Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin: A Casebook

By Elizabeth Ammons | Go to book overview

Does Public Opinion Protect the Slave?

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

THE UTTER INEFFICIENCY of the law to protect the slave in any respect has been shown.

But it is claimed that, precisely because the law affords the slave no protection, therefore public opinion is the more strenuous in his behalf.

Nothing more frequently strikes the eye, in running over judicial proceedings in the Courts of slave States, than announcements of the utter inutility of the law to rectify some glaring injustice towards this unhappy race, coupled with congratulatory remarks on that beneficent state of public sentiment which is to supply entirely this acknowledged deficiency of the law.

On this point it may, perhaps, be sufficient to ask the reader, whether North or South, to review in his own mind the judicial documents which we have presented, and ask himself what inference is to be drawn, as to the state of public sentiment, from the cases there presented—from the pleas of lawyers, the decisions of judges, the facts sworn to by witnesses, and the general style and spirit of the whole proceedings.

In order to appreciate this more fully, let us compare a trial in a free State with a trial in a slave State.

In the free State of Massachusetts, a man of standing, learning, and high connexions, murdered another man. He did not torture him, but with

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