Ten Questions Against Abolishing Slavery – George Fitzhugh, 1855
Originally a part of a greater letter titled “Interrogatories” to the Abolitionist newspaper “The Liberator”
“The worst institutions that ever grew up in any country are better
than the best that philosophers or philanthropists ever devised.”
1. Is not slavery to capital less tolerable than slavery to human masters? Where
a few, as in England, Ireland and Scotland, own all the lands, are not the mass,
the common laborers, who own no capital, and possess neither mechanical nor
professional skill, of necessity, the slaves to capital?
2. Was it not this slavery to capital that occasioned the great Irish famine, and is it not this same slavery
the keeps the large majority of the laboring class in Western Europe in a state of hereditary starvation?
3. In old societies, where the laborers are domestic slaves, and exceed in number the
demand for labor, would not emancipating them subject them at once to a mastery,
or exacting despotism of capital, far more oppressive than domestic slavery?
4. Did not the emancipation of European serfs, or villiens, in all instances, injure their condition as a class?
In the event of the occurrence of such excess of domestic slaves, would it not be more merciful to follow the
Spartan plan, and kill the surplus, than the abolition plan, which sets them all free, to live on half allowance and
to “make free labor cheaper than slave labor,” by this fierce competition and underbidding to get employment?
5. Are there not fewer checks to superior wit, skill and capital, and less of protection afforded to the
weak, ignorant and landless mass in Northern society, than in any other ever devised by the wit of man?
6. Is not “laissez-faire,” in English, “Every man for himself, and devil
take the hindmost,” your whole theory and practice of government?
7. When your society grows older, your population more dense, and property, by your trading,
speculating and commercial habits, gets into a few hands, will not the slavery to capital be more
complete and unmitigated than in any part of Europe, where a throne, a nobility and established
church, stand between the bosses, bankers and landlords, and the oppressed masses?
8. Do not almost all well-informed men of a philosophical turn of mind in Western
Europe and our North, concur in opinion that the whole framework of society,
religious ethical, economic, legal and political, requires radical change?
9. Is not the absence of such opinion at the South, and its prevalence in free
society, conclusive proof of the naturalness and necessity of domestic slavery?
10. Would not the North be willing to leave the settlement of the slavery question in Kansas to
the public opinion of Christendom, (for it will be settled by all Christendom, of whom not one in
a hundred will be slaveholders,) if it were not sensible that public opinion was about to decide
in favor of negro slavery, and, therefore, that must be forstalled by Federal legislation?
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