The Bible and Christianity were used to justify African slavery
Shall we go to the horses mouth?
George Mc Duffie was the sitting governor of South Carolina when he wrote this message to the state legislature in 1835.
For the institution of domestic slavery we hold ourselves responsible only to God, and it is utterly incompatible with the dignity and the safety of the State, to permit any foreign authority to question our right to maintain it. It may nevertheless be appropriate, as a voluntary token of our respect for the opinions of our confederate brethren, to present some views to their consideration on this subject, calculated to disallows their minds of false opinions and pernicious prejudices.
No human institution, in my opinion, is more manifestly consistent with the will of God, than domestic slavery, and no one of his ordinances is written in more legible characters than that which consigns the African race to this condition, as more conducive to their own happiness, than any other of which they are susceptible. Whether we consult the sacred Scriptures, or the lights of nature and reason, we shall find these truths as abundantly apparent, as if written with a sunbeam in the heavens. Under both the Jewish and Christian dispensations of our religion, domestic slavery existed with the unequivocal sanction of its prophets, its apostles and finally its great Author. The patriarchs themselves, those chosen instruments of God, were slave-holders. In fact the divine sanction of this institution is so plainly written that "he who runs may read" it, and those over-righteous pretenders and Pharisees, who affect to be scandalized by its existence among us, would do well to inquire how much more nearly they walk in the ways of Godliness, than did Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That the African negro is destined by Providence to occupy this condition of servile dependence, is not less manifest. It is marked on the face, stamped on the skin, and evinced by the intellectual inferiority and natural improvidence of this race. They have all the qualities that fit them for slaves, and not one of those that would fit them to be freemen. They are utterly unqualified not only for rational freedom, but for self-government of any kind. They are, in all respects, physical, moral, and political, inferior to millions of the human race, who have for consecutive ages, dragged out a wretched existence under a grinding political despotism, and who are doomed to this hopeless condition by the very qualities which unfit them for a better. It is utterly astonishing that any enlightened American, after contemplating all the manifold forms in which even the white race of mankind are doomed to slavery and oppression, should suppose it possible to reclaim the African race from their destiny. The capacity to enjoy freedom is an attribute not to be communicated by human power. It is an endowment of God, and one of the rarest which it has pleased his inscrutable wisdom to bestow upon the nations of the earth. It is conferred as the reward of merit, and only upon those who are qualified to enjoy it. Until the "Ethiopian can change his skin," it will be in vain to attempt, by any human power, to make freemen of those whom God has doomed to be slaves, by all their attributes.
Let not, therefore, the misguided and designing intermeddlers who seek to destroy our peace, imagine that they are serving the cause of God by practically arraigning the decrees of his Providence. Indeed it would scarcely excite surprise, if with the impious audacity of those who projected the tower of Babel, they should attempt to scale the battlements of Heaven, and remonstrate with the God of wisdom for having put the mark of Cain and tile curse of Ham upon the African race, instead of the European.
If the benevolent friends of the black race would compare the condition of that portion of them which we hold in servitude, with that which still remains in Africa totally unblessed by the lights of civilization or Christianity, and groaning under a savage despotism, as utterly destitute of hope as of happiness, they would be able to form some tolerable estimate, of what our blacks have lost by slavery in America, and what they have gained by freedom in Africa. Greatly as their condition has been improved, by their subjection to an enlightened and Christian people, (the only mode under heaven by which it could have been accomplished,) they are yet wholly unprepared for any thing like a rational system of self-government. Emancipation would be a positive curse, depriving them of a guardianship essential to their happiness, and they may well say in the language of the Spanish proverb, "Save us from our friends and we will take care of our enemies." If emancipated, where would they live and what would be their condition? The idea of their remaining among us is utterly visionary. Amalgamation is abhorent to every sentiment of nature; and if they remain as a separate caste, whether endowed with equal privileges or not, they will become our masters or we must resume tile mastery over them. This state of political amalgamation and conflict, which the Abolitionists evidently aim to produce, would be the most horrible condition imaginable, and would furnish Dante or Milton with the type for another chapter illustrating the horrors of the infernal regions. The only disposition, therefore, that could be made of our emancipated slaves would be their transportation to Africa, to exterminate tile natives or be exterminated by them; contingencies, either of which may well serve to illustrate the wisdom, if not the philanthropy of these superserviceable madmen, who in the name of humanity would desolate the fairest region of the earth and destroy the most perfect system of social and political happiness, that ever has existed.
