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 130

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Page 130

Correspondence | John F. Trow & Co.; The Reprint Company | 1866, 1978
Transcription 130
In a social point of view the Abolitionists pronounce
slavery to be a monstrous evil. If it was so, it would
be our own peculiar concern, and superfluous benevo-
lence in them to lament over it. Seeing their bitter
hostility to us, they might leave us to cope with our
own calamities. But they make war upon us out of
excess of charity, and attempt to purify by covering
us with calumny. You have read and assisted to cir-
culate a great deal about affrays, duels and murders oc-
curring here, and all attributed to the terrible demor-
alization of slavery. Not a single event of this sort
takes place among us, but is caught up by the Aboli-
tionists and paraded over the world with endless com-
ments, variations and exaggerations. You should not
take what reaches you as a mere sample, and infer that
there is a vast deal more you never hear. You hear
all, and more than all the truth.
It is true that the point of honor is recognized
throughout the slave region, and that disputes of cer-
tain classes are frequently referred for adjustment to
the " trial by combat." It would not be appropriate
for me to enter, in this letter, into a defence of the
practice of duelling ; nor to maintain at length that it
does not tarnish the character of a people to acknowl-
edge a standard of honor. Whatever evils may arise
from it, however, they cannot be attributed to slavery ;
since the same custom prevails both in France and Eng-
land. Few of your Prime Ministers, of the last half cen-
tury even, have escaped the contagion, I believe. The of
frays, of which so much is said, and in which rifles, bow-
ieknives and pistols are so prominent, occur mostly in
Frontier States of the South-West. They are naturally
incidental to the condition of society as it exists in many