George Fitzhugh on Race

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

“Negroes and Indians have no wealth, and are incapable of accumulating, holding, managing or administering
wealth. For this reason they ever have been and must ever be ignorant, lawless savages despite free schools
and Howard Universities. These things have been tried for more than half a century in Hayti, and have only
hastened the demoralisation of her once useful and profitable but now useless savages.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Great Central Belt of Trade and Commerce, page: 6, 1872

“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

“Envy, jealousy, rivalry, thirst for accumulation, economy, avarice, competition, pride, ambition-all
the qualities that incite white men to restless, untiring industry, rivalry and competition in the struggle
to amass wealth, to improve their minds, to elevate their social con-dition, and to acquire riches, are
wholly unknown to the well fed negro. He is brutishly contented and amiable so long as his physical
wants are supplied, and brutally cruel, ferocious and ravenous when roused by hunger into action, in
order to supply those wants. Such has ever been the character of negroes, for four thousand years
no matter by what circumstances surrounded, nor how trained or educated, nor where oramong whom
residing. Without continued coercion, he is as indolent, improvident and contented, except under the
pressure of immediate want, when brought up and residing in the midst of the industrious and refined
population of our large cities, as when dwelling in the wilds of Africa. As improvident and careless for
the future amidst the snows and frosts of Canada as in Hayti, where kind and lavish nature supplies,
the year round, most Of his wants, without the necessity for labor. His nature is savage, and all
attempts to change and expel that nature have hither-to, and will hereafter, prove fruitless.”
– George Fitzhugh, Land Monopoly, page: 3, 1867

“Thrown upon their individual merit regardless of color or race, and they know that no negroes
would be elected or appointed to office, for more capable white men are everywhere to be found.
Obliterate all distinctions of race, and the negroes at the South, like those at the North, would
become outcasts, pariahs, paupers and criminals. They would be confined to the most loathsome
and least lucrative employments, and spend half their time in prisons, work-houses and poor
-houses. They know that mere political equality would at once condemn them to social slavery
-and they see at the North, that this social slavery, or slavery to skill and capital, of an inferior
to a superior race, is the worst possible condition in which human beings can be placed.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cui Bono. The Negro Vote, page: 1, 1867

“They must first be made men, and the Bureau is a practical admission and assertion that they
are not men, and will not be for two years hence. By that time they think the Ethiopian will change
his skin. We are sure he will not. Negro he is, negro he always has been, and negro he always
will be. Never has he been, and never will he be a man, physically, morally, or intellectually, in
the European or American sense of the term. None are so thoroughly aware that the term “negro”
is, in its ordinary acceptation, the negation of manhood, as the abolitionists and the negroes
themselves. They are no longer negroes, but “colored people.” Those who call them other than
negroes, are acting falsely and hypocritically, for they thereby as good as assert that these blacks
have changed their natures, moral and intellectual, and risen to an equality with the whites.”
– George Fitzhugh, Camp Lee and the Freedmen’s Bureau, page: 2, 1866

“Since the world began men of inferior mental and moral qualifications have been virtually
slaves, hewers of wood and drawers of water, for those of superior capacities. This is more
especially the case, where an inferior race, without property and without skill or education,
lives in the midst of a superior race;-for under such circumstances, should there be an
occasional sporadic instance, of a clever, sensible individual in the ranks of the inferior
race, antipathy of race would debar him from all chance of emerging from the low condition
of his own caste, and elevating himself to an equality with the race or caste above him.”
– George Fitzhugh, Virginia-Her Past, Present, and Future, page: 6, 1866

