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An Address to Free Colored Americans


implanting in the human mind any useful degree of intelligence: it
is therefore the policy of the master that the ignorance of his slaves
should be as profound as possible; and such a state of ignorance is
wholly incompatible with the existence of any moral principles or
exalted feeling in the breast of the slave. (Speech of Mr. Moore,
House of Delegates, Va., 1832.)
"How horrible must be that system which demands as the
necessary condition of its existence, that knowledge should be shut
out from the minds of those who live under it—that they should be
reduced as nearly as possible to the level of brutes, or living
machines—that the powers of their souls should be crushed! Let
each one of us ask, Can such a system be aided, or even tolerated,
without deep criminality?" (Ad. to the Pres. of Ken. by a
committee of the synod of Kentucky.)
But even if slavery could be divested of all its horrible
accompaniments, its ignorance, licentiousness, and other
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nameless abominations, we should still regard the circumstance of
man holding his brother man as property as one of the blackest
crimes which corrupt human nature ever invented. Mr. Moore, in
the speech from which we have already quoted, is compelled to
acknowledge the iniquity of this system. "It cannot be denied," he
says, "as a general principle, that it is an act of tyranny, injustice,
and oppression, to hold any part of the human race in bondage
against their consent.... The right to the enjoyment of liberty is one
of those perfect, inherent, and inalienable rights which pertain to
the whole human race, and of which they can never be divested,
except by an act of gross injustice." If we would rightly estimate
the wretchedness in which the perpetration of this "act of gross
injustice" has involved one sixth part of the population of
Republican America, we must compare the condition of our slaves
with that of the freemen of their own age and country. "Things are
estimated by comparison; and the man who is deprived of every
natural, civil, and social right, while all around him are basking in
the sunshine of freedom, must feel the fangs of slavery much more
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