American Crisis

| January 15, 2016

American Crisis”

Having Read pages 49-63 (Section XII) of “Cause and Contrast: an Essay on the American Crisis”, Answer this assignment by creating a bullet list of the reasons/evidence the author offers for seeing black people as an inferior species of human.

How comes it, then, that the negro is, and ever has been, normally savage? He was, from the first, surrounded by the earliest civilization. He came in contact with the greatest people of antiquity. He witnessed the sun of enlightenment and progress irradiating the world around him, as early at least as four thousand years ago; yet he remained, throughout the long ages, stolid, immovable, indifferent, unchangeable, and revolting to the geniality of all superior races, as the burning mountains and sandy deserts of his native land. Memphis and Thebes, Babylon and Nineveh, arose in splendor and magnificence; the pyramids of Egypt and Ethiopia were built for immortality; the Phoenicians were spreading letters and commerce, the Greeks and Romans, liberty and civilization: but upon the remaining monuments of all, the negro is displayed in a condition of abject subjugation, degradation, and slavery; while in no part of all Africa has there been discovered an alphabet, a hieroglyphic, a picture, or a symbol as the remains of his intelligence or ingenuity. We shall
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endeavor to account for all this. We will undertake to prove that the negro family constitute a distinct and entirely different group of the human species from the Caucasian–that their physical and intellectual organization is radically dissimilar and inferior to that of the white man–and consequently that servitude and subordination, under the supervision of the wiser and governing races, is their natural and unalterable relation in life. In seeking to establish this, we shall hardly hazard an opinion of our own, not substantiated by the experimental demonstrations of the most illustrious anatomists and savants that have ever lived. We do not believe, with M. de St. Vincent, that the negro constitutes the connecting link between man and the Simiæ. That position in natural history more properly belongs to the Gorilla. Of this creature, in a work recently published by him, M. Duchaillu concludes that there is a dissimilarity between the bony frame of man and that of the gorilla, but that there is also “an awful likeness, which in the gorilla resembles an exaggerated caricature of a human being.” The first specimen of this genus seen by him, he describes as “some hellish dream creature–a being of that hideous order, half-man, half-beast, which is found pictured by old artists in representations of the infernal regions.” Upon being shot, he adds, the gorilla uttered “a groan which had something terribly human in it, and yet was full of brutishness.” The negro proper is certainly not so low in the scale of physical*
* In another portion of his work, Du Chaillu gives a frightful account of the cannibalism prevailing among certain negro tribes; particularly the Fans, from which we make a few brief extracts
“On going out one morning, I saw a pile of ribs, leg, and arm-bones and skulls (human) piled up at the back of my house, which looked horrid enough to me. In fact, symptoms of cannibalism stare me in the face wherever I go. Eating the bodies of persons who have died of sickness, is a form of cannibalism of which I had never heard among any people, so that I determined to inquire if it were indeed a general custom among the Fans, or merely an exceptional freak. They spoke without embarrassment about the whole matter, and I was informed that they constantly buy the dead of the Osheba tribe, who, in return, buy theirs. They also buy the dead of other families in their own tribes; and besides this, get the bodies of a great many slaves from the Mbichos and Mbondemos, for which they readily give ivory, at the rate of a small tusk for a body. * * * A party of Fans, who came down on the seashore, once actually stole a freshly buried body from the cemetery, cooked it and ate it; * * and even the missionaries heard of it, for it happened at a village not far from the missionary grounds. * * * In fact, the Fans seem regular ghouls, only they practice their horrid custom unblushingly, and in open day, and have no shame about it. I have seen here knives covered with human skin, which their owners valued very highly. To-day, the Queen brought me some boiled plantain, which looked very nice; but the fear lest she should have cooked it in some pot where a man had been cooked before–which was most likely the case–made me unable to eat it. On these journeys, I have fortunately taken with me sufficient pots to do my own cooking. They are the finest, bravest looking set of negroes I have seen in the interior, and eating human flesh seems to agree with them.” Certainly the morals of the Fans cannot be far in advance of those of the gorilla.