“He assumes the Bible account of the origin of man to be true, but says that from the earliest dawn
of history we find various races, divisions and varieties of the human family, differing from each
other more or less widely, and that those differences can never be effaced except by intermarriage;
and that then a new variety is produced; which, like its predecessors, can only be changed by the
infusion of foreign blood from some other race or variety. He holds that not only is the Caucasian race
superior to all other races, and must ever continue so despite of circumstance and education, but that
there are very many families or varieties in that race of different grade of capacity, different characteristics,
and different talents, turn or genius; and that these differences arejust as ineradicable as the wider
ones between the races. We have always concurred in these propositions, the truth of which, we
think, will be equally obvious to the learned historian, the curious antiquary, and the successful
breeder of colts and cattle. lie does not attempt to account for these varieties or different breeds of
men, and to make them concur with the scriptural history of a common parentage; nor do we see
any reason why ho should do so. God, who made man, could certainly change or modify his nature;
or, it maybe, that all created things were more plastic and adaptable. in the beginning than now.”
– George Fitzhugh, Superiority of Southern Races, page: 1, 1861

“It is impossible to conceive or suggest but one reason, and that is that heat promotes the intellectual
growth of man, and disposes him to bodily exertion and continuous industry. If our theory be questioned
or denied, we appeal to the pyramids, the obelisks, the labyrinths, the sphinx, the catacombs of Egypt;
to the architectural ruins of Persia and Asia Minor; to the splendid remains of art and architecture
in Greece and Italy ; to the wonderful industry and thorough, all-pervading civilization of southern
Asia; to Mexico, to Cen-tral America and Peru, as they were found by the Spaniards, and to their
past history as recorded in stupendous edifices of stone, that show clearly enough that these
Indians were a civilized people, at a time when the Goth, German or Teuton (as you may please to
call him) was an acorn-eating, nomadic barbarian. Heat stimulated, fostered and perfected the races
of the South, just as it stimulates, fosters and perfects all other animals and all plants. Cold makes
men and other animals inert, inactive, indolent, torpid, stupid. It affects body and mind alike; and
hence there are, at the North, neither monuments of industry nor monu-ments of art. Her past or
ancient history is a blank, and she would have no history at all, oven fur the last few centuries,
except for the infusion of Southern blood and of Southern popnlation.”
– George Fitzhugh, Superiority of Southern Races, page: 6, 1861

“By his own showing the old Teutonic race cannot be at the lead of civilization. Nor, according to another theory
of his, can a race, compounded of Teutonic and Selavonic elements, hold such a position. He says, and few
will dispute the doctrine, that if an inferior and superior race intermarry, the offspring will occupy a medium
intellectual and moral position between the two races, and instances the mulatto, who is superior to the negro
but inferior to the white man. The German, we have shown, until he intermarried with the Selavo was a barbarian.
The result of the intermarriage, then, must be something between a barbarian and a civilized man. Frederick the
Great thought that the barbarian element greatly preponderated, and we are decidedly of his opinion,because there
is far more of Teutonic than Selavonie blood in Germany. Besides, the Selavic race itself has never been the
equal of the races around the Mediterranean. Those races have over led the march of civilization,and will ever
lead it. The Greeks and Romans of two thousand years ago are still the beacon lights of advancing civilization;
still the models that we imitate-not equal. Next to them are the people descended of them,who are not their equals,
because of the admixture of Northern blood that has been infused into their veins.France and England have a high
civilization, not because of but despite their German blood. Except in theRhine provinces there is little of this blood
in France. Frenchmen are of Roman descent, as their personalappearance, laws, language and religion indicate.
The nobility and gentry of England are of Norman descent,and the Normans were of Roman descent. There has
been very little intermarriage between the Anglo-Saxon and Norman elements in English society.

“The peasantry are Anglo-Saxons, and they occupy-a social position quite as low as that of our slaves,
and never emerge from that position. English writers agree that there are ten instances of a slave’s rising
to wealth and distinction in Turkey where one English peasant advances his social status. They are the
weakest and most contemptible of the white race. Can neither read nor write, nor speak English nor any
other intelligible language-were never ten miles from home-are alarmed and confused when asked the
commonest question, because they really have not sufficient intelligence to answer the commonest question.
They are far weaker than their Saxon ancestry, no doubt because they have as much of the blood of the
ancient Briton in their veins as of the Saxon. Cesar describes the Briton as very inferior to the German. The
ease with which he was conquered shows that he was also inferior to the Scotchman and the Welshman.”
– George Fitzhugh, Superiority of Southern Races, page: 6-7, 1861

