Article Title

The Patriarchal Tenure.


Newspaper Title

Chicago Press and Tribune

Publication Date


Publication Place

Chicago, Illinois

Event Topic

John Brown

Political Party



free state


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The Slaveholders have evenless confidence in the "patriarchal tenure"than the "Abolitionists."

Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Full Text Transcription

Gov. Wise made a speech in Richmond, onSaturday last. Among other things he isreported as having said: "This Kansas ruffian(Brown) made a great mistake as to thedisposition of the slaves to fly to his standard. The Abolitionists cannot comprehend thatthey are held among us by a patriarchaltenure."

This reminds us of the boy who whistledin passing through the grave-yard, to keep hiscourage up. The Slaveholders have evenless confidence in the "patriarchal tenure"than the "Abolitionists." Probably no manin all Virginia was more scared lest the"patriarchal tenure" would give way, than thevalorous and windy Wise. If the slaves areso attached to their masters by bonds of loveand devotion, that no Abolition sympathiescan shake their affection or weaken theirallegiance, why in the name of common sense,are their masters eternally in dread of servileinsurrections? Why is the South filled withwhite patrols? Why does every slave-holdergo armed to the teeth; and why in his housean arsenal of deadly weapons of defense? Why does the rustle of every bush senda thrill through him? Why are theblacks watched so closely and suspiciously? Why have the slave breeders so littleconfidence in the patriarchal tenure? IfGov. Wise is to be believed, how came the wholeState of Virginia to be panic-stricken andhimself thrown into hysterics of fright upon thenews of the wretched .emute at Harper'sFerry? Crazy Brown and his sixteen lunatics weremagnified into 700 "slaves who had risenagainst their masters!" And there was not aslaveholder in all the South but felt a dreadleast his own slaves would also strike fortheir liberty. The "patriarchal tenure" mayanswer as a rhetorical flourish to round off agrandiloquent period; but the slaveholdersfeel in their inmost hearts that it is weakerthan a rope of sand. Their trust is reposed,not in the attachment of the slaves to theirbondage, but in the efficacy of rifles andrevolvers, and in Northern bayonets and sabres. It is part of the lesson impressed upon theminds of the slaves, that should they attemptto sever their bonds, the mighty North wouldcome down on them like an avalanche andcrush them.

Governor Wise and his fellow slave breedersplace infinitely more reliance upon thestrong arm of Federal power and Northernregiments than on their patriarchal tenure, toquell a similar insurrection. In proof of thisneed we other evidence than their own lateconduct? When it was supposed that the"niggers" were getting loose at Harper'sFerry, their first act was to rush to UncleSam and implore him to fly to the rescue ofthe patriarchs! The love of the slave for hischains is a huge, unnatural lie, and the dailylives of the whole slave-holding fraternitybear continual testimony against the assumption.

Thomas Jefferson, himself a Virginian,declared that "the whole commerce betweenmaster and slave is a perpetual exercise ofthe most boisterous passions, the mostunremitting despotism on the one part, anddegrading submission on the other. I tremblefor my country when I reflect that God isjust -- that his justice cannot sleep forever."What a comment upon the patriarchal system! The Harper Ferry slaves saw the mad folly ofmaking the attempt to regain their liberty, andhad the sense and prudence to remain quiet, andrefuse to run into the jaws of certain destruction. This is the extent of the patriarchal tenure, andno more.

But suppose a war should break outbetween this country and Great Britain, howmuch reverence or affection would the slavesof Virginia or any other slave State exhibit forthe patriarchal institution? Let them hearthat an army of Canadian fugitives and WestIndia free colored soldiers had landed atNorfolk, Charleston, Mobile or Savannah, andproclaimed freedom, and offered them arms toachieve it, how many of the four millions ofslaves would decline the opportunity, or refuseto obey the summons to strike and be free? We confess this is an ugly view of thepatriarchal institution, but it is one that no patriotdare ignore. Democratic demagogues maystun the country with their clamors and revengeagainst the Republicans, but that will notward off the terrible consequences to theSouth, of a war with Great Britain. So longas the United States keeps clear of a collisionwith the mother country, and Heaven grant it,may be forever, the peculiar institution mayescape a disastrous termination.

If a supposed insurrection in the sparseslave population of Northern Virginia throwsthe whole South into consternation, what kindof security will that section enjoy whenthousands of ship loads of the same incendiarymaterial have been brought from Africa,filling up the southern States? We appeal tothe conservative men of the country to saywhich is the safest and best policy: theDemocratic, which is striving to multiply andexpand this volcanic element, or the Republicanwhich seeks to limit and circumscribe it,and place it on the way of ultimate extinction.

Edited/Proofed by

Entered by Lloyd Benson.




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Event Location


The Patriarchal Tenure.

The Slaveholders have evenless confidence in the "patriarchal tenure"than the "Abolitionists."