President James Bush Buchanan`s Address To The Nation On His Comprehensive Slavery Reform Act Of 1860
[Previously by “An Economist”: George Will Can`t Count—Deportation No Problema]
President James Bush Buchanan:
My fellow Americans: For many years now our nation has faced the terrible problem of illegal slave smuggling. Illegal slavery and the problems associated with illegal slavery have vexed this nation for decades, if not longer.
To resolve these problems I have drafted a law to resolve the issue of illegal slavery once and for all. I call it the Comprehensive Slavery Reform Act of 1860. With this far-reaching legislation we will abolish the cruel and tyrannical practice of illegally importing slaves into our nation. In time our nation will be free of the evils of illegal slavery. Help me, as your President, to achieve this great goal.
My comprehensive slavery reform act contains many provisions, some of them quite complex. However, it is crucial to understand that these provisions are all part of greater whole and must be passed into law intact.
A partial reform of slavery will never work. We must have comprehensive slavery reform and we have must have it now. This is our best and perhaps last chance to reform slavery!
Let me try to highlight the major elements of the CSRA.
We know that many slave owners have illegally imported slaves into our nation in recent years. This was wrong and a violation of our laws.
However, we must understand that the slaves are here, and they are working on our plantations at this very moment. We cannot afford to disrupt our vital agricultural establishments with some ill-conceived effort to punish the slave traders for doing what is only natural.
As long as slaves sell for $300 in Africa and $1,000 in Virginia, can anyone blame these folks for trying to make a living and supporting their families?
This is folly. We cannot expect slave drivers to pay wages to American workers when they can have cheap slaves instead. Beyond that, we know that we have many jobs in our nation that only slaves will do. So let us take the following reasonable steps.
Every slave owner will be expected to come forward and register his slaves with no fear of penalty or confiscation.
The slave owner will be given from the very outset, probationary slave ownership status and path towards full legal slave ownership over time. Some of you may argue that this is “amnesty”. Be assured that it is not. Over time, each and every slave owner will have to pay a fine of $50 and wait several years for complete legalization.
Naturally, no slave owner will have to return their slaves to their original countries. That would be unreasonable and unfair and, of course, reduce plantation profits.
Some of you may argue that our law-abiding slave owners have millions of newly-purchased slaves waiting in Africa, that they would like to import into the US. These slave owners have followed the law and are patiently waiting to import their slaves in accordance with the law. Why should those slave owners be punished while the illegal slave traders are rewarded with “earned slave legalization?”
This may be a fair question. However, I would stress the realities of the plantation.
The illegal slaves are here, they are working, and they are profitable. Why should we disrupt a system that makes plantation owners richer, even if it does reduce the wages of free workers? And let us not forget that the path to full slave ownership includes fines, slave ownership training, payment, etc. Indeed, no illegal slave trader will get full legalization any sooner than those with slaves still abroad. (Of course, they can keep their slaves working in the US in the interim).
The CSRA of 1860 includes a much tougher effort to stop the importation of slaves. We will deploy a substantial fleet of ships along each of our seacoasts to stop the slave trade. By 1870, at the very least, we will a sufficient navy to materially reduce the importation of slaves.
Some may argue that we must completely abolish the slave trade. However, let us remember that the forces of supply and demand cannot be repealed. As long as slaves are cheap in Africa and dear in Virginia, slaves will keep coming into our nation. We cannot pretend otherwise.
Some of you may argue that we should wait until the new navy is actually working before we legalize ownership of the slaves who are already here.
However, this approach is not acceptable to me and certainly not to the fine and decent slave owners of this country, whose only crime is to import slaves without proper documentation. We must have comprehensive slave reform or none at all.
Some may argue that my administration cannot be trusted to stop the slave trade.
But, while it is certainly true that we have looked the other way for many years now, in the future we will be completely vigilant. Trust me.
I must admit that the Slave Importation Reduction of 1859 provided for twice as many ships as my new law and yes, only about 20 percent of our seacoast will be protected after 1870. However, trust me. This will work and I am sure of it.
The CSRA also includes a new Slave Ownership Verification system. This system will make it totally impossible for any plantation owner anywhere to use an illegally imported slave.
Yes, it is true that we have tried to prevent plantation owners from using illegal slaves in the past and these efforts have failed. Yes, it is true that my administration abandoned almost all enforcement of our nation`s slave ownership laws. However, in the future things will be different. The law will be enforced. Trust me.
In the past slave owners have been able to legally import limited numbers of slaves according to their own preferences. This did not always result in our nation getting the best slaves. The CSRA includes a point system favoring good slaves over bad ones.
Some of you may argue that this is unfair. However, the public interest must take precedence over any private notion of what slaves we should or should not import. In any case, this new point system will only apply to 40% of the new slaves. The old rules will still apply to the other 60%. In addition, to accommodate the backlog of pending slave importation requests, the number of slaves admitted to this country will be greatly expanded to clear the backlog.
Since we are committed to ending illegal slave importation, we must have a system where slave owners can obtain the slaves they need without breaking the law. For this purpose, the CSRA includes a new temporary slave system. Temporary slaves will be brought to the US for just two years and then will have to be returned to their own countries.
Some of you will argue that slave owners will not be eager to return their slaves after they have profitably exploited them and brought the families of the slaves to the US. However, in a complete break from the past, my administration will vigorously enforce this law. Trust me.
Some of you may argue that providing a path toward legalization will only encourage more illegal slave smuggling in the future. However, this is not true. This new bill will work because it is comprehensive. Some of you may argue that we have tried comprehensive slave ownership reform before and the law failed. While that is true, this time it will be different. Unlike the failed law of 1846, the CSRA recognizes the realities of the marketplace with our new temporary slavery system. This time it will work. Trust me.
Some may argue that our nation has more than enough slaves as it is and that perhaps even a surplus of slaves exists. But, while it is true that slave prices have been falling, we know that we face grave slave shortages in the future and we must take that into account now.
Moreover, isn`t it clear that our nation can only benefit from more and more slaves? Why try to stifle what is only economically natural when we can have an ever-more prosperous nation with an ever-greater number of slaves? Indeed, if we could somehow fill in the Atlantic Ocean, would our wealth not be increased?
The CSRA is our best hope for resolving the problem of illegal slave importation. We will bring the rule of law back to slave ownership by providing a path to legality for every illegally owned slave in our nation. This is not amnesty for slave smuggling, but a fair resolution to a crisis that has festered for far too long.
Rather than trying to thwart the market, we will use the market to legally import the slaves we need. In spite of years of no slave law enforcement, the rule of law will be vigorously upheld.
P.S. I changed my mind. All back slave taxes will be forgiven as part of my comprehensive plan.