organism as the gorilla; yet
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it is demonstrable that he (especially the Hottentot), most certainly approximates in the structure of his frame to the monkey kind and the troglodyte. Their women, particularly those of the Bosjesman, according to Soemmerring, Sonneret, and Barrow, are marked by an elongation of the nymphæ, which increases with age and maturity, and often reaches to the startling length of five or seven inches; but this, however, is not a characteristic
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of the simiæ. They have also, generally after their first pregnancy, a most ridiculous and disgusting protuberance on their buttocks, which is exaggerated in aspect by the remarkable outward extension of the posterior, and inward curvature of the spine; and this latter, it may be observed here, is a distinctive peculiarity in the structure of the race. The projection in question, it is said, ordinarily reaches five or six inches in length from the apex of the spine, and imparts to the women when walking the most ludicrous appearance imaginable–“every step being accompanied with a quivering and tremulous motion, as if two masses of jelly were attached behind.” This was one of the distinguishing features discovered by Baron Cuvier in the “Hottentot Venus,” exhibited some years ago in Paris–a Venus which certainly must have been a very Hottentotish Venus. We can easily comprehend why extreme loveliness, was the cause of all Mary, Queen of Scots’ misfortunes, and why those heavenly attributes, in spite of her faults and follies, and three centuries of time, still endear her memory to millions of men; but we are unable to conceive by what miracle, or divine interposition, a chivalrous sympathy could be aroused in a refined and generous mind, on behalf of a Hottentot venus or queen. Yet it is not because that the latter is wanting in charms of personal beauty that we would deem her an inferior being, but because that Nature has made her with a hopelessly degraded intellectual organization.
Dr. Soemmerring enumerates forty-six instances wherein the anatomy of the negro differs from that of the Caucasian. In his summary of the characteristics of the negro cranium, Mr. Lawrence describes the
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whole front of the head as narrow, the forehead flattened and receding; the cavity of the brain comparatively small, both in its circumference and full length measurements; the hinder perforation and condyles placed farther back than in the European; the face large, jaws prominent, teeth slanting, chin receding, and cheek bone extraordinarily arched and projecting forward; the nasal cavity small, and the ossa nasa nearly consolidated–the whole structure, in these and many other particulars, he says, “unequivocally approximating to that of the monkey. Compared with the Caucasian, the intellectual qualities are reduced and the animal features enlarged. And this inferiority of organization is attended with the corresponding unfailing inferiority of faculties.” A very clever writer on this subject, has ascertained that the brain of the white man averages ninety-two to ninety-five cubic inches, while that of the negro often falls as low as seventy-five inches, and rarely exceeds eighty; and, as we have seen above, its locality as greatly inclines to the posterior of the head, as it does to the anterior in that of the Caucasian. Hence, it must be self-evident to the most superficial thinker, that a negro of well regulated intellectual faculties, such as any ordinary white man possesses, is absolutely a natural impossibility. Even his vocal and lingual inferiority is sternly marked and decisive. No negro ever spoke a civilized tongue correctly, much less, perfectly. It is an indisputable fact, that the French language learned of French masters by the negroes in Hayti, is rapidly becoming corrupted or falling into disuse, and the mother African dialect instinctively taking its place–another patent illustration of their incapacity to retain
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a borrowed civilization, without the controlling supervision of a superior race. The musical faculties of the negro are equally defective. No great composer–no great singer even–of this family, we believe, has ever existed. The famous “Black Swan,” who was of a mixed type, and who was reputed by the friends and admirers of the African as a musical prodigy, constitutes no exception to this inevitable rule. In the fullness of England’s philanthrophy, she was parentally placed under the care and tutorship of the British Queen’s musician; but notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts on her behalf, the sacred charge had to be relinquished, and the “Swan” proved a miserable failure. The negro, it is true, fancies music; so he does the most gaudy and glaring colors. This fancy, however, is sensual, not intellectual. The solemn elephant and the gallant war-steed, are equally moved by the influence of harmony. But the emotions kindled in the bosoms of a Scottish regiment, by the air of “Annie Laurie,” and which could drive their bayonets through the serried columns of a Russian army at Inkerman, are intellectual emotions–memories of mountain homes, childhood’s scenes, absent friends, and therefore, stimulating to glory and immortality–but as impossible to the subjectiveness of the typical negro, as they would be to the elephant or the war-horse.
