Many influential persons in the antebellum South promoted an end to the colonial labor system inherited from the British, and truly sincere New England abolitionists could easily have assisted in devising a compensated emancipation solution as Britain had done in the 1840s. Also, had New England cotton mills and Manhattan banks not accepted slave-produced cotton or ceased planter-expansion loans, slavery might have ended peacefully.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Southern Plan of Gradual Emancipation
“Pioneers in the struggle for public schools in Virginia were Henry Ruffner, president of Washington College, and his son William Henry Ruffner, who in 1870 became the first superintendent of public instruction in Virginia.
[The elder] Ruffner was a man of much native ability. Through private study he became distinguished for his scholarship, literary talent and eloquence. He was appointed professor in Washington College in 1819 and was made president in 1836, in which position he served until 1848.
Ruffner was an early advocate of the gradual emancipation of the slaves and published a pamphlet in 1847, entitled “An Address to the People of West Virginia; shewing that slavery is injurious to the public welfare, and that it may be gradually abolished, without detriment to the rights and interests of slaveholders.” This address was delivered before the Franklin Society in Lexington, Virginia, at the request of John Letcher (afterwards “War Governor”) and others.
Ruffner made an analysis of slavery from the standpoint of a slaveholder, showing the evils of the system, not only to the slaves, but to their masters as well, pointing out the wastefulness of the system, the advances that had been made by the free States in population, wealth, and education as compared with the slave States since the Revolution, and the isolation that slavery had brought to the South.
It was a powerful argument against slavery and proposed a method for its abolition. Free from religious, fanatical or sentimental cant, it was a dispassionate, economic analysis of a system to which he himself belonged.”
(Universal Education in the South, Charles W. Dabney, Volume I, UNC Press, 1936, excerpt, pp. 81-82)