Dr. Samuel Cartwright’s work on the support of slave trade and commerce as a consequence of what we today refer to as a combined genetic and natural selection process filled the professional medical and business journals in the mid-1800s.  This revival of such thinking was preceded only by the famous work done around 1798 and 1802 by Malthus on population size, poverty and the reducing amount of food supply that seemed inevitable for the human race.

According to Cartwright, slavery was an inevitable evolutionary fate of the African race.  This inevitability existed due to their place of origination on the planet, combined with their removal to other latitudes and longitudes, in combination with those parts of the world they were best adapted to–hot and warm climate settings.  These physiographic requirements of being a productive being made Africans very productive physiologically, but at times limited as well by the tempering of their bodies and physique that often happened due to these natural elements.  In particular, it was the brain, or mind, of the average African that made him/her predisposed to this fate of life.  Cartwright provides proof for this claim of his by citing a number of past physiologist-anatomists from medicine, and a number of more recent physiognomists who made their viewpoints about this biological trait of looks well known to the general public.  It is interesting to note that Cartwright’s profession was dentistry, not medicine, giving him plenty of opportunities to view the features of the African or Negro head and skull from an extremely proximal point of view.

The Diseases Cartwright defines that are specific to the Negro Race are: Pian or Yaws, Scrofula (related to tuberculosis), “Negro Consumption”, Drapetomania and “Dysaesthesia” (the old spelling)y.  Yaws is covered elsewhere on this blog as well.  His attempt to define a distinct form of consumption suffered by negroes is too imprecise in places to allow for a certain diagnosis: it may in part be partially or totally fabricated, a product of his high degree of subjectivity.




Cartwright defines these diseases as specific to the negro race.  Two in particular had everything to do with slavery–Drapetomania, of the “madness of being a slave” and Dysesthesia, which as Cartwright states is a blending of “hebetudity” and “rascality”.   Both would today be classified as behavioral psychological conditions or behaviors, if they were worth such a characterization.  Back in the 1850s, Cartwright defined them as features specific to negro slaves, due to their upbringing and heritage as Africans residing within the American setting, trying to adapt to a new lifestyle in a place where climate and topography serve as instigators of their disease patterns, threats to their survival and health if we don’t intervene.

This two-sided cultural interpretation and state of mind makes these “diseases” culturally-bound syndromes.  For a diagnosis to be culturally-bound, three requirements must be met.   First, it has to be based mostly on a popular point of view for the time, making it very much subjective in its nature.  Second, it has to be defined as an abnormal behavior and understood as such by the diagnostician as well as the individual diagnoses and/or his/her cultural setting.  This implies that there are few if any underlying physical causes for this condition, and that the biopsychological predecessors needed for it to develop exist.  This in turns sets the stage for the required psychosomatic beliefs and activities to take place.  Third, the culture of the individual suffering from this disease must also have some knowledge and/or belief in the authenticity of the disease or its diagnosis, even though some may may disagree with the diagnosis, such as the individual afflicted by it.  The allows for both the physician or care giver and the patient and/or his/her people to engage in the appropriate behaviors and practices needed for this diagnosis to be credible, leading to promotion of this belief in the syndrome.

These articles are a view of the disease of slavery according to Samuel Cartwright.  They represent a businessman’s and/or Slavemaster’s viewpoint of African illness from mostly a Southern pro-slavery perspective.  For more on this topic, see items written or presented by John Belton O’Neall (The Negro Law of South Carolina, 1848) and Dr. James Hunt of England (The Negro’s Place in Nature, 1864), or my page with links to several hundred full read items, as well as numerous other Google Books articles.

Abolitionism did little to tame this very southern pro-slavery human behavior and the early stage of pro-Aryan movement that then existed.  These events led specifically to the “White Supremacy movement”, a term coined during this time as the human race came to be interpreted as two different types of people.  It was also about this time that another version of the evolution theory developed.  This theory was promoted by Charles Darwinianism, as a replacement for his grandfather’s Erasmus Darwinian theory combined with a Lamarckian Adaptation theory.  Charles Darwin’s Darwinianism would feed into much of the logic promoted by the writers of White Supremacy for decades to come.  To this day, we find similar thoughts and opinions being expressed, promoted, discussed and even published in both the esoteric alternative pop-cultural writings as well as some of the status quo journals out there which discussing the relationships between Social Darwinianism, the natural selection process, and Race. (For starters, see Mankind Quarterly).


DeBow’s Review …: Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial Progress …, Volume 11

By William MacCreary Burwell


. .

pages 184-197





[Samuel A. Cartwright, M. D., of New-Orleans, long known and distinguished for his profound investigations upon the subject of Southern Slavery and the physiological character of the negro, has prepared for our pages the following most able paper, which we hasten to present to our readers, though necessarily attended with an enlargement of the number. It is too valuable to be postponed a single day.

The paper referred to by Dr. Cartwright as having been prepared by him for the Medical Convention, will be found in our July, August, and perhaps subsequent numbers of this year.]—Editor.


New-Orleans, July, 1851.


Dear Sir,—There is shut up in the archives of the science of medicine enough of hidden knowledge to save the Union now and forever, if it were brought to light.

Knowledge is not power, unless it is made active by being set free. Imprisoned in the dissecting room, or in the student’s closet, it is like light under a bushel. To be made an element of political power, the aid of the politician, the greater the better, is needed to give it an impulse that will send it to the cottage of every voter. The object of this communication, and of the first article in the Medical Journal, I herewith send you, is respectfully to call your attention to the result of some scientific investigations that 1 faintly hope may be converted into an instrument of good to assist in saving the Union, if brought upon the political arena at this important crisis.

Some time ago I was appointed by the Medical Association of Louisiana to make a report on the diseases and peculiarities of the negro race. In performing that duty, the third of a century’s experience in treating diseases in a section of country where the white and black population are nearly equal, lent me its aid. A vast number of facts, standing thickly and closely along the obscure by-paths, that none but Southern physicians travel, have been interrogated, and the important truth demonstrated, “that the same medical treatment, under the same external circumstances, which benefits or cures a white man, often injures or kills a negro, and vice versa.” It may not be unworthy a great statesman to inquire, if what is true in Medicine may not be true in Government, and to investigate the question, whether the laws and free institutions, so beneficial to the white man, may not be detrimental and deteriorating to the negro? That a great difference exists between the organization of the white and black man, has long ago been proved by anatomists.

Soemmerring, for instance, a learned author of the last century.—Difference in physiology also implies difference in structure. The practice of negroes in exposing their bare heads and backs, through choice, to the rays of a sun hot enough to blister the skin of a white man, proves that they are under different physiological laws from him—not from habit—(as such habits cannot be acquired,) but from difference in structure. Comparative anatomy, physiology, and the phenomena drawn from daily observation, prove the fallacy of an hypothesis, that foreign writers, chiefly English, have been very industrious in propagating in this country, for the last twenty years: “That there are no internal or physical differences in mankind, whether white or black.” The reception of this hypothesis, as if it wore an established truth, by a considerable number of our people, lies at the bottom of all those political troubles that endanger the Union; as it takes for granted that the personal freedom, so ennobling and beneficial to the white man, would be equally so for the negro. When this hypothesis was first announced by Gregoire, in the National Assembly of France, Robespierre, to stifle all objections, cried out, “Perish the colonies, but save that principle.” The prosperous colony of Haiti, with a population equaling a third of the United States of that day, was torn from France, not so much by the negroes in rebellion, as by the French army, under Southonax, having been instructed by the Home Government to carry out Robespierre’s principles. Under that abolition principle. Haiti became a free negro republic, and instead of going up, pari passu, with us, immediately began to perish, and continued to perish, until it voluntarily threw itself into the arms of despotism. The British East India Company got the indigo culture transferred from Haiti, then making three-fourths of all the indigo in the world, to the E ist Indies, and have ever since monopolized it. The negroes got liberty, and after shamefully abusing it for more than half a century, voluntarily gave it up as a thing of no value to them.

Nowhere were the doctrines of the French Revolution more strongly denounced than in Great Britain ; yet, after the practical workings of those doctrines were found to enrich the British East India possessions with a monopoly of the Indigo culture, the same doctrines were sent across the Atlantic in almost every English book, newspaper and periodical, urging us to give the negro liberty: the same thing as to urge us to give up our cotton and sugar culture, and let British Asia monopolize it as well as that of indigo.

None know better than our friends, the British, that free negroes will not work, (having tried the experiment.) and that white people cannot endure the hot sun of a cane or cotton field. To give an hundred millions per annum for a second-hand abstraction of Jacobin coinage, would be paying too dearly for a whistle to amuse the North, and a sword to pierce the South. The hypothesis that would place the negro on a political and social equality with our free white citizens, is urged upon ns by a foreign people, who have neither social nor political equality among themselves, and whose laws and usages make distinctions where Nature makes none. Yet without annulling the artificial distinctions, dividing her own subjects into classes, Great Britain has permitted her pulpit to be desecrated, and her literature corrupted, to break down the distinctions that Nature has made between the white and the black races inhabiting the United States; her subjects preaching a false French hypothesis to us, as a sound Christian and republican doctrine, and taunting us daily as being only half way Christians and republicans, because we do not receive it. Having profited by the dissensions springing from the seed of their own sowing in the East Indies and elsewhere, the East India Company, the lords of the loom and those in their interest, have almost out-Yankeyed the Yankees, (as they call all Americans,) being in a fair way to carry back American manufactures to England, and the cotton and sugar culture to its old home in India, by humbugging us with abolition literature, abolition divines and agents, like George Thompson, to give up our glorious Union for a vain abstraction of Jacobin origin. Great Britain would, no doubt, form most favorable and

13 Vol. I.

highly friendly commercial alliances with any seceding state or states, just as long and no longer than it would take a bitter and bloody civil war between the North and the South to break up American manufactures, and to transfer the agricultural wealth of the South to British Asia, where she has already hundreds of thousands of Chinese (according to Leonard Wray, Esq., the author of the “East India Sugar Planter,” a late work published in London) engaged in the cultivation of sugar and cotton, the experiments with Hindoo laborers not having been satisfactory. But the hypothesis which is undermining our Union, “that the negro is a white man only painted black” has no foundation in Truth or Nature. All history disproves it. The science of comparative anatomy bears positive testimony against it; the dark color not being confined to the skin, but pervading, to a certain extent, every membrane and muscle, tinging all the humors, and even the brain itself, with a shade of darkness.

