George Fitzhugh on Slavery

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

“I believe, and I will die in that belief, that God knows best how to evolve good out
of evil, and that a few thousand years is but a small part of eternity, and further,
that slavery has some good points or qualities, which when observed and studied,
may afford useful suggestions in the construction of a higher, purer and more equal,
equitable and just form of society. The venom of the rattlesnake will some day be
found to be eminently curative and medicinal in some diseases, so slavery, with
all its infirmities. “Like the venomous toad, Wears yet a precious jewel in its head.”
– George Fitzhugh, Excess of Population and Increase of Crime, pages: 2-3, 1867

“No doubt the slaveholders of the South did constitute an aristocracy, and one that united much of hereditary merit,
to hereditary descent. They generally controlled the administration of Federal affairs, except when pecuniary advantages
were to be had, on which occasions the North predominated. The splendid career of the Republic, its vast expansion,
and its rapid increase in wealth and population, attest the merit, the energy, and the wisdom of this ruling power, the
slaveholding aristocracy of the South. A more honest and incorruptible set of men never directed the affairs of a nation.
They were jealous guardians of the treasury, opponents of heavy taxation, lavish expenditure, and especially of all
partial legislation. We never may see their like again. They did not tax, exploit, or in any way make, or seek to make a
profit out of the North, but were her best customers, buying her manufactures, with forty percent. added to their open
market value by protective legislation, and selling to her, cheap, corn, wheat, rice, tobacco, cotton, and various other
agricultural products and raw materials, cheap, because at their open market value, unprotected by partial legislation.
Thus, the North did tax, exploit, and make a profit out of the slaveholding aristocracy. Our only sin was that we did tax,
exploit, and make a profit out of the labor of our slaves, commanding their labor, not as capitalists, but as masters.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Two Aristocracies of America, page: 2, 1866

“For we stake our honor as a man, and our reputation as a philosopher and political economist, to
the truth of the statement, “that if slavery consist in the fact that one set of men labor, whilst another
set, without paying an equivalent, appropriate great part of the results or products of that labor,”
that then the agriculturists, we mean the laboring class of them, of America, are at this day and
hour more grievously, cruelly, and degradingly enslaved, than ever were the negroes of the South.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Two Aristocracies of America, page: 2, 1866

“In 1764, after the defeat of the great Pontiac conspiracy, which extended from the lakes to the gulf of Mexico,
there was a general giving up of their white prisoners and captives by the Indians. The description of the scenes
then enacted, are not only graphic and interesting, but, philosophically considered, suggestive of most useful
lessons. They show that necessity begets civilization, and that, if left to choice, free from the trammels of society,
of capital, of fashion, of law, and of domestic slavery, we should all relapse into the savage state. To be free is
to be a savage. All civilization is slavery, yet liberty is fascinating to man, and all would be savages but from fear.
We submit to law, to government, to the taking away of liberty, not from choice or inclination, but because we
are not brave enough, self-reliant enough, to live separate, isolate, alone, and undertake to support ourselves,
and to defend ourselves against all comers. Cowardice and helplessness associate, enslave, and civilize us.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Pioneers, Preachers, and People of the Mississippi Valley, 1861

“Sociology is the most, interesting and useful of all branches of moral science; yet how little
has it been studied. Its study would do more to content men with their lot, and “justify the
ways of God to man,” than all other studies whatever. inequality of condition, and the slavery
of the many to the few, would be found to be necessary agencies in promoting man’s well
-being, and in elevating him from the savage to the civilized state. With what tremulous hand
would the conscien-tious sociologist touch the wondrous fabric of English society in order to
make the slightest change or reform. Under the system of slavery, first of domestic slavery,
afterwards of slavery to capital, a barren isle has become fertile; a wilderness has been
connected with cultivated fields teeming with grain and other crops; a few hundred thousand
half naked, almost houseless, starving savages, have multiplied to eighteen millions of
civilized Christians, the poorest of whom is better provided for than any of those savages.”
– George Fitzhugh, Wealth and Poverty-Luxury and Economy, page: 3, 1861

“We know the social condition of England would be infinitely better if the lowest
laboring class were domestic slaves; for masters are always present, and infinitely
more humane and generous than the overseers of the poor-houses. The whole weight
of society falls upon the most feeble, indigent, weak, and ignorant laboring class.
They are taxed alike by skill and capital. They are not only slaves alone to the property
-holders, but slaves to lease-holders, professional men, merchants, artists, mechanics,
in fact they are slaves to all above them; for all above them exploitate or tax them
by exchanging a small amount of skilful labor for a large amount of common labor.”
– George Fitzhugh, Wealth and Poverty-Luxury and Economy, pages: 3-4, 1861

“The slave trade was originally intended as a means of converting the heathen.
Long experience has proved that it is the only available means. But for slavery
of some sort we should all be savages, for no man would practise the higher arts
of civilization to produce luxuries for his own use. No man ever cooked and served
up, even a single fine dinner, for his own eating. Men fabricate luxuries for others
to procure necessaries for themselves. Slavery to capital begets and sustains
white civilization. Domestic slavery alone can reclaim the negro.”
– George Fitzhugh, Missionary Failures, page: 3, 1859

“The Northern speculators have nothing to do, but to buy Western lands, and build shanties on them, and white slaves
will pour in to people them, and to work cheaper than negroes. Why does not Mr. Thayer extend his “organized emigration”
to laborers migrating from Europe I Why not appoint over them “captains of tens, and captains of hundreds, and captains of
thousands,” to take care of and govern them on the passage, and to drill them for future service in diem Western homes?
Or why not bring over the poor, ignorant, and dependent class of emigrants, as apprentices or indentured servants? The
intelligent and independent migrating foreigners should be the masters, in all save the name, of this class. This would be
“organized emigration.” All social improvements are borrowed from the system of domestic slavery. The writers on the
English poor laws, all perceive and admit this. We must be able to control the conduct and expenses’of our beneficiaries,
else our charities will be squandered in dissipation, and beget idleness and Crime.”
– George Fitzhugh, Public Lands of Rome and America, page: 2, 1858

“Where a few own the soil, they have unlimited power over the balance of society, until domestic slavery
comes in, to compel them to permit this balance of society to draw a sufficient and comfortable living from “terra
mater.” Free society, asserts the right of a few to the earth-slavery, maintains that it belongs, in different
degrees, to all. But, reader, well may you follow the slave trade. It is the only trade worth following, and
slaves the only property worth owning. All other is worthless, a mere caput mortuum, except in so far
as it vests the owner with the power to command the labors of others-to enslave them.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 31, 1857

“If we mean not to repudiate all divine, and almost all human authority in favor of slavery, we must vindicate that
institution in the abstract. To insist that a status of society, which has been almost universal, and which is expressly
and continually justified by Holy Writ, is its natural, normal, and necessary status, under the ordinary circumstances,
is on its face a plausible and probable proposition. To insist on less, is to yield our cause, and to give up our religion;
for if white slavery be morally wrong, be a violation of natural rights, the Bible cannot be true. Human and divine
authority do seem in the general to concur, in establishing the expediency of having masters and slaves of different
races. The nominal servitude of the Jews to each other, in its temporary character, and no doubt in its mild character,
more nearly resembled our wardship and apprenticeship, than ordinary domestic slavery. In very many nations
of antiquity, and in some of modern times, the law has permitted the native citizens to become slaves to each
other. But few take advantage of such laws; and the infrequency of the practice, establishes the general truth
that master and slave should be of different national descent. In some respects, the wider the difference the
better, as the slave will feel less mortified by his position. In other respects, it may be that too wide a difference
hardens the hearts and brutalizes the feelings of both master and slave.”
– George Fitzhugh,Cannibals All!, page: 163, 1857

“The best thing a philanthropist can do, is to buy slaves, because then his power of control is greatest-his ability to do
practical good, most perfect. The humble and obedient slave exercises more or less control over the most brutal and
hard-hearted master. It is an invariable law of nature, that weakness and dependence are elements of strength, and
generally sufficiently limit that universal despotism, observable throughout human and animal nature. The moral and
physical world is but a series of subordinations, and the more perfect the subordination, the greater the harmony and
the happiness. Inferior and superior act and re-act on each other through agencies and media too delicate and subtle
for human apprehensions; yet, looking to usual results, man should be willing to leave to God what God only can
regulate. Human law cannot beget benevolence, affection, maternal and paternal love; nor can it supply their places:
but it may, by breaking up the ordinary relations of human beings, stop and disturb the current of these finer feelings
of our nature. It may abolish slavery; but it can never create between the capitalist and the laborer, between the
employer and employed, the kind and affectionate relations that usually exist between master and slave.”
– George Fitzhugh,Cannibals All!, page: 279, 1857

“It is the duty of society to protect the weak;” but protection cannot be efficient without the power of control;
therefore, “It is the duty of society to enslave the weak.” And it is a duty which no organized and civilized
society ever failed to perform. Parents, husbands, guardians, teachers, committees, &c., are but masters
under another name, whose duty it is to protect the weak, and whose right it is to control them.”
– George Fitzhugh,Cannibals All!, page: 263, 1857

