Position of the Black Race

Boston Daily Courier, September 24, 1860

The paradox of our Declaration of Independence, that all men are born free and equal, has obtained such firm possession of the American mind, that it seems to many of us absolute blasphemy to contradict or even to doubt it. We do not feel bound, however, to ignore altogether the instincts of our organization, the observations of our experience, and the convictions of our understanding, and bow in submission to the authority even of the signers of the Declaration, upon a superfluous assertion of theirs in morals and politics. It is quite as much a matter of conscience with us to dispute the dictum, as it was with them to make it, and we think we can make the truth evident to the common understanding, if we only have time and space enough given us to accomplish such an achievement. We do not propose to enter upon that discussion to-day. We will simply suggest one or two hints for consideration, and reserve our arguments upon the subject for a separate and elaborate treatise.

We amalgamate all white races, however distinct, well enough with our own original English race. Numerous instances are known to everybody of the successful union of the Celtic and the German varieties of the genus homo without the slightest injury, but rather with decided and great benefit. The animal man is certainly improved by the combination. Far otherwise is it, however, with the African. Mixture of blood with that race does not improve the species. On the contrary, we believe the mulatto to be inferior in capacity, character, and organization, to the full-blooded black, and still farther below the standard of the white races. Amalgamation cannot be effected, therefore, except at the cost of a depreciation of the character of the Caucasian man. And we hazard little in predicting that no amalgamation will ever take place. The small extent to which a breed between the two races has been produced thus far, is sufficient evidence, one would think, that a general mixture is utterly improbable, as well as undesirable. A most pertinent question to be put to the Abolitionist, then, is, "What do you propose to do with the African, when he is freed from his bonds?" If he is left to obtain a subsistence by labor, with no one to direct it, he will soon perish, except in that climate, and in those fertile regions adapted by Providence to precisely his organization. It seems to be imagined by the generous, philanthropic, wise and considerate Abolitionist, that the negro is endowed with the same love of freedom, the same ambition of distinction, the same passion for haranguing his fellow mortals, that is so conspicuous in that single-hearted band of brothers. Unhappily for the theory, but happily for the race, these motives are all wanting in the black man, at least to the extent and with the power they exert over the white man. A trace, as the chemists call an immeasurably small amount of a substance, may be found in their constitutions, of ambition, or of enterprise; but a glance at the condition of Hayti, or Jamaica, where they have had all their own way for a quarter to a half century, is quite sufficient to exhibit with unmistakable distinctness the difference between the white man and the black.

It appears, then, that neither will they mix, so as to become one race with the whites, nor have they the power to compete with the Caucasian blood. It is sufficiently obvious, therefore, that the answer to the question, what is to be done with them, is not an easy one; that it is not for us to say to our brother, you shall do thus and so with your negroes. We know as little what is the best course to take as he does; and let us remember the ancient saw, "When you don't know what to do, don't do you don't know what." When you have nothing practicable to propose, do not be angry because others do not take up your vague notions and more vague theories. Wait for the development of the Divine plan, and do not imagine that because your scheme is not instantly adopted, it is because everybody else is blind and perverse. Abolitionism, as exhibited here at the North, is the very essence and quintessence of self-conceit and arrogance. Without the smallest practical experience, we coolly sit down in our closets to speculate and theorize about one of the most difficult problems of human thought; and because all men do not at once agree with us, we set ourselves to work to turn the world upside down, to scramble over the heads of the rest of mankind, and proclaim ourselves the only true Christian philanthropists. It is time that such preposterous delusions were dispelled, and that we looked at our own position, our own character, as well as at those of our neighbors, with a little discrimination, modesty and reserve.