John C Calhoun View Of Slavery

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On February 6, 1837, John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina senator, delivered a speech on the United States Senate floor stating slavery to be a positive good. Slavery was so interwoven in the life of Southerners; however, Northerns wanted to abolish it while Southerners wanted to preserve it. Calhoun argued that slavery was beneficial to slave moral grounds and that the federal government could not pass laws to limit or to abolish slavery due to the rights of states to to regulate themselves. Calhoun further argued that since the federal government was a created by the states, the states were the final arbiters of the federal laws. In contrast to Calhoun, Frederick Douglas, an arthur, orator, abolitionist and former slave, argues that slavery…show more content…
Calhoun justifies that slaves are better off than the poor European citizens by comparing “the sick, and the old and infirm slave...in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind superintending care of his master and mistress” (The Papers of Calhoun 396) to “the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poorhouse” (The Papers of Calhoun 396). Calhoun believes that the black race has actually physically, morally, and intellectually improved more as slaves in America than in Central Africa since “it came among us in a low, degraded, and savage condition, and in the course of a few generations it has grown up under the fostering care of our institutions...to its present comparatively civilized condition” (The Papers of Calhoun 395). Describing the slavemaster as caring and slavery as a fostering institution depicts the condition of slaves almost as a luxury. The viewpoint that blacks are so inferior to whites that bringing them to the US has made them better off than they would be in Africa contributes to Calhoun’s view that slavery is moral. He states “I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together...is, instead of an evil, a good–a positive good” (The Papers…show more content…
Calhoun and Douglass both agree that freedom is a basic right, as stated in the constitution; unfortunately, a majority of blacks at this time are not able to acquire the basic right of freedom. Douglass is a prime example of how living as a slave means living without rights. Slave owners knew that the only way blacks could find out that they are not inferior to whites is if they read articles written by abolitionists and how the Constitution guaranteed American citizens basic rights. Denying slaves a basic education was one means that slave owners used in effort to control and to keep blacks enslaved. Whites were able to maintain their power by keeping their slaves as uneducated as possible. Slaves were dehumanized by being sold next to livestock and split from their families like animals. By retaining basic information, such as the identity of the slave’s parents or their birthdays, the whites were able to deprive the slaves of any sense of identity or individuality. Once slaves had this knowledge they might begin to fight more diligently for their natural rights. Slave owners feared that if slaves became educated and “waken to a sense of their rights, and of the injustice done them” (Douglass 14), they would eventually revolt and want to simply be treated like a human being. For this reason, slave owners kept their blacks ignorant
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