Comparing Historical Essays About Slavery: Comparing Writings Of John C. Calhoun, George Fitzhugh, Frederick Douglass, And William Craft

1256 words - 5 pages

Throughout the years before the Civil War, people from the North and South argued about the institution of slavery. Blacks wanted to be recognized as humans and wanted to have the rights that were given to the whites. Others saw slavery as a way of life and thought that slaves were content under the conditions forced upon them. John C. Calhoun and George Fitzhugh make strong, intellectual arguments defending slavery, but Fredrick Douglass and William Craft provide a compelling challenge to these pro-slavery arguments.In Calhoun's essay, "A Defense of Slavery," written in 1837, he states that slavery is the way of life for people, and if it is abolished, society will be destroyed. Calhoun thinks that slaves are happier and better off because of whites and the system of slavery. He says, "there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other." Therefore, Calhoun believes that slavery should be left alone. Calhoun points out that there's no conflict between labor and capital because of the institution of slavery. He believes that a stable society is based on this system, and should continue asserting the "existing relations between" whites and blacks.George Fitzhugh, who wrote "Cannibals All! Or Slaves Without Masters" in 1857, agrees with Calhoun's pro-slavery views, and goes on to say that white slaves, or indentured servants, suffered worse conditions than black slaves. Fitzhugh demonstrates his belief by showing the differences in lifestyles between white indentured servants and black slaves. When white slaves are done with their work for their masters, they are free, but they have to go home and take care of their families and households. A white slave's employer is truly free, and uses the slaves hard work for his own profit. Fitzhugh believes that the black slave is also free. When their labor is done, they are provided with food, raiment, house, fuel, and everything else them or their families needed. When black slaves are done with their work, the work for the master begins. White slavery is more profitable, yet they still are not cared for by their employers. Fitzhugh believes that slave holders of black slaves work hard for their slaves to be taken care of, and slaves should be appreciative.Fredrick Douglass gives a first-hand description of the abomination of slavery in "Fredrick Douglass' Description of Life on the Plantation (1845)." He tells us that if a slave ran away, or committed a misdemeanor, he would be whipped, beaten and sold as an example or warning to the slaves remaining. The slaves got small allowances for their hard work. They were given monthly allowances of pork or fish and cornmeal, a pair of trousers, a shirt, a jacket, stockings and a pair of shoes. All of this "could not have cost more than seven dollars." Children who didn't work in the field were given only two rough shirts per year. Some children, of both sexes,...

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