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In God We Trust: Primary Sources

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  The Black Race is Fit for Servitude | Oh, You Palefaced Hypocrites!


The Black Race is Fit for Servitude

In his Thanksgiving sermon at New Orleans' First Presbyterian Church in 1860, Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer described slavery as a duty of white Southerners.

This duty is bound upon us again as the constituted guardians of the slaves themselves. Our lot is not more implicated in theirs, than their lot in ours; in our mutual relations we survive or perish together. The worst foes of the black race are those who have intermeddled on their behalf. We know better than others that every attribute of their character fits them for dependence and servitude. By nature the most affectionate and loyal of all races beneath the sun, they are also the most helpless; and no calamity can befall them greater than the loss of that protection they enjoy under this patriarchal system. Indeed, the experiment has been grandly tried of precipitating them upon freedom which they know not how to enjoy; and the dismal results are before us in statistics that astonish the world. With the fairest portion of the earth in their possession and with the advantage of a long discipline as cultivators of the soil, their constitutional indolence has converted the most beautiful islands of the sea into a howling waste.

It is not too much to say that if the South should, at this moment surrender every slave, the wisdom of the entire world, united in solemn council, could not solve the question of their disposal. Their transportation to Africa, even if it were feasible, would be but the most refined cruelty; they must perish with starvation before they could have time to relapse into their primitive barbarism. Their residence here, in the presence of the vigorous Saxon race, would be but the signal for their rapid extermination before they had time to waste away through listlessness, filth and vice. Freedom would be their doom.

Excerpt from Benjamin Morgan Palmer, Thanksgiving Sermon, Delivered at the First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, on Thursday, December 29, 1860. New York: G. F. Hesbit & Co., Printers, 1860.

  Reverend Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer  
page created on 12.19.03
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