Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Two Letters on the Subject of Slavery in the United States, Addressed to Thomas Clarkson, Esq. >> Page 119

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Page 119

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 119
ference between the two, though you may not acknowl-
edge it. The wisdom of ages has concurred in the just-
ice and expediency of establishing rights by prescrip-
tive use, however tortious, in their origin, they may
have been. You would deem a man insane, whose keen
sense of equity would lead him to denounce your right
to the lands you hold, and which perhaps you inherited
from a long line of ancestry, because your title was de-
rived from a Saxon or Norman conqueror, and your
lands were originally wrested by violence from the
vanquished Britons. And so would the New England
Abolitionist regard any one who would insist that he
should restore his farm to the descendants of the
slaughtered Red men, to whom God had as clearly
given it as he gave life and freedom to the kidnapped
African. That time does not consecrate wrong, is a
fallacy which all history exposes ; and which the best
and wisest men of all ages and professions of relig-
ious faith have practically denied. The means, there-
fore, whatever they may have been, by which the Afri-
can race now in this country have been reduced to
slavery, cannot affect us, since they are our property,
as your land is yours, by inheritance or purchase and
prescriptive right. You will say that man cannot hold
property in man. The answer is, that he can and act-
ually does hold property in his fellow all the world
over, in a variety of forms, and has always done so.
I will show presently his authority for doing it.
If you were to ask me whether I am an advocate
of slavery in the abstract, I should probably answer,
that I am not, according to my understanding of the
question. I do not like to deal in abstractions. It
seldom leads to any useful ends. There are few univer-