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The Contrasting Views Of Pro Slavery Vs. Abolitionist

1414 words - 6 pages

Throughout the history of mankind, slavery has existed in one form or another. Since the times of ancient civilizations to modern era subjugations, there have forces who feel strongly of its necessity and purpose, while others have devoted themselves to seeing the ideas and acts of slavery abolished. America is not an exception to the concept of slavery and during the nation’s early history, parties from both sides have been made famous for their beliefs in the continuation or the denouncement of slavery in the United States. To understand the contrasting views of pro-slavery advocates versus abolitionists in antebellum America, a comparison of the individual positions must be made to further understand the goals of each party.
A common theme of the pro-slavery advocates in the 1800’s was the continuation of slavery for the wellbeing of the enslaved and country. During this time in American history, it was believed African-Americans were inferior to whites and without bondage, they would reduce themselves to animalistic acts and barbarism. George Fitzhugh, an American social theorist who wrote “The Universal Law of Slavery” said, “He the [African-American] is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child, not as a lunatic or criminal,” (Fitzhugh). Interpretation of Fitzhugh’s writings reveals his stand on slavery and his belief that through bondage, African Americans have become more civilized and protected from worst fates. To further persuade his position he introduced the quality of life and happiness slaves in the southern states experience. Fitzhugh illustrates that the children and elderly are excluded from work and the women are guarded by overzealous husbands through their master’s protection. He also addresses that the capable men do not work more than what is considered fair and appropriate time is given off during holidays. He concludes the overall existence for the southern slaves is pleasant and they are freer than most men; “The [African-American] slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world,” (Fitzhugh).
Dr. Samuel Cartwright was a physician and pro-slavery advocate during the 1800’s and is well known for his diagnosis of drapetomania, a supposed disease that made slaves runaway. He concluded that the reason African slaves sought to escape was because they were treated inadequately by their masters. Delving deeper in his writings it is discovered he too, like George Fitzhugh, approved of enslavement. Both men advocated the issue and have similar analyzes on how slaves are or should be treated. Cartwright expresses to his audience that slaves will most likely run (drapetomania) if they are treated poorly by their master; “according to my experience, the "genu flexit"--the awe and reverence, must be exacted from them, or they will despise their masters, become rude and ungovernable, and run away,” (Cartwright). Dr. Cartwright believed if slaves were managed...

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