Articles by Emerson and Calhoun
Emerson first starts out by highlighting how we come to perceive those who are civilized and those who are not. He says we do this by negation. In other words, our civility is better defined by showing what we are not. For example, “savages” do not have religion, liberty, sense of honor, etc. “A nation with no clothing, no alphabet, no iron, no marriage, no arts of peace, no abstract thought, we call barbarous” (Emerson, 502). He goes on to say that each nation’s civility grows independent from other nations. His view of a civilized America has a lot to do with slavery. He claims the north to be civilized and the south where slavery is to be uncivilized. He claims morality to be essential and the south has abandoned morality by denying a man’s right to his labor (Emerson, p.507). Expanding on this he says that liberty, equality, and work for the common good is what America needs to be civilized. “Emancipation is the demand of civilization…puts the whole people in healthy, productive, amiable position, puts every man in the south in just and natural relations with every man in the north, laborer with laborer” (Em, 509). Calhoun claims that abolition would ruin America and that slavery is a good thing. Emerson says that all men are equal and believing it so leads to civility while Calhoun claims that Africans are not civilized and believing them to be civilized does not encourage growth of civilization. Calhoun claims that slavery is not only good for whites, but also good for the Africans. “Slavery is evil, no, far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition… Never before has the black race of Central Africa,… attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually” (Cal, p. 630). He claims that Africans are more civilized because...
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