The Charlotte News
Saturday, January 27, 1940
Site Ed. Note: Re "Compromise", the modern history of the anti-lynching bills began in 1918, in the wake of the resurgence throughout the South of Klan activity which had surfaced in the aftermath of these idiots' viewing of a movie, "The Birth of a Nation", which in turn of course owed its history lesson to Shelby's own resident novelist qua racist, or racist qua novelist, the Reverend Thomas Dixon,--a real Hawkshawing gamecock,--and his little racist novels of 1902 and 1903, The Leopard's Spots and The Clansman. And that film--.
The inertia to the subconscious mind provided to the unaccustomed by the high-contrast of early black and white ghostly images enabled such a dreamlike manifestation, the Demiurge's best disciple giving renascence to the one-horned indricothere and its treacle, that one can nevertheless almost understand, had one never before seen a feature film, how these idiots got stirred to their frightful marrow by the bemisted blur in the light and shadow show emanating from somewhere other than the world they knew around them of flesh and bone, a new manner of being, able actually to see their forefathers, through the gauze of a half century's passage, on the field of battle fighting for their rights to be free from the Yankee oppressor telling them what they could and couldn't do with their chattel stock-animals.
Riots often occurred after the two-hour silent ride through the Civil War, the shame of its scorched earth aftermath welling them into pride, the incongruously presented supposed sadness of the South at the news of the death of Lincoln, stretching in the subconscious to supply guilt, not to the South, or even the vicarious excuse of character afforded by habit of the stage, both of which, perverted in alcoholic haze, bred and fueled Booth's cool hatred coalescing in that night of shadows and surreal shapes, but rather laid to the Radical Republicans for some supposed secret cabal to eliminate Lincoln's healing moderation from the scene, followed by self-fulfilling prophecy's harshness of Reconstruction with its images once again salted indelibly to the subconscious, those liquored-up niggers, the coons laughing in the Legislatures at their former master race, passing bills aplenty against the property interests and rights of the down-trodden former plantation happy-harpies. And the dreaded damn-Yankee, Thaddeus Stevens and his cane-whipped partner in the Deil, Charles Sumner, forever ensconced within the frames as the nemesis to the vaunted, heroic rabidite, Preston Brooks of South Carolina, taking to heart Senator Sumner's remarks on the floor, in the wake of Bloody Kansas, regarding Uncle Andy's harlot, pronounced even, to boot, ugly.
Well, hell, who wouldn't take to caning and riding again over that kind of thing, especially in a presentation, not backed by cardboard but in the field itself, so pale-rider real?
The moving storyboard images, redundantly filling time's void to the naked eye, played to packed houses in the North, as well, of course.
In the end,--and perhaps the wide-spread popularity of Dixon's novels, but only then to a tuned reader's stoked imagination, fueled to full impact among the masses only by the Griffith film based on them, bears this fact out as well as anything--, the whole of society was permeated with racism, Republicans as much as, and in some cases, more than, that of Democrats. The South merely became the crucible where the hot-bred idiots, fueled by their upper-rung masters to keep the lowers in check down on the now new black-white sharecropping plantation to diminish risibility, to avoid joinder as one labor class, either of mill workers or subsistence farmers, against the better-heeled, took their passions a step further, to the tree of strange fruit, and thus, because it fostered this tension dispeller for a time within the white society as between classes to form the common bond hell-of-a-fellow worker-manager-executive union, the fruit once seen by daylight, cut from the bough, was neatly tucked away out of sight, out of mind, eaten by the memory, the known fruiters having merely satiated their slavering jowls once again, never prosecuted by the company-picked men who operated as sheriffs and cops throughout the land which had once, and once again, floated somewhere above itself within the glorious empyrean, the grand gray reticulation, the confederacy.
All a type of violence seen in the North only as between the white immigrant classes from Europe, and, though never quite so ritualized as that in the South, perhaps accomplished not altogether for dissimilar reasons, being in the North ultimately at base not merely differences in heritage and language, slight shadings of skin pigment between northern-central and southern European, but also competition for better jobs, better wages and living conditions, as well the cream of the jest.
