Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June 3, 1861 - W.H. Russell on "anthropo-proprietors" (slave owners) — and lynching

William Howard Russell, the first great war correspondent, was an important contact for British Consul Robert Bunch, 
Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South. Here, Russell is winding up his visit a sugar plantation in Louisiana.

June 3  ... The carriage is ready, and the word farewell is spoken at last. M. Alfred Roman, my companion, has travelled in Europe, and learned philosophy; is not so orthodox as many of 
the gentlemen I have met who indulge in ingenious hypotheses to comfort the consciences of the anthropo-proprietors. The negro skull won't hold as many ounces of shot as the white man's. Potent proof that the white man has a right to sell and to own the creature! He is plantigrade, and curved as to the tibia! Cogent demonstration that he was made expressly to work for the arch-footed, straight-tibiaed Caucasian. He has a rete mucosurn and a colored pigment! Surely he cannot have a soul of the same color as that of an Italian or a Spaniard, far less of a flaxen-haired Saxon ! See these peculiarities in the frontal sinus in sinciput or occiput! Can you doubt that the being with a head of that shape was made only to till, hoe, and dig for another race? Besides, the Bible says that he is a son of Ham, and prophecy must be carried out in the rice-swamps, sugar-cane, and maize-fields of the Southern Confederation. 

It is flat blasphemy to set yourself against it. Our Saviour sanctions slavery because he does not say a word against it, and it is very likely that St. Paul was a slave-owner. Had cotton and sugar been known, the apostle might have been a planter!  Furthermore, the negro is civilized by being carried away from Africa and set to work, instead of idling in native inutility. What hope is there of Christianizing the African races, except  by the agency of the apostles from New Orleans, Mobile, or Charleston, who sing the sweet songs of Zion with such vehemence, and clamor so fervently for baptism in the waters of the "Jawdam"? 

If these high physical, metaphysical, moral and religious reasonings do not satisfy you, and you are bold enough to venture still to be unconvinced and to say so, then I advise you not to come within reach of a mass meeting of our citizens, who may be able to find a rope and a tree in the neighborhood. 

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