George Fitzhugh on Economy & Class

A presentation of Fitzhughian thought on class through quotations by George Fitzhugh

“But to descend to our own times and to come nearer home, very many Virginia overseers could neither read nor write, yet
they managed farms and negroes much more judiciously and profitably than Mr. Jefferson or any other scholar, philosopher
or agricultural chemist. Too much learning had not taken away their common sense or run them mad. Many men around us,
who can neither read nor write, have made handsome properties as farmers, many such as captains of vessels, and a few
even as merchants. Nothing so incapacitates a man for making money as profound and various learning. Literature is a
luxury in which the poor cannot afford to indulge. Teach negroes to earn their bread and make money, and when they
have done so leave them to learn their alphabet if they be fools enough to do so.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Freedman and His Future Part II, Page 5, 1870

“There is no property possessing value except property in man.” Take away the negroes from the South, and the
South would be impoverished. Take away the white laborers from England, and England would be pauperized. I
publish these unpleasant truths in the cause of a sound, fearless, healthy humanity. The laboring class, whether
black or white, has more rights than are to be found on any statute-book. I believe the Southern people are as
generous and warm-hearted as any people, and will take good care of the negroes-quite as much from the
impulses of the heart as from the calculations of the head. I am no revolutionist: I would not change in the
least that legal and political equality which is the beau ideal of our day. But I would have men understand that
they have but half performed their duties when they have fulfilled the requirements of the law. In the field of
free competition the penurious, the selfish, the cunning and designing are continually defrauding the honest
laborer of the fruits of his labor. Wealth is too often the result of exploitation rather than of honest labor. This
is an evil which law never has and never can remedy. Let us all try to do justice to the poor, and-whilst relieving
their wants-not insult them by calling such relief charity. They produce everything, and have a right to a decent
support; yet, like Africans and Indians, they would produce nothing but for land monopoly, which compels them
to work or starve. Taxed as the poor are in civilized society, still their situation is better than that of even the kings
and chiefs among the Indians of America or the natives of Africa; for those chiefs and kings have very rarely
a week’s provisions on hand, have no certain means of procuring food for the ensuing week, and are, if not
starving, at least pinched for food more than half their time. The necessary condition of civilized society is,
that there shall be a few rich and a great many poor, and that the rich may live without labor by commanding
the labor of the poor.

This is the best possible condition of society, except (or those who have a taste for Indian and African life. There
is much complaint just now that the tendency of our political, social and legal arrangements is to beget a few
millionaires, and to absorb, destroy and swallow up all small, independent properties; that is, to diminish the
number of idle non-producers, and to increase the number of laboring producers. The most worthless and n
oxious members of society are the small property-holders, who have just enough to live on without labor, and
not enough where-with to educate their children or to purchase those elegancies and luxuries the fabrication of
which stimulates skill and inventiveness. These men of small independent properties, who live coarsely and
vulgarly without labor, are the useless and noxious drones of society-mere consumers of the results of other
men’s unrequited labors; and the sooner they are expelled the better. Millionaires, without intending it, are the
benefactors of mankind. They wish to make money, and to do so are compelled to invest most of their incomes
in building houses for the poor, in internal improvements and in the purchase and improvement of Western
Lands. They thus increase the productive capacity of the country more rapidly than population increases.”
– George Fitzhugh, Land Monopoly, pages: 4-5, 1869

“My sole object is to teach men that land monopoly-or, to speak more accurately, the monopoly of property, or
capital, by the few, and the consequent subjection of the many to the dominion, taxation and exploitation of
these few-is not an evil, as generally esteemed, but the greatest of human blessings, because it is the only
means of begetting, sustaining and advancing civilization. It is often loosely and improperly termed, “Slavery
to capital.” But it is a very different thing, every poor man feels and knows, from actual, hopeless, debasing
domestic slavery. Although it is undoubtedly true that the employer or capitalist exploits more of the results
of the labor of the freeman than the master does of the labor of the slave, and hence free labor is cheaper
than slave labor, yet, all things considered, the condition of the free laborer is infinitely better than that of
the slave, unless the free laborer be a worthless, improvident being: for such a one, whether black or
white, domestic slavery is the appropriate condition.”
– George Fitzhugh, Land Monopoly, page: 5, 1869

