xt705q4rjj9w https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt705q4rjj9w/data/mets.xml Martin, Asa Earl, 1885- 1918  books b92f446f48no292009 English The Standard printing company of Louisville : Louisville, Ky. Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Slavery --United States --Anti-slavery movements. Slavery --United States --Kentucky. The anti-slavery movement in Kentucky prior to 1850 text The anti-slavery movement in Kentucky prior to 1850 1918 2009 true xt705q4rjj9w section xt705q4rjj9w 


The Movement

A n t i - S later?

In K entucky









A ssistant Professor of A merican History, T L e Pennsylvania State College




1 918




W h i l e m uch has been written concerning the anti-slavery m ovement i n the U nited S tates, the work of historians has been c hiefly d irected toward the r adical m ovement associated w ith t he name of W i l l i a m L l o y d G arrison. T h i s has often been d one a t t he expense of and sometimes to the total neglect of those who f avored gradual emancipation. T h i s inequality of treatment h as been accredited to the fact that the G arrisonian a bolitionists w ere exceedingly active and vigorous i n their propaganda and n ot to any preponderance of numbers or larger historical s ignificance. T h e gradual emancipationists, u nlike t he followers of G arrison w ho were restricted to the free states, were found i n a ll p arts of the U n i o n . T h e y embraced great numbers of the l eaders i n politics, business, and education; and while far more n umerous i n the free than i n the slave states they nevertheless i ncluded a l arge and respectable element i n M a r y l a n d , V i r g i n i a , K e n t u c k y , T ennessee and M issouri. I t was to be expected that t he gradual emancipationists i n these border states would act w i t h c onservatism. T h e y were themselves sometimes slaveholders and i n any event they saw the difficulties and dangers of any sort of emancipation. T h e i r number was, however, too c onsiderable and their activities too noteworthy to warrant the n eglect which they have received at the hands of the historians of the anti-slavery movement. I n t his volume I have attempted to relate the history of t he anti-slavery movement i n K e n t u c k y to the year 1850 w ith s pecial e mphasis upon the work of the gradual emancipationists. I i ntend later to prepare a second volume which w ill c arry the s tudy t o 1870; and I h ope t hat the appearance of this work w ill e ncourage the promotion of s imilar s tudies i n the other border s tates. I d esire to express m y obligations to those who have aided m e i n the preparation of this work. Though but few can be m entioned by name, the services of a l l are held i n grateful r emembrance. W h i l e most of the work was d one a t C ornell U n i versity, I feel especially indebted to Professor W i l l i a m E . D o d d a nd t o Professor M . W . Jernegan of the U niversity o f Chicago. U nder t heir direction m y graduate study was begun and m y at-

t ention directed to the s ubject of this investigation. T o P r o fessor G eorge F . Z ook, of The Pennsylvania State College, I am u nder obligation for reading and criticizing the manuscript. N o r c an I f ail t o mention the many courtesies shown me at the library of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, at the library of the U niversity of Chicago, where the Durrett collection of K e n tucky newspapers and manuscripts was placed at my disposal before i t had been c atalogued or thrown o pen t o the general p ublic, a t the library of Cornell University, at the Congressional L ibrary, a t Harvard University L i b r a r y , a t the Boston P ublic L ibrary a nd at the libraries i n C incinnati. T hrough the k indness of Miss Sophonisba Breckinridge of the University of C hicago much valuable material was obtained from the Breckinridge papers now deposited in the L ibrary of Congress but not y et available for public use. Above all I am indebted to m y w ife for valuable assistance rendered me in reading and c orrecting b oth manuscript and p roof. I n j ustice to the persons named, I should add that the a uthor alone is responsible for statements of fact and for conclusions. In a few cases, p erhaps unwisely, I have disregarded t heir s uggestions. D ecember 12, 1917.



