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Historical Document
James Henry Hammond advocates slavery
1858

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James Henry Hammond was a senator and wealthy plantation owner from South Carolina. This excerpt is from a speech he made to the Senate on March 4, 1858, in which he lays out his famous "mudsill theory" and states, "In all societies that must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life." This class, says Hammond, makes it possible for the higher class to move civilization forward.

In the antebellum period, pro-slavery forces moved from defending slavery as a necessary evil to expounding it as a positive good. Some insisted that African Americans were child-like people in need of protection, and that slavery provided a civilizing influence. Others argued that black people were biologically inferior to white people and were incapable of assimilating in free society. Still others claimed that slaves were necessary to maintain the progress of white society.






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Related Entries:
George Fitzhugh advocates slavery





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