previous next

Those subjected not our equals.

Slavery in the South, unlike Oriental bondage, Roman servitude, and feudal villainage, was not the subjection of equals, differing only in opportunity, but the subordination of one extreme of humanity to the other; of the most abject to the most enlightened. The real inequality of the races had made subordination prescriptive. No higher encomium could possibly be pronounced upon the practical beneficence of Southern institutions, than the one tacitly sanctioned by the last amendment—viz.: that they had been sufficient to educate the lowest of earth's savages to take his place among the highest of earth's freemen.

As population increases it becomes cheaper to hire labor than to buy or own it; or, borrowing the phrase of Carlyle, to hire for years rather than for life. The labor of slavery ceases to be worth the capital involved in its support. The coercion of authority is replaced by the coercion of want, and the obligation to protect by the liberty to oppress. Nothing could be truer or wiser than that which was said by John Randolph in the Senate of the United States: ‘The natural [272] death of slavery is the unprofitableness of its most expensive labor. * * The moment the labor of the slave ceases to be profitable to the master—or very soon after it has reached that stage—if the slave will not run away from the master the master will run away from the slave; and this is the history of the passage from slavery to freedom of the villainage of England.’

The reasons of geography and worldly gain, which created such divergence of destiny North and South, are given by Judge McLean in his dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case. ‘Many of the States on the adoption of the Constitution, or shortly afterwards, took measures to abolish slavery within their respective jurisdictions, and it is a well-known fact that a belief was cherished by the leading men South, as well as North, that the institution of slavery would gradually decline until it would become extinct. The increased value of slave labor in the culture of cotton and sugar prevented the realization of their expectations. Like all other communities and States, the South were influenced by what they considered their own interests.’ The peculiarity of the situation was that while the people of the South were acting ‘like all other communities and States,’ they were abused and accused as though none other had ever been so wicked, and as though their abusers and accusers had ever lived void of offence before God and man. The accusers, who had so comfortably purged themselves of their own sins, suffered such a very brief interval to elapse, before arraying themselves in their white raiment for the excommunication of others who, it is true, had moved more slowly, but who had so very much more difficulty to overcome and expediency to resist.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Oriental (Oklahoma, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Randolph (1)
North (1)
John A. McLean (1)
Carlyle (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: