THE SLAVEHOLDERS' WAR.
WHEN the warrior has laid down his sword and the
statesman has closed his portfolio, the historian passes judgment on the
courage of the one and the sagacity of the other. It is only when
passions are calmed, prejudices are forgotten, and perversions are
exploded, that the whole truth and value of public questions are either
clearly or accurately determined. The politician so often becomes
the partisan, principle is so often obscured by passion, falsehood so
often lends its aid to faction, that the character of contemporary events
is rarely understood by the men who live and act in them. The
highest hope finds some one to doubt it; the noblest cause some one to
dispute it; the greatest hero some one to disparage him. Time,
however, avenges the hero, blesses the cause, and justifies the hope.
But the generation of living men can neither await the recognition of time
nor the judgment of history. It must judge of the events of its own
time by the facts that are given and the arguments that are urged on the
one side and the other. So the present generation of men is called
upon to judge of this Slaveholders' War.
On that question, with such facts as are at our command, it
is impossible to expect an impartial judgment. For my part, I do not
pretend either to expect or to give it. When the freedom of
millions, the progress of centuries, and the morality of the world, are
concerned, such a pretension must rob one's efforts of sincerity or endow
them with conceit. But though I do not affect to be impartial, I
pretend to be candid. And candour obliges me to say that while I
have only till lately had but the smallest sympathy for the Northern party
in the struggle that is raging, for the Southern party I have never had
any sympathy at all. The facts which are now before the world,
however, compel me to be partial—to hate without guise the object of the
South, to honour without stint the purpose of the North. Of the
sufficiency of those facts, and the soundness of the conclusions I draw
from them, it is the right—may I not say, the duty?—of Englishmen to
The first question which arises for discussion in connection
with this contest is the question of the right of secession. If the
South had the right to secede, how did it g et that right? If not, had it
any ground for revolting? If so, what was that ground? If not, how
came this war about?
The American Republic was formed by the union of several
independent States. Of these States, some were Free and some Slave
States. Each State made its own local laws, formed its own local
government, and raised its own local taxes. Each State was also
represented in the Federal Congress, and all alike voted for the Federal
President. Congress and President composed the Federal Government;
and to it the constitution delegated the power of imposing taxes, of
affixing tariffs, of entering into treaties, and of making peace and war.
The Federal Government consequently had the right to appoint judges,
despatch ambassadors, and raise an army.
Now the question of the right of secession depends on whether
any State or any number of States had the power to throw off at will its
connection with the Federal Government, and this question must be
determined by the nature of the Federal compact. Was that compact so
loosely constructed as to be no compact at all? or was it constructed in
such a way as to give the utmost liberty of action to each State, while
preserving the unity of all? Now it is declared in the second of the
"Articles of Confederation," that "every State retains all those rights
which are not by this confederation especially delegated to the United
States in Congress assembled." What those delegated rights included,
I have already said. But article 5 says that no two or more States
shall enter into any treaty, confederation, or alliance whatever between
them, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled.
Moreover, the constitution of 1787 declares that treason against the
United States consists in levying war against them. The Confederate
States, therefore, violated first the articles of confederation by
entering into a treaty and alliance without the consent of Congress, and
then the constitution by levying war against the Federal Government.
The Confederates are therefore, to all intents and purposes,
rebels—rebels moreover to a Government which they themselves had helped
to set up.
Now the fact that the constitution did not provide for
secession, but provided instead for its own amendment, is a double proof
of the right of the Federal Government to suppress revolt. The
constitution could not have provided for secession, because that would
have been to anticipate its own dissolution. It did, however,
provide for its own amendment. The constitution now in force, in
fact, is the amended constitution of 1787. It was Virginia that led
the way to amendment then; and the means that were open to Virginia in
1787, were open to South Carolina in 1861. If every State had the
right to secede whenever it had a grievance to complain of, what purpose
could the constitutional means of redress have served? Again, if
secession had been contemplated, the right of secession would doubtless
have been reserved. That it was not reserved, and that it was in
fact provided against, go to prove the right of the Federal Government to
But if one State had a right to secede from the rest, all the
rest had a right to secede from one;—that is to say, all but one had a
right to expel that one. And if that right existed, there never was
any union at all. It is, however, impossible to imagine a compact so
loosely formed as to be broken at will by one party only. Why, the
commonest partnership contract allows no such right. If North enters
into a partnership with South, and South, unknown to his partner, carries
off to his own house property which belongs as much to his partner as to
him, and then claims a dissolution of the partnership, is it likely that
North, if he has any pluck at all in him, will submit without a struggle?
Will he not prefer to go to law, just as the Northern States have
preferred to go to war? But what if, there being three partners in
the firm, South and Gulf should conspire to throw out North, would North
be any more likely to succumb? Then, if they went to law, and the
deed of partnership was put in, and that deed was found to provide for
arbitration in case of dispute, would not a just judge give judgment at
once for North?
It is, however, argued by the advocates of the South that the
States were absolutely independent of each other—as independent of each
other, to use the words of one of them, "as England is of France."
But if Georgia was as independent of Massachusetts as England is of
France, of what use was the Federal Government and for what purpose was it
designed? The same writer says also that the Federal Government had
its army "to repel invasions or suppress insurrections." But if
these States were so absolutely independent of each other, there could
have been no insurrection which the Federal forces had a right to
suppress. And if these States were not so independent, then they had
a right to suppress the insurrection of South Carolina as much as any
other, and the insurrection of the whole South as much as that of South
Nevertheless, though the South had no legitimate right to
secede, it might have had a reasonable right to rebel. All who are
in any manner oppressed are perfectly justified in rebelling. Italy
was justified in rebelling against Austria. Poland is justified in
rising against Russia. The slave is justified in slaying his
enslaver. But had the South any such reason as this to rebel?
Was she in any manner oppressed by the North? Was she, like Italy by
Austria, robbed of her right to self-government and liberty? Were
her sons, like the Poles by the Russians, carried off against their will
to fight for a cause they detested? Was she, like the slave by her
master, scourged into submission, robbed of her birthright, deprived of
her children, despoiled of her virtue, hunted by bloodhounds, and
compelled to "toil that another may reap the fruits"? Any such
oppression as this would have justified the revolt of the South. But
the South had no oppression at all to complain of. It had not a
single burden to bear which was not equally borne by the North. It
had not only the same representative privileges as the North, but others
of which the North was deprived. The South was represented both
according to the number of its citizens and the number of its slaves.
Thus five slaves in the South were reckoned as equal to three free whites
in the North, and the number of its representatives in Congress was
increased accordingly. The South by reason of this had twenty
representatives more than its free population entitled it to have.
Was there anything like oppression in this? The South, moreover,
held, up to the moment of secession, the whole Federal power in its own
hands. Hence its agents were enabled to strip the Northern arsenals
of the means of defence, and fill its own with the arms and ammunition of
the Federal Government. Hence also its agents were enabled to
despatch the Federal fleet into distant seas, while its great conspiracy
was hatching. So the only oppression that could have been exercised
over it must have been exercised by itself. But the South had not
only no oppression to complain of it was in fact itself the oppressor.
How it oppressed the negro I shall have occasion presently to prove.
How it oppressed the North by its exactions and menaces the history of
For what, then, did the South begin the war? Having no
right to secede and no reason to revolt, what was the object of the South
in resorting to war? Was it to resist the growing abolitionism of
the Northern States? or was it to redress some uncertain tariff grievance?
Both reasons are assigned by the advocates of the South in England.
Only the first, however, is assigned by the South itself. Let us
take the last first.
"The tariff, not the negro, was the cause of the war."
That is the dictum of that Lieutenant Maury who has come to England
specially to spread it. This is what he tells us. He does not
tell his fellows that. They know better. They hold a very
different language among themselves; and Maury alone has said a word on
this subject. This tariff theory has been manufactured for English
acceptance only. The tariff lacquer is, however, so thin and
transparent, and the slavery substance so ugly and revolting beneath it,
that no man of sense and sight ought to be deceived by the imposture.
What, indeed, does Maury himself say about this very grievance in his book
on the "Geography of the Sea," published long before secession was thought
Some political economists (he says) have
ascribed the great decline in Southern commerce which followed the
adoption of the constitution of the United States to the protection given
by legislation to Northern interests. But I think statistics and
figures show that this decline was in no small degree owing to the Gulf
Stream and the water thermometer, for they changed the relations of
Charleston—the great Southern emporium of the time—removing it from its
position as a half-way house, and placing it in the category of an outside
Thus Maury himself has proved how false and foolish his own
plea is, for since the decline in Southern commerce is owing, not to the
protective measures of the North, but to the progress of physical
discovery, the complaint of the South must lie, not against the North, but
against science and the sea. But even admitting the reality of this
pretended grievance, it should surely have produced remonstrance rather
than revolt. Besides, it is impossible to believe that the South,
which held all the avenues to executive power, should have been so feeble
in legislative influence as to bow in the matter of tariff to the
dictation of the North. And the South did not bow to the North in
this matter: for, while some of the Confederate States were
protectionists, and some of the Federal States free-traders, the tariffs
of 1846 and 1857 were both carried by majorities of Southern votes
overriding majorities of Northern votes against them. Sixty-four
Northern representatives voted for the tariff of 1857, and 65 against it;
while 83 Southern representatives voted for it, and only 7 against it.
Again, a tariff may be made to protect the South as well as the North; and
such a tariff was in existence a few years ago, if it is not now, to
protect the sugar planters of the South. Sugar could be grown
cheaper in Cuba than in Louisiana, and so a duty was put upon the sugar of
Cuba to protect the sugar of Louisiana. The price of sugar
consequently rose, and the Northern people paid by that means, it is said,
hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of the Southern
planters. Yet the North did not revolt, did not even talk of
revolting. If you have a tariff at all, its incidence always must
fall more heavily on one class than it does on another. Our own
tobacco tariff presses more heavily on the poor than it does on the rich;
but do the poor revolt against the rich on account of it? The Corn
Laws materially injured Lancashire; but did Lancashire secede from Surrey?
Even free-trade benefits one county at the expense of another; but does
the county injured desire to break off connection with the injurer?
Why, if tariffs justified revolt, there is no country in the world which
would not be perpetually at war with itself. If the tariff was
really the cause of the war, then the conduct of the South in beginning it
would appear not less treacherous and criminal, but only more childish and
despicable, than it does now.
The real grievance of the South, however, as some of its
advocates admit, was the growing abolitionism of the Northern States.
The Southern leaders themselves make no scruple about admitting it either.
What they wanted was absolute dominion over the whole Union. They
had well-nigh obtained it, when the North awoke from its sleep of shame
It is necessary now to trace the rise of those questions
which agitated America previous to the outbreak of rebellion.
The history of slavery in America is the history of
concessions on the one side and of exactions on the other. The
policy of the slaveholder has been a policy of constant encroachment,
first on this side and then on that. And the North till lately has
as constantly bowed down to it. But a necessity of slavery was
growth, not only to keep it in power, but to keep it in existence.
Hence the Southern leaders obtained the Missouri Compromise; then the
repeal of that compact; then the extension of slavery to Texas; then the
Fugitive Slave Law; and finally the Dred Scott decision. Hence also
it claimed the right to extend slavery into all the territories of the
Union. The territories, let us remark, are those vast regions of the
West which have not yet been formed into States. In 1820 it was
proposed to admit the territory called Missouri into the Union as an
independent State; and a struggle arose on the question as to whether it
should be a Free or a Slave State. It was the interest of the South
of course to make it a Slave State, both on account of increasing the
votes of its party and extending the area of its curse. But slavery
was forbidden by decree of Congress in all the territories to the
north-west side of the river Ohio. Missouri lay to the north-west of
that river: so it was claimed by the North as a Free State. But
slavery already existed there: so it was claimed by the South as a Slave
State. The difficulty was compromised by the admission of Missouri
as a Slave State, and the prohibition of slavery in any state thereafter
to be admitted north of a certain geographical line. This compromise
lasted till 1854, when the South, eager for more power and a wider
territory, obtained its repeal, leaving to what is called "squatter
sovereignty" the right of deciding whether slavery shall be permitted in
the territories from which the Missouri Compromise excluded it.
