There Is A Conflict Of Races
Charles Hathaway Larrabee of Wisconsin
United States House of Representatives, December 17 1859

Now, Mr. Clerk, on this question of slavery I probably differ from most gentlemen on this floor. I do not think that there is any irrepressible conflict between free labor and slave labor. I do not think it is there the conflict is; I think the conflict is the world-recognized one between the races of men. I have never subscribed to the doctrine of the unity of the human race. I do not believe that it is a single race of men. I believe in the plurality of races. The trouble with us here in this country is simply that there is a conflict of races. That conflict commenced when we first peopled or attempted to people this continent. We found here a race of men with distinguishing and marked characteristics, differing from ourselves.

The trouble with the African is, that with us he is out of his place and position on the earth. Does he not possess marked characteristics distinguishing him, not only in color and in form, but in mental and moral organization? Does he not differ from the white man, the red man, the yellow man? Has not every race its peculiarities differing from the others? Now what is the marked characteristic of the black man - the African? It is that he possesses the principle of affection, controlling him at all times and predominating in him, to a much greater degree than it is possessed by any other race. It is that principle which subjugates his other passions and controls them. Now, what is the distinguishing charateristic of the white man? It is his intellect, with which he controls his affections and will, at all times. Hence, the white race is the race to form governments, to establish seminaries of learning, to invent the press, the telegraph, the steam engine, to spread Christianity, to go on conquering, and to conquer all races with which it comes in contact. That has been its history. That will be its history.

Now, what is the distinguishing characteristic of the red man - of the North American Indian? It is his will, resulting in carrying out the principle of revenge. That principle in the North American Indian absolutely controls his affections and his intellect.

Thus you have the race of intellect and the race of will in contact. What is the natural result? Either one or the other must be exterminated. Is not that going on now? Where is the red man? Fading away before the progress of the white man. You have not enslaved the red man, although Massachusetts attempted to do it at an early day in the history of that colony. But with the black man, the race of affection, when he is in contact with the race of intellect, that race compels him and coerces him to some form or other of servitude; and, from the fact that he does possess this qualification he becomes a servant. If he did not possess it, you could not make him a slave. Without intellect, without invention, without the marked characteristics which distinguish the other two races - either intellect or will - when you place him in contact with the white race, he must be subjugated into servitude.

And after all - recognizing the fact that the black man is out of his place on the earth when in contact with the white race, that he was here, is here, will be here - the only question is, what particular form of servitude he will be in. It is not a question of slavery or freedom. It is not a question of citizenship, or of servitude and inferiority. It is a question of the form of servitude -nothing else. What would we do with these men, if free? What could the North do with these millions, if they were there free? You know we do not want them with us. You know that the action of every northern State, with the exception of one or two, is directed persistently to driving out these black men. You know that when you fought your battles in Kansas, where was carried out practically the doctrine of popular sovereignty, and when you formed a constitution there - you not only did not make citizens of negroes, but you absolutely prohibited negroes from coming within the borders of the State.

Now, what would you do with them? You do not want them at the North. You could not take care of them as well as their masters can, who have lived with them from their youth up. You cannot break apart this organization and this system that has entwined itself into every social and political fiber of that great people who inhabit one half of the Union. No radical or sudden change can take place. Do you mean to accomplish it by slow means? Do you mean to do what your press, your stump speeches, your sermons in church every Sabbath, recommend? Do you mean to do it by the adoption of your platforms which are antagonistic to the principles of the Constitution? Do you mean to do it by holding one position before the people, and coming here and holding a different one? You cannot do it inside the American Union. If you do it at all, you must do it outside of the Union. The idea of a peaceable solution of such a question never has addressed itself to my judgement. It cannot be done peacefully by any party organization whatsoever. It is a problem which is in the hands of God, and which can only be solved by the slow progress of time.

Gentlemen of the other side, and Republican orators at the North, always appeal to the Declaration of Independence - that all men are created equal; and they go on to argue from that, directly and positively, that these black men were intended to be included in that Declaration and to be incorporated as citizens under this system of Government of ours. Now, sir, this is a mere abstract statement. It could not have been that Jefferson meant that all men were created with equal rights under any particular form of government; for we know that government does not proceed directly from God, but is the result of human thought, human intellect, and human will. What did he mean? It is true that they are equal in the sight of God; they bear the same relation to time and eternity that we all do; but they are not created with equal political rights, nor was it ever so intended. We know precisely the contrary, because slavery existed at the time the Constitution was formed, and if it had been intended to incorporate these men in this political community it would have been so said in the Constitution itself.


The Congressional Globe, The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session, New Series...No. 11, Tuesday, December 20, 1859, page 173