Charleston Courier
Opinion column of January 24, 1865

This article appeared in the January 25, 1865, issue of the Charleston Courier, during the debate in the Confederate Congress over the question of enlisting black men in the Confederate Army, and this column---what we would today call an "op-ed" piece---appears to take a very strong if indirect position against such a step.  A portion of this article is cited on pages 180--181 of Robert Durden's book, The Gray and the Black.  I learned of it because Kevin Levin cited it in the  entry of his blog, Civil War Memory.  I'd like to thank Lloyd Benson of Furman University for providing me with the full text.

Slavery and State Sovereignty

It is to maintain slavery, God’s institution of labor, and the primary political element of our Confederate form of Government, state sovereignty, that we have taken the sword of justice against the infidel and oppressor. The two must stand or fall together. To talk of maintaining our independence while we abolish slavery is simply to talk folly. Four millions of our fellow-men in the domestic relation of slaves have, in the providence of God, under His unalterable decree…been committed to our charge. We dare not abandon them to the tender mercies of the infidel. Like the marriage, parental and fraternal relations, slavery enters into the composition of our families, and like those God-ordained relations, it has the sanction of His law and His gospel. The family relations are incorporated into civil government, and with us slavery is one of those relations.

African slave labor is the only form of labor whereby our soil can be cultivated, and the great staples of our clime produced. The testimony of our ample experience proves that the white man is not physically adapted to that end, and that he sickens, degenerates and dies, if he undertakes it. By the removal of African slave labor from this land, our productive and fruitful fields much become barren waste[s] and impenetrable swamps. By yielding to abolition infidelity, and emancipating our slaves, we will destroy the household, disorganize the family, and annihilate our Government–act contrary to the will and instruction of God–bring down His just wrath upon our heads, and doom ourselves to utter humiliation, contempt and wretchedness as a people. The last hope of true Republican liberty on the American continent would be lost, the progress of the family, but the light of religion, science and true philosophy, toward peace and happiness, blackened for centuries, and the triumph of the rulers of the darkness of this world advanced.

Man's allegience to God is liberty.  What power soever intervenes between man and his Maker, and interferes with that obedience revealed in the Word of God, as due to him alone, is unlawful, tyrannic, despotic;  it is the power of the devil and his followers, to be resisted unto blood and vanquished with the sword.  ST. PETER has said, "We must obey God rather than man;"  and ST. PAUL, foretelling to the followers of Christ the trials and struggles through which they would have to pass, says to them, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."  There can be no virtue, no good, except in obedience to the will of God.  Evil is the result of disobedience, good of obedience.   

"Of man's first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree
Whose taste brought death into the world and all our woe"

Without a revelation from the Creator to his creature, man could no more have understood the history and object of his being than can the untutored savage, by intuition, acquire a correct knowledge of the history of the world and of the discoveries and achievements of  science.  Unaided reason could not conduct him by the moral sense, nor could Nature, the handmaid of God, lead him, by the affections, back to his God and to happiness; another light was needed to guide, another Mediator to restore him.

The woman was beguiled by the devil from her allegiance to her Maker, she gave of the tree to Adam, and she did eat.  The conflict between the seed of the woman (not wholy corrupted or lost, or God would have abandoned them) and the seed of the devil was begun;  the race of Adam was doomed to labor, mental and physical.  The corrupted nature of man developed selfishness, and the inevitable struggle between might and right was commenced; the strong, physically or mentally, would oppress the weak, and appropriate the fruits of his labor.  The divine decree dooming him to labor was unalterably attached to the existence of man;  God, known unto whom are all his way, determined  to legitimize it, and to introduce it, perfected by His Gospel, into His system of government of the human race.  He inflicted it as punishment on Canaan, incorporated into His law, and provided for its being perfected by the teachings of His Gospel, and converted into a blessing instead of a curse.

This is the history of slavery, the institution of God, which the abolition fanatic would overthrow, which God has intrusted to this Christian people, this Confederation of States, to maintain.  It is incorporated into their very being as a people, their existence as a Confederation, their independence as Sovereign States.  Without slavery, God's institution of labor, a Constitutional Republican form of Government, the form most in accord with the spirit and genious of Christianity, and which has been bought and established by us by the blood and wisdom of our patriot sires and sages, cannot exist.  A Republic without slavery is an impossibility.  Under a Republican form of Government each citizen has a right to elevate himself to the highest positions; to become one of the rulers, or by the ballot to place those of his choice in the position of rulers; and he who is ocoupied in servile duties can never acquire or posess the necessary knowledge and learning to exercise this right.

The overthrow of the former United States is an existing demonstration of this political truth.  The servant cannot, in the nature of things, possess the right to elevate himself above his lord.  Had slavery existed not only by the Constitution of the former United States, but  actually in all the States composing that Confederation, it would have stood to the end of time and government.  The last hope of true liberty and Republican Government rests with us.  The maintenance of that system of labor which Divine Wisdom has established, is committed to our charge.  Abandon our inheritance---Liberty---and prove faithless to the charge committed to us by God.  His wrath and the curses of millions yet unborn will rest upon us.  And shall we look to other sources than the Almighty arm and the sword He has placed in our hands for protection?  Is it for human aid and foreign help we sigh?  Let us go forth to battle, Deo vindice, and see that we bear not the sword in vain.                                           GIDEON