Hence arose the long contest for Kansas and Nebraska. Another
contest had arisen in relation to Texas. Texas, a free province of
Mexico, was invaded by a party of Southern ruffians, for precisely the
same purpose as Lopez invaded Cuba and the Filibuster Walker invaded
Honduras—to annex the country and extend the "institution." A
disgraceful war with Mexico ensued, Texas was secured, and slavery was
established there. But the South complained of the Northern
hostility to slavery, and so proposed the infamous Fugitive Slave Law.
The author of this shameful statute was that very man about whom England
was on the point of going to war with the Federal Government. By
this law every escaped slave was ordered to be returned to his owner; the
slavehunter for the first time in American history obtained a legal
footing in the Free States; and the whole North was compelled to become
the colleague of brutal kidnappers. Fugitives were seized in the
very stronghold of abolitionism, riots ensued, and blood was shed.
Yet the South obtained another triumph. The judges of the Supreme
Court are appointed by the Federal Government, and the Federal Government
was in the hands of slaveowners. Adherents of the Slavery party were
therefore appointed judges. It had been ruled, in the case of a
slave named Dred Scott, that the fact of a slave having been taken by his
master into a state where slavery was illegal gave the slave a right to
claim his freedom. The Supreme Court, however, was appealed to; the
judgment was reversed, and Dred Scott was carried back into slavery.
This decision left the horrible doctrine upon record, "that the black man
has no rights which the white, man is bound to respect." It was also
decided that "prohibition of slavery in any territory of the Union was
unconstitutional, and that a slaveowner might go where he pleased with his
'property' throughout the United States, and retain his rights." All
this was more than North could endure; the great Free-Soil party was
formed; and a determined stand was made on the question of the extension
of slavery to the territories of the Union. It was on this ground
that the last Presidential contest was fought. Mr. Lincoln was
elected, and the South seceded. The temper of the North and the
successes of the Republicans previously, had led the South to expect a
defeat. Hence those treacherous preparations for war which left the
Federal Government without a fleet and almost without a gun. The
South saw that its days of dominion were numbered, that the safety of
slavery was in peril, that the stand of the North on the territories left
it nothing but tardy yet inevitable death.
How it was that the question of the territories involved that
issue it is necessary now to explain. Slavery must either spread
itself or die. Confinement within existing limits means death,
immediate or remote; and it means death for this reason:—Slavery is
compatible with unskilled labour only; it can only be preserved by making
the slaves more brutal than they were born. Once give the slave
employment which requires intelligence, and you develop a nature which
requires liberty. Moreover, to make slave labour profitable, it
needs to be employed in large masses and on one kind of work; and the
continual production of one kind of plant, as all agriculturists know,
rapidly exhausts the richest soil. "The cotton cultivation," says
John Stuart Mill, "in the opinion of all competent judges, alone saves
South American slavery; but cotton cultivation, exclusively adhered to,
exhausts in a moderate number of years all the soils that are fit for it."
Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, and Virginia, once rich in soil and
choice in cultivation, now contain vast tracts of desolate and wasted
country, laid waste and desolated by slave labour. Slaveholders,
therefore, to save the institution which curses them and robs their
country of its richness, must find fresh fields for its exercise and
expansion. Hence their claim to the vast unoccupied territories of
the Union. Instead of seeing in all this a horrible proof of the
vileness of the system they profit and yet lose by, the slave owners see
only a reason for its further propagation. So, if nothing should
stop its progress, in less than a century slavery will have exhausted the
soil of the States, overrun Mexico, and invaded South America. So,
when the slave and the savage have met in Patagonia, the policy of the
slaveowner, should it continue as it is to-day, will be to find beyond the
seas fresh and fertile lands to over-run and desolate. Is this a
prospect which any man of foresight and humanity can look upon without a
shudder? And yet this a prospect which the slaveowner contemplates
with complacency. Such is the demoralizing nature of slavery, that
all the hideous evils of which it is the parent are regarded by the
slaveowner as benefits and blessings. But the Free-Soil party arose
to resist this monstrous propagandism of the South. And as the
ground on which the Free-Soil party stood was really but remotely the
ground of abolitionism, the contest in regard to the territories was
fought on both sides with energy and skill.
We are now in a position to understand the proposals for
compromise which the South submitted to the North, the charges that were
made against the North, the nature and the hopes of that Confederacy which
the South is fighting to establish. No more damning proofs of
iniquity and guilt can be furnished than those that are furnished by the
Southern leaders themselves. Those who tell us that the South is
fighting only for dominion, and that slavery has nothing to do with the
war, exhibit either a pitiful ignorance of the question or a dishonest
desire to delude us. The North of course could control only by
dominion; it could restrain slavery only by outvoting the slaveowner; it
could accomplish abolition in no way so easily, though perhaps in no way
so tardily, as by restricting slavery to its present boundaries. If
the North, then, had fought only for that object, it would still have
fought for abolition; but it is fighting now, not only for something
greater, but against something that is even more infamous, than the
limitation or extension of slavery. The compromises that were
submitted to Congress, and the adoption of which by the North would at
once have satisfied the South, claimed not only the extension of slavery
to the territories, but the recognition of slavery all over the Union.
The South demanded nothing less than the admission of slavery into the
constitution of the Union. Had the North been more eager for the
maintenance of the Union than anxious for the limitation of slavery then,
as we are told it is now, nothing could have been more easily accomplished
than by the adoption of the slaveholders' compromises. It had only
to prostrate itself at the feet of the slaveowner to remove the difficulty
and restore the Union. But the North had a conscience in the matter,
and it would not recognise slavery in the territories, as it will not
recognise it even in the South now. But what shall we say of the
South, which conspired to sustain and which fights to extend the most
hideous evil that fiends ever planted in the world? Do you doubt
that this was the object and that this is the intention of the slaveowners
in the war they are waging? Then listen to what they themselves say,
to the propositions they made to the North, to the sentiments they utter
to each other.
Here are sixteen clear and direct proofs of the proposition,
that the origin of the war was slavery, and the object of the war is the
permanent establishment of all the evils that slavery has brought upon the
1—Mr. Breckenridge, the Southern candidate for the presidency, while
that contest was going on, made nine charges against the party which Mr.
Lincoln represented. Every one of these charges referred to the political
and social condition of the negro. He charged the Republican party with
intending, not only to compel the South to emancipate its slaves, but with
introducing "the doctrine of negro equality into American politics."
2—These charges were more explicitly made in the declaration of causes by
which South Carolina justified her determination to secede. South
Carolina, it will be remembered, was the first State that seceded; and the
reasons for the act were set forth in the following order:—
That the North has denied the right of property in slaves; that it has
pronounced the institution sinful; that it has permitted the organization
of abolition societies; that it has aided in the escape of slaves; that
it has excited servile insurrections; and that it has elected a man to the
high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes
are hostile to slavery, and that public opinion in the North has invested
a great political error with the sanction of a more erroneous religious
3—The other States that seceded did so on exactly the same
4—In the last message of President Buchanan to Congress, he makes
substantially the same charges against the North. The South had then
seceded; and in order to bring it back into the Union Buchanan made the
I earnestly recommend an explanatory amendment of the constitution on the
subject of slavery. This explanatory amendment might be confined to the
final settlement of the true construction of the constitution on three
special points:—1. An express recognition of the right of property in
slaves in the States where it now or may hereafter exist. 2. The duty of
protecting this right in all the common territories throughout their
territorial existence, and until they shall be admitted as States into the
with or without slavery as their constitution may prescribe. 3. A like
recognition of the right of the master to have his slave, who has escaped
from one State to another, restored and delivered up to him, and the
validity of the Fugitive Slave Law enacted for this purpose, together with
a declaration that all State Laws impairing or defeating this right are
violations of the constitution, and are consequently null and void.
5—Jefferson Davis, the now President of the Southern Confederacy, told the
United States Senate that "the belief existing in the Northern mind, that
negroes are, under our Government, entitled to political equality with
white men, must be dispelled, and Northern men and States must cease to
disturb our domestic tranquillity or assail our rights of property, or a
dissolution of the Union must be inevitable." He moreover submitted
to the Senate, on behalf of the already seceded South, the following
Resolved,—That it shall be declared, by amendment of the constitution,
that property in slaves, recognised as such by the local law of any of the
States of the Union, shall stand on the same footing in all constitutional
and federal relations as any other property; shall not be subject to be
divested or impaired by the local law of any other State, either in escape
thereto, or of transit or sojourn of the owner therein; and in no case
whatever shall such property be divested or impaired by any legislative
act of the United States, or any of the territories thereof.
6—John J. Crittenden was senator for Kentucky, and exerted himself in
Congress to obtain further concessions for the South. He proposed
what was called the "Crittenden Compromise." That compromise meant
nothing less than the absolute prostration of the North at the feet of the
slaveowner. Crittenden proposed to engraft slavery into the
constitution in the following articles:—
1. In all the territories of the United States, now or hereafter acquired,
situate north of latitude thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, slavery
or involuntary servitude is prohibited. In all the territories south of
the said line of latitude slavery of the African race is hereby recognised
as existing, and shall not be interfered with by Congress, but shall be protected as property. Any territory north or south of the said
line, shall be admitted into the Union, with or without slavery, as the
constitution of such new State
may provide. 2. Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery in places
its exclusive jurisdiction. 3. Congress shall have no power to prohibit or
hinder the transportation of slaves from one State to another, or a
territory in which slaves are by law permitted to be held, whether the
transportation be by land, navigable rivers, or by
the sea. 4. Congress shall provide by law, that the United States shall
pay to the owner the full value of his fugitive slave in all cases when
the marshal was prevented from arresting the said fugitive, or when, after
arrest, such fugitive was rescued. 5. No future amendment of the
constitution shall authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish
or interfere with slavery in any of the States by whose law it is or may
be allowed or permitted. 6. That the laws now in force for the recovery of
fugitive slaves, are in strict pursuance of the plain and mandatory
provisions of the constitution, and have been sanctioned as valid and
constitutional by the judgment of the Supreme Court of the United States,
and that law ought to be made for the punishment of those who attempt, by
rescue of the slaves or other illegal means, to hinder or defeat the due
execution of the said laws.
