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Democracy In America, Volume 1 by Alexis de Toqueville

Part 9 out of 11

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and in subordinate grades, the negro and the Indian. These two
unhappy races have nothing in common; neither birth, nor
features, nor language, nor habits. Their only resemblance lies
in their misfortunes. Both of them occupy an inferior rank in
the country they inhabit; both suffer from tyranny; and if their
wrongs are not the same, they originate, at any rate, with the
same authors.

If we reasoned from what passes in the world, we should
almost say that the European is to the other races of mankind,
what man is to the lower animals; - he makes them subservient to
his use; and when he cannot subdue, he destroys them. Oppression
has, at one stroke, deprived the descendants of the Africans of
almost all the privileges of humanity. The negro of the United
States has lost all remembrance of his country; the language
which his forefathers spoke is never heard around him; he abjured
their religion and forgot their customs when he ceased to belong
to Africa, without acquiring any claim to European privileges.
But he remains half way between the two communities; sold by the
one, repulsed by the other; finding not a spot in the universe to
call by the name of country, except the faint image of a home
which the shelter of his master's roof affords.

The negro has no family; woman is merely the temporary
companion of his pleasures, and his children are upon an equality
with himself from the moment of their birth. Am I to call it a
proof of God's mercy or a visitation of his wrath, that man in
certain states appears to be insensible to his extreme
wretchedness, and almost affects, with a depraved taste, the
cause of his misfortunes? The negro, who is plunged in this
abyss of evils, scarcely feels his own calamitous situation.
Violence made him a slave, and the habit of servitude gives him
the thoughts and desires of a slave; he admires his tyrants more
than he hates them, and finds his joy and his pride in the
servile imitation of those who oppress him: his understanding is
degraded to the level of his soul.

The negro enters upon slavery as soon as he is born: nay, he
may have been purchased in the womb, and have begun his slavery
before he began his existence. Equally devoid of wants and of
enjoyment, and useless to himself, he learns, with his first
notions of existence, that he is the property of another, who has
an interest in preserving his life, and that the care of it does
not devolve upon himself; even the power of thought appears to
him a useless gift of Providence, and he quietly enjoys the
privileges of his debasement. If he becomes free, independence
is often felt by him to be a heavier burden than slavery; for
having learned, in the course of his life, to submit to
everything except reason, he is too much unacquainted with her
dictates to obey them. A thousand new desires beset him, and he
is destitute of the knowledge and energy necessary to resist
them: these are masters which it is necessary to contend with,
and he has learnt only to submit and obey. In short, he sinks to
such a depth of wretchedness, that while servitude brutalizes,
liberty destroys him.

Oppression has been no less fatal to the Indian than to the
negro race, but its effects are different. Before the arrival of
white men in the New World, the inhabitants of North America
lived quietly in their woods, enduring the vicissitudes and
practising the virtues and vices common to savage nations. The
Europeans, having dispersed the Indian tribes and driven them
into the deserts, condemned them to a wandering life full of
inexpressible sufferings.

Savage nations are only controlled by opinion and by custom.
When the North American Indians had lost the sentiment of
attachment to their country; when their families were dispersed,
their traditions obscured, and the chain of their recollections
broken; when all their habits were changed, and their wants
increased beyond measure, European tyranny rendered them more
disorderly and less civilized than they were before. The moral
and physical condition of these tribes continually grew worse,
and they became more barbarous as they became more wretched.
Nevertheless, the Europeans have not been able to metamorphose
the character of the Indians; and though they have had power to
destroy them, they have never been able to make them submit to
the rules of civilized society.

The lot of the negro is placed on the extreme limit of
servitude, while that of the Indian lies on the uttermost verge
of liberty; and slavery does not produce more fatal effects upon
the first, than independence upon the second. The negro has lost
all property in his own person, and he cannot dispose of his
existence without committing a sort of fraud: but the savage is
his own master as soon as he is able to act; parental authority
is scarcely known to him; he has never bent his will to that of
any of his kind, nor learned the difference between voluntary
obedience and a shameful subjection; and the very name of law is
unknown to him. To be free, with him, signifies to escape from
all the shackles of society. As he delights in this barbarous
independence, and would rather perish than sacrifice the least
part of it, civilization has little power over him.

The negro makes a thousand fruitless efforts to insinuate
himself amongst men who repulse him; he conforms to the tastes of
his oppressors, adopts their opinions, and hopes by imitating
them to form a part of their community. Having been told from
infancy that his race is naturally inferior to that of the
whites, he assents to the proposition and is ashamed of his own
nature. In each of his features he discovers a trace of slavery,
and, if it were in his power, he would willingly rid himself of
everything that makes him what he is.

The Indian, on the contrary, has his imagination inflated
with the pretended nobility of his origin, and lives and dies in
the midst of these dreams of pride. Far from desiring to conform
his habits to ours, he loves his savage life as the
distinguishing mark of his race, and he repels every advance to
civilization, less perhaps from the hatred which he entertains
for it, than from a dread of resembling the Europeans. *a While
he has nothing to oppose to our perfection in the arts but the
resources of the desert, to our tactics nothing but undisciplined
courage; whilst our well-digested plans are met by the
spontaneous instincts of savage life, who can wonder if he fails
in this unequal contest?

[Footnote a: The native of North America retains his opinions and
the most insignificant of his habits with a degree of tenacity
which has no parallel in history. For more than two hundred
years the wandering tribes of North America have had daily
intercourse with the whites, and they have never derived from
them either a custom or an idea. Yet the Europeans have
exercised a powerful influence over the savages: they have made
them more licentious, but not more European. In the summer of
1831 I happened to be beyond Lake Michigan, at a place called
Green Bay, which serves as the extreme frontier between the
United States and the Indians on the north-western side. Here I
became acquainted with an American officer, Major H., who, after
talking to me at length on the inflexibility of the Indian
character, related the following fact: - "I formerly knew a young
Indian," said he, "who had been educated at a college in New
England, where he had greatly distinguished himself, and had
acquired the external appearance of a member of civilized
society. When the war broke out between ourselves and the
English in 1810, I saw this young man again; he was serving in
our army, at the head of the warriors of his tribe, for the
Indians were admitted amongst the ranks of the Americans, upon
condition that they would abstain from their horrible custom of
scalping their victims. On the evening of the battle of . . .,
C. came and sat himself down by the fire of our bivouac. I asked
him what had been his fortune that day: he related his exploits;
and growing warm and animated by the recollection of them, he
concluded by suddenly opening the breast of his coat, saying,
'You must not betray me - see here!' And I actually beheld," said
the Major, "between his body and his shirt, the skin and hair of
an English head, still dripping with gore."]

The negro, who earnestly desires to mingle his race with
that of the European, cannot effect if; while the Indian, who
might succeed to a certain extent, disdains to make the attempt.
The servility of the one dooms him to slavery, the pride of the
other to death.

I remember that while I was travelling through the forests
which still cover the State of Alabama, I arrived one day at the
log house of a pioneer. I did not wish to penetrate into the
dwelling of the American, but retired to rest myself for a while
on the margin of a spring, which was not far off, in the woods.
While I was in this place (which was in the neighborhood of the
Creek territory), an Indian woman appeared, followed by a
negress, and holding by the hand a little white girl of five or
six years old, whom I took to be the daughter of the pioneer. A
sort of barbarous luxury set off the costume of the Indian; rings
of metal were hanging from her nostrils and ears; her hair, which
was adorned with glass beads, fell loosely upon her shoulders;
and I saw that she was not married, for she still wore that
necklace of shells which the bride always deposits on the nuptial
couch. The negress was clad in squalid European garments. They
all three came and seated themselves upon the banks of the
fountain; and the young Indian, taking the child in her arms,
lavished upon her such fond caresses as mothers give; while the
negress endeavored by various little artifices to attract the
attention of the young Creole.

The child displayed in her slightest gestures a
consciousness of superiority which formed a strange contrast with
her infantine weakness; as if she received the attentions of her
companions with a sort of condescension. The negress was seated
on the ground before her mistress, watching her smallest desires,
and apparently divided between strong affection for the child and
servile fear; whilst the savage displayed, in the midst of her
tenderness, an air of freedom and of pride which was almost
ferocious. I had approached the group, and I contemplated them
in silence; but my curiosity was probably displeasing to the
Indian woman, for she suddenly rose, pushed the child roughly
from her, and giving me an angry look plunged into the thicket. I
had often chanced to see individuals met together in the same
place, who belonged to the three races of men which people North
America. I had perceived from many different results the
preponderance of the whites. But in the picture which I have
just been describing there was something peculiarly touching; a
bond of affection here united the oppressors with the oppressed,
and the effort of nature to bring them together rendered still
more striking the immense distance placed between them by
prejudice and by law.

The Present And Probable Future Condition Of The Indian Tribes
Which Inhabit The Territory Possessed By The Union

Gradual disappearance of the native tribes - Manner in which it
takes place -Miseries accompanying the forced migrations of the
Indians - The savages of North America had only two ways of
escaping destruction; war or civilization -They are no longer
able to make war - Reasons why they refused to become civilized
when it was in their power, and why they cannot become so now
that they desire it - Instance of the Creeks and Cherokees -
Policy of the particular States towards these Indians - Policy of
the Federal Government.

None of the Indian tribes which formerly inhabited the
territory of New England - the Naragansetts, the Mohicans, the
Pecots - have any existence but in the recollection of man. The
Lenapes, who received William Penn, a hundred and fifty years
ago, upon the banks of the Delaware, have disappeared; and I
myself met with the last of the Iroquois, who were begging alms.
The nations I have mentioned formerly covered the country to the
sea-coast; but a traveller at the present day must penetrate more
than a hundred leagues into the interior of the continent to find
an Indian. Not only have these wild tribes receded, but they are
destroyed; *b and as they give way or perish, an immense and
increasing people fills their place. There is no instance upon
record of so prodigious a growth, or so rapid a destruction: the
manner in which the latter change takes place is not difficult to

[Footnote b: In the thirteen original States there are only 6,273
Indians remaining. (See Legislative Documents, 20th Congress,
No. 117, p. 90.) [The decrease in now far greater, and is verging
on extinction. See page 360 of this volume.]]

When the Indians were the sole inhabitants of the wilds from
whence they have since been expelled, their wants were few.
Their arms were of their own manufacture, their only drink was
the water of the brook, and their clothes consisted of the skins
of animals, whose flesh furnished them with food.

