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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States, Held in the State Capitol at Nashville Tennessee, May 6, 7, 8 and 9, 1879.
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the days of judges, and lower than they fell in the days of their last prophet. Circumcision has been neglected, even the circumcision of the heart. Human sacrifice has been practiced—the human sacrifice of slavery—while God, who cast jewels of truth to the nation, has been turned upon and not rent, (for divinity is insecable,) but impudently questioned.
The practice of American Christianity, what has it been in the past? What is it in the present? As we approach the subject, aptly may we quote Scripture, "How art thou fallen from heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning ! How art thou cast down to the ground, which didst weaken the nation !"
The practice of American Christianity, politically and ecclesiastically, has been, and morally is, such as to make the world hold up its hands in horror. Politically, how have they framed mischief by a law ecclesiastically? How have they gone with the multitude to do evil?
We speak of the practice of American Christianity politically. What was it? Let the slave enactments of the several State Legislatures show. In his work, "Sketch of the Laws Relating to Slavery," Judge Stroud lays down twelve propositions, in which is seen the burden of the outrage imposed upon the Christian bondmen of America by the Christian slaveholders of America. They are as follows :
Proposition 1. The master may determine the kind and degree, and time of labor to which the slave shall be subjected.
Proposition 2. The master may supply the slave with such food and clothing only, both as to quantity and quality, as he may think proper.
Proposition 3. The master may, at his discretion, inflict any punishment upon the person of his slave.
Proposition 4. All the power of the master over his slave may be exercised, not by himself only in person, but by any one whom he may delegate as his agent.
Proposition 5. Slaves have no legal right of property or things, real or personal ; but whatever they may acquire belongs in point of law to their masters.
Proposition 6. The slave, being a personal chattel, is at all times liable to be sold absolutely, or mortgaged or leased, at the will of his master.
Proposition 7. He may also be sold by process of law for the satisfaction of the debts of a living, or the debts and bequests of a deceased, master, at the suit of creditors or legatees.
Proposition 8. A slave cannot be a party before a judicial tribunal in any species of action against his master, no matter how atrocious may have been the injury received from him.
Proposition 9. Slaves cannot redeem themselves nor obtain a change of masters, though cruel treatment may have rendered such a change necessary for their personal safety.
Proposition 10. Slaves being objects of property, if usurped by third persons, their owners may bring suit and recover damages for the injury.
Proposition 11. Slaves can make no contracts.
Proposition 12. Slavery is hereditary and perpetual.
When it is remembered that Judge Stroud builds these propositions upon foundations of laws as they existed in the Southern States of antebellum days, the terribleness of this practice of American Christians will be made to appear. We could almost wish for time to refer to these enactments themselves, but owing to the ground that it would be necessary for us to travel over, it is impossible. Sufficient is it to say that in the certification of his dozen propositions, instead of painting too deeply the facts, as might rationally be supposed from the darkness of the picture presented, the Judge may justly be charged with a somewhat miserly use of his abundant materials.
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