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ety of controlling or removing them. For in the approximation of the two races, both physical and moral causes have operated to diminish and annihilate the latter, and to render essential a guardianship over them. The American people have not been indifferent to their improvement; the charities of Christianity have not slumbered over this unfortunate race. Efforts have been fruitlessly made, and different means and agencies in vain employed. The Cherokees of Georgia have formed no essential exception to the universal failure. Glowing descriptions have indeed been given of their rapid march in civilization. But we have the testimony of those best acquainted, and most to be relied on, that notwithstanding individual instances of decided improvement and advancement, the great body of the tribe remained, despite of all efforts, unchanged and unchangeable. They have gone forever from the land of their fathers to occupy the regions of the far and distant west. We lament their condition, we regret their fate, we are unable to explain the mysteries of Providence towards them.
Another topic, which seems to me to call for a passing notice, results from the institution of slavery among us. With the abstract question of slavery I have nothing to do here. The institution rests upon the constitution and laws of the land; and there, we trust, the sense and intelligence and patriotism of the nation will permit it to repose in safety, notwithstanding the chimerical and visionary ebstract speculations with which the country has latterly been so wantonly agitated. My business with this subject is limited to quite a different purpose. It is an historical fact, to which we have already alluded, that at the settlement of Georgia slavery was inhibited; and it is equally true, that, with some exceptions,* our ancestry were urgent and solicitous in their reiterated appeals to the Trustees for its introduction. My object is to vindicate their conduct on this point; and place them in the position they are entitled to occupy. Properly to estimate their course, it is necessary to look at the state of the public mind on this subject in that day; to look at it with the lights which then existed, and in intimate connection with the circumstances and relations in which the colony of Georgia
* The Highlanders at Darien, and the Germans at Ebenezer, opposed it, and presented counter petitions.
found itself. We live in a world of changing opinions and of increasing light and knowledge. At the period to which we are referring, the slave trade, now universally and justly condemned by all civilized nations, was as universally tolerated by all. England, who, under the persevering and active labors of a Wilberforce, led the way in the great work of suppressing this odious traffic, was then most active in peopling her colonies, wherever they were needed, with slaves. The vast operations of missionary associations for evangelizing the world, which we behold at this day, had not been conceived. It is true that some small and slender associations for this purpose had commenced in England more than a century ago, but these were only the beginnings of a system, the developements of which had not entered into the conceptions of the Christian world. Good and pious men were appealed to on this subject. They looked upon Africa sunk in the darkness of midnight and paganism. They were enabled to realize no access to her, no means of reaching her, no hope for her from the light of the Gospel. They adopted the conclusion, that their condition would be better by being introduced into civilized and Christian communities; where notwithstanding they were required to labor, they might be kindly treated and instructed and enlightened in the knowledge of the truth. Our ancestors were placed here in a country peculiarly and primarily adapted to agriculture, with the example before their eyes of the existence and toleration of the system in all of the elder colonies. I submit, that it was the natural result of these causes combined, that they should have desired to participate in the benefits of a system then justified by the opinion of the world, of the mother country and the example of her sister colonies. We ask only for an equality of position on this subject; and are willing to assume our full proportion of responsibility and accountability to which we may be held by the opinions of the day, so unwarrantably intruded upon the country, at the hazard of its happiness and repose.
We left the colonists, after years of languor and despondency, prosperous and flourishing. The Spaniard had been driven back into his strong hold — the Indian had been subdued by friendly intercourse and kindness, or repelled in his hostile attacks, had been compelled to sue for peace.
They were now to encounter an enemy of a different cha
racter and of vast resources and power; and to endure a conflict more terrible than any they had known. That enemy was the parent country from whom they sprung; that conflict their great Revolutionary struggle.
Of the causes which led to this extraordinary result I may not speak; they are contained in that undying instrument, the Declaration of Independence — they are interwoven with the national history. Nor may I enter into details of the long and bloody war which followed. They have been eloquently delineated in many a patriotic address dedicated to the celebration of our national anniversary jubilee. The situation of Georgia, however, in the commencement of this struggle was peculiar, and merits notice. She was the youngest and feeblest of the colonies. The number of her white inhabitants small and scattered, in the midst of a large slave population. Her frontier was occupied by powerful tribes of warlike savages; and a royal governor presided over her councils of great talents and energy, and whose course of administration had commended him to the esteem of the people. In such circumstances, it required stout hearts and ardent devotion to liberty to plunge at once into the vortex of revolution. That plunge was however made.
