Discourse on Slavery and the Annexation of Texas Page: 15 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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the arm. It blights the heart. It dwarfs the human being. It
makes a poor reckless, in.becile race. It degrades labor itself,
and thus spreads a blight over the whole prosperity of a people.
To this as the primary cause, an eminent French historian
ascribes the fall of the Roman Empire. And even if this
point is too strongly stated, if there were other causes not referable
to this, if only the impoverishmnent followed wllich he
describes, the case is full to our purpose. " The real evil which
undermined the Empire," says Michelet, "did not attach to
Government nor to the administration. If it had been simply
of an administrative character, so many great and good Emperors-the
Antonines, Constantine-would have remedied it.
But it was an evil of which nothing could dry up the source,
unless a new order of Society came to replace the old. This
evil was slavery. The other evils of the Empire, at least for
the most part, a devouring taxation, the ever increasing exigencies
of a military government, were nothing but a consequence
of this; an effect, direct or indirect." '
The explanation is that all the labor of the Roman world at
that period fell upon slaves; and that the race of enslaved men,
becoming dwarfed, and dying out, the lands, whole provinces,
ceased to be cultivated, and the springs of life and prosperity
were dried up at their very fountain. Then ensued such an
impoverishment and depopulation as the world has never perhaps
elsewhere seen. "As the means decreased," says the Christian
father Lactantius, "'the exactions increased. They measured the
fields; they counted the trees, the vines; they registered beasts
and men for taxation; they put men to the torture to confess
their property; they lengthened the age of children in their
tables, and diminished that of the aged, to make them taxable;
the war was between the hungry tax and the dying cultivator;
nay, death did not brinc discharge from the burthen; the bond
descended upon the children; men were forbidden to flee from
their cities, they could not escape into religious orders but on
condition of giving up all their property." t The Emperors
stood aghast at this spectacle of distress and desolation, but
could do nothing to relieve it. They brought men from Germany
and France to cultivate the wastes, but in vain. The
evil inherent in a false condition of society, went on increasing,
* Michelet, History of France, 3d chapter.
t Lactantius, "On the Death of the Persecutors of the Church. 7, 23.
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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/m1/15/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .