Confederate History Month 2012: Characteristics and Capabilities of the Negro Race (1861)


This is an excerpt from William Holcombe’s Characteristics and Capabilities of the Negro Race which appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond in December 1861:

The article begins with a blunt statement of Southern racialism:

“The negro is not a white man with black skin, but, if not a distinct species, at least a permanent variety of the human race. He has physical, ethnological, and psychological peculiarities which differentiate him from all other races of men; and it is by these, and not by a priori theories of any kind, that his moral, social, and political status is to be determined.”

This is a crucial distinction:

(1) The Southern view of the negro was derived from empiricism. It was based on observation and experience in dealing with negroes over the course of several generations. The traditional status of the negro in Southern society was a practical and organic response to their observed racial peculiarities.

(2) The Northern view of the negro was an a priori rationalist deduction from the premise that “all men are created equal.”

“The brain and nervous system of the negro is smaller and more coarsely organized than in the other varieties of man. The brain substance is, on an average, nine cubic inches less in bulk than that of a Caucasian. Negroes with very large, fine heads, may still have very small brains, because the actual capacity of the cranium is encroached upon the extreme thickness of the bones. The organs of sense are acute, especially those of hearing and smell – the conformation of the latter approaching the animal type.”

There are physical differences between the races in brain size and brain structure. There are also differences in the senses like eyesight, hearing, and smell.

“He seems to delight in the sun. I have often seen them eating their dinners on the Louisiana plantations, sitting bare headed in the blaze of noon, when large rainsheds or fine umbrageous trees were close at hand. This capacity of enduring great heat qualifies him for labor amid the dense foliage of the cotton plant and sugar cane in a hot latitude, where suhc work would infallibly destroy a white man.”

The negro race is biologically adapted to tropical and semi-tropical environments. The White race is adapted to more temperate latitudes. The Deep South has a semi-tropical environment which makes Whites unsuitable as a laboring class on cotton and sugarcane plantations.

“The black skin of the negro exhales, especially when heated, a very offensive perspiration. Negroes seldom have bad breath, but excrete much of the fetid and carbonaceous matter of the body by and through the skin, which is consequently very oil. The black skin by no means constitutes a man a negro … The black skin is a very small part of that tout ensemble of physical and mental inferiority which necessitates the subordination of the negro to the white man.”

There are important physiological differences in the skin which is the largest organ in the human body. The difference in skin color alone though doesn’t make a man a negro. It is just one of many racial differences like average brain size.

“These physical peculiarities, which, I hope, have not proved too tedious for my reader, are of vast importance in forming a just scientific estimate of the present condition and probable future of the African race. They prove the hopeless physical and mental inferiority of that race to the Caucasian type; they prove the negro to be organically constituted – to be an agricultural laborer in tropical climates – a strong animal machine, admirably adapted to subjugate the torrid zone to the culture and interests of the civilized world, under the supervision and by the impulsion of a superior type of man. Nor do they give any special promise of higher destiny till other causes shall be brought to bear upon him than those of which have been in operation for the last six thousand years.”

The negro is perfectly suited to be an agricultural laborer in tropical and semi-tropical environments. Under the guidance of a superior race, the potential of the negro can be harnessed to spread civilization through the tropical regions of the world.

“Feebleness of will and childish inferiority of intellect, combined with strong animal propensities, are the keys to the psychological inferiority of the African race. Together with mental incapacity, there is a strange torpor of the volitional principle which has hitherto limited the negro to the barbaric phases of life. He is organically averse to labour – at least, to anything like regular and continued toil. Although distinguished by gross animal propensities, his will is too weak to command his muscles to work for their gratification. The “dignity of labor” is an idea which has never yet entered the brain of the African. His conception of liberty, in the great majority of cases, does not transcend the idea of freedom from work.”

This is reflected in the “counter-plantation system” and the collapse of civilization in Haiti following independence in 1804. In Haiti, the artificially imposed norms of European civilization were destroyed root and branch by a predominantly African born slave population, whereas emancipation was much more limited in Dixie, Brazil, and the British West Indies.

“Laziness is therefore a prime feature in negro character, and lies at the bottom of necessity for slavery. If negroes would work as spiritedly and progress as rapidly as free white laborers, emancipation would not only be possible and proper, but inevitable. Negroes may be trained to systematic toil, but they will generally abandon it when the impulsive power is withdrawn.”

This is true.

In both Haiti during the American occupation and Congo under Belgian administration, the usual features of Western civilization like roads, bridges, canals, schools, hospitals and so forth were rapidly introduced through corvée labor, and just as rapidly disappeared following the end of coercion.

