Philodemus and the Fatal Influence of Slavery on the Human Mind

It was common for authors of the Founding Era to use pen names. Sometimes this was for protection, but often it was because the authors wanted the focus of the reader to be on what was written, not who wrote it. Philodemus was a man named Thomas Tudor Tucker. As you will see, he had some thought-provoking ideas.

August Glen-James, editor

Such is the fatal influence of Slavery on the human Mind . . . .

“In a Government where Despotism and Tyranny are established, it is both dangerous and useless for a private Citizen to meddle with Politics or to complain of Grievances. Men habituated to Slavery become patient of the Yoke, and cannot be roused to throw it off but by the Weight of some new and intolerable Oppression. Reason pleads in vain. The People are deaf to her Voice, blind to their own Claims and Interests, and cannot be made to understand that they hold their Privileges of Lives from any higher Power than the Will of their proud and arbitrary Rulers. It is scarcely possible to persuade them that they are of the same Class of Beings, that they are made of the same Materials. Or that they are equally the Objects of the Divine Care and Protection. Such is the fatal Influence of Slavery on the human Mind, that it almost wholly effaced from it even the boasted Characteristic of Rationality.

“In a state that is blest with freedom, or a near approach to it, the case is greatly reversed. Every man may freely and securely exercise the privilege of giving his sentiments on all subjects of public concern: and they will generally be well received, provided they are offered with a decent regard to the opinions of his fellow-citizens, not with the authoritative tone of a dictator: It becomes the watchful spirit of patriotism to investigate the sources of every political mischief, and to point out the most easy, peaceable and effectual remedies: It is the duty of all to contribute their endeavors to establish freedom and good order in the community.”

—Thomas Tudor Tucker (writing as Philodemus) Charleston, 1784 (Thomas Tudor Tucker, Charleston, 1784—Hyneman & Lutz, pp. 606-607)