“Land monopoly is the sole parent of civilization, and land monopoly has been universal, in all ages, with the
white and Chinese races, and wholly unpracticed by the uncivilized races. These latter races are incapable
of land monopoly, and therefore can never have self-sustaining civilization. But we see around us, every day,
that they may have an exotic civilization. Where a few whites have monopolized the lands, the landless
whites and landless negroes must practice the arts of civilized life or perish, for they can no longer live, like
brutes, on the voluntary fruits of the earth. They have become the subjects of capital (and all capital results
from land monopoly), and they must fabricate the necessaries, comforts and luxuries of life for the capitalists,
or be without homes or food or fuel or clothes. In fabricating necessaries, comforts and luxuries for the rich,
they learn, and continually practice, all the arts of civilized life. Property, or capital, has ever been a close
monopoly among the civilized races, and ever unknown, as an institution, among the other races. Any
people who are capable of land monopoly, and will practice it, will at once become civilized.”
– George Fitzhugh, Land Monopoly, page: 2, 1869

“In free society it is impossible to determine who has lived in affluence, or grown rich from the profits derived
from their labor, yet, certain that all wealth is created or produced by them, and but exacted or exploited, and
accumulated and amassed by those above them-by the cunning, the skillful and the rich who employ them.
Certain, and on all bands admitted, that their labor is more heavily taxed by the superior classes, than that
of slaves by their masters, and hence, as Mr. Greeley shows, they are worse provided and more destitute
than slaves, although they work harder and more skillfully; and hence it is very truly said by their employers,
that “free labor is cheaper than slave labor.” Cheaper, only because the slave lives in plenty, idleness and
ease, and consumes almost all that he produces, whilst free laborers produce an enormous surplus, which
is filched or exploited by their employers, and which makes the few wealthy and pauperizes the masses.
Hence the great prosperity and rapid progress of free society; and hence, also, the little wealth and slow
progress of slave society. But, as free society progresses, improves and grows rich under this industrial
high pressure system, paupers multiply by the million, and the employers, who have grown rich from the
profits derived from their labor, are bound to support them just as masters are bound to support their
slaves, whenever, from any cause, they can no longer support themselves.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Poor House System, page: 3, 1867

“We must judge and determine of human conduct by its consequences, and class among good and virtuous actions, those
whose practise tends to advance individual and public good. We are all struggling to exploit each other; that is, to obtain the
greatest possible amount of the results of other people’s labor, for the least possible amount of the results of our own labor,
and he who succeeds best in this war of competition, and exploitation, is considered most meritorious. Hence, the learned
lawyer is more esteemed by society than the retail dealer, the merchant than the mechanic, the mechanic more than the
common day laborer, the wealthy capitalist, who labors not at all, but lives by the exploitation of his capital more esteemed
and admired than any. One of the merits of the upper classes is, that their love of luxurious living and ostentatious display,
begets and encourages skill and invention in those who supply their wants. Poverty and wealth are equally essential to
civilization, for without poverty there would be little or no labor, and without wealth to stimulate and reward it, there would
be no skill, invention, or improvement-men never produce luxuries for themselves. No man would build himself a fine
house, and fabricate for himself fine furniture and clothing. He would sooner live in a hollow tree, and dress in skins.
Men produce luxuries for others, to procure necessaries for themselves. Without wealth there could be no civilization,
and without exploitation, (that is the appropriation by a few of the results of the labor of the many,) there could be no
wealth; for men become rich not by their own labor, but by exploiting other people’s labor. They who own the soil, own
everything on it-men included; but it is far better to be thus owned, than that all should be equal joint owners of the soil,
for then there would be none to pay for luxuries,-and what is far worse, none to necessitate and compel to industry.”
– George Fitzhugh, Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, page: 172, 1867

“We believe good men and bad men, slaveholders and non-slaveholders. Northerners and Southerners, all alike, desire
to become at least moderately independent of their pecuniary circumstances. The desire we think not only natural, but
very meritorious. It incites to energy and industry, and promotes economy and frugality. In fact, without this universal desire,
and the action it begets, society would stagnate and retrograde, and civilization gradually disappear. Were all content to
live on the proceeds of the labor of their own hands, there would be very little work done by any; for no one would, by his
own labor, be willing to produce more than the simplest necessaries of life, in a society where all were poor and plain. Yet
while all desire to become independent, not one man in ten thousand understands what constitutes independence, nor
what he is engaged in whilst successfully endeavoring to achieve independence. As vulgarly understood, to be independent
means to be able to live on the income of one’s property without labor. The vulgar error consists in this, that men think that
property or capital is productive, and begets income without robbing any one. “Where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise.”
Yet, cruel as the procedure is, it is our duty, in self vindication, to dispel the pleasing illusion that makes independent men,
with pharasaical self-complacency,” thank God that they are not as other men.” Now, their property does not breed; does
not increase of itself; but merely enables them to command the labor, or the results of the labor, of other people, without
consuming or expending any part of that property. Property-holders, or capitalists, pay not a cent to the labor which they
employ, or for any of the products of labor which they buy, so long as they do not expend more than their incomes. Property
-holders have nothing wherewith to pay the wages of labor, or to pay for anything they purchase, except their property;
and so long as that remains intact, they are living without labor on the unrequited labor of other people. They are
masters without slaves, and those who labor for them slaves without masters.”
– George Fitzhugh, Pecuniary Independence, Pages: 1-2, 1866