Lathered up with gin and bourbon in the mix with rope, leather strop, and gunpowder, stirred by old fealty to Southern pride against the common enemy, both damned-Yankee in the first half of the film and the leering maiden-stealer of the second half, the hothead could scarcely help himself but to do more than merely protest, now hotly yet to ride again to protect his delicate womenfolk in lace from this double-barreled menace plainly threatening his indricothere and its treacle sublime, his mint-julep fancy on the wrap-around gray plank porch.
And so, after three years of this grand wizard's oz-parade in white sheets through the streets and along the dusty by-ways by night again, starting to become reminiscent of the height of Klan lynching activity in the mid-nineties, Representative Dyer of Missouri introduced his bill in 1918 to make it a Federal crime such that any law enforcement officer, in whose charge a prisoner was, "who fails, neglects, or refuses to make all reasonable efforts to prevent such person from being so put to death", or who failed to take all reasonable and diligent steps to apprehend or prosecute participants in a mob seeking such a prisoner, would be guilty of a felony and punishable by fine up to $5,000 or by five years in prison. The county in which the offense occurred could be fined up to $10,000, to go to the victim's family. This bill passed the House in 1922 but stalled in filibuster in the Senate.
The fight for an anti-lynching bill was not renewed until 1935 under the Costigan-Wagner Bill which repeated the Dyer provisions and also added the stiffer contingency that if law enforcement personnel charged with protecting an individual participated in a mob which "conspires, combines, or confederates" to injure or put to death a person, the felony was punishable within the range of five to twenty-five years in prison.
The latter bill thus added some teeth the former didn't to the existing 1871 civil rights laws, in terms of sentencing, but which, even with sentences not to exceed six years, had lain dormant for decades in the South without Federal enforcement machinery under successive Republican administrations, interrupted since the Civil War only by the equally complacent Cleveland and Wilson administrations of the Democrats, tender throughout to the sensibilities of the Southerners in Congress and back home in the state legislatures, all of whom, as gray, mordant bodies, meant to preserve the white stock in trade, status quo, now and forever--still do, some of them.
This was ultimately the futility of the well-intentioned anti-lynching bills.
Not only, as Cash consistently argued, were they liable to rekindle the harsh choler generated by force bills generally in the ever-recalcitrant, hot-tempered lower rung Southerner bent on his julep-mild self-image of a Beauregard in white seersucker but for the damn-Yankee's plunder of his old plantation stock, welling up then, at the least suggestion of Federal enforcement trumping his state's rights, the notion that enough was enough, giving rise emergently in the revolver to his need to protect his women and children against Sumner, the Yankee, Rastus, the maiden-stealer, both with the wild-salivating eyes and glaring, lascivious lips ready to devour him and his own--not only this complex; but also the likelihood being vastly remote of obtaining in the South Federal judges and Federal juries, dependent as they were upon the very same pools of locals as the state court juries, merely extending beyond individual county lines, as many of these, especially since at the time they would be segregated juries--just as the state jury who acquitted 27 white men in Greenville, S.C. in 1947 of a lynching in which they admitted participation--, would be just as satisfied as the lynchers themselves, salivating over the ribs at the barbecue at which the main treat was to partake of the main course, dark-meat, that Rastus had his night of justice before the hooded jury so as to spare them, the twelve good and true white folks satiated vicariously by the barbecue, the trouble of ordering the lynching themselves--one justly done with swift certainty for having frightened the dear white lady when he asked her for some dried beans, but had the temerity to look her, the lady, directly, in a most uppity fashion, right in the eye when he asked her, this lady preparing for the barbecue.
And so it was, still obviously in 1940, steaming just beneath the surface in many, as evidenced by what was yet to come in the face of Federal orders to change in the 1950's and 1960's, through even the 1970's,--with perhaps the last vestiges of societally-condoned political and racial violence in the South ending in Greensboro in the wake of the 1979 murders in broad daylight caught on film, just a short distance from the downtown where the first lunch-counter sit-in had occurred in 1960 at the Woolworth store. But in 1979, not lined off as between white and black, ironically, rather primarily whites only, of very different backgrounds, educationally and socio-economically, one, with no college day between them, labeling themselves Klan, the other with not only college but post-graduate and medical degrees among them, labeling themselves Communist, the cold-blooded murderers of the Klan once again, but for the last time perhaps, quenching anxiety with satiety, not in a classroom, not in an art museum, not in learning a creative endeavor, but rather in the street re-enacting civil war with real ammunition, loaded to the hilt, destroying lifetimes of memories in the instant of a flash from flint, escaping justice then yet again to go loaded to the barbecue.
