[Transcriber's note: The spelling inconsistencies of the original are preserved in this etext.]
A CENTURY OF NEGRO MIGRATION
Carter G. Woodson
TO MY FATHER
WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO ENTER THE LITERARY WORLD
A CENTURY OF NEGRO MIGRATION
In treating this movement of the Negroes, the writer does not presume to say the last word on the subject. The exodus of the Negroes from the South has just begun. The blacks have recently realized that they have freedom of body and they will now proceed to exercise that right. To presume, therefore, to exhaust the treatment of this movement in its incipiency is far from the intention of the writer. The aim here is rather to direct attention to this new phase of Negro American life which will doubtless prove to be the most significant event in our local history since the Civil War.
Many of the facts herein set forth have seen light before. The effort here is directed toward an original treatment of facts, many of which have already periodically appeared in some form. As these works, however, are too numerous to be consulted by the layman, the writer has endeavored to present in succinct form the leading facts as to how the Negroes in the United States have struggled under adverse circumstances to flee from bondage and oppression in quest of a land offering asylum to the oppressed and opportunity to the unfortunate. How they have often been deceived has been carefully noted.
With the hope that this volume may interest another worker to the extent of publishing many other facts in this field, it is respectfully submitted to the public.
CARTER G. WOODSON.
Washington, D.C., March 31, 1918.
I.—Finding a Place of Refuge
II.—A Transplantation to the North
III.—Fighting it out on Free Soil
IV.—Colonization as a Remedy for Migration
V.—The Successful Migrant
VII.—The Exodus to the West
VIII.—The Migration of the Talented Tenth
IX.—The Exodus during the World War
MAPS AND DIAGRAMS
Map Showing the Per Cent of Negroes in Total Population, by States: 1910
Diagram Showing the Negro Population of Northern and Western Cities in 1900 and 1910
Maps Showing Counties in Southern States in which Negroes Formed 50 Per Cent of the Total Population
FINDING A PLACE OF REFUGE
The migration of the blacks from the Southern States to those offering them better opportunities is nothing new. The objective here, therefore, will be not merely to present the causes and results of the recent movement of the Negroes to the North but to connect this event with the periodical movements of the blacks to that section, from about the year 1815 to the present day. That this movement should date from that period indicates that the policy of the commonwealths towards the Negro must have then begun decidedly to differ so as to make one section of the country more congenial to the despised blacks than the other. As a matter of fact, to justify this conclusion, we need but give passing mention here to developments too well known to be discussed in detail. Slavery in the original thirteen States was the normal condition of the Negroes. When, however, James Otis, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson began to discuss the natural rights of the colonists, then said to be oppressed by Great Britain, some of the patriots of the Revolution carried their reasoning to its logical conclusion, contending that the Negro slaves should be freed on the same grounds, as their rights were also founded in the laws of nature. And so it was soon done in most Northern commonwealths.
Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts exterminated the institution by constitutional provision and Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania by gradual emancipation acts. And it was thought that the institution would soon thereafter pass away even in all southern commonwealths except South Carolina and Georgia, where it had seemingly become profitable. There came later the industrial revolution following the invention of Watt's steam engine and mechanical appliances like Whitney's cotton gin, all which changed the economic aspect of the modern world, making slavery an institution offering means of exploitation to those engaged in the production of cotton. This revolution rendered necessary a large supply of cheap labor for cotton culture, out of which the plantation system grew. The Negro slaves, therefore, lost all hope of ever winning their freedom in South Carolina and Georgia; and in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, where the sentiment in favor of abolition had been favorable, there was a decided reaction which soon blighted their hopes. In the Northern commonwealths, however, the sentiment in behalf of universal freedom, though at times dormant, was ever apparent despite the attachment to the South of the trading classes of northern cities, which profited by the slave trade and their commerce with the slaveholding States. The Northern States maintaining this liberal attitude developed, therefore, into an asylum for the Negroes who were oppressed in the South.
The Negroes, however, were not generally welcomed in the North. Many of the northerners who sympathized with the oppressed blacks in the South never dreamt of having them as their neighbors. There were, consequently, always two classes of anti-slavery people, those who advocated the abolition of slavery to elevate the blacks to the dignity of citizenship, and those who merely hoped to exterminate the institution because it was an economic evil. The latter generally believed that the blacks constituted an inferior class that could not discharge the duties of citizenship, and when the proposal to incorporate the blacks into the body politic was clearly presented to these agitators their anti-slavery ardor was decidedly dampened. Unwilling, however, to take the position that a race should be doomed because of personal objections, many of the early anti-slavery group looked toward colonization for a solution of this problem. Some thought of Africa, but since the deportation of a large number of persons who had been brought under the influence of modern civilization seemed cruel, the most popular colonization scheme at first seemed to be that of settling the Negroes on the public lands in the West. As this region had been lately ceded, however, and no one could determine what use could be made of it by white men, no such policy was generally accepted.
When this territory was ceded to the United States an effort to provide for the government of it finally culminated in the proposed Ordinance of 1784 carrying the provision that slavery should not exist in the Northwest Territory after the year 1800. This measure finally failed to pass and fortunately too, thought some, because, had slavery been given sixteen years of growth on that soil, it might not have been abolished there until the Civil War or it might have caused such a preponderance of slave commonwealths as to make the rebellion successful. The Ordinance of 1784 was antecedent to the more important Ordinance of 1787, which carried the famous sixth article that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime should exist in that territory. At first, it was generally deemed feasible to establish Negro colonies on that domain. Yet despite the assurance of the Ordinance of 1787 conditions were such that one could not determine exactly whether the Northwest Territory would be slave or free.
What then was the situation in this partly unoccupied territory? Slavery existed in what is now the Northwest Territory from the time of the early exploration and settlement of that region by the French. The first slaves of white men were Indians. Though it is true that the red men usually chose death rather than slavery, there were some of them that bowed to the yoke. So many Pawnee Indians became bondsmen that the word Pani became synonymous with slave in the West. Western Indians themselves, following the custom of white men, enslaved their captives in war rather than choose the alternative of putting them to death. In this way they were known to hold a number of blacks and whites.
The enslavement of the black man by the whites in this section dates from the early part of the eighteenth century. Being a part of the Louisiana Territory which under France extended over the whole Mississippi Valley as far as the Allegheny mountains, it was governed by the same colonial regulations. Slavery, therefore, had legal standing in this territory. When Antoine Crozat, upon being placed in control of Louisiana, was authorized to begin a traffic in slaves, Crozat himself did nothing to carry out his plan. But in 1717 when the control of the colony was transferred to the Compagnie de l'Occident steps were taken toward the importation of slaves. In 1719, when 500 Guinea Negroes were brought over to serve in Lower Louisiana, Philip Francis Renault imported 500 other bondsmen into Upper Louisiana or what was later included in the Northwest Territory. Slavery then became more and more extensive until by 1750 there were along the Mississippi five settlements of slaves, Kaskaskia, Kaokia, Fort Chartres, St. Phillipe and Prairie du Rocher. In 1763 Negroes were relatively numerous in the Northwest Territory but when this section that year was transferred to the British the number was diminished by the action of those Frenchmen who, unwilling to become subjects of Great Britain, moved from the territory. There was no material increase in the slave population thereafter until the end of the eighteenth century when some Negroes came from the original thirteen.
