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the adoption, at once, of some system of too true that such personal legislation does, to emancipation, instantaneous or prospective a great and mischievous extent, paralyze the and a third composed of persons who, occu- act of 1833. But this is clearly wrong. The pying intermediate ground, deprecate negro act ought to be repealed or enforced; and, unslavery as an evil especially to the white pop- less repealed, it is the duty of the Legislature ulation, but, believing that, in the existing to make it effectual by giving it a sanction condition of it in Kentucky, any provision that will secure it from evasion, instead of now for emancipation would be premature, im- offering, as it does, almost every day, encour practicable and ultimately suicidal, are yet agements to the violation of it. It is also true, opposed to any act that will increase the diffi- that the penalties denounced by the act are so culties obstructing the work or retarding the rarely enforced, that the prohibition operates time of eradication, and prefer to await time's on the conscientious only, and thus, to a dedevelopments without disturbance by foreign plorable extent,the act has become a dead letter. importation. Of these three classes, he thought But the remedy for all this is plain. Instead the first the smallest in number, and the last of a fine, which scarcely any person will atmuch the largest. Of this major class were tempt to enforce, let the Legislature or the a large majority of those who adopted and Convention substitute the emancipation of have continued to sustain the act of 1833. every slave who shall be imported in violation The wise and patriotic men who enacted that of the act; and then the law will live and law looked backward on the history of slavery reign supremely and effectually; for, as every and forward to the probable consequences with such slave would assert his rights, the sanc which, without legislative guardianship, it tion would enforce itself, and slaves would no was pregnant-to the waste of lands, reduc- longer be illegally imported. This argument tion of profits, insecurity of property, and to for a repeal, therefore, is a felo de se-it cuts demoralization, degeneracy, and possible in- its own throat, and is disparaging to Legisla surrection-they knew that the acts of 1794 tive candor and wisdom. and 1815, repealing that of 1778, had not, at But, said Mr. R., were it even consistent all, repressed the importations of slaves for with sound policy to abrogate the law of 33, use or for sale-considering the latitude, soil, this is not the proper time for such a decisive and products of Kentucky, they hoped that movement. And even the agitation of the perpetual slavery was not her inevitable des- subject at this unpropitious session will do tiny-and, desiring not to leave their posterity much harm. Kentucky, now in a crysalis overwhelmed by such a state of slavery as to state of eventful transition, looks with minbe unable to do in respect to it what they, gled hope and fear to the coming Convention might prefer--they resolved to soothe and for organic renovation. All her wisdom and bandage the morbid tumor of negro slavery unimpassioned thought are necessary to a safe in Kentucky before it should become an im- result. The subject of slavery will engage medicabile vulnus--an incurable ulcer. the consideration of the Convention, and. will If men who thus thought and thus acted be adjusted by the new Constitution, as far as were emancipationists, he, Mr. R., must re- fundamental law can settle it. Would it not peat that a majority of Kentuckians are, and be prudent, as well as respectful, to defer this long have been in the same category. The whole matter to the Convention, unaffected by Legislature has rejected, every session since legislative instruction or presumptuous anti1833, bills similar to that now under consider- cipation? ation.
This body has already on more occasions In one sense, it may be true, that the act of than one gone beyond its legal sphere and ex1833 itself, might prove to be a movement to- pressed abstract opinions altogether motive wards emancipation; for, if Kentucky be not less, unless they were intended to instruct the adapted to long continued slavery, that act, people or influence their delegates in Convenvigorously enforced, would, in time, place the tion. This, sir, is an inversion of the proper country in such a condition of interest and of and accustomed course; instead of reflecting, sentiment, as to secure ultimate and easy ex- it is attempting to manufacture public opintrication. But no patriotic and sensible pro- ion. On the subject of slavery especially, the slavery man would be opposed to such a consummation in such a mode. Had slavery never existed in Kentucky, how many of her citizens would vote for introducing it now for the first time? Certainly not many, if any. He who would not do that, could not consistently vote for importing a fresh supply of slaves-for if it would be unwise to initiate, it must be wrong to do anything to perpetuate or increase it.
