In The South Vindicated from the Treason and Fanaticism of the Northern Abolitionists, why is slavery seen as a positive institution, especially compared with industrial workers in the North?
The South Vindicated, published in 1836, was one of a flurry of proslavery pamphlets and books published in the antebellum period. Essentially, it was a response to the abolitionist critique raised by such men as William Lloyd Garrison, whose newspaper, The Liberator, was beginning to gain traction in the North. William Drayton, the author of The South Vindicated, was a Charleston politician who derived much of his wealth from slavery, and his defense of the institution was similar to many others by such writers as William Fitzhugh and politicians like John C. Calhoun and William Henry Hammond. One of many points Drayton raised was a comparison between the condition of the enslaved in the South and mill and factory workers in the North. He argued that labor in the North was done by "the poor," who suffered from "poverty and anxiety" as well as "fear, humiliation, and oppression" throughout their lives. This was because they had no security, nobody to care for them. Against this nightmare vision, Drayton juxtaposed the myth of the "happy slave," who had in his master a "protector and a friend to shield him from suffering." It should go without saying that Drayton idealizes slavery to an absolutely ludicrous degree, but this was a theme that slavery's defenders turned to again and again: their enslaved people were cared for by allegedly paternalistic masters, while the supposedly free "wage slaves" were subject to the horrors of unfettered capitalism. This would be a persistent myth throughout the antebellum period and beyond.
In this work of pro-slavery propaganda, the author argues that slaves are better off than the whites who work in the factories and other industries of the North. This was a common argument among Southerners before the Civil War.
The basic thrust of the argument is that slaves have a much more secure life than free workers do. This is based on the idea that slaves are taken care of at all times while free laborers are left on their own if they are no longer able to work. The author of the work says that workers in the North are poor and also that they are constantly having to worry. Men have to worry about having enough to support their wives and children. They have to worry about what will happen to them when they are too old to work. The author goes on to contrast this with the situation of slaves. He claims that they lead essentially a carefree life. He says that they do not have to work too hard and that they never have to worry about their own welfare or that of their families.