The Ordinance of 1787 did not disturb the relation of slave and master. Some pioneers thought that the sixth article exterminated slavery there; others contended that it did not. The latter believed that such expressions in the Ordinance of 1787 as the "free inhabitants" and the "free male inhabitants of full size" implied the continuance of slavery and others found ground for its perpetuation in that clause of the Ordinance which allowed the people of the territory to adopt the constitution and laws of any one of the thirteen States. Students of law saw protection for slavery in Jay's treaty which guaranteed to the settlers their property of all kinds. When, therefore, the slave question came up in the Northwest Territory about the close of the eighteenth century, there were three classes of slaves: first, those who were in servitude to French owners previous to the cession of the Territory to England and were still claimed as property in the possession of which the owners were protected under the treaty of 1763; second, those who were held by British owners at the time of Jay's treaty and claimed afterward as property under its protection; and third, those who, since the Territory had been controlled by the United States, had been brought from the commonwealths in which slavery was allowed. Freedom, however, was recognized as the ultimate status of the Negro in that territory.
This question having been seemingly settled, Anthony Benezet, who for years advocated the abolition of slavery and devoted his time and means to the preparation of the Negroes for living as freedmen, was practical enough to recommend to the Congress of the Confederation a plan of colonizing the emancipated blacks on the western lands. Jefferson incorporated into his scheme for a modern system of public schools the training of the slaves in industrial and agricultural branches to equip them for a higher station in life. He believed, however, that the blacks not being equal to the white race should not be assimilated and should they be free, they should, by all means, be colonized afar off. Thinking that the western lands might be so used, he said in writing to James Monroe in 1801: "A very great extent of country north of the Ohio has been laid off in townships, and is now at market, according to the provisions of the act of Congress.... There is nothing," said he, "which would restrain the State of Virginia either in the purchase or the application of these lands." Yet he raised the question as to whether the establishment of such a colony within our limits and to become a part of the Union would be desirable. He thought then of procuring a place beyond the limits of the United States on our northern boundary, by purchasing the Indian lands with the consent of Great Britain. He then doubted that the black race would live in such a rigorous climate.
This plan did not easily pass from the minds of the friends of the slaves, for in 1805 Thomas Brannagan asserted in his Serious Remonstrances that the government should appropriate a few thousand acres of land at some distant part of the national domains for the Negroes' accommodation and support. He believed that the new State might be established upwards of 2,000 miles from our frontier. A copy of the pamphlet containing this proposition was sent to Thomas Jefferson, who was impressed thereby, but not having the courage to brave the torture of being branded as a friend of the slave, he failed to give it his support. The same question was brought prominently before the public again in 1816 when there was presented to the House of Representatives a memorial from the Kentucky Abolition Society praying that the free people of color be colonized on the public lands. The committee to whom the memorial was referred for consideration reported that it was expedient to refuse the request on the ground that, as such lands were not granted to free white men, they saw no reason for granting them to others.
Some Negro slaves unwilling to wait to be carried or invited to the Northwest Territory escaped to that section even when it was controlled by the French prior to the American Revolution. Slaves who reached the West by this route caused trouble between the French and the British colonists. Advertising in 1746 for James Wenyam, a slave, Richard Colgate, his master, said that he swore to a Negro whom he endeavored to induce to go with him, that he had often been in the backwoods with his master and that he would go to the French and Indians and fight for them. In an advertisement for a mulatto slave in 1755 Thomas Ringold, his master, expressed fear that he had escaped by the same route to the French. He, therefore, said: "It seems to be the interest, at least, of every gentleman that has slaves, to be active in the beginning of these attempts, for whilst we have the French such near neighbors, we shall not have the least security in that kind of property."
The good treatment which these slaves received among the French, and especially at Pittsburgh the gateway to the Northwest Territory, tended to make that city an asylum for those slaves who had sufficient spirit of adventure to brave the wilderness through which they had to go. Negroes even then had the idea that there was in this country a place of more privilege than those they enjoyed in the seaboard colonies. Knowing of the likelihood of the Negroes to rise during the French and Indian War, Governor Dinwiddie wrote Fox one of the Secretaries of State in 1756: "We dare not venture to part with any of our white men any distance, as we must have a watchful eye over our Negro slaves, who are upward of one hundred thousand." Brissot de Warville mentions in his Travels of 1788 several examples of marriages of white and blacks in Pittsburgh. He noted the case of a Negro who married an indentured French servant woman. Out of this union came a desirable mulatto girl who married a surgeon of Nantes then stationed at Pittsburgh. His family was considered one of the most respectable of the city. The Negro referred to was doing a creditable business and his wife took it upon herself to welcome foreigners, especially the French, who came that way. Along the Ohio also there were several cases of women of color living with unmarried white men; but this was looked upon by the Negroes as detestable as was evidenced by the fact that, if black women had a quarrel with a mulatto woman, the former would reproach the latter for being of ignoble blood.
These tendencies, however, could not assure the Negro that the Northwest Territory was to be an asylum for freedom when in 1763 it passed into the hands of the British, the promoters of the slave trade, and later to the independent colonies, two of which had no desire to exterminate slavery. Furthermore, when the Ordinance of 1787 with its famous sixth article against slavery was proclaimed, it was soon discovered that this document was not necessarily emancipatory. As the right to hold slaves was guaranteed to those who owned them prior to the passage of the Ordinance of 1787, it was to be expected that those attached to that institution would not indifferently see it pass away. Various petitions, therefore, were sent to the territorial legislature and to Congress praying that the sixth article of the Ordinance of 1787 be abrogated. No formal action to this effect was taken, but the practice of slavery was continued even at the winking of the government. Some slaves came from the Canadians who, in accordance with the slave trade laws of the British Empire, were supplied with bondsmen. It was the Canadians themselves who provided by act of parliament in 1793 for prohibiting the importation of slaves and for gradual emancipation. When it seemed later that the cause of freedom would eventually triumph the proslavery element undertook to perpetuate slavery through a system of indentured servant labor.
In the formation of the States of Indiana and Illinois the question as to what should be done to harmonize with the new constitution the system of indenture to which the territorial legislatures had been committed, caused heated debate and at times almost conflict. Both Indiana and Illinois finally incorporated into their constitutions compromise provisions for a nominal prohibition of slavery modified by clauses for the continuation of the system of indentured labor of the Negroes held to service. The proslavery party persistently struggled for some years to secure by the interpretation of the laws, by legislation and even by amending the constitution so to change the fundamental law as to provide for actual slavery. These States, however, gradually worked toward freedom in keeping with the spirit of the majority who framed the constitution, despite the fact that the indenture system in southern Illinois and especially in Indiana was at times tantamount to slavery as it was practiced in parts of the South.
It must be borne in mind here, however, that the North at this time was far from becoming a place of refuge for Negroes. In the first place, the industrial revolution had not then had time to reduce the Negroes to the plane of beasts in the cotton kingdom. The rigorous climate and the industries of the northern people, moreover, were not inviting to the blacks and the development of the carrying trade and the rise of manufacturing there did not make that section more attractive to unskilled labor. Furthermore, when we consider the fact that there were many thousands of Negroes in the Southern States the presence of a few in the North must be regarded as insignificant. This paucity of blacks then obtained especially in the Northwest Territory, for its French inhabitants instead of being an exploiting people were pioneering, having little use for slaves in carrying out their policy of merely holding the country for France. Moreover, like certain gentlemen from Virginia, who after the American Revolution were afraid to bring their slaves with them to occupy their bounty lands in Ohio, few enterprising settlers from the slave States had invaded the territory with their Negroes, not knowing whether or not they would be secure in the possession of such property. When we consider that in 1810 there were only 102,137 Negroes in the North and no more than 3,454 in the Northwest Territory, we must look to the second decade of the nineteenth century for the beginning of the migration of the Negroes in the United States.
