Page:Appeal to the Christian women of the South (Grimké, 1836).djvu/7

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

5

was guarded from violence, injustice and wrong. I will first inform you how these servants became servants, for I think this a very important part of our subject. From consulting Horne, Calmet and the Bible, I find there were six different ways by which the Hebrews became servants legally.

1. If reduced to extreme poverty, a Hebrew might sell himself, i. e. his services, for six years, in which case he received the purchase money himself. Lev. xxv, 39.

2. A father might sell his children as servants, i. e. his daughters, in which circumstance it was understood the daughter was to be the wife or daughter-in-law of the man who bought her, and the father received the price. In other words, Jewish women were sold as white women were in the first settlement of Virginia—as wives, not as slaves. Ex. xxi, 7.

3. Insolvent debtors might be delivered to their creditors as servants. 2 Kings iv, 1.

4. Thieves not able to make restitution for their thefts, were sold for the benefit of the injured person. Ex. xxii, 3.

5. They might be born in servitude. Ex. xxi, 4.

6. If a Hebrew had sold himself to a rich Gentile, he might be redeemed by one of his brethren at any time the money was offered; and he who redeemed him, was not to take advantage of the favor thus conferred, and rule over him with rigor. Lev. xxv, 47—55.

Before going into an examination of the laws by which these servants were protected, I would just ask whether American slaves have become slaves in any of the ways in which the Hebrews became servants. Did they sell themselves into slavery and receive the purchase money into their own hands? No! Did they become insolvent, and by their own imprudence subject themselves to be sold as slaves? No! Did they steal the property of another, and were they sold to make restitution for their crimes? No! Did their present masters, as an act of kindness, redeem them from some heathen tyrant to whom they had sold themselves in the dark hour of adversity? No! Were they born in slavery? No! No! not according to Jewish Law, for the servants who were born in servitude among them, were born of parents who had sold themselves for six years: Ex. xxi, 4. Were the female slaves of the South sold by their fathers? How shall I answer this question? Thousands and tens of thousands never were, their fathers never have received the poor compensation of silver or gold for the tears and toils, the suffering, and anguish, and hopeless bondage of their daughters. They labor day by day, and year by year, side by side, in the same field, if haply their daughters are permitted to remain on the same plantation with them, instead of being as they often are, separated from their parents and sold into distant states, never again to meet on earth. But do the fathers of the South ever sell their daughters? My heart beats, and my hand trembles, as I write the awful affirmative, Yes! The fathers of this Christian land often sell their daughters, not as Jewish parents did, to be the wives and daughters-in-law of the man who buys them, but to be the abject slaves of