The Europeans introduced amongst the savages of North
America fire-arms, ardent spirits, and iron: they taught them to
exchange for manufactured stuffs, the rough garments which had
previously satisfied their untutored simplicity. Having acquired
new tastes, without the arts by which they could be gratified,
the Indians were obliged to have recourse to the workmanship of
the whites; but in return for their productions the savage had
nothing to offer except the rich furs which still abounded in his
woods. Hence the chase became necessary, not merely to provide
for his subsistence, but in order to procure the only objects of
barter which he could furnish to Europe. *c Whilst the wants of
the natives were thus increasing, their resources continued to

[Footnote c: Messrs. Clarke and Cass, in their Report to Congress
on February 4, 1829, p. 23, expressed themselves thus: - "The
time when the Indians generally could supply themselves with food
and clothing, without any of the articles of civilized life, has
long since passed away. The more remote tribes, beyond the
Mississippi, who live where immense herds of buffalo are yet to
be found and who follow those animals in their periodical
migrations, could more easily than any others recur to the habits
of their ancestors, and live without the white man or any of his
manufactures. But the buffalo is constantly receding. The
smaller animals, the bear, the deer, the beaver, the otter, the
muskrat, etc., principally minister to the comfort and support of
the Indians; and these cannot be taken without guns, ammunition,
and traps. Among the Northwestern Indians particularly, the labor
of supplying a family with food is excessive. Day after day is
spent by the hunter without success, and during this interval his
family must subsist upon bark or roots, or perish. Want and
misery are around them and among them. Many die every winter
from actual starvation."

The Indians will not live as Europeans live, and yet they
can neither subsist without them, nor exactly after the fashion
of their fathers. This is demonstrated by a fact which I
likewise give upon official authority. Some Indians of a tribe on
the banks of Lake Superior had killed a European; the American
government interdicted all traffic with the tribe to which the
guilty parties belonged, until they were delivered up to justice.
This measure had the desired effect.]

From the moment when a European settlement is formed in the
neighborhood of the territory occupied by the Indians, the beasts
of chase take the alarm. *d Thousands of savages, wandering in
the forests and destitute of any fixed dwelling, did not disturb
them; but as soon as the continuous sounds of European labor are
heard in their neighborhood, they begin to flee away, and retire
to the West, where their instinct teaches them that they will
find deserts of immeasurable extent. "The buffalo is constantly
receding," say Messrs. Clarke and Cass in their Report of the
year 1829; "a few years since they approached the base of the
Alleghany; and a few years hence they may even be rare upon the
immense plains which extend to the base of the Rocky Mountains."
I have been assured that this effect of the approach of the
whites is often felt at two hundred leagues' distance from their
frontier. Their influence is thus exerted over tribes whose name
is unknown to them; and who suffer the evils of usurpation long
before they are acquainted with the authors of their distress. *e

[Footnote d: "Five years ago," (says Volney in his "Tableau des
Etats-Unis," p. 370) "in going from Vincennes to Kaskaskia, a
territory which now forms part of the State of Illinois, but
which at the time I mention was completely wild (1797), you could
not cross a prairie without seeing herds of from four to five
hundred buffaloes. There are now none remaining; they swam
across the Mississippi to escape from the hunters, and more
particularly from the bells of the American cows."]

[Footnote e: The truth of what I here advance may be easily
proved by consulting the tabular statement of Indian tribes
inhabiting the United States and their territories. (Legislative
Documents, 20th Congress, No. 117, pp. 90-105.) It is there shown
that the tribes in the centre of America are rapidly decreasing,
although the Europeans are still at a considerable distance from

Bold adventurers soon penetrate into the country the Indians
have deserted, and when they have advanced about fifteen or
twenty leagues from the extreme frontiers of the whites, they
begin to build habitations for civilized beings in the midst of
the wilderness. This is done without difficulty, as the
territory of a hunting-nation is ill-defined; it is the common
property of the tribe, and belongs to no one in particular, so
that individual interests are not concerned in the protection of
any part of it.

A few European families, settled in different situations at
a considerable distance from each other, soon drive away the wild
animals which remain between their places of abode. The Indians,
who had previously lived in a sort of abundance, then find it
difficult to subsist, and still more difficult to procure the
articles of barter which they stand in need of.

To drive away their game is to deprive them of the means of
existence, as effectually as if the fields of our agriculturists
were stricken with barrenness; and they are reduced, like
famished wolves, to prowl through the forsaken woods in quest of
prey. Their instinctive love of their country attaches them to
the soil which gave them birth, *f even after it has ceased to
yield anything but misery and death. At length they are
compelled to acquiesce, and to depart: they follow the traces of
the elk, the buffalo, and the beaver, and are guided by these
wild animals in the choice of their future country. Properly
speaking, therefore, it is not the Europeans who drive away the
native inhabitants of America; it is famine which compels them to
recede; a happy distinction which had escaped the casuists of
former times, and for which we are indebted to modern discovery!

[Footnote f: "The Indians," say Messrs. Clarke and Cass in their
Report to Congress, p. 15, "are attached to their country by the
same feelings which bind us to ours; and, besides, there are
certain superstitious notions connected with the alienation of
what the Great Spirit gave to their ancestors, which operate
strongly upon the tribes who have made few or no cessions, but
which are gradually weakened as our intercourse with them is
extended. 'We will not sell the spot which contains the bones of
our fathers,' is almost always the first answer to a proposition
for a sale."]

It is impossible to conceive the extent of the sufferings
which attend these forced emigrations. They are undertaken by a
people already exhausted and reduced; and the countries to which
the newcomers betake themselves are inhabited by other tribes
which receive them with jealous hostility. Hunger is in the
rear; war awaits them, and misery besets them on all sides. In
the hope of escaping from such a host of enemies, they separate,
and each individual endeavors to procure the means of supporting
his existence in solitude and secrecy, living in the immensity of
the desert like an outcast in civilized society. The social tie,
which distress had long since weakened, is then dissolved; they
have lost their country, and their people soon desert them: their
very families are obliterated; the names they bore in common are
forgotten, their language perishes, and all traces of their
origin disappear. Their nation has ceased to exist, except in the
recollection of the antiquaries of America and a few of the
learned of Europe.

I should be sorry to have my reader suppose that I am
coloring the picture too highly; I saw with my own eyes several
of the cases of misery which I have been describing; and I was
the witness of sufferings which I have not the power to portray.

At the end of the year 1831, whilst I was on the left bank
of the Mississippi at a place named by Europeans, Memphis, there
arrived a numerous band of Choctaws (or Chactas, as they are
called by the French in Louisiana). These savages had left their
country, and were endeavoring to gain the right bank of the
Mississippi, where they hoped to find an asylum which had been
promised them by the American government. It was then the middle
of winter, and the cold was unusually severe; the snow had frozen
hard upon the ground, and the river was drifting huge masses of
ice. The Indians had their families with them; and they brought
in their train the wounded and sick, with children newly born,
and old men upon the verge of death. They possessed neither
tents nor wagons, but only their arms and some provisions. I saw
them embark to pass the mighty river, and never will that solemn
spectacle fade from my remembrance. No cry, no sob was heard
amongst the assembled crowd; all were silent. Their calamities
were of ancient date, and they knew them to be irremediable. The
Indians had all stepped into the bark which was to carry them
across, but their dogs remained upon the bank. As soon as these
animals perceived that their masters were finally leaving the
shore, they set up a dismal howl, and, plunging all together into
the icy waters of the Mississippi, they swam after the boat.

The ejectment of the Indians very often takes place at the
present day, in a regular, and, as it were, a legal manner. When
the European population begins to approach the limit of the
desert inhabited by a savage tribe, the government of the United
States usually dispatches envoys to them, who assemble the
Indians in a large plain, and having first eaten and drunk with
them, accost them in the following manner: "What have you to do
in the land of your fathers? Before long, you must dig up their
bones in order to live. In what respect is the country you
inhabit better than another? Are there no woods, marshes, or
prairies, except where you dwell? And can you live nowhere but
under your own sun? Beyond those mountains which you see at the
horizon, beyond the lake which bounds your territory on the west,
there lie vast countries where beasts of chase are found in great
abundance; sell your lands to us, and go to live happily in those
solitudes." After holding this language, they spread before the
eyes of the Indians firearms, woollen garments, kegs of brandy,
glass necklaces, bracelets of tinsel, earrings, and
looking-glasses. *g If, when they have beheld all these riches,
they still hesitate, it is insinuated that they have not the
means of refusing their required consent, and that the government
itself will not long have the power of protecting them in their
rights. What are they to do? Half convinced, and half
compelled, they go to inhabit new deserts, where the importunate
whites will not let them remain ten years in tranquillity. In
this manner do the Americans obtain, at a very low price, whole
provinces, which the richest sovereigns of Europe could not
purchase. *h

[Footnote g: See, in the Legislative Documents of Congress (Doc.
117), the narrative of what takes place on these occasions. This
curious passage is from the above-mentioned report, made to
Congress by Messrs. Clarke and Cass in February, 1829. Mr. Cass
is now the Secretary of War.

"The Indians," says the report, "reach the treaty-ground
poor and almost naked. Large quantities of goods are taken there
by the traders, and are seen and examined by the Indians. The
women and children become importunate to have their wants
supplied, and their influence is soon exerted to induce a sale.
Their improvidence is habitual and unconquerable. The
gratification of his immediate wants and desires is the ruling
passion of an Indian. The expectation of future advantages
seldom produces much effect. The experience of the past is lost,
and the prospects of the future disregarded. It would be utterly
hopeless to demand a cession of land, unless the means were at
hand of gratifying their immediate wants; and when their
condition and circumstances are fairly considered, it ought not
to surprise us that they are so anxious to relieve themselves."]

[Footnote h: On May 19, 1830, Mr. Edward Everett affirmed before
the House of Representatives, that the Americans had already
acquired by treaty, to the east and west of the Mississippi,
230,000,000 of acres. In 1808 the Osages gave up 48,000,000
acres for an annual payment of $1,000. In 1818 the Quapaws
yielded up 29,000,000 acres for $4,000. They reserved for
themselves a territory of 1,000,000 acres for a hunting-ground.
A solemn oath was taken that it should be respected: but before
long it was invaded like the rest. Mr. Bell, in his Report of the
Committee on Indian Affairs, February 24, 1830, has these words:
- "To pay an Indian tribe what their ancient hunting-grounds are
worth to them, after the game is fled or destroyed, as a mode of
appropriating wild lands claimed by Indians, has been found more
convenient, and certainly it is more agreeable to the forms of
justice, as well as more merciful, than to assert the possession
of them by the sword. Thus the practice of buying Indian titles
is but the substitute which humanity and expediency have imposed,
in place of the sword, in arriving at the actual enjoyment of
property claimed by the right of discovery, and sanctioned by the
natural superiority allowed to the claims of civilized
communities over those of savage tribes. Up to the present time
so invariable has been the operation of certain causes, first in
diminishing the value of forest lands to the Indians, and
secondly in disposing them to sell readily, that the plan of
buying their right of occupancy has never threatened to retard,
in any perceptible degree, the prosperity of any of the States."
(Legislative Documents, 21st Congress, No. 227, p. 6.)]

