricius and thy Cato, Rome!”
They stood not alone. The convictions and earnest aspirations of the country were with them. At the North these were broad and general. At the South they found fervid utterance from slaveholders. By early and precocious efforts for “total emancipation,” the author of the Declaration of Independence placed himself foremost among the Abolitionists of the land. In language now familiar to all, and which can never die, he perpetually denounced Slavery. He exposed its pernicious influence upon master as well as slave, declared that the love of justice and the love of country pleaded equally for the slave, and that “the abolition of domestic slavery was the greatest object of desire.” He believed that “the sacred side was gaining daily recruits, and confidently looked to the young for the accomplishment of this good work. In fitful sympathy with Jefferson was another honored son of Virginia, the Orator of Liberty, Patrick Henry, who, while confessing that he was a master of slaves, said: “I will not, I cannot justify it. However culpable my conduct, I will so far pay my devoir to Virtue as to own the excellence and rectitude of her precepts, and lament my want of conformity to them.”1 At this very period, in the Legislature of Maryland, on a bill for the relief of oppressed slaves, a young man, afterwards by consummate learning and forensic powers acknowledged head of the American bar, William Pinkney, in a speech of earnest, truthful eloquence,- better for his memory than even his professional fame, - branded Slavery as “iniquitous and most dishonorable,” “founded in a disgraceful traffic," “ its continuance as shameful as its origin"; and he openly declared, that “ by the eternal principles of natural justice, no master in the State has a right to hold his slave in bondage for a single hour.” 2
1 Life and Writings, Vol. I. pp. 229, 230.
2 Notes on Virginia, Query XVIII.: Writings, Vol. VIII. pp. 403, 404. Summary View of the Rights of British America : American Archives, 4th Ser. Vol. I. col 696; Writings, Vol. I. p. 135. Letter to Dr. Price, August 7, 1785: Writings, Vol. I. p. 377.
Thus at that time spoke the NATION. The CHURCH also joined its voice. And here, amidst diversities of religious faith, it is instructive to observe the general accord. Quakers first bore their testimony. At the adoption of the Constitution, their whole body, under the early teaching of George Fox, and by the crowning exertions of Benezet and Woolman, had become an organized band of Abolitionists, penetrated by the conviction that it was unlawful to hold a fellow-man in bondage. Methodists, numerous, earnest, and faithful, never ceased by their preachers to proclaim the same truth. Their rules in 1788 denounced, in formal language, “the buying or selling the bodies and souls of men, women, or children, with an intention to enslave them." 3 The words of their great apostle, John Wesley, were constantly repeated. On the eve of the National Convention, that burning tract was circulated in which he exposes American Slavery as "vilest” of the world, “such slavery, as is not found among the Turks at Algiers”; and after declaring “Liberty the right of every human creature," of which "no human law can deprive him,” he pleads, “ If, therefore, you have any regard to justice (to say nothing of mercy, nor the revealed law of God), render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, - that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature.” 1 At the same time the Presbyterians, a powerful religious body, inspired by the principles of John Calvin, in more moderate language, but by a public act, recorded their judgment, recommending “to all their people to use the most prudent measures, consistent with the interest and the state of civil society in the counties where they live, to procure eventually the final abolition of Slavery in America.” 2 The Congregationalists of New England, also nurtured in the faith of John Calvin, and with the hatred of Slavery belonging to the great Nonconformist, Richard Baxter, were sternly united against this wrong. As early as 1776, Samuel Hopkins, their eminent leader and divine, published his tract showing it to be the Duty and Interest of the American Colonies to emancipate all their African slaves, and declaring that Slavery is “in every instance wrong, unrighteousness, and oppression, - a very great and crying sin, -there being nothing of the kind equal to it on the face of the earth.”3 And in 1791, shortly after the adoption of the Constitution, the second Jonathan Edwards, a twice
1 Letter to Robert Pleasants, January 18, 1779: Goodloe's Southern Platform, p. 79.
2 Speeches in the House of Delegates of Maryland in 1788 and 1789: Wheaton's Life of Pinkney, p. 11; American Museum for 1789, Vol. VI.
3 Bangs's History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, Vol. I. pp. 213, 218.
1 Thoughts upon Slavery, by John Wesley, (London, 1774) pp. 24, 27.
2 Minutes of the Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 1787: Records of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, p. 540.
8 A Dialogue concerning the Slavery of the Africans: Works, Vol. II. p. 552.
honored name, in an elaborate discourse often published, called upon his country, in “ the present blaze of light” on the injustice of Slavery, to "prepare the way for its total abolition.” This he gladly thought at hand. “If we judge of the future by the past," said the celebrated preacher," within fifty years from this time it will be as shameful for a man to hold a negro slave as to be guilty of common robbery or theft.” 1
Thus, at this time, the Church, in harmony with the Nation, by its leading denominations, Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists, thundered against Slavery. The COLLEGES were in unison with the Church. Harvard University spoke by the voice of Massachusetts, which already had abolished Slavery. Dartmouth College, by one of its learned Professors, claimed for the slaves "an equal standing, in point of privileges, with the whites.”2 Yale College, by its President, the eminent divine, Ezra Stiles, became the head of the Abolition Society of Connecticut.3 And the University of William and Mary, in Virginia, at this very time testified its sympathy with the cause by conferring upon Granville Sharp, the acknowledged chief of British Abolitionists, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.4
The LITERATURE of the land, such as then existed, agreed with the Nation, the Church, and the College
1 The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave-Trade, and of the Slavery of the Africans, (Providence, 1792,) pp. 27 - 30.
2 Tyrannical Liberty-Men: A Discourse on Negro Slavery in the United States, February 19, 1795, by Moses Fiske, Tutor in Dartmouth College. American Quarterly Register, May, 1840. Weld, Power of Congress over the District of Columbia, p. 33.
3 Kingsley's Life of Stiles: Sparks's American Biography, Second Series, Vol. VI. p. 69. 4 Hoare's Memoirs of Sharp, p. 254. Weld's Power of Congress, p. 34.