The Equality of the States, and the Equality of White Men

Concord Democratic Standard, September 8, 1860

We take for the text of this article an expression contained in the able letter from our Portland correspondent published in our issue of last week. It contains in a nut-shell, the political axiom upon which the democratic superstructure should be raised.

There are few who will not, in terms, assent to the first proposition which it enunciates. Whatever may be the practical action of politicians and parties in this country, none dares to affirm that the sovereign States constituting this Union, are not equal in dignity, power, and privilege, under the constitution. That proposition is admitted by all in the abstract, although denied and trampled upon in practical policy and action. When the people of one portion of the States assume to sit in judgment upon the institutions of another portion, it is denied and trampled upon. When they undertake to say that the various objects which they define to be property, shall be recognized as sacred and entitled to protection in the domains of the Union, and other objects defined to be property by another portion of the States, shall not be so regarded, and shall not be entitled to protection in the domains of the Union, they again deny and trample upon the proposition. Thus they violate the spirit of the constitution, and assault and invade the rights, powers, privileges, and dignity of their sister States.

The people also of one portion of the States, we mean, of the North, are guilty of an error equally great in their practical denial of the second proposition of the axiom which stands at the head of our article, viz: The Equality of white men; or rather, the Superiority of white men over black men. And in this error is to be found the cause of the present dissensions which agitate the people of this Republic; and of the great peril which impends over the Union.

We cannot blink out of sight the fact, that a great portion of the people of the North actually believe, that the negro is by nature the equal of the white man. The entire Republican Party so believe; and a good proportion of the Democratic Party supporting the heresy of Squatter Sovereignty, have been deluded into the same error.

To us, the proposition that the negro is equal by nature, physically and mentally, to the white man, seems to be so absurd and preposterous, that we cannot conceive how it can be entertained by any intelligent and rational white man. The facts of nature and history contradict the assumption of the equality of races. In form, in physical structure, in mental development, there appears to be a wide distinction between the different races of mankind. The Caucasian, or white man, in beauty of person, and in mental power, stands pre-eminently above all the other races of the earth. It is he who subdues all and controls all. It is he who is the pioneer of civilization,—who is ever progressive in art, and in government. He is ever advancing toward the solution of the problem of perfect civil liberty. He is the great interpreter of nature, the high priest of science. He is everywhere the architect and improver, ever enlarging the boundaries of human comforts and enjoyments.

The same cannot be affirmed of the inferior races of men. They remain stationary in barbarism, or ascend to an inferior civilization, and there they stop. The Chinese, the Japanese, and Hindoo races, have reached the acme of their civilization, and there they remain. In contact with the white man, they and their systems succumb and fall. That is their inevitable destiny.

The disparity between the negro and the white man, is still more obvious and striking. The normal state of the negro is barbarism of the most abject kind. Left to himself, all history shows, that he cannot rise above his normal state. Aided by the white man, and only through the medium of slavery, he becomes partially civilized and Christianized. He is the parasite man, and cannot flourish except in a state of dependence upon, and in subjection to, the white man. He is the mere infant of the human family, ever needing nurture, restraint, and correction. Hence, in all ages and countries, he has been the servant and slave, suffering the most cruel and revolting slavery among his own kith and kin. Rescued from the barbarism of his own home, his condition is immensely improved and ameliorated by his connection with the white man in the relation of a slave. If he ever appears in the anomalous and unnatural condition of a "free negro," he is still under the dominion of the white man—still controlled and restrained by the surrounding circumstances of civilized life. Without the restraints and discipline of the master, or of the superior civilization of the white man surrounding him, he would quickly relapse into barbarism.

And nature recognizes and proclaims this distinction between the white and black man,—the superiority of the one, and the inferiority of the other,—even in the configuration of countries and the differences of climate. The white man cannot endure the hot sun and the sickening miasma of the tropics. The black man is peculiarly adapted to those regions. He can live there and flourish. He can snuff its pestilence, and eat its spontaneous fruits, and grow fat. But, being a mere sensualist, after supplying his physical wants, he has no more aspirations for the higher and better life than the wild beasts which dispute with him the dominion of the forest and the desert. Therefore, under his dominion, the warm regions of the earth would forever remain in a state of nature. Their rich products, which so greatly administer to the comforts and luxuries of mankind, would never be evoked from the fertile bosom of the earth. Therefore it is necessary, in order that the warm regions' of the earth, should be subdued, and made available to the wants of man, that the intellect and the energy of the white man, should be connected with the physical powers of the black man. And this union can be effected only by the establishment of the relation of master and servant, on a basis which would enable the master at all times, to control the labor of his servants. In other words, by slavery, if that term better defines such a relation.

Such is the relation which exists between the white man and black man, in the Southern States of the Union. And that relation lies at the basis of the civilization and prosperity of the South. Nay, its beneficial influences are felt at the North, indeed, throughout the civilized world. Without it the rich fields of the South, devoted to the production of sugar, cotton, rice &c., would again relapse into swamps and wilderness, and become the haunts of reptiles and wild beasts. Without slavery at the South, the North would lose half its prosperity. The immense interests founded on cotton, employing the industry of vast numbers of human beings covering the ocean with commerce, supplying wealth and revenue to empires, and contributing to the comforts of millions upon millions of human beings,—would all be annihilated. Such would be the results if slavery in the South were to be abolished, by the action of abolitionism operating in the open and direct form of Garrisonianism, or under the more specious guise of squatter sovereignty.

And why should rational men exercise themselves so much about slavery,—should display so much unnecessary sympathy for the "poor negro?" What is slavery? It is only a modified restraint or coercion. In the absolute sense no man is free. The master himself is not free. The father of the family is not free. The wife, the children, the servants, are not free. All have duties and obligations to observe and to perform. All, indeed, are dependent. There is no relation between human beings, in which there are not mutual duties, obligations, and dependence, on both sides. In the great system of social order, established by God himself, this is decreed. No man is absolutely free. No man is a sovereign even in a pure democracy, except jointly with his fellows, and in subordination to the State. No man can disconnect himself from the social compact, or community. Subordination is the fixed and inexorable destiny of every human being, and he cannot escape from it.

Subordination in the relations of life, exists in every community of human beings. God has impressed this fact upon the nature of things, as he has the law of gravitation. Subordination, which implies the superior and the inferior, power and submission, has existed in every community throughout all time. It was established in the polity of the Hebrews by the direct command of the Supreme Being, even in the form of perpetual slavery. And it will ever be so. The superior intellect will ever control the inferior. The superior man will ever control and coerce the inferior man. The Oriental will have to succumb to the European. The negro, while in contact with the white man, will be the slave of the latter in some form or other. And this very fact that the superior man will control the inferior, that the superior race will control the inferior,—lies at the basis of the industry, commerce, and prosperity of nations, and the advancement of civilization. He, who in the pursuit of the Utopian idea of absolute individual liberty, or absolute equality of races, would attempt to subvert this state of things, is a fool and madman. He can never accomplish his purpose.

Let us then, meet this great question of slavery just as it should be met, on the ground of philosophy and reason. It is the true way for the politician and statesman to treat it. The ignoramus, and the demagogue, only take a different view of it. Let the wisdom and intelligence of the North enlighten the one, and crush out the other. Then will come peace and tranquillity to the country, and not before.