Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

"1. A fine of five hundred dollars, recoverable by any person who will sue for the same ; 2. The value of the slave on the action of the owner, in which action the vessel is liable to attachment to answer the verdict of the jury, no matter to whom she belongs ; 3. A fine of one hundred and fifty dollars, for the benefit of the Literary Fund; and, lastly, the master of such vessel is liable to a prosecution and three years' imprisonment if the slave shall be found on board after the vessel leaves the port, whether he knew the slave was on board or not.' The brig had been placed under attachment, to await the result of a judicial decision."

Another instance may be mentioned, which is quite as striking. There resides at Baltimore a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Robert Breckenridge, who has been for many years a warm advocate and supporter of the American Col. onization Society, and, as such, has been much cherished and esteemed by the people of the South. Recently, how. ever, either from some change in his views or from the more frank and full expression of them, he has attracted great notice, and inspired very opposite sentiments. In a religious periodical, edited and published by him in this city, he issued an article entitled " A Presbyterian on the Bible Doctrine of Slavery.” This article led to the following correspondence, which has been recently published in the Petersburgh Intelligencer, a newspaper published in the adjoining state of Virginia.

“ The following is the correspondence between Mr. Shore, our postmaster, and General Pegram, the chairman of the committee of vigilance:

"• Postoffice, Petersburgh, February 8, 1838. “Dear Sir,–At your leisure, will you have the kindness to peruse the article of “A Presbyterian on Bible Slavery,"contained in three numbers of a religious periodical published in Baltimore by Breckenridge, &c. ? ' I am satisfied in my own mind that the article and magazine are of that class of incendiary productions which the act of Assembly was designed to suppress, and that it is my duty to hand them over to the magistracy to be publicly burned. Your opinion is respectfully solicited, as an experienced lawyer, touching the character of this article, as well as the organ of a committee raised by this commonwealth soon after that awful tragedy was acted called the Southampton insurrection, in which about sixty men, women, and helpless infants were cruelly butchered by their savage slaves.

“It does seem to me, sir, that I should subserve the cause of the abolitionists, and be instrumental in getting up the second act of this tragedy, by circulating the wild

speculations of this mad incendiary. Let me ask you, sir, would it be safe to disseminate among our slaves the doctrine which “A Presbyterian" would establish, and which is so fully endorsed by the “disclaimer" of the editors ?

“*If the doctrines of this writer be true, who will venture to condemn the conduct of the abolitionists? He attempts to draw arguments from the Bible to show that slavery is a crying and damning sin. Vain is the attempt! for not one condemnatory sentence can be found, from Genesis to Revelation, that touches slavery as it exists in this country.

"• Excuse the trouble I have imposed upon you. My apology is to

be found in the grave importance of the subject upon which your opinion is asked. From the elevated station you occupy in the confidence and esteem of your fellow-citizens throughout our state, any opinion expressed by you will have weight, and will decide my ultimate course.

“I am, &c.,

". THOMAS SAORE, P.M.'

" Petersburgh, February 9, 1838. "Dear Sir, I have carefully examined the article of “ A Presbyte rian on the Bible Doctrine of Slavery,” contained in the January and February numbers of the “Baltimore Literary and Religious Magazine," to which my attention has been invited by your note of yesterday.

4. The act of Assembly, passed March 23, 1836, provides, “ T'hat if any person shall hereafter write, print, or cause to be written or printed, any book, pamphlet, or other writing, with intent of advising, entreating, or persuading persons of colour within this commonwealth to make insurrection, or to rebel, or denying the right of masters to property in their slaves, or inculcating the duty of resistance to such right, or shall, with intent to aid the purposes aforesaid of such book, pamphlet, or other writing, knowingly circulate or cause to be circulated any such book," &c., such person shall be deemed guilty of felony, &c. And the next section of the same act farther provides, “That if any postmaster or deputy postmaster within this commonwealth shall give notice to any justice of the peace that any book, pamphlet, or other writing hath been received at his office through the medium of the mail, of the character and description mentioned in the section of this act immediately preceding, it should be the duty of such justice of the peace to inquire into the circumstances of the case, and to have such book, pamphlet, or other writing burned in his presence,” &c. Any postmaster or deputy postmaster knowingly violating the provisions of this act, shall forfeit and pay a sum not less than fifty dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, to be recovered with costs," &c.