[Footnote 1: Locke, Anti-Slavery, pp. 19, 20, 23; Works of John Woolman, pp. 58, 73; and Moore, Notes on Slavery in Massachusetts, p. 71.]
[Footnote 2: Bassett, Federalist System, chap. xii. Hart, Slavery and Abolition, pp. 153, 154.]
[Footnote 3: Turner, The Rise of the New West, pp. 45, 46, 47, 48, 49; Hammond, Cotton Industry, chaps. i and ii; Scherer, Cotton as a World Power, pp. 168, 175.]
[Footnote 4: Locke, Anti-Slavery, chaps. i and ii.]
[Footnote 5: Jay, An Inquiry, p. 30.]
[Footnote 6: Ford edition, Jefferson's Writings, III, p. 432.]
[Footnote 7: For the passage of this ordinance three reasons have been given: Slavery then prior to the invention of the cotton gin was considered a necessary evil in the South. The expected monopoly of the tobacco and indigo cultivation in the South would be promoted by excluding Negroes from the Northwest Territory and thus preventing its cultivation there. Dr. Cutler's influence aided by Mr. Grayson of Virginia was of much assistance. The philanthropic idea was not so prominent as men have thought.—Dunn, Indiana, p. 212.]
[Footnote 8: Ibid., p. 254.]
[Footnote 9: Code Noir.]
[Footnote 10: Speaking of these settlements in 1750, M. Viner, a Jesuit Missionary to the Indians, said: "We have here Whites, Negroes, and Indians, to say nothing of cross-breeds—There are five French villages and three villages of the natives within a space of twenty-one leagues—In the five French villages there are perhaps eleven hundred whites, three hundred blacks, and some sixty red slaves or savages." Unlike the condition of the slaves in Lower Louisiana where the rigid enforcement of the Slave Code made their lives almost intolerable, the slaves of the Northwest Territory were for many reasons much more fortunate. In the first place, subject to the control of a mayor-commandant appointed by the Governor of New Orleans, the early dwellers in this territory managed their plantations about as they pleased. Moreover, as there were few planters who owned as many as three or four Negroes, slavery in the Northwest Territory did not get far beyond the patriarchal stage. Slaves were usually well fed. The relations between master and slave were friendly. The bondsmen were allowed special privileges on Sundays and holidays and their children were taught the catechism according to the ordinance of Louis XIV in 1724, which provided that all masters should educate their slaves in the Apostolic Catholic religion and have them baptized. Male slaves were worked side by side in the fields with their masters and the female slaves in neat attire went with their mistresses to matins and vespers. Slaves freely mingled in practically all festive enjoyments.—See Jesuit Relations, LXIX, p. 144; Hutchins, An Historical Narrative, 1784; and Code Noir.]
[Footnote 11: Mention was thereafter made of slaves as in the case of Captain Philip Pittman who in 1770 wrote of one Mr. Beauvais, "who owned 240 orpens of cultivated land and eighty slaves; and such a case as that of a Captain of a militia at St. Philips, possessing twenty blacks; and the case of Mr. Bales, a very rich man of St. Genevieve, Illinois, owning a hundred Negroes, beside having white people constantly employed."—See Captain Pittman's The Present State of the European Settlements in the Mississippi, 1770.]
[Footnote 12: Dunn, Indiana, chap. vi.]
[Footnote 13: Hinsdale, Old Northwest, p. 350.]
[Footnote 14: Tyrannical Libertymen, pp. 10, 11; Locke, Anti-Slavery, pp. 31, 32; Brannagan, Serious Remonstrance, p. 18.]
[Footnote 15: Washington edition of Jefferson's Writings, chap. vi, p. 456, and chap. viii, p. 380.]
[Footnote 16: Ford edition of Jefferson's Writings, III, p. 244; IX, p. 303; X, pp. 76, 290.]
[Footnote 17: Brannagan, Serious Remonstrances, p. 18.]
[Footnote 18: Library edition of Jefferson's Writings, X, pp. 295, 296.]
[Footnote 19: Adams, Neglected Period of Anti-Slavery, pp. 129, 130.]
[Footnote 20: The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 31, 1746.]
[Footnote 21: The Maryland Gazette, March 20, 1755.]
[Footnote 22: Washington's Writings, II, p. 134.]
[Footnote 23: Brissot de Warville, New Travels, II, pp. 33-34.]
[Footnote 24: Harris, Slavery in Illinois, chaps. iii, iv, and v; Dunn, Indiana, pp. 218-260; Hinsdale, Old Northwest, pp. 351-358.]
[Footnote 25: This code provided that all male Negroes under fifteen, years of age either owned or acquired must remain in servitude until they reached the age of thirty-five and female slaves until thirty-two. The male children of such persons held to service could be bound out for thirty years and the female children for twenty-eight. Slaves brought into the territory had to comply with contracts for terms of service when their master registered them within thirty days from the time he brought them into the territory. Indentured black servants were not exactly sold, but the law permitted the transfer from one owner to another when the slave acquiesced in the transfer before a notary, but it was often done without regard to the slave. They were even bequeathed and sold as personal property at auction. Notices for sale were frequent. There were rewards for runaway slaves. Negroes whose terms had almost expired were kidnapped and sold to New Orleans. The legislature imposed a penalty for such, but it was not generally enforced. They were taxable property valued according to the length of service. Negroes served as laborers on farms, house servants, and in salt mines, the latter being an excuse for holding them as slaves. Persons of color could purchase servants of their own race. The law provided that the Justice of the County could on complaint from the master order that a lazy servant be whipped. In this frontier section, therefore, where men often took the law in their own hands, slaves were often punished and abused just as they were in the Southern States. The law dealing with fugitives was somewhat harsh. When apprehended, fugitives had to serve two days extra for each day they lost from their master's service. The harboring of a runaway slave was punishable by a fine of one day for each the slave might be concealed. Consistently too with the provision of the laws in most slave States, slaves could retain all goods or money lawfully acquired during their servitude provided their master gave his consent. Upon the demonstration of proof to the county court that they had served their term they could obtain from that tribunal certificates of freedom. See The Laws of Indiana.]
[Footnote 26: Masters had to provide adequate food, and clothing and good lodging for the slave, but the penalty for failing to comply with this law was not clear and even if so, it happened that many masters never observed it. There was also an effort to prevent cruelty to slaves, but it was difficult to establish the guilt of masters when the slave could not bear witness against his owner and it was not likely that the neighbor equally guilty or indifferent to the complaints of the blacks would take their petitions to court.
Under this system a large number of slaves were brought into the Territory especially after 1807. There were 135 in 1800. This increase came from Kentucky and Tennessee. As those brought were largely boys and girls with a long period of service, this form of slavery was assured for some years. The children of these blacks were often registered for thirty-five instead of thirty years of service on the ground that they were not born in Illinois. No one thought of persecuting a master for holding servants unlawfully and Negroes themselves could be easily deceived. Very few settlers brought their slaves there to free them. There were only 749 in 1820. If one considers the proportion of this to the number brought there for manumission this seems hardly true. It is better to say that during these first two decades of the nineteenth century some settlers came for both purposes, some to hold slaves, some, as Edward Coles, to free them. It was not only practiced in the southern part along the Mississippi and Ohio but as far north in Illinois as Sangamon County, were found servants known as "yellow boys" and "colored girls."—See the Laws of Illinois.]
