Slavery in History
SLAVERY IN HISTORY,
PUBLISHED BY A.B. BURDICK.
145 NASSAU STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.
To my Friend
JAMES S. WADSWORTH,
|Hebrews, or Beni-Israel||35|
|Assyrians and Babylonians||69|
|Medes and Persians||75|
|Christianity: its Churches and Creeds||165|
|Britons, Anglo-Saxons, English||223|
|Slavi, Slavonians, Slaves, Russians||233|
For the first time in the annals of humanity, domestic slavery,or the system of chattelhood and traffic in man, is erected intoa religious, social and political creed. This new creed has itsthaumaturgus, its temples, its altars, its worship, its divines, itstheology, its fanatical devotees; it has its moralists, its savants andsentimentalists, its statesmen and its publicists. The articles of thisnew faith are preached and confessed by senators and representativesin the highest councils of the American people, as well as in thelegislatures of the respective States; they are boldly proclaimed bythe press, and by platform orators and public missionaries; in a word,this new faith over-shadows the whole religious, social, intellectual,political and economical existence of a large portion of the Republic.
The less fervent disciples consider domestic slavery as an eminentlypractical matter, and regard those of[Pg viii] an opposite opinion as abstrusetheorizers; and history is called in and ransacked for the purpose ofjustifying the present by the past.
Well: history contains all the evidences—multifarious and decisive.
It is asserted that domestic slavery has always been a constructivesocial element: history shows that it has always been destructive.History authoritatively establishes the fact that slavery is the mostcorroding social disease, and one, too, which acts most fatally on theslaveholding element in a community.
Not disease, but health, is the normal condition of man's physicalorganism: not oppression but freedom is the normal condition of humansociety. The laws of history are as absolute as the laws of nature orthe laws of hygiene. As an individual cannot with impunity violatehygienic law—as nature always avenges every departure from hereternal order: so nations and communities cannot safely deviate fromthe laws of history, still less violate them with impunity. Historypositively demonstrates that slavery is not one of the natural laws ofthe human race, any more than disorders and monstrosities are normalconditions of the human body.
History demonstrates that slavery is not coeval[Pg ix] with, nor inherent in,human society, but is the offspring of social derangement and decay.The healthiest physical organism may, under certain conditions, developfrom within, or receive by infection from without, diseases which arecoeval, so to speak, with the creation, and which hover perpetuallyover animal life. The disease, too, may be acute or chronic, accordingto the conditions or predispositions of the organism. History teachesthat domestic slavery may, at times, affect the healthiest socialorganism, and be developed, like other social disorders and crimes, soto speak, in the very womb of the nation. As the tendency of vigoroushealth is to prevent physical derangements and diseases, so thetendency of society in its most elevated conception is to prevent, tolimit, to neutralize, if not wholly to extirpate, all social disorders.Not depravity and disease, but purity and virtue, are the normalcondition of the individual: not oppression but freedom is the normalcondition of society.
Some investigators and philosophers discover an identity between theprogressive development of the human body and the various stages ofhuman society—beginning with the embryonic condition of both. Morethan one striking analogy certainly ex[Pg x]ists between physiological andpathological laws, and the moral and social principles which oughtto be observed by man both as an individual, and in the aggregatecalled society. Thus some of the pathologic axioms established byRokitansky (the greatest of living pathologists) are equallysustained by the history of nations.
"No formation is incapable of becoming diseased in one or more ways.Several anomalies coexisting in an organ commonly stand to each otherin the relation of cause and effect. Thus, deviation in texturedetermines deviation in size, in form."
The following pages will demonstrate that nations and communities maybecome diseased in many ways; and that in proportion as their socialtextures deviate from the normal, do they become more and more deformedand demoralized.
"All anomalies of organization involving any anatomical changemanifest themselves as deviations in the quantity or quality oforganic creation, or else as a mechanical separation of continuity.They are reducible to irregular number, size, form, continuity, andcontents."
Oppressions, tyrannies, domestic slavery, chattelhood, are so manymechanical separations of continuity, which in the social organiccreation is liberty.
"General disease engenders the most various organs and texturesaccording to their innate, general or individual tendencies, eitherspontaneously or by dint of some overpowering outward impulse, a localaffection which reflects the general disease in the peculiarity of itsproducts. The general disease becomes localized, and, so to speak,represented in the topical affection."
Violence and oppression generated various and peculiar forms ofservitude, until nearly all of them ended in chattelhood, which manyare wont to consider as a topical affection of certain races andnations. Declining Greece and Rome in the past, Russia under our owneyes, serve as illustrations.
"A general disease not unfrequently finds in its localization aperpetual focus of derivation, with seeming integrity of theorganism in other respects."
So nations infected with slavery, nevertheless had brilliant epochsof existence; and this "seeming integrity of the organism" misleadsmany otherwise averse to chattelhood, and makes them indifferent to itsexistence.
"Where several diseases coexist in an individual, they are in partprimary, in part secondary and subordinate, although homologous tothe former."
So many evils are the lot of human society, but almost all of them aresecondary and subordinate to oppression, violence, and slavery.