PAGE 6 11 18 33 49 63 79 88 98 Ill 1 39 148 1 59


T he portion of V irginia l ocated west of the A ppalachian M ountains a nd k nown as K e n t u c k y w as f requently visited b y I ndian t raders and hunters between 1750 and 1770 and probably f rom earlier times. T h e e arly c omers d i d not r emain t o m ake permanent improvements. After hunting and trading i n t he country f or a few m onths, they either returned t o t heir e astern homes o r p ushed further westward o r s outhward. T h e g lowing accounts given b y t hem of t he beauty and t he r esources of this distant region awakened much interest i n the o lder communities, a nd r esulted, after repeated failures, i n the e stablishment i n K e n t u c k y during t he first years o f the A merican R e v olution of p ermanent settlements, which advanced after 1783 w ith g reat r a p i d i t y . T h e f rontier w as p ushed back i n e very d irection a nd b y 1792 the i ncrease of p opulation a nd the d evelopment of resources w as s ufficient t o w arrant Congress i n a d mitting t he d istrict into t he U n i o n .
1 2

S lavery w as i ntroduced into K e n t u c k y w ith t he e arliest s ettlers. W hile the majority of the p ioneers were very p oor a nd c onsequently non-slaveholders, there w as, d uring t he y ears f ollowing t he R evolution, a n i nflux of p rosperous settlers, p articularly f rom V irginia, w ho b rought a n umber o f s laves w ith t hem a nd engaged i n the c ultivation o f t obacco o n a c onsiderable scale. I t was not, h owever, u ntil t he I ndian danger h ad been removed and frontier conditions i n K e n t u c k y had given p lace t o c ommercial activity and t o p lanting f or p rofit as w ell as for subsistence that the number o f N egroes materially increased. T heir n umerical strength c an not be d efinitely determined
3 4 5

Theodore Roosevelt: 'Winning of the W est," V ol. 3, p. 12f.     United States Statutes A t Large, Vol. 1, 1789-99, p. 189. . ' Draper MSS.: "Lifeof Daniel Boone," Vol. 3, pp. 351-2. D aniel Boonein a letter to   ?i y . Henderson, A pril 1,1775, written in what is now Madison County, said that a party of Indians firing on his company had killed M r . Tweety and his Negro. Among Boone's accounts there is also an entry recording his purchase of a Negro woman for the sum of 80 pounds (Roosevelt. " Winning of the W est," V ol. 3, p. 27). In the records of the various settlements mention is often made of Negroes. (Richard H . Collins: "History of K entucky," p. 38 ) (Lewis Collins: "Historical Sketches," p. 19.) < N . S. Shaler: "Kentucky, A Pioneer Commonwealth," p. 117. ' D raper MSS.: V ol. 4, p. 503. In 1777 a census of the town of Harrodsburg gave the slave population as 19 out of a total of 201 inhabitants. T he following table gives a comprehensive view of the white, the slave and the free Negro elements of the population of Kentucky from 1790 to 1850:
1 I chard


1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850

61 ,133 179 ,873 324 ,237 434,644 517 ,787 590 ,253 761 ,413



83.0 81.4 79.7 75.9 75.2 75.7 77.5

12 ,430 40 ,343 80 ,561 126,732 165 ,213 182 ,258 210,981



16.9 18.2 19.8 23.4 24.0 23.3 21.4


114 739 1,713 2 ,759 4,917 7 ,317 10.011


.1 .3 .4 .7 .7 .9 1.1



p revious to 1790, when, according to the first federal census, t hey constituted 16.9 per cent, of the total population. T h e leading slaveholding section i n 1790 was the central p art of the state, commonly known as the Blue Grass region. D u r i n g t he next three d ecades s laveholding extended eastward a nd s outheastward to the mountainous districts and quite g enerally o ver t he western and southern parts of the state. T he p ercentage of the slave population i n 1790 varied i n the d ifferent counties from 8 to 20 per cent, of the total. B y 1850 i t w as equal to that of the white population i n several of the c ounties i n the Blue Grass region, while i n the mountainous c ounties along the eastern border i t did not exceed 2 o r 3 per c ent.
6 7

S ince i t is obvious that the growth of slavery i n K e n t u c k y m ust depend upon the system of agriculture, i t may be important t o notice at this point the various products of the state i n t he early period. Although no record was made by the census d epartment of the agricultural products i n the states b efore 1840 and l ittle a ccurate information on the s ubject i s available, s ome m aterial has b een f ound to indicate the k i n d a nd the value of the principal products of farm and factory. I n 1789 L o r d D orchester (Sir G u y Carleton), the Governor General of Canada, i n a l etter to L o r d S idney said that "the cultivated products" of K e n t u c k y were " I n d i a n corn, wheat, rye, barley, oats, etc., a nd t obacco, w hich latter article is raised i n considerable quantities b y slaves, as practiced i n V i r g i n i a . " F urthermore he e xpressed the opinion that "of all the forms of cultivation of w hich t he c olony i s susceptible, that which would be at o nce m ore p rofitable to the settlers* * * w ould be the rearing of flocks." H e n r y B . Fearon i n his "Sketches of A m e r i c a " gives t he value of the exports of K e n t u c k y for 1818 a s :
8 9 10