Yet, by 1940, much progress had been made within the South, as evidenced by the steady decreasing lynching statistics. Still, any form of recognition of genuine equality among citizens, anything much more progressive than a form of benign paternalism, occasioned both between blacks and whites and among whites of different social castes, was hard-put to be found, North or South, and would remain so until after the very visible violence and assassinations of the sixties raised consciousness to new levels throughout society, save in the remotest and darkest of quarters, educated and not, at least for awhile, at least until the law and order folks and, unwitting accomplices or not, their Bible-pumping abettors, challenged verity, turning Earl Warren into Warren Earl Burger, and with results only raggedly requiting their intractable designs.
And, with little respite in the meantime, so it still seeks to go today, ever drenched in separation, in segregation, even still, even if less organized by mob, in blood.
It may appear a little off point to make comment on it right here, but, given the inextricable relationship between religious fervor in the South and racism and separation of the races, right on the front line where the races ought to have first come together, not as it is, the last major bastion of institutional separation, the church, we shall register a bit of remark on the Georgia Legislature's recent approval of two courses to be made available as electives in public schools, in Old Testament and New Testament history. Whether this practice will infringe the establishment clause of the First Amendment only time and the methodology used in the teaching will tell.
But we confess that we struggle to determine whether there is any wisdom in this move.
It is certainly permissible, we think, to teach comparative religion in the public schools without offending the doctrine of separation, as long as there is a fair survey of competing religions in society, Islam, Christianity and its various forms, Judaism, Buddhism, representative Native American religion, for example. It is certainly acceptable to teach Old Testament narratives, the simple story lines of the Old Testament, to better understand not the "history" of the Bible, but the story on which its teachings are based, the narrative lines of its poetic mythology if you will, whether truth or fiction, or semi-fiction, no one knows, or, understanding that the underlying human purpose of a religion's parable is to enable appreciation of the foibles of humanity and thereby, from the twisted wreckage of the tragedies, more salutary human relations, should even care.
But whether to offer courses only on the Bible, and as history, leaves us with a question as to the appropriateness of this teaching in the public schools even as an elective course, unless also the histories of the other major religions of the society, of the world, especially in this evermore closely connected world, are also taught alongside it. And if this teaching stresses such notions as intelligent design as a truth, Judeo-Christian poetic mythology as not merely antecedent to Darwinian ideas of evolution, elucidatory of changes in man's story and self-image over time, but that the earlier notions are to be credited, without evaluation, of equal weight and importance to evolution, and that the two stories are irreconcilable, as much of Fundamentalist teaching today proclaims, that evolution somehow precludes faith in an omniscient sense within nature, that immanent sense seeking longevity and survival as opposed to suicidal death, then inevitably not only will there be Constitutional infringement by establishment, but another inevitable practical problem with that teaching will occur.
For it is highly problematic from the outset to try to teach the Old and New Testaments as history--for the simple fact that not only is there no historical data so far confirmed, the infamous shroud of Turin, dating perhaps only to the fourteenth century, being one confounded example, the dark shadows on the inaccessible Mt. Ararat in Turkey, another, which comport in the material world of recorded history with any of the particulars of the story, but, since all of religion is founded on faith, there is no need for such confirmation by historical relics and data in the faithful. Indeed, historical relics become by definition idolatrous symbols, golden calves of false religious zeal founded on emotion, not understanding. In other words, the more profound problem will occur that a matter of faith by definition will be sought to be taught as "history", thus invading the boundaries of academic discourse, suggesting things as history which simply have no factual or archaeological foundation, thus polluting the young student's sense of the world about him or her, already a maelstrom polluted by half-baked mixings of fact and fiction in popular culture, always in great need of sorting by the teacher. Query can the New Testament or the Old be taught then in any manner as "history". As literature, as poetry and mythology, as part of comparative studies in same, yes. But as history, we posit that it cannot.
