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 142

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Page 142

Correspondence | John F. Trow & Co.; The Reprint Company | 1866, 1978
Transcription 142
in acknowledgment of which I write you this letter.
He is responsible to the community in which he lives,
and to the laws under which he enjoys his civil rights.
Those laws do not permit him to kill, to maim, or to
punish beyond certain limits, or to overtask, or to re-
fuse to feed and clothe his slave. In short, they forbid
him to be tyrannical or cruel. If any of these laws
have grown obsolete, it is because they are so seldom
violated that they are forgotten. You have disinter-
red one of them from a compilation by some Judge
Stroud of Philadelphia, to stigmatize its inadequate
penalties for killing, maiming, &c. Your object ap-
pears to be—you can have no other to produce the
impression that it must be often violated on account of
its insufficiency. You say as much, and that it marks
our estimate of the slave. You forget to state that
this law was enacted by Englishmen,, and only indi-
cates their opinion of the reparation due for these of-
fences. Ours is proved by the fact, though perhaps
unknown to Judge Stroud or yourself, that we have
essentially altered this law ; and the murder of a slave
has for many years been punishable with death in this
State. And so it is, I believe, in most or all the slave
States. You seem well aware, however, that laws have
been recently passed in all these States making it pe-
nal to. teach slaves to read. Do you know what occa-
sioned their passage, and renders their stringent en-
forcement necessary? I can tell you. It was the Aboli-
tion agitation. If the slave is not allowed to read his
Bible, the sin rests upon the Abolitionists ; for they
stand prepared to furnish him with a Key to it, which
would make it, not a Book of hope and love and peace,
but of despair, hatred and blood; which would convert