“I have read the two articles in the magazine referred to without prejudice, to discover if they contain anything offensive to any part of ihe provisions of the act I have quoted. Whatever may have been the motives of the writer, there cannot be a doubt that he has assumed positions and advanced arguments antagonist to "the right of masters to property in their slaves." And this right he has assailed in the most imposing of all other modes, by undertaking to prove that it is denied by the laws of God; that not only “the Scriptures of the Old Testament give no countenance to the system of slavery established in this land, but, on the contrary, they decidedly condemn it as oppressive and unjust;" but also that our Saviour "clearly condemns the system of slavery which prevails in our land.” And after thus establishing his position, as he confidently supposes, that masters have no right of property in their slaves, and, by consequence, that the invasion and resistance of such claimed right would be sanctioned by the same high authority, he concludes with this dangerous suggestion: "The people of the South may take their choice, either to rid themselves of the sin of slavery peaceably and righteously, or, by persevering in their present course, leave a legacy of blood to their children.”

“I am of the opinion that such a publication is clearly “of the char. acter and description mentioned” in our act of Assembly, and that you would be subject to its penalties if you, knowingly, cause to be circulated the numbers containing the articles referred to. In examining this subject, I have carefully discarded the sensitive jealousy which may be supposed to influence the mind of a slaveholder, and have considered

[blocks in formation]

it, as I presume you presented it to me, merely as a legal question arising under our statute.

«« Yours most respectfully,

« • J. W. PEGRAM."" It is worthy of remark, however, that in all our intercourse with the people of Baltimore, and we were continually out in society, we heard less about slaves and slavery than in any town we had yet visited ; and we never heard the institution of slavery defended or excused, as we had so often heard it done by the merchants of New York. All parties here seem to admit it to be a great national evil; all appear anxious to see it abolished ; and all with whom we conversed were more willing to listen to and consider any proposition for hastening the period of emancipation, than we had found to be the case elsewhere, except among the professed abolitionists.

It seemed remarkable to us, and was not less agreeable than unexpected, that we should thus meet, in the populous capital of a slave-state, more toleration of opinion on the subject of slavery, and a more general sympathy with efforts for its removal, than with a large number of those residing in the free state and populous city of New York. For this reason there are many schools opened for coloured children, and many benevolent persons, ladies especially, assist per: sonally in teaching them; so that here, at least, there is no dread of their becoming too intelligent. There are also five African churches in the city, where the service is performed by coloured preachers to coloured congregations, two of these being Methodists, and one a Protestant Episcopal Church.

Of the religious sects into which the 100,000 inhabitants of Baltimore are divided, the following is believed to be the order and predominance of extent and influence.

First come the Roman Catholics, who far outstrip any other separate sect in numbers and in zeal. Besides their large and imposing Cathedral, by far the most prominent of all the public buildings of the city in every view of Baltimore, they have churches and chapels scattered over all parts of the town, and others rising up in every direction. The last new one that we saw, just opened, has inscribed in large letters on the outside, “ The Church of Mount Carmel and the Sacred Heart." The Catholic archbishop, and all the subordinate priesthood, are learned, pious, and clever men; the Sisters of Charity have among their number many intelligent and devoted women; and these, with the semiVol. 1.-00

25

nary for the education of Catholic youth, secure not merely the permanence of the present supremacy of Catholic num. bers and Catholic influence, but its still farther steady and progressive increase.

