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Slavery Justified Through the Life of the Slave
Every culture had levels of society that worked menial tasks. There was always someone needed to wash clothes, clean houses, drive others around, and keep food on the table. These roles always existed and always will because society needed them. No matter how a society has tried to equal out society, these levels have appeared. Those that supported slavery saw it as the role of Africans and the support needed that slavery was the answer for those tasks. They were the “poorer and less intelligent” used to serve those who were wiser. If Abraham, Jacob, and Job had slaves and servants, then it appeared to many that God approved of the institution which meant it was part of all great nations and great men:
African slavery is objected to by some, because they say it is morally wrong for one individual to keep another as a slave to serve him. To such I would say, where do you go to get your moral code, is it not to the Bible? It certainly is to the Bible, the great book of morals and religion, we must all look for the best code or morals which has ever been given to the human race. Then if you believe the Bible, you must believe that African slavery is right, and that slavery existed in the world long before America was discovered by Columbus, and was very common among the Jews immediately after their entrance into the promised land. That it was entirely consistent with the doctrine of the Holy Bible, see Leviticus, chap. 25th, verses 44, 45, and 46.
Essays were written to explain how happy the black man was in his position of servitude and the benefits they received. Slavery was not something hideous to the African as argued by many. It was his salvation in the eyes of many. Some supporters believed that a “time may come when they will be capable of enjoying the blessings of freedom and self-government”, but until that time the superior white culture would continue “instructing them in the principles of our common Christianity.” It was seen that slavery was a way to protect a less intelligent and equipped society and prepare them for a future where they might be able to govern themselves and rise up in the status of races and cultures. Their arguments included the status of the blacks in the free states and how their conditions of life were so much more base and horrible than those of the slaves in the South given food, shelter, and sometimes Christian teachings. Statistics were passed around in publications such as “Cotton is King” that large percentages of the convicts of the free states were free colored people. Where they made up only three percent of the overall population, they were reported to make up twenty-five percent of the convicts sitting in jail cells. The assumption taken from such reports was the immense benefits slavery brought in keeping colored people freer and in better conditions. The life of the African in his homeland was seen as base and materialistic:
…entirely destitute of any of the improvements in arts and sciences; they live in mud huts, made of mud and sticks, and many of them go naked winter and summer, as the beast of the forest, and feed on lizards, snakes or any vile thing they can get hold of, and are entirely void of chastity, giving a loose rein to their animal passions; they cohabit promiscuously with one another, but in many cases, men with each other, and with beast; they are continually at war, one tribe with another, and they do not scruple to each other as quick as they would eat a bit of a hog or a monkey; in their market-places they frequently have the limbs of each other hung up in the stall for sale as they would a sheep or a pig; and thus in this degraded, fallen state they live, devoid of religion, morals, or even common decency; and therefore the great necessity of the balance of mankind who feel for the sufferings of human beings, and would wish to ameliorate their woes and bring to a knowledge of the truth and of the religion of Jesus Christ, uniting in their efforts to bring them in a state of slavery of Christian masters, who will correct their morals, feed and clothe them, and make them work and cultivate the soil, so as to become useful to themselves and the balance of mankind. This can only be done by reducing them to a state of slavery…
A Texan. The Yankee Slave-Dealer. Nashville, Archive.org, 1860, http://archive.org/details/yankeeslavedeal00abolrich.
“Arguments and Justifications.” The Abolition Project. http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_112.html
Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: the first two centuries of slavery in North America. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1998.
Brown, William Wells. Clotelle, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/241/241-h/241-h.htm.
Buckingham, Goodsell. “The Bible Vindicated from the Charge of Sustaining Slavery.” Columbus: The Temperance Advocate Office, 1837. http://antislavery.eserver.org/religious/biblevindicatedrevisedfinal/.
Cobb, Thomas Read Rootes. “An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America.” Archive.org.
Davis, Jefferson. “Speech of Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, on the Subject of Slavery in the Territories,” Archive.org, 1850.
Douglass, Frederick. The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, (Boston: Anti-Slave Office, 1848), 2-3.
Elliott, E.N., ed. “Cotton is King.” Archive.org. http://archive.org/details/cottoniskingandp28148gut.
Exodus 22: 21-24. King James Bible. BibleGateway.org,
Fitzhugh, George. Cannibals All!, or Slaves Without Masters. 1857. http://archive.org/details/cannibalsallorsl35481gut.
Genesis 9. King James Bible. BibleGateway.com, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%209&version=KJV.
Helper, Hinton Rowan. “Why the North Has Surpassed the South.”
The Impending Crises of the South. http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/helper/helper.html.
“History of Slavery.” History World. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/plaintexthistories.asp?historyid=ac41.
Hunt, James. On the Negro’s Place in Nature. London: Trubner, 1863.
Ingersoll, Charles Jared. “African Slavery in America.” Antislavery Literature. http://antislavery.eserver.org/proslavery/african-slavery-in-america/, 1856.
Leviticus 25. The King James. Bible Gateway.com. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=leviticus%2025&version=KJV.
Lewis, Evan. “Address to Christians of All Denominations on the Inconsistency of Admitting Slave-Holders to Communion and Church Membership”. Antislavery Literature, 1831, http://antislavery.eserver.org/religious/addresstochristians/addresstochristians.html.
Liberty Party Platform. 1844.
Ross, Dr. F. A. “Position of the Southern Church in Relation to Slavery.” Archive.org. 1857.
Sawyer, George S. Southern Institutes. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1859.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gutenberg, 1852, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/203/203-h/203-h.htm
Webster, Daniel. Speech Before the Senate of the United States, 1848. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi/bin/query/r?ammem/rbaapc:@field(DOCID+@lit(rbaapc3310 0div3))
Wilson, William. “The Great American Question”. http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/rbaapc:@gield(DOCID+@lit(rbappc34000div0)), 1848.
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