“It is contrary to all human customs and legal analogies, that those who are dependent, or are likely to
become so, should not be controlled. The duty of protecting the weak involves the necessity of enslaving
them-hence, in all countries, women and children, wards and apprentices, have been essentially slaves,
controlled, not by law, but by the will of a superior. This is a fatal defect in the poor-house system. Many
men become paupers from their own improvidence or misconduct, and masters alone can prevent such
misconduct and improvidence. Masters treat their sick, infant and helpless slaves well, not only from
feeling and affection, but from motives of self-interest. Good treatment renders them more valuable. All
poor houses, are administered on the penitentiary system, in order to deter the poor from resorting to
them. Besides, masters are always in place to render needful aid to the unfortunate and helpless slaves.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 44, 1857

“A common charge preferred against slavery is, that it induces idleness with the masters. The trouble, care
and labor, of providing for wife, children and slaves, and of properly governing and administering the whole
affairs of the farm, is usually borne on small estates by the master. On larger ones, he is aided by an overseer
or manager. If they do their duty, their time is fully occupied. If they do not, the estate goes to ruin. The mistress,
on Southern farms, is usually more busily, usefully and benevolently occupied than any one on the farm. She
unites in her person, the offices of wife, mother, mistress, housekeeper, and sister of charity. And she fulfills
all these offices admirably well. The rich men, in free society, may, if they please, lounge about town, visit
clubs, attend the theatre, and have no other trouble than that of collecting rents, interest and dividends of
stock. In a well constituted slave society, there should be no idlers. But we cannot divine how the capitalists
in free society are to be put to work. The master labors for the slave, they exchange industrial value. But
the capitalist, living on his income, gives nothing to his subjects. He lives by mere exploitation.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 45, 1857

“Slavery, by separating the mass of the ignorant from each other, and bringing them in contact
and daily intercourse with the well-informed, becomes an admirable educational system-no
doubt a necessary one. By subjecting them to the constant control and supervision of their
superiors, interested in enforcing morality, it becomes the best and most efficient police
system; so efficient, that the ancient Romans had scarcely any criminal code whatever.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 46, 1857

“As modern civilization advances, slavery becomes daily more necessary, because its tendency is to accumulate
all capital in a few hands, cuts off the masses from the soil, lessens their wages and their chances of employment,
and increases the necessity for a means of certain subsistence, which slavery alone can furnish, when a few own
all the lands and other capital. Christian morality can find little practical foothold in a community so constituted,
that to “love our neighbor as ourself,” or “to do unto others as we would they should do unto us,” would be acts
of suicidal self-sacrifice. Christian morality, however, was not preached to free competitive society, but to slave
society, where it is neither very difficult nor unnatural to practice it. In the various family relations of husband,
wife, parent, child, master and slave, the observance of these Christian precepts is often practiced, and almost
always promotes the temporal well being of those who observe it. The interests of the various members of the
family circle, correctly understood, concur and harmonize, and each member best promotes his own selfish
interest by ministering to the wants and interests of the rest. Two great stumbling blocks are removed from the
acceptance of Scripture, when it is proved that slavery, which it recognizes, approves and enjoins, is promotive
of men’s happiness and well-being, and that the morality, which it inculcates, although wholly impracticable in
free society, is readily practised in that form of society to which it was addressed.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 47, 1857

“We know a man at the North who owns millions of dollars, and would throw every cent into the ocean
to benefit mankind. But it is capital, and, place it where he will, it becomes an engine to tax and oppress
the laboring poor. It is impossible to place labor and capital in harmonious or friendly relations, except
by the means of slavery, which identifies their interests. Would that gentleman lay his capital out in
land and negroes, he might be sure, in whatever hands it came, that it would be employed to protect
laborers, not to oppress them; for when slaves are worth near a thousand dollars a head, they will be
carefully and well provided for. In any other investment he may make of it, it will be used as an engine
to squeeze the largest amount of labor from the poor, for the least amount of allowance.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, pages: 48-49, 1857

“Imitation, grammar and slavery suit the masses. Liberty and Laissez faire, the
men of genius, and the men born to command. Genius, in her most erratic flights,
represents a higher Grammar than Dr. Blair or Lindlay Murray-the grammar of
progressive nature. To secure true progress, we must unfetter genius, and chain
down mediocrity. Liberty for the few-Slavery, in every form, for the mass!”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 94, 1857

