What is to be Done with the Negroes, and What with the Abolitionists?

Civil War

August 29, 1862, The New York Herald

The abolition press and the orators of the radical revolutionary faction are continually embarrassing the President and the operations of the war, not only be their absurd theories of negro , fraternity, equality, but by urging their practical adoption on the government. One portion of the faction contends that the emancipation of all the negroes of the South is essential to the success of the war, and would be, besides, a righteous act of the President to down-trodden humanity, though the President himself declares that the salvation of the Union is paramount to the emancipation of any number of negroes. At the same time this wing of the faction, which is by far the most numerous, insists that the liberated negroes shall be sent out of the country without waiting to inquire whether they are willing to go, or determining the question, in the event of their refusal, whether banishment from their native land would not be a greater crime against humanity than permitting them to remain as they are, even in slavery. The other wing of the radicals goes the whole figure for emancipation and social and political equality, and contends that the negroes have a right to remain to amalgamate with the white race.

Now we hold that the best thing to do with the negroes is to let them alone. The best thing to do with the leaders of the abolitionist who have disastrously meddled with this war is to squelch them, and then there will be a bright prospect of the struggle soon being brought to a successful termination. We are not opposed to the colonization of the negroes; but it does not practically amount to anything. The blacks have a right to emigrate to Liberia or Central America, or anywhere else they please, just as the Irish in America have a right to return to Ireland or the Germans to fatherland; but to force them to emigrate is impracticable and absurd. That they would not leave in any considerable numbers is too well known to admit of question. But if it were practicable it would be neither for our interest nor theirs to drive them from the country. We need their labor; but it is better for all concerned that they should be held in the mild servitude of the Southern States. The two races could not exist together in freedom. It has been said they do exist in freedom together in Russia, in France and in England. How many negroes would a tourist see in his travels through England, France and Russia? Not one hundred. In some of the Southern States the blacks are more numerous than the whites. Could both races exist together in freedom there? Moreover our institutions are very different from those of England, France, and Russia. Under a monarchy negroes might exist in freedom side by side with white men, but not in a republic where every man has a voice in the making of the laws. Republics are founded upon intelligence. The black man has not sufficient intelligence for self-government and democratic institutions. Political equality would lead to amalgamation, as in Central America and the South American republics, and the result would be the deterioration of the white race, or it would lead to the destruction of the blacks. Political equality would beget a claim of social equality, of intellectual and physical equality, and lastly of amalgamation. The antipathy to this on the part of the superior race would result in a war of races and the extermination of the blacks. The negroes, in their native Africa, have never made any progress in arts, or sciences, or letters, or philosophy, or religion, or government, since the dawn of history. The head of the negro, as sculptured on the monuments of Egypt thirty-four centuries ago, is the same as it is found at this day on the shoulders of the living race in America. The figures on the Egyptian tombs show that they were slaves more than three thousand years ago; and slaves and barbarians they still remain. They alone, of all other races, have made no progress by the light of Europe and America. Time has effected no change, even by the transfer of the race to the New World. In ten generations here it has not made the slightest approximation either towards the aboriginal population or to any other race. Better food and contact with the white men have slightly improved both body and mind; but two generations of domestic culture effect all the improvement of which negro organism is susceptible. Many negro families descended from the second generation are here, but they are perfectly identical in physical and intellectual character with those of the eighth or tenth generation, where there has been no admixture of white blood.

We have no objection to the emancipation of all the negroes in the land; but let it be done by the people of the States themselves. The federal government has not the power. It must be admitted, however, that the negroes are practically as little enslaved at the South as at the North, while they are far more happy and contented with their lot there than here, and have a lien upon the land for their support in sickness and old age, which is more than can be said of the white laborer of the North. The negro population are a vast benefit to the Southern States, and to the whole country, under the patriarchal institution. To colonize them would be to remove so much productive labor from the country without a chance to replace it, and to saddle the nation with a vast interest-paying debt, incurred by the just payment of compensation to the owners of the slaves; while, instead of the condition of the negroes being bettered, they would soon fall back to their original barbarism, as they are doing in Hayti and Jamaica. But slavery is asserted to be the cause of the war, and therefore it must be abolished. Slavery is not the cause of the war, for it has existed in the country for ten generations. Why did it not produce war during that long period? It is not negro slavery, therefore, but the attempt of the abolitionists to meddle with it, that has caused the civil conflict that is now desolating the land. For the last thirty years they have agitated the country, and their agitation has culminated in a terrible civil convulsion. The abolitionists have caused the war, and they are now interfering with its success, by intensifying the rebellion, on the one hand, by their attitude against slavery; while, on the other hand, they represent the war as hopeless, and thus discourage enlistments and damp the ardor of the nation. It is the duty of the government to arrest their revolutionary career before it is too late.