It is that notion, the basis of any religion being faith, which suggests the need for separation from the academic course of this sort of teaching approved by the Georgia Legislature. Understanding the function of religion itself within the human framework as a means of human understanding, as opposed to any particular religion, is critical; but particular religious doctrine, even when taught in historical context, when taught bereft of comparison with other religious doctrine, is to be left where it belongs, in the churches of individual choice in any given community, lest a generation of irrational zealots, indoctrinated in the public schools to a particular gestalt, be the likely result.
By its very implications, the law passed by this Legislature says to the young student that only Christianity, with lip service paid to Judaism--as it's a good bet that there will be no Hebrew class taught with the Old Testament in the language department of the schools as an option, 'ey Georgia?--is to be credited as acceptable religious doctrine in our society. All the more divisive given our current need more than ever to understand the far more dominant religions of the world, Islam and Buddhism.
One can suggest of course the example of public university religion departments which teach a variety of courses on all religions, included among which might be some similar to the ones approved by the Georgia Legislature. But the point is that there is a variety of courses offered in those departments, not just two primarily related to one religious doctrine.
As Islam and Buddhism, Islam especially, are so severely misunderstood in western culture, while Christianity and Judaism appear so misunderstood within many parts of the Muslim world, perhaps a better step for the Georgia Legislature would be to invite religious teachers who are Muslim to teach within the public schools of Georgia the mythology and story behind their religious doctrine, the historical reasons why some sects are militant in their teaching, so to make it more plain to young students growing up in a world which will ineluctably have to deal with these issues in their chosen walks of life as the world's Muslim population continues to increase relative to that following Judaism and Christianity. The Old and New Testaments are amply available and for free within churches which abound in the state of Georgia. It is the foundations of the other religions, to foster a better understanding of them, which is sorely lacking at the secondary school level.
Bad move, Georgia Legislature, we thus suggest.
But for a state that in 1956, and for forty-five years afterward, put the Stars and Bars back on its state flag after a hundred years, how can we express too much shock and surprise at such a display of unmitigated hubris and religious ardor permeating a secular body, the state legislature, so deeply then into the fabric of the society that it can no longer see itself objectively as others outside it do, hearkening back to the seventeenth century moral superiority, moral indoctrination, of the Puritans of New England?
While you're about it, Georgia, just as the Puritans ultimately had to offer us the stories of Salem, you should also offer an elective course in how to wield axe handles and get elected Governor, but only as a history course, of course.
We'll leave you with this puzzler, Georgia: How will you answer the bright high school student who asks the teacher why Archleader J. B. Stoner, Imperial Wizard of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, headquartered in Atlanta, sent a letter in 1961 to Elijah Muhammad which began with the salutation, "Black Devil", and proceeded then to explain how the Klan would drive all Muslims from Atlanta and the South, "legally of course", and included such language as: "You know I can put you Black Muslims out of business because my secret agents are mobilizing Christian darkies against you infidelic niggers," ending that letter by signing it, "Yours for Christ, Race & Country"? How will that student be answered when he or she asks the simple question why that letter bore on its heading reference to 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 and John 8:44-48?
Answer those questions for that student and you might begin to understand the problem with teaching the Bible, a book which often was used in the 18th and 19th centuries in the South to justify slavery 1, as history.
And, should that student not get his or her adequate answer from the teacher, we suggest, just as we took the time in the summer following high school graduation, while spending an altogether pleasant couple of weeks in Atlanta in 1971, reading thoroughly and appreciating fully The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to and reduced to writing by Alex Haley.
Voila! No more war in Georgia, no more war in Iraq.
Jack Garner Cooks Up A Good Anti-Lynching Idea
The compromise, which, according to the Washington Merry-Go-Round, Jack Garner will propose on the anti-lynching bill strikes us a good one.
The Gavagan Bill, as passed by the House, contains the old provision which has always been obnoxious to the South, that the county in which a lynching takes place shall be subject to heavy fine.
In general that probably would be fair enough, since lynchings usually take place only with the connivance of local officers. But it might work out very unfairly in some cases. And there is a practical objection to it--that any attempt to collect such a fine is certain to set up a terrific conflict between State and Federal authority. All the states have very strict laws as to what a county treasurer can legitimately pay out county funds for, and these funds would certainly not be allowable under any of them.
