The Ideology of Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Antebellum South, 1830--1860 (Library of Southern Civilization)
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In one volume, these essentially unabridged selections from the works of the proslavery apologists are now conveniently accessible to scholars and students of the antebellum South. The Ideology of Slavery includes excerpts by Thomas R. Dew, founder of a new phase of proslavery militancy; William Harper and James Henry Hammond, representatives of the proslavery mainstream; Thornton Stringfellow, the most prominent biblical defender of the peculiar institution; Henry Hughes and Josiah Nott, who brought would-be scientism to the argument; and George Fitzhugh, the most extreme of proslavery writers.
The works in this collection portray the development, mature essence, and ultimate fragmentation of the proslavery argument during the era of its greatest importance in the American South. Drew Faust provides a short introduction to each selection, giving information about the author and an account of the origin and publication of the document itself.
Faust's introduction to the anthology traces the early historical treatment of proslavery thought and examines the recent resurgence of interest in the ideology of the Old South as a crucial component of powerful relations within that society. She notes the intensification of the proslavery argument between 1830 and 1860, when southern proslavery thought became more systematic and self-conscious, taking on the characteristics of a formal ideology with its resulting social movement. From this intensification came the pragmatic tone and inductive mode that the editor sees as a characteristic of southern proslavery writings from the 1830s onward. The selections, introductory comments, and bibliography of secondary works on the proslavery argument will be of value to readers interested in the history of slavery and of nineteenth-centruy American thought.
mainstream was directed against 39. In a recent reassessment of proslavery thought, historian George Fredrickson has portrayed the role of racial defenses quite differently, proclaiming the existence of significant opposition between racial and moral-philosophical rationalizations for the South's system of human bondage. Instead of proslavery unity, he found two distinct proslavery arguments, one in the aristocratic seaboard South and one in the more democratic Southwest. These latter egalitarian
equally shocking, should this not be the case. They must, then, be the exterminators or enslavers of all the nations of Africa with which they come into contact. The whole history of colonization, indeed, presents one of the most gloomy and horrific pictures to the imagination of the genuine philanthropist which can possibly be conceived. The many Indians who have been murdered, or driven in despair from the haunts and hunting grounds of their fathers—the heathen driven from his heritage, or
and barbarous achievements, the vengeance of the infuriated whites upon their devoted heads. Where then is the analogy to Poland and to France, lands of generous achievement, of learning, and of high and noble purposes, and with people capable of self-government? We shall conclude this branch of our subject with the following splendid extract from a speech of Mr. Canning, which should at least make the rash legislator more distrustful of his specifics. "In dealing with a negro we must remember
most interested in the welfare of his master, was precisely when his dependence was most complete, and when, consequently, he relied upon his lord for every thing. When the feudal tenure was gradually changing, and the law was interposing between landlord and tenant, the close tie between them began to dissolve, and with it, the kindness on one side, and the affection and gratitude on the pther, waned and vanished. From all this, we are forced to draw one important inference—that it is dangerous
whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." 1 Tim. vi. 4, 5. Such were the bitter fruits which abolition sentiments produced in the Apostolic day, and such precisely are the fruits they produce now. 162 A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery Now, I say, here is the case made out, which certainly would call forth