Fanatical Hope and Change in 1860


The following North Carolinian viewpoint from 1860 was highly critical of the incessant and fanatical agitation emanating from the Northern section, and how these self-styled philanthropists were hell-bent upon
spreading foreign benevolence while ignoring their own moral inadequacies at home.  These same people would hypocritically embrace a humanitarian crusade to end slavery after 100 years of profiting trading
in human flesh and populating the American South and West Indies with enslaved Africans.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Fanatical Hope and Change in 1860:

“One not acquainted with the true state of things, would conclude, on hearing the din of preparation among the self-styled philanthropists of the age, that the period is near at hand when the wolf and the lamb are
to lie down together.  Scheme after scheme for the moral improvement of the world is projected, and no sooner projected than abandoned or exploded, to give place to something equally impractical and absurd!

The suffering and wants of home are overlooked or contemned, to gratify the fanatical desire for the spread of foreign benevolence, and the fields for moral and mental culture around us, and even in sight of us,
are deserted, to extend assistance to distant lands!

No more striking instance could be presented than of the extent to which this spirit is to be carried than that assemblage of agitators and infidels recently convened in one of our Northern cities. Assuming the most sanctimonious airs of piety and benevolence – appropriating to themselves the imposing, high-sounding name of “The World’s Convention” – they sally forth, under the profession of philanthropy, to propagate doctrines tending to undermine the very pillars of society.

Suddenly let loose from the dark holes of bigotry or the hotbeds of fanaticism, they affect to have more at heart the salvation of the Hindoo or Kamtschatkan than the deliverance of their own or their neighbors’ souls from the chains of bigotry, ignorance and vice; happily illustration the words of the satirist: “The steady patriots of the
world alone; The friends of every country but their own!”

It is not for us to say what is to be the effect upon the destinies of our country of that restless,  unsettled spirit, which is spreading throughout the land. It appears eager to seize hold on every thing. Its object is change – change in science, in literature, in the  policy upon which the government is based, in systems of morals, in the precepts of religion.

[It appears] that misanthropy, improperly called philanthropy…is lifting high its serpent head, and endeavouring to seduce to their destruction the happy and prosperous people of the United States. There is no higher
civil law than the laws of our country; there is no higher moral law than the laws of God, made known through His revealed word. The doctrine that there is a higher law than those alluded to, tends to the inevitable subversion of all law, the destruction of all morals, to anarchy, chaotic confusion, and ultimate barbarism.

It is treason against God – it is the impious and atheistical coinage of the devil; an attempt on his part to raise, by the hands of man, that standard of rebellion against the high majesty of Heaven, which, when a bright angel, he once raised in the celestial abodes of bliss, and for which he was driven with disgrace and irretrievable ruin down to the bottomless abysses of perdition.

(The False or Pretended Philanthropy of the Age, Henry W. Miller, The North Carolina Reader Number III, A.S. Barnes & Burr, 1860, pp. 249-250)