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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » A Child's Anti-Slavery Book » A FEW WORDS ABOUT AMERICAN SLAVE CHILDREN.
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A FEW WORDS ABOUT AMERICAN SLAVE CHILDREN.
Children, you are free and happy. Kind parents watch over you with loving eyes; patient teachers instruct you from the beautiful pages of the printed book; benign laws, protect you from violence, and prevent the strong arms of wicked people from hurting you; the blessed Bible is in your hands; when you become men and women you will have full liberty to earn your living, to go, to come, to seek pleasure or profit in any way that you may choose, so long as you do not meddle with the rights of other people; in one word, you are free children! Thank God! thank God! my children, for this precious gift. Count it dearer than life. Ask the great God who made you free to teach you to prefer death to the loss of liberty.

But are all the children in America free like you? No, no! I am sorry to tell you that hundreds of thousands of American children are slaves. Though born beneath the same sun and on the same soil, with the same natural right to freedom as yourselves, they are nevertheless SLAVES. Alas for them! Their parents cannot train them as they will, for they too have MASTERS. These masters say to them:

"Your children are OURS—OUR PROPERTY! They shall not be taught to read or write; they shall never go to school; they shall not be taught to read the Bible; they must submit to us and not to you; we shall whip them, sell them, and do what else we please with them. They shall never own themselves, never have the right to dispose of themselves, but shall obey us in all things as long as they live!"

"Why do their fathers let these masters have their children? My father wouldn't let anybody have me," I hear one of my little free-spirited readers ask.

Simply, my noble boy, because they can't help it. The masters have banded themselves together, and have made a set of wicked laws by which nearly four millions of men, women, and children are declared to be their personal chattels, or property. So that if one of these slave fathers should refuse to let his child be used as the property of his master, those wicked laws would help the master by inflicting cruel punishments on the parent. Hence the poor slave fathers and mothers are forced to silently witness the cruel wrongs which their helpless children are made to suffer. Violence has been framed into a law, and the poor slave is trodden beneath the feet of the powerful.

"But why did those slaves let their masters bring them into this state? Why didn't they fight as our forefathers did when they threw off the yoke of England's laws?" inquires a bright-eyed lad who has just risen from the reading of a history of our Revolution.

The slaves were not reduced to their present servile condition in large bodies. When our ancestors settled this country they felt the need of more laborers than they could hire. Then wicked men sailed from England and other parts of Europe to the coast of Africa. Sending their boats ashore filled with armed men, they fell upon the villages of the poor Africans, set fire to their huts, and, while they were filled with fright, seized, handcuffed, and dragged them to their boats, and then carried them aboard ship.

This piracy was repeated until the ship was crowded with negro men, women, and children. The poor things were packed like spoons below the deck. Then the ship set sail for the coast of America. I cannot tell you how horribly the poor negroes suffered. Bad air, poor food, close confinement, and cruel treatment killed them off by scores. When they died their bodies were pitched into the sea, without pity or remorse.

After a wearisome voyage the survivors, on being carried into some port, were sold to the highest bidder. No regard was paid to their relationship. One man bought a husband, another a wife. The child was taken to one place, the mother to another. Thus they were scattered abroad over the colonies. Fresh loads arrived continually, and thus their numbers increased. Others were born on the soil, until now, after the lapse of some two centuries, there are nearly four millions of negro slaves in the country, besides large numbers of colored people who in various ways have been made free.

You can now see how easy it was for the masters to make the wicked laws by which the slaves are now held in bondage. They began when the slaves were few in number, when they spoke a foreign language, and when they were too few and feeble to offer any resistance to their oppressors, as their masters did to old England when she tried to oppress them.

I want you to remember one great truth regarding slavery, namely, that a slave is a human being, held and used as property by another human being, and that it is always A SIN AGAINST GOD to thus hold and me a human being as property!

You know it is not a sin to use an ox, a horse, a dog, a squirrel, a house, or an acre of land as property, if it be honestly obtained, because God made these and similar objects to be possessed as property by men. But God did not make man to be the property of man. He never gave any man the right to own his neighbor or his neighbor's child.

On the contrary, he made all men to be free and equal, as saith our Declaration of Independence. Hence, every negro child that is born is as free before God as the white child, having precisely the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as the white child. The law which denies him that right does not destroy it. It may enable the man who claims him as a slave to deprive him of its exercise, but the right itself remains, for the wicked law under which he acts does not and cannot set aside the divine law, by which he is as free as any child that was ever born.

But if God made every man, woman, and child to be free, and not property, then he who uses a human being as property acts contrary to the will of God and SINS! Is it not so, my children?

Yet that is what every slaveholder does. He uses his slaves as property. He reckons them as worth so many dollars, just as your father sets a certain money value on his horse, farm, or merchandise. He sells him, gives him away, uses his labor without paying him wages, claims his children as so many more dollars added to his estate, and when he dies wills him to his heirs forever. And this is SIN, my children—a very great sin against God, a high crime against human nature.

Mark what I say! the sin of slavery does not lie merely in whipping, starving, or otherwise ill-treating a human being, but in using him as property; in saying of him as you do of your dog: "He is my property. He is worth so much money to me. I will do what I please with him. I will keep him, use him, sell him, give him away, and keep all he earns, just as I choose."

To say that of a man is sin. You might clothe the man in purple, feed him on manna from heaven, and keep him in a palace of ivory, still, if you used him as your property, you would commit sin!

Children, I want you to shrink from this sin as the Jews did from the fiery serpents. Hate it. Loathe it as you would the leprosy. Make a solemn vow before the Saviour, who loves the slave and slave children as truly as he does you, that you will never hold slaves, never apologize for those who do. As little Hannibal vowed eternal hatred to Rome at the altar of a false god, so do you vow eternal enmity to slavery at the altar of the true and living Jehovah. Let your purpose be, "I will rather beg my bread than live by the unpaid toil of a slave."

To assist you in carrying out that purpose, and to excite your sympathy for poor slave children, the following stories were written. The characters in them are all real, though their true names are not always given. The stories are therefore pictures of actual life, and are worthy of your belief.
D.W.


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