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 144

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Page 144

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 144
only consolation we Americans could derive from the
opprobrious imputation of being wholly devoted to
making money, which your disinterested and gold-de-
spising countrymen delight to cast upon us, when you
nevertheless declare that we are ready to sacrifice it
for the pleasure of being inhuman. You remember
that Mr. Pitt could never get over the idea that self-
interest would insure kind treatment to slaves, until you
told him your woful stories of the Middle Passage.
Mr. Pitt was right in the first instance, and erred,
under your tuition, in not perceiving the difference
between a temporary and permanent ownership of
them. Slave-holders are no more perfect than other
men. They have passions. Some of them, as you
may suppose, do not at all times restrain them. Neither
do husbands, parents and friends. And in each of
these relations as serious suffering as frequently arises
from uncontrolled passions as ever does in that of
Master and Slave, and with as little chance of indem-
nity. Yet you would not on that account break them
up. I have no hesitation in saying that our slave-
holders are as kind masters, as men usually are kind
husbands, parents and friends as a general rule,
kinder. A bad master he who overworks his slaves,
provides ill for them, or treats them with undue sever-
ity—loses the esteem and respect of his fellow citizens
to as great an extent as lie would for the violation of
any of his social and most of his moral obligations.
What the most perfect plan of management would be
is a problem hard to solve. From the commencement
of Slavery in this country, this subject has occupied
the minds of all slave-holders, as much as the improve-
ment of the general condition of mankind has those