It is perfectly evident that the destiny of the Negro race its, either the worst possible form of political slavery, or else domestic servitude as it exists in the slave-holding States. The advantage of domestic slavery over the most favorable condition of political slavery, does not admit of a question. It is the obvious interest of the master, not less than his duty, to provide comfortable food and clothing for his slaves; and whatever false and exaggerated stories may be propagated by mercenary travellers, who make a trade of exchanging calumny for hospitality, the peasantry and operatives of no country in the world are better provided for, in these respects, than the slaves of our country. In the single empire of Great Britain, the most free and enlightened nation in Europe, there are more wretched paupers and half starving operatives, than there are Negro slaves in the United States. In all respects, the comforts of our slaves are greatly superior to those of the English operatives, or the Irish and continental peasantry, to say nothing of the millions of paupers crowded together in those loathsome receptacles of starving humanity, the public poor-houses. Besides the hardships of incessant toil, too much almost for human nature to endure, and the sufferings of actual want, driving them almost to despair, these miserable creatures are perpetually annoyed by the most distressing cares for the future condition of themselves and their children.
From this excess of labor, this actual want, and these distressing cares, our slaves are entirely exempted. They habitually labor from two to four hours a day less than the operatives in other countries, and it has been truly remarked, by some writer, that a negro cannot be made to injure himself by excessive labor. It may be safely affirmed that they eat as much wholesome and substantial food in one day, as English operatives or Irish peasants eat in two. And as it regards concern for the future, their condition may well be envied even by their masters. There is not upon the face of the earth, any class of people, high or low, so perfectly free from c are and anxiety. They know that their masters will provide for them, under all circumstances, and that in the extremity of old age, instead of being driven to beggary or to seek public charity in a poor-house, they will be comfortably accommodated and kindly treated among their relatives and associates. Cato, the elder, has been regarded as a model of Roman virtue, and yet he is said to have sold his superannuated slaves to avoid the expense of maintaining them. The citizens of this State may not aspire to rival the virtue of the Romans, but it may be safely affirmed, that they would doom to execration the master who should imitate the inhuman example of the Roman paragon. The government of our slaves is strictly patriarchal, and produces those mutual feelings of kindness which result from a constant interchange of good offices, and which can only exist in a system of domestic or patriarchal slavery. They are entirely unknown either in a state of political slavery, or in that form of domestic servitude which exists in all other communities.
In a word, our slaves are cheerful, contented and happy, much beyond tile general condition of the human race, except where those foreign intruders and fatal ministers of mischief, the emancipationists, like their arch-prototype in the Garden of Eden, and actuated by no less envy, have tempted them to aspire above the condition to which they have been assigned in the order of Providence.
Domestic slavery, therefore, instead of being a political evil, is the corner-stone of our republican edifice. No patriot who justly estimates our privileges will tolerate the idea of emancipation, at any period, however remote, or on any conditions of pecuniary advantage, however favorable. 1 would as soon open a negotiation for selling the liberty of the State at once, as for making any stipulations for the ultimate emancipation of our slaves. So deep is my conviction on this subject, that if I were doomed to die immediately after recording these sentiments, I could say in all sincerity and under all the sanctions of Christianity and patriotism, "God forbid that my descendants, in the remotest generations, should live in any other than a community having the institution of domestic slavery, as it existed among the patriarchs of the primitive Church and in all the free states of antiquity."