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Friendly Letters To A Christian Slaveholder
by [?]

BY REV. A. C. BALDWIN.

LETTER I.

INTRODUCTION.–SOUTHERN COURTESY AND HOSPITALITY.–CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SOUTH AND NORTH.–NO ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE AT HEART.–THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER BETTER.–A FREE INTERCHANGE OF SENTIMENT DESIRABLE.–SINCERE PATRIOTISM AND PIETY COMMON TO BOTH.–THESE AN EFFECTUAL SAFEGUARD TO OUR UNION AND GOOD-FELLOWSHIP.

MY DEAR CHRISTIAN BROTHER,–I embrace the first moment at my command since leaving your pleasant home, to express the gratification afforded me by my recent visit to the “Sunny South.” The kind hospitality and polite attentions shown me by yourself and other Christian friends, during my recent interesting sojourn with you, will ever be gratefully remembered. I had previously heard “by the hearing of the ear” of the open, frank warm-heartedness and generous impulses of southern people, but now I can fully appreciate them. The lessons taught us by experience, whether they be pleasant or painful, are the most profitable, and are most deeply engraven upon the memory. If there are any persons who think or speak lightly of the reputed complaisance and Christian courtesy of those who live south of “Mason and Dixon’s line,” I have only to say to them,–go and make the acquaintance of those families which give the tone and character to society there, and enjoy the hospitalities which they almost force upon you with so much politeness and delicacy as to make you feel that by sharing them you are conferring rather than receiving a favor, and your skepticism on this point will be happily and effectually removed.

You will not understand me, my dear sir, as implying that our southern brethren have really more heart than we at the North, although there seems to be ” prima facie ” evidence in your favor; at least, so far as polite and generous attention to strangers is concerned. In this last particular, you are constantly teaching us important lessons. Still, I contend that the Northerner has as large and generous a soul, when you get at it, as anybody. We have hearts which beat warm and true, but our cautious habits and constitutional temperament (phlegmatic sometimes) conceal them from view; whereas you carry yours throbbing with generous emotions in your hands, exposed to the gaze of everybody. The Southron is artless and impulsive, as well as noble; the Northerner is no less noble, but having been taught more frequently the doctrine of “expediency” than his southern brother, he stops and “calculates” when, and in what circumstances, it is best to exhibit his whole character. In both cases, the pure gold is there; but in the former it lies upon the surface or in the alluvial, while in the latter it is often imbedded deep in the quartz-rock;–it requires some labor to get it out, but the ultimate yield is most rich and abundant.

It is very desirable that a greater degree of social intercourse be kept up between the North and South. We are brethren of one great family, and there is no good reason why this family should not be a united and happy one. To a considerable extent it is so. It is true we do not all think alike on every subject, and some of these subjects are of vast importance, and intimately connected with our prosperity and happiness. We need to understand each other better, and to this end there should be more intimacy, and a frequent and free interchange of views;–not for strife and debate, but for mutual edification and enlightenment. There was probably never a family of brothers, however strong their love for each other, whose views of domestic policy were exactly alike; but there need be no lack of fraternal confidence and harmony for all that. There are certain great fundamental principles which underlie every thing else, and form the basis of the family compact. These principles are filial reverence, fraternal affection, love for home, and a watchful jealousy of aught that can in the least interfere with the happiness or reputation of their beloved family circle. Falling back upon these principles to preserve good-will and harmony, they are not in the least afraid to discuss those topics on which there is an honest difference of opinion; on the contrary, they take pleasure in doing so, for the result is a strengthening of the ties which bind them to each other, and a modification and partial blending of opinions that seemed antagonistic.