“We agree with Mr. Jefferson, that all men have natural and inalienable rights. To violate or disregard
such rights, is to oppose the designs and plans of Providence, and cannot “come to good.” The order and
subordination observable in the physical, animal and human world, show that some are formed for higher,
others for lower stations-the few to command, the many to obey. We conclude that about nineteen out of
every twenty individuals have “a natural and inalienable right” to be taken care of and protected; to have
guardians, trustees, husbands, or masters; in other words, they have a natural and inalienable right to be
slaves. The one in twenty are as clearly born or educated, or some way fitted for command and liberty. Not
to make them rulers or masters, is as great a violation of natural right, as not to make slaves of the mass.
A very little individuality is useful and necessary to society, much of it begets discord, chaos and anarchy.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All, page: 103, 1857

“Philosophy cannot justify the relation between the free laborer, and the idle, irresponsible employer.
But, ’tis easy to justify that between master and slave. Their obligations are mutual and equal; and if
the master will superintend and provide for the slave in sickness, in health, infancy and old age-if he
will feed and clothe, and house him properly, guard his morals, and treat him kindly and humanely, he
will make his slaves happy and profitable, and be himself a worthy, useful and conscientious man.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 126, 1857

“Human and divine authority do seem in the general to concur, in establishing the expediency of
having masters and slaves of different races. The nominal servitude of the Jews to each other, in
its temporary character, and no doubt in its mild character, more nearly resembled our wardship
and apprenticeship, than ordinary domestic slavery. In very many nations of antiquity, and in some
of modern times, the law has permitted the native citizens to become slaves to each other. But
few take advantage of such laws; and the infrequency of the practice, establishes the general
truth that master and slave should be of different national descent. In some respects, the wider
the difference the better, as the slave will feel less mortified by his position. In other respects, it
may be that too wide a difference hardens the hearts and brutalizes the feelings of both master
and slave. The civilized man hates the savage, and the savage returns the hatred with interest.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 296, 1857

“The humble and obedient slave exercises more or less control over the most brutal and hard-hearted
master. It is an invariable law of nature, that weakness and dependence are elements of strength, and
generally sufficiently limit that universal despotism, observable throughout human and animal nature.
The moral and physical world is but a series of subordinations, and the more perfect the subordination,
the greater the harmony and the happiness. Inferior and superior act and re-act on each other through
agencies and media too delicate and subtle for human apprehensions; yet, looking to usual results, man
should be willing to leave to God what God only can regulate. Human law cannot beget benevolence,
affection, maternal and paternal love; nor can it supply their places: but it may, by breaking up the ordinary
relations of human beings, stop and disturb the current of these finer feelings of our nature. It may
abolish slavery; but it can never create between the capitalist and the laborer, between the employer
and employed, the kind and affectionate relations that usually exist between master and slave.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 302, 1857

“Good treatment and proper discipline renders the slave happier, healthier, more valuable,
grateful, and contented. Obedience, industry and loyalty on the part of the slave, increases
the master’s ability and disposition to protect and take care of him. The interests of all the
members of a natural family, slaves included, are identical. Selfishness finds no place, because
nature, common feelings and self-interest dictate to all that it is their true interest “to love their
neighbor as themselves,” and “to do as they would be done by,”-at least, within the precincts of
the family. To throw off into the world wife, children, and slaves, would injure, not benefit them.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 317, 1857

“Christian morality is the natural morality in slave society, and slave society is the only natural
society. Such society as that of the early Patriarchs of Judea, under Moses and Joshua, and as
that of the South, would never beget a sceptic, a Hobbes, a Wayland, nor a Channing. In such
society it is natural for men to love one another. The ordinary relations of men are not competitive
and antagonistic as in free society; and selfishness is not general, but exceptionable. Duty to self
is the first of duties: free society makes it the only duty. Man is not naturally selfish or bad, for he
is naturally social. Free society dissociates him, and makes him bad and selfish from necessity.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 319, 1857

