MIGRATIONS TO THE FREE STATES
One of the strangest aspects of the slavery controversy was the way in which the spokesmen of the slave power vehemently defended the institution of slavery as a positive good, denounced all programs for the amelioration of its harsher features, and at the same time, sometimes in the same breath, cast the blame on someone else. The slave was a slave because he had a black skin. He could not have an education or religious instruction because it would increase his desire for freedom. He could not be set free because someone in the North insisted he should be freed; it was the fault of the abolitionists that he was kept in slavery. People who spoke out against slavery and were mobbed, or hanged, or shot had only themselves to blame; they should have remained silent.
The idea that the South was turned away from emancipation, and toward a defense of slavery by the abolition movement of the North is a monstrous fiction. There was no recognizable North and South on the slavery question until the Black Belt was developed. We have seen that the leading opponents of slavery in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were from Virginia, Maryland, and New York, all of them slave states, and that slavery was in process of gradual extinction in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania until well past the turn of the century. There were men within the limits of slave states in the early years of the republic who were opposed to slavery and said so. Woolman, Benezet, Franklin, Mason, Rush, Hopkins, Webster, Jay, Dwight, Rice, Cooper, and McLeod all lived in slave states and helped to make them free.
No one of the people we have been talking about, however, came from Georgia or South Carolina. Men from those states spoke, if at all, in defense of slavery and in defiance of every critic. There never was tolerance of dissent or freedom of expression on the subject in proslavery circles, or where slaveholders dominated a community and controlled public opinion. Later on, they, and some historians, tried to blame their severity and uncompromising attitude on William Lloyd Garrison. Actually, of course, they did not become severe and uncompromising, they always had been that way. William Lloyd Garrison was a Johnny-come-lately in the business of abolishing slavery, and no one in the slave country ever defended slavery more violently than the spokesmen from the lower South before 1830.
Richard Furman, leader of the Southern Baptists, wrote a strong defense of slavery as a Christian institution in 1822. He insisted that discovery of the Charleston insurrection in 1822 was evidence of God's approval and protection of slaveholders, and he urged religious instruction for the slaves that they might be taught respect for their masters.1 Frederick Dalche, an Episcopal minister of Charleston, in 1823 urged religious instruction that the slaves might be indoctrinated with the place in society assigned to them by their Creator.2 William Barlow, rector of the Claremont Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, in 1826 urged the church to preach the acceptabil-