The antebellum viewpoint on slavery remains controversial. Presaging the Civil War, a fierce political debate took place between the Southern defenders of slavery and the Northern abolitionists. The two sides argued over the political, economic, social, religious, biological, and racial implications of slavery. While the Civil War was waged, and won, in large part to put an end to the unacceptable exploitation of human life, it is still worthwhile to analyze both sides of the argument for and against slavery.Frederick Douglas asserted in his antebellum speech What to the Slave, is the Fourth of July? that there is no valid reason to justify the existence and belief in slavery. Douglas's claims are questionable and his generalizations are objectionable. So as to analyze the validity of his words and effectiveness of his speech, I will retort Douglas's arguments with the beliefs of Southern defenders slavery. It will become clear that the South was steeped in dubious propaganda that precluded change and nullified Douglas's arguments.
[...] He asks: Am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash. No I will not. I have better employment of my time. Southern defenders refuted the notion of mistreatment, claiming that slave conditions were fair and greatly superior to those of pauperism and Northern industry. [...]
[...] Cannibals All! or, Slaves Without Masters. New York: Harvard Stampp, Kenneth M. Peculiar Institution. New York: Vintage Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery: 1619-1877. New York: Hill “Medicine, States' Rights”. Encyclopedia of Southern Culture ed. Myrdal, Gunnar. An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. New York: Harper Douglas, Frederick. “Frederick Douglass: What to the Slave, is the Fourth [...]
[...] He exclaims: Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery How should I look today in the presence of Americans, dividing and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom, speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively? To do so would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. [...]
[...] Dr. Samuel Cartwright believed that slaves were anatomically inferior. Because the most apparent difference between the slaves and their masters was skin color, Cartwright's central argument was that all slaves possessed a “shade of pervading darkness.” This darkness supposedly spread throughout the entire body; he even claimed that the slaves' blood was darker. Cartwright believed that slaves were constructed more like their Simian ancestors than Caucasians. He claimed that a perpendicular line drawn from the forehead would cut off a distinctly larger portion of the face than on a Caucasian. Therefore, a slave brain was between ten and eleven percent smaller than a Caucasian brain. [...]
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