A TRANSPLANTATION TO THE NORTH
Just after the settlement of the question of holding the western posts by the British and the adjustment of the trouble arising from their capture of slaves during our second war with England, there started a movement of the blacks to this frontier territory. But, as there were few towns or cities in the Northwest during the first decades of the new republic, the flight of the Negro into that territory was like that of a fugitive taking his chances in the wilderness. Having lost their pioneering spirit in passing through the ordeal of slavery, not many of the bondmen took flight in that direction and few free Negroes ventured to seek their fortunes in those wilds during the period of the frontier conditions, especially when the country had not then undergone a thorough reaction against the Negro.
The migration of the Negroes, however, received an impetus early in the nineteenth century. This came from the Quakers, who by the middle of the eighteenth century had taken the position that all members of their sect should free their slaves. The Quakers of North Carolina and Virginia had as early as 1740 taken up the serious question of humanely treating their Negroes. The North Carolina Quakers advised Friends to emancipate their slaves, later prohibited traffic in them, forbade their members from even hiring the blacks out in 1780 and by 1818 had exterminated the institution among their communicants. After healing themselves of the sin, they had before the close of the eighteenth century militantly addressed themselves to the task of abolishing slavery and the slave trade throughout the world. Differing in their scheme from that of most anti-slavery leaders, they were advocating the establishment of the freedmen in society as good citizens and to that end had provided for the religious and mental instruction of their slaves prior to emancipating them.
Despite the fact that the Quakers were not free to extend their operations throughout the colonies, they did much to enable the Negroes to reach free soil. As the Quakers believed in the freedom of the will, human brotherhood, and equality before God, they did not, like the Puritans, find difficulties in solving the problem of elevating the Negroes. Whereas certain Puritans were afraid that conversion might lead to the destruction of caste and the incorporation of undesirable persons into the "Body Politick," the Quakers proceeded on the principle that all men are brethren and, being equal before God, should be considered equal before the law. On account of unduly emphasizing the relation of man to God, the Puritans "atrophied their social humanitarian instinct" and developed into a race of self-conscious saints. Believing in human nature and laying stress upon the relation between man and man, the Quakers became the friends of all humanity.
In 1693 George Keith, a leading Quaker of his day, came forward as a promoter of the religious training of the slaves as a preparation for emancipation. William Penn advocated the emancipation of slaves, that they might have every opportunity for improvement. In 1695 the Quakers while protesting against the slave trade denounced also the policy of neglecting their moral and spiritual welfare. The growing interest of this sect in the Negroes was shown later by the development in 1713 of a definite scheme for freeing and returning them to Africa after having been educated and trained to serve as missionaries on that continent.
When the manumission of the slaves was checked by the reaction against that class and it became more of a problem to establish them in a hostile environment, certain Quakers of North Carolina and Virginia adopted the scheme of settling them in Northern States. At first, they sent such freedmen to Pennsylvania. But for various reasons this did not prove to be the best asylum. In the first place, Pennsylvania bordered on the slave States, Maryland and Virginia, from which agents came to kidnap free Negroes. Furthermore, too many Negroes were already rushing to that commonwealth as the Negroes' heaven and there was the chance that the Negroes might be settled elsewhere in the North, where they might have better economic opportunities. A committee of forty was accordingly appointed by North Carolina Quakers in 1822 to examine the laws of other free States with a view to determining what section would be most suitable for colonizing these blacks. This committee recommended in its report that the blacks be colonized in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The yearly meeting, therefore, ordered the removal of such Negroes as fast as they were willing or as might be consistent with the profession of their sect, and instructed the agents effecting the removal to draw on the treasury for any sum not exceeding two hundred dollars to defray expenses. An increasing number reached these States every year but, owing to the inducements offered by the American Colonization Society, some of them went to Liberia. When Liberia, however, developed into every thing but a haven of rest, the number sent to the settlements in the Northwest greatly increased.
The quarterly meeting succeeded in sending to the West 133 Negroes, including 23 free blacks and slaves given up because they were connected by marriage with those to be transplanted. The Negro colonists seemed to prefer Indiana. They went in three companies and with suitable young Friends to whom were executed powers of attorney to manumit, set free, settle and bind them out. Thirteen carts and wagons were bought for these three companies; $1,250 was furnished for their traveling expenses and clothing, the whole cost amounting to $2,490. It was planned to send forty or fifty to Long Island and twenty to the interior of Pennsylvania, but they failed to prosper and reports concerning them stamped them as destitute and deplorably ignorant. Those who went to Ohio and Indiana, however, did well.
Later we receive another interesting account of this exodus. David White led a company of fifty-three into the West, thirty-eight of whom belonged to Friends, five to a member who had ordered that they be taken West at his expense. Six of these slaves belonged to Samuel Lawrence, a Negro slaveholder, who had purchased himself and family. White pathetically reports the case of four of the women who had married slave husbands and had twenty children for the possession of whom the Friends had to stand a lawsuit in the courts. The women had decided to leave their husbands behind but the thought of separation so tormented them that they made an effort to secure their liberty. Upon appealing to their masters for terms the owners, somewhat moved by compassion, sold them for one half of their value. White then went West and left four in Chillicothe, twenty-three in Leesburg and twenty-six in Wayne County, Indiana, without encountering any material difficulty.
Others had thought of this plan but the Quakers actually carried it out on a small scale. Here we see again not only their desire to have the Negroes emancipated but the vital interest of the Quakers in success of the blacks, for members of this sect not only liberated their slaves but sold out their own holdings in the South and moved with these freedmen into the North. Quakers who then lived in free States offered fugitives material assistance by open and clandestine methods. The most prominent leader developed by the movement was Levi Coffin, whose daring deeds in behalf of the fugitives made him the reputed President of the Underground Railroad. Most of the Quaker settlements of Negroes with which he was connected were made in what is now Hamilton, Howard, Wayne, Randolph, Vigo, Gibson, Grant, Rush, and Tipton Counties, Indiana, and Darke County, Ohio.
The promotion of this movement by the Quakers was well on its way by 1815 and was not materially checked until the fifties when the operations of the drastic fugitive slave law interfered, and even then the movement had gained such momentum and the execution of that mischievous measure had produced in the North so much reaction like that expressed in the personal liberty laws, that it could not be stopped. The Negroes found homes in Western New York, Western Pennsylvania and throughout the Northwest Territory. The Negro population of York, Harrisburg and Philadelphia rapidly increased. A settlement of Negroes developed at Sandy Lake in Northwestern Pennsylvania and there was another near Berlin Cross Roads in Ohio. A group of Negroes migrating to this same State found homes in the Van Buren Township of Shelby County. A more significant settlement in the State was made by Samuel Gist, an Englishman possessing extensive plantations in Hanover, Amherst, and Henrico Counties, Virginia. He provided in his will that his slaves should be freed and sent to the North. He further provided that the revenue from his plantation the last year of his life be applied in building schoolhouses and churches for their accommodation, and "that all money coming to him in Virginia be set aside for the employment of ministers and teachers to instruct them." In 1818, Wickham, the executor of his estate, purchased land and established these Negroes in what was called the Upper and Lower Camps of Brown County.
Augustus Wattles, a Quaker from Connecticut, made a settlement in Mercer County, Ohio, early in the nineteenth century. In the winter of 1833-4, he providentially became acquainted with the colored people of Cincinnati, finding there about "4,000 totally ignorant of every thing calculated to make good citizens." As most of them had been slaves, excluded from every avenue of moral and mental improvement, he established for them a school which he maintained for two years. He then proposed to these Negroes to go into the country and purchase land to remove them "from those contaminating influences which had so long crushed them in our cities and villages." They consented on the condition that he would accompany them and teach school. He travelled through Canada, Michigan and Indiana, looking for a suitable location, and finally selected for settlement a place in Mercer County, Ohio. In 1835, he made the first purchase of land there for this purpose and before 1838 Negroes had bought there about 30,000 acres, at the earnest appeal of this benefactor, who had travelled into almost every neighborhood of the blacks in the State, and laid before them the benefits of a permanent home for themselves and of education for their children.
