The Independent
New York: S. W. Benedict, 22 July 1858


  ...As quicksands, and the débris of mountains, change the course of streams and currents, so the selfishness of the nation, gathering on particular sins, and holding and growing there, changes not only the tide, but the very nature, even of common honesty and religious principle. Philanthropy is no longer esteemed a science of humanity under guidance of religion, for that is liable to err; but of expediency, which is infallible, and of expediency as interpreted by political economy, with religion excluded from the court; for, as Mr. Webster once quoted with applause from an English correspondent, "religion, which is a good thing in private life, in politics only makes men mad." Our Fourth-of-July orators, who used to spout cataracts of eloquence in behalf of a patriotism founded on religion, now indict the Declaration of Independence as a tissue of glittering generalities, and present as the essence of patriotism and piety, and the fulfillment of all duty, the rendering unto Cæsar the things that are Cæar's.

  This is the latest oracle from the High Priest of the Democracy, and Mr. Choate declares that nationality, resting on compromise, and guided by expediency, is the grandest of the instrumentalities of morals and religion; that American nationality and patriotism, embracing slavery, is the appointed teacher and expounder of philanthropy; and that if there seem to be anything in such patriotism, that limits our philanthropy, we have only to remember that ours is American philanthropy; and over all limitations and all antagonisms, "higher than they, stronger than they, there rises colossal the fine sweet spirit of nationality, the nationality of America. See there the pillar of fire which God has kindled, and lifted and moved for our hosts and our ages. Gaze on that, worship that, worship the Highest in that. Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and thus, to that extent, you render unto God the things that are God's."

  Is this a dagger that I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Are these the distempered dreams of opium or delirium tremens, or the fumes of a political atheism, such as paraded through our streets at the last Presidential election with a banner inscribed, The Constitution for earth, the Bible for heaven? The colossal nationality of America, with compromise for its ethics, and expediency for its conscience! Worship that! Worship the Highest in that! Religion, which does not accept that, is "fit enough for a pulpit, totally unfit for a people; fit enough for a preacher, totally unfit for a statesman." Law itself is no longer the science of justice, but of American nationality and philanthropy; and justice is no longer the science of equity and right, but of skins and cotton and chemistry, of color and shade and cross-breed between black and white, of tyranny, conquest, and cunning, of sophistry and lying. The Smoke and malice of the bottomless pit are conspicuous elements in that science, whose temple it used to be imagined was in the bosom of God;—and the soul of him who was a murderer from the beginning, breathes in that fine sweet spirit of nationality, whose latest expression is in the edict, that black men have no rights that white men are bound to respect!

  The very milk of human kindness is curdled in the veins of society by the propagation of these ethics, by the horrible omnipotence and omnipresence of the crime and curse, of which such moral teachings and preachers are the filthy attendants and priests. The very axioms of fundamental justice and of natural theology and humanity, not buried nor destroyed even in savage tribes, are reversed, perverted, or else expelled from our civilized and Christian jurisprudence. Where slavery is a right and a virtue, Christian charity is a crime. When Connelly, charged with the dreadful iniquity of giving a night's lodging to two hunted human beings, was brought to trial, Judge Leavitt, in his charge against the prisoner, declared that "Christian charity was not within the intent of meaning of the Fugitive Slave law, and it would not therefore answer as a defense for violation the law." The violation of Christian charity is far less sinful than the breaking of this unchristian and infamous statute. A wicked human law is to be obeyed at all hazards, and the violation of the divine law becomes a virtue and a grace, when a human law, for the support of slavery, requires it. This is that fine, sweet, colossal spirit of American nationality, which worshiping, you worship the Highest in that. This is our Cæsar, and these are Cæsar's things, which rendering unto him, we render unto God the things that are God's.

  Injustice, inhumanity, oppression, cruelty, become, under the teachings of such ethics, the common acts and elements of jurisprudence, and of the social and civil economy of our nation. At this moment there is lying in the penitentiary of the state of Maryland a colored local preacher, the Rev. Samuel Green, under a sentence of ten years' imprisonment, for having in his possession a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin! Well! what other result could be expected from a people taught to worship the highest in worshiping the fine sweet colossal spirit of American Nationality, with its essence and religion of compromise and expediency? The American Tract Society do all in their power to sanction and establish such infamous tyranny and wickedness, by refusing the publication of a volume of illustrations of practical piety for children, because the little girl whose life and death are described in it expresses in one page her artless admiration of little Eva's goodness for teaching Uncle Tom to read the Bible! C.