The Garner proposal on the other hand is to have the FBI investigate all cases of lynching and report its findings to the Governor of the state involved. That hits at one of the chief sources of lynching. You can count on your fingers the number of convictions of lynchers in the South in the last 50 years. The reason for that has been that local officers were reluctant to antagonize powerful elements by making any real effort to establish the identity of the criminals. Lynchers, therefore, go into their crime in the feeling of perfect security.
With the dreaded G-men set to run them down, that feeling would disappear. Moreover, Governors and other officials who are not minded to do their duty will be put on a spot and forced to do it. Altogether, an excellent scheme.
An Investigator Should Not Be Immune For Inquiry
We know no good reason why a Congressional investigator should himself be immune to investigation, and so we think that Michigan Congressman Hook's charges that Martin Dies has been associating with Mervin K. Hart, described as a "prominent collaborator" with the Christian Front, and using the Dies Committee as a means of furthering Fascism, might well be looked into.
Many commentators, including Allen and Pearson of the Washington Merry-Go-Round and Dorothy Thompson, have insinuated that Dies has Fascist sympathies and looks with a kindly and protective eye on Coughlin, the Christian Front, & Co.
So far as the Dies Committee as such goes, it did some good work in the last year, in marked contrast to its entirely hysterical performance in 1938. It brought out pretty clearly the Communist purposes in this country, and demonstrated how the Reds deliberately foment violence in labor disputes and seek to get control of all sorts of organizations which have this or that humane purposes as their real or ostensible purpose for existing. And in lesser degree, the Bund was exposed also. The report turned in at the close of its activities was a model of restraint, save in the recommendation for the passage of some highly dubious bills.
In addition, the committee, in the course of its inquiry, unearthed the fact that both Kuhn and Browder were guilty of illegal acts--with the result that they were sent to jail.
But it seems plain that the good work done was done in spite of Martin Dies and not because of him. For his part, he wanted to turn in a report hysterically denouncing everybody to the left of Herbert Hoover.
Temperamentally, the man is obviously unfit to head an inquiry of this sort. And if he genuinely does have Coughlin-Christian Front sympathies, he should be removed at once.
This One Sounds A Little Odd Coming From Tokyo
If the little brown man were not plainly in dead earnest about it, one might suspect that he was a sardonic humorist.
For two and a half years now, he has been busily engaged in China at the business of destroying the established trade interests of Great Britain and the United States--closing rivers to their ships, in cool defiance of international law, which, since his war there is undeclared, gives him not a shred of right to such measures.
Repeatedly he has killed or wounded their nationals, including a British Ambassador to China. Repeatedly he has sent his bombers to destroy the property of these nationals, without ever bothering to make any arrangements about paying for the damage done.
Once he sank an American ship of war, killing American sailors, and finally mumbled an apology and agreed to pay up only when rumors got to him that the American battle fleet was beginning to take up its station at Pearl Harbor. A hundred times he has stopped and searched American and British ships--a pure act of piracy under international law--, mistreated passengers. And a good many times he has fired upon and sunk British merchant vessels.
More, it was only a few months ago that he was busily slapping British citizens in Shanghai and elsewhere in the face, stripping British women when they attempted to pass his sentries.
But now--Britain stops a Japanese liner, removes 21 skilled German sailors, certainly in conformity with her rights under international law, since the sailors were plainly greatly useful to the German navy, and since the seizure took place on the high seas. But the Japanese Government proposes to demand an apology and the handing over of the sailors--claiming that it was an infraction of international law!
Maybe we are being ribbed in some quaint Oriental fashion, after all.
Britain Makes Out A Good Case For Herself In This
Discount it as you like with counter-arguments, the British make out a pretty good case for themselves in their replies to our protests against the long delay of our ships (particularly at Gibraltar where it averages more than twelve days per ship) held for examination and the searching of the United States mails.
It is certainly true that a good many American shippers, urged on by various propagandists, have adopted a belligerent and uncooperative attitude toward the British blockade. And it is true also that American cargoes tend to consist of a great number of items, which necessarily require time to check over.
