Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

nati road by Nashville, and from the same point north to the inouth of the Ohio, a road might, and ought to be constructed by the united funds of both cities, or of the companies representing them, securing by proper covenants equal rights and benefits of every sort to both. More especially do I consider this to be important in relation to the road running north to the Ohio. The distance will not fall much short of one hundred and seventy-five miles, and the cost of its construction not much less than three millions of dollars. Half that amount is worth saving, and its division would lighten the burden on both, as well as on the intermediate towns and people who might be called on to contribute to its construction. The suggestion is made with a full persuasion that the road can be made by either, but with the strong conviction that the proper sense of economy, and an enlightened comity of feeling, would evidently be consulted by a joint contribution to it.

I drop the subject of railroads, in order to suggest another on which the South and West are looking for your action with the highest interest: I mean the encouragement of manufactories-manufactories generally, but more especially of our great southern staple. You will never adjourn, I hope, without making the strongest appeals to our capitalists, and especially our planters, to engage in them. The latter can build the houses necessary with their own hands. Two or three, or half a dozen, can unite in one establishment. They can select from their own stock of slaves, the most active and intelligent ones for operatives, without the necessary advances in money to white laborers. The cost of machinery, and the expense of one or two others of practical experience to superintend the rest, will be nearly the only outlay of actual capital for the business. I earnestly desire to see one-fourth of southern slave labor diverted from the production to the manufaclure of cotton. One-fourth of such labor abstracted, would give a steadiness and elevation of prices to the raw material, which would better justify its cultivation.

I have no time to elaborate this view of the subject; I but hint at it, and indulge the hope, that it will be placed in the hands of one of your ablest committees.

In relation to the encouragement of importations into our

southern cities, and of direct trade between them and foreign countries, I do not know that I can suggest anything valuable. When the south shall have completed a well digested system of internal improvements, connecting the interior with our southern ports, importations will come of themselves. Ability to furnish assorled cargoes will soon attract a direct trade to the full amount of the ability of our southern cities to accommodate it. This theme, also, opens too wide a field either for my present time or for the patience of your honorable body.

I therefore close this communication with the most profound respect and confident expectation, that your deliberations will result in the lasting benefit of our common country. Very respectfully,

AARON V. BROWN. Nashville, Tenn.

REPORT,
In the Legislature of Tennessee in 1831.

The Judiciary Committee, to whom was referred“A bill concerning free persons of color, and for other purposes,” have had the same under consideration, and beg leave to present to the House of Representatives the following Report:

The first section of the bill provides, that it shall not be lawful for any free person of color, whether born free or emancipated under the laws of any other State, to remove him or herself to this State, to reside therein, under the penalty of being indicted, and, on conviction, fined in a sum not less than ten nor more than fifty dollars; and moreover, to be sentenced to hard labor in the Penitentiary, for a term not less than one nor more than two years. Such persons not departing from the State immediately after their discharge, to be confined in said Penitentiary a period double the longest term before mentioned; but not to be liable for any further pecuniary fine. The second section provides, that every such free person of color, who shall have removed to this State within twelve months next before the passage of this act, shall be required to enter into bond with two or more good and sufficient freehold securities, within six months after the passage of this act, conditioned that they will demean themselves in a peaceable and orderly manner, and they will do all in their power to maintain the public peace and quiet under the same penalty as prescribed in the first section of the act, with a proviso, excepting free persons of color who are indented servants and apprentices. The third section prescribes, that any free persons of color, now in this State, and who have not emigrated to it within twelve months before the passage of this act, (as mentioned in the second section) on complaint made, that such free persons of color fail to conduct themselves as peaceable and orderly persons, or attempt to excite a spirit of insubordination amongst slaves, or other free persons of color, or that they are generally suspected of such conduct, they may be brought by warrant before three justices at the court house of the county, and compelled, if thought guilty, to enter into a bond, payable to the chairman of the county court conditioned as in the second section. And if such justices shall believe from the particular case made out, that the peace and safety of the State requires it, said bond may be further conditioned, that they shall within a reasonable time, to be fixed by the justices, depart from the State.

The fourth section provides, that it shall be lawful from and after the passage of this act, for any court to order, or any owner or owners of slaves to emancipate them, but on the ezpress condition that they shall be immediately removed from this State: and if they should return, the bond required to be given shall be recoverable and they sold as slaves.

The fifth section requires the act to be given in charge by the judges and the attorney generals at every term, and the latter empowered to require information on oath of all sheriffs, coroners, constables and other persons, so as to be enabled to carry this act into effect.

Your Committee regard with the deepest concern those recent events in other States, which have rendered prohibitory legislation like this, indispensably necessary to the repose and safety of the country. They indulge in no sentiments of hos. tility against this unfortunate portion of their fellow-creatures, and would most willingly, if in their power, diminish, rather than add a single drop to their cup of bitterness and affliction. The necessity for their prohibition on our part, and the incon. veniences to which it exposes them, is one of the evils of that system of slavery, which the cupidity of other generations have entailed upon us, and which neither the wisdom nor patriotism of modern times has yet been able to remedy. Prior to the Revolution, no entreaty nor remonstrance could induce

the crown of Great Britain to interpose its authority to put a stop to the slave trade: The royal negative was perpetually imposed on every effort of the Colonial legislatures to prohibit a commerce utterly inconsistent with all the suggestions of justice and humanity. Hence it was that our enemies took occasion to reproach us in our struggle for independence for imposing slavery on those who differed with us in complexion, whilst we were offering up our vows at the shrine of liberty, and sacrificing hacatombs on her altars. A proud vindication of our common country, against such opprobrium, may be read in the energy and promptness with which that nefarious traffic in human flesh was abolished, so soon as our National Inde. pendence was secured. The people of the Southern States, where slavery is still permitted, may also exhibit a vindication against their accusers, not less triumphant, in the gradual improvements and humane amendments, which have been effected in their criminal and civil jurisprudence respecting elaves.

In every Southern State, the most decided disposition has been clearly manifested to ameliorate their condition, as far as the safety and the most moderate profits of the master will admit. Experience has, however, clearly shown, that the association of slaves with free persons of color, has a decided tendency to increase in them habits of idleness and insubordination; hence, masters are often compelled to resort to rigorous and coercive measures, bordering closely on cruelty, in order to obviate the effects of such associations.

The free colored population of Tennessee is already considerable, and their exclusion from some States and probable expulsion from others, must throw upon the State, unless she resort to the most energetic means of prevention, an alarming number of the most vicious and profligate, which the insurrectionary times can furnish. Many honorable exceptions could no doubt be made, but in the general, the free colored population of all the States are the most vicious and dangerousdeprived of many privileges, which it were unwise as well as unsafe to bestow on them, whilst they remain amongst us, they lose most of the ordinary incentives to industry and virtue. They are excluded from all equality of association with the

« AnteriorContinuar »