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Weslee Mok
Professor Rodriguez
History 7A
9 June 2017

George Fitzhugh: Slavery Justified (1854)

Known as a social theorist and advocate for slavery, George Fitzhugh utilized his firsthand
account via his idea of slavery and how it served as the equality between men. This primary
document was written to prove his standpoint that slavery is not only essential but beneficial to
society. In a previous interpretation, one of Fitzhughs works was included as well, his
perspective of the master class and the slaves that are dependent on their masters. The intended
audience once again is addressed to the public, to society as a whole to spread the words of pro-
slavery. It is by social law that masters are in charge of educating these slaves and protecting
them from becoming vulgar beings. He saw domestic southern slave-owning to be similar to
that of a Greek or Roman master, and how possessing these slaves shows the elevation of
character for the master. Fitzhugh made a similar comparison in his other document, deducing
that slavery was above free labor. He claimed that without slavery, this world would fall apart,
causing destruction, a rise in crime rate, riots, and so forth. Society had become dependent on
slavery through economic and social perspectives.

He made an example of the northern States and France, as he explained how they adopted this
free liberty and equality, but failed at keeping the peace, as wars continued to rage on despite
this supposed freedom to all. These failures included the creation of these sects, such as
Socialists and Communists, as the leaders of these groups threatened to break the social mold
they had worked so hard to achieve. Crime had continued to rise, and working class conditions
also suffered. Mentioned in his previous document, Fitzhugh claimed it was due to race that
separated these two groups of people; the white male masters that worked hard to preserve the
socioeconomic structure while caring for these slaves, who needed the guidance of a civilized
man. Fitzhugh also compared the ideology of the current slave system to that of the animal
kingdom; it was simple enough for him to understand with this idea that it was normal for
stronger, independent creatures to consume and take over significantly weaker ones. It was
because of these white, landowning males that possessed the power to take in these African
Americans and used them to their liking because they were superior.

While he saw slavery as a major source of income, social status, and character elevation for the
superior race, Fitzhugh also saw slaves and women within the same vein in accordance with this
ideology. He believed that women were dependent on their husbands, which in usual cases
during this era was true, mainly because of how society forced women to care for the household
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rather than go out and work for themselves. The proper role for women was to possess
subservience and dependency on her husband that was essential for her to live. If a woman were
to work in order to support herself, she would have to be built strong in both mind and body like
a mans in order to do so. A woman is prevented from doing much aside from caring for her
family because of her sex. He claimed that women and children are unable to care for
themselves, thus conclusively making them useless without a man. He used this type of
explanation to further prove his point on pro-slavery.

Throughout this document, it is apparent that Fitzhugh clearly strived for pro-slavery and anti-
abolitionism. He saw that southern slave-holding states as a superior group that managed to bring
the slaves not only security and protection but happiness as well. These masters selflessly gave
their charity to these African Americans, as they allowed both young and old the promise of no
work while those that were physically capable only worked a certain amount of hours that would
never push them to their limit. Of course, we know this is not true, and that the lives of slaves
living in these conditions would have rather faced death than continue. And while the slaves are
kept healthy and happy, the masters themselves never face true hardships in this business such as
rivalry and corruption. Its almost as if Fitzhugh infantilizes these slaves; he claims near the end
of the document that while a man loves his children and wife, they will eventually lose their
dependency on him. A child, especially a son, will eventually grow up and they will no longer
need to depend on their father, thus leading to him to care for his grandchildren. Once a wife
becomes too masculine or obstinate, he will cease to love her because she has become a rival to
the master. For slaves, however, they are always dependent on the master, leading them to be the
perfect partner for this type of relationship. There is no rivalry and the distinction between the
two is clear and will never change, as Fitzhugh saw it.