A Postwar Conversation with Mr. Davis
“Mr. Davis once talked to me long and earnestly on the [postwar] condition of the South. Among other things he said:
“There is no question that the white people of the South are better off for the abolition of slavery. It is an equally patent fact that the colored people are not. If the colored people shall develop a proper degree of thrift, and get a degree of education to keep pace with any advancement they may make, they may become a tenantry which will enable the South to rebuild the waste places and become immensely wealthy.
The colored people have many good traits, and many of them are religious. Indeed, the 4,000,000 in the South when the War began were Christianized from barbarism. In that respect the South has been a greater practical missionary than all the society missionaries in the world.”
War was not necessary to the abolition of slavery, continued Mr. Davis. “Years before the agitation began at the North and the menacing acts to the institution, there was a growing feeling all over the South for its abolition.
But the Abolitionists of the North, both by publications and speech, cemented the South and crushed the feeling in favor of emancipation. Slavery could have been blotted out without the sacrifice of brave men and without the strain which revolution always makes upon established forms of government.
I see it stated that I uttered the sentiment, or indorsed it, that, “slavery is the cornerstone of the Confederacy.” That is not my utterance.”
(Life and Death of Jefferson Davis, A.C. Bancroft, editor, Crown Rights Books, 1999 (original 1889), excerpts pp. 152-154)