“Beaten at every other quarter, we learn that a distinguished writer at the North, is about to be put forward by the
Abolitionists, to prove that the influence of slavery is deleterious on the whites who own no slaves. Now, at first
view it elevates those whites; for it makes them not the bottom of society, as at the North-not the menials, the hired
day laborer, the work scavengers and scullions—but privileged citizens, like Greek and Roman citizens, with a
numerous class far beneath them. In slave society, one white man does not lord it over another; for all are equal
in privilege, if not in wealth; and the poorest would not become a menial-hold your horse, and then extend his hand
or his hat for a gratuity, were you to proffer him the wealth of the Indies. The menial, the exposed and laborious,
and the disgraceful occupations, are all filled by slaves. But filled they must be by some one, and in free society,
half of its members are employed in occupations that are not considered or treated as respectable. Our slaves
till the land, do the coarse and hard labor on our roads and canals, sweep our streets, cook our food, brush
our boots, wait on our tables, hold our horses, do all hard work, and fill all menial offices. Your freemen at the
North do the same work and fill the same offices. The only difference is, we love our slaves, and we are ready
to defend, assist and protect them; you hate and fear your white servants, and never fail, as a moral duty, to
screw down their wages to the lowest, and to starve their families, if possible, as evidence of your thrift, economy
and management-the only English and Yankee virtues. In free society, miscalled freemen fulfill all the offices
of slaves for less wages than slaves, and are infinitely less liked and cared for by their superiors than slaves.
Does this elevate them and render them happy? The trades, the professions, the occupations that pay well,
and whose work is light, is reserved for freemen in slave society. Does this depress them?”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, pages: 321-322, 1857

“It is the duty of society to protect all its members, and it can only do so by subjecting each to that degree of government
constraint or slavery, which will best advance the good of each and of the whole. Thus, ambition, or the love of power,
properly directed, becomes the noblest of virtues, because power alone can enable us to be safely benevolent to the weak,
poor, or criminal. To protect the weak, we must first enslave them, and this slavery must be either political and legal, or
social; the latter, including the condition of wives, apprentices, inmates of poor houses, idiots, lunatics, children, sailors,
soldiers, and domestic slaves. Those latter classes cannot be governed, and also protected by mere law, and require
masters of some kind, whose will and discretion shall stand as a law to them, who shall be entitled to their labor, and
bound to provide, for them. This social organization begets harmony and good will, instead of competition, rivalry, and
war of the wits. Slavery educates, refines, and moralizes the masses by separating them from each other, and
bringing them into continual intercourse with masters of superior minds, information, and morality.”
– George Fitzhugh, Southern Thought, (Cont’d), page: 5, 1857

“The owners of slaves are almost always too enlightened to abuse women and children, and it is they
who form public opinion at the South, and thereby control, in great measure, the moral conduct of all
the members of society. Ill treatment of wives and children is very rare with us, for here the family is
considered a sacred and a holy thing, whilst at the North it is going quite out of repute and fashion, and
perpetual partnerships between man and woman are taking the place of regular Christian marriage.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Politics and Economies of Aristotle and Mr. Calhoun, page: 2, 1857

“The defence of Southern slavery involves, necessarily, the defence of every existing human institution, because they are
all alike assailed by abolition as modifications of slavery itself. You of the North cannot conquer them, without taking issue
with them. You cannot admit their premises and deny their conclusions. If slavery be wrong in principle, wrong in the abstract,
then all governmental institutions are wrong, and should be abolished. If negro slavery be wrong because it is slavery, then
are marriage, and church government, and separate ownership of lands, and parental authority equally wrong, unless it be
proved that white slavery, which these institutions occasion, is free from the objections which apply to all other kinds of
slavery. Conservatives, North or South, have not an inch of ground to stand upon, unless they at once boldly and distinctly
take the position, that slavery in the abstract, slavery in the general, slavery in principle, is right, natural, and necessary.
-Right, natural, and necessary, because it has been universal, for there is no so-called free society in the world in which
four-fifths of the people are not slaves, governed and controlled, not by mere law, but by the will and ipse dixit of superiors
right, also, because it is sanctioned alike by human and divine law.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Conservative Principle, page: 3, 1857

“Society-is of itself the practical assertion that “man has property in man.” He cannot live alone. By mere
force of nature, by intuitive necessity, the strong protect and control the weak, the weak serve and obey
the strong; but the property in each case is mutual. The husband is, by nature as well as law, master of
wife and children, and bound to provide for, protect, and govern them; they are his property, but he is
equally theirs. This is the germ and nucleus of all government, and of all property of man in man. All the
other institutions of society carry out into practice the principle, that all men have property in each other,
and that none are free; all belong to society, which is bound to protect, to govern, and to provide for all.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Conservative Principle, page: 6, 1857

“The two best criteria of slavery are, “a social status in which the will of the superior controls and directs the will
and action of the inferior,” or “a social condition in which man becomes the property of his fellow man.” Take either
criterion, and all human government is manifestly slavery. In despotic governments the will and conduct of all
subjects may be controlled by an autocrat; in democracies by a majority; in armies, navies, and the merchant
service by superior officers; in families by the parent or master; on farms, in stores, in every business operation
of life, by the employer. The negro slave is not controlled and directed in all his actions by his master. The freest
white citizen is controlled and directed in much of his conduct by his government, We are by birth and nature
the creatures and slaves of society, and therefore none altogether free.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Conservative Principle, page: 5, 1857

