Interesting insights by George Fitzhugh

A presentation of interesting insights through quotations by George Fitzhugh

“The birth of a child, or the moanings of a calf excites no wonder, and stirs up no fanatical ardor, because
of their frequent occurrence; yet the birth of a nation or the separation of a colony from its parent stem, are
events quite as much in the order of nature as the birth of a child, the moaning of a calf, or the dropping of
the ripened apple from the parent stem. The Revolution of ’76 had nothing dramatic, nothing novel, nothing
grand about it. Every child and every chicken, that, getting old enough and strong enough to take care of itself,
quits its parents and sets up for itself, is quite as singular and admirable a spectacle as that of the thirteen
adult States of America, solemnly resolving to cut loose from the state of pupilage and dependence, from
their parent England, and ever thereafter to enjoy the rights of independent manhood. It was an exceedingly
vulgar, commonplace affair. It had nothing poetic or dramatic about it. A birth, a christening, a circumcision,
or the donning of the “toga virilia,” in fact, anything that marked an epoch in life, was quite as admirable as
this weaning of the American calf from its transatlantic dam. Colonies are sure to set up for themselves,
when strong enough to do so, and had been thus setting up for themselves since the world began, and
excited no special wonder by the procedure. So well aware were the Greeks of this fact, that they anticipated
and obviated this weaning process, (which whether it occur with colonies, calves or chickens, occasions
heart burning, family quarrels, scratching, and picking and fighting) that they sent out their colonies as
full fledged and independent nations. Declarations of Independence were unknown then. Nothing so
pompous, so “mat-apropos” and so silly, is to bo found in history until our Revolution of 1776.

A hundred guns are fired when a prince is born in France, yet all the artillery in the world fired
simultaneously, could not make the birth or the weaning of a child or a nation an imposing event.
Either occurrence is decidedly vulgar and commonplace, and Columbian oratory, Fourth of July
orations, and lengthy Colunabiads,in endeavoring to celebrate and dramatise them, only serve
to render them more ridiculous. All the bombastic absurdity in our Declaration of Independence
about the inalienable rights of men, had about as much to do with the occasion as would
a sermon or oration on the teething of a child or the kittening of a cat.”
– George Fitzhugh, Revolutions of ’76 and ’61, pages: 1-2, 1867

“Consciences, in the general, are vague, indeterminate, illusory, half-developed, capricious and undefinable things. To
catch, cage, and analyze a conscience, would be as difficult a task as to arrest, confine, and analyze the electric spark.
We have observed, however, that the most ordinary phenomenon of a good, sound, healthy conscience, is, that it begets
a feeling of elation, self-approval, self-appreciation and happiness when we have succeeded in our undertakings, and
on the other hand depresses our spirits, destroys our self-respect, makes us look mean and sheepish, and feel penitent
and remorseful, when we have failed in those undertakings, without the slightest regard, in either case, to the objects or
ends in view. Much has been said, and with some truth, of a clean shirt and sound stomach, as promotives of cheerful
spirits and a clear conscience. A dyspeptic usually looks and feels mean and melancholy; and his conscience is reproachful
in consequence of the infirmity of his stomach. So a man in a dirty shirt, with a long beard, uncombed hair, and unbrushed
clothes, hat and boots, is un-easy, uncomfortable, and a little conscience-smitten.”
– George Fitzhugh, Thad. Stevens’s Conscience, page: 1, 1866

“How fallacious, treacherous, and deceptive a guide mere conscience is, we see most conspicuously displayed in the
false estimate which the world holds of successful warriors and great conquerors, and in the false concert and undue
self-appreciation which their successful butcheries engender in themselves. Bonaparte was, without comparison, not
only the greatest of human homicides, but the most purposeless and useless one. Caesar, and all other Roman conquerors,
spread and planted Roman civilization in the track of their conquests; a civilization that generally remains to the present
day, and which probably will never become extinct. Alexander spread Greek civilization throughout Western Asia and
part of Africa, and even Mahomet and his successors elevated and enlightened the people that they subdued. But
Bonaparte did exactly the reverse of all this. He disgusted all sensible, virtuous, and conservative people with French
politics, French manners and customs, French thought, morality and infidelity, with the French language, and with
Frenchmen. In Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy, throughout Continental Europe, and even in England and America,
Bonaparte found French thought, manners and customs aped and imitated, and the French literatire, language, and
civilization cultivated among all the higher and more enlightened classes. When his star began to rise above the
horizon, all Christendom was half-galvanized. His cruel, disorganizing, bloody career of conquest and of carnage,
disgusted whatever was respectable and influential in the world, not only with himself; but with Frenchmen, and
with everything pertaining or peculiar to them. Yet so long as be was successful, the world, except a few of the
thoughtful, admired. He nationalized every petty State in Europe as fast as Caesar and Alexander denationalized
whole continents, and applauded him as never was man admired and applauded before. The world’s conscience
then was where it will always be found, on the side of the successful; and Bonaparte’s conscience became the
more self-satisfied and self-approving, just in proportion as he slaughtered more men, devastated more countries,
and inflicted more of human misery in every form. He became perfectly beside himself with arrogance, pretension,
vanity, and self-conceit, and issued weekly bulletins, more pompous, frothy, silly and absurd, than Alexander’s
drunken pretensions to divinity. Measured by the amount of human misery which he wantonly and causelessly
inflicted, and he was the worst man that ever lived, yet so long as he was successful his whole conduct and
behavior showed that he had the clearest and most proving conscience of any man in Christendom.”
– George Fitzhugh, Thad. Stevens’s Conscience, page: 2, 1866

