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Source: Slavery: Opposing Viewpoints, Bruno Leone, Editor, American History Series, Greenhaven Press, Inc. PO Box 289009, San Diego, CA, 92198-9009, 1992.
Source for Slavery / Southern Point of View
George McDuffie Jupiter Hammon Duncan Heyward Solon Robinson Source #1: George McDuffie (1790-1851)
The following viewpoint is taken from a speech presented to the South Carolina legislature in 1835 by George McDuffie, Democratic governor of South Carolina from 1834-1836. In this speech, McDuffie strongly attacks Northern abolitionists. He stoutly defends the institution of slavery as a positive good rather than a necessary evil. He states that slavery is a moral institution that benefits both the slaves and society as a whole. Many of the ideas expressed in this speech were central to the southern
defense of slavery.
No human institution, in my opinion, is more manifestly consistent with the will of God than domestic slavery..... Under both the Jewish and Christian...religion, domestic slavery existed with the...sanction of its prophets, its apostles, and finally its great Author. The patriarchs themselves, those instruments of God, were slave holders.
.....the African Negro is destined by Providence to occupy this condition of servile dependence.....It is marked on the face, stamped on the skin, and evinced by the intellectual inferiority...of this race. They have all the qualities that fit them for slaves, and not one of those that would fit them to be freemen. They are utterly unqualified, not only for rational freedom but for self-government of any kind. They are, in all respects, physical, moral, and political, inferior to millions of the human race.....
In all respects, the comforts of our slaves are greatly superior to...millions of paupers.....There is not upon the face of the earth any class of people, high or low, so perfectly free from care and anxiety. They know that their masters will provide for them, under all circumstances.....
In a word, our slaves are cheerful, contented, and happy, much beyond the general condition of the human race.....
It is clearly demonstrable that the production of cotton depends, not so much on soil and climate as on the existence of domestic slavery.....every practical planter will concur [agree] in the opinion that if all the slaves in these states were now emancipated [freed], the American crop would be reduced the very next year from 1,200,000 to 600,000 bales.
What arguments does McDuffie use to justify slavery?
Which justification would seem most appealing to the South? Why?
George McDuffie Jupiter Hammon Duncan Heyward Solon Robinson Source #2: Jupiter Hammon (1720-1800?)
Jupiter Hammon was born a slave to a wealthy New York merchant family. He spent his lifetime in slavery as a valued and trusted house servant. A convert to Christianity, Hammon also preached and wrote religious poetry. He was the first black to be published.
The following viewpoint is excerpted from "An Address to the Negroes of the State of New York," a speech delivered before the African society in 1786. Hammon counsels slaves to be obedient to their masters and to concentrate on gaining freedom through religion rather than rebellion.
Respecting obedience to masters. Now whether it is right, and lawful, in the sight of God, for them to make slaves of us or not. I am certain that while we are slaves, it is our duty to obey our masters, in all their lawful commands, and mind them unless we are bid to do that which we know to be sin, or forbidden in God's word. The apostle Paul says: "Servants be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh..." Here is a plain command of God for us to obey our masters......He has commanded us to obey, and we ought to do it cheerfully, and freely.....As we depend upon our masters, for what we eat and drink and wear, and for all our comfortable things in this world, we cannot be happy, unless we please them.....If a servant strives to please his master and studies and takes pains to do it, I believe there are but few masters who would use such a servant cruelly.....
Now I acknowledge that liberty is a great thing, and worth seeking for, if we can get it honestly, and by our good conduct prevail on our masters to set us free. Though for my own part I do not wish to be free: yet I should be glad, if others, especially the young negroes were to be free, for many of us who are grown hardly know how to take care of ourselves; and it may be more for our own comfort to remain as we are.....
If you become Christians, you will have reason to bless God forever, that you have been brought into a land where you have heard the gospel, though you have been slaves. If we should ever get to heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves. Let me beg of you my dear African brethren, to think very little of your bondage in this life, for your thinking of it will do you no good. If God designs to set us free, he will do it, in his own time, and way; but think of your bondage to sin and satan, and do not rest, until you are delivered from it.
How does Hammon view slavery?
What is Hammon's main message to his audience?
George McDuffie Jupiter Hammon Duncan Heyward Solon Robinson
Source #3: Duncan Heyward
Rice plantations, like cotton plantations, often were very large. The Heyward plantation of South Carolina was a leading producer of rice, and the family became very wealthy. Here is how slaves were treated on this plantation.
Early in the morning, except when the weather would not permit, the driver, standing in his door at the head of the street, would awaken the field hands by blowing a horn, though on some plantations a bell was rung. They were awakened early enough to give them time to cook their breakfasts and to put up something for the midday meal. Then they all gathered at some central spot and started for the fields, the driver leading the way. As they went along in a gang there was usually much talking and a good deal of jesting...
It was always the custom during the spring and summer months to allow the field hands to finish their work early enough to give them at least two hours by the sun in order that they might work for themselves, or if they did not care to work, they were allowed to do as they pleased. During the winter months opportunity was given them to gather firewood and to grind corn. To all full field hands who would make use of it, high land was allotted, and they were encouraged to plant crops for themselves....
Until the time of Charles Heyward, they were not given meat; this they were expected to provide for themselves. In order to do so they were allowed to raise their own hogs and were given the privilege of hunting and fishing...In addition to this, most of the slaves raised poultry and often sold eggs.
How would you describe Heyward's attitude toward his slaves?
Why might slaves enjoy working on this plantation?
George McDuffie Jupiter Hammon Duncan Heyward Solon Robinson Source #4: Solon Robinson
In 1849, in a leading southern trade journal, Solon Robinson, a trader and agriculturist from the North, reported on his travels throughout the South. He argued against giving freedom to the slaves, stating that their lives were better than those of free laboring men.
I boldly and truly assert that you may travel Europe over - yea, you may visit the boasted freedmen of America - aye, you may search the world over, before you find a laboring peasantry who are more happy, more contented, as a class of people, or who are better clothed and fed and better provided for in sickness, infirmity and old age, or who enjoy more of the essential comforts of life, than these so-called miserable, oppressed, abused, starved slaves...
I doubt whether one single instance can be found among the slaves of the south, where one has injured himself at long and excessive labor....Masters know that over driving a negro, as well as a mule, is the poorest way to get work out of either of them....
.....In all my tour, during the past winter, I did not see or hear of but two cases of flogging: one of which was for stealing, and the other for running away from as good a master as ever a servant need to have...
But I do seriously say that I did not see or hear of one place where the negroes were not well fed: and I did not see a ragged gang of negroes in the South, and I could only hear of one plantation where the negroes were overworked or unjustly flogged, and on that plantation the master was a drunken, abusive wretch, as heartily despised by his neighbors as he was hated by his negroes.
According to Robinson, how does free labor compare with slave labor?
Why did Robinson say that observers were foolish to to think that slaves in the South were worked too hard?