The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It (1857)



By Hinton Rowan Helper. One of the most influential anti-slavery books in pre-Civil War America, this book was written by a Southerner who not only opposed White supremacy but also clearly understood the relationship between race, civilization, culture, political power and demographics. By assembling official statistics from slave-owning and non-slave-owning states, the author proved conclusively that the presence of Black African slaves was not, as the South’s leaders claimed, vital for their economy but, in fact, exactly the opposite. Helper shows that by all measures— economic, social, political, agricultural yield per square mile, education, literacy, infrastructure and many other indicators—the use of Black slaves by the South was an impediment upon economic growth that had severely retarded the entire development of all the Southern slave states.

The book conclusively proves that slavery—and the presence of large numbers of Africans in the South—was a significant barrier to the economic advancement of Whites. In addition, Helper compiled the most detailed statistics on slavery, showing exactly how many slaves there were and the precise number of slaveowners. It turns out that the vast majority of White Southerners did not own slaves but were conned into supporting a jingoistic fake “Southern Nationalism” orchestrated by a very small clique of immoral ultra-capitalists. This work, which became a Republican Party election propaganda piece in the U.S. presidential election of 1860, also revealed that the officially endorsed abolitionist movement had two goals: the emancipation of African slaves and their immediate deportation back to Africa or somewhere else where they would be permanently and geographically isolated from White America.

This book and its ideas caused a storm in the South, where it was banned and its possession and distribution outlawed. In Arkansas, three men were hanged after being arrested for having this boo in their possession. Nonetheless, between 1857 and 1861, 150,000 copies of this book were circulated. Helper’s warnings about the long-term effect of the presence of massive numbers of non-Whites in White America has come true more than a thousand times over. —— The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It (softcover, 399 pages, #1022)