And as for the mails, the list of contraband seized from our mail bags in the first three months of war is staggering. Nine million dollars worth of industrial diamonds, $32,000 pearl necklaces (like the diamonds, good for international exchange in all languages), vast quantities of food disguised as "samples," over two million dollars in checks (good for American credits), over half a million in British pounds and American dollars (good everywhere). Out of 4,462 packages examined in one instance, 4,063 contraband. Out of 1,509 examined in another, 1,403 contraband. A total of 17,000 packages of contraband. Over 3,000 letters giving military and commercial information valuable to Germany, harmful to Britain.
We cannot logically object to the British contraband list, since it is almost verbatim identical with the one we drew up for ourselves in 1917. All that we can do is say that, while all that is confessedly intolerable for Britain, we stand fast on the letter of our rights under international law.
But international law, as written, is admittedly outdated. We confessed as much when, instead of rigorously demanding that Germany obey it and visit and search merchant ships before sinking them, we withdrew our ships from waters where the submarines ply. A comparable accommodation to Britain would be the complete stoppage of shipment of mails to Germany.
1 Before we conclude slavery to be a thing hateful to God, and a great sin in his sight, it is proper that we should search the records he has given us, with care, to see in what light he has looked upon it, and find the warrant for concluding, that we shall honor him by efforts to abolish it; which efforts, in their consequences, may involve the indiscriminate slaughter of the innocent and the guilty, the master and the servant. We all believe him to be a Being who is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.
The first recorded language which was ever uttered in relation to slavery, is the inspired language of Noah. In God's stead he says, "Cursed be Canaan;" "a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren." "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." Gen. ix: 25, 26, 27.
Here, language is used, showing the favor which God would exercise to the posterity of Shem and Japheth, while they were holding the posterity of Ham in a state of abject bondage. May it not be said in truth, that God decreed this institution before it existed; and has he not connected its existence with prophetic tokens of special favor, to those who should be slave owners or masters? He is the same God now, that he was when he gave these views of his moral character to the world; and unless the posterity of Shem and Japheth, from whom have sprung the Jews, and all the nations of Europe and America, and a great part of Asia, (the African race that is in them excepted,--I say, unless they are all dead, as well as the Canaanites or Africans who descended from Ham, then it is quite possible that his favor may now be found with one class of men who are holding another class in bondage. Be this as it may, God decreed slavery--and shows in that decree, tokens of good-will to the master. The sacred records occupy but a short space from this inspired ray on this subject, until they bring to our notice, a man that is held up as a model, in all that adorns human nature, and as one that God delighted to honor. This man is Abraham, honored in the sacred records, with the appellation, "Father" of the "faithful." Abraham was a native of Ur, of the Chaldees. From thence the Lord called him to go to a country which he would show him and he obeyed, not knowing whither he went. He stopped for a time at Haran, where his father died. From thence he "took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan."--Gen. xii: 5.
All the ancient Jewish writers of note, and Christian commentators agree, that by the "souls they had gotten in Haran," as our translators render it, are meant their slaves, or those persons they had bought with their money in Haran. In a few years after their arrival in Canaan, Lot with all he had was taken captive. So soon as Abraham heard it, he armed three hundred and eighteen slaves that were born in his house, and retook him. How great must have been the entire slave family, to produce at this period of Abraham's life, such a number of young slaves able to bear arms.--Gen. xiv: 14.
Abraham is constantly held up in the sacred story, as the subject of great distinction among the princes and sovereigns of the countries in which he sojourned. This distinction was on account of his great wealth. When he proposed to buy a burying-ground at Sarah's death, of the children of Heth, he stood up and spoke with great humility of himself as "a stranger and sojourner among them," (Gen. xxiii: 4,) desirous to obtain a burying-ground. But in what light do they look upon him? "Hear us, my Lord, thou art a mighty prince among us."--Gen. xxiii: 6.
