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 39

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Page 39

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 39

" They are so excessively lazy and stupid, that the people of George-town (near by their camps) and the neighboring farmers will not employ them as work hands to any extent. They do not raise produce enough on their own lands to feed their families, much less do they have a surplus for sale abroad. They pass most of their time in their little sorry cabins ; too listless even to fiddle and dance. One may ride through the "negro camp," as they are called, passing a dozen straggling cabins with smoke issuing out of the ends, in the middle of clearings, without seeing a soul either at work or play. The fear of starvation makes them work the least possible quantity, while they are much too lazy to play.
" Why do not the zealous Abolitionists go there and see the experiment in all its beauty�the slave changed into a free, but wretched savage ! Why not make something of these thousand negroes ? There are not more than two or three families out of the whole who are improved by the change from slavery to freedom.
" The negro settlements are a dead weight upon Brown county, as to any productive benefit from the negro lands, or from negro labor ; and that space of country might as well, to this day, have remained in possession of the Indians.
"If Southern wealth can be applied to buy and colonize among us such a worthless population, what farmer in Ohio is safe ? Has he any guarantee that a black colony will not be established in his neighborhood.
" Let any one who wishes to learn the operation of emancipated negroes, visit the Brown county camps. As they sink in laziness, poverty and filth, they increase in numbers�their only produce is children. They want nothing but cowries to make them equal to the negroes of the Niger."
Such, Sir, are the blessed fruits of Abolition ; and
to make such miserable and degraded wretches as these
are we called on to give up our happy, industrious,
and useful slaves�to strike out of existence nine
hundred millions of active and inestimable capital, and
impoverish and desolate the fairest region of the
globe ? But it is said that this is the dark side of the
picture, and that emancipation�" gradual emancipa-
tion," would produce far better consequences. Al-
though I am perfectly satisfied that no human process
can elevate the black man to an equality with the
white--admitting that it could be done are we pre-
pared for the consequences which then must follow ?