Sumner's Statistics

New Orleans Daily Crescent, June 15, 1860

Mr. Charles Sumner, in his recent tirade in the Senate, undertook to demonstrate the malign influence of slavery by citing the inferiority of the South in the respects of population, wealth, colleges, newspapers, and everything else. Some of his assertions were true and some false. But none of them, whether true or false, served in any degree to establish his proposition that the institution of slavery in the Southern States is an obstacle in the way of civilization, or wealth, or the general happiness and contentment of the people.

Very true is it that the North has grown in population more rapidly than the South. But can Mr. Sumner account for it in no other way than because of slavery? He could, easily enough, if he chose. But Mr. Sumner is one of those logicians who never states an argument fairly. He states only such facts as favor his side of the question, but coolly ignores such as would damage him. Because the South has not grown in population as fast as the North, ergo, according to Mr. Sumner, it is slavery alone that has done it. The argument is just as unfair as if we were to assert that Sumner is a viler abolitionist than Fessenden because the initial letter of his name is S, while that of the latter is not.

The North has increased in population more rapidly than the South for two reasons. One is the heavy annual immigration of foreigners, most of whom settle in the Northern and North-western States; and the other is the unjust, one-sided and partial policy of the Federal Government. Until a year or two ago the immigration to this country was very great—reaching, some years, the high figure of half a million of people. It takes but a few years of such immigration to give a decided preponderance of numbers to the section in which they may settle. When Mr. Sumner talks about the excess of Northern over Southern representatives in the lower House of Congress, he ought to recollect that enough foreigners to constitute a constituency for four or five additional representatives come to this country this year.

These foreigners settle mainly in the North-western States. Doubtless, Mr. Sumner will argue that it is slavery that keeps them from the South. But this is not true, in the sense which Mr. Sumner would have the people understand it. These immigrants can go to Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc., and buy rich and productive Government lands for a mere trifle—never over one dollar and a quarter an acre. They can buy no such lands in the South at that price. Moreover, it is a general law of emigration, as we have shown in a previous article, that people follow the parallels of latitude. Germans and Irishmen, coming to this country, settle down where the climate is the nearest approach to that which they left behind. In the Southern cities we find a great many Spaniards, Italians, and emigrants from the south of France; but we find them very rarely in the cities of the North.

In addition to this, we think it can be easily shown, though not within the narrow limits of a newspaper article, that the whole policy of the Federal Government, from the beginning has been to build up and enrich the North at Southern expense. In this business that monster engine, a high Protective Tariff, has been the chief instrument. It has enabled the North to do nearly all the importing and exporting business of the country, with immense profit. Besides the Tariff, we have fishing bounties, and navigation laws, and the giving away the public lands, millions of acres at a time, all of which tend to aggrandize the Northern section of the Union.

But, even admitting, for the salve of argument, that Mr. Sumner's assertion is correct—that it is slavery which has prevented the South from keeping pace with the North in the matter of population—Mr. Sumner has yet to prove, to make his argument against slavery a valid one, that a dense population is desirable. There are many people who will consider it the strongest sort of argument in favor of slavery, if it can be shown to have the effect of preventing a dense population. It is undeniable that where large masses of people are assembled together in circumscribed limits, there is not only more crime and lawlessness, but more actual suffering for the common necessaries of life. We read every day of such suffering, and sometimes of starvation itself, in the dense communities of the North—rarely, if ever, in the sparsely settled sections of the South. Is it the policy of Mr. Sumner to crowd people together until population encroaches upon the means of subsistence, and there is a constant struggle for bread? Everybody will admit that that policy is best which secures the greatest average amount of happiness and comfort to each citizen—everybody, we mean, except such sentimental and transubstantial philosophers as Mr. Sumner, whose chief delight seems to be to make people miserable instead of happy. And if a dense population has the effect of reducing the average of that happiness, and that density is the result of the absence of slavery, then the circumstance becomes an argument in favor of the institution rather than against it.

But while the South may not have advanced with the rapidity that the North has—so far as population is concerned—yet there is no other region on earth where such progress has been made. Mr. Sumner calls slavery a "blight" and a "curse." But, under the influence of this "blight" and "curse," what are the facts in regard to the development of the Southern States?

In 1790 the population of the slave States was less than two millions. In 1850 it was nearly ten millions. The blight and the curse of slavery produced this result.

In 1800 there were about one million slaves in the South. Now, there are about four millions. One would suppose, to read Sumner's speech, that the "chains" and the "lash" and the "bloodhounds" of slaveholders would soon extirpate the African race in the South altogether. Instead of that they have quadrupled in number since the beginning of the present century.

In 1820 the exports of Southern productions were thirty-eight millions of dollars in value. In 1859 they were two hundred and twenty-two millions.

In 1824 the export of cotton was worth twenty-two millions. In 1859 it was worth one hundred and sixty-one millions.

Of the total exports of the Union at the present day, those of the South constitute eighty per cent. Four-fifths of the surplus wealth of the country is the product of the States of the South.

With these figures before our eyes—taken from official sources—Mr. Charles Sumner may rail at slavery, and call it a blight and a curse as much as he chooses. People who have any desire to know better, understand the true facts of the case—and they will set Mr. Charles Sumner down, not as a fool, because he is no fool, but simply as a pestilent knave and low demagogue, who, from the meanest of motives, is trying to create sectional hatred in the country, and to subject one portion of the Republic to the political domination and tyranny of the other.