The statue of the negro in Westminster Abbey, kneeling before that of Mr. Fox, is at once recognized as a veritable son of Africa, although made of the same white marble—thus disproving, by the artist’s chisel, the mischievous sophism, which makes color the only difference.

Observation also proves that the negro is under different physiological laws from the white man. The Bible declares the same thing, as it gave him the significant name Canaan or (” Submissive knee bender,”) to express his nature, and doomed him to slavery, as a condition the most consonant to that nature. That book gave him but one commandment, to serve his brethren, to be their servant of servants—clearly implying that they are responsible for his observance of the other ten. Domestic slavery is made a blessing instead of a curse to the Ethiopian or Canaanite race by a different conformation of body, cast of mind, and turn of thought, imparting to that race a fitness for that institution, and an unfitness for any other. Hence justice, mercy, and the best interests of the slave race suffered no violation, (as Voltaire vainly thought and rejected the Bible as a fable on that ground,) but was promoted by Joshua taking their country from them, and reducing them to bondage; inasmuch as their organization, not less than that of children, rendered them unfit for independence. If both the North and the South were to study the African character more closely—the natural history of the Ethiopian or Canaanite, and what the Bible reveals concerning him—our happy and prosperous confederacy would be in no danger of dissolution. The former would see that personal freedom is in opposition to the negro’s nature—and the latter would perceive, that, by the action of a higher law than the Constitution, or anything that fanaticism can do in the Union, or out, there is no more danger of his leaving servitude, provided it be the proper kind of servitude, to go in quest of liberty, than the ox his straw in search of animal food.

The consciences of many of our Northern people are very tender, because American liberty, equality, and republicanism do not come up to the abstract notions of British and some other writers of what such things ought to be. Our admirable system of government is founded on the Baconian philosophy carried into politics, and not on impracticable abstractions. It would not reach the ideal, impracticable standard of liberty, equality, and republicanism, if the negroes were turned loose, until the women and children were allowed to vote, and all political and domestic restrictions removed from them. Natural distinctions in society is the rock on which American Republicanism is built—built on any other foundation, it never has stood, and never can stand. By virtue of those distinctions, that Nature alone has made, women, children, and negroes are assigned to such places only as best suit their physical peculiarities and natural capacities; nor could a female or a baby become the head of our government, as females and babies sometimes do in those tottering governments founded on artificial, instead of natural distinctions in society. Nor is our slavery, slavery in the European sense of the term. It is not like bondage in Algiers, nor like want created to diminish wages, stalking about in Great Britain and Ireland, begging service from door to door, without food or shelter; but it is only a relation in conformity to the natural adaptations of the persons consigned to that condition. Nor are women and children in slavery among us, as crazy theorists have asserted, but only in a relation or state, in conformity to their nature, as the negroes are. To break up this fitness of things would be to break up the government. The restraints of the domestic or fireside government having been removed by the predominance of impracticable notions of liberty in France, mobs of women and boys overawed the National Assembly at Versailles, in the days of the French Revolution. At a later period, Bolivar, foolishly trying to improve on the model government left by Washington, turned loose the negroes of the republic of Colombia. Where is the republic of Colombia? It is not on the map of the world. It was there, and you remember when. It has gone. To know how and why, let Nature be called on to answer. She will say, that it was when political fanaticism violated her by disregarding the distinctions which she had made, that the French Republic fell, and Colombia was blotted out from her place among the nations.

It would be bad enough to break up our confederacy for the benefit of a few negroes, or even of all Africa, at the expense of the white race ; but it would be madness to do so to impose on them a thing that has always been ratsbane to their minds and morals.

It is unnecessary for me to apprise you, that the great mass of the people North and South, of both political parties, view with pride and admiration your patriotic efforts in the cause of Union, and that you are acknowledged here and elsewhere, as everywhere within its boundaries, as the chief defender of the Union, the laws, and the Constitution. Your arguments are amply sufficient to preserve the Union against the action of those who are satisfied with it as it is, and are only anxious that the obligations imposed by it be respected by the people of all the states. But they have no tendency to restrain that portion of the people at the North, who believe the Union does too much for the slaveholding interest in remanding fugitives from service back into bondage; nor those of the South, who believe it does too little, or worse than nothing, and is about to be perverted into an engine to crush them.

Both these parties are growing parties, and will, if not checked, soon out-number the constitutional or Union party. The belief is industriously propagated at the North, by George Thompson & Co., that the Constitution tolerates injustice in authorizing the enactment of laws to restore fugitives to the bondage from which they fled—and that all such enactments are violences offered to the conscience of a moral and religious people, being contrary to the higher law of God. Great numbers nre inclined to favor such opinions, who are not with Thompson and his abolitionists, but are willing to carry out the laws in good faith, until they have an opportunity to alter or change them. Even your eloquence cannot long make the Northern people love an Union requiring them to do violence to their conscience in obeying the requirements of the laws done under it, if by so doing they believe they are vitiating a higher law of God. Nor could you restrain such, even among your neighbors, from agitating the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law, although you were to lift the curtain of time, and make them behold with their eyes the grass growing in the streets of Boston, their trade and manufactures destroyed, the South locked against them, their pockets drained to support a war against their former best friends and customers,

and their best blood flowing in the unnatural strife. You know that the sons of the Pilgrims are made of that stuff to lose all these to save their conscience—conscience is the same whether pinned to a false Jacobinical French hypothesis, asserting the negro’s right to liberty and equality, or to the eternal word of truth, derived from Nature, and revealed in the Bible, denying that right. Fanaticism, true religion and patriotism are alike in some respects, being insensible to the dollar argument, and alike unappalled by the fire or the sword obstructing the cause that either has espoused. Although your eloquence has as much power in the South, yea more than any other man. it cannot long keep up the love of union among our people, if that political compact be perverted from its original intention of securing peace and equality into an instrument of aggression, in the hands of an unbridled majority, to rob us of our equality, and to kick us into a corner to dwell as submissionists, until the iron heel of power treads us into the dust. Here, if not five, as Mr. Clay would say, are two bleeding wounds requiring to be stanched to save the Union, if not from immediate, from ultimate dissolution, and who are to stanch them,  ‘The sovereign people’. They have long been trying, but they work awkwardly, not having the requisite knowledge of the anatomy of the body politic, and not understanding its internal organization sufficiently to know, that, from the laws of necessity, some parts of the complex machinery must be made to honor and others to dishonor; some to gather, and others to consume the products gathered—that, like the human system, it is composed of elementary organs, as different in their nature and structure, as the brain from the stomach, or the muscles from the bones, and that the stimulus that moves one will not another—being endowed with different kinds of sensibility. By going deeply into the organization of our political institutions, it will be found that domestic slavery is not a blot or excrescence upon them, but a component part of their structure, and cannot be excised or cast off without destroying the organism uniting all the parts of this confederacy into a grand, wonderful, and progressive whole, such as the world never saw before. The reason is, that the African is not constituted in mind or body, in the skin or under the skin, like the white man, but is a being peculiar to himself, and unlike any other kind of man. So different was he from the rest of the population, that when our fathers brought him into the Union, they retained him in the same position he occupied anterior to his admission into it. Nor did the Revolution, the Slate Constitutions, or that of the Federal Union, make any change in the government of women and children—no political power being accorded to them—nor did they want it—nor would they have accepted of it had it been offered to them, because its exercise would have been unsuitable to the sex of the one and the tender age of the other. As they were in colonial times, so are they now, and so are the negroes—each of these parties being left to move in those paths wherein it has always found its greatest happiness.

It is erroneous to suppose that the cotton and sugar interest, grown up since the adoption of our present Constitution, has perpetuated domestic slavery in the South, which otherwise, ere this, would have been voluntarily relinquished. The extension of the cotton and sugar culture, so far from being misfortunes to the slaves, has tended, more than anything else, to ameliorate their condition ; because the product of their labor is thereby sufficiently valuable to enable their masters to supply them with all the necessary comforts of life, being prompted thereto, if not by humanity, by the motives of interest. The most efficient, and, of course, the most profitable laborers, are those who are the most active, healthy, happy and contented. To be active, healthy, happy and contented, there is a higher law, which says, their griefs shall be inquired into, their troubles removed, and they shall be well fed, lodged and clothed. Interested motives, if nothing else, would force the master, whose slaves are profitable to him, to protect them from what are called the abuses of slavery, and to bestow on them every comfort and attention that the most tender humanity would give. Everything which enhances the value of the slave improves his condition; as it brings the self-interest of the master the more strongly to bear in protecting him against abuses, and in adding to his comforts. On the other hand, everything that diminishes his value, or that of his labor, whether it be the introduction of Chinese laborers into India, or the exclusion of slave labor from any state or territory where it would be profitable, operates injuriously against the interests of the slave, who may with truth say, “Save me from my friends, and the laws of God will make it my master’s interest to take care of me.” Slavery, before and at the time of the formation of our present Union, was not as good a condition for the blacks of the South as it is now, because the profits of that kind of labor were not sufficient to afford the laborers the comforts of life they now enjoy.

