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powered and destroyed by military coercion, would spread famine and pestilence through the country. An idea that they would, on such an emancipation, or on one of any other kind, become industrious and regular, will, in my opinion, prove clearly fallacious. Besides this, if they should be inclined to labour, where would they be supplied with lands? or who would furnish them with the means for beginning their new mode of life? To let them have the full liberty of free citizens would be worse still; for the necessity of civil government proves that mankind are corrupt and wicked, and we should find these people holding their suffrages at auction, without holding property worthy of their attention, or a sense of civil liberty worthy of one moment's anxiety. This measure would involve the Southern States in calamity and distress, if not in ruin. The scheme of colonizing them has all the objections that your learned and ingenious correspondent has stated. The expence of carrying them to their new plantation, and furnishing them there with as much support as is generally claimed by the most industrious white people who go into a new country, is more than the Treasury of the United States could possibly bear, even if there were no other expences of government.
Should the 300,000 blacks of Virginia emigrate, under an idea of colonizing, those of the three Southern States would of course be united with them: this would exhibit a multitude of half a million of people, at the least. On their way to their new world, and while they were beginning their settlements, some kind of civil government would be necessary. We have in history but one picture of such an enterprize; and there we see it was necessary, not only to open the sea, by a miracle, for them to pass, but more necessary to close it again, in order to prevent their return. Promises of the most luxuriant kind, assured by a constant and obvious chain of miracles, could hardly restrain them from rebellions and insurrections. Even then, though a spontaneous supply of bread from Heaven supported the camp, and every measure was adopted which could affect the human heart with a proper sense of a necessity for a good and regular government, yet so incapable were the men, who had been bred in a state of slavery, either to submit to or maintain a system of state policy, that it was necessary to waste them all in the wilderness. Should half a million of people, who had been
bred in a state of slavery, find themselves in a country where they were free from a legal restraint, excepting what they should provide for themselves, they could never reduce their individual members to a state of civil society. The emigrants from Europe to America had been always under a government where civil liberty was much contemplated, and as fully enjoyed as it could be in a monarchy; but there never was, or ever can be, a migration of a multitude of slaves to a country of freedom.
The negroes, if they were to colonize, would at once, in separate and independent bodies, commit depredations on their neighbours, and bring the other States into a necessity of reducing them by the sword. From the difficulties suggested by Mr. Tucker, it would seem as if the case was without remedy, and that a state of slavery is entailed for ever on some part of the inhabitants of free America. But there is, in my mind, this resource; and I am obliged to think that it is the only one in the case, and that a very slow one. As there is no way to eradicate the prejudice which education has fixed in the minds of the white against the black people, otherwise than by raising the blacks, by means of mental improvements, nearly to the same grade with the whites, the emancipation of the slaves in United America must be slow in its progress, and ages must be employed in the business. The time necessary to effect this purpose must be as extensive, at least, as that in which slavery has been endured here. The children of the slaves must, at the public expence, be educated in the same manner as the children of their masters; being at the same schools, &c., with the rising generation, that prejudice, which has been so long and inveterate against them on account of their situation and colour, will be lessened within thirty or forty years. There is an objection to this, which embraces all my feelings; that is, that it will tend to a mixture of blood, which I now abhor; but yet, as I feel, I fear that I am not a pure Republican, delighting in the equal rights of all the human race. This mode of education will fit the rising progeny of the black people either to participate with the whites in a free government, or to colonize, and have one of their own. The negroes born after a certain future day may be considered as free at 40 years, those after another at 30, and those after another at 21 years of age. This will, in
the course of time, emancipate all the slaves. To induce them to be industrious members of community, a certain portion of property ought to be considered as necessary to their holding civil offices, or enjoying civil privileges, in common with other citizens. This process, I know, is too slow for the warm and philanthropic feelings of your elegant correspondent; and carries with it the idea of a curse being entailed in the Southern States from the fathers to the children, to the third and fourth generation. Be that as it may, I think the best way is to make haste slowly, and to bear for a time an evil with patience, rather than to aggravate its miseries, and render future attempts discouraging. There have been few instances indeed, in history, where a man educated as a slave has been capable of enjoying freedom. In the most despotic governments, there have appeared champions for liberty; but the event has generally evinced to the world that the greater part of these had acted only from a spirit of ambitious heroism, because they have generally been tyrants as soon as they had established their own power to rule.