“We have not been able to discover the morality of peace, or what single virtue it begets or cherishes. Yet peace has its
uses; if none other, than it is needed to repair the damages of war. Peace and war are antinomes, whose due alternation
preserves the health and well-being, and promotes the growth, progress and improvement of society. War draws men
closer together, makes them dependent on each other, allays domestic strife and competition, in a great measure equalizes conditions, banishes selfishness, and makes men live, labor and fight for each other; and continually seeing and feeling
their mutual inter-dependence, it begets brotherly love. Patriotism itself, the noblest of human virtues, is not love of the
soil of our country, but love for our fellow-citizens. This virtue is dormant and almost extinguished in time of peace, but
bursts forth with beautiful light and intensity in time of war. There are more generous, liberal and charitable actions
performed in one day of war than in a year of peace. Men then obey the scriptural injunction, and love their neighbors
as themselves. And woman, noble woman, throws aside all her little vanities and frivolities, and devotes her means,
her time and her labor to the relief of the sick, the wounded and the needy. The rich no longer hold themselves aloof
from the poor, for they feel the need of the. poor, who are battling side by side with them for the rights, liberty and
independence of all. The poor no longer envy and hate the rich, for they see the wealth of the rich sustaining the war,
and, when needed, supplying the wants of all, either by voluntarily imposed taxation, or by the liberal hand of private
charity. It is a season of almost universal love and brotherhood. A few cold-hearted speculators and extortioners
prey upon the wants and necessities of their fellowmen, but their number is much less than is generally supposed.
-Thoughtless people charge our merchants with extortion, but on investigation it will be found that they pay high
prices for their goods, and sell them at reasonable profits. In all ages and in all countries war has been considered
the most honorable pursuit. Virtue and valor were expressed by the same word among the Romans. So long as they were
virtuous and prosperous they were always at war. They and all other nations, who have been most distinguished in
war, have succeeded best in cultivating the arts of peace. The Romans were more remarkable for justice, clemency,
piety, morality and general enlightenment than any of the profane nations of antiquity. They originated the first great
system of jurisprudence, which is still the groundwork of the laws of most civilized nations. We find in the Old Testament
that great warriors were the favorites of God, and that wars were often ordained and commanded by him. The subject
is exhaustless; but our object will be answered if we have shown that peace and war are antimimes or opposing
concurrent forces, whose opposition and alternation are necessary parts of the economy of the moral world.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Uses and Morality of War, page 2-3, 1866

“Almost all men are prone to believe that wars are unmitigated evils, and many look forward with hope and expectation
to a milennial state of society, in which there shall be no wars, no strife, no discord, no jealousies, no rivalries, and
wherein all men shall love, aid, and assist each other. If the absence of national and foreign wars could beget intestine
peace, could banish rivalries, competitions and hatreds among, neighbors, could beget universal love and concord,
then eternal peace would be the summun bonum of human existence. But such milennial beatitude is a utopian
chimera which man is doomed ever to pursue, and never to overtake. National peace begets intestine war-makes
men love money, greedy of gain, selfish, low-minded, effeminate, and sensual. The universal pursuit of wealth
begets fierce and angry competitions, and sets each man at war with his neighbor-for no man ever did acquire
wealth, or ever expected to acquire it, by the labor of his own hands. No man in pursuit of wealth expects, or is
willing to exchange the results of his own labor for an equal amount of the results of other people’s labor. All men,
in times of peace, try to acquire wealth by the profits of capital, which does not labor at all, which is a non-producer,
which taxes or exploila les labor, but does not pay or compensate it; or are trying to grow rich by professional or
mechanical skill, or by sharpness in trade, or in some way to get a great deal of the results of other people’s labor,
for a very little, or none of their own. Peace begets universal war, of the worst exploitation; or, in plain English,
cheating. When nations, communities, sects, or individuals, resolve never to fight, and persevere in practising
their resolves, they take to cheating, and become thoroughly contemptible, selfish, and sensual-lose their
intellectual And moral natures, assimilate themselves to the lowest order of the brute creation, and grow fat
and lazy, like well-fed pigs. All history shows that over-pacific individuals, sects, and nations become knavish,
cowardly, mean, and contemptible, depraved in morals and in intellect, and, finally, the easy prey of more
warlike, virtuous, and intelligent peoples. Sodom and Gomorrah, with all their crimes and sensuality, were
but the legitimate out-growths of peace long continued. “The canker of a calm world and a long peace.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Uses and Morality of War, page 1-2, 1866

