Hinton Helper was one of the major critics of slavery. He mainly argued on an economic rather than moral perspective. Born of a slave-owning but small scale farmer, Hinton grew to be an ardent critic of slavery. He even wrote “the impending crisis of the south” one of the major criticism of the practice of slavery in the south. Hinton argued that slavery in the south was not economically viable as the slaves depleted the natural resources and caused deforestation and was also a threat to the poor white farmers who could not afford slaves (Elliot, Roberts and Bilhartz 247). Helper claimed that the southern economy had been lagged behind by slavery. He advocated for the massive expulsion of slaves from America.
Helper though against slavery, hated the black people and could not even dine in a restaurant where black people or Negroes were employed (Elliot, Roberts and Bilhartz 250). He therefore was a racist and believed in white supremacy. By claiming that the non-slave poor white farmers were at threat, he created divisions among the southerners causing more of them to adopt secession.
George Fitzhugh was also a racist but argued on different grounds. According to him all blacks were but grown up children. He believed that whites were superior to their black counterparts (Elliot, Roberts and Bilhartz 239). Fitzhugh was in support of slavery arguing that slavery ensured the economic and moral freedom of both the slaves and the slave owners. He claimed that through slavery, blacks acquire moral civilization as well as economic security. His advocacy for slavery was guided by the works of Thomas Carlyle who was a major advocate of slavery (Elliot, Roberts and Bilhartz 241). According to him, free labor and free markets made the rich richer and the poor poorer claiming that this form of capitalism was dangerous. Slavery according to him was the best form of socialism.
Key to note here is that both figures were racist only that they perceptions were different. While Helper looked down upon the blacks on the basis that they contributed to the meltdown of the southern economy, Fitzhugh also despised the blacks but saw slavery amongst all races as necessary for economic development.
Elliot J. Gorn, Randy Roberts and Terry D. Bilhartz. Constructing the American Past: A source
Book of a People’s History. 7th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2010.