Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech Delivered at Barnwell C.H., S.C., October 29, 1858 >> Page 344

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Page 344

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription J
344
while they were chiefly men of peculiar and eccentric
religious notions. Their first practical and political
success arose from the convulsions of the French Rev-
olution, which lost to that empire its best colony,
Next came the prohibition of the slave trade the
excitement of the Missouri Compromise in this coun-
try, and the then deliberate emancipation of the slaves
in their colonies by the British government in 1833-4.
About the time of the passage of that act, the abolition
agitation was revived again in this country, and aboli-
tion societies were formed. I remember the time well,
and some of you do also. And what then was the
state of opinion in the South ? Washington had
emancipated his slaves. Jefferson had bitterly de-
nounced the system, and had done all he could to
destroy it. Our Clays, Marshalls, Crawfords, and
many other prominent southern men, had led off in
the colonization scheme. The inevitable effect in the
South was, that she believed slavery to be an evil
weakness—disgraceful—nay, a sin. She shrank from
the discussion of it. She cowered under every threat.
She attempted to apologize, to excuse herself, under
the plea which was true that England had forced
it on her ; and in fear and trembiing she awaited a
doom that she deemed inevitable.
But a few bold spirits took the question up ;
they compelled the South to investigate it anew and
thoroughly, and what is the result ? Why, it would
be difficult now to find a southern man who feels the
system to be the slightest burthen on his conscience ;
who does not, in fact, regard it as an equal advantage
to the master and the slave, elevating both ; as wealth,
strength and power ; and as one of the main pillars