Diary in America: With Remarks on Its Institutions

By Frederick Marryat | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXV
Slavery

It had always appeared to me as singular that the Americans, at the time of their Declaration of Independence, took no measures for the gradual, if not immediate, extinction of slavery; that at the very time they were offering up thanks for having successfully struggled for their own emancipation from what they considered foreign bondage, their gratitude for their liberation did not induce them to break the chains of those whom they themselves held in captivity. It is useless for them to exclaim, as they now do, that it was England who left them slavery as a curse and reproach us as having originally introduced the system among them. Admitting, as is the fact, that slavery did commence when the colonies were subject to the mother country, admitting that the petitions for its discontinuance were disregarded, still there was nothing to prevent immediate manumission at the time of the acknowledgment of their independence by Great Britain. They had then everything to recommence; they had to select a new form of government and to decide upon new laws; they pronounced, in their declaration, that "all men were equal"; and yet, in the face of this declaration, and their solemn invocation to the Deity, the Negroes, in their fetters, pleaded to them in vain.

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