people will think and act for themselves. If they approve the purpose of the act of '33, they will see that it shall be made permanent and effectual by a provision in their constitution. And if a majority be against it, that constitu tion will be sure to contain such provisions as will paralyse legislative will, so as to keep the door wide open for the influx of foreign slaves. The anticipating movement made by this bill is, therefore, premature and unnecessary at But the chief and only remaining reason least. It is much more; it is pregnant with urged for the repeal of the act of 1833, is, said danger. There are thousands of the best and Mr. R., the fact that the act is not enforced, most intelligent of Kentuckians who are will. and that even the Legislature itself encourages ing to make a fair trial of the issue of slavery, evasion of it by special acts legalizing indi- so circumscribed as to escape all foreign or vidual violation of its prohibitions. It is but extraneous influence. But if this bill be pass
denying crew, like old Ulysses, would tie themselves to the mast, and, looking neither to the right nor to the left, but straight ahead to the port of safety-would escape the whirlpool of perpetual slavery on the one side, and the rocks of political abolition on the other.
ed they will construe it as a pro-slavery move, designed to perpetuate slavery by immediately augmenting the number of slaves to such an extent, as to place the convention in vinculis and render the initiation of prospective emancipation hopeless to this generation. They will feel that a new issue is proposed to them; He repeated that free-soilism, as exemplified and, convinced then that the only or best time by the " Wilmot-proviso," is the offspring of to strike for ultimate relief will be before the fanaticism and political ambition. That phiapproaching convention, they will rally on lanthrophy must be affected or insane, which that question. And, on such an issue, so would coop up slavery so as either to perpetuforced, there will be all-absorbing agitation, ate it in the States where it now exists or drive almost to convulsion; one consequence of it to the bloody crisis of St. Domingo. Withwhich will be that, throughout the State, the out some outlet for exportation, the present controling question in the selection of dele-impracticable numbers in Kentucky could not gates to the convention, will be that of initia-be diminished. Forced on us without our contive emancipation now, or perpetual slavery. sent, what, said he, are we to do with them? The delegates will be elected without regard Emancipate them and leave them here? That to their fitness or their opinions on other fun- is impossible. Will the States in which aboldamental subjects; and consequently, there itionism is urged as a paramount duty, receive would be danger that a bad constitution would them and elevate them to a social and civil be proposed, which ought not to be adopted. equality with their white population? They Sir, said he, let us not rouse the slumbering would scorn the proposition. Would they lion. Look to the posture of slavery here and agree to set apart New Mexico as a sacred fund the popular feeling respecting it, Kentucky for paying for such slaves as the owners now quivers at the base of a heaving vulcano. might consent to liberate on receiving indem- Uncover not the crater. Desolation may benity? At such a proposal they would the consequence of an eruption provoked laugh. Then the only ultimate remedy is exoy the temerity of passing or even agitating pansion. But fanaticism insists that it is both this reckless and portentous bill.-If the a civic and christian duty to dam slavery up people are permitted to be sober and tranquil, till it shall become putrid, or rising to a resistuntil after the election of delegates, the con- less torrent, overwhelm all the social foundastitution will be safe and good. But heedlessly tions of order, security and peace. This is inagitate them on the stultifying topic of slave- sanity, or moral treason. But there are those ry, and there will be neither peace nor safety who, knowing all this, will urge the "Wilmot here nor throughout this entire Union. proviso," in reference to New Mexico and CalMany aspiring politicians, of selfish ambition, ifornia, where without any Congressional reand a still larger number of fanatics, on one striction, slavery can never exist. Their ob side of "Mason's and Dixon's line," are ject, therefore, cannot be to prevent the desestriving to consolidate the non-slaveholding cration of the soil of those countries States on free-soilism as the paramount test of by the footsteps of slavery. But the nonNational party-and there are but too many slaveholding states, if consolidated on such a Hotspur's and ultra pro-slavery men on the national question as that of "free-soil," would other and numerically weaker side of the line, hold the rod of empire, and rule not only the who rashly play into the hands of these "North elections of President, but the destinies of the Men," and encourage an issue which, if ever Union. Here may lie the lurking clue to the fully made up, must result in the political persevering agitation of free-soilism by Northsubjugation of the South, or a disruption of ern politicians. If the territory recently the Union. It is the interest of Kentucky to acquired by the common blood and common prevent that fearful issue; and she can avert treasure of the states in which slavery exists it only by abstaining from slave agitation and in which it does not, were congenial to its and remaining self-poised, firm and moderate. existence, could any just and patriotic man, He regretted to hear, as he had heard, a hope considering the compromise and recognition of expressed on this floor, that Kentucky would slavery in the Federal Constitution, believe throw herself into the arms of the South and that any act of Congress prohibiting slavedenounce defiance to the North. It would, he holders in any of the states from emigrating thought, be much more consistent with her re- thither with all their property would be either sponsible position and her lofty patriotism, as politic or just? Why deprive the inhabitants hitherto illustrated, to throw one arm around of that territory of the right to decide for them; the South, and the other around the North, selves? To permit perfect liberty on that and with a sister's embrace, hold them fast, as subject, would neither increase the evils nor an affectionate sisterhood of the same blood, prolong the duration of American Slavery, the same name, and same the destiny. A gallant nor even recognise its legality otherwise than ship in the perilous strait between Scilla and Charybdis is not unlike Kentucky now. And, carrying out the simile, he hoped that the self
it is sanctioned by the supreme law of the Union. But, though he could never vote for the "Wilmot-proviso," he would not resist it by war, secession, or nullification. The South ought not to suffer itself to be uselessly excited by it so as to jeopard its own just share of
DIVIDED WE FALL."