“The father and mother, aided by the elder children, in thousands of families, might educate the young children; and
give them as good an education, intellectual, moral and religious, as they would be likely to attain at the best boarding
schools. The best educated families of our acquaintance, were instructed almost entirely in this way. It will at first be
unpleasant and irksome to parents to teach their children; but the most laborious and irksome part is the beginning.
So soon as children have learned to read and write a little, they may, with very little occasional assistance, go on
to educate themselves, provided the parents, positively, persistently, and continuously, insist, that they shall every
day prosecute their studies, and endeavor to remember and comprehend them. All education is for the most part
self-education; for no instructor can observe, think, comprehend or remember for his pupil. Hence, there was
a whole volume of sound philosophy in the saying of a teacher, mentioned by Dr. Samuel Johnson, who said,
“it is all of my duty to whip, and that of my scholars to learn.” Each parent is the best judge in what manner he
shall compel his children to perform their allotted tasks. Conservatives ourselves, we would advise the occasional
use of the rod in all white schools and white families, more majorum. If the parents are rigid and exact, they
will readily find time at leisure hours, to afford the necessary instruction and explanations of their lessons, to
their children. The improvement, growth and development of their minds, will afford a source of continual
and unalloyed pleasure, and besides the parents will soon discover, that in teaching their children they are
teaching and improving themselves; and this will be another source of gratification to them.”
– George Fitzhugh, Home Education and the Home Circle, page: 2, 1866

“The course of instruction and reading which we should propose, would be a moderate knowledge of arithmetic,
(for that is readily and best learned by practice,) and an extensive knowledge of history ancient and modern,
and of geography. It is impossible to take interest in, or remember geography without a knowledge of history,
and impossible to understand history without a knowledge of geography. The reading of travels and biographies
is exceedingly agreeable and instructive, and promotes greatly our knowledge and appreciation of history and
geography. Instead of giving children novels to read, if we would but throw travels and biographies and
good poets in their way, they would soon acquire a taste for a love of reading.”
– George Fitzhugh, Home Education and the Home Circle, pages: 2-3, 1866

“An extensive, accurate knowledge of history, geography, travels, biography and good poetry, all of which
are pleasant and easy studies, would fit one to shine in any society, and be sufficient preparation for the
study and successful pursuit of either of the learned professions. Now these branches of knowledge, so
ornamental and so useful, may be very generally learned at home, just as well as at schools, if parents
will only be at the expense of laying out annually a small sum in books, and then compel their children
to read. We throw grammar, rhetoric and lexicography wholly out of our curriculum of studies. They are
but nomenclatures, teach mere word knowledge, consume in their study a great deal of time that might
be better employed, and make men stiff, formal and pedantic, instead of improving their reasoning
powers, their language or their style. We have studied or read more than twenty treatises on grammar
and rhetoric, and learned a little formal logic, only to become convinced of the entire truth of the lines
of Butler in his Hudibras: For all the Rhetorician’s rules But teach to name his tools.”
– George Fitzhugh, Home Education and the Home Circle, page: 3, 1866

“In all neighborhoods where there are enough of children, male and female, to constitute a school of
fifteen or more pupils, we should have the old Log Cabin school house for rich and poor-girls and boys
alike. They were all the vogue forty years ago, and we know from experience that there are no better
schools. A few hundred dollars will employ as teachers graduates of Southern colleges, who will prepare
his pupils, if required, to enter college, or even to begin the study of a profession. To such schools, even
those parents who were qualified to teach their own children, might find it advisable to send them as
they became advanced in their studies. We think that private family tutors are the worst and most
expensive of teachers. To dispense with them whenever practicable, will be an admirable measure
of retrenchment and economy, and will aid the cause of cheap, of general, and of sound education.”
– George Fitzhugh, Home Education and the Home Circle, page: 3, 1866

“It has ever been a vexed question whether public or private schools are preferable. We think
that day schools, for girls up to fourteen years of age (and that is long enough to send them
to school) and boys to fifteen, are the best of schools. It is well that children should spend
their nights, their sabbaths and their holidays at home, to keep them from mischief and
from evil associations. Purity of morals and refinement of manners, are best taught in the
family circle. Ushering boys too early into the world makes them shrewd and self reliant,
cunning, whilst it too often hardens their natures and undermines their principles.”
– George Fitzhugh, Home Education and the Home Circle, page: 3, 1866

“Civilized mankind might learn some useful lessons from savages and semi-savages, that would
enable them to live more happily and contentedly with less of labor. The all-absorbing pursuit of
wealth that occupies and harasses the minds of most of the civilized by day and by night, and leaves
them no time for observation and reflection, no time for the cultivation of intellect, and little for
social or family intercourse, is unfelt and unknown by the savage. He practi-cally adopts the maxim,
“sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,” does no attempt to accumulate and hoard up for the future,
which he may never live to see, nor to provide against inevitable misfortunes nor evila that may never
arise. He trusts that by confining his wants to the actual necessaries of life, he may at all times, by a
few hours daily light labor, be able to supply those wants, or if he should live to extreme old age and
become weak and decrepid, that his children and his grand-children will take care of him and provide
for him as he earned and provided for them in their infancy. He is never harassed or rendered miserable
by the cares of the rich nor the hard and excessive labor of the poor, as civilized people are.”
– George Fitzhugh, Shall the Spartan Virtues of the South Survive the War?, page: 1, 1866