Their value was also so inconsiderable that self-interest was not so watchful as now, to protect them against gross personal abuses. But if their labor were ever so unprofitable, they would not be emancipated in the South, as they have been in the North, for the plain reason, that, if turned loose, they would be a tax and a nuisance too heavy for the white population to bear, and a war of extermination would be the consequence.

The few that were emancipated in the northern states have been a nuisance, a tax, and a burden to the white inhabitants, half filling the northern prisons, penitentiaries, and alms-houses. The white population of the southern states have no other alternative but to keep them in slavery, or to drive them out, wage a war of extermination against them, or go out themselves, and leave their fair land to be converted into a free negro pandemonium. But why not keep them in slavery?

The white and the red ants make slaves of the black ants, yet they are the very insects to which the Holy Scriptures refer us to learn wisdom. For every negro in slavery in the South, there are more than an hundred thousand negro ants in slavery in the same region.

Slavery, therefore, of the black to the white man is not incompatible with the economy of Nature. The institution cannot be founded in sin, or we would not have been referred to the insect slaveholding sinners to learn wisdom. The products of slave-labor form a very essential part of the wealth and prosperity, not only of our entire republican confederacy, but of the world at large ; a single product of that labor furnishes a cheap clothing for the inhabitants of the globe, who, having less to pay for clothing, have more to expend in purchasing knowledge, and more time to spare in cultivating the moral virtues. If it be a sin, it is unlike any other sin, in doing good to the whole world instead of evil. *   To dispense with the products of slave-labor would not bo much unlike dispensing with the offices of the liver in the human system, because it is a dark, ugly organ, gathering and distributing black, sluggish blood, without a drop in the portal circulation, (as it is technically called,) reaching the free vital air, as every drop of blood in every other part of the system is continually doing in the lungs. Yet unlike every other organ in the human body, the liver thrives by digesting that which every other part rejects, and sends from it to be vivified by the free air in the lungs before it will drink it in. It is worthy to be remembered that our fathers were practical men, and founded

* See Family Library for Natural History of the Ants and their slavery institutions.

our government on the truths taught by experience, and rejected the sophisms of the a priori logic of the llluminati. Unfortunately those sophisms have outlived the many republics they have killed.

One of those sophisms which teaches, that “the negro is only a lampblacked white man debased by slavery,” has led many of our northern people to believe that slavery is sin, and has made some of them but too willing to kill the world’s last hope of republican institutions, to get rid of a sin that has no existence as a sin, from anything said against it in the Old or New Testament; but is only inferred to be a sin by a Jacobinical sophism picked up amongst the ruins it so largely helped to males of republican institutions in France, and from thence exported to America by British agency—particularly that of the East India Company, whose charity towards us, in making us sensible of a new and unpardonable sin of the deepest dye, which the Bible winked at and tolerated, would be rewarded by a monopoly of the cotton and sugar culture in their vast conquests in Asia. Are not the very parties who are now urging our northern people to set at defiance the Fugitive Slave Law, and to agitate its repeal, the very parties in the interest of the East India Company, who first stimulated our northern people to commence a system of aggression against the southern states some fifteen years ago, by establishing anti-slavery societies in this country, similar to those in Great Britain, which played such a conspicuous part in sacrificing the West India planters to promote the aggrandizement of British Asia?

The slave-labor sugar of the West Indies coming in competition with East India sugar, it was policy to give it up to encourage the larger interest. Hence slavery was abolished over a territory about half as large as South Carolina, (the whole of the British West India Islands only having seventeen thousand square miles, that of South Carolina, thirty three thousand,) and containing a population not exceeding a sixth or seventh rate state in our Union, in order to open a way for the establishment of the sugar culture on a grand scale in a vast sugar region in Asia, having a territory of upwards of one million of square miles, and one hundred and fifty millions of inhabitants.

The experiment is succeeding. To succeed with cotton, and every other southern product in-British Asia and New Holland, it is foreseen that nothing stands in the way but the associated or slave-labor of the United States, Brazil and Cuba. Already do the East Indies, according to Leonard Wray, Esq., produce more sugar than the United States and the British West India Islands together. The same parties, who moved the British Parliament to sacrifice West India interests, have been for more than fifteen years sowing the seeds of discord between the North and the South on the subject of slavery. No sooner was the policy of abolishing that institution in the British West India Islands, to extend the culture of sugar, (throughout a country that a line from Boston to New Orleans would not reach across,) carried into effect, than forthwith George Thompson, member of Parliament, the British Anti-Slavery Societies, and all the writers, lecturers and agents in the interest of the East India proprietors, with one accord, made a simultaneous movement on the United States, proclaiming war against slavery. They boldly planted the anti-slavery banner in our northern states, and instigated the formation of abolition societies in our country, bound by their organization to wage an uncompromising warfare against the institutions of the South.

Has the foreign influence, that presumed to meddle with American institutions, been moved thereto by motives of humanity? Malcom, the celebrated Baptist preacher of our own country, who traveled all over the East Indies, found there ten millions of people in the most odious personal bondage, whom the West India emancipation act expressly reserved in slavery at the very time that the above mentioned parties were prosecuting the most violent hostilities against negro slavery in the United States. The greater part of those persons in our country, who would, if permitted, interfere in the affairs of Cuba, have the political aggrandizement of that island, the happiness and best interests of its inhabitants, at heart. Can the same be said of George Thompson, member of Parliament, and the vast multitudes whom Great Britain has so long permitted, if not incited, to interfere with American affairs, in trying by every means to break down a political institution in the United States, which, if they could succeed in, that great foreign power, at peace with us, can hardly help knowing, will rend our Union into fragments, destroy our political strength as a nation, break up our commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, and convert our happy land into a field of desolation?

The foreign enemies of American republicanism and the interested East India proprietors, long ago found out that the conscience of the Puritans is particularly tender on the subject of Southern slavery; hence they have been, and still are, continually stinging it by upbraiding them as guilty of sin for being in the Union with slaveholders, and for not resisting, by violence and blood, the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law. The northern people do not want the fugitives as constituent parts of their own society; they had rather not have them, if their conscience was not continually stung and gored by such John Bulls, as George Thompson, the East India proprietors, and the members of the British and Canadian Anti-Slavery Societies, to keep the poor fugitives as a sign of their having washed their hands of the sin and guilt of slavery—a sign they know would be, as matters now stand, the death warrant of our Union. Aggressions on southern rights and interests, thus brought about, have awakened the South to the necessity of adopting some effectual means of repelling them. Hence have arisen all the differences between the two sections. The southern mind has adopted the a posteriori method of reasoning on the slavery question, and the northern the a priori. These two methods of considering the subject have brought the two sections to exactly opposite conclusions. An admixture of the two modes of reasoning for a long time gave the great mass of the people, North and South, mixed and indefinite notions on the merits of the question. The a priori logic leading them to look upon domestic slavery as an evil, while the facts, observations, and experience of the inductive mode of investigation clearly proved, that if it be an evil, it is one of those theoretical evils for which there is no remedy without incurring greater evils— in other words, no evil at all. Yet the admission of its being an evil, by distinguished southern men, prevented the merits of the question from being looked into by the public. Such persons contented themselves in waiting on time and circumstances for some safe and effectual method of removing the evil, like many good people are waiting for the millennium to remove the evils incident to the relation of master and apprentice, parent and child, husband and wife. While Mr. Jefferson was casting about for some remedy to remove the evil of having the country filled with a slow-motioned, inefficient, profitless black population, who, for want of brisk motion of the body and attention of mind, could not compete with the white man in the ordinary branches of industry and of the arts, and who were half naked and starved near his own door, the rich cotton, cane and rice fields were opened in the burning South, where free white labor is much farther behind slave labor in efficiency, than the latter behind the former in other branches of industry in a cold climate. The slow-motioned, sleepy headed negro population, whom Mr. Jefferson did not know what to do with, and to use a common expression, (” could not earn their salt,”) suddenly became, by the introduction of the cultivation of cotton, cane and rice, superior to the white man in efficiency—benefiting themselves, enriching their masters, the whole South, and the entire Union. The products of their labor being thrown into the markets of the world, became a new and important basis of manufacturing and commercial wealth—products which their labor alone could produce, in sufficient abundance and cheapness to supply the wants of mankind.

Neither party, North or South, has viewed the question of negro slavery in a philosophical point of view. It has been mere experience on the one side, and mere theory on the other. You and the rest of our statesmen have been so well satisfied with the working of our political system, that you and they seem to have been content to direct and guide it, without looking into comparative anatomy for the physical differences in the population that would explain the paradox of slavery in a free republic, and demonstrate the reason and justice of our political institutions, in not according to all classes the same privileges. Much of the knowledge, in regard to the physical differences between our white and black population, is confined to a few scientific men in private life, and to those persons in the South who have had opportunities of acquiring it by observation, but have not the requisite acquirements and opportunities for diffusing it.

Knowledge, to be diffused among the mass, and to be brought into practical use, must first pass through the alembic of some superior intellect to be refined and purified. I cherish the opinion, that if you were to seek for that particular kind of knowledge, (touching the true nature and character of our negro population, and on which our peculiar southern institutions rest as a basis,) that you could find it, and when found, could diffuse it. Its diffusion would be like oil on the troubled waters, quieting the conscience of the North on the subject of slavery, or at least starting a new train of thought, that would naturally lead the Northern mind, step by step, to a quiet conscience and freedom from responsibility for negro slavery in the South. Northern agitation and aggression would cease, and southern agitation and secessionism would also cease, as soon as the provocations causing them should be removed, or even a fair prospect of their removal, by a new train of thought started in the North by a northern political chieftain renouncing the prejudices of education, and coming out boldly and plainly for the truth. South Carolina would not now stand alone with secessionism on her banner, if you, a northern statesman, whose politics have heretofore been in opposition to the southern majority, had not taken the noble stand you did take on the laws and Constitution, and boldly faced northern fanaticism.

Believe me, your course in facing political death, in defying fanaticism in the North, and touching it with the spear of Ithuriel, has restrained the hands ready to unfurl the secession banner in almost every state south, and, but for you, would have been unfurled ere this. One step further, and you restrain South Carolina herself, not by drawing the sword, but by diffusing thought. By diffusing thought you defended the laws and the Constitution, by bringing northern patriots into the field to repel the aggressions of northern fanaticism.

By diffusing thought, you could bring over America to your standard, in defending the foundations on which republicanism, the laws, the Constitution, and the Union, are constructed. To go into an analysis, or to invite an analysis of the slavery material in that foundation, so as to ascertain its different composition and nature, would be to take the desired step, that would do more to strike down the secession banner in South Caro

lina, than could General Scott, at the head of the largest army that was ever mustered into the service of the United States.

If South Carolina were to see the northern people, under a northern leader, discarding Jacobinical sophisms, and examining into the question, as our fathers did, for the best political position for the black population, by the light of experience and the inductive method of arriving at truth she would pause long and deliberately before making the fearful experiment of secession, because there would be grounds of hope that that method of investigation would ultimately revolutionize northern political opinion, by demonstrating that the negro is not a white man painted black, as they have heretofore supposed, but a different being, of a different nature; and affected in directly opposite directions from the white man by the things called liberty and slavery. The public sentiment so predominant at the North, that the negro can be washed white by personal freedom, political and social equality, and that it is a sin and a shame to Christianity, republicanism and humanity, to let him remain so long unwashed, has led to a system of fanatical aggression at the North, which South Carolina believes will bring swift and sure destruction upon her, if she remains in the Union, and hence she is preparing to leap, as from a ship on fire, into the gulf of secessionism. She is deaf to the recital of the dangers she may encounter out of the Union, believing that sure destruction awaits her in it. But if public sentiment North could be directed, by the force of some strong and commanding intellect, into another channel of thought, calculated to lead to the truth she would have hope—hope would make her pause, as she only leaves the Union because she sees no hope of safety in it. The North could not object to ra consideration, of the question on the higher law basis, and to inquire into the reasons why our fathers, anterior to the Revolution, during that period and at the formation of our present Constitution, kept the negro under the same institutions he is still under in the South. These reasons will be found, not so much in this inferiority of mind, as in a marked difference iu his disposition and nature from either the white man or the Indian.

Observing, that by the operation of some higher law, that he was essentially different from any other human being, they retained him under institutions compatible to him, bat incompatible to either the white man or he Indian. Without taking sides in the controversy, either for the North or the South, but only for the truth, you might render the country a great service, by directing public attention to the only safe and sure mode of finding the truth. The truth found would, no doubt, put South Carolina and Massachusetts where they were in the days of the Revolution, shoulder to shoulder in the cause of American liberty, power, and progress. A misunderstanding between the North and the South has arisen, and those who were foremost in the Revolution for union and concert to make America strong, are now foremost in those measures of disunion and strife, that, if persevered in much longer, will make her weak and contemptible in the eyes of the world. The one party claims as rights what the other party does not regard as rights—the right of property in man— the right to hold man in bondage.

The one claims the right by virtue of Nature’s laws, the lessons of experience, and the laws of necessity. The other denies the right on the abstract principle, that presumes that all men are alike, and entitled to the same privileges and immunities.

Both parties, except that portion under anti-republican and foreign influence, desire the truth. Both want justice, and nothing more. Both are seeking the welfare of the negro, and wish to reach it without destroying their own—the one contending that his welfare lies in slavery, and the other in freedom. As the premises cannot be settled by the parties themselves, it would be better to refer them to the umpirage of comparative anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and history. Comparative anatomy, if interrogated whether the organization of the white and the black man be the same or not, could put the question beyond controversy, and leave the North, and the South nothing to dispute about. Physiology could say whether the laws governing the white and black man’s organism be the same or different. Chemistry could declare whether the composition of the bones, the blood, the flesh, skin and the secretions, be composed of the same elementary substances, in the same proportions and combinations, in the two races, or in different proportions and combinations.

History, likewise, could throw much light on the subject of what has proved best for the negro. Mr. Seward and the higher law advocates in the North could not consistently object to your recommending the higher law mode of investigation, and settling for ever this vexed question. I venture to predict that it would show him the higher law, which keeps the negro in servitude, written in his organization. The abolition divines, who preach the higher law, could discover the same thing that anatomy will reveal, written in Hebrew in the ninth chapter of Genesis, and in other places in the Bible. The common higher law abolitionists, who have not time to devote to the dissecting-room or to the Hebrew, could see the higher law any night of their lives, by looking at a negro asleep, breathing the mephitic air called carbonic acid gas, manufactured in his own lungs, being caught and confined by the covering the higher law compels him to put around his face. The effect of confining, by covering his fare, his own breath, to breathe over and over again the whole night and every night of his life, produces certain effects upon the blood and the brain requiring the chemist and physiologist to explain. But that explanation would only be repeating what comparative anatomy discloses, history tells, chemistry proves, and the Bible reveals, that by a higher law than the Union, the Constitution, or any other human enactments, the negro is a slave.

The negro being a slave by Nature, no legislation is necessary to regulate slavery, or to say where it shall exist or where it shall not exist. The institution will regulate itself under the higher law of Nature, if that law be not obstructed by unwise legislation. Under the higher law, and not by any act of the Federal Government, it was abolished in the northern states. It proved, by experience, to be an evil in those states, because, from the nature of the products and the climate, it was found to be much less expensive to purchase free white labor than to be burdened with the cost and care of supporting such inefficient, wasteful, and slow-motioned laborers, as negroes were found to be.

Hence, after the black population were somewhat diminished by being sent South, the balance, not very numerous, were emancipated. The Emancipation Acts of the northern states were supererogatory, as in most cases the northern masters were glad to let their slaves go free before the time fixed by law, finding them to be a tax and a vexation.

Delaware and Maryland are now in a transition state, preparatory to becoming free states—selling their slaves to southern planters, until their numbers be so far reduced as to make emancipation of the balance safe and practicable.

But if they had no outlet open for thinning out their negro population, they would be compelled to keep them in slavery, and encounter the evils of a somewhat more inefficient, careless and expensive class of laborers, than incur the greater evils of being overrun by a heavy population of disorderly, worthless, and unproductive free negroes.

Negro slavery, from natural laws, if not interfered with, must ultimately be confined to that region of country South, where, from heat of the climate and the nature of the cultivation, negro labor is more efficient, cheaper, and more to be relied on than white labor. Virginia is a slave state, yet natural causes have almost excluded slavery from the larger half of her territory. Why not, therefore, give the whole subject up to the higher law of Nature to regulate?

If negro slavery, from mistaken notions, be carried into a state or territory where slave labor is less efficient and profitable than white labor, natural causes will correct the mistake, as they have done in the northern states and in Alpine Virginia, by forcing it out again.

On the other hand, no good, but much evil, will result from prohibiting slavery in any state or territory, where, from heat of the climate, and the products of the country, no other kind of laborers can do the required drudgery-work in the sun and live. The labor, requiring exposure to a mid-day summer’s sun, from the laws of the white man’s nature, cannot be performed in the cotton and sugar region without exposing him to disease and death; yet the same kind of labor experience proves to be only a wholesome and beneficial exercise to the negro, awakening him from his natural torpor to a new life of pleasure and activity. In Africa, the West Indies, as well as in this country, experience proves that negroes will not labor unless compelled by the authority of a master. The question is, shall the white man bring disease and death upon himself by performing drudgery-work in the sun, or make the negroes do the work—the sun, which sickens and kills him, being a luxury to them 1 He in the shade, laboring and managing for their benefit as well as his own ; they in the sun, working for the benefit of the common household, of which they form a part constitutes the relation of master and slave, an institution designed by Nature to be beneficial to both parties and injurious to neither. Here, in New-Orleans, the larger part of the drudgery-work, requiring exposure to the sun, as rail-road making, street-paving, dray-driving, ditching, building, &c., is performed by white people. The sickness and mortality among that class of persons who make negroes of themselves in this hot climate, are frightfully great—while the mortality among all those classes enjoying the advantages of the relation of master and slave, you will be surprised to hear, is not greater—is not as great—as among an equal number in your own city of Boston. Our tables of mortality, compared with the cities of the northern states, prove that the mortality among children is not as great here as there. Thus showing that the great aggregate mortality of New-Orleans, above that of the northern cities, is not owing to the climate or locality being unfriendly to human life, but is mainly owing to a large class of persons in this city violating Nature’s laws by making negroes of themselves. Our tables also show, that, in all over fifty, the mortality is less than at the North. For the plain reason, that neither children nor old persons are much exposed to the sun. Lest it be thought, that all the advantages of the relation of master and slave might, at least, be attained for what you call the colored people, if emancipated under favorable circumstances, permit me to inform you, that emancipation in this city, many years ago, took place, from time to time, on quite a large scale. Great numbers of the colored people were not only set free, but were left handsome fortunes likewise. All of the pure blood, unlike the slaves, diminish in numbers, and those of the mixed race promise ere long to become extinct.

The excessive mortality in this city is derived from the free colored persons, who have no masters to take care of them; from the half free slaves without masters to look to them, who are permitted to wander about and hire their own time, as it is called; from the foreigners who arrive here in a sickly condition from Europe ; but mainly from the white people who make slaves of themselves by performing drudgery-work in the sun. When the mortality, occurring among these different classes of the population, is subtracted from the aggregate deaths, the result is, that there is less mortality among all that large class, both of the white and the black population, who hold the relation of master and slave, than among an equal number in the northern cities. This brings me to a very important truth I wish to communicate to you, although I know your prejudices, in common with a large number of the Northern people, are very strong and bitter against the institution of negro slavery in the South. You have no doubt been accustomed to look upon the South as very sickly and unfriendly to human life in comparison to the North, without divining the true cause for its bad reputation for unhealthiness abroad. Thirty-three years of observation and experience in the treatment of diseases in the cotton and sugar region, have enabled me to generalize facts, and to discover the important truth, not less important in a political than in a medical point of view, that among all that large portion of the Southern population holding the relation of master and slave, that the sickness and mortality are not greater than among an equal number of people at the North. In other words, negroes, who have masters to take care of them, are as healthy in the South as any people in the world ; and the white people in the South, who have negroes to work for them, enjoy generally about, as good health, caeteris paribus, as those of Pennsylvania or New-York. On the other hand, all those negroes who have no masters to take care of them, and all those white people who have no slaves to work for them, but make negroes of themselves by doing drudgery-work, exposed to the hot summer’s sun of the cotton and sugar region, are cut dawn by disease and death like grass before the scythe of the mower. Hence, it would appear, that in the cotton and sugar region, Nature has ordained that the negro shall serve the white man, and the white man shall take care of the negro.

Obedience to this law being rewarded with the health, comfort, peace and happiness of both parties—the security of the state, and its strength in war—and disobedience punished with disease, death and anarchy—I will close this long communication, too long, I fear, for your patience, but too short for the subject, by an illustration from an actual matter-of-fact occurrence. A company, in making a neighborhood rail-road, running through the battle ground below this city, had a standing order for fifty laborers to be sent every day during the hot season of the year to supply the places of the sick and the dead. Yet a much larger number of negroes in the same vicinity, at similar kind of work in the same hot sun, were as healthy as any people in your native New-Hampshire.

You are thus told everything in a word, that I have been trying to tell you, of the imperative necessity of negro slavery in the South—whether in the Union or out—law or no law, abstractly right or wrong, it is a question with the people of the South they will not debate, as it is a question of life or death. But where does this illustration of the important truth of the deadly effect of practical abolitionism, in putting the white man in place of the negro at hard drudgery-work in a hot Southern sun, come from? It comes as a still, small voice, to whisper to northern prejudices that black slavery, South, is better than white, from the field of American glory, from the very spot where the physical power of the greatest empire on earth, imposingly displayed in a well organized and vast invading army, fell shattered before the American rifle. Without taking part for or against slavery in the South, (for which you, nor no other Northern man is responsible, or have any right to meddle,) but only for the truth and the Union, the truth supports, you have only to make that voice heard and understood by your countrymen to gain a greater victory over the snaky-haired Discord, that an artful foreign diplomacy has engendered between the North and the South,—than you gained over Hulseman and the Austrians, or than did Andrew Jackson over our country’s invaders on the same holy ground that is now speaking to you.

Your obedient servant,


To Hon. Daniel Webster, Secretary of State, Washington.




Pages 209-213





No. II.*


One of the most formidable complaints among negroes, more fatal than any other, is congestion of the lungs; or, what European writers would call false pleurisy, or peri-pneumonia notha. It is often called cold plague, typhus pneumonia, bilious pleurisy, &c., according to its particular type and the circumstances attending it; sometimes the head complains more than any other part, and it then bears the misnomer, “head pleurisy.” It occurs, mostly, in winter and spring, but is met with at every season of the year, when cold nights succeed to warm days. It is more common among those who sleep in open houses, without sufficient fires to keep them warm and comfortable. It is seldom observed among negroes who inhabit log cabins, with cemented or clay floors, or warm houses made of brick, or any material to exclude the cold wind and air. The frame houses, with open weather-boarding and loose floors, admitting air both at the sides and from below, are buildings formed in ignorance of the peculiar physiological laws of the negro’s organization, and are the fruitful sources of many of his most dangerous diseases.

Want of sufficient fires and warm blankets, is also another cause of thoracic complaints. The negro’s lungs, except when the body is warmed by exercise, are very sensitive to the impressions of cold air. When not working or taking exercise, they always crowd around a fire, even in comparatively warm weather, and seem to take a positive pleasure in breathing heated air and warm smoke. In

* By Dr. Cartwright, of New-Orleans.

cold weather, instead of sleeping with their feet to the fire, as all other kinds of people do, whether civilized or savage, they turn their head to the fire—evidently for the satisfaction of inhaling warm air, as congenial to their lungs, in repose, as it is to infants. In bed, when disposing themselves for sleep, the young and old, male and female, instinctively cover their heads and faces, as if to insure the inhalation of warm, impure air, loaded with carbonic acid and aqueous vapor. The natural effect of this practice is, imperfect atmospherization of the blood— one of the heaviest chains that binds the negro to slavery. In treating, therefore, their pulmonary affections, the important fact should be taken into consideration, that cold air is inimical to the lungs of healthy negroes when the body is in repose and not heated by exercise, and consequently more prejudicial in the diseases of those organs. A small, steady fire, a close room, and plenty of thick blanket covering, aided with hot stimulating teas, are very essential means in the treatment of the pulmonary congestions to which their lungs are so prone. An accurate diagnosis, whether the complaint be a mere congestion, pleuritis or pneumonia, is not of much practical importance in the first instance, because, whether it be one or the other, warm air is equally essential, and warm stimulating teas to determine to the surface. It is proper first to warm the body by external means and stimulating drinks, after which, an emetic, followed by a purgative of a mild kind, will be beneficial. When there is pain in taking a full inspiration, a moderate blood-letting from the arm, followed by half grain or grain doses of tartar emetic, repeated at intervals of an hour or two, and combined with a little anodyne, to prevent its running off by the bowels, will be found a very effectual remedy in subduing inflammation and promoting expectoration. In the typhoid forms of pneumonia, the quinine, in efficient doses, combined with camphor, aromatics and calomel, is generally the best practice. Bleeding is not admissible in this form of pneumonia, otherwise they bear blood-letting in chest complaints much better than any others. But even in these, they will not bear repeated blood-letting, as the white race do.


The next class of complaints to which they are mostly liable, are bilious and adynamic fevers—remittents and intermittent^. Evacuating the stomach and bowels by a mild emetico-cathartic, combined with a weak anodyne carminative, to prevent its excessive action, is generally the best medicine to begin with; for, whatever be the type of the fever, as negroes are hearty eaters, it will be an advantage, in the after treatment of the case, to have the prima via cleared of their load of undigested food, and the superabundant mucosities poured out into the alimentary canal, of a people so phlegmatic, when attacked with a fever suspending digestion and interrupting absorption.

For this purpose, a combination of ipecacuanha, rhubarb and cream of tartar, each half a drachm, and a tea-spoonful of paregoric, in ginger or pepper tea, is a very safe and effectual medicine. It will vomit, if there be bile or much mucosity, and will afterwards act on the bowels, promote secretion of urine, and determine to the surface; after which, a dose or two of quinine will generally effect a cure. Calomel is used too indiscriminately in the treatment of their diseases; nevertheless, in obstinate cases, it is not to be dispensed with. Negroes are very liable to become comatose, particularly after watery operations, or in torpid states of the liver. Such cases are best treated by a combination of calomel, camphor, capsicum, quinine and laudanum, and a blister to the back of the neck. Cold water to the head is dangerous. Nearly all their complaints bear stimulating, aromatic substances much better than similar affections among white people, and will not tolerate evacuations so well. The pure anti-phlogistic treatment by evacuations, cold air, starvation and gum water, so effectual in the inflammatory complaints of the hematose white man, will soon sink them into hopeless collapse. Even under the use of anti-phlogistics in their inflammatory complaints, pepper or ginger tea, or some stimulant, is necessary to support the vital actions, which would soon fail under such insipid drinks as gum water. The reason of this is, that the fluids and all the secretions are more acrid than those of the white man. In the latter, the lungs consume more oxygen; the blood is redder and more stimulating, and all the fluids more bland and sweet; whereas, in the negro, the deficient hematosis renders the blood less stimulating, and requires acrid and piquant substances addressed to the digestive system to supply the stimulus that would otherwise be derived from the air in the lungs. Although they are Bo liable to congestive and bilious fevers—remittents and intermittents—they are not liable to the dreaded el vomito, or yellow fever. At least, they have it so lightly, that I have never seen a negro die with black vomit, although I have witnessed a number of yellow fever epidemics. This is a strong proof against the identity of yellow fever and the other fevers just named.