Chapter XVIII: Future Condition Of Three Races - Part II

These are great evils; and it must be added that they appear
to me to be irremediable. I believe that the Indian nations of
North America are doomed to perish; and that whenever the
Europeans shall be established on the shores of the Pacific
Ocean, that race of men will be no more. *i The Indians had only
the two alternatives of war or civilization; in other words, they
must either have destroyed the Europeans or become their equals.

[Footnote i: This seems, indeed, to be the opinion of almost all
American statesmen. "Judging of the future by the past," says
Mr. Cass, "we cannot err in anticipating a progressive diminution
of their numbers, and their eventual extinction, unless our
border should become stationary, and they be removed beyond it,
or unless some radical change should take place in the principles
of our intercourse with them, which it is easier to hope for than
to expect."]

At the first settlement of the colonies they might have
found it possible, by uniting their forces, to deliver themselves
from the small bodies of strangers who landed on their continent.
*j They several times attempted to do it, and were on the point
of succeeding; but the disproportion of their resources, at the
present day, when compared with those of the whites, is too great
to allow such an enterprise to be thought of. Nevertheless,
there do arise from time to time among the Indians men of
penetration, who foresee the final destiny which awaits the
native population, and who exert themselves to unite all the
tribes in common hostility to the Europeans; but their efforts
are unavailing. Those tribes which are in the neighborhood of
the whites, are too much weakened to offer an effectual
resistance; whilst the others, giving way to that childish
carelessness of the morrow which characterizes savage life, wait
for the near approach of danger before they prepare to meet it;
some are unable, the others are unwilling, to exert themselves.

[Footnote j: Amongst other warlike enterprises, there was one of
the Wampanaogs, and other confederate tribes, under Metacom in
1675, against the colonists of New England; the English were also
engaged in war in Virginia in 1622.]

It is easy to foresee that the Indians will never conform to
civilization; or that it will be too late, whenever they may be
inclined to make the experiment.

Civilization is the result of a long social process which
takes place in the same spot, and is handed down from one
generation to another, each one profiting by the experience of
the last. Of all nations, those submit to civilization with the
most difficulty which habitually live by the chase. Pastoral
tribes, indeed, often change their place of abode; but they
follow a regular order in their migrations, and often return
again to their old stations, whilst the dwelling of the hunter
varies with that of the animals he pursues.

Several attempts have been made to diffuse knowledge amongst
the Indians, without controlling their wandering propensities; by
the Jesuits in Canada, and by the Puritans in New England; *k but
none of these endeavors were crowned by any lasting success.
Civilization began in the cabin, but it soon retired to expire in
the woods. The great error of these legislators of the Indians
was their not understanding that, in order to succeed in
civilizing a people, it is first necessary to fix it; which
cannot be done without inducing it to cultivate the soil; the
Indians ought in the first place to have been accustomed to
agriculture. But not only are they destitute of this
indispensable preliminary to civilization, they would even have
great difficulty in acquiring it. Men who have once abandoned
themselves to the restless and adventurous life of the hunter,
feel an insurmountable disgust for the constant and regular labor
which tillage requires. We see this proved in the bosom of our
own society; but it is far more visible among peoples whose
partiality for the chase is a part of their national character.

[Footnote k: See the "Histoire de la Nouvelle France," by
Charlevoix, and the work entitled "Lettres edifiantes."]

Independently of this general difficulty, there is another,
which applies peculiarly to the Indians; they consider labor not
merely as an evil, but as a disgrace; so that their pride
prevents them from becoming civilized, as much as their
indolence. *l

[Footnote l: "In all the tribes," says Volney, in his "Tableau
des Etats-Unis," p. 423, "there still exists a generation of old
warriors, who cannot forbear, when they see their countrymen
using the hoe, from exclaiming against the degradation of ancient
manners, and asserting that the savages owe their decline to
these innovations; adding, that they have only to return to their
primitive habits in order to recover their power and their

There is no Indian so wretched as not to retain under his
hut of bark a lofty idea of his personal worth; he considers the
cares of industry and labor as degrading occupations; he compares
the husbandman to the ox which traces the furrow; and even in our
most ingenious handicraft, he can see nothing but the labor of
slaves. Not that he is devoid of admiration for the power and
intellectual greatness of the whites; but although the result of
our efforts surprises him, he contemns the means by which we
obtain it; and while he acknowledges our ascendancy, he still
believes in his superiority. War and hunting are the only
pursuits which appear to him worthy to be the occupations of a
man. *m The Indian, in the dreary solitude of his woods,
cherishes the same ideas, the same opinions as the noble of the
Middle ages in his castle, and he only requires to become a
conqueror to complete the resemblance; thus, however strange it
may seem, it is in the forests of the New World, and not amongst
the Europeans who people its coasts, that the ancient prejudices
of Europe are still in existence.

[Footnote m: The following description occurs in an official
document: "Until a young man has been engaged with an enemy, and
has performed some acts of valor, he gains no consideration, but
is regarded nearly as a woman. In their great war-dances all the
warriors in succession strike the post, as it is called, and
recount their exploits. On these occasions their auditory
consists of the kinsmen, friends, and comrades of the narrator.
The profound impression which his discourse produces on them is
manifested by the silent attention it receives, and by the loud
shouts which hail its termination. The young man who finds
himself at such a meeting without anything to recount is very
unhappy; and instances have sometimes occurred of young warriors,
whose passions had been thus inflamed, quitting the war-dance
suddenly, and going off alone to seek for trophies which they
might exhibit, and adventures which they might be allowed to

More than once, in the course of this work, I have
endeavored to explain the prodigious influence which the social
condition appears to exercise upon the laws and the manners of
men; and I beg to add a few words on the same subject.

When I perceive the resemblance which exists between the
political institutions of our ancestors, the Germans, and of the
wandering tribes of North America; between the customs described
by Tacitus, and those of which I have sometimes been a witness, I
cannot help thinking that the same cause has brought about the
same results in both hemispheres; and that in the midst of the
apparent diversity of human affairs, a certain number of primary
facts may be discovered, from which all the others are derived.
In what we usually call the German institutions, then, I am
inclined only to perceive barbarian habits; and the opinions of
savages in what we style feudal principles.

However strongly the vices and prejudices of the North
American Indians may be opposed to their becoming agricultural
and civilized, necessity sometimes obliges them to it. Several
of the Southern nations, and amongst others the Cherokees and the
Creeks, *n were surrounded by Europeans, who had landed on the
shores of the Atlantic; and who, either descending the Ohio or
proceeding up the Mississippi, arrived simultaneously upon their
borders. These tribes have not been driven from place to place,
like their Northern brethren; but they have been gradually
enclosed within narrow limits, like the game within the thicket,
before the huntsmen plunge into the interior. The Indians who
were thus placed between civilization and death, found themselves
obliged to live by ignominious labor like the whites. They took
to agriculture, and without entirely forsaking their old habits
or manners, sacrificed only as much as was necessary to their

[Footnote n: These nations are now swallowed up in the States of
Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. There were
formerly in the South four great nations (remnants of which still
exist), the Choctaws, the Chickasaws, the Creeks, and the
Cherokees. The remnants of these four nations amounted, in 1830,
to about 75,000 individuals. It is computed that there are now
remaining in the territory occupied or claimed by the
Anglo-American Union about 300,000 Indians. (See Proceedings of
the Indian Board in the City of New York.) The official documents
supplied to Congress make the number amount to 313,130. The
reader who is curious to know the names and numerical strength of
all the tribes which inhabit the Anglo-American territory should
consult the documents I refer to. (Legislative Documents, 20th
Congress, No. 117, pp. 90-105.) [In the Census of 1870 it is
stated that the Indian population of the United States is only
25,731, of whom 7,241 are in California.]]

The Cherokees went further; they created a written language;
established a permanent form of government; and as everything
proceeds rapidly in the New World, before they had all of them
clothes, they set up a newspaper. *o

[Footnote o: I brought back with me to France one or two copies
of this singular publication.]

The growth of European habits has been remarkably
accelerated among these Indians by the mixed race which has
sprung up. *p Deriving intelligence from their father's side,
without entirely losing the savage customs of the mother, the
half-blood forms the natural link between civilization and
barbarism. Wherever this race has multiplied the savage state has
become modified, and a great change has taken place in the
manners of the people. *q

[Footnote p: See in the Report of the Committee on Indian
Affairs, 21st Congress, No. 227, p. 23, the reasons for the
multiplication of Indians of mixed blood among the Cherokees.
The principal cause dates from the War of Independence. Many
Anglo-Americans of Georgia, having taken the side of England,
were obliged to retreat among the Indians, where they married.]

[Footnote q: Unhappily the mixed race has been less numerous and
less influential in North America than in any other country. The
American continent was peopled by two great nations of Europe,
the French and the English. The former were not slow in
connecting themselves with the daughters of the natives, but
there was an unfortunate affinity between the Indian character
and their own: instead of giving the tastes and habits of
civilized life to the savages, the French too often grew
passionately fond of the state of wild freedom they found them
in. They became the most dangerous of the inhabitants of the
desert, and won the friendship of the Indian by exaggerating his
vices and his virtues. M. de Senonville, the governor of Canada,
wrote thus to Louis XIV in 1685: "It has long been believed that
in order to civilize the savages we ought to draw them nearer to
us. But there is every reason to suppose we have been mistaken.
Those which have been brought into contact with us have not
become French, and the French who have lived among them are
changed into savages, affecting to dress and live like them."
("History of New France," by Charlevoix, vol. ii., p. 345.) The
Englishman, on the contrary, continuing obstinately attached to
the customs and the most insignificant habits of his forefathers,
has remained in the midst of the American solitudes just what he
was in the bosom of European cities; he would not allow of any
communication with savages whom he despised, and avoided with
care the union of his race with theirs. Thus while the French
exercised no salutary influence over the Indians, the English
have always remained alien from them.]

The success of the Cherokees proves that the Indians are
capable of civilization, but it does not prove that they will
succeed in it. This difficulty which the Indians find in
submitting to civilization proceeds from the influence of a
general cause, which it is almost impossible for them to escape.
An attentive survey of history demonstrates that, in general,
barbarous nations have raised themselves to civilization by
degrees, and by their own efforts. Whenever they derive
knowledge from a foreign people, they stood towards it in the
relation of conquerors, and not of a conquered nation. When the
conquered nation is enlightened, and the conquerors are half
savage, as in the case of the invasion of Rome by the Northern
nations or that of China by the Mongols, the power which victory
bestows upon the barbarian is sufficient to keep up his
importance among civilized men, and permit him to rank as their
equal, until he becomes their rival: the one has might on his
side, the other has intelligence; the former admires the
knowledge and the arts of the conquered, the latter envies the
power of the conquerors. The barbarians at length admit
civilized man into their palaces, and he in turn opens his
schools to the barbarians. But when the side on which the
physical force lies, also possesses an intellectual
preponderance, the conquered party seldom become civilized; it
retreats, or is destroyed. It may therefore be said, in a general
way, that savages go forth in arms to seek knowledge, but that
they do not receive it when it comes to them.