This settlement was further increased in 1858 by the manumitted slaves of John Harper of North Carolina. John Randolph of Roanoke endeavored to establish his slaves as freemen in this county but the Germans who had settled in that community a little ahead of them started such a disturbance that Randolph's executor could not carry out his plan, although he had purchased a large tract of land there. It was necessary to send these freemen to Miami County. Theodoric H. Gregg of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, liberated his slaves in 1854 and sent them to Ohio. Nearer to the Civil War, when public opinion was proscribing the uplift of Negroes in Kentucky, Noah Spears secured near Xenia, Greene County, Ohio, a small parcel of land for sixteen of his former bondsmen in 1856. Other freedmen found their way to this community in later years and it became so prosperous that it was selected as the site of Wilberforce University.
This transplantation extended into Michigan. With the help of persons philanthropically inclined there sprang up a flourishing group of Negroes in Detroit. Early in the nineteenth century they began to acquire property and to provide for the education of their children. Their record was such as to merit the encomiums of their fellow white citizens. In later years this group in Detroit was increased by the operation of laws hostile to free Negroes in the South in that life for this class not only became intolerable but necessitated their expatriation. Because of the Virginia drastic laws and especially that of 1838 prohibiting the return to that State of such Negro students as had been accustomed to go North to attend school, after they were denied this privilege at home, the father of Richard DeBaptiste and Marie Louis More, the mother of Fannie M. Richards, led a colony of free Negroes from Fredericksburg to Detroit. And for about similar reasons the father of Robert A. Pelham conducted others from Petersburg, Virginia, in 1859. One Saunders, a planter of Cabell County, West Virginia, liberated his slaves some years later and furnished them homes among the Negroes settled in Cass County, Michigan, about ninety miles east of Chicago, and ninety-five miles west of Detroit.
This settlement had become attractive to fugitive slaves and freedmen because the Quakers settled there welcomed them on their way to freedom and in some cases encouraged them to remain among them. When the increase of fugitives was rendered impossible during the fifties when the Fugitive Slave Law was being enforced, there was still a steady growth due to the manumission of slaves by sympathetic and benevolent masters in the South. Most of these Negroes settled in Calvin Township, in that county, so that of the 1,376 residing there in 1860, 795 were established in this district, there being only 580 whites dispersed among them. The Negro settlers did not then obtain control of the government but they early purchased land to the extent of several thousand acres and developed into successful small farmers. Being a little more prosperous than the average Negro community in the North, the Cass County settlement not only attracted Negroes fleeing from hardships in the South but also those who had for some years unsuccessfully endeavored to establish themselves in other communities on free soil.
These settlements were duplicated a little farther west in Illinois. Edward Coles, a Virginian, who in 1818 emigrated to Illinois, of which he later served as Governor and as liberator from slavery, settled his slaves in that commonwealth. He brought them to Edwardsville, where they constituted a community known as "Coles' Negroes." There was another community of Negroes in Illinois in what is now called Brooklyn situated north of East St. Louis. This town was a center of some consequence in the thirties. It became a station of the Underground Railroad on the route to Alton and to Canada. As all of the Negroes who emerged from the South did not go farther into the North, the black population of the town gradually grew despite the fact that slave hunters captured and reenslaved many of the Negroes who settled there.
These settlements together with favorable communities of sympathetic whites promoted the migration of the free Negroes and fugitives from the South by serving as centers offering assistance to those fleeing to the free States and to Canada. The fugitives usually found friends in Philadelphia, Columbia, Pittsburgh, Elmira, Rochester, Buffalo, Gallipolis, Portsmouth, Akron, Cincinnati, and Detroit. They passed on the way to freedom through Columbia, Philadelphia, Elizabethtown and by way of sea to New York and Boston, from which they proceeded to permanent settlements in the North.
In the West, the migration of the blacks was further facilitated by the peculiar geographic condition in that the Appalachian highland, extending like a peninsula into the South, had a natural endowment which produced a class of white citizens hostile to the institution of slavery. These mountaineers coming later to the colonies had to go to the hills and mountains because the first comers from Europe had taken up the land near the sea. Being of the German and Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock, they had ideals differing widely from those of the seaboard slaveholders. The mountaineers believed in "civil liberty in fee simple, and an open road to civil honors, secured to the poorest and feeblest members of society." The eastern element had for their ideal a government of interests for the people. They believed in liberty but that of kings, lords, and commons, not of all the people.
Settled along the Appalachian highland, these new stocks continued to differ from those dwelling near the sea, especially on the slavery question. The natural endowment of the mountainous section made slavery there unprofitable and the mountaineers bore it grievously that they were attached to commonwealths dominated by the radical pro-slavery element of the South, who sacrificed all other interests to safeguard those of the peculiar institution. There developed a number of clashes in all of the legislatures and constitutional conventions of the Southern States along the Atlantic, but in every case the defenders of the interests of slavery won. When, therefore, slaves with the assistance of anti-slavery mountaineers began to escape to the free States, they had little difficulty in making their way through the Appalachian region, where the love of freedom had so set the people against slavery that although some of them yielded to the inevitable sin, they never made any systematic effort to protect it.
The development of the movement in these mountains was more than interesting. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century there were many ardent anti-slavery leaders in the mountains. These were not particularly interested in the Negro but were determined to keep that soil for freedom that the settlers might there realize the ideals for which they had left their homes in Europe. When the industrial revolution with the attendant rise of the plantation cotton culture made abolition in the South improbable, some of them became colonizationists, hoping to destroy the institution through deportation, which would remove the objection of certain masters who would free their slaves provided they were not left in the States to become a public charge. Some of this sentiment continued in the mountains even until the Civil War. The highlanders, therefore, found themselves involved in a continuous embroglio because they were not moved by reactionary influences which were unifying the South for its bold effort to make slavery a national institution. The other members of the mountaineer anti-slavery group became attached to the Underground Railroad system, endeavoring by secret methods to place on free soil a sufficiently large number of fugitives to show a decided diminution in the South. John Brown, who communicated with the South through these mountains, thought that his work would be a success, if he could change the situation in one county in each of these States.
The lines along which these Underground Railroad operators moved connected naturally with the Quaker settlements established in free States and the favorable sections in the Appalachian region. Many of these workers were Quakers who had already established settlements of slaves on estates which they had purchased in the Northwest Territory. Among these were John Rankin, James Gilliland, Jesse Lockehart, Robert Dobbins, Samuel Crothers, Hugh L. Fullerton, and William Dickey. Thus they connected the heart of the South with the avenues to freedom in the North. There were routes extending from this section into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Over the Ohio and Kentucky route culminating chiefly in Cleveland, Sandusky and Detroit, however, more fugitives made their way to freedom than through any other avenue, partly too because they found the limestone caves very helpful for hiding by day. These operations extended even through Tennessee into northern Georgia and Alabama. Dillingham, Josiah Henson and Harriet Tubman used these routes to deliver many a Negro from slavery.