What means that shout that rends the air and strikes with amazement upon the senses of the royal governor? A libertypole stands erect in the streets of Savannah, and Tondee's tavern reëchoes with the cheers of a band of noble republicans, willing martyrs, if need be, in the cause of liberty.
The arrival of General Gates in Boston with a British fleet and army, and the events which immediately followed, lighted the torch of revolution and resistance, which, blazing through the colonies, flamed as purely and brightly in Georgia as among the patriotic sons of liberty in New England. The magazine in this city was immediately seized in the dead of night by a party of gentlemen, and the powder conveyed away and secured in their own houses. A ship, then recently from England, under command of captain Maitland lying at Tybee, was approached by a party of men in two boats, taken, and thirteen thousand pounds of powder obtained five thousand pounds of which were sent to the inhabitants of Boston.* The provincial house of assembly ordered the arrest of Governor Wright; that order was immediately executed by volunteers raised and commanded by a youthful but devoted son of liberty.* The Governor was paroled to his house, from whence he escaped in the night, and took refuge on board a British armed ship lying at Tybee.
* These boats were commanded by Com, Bowen and Col Joseph Habersham.
Such were the energetic and spirited measures immediately taken in Savannah by her republican and patriotic sons, at the commencement of difficulty with England. The spirit of resistance, awakened throughout the country, had not, as yet, looked beyond a redress of grievances. But these decided and bold measures betokened a higher aim, and excited the public feeling to a preparation for it. The word “ Independence” began to be whispered — at first with caution, and only by the bold and decided ; but it soon burst forth in the noble instrument which announced to the world their wrongs and proclaimed their separation from the British Crown. It was reëchoed from Massachusetts to Georgia with an emphasis that startled the monarch on his throne, and arrayed against infant America, the mighty power and vast resources of old England. Now was fairly commenced that mighty conflict, which, amidst all the eventful vicissitudes and appalling discouragements of so unequal a contest, was destined to terminate only, when the British lion had crouched beneath the talons of the American eagle.
Liberty, banished from her ancient habitations, an exile and a wanderer on the continent of Europe, took a temporary refuge under the limited monarchy of England; but as a Hampden fell, and the life-blood of a Sidney flowed, she uttered the shriek of despair, and crossing the ocean, sought an asylum on these western shores. Her enemies pursued her here, and threatened her extermination from the earth. For seven long years nourished and sustained by the blood of heroes and patriots and martyrs, behold her now more beautiful and lovely than ever, and enraptured with the land which had so freely sacrificed in her cause, she has, as we fondly hope, forever fixed her abode in these United States.
Will that cherished hope be realized ? Interesting inquiry! interesting to the present generation, to posterity, to the world. Our fathers rested not when they had achieved their independence — they labored to secure it, and to transmit its blessings to their descendants. They were not less conspicuous for the wisdom of their counsels in the cabinet, than distinguished for their heroic valor and fortitude in the field. If they had encircled their brows with honor and glory as heroes and warriors, they added an undying immortality to their names as legislators. They erected a government, very far surpassing any model, which the world had known in practical operation.
* Colonel Habersham.
By the introduction of the federative and representative principles, they accommodated a republican system to the difficult operation of regulating an extended territory, with a population of different and sometimes jarring interests. By surrounding it with all the checks and balances which human ingenuity could devise, they endeavored to provide for its security. By the recognition of the fundamental principle that sovereignty abides in the people, and thus constituting them the source of all legitimate power, they infused into it a recuperative energy, a resuscitating principle. The people are thus constituted the arbiters of their own destiny.
And the argument is founded on sound basis which supposes, that a departure, in the administration of government from its great first principles, operating injuriously to the interests of the people, will ultimately find its corrective in this renovating feature of the government. Many causes may lead us to aberrate far from the path of duty and happiness
- the conflicts of sectional interests, the impulses of ungoverned ambition, the excitements of party — but still, the tendency of this principle will be to restore us. Its force and power, however, depend upon, and essentially imply requisite qualifications in the people. These are mainly virtue and knowledge. How great, in this respect, is our preëminence over the once splendid but fallen republics of antiquity? The lights of science indeed beamed upon them; but they were destitute of that better knowledge which illuminates our moral nature, and subdues the mighty powers of intellect and mind beneath the controlling influence of virtue. The history of much later periods exhibits the progress of human improvement darkened with many shades, and the perversion of the highest attainments in science and knowledge to the destruction of the foundations of social order and happiness. The eighteenth century, in the example and fate of continental Europe, furnishes a memorable
rinciple wupon, and These ar