Discourse on Slavery and the Annexation of Texas Page: 7 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 nothing to do with the other bearings of the case; I confine
myself to a single point-the point of morality.
What is the precise question before us ? Not whether it is
right to hold the slaves we have, but whether it is right to
accept as a component part of our social and political State,
another body of slaves. Not whether it is right to adhere to a
compact with regard to slavery already existing, but whether it
is right to legalize slavery anew. It is precisely as if there were
no slaves in this Republic and never had been, and the question
were now proposed to this country for the first time-will you
recognize human bondage as a part of your free institutions ?
This is a point on which I wish to insist, and I am not aware
that it has been fairly and fully presented to the country. The
Annexation of Texas is regarded by many as but the natural
and lawful extension of a system already existing among Ius;
as a sliding, at most, into a condition analogous to that in which
we already are. I say, on the contrary, that to receive Texas
with slavery, is a distinct step. I say that it is a new and
glaring act; as much so as if slavery had never existed in this
country; as much so as if England, instead of nobly abolishing
slavery in all her dominions-and that she has lately done also
in her Indian Empire-should now permit slaves to be introduced
into her mines and manufactories.
It may be said, that we do recognize the lawfulness of slavery
now. I answer, no; we submit to it as a necessity. We
submit to it in accordance with a compact made by our ancestors,
and which we do not feel at liberty to violate. It is not
the mind of this country at the present day, that ordains this
institution. Certain I am, that if it were proposed to us to
establish it now de novo, we never should consent to it. I
believe that three quarters of the Southern people themselves
would vote against it. "But slavery already exists in Texas."
What if it does ? What is that to us ? Alas ! it is but too
certain that it is something to us in one view; that our own
people, men from this country have had much to do with it.
Men, in this 19th century, from this free and civilized country,
have gained the ascendency in Texas, have reversed the noble
edict of the semi-barbarous Mexicans, as we call them, and
have re-established the system of human bondage. But still, as
a country, we have no more to do with it, than we have with
serfdom in Russia, or the morals of Botany Bay. The awful
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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/m1/7/: accessed April 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .