Address on the annexation of Texas, and the aspect of slavery in the United States, in connection therewith: delivered in Boston November 14 and 18, 1845 Page: 34 of 56
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 Special Collections.
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her present condition will still further illustrate the view
which I have presented. Nearly fifty years ago, upon the
occasion of forming a new State Constitution, the attempt
was made, with great discretion, and in the most conciliatory
mode, to introduce a system of gradual emancipation. Although
slavery at that period was but very limited in its
extent, and existed in what is usually described as "its
mildest form," it was felt to be an evil in all its influences,
and a brief experience had shown it to be incompatible with
the true interests of the State. To provide for her future
welfare, to secure the development of her great natural
resources, to enable Kentucky to start upon a fair race with
her sister Ohio, and to redeem and purify the popular character,
it was clear to the minds of her most intelligent citizens
that she must disconnect herself from slavery; and as the
leading advocate of this policy, with his judgment enlightened
by his heart, the young HENRY CLAY presented his
first claims to the public admiration and gratitude. But
with the combined efforts of the economist and the patriot,
not unblessed by the prayers of the Christian, -with a clear
view of results, -with all the persuasions and inducements
which, upon public and private grounds, could be addressed
to the citizens, the proposal was rejected; and Kentucky,
and, most unfortunately, Mr. Clay with her, became committed
to an interested and political devotion to slavery.
Had her decision at that period been otherwise, how altered
might have been the destiny of Kentucky, and how much
might since have been accomplished, not only for Kentucky,
but for the country at large, by the services of Henry Clay !
I cannot speak from any record of the exact state of the
vote, or of the precise grounds upon which Kentucky, when
she might have done it, -when it was so much easier for
her than it has ever been since, or than it ever may be
again, - refused to enter the ranks of the Free States. It
is not difficult, however, to conjecture the single but mighty
objection, and to trace it to its source :- the master could
not consent to free himself from his slave. The chain of
slavery is of necessity a double chain; and when, by the
force of prejudice and habit, and of moral degeneracy, it
has become firmly welded and compacted, and has been
hardened by time, it will be found to bind as closely across
the hands of the master as around the neck of the slave.
Yes, - such is the effect of slavery, - the master becomes
as helpless as the slave is abject; and it seems to be the
retributive condition on which the master is permitted to
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Phillips, Stephen C. Address on the annexation of Texas, and the aspect of slavery in the United States, in connection therewith: delivered in Boston November 14 and 18, 1845, book, January 1, 1845; Boston. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth2361/m1/34/: accessed March 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.