Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/357

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339
Pro-Slavery Arguments

product, and the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are merely unmeaning verbiage. There is no place for contract as the basis of government, since it is "the order of nature and of God that the beings of superior faculties and knowledge, and superior power, should control and dispose of those who are inferior." It is therefore as much in the order of nature that "men should enslave each other, as that animals should prey upon each other."

Yet Harper's book is more of a defence of Southern society than an attack on existing political theories. Such an attack was more definitely the aim of Albert T. Bledsoe, Professor of Mathematics in the University of Virginia, in his Liberty and Slavery (1856). He boldly rejected the traditional conceptions of natural liberty and the origin of government. Public order and private liberty, he held, are non-antagonistic. Civil society is "not a thing of compacts, bound together by promises and paper, but is itself a law of nature as irreversible as any other." The only inalienable rights are those coupled with duty, and they do not include life and liberty. Another teacher, William A. Smith, President of Randolph Macon College, gave to the public the arguments already presented to his classes in his Lectures on the Philosophy and Practice of Slavery (1856). Two aims inspired his work: to show that the philosophy of Jefferson is false, and that the opposite is true, namely, that the great abstract principle of domestic slavery is, per se right," and that "we should have a Southern literature," especially textbooks in which there should be no poison of untruth. The books of these two teachers were widely circulated; Bledsoe's was especially well-known, finding its way into many private libraries of the age.

Not only were Jefferson's ideals combatted, but in society as organized there was also found a basis for the defence of slavery. In Europe the industrial revolution had brought in its train poverty, child labour, distress, new social philosophies, and revolt. In contrast was the South with its contented labourers, its planters who had a personal interest in the welfare of those dependent on them, its wealth, its conservatism, and its spirit of chivalry. Here lay the theme of George Fitzhugh's Sociology for the South (1854). In Europe, he pointed out, free labour had resulted in exploitation of the workers by the capitalists. There