Peculiar Institution

Essay add: 30-09-2015, 14:40   /   Views: 282
“I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.” Stated so eloquently in a speech by Abraham Lincoln, those words prove true. There exist arguments from all sides-the abolitionist, the proslavery man, and views in between. For instance, Thomas R. Dew writes of slavery and its positives while Theodore Dwight Weld states, “There is not a man on earth who does not believe that slavery is a curse.” Meanwhile, William Lloyd Garrison notes his desire for “the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population.” Despite that all three men propose prime arguments, it is evident that Dew, though wayward in conclusion, presents the strongest statement in the slavery debate.

Thomas R. Dew writes his essay with intentions to counter arguments that slavery stands unbiblical, negatively consequential, and bad for the republic. Using the bible, he describes how slaves number greatly in biblical days, and that the book commands slaves to respect even the worst master. Dew also explains that the Israelites owned slaves; however, he neglects to acknowledge the Israelite’s suffering. “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I have come to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians. . . I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.” – (Exodus 3:7-9) Mr. Dew writes of slavery not being abrogated because of God’s acceptance towards it, but the Lord himself ends slavery for the Israelites because the conditions continue so harshly. Hearing and witnessing their suffering, he rescues them. Why then should the same not be done for the American slave?

By quoting many men, Jefferson, Smith, Hall, and Giles, Dew notes that many think slavery entails drastic consequences. This includes stripping slaves of their liberties, most notably, the pursuit of happiness. Earnestly he believes that the happiest people on earth should include the slaves because they do not know any better. He states, “. . . all of us . . . are too prone to judge of the happiness of others by ourselves-we make self the standard, and endeavor to draw down every one to its dimensions.” However, if someone does not give the opportunity to experience, what Dew calls, “something loftier” in life, how will the slave know happiness’s true possibilities or what he can do? Why are these slaves treated like small children-like dogs-that do not know better?

Additionally, Dew addresses that slavery, despite some secular thought, encourages the republic. He quotes Burke and Cade but makes some off-color comments. For instance, “In Sparta, the freemen were even forbidden to perform the offices of slaves lest he might lose the spirit of independence.” By that logic, a person concludes that a slave stays no more than a dependent leech. He needs his master; he yearns for his master. However, Mr. Jack Cade “wished all mankind to be brought to one common level.” Is not a slave a man, or rather, is he merely some dependent leech, yearning for his master and constantly needing approval? Dew also pens, “We believe slavery in the U. States has accomplished this [one common level], in regards to the whites . . .” So, Southerners need slavery because it maintains their lifestyle. Whites are equal so long as the blacks are below them keeping them equal. Are not the blacks people, though? Naturally, thus, this defines the issue that there cannot exist two separate castes of workers-of people-and still maintain “one common level.” Dew’s theory finishes as a constant carousel of nonsense.

Moving on, Garrison argues against the idea of gradual abolition. Based on his observations and quotations from the Declaration of Independence, he proclaims that abolition needs to occur soon and quickly because the concept of enacting it leisurely seems “full of timidity, injustice, and absurdity.” Weld also desires “immediate enfranchisement”; however, the differences occur greatly. Garrison writes like Howard Dean speaks. He possesses a deep and true goal but states one line about it while building momentum using paragraph after paragraph of how he “will be heard.” Adversely, Weld strikes to the heart of the reader, in dire earnest of support for the abolitionists. In reality, he utilizes no real sources and mostly attacks the slaveholder in order to paint a brutal picture of all the American slave endures and suffers through. Though he may pen truth, we know not, as his essay consists of his opinions and hearsay with the direct purpose of invoking anger and support for the cause.

All three men, Dew, Garrison, and Weld, make excellent points at one spot or another. However, after examining the facts, the strongest argument clearly shows itself. Garrison, though desiring a good thing, writes with no actual argument. He merely states his goal and that he “will be heard” while offering no real background or evidence for why abolition should occur immediately. Weld pens a plethora of statements but presents no facts or sources and merely plays to the poets in his readers. Thus, one concludes that Dew, though not completely correct, wins the argument. His writings present clear, well-developed statements and counterarguments. Ultimately, he presents his purpose with grace and eloquence, and, of course, it seems simple to dissect, but there remain strong assertions and statements for his case. The whole greatly outweighs the parts. Although there stand many views within the issue of slavery, in the essay debate, though his purpose dies, Dew’s writing thrives.

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