If the Indian tribes which now inhabit the heart of the
continent could summon up energy enough to attempt to civilize
themselves, they might possibly succeed. Superior already to the
barbarous nations which surround them, they would gradually gain
strength and experience, and when the Europeans should appear
upon their borders, they would be in a state, if not to maintain
their independence, at least to assert their right to the soil,
and to incorporate themselves with the conquerors. But it is the
misfortune of Indians to be brought into contact with a civilized
people, which is also (it must be owned) the most avaricious
nation on the globe, whilst they are still semi-barbarian: to
find despots in their instructors, and to receive knowledge from
the hand of oppression. Living in the freedom of the woods, the
North American Indian was destitute, but he had no feeling of
inferiority towards anyone; as soon, however, as he desires to
penetrate into the social scale of the whites, he takes the
lowest rank in society, for he enters, ignorant and poor, within
the pale of science and wealth. After having led a life of
agitation, beset with evils and dangers, but at the same time
filled with proud emotions, *r he is obliged to submit to a
wearisome, obscure, and degraded state; and to gain the bread
which nourishes him by hard and ignoble labor; such are in his
eyes the only results of which civilization can boast: and even
this much he is not sure to obtain.

[Footnote r: There is in the adventurous life of the hunter a
certain irresistible charm, which seizes the heart of man and
carries him away in spite of reason and experience. This is
plainly shown by the memoirs of Tanner. Tanner is a European who
was carried away at the age of six by the Indians, and has
remained thirty years with them in the woods. Nothing can be
conceived more appalling that the miseries which he describes.
He tells us of tribes without a chief, families without a nation
to call their own, men in a state of isolation, wrecks of
powerful tribes wandering at random amid the ice and snow and
desolate solitudes of Canada. Hunger and cold pursue them; every
day their life is in jeopardy. Amongst these men, manners have
lost their empire, traditions are without power. They become
more and more savage. Tanner shared in all these miseries; he was
aware of his European origin; he was not kept away from the
whites by force; on the contrary, he came every year to trade
with them, entered their dwellings, and witnessed their
enjoyments; he knew that whenever he chose to return to civilized
life he was perfectly able to do so - and he remained thirty
years in the deserts. When he came into civilized society he
declared that the rude existence which he described, had a secret
charm for him which he was unable to define: he returned to it
again and again: at length he abandoned it with poignant regret;
and when he was at length fixed among the whites, several of his
children refused to share his tranquil and easy situation. I saw
Tanner myself at the lower end of Lake Superior; he seemed to me
to be more like a savage than a civilized being. His book is
written without either taste or order; but he gives, even
unconsciously, a lively picture of the prejudices, the passions,
the vices, and, above all, of the destitution in which he lived.]

When the Indians undertake to imitate their European
neighbors, and to till the earth like the settlers, they are
immediately exposed to a very formidable competition. The white
man is skilled in the craft of agriculture; the Indian is a rough
beginner in an art with which he is unacquainted. The former
reaps abundant crops without difficulty, the latter meets with a
thousand obstacles in raising the fruits of the earth.

The European is placed amongst a population whose wants he
knows and partakes. The savage is isolated in the midst of a
hostile people, with whose manners, language, and laws he is
imperfectly acquainted, but without whose assistance he cannot
live. He can only procure the materials of comfort by bartering
his commodities against the goods of the European, for the
assistance of his countrymen is wholly insufficient to supply his
wants. When the Indian wishes to sell the produce of his labor,
he cannot always meet with a purchaser, whilst the European
readily finds a market; and the former can only produce at a
considerable cost that which the latter vends at a very low rate.
Thus the Indian has no sooner escaped those evils to which
barbarous nations are exposed, than he is subjected to the still
greater miseries of civilized communities; and he finds is
scarcely less difficult to live in the midst of our abundance,
than in the depth of his own wilderness.

He has not yet lost the habits of his erratic life; the
traditions of his fathers and his passion for the chase are still
alive within him. The wild enjoyments which formerly animated
him in the woods, painfully excite his troubled imagination; and
his former privations appear to be less keen, his former perils
less appalling. He contrasts the independence which he possessed
amongst his equals with the servile position which he occupies in
civilized society. On the other hand, the solitudes which were
so long his free home are still at hand; a few hours' march will
bring him back to them once more. The whites offer him a sum,
which seems to him to be considerable, for the ground which he
has begun to clear. This money of the Europeans may possibly
furnish him with the means of a happy and peaceful subsistence in
remoter regions; and he quits the plough, resumes his native
arms, and returns to the wilderness forever. *s The condition of
the Creeks and Cherokees, to which I have already alluded,
sufficiently corroborates the truth of this deplorable picture.

[Footnote s: The destructive influence of highly civilized
nations upon others which are less so, has been exemplified by
the Europeans themselves. About a century ago the French founded
the town of Vincennes up on the Wabash, in the middle of the
desert; and they lived there in great plenty until the arrival of
the American settlers, who first ruined the previous inhabitants
by their competition, and afterwards purchased their lands at a
very low rate. At the time when M. de Volney, from whom I borrow
these details, passed through Vincennes, the number of the French
was reduced to a hundred individuals, most of whom were about to
pass over to Louisiana or to Canada. These French settlers were
worthy people, but idle and uninstructed: they had contracted
many of the habits of savages. The Americans, who were perhaps
their inferiors, in a moral point of view, were immeasurably
superior to them in intelligence: they were industrious, well
informed, rich, and accustomed to govern their own community.

I myself saw in Canada, where the intellectual difference
between the two races is less striking, that the English are the
masters of commerce and manufacture in the Canadian country, that
they spread on all sides, and confine the French within limits
which scarcely suffice to contain them. In like manner, in
Louisiana, almost all activity in commerce and manufacture
centres in the hands of the Anglo-Americans.

But the case of Texas is still more striking: the State of
Texas is a part of Mexico, and lies upon the frontier between
that country and the United States. In the course of the last
few years the Anglo-Americans have penetrated into this province,
which is still thinly peopled; they purchase land, they produce
the commodities of the country, and supplant the original
population. It may easily be foreseen that if Mexico takes no
steps to check this change, the province of Texas will very
shortly cease to belong to that government.

If the different degrees - comparatively so slight - which
exist in European civilization produce results of such magnitude,
the consequences which must ensue from the collision of the most
perfect European civilization with Indian savages may readily be

The Indians, in the little which they have done, have
unquestionably displayed as much natural genius as the peoples of
Europe in their most important designs; but nations as well as
men require time to learn, whatever may be their intelligence and
their zeal. Whilst the savages were engaged in the work of
civilization, the Europeans continued to surround them on every
side, and to confine them within narrower limits; the two races
gradually met, and they are now in immediate juxtaposition to
each other. The Indian is already superior to his barbarous
parent, but he is still very far below his white neighbor. With
their resources and acquired knowledge, the Europeans soon
appropriated to themselves most of the advantages which the
natives might have derived from the possession of the soil; they
have settled in the country, they have purchased land at a very
low rate or have occupied it by force, and the Indians have been
ruined by a competition which they had not the means of
resisting. They were isolated in their own country, and their
race only constituted a colony of troublesome aliens in the midst
of a numerous and domineering people. *t

[Footnote t: See in the Legislative Documents (21st Congress, No.
89) instances of excesses of every kind committed by the whites
upon the territory of the Indians, either in taking possession of
a part of their lands, until compelled to retire by the troops of
Congress, or carrying off their cattle, burning their houses,
cutting down their corn, and doing violence to their persons. It
appears, nevertheless, from all these documents that the claims
of the natives are constantly protected by the government from
the abuse of force. The Union has a representative agent
continually employed to reside among the Indians; and the report
of the Cherokee agent, which is among the documents I have
referred to, is almost always favorable to the Indians. "The
intrusion of whites," he says, "upon the lands of the Cherokees
would cause ruin to the poor, helpless, and inoffensive
inhabitants." And he further remarks upon the attempt of the
State of Georgia to establish a division line for the purpose of
limiting the boundaries of the Cherokees, that the line drawn
having been made by the whites, and entirely upon ex parte
evidence of their several rights, was of no validity whatever.]

Washington said in one of his messages to Congress, "We are
more enlightened and more powerful than the Indian nations, we
are therefore bound in honor to treat them with kindness and even
with generosity." But this virtuous and high-minded policy has
not been followed. The rapacity of the settlers is usually
backed by the tyranny of the government. Although the Cherokees
and the Creeks are established upon the territory which they
inhabited before the settlement of the Europeans, and although
the Americans have frequently treated with them as with foreign
nations, the surrounding States have not consented to acknowledge
them as independent peoples, and attempts have been made to
subject these children of the woods to Anglo-American
magistrates, laws, and customs. *u Destitution had driven these
unfortunate Indians to civilization, and oppression now drives
them back to their former condition: many of them abandon the
soil which they had begun to clear, and return to their savage
course of life.

[Footnote u: In 1829 the State of Alabama divided the Creek
territory into counties, and subjected the Indian population to
the power of European magistrates.

Chapter XVIII: Future Condition Of Three Races - Part III

In 1830 the State of Mississippi assimilated the Choctaws
and Chickasaws to the white population, and declared that any of
them that should take the title of chief would be punished by a
fine of $1,000 and a year's imprisonment. When these laws were
enforced upon the Choctaws, who inhabited that district, the
tribe assembled, their chief communicated to them the intentions
of the whites, and read to them some of the laws to which it was
intended that they should submit; and they unanimously declared
that it was better at once to retreat again into the wilds.]

If we consider the tyrannical measures which have been
adopted by the legislatures of the Southern States, the conduct
of their Governors, and the decrees of their courts of justice,
we shall be convinced that the entire expulsion of the Indians is
the final result to which the efforts of their policy are
directed. The Americans of that part of the Union look with
jealousy upon the aborigines, *v they are aware that these tribes
have not yet lost the traditions of savage life, and before
civilization has permanently fixed them to the soil, it is
intended to force them to recede by reducing them to despair.
The Creeks and Cherokees, oppressed by the several States, have
appealed to the central government, which is by no means
insensible to their misfortunes, and is sincerely desirous of
saving the remnant of the natives, and of maintaining them in the
free possession of that territory, which the Union is pledged to
respect. *w But the several States oppose so formidable a
resistance to the execution of this design, that the government
is obliged to consent to the extirpation of a few barbarous
tribes in order not to endanger the safety of the American Union.

[Footnote v: The Georgians, who are so much annoyed by the
proximity of the Indians, inhabit a territory which does not at
present contain more than seven inhabitants to the square mile.
In France there are one hundred and sixty-two inhabitants to the
same extent of country.]