It is not in the locality of mind alone that the negro is an inferior being; debasement characterizes, in indelible particulars, his whole skeleton. His head, even superficially considered, will convey to the ordinary observer this conviction. It is prognathous, and, therefore, of a type with simiæ. Soemmerring found that the position of the foramen magnum, in the skull of
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the negro, approximated to its situation in that of the Chimpanzee and Ourang-Outang. This famous anatomist also discovered, among many other similar peculiarities–and his conclusions in this particular are acquiesced in by the no less distinguished Daubenton,–that the head of the negro is placed farther back upon the column (vertebral) of the spine, than is the case with any of the superior races; which is another distinguishing feature of animal construction.. The bones of his leg are bent outward. The outer and smaller bone (fibula), and the larger of the bones (tibia) forming the segment of the leg, are in the negro, convex. The calves of his legs are so high as to encroach upon his hams. His feet and hands, instead of being arched as with the Caucasian, are flat. The os calcis with him is almost in a direct straight line. As is the case with the ape and troglodyte, his forearm is proportionally much longer than that of the European. But the distinction does not stop here. Dr. Vrolik, in making a comparative examination of the conformation of the pelvis in various races, was enabled to arrive at some discoveries and conclusions at once important and interesting to us. “The pelvis of the male negro,” he avers, “in the strength and density of its substance, and of the bones which compose it, resembles the pelvis of a wild beast.” The pelvis of the negress, however, be found to be of lighter substance and greater delicacy both of form and structure, but still so gross as to render it impossible to separate it from the idea of degradation in type, if not immediate approximation to the form of that in the lower animals. The pelvis of the Hottentot, especially, forcibly resembled the structure of that in simiæ.
We will now direct our attention to the apparent
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characteristics which distinguish this genus of man, and adopt the definition which the most illustrious naturalist that ever lived, gives of the negro, proper. “The negro race,” says Cuvier, “is marked by a black complexion, crisped or woolly hair, compressed cranium, and a flat nose. The projection of the lower parts of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe. The hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism,”& c. &c. Malpighi was the first anatomist who discovered a membrane, or layer, beneath the cuticle, which be asserted was the seat of the black color in the negro’s skin. More recently, however, M. Flourens, a justly celebrated French anatomist, made a more thorough and minute examination of this phenomenon, which enabled him to arrive systematically at a most important discovery. Between the cutis (skin) and cuticle (scarf-skin) of the negro, he found four layers; the second of which, from the cutis, had the aspect of a mucous membrane, and upon the surface of which was spread a layer of black pigment. This membrane is entirely foreign to the organism of the white man. M. Flourens had this pigmentum nigrum denuded by maceration, when it appeared of a much blacker hue than it had previously presented. He had this experiment subsequently displayed before the Academy of Sciences, in Paris, by macerating the skins both of a typical negro and mulatto, each of whom were possessed of this phenomenon; but upon subjecting the white man to a similar process of examination, it was found that the pigment, and the membrane upon which it is deposited in the negro, were completely wanting in his structure. When the results of M. Flourens’ discoveries were published,
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Dr. Henle–a very clever German anatomist–received them with unfeigned scepticism, and, resolved upon testing their reliability, subjected the pigment to a microscopical examination. The results of his minute labor, however, only enabled him to arrive in effect at similar conclusions. But what M. Flourens regarded as a membrane, Dr. Henle maintains is composed of complicated cells or cytoblasts. But, in addition to those cells which characterize the organization of the Caucasian, he frankly confesses to having discovered other and different cells in the structure of the negro, which are the seat of the black pigment, and necessarily of his outward deformed aspect.
