Discourse on Slavery and the Annexation of Texas Page: 12 of 19
This book is part of the collection entitled: From Republic to State: Debates and Documents Relating to the Annexation of Texas, 1836-1856 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries.
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have to do is to clench the bars of fate upon these poor prisoners
of toil and wrong.
I plead for men, and with men. I repudiate utterly the too
common language of abuse adopted by the Abolition Societies.
I do not feel when I approach the men of the South that I address
a body of reckless and ruthless oppressors. I know that
the most graceful courtesies, the most gracious hospitalities, the
gentlest affections flourish there. I know that it is a land filled
with Christian men and women, and that they would not do
any intentional wrong. They may have their faults, as we have
ours. They may err, as we too may err on this very subject.
All human virtues and vices are more or less circumstantial.
Can I doubt that if we of the North had kept our slaves, and
the South had freed theirs, we then had held the rroral position
of the South, and they had taken ours? But I would beseech
them, kind and Christian men as many of them are, to consider
this matter agaiii. Do they not admit that the original infliction
of slavery wvas a wrong? Can it then be right to perpetuate
it? Would any human being on earth hold the slave
to be guilty before God for escaping from his master? Is there
not some corresponding principle applicable to the master? If
it be really right to hold the slave, it must be wrong to escape.
If it be right to clench the chain, it must be wrong to break it.
Oh ! let not our Southren Brethren think that this feeling is an
ebullition of Northern extravagance ! No, no: it is wider, deeper.
"I mind not your abolition Societies," said an eminent Southern
Senator in Congress; " I know their zeal, but it acts in a limited
sphere; it is a small matter with me. No, but I see a public
sentiment springing up every where among the nations, in England,
in France, in Germany; I see a tide rising and swelling
on the face of the whole world, that threatens the security and
permanence of our domestic Institution." And what was his
conclusion ? " Therefore I demand that the constitutional barriers
that protect us, be raised high and be kept strong and impregnable."
Does this modern Canute suppose that the tide will
respect him ? Canute do I say, the English King was wiser. Of
course, 1 do not speak of any violent invasion; but to me it is just
as evident that this institution must fall before the swelling tide
of public sentiment, as it is that the slave trade has fallen under
the ban of the whole civilized world. Slave-holding is the offspring
of slave-trading; and the moral sentiments of mankind
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Dewey, Orville. Discourse on Slavery and the Annexation of Texas, book, January 1, 1844; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2359/m1/12/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .