"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Adger: Southern Slavery Was a Civilizing
and Christianizing School for Negroes

“Now, it is true, and will forever remain true, that our Southern slavery was just a grand civilizing and Christianizing school, providentially prepared to train thousands of negro slaves, brought hither from Africa by other people against our protest, some two hundred years ago. Never was any statement more absurdly false than that slavery degraded the negroes of the South from a higher to a lower position. The truth is, that all the good there ever was arising out of the presence of these people in this country was due to the fact that, coming hither as slaves, they were permitted to remain a long time at the school of slavery, to receive there a most valuable education. All this is true, and the Southern people and their children’s children owe it to themselves and to their forefathers, to maintain forever these truths against all opponents. The negroes were brought to us as naked savages; many of them, perhaps most of them, had been slaves in their own country; of the rest, some had been cannibals. They were just the same sort of people with which missionaries to Africa now make us familiar in their letters. Whenever necessary, as in the case of cannibals and other ferocious negroes, the discipline of the school which slavery kept was severe. They had to be subjugated by their masters, or their presence would have been intolerable. But, for the most part, these poor Africans, two hundred years ago, were, as they are now, as reported by missionaries, a gentle, docile people. It followed that the discipline of the school had no need to be otherwise than kind and gentle. Accordingly, down to the period of emancipation, the relation betwixt master and slave in these Southern States was, on both sides, generally a kindly one. This no one can deny who was acquainted with the system. There were cruel masters, as there were cruel fathers and cruel husbands. To speak of no higher motives which every slaveholder warmly cherished (or else he incurred inevitably shame and dishonor from his neighbors), the master knew that his slave was worth and cost money. The master of a horse that has cost him much will not treat him cruelly unless more of a brute than the very horse. How could the master of a slave so far forget his own interest as to be cruel to his slave unless he was a brute himself? In the great and good school of slavery, then, our slaves were receiving the most needful and valuable education for this life, and very many of them for the life to come.”

— Southern Presbyterian minister John B. Adger (1810-1899), My Life and Times, page 162

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