Confederate History & Heritage Month: Major Jefferson Buford’s Speech delivered before the Eufaula Southern Rights Association, January 21, 1851
An excerpt of Major Jefferson Buford’s Speech delivered before the Eufaula Southern Rights Association, January 21, 1851 as printed in the February 4, 1851 issue of the Spirit of the South:
"No two blades of grass, no two things in nature, are precisely alike, and therefore no two things in nature are precisely equal. The economy of God assigns to every thing its appropriate sphere, department and duty, and wills a division of labor - the planter to his field - the chemist to his laboratory - adaption, order, dependence and subjection, are stamped upon all things - are recognised even by brute instinct, and to some species of insect it is known, is said, the actual relation of master and slave.
There is no being or body without its head, and its several members, to which are assigned separate, appropriate functions. The father governs and protects his family, and they in turn must reverence and obey; it is because intellect must rule and guide the helm. As men are wiser than infants, so some races exceed others in intelligence, and as individuals differ in aptitudes, so do races. Should the blind turn painter? one without ear teach music? or the Ethiopian operative and the subtle theologian exchange or mingle their respective duties? A division of labor promotes the good of all, and it is equally essential to the general advancement, that inferior races be kept in the sphere to which nature has adapted them - chance individuals may excel their race, so all general rules have their exceptions, but expedience - the greatest good to the greatest number - demands that the general rule be maintained. No two races of men are equal, for no two races are alike; the question of the unity of the human race is immaterial - the fact of difference exists; in the vegetable world the crab and pippin claim unity of race, and yet who for that prefers the crab? both are not adapted to like uses. Whether claiming a common origin or not, it is settled that there are essential and well defined physical and intellectual differences, between the Cauccasian and Ethiopian races; no good anatomist would mistake a skeleton of an individual of one race for that of the other, and in life they differ, more or less obviously, in every organ, secretion and member; no practical mind, acquainted with the two, supposes them capable of equal intellectual results; the difference is palpable and marked as that between the courser and the draft horse. Thus differing, we find the two races associated among us of the South, in one body politic; that association cannot be accidental, nor contrary to the general purpose of Providence for human advancement. The association of different aptitudes, accords with the necessity of a division of labor and provides both the individual and general good. The inferior race, like the child, needs to be educated, and therefore needs to be associated with the teacher. But the white instinctively shuns a connection of equality, and hence the relation of master and slave becomes a necessity, designed, doubtless, in its ultimate ends, for the benefit of both races, and its management is therefore a trust, we are as much bound to forbid others intermeddling with, as individuals are bound to prevent impertinent interference between husband and wife or parent and child. With God a thousand years are as but one day, and nature is patient in her work of progress; the long cycle of years may bring mighty changes, but in the interim, the accretions were slow and imperceptible. The African has much to imbibe by contact; much to modify and wear off by attrition; much to learn through his faculty of imitation - the only media, perhaps, through which he is capable of improvement. Shall man, from his impatience to jump at conclusions, complain that God’s means are impotent, and the progress he has ordained is slow? But little good will man’s intermeddling do. The results of emancipation in the West Indies are memorable proofs that it retards rather than advances the end it aims at. Abolition found these islands with a well conditioned, industrious, temperate and increasing — progressing population; it did its work, and has brought idleness, dissipation, ignorance, and disorder, to thin out, and to degrade and brutalise their inhabitants."
"Slavery has existed in every age of the world, and been recognised by every form of government, and every religion known among men.
The question of the continued political and social ascendancy of the white over the black race among us, lies at the bottom of the controversy now agitating the country; and is, in fact, the real question at issue. If emancipation is effected through fanaticism and foreign interference, the social and political equality of the two races will be the natural consequence. Fanaticism never does its work by halves, and if northern abolitionists emancipate the slaves against our consent, they will give them political equality to make them available as political allies, and to protest against the whites; they must give them the right to bear arms, to vote and hold office. In this aspect the question appeals equally to every one of white blood in the South. And those inhabiting the poorer and sparser sections are perhaps most immediately interested. The blacks once emancipated, desert the richer sections, where the lands are taken and seek the public lands and sparse settlements, where they may fish, and hunt game, and cattle, and find little fields for their precarious crops of peas and potatoes. Soon they overrun such counties, crowd the whites from their polls, fill all the offices, and as they grow insolent and conscious of their strength, through the machinery of black officers, and pretended claims and prosecutions they monopolise every horse and hog and homestead in the country. And in place of being, as now, a quiet, orderly, tax-paying and road-making part of the body politic - instead of industriously producing, for exportation, those Southern staples which have seat our commerce through every clime, brought returns of untold wealth to flow and abound in the land, covered every sea with our navies, and filled every nation and people with fear and admiration of our power and glory - instead of all this, they would become idle and vicious drones upon society, to degrade its tone and eat up its substance.
Is this supremacy of the white race among us endangered? By What? And how? Abolition agitation in the Northern States is that which endangers it; that is the root of the disease affecting the body politic, and threatening the South - a foreign intermeddling - one people’s inflaming their minds about another’s affairs, of which they know nothing, and with which they have no business. Such agitation is the disease, and remedies must be directed to the cure of that agitation. Those who have not considered the nature, progress, and strength of this fanaticism, have but little idea of the imminence and magnitude of peril which surrounds us. It is based upon no light or evanescent feeling, but upon one of the strongest and most abiding instincts of the human heart, the idea of religious accountability, and unless stayed by counter-action, equally extraordinary and powerful, it cannot die out, but must progress to consummation."
Read more of Major Buford's speech here. The same white supremacy that Major Buford was advocating in January of 1851, is alive and well today across the South, but also most of our country. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the League of the South, and even the Virginia Flaggers are today, fighting hard to maintain the supremacy of the white race over the "inferior negro", whether explicitly, or implied.
Restoring the honor!