Here, then, is a phenomenon, distinct, and peculiar to the structure of the African race, and bearing the signal stamp of degradation and inferiority of type. If, as their white advocates claim for them, they are equally with the Caucasian, children of Adam and Eve, how have they become possessed of separate characteristics in their anatomical organization, and which are so entirely foreign to our structure? If we ever were possessed of them, when did our race lose them? If, in the beginning, they had them not, then when, where, and how, did they become the sole possessors of these exclusive traits? It will not do to argue that the moles, freckles, and similar phenomena of the white races, must also have some peculiar seat of color; for these are evanescent and abnormal, while the black pigment and the additional membrane in the negro, are normal, enduring, and unalterable, as the eternity of granite hills!
Relative to the color, crispness, and woolly aspect of the negro’s hair, men of learning and science in the
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Old World, where the opportunities of observation are comparatively limited, have long varied in opinion as to the cause. It is now, however, a fact well established in this country, that the several peculiar characterictics of this excrescence, are, in the same manner as the coloration in the negro’s skin, influenced by organic and exclusive agencies. Peter A. Browne, Esq., of Philadelphia, in his complete refutation of the conclusion arrived at by Dr. Prichard–that the negro has hair, properly so called, and not wool–gives us the results of his very thorough and scientific investigations. He subjected the pile (hair) of three different types of mankind to a microscopical examination–Indian, Caucasian, and Negro. By this process, he distinctly discovered that the hair of the native American Indian was cylindrical; that of the Caucasian oval; and that of the Negro eccentrically elliptical. “In observing the course or path pursued by the point where it pierces the epidermis (bark of the skin) to its apex,” he found that the pile of each had respectively its own specific and individual variety of type. That of the Indian was lank and straight–of the Caucasian, flowing, wavy, or curled–and of the Negro, crisped, frizzled, spiral, and woolly. The quality of each of these specific species of pile, is dependent for its particular form upon certain constitutional elementary causes. The necessary physiology of a cylindrical hair is lankness and straightness; that of the oval renders it imperative that it shall wave, or curl, or flow, in its course; but the eccentrically elliptical hair, in obedience to the law of its nature, is crisped, spiral, or woolly. In exposing these several forms of pile, to a chemical and mechanical experiment under the microscope, for the purpose of testing the relative properties of ductility
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and elasticity in their fibres, it was found that these forces in the cylindrical hair were equal on all sides, and, therefore, naturally straight and lank; whereas, in the oval hair, the shrinking and stretching powers proved unequal–the fibres on the two flattened sides of the filament being more powerful than those on the ellipsoid, and, consequently, of a curving tendency in its path. But when thus tested, the pile of the negro still retained, in the same manner, its spiral and woolly characteristic.
The inclination of pile is entirely due “to the angle which the root of the hair bears to the skin of the animal in which it is imbedded. The roots both of cylindrical and oval pile have an oblique angle of inclination, for which reason those hairs do not grow out of the epidermis at a right angle thereto, but incline in a determinate manner; while the roots of wool, which is eccentrically elliptical or flat, on the contrary, lie in the dermis perpendicularly, and hence the filaments pierce the epidermis at right angles thereto.” Now, this latter prominent and specific difference is, among all mankind, the peculiarly exclusive characteristic of the negro race. Some tribes of Papuas, inhabiting the north coast of Guinea, called “Mopheads,” are said by Dr. Prichard to have “a bushy mass of half-woolly hair,” but it is now notorious that these are a bastard genus, begotten of an amalgamation of Malays and negroes.
