Montesquieu

On nations where civil liberty is gene­rally esta­bli­shed

We hear it said every day that it would be a good thing if we had sla­ves here.

But to judge well on this mat­ter, one should not exa­mine whe­ther they would be use­ful to the small weal­thy and sen­sual por­tion of each nation. Doubtless they would be use­ful to them ; but taking ano­ther point of view, I do not think any of those who make it up would wish to draw lots to see who would be part of the free nation, and who would be a slave. Those who speak the most in favor of sla­very would be the most hor­ri­fied by it, and the most mise­ra­ble of men would simi­larly be hor­ri­fied by it. The cry for sla­very is the­re­fore the cry of luxury and sen­sua­lity, and not the cry of the love of public feli­city. Who can doubt that every man taken sin­gly would be quite content to be mas­ter of the pro­perty, honor, and the lives of others, and that that all his pas­sions would ins­tantly come alive at the thought ? In these things, if you want to know whe­ther the desi­res of the indi­vi­dual are legi­ti­mate, exa­mine the desi­res of all.