INTEREST OF NON-SLAVEHOLDERS IN SLAVERY
by Confederate Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry
Unreflecting partisans have sometimes insinuated, rather than openly expressed the opinion, that non-slaveholders are not interested in the institution of slavery. No greater or more mischievous mistake could be made, and a few suggestions will show it. The most perplexing problem to modern governments is the relation between labor and capital. Nothing is so terrible to England, nothing so fearful to France, nothing awakens such serious apprehensions with the thoughtful and far-seeing in the populous portions of the North. Laws are passed regulating labor, fixing wages, restricting capital and lubricating the friction between clashing labor and capital. Between the two opposing forces in free society, there is a constant tendency to collision.
In Europe standing armies, and restricted suffrage, and artificial privileged classes, and sumptuary laws, and perpetual governmental interference, keep the interests of labor in subordination. In the North, facility of emigration to the fertile and unoccupied West and the conservative influence of slavery have mitigated the severity of the conflict, significant premonitions of the irrepressibility of which are occasionally heard in the "strikes" of the operatives and the bated whisperings of "bread or blood." Where slavery does not exist, the antagonism between labor and capital is everywhere felt, and it is mitigated or aggravated by the mode of employment of both. The warfare "between opposing and enduring forces" is inseparable from the unadjusted relation. There is no sympathy, no recognized and felt moral relation between the combatting forces and capital tyrannizes over labor, depriving it of political rights, of personal freedom and wresting from its hard earnings all but a scanty subsistence.
The difficult problem finds a solution in African slavery, and here labor and capital are identified. The two are blended in harmony and political irreconcilability is adjusted by the providential and predestined distinction of color. Profits and wages in our social organization are blended. The slaveholder, owning both capital and labor in the negro, is interested in receiving for his labor a remunerating return, and hence the wages of mechanics and field-laborers in the South are higher than at the North. Besides, no matter how the price of produce may fluctuate, the slaveholder makes his largest possible crop, as his negroes must be clothed and subsisted. Labor is not turned loose adrift in times of pecuniary depression, and thus all classes of the community and every profession, the lawyer, the merchant, the overseer, the mechanic, the physician, the preacher, are interested in the products of slave labor. In the North, social distinctions are defined by the rich and the poor. In the South, color draws the ineffaceable line of separation.
In Europe, to preserve the wall of partition, privileged classes are created and voting is confined to a favored few or prohibited altogether. In the North, like distinctions would be made but for connection with the South. Putting out of view, in the event of abolition, the abhorrent degradation of social and political equality, the probability of a war of extermination between the races or the necessity of flying the country to avoid the association, it is susceptible of demonstration, that those whom the abolitionists stigmatize as "the poor whites of the South" are more interested in the institution than any other portion of the community. Thank God, they cannot be duped by the wiles of their enemies, and none are more ready when the occasion demands to
"Strike for their altars and their fires,
Strike for the green graves of their sires,
God and their native land."