[Footnote w: In 1818 Congress appointed commissioners to visit
the Arkansas Territory, accompanied by a deputation of Creeks,
Choctaws, and Chickasaws. This expedition was commanded by
Messrs. Kennerly, M'Coy, Wash Hood, and John Bell. See the
different reports of the commissioners, and their journal, in the
Documents of Congress, No. 87, House of Representatives.]

But the federal government, which is not able to protect the
Indians, would fain mitigate the hardships of their lot; and,
with this intention, proposals have been made to transport them
into more remote regions at the public cost.

Between the thirty-third and thirty-seventh degrees of north
latitude, a vast tract of country lies, which has taken the name
of Arkansas, from the principal river that waters its extent. It
is bounded on the one side by the confines of Mexico, on the
other by the Mississippi. Numberless streams cross it in every
direction; the climate is mild, and the soil productive, but it
is only inhabited by a few wandering hordes of savages. The
government of the Union wishes to transport the broken remnants
of the indigenous population of the South to the portion of this
country which is nearest to Mexico, and at a great distance from
the American settlements.

We were assured, towards the end of the year 1831, that
10,000 Indians had already gone down to the shores of the
Arkansas; and fresh detachments were constantly following them;
but Congress has been unable to excite a unanimous determination
in those whom it is disposed to protect. Some, indeed, are
willing to quit the seat of oppression, but the most enlightened
members of the community refuse to abandon their recent dwellings
and their springing crops; they are of opinion that the work of
civilization, once interrupted, will never be resumed; they fear
that those domestic habits which have been so recently
contracted, may be irrevocably lost in the midst of a country
which is still barbarous, and where nothing is prepared for the
subsistence of an agricultural people; they know that their
entrance into those wilds will be opposed by inimical hordes, and
that they have lost the energy of barbarians, without acquiring
the resources of civilization to resist their attacks. Moreover,
the Indians readily discover that the settlement which is
proposed to them is merely a temporary expedient. Who can assure
them that they will at length be allowed to dwell in peace in
their new retreat? The United States pledge themselves to the
observance of the obligation; but the territory which they at
present occupy was formerly secured to them by the most solemn
oaths of Anglo-American faith. *x The American government does
not indeed rob them of their lands, but it allows perpetual
incursions to be made on them. In a few years the same white
population which now flocks around them, will track them to the
solitudes of the Arkansas; they will then be exposed to the same
evils without the same remedies, and as the limits of the earth
will at last fail them, their only refuge is the grave.

[Footnote x: The fifth article of the treaty made with the Creeks
in August, 1790, is in the following words: - "The United States
solemnly guarantee to the Creek nation all their land within the
limits of the United States."

The seventh article of the treaty concluded in 1791 with the
Cherokees says: - "The United States solemnly guarantee to the
Cherokee nation all their lands not hereby ceded." The following
article declared that if any citizen of the United States or
other settler not of the Indian race should establish himself
upon the territory of the Cherokees, the United States would
withdraw their protection from that individual, and give him up
to be punished as the Cherokee nation should think fit.]

The Union treats the Indians with less cupidity and rigor
than the policy of the several States, but the two governments
are alike destitute of good faith. The States extend what they
are pleased to term the benefits of their laws to the Indians,
with a belief that the tribes will recede rather than submit; and
the central government, which promises a permanent refuge to
these unhappy beings is well aware of its inability to secure it
to them. *y

[Footnote y: This does not prevent them from promising in the
most solemn manner to do so. See the letter of the President
addressed to the Creek Indians, March 23, 1829 (Proceedings of
the Indian Board, in the city of New York, p. 5): "Beyond the
great river Mississippi, where a part of your nation has gone,
your father has provided a country large enough for all of you,
and he advises you to remove to it. There your white brothers
will not trouble you; they will have no claim to the land, and
you can live upon it, you and all your children, as long as the
grass grows, or the water runs, in peace and plenty. It will be
yours forever."

The Secretary of War, in a letter written to the Cherokees,
April 18, 1829, (see the same work, p. 6), declares to them that
they cannot expect to retain possession of the lands at that time
occupied by them, but gives them the most positive assurance of
uninterrupted peace if they would remove beyond the Mississippi:
as if the power which could not grant them protection then, would
be able to afford it them hereafter!]

Thus the tyranny of the States obliges the savages to
retire, the Union, by its promises and resources, facilitates
their retreat; and these measures tend to precisely the same end.
*z "By the will of our Father in Heaven, the Governor of the
whole world," said the Cherokees in their petition to Congress,
*a "the red man of America has become small, and the white man
great and renowned. When the ancestors of the people of these
United States first came to the shores of America they found the
red man strong: though he was ignorant and savage, yet he
received them kindly, and gave them dry land to rest their weary
feet. They met in peace, and shook hands in token of friendship.
Whatever the white man wanted and asked of the Indian, the latter
willingly gave. At that time the Indian was the lord, and the
white man the suppliant. But now the scene has changed. The
strength of the red man has become weakness. As his neighbors
increased in numbers his power became less and less, and now, of
the many and powerful tribes who once covered these United
States, only a few are to be seen - a few whom a sweeping
pestilence has left. The northern tribes, who were once so
numerous and powerful, are now nearly extinct. Thus it has
happened to the red man of America. Shall we, who are remnants,
share the same fate?

[Footnote z: To obtain a correct idea of the policy pursued by
the several States and the Union with respect to the Indians, it
is necessary to consult, 1st, "The Laws of the Colonial and State
Governments relating to the Indian Inhabitants." (See the
Legislative Documents, 21st Congress, No. 319.) 2d, The Laws of
the Union on the same subject, and especially that of March 30,
1802. (See Story's "Laws of the United States.") 3d, The Report
of Mr. Cass, Secretary of War, relative to Indian Affairs,
November 29, 1823.]

[Footnote a: December 18, 1829.]

"The land on which we stand we have received as an
inheritance from our fathers, who possessed it from time
immemorial, as a gift from our common Father in Heaven. They
bequeathed it to us as their children, and we have sacredly kept
it, as containing the remains of our beloved men. This right of
inheritance we have never ceded nor ever forfeited. Permit us to
ask what better right can the people have to a country than the
right of inheritance and immemorial peaceable possession? We
know it is said of late by the State of Georgia and by the
Executive of the United States, that we have forfeited this
right; but we think this is said gratuitously. At what time have
we made the forfeit? What great crime have we committed, whereby
we must forever be divested of our country and rights? Was it
when we were hostile to the United States, and took part with the
King of Great Britain, during the struggle for independence? If
so, why was not this forfeiture declared in the first treaty of
peace between the United States and our beloved men? Why was not
such an article as the following inserted in the treaty: - 'The
United States give peace to the Cherokees, but, for the part they
took in the late war, declare them to be but tenants at will, to
be removed when the convenience of the States, within whose
chartered limits they live, shall require it'? That was the
proper time to assume such a possession. But it was not thought
of, nor would our forefathers have agreed to any treaty whose
tendency was to deprive them of their rights and their country."

Such is the language of the Indians: their assertions are
true, their forebodings inevitable. From whichever side we
consider the destinies of the aborigines of North America, their
calamities appear to be irremediable: if they continue barbarous,
they are forced to retire; if they attempt to civilize their
manners, the contact of a more civilized community subjects them
to oppression and destitution. They perish if they continue to
wander from waste to waste, and if they attempt to settle they
still must perish; the assistance of Europeans is necessary to
instruct them, but the approach of Europeans corrupts and repels
them into savage life; they refuse to change their habits as long
as their solitudes are their own, and it is too late to change
them when they are constrained to submit.

The Spaniards pursued the Indians with bloodhounds, like
wild beasts; they sacked the New World with no more temper or
compassion than a city taken by storm; but destruction must
cease, and frenzy be stayed; the remnant of the Indian population
which had escaped the massacre mixed with its conquerors, and
adopted in the end their religion and their manners. *b The
conduct of the Americans of the United States towards the
aborigines is characterized, on the other hand, by a singular
attachment to the formalities of law. Provided that the Indians
retain their barbarous condition, the Americans take no part in
their affairs; they treat them as independent nations, and do not
possess themselves of their hunting grounds without a treaty of
purchase; and if an Indian nation happens to be so encroached
upon as to be unable to subsist upon its territory, they afford
it brotherly assistance in transporting it to a grave
sufficiently remote from the land of its fathers.

[Footnote b: The honor of this result is, however, by no means
due to the Spaniards. If the Indian tribes had not been tillers
of the ground at the time of the arrival of the Europeans, they
would unquestionably have been destroyed in South as well as in
North America.]

The Spaniards were unable to exterminate the Indian race by
those unparalleled atrocities which brand them with indelible
shame, nor did they even succeed in wholly depriving it of its
rights; but the Americans of the United States have accomplished
this twofold purpose with singular felicity; tranquilly, legally,
philanthropically, without shedding blood, and without violating
a single great principle of morality in the eyes of the world. *c
It is impossible to destroy men with more respect for the laws of

[Footnote c: See, amongst other documents, the report made by Mr.
Bell in the name of the Committee on Indian Affairs, February 24,
1830, in which is most logically established and most learnedly
proved, that "the fundamental principle that the Indians had no
right by virtue of their ancient possession either of will or
sovereignty, has never been abandoned either expressly or by
implication." In perusing this report, which is evidently drawn
up by an experienced hand, one is astonished at the facility with
which the author gets rid of all arguments founded upon reason
and natural right, which he designates as abstract and
theoretical principles. The more I contemplate the difference
between civilized and uncivilized man with regard to the
principles of justice, the more I observe that the former
contests the justice of those rights which the latter simply

[I leave this chapter wholly unchanged, for it has always
appeared to me to be one of the most eloquent and touching parts
of this book. But it has ceased to be prophetic; the destruction
of the Indian race in the United States is already consummated.
In 1870 there remained but 25,731 Indians in the whole territory
of the Union, and of these by far the largest part exist in
California, Michigan, Wisconsin, Dakota, and New Mexico and
Nevada. In New England, Pennsylvania, and New York the race is
extinct; and the predictions of M. de Tocqueville are fulfilled.
- Translator's Note.]

Situation Of The Black Population In The United States, And
Dangers With Which Its Presence Threatens The Whites

Why it is more difficult to abolish slavery, and to efface all
vestiges of it amongst the moderns than it was amongst the
ancients - In the United States the prejudices of the Whites
against the Blacks seem to increase in proportion as slavery is
abolished - Situation of the Negroes in the Northern and Southern
States - Why the Americans abolish slavery - Servitude, which
debases the slave, impoverishes the master - Contrast between the
left and the right bank of the Ohio - To what attributable - The
Black race, as well as slavery, recedes towards the South -
Explanation of this fact - Difficulties attendant upon the
abolition of slavery in the South - Dangers to come - General
anxiety - Foundation of a Black colony in Africa - Why the
Americans of the South increase the hardships of slavery, whilst
they are distressed at its continuance.

