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The reader may be surprised, that living in Baltimore as I had done for
many years, when I tell the honest truth of the impressions I had in some way
conceived of the social and material condition of the people at the north. I
had no proper idea of the wealth, refinement, enterprise, and high civiliza-
tion of this section of the country. My "Columbian Orator," almost my only
book, had done nothing to enlighten me concerning northern society. I had
been taught that slavery was the bottom-fact of all wealth. With this founda-
tion idea, I came naturally to the conclusion that poverty must be the general
condition of the people of the free States. A white man holding no slaves in
the country from which I came, was usually an ignorant and poverty-stricken
man. Men of this class were contemptuously called "poor white trash."
Hence I supposed that since the non-slaveholders at the south were ignorant,
poor, and degraded as a class, the non-slaveholders at the north must be in a
similar condition. New Bedford therefore, which at that time was really the
richest city in the Union, in proportion to its population, took me greatly by
surprise, in the evidences it gave of its solid wealth and grandeur. I found
that even the laboring classes lived in better houses, that their houses were
more elegantly furnished, and were more abundantly supplied with conve-
niences and comforts, than the houses of many who owned slaves on the
Eastern Shore of Maryland. This was true not only of the white people of that
city, but it was so of my friend, Mr. Johnson. He lived in a nicer house, dined
at a more ample board, was the owner of more books, the reader of more
newspapers, was more conversant with the moral, social, and political condi-
tion of the country and the world than nine-tenths of the slaveholders in all
Talbot county. I was not long in finding the cause of the difference in these
respects, between the people of the north and south. It was the superiority of
educated mind over mere brute force. I will not detain the reader by extended
illustrations as to how my understanding was enlightened on this subject. On
the wharves of New Bedford I received my first light. I saw there industry
without bustle, labor without noise, toil—honest, earnest, and exhaustive,
without the whip. There was no loud singing or hallooing, as at the wharves
or southern ports when ships were loading or unloading; no loud cursing or
quarreling; everything went on as smoothly as well-oiled machinery. One of
the first incidents which impressed me with the superior mental character of
labor in the north over that of the south, was in the manner of loading and
unloading vessels. In a southern port twenty or thirty hands would be
employed to do what five or six men, with the help of one ox, would do at
the wharf in New Bedford. Main strength—human muscle—unassisted by
intelligent skill, was slavery's method of labor. With a capital of about sixty

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