Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia thought African slavery “one of the greatest problems of this interesting age,” and wondered “what is to be the fate of the poor African God only knows. His condition as a slave is certainly not a good one” though far better in the American South than in “his own barbarous clime.” Stephens believed the problem of Africans selling their own people into slavery to be a Christian nation’s duty to solve, and this was something European nations fairly accomplished in the late 19th century.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Forebodings of Unequal Equality
“I see in the Boston Herald that there was a riot yesterday in Washington, D.C., between Federal soldiers and Negroes; attack by the former upon the latter; 150 or 200 soldiers engaged. The military, or provost guard was called on to suppress it. Several were wounded and some killed on both sides.
Is this but the beginning of deplorable conflicts hereafter to be enacted between the races, until one or the other is extinguished? Sad forebodings haunt me. I apprehend intestine strifes, riots, bloodshed, wars of the most furious character, springing from antipathies of castes and races.
Equality does not exist between blacks and whites. The one race is by nature inferior in many respects, physically and mentally, to the other. This should be received as a fixed invincible fact in all dealings with the subject. It is useless to war against the decrees of nature in attempting to make things equal which the Creator has made unequal; the wise, humane, and philosophical statesman will deal with facts as he finds them. In the new order of things, I shall hope and, if permitted, strive, for the best; yet I cannot divest myself of forebodings of many evils.
My own judgment was that those who elected to go to a free State would not be so well off as those who should remain at home with masters of their choice. Still, that was a matter for their own decision and which I did not feel at liberty to control.
So far as my own Negroes are concerned, there is nothing now that would give me more pleasure, under the changed order of things, than to try the experiment and see what can be done for them in their new condition.
(Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens, His Diary, Myrta Lockett Avary, LSU Press, 1998 (Original 1910), pp. 207-208)