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AN ARGUMENT AGAINST ABOLITION REFUTED - William Leggett, Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy 
Democratic Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, Foreword by Lawrence H. White (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984).
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AN ARGUMENT AGAINST ABOLITION REFUTED
March 4, 1837.
Text abridged and extract deleted.
A calm and temperate writer appeared sometime since in the American, under the signature of a Virginian, who founded an argument against the abolition of slavery on certain facts derived from a comparison of the tables of mortality of the blacks in a state of servitude and in a state of freedom. The result of his statisticks was to show that the mortality of free blacks is greater than that of slaves, and greater than that of whites also; while the longevity of slaves exceeds even that of their masters. The inference of the writer was that humanity required the slaves to be left in that condition which facts showed to be most favourable to long life. . . .
. . .
. . . Their superiour longevity may be doubly accounted for; for, on the one hand, while labour and simple diet are favourable to life, on the other, the habits of luxurious indolence which slaveholders fall into have the opposite effect. Such a comparison as the writer to whom the foregoing extract is in answer seeks to institute can be fair only when drawn between blacks in a state of servitude and blacks really free. What would be the effect of absolute and equal freedom on the black race in this country, is an experiment which has not yet been tried, and which, in the nature of things, cannot be tried very soon; for we have not only to do away the legal disabilities now imposed on those negroes whom we term free, but who are free only in a qualified sense, but we have also to do away the disabilities which exist in general and deep rooted prejudices. Opinion is tending in that direction; but its progress is slow, and a long period must elapse before the reformation will be complete. The day will come when the claims of the American black race to all the privileges and immunities of equal political freedom will be fully acknowledged, and when the prejudices of society will give way before the steady influence of truth, enlightened reason, and comprehensive philanthropy. But before that time, any argument, founded on a comparison of the different rates of mortality between negroes in a state of slavery and those in a state of bastard freedom, must be wholly defective, even to the extent of proving the opposite influences on life of the two conditions of liberty and bondage. But even after that time, the argument, whatever might be the facts, would not answer the purpose for which it is produced; since longevity is but one of many circumstances which constitute the happiest condition of man. The writer from whom we have borrowed the extract to which we are appending these remarks, has shown that if it were the sole fact to be regarded, the condition of the convicts in our prisons is better than that of the most virtuous portion of society. The savages of our wilderness, before the poison of the distillery was introduced among them, enjoyed longer life, and were more exempt from disease, than the most educated and refined classes of our cities—