George Fitzhugh

American activist (1806-1881)

George Fitzhugh (November 4, 1806 – July 30, 1881) was an American social theorist who published racial and slavery-based sociological theories in the antebellum era. He argued that the negro “is but a grown up child” who needs the economic and social protections of slavery. Fitzhugh decried capitalism as spawning “a war of the rich with the poor, and the poor with one another” – rendering free blacks “far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition.”

George Fitzhugh (circa 1855)



Sociology For The South: Or The Failure Of A Free Society (1854)


Richmond, VA, A. Morris, 1854

  • The capitalist cheapens their wages; they compete with and underbid each other, for employed they must be on any terms. This war of the rich with the poor and the poor with one another, is the morality which political economy inculcates.
    • pp. 22-23
  • Slavery relieves our slaves of these cares altogether, and slavery is a form, and the very best form, of socialism.
    • p. 27-28
  • Slavery protects the infants, the aged and the sick; nay, takes far better care of them of the healthy, the middle-aged and the strong.
    • p. 46
  • None but lawyers and historians are aware how much of truth, justice and good sense, there is in the notions of the Communists, as to the community of property. Laying no stress on the too abstract proposition that Providence gave the world not to one man, or set of men, but to all mankind, it is a fact that all governments, in civilized countries, recognize the obligation to support the poor, and thus, in some degree, make all property a common possession.
    • p. 47
  • A Southern farm is a sort of joint stock concern, or social phalastery, in which the master furnishes the capital and skill, and the slaves the labor, and divide the profits, not according to each one’s in-put, but according to each one’s wants and necessities.
    • p. 48
  • Socialism proposes to do away with free competition; to afford protection and support at all times to the laboring class; to bring about, at least, a qualified community of property, and to associated labor. All these purposes, slavery fully and perfectly attains.
    • p. 48
  • No association, no efficient combination of labor can be effected till men give up their liberty of action and subject themselves to a common despotic head or ruler. This is slavery, and towards this socialism is moving.
    • p. 61
  • Free trade or political economy is the science of free society, and socialism is the science of slavery.
    • p. 61
  • The greatest of all communists, if communist he be, Proudhon, has also seen and exposed this tendency of socialism to slavery. He is a thorough-going enemy of modern free society; call property a thief; and would, he says, establish anarchy in place of government.
    • p. 62
  • What a glorious thing to man is slavery, when want, misfortune, old age, debility and sickness overtake him.
    • p. 68
  • …the great truth which lies at the foundation of all society—that every man has property in his fellow-man!
    • p. 69
  • Our only quarrel with Socialism is, that it will not honestly admit that it owes its recent revival to the failure of universal liberty, and is seeking to bring about slavery again in some form.
    • p. 70
  • All concur that free society is a failure. We slaveholders say you must recur to domestic slavery, the oldest, the best and most common form of Socialism. The new schools of Socialism promise something better, but admit, to obtain that something, they must first destroy and eradicate man’s human nature.
    • p. 72
  • The failure of laissez-faire, of political economy, is admitted now by its last and lingering votary. Free society stands condemned by the unanimous testimony of all its enlightened members.
    • p. 74
  • The negro is improvident; will not lay up in summer for the wants of winter; will not accumulate in youth for the exigencies of age. He would become an insufferable burden to society. Society has the right to prevent this, and can only do so by subjecting him to domestic slavery.
    • p. 83
  • In the last place, the negro race is inferior to the white race, and living in their midst, they would be far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition.
    • p. 84
  • Liberty is an evil which government is intended to correct. This is the sole object of government.
    • p. 170
  • With thinking men, the question can never arise, who ought to be free? Because no one ought to be free. All government is slavery.
    • p. 170
  • No one will contend that negroes, for instance, should roam at large in puris naturalibus, with the apes and tigers of Africa, and ‘worry and devour each other.’ Nor are they fitted for an Athenian democracy. What form of government short of domestic slavery will suit their wants and capacities?
    • p. 171
  • The weak in mind or body require guidance, support and protection; they must obey and work for those who protect and guide them—they have a natural right to guardians, committees, teachers or masters. Nature has made them slaves, all that law and government can do, is to regulate, modify and mitigate their slavery.
    • p. 178
  • Men are not ‘born entitled to equal right! It would be far nearer the truth to say, ‘that some were born with saddles on their backs, and others booted and spurred to ride them’—and the riding does them good.
    • p. 179
  • The great object of government is to restrict, control and punish man ‘in the pursuit of happiness.’
    • p. 180
  • Property is not a natural and divine, but conventional right; it is the mere creature of society and law… if private property generally were so used to injure, instead of promote public good, then society might and ought to destroy the whole institution.
    • p. 185
  • Naturally, Southerners, like slaveholders, are liberal and public spirited.
    • p. 186
  • The bestowing upon men equality of rights, is but giving license to the strong to oppress the weak. It begets the grossest inequalities of condition.
    • p. 233
  • Liberty and equality are not only destructive to the morals, but to the happiness of society.
    • p. 236
  • A Southern farm is beau idea of Communism; it is a joint concern, in which the slaves consume more than the master, of the coarse products, and is far happier, because although the concern may fail; he is always sure of a support.
    • p. 245
  • There is no rivalry, no competition to get employment among slaves, as among free laborers. Nor is there a war between master and slave… His feeling for his slave never permits him to stint him in old age. The slaves are all well fed, well clad, have plenty of fuel, and are happy. They have no dread of the future—no fear of want. A state of dependence is the only condition in which reciprocal affection can exist among human beings—the only situation in which the war of competition ceases, and peace, amity and good will arise. A state of independence always begets more or less of jealous rivalry and hostility. A man loves his children because they are weak, helpless and dependent; he loves his wife for similar reasons.
    • pp. 246-247

