A House Divided: Slave or Free Labor I

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the most intense debates in the 1850s run-up to the Civil War involved the contrasting value of slavery and slave labor as opposed to free labor. Southerners attempted to justify their peculiar institution by asserting that slavery was good for the slave, the general economy and for society. One of the most aggressive proponents of this view was George Fitzhugh, scion of an ancient Virginia family that had fallen on hard times. His writings asserted that slavery was the normal circumstance of the human condition. Free labor, as practiced in the North, was a kind collective cannibalism.