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.
noted proslavery's early origins,5 most historians continued to associate the defense of slavery with a movement of the South away from Jeffersonian liberalism in the late 1820s and 1830s. After abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison began to denounce slavery in The Liberator in 1831, these scholars explained, the South rapidly abandoned its Revolutionary American heritage and took up the almost polar opposite position of proslavery reactionism.6 2. The reference to slavery as the "cornerstone" of
subsistence we must not only comprehend the necessaries of life, such as food, clothing, shelter, 8cc., but likewise such conveniences, comforts, and even luxuries, as the habits of the society may render it essential for all to enjoy. Whatever then has a tendency to destroy the wealth and diminish the aggregate capital of society, has the effect, as long as the standard of comfort remains the same, to check the progress of the population. It is sure to discourage matrimony, and cause children to
circumstances will allow. It is better that each one should remain in society in the condition in which he has been born and trained, and not to mount too fast without preparation. Hence, in the southern states the condition of the free blacks is better than in the northern; in the latter he is told that he is a freeman and entirely equal to the white, and prejudice assigns to him a degraded station—light is furnished him by which to view the interior of the fairy palace which is fitted up for
thought . . . that it is hardly necessary to urge it. [He refers here to James Boardman, the anonymous author of England and America.—EDITOR] Property—the accumulation of capital, as it is commonly called, is the first element of civilization. But to accumulate, or to use capital to any considerable extent, the combination of labor is necessary. In early stages of society, when people are thinly scattered over an extensive territory, the labor necessary to extensive works, cannot be commanded.
in Gen. xvii., we are informed of a covenant God entered into with Abraham; in which he stipulates, to be a God to him and his seed, (not his servants,) and to give to his seed the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession. He expressly stipulates, that Abraham shall put the token of this covenant upon every servant born in his house, and upon every servant bought with his money of any stranger. Gen. xvii. 12, 13. Here again servants are property. Again, more than 400 years afterwards, we find