7—Robert Toombs, senator for Georgia, and subsequently
a member of Jefferson Davis's Cabinet, also proposed a compromise, or
rather demanded a concession. He demanded an amendment of the constitution
in the following terms:—
1. That property in slaves shall be entitled to the same protection from
the Government of the United States, in all its departments, everywhere,
which the constitution confers the power upon it to extend to any other
property, provided nothing herein contained shall be construed to limit or
restrain the right now belonging to every State, to prohibit, abolish, or
establish and protect slavery within its limits. 2. That persons
committing crimes against slave property in one State, and fleeing to
another, shall be delivered up in the same manner as persons committing
other crimes, and that the laws of the State from which such persons flee
shall be the test of criminality. 3. That fugitive slaves shall be
surrendered under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,
without being entitled to either a writ of habeas corpus or trial by jury,
or other similar obstructions of legislation, by the State to which they may flee. 4. That no
law shall ever be passed by Congress, in relation to the institution of
African slavery in the States or territories, or elsewhere in the United
States, without the consent of a majority
of the senators and representatives of the slaveholding States. 5. That
none of these provisions, or any other provisions of the constitution in
relation to slavery (except the African slave trade), shall ever be
altered, except by the consent of each and all of the States in which
Failing to carry his propositions, Mr. Toombs, on the
7th of January, 1861, made further demands. Here is an extract from his
success of the abolitionists and their allies, under the lead of the
Republican party, has produced its logical results already. They have, for
long years, been sowing
dragons' teeth, and they have finally got a crop of armed men. I demand,
first, that Slave States have equal rights to go into the common
territories, and remain there with their property, and be protected by the
Government till such territories shall become
States. I demand, second, that property in slaves be entitled to the same
protection from Government as all other property, and that the Government
shall never interfere
with the right of any State to abolish or protect slavery in its own
limits. My distinguished friend from Mississippi (Davis) proposed simply
a recognition, that we have a right to our own, that MAN CAN HAVE PROPERTY
IN MAN, that met with a UNANIMOUS REFUSAL by the votes of the most
moderate Union-saving, compromising portion of the Republican party. They
don't intend to grant it; they are under the Declaration of
Independence, that all men are born free and equal. That is the doctrine
of the abolitionists, but not the law of the United States.
8—Senator Douglas, the Democratic candidate for the presidential chair,
proposed in opposition to the "Crittenden Compromise" a series of eight
resolutions, every one of which related to the question of slavery, and
five of which gave guarantees of protection to the "property" of the
9—A Peace Congress sat at Washington in February and March, 1861, for the
purpose of devising measures to pacify the South. It passed seven
resolutions as a plan of adjustment, all relating to slavery.
10—A resolution was presented to the Georgia Convention m January, 1861,
proposing that "no State shall be admitted into the Southern Union,
unless it is slaveholding; and if it shall subsequently abolish slavery,
it shall be excluded."
11—The Louisiana Convention proposed to invite all States to join
the Southern Confederacy except the New England States; that is to say,
except those States in which alone the civil and political equality of
races is recognised by law.
12—The constitution of the Confederacy is an embodiment of all that the
South is fighting for; and the points of difference between that
instrument and the constitution of the United States are these:—
1. That African slavery in the territories shall be recognised and
protected by Congress and the Territorial Legislatures. 2. That the right
of slaveholders to transmit and sojourn in any State of the Confederacy,
with their slaves and other property,
shall be recognised and respected. 3. That the provision in regard to
fugitive slaves shall extend to any slave unlawfully carried from one
State into another, and there
escaping or taken away from his master. 4.
That no bill of attainder, ex
post facto law, or law impairing or denying the right of property in
slaves, shall be passed.
13—Alexander H. Stephens is the Vice-President of the
Southern Confederacy. He is consequently entitled to expound its
objects. Here is what he says:—
The prevailing idea entertained by Jefferson and most of the leading
statesmen, at the time of the formation of the old constitution, was that
the enslavement of the African was a violation of the laws of nature, that
it was wrong in principle. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal
with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or
other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and
pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution,
was the prevailing idea of the time. Our new Government is founded upon
the opposite idea. Its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon
the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man, that
slavery—subordination to the
superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new
Government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great
physical, philosophical, and
moral truth. It is upon this our social fabric is firmly planted: and I
cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of the full recognition
of this principle throughout
the civilized and enlightened world. This stone, which was rejected by the
first builders, is to become the chief corner-stone in our new edifice. It
is the Lord's doings
and marvellous in our eyes. Negro slavery is but in its infancy. We ought
and expand our institution. All nations when they cease to grow begin to
die. We should, then, endeavour to expand and grow. Central America, Mexico, are
all open to us.
14—The Richmond Examiner, in October last, gave the following as a
reason for drafting negroes for military service:—
Since the invasion of the South the Yankees have stolen tens of thousands
of negroes, and made them useful as teamsters, labourers in camp, &c. It
appears that slaveholders
are averse for some reason to hire their negroes in the Confederate army.
The prejudice is certainly an ignorant and mean one. As the war originated and is
carried on in great part for the defence of the slaveholder in his
property, rights, and the perpetuation of the institution, it is
reasonable to suppose that he ought to be first and foremost in aiding and
assisting, by every means in his power, the triumph and success of our
15—Dr. Palmer, a man of influence in the South, preaching at New Orleans,
claimed a divine sanction for slavery. Vice-President Stephens had
left no other claim to be urged on its behalf. Palmer supplies the
The providential trust of the South is to perpetuate the institution of
domestic slavery now existing, with freest scope for its natural
development. We should at once lift ourselves intelligently to the highest
moral ground, and proclaim to all the world that we hold this trust from
God, and in its occupancy are prepared to stand or fall. These slaves form part of our households, even as our children. It
is a duty we owe to ourselves, to our slaves, to the world, to Almighty
God, to preserve and transmit our existing system of domestic servitude,
with the right, unchallenged by man, to go and root itself wherever
Providence and nature may carry it.
16—As a climax to the whole, the bishops of the Episcopal Church have
declared that the "abolition of slavery is hateful, infidel, and
Is it possible, after this, to deny that slavery lies at the bottom of the
present disasters of America; that the North desired to restrict and thus
to extinguish the evil; that the South, wedded to its own sin and its
certain curse, resorted to arms to establish and extend the institution
which will inevitably ruin it? Here we have, first of all, the North
charged with abolition as a crime; then the declaration of Carolina that
she seceded to save her slavery; then the efforts of Davis, Douglas,
Crittenden, Toombs, and the Peace Congress to compromise the difficulty by
engrafting slavery on the constitution of the Union; then the formation
of the Southern Confederacy with slavery fixed and for ever established as
its first and fundamental article; then the defence of slavery as a "physical, philosophical, and moral truth"; and finally the claim set up
for it as an institution of divine origin which the slaveholder
holds in trust from God to root and establish "wherever Providence and
nature may carry it." And yet we are told that the South is fighting for
freedom and independence? A more monstrous abuse of terms was never
surely employed to delude a people or defend a cause. The South is
fighting for no other power in the world than to beat, bruise, and
brutalise a poor
and friendless race. But in one sense the slaveholder is fighting for
freedom—for freedom to enslave one race and brutalise another, to make a
million men machines and a million women prostitutes—for freedom to sell
his own children, his own brother and sister, to traffickers in blood and
debauchery—for freedom to treat men and women in the South as he would
not be permitted to treat a dog or a horse in England—for freedom to
preserve for ever and to spread indefinitely a crime with
which nothing else in the world can compare. And yet the leaders in this
hideous revolt are compared to the champions of independence in Italy; and
their cause is likened to that for which Adams, Washington,
and others fought. Ask, however, the chiefs of the popular movements
of Europe what their view of the war is. Ask Garibaldi, ask Victor
Hugo, ask Mazzini, ask Kossuth, ask Karl Blind. They at least are not
deluded by the arts and fabrications of the man-stealer; they have not
withdrawn their sympathy from the slave because his skin is of a darker
hue than theirs; they see and understand the great and immortal issues
involved in this contest to preserve, perpetuate, and extend the most
atrocious and the most revolting institution which the world has ever
seen. But where is the resemblance of this war to the war of Italian
independence? Garibaldi fought for the unity, not for the division, of
his country,—for the liberty, not the enslavement of the oppressed. Nor
is there any greater resemblance between this war and the war of
American independence. The American colonies revolted because they
were taxed without being represented. They did not even resist taxation
merely. What they did resist was the attempt of a distant Government
to impose a burden while withholding a right. Where, however, is the
distant Government in this case? where the burden? where the
right withheld? Let me repeat in this connection what I said just now in
another. The South itself helped to elect the Government against
which it has revolted. It had to bear no single burden which was not
equally borne by the North. The North never exercised, never meant
to exercise, any sort of oppression over the South. Not only was no
measure ever broached to deprive the South of its suffrages; it even held
privileges of which the North was deprived, for the slaveowner was not
only entitled to vote because he was a man, but he was entitled to a
plurality of votes because he held slaves. Moreover, the South had, up
to the day of its revolt, controlled the whole Government. Of all the
Presidents of America, before the revolt, two only have not belonged to
the party of the South. And it would not have revolted now had
instead of Lincoln been elected. As long as it could control the policy
and fill the offices of the Federal Government, it was content to remain
the Union. When it found that power was passing from its hands, it talked
of secession, and treacherously prepared for revolt. It would not consent
to remain in a Union it could no longer dominate and demoralize. As long
as the South won, it remained at peace; when it began to lose, it
prepared for war. The present revolt is not only without a parallel in the
war of independence—it is without a parallel in the history of the
world. The South revolted, not to resist oppression, but to maintain it;
not to redress its own wrongs, but to establish for ever the wrongs of
millions of slaves.
It is, however, maintained that the negro has more to hope for from the
success of the South than he has to hope for from the success of the
North. Nothing could be more delusive. Hem slavery in, and there is
nothing but death for it; give it means to expand, and you give it a new
lease of life. But where is the hope of extinction of a system which is
established in the constitution, which is founded on morals, which is held
as a trust from God? The African's only hope rests on the utter destruction of society itself. There would be no hope for the extinction of
cannibalism, if cannibalism were environed as slavery is in the South. Had
slavery a mere commercial value in the eyes of the slaveowner, it
might in due time decay. But it has more than a mere commercial value in
his eyes; it is part of his morality to believe in it, of his
philosophy to justify it, of his religion to maintain it. Nay, it is not
only the true and just system of society for the South; he holds that it
is the only true and just system of society for all the world. It is a new
civilization which he "cannot permit himself to doubt will be ultimately
successful throughout the enlightened world." The expounders of his gospel
tell him that it is his "providential trust to perpetuate and root it
wherever Providence and nature may carry it,"—and the bishops of his
church declare that its abolition is "hateful, infidel, and pestilent." When crime is founded on morals, and rooted in religion, nothing but the
disruption of society itself can ever destroy it. A very Sodom and
Gomorrah, theirs must be the fate of the South. The slaveowner himself
acknowledges this. "Slavery, under the circumstances existing in the
South," says one of them, [ The South
Vindicated. By the Hon. James Williams, late American Minister to Turkey.] "can only be eradicated by violence sudden
and overwhelming." Where, then, is the hope of emancipation, except
by some more frightful convulsion than that which is raging now? If the
present troubles terminate in favour of slavery, nothing but the fate of
Sodom can await the South or give hope to the slave.
Is there, then, no hope for the slave at all, nothing but never-ending
cruelty, want, and work? Fortunately for him there are two parties to
this conflict, the one fighting to hold him for ever in bondage, the other
fighting to release him for ever from it.
The war which was at first on the part of the North a
defensive war only, has developed at last into a war of abolition.
Yet the Government of the North has been from the first an anti-slavery
Government, though not an abolition Government. But the Northern
people, at the beginning of the struggle, were not ripe for the measures
which have since been adopted. Anti-slavery has had to fight its way
to favour in the North in much the same way as thirty years ago it had to
fight its way to favour in England. But the progress made in the
last two years in public sentiment and public policy is such as no
Abolitionist ever dreamt of, as no peaceful propaganda could ever have
effected. But the progress has been gradual, and the work severe.
The Federal Government has taken one stride after another till it stands
before the world now, the embodiment of abolition. And the progress
in public sentiment has been as great. At the beginning of the war,
Wendell Phillips was mobbed for advocating abolition in the capital.
