War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0331 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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increasing in severity and hardship from year to year, especially for thirty years past. a A glance at the census shows that statistics confirm what we had deduced from personal observation. From 1830 the rate has been gradually diminishing; for, as the superintendent of the census remarks, "the greater apparent increase amount slaves from 1840 to 1850 is connected with the admission of Texas in 1845." b In these thirty years the ratio of natural increase has diminished over 10 per cent. in the decade, or 1 per cent. a year.

At the same diminishing ratio less than a quarter of a century would have witnessed a state of things under which the slave population would have been annually decreasing. Whether it would have fallen still lower, until, as in Jamaica and other West Indian Islands, the deaths had so far exceeded the births that, in less than a century, half the population would have disappeared, must now ever remain, let us thank God, a matter of conjecture.

The duration of slavery as a system in the United States has been but brief, as compared with its prolonged existence in the West Indian colonies. Here that system had not borne its deadliest fruits. Here, especially for four or five decades after the Revolutionary War, certain features of a patriarchal c character tended to alleviate its harshness.

But, in all its various phases, that system which confers on one race the fatal privilege of idleness at expense of forced drudgery imposed upon another race, differs rather in the degree than in the character of its results. There results are, as a general rule, wherever slavery exists at all, essentially and degradingly evil; evil to the victim of the injustice; evil, as certainly, to the inflictor of it, for there is no human crime that does not recoil on the criminal.

Alike in the slave States of the Union as in the colonies of the West Indies, and in every other land in which the system of slavery prevails, its victims may be said to livly, of every natural right.

One of the most universal objects of human desire and of human endeavor is the acquisition of property; but the laws of slave States forbid that the slave shall ever acquire any. The holiest of human relations is marriage; but a slave cannot legally contract it. The dearest of human ties are those of family; but a slave may see them broken forever, without redress, any hour of his life. Of all human privileges the highest is the right of culture, of moral and mental improvement, of education; but to the slave the school is forbidden ground-reading and writing are penal offenses. The most prized of personal rights is the right of self-defense; but a slave has it not. He may not resist or resent a blow, even if it endeavor limb or life.

What remains to the enslaved race? Life to man? honor to woman? any security for either? Nominally, yes. Actually, save in exceptional cases, Numbers In the statute laws against murder or rape the word white is not to be found. Persons of either color appear to


a See extract from Preliminary Report of the Commission, given at page 148 [328] of this report.

b Preliminary Report of Eighth Census, p.7.

c We have found indications of this in taking the evidence of freedmen, especially in the more northern slave States. Mrs. Wilkinson, a colored woman in Canada West, testified: "I was raised in Winchester, Va. * * * I have seen a good deal of hard treatment of others, but never had any myself. I was brought up like one of the family. I used to call my master `farther" and the old lady `mother" until I came to this country. That is the way I was raised." This woman was set free by her mistress after her master's death. (Supplementary Report A, on The Refugees from Slavery in Canada West. By one of the Commission. P. 98.)