There is no doubt a great disparity in the natural abilities of mankind, and we have great reason to believe that the organization of the Affricans is such as prevents their receiving the more fine and sublime impressions equally with the white people; and yet we do not know but that, giving them the same prospects, placing them under the force of the same motives, and conferring upon them the same advantages for the space of time in which 3 or 4 generations shall rise and fall, will so mend the race, and so increase their powers of perception, and so strengthen their faculty for comparing ideas, and understanding the nature and connexion of the external things with which man is surrounded on this globe, as that they may exceed the white people.
When you handed me Mr. Tucker's letter, last evening, expressing your wish to hear my sentiments upon the subjectmatter of it, I had no idea of writing you a line; and, when I began, I did not intend to write a page. I have been all the morning surrounded by people on business; and, while I have been conversing with them, I have kept the pen in motion. It is now one o'clock; and I have neither time to correct, or even read, what I have written. If you will, without reading it, conceive from the length of it that I wish to comply with all your requests as soon as they are made, and then commit this to a
TO DR. BELKNAP.
warm hearth, it will perhaps be a great act of friendship to him who is always ready to risque himself in the arms of your candour, and who is most perfectly
Your friend and humble servant,
JOHN ADAMS TO DR. BELKNAP.
QUINCY, October 22, 1795.
DEAR SIR, Enclosed is the letter of Dr. Tucker. If I should agree with him in his maxim, "Fiat justitia ruat cœlum," the question would still remain, What is justice? Justice to the negroes would require that they should not be abandoned by their masters and turned loose upon a world in which they have no capacity to procure even a subsistence. What would become of the old? the young? the infirm? Justice to the world, too, would forbid that such numbers should be turn'd out to live by violence, by theft, or fraud.
I believe no better expedient will be found than to prohibit the importation of new negroes, and soften the severity of the condition of old ones, as much as possible, until the increasing population of the country shall have multiplied the whites to such a superiority of numbers that the blacks may be liberated by degrees, with the consent both of master and servant. Your sincere
JUDGE TUCKER TO DR. BELKNAP.
WILLIAMSBURG, Oct. 31, 1795.
REVEREND SIR, -I received your favour of the 19th of August, announcing the honor done me by the Massachusetts Historical Society, in electing me a Corresponding Member, with sentiments of the most perfect gratitude, mingled with unfeigned regret. To have obtained so honorable a testimony in my favor could not but be peculiarly flattering to one whose
utmost ambition is to deserve the esteem of those who are most eminently distinguished by their talents, virtues, and useful researches. But, sir, a life chequered with a variety of situations, in all which the attainment of a competent support for a large and growing family was necessarily the immediate object of my - pursuits, has never permitted me to cultivate those studies and indulge those researches which are necessary qualifications for a member of that respectable and useful institution. Under such circumstances, to accept of their election would evince a temerity and presumption which the sequel could not fail to detect; whilst a contrary conduct will, I hope, be considered by the Society as the highest testimony of my respect and esteem. Be pleased therefore, sir, to express to them these sentiments in my behalf, and entreat them to impute to a sense of my own unworthiness only a conduct which I most assuredly should not have adopted, could I suppose it possible that it should be construed as the slightest mark of disrespect. Permit me, sir, to offer to the Society my most sincere and ardent wishes for the success of so beneficial an institution. To have contributed to promote the valuable ends of it would have been equally a pride and pleasure to me. Suffer me, also, to thank you, sir, for the obliging manner in which you have communicated the honor intended me. I am, sir, with the highest respect and esteem, Your much obliged and very humble servant,
S. G. TUCKER.
To the REV. DR. BELKNAP, &c., &c., &c.
JUDGE TUCKER TO DR. BELKNAP.
WILLIAMSBURG, Nov. 27, 1795.
It is with much pleasure that I am at length indulged
SIR, with an opportunity of thanking you for your favor of the 19th of August, enclosing also a letter from Mr. Sullivan to yourself, and accompanied with some books. They arrived some weeks ago, when I was upon the circuit, and till within a few days. past I have either been absent or too much engaged to indulge my wish of writing to you.