“Young children require almost constant motion and exercise, are injured by confinement, and learn more by
out-door observation and experience in a week, than they would learn in a school-room in a year. How natural,
how human and how beautiful the custom of all savages to permit them to spend their early years at play, all
the while acquiring useful knowledge and in-sensible educations. How differently, how cruelly, how unnaturally
and how unwisely do the civilized whites treat their children. Fash-ion requires that the little things should be
bound and bandaged up in tight clothing that pains them, conceals their beauty, destroys their gracefulness,
and renders them stiff, awkward and artificial in their movements and their manners. Cruel fashion does not
cease its persecution of the little innocents even here. So soon as they can fairly toddle along, they must be
sent to infant schools, where nasal-twanged school marms confine them in close rooms for six hours, getting
lessons in uneasy postures, and then give them tasks to be learned at home. What an effectual and ingenious way
this of retarding the growth and development of both mind and body ! Lord Brougham says that a child up to five
years of age learns more from observation and experience than it will ever learn from every source in after life.
But how can a child learn anything shut up in a school room and excluded from every avenue to knowledge?”
– George Fitzhugh, Shall the Spartan Virtues of the South Survive the War?, page: 1, 1866

“Fashion is silly, as it is unjust and capricious, and never applauds or patronizes what is really worthy and
meritorious. A good book never was fashionable, never was all the rage, neither in the age in which it was
written nor in after ages. It is true, whatever is excellent and truly meritorious, is apt in the long run to be justly
appreciated, but only by the few wise and select. The votaries of fashion are universally weak people,utterly
incapable of understanding, ap-preciating or realizing what is good in art or literature, or in any other way. Gaudy
caricature alone suits their tastes. They read novels, and all flash sensational periodicals, but they never read
(except when compelled at school) the Bible, nor the Greek and Roman classics, nor the English classics, nor
translations of standard works from any language. Fashion is a low, vulgar thing, and its followers are low-minded,
silly, vulgar people, yet these trifling people drag the reluctant world of sensible people along after them.”
– George Fitzhugh, Shall the Spartan Virtues of the South Survive the War?, page: 2, 1866

“We allude to The institutions of the vebtal virgins in ancient Rome, the Catholic priesthood, and the
Sisters of Charity. Celibacy properly directed and exerted has for thousands of years been more
respected, beloved and honored by the world than matrimony. If. my reader, you find yourself usefully
employed in a state of celibacy-if you be what we have often seen among your class, a neighborhood,
philanthropic, benevolent institution, sink not down into the insignificance of married life.”
– George Fitzhugh, Old Maids and Old Bachelors, page: 4, 1866

“Old men live for others; young men live for self, regardless of the interests or well
-being of others; and boys live to perplex, persecute, wrong and give as much pain
as possible to every animal, whether brute or human, within reach of their wicked
and cruel propensities and practices. Our boys must excuse this seeming digression;
only seeming, however, for we wished to trace them from infancy to old age, to show
that, bad as they now are, they should be tolerated, in hope of a better future.”
– George Fitzhugh, Boys, page: 2, 1866

“In most practical matters of life, man needs her counsel, for she has more of prudence
and caution, nicer instincts, more intuitive sagacity, better judgment, and more wisdom
than lie. She exercises great influence in all human affairs, as well public as private;
and were she not thus gifted, instead of being a help-mate, she would be a curse to
man. We doubt not that the highest practical wisdom in the conduct of human affairs
can only result from the union and interfusion of the male and female mind. Man and
wife should be, and we really believe usually are, one intellectual being.”
– George Fitzhugh, Boys, page: 3, 1866

“It seems to be very generally agreed that men have more sense than women, and that they alone are qualified
to manage affairs and to rule the State; but in families, as well as empires, there is oft a power behind the throne
greater than the throne itself, and that power is usually clad in petticoats. The mind of woman influences all affairs;
she is man’s best counsellor. Man is greater in action; woman, if not greater, certainly superior in counsel. She
is not over-cautious and timid in her advice; she as often incites man to bolder action as she restrains him from
rash enterprises. His courage and his energy win and enchain her love and admiration, and she would sooner
see him incur risk and meet danger than rust away his life in feminine inaction. Less mixed up with the affairs of
the world, less committed to men or measures, less biassed by interest, less warped in her judgment by business
habits or professional pursuits, less obscured in her moral and intellectual perceptions by long-continued, vicious
indulgences-she brings a clear head, a pure heart, and quick and delicate appreciativeness to the arbitrament of
every question. Nature intended woman as the helpmate of man, morally and intellectually, as well as physically.
She has less strength of body than man, but is formed of more delicate and impressionable fibre, and possesses
in consequence a sounder judgment, a purer morality, and a more religious nature. She is more religious, because
she is more accessible to truth; because her moral feelings and perceptions, naturally more refined and delicate
than ours, and unblunted by the coarse pursuits and intercourse of the world, render it easier for her to practise
the duties which religion inculcates; and because she feels, rather than reasons, her way to conclusions. Her
intuitive and involuntary judgments, if not revelations from above, are the unerring dictates of a nature
which God has made purer than ours.

The judgments of men, unaided by the suggestions of women, are of little worth, because men attempt to
reason themselves to practical conclusions in the affairs of a world that is too complex even to admit of the
discovery of all the premises on which we should reason, and whose circumstances are too delicate and
multifarious even to be successfully detected, analyzed, generalized and synthesized. Like women, the most
judicious, sensible and practical men are always those who give wrong reasons for their opinions. They are
not metaphysicians, not abstractionists; cannot look into the processes of their own minds and tell how they
arrived at their conclusions. Like women, they possess fine instincts and little reason.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Women of the South, page: 1-2, 1861

