Captain Elisha Betts Ordered to Leave Eufaula
October 3, 1850
THE NATIONAL ERA
Washington, D.C., Vol. IV No. 196 p. 158
THE SLAVERY OF THE WHITE RACE IN THE SOUTH.
The Slavery of the white race in many parts of the South is as ignominious, if not as cruel, as that of the blacks. The following is from the Southern Press, which seems to sympathize with Lynch Law as the proper remedy for Freedom of opinions:
“We find the following account of a ‘summary process’ case, in the Columbus Times. The climate of Georgia is getting uncomfortably warm for Southern men with Northern feelings. – Southern Press.
“NOTICE TO QUIT. – ‘At a large public meeting at Eufaula, Ala., last week, one Captain Elisha Betts, of that place, was ordered to leave on short notice – he having been discovered as the author of an abolition communication from that city to the Washington Era, abolition paper.
“We have no doubt, from the character of the meeting and from the temper of the sound Southern city of Eufaula, that this time the public decree will be executed. It is a just decree. Our rights may be compromised away in the Free Soil Congress, but it is no time to compromise with Abolitionists in our midst.”
Mr. Betts is an old man, born and raised in the South, in which he has always resided. For the grievous sin of believing that Slavery is an evil, he is “ordered to leave” – that is, exiled from his home and country by a mean, dastardly mob. The “abolition communication” referred to in the foregoing extract is the following, published in the Era of August 29th – certainly a very inoffensive article, as everybody, not a monomaniac on the subject, will admit.
“NEAR EUFAULA, BARBOUR CO., ALABAMA,
July 17, 1850.
DEAR SIR: I have received the National Era of the 14th instant, and after carefully examining its contents, like it well, and therefore enclose to you two dollars, agreeable to its terms of subscription for one year. Having been born and raised (being now in the 62d year of my age) amidst slavery, I certainly have had a fair opportunity to judge of the effect of the system on society in this country. There is no doubt but it has a tendency to vitiate and demoralize those who own them, and to degrade those who do not. I am well pleased with the Hon. Charles Durkee’s speech on the California question; and what he said respecting slavery was well said. But he did not attempt to portray the evils this unjust institution produces on and among the free white population of the slaveholding States, nor do I suppose he could do it for the want of information. If some of the Southern members in Congress were disposed to do it, they could tell all about it; but if they were to do it they would immediately be denounced as traitors to their country by a large majority of the slaveholders – not all. I thank God that I have yet reason to hope that there are some owners of slaves whose sensibilities are not so blunted and benumbed by what we are told are our highest interests, as to admire the institution of slavery; nevertheless we submit to the laws and customs of the land we live in, not knowing how to rid ourselves of the evil. But the introduction of slavery into the newly acquired Territories is quite another question. It seems to me that the people who inhabit these Territories are altogether right in endeavoring to exclude the evil, and that every Christian, yea, every good man, yes, every one who believes in equality and justice, ought to sanction and encourage these praiseworthy efforts.”
Doubly accursed is a system which thus chains two races – enslaving the souls of the whites, and the souls and bodies of the blacks.
The editors of the Southern Press are fond of descanting upon the baleful workings of the free institutions of the North. Has any postmaster at the North refused to deliver their paper to subscribers, on the ground that it is an incendiary or disunion sheet, or that it advocates doctrines which, if carried out, would authorize the enslavement of the whole laboring community in the free States? Has any Lynch Law been put in operation against the tribe of Northern miscreants who advocate slavery on Bible grounds, and as the best condition for the black race? There are political hacks at the North who are abolitionists in the most infamous sense of the word – advocating the abolition of Freedom in one-half of the Territories of the Union. No mob ever pretends to send them the insolent message “to leave.” Hateful as are their sentiments, a Free Labor Population understands too well the Freedom of Opinion and Speech, to call in question their right to hold and to promulgate just such views as they please. The capitalists and property-holders of the North have their rights denied every day be a large class of men who are seeking to change radically the social fabric, but they are not fools enough to attempt to curb and put down such agitators by the application of brute force. That is the infernal policy of Slavery – not of African Slavery alone, but of every species of Despotism that enthralls and curses the masses of mankind.