Like children, negroes are very liable to colics, cramps, convulsions, worms, glandular and nervous affections, sores, biles, warts, and other diseases of the skin, scrofula is very common among them. Rickets, diseases of the spine and hipjoint, and white swellings are not uncommon. They are also subject to the goitre. All very fat negroes, except women who have passed the prime of life, are unhealthy and scrofulous. The great remedy for the whole tribe of their scrofulous affections, without which all other remedies do very little good, is sunshine. The solar rays is one of the most efficient therapeutic agents in the treatment of many other affections to which they are liable. A good, wholesome, mixed diet, warm clothing, warm, dry lodgings and inunction of the skin with oleaginous substances, and occasional tepid baths of salt and water, are also very necessary remedies. The limits of this report will not permit me to go into details of familiar treatment, as the use of iodine and the usual remedies.



The Frambresia, Pian, or Yaws, is a disease thought to be peculiar to negroes. I have seen it in its worst form in the West Indies. I have occasionally met with it in its modified form in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, where it is commonly mistaken for syphilis. It is a contagious disease, communicable by contact among those who greatly neglect cleanliness. Children are liable to it as well as adults. It is supposed to be communicable, in a modified form, to the white race, among whom it resembles pseudo-syphilis or some disease of the nose, throat or larynx. Further observations are wanting in regard to it. It is said to be very prevalent in Tamaulipas in Mexico, attacking tbe nose and throat, in the first instance, very similar to secondary syphilitic affections, without ever having appeared on the genital organs at all, except in the shape of a slight herpes preputialis. According to my experience, no other remedies have been found to make the least impression upon it but the deuto-chloride of mercury, combined with guaiacum and dulcamara. Our planters do not go to the North or to Europe to learn the art of making sugar, cotton, rice, and tobacco, but they send their sons there to study medicine in the hospitals, where nearly all the diseases they see arise from causes unknown on our plantations—want of food, fire, and the common necessaries of life. Very good physicians they might be, if they staid there; but, on returning home, they have to study medicine over again in the school of experience, before they can practice with success, particularly among negroes. It would be very strange, that among the whole multitude of medical schools in the United States, there is not one that has made any special provision for instruction in regard to three millions of people in the Southern states, representing half the value of Southern property, differently organized in mind and body from any other people, and having diseases requiring peculiar treatment.—if it were not for the well-known fact of the predominance of a most erroneous hypothesis among statesmen, divines, and other classes of people nearly everywhere, ‘That there are no radical or physical differences in mankind, other than those produced by external circumstances, and that the treatment applicable to the white man would be just as good, under similar external circumstances, for the negro.’ This false hypothesis is at the root of the doctrine that the liberty and political institutions so beneficial to the white man, would be equally beneficial to the negro—that there is no internal or physical difference between the two races. The every-day experience of the Southern people, where the two races dwell together, prove this hypothesis to be unfounded; whereas its fallacy is not so apparent to the people of the North and of Europe, where only one race of mankind is found in numbers sufficient to make comparisons between the two. Hence they have not the data to arrive at the truth and nothing to correct the erroneous views that a false dogma has given them in regard to negro slavery. But it is most strange that our institutions for medical learning, South, should be doing nothing, with such ample materials around them, to overturn an hypothesis founded in gross ignorance of the anatomy and physiology of the African race—an hypothesis threatening to cause a disruption of our federal government, one that could be disproved and put down forever at the dissecting table; as it also could be by contrasting the phenomena drawn from daily observations taken among three millions of negroes in health and disease, with the phenomena already drawn from observations of the white race; and thereby proving the difference of organization in mind and body between the two races. Stranger still, that our Southern schools in Medicine should be content to linger behind those of the North, without even the hope of rivaling them in the numbers of their students, when a provision for including in their course of instruction, the three millions of people in our midst not cared for by any school, would, in time, put them far a-head by attracting the current of students South, who have heretofore been attracted to the North. Some provision in our schools especially devoted to the anatomy and physiology of our negroes,—to the treatment of their diseases,—to the best means to prevent sickness among them,—to improve their condition, and at the same time to make them more valuable to their owners, and governed with more ease and safety,—would be sending science into a new and wide field of usefulness to reap immense benefits for the millions of both races inhabiting the South.


Negro consumption is a disease almost unknown to medical men of the Northern states and Europe. A few Southern physicians have acquired some valuable information concerning it from personal experience and observation; but this knowledge is scattered in fragments about, and has never been condensed in a form to make it of much practical utility. Some physicians, looking upon negro consumption through Northern books, suppose it to be a variety of phthisis pulmonalis—but it has no form or resemblance to the phthisis of the white race, except in the emaciation, or when it is complicated with the relics of pneumonia or a badly-cured pleurisy. Others regard it as a dyspepsia or some disease of the liver or stomach; the French call it mal d’estomac. But dyspepsia is not a disease of the negro; it is, par excellence, a disease of the Anglo-Saxon race. I have never seen a well-marked case of dyspepsia among the blacks. It is a disease that selects its victims from the most intellectual of mankind, passing by the ignorant and unreflecting.

The popular opinion is, that negro consumption is caused by dirt-eating. The eating of dirt is not the cause, but only one of the effects—a mere symptom, which may or may not attend it. As in pica, there is often a depraved appetite for substances not nutritious, as earth, chalk, lime, etc.; but oftener, as in malacia, a depraved appetite for nutritious substances to a greater degree, than for non-nutritious. In negro consumption the patients are generally hearty eaters of all kinds of food; but there are exceptions.

The disease may be detected, at a very early stage of its existence, by the pale, whitish color of the mucous membrane lining the gums and the inside of the mouth, lips and cheeks: so white are the mucous surfaces, that some overseers call it the paper-gum disease. It can be detected, however, in its incipient state, by making the patient ascend a flight of stairs; the pulse will be accelerated from eighty or ninety beats, to an hundred and thirty or forty. All kinds of active exercise will greatly accelerate the pulse, that of walking up hill or up stairs more than any other. The skin is ashy, pale and dry; the veins of the head are distended and show more than in health; occasionally during the day, there is some heat of the skin and febrile excitement; the blood is poor, pale and thin, in the advanced stages, containing very few red globules; but the pathognomonic symptoms of the complaint are the acceleration of the pulse on exercise and the whiteness of the lining membrane of the cheeks, lips and gums; the lining membrane of the eye-lids is also pale and whitish. It is of importance to know the pathognomonic signs in its early stages, not only in regard to its treatment, but to detect impositions, as negroes afflicted with the complaint are often for sale; the acceleration of the pulse on exercise incapacitates them for labor, as they quickly give out and have to leave their work. This induces their owners to sell them, although they may not know the cause of their inability to labor. Many of the negroes brought South for sale are in the incipient stage of the disease; they are found to be inefficient laborers, and are sold in consequence thereof.

In order to be able to prevent or cure any malady, it is necessary to know its cause and its seat. The seat of negro consumption is not in the lungs, stomach, liver, or any organ of the body, but in the mind, and its cause is generally mismanagement or bad government on the part of the master, and superstition or dissatisfaction on the part of the negro. The patients themselves believe that they are poisoned; they are right, but it is not the body, but the mind that is poisoned. Negroes are very jealous and suspicious ; hence, if they are slighted or imposed on in any way, or over-tasked, or do not get what they call their rights, they are apt to fall into a morbid state of mind, with sulkiness and dissatisfaction very plainly depicted in their countenances. It is bad government to let them remain in this sulky, dissatisfied mood, without inquiring into its causes and removing them; otherwise, its long continuance leads to the disease under consideration. They fancy, that their fellow-servants are against them, that their master or overseer cares nothing for them or is prejudiced against them, and that some enemy on the plantation or in the neighborhood has tricked them, that is, laid poison for them to walk over, or given it to them in their food or drinks. On almost every largo plantation there is one or more negroes, who are ambitious of being considered in the character of conjurers—in order to gain influence and to make the others fear and obey them. The influence that these pretended conjurers exercise over their fellow servants would not be credited by persons unacquainted with the superstitious mind of the negro. Nearly all, particularly those who have passed the age of puberty, are at times kept in constant dread and terror by the conjurers. These impostors, like all other impostors, take advantage of circumstances to swell their importance and to inculcate a belief in their miraculous powers to bring good or evil upon those they like or dislike. It may be thought that the old superstition about conjuration has passed away with the old stock of native Africans; but it is too deeply radicated in the negro intellect to pass away; intelligent negroes believe in it, who are ashamed to acknowledge it. The effect of such a superstition—a firm belief that he is poisoned or conjured—upon the patient’s mind, already in a morbid state and his health affected from hard usage, over-tasking or exposure, want of wholesome food, good clothing, warm, comfortable lodging, with the distressing idea, that he is an object of hatred or dislike, but to his master and fellow servants, and has no one to befriend him, tends directly to generate that erythism of mind, which is the essential cause of negro consumption. This erythism of mind, like the erythism of the gravid uterus in delicate females, often causes a depraved appetite for earth, chalk, lime and such indigestible substances. The digestive passages, in both cases, become coated with acescent mucosities or clogged with saburricious matters. Natural instinct leads such patients to absorbents to correct the state of the stomach.