“We did not visit Rome, although we were near it, because we were assured the hotels were all infamously bad.”
Now, we think our countrymen were altogether right for not visiting Rome; although, we, who care nothing for
what we eat or drink, would not concur with them in the *reasons they assigned. Every schoolboy and schoolgirl
knows everything about Rome, ancient and modern. ‘Tis “as common as the stairs that mount the Capitol.”
To read about it, talk about it, or visit it. is decidedly vulgar. Besides, everybody is disappointed in seeing it, for
everybody’s conceptions of it far exceeds the reality. We would not see Rome for worlds; because our ideal
city would be dwarfed and rendered contemptible by viewing the real city. We never saw but one of Shakespeare’s
plays acted on the stage. We saw Cooper Macbeth; he and his troop fell so far beneath our preconceptions
of its characters, that we never could thereafter read that play. He who visits famous places, or sees monkey
actors trying to personate majesty, is sure to be disappointed. Were we to travel in the North, we would go fifty
miles out of our way, to avoid the Falls of Niagara. In New-York city, we would. steer clear of the St. Nicholas,
Trinity church, Fifth avenue, and the Croton water-works. In London, we would avoid St.Paul’s, Westminster
Abbey, and the Tower. In Paris, the Tuileries, Palais Royal, and Notre Dame. Everybody has seen the great
cities and great public buildings of Europe; and it has become trite, commonplace, and tedious to visit them,
talk of them, or write about them. Egypt, its labyrinths, and Sphynx, and pyramids, and hieroglyphics,
and mummies, are threadbare topics. One must ascend the blue Nile, or visit Timbuctoo, who would write
about Africa; and explore the ruins of Nineveh, ascend the river Amoor, and travel through Siberia, who
would write interestingly about Asia. Authors are generally so vain and conceited, as to think that they
can render threadbare topics agreeable by their originality and ability in the mode of treating them.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Pioneers, Preachers, and People of the Mississippi Valley, 1861

“Half the time spent at school is employed in learning how to distort and destroy the symmetry and naturalness of
our mother tongue. Nature is the only grammar of language, and the whole effort of pedagogues, lexicographers,
grammarians, and rhetoricians, is to expel nature. To talk and write artificially, is to talk and write inelegantly,
unnaturally, and, therefore, ungrammatically. Reform is needed in our schools. Half the time of our children is
employed in mere word learning, which nature alone can teach, and which she teaches gratis, and without labor or
loss of time. Language acquired by intercourse and reading is natural education. Acquired from fixed rules, it
becomes as ungraceful and unnatural as the walk of the grenadier, or the finical amble of the dancing-master.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Declaration of Independence and the Republican Party, page: 9, 1860

“Writing, we believe, is universally conceded to be a human invention. We doubt it. We incline to Justice Dogberry’s
opinion, that “it came by nature.” We can well understand how picture writing, pictures of things, and arbitrary pictures
of words, was invented, but cannot conceive how men went about to invent a phonetic alphabet, such as we use-an
alphabet that is neither the sign of words, of things, nor of syllables. We think, like language, it was an original gift. The
antiquarians can never refute our theory, because written history begins long after writing was invented-if it was invented
-and can give no more account of its own birth than a child or a man can give of his. The earliest inscriptions on stone
or marble, supposed once to be pictorial, are, we believe, now considered by the learned to be alphabetic and phonetic.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Declaration of Independence and the Republican Party, page: 9, 1860

“To make a people respect itself, is the first step in teaching other peoples to respect it.
Without a cultivated language, national habits, thought, customs, and fashions-and
above all, without a domestic or home literature, a people is little better than a crowd
of imitative monkeys. Making saur kraut and lagerbier, however cunningly, no more
constitutes national character, than producing lots of cotton, sugar, and tobacco. ‘Tis the
achievements of the mind, not of the body, that shed distinction and glory on a people.”
– George Fitzhugh, German Literature, page: 1 1860

“As its ghost, more terrible than Hamlet’s, walks amid Irish famines, French revolutions, American and English
strikes and panics, and sits familiar as a household deity at the door of Northern poorhouses and prisons, we
point to it and say, “There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark.” It never walks south of Mason and Dixon’s
line. In truth, the eighteenth century and its ghost, still haunting men in the nineteenth century, is the rock on which
we are building our philosophy. The ill effects of the eighteenth century are so far its most obvious and conspicuous
effects. The good effects remain yet to be reaped. If Englishmen and Northerners will study Aristotle and the Old
Testament, and travel South, and study the institutions of the South, they will learn, from precept and example,
too, how to reorganize and fashion their social system. This they will be sure to do after awhile; for nature will, in
the long run, resume her empire, and society, the creature of nature, return to its normal and rightful condition.”
– George Fitzhugh, Frederick The Great, page: 9, 1860

“It has occurred to us sometimes in travelling that it would be well if every man were numbered, just as they number our
rooms and baggage. Indeed it has long been the custom in large hotels to call men by the number of their rooms. When
we first begin travelling it sounds very humiliating to be addressed as Number 375, but one gets used to it after awhile.
As civilization advances, we expect to see men labelled like their trunks. It will be a great convenience in travelling,
and also be exceedingly levelling and democratic. We recommend the plan to the red and black republicans. If
coats of arms be so very criminal, are not aristocratic names equally so. Number Nine Hundred and Ninety-nine
will sound quite as democratic and plebeian as Duc d’ Egalite or “Praise God Barebones.”
– George Fitzhugh, Family History, and the Philosophy of Names, page: 3, 1860

