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Discussion on the Negro Race (S95: 1864)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: Third party rendering of words Wallace offered in discussion of 'Notes on the Capabilities of the Negro for Civilisation,' a paper by Henry F. J. Guppy read at the Anthropological Society of London meeting of 15 March 1864, and later printed in Volume Two of the Society's Journal series. Original pagination indicated within double brackets. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S095.htm

    [[p. ccxiii]] Mr. Wallace said the author of the paper dwelt much on a fact which no one had denied--that the negro is very inferior in intellectual capacity to the European. The only question to be determined was, how far that inferiority extends. The African negro was often spoken of as being the lowest race of mankind; but he believed that the negro is not the lowest grade. The Australians, the North and South American Indians, and even the Malays, he considered to be inferior to the negro. The negro, he believed, possesses a considerable amount of intelligence and energy that might enable him to rise much higher than he has done yet. It was not fair to compare a negro emancipated from a state of slavery with Hindoos and Chinese who belong to the oldest civilised nations on the earth. It was true, indeed, that the negro would not work and exert himself, except under the pressure of necessity; but that remark was applicable to mankind in general, for everyone required a stimulus to exertion. They had never seen the negro in that state of stimulus fitted to develope his moral and intellectual faculties and to enable him to appreciate the benefits of civilisation. When the negroes in our West Indian possessions were emancipated they ought to have been placed in circumstances that would have given them a stimulus to labour. There was no necessity to have given them the land on which they were located. If it had been an established rule that the negroes were to pay rent for the land they occupied, that would have obliged them to [[p. ccxiv]] labour, and we should have had a different state of things from that described by Mr. Guppy. The necessity to provide money for the payment of rent and to enable them to live would have given them a stimulus to work. The necessity of exertion to obtain a livelihood was even among ourselves an excellent means of improvement. We had never seen the negro under favourable circumstances. We had always seen him either as a slave or perfectly free without any stimulus to exertion. Allowance should be made for the contrast between his present condition of perfect freedom and his former state of slavery. We had not yet seen the negro under the circumstances that would show him to the greatest advantage.

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