At this time, the pro-slavery thoughts were composed of
different viewpoints, but for the purpose of this analysis, were are only going to examine
three of them: the religious, the abstract and the ideological. Standing apart from these
was Thomas Roderick Dew, who played a dominant role in the defense of slavery, because his
ideals were very respected and spoke to the beliefs of the people of his time. In the
Antebellum South, people were starting to take a more ideological approach to
the issue of slavery. The writings of Thomas Roderick Dew takes a more realistic side.
The beginning of the 1800s were considered to be a decisive time
in Southern attitude toward slavery. Even before this time period, there was something
ambiguous in pro-slavery views. These views were suddenly becoming more acute. What
triggered the change of mentality into a firm position of the emancipation of slaves and
colonization of free Negroes, was a series of debates in the Virginia Legislature. One of
the chroniclersof these debates was a pamphlet made by Thomas R. Dew, who was a professor
of political economy. Dew first published Review of the Debate in 1832.
The purpose of this text was to influence the atmosphere, and create a theoretical
justification of slavery. It was then later on quoted greatly by Dews intellectual
successors from William and Mary College. Dews intention was to view slavery from a
dispassionate approach. Dews efforts were mainly to explain what might
occur if slavery were to be abolished. His views were to be traditional instead of
aggressive: the institutional disruptions of emancipation could not equal the
benefits of the institution (Eric L. McKitrick 20). Dew wanted to affirm to the
general public what his intentions were by providing a perfectly logical reason for his
actions. Till this day his treatise (pamphlet) remained useful because it reflects the
opinions of the majority of the south, and defends the reasons to keep slavery. Dews discussions are better understood when reading his own words:
"The evils of yesterday's growth may be extirpated today, and the vigor of society
may heal the wound; but that which is the growth of ages may require ages
to remove." (Derek Pecheco, online).
To Dew, the proposal on abolition was virtually impossible. The main propositions were
banishment, abrogation, freedom without deportation, and monetary values, regardless if
adopted by the state: indefensible positions, in his opinion. What is most interesting is
that in his argument he also states that slavery is a moral evil, implying
that, even though he knows that slavery is immoral, there is nothing he can do about
Samuel Cartwright was born in 1793 and died in 1863. He
was a man of many hats. A successful physician, skilled writer on medicine, and also known
to be a scientific race theorist. He was known to take the side of the
race arguments for granted, and by his habit of describing Negroes as a
species. Cartwright was well known for his essay which was publish in 1850 on
this subject. It takes the position that Negroes have a naturally servile
relationship towards the white race.(The Cause of the South 139).
Cartwright had the opportunity to study medicine at the University of
Pennsylvania and practiced it in Huntsville, Alabama, Natchez, Mississippi, and in 1848
studied in New Orleans. It is here that he began medical writing, including essays
on yellow fever, and cholera, which gave him recognition in his field. During 1851 and
1862, he contributed some of his work to De Bows Review, by publishing
fourteen of his articles regarding topics on improving sanitary conditions for the
Confederate Army in 1862. At Vicksburg he contracted a deadly disease that lead to
his untimely death around May, 1863.
Now in the 1850s racism was at an ultimate high. Southerners still
considered Negroes as an inferior race, but because of the argument that the
abolitionist had, they needed scientific proof for their assertions. Being a
southern physician, Cartwrights explanation of Negroes' inferiority was regarded as
psychological. He saw them as people that who were not capable of performing curtain
duties. Cartwright claims this very explicitly in his Diseases and Peculiarities
of the Negro Race, and also shows the length to which he would go to defend slavery as
a result of a psychological problem in black people.
James Dunwoody Brownson De Bow
James D.B. De Bow became well known for an editorial that was written
during the period after the Congressional debates over the Mexican Cession, conducted over
territorial acquisition and slavery. De Bow claimed the Union could completely collapse if
the North out voted the South in the House of Representatives, because
of an additional free state, unbalancing the power that the Senate would have. The
Southerners felt that they only had two choices as a way out. Either they obtained
guaranties from the establishment within the Union, or they have to abolish slavery before
the North closed these establishments.
The only thing that would save what was left of the Union was to establish an extensive
compromise, and a man by the name of Henry Clay also began to work to do just that. To
make this a successful compromise, he drafted a bill that summarized all the points needed
to create this compromise. His purpose was to include California as a free state, the
organization of the Mexican Cession as neither slave nor free, and the abolition of the
slave trade in the District of Columbia. (The Cause of the South 182).
Although this proposal dealt with the North more than the South, the south obtained
the recognition of slavery in the District of Columbia, promise of a stronger fugitive
slave law, and rejection of the concept of the Wilmot Proviso. (The Cause of the
South 182). The South adopted a series of measures that would stop the crisis over
slavery and assure the continuity of slavery. The cause of Clays bill for De Bow in
his editorial for the Review was the reason for his concern. Seeing that the North
was gaining power, he wondered if a political solution could be crafted.
His only fear was whether the South was strong enough and willing enough to take the
precautions necessary to protect its society and institutions.(The Cause of
the South 182). In his review, he mentioned the failure of southerners to
support him. (The Cause of the South 182).
During this period of time the South tried many times to make peace with the North. One of
these attempts was at a convention on June 3, 1850 in Nashville, Tennessee. The main goal
was to maintain the rights of south, but many of them tried to avoid the subject of
disunion. The Compromise of 1850 was finally achieved months
after De Bows editorial had been published. Although De Bow agreed with
southern extremists on the issue of slavery and territory, he was unhappy with some of the
provisions that it brought. The Fugitive Slave Act was "designed to
ensure that southerners could recover their escaped property wherever found.(The
Cause of the South 189). If slaves were captured, they were insured a jury
trial in which the final decision was made outside the normal judicial
system(The Cause of the South 189) which didnt include certain rights
that would initially be granted to the slaves. The slave owner would then grant the person
who found their run-away slave a reward of ten dollars for finding them and
returning them. The North was completely against these provisions. They also were angered
at the fact that the South was able to pay them for returning and capturing their own
slaves. De Bow realized that the Northerners were not going to support this compromise at
all and therefore support slavery in the South.
The American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1982
The Cause of the South. Louisiana State University Press , 1982. 20-26,
26-44, 179-189. (No author or anonymous).
Derek Pecheco. Derek on the Ideology of Slavery. Available http://englishwww.humnef.ucla.edu/
LC Wed. LOC. [online] Available http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam004.html
McKitrick, Erick L. Slavery Defended. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall,
Jerome McDuffie, Ph.D., Gary Piggrem, Ph.D., Steven E. Woodworth, Ph.D., AP
United States History. Research & Education Association, New Jersey.
African Americans opposing viewpoints.
Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1997. 77-83. (No author or anonymous).
Slavery in the South . New York: Farrar, Straus and Company, Inc. 1964.
233-253 (No author or anonymous).