Such is the light in which they viewed him. What gave a man such distinction among such a people? Not moral qualities, but great wealth, and its inseparable concomitant, power. When the famine drove Abraham to Egypt, he received the highest honors of the reigning sovereign. This honor at Pharaoh's court, was called forth by the visible tokens of immense wealth. In Genesis xii: 15, 16, we have the honor that was shown to him, mentioned, with a list of his property, which is given in these words, in the 16th verse: "He had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and man-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels." The amount of his flocks may be inferred from the number of slaves employed in tending them. They were those he brought from Ur of the Chaldees, of whom the three hundred and eighteen were born; those gotten in Haran, where he dwelt for a short time, and those which he inherited from his father, who died in Haran. When Abraham went up from Egypt, it is stated in Genesis xiii: 2, that he was "very rich," not only in flocks and slaves, but in "silver and gold" also.
After the destruction of Sodom, we see him sojourning in the kingdom of Gerar. Here he received from the sovereign of the country, the honors of equality; and Abimelech, the king, (as Pharoah had done before him,) seeks Sarah for a wife, under the idea that she was Abraham's sister. When his mistake was discovered, he made Abraham a large present. Reason will tell us, that in selecting the items of this present, Abimelech was governed by the visible indications of Abraham's preference in the articles of wealth--and that above all, he would present him with nothing which Abraham's sense of moral obligation would not allow him to own. Abimelech's present is thus described in Gen. xx: 14, 16, "And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and women-servants, and a thousand pieces of silver, and gave them unto Abraham." This present discloses to us what constituted the most highly prized items of wealth, among these eastern sovereigns in Abraham's day.
God had promised Abraham's seed the land of Canaan, and that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. He reached the age of 85, and his wife the age of 75, while as yet, they had no child. At this period, Sarah's anxiety for the promised seed, in connection with her age, induced her to propose a female slave of the Egyptian stock, as a secondary wife, from which to obtain the promised seed. This alliance soon puffed the slave with pride, and she became insolent to her mistress--the mistress complained to Abraham, the master. Abraham ordered Sarah to exercise her authority. Sarah did so, and pushed it to severity, and the slave absconded. The divine oracles inform us, that the angel of God found this runaway bond-woman in the wilderness; and if God had commissioned this angel to improve this opportunity of teaching the world how much he abhorred slavery, he took a bad plan to accomplish it. For, instead of repeating a homily upon doing to others as we "would they should do unto us," and heaping reproach upon Sarah, as a hypocrite, and Abraham as a tyrant, and giving Hagar direction how she might get into Egypt, from whence (according to Abolitionism) she had been unrighteously sold into bondage, the angel addressed her as "Hagar, Sarah's maid," Gen., xvi: 1, 9; (thereby recognizing the relation of master and slave,) and asks her, "whither wilt thou go?" and she said "I flee from the face of my mistress." Quite a wonder she honored Sarah so much as to call her mistress; but she knew nothing of abolition, and God by his angel did not become her teacher.
We have now arrived at what may be called an abuse of the institution, in which one person is the property of another, and under their control, and subject to their authority without their consent; and if the Bible be the book, which proposes to furnish the ease which leaves it without doubt that God abhors the institution, here we are to look for it. What, therefore, is the doctrine in relation to slavery, in a case in which a rigid exercise of its arbitrary authority is called forth upon a helpless female; who might use a strong plea for protection, upon the ground of being the master's wife. In the face of this case, which is hedged around with aggravations as if God designed by it to awaken all the sympathy and all the abhorrence of that portion of mankind, who claim to have more mercy than God himself--but I say, in view of this strong case, what is the doctrine taught? Is it that God abhors the institution of slavery; that it is a reproach to good men; that the evils of the institution can no longer be winked at among saints; that Abraham's character must not be transmitted to posterity, with this stain upon it; that Sarah must no longer be allowed to live a stranger to the abhorrence God has for such conduct as she has been guilty of to this poor helpless female? I say, what is the doctrine taught? Is it so plain that it can be easily understood? and does God teach that she is a bond-woman or slave, and that she is to recognize Sarah as her mistress, and not her equal--that she must return and submit herself unreservedly to Sarah's authority? Judge for yourself, reader, by the angel's answer: "And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return unto thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands."--Gen. xvi: 9.
(Scriptural and Statistical Views in Favor of Slavery, by Thornton Stringfellow, D.D., 1856, Richmond, pp. 8-14.)
And, Georgia, all that's just in Genesis.
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