Now abolition is actually accomplished there. The war has converted
millions to abolitionism. The progress in public policy, however, is
capable of being more exactly noted. I therefore present the
following proofs of progress on the part of the Federal Government:—
1—Slave-trading has been punished as piracy in the very stronghold of the
slave sentiment in the North. Though the law against the slavetrade had
been on the statute-book of America for twenty or thirty years, and
repeatedly violated all that time, it was only on the advent of Mr.
Lincoln's Government that it was put in force.
2—The Federal Government has entered into a treaty with that of Great
Britain for the mutual suppression of the slave-trade. By this treaty the
right of search is conceded—that right which alone can secure the
effective execution of the treaty, but which every previous Government has
refused to grant to the English cruisers.
3—The Federal Government, for the first time in the history of America
has recognised the right of the negro to govern himself. The negro
republics of Hayti and Liberia have now the right to be represented at the
4—Slavery has been for ever abolished as a National institution. The
District of Columbia—the only district over which the Federal Government
has immediate control—is now as free as Maine or Massachusetts.
5—The territories have been declared absolutely and for ever free. Slavery is therefore now by law limited to its present boundaries, bound
therefore by law to die.
6—All the officers of the Federal Government have been forbidden to
return fugutive slaves to their owners: only those who belong to loyal
owners are to be ransomed by the Federal Government.
7—Congress has passed an act admitting Western Virginia into the Union,
on condition of the gradual and certain abolition of slavery.
Attorney-General has virtually set aside the infamous Dred Scott decision
of the Supreme Court.
9—Congress has voted ten million dollars to Missouri as compensation for
the liberation of its slaves.
10—President Lincoln, as commander-in-chief of the armies of the
United States, has issued a proclamation emancipating all the slaves of
11—He has also recommended to Congress a scheme of gradually emancipating
all the slaves of loyal owners.
Here are eleven distinct and decisive anti-slavery acts of the Federal
Government. I might add to these anti-slavery acts of the Federal
Government the equally distinct and decisive anti-slavery expressions of
the men who compose it. Yet it is in defiance of these acts and
expressions that men persistently and perversely deny to the Federal
Government the honour which is due to it. We are told that it is merely
fighting for the Union, that it has no regard for the slave, that
emancipation is a more military measure, and that it will never be able to
carry it out. These objections are entitled to an answer.
1—It is true that the North is fighting for the Union; but is there
anything very monstrous in that? Would Englishmen readily submit to the
dismemberment of their country? When India attempted to rebel, they not
only put the rebellion down, but blew the rebels from their guns. But
India was not our country, and the integrity of England would not
have been impaired by the loss of it. What if Scotland, or Yorkshire, or
Cornwall should be presently smitten by the mania for "secession"? Would
the use of that term save it from immediate subjection? Would
the rebels in that case be fighting for "independence," and the
rest of the countries for "dominion"? But what is the nature of that
Union for which the North is fighting? It is no longer a Union of
slaveowners and free men; it is no longer a Union cemented by compromise
with crime:—it is a Union purified of slavery, founded on freedom, and
maintained by honour. And is not such a Union as that worth all the
sacrifices that have been or that can be made? What is all the blood that
has been shed or the treasure that has been spent compared with the
honour and the glory of uprooting a crime and restoring a country? The
fathers of America sowed the wind that their sons might reap the whirl
wind now. What craven would counsel compromise or encourage submission? The struggle was necessary, inevitable; better now than later. Every day the evil grew in magnitude; every day increased the toil and
sacrifice necessary to extinguish it. Is it not better to extinguish it
once for all now, than to hand it over to posterity to generate other
evils and poison the whole world? No Englishman would counsel his own
country thus: Why, then, should we thus counsel America?
2—The North, we are told, has no regard for the slave. Well, if it
has not, how much regard has the South? If the North does not love the
negro, it at least does not enslave him. But would any manifestation of
love for the negro improve the position of the North in England? New
England is the abode of abolitionism; the negro there is as free as the
white man; but does that help to win for New England the favour of the
enemies of the North? Is New England more honoured than New York? Why it
was precisely because of its devotion to the cause of the negro that
Louisiana proposed to invite all the States to join the Southern
Confederacy except the New England States. What is the meaning of that
continual contempt of "fanatical abolitionists" in which the enemies of
the North indulge? Moreover, how is it that the reported successes of the
Democratic party—the very worst enemies of the negro in the North—have
met with so much favour
from the partizans of the South? The truth is, this cry about the
Northern treatment of the negro comes from those who have less than the
Northern regard. But how much of the Northern prejudice against the negro
due to the Southern enslavement of him? A slave class is always a
despised class. If negro slavery existed in Scotland, do you think the
negro would be better treated in England than he is in the North? If all
Scotchmen were slaves, what "respectable" man in England would admit
them into his house? And for that matter, who cares now to associate
with carters or cowherds? Do we not, besides, ride in different carriages
on the railway, sail in different cabins on the sea, and sit in different
circles at the theatre? The same social distinction is preserved even in
the Church; there there are cushioned pews for the rich, closed pews for
the tradesman, and hard "free" seats for the poor. It has been said that
the treatment of the negro in the North is precisely that which is
extended to the Irishman in England. But there is more to be said in
the North than of England. The prejudices of both countries grow out of
the habits of association; but here in England we have not had the corrupting influence of slavery to drag us down.
That influence can never be lost sight of in dealing with the demoralization of the Northern States. Slavery indeed has not only demoralized them, it is demoralizing us also.
What has it done for the shipowners of Liverpool? What is it doing for
the writers of the Times? For the rest, many of our public men are not
only defending the slaveowners, but are descending to the infamy of defending slavery itself. That the North has kept itself so free, and made
itself so prominent in abolitionism, in view of the influences that
environ it, is infinitely to the credit of its people and its Government.
3—It is attempted to rob the Federal Government of all anti-slavery
credit. The emancipation proclamation is said to have no more value than
an ordinary military measure. But surely all the other acts that I
have mentioned were not dictated by military necessity. Was it a mere
strategic movement on the part of the Federal Government to put down the
slave trade, to recognise Liberia, to abolish slavery in Columbia and the
territories, to forbid the return of fugitive slaves, to purchase the emancipation of Missouri, and to establish the citizenship of the negro? But
even if emancipation does come through the necessities of the North, ought
we therefore to despise it? If all the good that is done from necessity
is to be rejected, how much will be left us to accept? It was necessity
that obliged Austria to abandon Lombardy; but ought Italy on that account
to throw that province back? Besides, States never do act from principle,
only from expediency; and to condemn the Federal Government for acting
from expediency now is only to condemn it for acting as all Governments
ever have done. It can, however, matter very little to the liberated slave
whether his freedom is brought about by principle or by necessity, whether
it comes from the weakness of his enemies or the strength
of his friends. The fact of moment for him is the fact of freedom. Everything else is mere embellishment, detracting very little from and
very little to the great substantial fact. It is, however, true that emancipation is the result of military necessity. But it could not have
come in any other way; and President Lincoln is even now denounced for
bringing it about in this one. Slavery could be abolished in two ways—by
amendment of the constitution, or (in the case of rebels) by proclamation of the President. It could not have been done by amendment of the
constitution, because the Slave States would undoubtedly have opposed it. In the case of rebels, however, the President, as commander-in-chief of
the army, claims and exercises absolute power over property. Now slaves in
the South are chattels personal, over whom consequently the President
possesses power. Thus the slaveowners' brutal laws themselves contributed
to make emancipation easy. The slaves, moreover, were a military power in
the hands of the South, since they performed the laborious duties of the
Southern armies. On this ground, too, the President was justified in
declaring them free. But it is objected that the Federal power is to be
employed on the one hand in destroying and on the other in maintaining the
system of slavery; that in fact the slaves of rebels are to be freed, but
the slaves of loyalists kept in slavery. There is not the slightest reason
for saying so. The objection is in fact a wilful and malicious perversion
the President's proposal. In the first place, it is declared that no slave
shall be returned to slavery; only that, if his master be a loyalist, the
Federal Government will ransom him. In the next place, the President
proposes to amend the constitution, so as to provide for the gradual
emancipation of the slaves of loyal owners, less than forty years being
given for the consummation of his plan. Other than this the President
could not do. He, as President, has no more legal right—(his moral right
is another question)—to confiscate the slaves of loyal owners than Lord
Palmerston has to confiscate the spirits of a publican or the poisons of a
chemist. President Lincoln would be false to his oath of office if he
undertook any such thing. What he has undertaken, however, is more legal
without being less just and righteous. That he is condemned for doing so
is only a proof of the implacable hatred of his enemies. Mr. Lincoln can
take no step that will satisfy them, except, it may be, the step of
cowardly submitting to the Slave Power. The hostility displayed towards
the Federal Government springs, for the most part, not from any injustice
in its measures, but from a rooted antipathy to the North itself. Yet,
notwithstanding all the abuse which the President has been subjected to,
no one of his detractors has shown, I think, a better plan of meeting the
difficulty. Until they have done that, they ought in decency to hold their
4—But the measure, it is predicted, cannot be carried out. That,
however, is a question of time. As to the course and duration of this
war we have heard many prophecies on both sides. We have had sixty days
and ninety days assigned on the one side, and three months and six months
assigned on the other. After so many failures, is it worthwhile
predicting at all? It is certain at any rate that these predictions will
alter the course of events. And if the President should fail, that may
be his misfortune, but will certainly not be his fault. It will, moreover,
be the misfortune of the civilized world; for there will then be rooted in
the soil of America a system of society more dangerous and destructive
than all the fevers of the swamps and all the choleras of Asia. But the
proclamation is even now carried out, since two hundred thousand slaves
have already been rescued by the Federal armies. Slaveholders on the
one hand tell us that their slaves are attached to them, and yet on the
other they threaten to immolate the whole race. Are we to believe in
the blood-thirsty menaces of Jefferson Davis or in the confident
predictions of his slaveholding friends?
Sympathisers with the South, however, are taking at last their only
logical position in the contest. They are protesting not so much against
Mr. Lincoln's scheme of emancipation as against any scheme of emancipation at all. Englishmen, however, have a natural and instinctive
prejudice against slavery, and so these sympathisers with iniquity
disguise their proclivities under professions of regard for the slave. They ask what is to be done with the negro, and they answer you
themselves. The negro, they say, is quite incapable of freedom, would not
gift of freedom, and is best off in slavery. Pressed on that ground, they
go farther and say, that slavery is not so bad a condition after all, that
the slaves are contented and happy, and that the institution has many
advantages for the master and slave as well. Then they reach the climax of
delusion and shame by advocating the right and propriety of slavery
itself. Into this last slough of iniquity I certainly am not inclined
to follow them. I should as soon think of reasoning on the question of the
right and propriety of burglary, of incest, or of cannibalism, as on the
right and propriety of negro slavery. The men who can advocate what is not
a mere evil, but what is in truth "the summing-up and concentration" of
all evils, are too far beyond the reach of reason, and too far below the
lowest ground of morality, to be either reasoned with or rebuked. And
there is in England fortunately no need to do either; for the very attempt
of the Times to defend slavery on the ground of a biblical sanction, has
had the effect, not of exalting slavery, but of degrading the Bible. That
infamous print has played its last card for the South,
and has found it a blank. Let us, however, examine those other assertions
of the Slavery party which, though delusive, are yet amenable to reason. The first is a matter of fear, the second of ignorance.
1—If men were always to be governed by their fears, we should not only
never have any change, but never any improvement in the world. Fear is
the great obstacle to progress; as daring is the great redresser of
wrongs. No reform has ever been proposed even in our own country but has
met with the dismal forebodings of the fearful. Who does not remember the
anarchy that was predicted when the Reform Bill was agitated? And the same
foolish forebodings are indulged in now when
ever a further extension of the suffrage is asked and advocated. What
evils of misery, of destitution, and of anarchy, were not predicted when
Wilberforce and Clarkson were claiming the emancipation of our own slaves?
