Lindsley, Aaron L. National Righteousness and National Sin (1856), Greed and Slavery

Lindsley, Aaron L. National Righteousness and National Sin (1856), Greed and Slavery

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Lindsley, Aaron L. National Righteousness and National Sin: The Substance of a Discourse delivered in The Presbyterian Church of South Salem, Westchester Co., N. Y., November 20, 1856. New York: Printed by Edward O. Jenkins, 1857. [9730]

Printed cream wrapper, 9 x 5 3/4 inches, light soil to wrapper, dampstain to top outer corner that continues through the text to p. 10. 34 otherwise clean pp., "South Salem" on front underlined in blue ink. Fair. Pamphlet.

A sermon on the text Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people."

Delivered after the presidential election of 1856, the author treats with the state of the United States in regards to the text. He emphasizes that the civil government creates no rights for the people, but is to protect their God-given ones.

He states that religion and civil government cannot be separated: "There should be religion in the State, and religion in politics. To divorce them is to repudiate God, and make a league with hell. On the other hand, a political religion is a curse."

He warns against "a consuming thirst for gain; a despotic and insensate impulse, which urges to the violation of all the laws of the human constitution by posting on for success, regardless of the means employed, the obligations involved, or the consequences entailed." He denounces buying goods on a credit system, and of all the tricks used to "defraud a purchaser of outstrip a competitor."

He exposes the import of "foreign morals - the execrable vices of the licentious capitals of Europe - to demoralize American society, under the color of refinement and civilization." He decries the corruption in government, both in morals and policies, and compares them to the better ways of "Old America," that is, the United States when first established.

Political parties are attacked where "species of abuse and fraud is practiced to secure a partisan triumph." In fact, politicians are corrupt, money-hungry, and the "fatal passion" they embrace is speculation. "The extravagance and knavery which attend it, find their way into the administration of government." He goes on to analyze the desire for expansion to the West, with its dangers, as a desire born in "the pursuit of personal gain." The Louisiana and West Florida purchases were primarily those of determining boundaries, and although trade was not excluded in their designs, they were not make primarily for gaining riches. He finds that the clamor for additional territories in the West to be the opposite; and the annexation of Texas was unconstitutional.

That war had broken out in Texas and Kansas had been avoidable, but the slave interest overruled: "All that our Country could honorable desire, could have been gained without shedding a drop of blood, and without violence to the public peace. It was only a question of time. But Gain and Politics struck hands with Slavery, and Righteousness and Honor fled." Lindsley describes the efforts to extend slavery into new territories, and perhaps into Cuba and Central America. This was so that the South could have a larger market for slaves, thus increasing their value; and to extend the influence of the South over the rest of the nation.

Lindsley says it is unfair to the many patriotic men of the South to accuse them of wanting to extend slavery. He also says that early leaders and founding documents of the United States anticipated a soon end to slavery, and that it had been a mistake to include anything at all about slavery in the US Constitution, and should have been left completely to the States. He partly blames the abolitionists for the current volatile situation - that their agitations had hardened the men of the South to protect slavery. "The violent and unmeasured abuse heaped indiscriminately upon all slaveholders by northern abolitionists has produced little less than unmitigated evil both north and south; while in the slave States its effect has been to rivet the chains of the slave, to prohibit discussion, to excite suspicion against all northern men, to sow dissension among the brethren, and to magnify immensely the pro-slavery party." He predicts fairly accurately what would be the result.

Lindsley suggest a solution to be that "a generous offer of the national treasure be made to assist any State in bearing the burden of emancipation, whenever it is prepared for it." In other words, the Federal government should assist to purchase the freedom of slaves, by buying them as property from their masters.

Aaron Lardner Lindsley (1817-1891), b. Troy, NY; d. Portland, Oregon.