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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

If Abolitionism prospers by the abuse of its advocates


These

are the maxims of peace and charity, which it is in the power of the females of our country to advocate, both by example and by entreaties. These are the principles which alone can protect and preserve the right of free discussion, the freedom of speech, and liberty of the press. And with our form of government, and our liabilities to faction and party-spirit, the country will be safe and happy only in proportion to the prevalence of these maxims among the mass of the community. There probably will never arrive a period in the history of this nation, when the influence of these principles will be more needed, than the present. The question of slavery involves more pecuniary interests, touches more private relations, involves more prejudices, is entwined with more sectional, party, and political interests, than any other which can ever again arise. It is a matter which, if discussed and controlled without the influence of these principles of charity and peace, will shake this nation like an earthquake, and pour over us the volcanic waves of every terrific passion. The trembling earth, the low murmuring thunders, already admonish us of our danger; and if females can exert any saving influence in this emergency, it is time for them to awake.

And there are topics that they may urge upon the attention of their friends, at least as matters worthy of serious consideration and inquiry.

Is a woman surrounded by those

who favour the Abolition measures? Can she not with propriety urge such inquiries as these?

Is not slavery to be brought to an end by free discussion, and is it not a war upon the right of free discussion to impeach the motives and depreciate the character of the opposers of Abolition measures? When the opposers of Abolition movements claim that they honestly and sincerely believe that these measures tend to perpetuate slavery, or to bring it to an end by servile wars, and civil disunion, and the most terrific miseries--when they object to the use of their pulpits, to the embodying of literary students, to the agitation of the community, by Abolition agents--when they object to the circulation of such papers and tracts as Abolitionists prepare, because they believe them most pernicious in their influence and tendencies, is it not as much persecution to use invidious insinuations, depreciating accusation and impeachment of motive, in order to intimidate, as it is for the opposers of Abolitionism to use physical force? Is not the only method by which the South can be brought to relinquish slavery, a conviction that not only her _duty_, but her highest _interest_, requires her to do it? And is not _calm, rational Christian_ discussion the only proper method of securing this end? Can a community that are thrown into such a state of high exasperation as now exists at the South, ever engage in such discussions, till the storm of excitement and passion is allayed? Ought not every friend of liberty and of free discussion, to take every possible means to soothe exasperated feelings, and to avoid all those offensive peculiarities that in their nature tend to inflame and offend?

Is a woman among those who oppose Abolition movements? She can urge such inquiries as these: Ought not Abolitionists to be treated as if they were actuated by the motives of benevolence which they profess? Ought not every patriot and every Christian to throw all his influence against the impeachment of motives, the personal detraction, and the violent measures that are turned upon this body of men, who, however they may err in judgment or in spirit, are among the most exemplary and benevolent in the land? If Abolitionists are censurable for taking measures that exasperate rather than convince and persuade, are not their opponents, who take exactly the same measures to exasperate Abolitionists and their friends, as much to blame? If Abolitionism prospers by the abuse of its advocates, are not the authors of this abuse accountable for the increase of the very evils they deprecate?


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