Cannibals All!, or Slaves Without Masters (1857)


Richmond, VA, A. Morris, 1857

  • [T]he unrestricted exploitation of so-called free society is more oppressive to the laborer than domestic slavery.
    • p. ix
  • The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world. The children and the aged and infirm, work not at all, and yet have all the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. They enjoy liberty, because they are opposed neither by care nor labor.
    • p. 29
  • Free laborers have not a thousandth part of the rights and liberties of negro slaves. Indeed, they have not a single right or a single liberty, unless it be the right or liberty to die.
    • p. 31
  • But the capitalist, living on his income, gives nothing to his subjects. He lives by mere exploitation.
    • pp. 44-45
  • We say allowance, not wages; for neither slaves nor free laborers get wages, in the popular sense of the term: that is, the employer or capitalist pays them for nothing of his own, but allows them a part, generally a very small part of the proceeds of their own labor.
    • p. 48
  • We conclude that about nineteen out of every twenty individuals have ‘a natural and inalienable right’ to be taken care of and protected; to have guardians, trustees, husbands, or masters; in other words, they have the natural and inalienable right to be slaves.
    • pp. 102-103
  • What is falsely called Free Society, is a very recent invention. It purposes to make the weak, ignorant and poor, free, by turning them loose in a world owned exclusively by the few.
    • p. 108
  • We, aided by the Socialists, will try to make it understood by others. Philosophy cannot justify the relation between the free laborer and the idle, irresponsible employer. But ‘tis easy to justify that between master and slave. Their obligations are mutual and equal, and if the master will superintend and provide for the slave in sickness, in health, infancy, and old age—if he will feed and clothe him properly, guard his morals, and treat him kindly and humanely.
    • pp. 125-126
  • We contend that it was the origin of the capitalist and moneyed interest government, destined finally to swallow up all other powers in the State, and to bring about the most selfish, exacting, and unfeeling class despotism.
    • p. 157
  • The vampire capitalist class impose all the taxes, and pay none.
    • p. 175
  • Liberty of the press, liberty of speech, freedom of religion, or rather freedom from religion, and the unlimited right of private judgement have borne no good fruit, and many bad ones.
    • p. 195
  • The true greatness of Mr. Jefferson was his fitness for revolution. He was the genius of innovation, the architect of ruin, the inaugurator of anarchy. His mission was to pull down, not to build up… He proposed to govern boys without the authority of masters or the control of religion, supplying their places with Laissez-faire philosophy, and morality from the pages of Lawrence Sterne. His character, like a philosophy, is exceptional—invaluable in urging on revolution, but useless, if not dangerous, in quiet times.
    • pp. 201-202
  • A mere verbal formula often distinguishes a truism from a paradox. ‘It is the duty of society to protect the weak;’ but protection cannot be efficient without the power of control; therefore, ‘It is the duty of society to enslave the weak’.
    • p. 278
  • Our slaves till the land, do the coarse and hard labor on our roads and canals, sweep our streets, cook our food, brush our boots, wait on our tables, hold our horses, do all hard work, and fill all menial offices. Your freemen at the North do the same work and fill the same offices. The only difference is, we love our slaves, and we are ready to defend, assist and protect them; you hate and fear your white servants, and never fail, as a moral duty, to screw down their wages to the lowest, and to starve their families, if possible, as evidence of your thrift, economy and management—the only English and Yankee virtues.
    • p. 320-321
  • The Abolitionists and Socialists, who, alone have explored the recesses of social science, well understand that they can never establish their Utopia until private property is abolished or equalized. The man without property is theoretically, and, too often, practically, without a single right.
  • p. 323
  • Money is the great weapon in a free, equal and competitive society, which skill and capital employ in the war of the wits, to exploitate and oppress the poor, the improvident, and the weak-minded. Its evil effects are greatly aggravated by the credit and banking systems.
    • p. 303
  • But slavery does, in practice as well as in theory, acknowledge and enforce the right of all to be comfortably supported from the soil. There was, we repeat, no pauperism in Europe till feudal slavery was abolished.
    • pp. 307-308
  • [Man] is not free because he has no where that he may rightfully lay his head. Private property has monopolized the earth, and destroyed both his liberty and equality.
    • p. 324
  • Slavery is a form of communism… The manner to which the change shall be made from the present form of society to that system of communism which we propose is very simple.
    • p. 324
  • Were he a slave, he would enjoy in fact as well as in legal fiction, all necessary and essential rights. Pure air and water, a house, sufficient food, fire, and clothing, would be his at all times.
    • p. 324
  • [T]he capitalists now live entirely by the proceeds of poor men’s labor, which capital enables them to command.
    • p. 325
  • Socialism, with such despotic head, approaches very near to Southern slavery, and gets along very well so long as the depot lives.
    • p. 334
  • The normal state of a free society is a state of famine.
    • p. 335
  • Man is a social and gregarious animal, and all such animals hold property in each other. Nature imposes upon them slavery as a law and necessity of their existence… The husband has a legally recognized property in his wife’s services, and may legally control, in some measure, her personal liberty. She is his property and his slave.
    • p. 341

DeBow's Review

  • This is no dispute between Northerners and Southerners; but between conservatives and revolutionionists; between Christians and infidels; between law and order men and no-government men; between the friends of private property and socialists and agrarians; between the chaste and the libidinous; between marriage and free-love; between those who believe in the past, in history, in human experience, in the Bible, in human nature, and those who, like Greeley, and Fourier, and Fanny Wright, and Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine, and Seward, foolishly, rashly, and profanely, attempt to "expel human nature," to bring about a millennium, and inaugurate a future wholly unlike anything that has preceded it.
    • Debow's Review, Volume 28, January, 1860 [1]
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