F l o u r a nd Wheat P ork, B acon and L a r d W hiskey T obacco C ordage, H e m p and Fabrics of H e m p W o o l and Fabrics of W o o l and C o t t o n C attle


$1 ,000 ,000 350 ,000 5 00,000 1 ,900 ,000 500 ,000 100 ,000 2 00,000

    Draper M S S . : Vol. 4, p. 503. Table note 5. > Ibid.     Canadian Archives, 1890, p. 119.     Ibid. " H enry B. Fearon: "Sketches of America," p. 238. See also, Timothy Flint: "History and Geography of the Mississippi Valley," Vol. 1. p. 351; J. L. Allen: " T h e Blue Grass Region of Kentucky," p. 53.


The Anti-Slavery

Movement in Kentucky Prior to 1850 $100 60 45 27 ,000 ,000 ,000 ,000

H orses and Mules S alt-petre a nd Gunpowder W hite a nd Red Lead S oap and Candles T otal

$ 4,782 ,000

I t i s noteworthy that cotton does n ot appear i n this l ist. I n t he following t a b l e are enumerated for comparison the c hief agricultural products i n 1840 of the states of Ohio, K e n tucky, a nd Alabama. Ohio is selected as a neighboring free s tate and Alabama as a representative state of the lower South.

O hio H orses and Mules C attle S heep S wine W heat, Bushels B arley, B ushels O ats, B ushels R y e , B ushels C orn, B ushels P otatoes, Bushels S ugar, P ounds T obacco, P ounds C otton, P ounds 430,527 1 ,217,874 2 ,028,401 2 ,099 ,746 16 ,571 ,661 212 ,440 14 ,393 ,103 814,205 33 ,668 ,144 5 ,805 ,021 6 ,363 ,386 5 ,942 ,275

Kentucky 295,853 7 87,098 1 ,008,240 2 ,310 ,533 4 ,803 ,151 17 ,491 7 ,155 ,974 1 ,321,373 39 ,847 ,120 1 ,055 ,085 1 ,377 ,835 53 ,436 ,909 691 ,456

Alabama 143,147 668,018 1 63,243 1 ,423 ,873 828 ,052 7 ,692 1 ,406 ,353 5 1,008 20 ,947 ,004 1 ,708 ,356 10 ,143 273 ,302 117 ,138 ,823

A s tudy of the table shows that by 1840 K e n t u c k y produced a large quantity of t obacco a nd f airly l arge quantities of o ther agricultural staples such as corn, oats and wheat. C o t ton was a negligible product i n comparison w ith i ts production i n a s tate of the lower South. W i t h t he exception of the single item of t obacco, t he products of K e n t u c k y were s trikingly l ike t hose of Ohio as to k ind a nd quantity, a fact which undoubtedly had i ts b earing upon the attitude of the state toward slavery at v a r i ous periods before 1860. T h e system of slave labor was bound u p only w ith t he production of t obacco i n so far as agricultural s taples were concerned, since i t was hardly to be doubted that the cultivation of wheat, oats, rye, corn, and perhaps of hernp also could be carried on more profitably w ith free than w ith s lave labor.
" U . S. Census Report: 1840, Agriculture, Manufactures, etc., pp. 228, 274, 260, 326.



S o important w as the p roduction of t obacco i n K e n t u c k y a nd so i ntimately was i t c onnected w ith t he system of s lave labor i n t he s tate that further description o f the i ndustry seems d esirable. Though grown i n a l l p arts of t he country i n 1 8 4 0 , t obacco w as p re-eminently a b order state product a nd i n its p roduction w as f ound t he c hief employment o f the s laves i n t hose states. Notwithstanding t his, t he K e n t u c k y planters d id n ot g enerally regard t he i ndustry as w ell adapted t o the e conomic l ife of the s tate. T h e c ultivation o f t obacco w as e xhaustive t o the s oil a nd r equired a c onstant extension of the t obacco f ields. T h i s absorption of new l and a nd r eplacing o f w hite f ree-holders b y N egroes w as f urther extended b ecause of t he n ecessity o f p roviding additional land t o g ive employment t o t he n atural i ncrease of the s laves. These disadvantages w ere keenly felt i n K e n t u c k y where t he p hysical conditions d i d n ot f avor t he p lantation system. T h e s oil i n the m ain s lave-holding p ortion of the s tate w as e asily t illed a nd was a bundantly p roductive; t he c limate w as t emperate a nd i n v i g orating. A s a r esult, t he s ystem o f a griculture was that of the s mall f arm a nd not t hat of the v ast plantation.