The Indians will perish in the same isolated condition in
which they have lived; but the destiny of the negroes is in some
measure interwoven with that of the Europeans. These two races
are attached to each other without intermingling, and they are
alike unable entirely to separate or to combine. The most
formidable of all the ills which threaten the future existence of
the Union arises from the presence of a black population upon its
territory; and in contemplating the cause of the present
embarrassments or of the future dangers of the United States, the
observer is invariably led to consider this as a primary fact.

The permanent evils to which mankind is subjected are
usually produced by the vehement or the increasing efforts of
men; but there is one calamity which penetrated furtively into
the world, and which was at first scarcely distinguishable amidst
the ordinary abuses of power; it originated with an individual
whose name history has not preserved; it was wafted like some
accursed germ upon a portion of the soil, but it afterwards
nurtured itself, grew without effort, and spreads naturally with
the society to which it belongs. I need scarcely add that this
calamity is slavery. Christianity suppressed slavery, but the
Christians of the sixteenth century re-established it - as an
exception, indeed, to their social system, and restricted to one
of the races of mankind; but the wound thus inflicted upon
humanity, though less extensive, was at the same time rendered
far more difficult of cure.

It is important to make an accurate distinction between
slavery itself and its consequences. The immediate evils which
are produced by slavery were very nearly the same in antiquity as
they are amongst the moderns; but the consequences of these evils
were different. The slave, amongst the ancients, belonged to the
same race as his master, and he was often the superior of the two
in education *d and instruction. Freedom was the only
distinction between them; and when freedom was conferred they
were easily confounded together. The ancients, then, had a very
simple means of avoiding slavery and its evil consequences, which
was that of affranchisement; and they succeeded as soon as they
adopted this measure generally. Not but, in ancient States, the
vestiges of servitude subsisted for some time after servitude
itself was abolished. There is a natural prejudice which prompts
men to despise whomsoever has been their inferior long after he
is become their equal; and the real inequality which is produced
by fortune or by law is always succeeded by an imaginary
inequality which is implanted in the manners of the people.
Nevertheless, this secondary consequence of slavery was limited
to a certain term amongst the ancients, for the freedman bore so
entire a resemblance to those born free, that it soon became
impossible to distinguish him from amongst them.

[Footnote d: It is well known that several of the most
distinguished authors of antiquity, and amongst them Aesop and
Terence, were, or had been slaves. Slaves were not always taken
from barbarous nations, and the chances of war reduced highly
civilized men to servitude.]

The greatest difficulty in antiquity was that of altering
the law; amongst the moderns it is that of altering the manners;
and, as far as we are concerned, the real obstacles begin where
those of the ancients left off. This arises from the circumstance
that, amongst the moderns, the abstract and transient fact of
slavery is fatally united to the physical and permanent fact of
color. The tradition of slavery dishonors the race, and the
peculiarity of the race perpetuates the tradition of slavery. No
African has ever voluntarily emigrated to the shores of the New
World; whence it must be inferred, that all the blacks who are
now to be found in that hemisphere are either slaves or freedmen.
Thus the negro transmits the eternal mark of his ignominy to all
his descendants; and although the law may abolish slavery, God
alone can obliterate the traces of its existence.

The modern slave differs from his master not only in his
condition, but in his origin. You may set the negro free, but
you cannot make him otherwise than an alien to the European. Nor
is this all; we scarcely acknowledge the common features of
mankind in this child of debasement whom slavery has brought
amongst us. His physiognomy is to our eyes hideous, his
understanding weak, his tastes low; and we are almost inclined to
look upon him as a being intermediate between man and the brutes.
*e The moderns, then, after they have abolished slavery, have
three prejudices to contend against, which are less easy to
attack and far less easy to conquer than the mere fact of
servitude: the prejudice of the master, the prejudice of the
race, and the prejudice of color.

[Footnote e: To induce the whites to abandon the opinion they
have conceived of the moral and intellectual inferiority of their
former slaves, the negroes must change; but as long as this
opinion subsists, to change is impossible.]

It is difficult for us, who have had the good fortune to be
born amongst men like ourselves by nature, and equal to ourselves
by law, to conceive the irreconcilable differences which separate
the negro from the European in America. But we may derive some
faint notion of them from analogy. France was formerly a country
in which numerous distinctions of rank existed, that had been
created by the legislation. Nothing can be more fictitious than
a purely legal inferiority; nothing more contrary to the instinct
of mankind than these permanent divisions which had been
established between beings evidently similar. Nevertheless these
divisions subsisted for ages; they still subsist in many places;
and on all sides they have left imaginary vestiges, which time
alone can efface. If it be so difficult to root out an
inequality which solely originates in the law, how are those
distinctions to be destroyed which seem to be based upon the
immutable laws of Nature herself? When I remember the extreme
difficulty with which aristocratic bodies, of whatever nature
they may be, are commingled with the mass of the people; and the
exceeding care which they take to preserve the ideal boundaries
of their caste inviolate, I despair of seeing an aristocracy
disappear which is founded upon visible and indelible signs.
Those who hope that the Europeans will ever mix with the negroes,
appear to me to delude themselves; and I am not led to any such
conclusion by my own reason, or by the evidence of facts.

Hitherto, wherever the whites have been the most powerful,
they have maintained the blacks in a subordinate or a servile
position; wherever the negroes have been strongest they have
destroyed the whites; such has been the only retribution which
has ever taken place between the two races.

I see that in a certain portion of the territory of the
United States at the present day, the legal barrier which
separated the two races is tending to fall away, but not that
which exists in the manners of the country; slavery recedes, but
the prejudice to which it has given birth remains stationary.
Whosoever has inhabited the United States must have perceived
that in those parts of the Union in which the negroes are no
longer slaves, they have in no wise drawn nearer to the whites.
On the contrary, the prejudice of the race appears to be stronger
in the States which have abolished slavery, than in those where
it still exists; and nowhere is it so intolerant as in those
States where servitude has never been known.

It is true, that in the North of the Union, marriages may be
legally contracted between negroes and whites; but public opinion
would stigmatize a man who should connect himself with a negress
as infamous, and it would be difficult to meet with a single
instance of such a union. The electoral franchise has been
conferred upon the negroes in almost all the States in which
slavery has been abolished; but if they come forward to vote,
their lives are in danger. If oppressed, they may bring an
action at law, but they will find none but whites amongst their
judges; and although they may legally serve as jurors, prejudice
repulses them from that office. The same schools do not receive
the child of the black and of the European. In the theatres,
gold cannot procure a seat for the servile race beside their
former masters; in the hospitals they lie apart; and although
they are allowed to invoke the same Divinity as the whites, it
must be at a different altar, and in their own churches, with
their own clergy. The gates of Heaven are not closed against
these unhappy beings; but their inferiority is continued to the
very confines of the other world; when the negro is defunct, his
bones are cast aside, and the distinction of condition prevails
even in the equality of death. The negro is free, but he can
share neither the rights, nor the pleasures, nor the labor, nor
the afflictions, nor the tomb of him whose equal he has been
declared to be; and he cannot meet him upon fair terms in life or
in death.

In the South, where slavery still exists, the negroes are
less carefully kept apart; they sometimes share the labor and the
recreations of the whites; the whites consent to intermix with
them to a certain extent, and although the legislation treats
them more harshly, the habits of the people are more tolerant and
compassionate. In the South the master is not afraid to raise
his slave to his own standing, because he knows that he can in a
moment reduce him to the dust at pleasure. In the North the
white no longer distinctly perceives the barrier which separates
him from the degraded race, and he shuns the negro with the more
pertinacity, since he fears lest they should some day be
confounded together.

Amongst the Americans of the South, nature sometimes
reasserts her rights, and restores a transient equality between
the blacks and the whites; but in the North pride restrains the
most imperious of human passions. The American of the Northern
States would perhaps allow the negress to share his licentious
pleasures, if the laws of his country did not declare that she
may aspire to be the legitimate partner of his bed; but he
recoils with horror from her who might become his wife.

Thus it is, in the United States, that the prejudice which
repels the negroes seems to increase in proportion as they are
emancipated, and inequality is sanctioned by the manners whilst
it is effaced from the laws of the country. But if the relative
position of the two races which inhabit the United States is such
as I have described, it may be asked why the Americans have
abolished slavery in the North of the Union, why they maintain it
in the South, and why they aggravate its hardships there? The
answer is easily given. It is not for the good of the negroes,
but for that of the whites, that measures are taken to abolish
slavery in the United States.

The first negroes were imported into Virginia about the year
1621. *f In America, therefore, as well as in the rest of the
globe, slavery originated in the South. Thence it spread from
one settlement to another; but the number of slaves diminished
towards the Northern States, and the negro population was always
very limited in New England. *g

[Footnote f: See Beverley's "History of Virginia." See also in
Jefferson's "Memoirs" some curious details concerning the
introduction of negroes into Virginia, and the first Act which
prohibited the importation of them in 1778.]

[Footnote g: The number of slaves was less considerable in the
North, but the advantages resulting from slavery were not more
contested there than in the South. In 1740, the Legislature of
the State of New York declared that the direct importation of
slaves ought to be encouraged as much as possible, and smuggling
severely punished in order not to discourage the fair trader.
(Kent's "Commentaries," vol. ii. p. 206.) Curious researches, by
Belknap, upon slavery in New England, are to be found in the
"Historical Collection of Massachusetts," vol. iv. p. 193. It
appears that negroes were introduced there in 1630, but that the
legislation and manners of the people were opposed to slavery
from the first; see also, in the same work, the manner in which
public opinion, and afterwards the laws, finally put an end to

A century had scarcely elapsed since the foundation of the
colonies, when the attention of the planters was struck by the
extraordinary fact, that the provinces which were comparatively
destitute of slaves, increased in population, in wealth, and in
prosperity more rapidly than those which contained the greatest
number of negroes. In the former, however, the inhabitants were
obliged to cultivate the soil themselves, or by hired laborers;
in the latter they were furnished with hands for which they paid
no wages; yet although labor and expenses were on the one side,
and ease with economy on the other, the former were in possession
of the most advantageous system. This consequence seemed to be
the more difficult to explain, since the settlers, who all
belonged to the same European race, had the same habits, the same
civilization, the same laws, and their shades of difference were
extremely slight.

Time, however, continued to advance, and the
Anglo-Americans, spreading beyond the coasts of the Atlantic
Ocean, penetrated farther and farther into the solitudes of the
West; they met with a new soil and an unwonted climate; the
obstacles which opposed them were of the most various character;
their races intermingled, the inhabitants of the South went up
towards the North, those of the North descended to the South; but
in the midst of all these causes, the same result occurred at
every step, and in general, the colonies in which there were no
slaves became more populous and more rich than those in which
slavery flourished. The more progress was made, the more was it
shown that slavery, which is so cruel to the slave, is
prejudicial to the master.

