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 140

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 140

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 140
slaves. Indeed, the advantage is so great as speedily
to compensate for the loss of the value of the slave.
And I have no hesitation in saying that, if I could cul-
tivate my lands on these terms, I would without a word
resign my slaves, provided they could be properly dis-
posed of. But the question is, whether free or slave
labor is cheapest to us in this country at this time, sit-
uated as we are. And it is decided at once by the fact
that we cannot avail ourselves of any other than slave
labor. We neither have nor can we procure other la-
bor to any extent, or on anything like the terms men-
tioned. We must therefore content ourselves with our
dear labor, under the consoling reflection. that what is
lost to us, is gained to humanity ; and that inasmuch as
our slave costs us more than your free man costs you,
by so much is he better off. You will promptly say,
emancipate your slaves, and then you will have free la-
bor on suitable terms. That might be if there were
five hundred where there now is one, and the continent,
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was as densely popula-
ted as your island. But until that comes to pass, no
labor can be procured in America on the terms you
have it.
While I thus freely admit that to the individual pro-
prietor slave labor is dearer than free, I do not mean
to admit as equally clear that it is dearer to the com-
munity and to the State. Though it is certain that
the slave is a far greater consumer than your laborer
the year round, yet your pauper system is costly and
wasteful. Supported by your community at large, it
is not administered by your hired agents with that in-
terested care and economy not to speak of humanity
which mark the management of ours by each proprie-