T h e p eople of K e n t u c k y early appreciated t he f act that t he c ultivation of t obacco m ight n ot be e ntirely desirable. I n D anville, f or m any years t he p olitical a nd r eligious center o f t he s t a t e , t here existed, between 1786 and 1790, a p olitical c lub c omposed o f s ome t hirty m embers, among whom were a n umber o f the officers of the d istrict. N e a r l y a l l of t hem a fterwards held important offices o f t rust and honor i n the s tate a nd t he national g o v e r n m e n t s . T h e club held regular meetings t o discuss and v ote u pon t he i ssues o f the d ay. A t one m eeting i n 1788, i t t ook u nder consideration t he q uestion "whether t he c ulture o f t obacco i n the D istrict o f K e n t u c k y w ill be b eneficial
13 14

T he number of pounds of tobacco produced b y the different states i n 1840 was: V irginia 75 ,347 ,106 K entucky 53 ,436 ,909 Tennessee 29 ,550 ,432 M aryland 24 ,816 ,016 N orth Carolina 16 ,772 ,359 Missouri 9 ,067 ,913 Ohio 5 ,942 ,273 Connecticut 471 ,657 Pennsylvania 325,018 A labama 273 ,302 Georgia 162 ,894 Louisiana 119 ,824 Mississippi 83 ,471 South Carolina 51,519 U . S. Census: 1840, A griculture, Manufactures, etc., p. 408. T homas Speed: " T h e Political C l u b , " p p. 19-21. F ilson Club Publications, No. 9. " Speed: " T h e P olitical Club," pp. 19-22, 38. A full list of the members is given on page 38.


The Anti-Slavery

Movement in Kentucky Prior to 1850

t o the citizens of the D i s t r i c t , " a nd i t was resolved " t h a t i t is t he opinion of this club that the culture of t obacco w ill n ot be b eneficial t o the citizens of the D istrict of K e n t u c k y . " While t he reasons for this decision are not known, i t may be argued t hat t he members of the P olitical C l u b , m ost of whom were i mmigrants f rom V irginia, h ad misgivings as to the desirability of developing an extensive system of slave labor i n K e n t u c k y , since t obacco was cultivated i n the parent state chiefly by slaves. T hey must have been familiar w ith J efferson's " N o t e s on V i r ginia," p ublished i n 1782, i n which he deplored the disastrous effect of slavery on both men and the s o i l a nd accordingly t hey may have felt that they were standing at the parting of t he ways.
15 16

I n c onclusion i t may be said that, while the introduction of s lavery i nto K e n t u c k y was inevitable i n view of the circumstances of settlement, conditions w ithin t he state were not p articularly f avorable to its development. Adjacent to the free s tates of the Old Northwest, K e n t u c k y found herself i n c ompetition w ith t he more e conomic s ystem of free labor. T h e e xhausting n ature of t obacco c ulture was destined to render t he planters keenly conscious of the handicap under which t heir a griculture labored i n comparison w ith t he agriculture of t he states beyond the Ohio. C onditions t hat h ad o perated to bring a bout emancipation i n Pennsylvania and the states to the n o r t h ward s oon e xerted a s imilar i nfluence i n K e n t u c k y and the r esult w as an anti-slavery agitation which t ook t he form of a m ovement for some p lan of gradual and compensated emancipation. I mmediate emancipationists and Garrisonian a bolitionists were never numerous i n K e n t u c k y and the few existing t here were almost entirely among the non-slaveholding class.
. " Speed: "The Political Club," p. 129. T homai Jefferson: " Notes on Virginia," pp. 221-230.




