Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/241

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225
SLAVERY


Stephen, and others, continued the struggle, only suspending it during a period allowed to the local legislatures for carrying into effect the measures expected from them. In 1828 the free people of colour in the colonies were placed on a footing of legal equality with their fellow-citizens. In 1830 the public began to be aroused to a serious prosecution of the main issue. It was becoming plain that the planters would take no steps tending to the future liberation of the slaves, and the leaders of the movement determined to urge the entire abolition of slavery at the earliest practicable period. The government continued to hesitate and to press for mitigations of the existing system. At length in 1833 the ministry of Earl Grey took the question in hand and carried the abolition with little difficulty, the measure passing the House of Commons on the 7th of August 1833 and receiving the Royal assent on the 28th. A sum of 20 millions sterling was voted as compensation to the planters. A system of apprenticeship for seven years was established as a transi- tional preparation for liberty. The slaves were bound to work for their masters during this period for three-fourths of the day, and were to be liable to corporal punishment if they did not give the due amount of labour. The master was, in return, to supply them with food and clothing. All children under six years of age were to be at once free, and provision was to be made for their religious and moral instruction. Many thought the postponement of emanci- pation unwise. Immediate liberation was carried out in Antigua, and public tranquillity was so far from being disturbed there that the Christmas of 1833 was the first for twenty years during which martial law was not proclaimed in order to preserve the peace. Notwith- standing protracted and strenuous opposition on the part of the government, the House of Commons passed a resolution against the continuance of the transitional system. When this was done the local legislatures saw that the slaves would no longer work for the masters; they accordingly cut off two years of the indentured apprenticeship, and gave freedom to the slaves in August 1838 instead of 1840.

The example of Great Britain was gradually followed by the other European states, and some American ones had already taken action of the same kind. The immediate emancipation of the slaves in the French colonies was decreed by the provisional government of 1848. In 1858 it was enacted that every slave belonging to a Portuguese subject should be free in twenty years from that date, a system of tutelage being established in the meantime. This law came into operation on the 29th of April 1878, and the status of slavery was thenceforth illegal throughout the Portuguese possessions. The Dutch emanci- pated their slaves in 1863. Several of the Spanish American states, on declaring their independence, had adopted measures for the discontinuance of slavery within their limits. It was abolished by a decree of the Mexican republic on 1 5th September 1829. The government of Buenos Aires enacted that all children born to slaves after the 31st of January 1813 should be free; and in Colombia it was provided that those born after the 16th of July 1821 should be liberated on attaining their eighteenth year.

Three of the most important slave systems still remained in which no steps towards emancipation had been taken — those of the Southern United States, of Cuba and of Brazil.

Slavery was far from being approved in principle by the most eminent of the fathers of the American Union. Washington in his will provided for the emancipation of his own slaves; he said to Jefferson that it was "among his first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in his country might be abolished by law," and again he wrote that to this subject his own suffrage should never be wanting. John Adams declared his abhorrence of the practice of slaveholding, and said that " every measure of prudence ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States." Franklin's opinions we have already indicated; and Madison, Hamilton, and Patrick Henry all reprobated the principle of the system. Jefferson declared in regard to slavery, " I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." The last-named statesman, at the first Continental Congress after the evacuation by the British forces, proposed a draft ordinance (March 1st 1784) for the government of the North-West Territory, in which it was provided that " after the year 1800 there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punish- ment of crime." This proviso, however, was lost; but in the Ordinance of 1787 (13 July) for the government of the territory


United States.


xxv. 8


of the United States north-west of the Ohio river, which was introduced by Nathan Dane and probably drafted by Manasseh Cutler, slavery was forbidden in the Territory. At the con- vention of Philadelphia in 1787, where the constitution was drafted, the sentiments of the framers were against slavery; but South Carolina and Georgia insisted on its recognition as a condition of their joining the Union, and even an engagement for the mutual rendition of fugitive slaves was embodied in the federal pact. The words " slave " and " slavery " were, however,' excluded from the constitution, " because," as Madison says," they did not choose to admit the right of property in man " in direct terms; and it was at the same time provided that Congress might interdict the foreign slave trade after the expiration of twenty years. It must not be forgotten that either before or soon after the formation of the Union the Northern States — beginning with Vermont in 1777, and ending with New Jersey in 1804 — either abolished slavery or adopted measures to effect its gradual abolition within their boundaries. But the principal operation of (at least) the latter change was simply to transfer Northern slaves to Southern markets.

We cannot follow in detail the several steps by which the slave power for a long time persistently increased its influence in the Union. The acquisition of Louisiana in 1803, which gave a new field for the growth of the slave power, though not made in its interest, the Missouri Compromise (1820), the annexation of Texas ( 1 84 5) , the Fugitive Slave Law ( 1 8 50) , the Kansas-Nebraska bill (1854), the Dred Scott decision (1857), the attempts to acquire Cuba (especially in 1854) and to reopen the foreign slave trade (1859-1860), were the principal steps — only some of them successful — in its career of aggression. They roused a deter- mined spirit of opposition, founded on deep-seated convictions. The pioneer of the more recent abolitionist movement was Benjamin Lundy (1 789-1839). He was followed by William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), Elijah P. Lovejoy (1802-1837) — a martyr, if ever there was one — Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, John Brown (b. 1800, hanged 1859), all of whom were in their several ways leading apostles or promoters of the cause. The best intellect of America outside the region of practical politics has been on the anti-slavery side. William E. Channing, R. W. Emerson, the poets Bryant, Longfellow, pre-eminently Whittier and Whitman, have spoken on this theme with no uncertain sound. The South, and its partisans in the North, made desperate efforts to prevent the free expression of opinion respecting the institution, and even the Christian churches in the slave states used their influence in favour of the maintenance of slavery. But in spite of every such effort opinion steadily grew. Public sentiment in the North was deeply stirred by the Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) of Mrs Harriet Beecher Stowe, which, as Senior said, under the disguise of a novel was really a pamphlet against the Fugitive Slave Law. It gradually became apparent that the question could not be settled without an armed conflict. The election of Abraham Lincoln as president in November i860 was the signal for the rising of the South. The North at first took arms simply to maintain the Union; but the far- sighted politicians from the first, and soon the whole nation, saw that the real issue was the continued existence or the total abolition of slavery. (See United States.)

The war was practically closed by the surrender at Appomattox (gth April 1865), but already in 1862 slavery in the Territories had been abolished by Congress; on the 22nd. of September of the same year Lincoln (q.v.) had issued the preliminary emancipation proclamation, followed on the 1st of January 1863 by the emancipation of all slaves in the states in arms against the Union; and in December 1865 a constitutional amendment was ratified abolishing and forever prohibiting slavery throughout the United States.

The Spanish slave code, promulgated in 1789, is admitted on all hands to have been very humane in its character; and, in consequence of this, after Trinidad had become an English Cuba. possession, the anti-slavery party resisted — and successfully — the attempt of the planters (1811) to have the Spanish law in that island replaced by the British. But notwithstanding this