The Question for Slaveowners
Race, Human Species, War, Morality, Religion, Crime, Unbelief
Ironically apostrophizes slave-owners of the southern United States of America concerning the question whether 'niggers' are 'Part of the family of Man' or 'the kind of apes / Most like us in their ways and shapes'. Notes the willingness of southern slave-owners to fight for the right to keep black slaves like livestock, and asks whether slave-owners should eat their slaves given that 'they are brutes'. Ironically asserts that the confidence of slave-owners has shaken his faith in the black races being human: notes that slave-owners must know that, if their slaves were human, they would be spurning the 'eternal laws' of justice in their treatment of them, and asserts: 'You to that fiat, then, appeal, / By which o'er animals Man rules: / Or else you must be wretched fools'. Concludes with the conundrum: 'Unless our consciences deceive, / And all is false that we believe, / And no eternal laws exist, / And Wisdom is an Atheist'.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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