D u r i n g t he p eriod of the R evolution a nd the e arly years o f t he Republic, sentiment i n the c ountry a s a w hole w as u nfriendl y t o the i nstitution o f s lavery. I t was r egarded as i nconsistent w i t h C hristian c ivilization a nd out of a ccord w ith t he g reat p rinciples o f l iberty f or w hich t he C olonies h ad c ontended. S ince slavery existed i n e very state i n the U nion, t he feeling that i t w as i njurious t o s ociety w as i n no sense d ependent upon s ectional l ines. I ts e xistence w as l amented b y s uch m en as W a s h ington, J efferson, Monroe, M a d i s o n , F r a n k l i n , H a m i l t o n , J a y a nd A d a m s . There w as a g eneral regret that t he i nstitution h ad e ver been planted i n A m e r i c a a nd i t was h oped that i n t ime i t w ould b e a bandoned. N o e ffort w as m ade t o d efend i t or to p resent i t as an i deal basis f or t he p olitical a nd e conomic s tructure of s ociety a nd at b est i t was r egarded as a n ecessary e v i l . I t w as o pposed u pon e conomic g rounds b y s ome a nd u pon moral a nd r eligious grounds b y o thers a nd the q uestion, as J efferson s tated i t , was w hether " t h e l iberties o f a n ation b e s ecure when w e have removed their only f irm b asis, a c onviction i n the m inds o f t he p eople t hat their liberties a re of the g ift of G o d . " I t is, t herefore, n ot s urprising that Jefferson i n the c onstitution which he proposed f or the s tate of V i r g i n i a i n 1776 i nserted a p rovision t hat " no p erson hereafter coming into this country s hall b e h eld i n s lavery under a ny p retext w h a t e v e r . " H i s o pposition t o s lavery w as e xpressed again i n 1784 i n the r eport t o C ongress o n a p lan of g overnment f or t he Western T erritory, w hich contained a c lause prohibiting slavery o r i nvoluntary servitude i n t his t erritory a fter t he y ear 1800. T hree years later this p rinciple w as a ccepted i n the f amous Northwest Ordinance.
1 2 3 4

    W . F . Poole: "Anti-Slavery Opinion before 1800"; S. B. Weeks: " Anti-Slavery Opinion in the S outh," publications of the Southern Historical Association, Vol. 2, 1898.     Jefferson: " Notes on V irginia," p. 222. ' W ritings of T homas Jefferson: V o l . 2, p. 26. W ritings of T homas Jefferson: V o l . 3, p. 432. L ater i n his life Jefferson was forced to abandon his early hope that slavery would soon cease to flourish i n A merica; yet he s till believed i n its ultimate extinction. In 1814 he s aid: " T h e love of justice and the love of country plead equally for the cause of these p eople." Ibid., V ol. 4, p. 477. He s till believed that the hour of emancipation was advancing with the " march of t ime" and urged continued effort on the p art of the friends of freedom.


The Anti-Slavery

Movement in Kentucky Prior to 1850

I t w as during the Revolutionary period that slavery was i ntroduced into Kentucky and one need not be surprised to find t hat t he newly settled district shared i n the opposition described > a bove. T he e conomic a nd social conditions of the frontier were a ntagonistic to slavery and favorable to the development of a d emocratic society. Frontier life tended to p roduce self reliance, i ndependence, and i ndividuality. I t fostered a sense of equality. T here was an absence of great wealth, of highly polished society, a nd of a leisure class. Slaveholding could not be an important e lement i n the social, e conomic, o r political life of such a p eople a nd a l arge percentage of the population did not own slaves. I n a ddition t o these pioneers i n the Blue Grass region, there were s ettlers of decided anti-slavery tendencies from N e w England a nd o ther northern states who settled i n the northern part of the s tate. Such was John F ilson, t he "Yankee Schoolmaster" and t he first historian of K e n t u c k y .

W hile K entucky remained an integral part of V irginia, t here was l ittle o pportunity for a general expression of the sentiment of the people as to slavery; but, upon one occasion, their opinion was indirectly voiced i n a d ebate b efore t he Danville P olitical C lub, w hich, as has been s tated, embraced some of the leading m en of Kentucky. A t one of the meetings, i n 1788, the new f ederal constitution, which had recently been s ubmitted to the s tates for ratification, was taken under consideration. Sentiment was unanimous against the clause relating to the importation of slaves because i t deprived Congress of the p ower t o prohibit t he foreign slave trade before 1808. It was the opinion of t he members that Congress ought to be given p ower t o cut off t he o dious t raffic at any time it should choose t o do s o . W hile t his a ct was not a direct condemnation of slavery, i t showed an e arly d esire to c heck t he growth of the i nstitution.