It was but yesterday that I know not what horrors were anticipated from
the freedom of the Russian serfs. It is the same miserable dread of just
and honest action that animates, or seems to animate, the enemies of
emancipation now. They do not see that no destitution can be deeper, no
misery more intense, no anarchy more widespread, than the misery, the
destitution, and the anarchy of slavery itself. They are incapable of
seeing that Justice is the great conservator and pacificator of the world;
that no evil can be greater and no danger more imminent than that which
springs from cruelty and wrong. They talk of order and
peace, when order is based on crime and peace is bathed in blood. They
dread a servile war while rejoicing in a servile peace. They are horrified
at the blood that is shed for the liberation of the slave, forgetting all
the while the blood that is shed to keep him a slave. And they shut their
eyes to the inevitable horrors that slavery is ever accumulating for
itself, —to the cruelty it inflicts on the oppressed, to
the brutality it excites in the oppressor, to the more than certain death
it will one day bring on both. They know neither how to read history nor
how to profit by experience.
They forget Spartacus and ignore L'Ouverture. And they complacently
tell us that the slave is not fit to be a free man. But can they tell us
how they know this? and can they tell us how he is ever likely to be fit
for freedom as long as he remains a slave? Are the slaves of the South ever
likely to be made fit under the laws of Louisiana? Can you expect the
child to swim before he gets into the water, or the negro to read before
is taught? The first necessity of the slaveowner is the brutalization of
his slave. Where under such a necessity is the hope of future fitness to
found? You want the slave to be elevated before he is freed, and yet you
patronize a system which makes it a crime to teach the negro to read and
inflicts a punishment on the negro for possessing a piece of printed
paper! Under such a treatment, when would you yourself be "fit" for
freedom? Is that the sort of discipline to which you would wish your own
sons and daughters to be subjected before assuming the rights of
citizens? Do you not see—or do you see, and so urge it—that your
argument puts progress out of the question and makes slavery perpetual?
But you ask what is to become of the negro? What is he to do? Can
anything worse befall him in freedom, under any imaginable circumstances of horror, than has ever befallen him in slavery? No picture that
the gloomiest mind can imagine can at all compare with that. This feeling
of fear is just the feeling of all those who, while wishing right, have
neither the strength nor the justice to do right. But must crime be
maintained for ever because cowards lack the courage and fools the wisdom
to crush it? As to what the negro is to do, what does he do now? What
does he do in the West Indies? Is there nothing in the world for the
slave but slavery or death? Is there no free labour for him? Is all the
work which the negro does now to be abandoned as soon as he becomes the
possessor of his own body and his own soul? But the experiment has been
tried, and the negroes have been found to work better for wages than
without them, to work better for themselves than their masters. All this
is only what, from the nature of things, one might have expected. Kindness
is better than cruelty, and the hope of reward stronger than the
fear of punishment. It remains for the slavemasters themselves to complete
the change which the proclamation of the President has already
begun. If not the slavemasters, then other masters. But impervious as the
slaveowner is to questions of right and duty, he is yet open to
considerations of interest and gain. And his interest it may shortly be to
resort to the gentle discipline of wages instead of the brutal discipline
of the lash.
2—It is, however, said that slavery is not so bad a condition after all,
that the negroes are both happy and contented with it. No delusion which
the slaveowner has spread can be more false and fatal than this is. That
slaves are occasionally treated well, and that slaveowners are occasionally humane, is no doubt true. But is the character of the system
altered by the fair treatment of a slave here and the humane behaviour of
an owner there? Is not cruelty the very essence of the system, and
brutality its inevitable result? The very vastness and irresponsibility
of the power which slavery confers on the slaveowner must itself produce
both the one result and the other. But if the slaves are happy and
contented, how is it that they are so ready to fly to the forest and the
swamp? How is it so many thousands have sought refuge in Canada? What
is the meaning of those advertisements for runaway slaves which fill the
the columns of Southern newspapers? What possible necessity was there
for the infamous Fugutive Slave Law? Wherefore that dread of abolitionism
which has led to this revolt?
Everybody knows for what purpose this perversion of facts is resorted to. Like the tariff grievance, it has been manufactured for English
consumption, and Englishmen have unfortunately been led to believe it. They are, however, wedded to the imposture only so long, as it is not exposed. I will, therefore, endeavour to expose it. Now the laws of the
South regard the slave as the absolute property of his owner, just as his
horse or his dog is. "The South," said the Southern Commissioner Yancey,
"has as much right to traffic, in negroes as the North has to
traffic in nutmegs." "Slaves shall be deemed," says
the law of South
Carolina, "to be chattels personal in the hands of their owners, to all
intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever." What these "intents,
constructions, and purposes" are, let every father in England imagine! Judge Ruffin, in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, defined a slave to
be "one doomed in his own person and his posterity, to live without
knowledge, and without the capacity to make anything his own, and to
toil that another may reap the fruits." The very laws provide for the
slave's punishment by horsewhip and cowhide. They also afford protection
to the slave from the violence of his master, inflicting, however, a fine
only for cutting out a slave's tongue or knocking out a slave's eye, and
providing imprisonment only for more humanely killing a slave outright. Regular places are established in the Slave States, where slaves are sent
to be beaten and men are employed to beat them. Then, when they run away,
bloodhounds are employed to hunt them,
and rewards are offered for their recovery, alive or dead. Further, if,
in resisting the enslavement of himself, the robbery of his children, or
the outrage of his wife or his daughter, the negro strikes a white man,
the penalty is death by the law; if he kills a white man, he is burnt
alive by the mob. On the plantations, the negroes are poorly fed, badly
sheltered, and severely worked. There are two systems pursued by the
slaveowners of the South;—one is to feed the slaves comfortably, work
them lightly, and so prolong their existence; the other is to feed them
scantily, and work them to death. The latter system is said to be the
most profitable. The slave-drivers of the South carry on a slave-driving
race with each other, endeavouring to get the most work out of the fewest
hands. The results are chronicled in the Southern newspapers as "unparalleled driving," and so forth. In four states of the South, no slave
can be emancipated even by the will of his owner, except by a
special act of the legislature of the State. Moreover, it is a "crime"
against the laws, punished by a fine of a hundred pounds, to teach a
slave, or a free negro to write. Nor is that all. "Assemblies of slaves,
free negroes, &c., for the purpose of mental instruction, are declared to
be unlawful meetings''; and "corporal punishment, not exceeding twenty
lashes," may be inflicted upon those who resort to them. Of the immorality
of the slave system it is hardly necessary to speak. The
colour of the skin of thousands of slaves is a proof of it; and so the
slaveowner is continually selling his own children, his own brothers and
sisters—his brothers to a life of misery and toil, his sisters to a life
of prostitution and of shame. Do you doubt this universal prostitution? Then tell us how you account for the various shades of colour in the
slaves. Then tell us how it is that the whitest and handsomest girls fetch
the highest price in the slave-market? Now, there is no words
exaggeration in all this. There is not a word here which is not
out by hundreds of facts. Of these facts, let me give some specimens here:—
The sugar planters upon the sugar coasts in Louisina had ascertained that,
as it was usually necessary to employ about twice the amount of labour
during the boiling season that was required during the season of raising,
they could, by excessive driving night and day, during the boiling season,
accomplish the whole by one set of hands. By pursuing this plan,
could afford to sacrifice a set of hands once in seven years.—Weld's
Slavery as It Is.
There are two systems pursued among, us, said a benevolent planter,—one
is to make all we can out of a negro in a few years, and then supply his
place with another; the other is to treat him as I do; but I do not
make much money out of my slaves.—Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin.
It has been decided by this court that the owner of a slave, for the
malicious, cruel, and excessive beating of his own slave, cannot be
indicted.—Judge Field, of Virginia.
Whereas many times slaves run away
and lie out, hid and lurking in swamps, woods and other obscure places,
killing cattle and hogs; in all such cases, any two justices are
empowered to issue a proclamation against such slaves. And if any slaves
against whom a proclamation has been issued shall stay out and do not
immediately return home, it shall be lawful for any person whatsoever to
kill and destroy such slaves by such ways and means as he shall think
fit, without accusation or impeachment for the same.—Revised Statute of South Carolina.
The undersigned, having an excellent pack of hounds, for trailing and
catching runaway slaves, informs the public that his prices in future will
be as follows for such services:—For each day employed in hunting and
trailing, 2½ dols.; for catching each slave, 10 dols.; for going over
10 miles and catching slaves, 20 dols—B. BLACK.—Dandeville (Alabama)
300 DOLLARS REWARD.—Ran away from the subscriber, in November last, his
two negro men, named Billey and Pompey. Billey is 25 years old, and is
known as the patroon of my boat for many years; in all probability he
may resist; in that event 50 dollars will be paid for his HEAD.—Newbern
(North Carolina) Spectator.
25 DOLLARS REWARD.—Run away from the subscriber, living in the county of Rappahannock, on Tuesday last, a
bright mulatto, Daniel, about 5 feet 8
inches high, and about 35 years old, very intelligent, and is pretty well
acquainted from Richmond to Alexandria. He calls himself Daniel Turner;
his hair curls without showing black blood or wool; he has a scar on his
cheek, and his left hand has been seriously injured by a pistol shot.—A.
M. WILLIS.—Alexandria Gazette.
One hundred negroes for sale, at my depôt in Commerce-street, where I
will be receiving from time to time large lots of negroes duing the
season, and I will sell on as accommodating terms as any house in the
city. I would respectfully request my old customers and friends to
call and examine my stock.—JNO. W. LINDSEY.—Advertiser and Gazette,
Licentiousness is one of the foul features of slavery everywhere; but it
is especially prevalent and indiscriminate where slave-breeding is
conducted as a business. It grows directly out of the system and is
inseparable from it. The pecuniary inducement to general pollution must be
very strong, since the larger the slave increase the greater
the masters' gains, and especially since the mixed bloods command a
considerably higher price than the pure blacks.—Report of the British
and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
Here, then, are a few illustrative traits of that civilization which the
South is fighting to establish. Is it such a system as Anti-Slavery
England can desire to see become the foundation of an empire? Is that
monstrous Slave Power an empire such as England should be anxious to
welcome into the family of nations? And yet the system which now
prevails in the South, horrible and hideous as it is, is neither so
hideous nor so horrible as it will be if the power of the South succeeds.
Removed from the influence of the public opinion of the Free States, that
scheme which has long been advocated—the scheme of enslaving all the "poor whites"—will soon be carried out; for the slave system of the
South is tending all one way, to the establishment of two classes
only—the slave and the slaveowner. Listen to the argument of the
slaveowner Cobb. Are the working men of England prepared to endorse this
frightful doctrine? "There is, perhaps, no solution of the great problem
of reconciling the interests of labour and capital, so as to protect each
from the encroachments and oppressions of the other, so simple, and
effective as negro slavery. By making the labourer himself capital, the
conflict ceases, and the interests become identical." Let the South become
established, and then likewise that other villany which the South has
long been advocating will certainly be resorted to. Then the over-sea
traffic in negroes will rival in cruelty and fiendishness the inter-state
traffic in slaves. The monster of Dahomey will drive a brisker trade
than ever with his Confederate customers. So in a short while England
will be at war with the Slave Power, unless the African squadron should be
in the meantime withdrawn. England then will have a taste of that, "chivalry" and
"gentleness" which it is now the fashion of the Times to
exalt. Such a taste will revive old memories of the men who have
hitherto ruled in Washington. The power that kidnapped our countrymen, that sold into slavery our coloured citizens, that tarred and
feathered our merchant captains, will not be slow in offering fresh
insults to the nation it now pretends to flatter.