All pile is furnished by nature with a particular seat of color. We have seen above that the characteristic of the Caucasian’s skin is discoloration, whereas the negro is furnished with an additional membrane, or cellular substances, totally foreign to the organism of the former, but which is the instrument of coloration in the
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latter. The same diversity, but in another aspect, presents itself in the physiology of pile. In addition to its cortex (cover) and intermediate fibres, the hair of the white man has a complicated and delicately constructed canal, through which this coloring matter flows; and where color even fails, the canal remains, but void of the coloring substance. The wool of the negro, however, has no such canal. The coloring matter here, when present, permeates the cortex and its intermediate fibres–forming part and parcel of the filament. Thus, in the skin of the Caucasian we find no organ of coloration, but in that of the negro we find a specific membrane for that purpose. On the contrary, the hair of the white man is furnished with a canal, which is the medium of its coloring qualities; of this machinery, however, the wool of the negro is altogether devoid. Consequently, “the hair of the white man is perfect, having not only the apparatus found in other pile, but one exclusively belonging to itself–a central canal for the conveyance of coloring matter;” it is oval in shape, in its direction curling or flowing, and acutely angled out of the epidermis, from which it springs. The wool of the negro is the direct opposite, being an imperfect pile, having no central canal, flat in shape, and issuing out of the dermis, through the surface of the epidermis, in right angle. When this pile is subjected to a microscopical examination, its surface, or angles, present serrations such as are found upon the wool of sheep. These scales in the Caucasian are rudimentary, but on the hair of the negro, they are perfect. On the pile of the former, they are comparatively few in number and of smooth surface, rounded points, and closely embracing the shaft. On the hair of the negro, they are prominent,
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numerous, and transparent; and this species of pile will felt, while that of the white man will not. Hence, the conclusions arrived at are: that hair and wool are not the same integuments; that hair, properly so called, is cylindrical or oval in shape, and wool eccentrically elliptical or flat; that the direction of the former is straight, flowing, or curling, but that of the latter crisped, or spirally frizzled; that hair issues out of the epidermis at an acute angle, while wool emerges out of the dermis at a right angle; that the coloring matter of hair is provided with a central canal, and that of wool disseminated throughout the cortex and its intermediate fibres; that the scales on hair are comparatively few in number, smooth, less pointed, and more closely embracing the shaft, while in wool they are numerous, rough, pointed, and do not intimately embrace the shaft; that hair will not felt, but wool will; finally, that the covering of the negro’s head will felt and is wool; and, therefore, that he is of a different type of mankind from the latter, and by no means children of one common progenitor.
We have now demonstrated that the negro is an inferior being–that he is not of the same origin, organism, moral or intellectual faculties as the white man–and that to insist, in defiance of historic and scientific evidences, that he is descended from the same parents that we are, is the most false and insulting blasphemy against Nature and truth. Neither can the matter be mended by amalgamation.*
* All animated nature scorns amalgamation. The beasts of the forest–the birds of the air–the fishes of the sea–all keep, as a general rule, their own tribes, or species, free from this sin against the great kosmos of a superintending Providence, unless thwarted by the ingenious and artificial contrivances and experiments of man.

Nature ever indignantly rejects, or
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revenges, all artificial interferences with the wisdom, unity, and harmony of her immutable laws. The Spaniards, who settled in Mexico and Central America, were noble Caucasians–were the descendants of the Cid, Ponce de Leon, and Bernardo del Carpio–descendants of the conquerors of Granada and the victors of Lepanto–children of those daring or chivalrous adventurers, who wrested from Montezuma his fair dominions and golden palaces, and sought to explore the Mississippi and Missouri to their sources–yet where, and what, are their Mexican progeny of to-day? They married and intermarried with the natives; amalgamation was gradually followed by decay and emasculation; and for the noble Pelasgic countenances of the loyal subjects of Isabel the Catholic, we seek in vain among the half-Aztec, half-monkey physiognomies of those regions. On the other hand, the Ethiopians, who, in some superficial aspects, seem to approximate to the negro, have for thousands of years–certainly long before the flight into Egypt–chosen a great portion of the women for their harems, from among the slave women of the Soudan, without becoming negroes themselves, or having their race even perceptibly corrupted. And, again, we know from the very satisfactory work of Dr. Van Evrie–“Negroes and Negro Slavery”–that hybridity in the American States is invariably attended with a corresponding diminution of virility, from the first generation of mulattoism to the fourth, when it becomes “as absolutely sterile as muleism:” all of which facts demonstrate, that the Utopian dreams of misguided and perverse
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modern philanthropy, on behalf of the negro, are impossible of realization; and that the proper social and political sphere of the latter is subserviency to the superior genius of the Caucasian.

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