In the depraved appetite caused by pregnancy, or in young women afflicted with leucorrhoea, true art improves upon instinct, or the natural medication of the patients themselves, by substituting magnesia, cathartics, bitters and tonics. But for the same morbid appetite in negro consumption, the natural medication, resorted to by the instinctive wants of the patient, is mistaken for the cause of the disease. It is not only earth or clay that the patients have an appetite for, but, like chlorotic girls, they desire vinegar, pepper, salt, and stimulants. Their skins are dry, proving want of cutaneous exhalation; very little aqueous vapor is thrown off from the lungs, owing to their inability to take exercise. Consequently, defluxions occur on the mucous coat of the digestive passages, from want of action of the skin and lungs; the mucosity, lining the intestinal canal, interrupts the absorption of chyle—the blood becomes impoverished, and the body wastes away from interstitial absorption and want of nutriment.

As far as medication is concerned, I have found a combination of tartar emetic half grain, capsicum five grains, a teaspoonful of charcoal, a tablespoonful of gum guaiacum, three times a day, a good remedy; also, rubbing the whole surface of the body over with some oily substance. But there are various other remedies, as purgatives, tonics, &c, should be assisted by removing the original cause of the dissatisfaction or trouble of mind, and by using every means to make the patient comfortable, satisfied and happy.


(To be concluded in our next.)




Pages – 331-336



          Bv Dr. Cartwright Of New-Orleans—(Concluded.)



Drapetomania is from δραπέτηξ , a runaway slave, and μαδια, mad or crazy. It is unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is as well known to our planters and overseers, as it was to the ancient Greens, who expressed, by the single word όραπέτηξ, the fact of the absconding, and the relation that the fugitive held to the person he fled from. I have added to the word meaning runaway slave, another Greek term, to express the disease of the mind causing him to abscond. In noticing a disease not heretofore classed among the long list of maladies that man is subject to, it was necessary to have a new term to express it. The cause in the most of cases, that induces the negro to run away from service, is as much a disease of the mind as any other species of mental alienation, and much more curable, as a general rule. With the advantages of proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many negroes have of running away, can be almost entirely prevented, although the slaves be located on the borders of a free state, within a stone’s throw of the abolitionists. I was born in Virginia, east of the Blue Ridge, where negroes were numerous, and studied medicine some years in Maryland, a slave state, separated from Pennsylvania, a free state, by Mason & Dixon’s line—a mere air line, without wall or guard. I long ago observed that some persons considered as very good, and others as very bad masters, often lost their negroes by their absconding from service; while the slaves of another class of persons, remarkable for order and good discipline, but not praised or blamed as either good or bad masters, never ran away, although no guard or forcible means were used to prevent them. The same management which prevented them from walking over a mere nominal, unguarded line, will prevent them from running away anywhere.

To ascertain the true method of governing negroes, so as to cure and prevent the disease under consideration, we must go back to the Pentateuch, and learn the true meaning of the untranslated term that represents the negro race. In the name there given to that race, is locked up the true art of governing negroes in such a manner that they cannot run away. The correct translation of that term declares the Creator’s will in regard to the negro; it declares him to be the submissive knee-bender. In the anatomical conformation of his knees, we see “genu flexit” written in his physical structure, being more flexed or bent, than any other kind of man. If the while man attempts to oppose the Deity’s will, by trying to make the negro anything else than “Ike submissive knee-bender,” (which the Almighty declared he should be,) by trying to raise him to a level with himself, or by putting himself on an equality with the negro ; or if he abuses the power which God has given him over his fellow-man, by being cruel to him, or punishing him in anger, or by neglecting to protect him from the wanton abuses of his fellow servants and all others, or by denying him the usual comforts and necessaries of life, the negro will run away f but if he keeps him in the position that we learn from the Scriptures he was intended to occupy, that is, the position of submission; and if his master or overseer be kind and gracious in his bearing towards him, without condescension, and at the same time ministers to his physical wants, and protects him from abuses, the negro is spell-bound, and cannot run away. “He shall serve Japheth; he shall be his serv[a?]nt (sic) of servants,” on the conditions above mentioned—conditions that are clearly implied, though not directly expressed. According to my experience, the ”genu flexit”—the awe and reverence, must be exacted from them, or they will despise their masters, become rude and ungovernable, and run away. On Mason and Dixon’s line, two classes of persons were apt to lose their negroes: those who made themselves too familiar with them, treating them as equals, and making little or no distinction in regard to color; and, on the other hand, those who treated them cruelly, denied them the common necessaries of life, neglected to protect them against the abuses of others, or frightened them by a blustering manner of approach, when about to punish them for misdemeanors. Before negroes run away, unless they are frightened or panic-struck, they become sulky and dissatisfied. The cause of this sulkiness and dissatisfaction should be inquired into and removed, or they are apt to run away or fall into the negro consumption. When sulky and dissatisfied without cause, the experience of those on the line and elsewhere, was decidedly in favor of whipping them out of it, as a preventive measure against absconding, or other bad conduct. It was called whipping the devil out of them.

If treated kindly, well fed and clothed, with fuel enough to keep a small fire burning all night—separated into families, each family having its own house—not permitted to run about at night to visit their neighbors, to receive visits or to use intoxicating liquors, and not overworked or exposed too much to the weather, they are very easily governed—more so than any other people in the world. When all thin is done, if any one or more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good require that they should be punished until they full into that submissive state which it was intended for them to occupy in all after-time, when their progenitor received the name of Canaan or “submissive knee-bender.” They have only to be kept in that state and treated like children, with care, kindness, attention and humanity, to prevent and cure them from running away.


Dysesthesia AEthiopica is a disease peculiar to negroes, affecting both mind and body in a manner as well expressed by dysesthesia, the name I have given it, as could be by a single term. There is both mind and sensibility, but both seem to be difficult to reach by impressions from without. There is a partial insensibility of the skin, and so great a hebetude of the intellectual faculties, as to be like a person half asleep, that is with difficulty aroused and kept awake. It differs from every other species of mental disease, as it is accompanied with physical signs or lesions of the body discoverable to the medical observer, which are always present and sufficient to account for the symptoms, it is much more prevalent among free negroes living in clusters by themselves, than among slaves on our plantations, and attacks only such slaves as live like free negroes in regard to diet, drinks, exercise, etc. It is not my purpose to treat of the complaint as it prevails among free negroes, nearly all of whom are more or less afflicted with it, that have not got some white person to direct and to take care of them. To narrate its symptoms and effects among them would be to write a history of the ruins and dilapidation of Hayti, and every spot of earth they have ever had uncontrolled possession over for any length of time. I propose only to describe its symptoms among slaves.

From the careless movements of the individuals affected with the complaint, they are apt to do much mischief, which appears as if intentional, but is mostly owing to the stupidness of mind and insensibility of the nerves induced by the disease. Thus, they break, waste and destroy everything they handle,—abuse horses and cattle,—tear, burn or rend their own clothing, and, paying no attention to the rights of property, steal others, to replace what they have destroyed. They wander about at night, and keep in a half nodding sleep during the day. They slight their work,—cut up corn, cane, cotton or tobacco when hoeing it, as if for pure mischief. They raise disturbances with their overseers and fellowservants without cause or motive, and seem to be insensible to pain when subjected to punishment. The fact of the existence of such a complaint, making man like an automaton or senseless machine, having the above or similar symptoms, can be clearly established by the most direct and positive testimony. That it should have escaped the attention of the medical profession, can only be accounted for because its attention has not been sufficiently directed to the maladies of the negro race. Otherwise a complaint of so common an occurrence on badly-governed plantations, and so universal among free negroes, or those who are not governed at all,—a disease radicated in physical lesions and having its peculiar and well marked symptoms and its curative indications, would not have escaped the notice of the profession. The northern physicians and people have noticed the symptoms, but not the disease from which they spring. They ignorantly attribute the symptoms to the debasing influence of slavery on the mind, without considering that those who have never been in slavery, or their fathers before them, are the most afflicted, and the latest from the slave-holding South the least. The disease is the natural offspring of negro liberty—the liberty to be idle, to wallow in filth, and to indulge in improper food and drinks.

In treating of the anatomy and physiology of the negro, I showed that his respiratory system was under the same physiological laws as that of an infant child of the white race that a warm atmosphere, loaded with carbonic acid and aqueous vapor, was the most congenial to his lungs during sleep, us it is to the infant; that, to insure the respiration of such an atmosphere, he invariably, as if

moved by instinct, shrouds his head and face in a blanket or some other covering when disposing himself to sleep; that in sleeping by the fire in cold weather he turns his head to it, instead of his feet, evidently to inhale warm air; that when not in active exercise, he always hovers over a fire in comparatively warm weather, as if he look a positive pleasure in inhaling hot air and smoke when his body is quiescent. The natural effect of this practice, it was shown, caused imperfect atmospherization or vitalization of the blood in the lungs, as occurs in infancy, and a hebetude or torpor of intellect—from blood not sufficiently vitalized being distributed to the brain; also a slothfulness, torpor and disinclination to exercise from the same cause—the want of blood sufficiently vitalized in the circulating system.

