Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Letter to the Free Church of Glasgow, on the Subject of Slavery >> Page 110

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Page 110

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 110
counterbalanced by his being deprived of his freedom.
Can you tell me what freedom is--who possesses it, and
how much of it is requisite for human happiness '? Is
y our operative, existing in the physical and moral con-
dition which your own official returns depict—de-
prived too of every political right, even that of voting
at the polls who is not cheered by the slightest hope
of ever improving his lot or leaving his children to a
better, and who actually seeks the four walls of a
prison, the hulks, and transportation, as comparative
blessings is he free —sufficiently free ? Can you say
that this sort of freedom—the the liberty to beg or
steal to choose between starvation and a prison—does
or ought to make him happier than our slave, situated
as I have truly described him, without a single care or
gloomy forethought ?
But you will perhaps say, it is not in the Thing,
but in the Name, that the magic resides that there
is a vast difference between being called a slave and.
being made one, though equally enslaved by law, by
social forms, and by immutable necessity. This is an
ideal and sentimental distinction which it will be dif-
ficult to bring the African race to comprehend. But
if it be true, and freedom is a name and idea, rather
than reality, how many are there then entitled even
to that name, except by courtesy ; and how many are
able to enjoy the idea in perfection ? Does your ope-
rative regard it as a sufficient compensation for the dif-
ference between four ounces and three pounds of
bacon ? If he does, he is a rare philosopher. In your
powerful kingdom social grade is as thoroughly estab-
lished and acknowledged as military rank. Your com-
monalty see among themselves a series of ascending