“No spoiled white child is more capricious, silly, lazy, conceited, impertinent, ungrateful, or ungovernable than a negro spoiled by injudicious kindness and laxity of discipline. The management of negroes and the management of children should be based upon the same principle, and should be conducted by the same wise combination of unflinching firmness and tender humanity.”

As we move further away from the Antebellum and Jim Crow South, the negro has grown more aggrieved, more conceited, more demanding, and more ungrateful than he was under slavery and segregation. The more that negroes are treated like children by White people the more inclined they are to act like children.

“Negroes are very credulous and prone to superstition and fanaticism. They sometimes fancy, for instance, that they are conjured or bewitched.”

See the Farrakhan video about the Great Wheel of Death inhabited by extraterrestrial negroes that is preparing to destroy White America.

“Negroes are very imitative, and generally good-natured and light-hearted, taking great delight in music and dancing. They are affectionate toward the whites – particularly to white children, but much less so to each other. They are very careless – thoughtless of the morrow, and remarkably negligent of the sick. … They are cruel and despotic when in power, and the husband is frequently a hard master to his wife, and both are sometimes very severe to the children.”

White people have often observed how African-Americans discipline their children in the grocery store. Negroes are also notorious for their low time preference which is reflected in things like their poor credit ratings and low savings rate.

It goes without saying that every people in all of world history that has encountered negroes has described them as being lighthearted, good natured, lazy, fanciful, musical and childlike.

“The negro is innately servile or menial in his character. The African missionaries tell us that the highest ambition of a Guinea negro is to be taken into service of a white man. Free negroes, in our country, exhibit the same trait. How few of them ever become agriculturalists, and subsist by hardy, independent toil! No! They hang about the cities and towns – as barbers, waiters, and lackeys – vassals and body servants to White people. Those very offices which the Anglo-Saxon instinctively repudiates, are greedily sought after by the African, free and slave.”

I find this to still be true today:

(1) As we saw in Jobs Black People Hate, African-Americans are particularly averse to careers in agriculture and ranching. They are averse to rural areas and the wilderness which is why are so underrepresented among visitors to the national parks.

(2) When Guinea became an independent country under Ahmed Sékou Touré in 1958, a third of the population was still in a condition of slavery. The highest ambition of the Guinea negro is still to become an illegal alien in Europe.

“Negroes have great reverence for superior strength, opulence, display &c., and they will lose respect for, and confidence in a white man who affects familiarity, and would reduce himself to a level with themselves.”

This is all still true today:

(1) Indeed, there is nothing that free negroes seem to enjoy more in ostentatious displays of wealth.

(2) Free negroes also despise the White liberals who submissively fawn all over them.

(3) Chris Rock and Don Cheadle also want Obama to act more “gangsta.” Black people have been put off by Obama’s style of governance which is manufactured by the White liberals who surround him.

“The animal propensities very largely predominate in the negro. On the other hand, the imaginative, or aesthetic faculties, are still in a child-like, or infantile condition. He has little mental or intellectual aspiration – little or nothing of the white man’s ambition – “that last infirmity of noble mind.” To eat, drink, sleep, enjoy the sexual relation, and wear fine clothes, undisturbed by any work, or dream of modern progression, would constitute the Paradise of the African. The protective of slavery in restaining the drunkenness, gambling, and licentiousness, in pursuit of which negroes would run riot, can hardly be overestimated.”

See virtually any rap music video.

“Mental torpor, intellectual inferiority, and strong animal propensities, make a tout ensemble which would inevitably perish in the competitive Anglo-Saxon spirit. The safety of the African lies only in subordination.”

There is an irrepressible conflict between black people and the libertarian utopia.

“Our American negro is more virtuous, more industrious, more intelligent, more humanized and spiritualized than his progenitors ever were, or than any African races now are. He owes it to slavery.”

Contrary to what liberals now assume, slavery elevated and improved the American negro. Slavery raised the American negro above the African mean.

“As might be inferred from his cranial development, the intellect of the negro is in a childlike condition. Professor Agassiz asserts, that a peculiar conformation characterizes the brain of an adult negro. Its development never goes beyond the point attained by the Caucasian, or Anglo-Saxon, in boyhood. In the free schools of the North, where both races are taught together, they get along pretty smoothly until the age of fourteen or sixteen, when the white race takes on a sudden and indefinite expansion, whilst the negroes remain stationary, or even retrograde. Advance to anything resembling the average standard of white adult attainment, is an impossibility.”

As been noted here several times in the past, there were already integrated public schools in some parts of New England in the Antebellum era. The Northern states have been integrated since the 1880s. The Yankee utopian experiment in integration is still a failure after 150 years of trying social equality in practice.