When left to himself, the negro indulges in his natural disposition to idleness and sloth, and does not take exercise enough to expand his lungs and to vitalize his blood, but dozes out a miserable existence in the midst of filth and uncleanliness, being too indolent, and having too little energy of mind to provide for himself proper food and comfortable lodging and clothing. The consequence is, that the blood becomes so highly carbonized and deprived of oxygen, that it not only becomes unfit to stimulate the brain to energy, but unfit to stimulate the nerves of sensation distributed to the body. A torpor and insensibility pervades the system; the sentient nerves distributed to the skin lose their feeling in so great a degree, that he often burns his skin by the fire he hovers over without knowing it, and frequently has large holes in his clothes, and the shoes on his feet burnt to a crisp, without having been conscious of when it was done. This is the disease called dysesthesia—a Greek term expressing the dull or obtuse sensation that always attends the complaint. When aroused from his sloth by the stimulus of hunger, he takes anything he can lay his hands on, and tramples on the rights, as well as on the property of others, with perfect indifference as to consequences. When driven to labor by the compulsive power of the white man, he performs the task assigned to him in a headlong, careless manner, treading down with his feet or cutting with his hoe the plants he is put to cultivate—breaking the tools he works with, and spoiling everything he touches that can be injured by careless handling.— Hence the overseers call it ” rascality,” supposing that the mischief is intentionally done. But there is no premeditated mischief in the case,—the mind is too torpid to meditate mischief, or even to be aroused by any angry passions to deeds of daring.  Dysesthesia, or hebetude of sensation of both mind and body, prevails to so great an extent, that when the unfortunate individual is subjected to punishment, he neither feels pain of any consequence, nor shows any unusual resentment, more than by a stupid sulkiness. In some cases, anaesthesia; would be a more suitable name for it, as there appears to be an almost total loss of feeling. The term ” rascality” given to this disease by overseers, is founded on an erroneous hypothesis, and leads to an incorrect empirical treatment, which seldom or never cures it.

The complaint is easily curable, if treated on sound physiological principles. The skin is dry, thick and harsh to the touch, and the liver inactive. The liver, skin and kidneys should be stimulated to activity and be made to assist in decarbonizing the blood. The best means to stimulate the skin is, first, to have the patient well washed with warm water and soap, then, to anoint it all over with oil, and to slap the oil in with a broad leather strap; then to put the patient to some hard kind of work in the open air and sunshine, that will compel him to expand his lungs, as chopping wood, splitting rails, or sawing with the cross-cut or whip saw. Any kind of labor will do that will cause full and free respiration in its performance, as lifting or carrying heavy weights, or brisk walking; the object being to expand the lungs by full and deep inspiration and expirations, thereby to vitalize the impure circulating blood by introducing oxygen and expelling carbon. This treatment should not be continued too long at a time, because where the circulating fluids are so impure as in this complaint, patients cannot stand protracted exercise without resting frequently and drinking freely of cold water or some cooling beverage, as lemonade, or alternated pepper tea sweetened with molasses. In bad cases, the blood has always the appearance of blood in scurvy, and commonly there is a scorbutic affection to be seen on the gums. After resting until the palpitation of the heart caused by the exercise is allayed, the patient should eat some good wholesome food, well seasoned with spices and mixed with vegetables, as turnip or mustard salad, with vinegar. After a moderate meal, he should resume his work again, resting at intervals, and taking refreshments and supporting the perspiration by partaking freely of liquids. At night he should be lodged in a warm room with a small fire in it, and should have a clean bed with sufficient blanket covering, and be washed clean before going to bed: in the morning, oiled, slapped, and put to work as before. Such treatment will, in a short lime, effect a cure in all cases which are not complicated with chronic visceral derangements. The effect of this or a like course of treatment is often like enchantment. No sooner does the blood feel the vivifying influences derived from its full and perfect atmospherization by exercise in the open air and in the sun, than the negro seems to be awakened to a new existence, and to look grateful and thankful to the white man whose compulsory power, by making him inhale vital air, has restored his sensation, and dispelled the mist that clouded his intellect. His intelligence restored and his sensations awakened, he is no longer the bipedum nequissimus, or arrant rascal, he was supposed to be, but a good negro that can hoe or plow, and handles things with as much care as his fellow servants.

Contrary to the received opinion, a northern climate is the most favorable to the intellectual development of negroes ; those of Missouri, Kentucky and the colder parts of Virginia and Maryland having much more mental energy, being more bold and ungovernable than in the southern lowlands; a dense atmosphere causing a better ventilation of their blood.

Although idleness is the most prolific cause of dysesthesia, yet there are other ways that the blood gets deteriorated. I said before that negroes are like children, requiring government in everything. If not governed in their diet, they are apt to eat too much salt meat and not enough bread and vegetables, which practice generates a scorbutic state of the fluids and leads to the affection under consideration. This form of the complaint always shows itself in the gums, which become spongy and dark and leave the teeth. Uncleanliness of skin and torpid liver also tend to produce it. A scurvy set of negroes means the same thing, in the South, as a disorderly, worthless set. That the blood, when rendered impure and carbonaceous from any cause, as from idleness, filthy habits, unwholesome food or alcoholic drinks, affects the mind, is not only known to physicians, but was known to the Bard of Avon when he penned the lines—” We are not ourselves when Nature, being oppressed, commands the mind to suffer with the body.”

According to unaltered physiological laws, negroes, as a general rule to which there are but few exceptions, can only have their intellectual faculties awakened in a sufficient degree to receive moral culture and to profit by religious or other instructions, when under the compulsatory authority of the while man; because, as a general rule to which there are but few exceptions, they will not take sufficient exercise, when removed from the white man’s authority, to vitalize and decarbonize their blood by the process of full and free respiration, that active exercise of some kind alone can effect. A northern climate remedies, in a considerable degree, their naturally indolent disposition; but the dense atmosphere of Boston or Canada can scarcely produce sufficient hematosis and vigor of mind to induce them to labor- From their natural indolence, unless under the stimulus of compulsion, they doze away their lives, with the capacity of their lungs for atmospheric air only half expanded from the want of exercise to superinduce full and deep respiration. The inevitable effect is to prevent a sufficient atmospherization or virilization of the blood, so essential to the expansion and the freedom of action of the intellectual faculties. The black blood distributed to the brain chains the mind to ignorance, superstition and barbarism, and bolts the door against civilization, moral culture and religious truth. The compulsory power of the white man, by making the slothful negro take active exercise, puts into active play the lungs, through whose agency the vitalized blood is sent to the brain to give liberty to the mind and to open the door to intellectual improvement. The very exercise, so beneficial to the negro, is expended in cultivating those burning fields of cotton, sugar, rice and tobacco, which, but for his labor, would, from the heat of the climate, go uncultivated, and their products be lost to the worId. Both parties are benefited—the negro as well as the master—even more. But there is a third party benefited—the world at large. The three millions of bales of cotton, made by negro labor, afford a cheap clothing for the civilized world. The laboring classes of all mankind having less to pay for clothing, have more money to spend in educating their children, in intellectual, moral and religions progress.

The wisdom, mercy and justice of the decree, that Canaan shall serve Japheth, is proved by the disease we have been considering, because it proves that his physical organization and the laws of his nature are in perfect unison with slavery, and in entire discordance with liberty—a discordance so great as to produce the loathsome disease that we have been considering, as one of its inevitable effects, —a disease that locks up the understanding, blunts the sensations, and chains the mind to superstition, ignorance and barbarism. Slaves are not subject to this disease, unless they are permitted to live like free negroes, in idleness and filth— to eat improper food or to indulge in spirituous liquors. It is not their masters’ interest that they should do so; as they would not only be unprofitable, but as great a nuisance to the South as the free negroes were found to be in London, whom the British government, more than half a century ago, colonized in Sierra Leone to get them out of the way. The mad fanaticism that British writers, lecturers and emissaries, and the East India Company planted in our Northern states, after it was found by well-tried experiments that free negroes in England, in Canada, in Sierra Leone and elsewhere were a perfect nuisance, and would not work as free laborers, but would retrograde to barbarism, was not planted there in opposition to British policy. Whatever was the motive of Great Britain in sowing the whirlwind in our Northern states, it is now threatening the disruption of a mighty empire of the happiest, most progressive and Christian people, that ever inhabited the earth—and the only empire on the wide earth that England dreads as a rival, either in arts or in arms.

Our Declaration of Independence, which was drawn up at a time when negroes were scarcely considered as human beings, “That all men are by nature free and equal,” and only intended to apply to white men, is often quoted in support of the false dogma that all mankind possess the same mental, physiological and anatomical organization, and that the liberty, free institutions, and whatever else would be a blessing to one portion, would, under the same external circumstances, be to all, without regard to any original or internal differences inherent in the organization. Although England preaches this doctrine, she practises in opposition to it every where. Instance her treatment of the Gipsies in England, the Hindoos in India, the Hottentots at her Cape Colony, and the aboriginal inhabitants of New-Holland. The dysesthesia aethiopica adds another to the many ten thousand evidences of the fallacy of the dogma that abolitionism is built on; for here, in a country where two races of men dwell together, both born on the same soil, breathing the same air, and surrounded by the same external agents—liberty, which is elevating the one race of people above all other nations, sinks the other into beastly sloth and torpidity; and the slavery, which the one would prefer death rather than endure, improves the other in body, mind and morals; thus proving the dogma false, and establishing the truth that there is a radical, internal or physical difference between the two races, so great in kind, as to make what is wholesome and beneficial for the white man, as liberty, republican or free institutions, etc., not only unsuitable to the negro race, but actually poisonous to its happiness.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.