April 11th, 1861
Jefferson Davis, speaking at a pro-slavery rally: “We here in the South are pro-choice. Choice is good. America is all about choice. We choose to have slaves. Slavery is a simple, but vital matter of economic health. And slaves aren’t really people. Slaves are dependent on slave owners for sustenance and cannot self-govern due to this dependency. Therefore, they are not their own beings. However, if a master intends to one day free his slave, he has an obligation to treat the slave in a manner consistent with continued life. If he does not, no such duty is required, obviously. We believe in a person’s right to choose whether to own a slave. Those who would restrict or abolish our right to choose really seek to control our bodies and extinguish our autonomy and freedom. We have a moral right to decide what to do with our own bodies. The right to slavery is crucial for regional equality and for those of us in the South to achieve our full potential and not continue to be shackled by dictates from the northern states. Attempts to ban slavery put those of us in the South at risk by forcing us to do something illegal. The right to own slaves should be part of a broader portfolio of property rights that enables southerners to make truly free choices as to whether or not to possess other folks. I’m pro-choice because it is time to support the mental health and well-being of Southerners. I’m pro-choice because it is time for Northerners to stop dictating the actions of Southerners. I am pro-choice because eliminating slavery would be financially ruinous for individuals as well as the Confederacy as a whole. I’m pro-choice because the South’s social, moral and economic choices are nobody else’s business. I am pro-choice because I support freedom of—and from—religion. No other person’s religious beliefs have authority over anyone else. I am pro-choice because illegal and unsafe slavery should never be the last resort. I am pro-choice because slavery is obviously not equivalent to murder. I mean, it’s not like abortion, right? In fact, I am pro-choice because it would be too hard for slaves to face a brutal and unforgiving world of dwindling resources without their masters providing food and shelter. And finally, I am pro-choice because I support the empowerment and advancement of Southerners. Thank you.” (Much cheering and placard waving).