Republicans and race

Mark Lause MLause at
Tue Aug 26 22:29:49 MDT 2003

Another Republican commentary on this subject might be in order.  August
J. H. Duganne was a New York literati with labor connections before the
war.  He wasn't a particularly enlightened character though, and was
most closely associated with the Nativist (anti-white immigrant) current
in the 1850s.

War changed as many views as it hardened.

In 1863, Duganne found himself a Union officer in Louisiana where the
move for "free labor" had tapped the implicit racism in many of the more
elitist abolitionists.  His first contact with large number of runaway
slaves inspired this rambling and entirely uncensored reflection in
_Camps & Prisons_ (New York, 1865), 99-101.....


A spectacle for the ethnologist, a problem for the statesman, a theorem
for the Christian: six thousand curly-headed, dusky-skinned,
immortal-souled humanities! I know not what ganglionic diffference there
may be between this crisp-wooled poll before me and my own
straight-haired cerebrum; I care not to investigate the mysteries which
Nature hides in seed and generation; I see only six thousand men, women
and children, lying in mire and dust, after their weary marches; men,
giant-thewed, with brawn like steel others, giving suck from sound
breasts; light-hearted, bright-eyed youths and docile children; resting
here by the waters of the Atchafalayas as another enfranchised
slave-race rested, forty centuries ago, on Jordan's banks, after Exodus
from Darkness and Bondage.

They are black, these people-these humanities; but the horse I bestride
is likewise black, and I see, not far from me, a score of lusty oxen
sable-skinned. I do not remark the instincts of white ox or white horse
pitting him against his fellow of a darker hide. It is left for Man to
learn those loftier prejudices which regard the hue of his poor clay,
ere it returns to dust. I know not what gradations of skin-honor could
be enforced in a world's congress of ambassadors from every human clan.
The etiquette of cuticular priority, with Anglo-Saxon pigment for its
high-color mark, might not be tolerated, I think, by a large majority of
tribal representatives! .

Here, now, six thousand integers of that great sun-scorched race which
multiplies in African tropics are cast up, by a tidal wave of war, upon
this jutting promontory of Freedom. They lie, helpless and imploring on
the strand of n enlightened Civilization. And, by another war-billows,
on other sands and reaches of Liberty, uncounted multitudes, besides
these thousands, find themselves this day flung up before the face of
Man, and in the sigh of God, to challenge a superior race which has,
until now, ignored their kindred. Vain is sophistry against the
argumentum ad verecundiam of these mutely-eloquent waifs of Rebellion,
appealing to our large-heartedness, our great-mindedness, as nation and
a people. Unenviable casuist is he who, in the light o that dread
hand-writing which is now declaring the doom of Southern oppression,
shall attempt to cheat his conscience with the cry of Cain-'Am I my
brother's keeper?' The question of the day and generation must be
grappled with, or woe to posterity! That question please for solution in
the myriad anxious eyes peering up to us out of ignorance and slavery,
but not less does it plead, could we but recognize it, in the glorified
regards of heroes and martyrs, who look back from heaven to the Freedom
for which they suffered. .

These children of the fetter, newborn from the throes of a mighty
revolution, are children indeed, upon the threshold of a new existence.
'The world is all before them!' They are hardly recovered yet, from the
intoxication of their first sweet draught of freedom. The future in
their eyes is rose-colored. There is a degree of novel pleasure for them
even in the jeers and blows of brutal teamsters, who must have a
customary vulgar fling at 'niggers,' as they pass. That bright,
wonderful presence, LIBERTY is all around them; and in their rude joy of
her, they seem to 'walk on thrones.' Poor children! Manly-limbed and
strength-endued, but very infants in experience of life1 ... I would to
God, that some great loving heart could be entrusted with your destiny;
that some wide Intellect could inform the sympathies of our nation with
your few wants and many capacities! Heaven, I have faith to believe,
will, in its own good season, raise up the merciful Avenger of your
history. Happy our Republic, if its Rulers shall appreciate, in time,
the mutual need of Black and White, to recognize a kindred of interests
in our National Future. .

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