“Hobbes maintains that “a state of nature is a state of war.” This is untrue of a state of nature, because
men are naturally associative; but it is true of a civilized state of universal liberty, and free competition,
such as Hobbes saw around him, and which no doubt suggested his theory. The wants of man and
his history alike prove that slavery has always been part of his social organization. A less degree of
subjection is inadequate for the government and protection of great numbers of human beings.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 32-33, 1854

“None but lawyers and historians are aware how much of truth, justice and good sense, there is in the notions of
the Communists, as to the community of property. Laying no stress on the too abstract proposition that Providence
gave the world not to one man, or set of men, but to all mankind, it is a fact that all governments, in civilized
countries, recognize the obligation to support the poor, and thus, in some degree, make all property a common
possession. The poor laws and poor houses of England are founded on communistic principles. Each parish is
compelled to support its own poor. In Ireland, this obligation weighs so heavily as in many instances to make
farms valueless; the poor rates exceeding the rents. But it is domestic slavery alone that can establish a safe,
efficient and humane community of property. It did so in ancient times, it did so in feudal times, and does so
now, in Eastern Europe, Asia and America. Slaves never die of hunger; seldom suffer want. Hence Chinese
sell themselves when they can do no better. A Southern farm is a sort of joint stock concern, or social phalastery,
in which the master furnishes the capital and skill, and the slaves the labor, and divide the profits, not according
to each one’s in-put, but according to each one’s wants and necessities. Socialism proposes to do away with
free competition; to afford protection and support at all times to the laboring class; to bring about, at least, a
qualified community of property, and to associate labor. All these purposes, slavery fully and perfectly attains.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 47-48, 1854

“We believe there is not an intelligent reformist in the world who does not see the necessity
of slavery – who does not advocate its re-institution in all save the name. Every one of
them concurs in deprecating free competition, and in the wish and purpose to destroy it.
To destroy it is to destroy Liberty, and where liberty is destroyed, slavery is established.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 66, 1854

“What a glorious thing to man is slavery, when want, misfortune, old age, debility and sickness overtake him. Free society,
in its various forms of insurance, in its odd-fellow and temperance societies, in its social and communistic establishments,
and in ten thousand other ways, is vainly attempting to attain this never-failing protective, care-taking and supporting
feature of slavery. But it will blunder and flounder on in vain. It cannot put a heart and feeling in its societies and its
corporations. God makes masters and gives them affections, feelings and interests that secure kindness to the sick,
aged and dying slave. Man can never inspire his ricketty institutions with those feelings, interests and affections.
Say the Abolitionists – “Man ought not to have property in man.” What a dreary, cold, bleak, inhospitable world this
would be with such a doctrine carried into practice. Men living to themselves, like owls and wolves and lions and
birds and beasts of prey? No: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” And this can’t be done till he has a property in your
services as well as a place in your heart. Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto! This, the noblest sentiment
ever uttered by uninspired man, recognises the great truth which lies at the foundation of all society – that every
man has property in his fellow-man! It is because that adequate provision is not made properly to enforce this
great truth in free society, that men are driven to the necessity of attempting to remedy the defects of government
by voluntary associations, that carry into definite and practical operation this great and glorious truth.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 68-69, 1854

“It is true that ancient peoples made slaves of the vanquished, but it is also true, that in all instances we find slavery
pre-existing in both the conquering and conquered nation. The word “servus” is said to derive its origin from the fact
that prisoners of war who were made slaves, were saved or preserved from death thereby; their lives being, according
to the Law of Nations as then understood, forfeited to the victor. The Chinese every day sell themselves to each other
to “save or preserve” themselves from want, hunger and death. Such instances no doubt were of daily occurrence in
all ancient societies, and the word “servus” may have as well originated from this social practice as from the practices
of war. We do not think history will sustain the theory that even in case of war, it was the mere saving the life, that
originated the term. Conquerors in feudal times, we know, and probably in all times, parcelled out the conquered
territory, both the lands and the people, to inferior chieftains, whose interest and duty it became to preserve lands,
fruits, crops, houses, and inhabitants, from the cruel rapine, waste, pillage and oppression of the common soldiers.
It is the interest of victors not to destroy what they have vanquished, and history shows that their usages have
conformed to their interests. We deem this definition of the origin of slavery by war more consistent with history
and humanity, than the usual one, that the mere life of the prisoner was saved, and hence he was called “servus.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 100, 1854

