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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

Against promoting the plans of the Abolitionists


only one of two positions can be held. Either that it is the duty of all men to remonstrate at all times against all violations of duty, and leave the consequences with God; or else that men are to use their judgment, and take the part of remonstrance only at such a time and place, and in such a manner, as promise the best results.

That the Abolitionists have not held the second of these positions, must be obvious to all who have read their documents. It would therefore be unwise and wrong to join an association which sustains a principle false in itself, and one which, if acted out, would tend to wrath and strife and every evil word and work.

Another reason, and the most important of all, against promoting the plans of the Abolitionists, is involved in the main question--_what are the probabilities as to the results of their movements?_ The only way to judge of the future results of certain measures is, by the known laws of mind, and the recorded experience of the past.

Now what is the evil to be cured?


That this evil is at no distant period to come to an end, is the unanimous opinion of all who either notice the tendencies of the age, or believe in the prophecies of the Bible. All who act on Christian principles in regard to slavery, believe that in a given period (variously estimated)

it will end. The only question then, in regard to the benefits to be gained, or the evils to be dreaded in the present agitation of the subject, relates to the _time_ and the _manner_ of its extinction. The Abolitionists claim that their method will bring it to an end in the shortest time, and in the safest and best way. Their opponents believe, that it will tend to bring it to an end, if at all, at the most distant period, and in the most dangerous way.

As neither party are gifted with prescience, and as the Deity has made no revelations as to the future results of any given measures, all the means of judging that remain to us, as before stated, are the laws of mind, and the records of the past.

The position then I would aim to establish is, that the method taken by the Abolitionists is the one that, according to the laws of mind and past experience, is least likely to bring about the results they aim to accomplish. The general statement is this.

The object to be accomplished is:

First. To convince a certain community, that they are in the practice of a great sin, and

Secondly. To make them willing to relinquish it.

The method taken to accomplish this is, by voluntary associations in a foreign community, seeking to excite public sentiment against the perpetrators of the evil; exhibiting the enormity of the crime in full measure, without palliation, excuse or sympathy, by means of periodicals and agents circulating, not in the community committing the sin, but in that which does not practise it.

Now that this method may, in conjunction with other causes, have an influence to bring slavery to an end, is not denied. But it is believed, and from the following considerations, that it is the least calculated to do the _good_, and that it involves the greatest evils.

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