“We know hardly-a family most of whose members do not occupy the same social position which their ancestors held
two hundred years ago. Pride of pedigree is the greatest stimulant to exertion, energy, industry, and economy. When
by extravagance or misfortune one generation falls, it is not very difficult for the next generation, by industry and
economy, in a new country like ours, to recover its normal ancestral position. This it usually does. Respectable
connexion, as an incentive to virtuous exertion, will, ere long, cease to be under the ban of public opinion. Every
man in America desires to be an aristocrat, for every man desires wealth, and wealth confers power and distinction,
and makes its owner an unmistakable aristocrat. What vile hypocrisy, what malicious envy and jealousy, to censure
and vilify in others, that which every man of us is trying with might and main to attain. Civilization would cease
but for the universal desire of white men to become aristocrats. The negro rarely indulges such a wish, and
hence, lacking this stimulant to exertion, can only be moved to industrious action by the fear of corporal
punishment. Men are not content with becoming aristocrats themselves, they moreover desire to found a
family and make aristocrats of their posterity. Who is not ambitious to rear a distinguished race (a glorious
ancestry) among his descendants. Ancestry is no more disgraceful in the past than in the future.”
– George FItzhugh, Family History, and the Philosophy of Names, page 6-8, 1860

“The phenomena of the moral world, though numerous, are not infinite in number. They furnish the
subjects for thought. Like the figures in a kaleidoscope, they are susceptible of a great variety of
combinations. New nations give a seeming originality to old thoughts-or to speak more accurately, every
new nation in thinking for itself originates the same thoughts, which, clothed in a new idiom, have
all the merit of novelty and originality. The Old Testament contains all the thought of the Greeks; yet
the Greeks did not borrow, but originated their thought. Roman thought is chiefly borrowed from
Greece; because her civilization was in great part a mere outgrowth and copy of Greek civilization.”
– George Fitzhugh, German Literature, page: 2, 1860

“The moral maxims and common sayings of the different nations of ancient and modern times, which
embody all their thought and wisdom, when examined closely, will be found, in all instances, to contain
precisely the same ideas-differing only in the mode of expression. All nations think and originate the
same thought; and they soon get through thinking. Nay, we go farther: for we hold that every man
exhausts the whole field of thought before he is forty-five. He has witnessed all moral phenomena by
that time, and given his cranial kaleidoscope so many shakes, that exhausted it can furnish no new images.
Now, few men are abstractionists, few can look into their mental kaleidoscope, watch the processes
of their own mind; and fewer still, after looking in, can give an intelligible account of the images they
see. Every new man and every new nation pervades the same field of thought, and are original
and instructive when they relate their own observations, great bores when they give other people’s.”
– George Fitzhugh, German Literature, page: 3, 1860

“We talk a great deal about race in the South. Race certainly erects a far wider distinction and broader difference
amongst men than mere family among men of the same race, and therefore deserves much more attention and
consideration. But there is great inequality and difference between stock, or families of the same race. The blood
or breed of men, both physically and morally, deserves as much attention as the blood of cattle, horses, hogs,
or poultry. Besides, families are the most conservative of all institutions. The “son of nobody” belongs to no
place or country. Men whose kin and ancestry for hundreds of years have resided in the same section, love
their country and may be relied on in times of difficulty. Family pride begets patriotism, and is the only reliable
source from whence it arises. Love of excitement, of adventure, of glory, or of plunder, may induce a man
to fight bravely for any country or in any cause. But ’tis not the mercenary Swiss, nor the needy desperate
adventurer,on whom a country can rely in times of peril. Those who have most ties, like the ancient oak,
that has been putting forth roots for centuries, are the men to cling to and defend their country.”
– George Fitzhugh, Family History, and the Philosophy of Names, page: 12, 1860

“It has hitherto been the province of history “to teach philosophy by example.” Soon, philosophy will be obliged to return
the favor, by employing itself in collecting, analyzing, and generalizing the thousand minute facts which antiquarian research
is bringing to light as to the history of families, of surnames, and names of places. These facts, disconnected and scattered
through hundreds of volumes, are now useless to the political or general historian, but when properly brought together,
arranged, analyzed, and generalized, will furnish invaluable material from which, by logical induction, the philosopher will
be enabled to write the Social History of the World. The want of such materials has made history, heretofore, the mere
skeleton of the Past. We want the flesh and the blood, as well as the bones of history; and social history, the history of
mankind at large, of man in his normal and ordinary condition, constitutes that flesh and blood-whilst priests and heroes,
kings and emperors, are but the framework and skeleton of what constitutes true history.”
– George Fitzhugh, Family History, and the Philosophy of Names, page: 1, 1860

“We have made the rash and entirely novel attempt to write about men’s good actions, instead of giving a darker hue to
their crimes; to describe peace, plenty, abundance, contentment, good order, morality and piety, instead of taking our
readers, like a Northern sensation editor, or French or English novelist, into dens of destitution and crime, into gambling
hells, into cellars crowded with disease, infection, and poverty, into deep gloomy mines, wearisome factories, and
starving cottages. The public taste has become vitiated and depraved. It likes “to sup full with horrors” Those writers
are most popular, those books, papers, and reviews, most read, which portray the dark and gloomy side of human
nature. With us it has no dark or gloomy side. We are obliged to say good things of our neighbors, because we know
nothing bad of them. The fashionable writers of the day must be hypochondriacs or vile defamers, or human nature
around them is a very different thing from that to which we have been accustomed. The defect of our society is,
that it gets on so smoothly, so quietly, so comme il faut, that life almost stagnates into ennui et tedium vita. Readers
accustomed to gloat over twenty murders a day, will hardly condescend to read us, who have not a single crime or
stirring tale of human suffering to relate. Possibly, nay, probably, Mr. Reviewer, your readers belong to a class who have
as little taste for the horrible as we. Trusting to this, we are venturing to serve up an intellectual report, without those
condiments of crime and poverty, considered so indispensable by all the fashionable and popular writers of the day.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Old Dominion-The Valley of the Rappahannock, page: 5, 1859