“Properly-holders have nothing wherewith to pay the wages of labor, or to pay for anything they purchase, except their
property; and so long as that remains intact, they are living without labor on the unrequited labor of other people. They
are masters without slaves, and those who labor for them slaves without masters. Or rather, they are mere joint-owners
of an undivided, undefinable interest in the laboring class. Whilst the laboring class, although slaves to the property-holding
-class, have no particular individual masters. An ingenious Chancellor could readily divide the laboring-class among the
capitalist-class, for a given amount of capital confers on its owner the command of a certain amount of labor. For example,
a man worth twenty thousand dollars commands the labor of twenty human beings, taking them in families. The man worth
forty thousand the labor of forty, and so on. The man exerting himself to become independent is engaged in the slave trade.
The man who has become independent is a slave-owner. We believe the usual appraisement of the value of a male adult
immigrant is one thousand dollars. We think they are worth two thousand each. Worth to whom? Why to our property-holding
-class, who at once command their labor for less than if they were imported from Africa, for free labor is cheaper than slave
labor. But there never was, nor ever can be, any trade except the slave trade, simply because there is no productive or
valuable property except property in man. Yet there must ever be, in civilized society, masters and slaves, and it is better to
be a master than a slave. It is therefore right and meritorious to become independent, though we thereby become masters
of our fellow men, can live without labor on the unrequited labor of other people. The relation of master and slave may,
be concealed from view, but can never be disrupted, so long as the few hold property and the many have none. We
are all struggling to acquire property that will give us the command or ownership of human labor. But men, no more
than horses, are good to eat, and ownership of their labor is ownership of themselves. Slavery and the Slave Trade
are unavoidable, where property exists. Let the efforts of all good, wise, and practical men be directed, therefore, to
devising some means to secure the better treatment of the laboring class by their masters, the property-holding-class.”
– George Fitzhugh, Pecuniary Independence, pages: 2-3, 1866

“All debt, private, corporate or national, is a blessing, for debt is the great and only motive power of civilized
society, that begets all wealth, prosperity and enlightenment, and advances human progress. This proposition
is easily comprehended and explained, but, “that National Debt alone is a blessing,” can never be comprehended
or explained, for the proposition is false. ‘Tis true, debt like steam may be applied excessively, and beget explosions;
yet society, as now organized, would be as erect and motionless without debt as a steamboat without steam. The
creditor and debtor classes of society are the property holders and the non-property holders. All capitalists are
property holders, and that being a scientific and generic term, we shall hereafter employ it instead of “property
holders.” Capital is power, the only power almost that keeps society at work in the absence of domestic servitude.”
– George Fitzhugh, National Debt a National Blessing, page: 1, 1866

“As a driving power, intangible, immaterial, representative capital, such as paper money, government stock, bank
stock, and credit or paper evidences of debt in their various forms, are far more efficient than material, tangible
capital or property. It is easy to associate and combine representative or moneyed capital in large masses, and
thereby to associate and combine large masses of labor for great works and undertakings. It is not the landholders
and houseowners that build roads and canals, or that build cities and adorn the country with splendid public and
private edifices; but the owners of representative, intangible capital, who must thus employ it or suffer it to remain
idle. A large portion of this capital is now invested in National debt, and if that debt were repudiated, much of the
power which now employs and propels labor would be lost. In such an event all business would stagnate, laborers
become idlers, and society retrograde. The laboring poor pay all debts and taxes, because they are the only producers.
The more heavily a country is indebted and the more heavily taxed (up to the repudiating or exploding point) the
better, provided the debt is due at home; for the larger will be the profits of the creditor class, from the increased labor
of the working classes. And these profits will not be expended in the erection of dirty, dingy cottages, such as the
poor would build, if’ capitalists and governments allowed them to retain the profits of their own labor, but in great
public and private works, that adorn, improve and strengthen a country and speed the car of human progress.”
– George Fitzhugh, National Debt a National Blessing, page: 2, 1866