T hough the opposition to slavery was general throughout t he country, there was, however, l ittle o rganized sentiment a gainst the institution as such. W h a t there was, seems t o have e xisted i n K e n t u c k y as elsewhere, chiefly among the churches. I t w as D a v i d Rice, the father of Presbyterianism i n the W est, who t ook t he first conspicuous step toward securing the a bolition of slavery i n K e n t u c k y . H e moved from V irginia i n

    R. H . Collins: "History of Kentucky," Vol. 2, pp. 195,     Speed: "Political Club," p. 151.
R i t i e f he 4


T\     ., ' , \ " -     ? *    P \ / '    " ' P    ,f. Church in Kentucky, containing the Memoirs of David ,     : P P ' " : 9 5 . 385, 417; R. H . Collins:     ' History of Kentucky," Vol. 1, p. 132f; J . M . Brown: Political Beginnings of Kentucky, p. 226; Robert Davidson: "History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, pp. 65-71.

The First Attack Upon Slavery


1783 and identified his fortunes w ith those of the new s ettlement. B esides h is a ctive duties as a m inister of the G ospel a nd as t he organizer o f n umerous churches, he was z ealously engaged i n a dvancing t he c ause of e ducation. H e e stablished i n his h ouse i n L incoln C o u n t y , i n 1784, the f irst g rammar school o f t he West. H e was a lso t he f irst t eacher i n Transylvania Seminary, a nd f or y ears the chairman of i ts board of t rustees. " F a t h e r " R ice, as he was c ommonly known, w as r ecognized f or h is a bility a nd p iety as a l eader o f the r eligious a nd e ducational thought i n t he W e s t .

O n t he eve of the m eeting of the c onvention of 1792 to f rame a c onstitution f or K e n t u c k y as a s tate i n the U nion, he p ublished, u nder t he s ignature of " P h i l a n t h r o p o s , " a p amphlet e ntitled " Slavery, Inconsistent w ith J ustice a nd G ood P o l i c y " w hich e mbraced t he d octrine he had l ong preached. I n t his he spoke freely of the i nfringement o n p ersonal rights; t he w ant o f p rotection f or f emales; t he d eprivation of r eligious a nd m oral i nstruction; t he v iolent separation of f amilies; t he g rowing d anger of s ervile i nsurrection; t he tendency to sap the foundations of moral a nd p olitical v i r t u e ; t he i ndulging i n h abits of i dleness a nd v ice, especially among t he y oung m e n ; the c omparative u nproductiveness of s lave property; t he d iscouraging of v aluable i mmigration f rom t he e astward; a nd the p robable deterioration of t he c ountry. H e u ndertook t o a nswer objections that were c ommonly raised to emancipation, especially those drawn from the S criptures, w hich were being used t o j ustify slavery. I n c onclusion he p roposed that t he c oming convention should "resolve u nconditionally t o put an end to s lavery i n K e n t u c k y . " Not c ontent w ith m ere argument, h e s ucceeded i n b eing elected a d elegate t o the c oming c o n v e n t i o n .
9 10 11

S oon after t he a ssembling o f the c onvention i n D anville, i n 1 7 9 2 , a s pecial committee, of w hich Colonel George Nicholas

* D avidson: "History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky," p p. 65-71.     B ishop: "Outline of the C hurch in K entucky," pp. 385ff, gives this pamphlet in full. " Ibid. Lewis Collins: "Historical Sketches of K entucky," p. 147, gives a list of the delegates to the Convention from the different counties. J . M . B rown: "Political Beginnings of Kentucky," p. 226f, F ilson Club Publications. R . H . C ollins: "History of K entucky," V ol. 1, p. 133; H umphrey Marshall: "History of K entucky," Vol. 1, p. 394. " M arshall: "History of K entucky," V ol. 1, p. 394; M ann Butler: "History of the Commonwealth of K entucky," pp. 206-7. J . T . Morehead in " A n Address i n Commemoration of the F irst Settlement of K entucky" (133-4), at Jon  sborough on the 25th of May, 1840, in speaking of the members of the convention of 1792 s aid: " F r o m the C ounty of M ercer was the R ev. David Rice, a m inister of the Presbyterian Church.***He sought a place in the convention, in the hope of being able to infuse into its deliberations a zeal for the gradual extirpation of slavery in Kentucky.*** H is learning, his piety, his grave and venerable deportment, and his high rank in the church to which he belonged, gave to his opinions deserved influence, and he supported them in debate with considerable ability."


