Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/9

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

7

to say nothing of outlays for support and education. This provision is, with the mass of mankind, indispensable to the preservation of the family state. The child, in helping his parents, helps himself—increases a common stock, in which he has a share; while his most faithful services do but acknowledge a debt that money cannot cancel.

 10. Bondage for crime. Must innocence be punished because guilt suffers penalties? True, the criminal works for the government without pay; and well he may. He owes the government. A century's work would not pay its drafts on him. He is a public defaulter, and will die so. Because laws make men pay their debts, shall those be forced to pay who owe nothing? The law makes no criminal, property. It restrains his liberty, and makes him pay something, a mere penny in the pound, of his debt to the government; but it does not make him a chattel. Test it. To own property, is to own its product. Are children born of convicts, government property? Besides, can property be guilty? Are chattels punished?

 11. Restraints upon freedom. Children are restrained by parents—pupils, by teachers—patients, by physicians—corporations, by charters—and legislatures, by constitutions. Embargoes, tariffs, quarantine, and all other laws, keep men from doing as they please. Restraints are the web of society, warp and woof. Are they slavery? then civilized society is a giant slave—a government of law, the climax of slavery, and its executive, a king among slaveholders.

 12. Compulsory service. A juryman is empannelled against his will, and sit he must. A sheriff orders his posse; bystanders must turn in. Men are compelled to remove nuisances, pay fines and taxes, support their families, and "turn to the right as the law directs," however much against their wills. Are they therefore slaves? To confound slavery with involuntary service is absurd. Slavery is a condition. The slave's feelings toward it, are one thing; the condition itself, is another thing; his feelings cannot alter the nature of that condition. Whether he desires or detests it, the condition remains the same. The slave's willingness to be a slave is no palliation of the slaveholder's guilt. Suppose the slave should think himself a chattel, and consent to be so regarded by others, does that make him a chattel, or make those guiltless who hold him as such? I may be sick of life, and I tell the assassin so that stabs me; is he any the less a murderer? Does my consent to his crime, atone for it? my partnership in his guilt, blot out his part of it? The