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 133

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Page 133

Correspondence | John F. Trow & Co.; The Reprint Company | 1866, 1978
Transcription 133
bitious of honors. If this be so, as all the power and
honors of this country are won mainly by intellectual
superiority it might be fairly presumed that slave-
holders would not be neglectful of education. In proof
of the accuracy of this presumption I point you to the
facts, that our Presidential chair has been occupied for
forty-four out of fifty-six years by slave-holders ; that
another has been recently elected to fill it for four
more, over an opponent who was a slave-holder also ;
and that in the Federal offices and both Houses of
Congress considerably more than a due proportion of
those acknowledged to stand in the first rank are from
the South. In this arena the intellects of the free and
slave States meet in full and fair competition. Nature
must have been unusually bountiful to us, or we have
been at least reasonably assiduous in the cultivation of
such gifts as she has bestowed unless indeed you
refer our superiority to moral qualities, which I am
sure you will not. More wealthy we are not ; nor
would mere wealth avail in such rivalry.
The piety of the South is unobtrusive. We think
it proves but little, though it is a confident thing for a
man to claim that he stands higher in the estimation
of his Creator, and is less a sinner than his neighbor.
If vociferation is to carry the question of religion, the
North and probably the Scotch have it. Our sects
are few, harmonious, pretty much united among them-
selves, and pursue their avocations in humble peace.
In fact, our professors of religion seem to think
whether correctly or not—that it is their duty " to do
good in secret" and to carry their holy comforts to
the heart of each individual, without reference to class
or color, for his special enjoyment, and not with a view