“We have a theory of our own about the origin of races, which we think quite as plausible as any that
we have read. Little confidence as we have in it, in all its details, yet as it rests its basis on holy writ
we venture to give it to the reader: We believe that man, other animals, and plants, were created at a
common centre in Asia, somewhere about Persia or Syria, and have thence been diffused north, south,
east and west over the whole earth. We believe flintier, that ut and about the centre of creation was the
most favorable locality for the growth and full development of all created things; and that regions and
climates most like this central locality differ least from it in capacity to produce the finest specimens of
vege-table, animal and human life. We believe that as you recede from the isothermal latitude of creation,
and go north or south, all created things deteriorate, and that this deteriora-tion is progressive, until at
length it becomes necessary to infuse new central blood, or to introduce new plants from the central or
warm latitudes. Thus, the Finns and Tartars of Russia and Asia, proceeding at first from the common
centre of creation, under the evil, influence of an extremely cold climate, gradually became so feeble
in mind and body as to be easily conquered by the Sclaves, who came from a warmer climate. We do
not believe that the climate of any portion of the globe differs now from what it was in the beginning;
but that in a long lapse of ages southern plants and animals learn gradually partially to adapt themselves
to cold regions. The elephant found some years ago frozen in the ice at the mouth of the Neva, was
covered with a warm suit of hair to fit it for a northern clime. Yet the elephant no longer exists at the
North, although its bones are to be found everywhere. A cold climate, in the long run, proves fatal to
it. The lion used to be found in Thrace, but has long since receded to warmer and more genial climes.

The remains or impressions of many tropical plants are found imbedded in the rocks of Iceland and other
cold regions. These plants, like the elephant, bad been gradually partially adapted to cold regions. When
we find an elephant, with all its flesh upon it, at the mouth of the Neva, certainly, from its situation, belonging
to the Adamite creation, why should we follow the sceptic and geologist in their wild speculations about a
pre-Adamite creation. Some animals and some plants were created hardier than others, and permanently
adapt themselves to cold regions—such among animals are men, bears, foxes, eteryet, although they
learn to exist, they become thr inferior to the same ani-mal in the South. Many of the fruits, vegetables
and domestic fowls of Europe have been introduced from Asia within the historic period. In fine, however,
we confess we have not much investigated the facts bearing upon our theory of creation, and would not
suggest it but for its concurrence in the main with holy writ. But we beg the reader carefully to distinguish
this one theory of creation from one other theory of ours, which is, that ” without attempting to pry into
the secrets of creation, but only looking to existing phenomena, or such as history or architectural ruins
attest, and we find that everything in warm climates is superior to everything in cold climates.” In truth,
this is no theory, but a fact, which we claim to have discov-ered; which we have maturely investigated
and considered; and which we are ready to defend and sustain against all assailants.”
– George Fitzhugh, Superiority of Southern Races, pages: 8-9, 1861

“He the Negro is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child, not as a lunatic or criminal. The
master occupies toward him the place of parent or guardian. We shall not dwell on this view, for no one
will differ with us who thinks as we do of the negro’s capacity, and we might argue till dooms-day in vain,
with those who have a high opinion of the negro’s moral and intellectual capacity. Secondly. The negro is
improvident; will not lay up in summer for the wants of winter; will not accumulate in youth for the exigencies
of age. He would become an insufferable burden to society. Society has the right to prevent this, and can
only do so by subjecting him to domestic slavery. In the last place, the negro race is inferior to the white
race, and living in their midst, they would be far outstripped or outwitted in the chaos of free competition.
Gradual but certain extermination would be their fate. We presume the maddest abolitionist does not think
the negro’s providence of habits and money-making capacity at all to compare to those of the whites.
This defect of character would alone justify enslaving him, if he is to remain here. In Africa or the West
Indies, he would become idolatrous, savage and cannibal, or be devoured by savages and cannibals.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Universal Law of Slavery, page: 1, 1850

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