The opportunity thus offered to help the oppressed brought forward a class of anti-slavery men, who went beyond the limit of merely expressing their horror of the evil. They believed that something should be done "to deliver the poor that cry and to direct the wanderer in the right way." Translating into action what had long been restricted to academic discussion, these philanthropic workers ushered in a new era in the uplift of the blacks, making abolition more of a reality. The abolition element of the North then could no longer be considered an insignificant minority advocating a hopeless cause but a factor in drawing from the South a part of its slave population and at the same time offering asylum to the free Negroes whom the southerners considered undesirable.[4l] Prominent among those who aided this migration in various ways were Benjamin Lundy of Tennessee and James G. Birney, a former slaveholder of Huntsville, Alabama, who manumitted his slaves and apprenticed and educated some of them in Ohio.
This exodus of the Negroes to the free States promoted the migration of others of their race to Canada, a more congenial part beyond the borders of the United States. The movement from the free States into Canada, moreover, was contemporary with that from the South to the free States as will be evidenced by the fact that 15,000 of the 60,000 Negroes in Canada in 1860 were free born. As Detroit was the chief gateway for them to Canada, most of these refugees settled in towns of Southern Ontario not far from that city. These were Dawn, Colchester, Elgin, Dresden, Windsor, Sandwich, Bush, Wilberforce, Hamilton, St. Catherines, Chatham, Riley, Anderton, London, Malden and Gonfield. And their coming to Canada was not checked even by request from their enemies that they be turned away from that country as undesirables, for some of the white people there welcomed and assisted them. Canadians later experienced a change in their attitude toward these refugees but these British Americans never made the life of the Negro there so intolerable as was the case in some of the free States.
It should be observed here that this movement, unlike the exodus of the Negroes of today, affected an unequal distribution of the enlightened Negroes. Those who are fleeing from the South today are largely laborers seeking economic opportunities. The motive at work in the mind of the antebellum refugee was higher. In 1840 there were more intelligent blacks in the South than in the North but not so after 1850, despite the vigorous execution of the Fugitive Slave Law in some parts of the North. While the free Negro population of the slave States increased only 23,736 from 1850 to 1860, that of the free States increased 29,839. In the South, only Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina showed a noticeable increase in the number of free persons of color during the decade immediately preceding the Civil War. This element of the population had only slightly increased in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina and the District of Columbia. The number of free Negroes of Florida remained constant. Those of Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas diminished. In the North, of course, the migration had caused the tendency to be in the other direction. With the exception of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York which had about the same free colored population in 1860 as they had in 1850 there was a general increase in the number of Negroes in the free States. Ohio led in this respect, having had during this period an increase of 11,394. A glance at the table on the accompanying page will show in detail the results of this migration.
STATISTICS OF THE FREE COLORED POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES
State Population 1850 1860 —————————————————————————— Alabama.................... 2,265 2,690 Arkansas................... 608 144 California................. 962 4,086 Connecticut................ 7,693 8,627 Delaware................... 18,073 19,829 Florida...................... 932 932 Georgia...................... 2,931 3,500 Illinois..................... 5,436 7,628 Indiana...................... 11,262 11,428 Iowa......................... 333 1,069 Kentucky..................... 10,011 10,684 Louisiana.................... 17,462 18,647 Maine........................ 1,356 1,327 Kansas....................... 625 Maryland..................... 74,723 83,942 Massachusetts................ 9,064 9,602 Michigan..................... 2,583 6,797 Minnesota.................... 259 Mississippi.................. 930 773 Missouri..................... 2,618 3,572 New Hampshire................ 520 494 New Jersey................... 23,810 25,318 New York..................... 49,069 49,005 North Carolina............... 27,463 30,463 Ohio......................... 25,279 36,673 Oregon....................... 128 Pennsylvania................. 53,626 56,949 Rhode Island................. 3,670 3,952 South Carolina............... 8,960 9,914 Tennessee.................... 6,422 7,300 Texas........................ 397 355 Vermont...................... 718 709 Virginia..................... 54,333 58,042 Wisconsin.................... 635 1,171 Territories: Colorado................... 46 Dakota..................... 0 District of Columbia....... 10,059 11,131 Minnesota.................. 39 Nebraska................... 67 Nevada..................... 45 New Mexico................. 207 85 Oregon..................... 24 Utah....................... 22 30 Washington................. 30 Total .....................434,495 488,070
[Footnote 1: Moore, Anti-Slavery, p. 79; and Special Report of the United States Commissioner of Education, 1871, p. 376; Weeks, Southern Quakers, pp. 215, 216, 231, 230, 242.]
[Footnote 2: The Southern Workman, xxvii, p. 161.]
[Footnote 3: Rhodes, History of the United States, chap. i, p. 6; Bancroft, History of the United States, chap. ii, p. 401; and Locke, Anti-Slavery, p. 32.]
[Footnote 4: A Brief Statement of the Rise and Progress of the Testimony of the Quakers, passim; Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, p. 43.]
[Footnote 5: Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, p. 44; and Locke, Anti-Slavery, p. 32.]
[Footnote 6: The Southern Workman, xxxvii, pp. 158-169.]
[Footnote 7: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, pp. 144, 145, 151, 155.]
[Footnote 8: Southern Workman, xxxvii, p. 157.]
[Footnote 9: Levi Coffin, Reminiscences, chaps, i and ii.]
[Footnote 10: Southern Workman, xxxvii, pp. 161-163.]
[Footnote 11: Coffin, Reminiscences, p. 109; and Howe's Historical Collections, p. 356.]
[Footnote 12: Southern Workman, xxxvii, pp. 162, 163.]
[Footnote 13: Levi Coffin, Reminiscences, pp. 108-111.]
[Footnote 14: Siebert, The Underground Railroad, p. 249.]
[Footnote 15: Langston, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol, p. 35.]
[Footnote 16: Howe, Historical Collections, p. 465.]
[Footnote 17: History of Brown County, Ohio, p. 313.]
[Footnote 18: Wattles said: he purchased for himself 190 acres of land, to establish a manual labor school for colored boys. He had maintained a school on it, at his own expense, till the eleventh of November, 1842. While in Philadelphia the winter before, he became acquainted with the trustees of the late Samuel Emlen, a Friend of New Jersey. He left by his will $20,000 for the "support and education in school learning and the mechanic arts and agriculture, boys, of African and Indian descent, whose parents would give them up to the school. They united their means and purchased Wattles farm, and appointed him the superintendent of the establishment, which they called the Emlen Institute."—See Howe's Historical Collections, p. 356.]
[Footnote 19: Howe's Historical Collections, p. 355.]
[Footnote 20: Manuscripts in the possession of J.E. Moorland.]
[Footnote 21: The African Repository, xxii, pp. 322, 333.]
[Footnote 22: Simmons, Men of Mark, p. 723.]
[Footnote 23: Southern Workman, xxxvii, p. 158.]
[Footnote 24: The Journal of Negro History, I, pp. 23-33.]
[Footnote 25: Ibid., I, p. 26.]
[Footnote 26: The African Repository, passim.]
[Footnote 27: Although constituting a majority of the population even before the Civil War the Negroes of this township did not get recognition in the local government until 1875 when John Allen, a Negro, was elected township treasurer. From that time until about 1890 the Negroes always shared the honors of office with their white citizens and since that time they have usually had entire control of the local government in that township, holding such offices as supervisor, clerk, treasurer, road commissioner, and school director. Their record has been that of efficiency. Boss rule among them is not known. The best man for an office is generally sought; for this is a community of independent farmers. In 1907 one hundred and eleven different farmers in this community had holdings of 10,439 acres. Their township usually has very few delinquent taxpayers and it promptly makes its returns to the county.—See the Southern Workman, xxxvii, pp. 486-489.]
