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rotating their representatives in the lower house in order to make room for as many as possible of those who had political claims, never gained foot-hold in the South. This was, indeed, one reason why the South won advantages over the North, in spite of its inferior numerical strength. It is not surprising that the Southerners shone in the political sphere. Their intellect tended naturally to public affairs; they had the talent and leisure for politics which a landed aristocracy is apt to have under a representative government; and when the slavery question assumed importance at Washington, their concern for shaping the course of national legislation became a passion, and seemed necessary for the preservation of their order. But it was only in law and politics that the South was eminent. She did not give birth to a poet, nor to a philosopher after Jefferson, and his philosophy she rejected. She could lay claim only to an occasional scientist, but to no great historian; none of her novelists or essayists who wrote before the war has the next generation cared to read. Whoever, thinking of the opportunities for culture in the ancient world given by the existence of slavery, seeks in the Southern community a trace of that intellectual development which was the glory of Athens, will look in vain. Had the other causes existed, the sparse settlements of the South, the lack of a compact social body, made utterly impossible such results as mark Grecian civilization. The physical and economic conditions of the South presented insuperable obstacles to any full development of university education. While efforts were made to promote the establishment of colleges, the higher fields of scientific and literary research were not cultivated with eminent success; for the true scientific spirit could never have free play in a community where one subject of investigation of all-pervading influence must remain a closed book.
"When one thinks of the varied forms under which the intellect of New England displayed itself, and remembers the brilliant achievements there in the mind's domain which illumine the generation before the war, he cannot but feel that the superiority of the South in politics, after the great Virginia statesmen left the stage, was held at too great a cost, if it was maintained at the sacrifice of a many-sided development such as took place at the North.”
The economic basis of slavery was cotton culture: the social effects of slavery was an oligarchy. The few who profited most by slavery dominated Southern opinion concerning it and were the real leaders of its numerous friends at the North. The state of mind which could make possible such a system of human bondage under the interrogation of history attempts to defend its own. Every device, every influence, every utterance that strengthened slavery was welcomed, every criticism of slavery, howsoever mild, was intolerable, at the South. To many Southerners the negro in slavery seemed a lesser evil than the free negro, for if the slaves were freed, would the South be a tolerable residence for the white race? It may be accepted that no gentleman at the South could imagine without loathing the possibility of being obliged to live in a commonwealth composed largely of free negroes. He returned again and again therefore to the argument based on the assertion that slavery was a positive blessing both to the negro and to the white race; indeed, much evidence abounds that many humane planters believed that the negro really owed a debt of gratitude to the white race for keeping him in slavery, the negro himself—so the assertion ran—being by nature inferior to the white man and wholly incapable of taking care of himself. A favorite figure was that the negroes were like children and under the will of Providence doomed to be treated as children. No Southerner accepted as true Thomas Jefferson's declaration that "all men are created equal,” unless with the understanding that the negro was excluded from the catalogue of men. A strange find among the archives of pro-slavery literature seem the volumes written to prove that the slave was a domestic animal and entitled to no more rights than one. Such books—and they are more abundant than men at the present time are likely to remember, rank among the
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curiosities of human belief and effort, but they stand for terrible conditions in a not distant past. That such books should be written was incident to the existence of slavery, and was demanded by that spirit of insight which ever keen at the South moved directly to the danger point along the whole frontier of slavery. Millions of white men believe to-day that the negro is inferior to the white man and if such belief can prevail to-day, howsoever widely, its prevalence was the easier when the negro race was in slavery; the conviction was at the basis of the defense of slavery. One man enslaves another for profit rather than to conform to his own scientific conclusions; but if in the transaction, his science supports his theory of economics, he credits himself with two points in defense of it; if by any process he can persuade himself that he is also improving the morals of his slave by enslaving him, indeed, that to neglect to reduce him to slavery would eliminate him from the possibility of having morals, the chain of argument becomes seemingly complete: religion, politics swing into line in defense of the transaction and the master has put himself in harmony with the laws of God. The Southern defense of slavery was neither timid nor uncertain: it proceeded confidently to assert that science, economy, morality and religion were the corner stones of slavery. The obvious contrast between the negro and the white man settled any doubts as to the argument from science; the profitableness of slave labor and its necessity under climatic and social conditions settled any economic doubts, the negro himself settled any moral doubts, and finally, the Bible settled any religious doubts, for slavery was a biblical institution.
The effectiveness of arguments for slavery on the basis of science, economy, morality and religion will appear in clearer light if for a moment one reflects on the effectiveness of arguments for the inferiority of the negro race heard in certain quarters in our own time: the white race and the negro race are essentially to-day what they have been throughout historic times. Arguments against the negro in slavery days