R.L. Dabney–Virulent Racist

The following is from R.L. Dabney’s book entitled A Defence of Virginia (And Through Her, of the South) in Recent and Pending Contests Against the Sectional Party:

“It is enough for us to say (what is capable of overwhelming demonstration) that for the African race, such as Providence has made it, and where He has placed it in America, slavery was the righteous, the best, yea, the only tolerable relation. … Our system is represented as oppressive and cruel, appointing different penalties for crimes to the black man and the white man; depriving the slave of the privilege of testifying against a white in a court of justice; subjecting him to frequent and inhuman corporal punishments, and making it a crime for him to exercise the natural right of self-defence, when violently assailed by a white man. The reply is, that the penal code of Virginia was properly made different in the case of the whites and the blacks, because of the lower moral tone of the latter. … The slave was not permitted to testify against a white man, and this was a restriction made proper by his low grade of truthfulness, his difference of race, and the fact that he was so great a degree subject to the will of another. … From oppression by his own master he found his sufficient protection, usually, in affection and self-interest. … We have caused a thorough search to be made by the most competent authority in Richmond; and while many indictments are found against black men for rape of white women, none exist, in the history of our jurisprudence, against white men for rape of black women. … If it appear that the Africans in these States were by recent descent pagans and barbarians, men in bodily strength and appetite, with the reason and morals of children, constitutionally prone to improvidence, so that their possessions of all the franchises of a free white citizen would make them a nuisance to society and early victims to their own degradation; and if sound experience teaches that this ruin cannot be prevented without a degree of restraint approaching that proper for children; that is, by giving to a guardian the control of their involuntary labour, and the expenditure of the fruits for the joint benefit of the parties; how can we be condemned for it? … It has been shown, that as different persons in the same society differ widely in character, powers, and relations, their specific natural rights differ also. … If there are certain things which he is restrained by authority from doing, which the superior grades may do, these things are not rights to him. His inferior character, ignorance, and moral irresponsibility, have extinguished his right to do them. … Now cannot common sense see the moral advantage to such a people, of subjection to the will of a race elevated above them, in morals and intelligence, to an almost measureless degree? … But while we believe that ‘God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell under the whole heavens,’ we know that the African has become, according to a well-known law of natural history, by the manifold influences of the ages, a different, fixed species of the race, separated from the white man by traits bodily, mental, and moral, almost as rigid and permanent as those of genus. Hence the offspring of an amalgamation must be a hybrid race, stamped with all the feebleness of the hybrid, and incapable of the career of civilization and glory as an independent race. And this apparently is the destiny which our conquerors have in view. If indeed they can mix the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the fens of Africa, then they will never again have occasion to tremble before the righteous resistance of Virginian freemen; but will have a race supple and vile enough to fill that position of political subjection, which they desire to fix on the South” (pp. 25, 220, 233, 258, 260, 280, 352-353).

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