« PreviousContinue »
ship, said that he never knew sweeter or more frequent hours of divine communion than on his two last voyages to Guinea.
While, in England, statesmen and religious men were warmly defending slavery and the slave trade, opinion in America was already doubting the morality, the economy, and the expediency of slave labour. Franklin, as wise as he was humane, boldly argued that slaves rather weaken • than strengthen the State ; ' Congress responded by resolving that no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen United Colonies; and Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and other States abolished slavery. In fact, at the end of the eighteenth century there seemed every prospect that slavery might cease throughout the United States in consequence of a growing sense of the inutility of slave labour.
While opinion was slowly gravitating in this direction, the invention of the cotton gin—a machine for cleaning cotton-by Whitney in 1793, effected a revolution in thought. By the old processes a slave could clean only five or six pounds of cotton a day; and the plant, in consequence, could be cultivated with success only in those Oriental countries where labour was procurable at a much lower cost than was required for the support and supervision of a slave. But, after Whitney's invention, a slave could clean a thousand pounds of cotton in a day's work. The process of cleaning the fibre formed, thenceforward, a comparatively insignificant item in the cost of production, and the culture of cotton naturally moved to such of the Southern States as possessed a climate, like that of the Carolinas and Georgia, peculiarly adapted to its growth. As, however, white men cannot continuously labour in these hot regions, a demand arose for slave labour; and slavery, which might otherwise have perished, was thus confirmed and strengthened by Whitney's invention.
There were indeed States, in wbich slavery existed, which were not equally suitable with the two Carolinas and Georgia for the cultivation of cotton. It was not contended that white men could not work and thrive in the comparatively temperate regions of Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland. But 'the salubrious climate of these States
produced a hardy labourer who was in great request in the • sugar and cotton districts. They became the producers of the slaves reared to work in the more Southern States.
The six Southern States, which were thus interested in slavery, were originally as populous as, and more wealthy
that iton, the South aim. But, as the
than, the seven Northern States in which slavery was abolished.* The slave-owning aristocracy of the South, moreover, sent men of mark and leading to the Legislature, who exercised an influence in Congress which the representatives of the North could hardly claim. But, as the nineteenth century wore on, the South saw with surprise and apprehension that its own power was commencing to wane. The North was growing faster than the South. In * 1790 the two sections were nearly equal in population;
but in 1820, in a total of less than ten millions, there was 'a difference of nearly 700,000 in favour of the North.'
In the meanwhile the States had been increasing in number. Between 1790 and 1820 Vermont had been separated from New York, Kentucky from Virginia, Tennessee from North Carolina, Mississippi from Georgia, the great territory of Louisiana had been acquired by purchase from France, while Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—the three States which fringe the shores of Lake Michigan-had sprung into existence. By a tacit agreement these States had been admitted to the Union 'in pairs, a free State and a slave
State coming in about the same time. Thus Vermont and Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, Louisiana and Indiana, • Mississippi and Illinois, had each been an offset to the
other. Alabama, another slave State, was carved out of Georgia in 1819. But this addition to the number of slave States placed them on an exact numerical parity with the free States.
Things were in this position when the growth of the great territory which is now known as the State of Missouri raised the question of its separate admission to the Union into prominence. Missouri had previously formed part of Louisiana; as such she had slavery, which she was determined, on her admission to the Union, to maintain. Politicians in the North, however, disliked the notion of increasing the weight of the South by the addition of a new slave State, and endeavoured to stipulate that the further introduction of slaves into the new State should be prohibited, and that children born in it after its admission should be free on completing the twenty-fifth year of their age. This proposal was carried in the House of Representatives in 1819, but defeated in the Senate; and the application of Missouri was deferred. In 1820, however,
* Slavery was abolished in New Jersey—the last of the Northern States to retain it-in 1804.
Maine, separating from Massachusetts, applied for admission. It became possible, in consequence, to treat Maine as an offset to Missouri. And it was finally decided to admit both States, but to prohibit slavery in every other portion of the old Louisiana territory which lay to the north of the parallel 36° 30', the southern boundary of Missouri. This arrangement is known in history as the Missouri Compromise. Its conclusion made it possible to maintain peace between North and South for thirty years; its virtual repeal in 1850 led to the agitation which produced the American Civil War.
In these thirty years the North continued to grow more rapidly than the South, and its expansion gave it a constantly increasing weight in Congress. The representation of each State in the House of Representatives depends, it must be recollected, on its population; and the more rapid growth of the North was therefore steadily adding to its voting power. In the Senate, indeed, where each State enjoys an equality of representation, the South still retained its old share of power. But both in the House and in the periodical contests for the Presidency its relatively slower growth was gradually transferring power to the North.