“Let governments impose heavy taxes, and divide society into debtor and creditor classes, as in New York, and
Western Asia would soon become as prosperous, wealthy and enlightened as New York; for she is better situated,
just on the lines of ancient trade, and of the earliest civilization. But put her in debt, and the creditor class would
build up cities and other improvements superior to her renowned ones of ancient times. Western Asia abounds
with slaves; slaves of the white race, and superior in information and intelligence to their masters. These slaves
are an aristocratic caste, who look down with contempt upon the poor free whites around them. The highest offices
in the State are filled by them. Yet as a class they areas idle and as indolent as the Lazaroni of Naples. Even with
domestic slavery, society stagnates and retrogrades where there is no national debt and little taxation.”
– George Fitzhugh, National Debt a National Blessing, page: 2, 1866

“The capitalist wants luxuries, because he has not to labor for them, and makes the largest allowance, or gives the
highest wages, to those laborers who possess most skill and produce the most elegant and exquisite luxuries. Thus
does exploitation continually advance civilization, by begetting rivalry and competition. In turn, the skilful mechanics,
artists, professional men and tradesmen, become exploitators, and levy a much larger tax from the common laborers
than they pay to the capitalists. This final process of exploitation combines skill and capital in oppressing and taxing
common laborers, and throws the whole burden of society on those least able to bear it. The poor and unskilful
underbid each other to get employment, until the competition among them reduces their wages to the starving point
and decimates their ranks. It is at this point that, in all naturally-constructed societies, domestic slavery steps in and
shields the weaker members of society from the exploitation of the rich and skilful, and the more ruinous consequences
of competition among themselves. Domestic slavery arrests exploitation, just when its effects become noxious, and
upholds and protects the substratum of society. Competition is a good thing between the members of a superior master
race, but ruinous to an inferior race brought into juxtaposition with an inferior one. That society is in the most healthy,
normal, natural, historic and biblical state which combines the slavery to skill and capital with domestic slavery.
They are both forms of exploitation, which is a more comprehensive term than slavery. In each case the laborer
is deprived (exploited) of part of the products of his own labor.”
– George Fitzhugh, Society, Labor, Capital, Etc., page: 3, 1862

“What the socialists have not discovered is, that exploitation is the price which man pays for civilization. And he does
not pay dearly for it. The worst-conditioned peasant in Europe, in a moderate lifetime, enjoys ten times as much of
the luxuries and comforts and necessaries of life as the roaming savage. Exploitation and slavery begin so soon as
the lands are appropriated by the few. Those few permit the many to live and subsist on them on condition that they
(the many) will supply the artificial wants of the landowners, and fabricate comforts and luxuries for them. Thus is
civilization initiated, and in no other way can it be brought about or sustained. No man would build for himself a fine
house, or fabricate fine furniture, or fine clothes for himself. If all lands were in common, and consequently, all men
free, all would dress in skins, and live in caves, or hollow trees, or in some equally simple way; men fabricate luxuries
for others, to procure necessaries for themselves. The most luxurious man going to a new country, where ho has to
cook his own dinner, cooks it as simply as the savage or the negro. Set men free and they at once become savages.
They are not free until they are equal participants in the soil, either by direct ownership, or by means of other capital
which will command the products of the soil. Yet, compelled to work by capital owned by others, and exploitated of
a large portion of the products of their labor, they are infinitely better off than they would be in a country where lands
were in common, and of consequence, all men improvident savages. savages. savages. The ancient Britons numbered
a few hundred thousands, lived on acorns, held the soil in common, and were free, .savage, naked and starving.”
– George Fitzhugh, Society, Labor, Capital, Etc., page: 2, 1862

“The many improvements and inventions in the useful arts have facilitated the creation of wealth, and stimulated
enterprise and industry; but, at the same time, stimulated and increased the spirit and practice of trade and traffic,
which, though not producers of wealth, are all-powerful in transferring it from the hands of the needy and helpless
producers, the common laborers, to the pockets of the wealthy and astute traders, undertakers, and employers. Labor
creates wealth; trade and speculation transfers and accumulates it. Far less labor is necessary now to produce the
comforts of life than was required a century ago; but trade transfers wealth at a more rapidly-increased ratio than
the ratio of increased production. Hence, there are more paupers and more rich men in society than over before.
The false distribution of wealth is the master evil of modern times. With increased wants, increased intelligence,
and more productive industry, the poor find themselves sinking lower and lower in the social scale, and receding
farther and farther in physical comfort from the rich, just in proportion as they approximate to them in knowledge.
Seeing their means diminishing just in proportion as their wants increased, and their labor became more productive;
seeing themselves exploilated (defrauded) more and more, by skill and capital, through their agent and engine,
trade, of the products of their labor, they became desperate and burst out into bloody revolutions-first in France,
afterward throughout Western Europe. The end is not yet! Strikes and trades’ unions still carry on the war of
labor against capital. Now, really, we think that this eighteenth century was no hypocritical, no humbug century,
but a downright, serious, earnest, and working century. Nor did it commit suicide. The French revolution is not
over, and the eighteenth century survives in the nineteenth century. It blazes up every now and then, and
spreads over half of Europe, as in the ” three days” in 1830, and again in 1848. It has its standing army of
six hundred thousand trades’ unionists in England, and it’s frequent strikes in England and New-England.
No, the eighteenth century “is not dead but liveth.” Or, at all events, its ghost oft appears in the streets of
Paris, London, and New-York, and frightens folks clean out of their propriety.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, pages: 8-9, 1860

“The Roman patricians were the purest, the noblest, the greatest of men, until they blended by intermarriages
with the wealthy plebeians. After this, their lofty pride and courage, and their talent for command, were gone.
They had sold nobility for money, and, true to the terms of the compact, the Roman senators, their descendants,
became usurers, instead of warriors. The plebeian class lost, at the same time, their loyalty and courage,
and gained nothing by substituting misers for heroes, as masters, nothing by erecting an aristocracy of
money in place of an aristocracy of virtue, courage, and family. “Tis better to fall before the lion than the
wolf-better to have a master with a sword by his side than one with a quill behind his ear.” So long as
private property is permitted, there must be an aristocracy; for wealth is power and distinction.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Old Dominion-The Valley of the Rappahannock, page: 7-8, 1859

“Never was the struggle for liberty or independence begun, except by aristocrats; for to them alone are the
fetters of despotism galling and oppressive. But when a La Fayette, or a Washington, has opened the way
for the rabble, and given them a taste for the sweet abandon of licentiousness, they turn upon their liberators,
abuse them, ostracize them, put their own creatures into all high places, expel religion, threaten property,
and erect altars to Peter Porcupine, or Tom Paine, or the Goddess of Reason. But it is only the volcanic
throes and eruptions of revolution that can keep society “bottom upward.” Subsidence and stratification are
natural, healthful, regenerative processes, in the social or political body. Already men, and men’s memories,
are ascending or subsiding to their natural positions. Great men are selected for high positions, as well in
France as in America. The worship of Torn Paine, Peter Porcupine, and the Goddess of Reason, has ceased;
and nobody traduces the memory of Washington and La Fayette, except Mr. Garrison’s Massachusetts
free negroes, and his masculine women and feminine men. The specific gravity of the masses is fast
restoring them to their true place, as the substratum of the social edifice. Like Richard Cromwell, tired
of playing the sovereign, a part for which they are unfitted, as well by birth as education, they have
abdicated, and instead of ruling, are content to follow their rulers, by King Caucus appointed.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Old Dominion-The Valley of the Rappahannock, page: 11, 1859

“Rail-roads without breaks are to agricultural countries, and to countries producing only the raw material for manufactures,
exhausting cathartics, and render them tributary to the manufacturing nations with which they deal. European trade is an
unmitigated evil, first, because the skillful labor of Europe is thereby twice as well paid as the coarse, common labor of
America, for which it is exchanged; and secondly, because a people engaged in producing the mere raw material, can
never be more than half civilized. That people which practises most of the useful arts and industrial avocations, is most
civilized ; that which practises fewest, the least civilized. The whole object and end of European trade is to enable us of
America, like savage princes, to enjoy the products of art without becoming artists ourselves; to exchange two hours
of our coarse labor for one hour of their skillful labor. It makes us slaves, for the essence of slavery is to be deprived of
part of the results of one’s labor. It makes us dolts, for it relieves us from the necessity of combining intellectual labor
with mere physical labor. It makes us dependants, because, like children, we have not learned to supply our own
wants and necessities except by this exchange of our “handwork” for European ” headwork.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Old Dominion-The Valley of the Rappahannock, page: 13-14, 1859

“When I charge for the use of my well or spring, I also command human labor or its results. I become partial
owner of those who use my well and spring. It is they who are my property, not the water. I go on the river and
catch fish and oysters, and into the woods and fields and shoot game. They will sell in market just for the average
time and labor consumed in catching or shooting like quantities of fish, oysters, and game. The latter do not
fetch a cent; ’tis my labor that sells. They are not property, but I am. A wild horse caught on the prairies, tamed,
and brought to market, sells just for the worth of the labor needed to catch, tame, and bring him to market.
The horse is not property, does not sell for a cent; it is the labor bestowed on him. The same is true of the
tame horse. He sells for nothing; it is the human labor, or its products, expended in rearing him, that sells.”
– George Fitzhugh, Which is the Best Slave Race, Pages: 7-8, 1858

“Have not all the mighty discoveries and inventions in physical science and mechanical construction of modern
times but increased the distinction and aggravated the sufferings of the toiling millions? No! (the thought flashes
across my mind.) ‘Till the other day these improvements and these inventions had that effect. But within a few
years past the rich fruits of modern progress have descended to the masses. Starving Ireland has been suddenly
relieved of a redundant population, and she is starving Ireland no longer. Germany is annually sending out by
hundreds of thousands her industrious, intellectual, but once dense population, to new, fertile, unoccupied lands,
that invite the hands of the husbandmen. Our West is filling up; swarms of immigrants are settling on our whole
Pacific coast; Texas and New Mexico are no longer idle wastes; the great continent of New Holland, in fine, all
the vacant spaces of the earth are opening their bosoms to receive and to cherish the destitute and the oppressed.
The excess of toil, and the incubus of poverty, which have made life with the masses in western Europe but one
prolonged agony, are about to give way to happier times. These mighty results are all the fruits of new discoveries
in physical science, of new inventions and mechanical contrivances-in fine, of modern progress. The compass, the
merchant-ship, the steam-ship, the railroad, the steam-car, the cheap and rapid mail, and that lightning messenger,
the telegraph, combine to keep together those whom they but seem to separate. The steam-ship and the steam
-car will in vain convey us from country, from friends, and from kin, to the far off antipodes; for the telegraph, with
lightning speed, will bring country, friends and kin to our door. But for modern facilities of intercommunication
of “hearing from home,” there would be much less emigration.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Atlantic Telegraph, page: 2-3, 1858

“Modern progress excels ancient art. The moderns are far ahead of and superior to the ancients, for they have
retained all the knowledge, and all the arts of antiquity, and added vastly thereto. It is almost needless to remind the
reader of the hundreds of labor-saving machines of modern invention. These inventions have so far redounded
chiefly to the advantage of the wealthy, but no doubt the time is at hand when all will show their benefits. This result
will occur so soon as the dominion of capital over labor becomes less rigorous and exacting. Emigration to new
countries, in a great degree, relieves the labor from the grinding dominion of capital; for in such countries labor
is scarce, in great demand, and well paid. But emigration, where it is extensive, is as advantageous to those who
stay at home as to those who stay away; for by lessening the number of laborers left behind, it begets an increased
demand for labor, competition among employers, and higher wages and constant employment for operatives.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Atlantic Telegraph, page: 2, 1858

“Moses has anticipated the Socialists, and that in prohibiting “usury of money, and of victuals, and
of all things that are lent on usury,” and in denouncing “increase” he was far wiser than Aristotle,
and saw that other capital or property did not “breed ” any more than money, and that its profits
were unjust exactions levied from the laboring man. The Socialists proclaim this as a discovery of
their own. We think Moses discovered and proclaimed it more than three thousand years ago-and
that it is the only true theory of capital and labor, the only adequate theoretical defence of Slavery
-for it proves that t he profits which capital exacts from labor makes free laborers slaves, without
the rights, privileges or advantages of domestic slaves, and capitalists their masters, with all the
advantages, and none of the burdens and obligations of the ordinary owners of slaves.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page of preface: 10, 1857

“Capital commands labor, as the master does the slave. Neither pays for labor; but the master permits the
slave to retain a larger allowance from the proceeds of his own labor, and hence “free labor is cheaper
than slave labor.” You, with the command over labor which your capital gives you, are a slave owvner-a
master, without the obligations of a master. They who work for you, who create your income, are slaves,
without the rights of slaves. Slaves without a master! Whilst you were engaged in amassing your capital,
in seeking to become independent, you were in the white Slave Trade. To become independent, is to be
able to make other people support you, without being obliged to labor for them.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 29, 1857

“We do not know whether free laborers ever sleep. They are fools to do so; for, whilst they sleep, the wily and
watchful capitalist is devising means to ensnare and exploitate them. The free laborer must work or starve. He
is more of a slave than the negro, because he works longer and harder for less allowance than the slave, and
has no holiday, because the cares of life with him begin when its labors end. He has no liberty, and not a single
right. We know, ’tis often said, air and water, are common property, which all have equal right to participate and
enjoy; but this is utterly false. The appropriation of the lands carries with it the appropriation of all on or above
the lands, usque ad coelum, aut ad inferos. A man cannot breathe the air, without a place to breathe it from,
and all places are appropriated. All water is private property “to the middle of the stream,’* except the ocean,
and that is not fit to drink. Free laborers have not a thousandth part of the rights and liberties of negro slaves.
Indeed, they have not a single right or a single liberty, unless it be the right or liberty to die. But the reader
may think that he and other capitalists and employers are freer than negro slaves. Your capital would soon
vanish, if you dared indulge in the liberty and abandon of negroes. You hold your wealth and position by
the tenure of constant watchfulness, care and circumspection. You never labor; but you are never free.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 30-31, 1857

“Give you a palace, ten thousand acres of land, sumptuous clothes, equipage and every other luxury; and
with your artificial wants, you are poorer than Robinson Crusoe, or the lowest working man, if you have no
slaves to capital, or domestic slaves. Your capital will not bring you an income of a cent, nor supply one of
your wants, without labor. Labor is indispensable to give value to property, and if you owned every thing else,
and did not own labor, you would be poor. But fifty thousand dollars means, and is, fifty thousand dollars
worth of slaves. You can command, without touching on that capital, three thousand dollars worth of labor
per .annum. You could do no more were you to buy slaves with it, and then you would be cumbered with
the cares of governing and providing for them. You are a slaveholder now, to the amount of fifty thousand
dollars, with all the advantages, and none of the cares and responsibilities of a master.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 31-32, 1857

“Property in man” is what all are struggling to obtain. Why should they not be obliged to take
care of man, their property, as they do of their horses and their hounds, their cattle and their
sheep. Now, under the delusive name of liberty, you work him, “from morn to dewy eve”-from
infancy to old age-then turn him out to starve. You treat your horses and hounds better. Capital
is a cruel master. The free slave trade, the commonest, yet the cruellest of trades.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 31, 1857

“The very astute and avaricious man, when left free to exercise his faculties, is injured by no one in the
field of competition, but levies a tax on all with whom he deals. The sensible and prudent, but less astute
man, is seldom worsted in competing with his fellow men, and generally benefited. The very simple and
improvident man is the prey of every body. The simple man represents a class, the common day laborers.
The employer cheapens their wages, and the retail dealer takes advantage of their ignorance, their inability
to visit other markets, and their want of credit, to charge them enormous profits. They bear the whole weights
of society on their shoulders; they are the producers and artificers of all the necessaries, the comforts, the
luxuries, the pomp and splendor of the world; they create it all, and enjoy none of it; they are the muzzled
ox that treadeth out the straw; they are at constant war with those above them, asking higher wages but
getting lower; for they are also at war with each other, underbidding to get employment. This process of
underbidding never ceases so long as employers want profits or laborers want employment.It ends when
wages are reduced too low to afford subsistence, in filling poor-houses, and jails, and graves. It has reached
that point already in France, England and Ireland. A half million died of hunger in one year in Ireland-they
died because in the eye of the law they were the equals, and liberty had made them the enemies, of their
landlords and employers. Had they been vassals or serfs, they would have been beloved, cherished and
taken care of by those same landlords and employers. Slaves never die of hunger, scarcely ever feel want.
The bestowing upon men equality of rights, is but giving license to the strong to oppress the weak.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

“If the laborer gets sick, his wages cease just as his demands are greatest. If two of the poor get married,
who being young and healthy, are getting good wages, in a few years they may have four children. Their
wants have increased, but the mother has enough to do to nurse the children, and the wages of the husband
must support six. There is no equality, except in theory, in such society, and there is no liberty. The men
of property, those who own lands and money, are masters of the poor; masters, with none of the feelings,
interests or sympathies of masters; they employ them when they please, and for what they please, and may
leave them to die in the highway, for it is the only home to which the poor in free countries are entitled.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