The Anti-Slavery

Movement in Kentucky Prior to 1850

w as the most i nfluential m ember, was appointed to draft the c onstitution, w hich was soon offered for adoption. Apparently n o serious differences existed among the delegates except as to r ecognizing the existence or the perpetuity of s l a v e r y . This q uestion was brought directly b efore t he convention by the n inth a rticle which legalized slavery. After considerable d iscussion the article was adopted and while i t was designed to m ake the i nstitution as m ild a nd as humane as possible i t nevertheless made it v irtually p erpetual unless there should be a c hange i n the fundamental law. T h e legislature was denied p ower to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves without the c onsent of t heir o wners, nor could i t prevent immigrants from b ringing i n t heir s laves. On the other hand, the General A s sembly was given extensive powers i n respect to importation of slaves into the state as merchandise.
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I t w as upon the adoption of t his a rticle that the friends a nd o pponents of slavery joined battle. T h e ablest of those w ho o pposed t he definite establishment of slavery i n K e n t u c k y w as D a v i d R ice. D uring t he early days of the convention he delivered an address before t hat body which was one of the m ost earnest and forceful productions of the p e r i o d . In it he pointed to the anomaly of a "free moral agent, legally deprived of free agency, and obliged to act according to the w ill o f another free agent of the same species; and yet he is accountable t o his Creator for the use he makes of his own free a g e n c y . "
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H e d eclared sarcastically that the legislature, i n order to be consistent, should make the master accountable for the a ctions of the slaves i n all things here and hereafter. He

   B rown: "Political Beginnings of Kentucky," p. 227f. " " T h e legislature shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves    without the consent of their owners, previous to such emancipation, and a f ull equivalent in money for the slaves so emancipated. They shall have no power to prevent emigrants t o this State from bringing with them such persons as are deemed slaves by the laws of any one of the United States, so long as any person of the same age or description shall be continued in slavery by the laws of this State. They shall pass laws to permit the owners of slaves to emancipate them, saving the rights of creditors, and preventing them from becoming chargeable to the county in which they reside. They shall have full power to prevent slaves being brought into this State as merchandize. They shall have full power to prevent any slaves being brought into this State from any foreign country, and to prevent those from being brought into this State who have been since the first day of January, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, or hereafter may be, imported into any of the United States from a foreign country. And they shall have full power to pass such laws as may be necessary to oblige the owners of slaves to treat them with humanity, to provide for them necessary clothing and provision, to abstain from all injuries to them, extending to life or limb, and in case of their neglect or refusal to comply with the directions of such laws, to have such slave or slaves sold for the benefit of their owner or owners." William L ittell: " Statute Laws of K entucky," Vol. 1, p. 32; B. P. Poore: " T h e Federal and State Constitutions," Part 1, p. 653. " T his address was printed in pamphlet form soon after the adjournment of the convention under the same title as his pre-convention pamphlet, but under his own name. The pamphlet went through many editions. " D avid Rice: "Slavery, 1792, pp. 5-6. " Ibid..***, o. 6. Inconsistent with Justice and Good Policy," Edition

The First Attack Upon Slavery


r egarded liberty as inalienable by the legislature e xcept f or v icious c onduct, a nd claims to property i n slaves as i nvalid. " A t housand laws can never make that innocent, which the D i v i n e L a w has m ade c riminal: o r give them a right to that w hich the D i v i n e L a w forbids them to c l a i m . " H e replied t o the argument that slaveholders would be prevented from e migrating to K e n t u c k y by saying that five useful citizens w ould c ome f or every slaveholder that was lost, and that if s lavery was permitted, free l abor would seek o ther r e g i o n s . T h e alleged unfitness of slaves for f reedom w as met by the q uestion, " S h a l l we continue to maim souls, b ecause a m aimed s oul is unfit for s o c i e t y ? " B u t he considered that present c onditions should be taken into a ccount a nd that gradual e mancipation was the only practical plan. H i s proposal was t hat the constitution should declare against slavery as a matter of principle, leaving i t to the legislature to find the m ost s uitable m eans of abolishing i t . H e s uggested, h owever, t hat i t woul