Diary Entry by Edmund Ruffin, June 13, 1857

    Source citation
    Scarborough, William Kauffman, ed. The Diary of Edmund Ruffin. Vol. 1. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972, p. 81-82.
    Author (from)
    Edmund Ruffin
    Date Certainty
    Carolina Jimenez
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
    June 13, 1857

    Read in Bishop [John H.] Hopkins’ new book “The American Citizen” the several chapters in which he discusses the whole subject of slavery in the U.S. I was curious to see how, in these times of heated discussion [127] and fanatical thought and action, a New England clergyman, of distinguished ability and undoubted piety, would treat this question. In regard to the bible and religious question, and the moral, political, and constitutional questions, his views are sensible, enlarged, correct, and in all important points, such as an equally intelligent southerner might have written... But when he comes to consider the question of expediency, and matters connected, the author is as much in the dark as most northerners are on the other questions in regard to slavery. While deeming and fully conceding, that African slavery in the U.S. has been, and is, a blessing to the slaves, and their posterity, he deems the institution injurious to the masters, in an economical point of view as well as otherwise. Considering then that slavery is an evil, he proposes to remove it, by chasing the slaves, and gradually (40,000 a year) transporting and establishing them in Africa, next to Liberia. This good bishop estimates might be done for 1000 millions of dollars, and supposes that it would be easy for the people to agree to, and to bear, that burden of expense, for so great and good an object. Doubtless the writer would be willing to bear his share- and in believing that, I respect the patriotism, benevolence, and piety which are his masters, as much as I dissent from these particular doctrines, and would oppose the ends he proposes. But, what can be more absurd than to suppose that any people, even if having like general interests and views, would voluntarily incur an expense of 1000 millions, for any work of mere benevolence-much less of doubtful and disputed expediency. And much more absurd is it to suppose that the people of the north- even if generally as disinterested, and as friendly to the south, as they are the reverse-would incur half this great burden of taxation, merely to relive and benefit the people of the south-or than the latter would pay the other half, to take away all of their now very inadequate, supplies of labor, and produce privations [128] which would ruin the present generation, if not future generations, of the southern people!
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