Chapter XVIII: Future Condition Of Three Races - Part IV

But this truth was most satisfactorily demonstrated when
civilization reached the banks of the Ohio. The stream which the
Indians had distinguished by the name of Ohio, or Beautiful
River, waters one of the most magnificent valleys that has ever
been made the abode of man. Undulating lands extend upon both
shores of the Ohio, whose soil affords inexhaustible treasures to
the laborer; on either bank the air is wholesome and the climate
mild, and each of them forms the extreme frontier of a vast
State: That which follows the numerous windings of the Ohio upon
the left is called Kentucky, that upon the right bears the name
of the river. These two States only differ in a single respect;
Kentucky has admitted slavery, but the State of Ohio has
prohibited the existence of slaves within its borders. *h

[Footnote h: Not only is slavery prohibited in Ohio, but no free
negroes are allowed to enter the territory of that State, or to
hold property in it. See the Statutes of Ohio.]

Thus the traveller who floats down the current of the Ohio
to the spot where that river falls into the Mississippi, may be
said to sail between liberty and servitude; and a transient
inspection of the surrounding objects will convince him as to
which of the two is most favorable to mankind. Upon the left
bank of the stream the population is rare; from time to time one
descries a troop of slaves loitering in the half-desert fields;
the primaeval forest recurs at every turn; society seems to be
asleep, man to be idle, and nature alone offers a scene of
activity and of life. From the right bank, on the contrary, a
confused hum is heard which proclaims the presence of industry;
the fields are covered with abundant harvests, the elegance of
the dwellings announces the taste and activity of the laborer,
and man appears to be in the enjoyment of that wealth and
contentment which is the reward of labor. *i

[Footnote i: The activity of Ohio is not confined to individuals,
but the undertakings of the State are surprisingly great; a canal
has been established between Lake Erie and the Ohio, by means of
which the valley of the Mississippi communicates with the river
of the North, and the European commodities which arrive at New
York may be forwarded by water to New Orleans across five hundred
leagues of continent.]

The State of Kentucky was founded in 1775, the State of Ohio
only twelve years later; but twelve years are more in America
than half a century in Europe, and, at the present day, the
population of Ohio exceeds that of Kentucky by two hundred and
fifty thousand souls. *j These opposite consequences of slavery
and freedom may readily be understood, and they suffice to
explain many of the differences which we remark between the
civilization of antiquity and that of our own time.

[Footnote j: The exact numbers given by the census of 1830 were:
Kentucky, 688,-844; Ohio, 937,679. [In 1890 the population of
Ohio was 3,672,316, that of Kentucky, 1,858,635.]]

Upon the left bank of the Ohio labor is confounded with the
idea of slavery, upon the right bank it is identified with that
of prosperity and improvement; on the one side it is degraded, on
the other it is honored; on the former territory no white
laborers can be found, for they would be afraid of assimilating
themselves to the negroes; on the latter no one is idle, for the
white population extends its activity and its intelligence to
every kind of employment. Thus the men whose task it is to
cultivate the rich soil of Kentucky are ignorant and lukewarm;
whilst those who are active and enlightened either do nothing or
pass over into the State of Ohio, where they may work without

It is true that in Kentucky the planters are not obliged to
pay wages to the slaves whom they employ; but they derive small
profits from their labor, whilst the wages paid to free workmen
would be returned with interest in the value of their services.
The free workman is paid, but he does his work quicker than the
slave, and rapidity of execution is one of the great elements of
economy. The white sells his services, but they are only
purchased at the times at which they may be useful; the black can
claim no remuneration for his toil, but the expense of his
maintenance is perpetual; he must be supported in his old age as
well as in the prime of manhood, in his profitless infancy as
well as in the productive years of youth. Payment must equally
be made in order to obtain the services of either class of men:
the free workman receives his wages in money, the slave in
education, in food, in care, and in clothing. The money which a
master spends in the maintenance of his slaves goes gradually and
in detail, so that it is scarcely perceived; the salary of the
free workman is paid in a round sum, which appears only to enrich
the individual who receives it, but in the end the slave has cost
more than the free servant, and his labor is less productive. *k

[Footnote k: Independently of these causes, which, wherever free
workmen abound, render their labor more productive and more
economical than that of slaves, another cause may be pointed out
which is peculiar to the United States: the sugar-cane has
hitherto been cultivated with success only upon the banks of the
Mississippi, near the mouth of that river in the Gulf of Mexico.
In Louisiana the cultivation of the sugar-cane is exceedingly
lucrative, and nowhere does a laborer earn so much by his work,
and, as there is always a certain relation between the cost of
production and the value of the produce, the price of slaves is
very high in Louisiana. But Louisiana is one of the confederated
States, and slaves may be carried thither from all parts of the
Union; the price given for slaves in New Orleans consequently
raises the value of slaves in all the other markets. The
consequence of this is, that in the countries where the land is
less productive, the cost of slave labor is still very
considerable, which gives an additional advantage to the
competition of free labor.]

The influence of slavery extends still further; it affects
the character of the master, and imparts a peculiar tendency to
his ideas and his tastes. Upon both banks of the Ohio, the
character of the inhabitants is enterprising and energetic; but
this vigor is very differently exercised in the two States. The
white inhabitant of Ohio, who is obliged to subsist by his own
exertions, regards temporal prosperity as the principal aim of
his existence; and as the country which he occupies presents
inexhaustible resources to his industry and ever-varying lures to
his activity, his acquisitive ardor surpasses the ordinary limits
of human cupidity: he is tormented by the desire of wealth, and
he boldly enters upon every path which fortune opens to him; he
becomes a sailor, a pioneer, an artisan, or a laborer with the
same indifference, and he supports, with equal constancy, the
fatigues and the dangers incidental to these various professions;
the resources of his intelligence are astonishing, and his
avidity in the pursuit of gain amounts to a species of heroism.

But the Kentuckian scorns not only labor, but all the
undertakings which labor promotes; as he lives in an idle
independence, his tastes are those of an idle man; money loses a
portion of its value in his eyes; he covets wealth much less than
pleasure and excitement; and the energy which his neighbor
devotes to gain, turns with him to a passionate love of field
sports and military exercises; he delights in violent bodily
exertion, he is familiar with the use of arms, and is accustomed
from a very early age to expose his life in single combat. Thus
slavery not only prevents the whites from becoming opulent, but
even from desiring to become so.

As the same causes have been continually producing opposite
effects for the last two centuries in the British colonies of
North America, they have established a very striking difference
between the commercial capacity of the inhabitants of the South
and those of the North. At the present day it is only the
Northern States which are in possession of shipping,
manufactures, railroads, and canals. This difference is
perceptible not only in comparing the North with the South, but
in comparing the several Southern States. Almost all the
individuals who carry on commercial operations, or who endeavor
to turn slave labor to account in the most Southern districts of
the Union, have emigrated from the North. The natives of the
Northern States are constantly spreading over that portion of the
American territory where they have less to fear from competition;
they discover resources there which escaped the notice of the
inhabitants; and, as they comply with a system which they do not
approve, they succeed in turning it to better advantage than
those who first founded and who still maintain it.

Were I inclined to continue this parallel, I could easily
prove that almost all the differences which may be remarked
between the characters of the Americans in the Southern and in
the Northern States have originated in slavery; but this would
divert me from my subject, and my present intention is not to
point out all the consequences of servitude, but those effects
which it has produced upon the prosperity of the countries which
have admitted it.

The influence of slavery upon the production of wealth must
have been very imperfectly known in antiquity, as slavery then
obtained throughout the civilized world; and the nations which
were unacquainted with it were barbarous. And indeed
Christianity only abolished slavery by advocating the claims of
the slave; at the present time it may be attacked in the name of
the master, and, upon this point, interest is reconciled with

As these truths became apparent in the United States,
slavery receded before the progress of experience. Servitude had
begun in the South, and had thence spread towards the North; but
it now retires again. Freedom, which started from the North, now
descends uninterruptedly towards the South. Amongst the great
States, Pennsylvania now constitutes the extreme limit of slavery
to the North: but even within those limits the slave system is
shaken: Maryland, which is immediately below Pennsylvania, is
preparing for its abolition; and Virginia, which comes next to
Maryland, is already discussing its utility and its dangers. *l

[Footnote l: A peculiar reason contributes to detach the two
last- mentioned States from the cause of slavery. The former
wealth of this part of the Union was principally derived from the
cultivation of tobacco. This cultivation is specially carried on
by slaves; but within the last few years the market-price of
tobacco has diminished, whilst the value of the slaves remains
the same. Thus the ratio between the cost of production and the
value of the produce is changed. The natives of Maryland and
Virginia are therefore more disposed than they were thirty years
ago, to give up slave labor in the cultivation of tobacco, or to
give up slavery and tobacco at the same time.]

No great change takes place in human institutions without
involving amongst its causes the law of inheritance. When the
law of primogeniture obtained in the South, each family was
represented by a wealthy individual, who was neither compelled
nor induced to labor; and he was surrounded, as by parasitic
plants, by the other members of his family who were then excluded
by law from sharing the common inheritance, and who led the same
kind of life as himself. The very same thing then occurred in
all the families of the South as still happens in the wealthy
families of some countries in Europe, namely, that the younger
sons remain in the same state of idleness as their elder brother,
without being as rich as he is. This identical result seems to
be produced in Europe and in America by wholly analogous causes.
In the South of the United States the whole race of whites formed
an aristocratic body, which was headed by a certain number of
privileged individuals, whose wealth was permanent, and whose
leisure was hereditary. These leaders of the American nobility
kept alive the traditional prejudices of the white race in the
body of which they were the representatives, and maintained the
honor of inactive life. This aristocracy contained many who were
poor, but none who would work; its members preferred want to
labor, consequently no competition was set on foot against negro
laborers and slaves, and, whatever opinion might be entertained
as to the utility of their efforts, it was indispensable to
employ them, since there was no one else to work.

No sooner was the law of primogeniture abolished than
fortunes began to diminish, and all the families of the country
were simultaneously reduced to a state in which labor became
necessary to procure the means of subsistence: several of them
have since entirely disappeared, and all of them learned to look
forward to the time at which it would be necessary for everyone
to provide for his own wants. Wealthy individuals are still to
be met with, but they no longer constitute a compact and
hereditary body, nor have they been able to adopt a line of
conduct in which they could persevere, and which they could
infuse into all ranks of society. The prejudice which
stigmatized labor was in the first place abandoned by common
consent; the number of needy men was increased, and the needy
were allowed to gain a laborious subsistence without blushing for
their exertions. Thus one of the most immediate consequences of
the partible quality of estates has been to create a class of
free laborers. As soon as a competition was set on foot between
the free laborer and the slave, the inferiority of the latter
became manifest, and slavery was attacked in its fundamental
principle, which is the interest of the master.

