Problem of Slavery

Hamilton Telegraph, December 27, 1860

Without taking an extreme theory and afterwards paring down to fit, we begin by assuming what some may please to call Southern grounds as the basis of our comments. We shall see how liberal pro-slavery doctrine sounds to a northern ear. We deduce the fact that the negro was intended by God to be the servant of the white man, as much as children are intended by nature to be subject to and dependent on their natural guardians; that the natives of Africa are no more able by a spontaneous effort to raise themselves from their debased social, moral and religious condition, than a newly born infant is capable of supplying itself with food and raiment without the care of its parents; that every Christian man must recognize the responsibility which God's providence has laid upon the superior race to provide for the wants of the inferior; that to accomplish this end the white race must exercise a certain amount of authority; and that as a natural sequence, negro slavery, in some form or other, is part of the harmonious system established by God. We assume, further, what we presume no sensible men will deny, that there can be no civilization, no improvement in any race of men without labor, and if this be true of mankind, it is doubly true of the black race, who, by their physical and mental conformation, is less inclined to labor than any other race of men. The British experiment of emancipation of the negro slaves in the West Indies, that tribute paid by the British nation to fanatical sentimentality, which, under a monarchical government has produced the results towards which the despotism of democracy is now hastening us, proves it beyond a doubt. Here in the most fruitful country in the world, the negro, on an equal social footing with the white race, would be the most favorable for attaining the higher degree of civilization. But we find those born free and never compelled to work have fallen off from the civilization attained by their slave fathers, that they have degenerated into a barbarism not much in advance of their race in Africa. The permanent happiness of the negro can only be effectually promoted by making him labor. We say, making him labor, because, not only is his peculiar organization, as a human being, such as to indispose him, of his own will and accord, to labor, but his being without labor is a great cause of his degradation and misery. This appears to be the only true and sensible view of the subject, whether looked at from either a secular or religious stand point. All history and experience prove that labor is a necessary means of civilization. Revelation so teaches. No object can be accomplished, either in our natural or spiritual life without constant labor, and no race of men can advance without ceaseless and well directed labor, without work. Granting, then, the absolute necessity of labor, taking in conjunction with this proof of the constitutional distaste for labor, inherent in the negro, constitutional laziness for which he is no more accountable than for the color of his skin, and it follows that if he is to be raised, it must be by some power external to himself, that he must be reduced to a condition of slavery in some form or other, however much it may be modified by circumstances. Now is it justifiable in the white race so far as to act in contrariety to abstract notions of justice, so far to set aside what are generally known as the "natural rights." of the negro race, as to bring that race into subjection? In other words, is it not desirable that large bodies of our fellow creatures sho'd be raised from the degradation in which the negroes of Africa are now sunk, and placed in a state of society where the right of man in a savage state would be changed into adventitious rights, those only national rights which possess the power to make laws for the maintenance and welfare of society? It is all very fine to speak of God making all men free, but after all it is nothing more than mere sentimentalism. The question answers itself. It is doubtless our duty to bring this degraded and brutalized race under the influence of Christianity, even in spite of themselves. The theory of abstract right to liberty is at once proved false by the facts which can be brought to bear upon it. It is altogether useless to say that the negro has a right to liberty, when it can be conclusively demonstrated that he is physically unadapted for it. God has given no rights to man that He has not adapted man for exercising, and the fact of the negro being as a consequence of his fallen and miserable condition, thus unadapted, proves that he is incapable of enjoying liberty. The present system of slavery may be regarded as an important advance toward the realization of our views. Indeed, we hold that in order to inaugurate the humane system in the slave States it is only necessary for those States, each of them, to adopt some restrictive enactments for removing objectionable features, evidences of human weakness rather than results of the institution, for it is undeniable that isolated cases of cruelty and oppression reacting upon minds peculiarly constituted for promoting the work of sedition, gave rise to the organization and action of that reckless and therefore dangerous clique of pseudo philanthropists and politicians known as the northern Abolitionists. It is also undeniable that whilst these fanatics were striving to turn the exception into the rule, and inconsiderately concocting schemes for the accomplishment of inhuman designs, the Southern mind, as a whole, was patiently examining the slavery question, devising liberal Christian-like plans for the improvement of the moral condition of the negro, and discussing with fraternal kindness the great problem which we have attempted to solve. We see and lament that the institution of slavery like other God ordained institutions, is liable to many abuses, and we would universalize the condition which even now exists, much more largely than persons living in the free States are generally aware of, where the negro forms an humble, but still an integral portion of a Christian household, a fellow member of the church with his master, and an heir to the same hope of immortality. We have thus stated the case, we may err, but it is well to form correct opinions upon this momentous question, momentous not only to the millions sunk into the depths of barbarism, but to ourselves, who must one day answer to him who, for making out his own ends, has placed this great question in our hands.