PREFACE TO THE EUROPEAN EDITION.
IN authorizing the circulation of this work on the continent of Europe the author has only the apology that the love of man is higher than the love of country.
The great mystery which all Christian nations hold in common the union of God with man thro' the humanity of Jesus Christ invests human existence with an awful sacredness and in the eyes of the true believer in Jesus, he who tramples on the rights of his meanest fellow-man, is not only inhuman but sacrilegious—and the worst form of this sacrilege is the institution of slavery.
It has been said that the representations of this book are exaggerations!
and oh would that this were true! would that this book were indeed a fiction,
and not a close wrought mosaic of facts! but that it is not a fiction the
proofs lie bleeding in thousands of hearts—they have been attested and confirmed
by thousands of witnesses in the slave states, they have
been endorsed by slaveholders themselves! with express reference to this book.—If other proofs were wanting, we have only to refer the whole civilized world to the written published legal code of the slave states which is a perfect, clear, legal chrystallisation and arrangement of every cruelty and every enormity which man can perpetrate on the soul and body of his fellow man—if such be law what must be the results!—Since thus it is thanks be to God that this mighty cry—this wail of unutterable anguish has at last been heard!—
It has been said that the slave population is unfit for freedom and incapable of it and that such characters as are described in this book are fictitious exaggerations and impossibilities.—Whatever may be said of the African race by itself, the slave population of America is now to a very wide extent a mixed race in whose veins the best of Anglo Saxon blood is circulating—characters like that of George Harris and Eliza are by no means uncommon among slaves. Lest the descriptions of "Uncle Tom" be considered a creation having no type in reality we quote the following tribute to the merits of a favourite slave from the published will of Judge Upshur late Secretary of State under President Tyler.
"I emancipate and set free my servant David Rice and direct my executors
to give him one hundred dollars. I recommend him
in the strongest manner to
the respect, esteem, and confidence of any community in which he may happen to live. He has been my slave twenty-four years during all which time he has been trusted to every extent and in every respect. My confidence in him has been unbounded; his relations to myself and family have always been such as to afford him daily opportunities to deceive and injure us and yet he has never been detected in a serious fault, nor even in an unintentional breach of the decorum of his station. His intelligence is of a high order, his integrity above suspicion and his sense of right and propriety correct and even refined. I feel that he is justly entitled to carry this certificate from me in the new relations which he must now form; it is due to his long and most faithful services and to the sincere and steady friendship which I bear him. In the uninterrupted confidential intercourse of twenty-four years I have never given, nor had occasion to give him one unpleasant word. I know no man who has fewer faults or more excellencies than he."
It is not pretended that such a character as that of Uncle Tom is a common occurrence but it has more than once had its existence and so much of obloquy, contempt, and of enforced vice has been heaped upon the head of the unhappy African, that he is in justice entitled to benefit of the fairest representation which accords with probability and fact.
It is not in utter despair but in solemn hope and
assurance that we may regard the struggle that now convulses America.—It is the outcry of the demon of slavery which has heard from afar the voice of a coming Jesus and is sending and convulsing the noble form from which at last He will bid it depart.
It cannot be that so monstrous a solecism can long exist in the bosom of
a nation which in all other respects is the best exponent of the great principle
of universal brotherhood. In America the Frenchman, the German, the Italian,
the Hungarian, the Swede, the Celt all mingle on terms of equal right—all
nations there display their characteristic excellencies and are admitted by
her liberal laws to equal privileges; everything is tending to liberalise,
humanise and elevate and for this very reason it is, that the contest with
slavery grows every year more terrible. The stream of human progress widening,
deepening, strengthening from the confluent forces of all nations meets this
barrier behind which is concentrated all the ignorance, cruelty and oppression
of the dark ages—at present it is foaming and beating at the base but every
year it rises,—and at last with a leap like that of Niagara it will sweep
the barrier away. Poetry, oratory, and literature are all against it—for
there is not one single divine faculty in man that is not true to freedom!—In
its commencement slavery overspread every state in the union—The progress
of society has emancipated now the majority of the states.
In Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland at different times strong movements have been made for emancipation, movements continually enforced by a comparison of the progressive march of the free states with the poverty and sterility produced by a system which in a few years wastes and exhausts all the resources of the soil without the power of renewal. The time cannot be distant when these states will emancipate for self-preservation, and if no new slave territory be added an increase of the slave population will make measures of emancipation necessary to the remainder. Here then is the point of the battle. Unless more slave territory is gained slavery dies—if it is gained it lives.—Around this point political parties fight and manoeuvre and every year the battle wages hotter, and it is fast becoming the great national question. In the fugitive slave law of 1850 the slave power gained a victory indeed but a victory like that of Pyrrhus—one more such, would be its ruin! That law has done more than all preceding agencies to bring our and concentrate the moral force of the nation against slavery.
The internal struggles of no other nation in the world can be so interesting to the European as those of America, for America is fast filling up from Europe and every European who lands on her shores has almost immediately his vote in her counsels.
If therefore the oppressed of the other nations desire
to find in America an asylum of permanent freedom let them come prepared heart, hand, and vote, against the institution of slavery, for they who enslave others cannot long themselves remain free.
True are the great living words, NO NATION CAN REMAIN FREE WITH WHOM FREEDOM IS A PRIVILEGE AND NOT A PRINCIPLE.
Andover, Sept. 21, 1852.
H. B. STOWE.