Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FITZHUGH, George, sociologist, born in Prince William County, Virginia, 2 July 1807; died in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas, 30 July 1881. He was largely self-taught, the only education he received as a child being gained in what were known as the "field schools" of his native County. That the amount of knowledge thus acquired was probably not great, may be inferred from the fact that Fitzhugh, when only nine years of age, was frequently left in sole charge of the other pupils during the extended absence of the teacher. In spite of these early disadvantages, he succeeded in securing a good education, studied law, and practiced his profession for many years in Port Royal, Virginia, making a specialty of criminal cases.
During President Buchanan's administration Mr. Fitzhugh was employed in the office of Attorney General Black, in the land claim department. About this time he made his only visit to the northern states, lecturing in Boston, and visiting his relative by marriage, Gerrit Smith. At the house of the latter he met Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe. These acquaintanceships derive their significance from his peculiar political opinions. Mr. Fitzhugh was a frequent contributor to the press, writing for the "New York Daybook," "Richmond Examiner," "De Bow's Review," and other journals and periodicals. He was "an eccentric and extreme thinker," claiming that slavery is the natural and rightful condition of society, which, when not founded on human servitude, tends to cannibalism. He did not base his argument upon the inferiority of the Negro, but maintained that the laboring classes of mankind, irrespective of color, should be slaves, as in Greece and Rome.
During the civil war he wrote: "It is a gross mistake to suppose that ' abolition' is the cause of dissolution between the north and the south. The Cavaliers, Jacobites, and Huguenots of the south naturally hate, contemn, and despise the Puritans who settled the north. The former are master races, the latter a slave race, the descendants of the Saxon serfs." His opinion of free labor may be gathered from the following extracts from his "Sociology for the South": "The free laborer rarely has a house and home of his own; he is insecure of employment; sickness may overtake him at any time and deprive him of the means of support; old age is certain to overtake him if he lives, and generally finds him without the means of subsistence; his family is probably increasing in numbers, and is helpless and burdensome to him. In all this there is little to incite to virtue, much to tempt to crime; nothing to afford happiness, but quite enough to inflict misery. Man must be more than human to acquire a pure and a high morality under such circumstances." And again: "Slavery without domestic affection would be a curse, and so would marriage and parental authority. The free laborer is excluded from its holy and charmed circle. Shelterless, naked, and hungry, He is exposed to the bleak winds, the cold rains, and hot sun of heaven, with none that love him, none that care for him. His employer hates him because he asks high wages or joins strikes; his fellow laborer hates him because he competes with him for employment. Foolish abolitionists! bring him back, like the prodigal son. Let him fare at least as well as the dog, and the horse, and the sheep. Better to he down with the kids and the goats, than stand naked and hungry without. As a slave, he will be beloved and protected. Whilst free, he will be hated, despised, and persecuted. Such is the will of God and order of Providence. It is idle to inquire the reasons." Mr. Fitzhugh published "Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society" (Richmond, 1854), and "Cannibals All, or Slaves Without Masters " (1856).
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