power, or the peace and integrity of the Union. tive act emancipating any slave existing at the But whatever the South may do, let Kentucky date of the enactment, without the owner's stand aloof, and exhibit another illustration consent, or full compensation. And he would of the emblematic motto inscribed in sunshine prefer that it should also prohibit any legis on her escutcheon-" UNITED WE STAND, lative act for emancipating the post nati without a concurrence of three-fifths of each branch Had this lot been cast in a land of universal of the Legislature, and also without some freedom, he never would consent that its vir- effectual provision for the benevolent and cergin bosom should be soiled by the tread of tain deportation and settlement of all the perslavery, or its tranquility disturbed by the sons emancipated. He would desire a concry of a slave. Of course, were be a resident currence of more than a bare majority, because of California, he would oppose the introduc- he would doubt the policy and stability of tion of slavery there. But the people of that any system to which about one half of the country, like the people here, should be left freemen of the State are opposed. But no free to regulate their own domestic relations in reasonable man could object to the initiation their own way; and, if they should desire to of a prospective system when three-fifths of have slaves, Congress--though in his opinion the voters, after a satisfactory experiment, possessing the power to prevent them while should concur in the adoption of it. But on in a territorial state of dependence on the un- this point he would not be tenacious. He limited legislation of the General Government- would be satisfied, if a majority prefer it, with would act unwisely, as well as unjustly, to ex- a constitutional power to amend the State, ercise it, and more especially as, in that case, just as the Federal Constitution, in any one the act, being altogether unnecessary, would provision without a revision of the whole. seem to be wantonly intended for the political He would be willing also to make illegal imaggrandisement of one section of the portation a Penitentiary offence. Union, and therefore would be the more ungracious and offensive to another section, which, though not quite so populous, is at least as intelligent and patriotic.
in reference to slavery, said Mr. R., the true and only proper or available contest in the se lection of delegates to the convention, would be on the question whether the policy of the Slavery in Kentucky, continued Mr. R., is a act of '33, with the sanction of the act of 78, moral and political evil. The children of should be incorporated in the constitution. slaveholders are injured, and many of them That issue will be easily understood by all: ruined by it; and it has greatly reduced Ken- and if the conservative party prevail, the tritucky's ratio of political power; for whilst she, umph will be permanent, and its fruits will the first born of the old 13," has only ten re- be satisfactory to every considerate patriotic presentatives in Congress, Ohio, younger in and practical citizen. If Kentucky ought not to origin and inferior in physical adaptations, has be a slave State, this policy will liberate her already twenty-one representatives in the same as soon as any other, and more certainly and body. But the slaves here are so numerous, satisfactorily. If she be destined to perpetual and slavery itself is so interwined with the slavery, the fact will be soon ascertained, and social or personal habits of the free popula- the country will acquiesce, without agitation, tion as, in his judgment, to forbid the adoption in a destiny which will then be found to be now of any system of emancipation with a natural and inevitable. And, sir, said he, rational hope of a consummation either sa- when the issue is made between those who are tisfactory or beneficial. Before this can be in favor of perpetuating slavery and those done, the number of slaves must be consider who are for standing still and doing nothing ably diminished and the people more and which will tend to its perpetuation, the vote more assimilated to the non-slaveholding will be apt to prove that the pro-slavery par habits and condition. The experiment of non-ty are in a small minority-and then the overimportation will soon decide whether Ken-whelming party of conservatism will, for all tucky is destined long to continue a slave just ulterior purposes, have the power in their state, and will in proper time we hope devel- own hands to use at the proper time and in ope public sentiment on that subject. It is the best mode.