“No one admires or approves more than we do the self-sacrificing zeal of Christian missionaries, or more
regrets their universal failures. Their conduct shows that man, even in this utilitarian age, is not altogether
grovelling, hypocritical and selfish. The general admiration which they excite proves, too, that mankind
still pay homage to distinguished virtue, ardent piety, and far-reaching philanthropy-though few be willing
to practise what all approve. We regret their failure the more because their want of success is calculated
to advance the cause of our present system of moral philosophy, which, in effect, teaches that all virtue
is but comprehensive and well-directed selfishness, and all good actions a profitable investment, whose
returns are reaped in this world. We are sorry, too, that they can neither coax nor bribe the heathen into
civilization and Christianity-that they can discover no “primrose path” to heaven, no easy road to civilization.
Like the white man, the poor cannibals seem doomed to suffer much tribulation ere they attain the joys
of Paradise, and to be driven into civilization only by hunger and fear and other necessities. Among the
whites few would become Christians but for the fear of hereafter, and none become civilized could they
live without learning and practising the arts of civilization. We will dismiss the former part of our proposition,
because incompetent to do it justice, and confine ourselves to the latter part. The necessities of his nature
impel man to the practice of some of the arts, even in the most savage state. If living on the sea, he learns
to construct boats and to fabricate fishing tackle. In the forest he learns to make bows and arrows and
other weapons wherewith to procure game for subsistence. In either situation he learns to practise the
arts of war, unless he live in some secluded island, where these latter arts are unnecessary.”
– George Fitzhugh, Missionary Failures, pages: 1-2, 1859

“We were standing near the Capitol, a short time since, admiring its grandeur, its beauty, and its magnificence,
and reflecting with pride on the greatness of our country which already required additions to the building larger
than the original structure. Additions which, even if they somewhat mar the symmetry of the building, will more
than compensate for any want of harmony of proportion in the historical associations which they will always
excite in the mind. The original building is of coarse free-stone, and its architectural construction comparatively
plain. The vast wings that have just been added are of fine marble, and all the workmanship most costly and
elaborate. But a sudden feeling of mortification passed over us when I reflected here are displayed American
growth, American wealth, American handiwork, but there is no American thought here-that is, all Greek-it is a
Grecian Capitol reared in America. Architecture has undergone no improvement for two thousand years; and
the eloquence that oft reverberates within the magnificent Halls of this Greek structure, is but an unconscious
attempt to imitate Grecian models. Demosthenes is still the great master of oratory; we say “he is” because
he yet lives with us in his Phillipics. He might well have exclaimed with Horace, “Non amnis moriar.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Atlantic Telegraph, page: 1, 1858

“So eminently social is man’s nature, that there is at all times, in civilized communities, that intercommunicate
much more sameness of thought, and of feeling, than the unobservant and the un-learned are aware of. We
think it is hardly chimerical to predict-looking to the rapid extension of the telegraph, and especially to this, its
last and greatest triumph-that, ere long, it will become, with its thousand ramifications, the nervous system of the
earth, and will so bind men together, that, in a great degree, one thought and one feeling shall fill all minds and
pervade all bosoms; at least, it cannot but become a mighty agency in diffusing civilization and preserving peace.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Atlantic Telegraph, pages: 2, 1858

“It is very fashionable to charge the present age with being utilitarian in all its objects and pursuits. The charge
is in great measure true; but we think the tendencies of the age are in great measure owing to the fact, that
after two thousand years of arduous and continuous experiment, the world has. discovered that if the ancients,
especially the Greek, had not attained perfection in the fine arts, they had at least approached it as nearly as
is permitted to man. (We employ the term fine arts in a broader sense than is probably justifiable, for we include
poetry and elocution as well as architecture, sculpture, painting, &c.) Now the world instinctively perceiving
this fact, has turned all its efforts to the prosecution of the study of the physical and exact sciences, in which
direction progress and improvement seem indefinite, and each step of progress promises, in the application
of new discoveries, to add something to the comfort and convenience of man. The ancients scorned to employ
philosophy for purposes of utility; they valued knowledge only as an intellectual treasure. The moderns
prosecute and employ science solely for purposes of utility. Knowledge is certainly desirable for its own
sake, for it confers happiness as well in its pursuit as in its possession, and tends to elevate the sentiments
and purify the heart of its possessor, but it is chiefly desirable as a means of promoting the happiness
and well-being of mankind. The utilitarian philosopher of today has as noble and elevated purposes
and pursuits as the most abstract dreamer of the old Platonic school.”
– George Fitzhugh, The Atlantic Telegraph, page: 2-3, 1858

