previous next

The final extinction of African slavery in the Confederate States, which would follow the overthrow of the Confederate cause, would be an experiment in philanthropy, from the results of which the United States would be as likely to suffer as the people who are to be robbed of their laborers.

When a proud and high-spirited race, like that which for four years has struggled so heroically for its rights, shall be deprived of liberty and independence, their anguish and humiliation cannot be increased or embittered by the loss of property. When they can no longer walk the earth as freemen, it would be a poor consolation that they could still be permitted to retain an institution which has ever been more valuable to their enemies than themselves, and which, even if it gave them a bare support, would increase the wealth and greatness of their oppressors. The reflection that he is a slave himself would not be mitigated in the mind of the cotton planter by a gracious permission to have under him slaves whose labor, guided by his intelligence and experience, would render him a more profitable chattel to his new masters than he could otherwise become. It may be safely averred that slavery, even in the cotton States, has been a source of greater profit to the North than the South, which, with all its magnificent productions, has had no large cities, no colossal fortunes, no flourishing commerce and manufactures, but has been a mere tributary to Lowell, New York and the revenues of the General Government. These have been the reservoirs into which that vast, golden tide has been poured, while the planter has lived in a modest mansion, deriving little more money from his princely possessions than would enable him to feed and clothe the white and black members of his establishment. The legislation of the General Government was always shaped to produce this result, and the moderate amount of work exacted of the laborers by their masters has borne no proportion to the outlay required for their support.

So far as the negro is concerned, we do not expect to be believed by fanatics in the North when we aver that his physical and moral condition can only be injured,--hopelessly, we fear, --by the successful inauguration of universal abolition. It took five hundred years to qualify our white English forefathers for the rights and responsibilities of freemen. We are not prepared to believe that African slaves can be fitted for that condition in an hour. Even the British Government allowed some years for the pupilage of its Jamaica serfs before conferring upon them the boon of liberty; and the Northern States, when they abolished the slavery of their handful of chattels, were careful to make their legislation prospective, and, in most cases, made the period much longer than that required by the British Government. --Even with this gradual training for liberty, the result was a complete failure, so far as the moral elevation and comfort of the negro was concerned. Yet here they propose to liberate (and, if successful, will do it,) four millions of Africans, without a day's preparation for the condition of freemen. It is easy to see that the condition of the blacks of St. Domingo will be the only result of emancipation in the South.

We are not so unsophisticated, however, as to imagine that the future welfare of the negro population is a matter of the slightest concern to any one in the United States but a few sincere fanatics like Gerrit Smith. That which perplexes us in the abolition policy about to be ingrafted upon the Constitution of that country is the apparent ignoring of the great American question, "Will it pay?" We can see in the measure blind fanaticism and sweet revenge; but is the gratification of vindictive sentiments worth purchasing at such a cost? We take it for granted that the shrewd, money-loving politicians of the Republican party must be as well aware as any one living in the Gulf States that cotton and rice cannot be as profitably cultivated by free as slave labor; if, indeed, these staples can be cultivated by free labor at all. The white man cannot work in a great portion of that country, and the black man will not unless he is compelled. If the emancipation decreed by the Washington Congress is to be real, genuine freedom of the blacks, then the United States, in its eagerness for vengeance upon the South, will involve itself, if successful, in the common ruin. The South will become a desert waste, and the great fountain of Northern manufacturing industry and commercial enterprise be forever dried up. England will obtain all she has sought by her persistent instigation of this war, and compel the world to look to her for cotton and manufactures. We can scarcely believe that the United States will consent to such a result. On the contrary, Yankee ingenuity will devise a system which, under a new name, will be the old thing in a more rigorous form than it ever before existed in the Confederacy. It may be an apprenticeship, such as has been already established in such portions of the cotton States as they have already subjugated, and in which the negro receives a small sum for his labor, subject to deductions for any loss of time, the result of which often is, that when pay day comes the amount of indebtedness to the laborer is next to nothing. We have not heard, however, that the yield of the staple, under the present plan, comes up to the expectations of the friends of liberty.--If not, it is easy to see that, should the cotton cultivation ever fall generally into Yankee hands, some new plan must be adopted, which, perhaps retaining the name of apprenticeship, will be a system of enforced labor of the harshest kind, and produce more cotton, rice and sugar than ever before, and kill off more Africans than the revival of the African slave trade can supply.

There is no portion of the Confederate community more interested in the defence of the country than its slave population. Of all the sufferers by subjugation, their fate will be the most hopeless and irremediable. They will sigh in vain for the Christian sympathies and physical comforts which once elevated their lot. No class of laborers in the world is as well fed and happy as they now are. No class of laborers in the world is as poorly fed and as miserable as they will become should the Genius of Universal Emancipation ever enfold them in its deadly embrace.

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.
United States (United States) (5)
Jamaica, L. I. (New York, United States) (1)
Dominican Republic (Dominican Republic) (1)
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.
Gerrit Smith (1)
Lowell (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: