I cannot help believing that man is the same everywhere. Never, in any time or in any latitude, has it been given him to possess his fellow, without fearful misfortunes having resulted to both. Have we not heard celebrated the delightful mildness of Spanish slavery in Cuba? Travellers entertained by the Creoles usually return enchanted with it. Yet, notwithstanding, it is found that on quitting the cities and penetrating into the plantations, the most barbarous system of labor is discovered that exists in the entire world. Cuba devours her black population so rapidly that she is unceasingly obliged to purchase negroes from abroad; and these, being once on the island, have not before them an average life exceeding ten years! In the United States, the planters of the extreme South are also obliged to renew their supply of negroes; but, as they have recourse to the domestic instead of the African trade, and as the domestic trade furnishes slaves at an excessively high price, it follows that motives of interest oppose the adoption of the destructive system of Cuba. Other higher motives also oppose it, I am certain; and I am far from comparing the system of Louisiana or the Carolinas to that which prevails in the Spanish island. We exaggerate nothing, however; and whatever may be the points of difference, we may hold it as certain that those of resemblance are still more numerous: the tree is the same, it cannot but bear the same fruits.
It must be affirmed, besides, that slavery is peculiarly odious on that soil where the equality of mankind has been inscribed with so much eclat at the head of a celebrated constitution. Liberty imposes obligations; there is at the bottom of the human conscience something which will always cause slavery to be more scandalous at Washington than at Havana. What happens in the United States will be denounced more violently, more loudly, than what happens in Brazil; and this is right.
This said, I pause: I have not the slightest wish to introduce here a perfectly superfluous discussion on the principle and the consequences of slavery. I know all with which Americans reproach us Europeans. It was we, Frenchmen, Englishmen, Spaniards, Hollanders, who imposed on them this institution which we take delight in combating—this inheritance which we anathematize! Before attacking slavery, we would do well to turn our attention to our own crimes—to the oppression of the weak in our manufactories, for instance! But these retaliatory arguments have the fault of proving nothing at all. We will leave them; we have said enough on the nature of American slavery; let us proceed to the special subject of our work.
WHERE THE UNITED STATES WERE DRIFTING BEFORE THE ELECTION OF MR. LINCOLN.
I have spoken of the great perils which the United States encountered before the election of Mr. Lincoln. The time has come to enter into some details in justification of this proposition, which must have appeared strange at first sight, but the terms of which I have weighed well: if the slavery party had again achieved a victory, the United States would have gone to ruin. Here are the facts: