George Fitzhugh on Race

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

“I verily believe there is not one decently-informed philanthropist in America who does not know that a literary
education unfits a full blooded negro for field. work or other servile offices, prepares him for no other occupation,
and thus deprives him of all means of support except theft and robbery. The experiment of educating negroes
has been assiduously carried on for four thousand years. The Egyptians, in ancient times the most civilized of the
white race, have ever been in contact with them; and the Arabs, whose civilization also dates from time immemorial,
crossing the narrow straits of Babel-Mandeb, have so commingled and crossed blood with them that there are
now no really full-blooded, thoroughly black negroes, except on the extreme western coast and in the partially
-explored regions about the head of the Nile. In all instances it is found that the brown Mohammedan negroes,
crossed with Arabic blood, are superior to the typical, thoroughbred, pure black negroes. But the infusion of white
blood has been so small that they have acquired none of the modes or arts of civilized life. They have no houses,
no farms, no ploughs, no wagons, no laws, no churches, no public highways, no separate properties, little or
no clothing-in fact, none of the institutions that belong to civilized life, and which distinguish civilized men from
barbarians. They herd together from necessity, for no African’s life would be safe who attempted to live secluded.
Their so-called cities, collections of huts, inferior to the residences of the beaver, afford the most conclusive
evidence that they are, after four thousand years of association with civilized mankind, very little superior to
the other gregarious animals that infest the wilds of Africa. Yet their patronizing friends propose to teach them
to read and then start them in life, to make their way in the field of free competition with the civilized whites.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Freedman and His Future, page, 4 1869

“I am thy servant, disarms one of the power of a master.” Every word, every gesture, every
look of the negro, says in mute eloquence to the white man, “I am thy servant.” It would be
as easy for the mountains to descend to the plains, for the lakes and seas to dry up, for all
nature to change its course, as for the negro to change his deportment toward the white man.
He feels his inferiority, and can never divest himself of that feeling. He is kind, generous and
obliging, because to be so is part of his amiable nature, which he can never throw off.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Freedman and His Future, pages: 2-3, 1869

“White colonization is proceeding with rapidity in every corner of the savage world. The civilized
and uncivilized races are ever in deadly hostility where they form separate adjoining communities.
This hostility is rapidly exterminating the inferior races. Philanthropy has devised or suggested
no measures that shall prevent this rapidly-progressing extermination. Blending and inter-mixing
the races, with proper social, legal and political regulations, would avert the catastrophe. The
whites, however, will not tolerate savages among them unless they can in some way be made
useful and profitable. This can only be effected by compelling the savages to serve the whites
for a term of years for hire. if I have shown that weakness is power, that it is natural for the feeble
and dependent to look up to, obey and love their superiors, and quite as natural for the strong
and the wise to protect and care for the feeble, ignorant and dependent, I think I have indicated
a possible and peaceful solution of the great social problem of the day.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Freedman and His Future, pages: 2-3, 1869

“If lands were equally divided, or if lands were in common among the whites, civilization would perish. It is the
dominion of capital over labor that begets, sustains and advances civilization. Were there no inequalities of
property, there could be no civilization. There is no accumulated wealth, no capital, no inequalities of property,
no land monopoly among the uncivilized races. Liberty (in its broadest sense) and social equality are enjoyed
by all. They are all ignorant, half-starved paupers. Place them among whites, and subject them, like poor whites,
to the dominion of capital, and they necessarily acquire civilization, but it is in most instances a feeble, sickly,
exotic civilization. They are contented beings, and content dooms them to eternal ignorance and pauperism.
A little coarse, common labor will procure for them the merest necessaries of life, and that is all they care
or hope for. Not one in a thousand will undergo the labor of mind and body requisite to make them good
mechanics, or artists, or scholars, or professional men. Invested with equal political rights, as the negroes
soon will be, a very few of them will acquire property, become educated and occupy respectable social
positions. The great mass of them will continue to be a useful, robust and productive laboring class
-much better situated in all respects, however, than the negroes of Africa or the Indians of America.”
– George Fitzhugh, Land Monopoly, page: 2, 1869

