Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- October 10, 1861A Weighty Voice for the Suppression of Slavery America's Most Prominent Catholic Writer Advocates the Abolition of Slavery (Editorial)
Who among our people has not heard of Orestes Brownson, the genial editor of "Quarterly Review," the most important organ of the Catholic Church in America? Until a short time ago Mr. Brownson was averse to abolition. However, several months ago, he declared himself in favor of the principle of restricting slavery, and in the latest issue of his journal he advocates the outright abolition of slavery.
He advances the following reasons for his new stand on the issue:
"Hitherto I have opposed abolition because of my love for the Constitution; for I believe that more stress should be placed on the preservation of 2peace in America and the whole world, and on the safety of the Union with its Constitution, than on the abolition of slavery in the Southern States. But now I am convinced that slavery must be abolished in order to suppress the rebellion; indeed, we must abolish slavery to defend the Union, our liberty, and our form of government!
"We have but one alternative," declares Mr. Brownson, "and this is especially true of our laboring class: either we must subdue the rebels, or the rebels will subdue free laborers. Either we must annihilate the Southern Confederacy, or it will force its rule upon the free states and reduce their laborers to serfdom. In that case freedom in non-slave states would be restricted to a privileged class, but our working classes would be deprived of their liberty and would be placed on the same level with the plantation slaves of the South. Then, instead of a Christian Republic founded on human rights as our fathers intended, we would have a heathen government founded on slavery, which is directly opposed to Christianity."3
Mr. Brownson warns against taking this War too lightly. "Who is not for us in this crisis is against us," he says, "and must be treated as an enemy. The very existence of the nation is at stake. Since no means are being spared to destroy it, in accordance with the law of self-preservation we have the right to use any means necessary to preserve it. This War cannot be carried on successfully as long as we treat the Southern Rebels as friends and allow them all advantages, instead of harming them as much as possible. The Rebels are using all their power to subject us; therefore we must employ all our strength and resources to subdue them.
"The slave population of the South is a natural means of overthrowing the South. The three million slaves of the South are a component part of the people of the United States; they owe our Government loyalty, but they are also entitled to the protection of the Federal Government.
"The Government of the United States has the right not only to arm the whites in west Virginia and East Tennessee, but also to make friends and allies of 4the slaves, to equip them with guns and swords, and to put them in the armed forces of the country. It is of no consequence that these people have heretofore been slaves in the respective states according to law and custom; for the laws and customs of these states have been invalidated through the act of rebellion. All laws for the defense of the life and property of the Rebels have been repealed by the rebellion; the rebellion has deprived the Rebels of the right to live and to possess property. If that were not a fact, the Government of the United States would have no right to suppress the rebellion by force of arms, or to confiscate the property of the Rebels.
"If the slaves are not considered as property, they are citizens of the United States, they owe the Federal Government loyalty, they are duty-bound to serve the Government, and, like all other loyal citizens, they are entitled to the protection of the United States.
"If the United States was ever constrained to regard the Negroes of the 5South as slaves, that obligation was terminated by the rebellion and the Government must now accord the Negroes the rights and consideration due all free men, thereby removing the cause for the rebellion, slavery.
"And if the slaves of the Rebel states are to be looked upon as chattel, the Government has the right to confiscate them just as it may confiscate the rice, cotton, or other property of the Rebels. This right is based on the Confiscation Act which was adopted by Congress August 4.
"The argument that the suppression of slavery would estrange West Virginia And East Tennessee from the Union, and make enemies of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri is anything but tenable; for it was just this eternal consideration for the South that misled the Government into following the detrimental policy of taking half measures. Fear is the most ignorant counselor, and a government which is reluctant to follow the best policy, fearing that friends who object to the procedure might be estranged, is lost. The boundary between friend and enemy must be well defined. In a crisis 6like the present one, lukewarm friends and they who are our friends only when we make concessions in behalf of their interests or give way to their prejudices, are worse than open enemies. Shall the Northern States sacrifice their lives and property merely to satisfy the pretensions of the slaveholders in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri? That would be unjust and unreasonable. The slaveholders of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri are as deeply obligated to sacrifice their slave property for the welfare of the Union as the Northern States are to sacrifice themselves and their possessions to quell the Rebels. Besides, loyal slaveholders could be reimbursed for any losses which they might suffer through granting their slaves freedom."
As we note from Tuesday's issue of the New York Herald, which was delivered to us last evening, Archbishop Hughes felt duty-bound to offer a strong protest against this masterful article of Mr. Brownson. We shall comment on this protest tomorrow.
I J, I G, II B 2 d 2, III C
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