As slavery recedes, the black population follows its
retrograde course, and returns with it towards those tropical
regions from which it originally came. However singular this
fact may at first appear to be, it may readily be explained.
Although the Americans abolish the principle of slavery, they do
not set their slaves free. To illustrate this remark, I will
quote the example of the State of New York. In 1788, the State
of New York prohibited the sale of slaves within its limits,
which was an indirect method of prohibiting the importation of
blacks. Thenceforward the number of negroes could only increase
according to the ratio of the natural increase of population.
But eight years later a more decisive measure was taken, and it
was enacted that all children born of slave parents after July 4,
1799, should be free. No increase could then take place, and
although slaves still existed, slavery might be said to be

From the time at which a Northern State prohibited the
importation of slaves, no slaves were brought from the South to
be sold in its markets. On the other hand, as the sale of slaves
was forbidden in that State, an owner was no longer able to get
rid of his slave (who thus became a burdensome possession)
otherwise than by transporting him to the South. But when a
Northern State declared that the son of the slave should be born
free, the slave lost a large portion of his market value, since
his posterity was no longer included in the bargain, and the
owner had then a strong interest in transporting him to the
South. Thus the same law prevents the slaves of the South from
coming to the Northern States, and drives those of the North to
the South.

The want of free hands is felt in a State in proportion as
the number of slaves decreases. But in proportion as labor is
performed by free hands, slave labor becomes less productive; and
the slave is then a useless or onerous possession, whom it is
important to export to those Southern States where the same
competition is not to be feared. Thus the abolition of slavery
does not set the slave free, but it merely transfers him from one
master to another, and from the North to the South.

The emancipated negroes, and those born after the abolition
of slavery, do not, indeed, migrate from the North to the South;
but their situation with regard to the Europeans is not unlike
that of the aborigines of America; they remain half civilized,
and deprived of their rights in the midst of a population which
is far superior to them in wealth and in knowledge; where they
are exposed to the tyranny of the laws *m and the intolerance of
the people. On some accounts they are still more to be pitied
than the Indians, since they are haunted by the reminiscence of
slavery, and they cannot claim possession of a single portion of
the soil: many of them perish miserably, *n and the rest
congregate in the great towns, where they perform the meanest
offices, and lead a wretched and precarious existence.

[Footnote m: The States in which slavery is abolished usually do
what they can to render their territory disagreeable to the
negroes as a place of residence; and as a kind of emulation
exists between the different States in this respect, the unhappy
blacks can only choose the least of the evils which beset them.]

[Footnote n: There is a very great difference between the
mortality of the blacks and of the whites in the States in which
slavery is abolished; from 1820 to 1831 only one out of forty-two
individuals of the white population died in Philadelphia; but one
negro out of twenty-one individuals of the black population died
in the same space of time. The mortality is by no means so great
amongst the negroes who are still slaves. (See Emmerson's
"Medical Statistics," p. 28.)]

But even if the number of negroes continued to increase as
rapidly as when they were still in a state of slavery, as the
number of whites augments with twofold rapidity since the
abolition of slavery, the blacks would soon be, as it were, lost
in the midst of a strange population.

A district which is cultivated by slaves is in general more
scantily peopled than a district cultivated by free labor:
moreover, America is still a new country, and a State is
therefore not half peopled at the time when it abolishes slavery.
No sooner is an end put to slavery than the want of free labor is
felt, and a crowd of enterprising adventurers immediately arrive
from all parts of the country, who hasten to profit by the fresh
resources which are then opened to industry. The soil is soon
divided amongst them, and a family of white settlers takes
possession of each tract of country. Besides which, European
emigration is exclusively directed to the free States; for what
would be the fate of a poor emigrant who crosses the Atlantic in
search of ease and happiness if he were to land in a country
where labor is stigmatized as degrading?

Thus the white population grows by its natural increase, and
at the same time by the immense influx of emigrants; whilst the
black population receives no emigrants, and is upon its decline.
The proportion which existed between the two races is soon
inverted. The negroes constitute a scanty remnant, a poor tribe
of vagrants, which is lost in the midst of an immense people in
full possession of the land; and the presence of the blacks is
only marked by the injustice and the hardships of which they are
the unhappy victims.

In several of the Western States the negro race never made
its appearance, and in all the Northern States it is rapidly
declining. Thus the great question of its future condition is
confined within a narrow circle, where it becomes less
formidable, though not more easy of solution.

The more we descend towards the South, the more difficult
does it become to abolish slavery with advantage: and this arises
from several physical causes which it is important to point out.

The first of these causes is the climate; it is well known
that in proportion as Europeans approach the tropics they suffer
more from labor. Many of the Americans even assert that within a
certain latitude the exertions which a negro can make without
danger are fatal to them; *o but I do not think that this
opinion, which is so favorable to the indolence of the
inhabitants of southern regions, is confirmed by experience. The
southern parts of the Union are not hotter than the South of
Italy and of Spain; *p and it may be asked why the European
cannot work as well there as in the two latter countries. If
slavery has been abolished in Italy and in Spain without causing
the destruction of the masters, why should not the same thing
take place in the Union? I cannot believe that nature has
prohibited the Europeans in Georgia and the Floridas, under pain
of death, from raising the means of subsistence from the soil,
but their labor would unquestionably be more irksome and less
productive to them than to the inhabitants of New England. As the
free workman thus loses a portion of his superiority over the
slave in the Southern States, there are fewer inducements to
abolish slavery.

[Footnote o: This is true of the spots in which rice is
cultivated; rice-grounds, which are unwholesome in all countries,
are particularly dangerous in those regions which are exposed to
the beams of a tropical sun. Europeans would not find it easy to
cultivate the soil in that part of the New World if it must be
necessarily be made to produce rice; but may they not subsist
without rice-grounds?]

[Footnote p: These States are nearer to the equator than Italy
and Spain, but the temperature of the continent of America is
very much lower than that of Europe.

The Spanish Government formerly caused a certain number of
peasants from the Acores to be transported into a district of
Louisiana called Attakapas, by way of experiment. These settlers
still cultivate the soil without the assistance of slaves, but
their industry is so languid as scarcely to supply their most
necessary wants.]

All the plants of Europe grow in the northern parts of the
Union; the South has special productions of its own. It has been
observed that slave labor is a very expensive method of
cultivating corn. The farmer of corn land in a country where
slavery is unknown habitually retains a small number of laborers
in his service, and at seed-time and harvest he hires several
additional hands, who only live at his cost for a short period.
But the agriculturist in a slave State is obliged to keep a large
number of slaves the whole year round, in order to sow his fields
and to gather in his crops, although their services are only
required for a few weeks; but slaves are unable to wait till they
are hired, and to subsist by their own labor in the mean time
like free laborers; in order to have their services they must be
bought. Slavery, independently of its general disadvantages, is
therefore still more inapplicable to countries in which corn is
cultivated than to those which produce crops of a different kind.
The cultivation of tobacco, of cotton, and especially of the
sugar-cane, demands, on the other hand, unremitting attention:
and women and children are employed in it, whose services are of
but little use in the cultivation of wheat. Thus slavery is
naturally more fitted to the countries from which these
productions are derived. Tobacco, cotton, and the sugar-cane are
exclusively grown in the South, and they form one of the
principal sources of the wealth of those States. If slavery were
abolished, the inhabitants of the South would be constrained to
adopt one of two alternatives: they must either change their
system of cultivation, and then they would come into competition
with the more active and more experienced inhabitants of the
North; or, if they continued to cultivate the same produce
without slave labor, they would have to support the competition
of the other States of the South, which might still retain their
slaves. Thus, peculiar reasons for maintaining slavery exist in
the South which do not operate in the North.

But there is yet another motive which is more cogent than
all the others: the South might indeed, rigorously speaking,
abolish slavery; but how should it rid its territory of the black
population? Slaves and slavery are driven from the North by the
same law, but this twofold result cannot be hoped for in the

The arguments which I have adduced to show that slavery is
more natural and more advantageous in the South than in the
North, sufficiently prove that the number of slaves must be far
greater in the former districts. It was to the southern
settlements that the first Africans were brought, and it is there
that the greatest number of them have always been imported. As
we advance towards the South, the prejudice which sanctions
idleness increases in power. In the States nearest to the tropics
there is not a single white laborer; the negroes are consequently
much more numerous in the South than in the North. And, as I have
already observed, this disproportion increases daily, since the
negroes are transferred to one part of the Union as soon as
slavery is abolished in the other. Thus the black population
augments in the South, not only by its natural fecundity, but by
the compulsory emigration of the negroes from the North; and the
African race has causes of increase in the South very analogous
to those which so powerfully accelerate the growth of the
European race in the North.

In the State of Maine there is one negro in 300 inhabitants;
in Massachusetts, one in 100; in New York, two in 100; in
Pennsylvania, three in the same number; in Maryland, thirty-four;
in Virginia, forty-two; and lastly, in South Carolina *q
fifty-five per cent. Such was the proportion of the black
population to the whites in the year 1830. But this proportion
is perpetually changing, as it constantly decreases in the North
and augments in the South.

[Footnote q: We find it asserted in an American work, entitled
"Letters on the Colonization Society," by Mr. Carey, 1833, "That
for the last forty years the black race has increased more
rapidly than the white race in the State of South Carolina; and
that if we take the average population of the five States of the
South into which slaves were first introduced, viz., Maryland,
Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia, we shall
find that from 1790 to 1830 the whites have augmented in the
proportion of 80 to 100, and the blacks in that of 112 to 100."

In the United States, in 1830, the population of the two
races stood as follows: -

States where slavery is abolished, 6,565,434 whites; 120,520
blacks. Slave States, 3,960,814 whites; 2,208,102 blacks. [In
1890 the United States contained a population of 54,983,890
whites, and 7,638,360 negroes.]]

It is evident that the most Southern States of the Union
cannot abolish slavery without incurring very great dangers,
which the North had no reason to apprehend when it emancipated
its black population. We have already shown the system by which
the Northern States secure the transition from slavery to
freedom, by keeping the present generation in chains, and setting
their descendants free; by this means the negroes are gradually
introduced into society; and whilst the men who might abuse their
freedom are kept in a state of servitude, those who are
emancipated may learn the art of being free before they become
their own masters. But it would be difficult to apply this
method in the South. To declare that all the negroes born after
a certain period shall be free, is to introduce the principle and
the notion of liberty into the heart of slavery; the blacks whom
the law thus maintains in a state of slavery from which their
children are delivered, are astonished at so unequal a fate, and
their astonishment is only the prelude to their impatience and
irritation. Thenceforward slavery loses, in their eyes, that
kind of moral power which it derived from time and habit; it is
reduced to a mere palpable abuse of force. The Northern States
had nothing to fear from the contrast, because in them the blacks
were few in number, and the white population was very
considerable. But if this faint dawn of freedom were to show two
millions of men their true position, the oppressors would have
reason to tremble. After having affranchised the children of
their slaves the Europeans of the Southern States would very
shortly be obliged to extend the same benefit to the whole black

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