“More than forty years’ study of general history, and more than twenty years’ study of sociological history,
have brought me to the conclusion that civilization is congenital with the white and Chinese races, and
has ever been the necessary result of their physical and moral natures. On the other hand, I hold that
all the other races of mankind, when not commingled with the whites or Chinese, have ever been, and
must ever remain, when left to themselves, uncivilized ; and that this is a necessary result of their
moral natures. (I avoid the word savage,” because I think that the uncivilized and uncivilizable races
are far more amiable and less savage than the whites and Chinese. And I avoid the term “intellectual
nature,” because I can detect no characteristic difference between the intellectual natures of the
various races of mankind.) I have not discovered from my reading that there ever were tribes,
communities or nations of uncivilized Caucasians or Mongolians (white or Chinese), or
civilized tribes, communities or nations belonging to other races.”
– George Fitzhugh, Land Monopoly, page: 1, 1869

“Nature never intended, and never will permit the races to live together, except as masters and slaves,
so that the superior race, commanding the labor of the inferior race, shall at the same time be compelled
to provide for, and take care of that race. We do not mean by slavery such as that which has been
recently abolished, but some form of subordination of the inferior race that shall compel them to labor,
whilst it protects their rights and provides for their wants. The true dividing line between the negro and
the white man is, that the negro, like the inferior animals, is the enemy of property; the white man its
friend, its supporter, and advocate. It is proposed to bring the savage, brutish negro, into our political
and social system. He is, from his nature, the enemy of that system, and wherever he has, from numbers,
the control, he will abolish private property, and inaugurate savage communism. Those who are tired
of civilized life, may well advocate negro supremacy, for negroes must, from the necessity of their
natures, abolish private property, and inaugurate communism. Let Yankee socialists be candid,
truthful, and honest. If they wish to bring about individual human equality, they must put the
negroes uppermost, and thereby abolish individual private property.”
– George Fitzhugh, Negro Agrarianism, page: 2, 1868

“The negro tenants have been total failures. The negro, confined to a single operation, under the direction and
control-of the white man, is often the best labourer in the world. But he has no system, no order, no self control,
no administrative talent whatever. There never lived one single full-blooded negro who could manage successfully
all the details of a large farm. Nay, there never was a negro or North American Indian who could manage his own
family. Each race belong to the wild variety of the genus homo. They are our Congeners, yet they are animals,
“fesoe naturae,” we the whites, and also the Mongolian or Chinaman, are human animals, of a tame or domestic
nature. They let their children grow up wild and savage, because to be wild and savage is their nature, when not
tamed and domesticated by white masters, and kept under the control and direction of such masters. It would
be a gross violation of the order, and the analogies of nature, if there were not to be found tame or civilized
varieties of the “genus homo,” with their wild or savage congoners of a different variety.”
– George Fitzhugh, Our Trip to the Country, page: 2, 1867

“The whole order, the system, the analogies of nature, assure us there must be wild or savage varieties of men,
and “congeneric,” tame or civilized races. Is it not plain then, that the negro belongs to a wild variety of the human
species, and his “congener,” the white man, to a tame or civilized variety? is not the tame puddle duck far more
like his cousin or congener the mallard-the dog more like the wolf-than the negro is like the white man? Was there
ever found a nation, a tribe, or an individual of the white race, wild or savage? Certainly not. White civilization is
aboriginal, natural, congenital with the white race. Was there ever found a nation, a tribe, or an individual of the
negro race, (except among the whites) that was not wild or savage? As certainly not. For the negro race is naturally,
aboriginally, and congenitally savage. It is equally impossible to expel from the white man his civilized nature,
as to expel from the negro his savage nature,-we mean permanently to expel.”
– George Fitzhugh, Our Trip to the Country, page: 3, 1867

“Four thousand years of history, sacred and profane, written and monumental, prove incontestably that the
white race has ever been civilized, and the negro, in immediate contact with white civilization, always a
savage. Look to the mouldering architecture, the monumental remains of Egypt and Arabia, and say if Arabs
and Egyptians were ever savages. Look then to the neighboring forests of Africa, and say if the negro has
not ever been an irreclaimable idle savage. Contrast the history of the Jews with that of the negroes. The
Jews, one of the most intellectual varieties of the white race, have been subjected to more persecution,
put under more social, political and religious disadvantages, than all other races; yet despite all this, they
are today probably more free from crime, pauperism and immorality, more wealthy and more enlightened,
than any other nation of equal numbers. We cite the Jews as the oldest and best known instance of
persecution improving instead of permanently depressing the white race.”
– George Fitzhugh, Our Trip to the Country, page: 3, 1867