Next to the Catholics, the Methodists are most numer. ous; and one branch of these are called Episcopal Methodists, from having bishops, but resembling the Wesleyan Methodists in all things else, whether in doctrine, mode of worship, discipline, or government. The Presbyterians follow next in order, and have several large places of worship, and excellent preachers.

The Episcopalians come next, following the ritual of the Church of England ; and this being the religion of the more fashionable and aristocratical portion of the community, they have handsome churches, and highly educated and eloquent preachers. Dr. Wiatt, at St. Paul's; Dr. Johns, at Christ Church; and Dr. Henshaw, at St. Peter's, are all accomplished gentlemen and highly popular preachers; and their congregations are among the most elegant and distinguished.

The Baptists and Lutherans are also numerous, the latter mostly Germans; and, in addition to these, the Quakers, Unitarians, Swedenborgians, and Dunkers have each places of worship for their several congregations.

As no one among all these varied sects has any connex. ion with the State, or possesses any privilege over any other, there is no ground for envy or jealousy among them. There is, therefore, a generally tolerant and indulgent spirit pervading their common intercourse; and in all matters in which their co-operation is necessary, religious distinctions are disregarded. The voluntary system is found to be abundantly adequate to the support of religious teachers, without forced tax or impost of any kind; and while there is no clergyman who is thought to receive more than 2500 dollars, or about £500 sterling per annum, there is not one who has less than 1000 dollars, or £200 per annum; and from £300 to £400 may be taken to be the average of their salaries. The clergy of each of the denominations are of a higher or. der, on the whole, than the same classes in England ; not, perhaps, in learning, but in unexceptionable morality, in gentlemanly manners, and in zealous and exclusive devotion to their duties; and the best understanding appears to exist between them and their followers.

Of institutions for education, and for the promotion of literature and science, there are several. As long ago as 1696, funds were appropriated by the province of Maryland,

EDUCATION.-DEATH OF MR. M'KIM.

291

when a colony of Great Britain, for the support of a college and free-schools. In 1782 Washington College, at Chestertown, was established. In 1784 St. John's College, at Annapolis, was founded ; and these two were then united into a University. In 1807 the State appropriated 12,000 dol. lars per annum for its support; and in 1813 a tax was laid upon Bank-stock, which produced about 10,000 dollars a year, and which is expended in the support of free-schools. By an act of Assembly, the personal estate of all individuals who die intestate in Maryland, and leave no relatives within the fifth degree, is appropriated to this object, unless they are seamen; and in that case, the effects

go to the funds of the Charitable Marine Society. Throughout the whole state Sunday-schools are very numerous, and all are well attended by teachers as well as pupils.

It was in 1807, after much difficulty, that the State Legislature succeeded in founding, in the City of Baltimore, the institution called The University of Maryland. The money for building it was raised by lottery, and it was incorporated in 1812. The professors of Law, Physic, Anatomy, Chym. · istry, and Mineralogy are all eminent in reputation ; the apparatus is excellent, and the collection valuable. The State has made liberal grants for the support of the institution; and the fees of the students, though moderate in amount, are productive by numbers. The Roman Catholic College of St. Mary's is considered to be an excellent sem. inary of education for pupils of that faith; and the Protest, ant establishment of Baltimore College is equally so. There are private academies for both sexes in great abundance; and one of the most classical edifices in the town, architecturally considered, is a free-school, built in the form of a Dorio temple, and liberally endowed by the late representative of Baltimore, Mr. Isaac M.Kim.

The death of this gentleman happened just after we had left Washington for this place, he being the third member of Congress that had died within the period of about a month; and each was honoured with a public funeral at the public expense, this being the custom observed towards all the members of both houses who may die during the sitting of Congress. It may serve to convey to the reader an idea of the respect shown to the office of a legislator, though in this instance enhanced by much personal respect for the man, to give the order of proceedings at the funeral of Mr. M'Kim, as it was observed at Washington, of which the following is the official report:

« ZurückWeiter »