Meanwhile, men of money and men of title pander to the Slave Power. Do
they see, as the workman sees, that this contest is really a Contest of
free labour with slave?—that it will end either in the enslavement of the
white labourer or the liberation of the coloured one,—in the elevation of
a continent or the degradation of the world? Is it for that reason that
the Times debauches the public mind and prostitutes the liberty of the
press? Was it on that account that the Times advised M'Clellan to establish a military despotism in the North? Is labour not sufficiently
degraded already? Must "a thousand proletarians be sacrificed," as a
Richmond paper puts it, "in order to create, a single aristocrat?" Shall
we see revived in the West the brutal barbarism of Eastern empires? Is
the world in the nineteenth century to return to social systems that are
worse than those of the ninth?
These are the problems that the struggle in America may be expected to
solve. And it is in the work of solving them on the side of Slavery and
Barbarism that Englishmen are invited to co-operate. While Russia is
emancipating her serfs, while, Holland is liberating her slaves, while
Spain promises to restrict her slavery, and Egypt holds out hope to her
negro bondmen, England is asked to sympathise with wretches who fight with
the ferocity of fiends for an object which fiends can only favour. Is the honour and renown of our country to be prostituted to the service
man-stealer? What miscreants next shall be the gods of our idolatry?
Shall Baddahung of Dahomey take the place of the brigands who have
patronised and the pirates who have traded with him? But the honour and
reputation of England, marred as they have been by the monstrous
perversions of the press, are yet in safe keeping. Thanks to the
intelligence, the integrity, and the foresight of the working men of England,
our country has been saved from the shame and humiliation of sympathy with
slaveowners. The real nature of this conflict, falsehood and perversion
not been able to hide from them. They see on the one side a slave
oligarchy contending for a slave empire, and on the other a free but not
faultless people fighting for the integrity of its country and the freedom
of its soil. On which side the victory may finally fall no man can foresee; but here in this battle the greatest and grandest problem of centuries
must be solved—whether the New World, blessed by freedom or cursed by
slavery, shall hereafter bless or curse the Old.
H. FIELDING, PRINTER, CORNER OF MARKET STREET, HUDDERSFIELD.
HISTORY OF THE
DICKY BIRD SOCIETY
THE history of the Dicky Bird Society is the history
of a wonderful success. It is the history of a movement which was
certainly initiated by Uncle Toby, but which has from the very first been
carried on almost solely and wholly by the boys and girls who have
gathered themselves around him. It is, in fact, the history of as
genuine and as wholesome a society as was ever suggested or brought into
existence. It is this history, then, that Uncle Toby is about to
The 7th of October, 1876, ought to be, and, indeed, will be,
a memorable date in the annals of humane teaching in the North of England.
It was on this date that the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle opened its
columns to Uncle Toby—the very same Uncle Toby who has ever since, week by
week, tried to instil into the minds of the young people who have read his
contributions the duty of kindness to all living things. The first
number of the Children's Corner explained a good many things—who Uncle
Toby was, how he proposed to do his work, what help he expected from the
little folks, how he had made the acquaintance of Father Chirpie, what a
cowardly thing cruelty is, how much misery is inflicted on the feathered
tribe by the robbing of nests, and how delightful it would be if children
would pledge themselves to treat birds and animals with tenderness and
affection. All these and a good many other things besides were
explained in the first column Uncle Toby wrote for the Weekly Chronicle.
WHO IS UNCLE TOBY?
As a matter of course, Uncle Toby introduced himself to
the children by explaining who he was. Years and years before he had
ever thought of making for himself a household name among the boys and
girls in all parts of the world, he had read a book called "Tristram
Shandy." This book was written, as thousands of the children whom he
has addressed have since learnt, by a celebrated author of the name of
Laurence Sterne. An important character in "Tristram Shandy " is "My
Uncle Toby." One story therein related of "My Uncle Toby" is so
touching, so full of tenderness, and so delightful and impressive in all
that it implies, that the memory of it has never faded, and is never
likely to fade, from his recollection. It, was a story that showed
more clearly than anything he had ever read before, or has ever read
since, how tenderly and lovingly it is possible to treat even the
creatures which sometimes torment and annoy us. "My Uncle Toby" is
represented to have been sitting at dinner one hot summer's day when a big
bluebottle fly came buzzing around him. The fly made him so
uncomfortable, caused him so much annoyance, and vexed him to such a
degree, that he, "after infinite attempts," caught it at last as it flew
by him. Did he crush it in his anger? No, he was too humane
for that. It occurred to him that it was not the fly that was at
fault, but the place it occupied in relation to himself. What, then,
did "My Uncle Toby" do? Instead of killing his tormentor, he carried
it to the window, lifted the sash, and drove the fly from the room,
saying, as it passed out into the sunshine: "Go, poor fly; get thee gone!
Why should I hurt thee? This world surely is wide enough to hold
both thee and me." It was My Uncle Toby's action, so considerate and
so inspiring, so completely in harmony with the everlasting doctrine of
kindness, that led the editor of the Children's Corner, when he commenced
his weekly contributions on the 7th of October, 1876, to adopt the name
which has year by year ever since become more and more famous among the
young. Thus it came to pass, too, that Uncle Toby is represented, in
the picture which has for so long a time stood at the head of the
Children's Corner, in the garb and habit of the last century—the garb and
habit of Tristram Shandy's dear old relative. The original Uncle
Toby wore a cocked hat, knee breeches, and a wide-skirted coat; moreover,
he was accustomed to smoke a long pipe. And so it is that the Uncle
Toby of our own day is pictured in the dress of the period when Laurence
Sterne wrote his history of Tristram Shandy, wearing his cocked hat,
smoking his long pipe, and listening to the lively prattle of the children
who hang about his knees.
THE NAME OF THE SOCIETY.
Uncle Toby intimated in the first number of the Children's
Corner that he had a plan to propose to all his little friends. It
came about, he said, in this way:—A wise old bird, once upon a time, used
to come and explain all his troubles to him. This wise old bird was
none other than Father Chirpie. "There were two things," Father
Chirpie said, "that made his life very unhappy. First of all, in the
snowy winter time, he could not get enough to eat; then, in the spring
time, when he and his little wife had built a small house for their small
bird babies, some cruel boys would sometimes come and steal it away."
Father Chirpie's complaints so affected his friend that he made up his
mind, as sure as his name was Uncle Toby, that he would some day form a
society of little people who would help to feed the birds in winter time,
and also promise not to take their nests in the spring. Uncle Toby
added that he would in the following week tell everybody what the name of
this society should be, how it should be managed, and what should be the
rules and regulations for keeping it in order. Meantime, he asked
the children to write to him, to tell him what they thought of his plan,
and to draw on the left hand corner of their envelopes the picture of a
bird. There was no need for Uncle Toby to invent a name for the
society; the children themselves invented it for him. It was they
who gave it the name it has ever since borne, and ever will bear—that of
the Dicky Bird Society. And it was they who soon after abbreviated
it into the well-known D.B.S.
FIRST LETTERS TO UNCLE TOBY.
The Children's Corner was a great and surprising success from
the very commencement. Uncle Toby had no sooner appealed to his
little friends to write to him than letters began to reach him in great
numbers. At first, however, some of the children wrote under assumed
names, such as Kitty Clover, Jack Horner, Cock Robin, Tom Tit, Tangle
Thread, and Robin Redbreast. But others affected no concealment.
Among the latter were William H. Henzell, who wrote from Heaton; Edward
Charlton Scott, who wrote from Barnsley; and Edith Emily Palphramond, who
is of course no longer a little girl. The first letter Uncle Toby
printed was a charming epistle from Kitty Clover. This was not the
real name of his clever little correspondent. What her real name was
may be seen from the list hereafter to be given of the earlier members of
the D.B.S., for Kitty's name appears first on that list. Well,
Kitty's letter ran thus:—
Newcastle, October 9, 1876.
My dear Uncle Toby,—I was very glad when you asked me to write to you, and
it was very kind of you, dear Uncle Toby, to make a Children's Column.
I often write to the editor of a little folks' paper, but I have to wait
such a long time for an answer. It will be far nicer writing to an
Uncle Toby than to an editor. I will write often if you will let me.
I am sure lots of children will be delighted to do so, because it will
make us quite grand, writing to a big folks' paper. I hope lots will
write to you, and then we will have to have more space than a column, and
the Weekly Chronicle will have to be made larger, or the big people
must make room for us. I have seen a picture of Uncle Toby in "Tristram
Shandy," and I think you must be like him. But I don't think you
wear a red waistcoat and a wig, do you? I want to ask you a
question, please. If one hen lays eggs and another hatches them,
which hen is the little chickens' mother?—I remain your little friend,
The second letter Uncle Toby printed was from Jack Horner,
and the third was the following:—
Newcastle, October 8, 1876.
My dear Uncle Toby,—I will put a lot of crumbs outside every winter's
morning. I like to see the birds feed themselves with bread crumbs.
I don't think I could ever take a bird's nest. Those naughty boys who do
would not like it themselves if they were little birds.—Your affectionate
ERNEST W. ADAMS.
The week following the publication of these letters others
were acknowledged from Cora Eveleen West, David Ainsley, Lilian
Richardson, Mary Birkbeck, Cornelius Robson, Lucy Ironsides, Maggie McLea,
Isabella McLea, Edward C. Scott, and Herbert Weddell. After that,
the letters to Uncle Toby became so numerous that it is impossible to
print here even the names of the little folks who wrote them. Among
those acknowledged on the 28th of October, 1876, however, was one from
Glasgow, which informed Uncle Toby that a certain young lady in that city
had written a piece of music which she called "Uncle Toby's Mazurka."
AN AMUSING EPISODE.
One of the funniest letters printed in the Children's Corner
in the early days of the Dicky Bird Society was from a Newcastle lad, who
was so earnest in protecting the birds that he and his brother actually
thrashed another lad whom they saw cruelly torturing a sparrow. Here
is the letter:—
Newcastle, December 19, 1876.
Dear Uncle Toby,—My brother and myself have made up our minds to protect
all the little birds. We started on Saturday, when the punching my
brother Charley gave Tommy Smith, who lives in our street, was awful.
The cruel boy had a sparrow tied by the leg to a bit of string, which was
hung over a lamp-post, and was dangling the poor bird before his dog, and
frightening it nearly to death. I chased the dog with my mother's
clothes prop, while my brother settled Tommy Smith, and has promised to
give him more unless he joins your Dicky Bird Society.—Yours truly,
Uncle Toby, very naturally and properly, while commending the
good intentions of his young friend, delivered a homily on the new system
of propagandism, adding advice which all the readers of the Corner were
asked to take to heart. The homily was so effective that the
enthusiastic young gentleman who had blacked his neighbour's eyes in the
cause of mercy wrote to say that he intended to follow Uncle Toby's
counsel. Perhaps more interesting even than this statement were
others to the effect that Tommy and William Joseph had become "first-class
friends"; that Tommy was now "dead nuts on anybody who tortures our dicky
birds"; and that both were resolved to keep "a sharp look-out on the lads
in our street." A week or two later Tommy Smith, having become a
member of the society, wrote a long letter to the Corner himself—a letter
in which he declaimed with great indignation against the pigeon shooting
he had seen on the Town Moor. This curious and interesting episode,
however, did not end here; for the lads who had come into conflict about
the ill treatment of a bird undertook a mission of kindness on their own
account. "Tommy Smith," his friend wrote on the 10th of March, 1877,
"is going on the war-path as soon as his toothache is better. He has
heard tell of a boy at Benwell who traps sparrows, and, after ploating
their heads, ties a niece of flannel round their necks and sets them off."