"The issue of a local disease in health consists either in theperfect re-establishment of the normal condition, or else in partialrecovery; more or fewer important residua and sequellæ of the diseasenot incomparable with a tolerably fair state of health, remainingentailed."
The history of the slow recovery of post-Roman Europe from domesticbondage justifies the application of this pathologic axiom to thesocial condition of nations.
"Issue in death: 1. Through exhaustion of power and of organicmatter."
The history of republican, but above all, of imperial Rome,demonstrates that its decline and death were caused through theextinction of freedom, free labor, and the free yeomanry, which inevery state constitutes the power, the organic matter of a nation.
"2. Through the suspended function of organs essential to life,through palsy, etc."
When the laboring classes are enslaved, the life of a nation isspeedily palsied.
"3. Through vitiation of the blood."
What blood is to the animal organism, sound social and politicalprinciples are to society. When such principles become vitiated, thenation is on the path of decline and death.
"The worst malformation is never so anomalous as not to hear thegeneral character of animal life, etc. Even an individual organ neverdeparts from its normal character so completely that amid even thegreatest disfigurement, this character should not be cognizable."
So often the enslaver and the slaveholding community may preservesome features of the normal human character, notwithstanding the"disfigurement" produced.
"The excessive development of one part determines the imperfect andretarded development of another, and the converse."
So the oligarchic development retards the growth and advancement of thelaboring classes, whether the hue be white or black: it prevents orretards the culture and civilization of individuals and communities.
"Various and manifold as are the forms of monstrosity, some of themrecur with such uniformity of type as to constitute a regular series."
History shows that various as are the other social monstrosities,domestic slavery always recurred with a filial uniformity of type.
"The genesis of malformation in the human body is still veiled in muchobscurity despite some progress made in science."
Social teratology, or the science of monstrosities, easily traces theorigin and genesis of domestic slavery.
A conscientious study of the records of bygone nations, as well as ofthe events daily witnessed during a decennium, produced the followingpages. They complete what I said about slavery a few years ago.As then, so now, I am almost wholly unacquainted with anti-slaveryliterature in any of its manifestations. I diligently sought forinformation in the literary and political productions of pro-slaverywriters. Beside legislative enactments, political discussions, andresolutions by Congress and the legislatures of the various SlaveStates, and the messages of their respective governors, I read everything that came within my reach, even sermons, heaps of "De Bow'sReview" and "Fletcher's Studies on Slavery." Ah!...
For years the rich resources of the Astor Library have facilitatedmy general studies, and the information there sought and found wasenhanced by the kindest liberality experienced from Dr. Coggswell andall his assistants.
And now let History unfold her records.
 A Manual of Pathological Anatomy, by Carl Rokitansky, M.D.Translated from the German, by Edward Swaine, M.D., Fellow of the RoyalCollege of Physicians.
 "America and Europe," chap. X.
 Among the neutral publications on American slavery, themost remarkable and instructive is the work entitled "The Law ofFreedom and Bondage in the United States," by John Codman Hurt.
SLAVERY IN HISTORY.
Wilkinson, Rosellini, Lepsius, Uhlemann, Rénan,Guttschmidt, Bugsch, Birch, De Rouget, Bunsen, etc.
In the gray twilight of history, the apparition that first distinctlypresents itself is Egypt—that land of wonders, standing on theshores of the "venerable mother the Nile." The Egyptians already forma fully-elaborated, organic social structure, nay, a powerful nation,with a rich material and intellectual civilization, when as yet thecommonly accepted chronology begins to write only rudimental numbers.
It is indifferent (so far as the present investigation is concerned)whether this Egyptian culture ascended or descended the Nile—whetherits cradle was Meroe, Elephantis, Syene, or Thebes—or whether it firstsprang up and expanded around Memphis. So, the first conquerors ofEgypt may have belonged to the[Pg 2] Shemitic or to the Aryan stock—theymay have entered from Asia by the Isthmus of Suez, or by the Straits ofBab-el-Mandeb and the Red Sea, landing first on some spot in Abyssiniaor Nubia; or, perhaps, the primitive civilizers of the valley of theNile were autochthones, who were conquered by foreign invaders. Howeverthese things may have been, Egyptian civilization and culture clearlybear the impress of indigenous development.
The founders of the Egyptian civil, social and religiouspolity considered agriculture as the most sacred occupation ofmortals—transforming the roving savage into a civilized man. It wasthe divine Osiris who first taught men the art of tilling the earth, ifindeed he was not its inventor. But the god forged not a fetter for thefarmer, and the Egyptian plough was not desecrated by the hands of aslave.
The first rays of history reveal Egypt densely covered with farms,villages, and cities, and divided into districts (noma), townships,and communes—each having its distinct deity, and each most probablyself-governing, or at least self-administering: all this in theearliest epoch, previous to the first dynasties of the Pharaohs, andanterior to the division of the population into castes.
The division of a population into castes, however destructive itmay be to the growth of individuality and the highest freedom in man,is neither domestic slavery nor chattelhood. These divisions andsub-divisions originally consisted simply in training the[Pg 3] individualsto special occupations and functions, and so educating them in specialideas; but not in making any one caste