“We constantly boast that the wealthy and powerful of today are the sons of the weak, ignorant and destitute
of yesterday. It is the other side of the picture that we want moral courage to look at. We are dealing now with
figures of arithmetic, not of rhetoric. Those who rise, pull down a class as numerous, and often more worthy
than themselves, to the abyss of misery and penury. Painful as it may be, the reader shall look with us at this
dark side of the picture; he shall view the vanquished as well as the victors on this battle-ground of competition;
he shall see those who were delicately reared, taught no tricks of trade, no shifts of thrifty avarice, spurned,
insulted, down-trodden by the coarse and vulgar, whose wits and whose appetites had been sharpened by
necessity. If he can sympathize with fallen virtue or detest successful vice, he will see nothing in this picture
to admire. The wide fields of the newly rich will cease to excite pleasure in the contemplation;
they will look like Golgothas covered with human bones.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

“First cousins are scarcely acknowledged at the North, and even children are prematurely pushed off into the world.
Love for others is the organic law of our society, as self love is of theirs. Every social structure must have its substratum.
In free society this substratum, the weak, poor and ignorant, is borne down upon and oppressed with continually
increasing weight by all above. We have solved the problem of relieving this substratum from the pressure from
above. The slaves are the substratum, and the master’s feelings and interests alike prevent him from bearing
down upon and oppressing them. With us the pressure on society is like that of air or water, so equally diffused
as not any where to be felt. With them it is the pressure of the enormous screw, never yielding, continually increasing.
Free laborers are little better than trespassers on this earth given by God to all mankind. The birds of the air have
nests, and the foxes have holes, but they have not where to lay their heads. They are driven to cities to dwell
in damp and crowded cellars, and thousands are even forced to lie in the open air. This accounts for the rapid
growth of Northern cities. The feudal Barons were more generous and hospitable and less tyrannical than
the petty land-holders of modern times. Besides, each inhabitant of the barony was considered as having
some right of residence, some claim to protection from the Lord of the Manor. A few of them escaped to
the municipalities for purposes of trade, and to enjoy a larger liberty.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

“The very astute and avaricious man, when left free to exercise his faculties, is injured by no one in the
field of competition, but levies a tax on all with whom he deals. The sensible and prudent, but less astute
man, is seldom worsted in competing with his fellow men, and generally benefited. The very simple and
improvident man is the prey of every body. The simple man represents a class, the common day laborers.
The employer cheapens their wages, and the retail dealer takes advantage of their ignorance, their inability
to visit other markets, and their want of credit, to charge them enormous profits. They bear the whole weights
of society on their shoulders; they are the producers and artificers of all the necessaries, the comforts, the
luxuries, the pomp and splendor of the world; they create it all, and enjoy none of it; they are the muzzled
ox that treadeth out the straw; they are at constant war with those above them, asking higher wages but
getting lower; for they are also at war with each other, underbidding to get employment. This process of
underbidding never ceases so long as employers want profits or laborers want employment.It ends when
wages are reduced too low to afford subsistence, in filling poor-houses, and jails, and graves. It has reached
that point already in France, England and Ireland. A half million died of hunger in one year in Ireland-they died
because in the eye of the law they were the equals, and liberty had made them the enemies, of their landlords
and employers. Had they been vassals or serfs, they would have been beloved, cherished and taken care of by
those same landlords and employers. Slaves never die of hunger, scarcely ever feel want.The bestowing upon
men equality of rights, is but giving license to the strong to oppress the weak. It begets the grossest inequalities
of condition. Menials and day laborers are and must be as numerous as in a land of slavery.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

“A vulgar adage, “Every man for himself and devil take the hindmost,” is the moral which liberty and free competition
inculcate. Now, there are no more honors and wealth in proportion to numbers, in this generation, than in the
one which preceded it; population fully keeps pace with the means of subsistence; hence, those who better their
condition or rise to higher places in society, do so generally by pulling down others or pushing them from their
places. Where men of strong minds, of strong wills, and of great self-control, come into free competition with
the weak and improvident, the latter soon become the inmates of jails and penitentiaries. The statistics of France,
England and America show that pauperism and crime advance pari passu with liberty and equality. How can it be
otherwise, when all society is combined to oppress the poor and weak minded? The rich man, however good he may
be, employs the laborer who will work for the least wages. If he be a good man, his punctuality enables him to cheapen
the wages of the poor man. The poor war with one another in the race of competition, in order to get employment,
by underbidding; for laborers are more abundant than employers. Population increases faster than capital.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

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