[Footnote 28: Davidson and Stowe, A Complete History of Illinois, pp. 321, 322; and Washburn, Edward Coles, pp. 44 and 53.]
[Footnote 29: The Negro population of this town so rapidly increased after the war that it has become a Negro town and unfortunately a bad one. Much improvement has been made in recent years.—See Southern Workman, xxxvii, pp. 489-494.]
[Footnote 30: Still, Underground Railroad, passim; Siebert, Underground Railroad, pp. 34, 35, 40, 42, 43, 48, 56, 59, 62, 64, 70, 145, 147; Drew, Refugee, pp. 72, 97, 114, 152, 335 and 373.]
[Footnote 31: The Journal of Negro History, I, pp. 132-162.]
[Footnote 32: Ibid., I, 138.]
[Footnote 33: Olmsted, Back Country, p. 134.]
[Footnote 34: In the Appalachian mountains, however, the settlers were loath to follow the fortunes of the ardent pro-slavery element. Actual abolition, for example, was never popular in western Virginia, but the love of the people of that section for freedom kept them estranged from the slaveholding districts of the State, which by 1850 had completely committed themselves to the pro-slavery propaganda. In the Convention of 1829-30 Upshur said there existed in a great portion of the West (of Virginia) a rooted antipathy to the slave. John Randolph was alarmed at the fanatical spirit on the subject of slavery, which was growing in Virginia,—See the Journal of Negro History, I, p. 142.]
[Footnote 35: Adams, Neglected Period of Anti-Slavery.]
[Footnote 36: The Journal of Negro History, I, pp. 132-160.]
[Footnote 37: Siebert, Underground Railroad, p. 166.]
[Footnote 38: Adams, Neglected Period of Anti-Slavery.]
[Footnote 39: Siebert, Underground Railroad, chaps. v and vi.]
[Footnote 40: An Address to the People of North Carolina on the Evils of Slavery.]
[Footnote 41: Washington, Story of the Negro, I, chaps. xii, xiii and xiv. ]
[Footnote 42: Father Henson's Story of his own Life, p. 209; Coffin, Reminiscences, pp. 247-256; Howe, The Refugees from Slavery, p. 77; Haviland, A Woman's Work, pp. 192, 193, 196.]
[Footnote 43: Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, pp. 236-240.]
[Footnote 44: The United States Censuses of 1850 and 1860.]
FIGHTING IT OUT ON FREE SOIL
How, then, was this increasing influx of refugees from the South to be received in the free States? In the older Northern States where there could be no danger of an Africanization of a large district, the coming of the Negroes did not cause general excitement, though at times the feeling in certain localities was sufficient to make one think so. Fearing that the immigration of the Negroes into the North might so increase their numbers as to make them constitute a rather important part in the community, however, some free States enacted laws to restrict the privileges of the blacks.
Free Negroes had voted in all the colonies except Georgia and South Carolina, if they had the property qualification; but after the sentiment attendant upon the struggle for the rights of man had passed away there set in a reaction. Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky disfranchised all Negroes not long after the Revolution. They voted in North Carolina until 1835, when the State, feeling that this privilege of one class of Negroes might affect the enslavement of the other, prohibited it. The Northern States, following in their wake, set up the same barriers against the blacks. They were disfranchised in New Jersey in 1807, in Connecticut in 1814, and in Pennsylvania in 1838. In 1811 New York passed an act requiring the production of certificates of freedom from blacks or mulattoes offering to vote. The second constitution, adopted in 1823, provided that no man of color, unless he had been for three years a citizen of that State and for one year next preceding any election, should be seized and possessed of a freehold estate, should be allowed to vote, although this qualification was not required of the whites. An act of 1824 relating to the government of the Stockbridge Indians provided that no Negro or mulatto should vote in their councils.
That increasing prejudice was to a great extent the result of the immigration into the North of Negroes in the rough, was nowhere better illustrated than in Pennsylvania. Prior to 1800, and especially after 1780, when the State provided for gradual emancipation, there was little race prejudice in Pennsylvania. When the reactionary legislation of the South made life intolerable for the Negroes, debasing them to the plane of beasts, many of the free people of color from Virginia, Maryland and Delaware moved or escaped into Pennsylvania like a steady stream during the next sixty years. As these Negroes tended to concentrate in towns and cities, they caused the supply of labor to exceed the demand, lowering the wages of some and driving out of employment a number of others who became paupers and consequently criminals. There set in too an intense struggle between the black and white laborers, immensely accelerating the growth of race prejudice, especially when the abolitionists and Quakers were giving Negroes industrial training.
The first exhibition of this prejudice was seen among the lower classes of white people, largely Irish and Germans, who, devoted to menial labor, competed directly with the Negroes. It did not require a long time, however, for this feeling to react on the higher classes of whites where Negroes settled in large groups. A strong protest arose from the menace of Negro paupers. An attempt was made in 1804 to compel free Negroes to maintain those that might become a public charge. In 1813 the mayor, aldermen and citizens of Philadelphia asked that free Negroes be taxed to support their poor. Two Philadelphia representatives in the Pennsylvania Legislature had a committee appointed in 1815 to consider the advisability of preventing the immigration of Negroes. One of the causes then at work there was that the black population had recently increased to four thousand in Philadelphia and more than four thousand others had come into the city since the previous registration.
They were arriving much faster than they could be assimilated. The State of Pennsylvania had about exterminated slavery by 1840, having only 40 slaves that year and only a few hundred at any time after 1810. Many of these, of course, had not had time to make their way in life as freedmen. To show how much the rapid migration to that city aggravated the situation under these circumstances one needs but note the statistics of the increase of the free people of color in that State. There were only 22,492 such persons in Pennsylvania in 1810, but in 1820 there were 30,202, and in 1830 as many as 37,930. This number increased to 47,854 by 1840, to 53,626 by 1850, and to 56,949 by 1860. The undesirable aspect of the situation was that most of the migrating blacks came in crude form. "On arriving," therefore, says a contemporary, "they abandoned themselves to all manner of debauchery and dissipation to the great annoyance of many citizens."
Thereafter followed a number of clashes developing finally into a series of riots of a grave nature. Innocent Negroes, attacked at first for purposes of sport and later for sinister designs, were often badly beaten in the streets or even cut with knives. The offenders were not punished and if the Negroes defended themselves they were usually severely penalized. In 1819 three white women stoned a woman of color to death. A few youths entered a Negro church in Philadelphia in 1825 and by throwing pepper to give rise to suffocating fumes caused a panic which resulted in the death of several Negroes. When the citizens of New Haven, Connecticut, arrayed themselves in 1831 against the plan to establish in that city a Negro manual labor college, there was held in Philadelphia a meeting which passed resolutions enthusiastically endorsing this effort to rid the community of the evil of the immigration of free Negroes. There arose also the custom of driving Negroes away from Independence Square on the Fourth of July because they were neither considered nor desired as a part of the body politic.
It was thought that in the state of feeling of the thirties that the Negro would be annihilated. De Tocqueville also observed that the Negroes were more detested in the free States than in those where they were held as slaves. There had been such a reaction since 1800 that no positions of consequence were open to Negroes, however well educated they might be, and the education of the blacks which was once vigorously prosecuted there became unpopular. This was especially true of Harrisburg and Philadelphia but by no means confined to large cities. The Philadelphia press said nothing in behalf of the race. It was generally thought that freedom had not been an advantage to the Negro and that instead of making progress they had filled jails and almshouses and multiplied pest holes to afflict the cities with disease and crime.