“Take language, for instance. It is a thing of natural growth and development, and adapts itself
naturally to the changes of time and circumstance. It is never ungrammatical as spoken by children,
but always expressive, practical and natural. Nature is always grammatical, and language, the
child of nature, would continue so, but for the grammarians, who, with their Procrustean rules,
disturb its proportions, destroy its variety and adaptation, and retard its growth. They are to
language what dentists are to teeth: they more often injure it than improve it.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 90, 1857

“Grammar, lexicography, and rhetoric, applied to language, destroy its growth, variety and adaptability
-stereotype it, make it at once essentially a dead language, and unfit for future use; for new localities,
and changes of time and circumstances, beget new ideas, and require new words and new combinations
of words. Centralization and cosmopolitanism have precisely the same effect. They would furnish a
common language from the centre, which is only fully expressive and comprehensive at that centre.
Walking and talking are equally natural, and talking masters and walking masters equally useless.
Neither can foresee and provide for the thousands of new circumstances which make change of
language, or varieties of movement necessary. Nature is never at a loss, and is the only reliable
dancing master and grammar teacher. She is always graceful and appropriate, and always ready
to adapt herself to changes of time, situation and circumstances.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 91, 1857

“To learn “to forget,” is almost the only thing we have labored to learn. We have been so
bored through life by friends with dyspeptic memories, who never digest what they read,
because they never forget it, who retain on their intellectual stomachs in gross, crude,
undigested, and unassimilated form, every thing that they read, and retail and repeat
it in that undigested form to every good-natured listener: we repeat, that we have been
so bored by friends with good memories, that we have resolved to endeavor to express
what was useful out of facts, and then to throw the facts away. A great memory is a disease
of the mind, which we are surprised no medical writer has noticed. The lunatic asylum
should make provision for those affected with this disease; for, though less dangerous,
they are far more troublesome and annoying than any other class of lunatics.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page 100, 1857

“To neglect to punish children or slaves when they deserved it, would not be to do
as we would be done by. Such punishment is generally the highest reach of self
-abnegation and self-control. ‘Tis easy and agreeable to be indulgent and remiss
-hard to exact and enforce duty. Severe disciplinarians are the best officers, teachers,
parents, and masters, and most revered and loved by their subordinates. They
sacrifice their time and their feelings to duty, and for the ultimate good of others.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 317-318, 1857

“It is falsely said, that revolutions never go backwards. They always go backwards, and generally
farther back than where they started. The Social Revolution now going on at the North, must some
day go backwards. Shall it do so now, ere it has perpetrated an infinitude of mischief, shed oceans
of blood, and occasioned endless human misery; or will the Conservatives of the North let it run the
length of its leather, inflict all these evils, and then rectify itself by issuing into military despotism.”
– George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, page: 356, 1857

“Man’s necessities civilize him, or rather the labor, invention and ingenuity needed to supply them.
Relieve him of the necessity to exert those qualities by supplying through trade or other means his
wants, and he at once begins to sink into barbarism. Wars are fine civilizers, for all men dread violent
death; hence, among barbarians, the implements of warfare are far superior to any other of their
manufactures, but they lead the way to other improvements. The old adage, that “necessity is the
mother of invention,” contains our theory; for invention alone begets civilization. Civilization is no
foreign hotbed exotic brought from distant climes. but a hardy plant of indigenous birth and growth.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 19-20, 1854

“Soldiers and sailors are, and ever must be, also, the subjects of despotic rule. They have sold their liberty. They have
sold their persons and their lives. No domestic affection mitigates and qualifies their slavery! Those who rule them, love
them not, for they belong not to their family household. It is well that they are men in the prime of life, who can bear hard
and harsh treatment; for hard and harsh treatment they are sure to get. Whipping is prohibited in the army and navy!
Miserable ignorance and charlatanism! You cannot prohibit whipping until you disband both army and navy. What is
whipping? Is it not corporeal punishment? and is not corporeal detention and corporeal punishment part of the sailor’s
and soldier’s contract. If he wishes to desert, may you not and will you restrain him by bodily force? Will you not, if
necessary, knock him down, hand-cuff, and imprison him? Nay, if he repeat the offence, will you not shoot him? Will
you not fasten a chain and a block to him if necessary? Whipping has not been abolished, and cannot be abolished
in navy or army. Whipping means – corporeal punishment, and corporeal detention. You retain the right to inflict them,
and it is a mere matter of caprice and taste how they shall be inflicted. The man whose person is sold is a slave. The
man whose person is imprisoned for punishment has felt the disgrace of whipping and endured more than its pains.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 107-108, 1854

“Large cities, like New York and London, are great curses, because they impoverish a world
to enrich a neighborhood. Numerous small towns are great blessings, because they prevent
the evil effects of centralization of trade, retain wealth and population at home, and diffuse
happiness and intelligence, by begetting variety of pursuits, supporting schools, colleges
and religious institutions, and affording the means of pleasant and frequent association.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, page: 139, 1854

“Farming is the recreation of great men, the proper pursuit of dull men. And the dull are the most
successful, because they imitate, observe, and never experiment. Washington and Cincinnatus
farmed for amusement, George the Third and Sancho Panza, because it was their appropriate
avocation. Ambitious men sometimes, to hide their designs, and allay suspicion, rear game or
“cultivate peas and philosophy.” But farmers have no use for learning, and a farming country
would not be a learned one if books grew on trees, and “reading and writing came by nature.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 156-157, 1854

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