the interest of all-the duty of all-to try For advocating the foregoing plan, and for hat experiment. Whatever may be its final re-uttering the foregoing sentiments he had (he sults, its operation will be beneficial to all par- said) been charged with encouraging abolities-masters and slaves, the pro-slavery par- tionism. If this be abolitionism, God bless ty, the emancipation party, and the conserva- and prosper it. He had also been rebuked on tive party. This he had already endeavoured this floor as recreant from fidelity to Kentucky to show, and he would add nothing more on and ungraciously warned that his cheeks that subject. The only mode of effectuating would be mantled with the blush of shame the non-importation policy of 1778. and of He feared no such consequence as likely to 1833, would be to make the prohibition and follow his opposition to a bill for the benefit the sanction of the former act fundamental, of "negro traders," at the expense of the pros by imbedding them in the constitution. Then, perity and happiness of his native and be the sanction upholding the prohibition, both loved Commonwealth. But who made this would be placed above legislative caprice, charge, and against whom was it made? The and stand without violation or evasion. The accuser is comparatively a young man who constitution ought also to prohibit any legisla- has no peculiar stake in the welfare of the
State, nor has done anything extraordinary for been organised and enrolled, and counted a promoting it a batchelor, unmoved by any of majority of 22. Still he had some hope that the sympathies which bind the heart of man so great a misfortune as the passage of the most strongly to his country-an isolated be- bill may, some how or other, be averted from ing-wifeless-childless-homeless-" a root the country. But, having endeavored faithout of dry ground." And of whom does this fully to do his duty, he would be guiltless of young man thus hazardously speak? One the consequences, whatever they may be. On whose parents immigrated to Kentucky in the the subject of slavery, his posterity should ne"hard winter of '79," encountered all the per- ver shake "their gory locks" at him. And if it ils and privations of the early settlement, and, shall ever be his posthumous fortune to have after having helped, by their virtues and their a monument to commemorate his poor name, example, to make her what she is, now sleep he would desire no better epitaph than thisbeneath her sod in hor.or and peace-one who Born in a slave State, he never disturbed his was born in Kentucky and married in Ken-country's peace on the subject of Slavery nor tucky-whose children dead are buried here, uttered a sentiment or did an act tending to agand whose children living are all around him gravate its evils or prolong its existence." Venwith a large posterity identified with the eration for the precedents stereotyped in the honour of their native State-one who, now past history of Virginia and Kentucky-regrown old in the service of Kentucky, never spect for the memory of the patriots and did anything of which she complained, but statesmen who established and upheld them, has always endeavoured to contribute his and regard for the welfare of posterity, all rehumble mite to the establishment of her require the rejection of this bill. And, to help, nown-one who is indebted for all he has or hopes for on earth, to the kindness of Kentucky, and expects ere long, to repose, with his kindred, in the bosom of the mother clay which gave him birth-one, in fine, who, without egotism, may be permitted to say that he is, as he could not but be and ever has been, every inch, a true Kentuckian in the sterling import of that honored title. And it is because he is what he is and feels therefore for Kentucky's welfare as he does feel, that he is so much opposed to this "negro trader's" bill. Believing, as he does, that the agitation and passage of it now will be pregnant with dishonor and irreparable mischief, he feels that, though he claims no more stoical patriotism than any other free and filial Kentuckian ought to possess in regard to sacrifices for the benefit of his State, rather than be instrumental in passing this bill, he would, Mutius like, suffer his right hand to be burnt to the stump. But he feared that, in endeavoring to defeat this pestilent law, he was on a forlorn hope. He had heard that the party in favor of it had 42
if anything earthly can help to defeat it, he would call on the memories of the past, appeal to the interest of posterity, and invoke, (pointing to the portraits of Washington and Lafayette,) the Spirit of the Father of his country and that also of his friend and coadjutor by his side, both benefactors and liberators of mankind-to hover over this House, and inspire its members with practical wisdom and becoming moderation. The welfare of Kentucky, for generations to come, may be involved in this bill. If it fall, Kentucky ought to clap her hands with joy; and if the coming Convention shall also incorporate in the new Constitution, the policy of '33 with a sufficient sanction, the page recording these glorious events, will be one of the brightest in the annals of our noble Commonwealth, and the names of the statesmen who shall have contributed to the luster of that enduring record, will be embalmed in the memory, and consecrated by the gratitude of a long line of blessed posterity.
