Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 1.djvu/295

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.

an institution sustained by the Constitution of the United States ; the domestic trade in slaves, as a business sanc tioned by that august instrument ; and the foreign slave trade to which the chief ignominy of the institution at taches as a traffic expressly protected against the wishes of the majority of the States holding slaves. Each State was left by the Constitution with full power to dis pose of the institution as it might choose, and the ter ritory acquired as common property was open to settle ment by slave-holders with their property. The African bondsman was classed as property by United States law. He was property to be acquired, held, sold, delivered on bills of sale which evidenced title. He could be be queathed, donated, sold as part of an estate, or for debt, like any other property. The Federal and State govern ments derived revenue from his labor. For over a cen tury the Southern States were encouraged to invest in him and his race as property. Not one government, European, Asian or African, declared against the en slavement of the negro by the United States; and not one State among those which had fought together to gain a common independence of England refused to enter the Union on account of the constitutional recognition and encouragement of the institution. If there be any wrong in all their action, the South was not more responsible for it than their Northern associates in what has been called the great crime of the United States.

The evils of slavery, its wrong of any character, moral or political, were the result of an international co-opera tive action, and of an agreement among the States of the Union, the original motive of which was the cupidity of powerful African tribes and Caucasian slave dealers with the subsequent motive of profit and loss to the buyer. Such being its historical origin, it will be seen that the subsequent effort to destroy it was not mainly moral but partisan, and that the blow which struck it down fell on the lawful holders of inherited property, and was struck

�� �