Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech on the Justice of Receiving Petitions for the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia >> Page 34

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Page 34

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 34
gather to the waters ; and the eagle wings his flight
above the mountains. It is equally the 'order of Prov-
idence that slavery should exist among a planting
people, beneath a southern sun. There the laborer
must become a fixture of the soil. His task is not from
day to day, nor from month to month, but from season
to season, and from year to year. He must be there
to clear, to break up, to plant, to till, to gather, and
to clear again ; and he must be kept there by a never-
ceasing, unavoidable, and irresistible force. The system
of " strikes " so universally practised in all other kinds
of labor would desolate a planting country in a few
years. If, in the heat of the crop, when the loss of
one or two days even may irreparably ruin it, the
laborers were to abandon the fields and demand higher
wages, the owner would have no other alternative
than to say to them, " Work, and take enough to satis-
fy yourselves "�which would, of course, be all. Sir,
it is not the interest of the planters of the South to
emancipate their slaves, and it never can be shown to
be so.
Slavery is said to be an evil ; that it impoverishes
the people, and destroys their morals. If it be an
evil, it is one to us alone, and we are contented with
it why should others interfere ? But it is no evil.
On the contrary, I believe it to be the greatest of all
the great blessings which a kind Providence has be-
stowed upon our favored region. For without it, our
fertile soil and our fructifying climate would have been
given to us in vain. As it is, the history of the short
period during which we have enjoyed it has rendered
our Southern country proverbial for its wealth, its
genius, and its manners.