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Albion Tourgée on slavery, not race, being the point of attack for northern sympathizers in An Appeal to Caesar, 1884


Albion Tourgée on slavery, not race, being the point of attack for northern sympathizers in An Appeal to Caesar, 1884


In this excerpt from Tourgee's An Appeal to Caesar he shows his perspective, which started at a young age when he was a boy living in the North of opposition to slavery and degradation of the African American race. Tourgee explains that the slave was held as such not because of any of his own wrongdoing but because the white man felt they should stake claim on another human being. He also explains that the white man was obviously interested in reaping the benefits of another man's labor. Tourgee also describes how in being enslaved African Americans were not allowed their "natural and inherent rights" which Caucasians held freely. Through this Tourgee disputes the belief that African Americans were a lower race and instead places blame of their position upon the slaveholders who he argued were interested in reaping the benefits of another individual’s labor. By doing so he shifts the way in which the slave came to their position off the slave and on to the slave master. It is interesting that he makes this distinction especially clarifying that the rights they weren’t granted were “inherent” because he uses the same word that many white southerners utilized in order to declare them intrinsically a subordinate race from Caucasians. In this the reader can tell it is a direct reply to the preconceived notions of many individuals at the time.


Albion Tourgée


Tourgée, Albion. An Appeal to Caesar. New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1884.



Original Format



“The slave was a man forcibly deprived of a natural and inherent right, the right of self-control, of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Not from any desert on his part, not because of any infraction of the laws of society, but simply because another man desired to hold and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Because of this theoretical interest in the condition of the slave, the people of the North grew, year by year, more and more opposed to the institution of slavery, and more and more bitterly averse to its extension and perpetuation. Then began that irrepressible conflict which is not yet ended, and which cannot end until its causes have been eradicated. This sympathy with the colored man, however, was based apparently and solely upon the condition of servitude in which he was placed. Because he was a slave the heart of the North went out toward him, extended its hand in helpfulness, and made the earth vocal with objurgations of the system which deprived him of his rights. Slavery was the point of attack ; the slave the focus of sympathy. The fact that he was of another race was a mere incident. It was thought to be insignificant. The North had proved by its own experience that ten thousand white men and one negro could live peaceably together. That there should be any question about a million white men and a million negroes living side by side in peace never once entered their consideration. They saw only the fact of slavery. All of its concomitants were ignored. Ignorance, poverty, race, color, and even the effects of the previous condition of servitude — all these were thrown to the winds. By a stroke of the pen the attempt was made to eradicate all differences, to put the old slave and the former master upon the same level of right and power, blot out the line between the races, and secure at once in the South the peace and prosperity which characterized the Northern communities.”


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Albion Tourgée, Albion Tourgée on slavery, not race, being the point of attack for northern sympathizers in An Appeal to Caesar, 1884, Civil War Era NC, accessed June 20, 2024,