“So far, all history and all tradition, have gone to prove, that the white race, and the Chinese or Mongolian race could,
and have ever held this separate property, either hereditarily for years, or for life, as legal and political regulations have
permitted; and that the negro and American Indian races, were incapable of holding separate private property in land,
and could only hold it in common, as tribes or nations. Let the radicals have full swing. Let them refute all the lessons
of history, and expel nature if they can. Let them prove, if they can, that, the negro is not only a man, but also a human
being, with all the qualities, moral and intellectual, that have distinguished and constituted humanity, from the days
of Moses, Herodotus and Homer, to those of Shakespeare, Byron and Dickens. Moses describes our human nature
of today, better than Dickens; but neither describe the negro nature. So far, the negro has shown himself a man, but
failed most signally to prove himself a human being. If he can hold and maintain property in land, and transmit it to
his heirs and devisors, as Caucasians and Mongolians do, then he will have exhibited in practice, that aggregate
of social, moral and intellectual qualities, which from time immemorial, have been considered as the features and
constituents of humanity. If he cannot, then he lacks humanity; and is not a human being, although a man.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Negro Imbroglio, page 2, 1867

“White men, by skill in various avocations of life, may escape or mitigate the evils of land monopoly, but negroes must
remain, in the worst possible condition of slavery, so long as the whites own the land, and that they would soon regain
and monopolise, if it were all given to the negroes tomorrow. No, let us not blame free negroes for that God-given instinct,
that will not tolerate trade, contact, intercourse, or co-residue with the whites. (We wish, Messrs. Editors, that co-habitation
had not been changed or restricted in meaning, within the last century, for then we should not have to invent a word.)
The Chinese and Japanese, far more intelligent races than the negroes, have heretofore, and would still, if permitted,
pursue a strictly exclusive policy, and keep out of their countries all whites, because they instinctively perceived that
trade and free competition with the whites would be ruinous to themselves. The miserable colonists of Liberia pursue
the same policy, and permit no whites to settle among them. The negroes of St. Domingo do the same thing, but
unfortunately a few thousands of mixed blood were permitted to remain in their midst, and those few own all the lands and
houses, fill most of the offices, confine the negroes to the plantations, and are virtually their masters. The negroes are
restive under this mongrel and mulatto rule, occasionally massacre numbers of them, and will no doubt in time exterminate
or expel them all. In all the West India Islands, except those of Spain, the negroes dislike the presence of the whites,
and occasionally rise up in insurrection against them. The wild savages of Africa have scarce ever failed to murder the
whites who venture far into the interior, and hence most of Southern Africa is still a “terra incognita.” The Indians of
America speedily felt that to permit whites to settle among or near them would be ruinous, and hence from the days of
Columbus, till now, they have been carrying on a hopeless war with them. All savages and all inferior races, understand
political economy better than any of its learned authors and professors-for they see that free trade is a blessing to the
strong, provident and astute, but the worst of curses to the weak, improvident and ignorant, whether individuals or races.”
– George Fitzhugh, Exodus from the South, page: 2, 1867

“The negroes, and all inferior races, instinctively feel and discover, that they can never be free,
practically and actually, whilst in contact with a superior race, because the superior race, by its
provident habits, skill and capital, is sure so to tax or exploit their labor as to make them virtually
slaves, in all save the protective feature of slavery; slaves, so far as a superior class or race
extracts and enjoys the fruits and profits of their labor;-but “slaves without masters,” with none
to protect or take care of them in infancy, sickness, misfortune or old age. To be liberated from
domestic slavery, only to be remitted to slavery to skill and capital, is the greatest curse that
can possibly be inflicted on human beings. Such is the present condition of the Freedmen,
and such it must continue to be, until they succeed in expelling or exterminating the whites.”
– George Fitzhugh, Exodus from the South, page: 2, 1867

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