Slavery Makes the South Strong (the Mud-Sill Speech)

April 9, 1858

Under the Refuge of Oppression column are extracts from a speech by Sen. Hammond, of South Carolina.  “… the great strength of the South arises from the harmony of her political and social institutions.  This harmony gives her a frame of society, the best in the world, and an extent of political freedom combined with entire security, and as no other people ever enjoyed upon the face of the earth…… in all social systems there must be a class to do the mean duties, to perform the drudgery of life — that is a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill…Such a class you must have, or you would not have the other class which leads progress, refinement and civilization. It constitutes the very mud-sills of society and of political government….Fortunately for the South, she has found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. A race inferior to herself, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity, to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes.  We use them for the purpose, and call them slaves….”

We are old fashioned in the South yet; it is a word discarded now by ears polite; but I will not characterize that class at the North with that term; but you have it; it is there; it is everywhere; it is eternal.  Northern Laborers are but Slaves….”