ETIQUETTE DURING THE PERIOD OF THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES
THROUGHOUT the period of slavery, and until the beginning of the war between the states, the relations of whites and blacks were, as a rule, harmonious. There were, of course, occasional disorder and discord. Kindness and brutality were intermingled; benevolence alternated with bitterness, hand principle with self-interest. A system of "black laws" and slave codes which grew more repressive contrasted strangely with incidents of close association between masters and slaves, wherein all laws became dead letters.
Slavery, from the standpoint of human nature, was, on the whole, perhaps, neither a very good system nor yet a very bad one. It represented, in the main, an institution growing out of natural conditions, in which men first sought their own interests and occasionally gave some attention to the interests of others. The philosophy of slavery seldom, if ever, squared with practice. Philosophy or doctrine was a platform--a public utterance of a rule or principle to which practice was supposed to conform. Practice was, however, something else again. If the two tended to agree, it was doubtless in the regions where, due to occasional and continued absence of owners, or perhaps to extraordinary size of a resident-owner plantation, contacts between master and slave, or white and black, were restricted and formal. On the other hand, on the small-owner farms contacts of intimacy seemed to operate to counterbalance doctrine. Human nature did not meet the stipulation of principle, and relations were essentially on a human level.
Yet, the harmony existing appears as a function of the control exercised by etiquette. The code--differing in different