LETTER FROM M. LAFAYETTE.
certain and solid progress, which future events can neither
alter nor destroy, and Avhich are justly considered as the true
conquests of civilization and humanity. In examining the
Emancipation of the Slaves in the French Antilles, from the
point of view of the material interests of France, it may be
variously appreciated; but the immense moral benefit of the
act of Emancipation cannot be contested.
In one day, and as by the stroke of a wand, one hundred
and fifty thousand of human beings were snatched from the
degradation in Avhich they had been held by former legisla¬
tion, and resumed their rank in the great human family. And
we should not omit to state, that this great event was accom¬
plished without our witnessing any of those disorders and
struggles which had been threatened, in order to perplex the
consciences of the Friends of Abolition.
Will the momentary obstruction of material interests be
opposed to these great results? When has it ever been pos¬
sible in this world to do much good, Avithout seeming at the
same time to do a little harm ?
I have sometimes heard it said that the conditions of labor
in the Colonies would have been less disturbed, if the prepa¬
ration and the accomplishment of the Emancipation had been
left to the colonists themselves; but you know better than I,
my dear Colleague, that these assertions are hardly sincere.
We cannot but recollect Avith what unanimity and Avhat
vehemence the colonial councils opposed, in 1844 and 1845,
the Ameliorations that Ave sought to introduce iuto the con¬
dition of the Slaves.
Is it not evident that this disposition would have rendered
impossible the time of a system of transition, which indeed
was attempted without success in the English colonies ? For
myself, I am quite convinced that it would have been impos¬
sible to effect the emancipation otherwise than as it was effect¬
ed, that is to say, in one day, and by a single decree. I would
add also, that in my opinion the Abolition of Slavery in our
colonies Avould have remained a long time unaccomplished, if
France had not been in Revolution : and if it be easy to under¬
stand Avhy all men of the white race do not consent to the
Revolution of 1848, I cannot conceive that a single man of
color can be found, who does not regard it with benedictions.
Furthermore, my dear Colleague, this great question of the