“The present war between the Confederate States and the United States, is to determine, in a great measure, the future social and political condition of the negro in America. If the United States succeeds in imposing a military despotism on the South, and this contest can have no other issue save in our separate nationality, the emancipation of our slaves is inevitable. It would effected partly by confiscation and violence, and partly by the future subtle and all powerful pressure of surrounding influences. A more than Mexican anarchy and raid would result. The South instead of becoming the richest, would become the poorest country on the face of the Earth. Every branch of industry would be paralyzed. The fountains of our civilization would be frozen at their source. The whole world would feel the shock.”

Absolutely prophetic.

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  1. I would like to learn more about what ancient people and writers thought about blacks. Do you know of any books that have the writings of such people?

  2. While Holcombe’s observations on Black psychology and behavior are accurate enough, they do little to explain the murderous hostility of most contemporary Congoids towards Whites. That’s a more recent graft. Courtesy of the Jews.

  3. Confed North- look up Roman and Arabic histories. You ought to be truly amused by what Arab Muslims had to say about Subsaharan Africans.

  4. This is rather amazing: the New York Times published today an article entitled “Crowd Sourcing Brain Research Leads To Breakthrough.” See it here : or on my blog later.

    The article basically explains how a bunch of (white) scientists from around the world are confirming what Samuel Morton, Hunter’s boy William Holcombe, and the rest of the HBD crowd knew over a century ago: namely that different groups have different brain characteristics, and these differences impact on behaviour and cognitive ability.

    Wow. I was surprised to read this article in the lying pages of Amerika’s newspaper of record.

    It’s like the weasels at the Times are backed into a corner where the truth is coming out despite their efforts to silence it, so they have to find news ways to put a new spin on the old egalitarian hoax.

    Check it out for yourselves.


    – Arturo

  5. These ante-bellum remarks about Blacks, their behavior, and a thorough listing of their nightmarish traits is astonishing – for its unstinted candor. Apart from a few superficial metrically related matters the observations are universal in experience – then, and now. I think an important related theme about these 150 yr. old remarks is the utter inhibition in speech (writing) at that time – not a carelessness (on the contrary) but a startling frankness. Until the net this was impossible except behind closed doors. Again, I can’t say more about the gratifying nature of the utter liberty of rhetoric then. OD does measure up, however, in the year 2012. That is why I (we) are here.

  6. Where you write “low time preference”, you mean “high time preference”. ‘High’ as in: future goods are highly discounted vs. present goods. $5 at the end of the week is worth less than $1 right now.

  7. ayrnieu by “Negroes are also notorious for their low time preference which is reflected in things like their poor credit ratings and low savings rate.

    He means they want things now! They can’t see what the result of buying a HDTV, XBox, or house they can not afford. Buy now fuck later. “I wants it now”.

  8. I am greatly satisfied at the aquraccey and detailed description of their racial infiriority as negroids have contributed little or close to nothing to the benefit of mankind nor to themselves.

  9. The truth about the negroid is the biggest secret your government wants to keep from the citizen.

  10. This is the best research I have ever read on the Negro animal. With the passage of time from when this was written until today, these words have proven most true. This should be required reading in the public school systems.

  11. Anyone who has ever been around Negros truly knows their lazy nature and lack of future time orientation. All the recent negroid attacks on humans have been promoted by the mainstream media by pumping up calls “racial injustice” and “white privlidge” garbage. White privlidge should never be discussed without mentioning negro infancy defect. The negro is a third world sub-species incapable of creating or maintaining an advanced society.

  12. @Frank…

    ‘The negro is a third world sub-species incapable of creating or maintaining an advanced society…’

    That may well be so, Sir – though, under Jim Crow, they came very close to defying that statement – running their own communities with precious little gratis from us.

    Being on the Yankee plantation is like being with a non-parenting permissive parent – it brings out the worst in the offspring, and it has done so with them.

  13. The negro is a separate race in the same way that Siamense cats are a separate race of cats. That is to say they are the same specis (human) but genectic divergence and Isolation ( long isolation!) has created inherited differences. Siamense cats not only look different but behave different. For example, siamense are very noisey or loud compared with standard European moggies. Of course one can get very vocal moggies or very quit siamense but if you want a quiet pet best not to buy a siamense. My experience is that many negros do display very high intelligence and I am skeptical of any average inferiority in intelligence. I do find them to be innately more aggressive and this is reflected in high amounts of juvenile crime ( when testosterone is highest). But, of course, there are some non aggressive negros and some highly aggressive non negros. One recognises that bad enviroment can also cause /aggravate aggression.

  14. They were and still are the beast of the fields. ANIMALS. There creator father is the serpent blood line.
    Hated by all creation its self.

    Adam and eve were forbiden to so much as touch one.

    Guess who did and brought fourth cain. The first serpent child, that, being unpure,corupt,unclean,alien hybrid being not of our fathers gene pool.

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