“In individual instances slavery may be treated as an evil, and no doubt it is often a very great one where its subject
is fitted to take care of himself and would be happier and more useful as a freeman than as a slave. It was often
imposed as a punishment for sin, but this affords no argument against its usefulness or its necessity. It is probably no
cause of regret that men are so constituted as to require that many should be slaves. Slavery opens many sources
of happiness and occasions and encourages the exercise of many virtues and affections which would be unknown
without it. It begets friendly, kind and affectionate relations, just as equality engenders antagonism and hostility on
all sides. The condition of slavery in all ages and in all countries has been considered in the general disgraceful, but
so to some extent have hundreds of the necessary trades and occupations of freemen. The necessity which often
compels the best of men to resort to such trades and occupations in no degree degrades their character, nor does
the necessity which imposes slavery degrade the character of the slave. The man who acts well his part, whether
as slave or free laborer, is entitled to and commands the esteem and respect of all good men. The disgrace of
slavery all consists in the cowardice, the improvidence or crime which generally originate it.”
– George FItzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 96-97, 1854

“Slavery without domestic affection would be a curse, and so would marriage and parental authority. The free
laborer is excluded from its holy and charmed circle. Shelterless, naked, and hungry, he is exposed to the bleak
winds, the cold rains, and hot sun of heaven, with none that love him, none that care for him. His employer hates
him because he asks high wages or joins strikes; his fellow laborer hates him because he competes with him
for employment. Foolish Abolitionists! bring him back like the Prodigal Son. Let him fare at least as well as the
dog, and the horse, and the sheep. Abraham’s tent is ready to receive him. Better lie down with the kids and the
goats, than stand naked and hungry without. As a slave, he will be beloved and protected. Whilst free, he will be
hated, despised and persecuted. Such is the will of God and order of Providence. It is idle to enquire the reasons.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 106-107, 1854

“Bad as the laboring man’s condition is now, those who live in free society tell us it was far worse formerly. He used
to be a slave, and they say slavery is a far worse condition to the laborer than liberty. Well, for the argument, we grant
it. His condition was worse throughout all past times in slavery, than now with liberty. Is it consistent with the harmony
of nature, or the wisdom and mercy of God, that such a being should be placed in this world, and placed, too, at the
head of it? It is rank Diabolism to admit such a conclusion. None but Lucifer would have made such a world. God
made no such world! He instituted slavery from the first, as he instituted marriage and parental authority. Profane,
presumptuous, ignorant man, in attempting to improve, has marred and defaced the work of his Creator. Wife and
children, although not free, are relieved from care and anxiety, supported and protected, and their situation is as
happy and desirable as that of the husband and parent. In this we see the doings of a wise and just God. The slave,
too, when the night comes, may lie down in peace. He has a master to watch over and take care of him. If he be
sick, that master will provide for him. If his family be sick, his master and mistress sympathise with his affliction,
and procure medical aid for the sick. And when he comes to die, he feels that his family will be provided for. He
does all the labor of life; his master bears all its corroding cares and anxieties. Here, again, we see harmonious
relations, consistent with the wisdom and mercy of God. We see an equal and even-handed justice meted out to
all alike, and we see life itself no longer a terrestrial purgatory; but a season of joy and sorrow to the rich and poor.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 166-167, 1854

“Man is naturally associative, because isolated and alone he is helpless. The object of all associations, from
States to Temperance societies, is mutual insurance. Man does not feel the advantage of State insurance,
until he is driven to the poor house. House insurance companies and life insurance companies often fail; and
when successful, only insure against a class of misfortunes. The insurance of Trade Unions, Odd Fellows, and
Temperance societies, is wholly inadequate. Slavery insurance never fails, and covers all losses and all misfortunes.
Domestic slavery is nature’s mutual insurance society; art in vain attempts to imitate it, or to supply its place.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 167-168, 1854

“Peoples and individuals must live by hand-work, or head-work, and those
who live by head-work are always, in fact, the masters of those who live
by hand-work. They take the products of their labor without paying an
equivalent in equal labor. The hand-work men and nations are slaves in
fact, because they do not get paid for more than one-fourth of their labor.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 173-174, 1854

“Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, culminated when the Goddess of Reason usurped the seat and the sceptre of
Deity, and sent forth her high priests, Danton, Marat, St. Just and Robespierre, “to deal damnation round the
land!” The demonstration was then complete. Man without government, without order, without subordination,
without religion, without slavery in its every form, from the prison house, the straight jacket, the army, the navy,
serfdom, up to the slavery of mere subjection to law, without all those restraints which his peculiar wants and
capacities required, was the cruellest and wildest beast of the field. It proved that a state of nature was not a
state of liberty, for a state of liberty is a state of exterminating warfare. It proved that neither religion nor morality
could exist without enough of government to enforce the performance of duty on each member of society. We
attempted, elsewhere, to show, that there cannot be enough of such government without domestic slavery,
because, in its absence, men are placed in competitive and antagonistic positions toward each other. This
separation of interest and antagonism begets continual rivalry, hatred, and intense discord and war, which
political economy exasperates and increases, by encouraging exclusive devotion to men’s self-interest.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 199-200, 1854

“In framing and revising the institutions and government of a nation, and in enacting its laws, sensible and
prudent statesmen study carefully the will of God and designs of Providence, as revealed in Holy Writ, or
as gathered from history and experience. “Truth is mighty, and will prevail,” and laws in contravention of
the great truths deducible from these sources, will become nugatory and inefficient. Yet whilst the law
is on the statute book, every citizen is bound to respect and obey it, or else take the consequences of
trespass, felony or treason. He may discuss the question, “Does the law coincide with the ‘Higher Law’?”
but he may not act on his conclusions if they be against the law. Does slavery violate the Higher Law?
Certainly not, if that Higher Law is to be found in the Bible. Certainly not, if you throw aside the Bible,
and infer what is right, proper, and natural, from the course of nature, the lessons of history, or the
voice of experience. But consult the same sources for your Higher Law, and as certainly is free
society a violation of the laws of Nature and the revealed will of God.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 204, 1854

“A state of dependence is the only condition in which reciprocal affection can exist among human beings-the only
situation in which the war of competition ceases, and peace, amity and good will arise. A state of independence
always begets more or less of jealous rivalry and hostility. A man loves his children because they are weak, helpless
and dependent; he loves his wife for similar reasons. When his children grow up and assert their independence,
he is apt to transfer his affection to his grand-children. He ceases to love his wife when she becomes masculine
or rebellious; but slaves are always dependent, never the rivals of their master. Hence, though men are often
found at variance with wife or children, we never saw one who did not like his slaves, and rarely a slave who was
not devoted to his master. “I am thy servant!” disarms me of the power of master. Every man feels the beauty,
force and truth of this sentiment of Sterne. But he who acknowledges its truth, tacitly admits that dependence
is a tie of affection, that the relation of master and slave is one of mutual good will. Volumes written on the subject
would not prove as much as this single sentiment. It has found its way to the heart of every reader, and carried
conviction along with it. The slave-holder is like other men; he will not tread on the worm nor break the bruised
reed. The ready submission of the slave, nine times out of ten, disarms his wrath even when the slave has offended.
The habit of command may make him imperious and fit him for rule; but he is only imperious when thwarted or
ordered by his equals; he would scorn to put on airs of command among blacks, whether slaves or free; he always
speaks to them in a kind and subdued tone. We go farther, and say the slave-holder is better than others-because
he has greater occasion for the exercise of the affection. His whole life is spent in providing for the minutest wants
of others, in taking care of them in sickness and in health. Hence he is the least selfish of men. Is not the old
bachelor who retires to seclusion, always selfish? Is not the head of a large family almost always kind and
benevolent? And is not the slave-holder the head of the largest family?”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

“A Southern farm is the beau ideal of Communism; it is a joint concern, in which the slave consumes more than
the master, of the coarse products, and is far happier, because although the concern may fail, he is always sure
of a support; he is only transferred to another master to participate in the profits of another concern; he marries
when he pleases, because he knows he will have to work no more with a family than without one,and whether he
live or die, that family will be taken care of; he exhibits all the pride of ownership, despises a partner in a smaller
concern, “a poor man’s negro,” boasts of “our crops, horses, fields and cattle;” and is as happy as a human being
can be. And why should he not? – he enjoys as much of the fruits of the farm as he is capable of doing, and the
wealthiest can do no more. Great wealth brings many additional cares, but few additional enjoyments. Our stomachs
do not increase in capacity with our fortunes. We want no more clothing to keep us warm. We may create new
wants, but we cannot create new pleasures. The intellectual enjoyments which wealth affords are probably
balanced by the new cares it brings along with it. There is no rivalry, no competition to get employment among
slaves, as among free laborers. Nor is there a war between master and slave. The master’s interest prevents
his reducing the slave’s allowance or wages in infancy or sickness, for he might lose the slave by so doing.
His feeling for his slave never permits him to stint him in old age. The slaves are all well fed, well clad, have
plenty of fuel, and are happy. They have no dread of the future – no fear of want.”
– George Fitzhugh, Slavery Justified, 1849

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