Popular Misapprehensions

Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer, January 12, 1861

The Northern mind has become educated to believe that the African race in this country is a down-trodden people. The reverse is true. They are already morally, socially and religiously, far above what they would have been had they been left in their native wilds. For six thousand years they have been known as an inferior race, incapable of progression, and as BAYARD TAYLOR, a Black Republican himself, says in his celebrated lecture on Man and Climate, “They are the lowest type of humanity known on the face of the earth.” Had they emerged from their savage and cannibal state, and made any progress in the arts and sciences, they might now be considered an oppressed people. What most excites our sympathy for this colored race is the mixture we meet within this Northern country. The Celt and the Saxon often see their own white blood mixed with the ebony. Here is progression from visible admixture which appeals to us for protection; but these are exceptions to the race.—They should not determine the rule of our action as they evidently do with the Northern masses. Should an unprejudiced person travel the earth over in search of subjects for humanitary aid, he would find a multitude of inferior races quite as worthy of sympathy as the negroes. But should he visit Africa, as many are now doing, and run the gauntlet of life through its benighted and barbarious regions, witnessing the petty tyrannies and savage cruelties of its native Kings, the heathen sacrifices and hectacombs [sic] of human skulls raised to appease the wrath of imaginary Gods; observing too, the want and suffering for the physical comforts of life and the extinction of whole tribes by fammine [sic] and infectious diseases, millions of men, if so they may be called, of no use to themselves or to the world, wasting away in their own intestine wars, such a person could then visit the same race of people as transplanted in this country, go through the plantation States and find them with enough to eat, drink and wear; their young provided for and their aged taken care of; with labor enough to keep them healthy, and discipline enough to keep them peaceable; the whole earning an honest livelihood for themselves according to the great command and contributing at the same time to the general wants of man and the wealth of the world. Such a person, we say, thus posted from actual observation of actual facts, could come to no other conclusion than that the system of American slavery is a God-send to the African Race!

In point of personal comforts, of civilization, of morals and religion, American slavery is a Paradise compared with African slavery, and American sympathy should be exercised more about the latter than the former.

Another popular error is, that in case of dissolution of the Union the slaves can be counted on to help the cause of coercion. This is a Black Republican dogma and dangerous as a fact to found any public policy upon. It is a great mistake. In case of anarchy consequent upon the present revolution, no class of beings will be less troublesome than these blacks. Docility is the leading feature of the race. Do not judge the millions of these people now scattered throughout the plantations of the South, by the mulat[t]oes and others of mixed blood in the North. They are more happy and contented than any other race of people on the earth, because they are better provisioned, provided, and cared for than any other race of working men. A pure blooded African when let alone has no aspirations for liberty as we understand it. He never had any at home. He knows nothing about it and cares less. He is content with plenty of “hog and hominy,” something he could not get in Africa and which he is glad to get here. He looks to his master as his provider and protector, a sort of patriarch who in the hour of danger he will defend with his life. We know this is not the picture found in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” nor in the New York Tribune, but it is the truth nevertheless, and the time has come to speak the truth whether men will hear or forbear. The slaves South are kept in submission by a system of municipial [sic] regulations suggested by the mutual interests of master and servant. It is a patriarchal system unknown to the statute laws of these States. Blot out all Legislative enactments there and the system would go on unmolested. Slaves know no law but their master’s will.This is the condition of all inferior races, and they will be found true to their masters, when laws and constitutions are done away.

Not so with the laboring classes in the North. Here every man feels that he is a Popular Sovereign, and his condition if unequal is in his opinion rendered so by partial laws and an unjust government. Let anarchy come, take away the restraint of law and that large and ag[g]rieved class will be very apt to make conditions equal. We have a thousand times more to apprehend from mobs of starving and desperate men in the North than the South have from their slaves. Our large cities are full of dependent people; poor men with large families who live from hand to mouth by the earnings of their daily labor. Stop the government and you stop the manufactories, the shops and the trades that give them employment. This stops their pay and necessarily stops their food. Starvation will do and be justified in doing what no other condition in life would. No parent[s] can see their innocent offspring perishing in want so long as there is anything to sustain life within their reach. The rich man’s gains heretofore protected by law will have to succumb to the general need, and might will make right. So these Republican agitators who have been sowing seeds  of disunion by appealing to the hearts of the people instead of their heads; playing upon their passions, arousing their sympathies, all to get their votes for places of pelf and preferment, had better look to their own homes and hearthstones when the evil days which they have brought about shall come.

He that is wisest can penetrate the future deepest.