To the People of Fayette when a Candidate for the Convention.
The position which I occupy as a candidate for the Convention, being misunderstood or misrepresented especially on the subject of slavery-I feel it my duty to you, as well as to myself and to my principles, to define that position in a mode which will be accessible to all and leave no pretext for misconception hereafter.
glorious and beneficent to mankind; and trusting in the benevolent purposes of that overruling guardianship, I cannot doubt that the day will come, when all mankind will be prepared to enjoy, and will therefore enjoy, civil, religious, and personal liberty and light. But I apprehend that day is not our day. I have no hope of living to see even Kentucky a free State. To cease peacefully or advantageously here, slavery must run its natural course and wear out. And, if let alone
The present Constitution of Kentucky is, in my judgment, the best in the Union. It is not perfect, because no work of man ever was or ever will be. Nor is there, probably, one intel--if neither increased by importations, nor ligent citizen of the Commonwealth, who would not make some alteration in it, if he could. But no constitution was ever adopted, which any one, even of those who concurred in the adoption of it, preferred in every respect. Being a common work, it must be the offspring of a compromise of conflicting in terests and opinions, whereby each party to it surrenders more or less of what he would individually prefer. Although I have but little hope that we are now prepared to make a better Constitution than that under whose banner many of us were born and our State has prospered and been eminently honored, yet it is my interest and my desire that we shall adopt one as good as our collective reason and experience will enable us to make, all acting soberly for ourselves and for those who shall
come after us.
tampered with by fanaticism-it will run its race in Kentucky and find its appropri ate grave, in its appointed time, as certainly as wisdom, benevolence, and power preside over the destinies of men. Its natural life may be longer or shorter; but, sooner or later, its doomed death is certain. I am not for trying, by empirical patent medicines, to prolong its artificial life, or hasten a premature and convulsive death. But I would administer such remedies as may make it as sound and health ful as it is capable of being, as long as it is destined to exist. For reasons which I will explain on more proper occasions, I am opposed to all attempts to provide in the new Constitution, for a prospective system of Emancipation. At the same time, I am opposed to doing or suffering to be done, any thing that will increase the evils or jeopard the soundness of slavery as it now exits among us. I am, therefore, in favor of preventing the importation of more slaves from abroad by some fundamental provision, which will be supreme and inviolate. And, for this policy, I will briefly suggest the following principal reasons, hereafter to be elucidated and enforced on more
1st. The non-importation policy has been adhered to by our mother, Virginia, ever since 1778; with the approbation, of course, of her statesmen and people, headed, too, by such patriots as Washington, Jefferson, Madison,
There is great danger that a headlong agitation of questions concerning slavery will dethrone reason and instal passion as the arbitress in the approaching Convention, and place in it many members who are neither soundly conservative on other more radical subjects, nor in any proper respect qualified for framing an organic law for the great Com-eligible occasions: monwealth of Kentucky. This agitation I have long apprehended and anxiously endeavored, as far as I could, to prevent; and consequently, come as it may, I shall feel guiltless of any of its injurious consequences. It is unreasonable and could and should be avoided. I am not one of those who believe that do-Patrick Henry, Marshall, and Monroe. This mestic slavery is a blessing, moral or physical, is strong proof of its wisdom. to the white race. I cannot believe that it 2nd. It has, in some degree, and with varimakes us richer, more moral, more religious, ous sanctions, been persisted in by Kentucky more peaceful, more secure, or more happy-ever since she became a State-and was made nor can I admit that, under its various influ- more comprehensive and stringent than beences, our children become more industrious, fore by the act of 1833, which stood the test of more practical, or more useful; and I am sure scrutiny and trial for fifteen years, and was that free labor is degraded, and laboring free- never shaken until last winter-when it was men greatly injured by slavery. If, in the dis-virtually repealed under the influence, as I pensation of an all-wise Providence, it could think, of erroneous conceptions and misguided be obliterated from the face of the earth, I feelings, and against the earnest opposition of should consider the achievement as most all your representatives.