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 152

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Page 152

Correspondence | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 152
prevent separations sometimes, by the removal of one
owner, his death, or failure, and dispersion of his prop-
erty. In all such cases, however, every reasonable
effort is made to keep the parties together, if they de-
sire it. And the negroes forming these connections,
knowing the chances of their premature dissolution,
rarely complain more than we all do of the inevitable
strokes of fate. Sometimes it happens that a negro
prefers to give up his family rather than separate from
his master. I have known such instances. As to wil-
fully selling off a husband or wife or child, I believe it
is rarely, very rarely done, except when some offence
has been committed demanding " transportation." At
sales of estates, and even at Sheriffs' sales, they are
al ways, if possible, sold in families. On the whole, not-
withstanding the migratory character of our population,
I believe there are more families among our slaves who
have lived and died together without losing a single
member from their circle, except by the process of
nature, and in the enjoyment of constant, uninterrupted
communion, than have flourished in the same space of
time and among the same number of civilized people
in modern times. And to sum up all, if pleasure is
correctly defined to be in the absence of pain which,
so far as the great body of mankind is concerned, is
undoubtedly its true definition —I believe our slaves
are the happiest three millions of human beings on
whom the sun shines. Into their Eden is coming Satan
in the guise of an Abolitionist.
As regards their religious condition, it is well
known that a majority of the communicants of the
Methodist and Baptist churches of the South are col-
ored. Almost everywhere they have precisely the same