Analysis Of The Proslavery Argument By James Henry Hammond

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Slavery was a staple of Southern economy and lifestyle which greatly increased after the 1820s. Slaveholders came under attack when abolitionist ideas gripped the North and threatened the Southern way of life. This resulted in Southerners trying to justify slavery, not only to the North, but to themselves. One planter and politician from South Carolina, James Henry Hammond, wrote a Proslavery Argument in 1845 to refute the accusations the abolitionists were making towards the South and the institution of slavery. He defended slave-owners when he wrote his argument and said that slaveholders were responsible to God and the law. He also said that these owners could not refuse to provide just care for their slaves or be “tyrannical or cruel.”…show more content…
He wrote, “I deny that the power of the slaveholder in America is ‘irresponsible.’ He is responsible to God… He is responsible to the community in which he lives, and to the laws under which he enjoys his civil rights.” This statement is wrong because it can be proved that slaveholders did not carry themselves with the values that Hammond portrays them to have. Madison Hemings, Thomas Jefferson’s enslaved son, recalls how his mother was treated by Jefferson in the time after his wife passed away. He states, “during that time my mother became Mr. Jefferson’s concubine, and when he was called back home she was enceinte by him,” and he continues on to describe her as, “well used,” implying that Jefferson continued to mistreat her throughout her life. This situation of his mother being a concubine of Jefferson was neither responsible to God nor to the law. The relationship between slave and slave owner or even relations between different races, was also disobeying the Anti-Miscegenation laws of the time period. In like manner, the act of sexual relationships outside of marriage, like the one of Jefferson and Heming’s mother, is a sin unto God. Another illustration of the irresponsibility of slave owners towards God is the claim of Nat Turner, , “when the white people would not let us be baptized by the church, we went down to the water together… and were baptized by the spirit.” An even more…show more content…
In fact, he completely denies the existence of it when he claims that slaveholders are all responsible to the laws and that, “in short, they forbid him to be tyrannical or cruel.” One exemplification of the tyranny of some slaveholders is that of Bennet Barrow, the owner of many slaves on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. He wanted complete control over every aspect of his slaves’ lives. He demonstrates this throughout his journal especially when he explains that the best way to be in control is to, “create in him (the slave) a habit of perfect dependence on you.” Hereby proving the oppressive ways of the slaveholder. Bennet also did not permit his slaves to ever leave the plantation without, “good reason,” and assimilated rules into their society to give them little chance of having reason to leave. In a large part of his documentation, he admits to making many rules concerning marriage of slaves for this very reason and others. These arbitrary guidelines verify the tyranny and oppression set upon he slaves by their owners. By assuming his rule was to dictate the world his slaves experienced, Bennet was establishing his oppressive nature and that of all slaveholders who assumed they were dominant creatures. Fanny Kemble illustrated the “sorrow-laden existence” of the slaves on her plantation and the cruelties inflicted upon them. The
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