The enterprise, however, to which Tommy Smith devoted himself, as soon as
he had recovered from the toothache, ended in a sad catastrophe.
William Joseph, writing on the 31st of March, thus described what had
happened to him:—
Poor Tommy Smith has finished his crusade; but as he has
not succeeded he is afraid to let you know about it, so I will do so for
him. Tommy, after coming out of school, hurried home and gobbled up
his tea, and then marched off to New Benwell. He there soon found
the lads he was seeking, and pulling out a piece of paper and a pencil
asked them all to sign it; but they would not, and pelted poor Tommy with
clay. But Tommy would not give in, and followed them to a pond and
saw them all upon rafts. Tommy sat down upon the edge of the pond,
and was thinking how to get them to sign the paper, when one of the boys
had got slyly off the raft and went behind poor Tommy and shoved him in.
Poor Tommy was all over yellow clay, and you would not have known him from
the Yellow Dwarf in the pantomime. After that, Tommy thought it best
to come away, but is determined to go again. His toothache is worse;
the ducking he got at Benwell did him a lot of harm.
Notwithstanding the unfortunate result of Tommy's missionary
efforts at New Benwell, no two members did more in the early days of the
movement to make the Dicky Bird Society popular in the West End of
Newcastle than Tommy Smith and William Joseph Tait.
EARLY MEMBERS OF THE D.B.S.
As we have just seen, Uncle Toby, in the very first column he
ever wrote for the Weekly Chronicle, declared his intention to form
a society of little people, all of whom would pledge themselves to feed
and protect the birds, besides behaving with kindness to all living
things. The following week he announced that he had opened a Big
Book, in which he intended to keep the names of all the members of the new
society. Very soon the names of young people began to reach him in
great and increasing numbers. With Father Chirpie's help, these
names were duly entered in the Big Book. The first list of entries
in the Big Book was published on the 21st of October, 1876; the second a
fortnight later. Then the lists were published regularly, and new
lists have been printed every week since. After the lapse of so many
years, it may interest old and new members alike to read the earlier names
inscribed in the Big Book. Here, then, are the first twenty-five:—
1. Kate Dodd, Newcastle.
2. Edward C. Scott, Barnsley.
3. William Alexander Birkbeck, Middlesbrough.
4. Ernest W. Adams, Newcastle.
5. Isabella McLea, South Shields.
6. Maggie McLea, South Shields.
7. Minnie Scott, Barnsley.
8. Lucy Ironsides, Lamesley.
9. Albert Ernest Hillary, Tow Law.
10. Eveleen Mary Soppet, Newcastle.
11. Alice Hanning, Newcastle.
12. Fred Hanning, Newcastle.
13. Tom Hanning, Newcastle.
14. James Moore, Newcastle.
15. George Joy Cogan, Hartlepool.
16. Elizabeth Ann Robson, Toronto, Durham.
17. Cora Eveleen West, Ferryhill.
18. Lilian Richardson, Newcastle.
19. Amy Richardson, Newcastle.
20. J. T. Fenwick, Newcastle.
21. Esther Louisa Mornington, Stokesley.
22. Edith E. Palphramond, Bishop Auckland.
23. W. H. Henzell, Heaton.
24. David Ainsley, Chester-le-Street.
25. Mary Birkbeck, Middlesbrough.
Then came the names of thirty-nine school children at St.
Ives, Cornwall, which Miss Jane Dinning, the kindly teacher of the school
in that town, had collected for Uncle Toby. After these thirty-nine
names from Cornwall came the following, which made up the first hundred
members who joined the D.B.S.:—
65. Marion Henzell, Heaton.
66. Leila Henzell, Heaton.
67. Elizabeth J. Nicholson, Gateshead.
68. H. Y. Nicholson, Gateshead.
69. Fred. Nicholson, Gateshead.
70. Leila Allhusen, Newcastle.
71. Frank Allhusen, Newcastle.
72. F. W. Whitworth, Sunderland.
73. Meggy Patterson, Ry ton.
74. Mary Patterson, Ryton.
75. David Mackie, Newcastle.
76. T. Henry Fawcett, Glasgow.
77. A. E. Fawcett, Glasgow.
78. Rosa E. Fawcett, Glasgow.
79. William B. Towers, Newcastle.
80. Isaac N. Towers, Newcastle.
81, Emma Towers, Newcastle.
82. Susan Tindale, Hartlepool.
83. Martin B. Tindale, Hartlepool.
84. Patty Larbottom, Bradford.
85. E. Lee Simpson, Newcastle.
86. Edward Mackie, Newcastle.
87. J. Smith, Newcastle.
88. Ada Eveline Adams, Newcastle.
89. Agnes A. King, North Shields.
90. R. M. Sims, Newcastle.
91. R. H. Watson, Barrington Colliery.
92. Kate Darkin, West Hartlepool.
93. Ada Mary Brough, Newcastle.
94. James Maitland, Newcastle.
95. Harry Harnett, Houghton-le-Spring.
96. Sidney Allen.
97. Ada E. Hawthornthwaite, Newcastle.
98. John Best, Newcastle.
99. Mary Ann Muse, Spalding.
100. Willie Stafford, Newcastle.
THE GROWTH OF THE SOCIETY.
The hopes of Uncle Toby, when he first began the Dicky Bird
Society, were of a moderate character indeed. Neither he nor anybody
else connected with the movement could foresee the magnificent dimensions
to which it would extend. "We have now," he wrote on January 20,
1877, "nearly four hundred members; that is, there are four hundred little
hearts and eight hundred little hands determined to be kind to the birds."
And then he went on to speculate as to the number of birds these four
hundred members could feed. "But, though we are getting on so well,"
he continued, "we must not grow tired of doing well. Uncle Toby has
set his whole heart and whole mind on having 5,000 members in the society.
And when we grow up to this, and, supposing each member only feeds with
crumbs ten birds, we shall have 50,000 pensioners." These modest
expectations of the founder of the Dicky Bird Society were not long in
being realised. A thousand members had been enrolled on March 10,
1877; five thousand on May 19, 1877; ten thousand on July 14, 1877; twenty
thousand on February 7, 1878; thirty thousand on March 1, 1879; forty
thousand on February 7, 1880; fifty thousand on April 2, 1881 ; sixty
thousand on May 27, 1882; seventy thousand on August 18, 1883; eighty
thousand on July 12, 1884; ninety thousand on October 10, 1885; and one
hundred thousand on July 24, 1886. Since that time the numbers have
increased at a still more rapid rate, so that now (January, 1888) there
have been enrolled nearly 140,000 members of the D. B. S.
A GREAT DEMONSTRATION.
THE D.B.S. PROCESSION, 1886.
When one hundred thousand members had been enrolled, Uncle
Toby considered that it would be appropriate to hold a great gathering and
entertainment in celebration of the event. The day fixed was the
26th of July, 1886. Major Blenkinsopp Coulson kindly undertook to
marshal the procession. Assembling in the Town Hall, the children
marched in order to the Tyne Theatre. Unfortunately the rain poured
down all day, so that this part of the demonstration was shorn of much of
its effect. The Mayor of Newcastle (Sir B. C. Browne) took the chair
in the theatre, while the Vicar of Newcastle (the Rev. Canon Lloyd), the
Sheriff of Newcastle (Mr. Thomas Bell), Mr. W. D. Stephens, and other
gentlemen took part in the proceedings. The late Mr. R. W. Younge
had organised a series of special performances, which were received with
great delight. Songs composed for the occasion were sung at
intervals by the children themselves. Mr. Younge appeared in a
tableau entitled Uncle Toby and His Little Friends, as shown on page 5.
Such was the success of the gathering that not only was the theatre
crowded to its utmost capacity (admission being by ticket, issued to
members beforehand), but large numbers were unable to find accommodation.
Hence it was there and then resolved to repeat the entertainment three
days later. Again was the theatre crowded from floor to ceiling.
The number present at the two entertainments amounted to about 8,000.
And the arrangements were so excellent that this vast assembly of little
folks, coming from all parts of the North of England, was gathered and
dispersed without a single accident of any kind.
D.B.S. DEMONSTRATION IN TYNE THEATRE, 1886.
TESTIMONIES TO ITS SUCCESS.
Full reports of the proceedings at the demonstration too long
to quote here, appeared in all the local papers. The great event was
noticed, too, at more or less length, in most of the newspapers of the
country. Several of the London journals—notably the Daily News,
the Standard, and the Pall Mall Gazette—devoted leading
articles to the subject, all of them extolling the objects and principles
of the society. Uncle Toby himself wrote to the latter journal a
descriptive account of the origin and history of the movement with which
his name is identified. Nor was attention confined to English
newspapers; for articles on the Dicky Bird Society appeared then, or have
appeared since, in German, Norwegian, American, Australian, and other
foreign and colonial publications.
EXTENT OF THE SOCIETY.
Although the Dicky Bird Society was initiated in the North of
England, it very soon extended to all parts of the civilized world.
The name of Uncle Toby, as the founder and president of a great
organization of children intended to promote the principles of kindness
and humanity, is almost as well known in Cumberland, Lancashire, Cheshire,
and Yorkshire, as it is in Northumberland and Durham. Nor is that
name much less familiar in the British colonies. Even in foreign
countries, and among children who do not speak our language, it is not by
any means unknown. It is, in fact, a name that has become a synonym
for tenderness. The first branch of the Dicky Bird Society
established outside of the British Isles was commenced in Norway on the
3rd of February, 1877. A few weeks afterwards, a branch was
established in Victoria, Australia. Then the cause was taken up in
Nova Scotia, in New Zealand, in Tasmania, in South Africa, and in other of
our distant colonies. Besides all these widespread localities, as
the pages of the Big Book show, the D.B.S. can boast of members in France,
Germany, Italy, Sweden, Gibraltar, Russia, Turkey, China, Ceylon, South
America, various parts of the Indian Empire, and almost all parts of
Canada and the United States. Indeed, it may be said that there is
scarcely a district in any quarter of the globe in which English people
have settled that does not contain members of the Dicky Bird Society.
THE PLEDGE OF THE SOCIETY.
When the Dicky Bird Society was first commenced, Uncle Toby
drew up two pledges—one for girls, and another for boys. While the
girls promised to be kind to a11 little birds, to feed them with crumbs,
and to teach all their friends to be kind to birds too, the boys promised,
in addition, never to take a nest or kill or hurt the young ones.
Both boys and girls pledged themselves further to try and get all their
companions to join the society. Slight alterations were subsequently
made in both the pledge of the society and the general rule relating to
the members, until at last all were required to make and sign the
I hereby promise to be kind to all living things, to
protect them to the utmost of my power, to feed the birds in the winter
time, and never to take or destroy a nest. I also promise to get as
many boys and girls as possible to join the Dicky Bird Society.
With the view of making the organization as simple as
possible, so that the youngest child might be able to understand what to
do and how to do it, Uncle Toby framed a general rule, which rule reads
now, and has done for some years past, as follows:—
Every boy or girl is admitted a member on taking the above
pledge. Each new member must sign his or her name on the list sent
to Uncle Toby. The lists must be accompanied by a letter attesting
the genuineness of the signatures signed by officers or other members of
the society, by the teachers of the school which the proposed members
attend, or by the parents or relatives of the boys and girls who wish to
join our society. In case the new member cannot write, his or her
mark must be witnessed in the same way as the signature. The names,
when thus guaranteed, will be entered in the Big Book, and printed in the
Newcastle Weekly Chronicle. All letters, which should be
addressed to "Uncle Toby, Weekly Chronicle, Newcastle-on-Tyne,"
must be written on one side of the paper only. Every envelope should
bear outside it, at the top left hand corner, a drawing or picture of a
Complying with the last injunction in the general rule of the
society, the children have every week sent Uncle Toby elaborately
ornamented envelopes, &c. specimens of which are reproduced elsewhere in
THE BADGE OF THE SOCIETY.
