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|HOME > John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry>Chicago, Illinois, Press and Tribune [Republican] (26 October 1859)|
The Patriarchal Tenure.
Chicago, Illinois, Press and Tribune [Republican]
(26 October 1859)
Gov. Wise made a speech in Richmond, on
Saturday last. Among other things he is
reported as having said:
This reminds us of the boy who whistled
in passing through the grave-yard, to keep his
Governor Wise and his fellow slave breeders place infinitely more reliance upon the strong arm of Federal power and Northern regiments than on their patriarchal tenure, to quell a similar insurrection. In proof of this need we other evidence than their own late conduct? When it was supposed that the "niggers" were getting loose at Harper's Ferry, their first act was to rush to Uncle Sam and implore him to fly to the rescue of the patriarchs! The love of the slave for his chains is a huge, unnatural lie, and the daily lives of the whole slave-holding fraternity bear continual testimony against the assumption.
Thomas Jefferson, himself a Virginian, declared that "the whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just -- that his justice cannot sleep forever." What a comment upon the patriarchal system! The Harper Ferry slaves saw the mad folly of making the attempt to regain their liberty, and had the sense and prudence to remain quiet, and refuse to run into the jaws of certain destruction. This is the extent of the patriarchal tenure, and no more.
But suppose a war should break out between this country and Great Britain, how much reverence or affection would the slaves of Virginia or any other slave State exhibit for the patriarchal institution? Let them hear that an army of Canadian fugitives and West India free colored soldiers had landed at Norfolk, Charleston, Mobile or Savannah, and proclaimed freedom, and offered them arms to achieve it, how many of the four millions of slaves would decline the opportunity, or refuse to obey the summons to strike and be free? We confess this is an ugly view of the patriarchal institution, but it is one that no patriot dare ignore. Democratic demagogues may stun the country with their clamors and revenge against the Republicans, but that will not ward off the terrible consequences to the South, of a war with Great Britain. So long as the United States keeps clear of a collision with the mother country, and Heaven grant it, may be forever, the peculiar institution may escape a disastrous termination.
If a supposed insurrection in the sparse slave population of Northern Virginia throws the whole South into consternation, what kind of security will that section enjoy when thousands of ship loads of the same incendiary material have been brought from Africa, filling up the southern States? We appeal to the conservative men of the country to say which is the safest and best policy: the Democratic, which is striving to multiply and expand this volcanic element, or the Republican which seeks to limit and circumscribe it, and place it on the way of ultimate extinction.[<<Previous Editorial][Next Editorial>>]