The shifting of the political balance would, indeed, have been more rapid if the North had spoken with one voice on the great question before the country. But, while in the slave States opinion was practically unanimous, in the North it was sharply divided. Many men of influence in the North -as owners, as mortgagees, or as traders—had a personal interest in the maintenance of slavery. They were just as warm in their defence of slavery as their fellow-countrymen in the South; and they resented as keenly as the Southern slave-owners themselves any and every proposal for its termination. Many other men in the North thought that slavery had been virtually recognised by the founders of the American Constitution, and they were not prepared to abolish by any arbitrary action an institution which the law and the Constitution allowed.
While, however, the democratic party in the North continued to throw its weight into the scale of the South, other men were conducting an agitation for the abolition of slavery. In 1831 W. Lloyd Garrison established the ' Liberator,' a paper instituted with the sole object of denouncing slavery. In 1833 the Abolitionists were encouraged by the action of this country in abolishing slavery in the West Indies. In 1835 Dr. Channing, appealing to a
class which was repelled by Garrison's harsher manner, published his work on slavery. The course which was taken by these men was approved by writers who are still widely read.
Go on, for thou hast chosen well:
On, in the strength of God. So Whittier was addressing Garrison, while, in similar language, Longfellow was urging Channing to
Go on, until this land revokes
The old and chartered Lie;
Insult humanity. The South produced no such singers as Whittier and Longfellow, no such apostles as Garrison and Channing. In opposition to the appeals which these men were making to opinion, they could only rely on the power, the evidently waning power, which their representatives still exercised in Congress.
Southern statesmen were already dreaming of redressing the balance, which was slowly turning against them, by the addition to the Union of new States, in which slavery might be established. There were two ways in which the territory of the United States could be extended. Texas formed part of Mexico, but it was largely peopled by emigrants from America. Cuba belonged to Spain, but it was in close proximity to the United States, and it was in a state of chronic insurrection which seemed to some people to justify, or even necessitate, intervention. We in England have most of us forgotten how nearly the events of 1898 were anticipated in 1854; and how, while France and England were occupied with the Crimean War, a struggle between the United States and Spain seemed almost inevitable. If war with Spain was avoided, war with Mexico broke out after the annexation of Texas; and though Mr. Emerson may not have been far wrong in saying that the annexation of Texas is one of those questions which look very differently to the centuries and the years, it is not very easy-and few American historians have attempted to justify the policy which secured this great territory to the United States.
Texas, at the commencement of the nineteenth century, was part of that great province of Mexico which the sword of Cortez had given to Spain. It was separated from the United States by the colony of Louisiana, which the Americans only purchased from France in 1804. In 1819,
exat was avoided seemed almostruggle bet
when Mexico threw off the yoke of Spain, Texas became a part of the Mexican Republic, and in the course of the succeeding decade many venturesome Americans crossed over the boundary and settled in Texas. Though Mexico had abolished slavery, they brought their slaves with them; and the Mexican Government, unable to enforce its laws, tacitly allowed an interpretation of the edict against slavery which excluded Texas from its operation. But this concession was not sufficient to produce any friendly relations between Texas and Mexico. At last, in the thirties, Texas rebelled, defeated the Mexicans, and established a government of its own. Its independence was recognised by the United States in 1837, and soon afterwards by the Western
See Europe ecognition statesman.nission to trepresentant urging tint Southert ultimate
In urging the recognition of Texas in 1837, Calhoun, the most prominent Southern statesman, did not hesitate to avow that he desired her ultimate admission to the Union. Webster, on the contrary, the most considerable representative of the Northern States, and one of the greatest of American statesmen, declared that the people of the United States would not consent to bring into the Union a new, vastly extensive, slave-holding country. “In my opinion,' be added emphatically, they ought not to assent to it.' These rival utterances are worth quoting, because they are evidence of the contrary views of North and South. The South desired annexation, because they saw that the addition of a new slave State, likely from its size to be ultimately carved into many States, would necessarily increase the influence of the South in Congress. The North objected to it, because they foresaw that by increasing Southern influence it would make the future of slavery more assured.
Notwithstanding Webster's declaration, however, the scheme grew. Through the influence of Calhoun, who became Secretary of State under President Tyler, an annexation treaty was concluded with Texas; and, though the Senate declined in the first instance to ratify the treaty, the policy of annexation was endorsed by the electors at the Presidential Election of 1844, and Texas was subsequently admitted by Congress to the Union as a new State. How keenly Northern statesmen felt the consequences of the act may be inferred from the remark of ex-President Adams: The
treaty for the annexation of Texas was this day sent to the Senate, and with it went the freedom of the human race.'
The annexation of Texas gave Mexico a ground for war with the United States. She had, in fact, never recognised