The D.B.S. had not been long in existence before the little
folks began to inquire what they should wear in order to distinguish
themselves. To meet what appeared to be the general wish of the
members, Uncle Toby explained a few weeks after he had commenced
operations that the badge of the society would be a yellow ribbon or
rosette, worn by boys and girls alike. This badge has never been
altered. Members of the Dicky Bird Society who wish to show that
they are pledged to feed and protect the birds, and to be kind, besides,
to all living things, wear on special occasions in their button holes or
attached to their dresses bits of yellow ribbon, or rosettes made of the
same colour and material.
CAPTAINS AND COMPANIONS.
It occurred to Uncle Toby, before the movement was many
months old, that it would be desirable to distinguish in some appropriate
manner those members of the Dicky Bird Society who had exerted themselves
to promote its interests. A system of appointments was therefore
devised which would advance the welfare of the society, and at the same
time please the little folks themselves. Uncle Toby announced in the
spring of 1877 that he proposed to confer on active and diligent members
the rank and title of captain or companion—boys to be captains and girls
companions—of the Dicky Bird Society. These dignities were intended
to be both a reward for past services and an incitement to future
exertions. The children who received them were expected to watch
over the interests of the society in their respective districts, to see
that the members kept faithfully to their pledges, to recruit the ranks of
the society, and generally to become among the boys and girls of the
neighbourhood veritable missionaries of kindness. The institution
thus devised has realised all the advantages that were expected from it.
Uncle Toby knows for a fact that children in certain districts where his
officers are most active hesitate to commit cruelties to which they would
otherwise be prone, lest our captains and companions should get to learn
about them. The appointments to the high and important dignities
mentioned have never been made without careful consideration: and after
the children have been duly nominated by their friends and acquaintances
in our ranks, Uncle Toby has taken special care to ascertain that the
nominated members are worthy of the distinctions proposed. When he
has satisfied himself on this subject, the appointments are formally
announced in the Children's Corner. It goes without saying that the
honour of holding office in the Dicky Bird Society is highly appreciated
by those who acquire it, especially as it carries with it the privilege of
adding the letters C.D.B.S. to the communications they forward to the
UNCLE TOBY'S PICTURE.
Another remarkable event in the history of the Dicky Bird
Society occurred on the 19th of November, 1887. There was given away
with the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle on that date a charming
picture, printed in twelve rich and delicate colours, representing "Uncle
Toby and His Little Friends." This picture extorted the admiration
of all who saw it. Among the many letters of congratulation the
editor received concerning it was one from Mr. W. P. Frith, R.A., the
painter of the celebrated pictures, "The Derby Day," "The Railway
Station," &c. That eminent artist described it as "a very remarkable
example of colour printing." "The picture," he went on to say, "is
so well drawn and so full of individual character as to contrast, much to
its advantage, with similar productions that have come under my notice.
I sincerely congratulate you and your subscribers upon it." The same
great authority wrote in second letter:—"I shall only be too glad to bear
public witness to the excellence of your chromo-lithograph. It is
certainly one of the very best things of the kind I ever saw." Such
being the character and beauty of the picture, the demand for it was quite
unprecedented in the history of newspaper enterprise, at all events in the
provinces. Although what was thought would be a sufficient number of
copies were printed at the outset, the supply was found to be inadequate
to the public wants. It therefore happened that the Weekly
Chronicle, which was issued to the subscribers and to the trade at the
ordinary price of two-pence, went up so much in value that newsboys and
newsagents sold copies at sixpence and a shilling each. It was
impossible to increase the supply at a moment's notice. The
publisher therefore made arrangements to re-issue the picture with the
Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend for
February, 1888. Hence it happens that hundreds of thousands of
pictures of Uncle Toby may now be found adorning the houses of rich and
poor in all parts of the world.
THE BIG BOOK.
The names of the members of the Dicky Bird Society, after
being printed in the Weekly Chronicle, are entered in Uncle Toby's
Big Book. This enormous volume, which is certainly the biggest book
ever seen in the North of England, or probably anywhere else, not only
contains the names of the 140,000 members; but most of the letters his
little friends have written to Uncle Toby since the society was
established, besides a great mass of documents connected with the history
and progress of the D.B.S. movement. Some idea of the size of the
Big Book may be gathered from the fact that it is 2 feet 7 inches long,
nearly 2 feet broad, and about a foot thick. When it has to be
removed, two men are required to lift it. Handsomely bound in red
and gold, it was exhibited in November and December, 1887, at the Art
Gallery, Newcastle, where it naturally excited a great amount of interest.
The Big Book is thus a visible evidence of the enormous progress and
success of the Dicky Bird Society.
UNCLE TOBY'S POPULARITY.
The popularity of Uncle Toby has been attested in hundreds of
ways during the years that the D.B.S. has been in existence. Songs
in his praise began to be written and sung within a few months of the
announcement of his enterprise. Since that time waltzes and galops
have been dedicated to him; poems have been composed in his honour; and
handsome coloured almanacs have shown him at large in the habit as he
lived. Moreover, tradesmen and others have manufactured Uncle Toby
Tobacco, Uncle Toby Albums, Uncle Toby Glasses, Uncle Toby Sweets, Uncle
Toby Cakes, Uncle Toby Medals, Uncle Toby Brooches, Uncle Toby Suits,
Uncle Toby Picture Frames, &c., &c. All these evidences of the
honour and estimation in which Uncle Toby and his movement are held, while
gratifying to himself personally, are all the more gratifying as
testimonies to the power and influence the Dicky Bird Society has
IMITATORS OF THE D.B.S.
The great and surprising success of the movement has
naturally led other humane people to follow Uncle Toby's example. It
has thus come to pass that Bands of Mercy, Bands of Kindness, and
societies with similar names and objects, have been commenced in
connection with large numbers of newspapers in various parts of the
kingdom and of the world. The honour, however, of beginning this
beneficent enterprise belongs to Uncle Toby. Although he claims that
honour, he is none the less gratified to learn that others have followed
in his footsteps—an Aunt Maggie here, an Uncle Robert there, and a Cousin
Peter elsewhere. But the imitation of Uncle Toby was in one instance
so palpably unfair that he found it necessary, on his own account and on
behalf of the thousands of children who had associated themselves with
bin, to enter a protest. A newspaper in Cheshire not only adopted
our methods of organization, but actually appropriated the design which
has for so many years ornamented the head of the Children's Corner.
It is only fair to add, however, that the misappropriation was withdrawn,
with sufficient apologies, when Uncle Toby pointed out the evident wrong
that had been done to him and to the society. Our title, design, and
rules have been adopted also by a newspaper in Tasmania, where a
flourishing branch of the D.B.S. has been established, avowedly on our
lines and in harmony with what may be called the parent society.
A GREAT HONOUR.
A great and special honour befell Uncle Toby and the Dicky
Bird Society in the August of 1879. Uncle Toby on the 29th of that
month explained what it was. "You know," he said, "that there is in
London a distinguished association called the Royal Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I say you know this, because I
have told you something about the society before. It is composed of
many hundreds of kind and humane people in all parts of the country.
You would be amazed if I were to give you the names of the lords and
ladies who belong to it. But when I say that it is called Royal
because Queen Victoria is the patron of the society, you will quite
understand what a splendid society it is. The object of all these
ladies and gentlemen in uniting together is precisely the object which the
members of the Dicky Bird Society have in view—only, of course, they do
their work on a grander scale than we can do ours. They seek, as we
of the D.B.S. do, to promote kindness to all living creatures. But
they do more, for they try to prevent cruel men from ill-using poor dumb
animals. And they have agents in all parts of the country—there is
one in Newcastle—who, when cruel things are done, bring the people that
are guilty before the magistrates. I need not tell you how much good
is produced by the work of the ladies and gentlemen I have named.
Well, this great society has sent to Uncle Toby, 'Founder and President of
the Dicky Bird Society,' as they call him, a magnificent diploma in
recognition of what they are pleased to call his 'valued assistance to the
cause of humanity to animals.' I can't describe the beauty of the
diploma, which is nearly as large as the Weekly Chronicle itself;
but I may mention that it is signed by the Earl of Harrowby, the president
of the society; by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, the most famous
philanthropic lady in Europe; and by the Rev. John Colam, the energetic
secretary of the society. I must add, too, that Mr. Colam informs
Uncle Toby that the diploma is the highest honour the society can bestow,
and that the committee is so sparing of bestowing it that Uncle Toby's is
only the forty-first that has been issued. Considering that the
society has been so many years in existence, the honour is certainly
unique. Uncle Toby is, of course, immensely proud of the distinction
he has received; but he is not vain enough to believe that he is entitled
to it all. Every one of his thousands of nephews and nieces shares
it with him. It is to them even more than to him self that the
honour has been done. For what could hp have achieved without the
willing and earnest help of the vast army of little folks in all parts of
the country, and even in distant regions of the globe, who have joined the
Dicky Bird Society?"
This, as has just been said, is what Uncle Toby wrote in
August, 1879. The Weekly Chronicle was at that time one of
the biggest sheets published; but it has now for some time past been
altered in form and increased in number of pages, so that the diploma
which Uncle Toby wrote about, is larger than two pages of the Weekly
Chronicle of its present size. It will be seen that the diploma
was signed by the Earl of Harrowby. That nobleman, however, is now
dead, and his place has been taken by Lord Aberdare. The inscription
on the document is of course surrounded with beautiful designs of horses,
dogs, birds, goats, lambs, and other creatures which the great society
UNCLE TOBY'S PRIZES.
From time to time Uncle Toby has endeavoured to inculcate the
doctrine of kindness by offering prizes to young people. The
earliest of these prizes were offered in 1882, in connection with the May
Day Procession of Horses, to the drivers of pit ponies which showed the
best condition and treatment. Uncle Toby's prizes, being the first
for three classes, consisted of a sum of £5 each. Next year, prizes
to the same amount were again presented. It occurred to Uncle Toby,
in 1885, that a good purpose might be served if he offered prizes for the
best essays on kindness to animals, through the Newcastle Branch of the
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These prizes
have been continued every year since.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE D.B.S.
The Dicky Bird Society has been so long in existence that
many of its early members have now become the fathers and mothers of other
little members. During the years they have been propagating the
great doctrine of kindness to all living things, Uncle Toby and his little
friends have been the means of producing a marked change in the character
and habits of young people. It is impossible to calculate the vast
amount of cruelty that has thus been prevented. Certain it is that
the lives of millions of birds have been saved through the influence of
the D.B.S. Boys are no longer the little savages many of them were
before we commenced our operations; girls have learnt that it is their
duty to interpose and remonstrate when evil is being done. Cruelty
is now recognised by both boys and girls as a cowardly sin—not only a sin
against humanity, but a sin which justly brings into contempt all who
commit it. Children who have early learnt the great principles which
Uncle Toby has been week by week inculcating for so many years have
necessarily become, when they have grown up, better husbands and wives,
better fathers and mothers, better men and women in all the relations of
life. It may safely and honourably be claimed, in fact, that Uncle
Toby's vigorous and successful propaganda has been the means of making the
world a sweeter and lovelier place for all that inhabit it.