Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Two Letters on the Subject of Slavery in the United States, Addressed to Thomas Clarkson, Esq. >> Page 121

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Page 121

Correspondence | John F. Trow & Co.; The Reprint Company | 1866, 1978
Transcription 121
has been invariably attended with calamities, dire and
extended, just in proportion to the breadth, and vigor
of the movement. On slavery in the abstract, then, it
would not be amiss to have as little as possible to say.
Let us contemplate it as it is. And thus contemplating
it, the first question we have to ask ourselves is, wheth-
er it is contrary to the Will of God, as revealed to us
in His Holy Scriptures the only certain means given
us to ascertain His Will. If it is, then slavery is a sin ;
and I admit at once that every man is bound to set
his face against it, and to emancipate his slaves should
he hold any.
Let us open these Holy Scriptures. In the twen-
tieth chapter of Exodus, seventeenth verse, I find the
following words : " Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's
house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his
man-servant nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his
ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's "—which is the
Tenth of those commandments that declare the essen-
tial principles of the Great Moral Law delivered to
Moses by God Himself. Now, discarding all technical
and verbal quibbling as wholly unworthy to be used
in interpreting the word of God, what is the plain
meaning, undoubted intent, and true spirit of this com-
mandment ? Does it not emphatically and explicitly
forbid you to disturb your neighbor in the enjoyment
of his property ; and more especially of that which is
here specifically mentioned as being lawfully and by
this commandment made sacredly his ? Prominent in
the catalogue stands his "man-servant and his maid-
servant," who are thus distinctly consecrated as his prop-
erty and guaranteed to him for his exclusive benefit
in the most solemn manner. You attempt to avert