The Negroes of York carefully worked out in 1803 a plan to burn the city. Incendiaries set on fire a number of houses, eleven of which were destroyed, whereas there were other attempts at a general destruction of the city. The authorities arrested a number of Negroes but ran the risk of having the jail broken open by their sympathizing fellowmen. After a reign of terror for half a week, order was restored and twenty of the accused were convicted of arson.
In 1820 there occurred so many conflagrations that a vigilance committee was organized. Whether or not the Negroes were guilty of the crime is not known but numbers of them left either on account of the fear of punishment or because of the indignities to which they were subjected. Numerous petitions, therefore, came before the legislature to stop the immigration of Negroes. It was proposed in 1840 to tax all free Negroes to assist them in getting out of the State for colonization. The citizens of Lehigh County asked the authorities in 1830 to expel all Negroes and persons of color found in the State. Another petition prayed that they be deprived of the freedom of movement. Bills embodying these ideas were frequently considered but they were never passed.
Stronger opposition than this, however, was manifested in the form of actual outbreaks on a large scale in Philadelphia. The immediate cause of this first real clash was the abolition agitation in the city in 1834 following the exciting news of other such disturbances a few months prior to this date in several northern cities. A group of boys started the riot by destroying a Negro resort. A mob then proceeded to the Negro district, where white and colored men engaged in a fight with clubs and stones.
The next day the mob ruined the African Presbyterian Church and attacked some Negroes, destroying their property and beating them mercilessly. This riot continued for three days. A committee appointed to inquire into the causes of the riot reported that the aim of the rioters had been to make the Negroes go away because it was believed that their labor was depriving them of work and because the blacks had shielded criminals and had made such noise and disorder in their churches as to make them a nuisance. It seemed that the most intelligent and well-to-do people of Philadelphia keenly felt it that the city had thus been disgraced, but the mob spirit continued.
The very next year was marked by the same sort of disorder. Because a half-witted Negro attempted to murder a white man, a large mob stirred up the city again. There was a repetition of the beating of Negroes and of the destruction of property while the police, as the year before, were so inactive as to give rise to the charge that they were accessories to the riot. In 1838 there occurred another outbreak which developed into an anti-abolition riot, as the public mind had been much exercised by the discussions of abolitionists and by their close social contact with the Negroes. The clash came on the seventeenth of May when Pennsylvania Hall, the center of abolition agitation, was burned. Fighting between the blacks and whites ensued the following night when the Colored Orphan Asylum was attacked and a Negro church burned. Order was finally restored for the good of all concerned, but that a majority of the people sympathized with the rioters was evidenced by the fact that the committee charged with investigating the disturbance reported that the mob was composed of strangers who could not be recognized. It is well to note here that this riot occurred the year the Negroes in Pennsylvania were disfranchised.
Following the example of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh had a riot in 1839 resulting in the maltreatment of a number of Negroes and the demolishing of some of their houses. When the Negroes of Philadelphia paraded the city in 1842, celebrating the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, there ensued a battle led by the whites who undertook to break up the procession. Along with the beating and killing of the usual number went also the destruction of the New African Hall and the Negro Presbyterian church. The grand jury charged with the inquiry into the causes reported that the procession was to be blamed. For several years thereafter the city remained quiet until 1849 when there occurred a raid on the blacks by the Killers of Moyamensing, using firearms with which many were wounded. This disturbance was finally quelled by aid of the militia.
These clashes sometimes reached farther north than the free States bordering on the slave commonwealths. Mobs broke up abolition meetings in the city of New York in 1834 when there were sent to Congress numerous petitions for the abolition of slavery. This mob even assailed such eminent citizens as Arthur and Lewis Tappan, mainly on account of their friendly attitude toward the Negroes. On October 21, 1834, the same feeling developed in Utica, where was to be held an anti-slavery meeting according to previous notice. The six hundred delegates who assembled there were warned to disband. A mob then organized itself and drove the delegates from the town. That same month the people of Palmyra, New York, held a meeting at which they adopted resolutions to the effect that owners of houses or tenements in that town occupied by blacks of the character complained of be requested to use all their rightful means to clear their premises of such occupants at the earliest possible period; and that it be recommended that such proprietors refuse to rent the same thereafter to any person of color whatever. In New York Negroes were excluded from places of amusement and public conveyances and segregated in places of worship. In the draft riots which occurred there in 1863, one of the aims of the mobs was to assassinate Negroes and to destroy their property. They burned the Colored Orphan Asylum of that city and hanged Negroes to lamp-posts.
The situation in parts of New England was not much better. For fear of the evils of an increasing population of free persons of color the people of Canaan, New Hampshire, broke up the Noyes Academy because it decided to admit Negro students, thinking that many of the race might thereby be encouraged to come to that State. When Prudence Crandall established in Canterbury, Connecticut, an academy to which she decided to admit Negroes, the mayor, selectmen and citizens of the city protested, and when their protests failed to deter this heroine, they induced the legislature to enact a special law covering the case and invoked the measure to have Prudence Crandall imprisoned because she would not desist. This very law and the arguments upholding it justified the drastic measure on the ground that an increase in the colored population would be an injury to the people of that State.
In the new commonwealths formed out of western territory, there was the same fear as to Negro domination and consequently there followed the wave of legislation intended in some cases not only to withhold from the Negro settlers the exercise of the rights of citizenship but to discourage and even to prevent them from coming into their territory. The question as to what should be done with the Negro was early an issue in Ohio. It came up in the constitutional convention of 1803, and provoked some discussion, but that body considered it sufficient to settle the matter for the time being by merely leaving the Negroes, Indians and foreigners out of the pale of the newly organized body politic by conveniently incorporating the word white throughout the constitution. It was soon evident, however, that the matter had not been settled, and the legislature of 1804 had to give serious consideration to the immigration of Negroes into that State. It was, therefore, enacted that no Negro or mulatto should remain there permanently, unless he could furnish a certificate of freedom issued by some court, that all Negroes in that commonwealth should be registered before the following June, and that no man should employ a Negro who failed to comply with these conditions. Should one be detected in hiring, harboring or hindering the capture of a fugitive black, he was liable to a fine of $50 and his master could recover pay for the service of his slave to the amount of fifty cents a day.
As this legislature did not meet the demands of those who desired further to discourage Negro immigration, the Legislature of 1807 was induced to enact a law to the effect that no Negro should be permitted to settle in Ohio, unless he could within 20 days give a bond to the amount of $500 for his good behavior and assurance that he would not become a public charge. This measure provided also for raising the fine for concealing a fugitive from $50 to $100, one half of which should go to the person upon the testimony of whom the conviction should be secured. Negro evidence in a case to which a white was a party was declared illegal. In 1830 Negroes were excluded from service in the State militia, in 1831 they were deprived of the privilege of serving on juries, and in 1838 they were denied the right of having their children educated at the expense of the State.
In Indiana the situation was worse than in Ohio. We have already noted above how the settlers in the southern part endeavored to make that a slave State. When that had, after all but being successful, seemed impossible the State enacted laws to prevent or discourage the influx of free Negroes and to restrict the privileges of those already there. In 1824 a stringent law for the return of fugitives was passed. The expulsion of free Negroes was a matter of concern and in 1831 it was provided that unless they could give bond for their behavior and support they could be removed. Otherwise the county overseers could hire out such Negroes to the highest bidder. Negroes were not allowed to attend schools maintained at the public expense, might not give evidence against a white man and could not intermarry with white persons. They might, however, serve as witnesses against Negroes.
In the same way the free Negroes met discouragement in Illinois. They suffered from all the disabilities imposed on their class in Ohio and Indiana and were denied the right to sue for their liberty in the courts. When there arose many abolitionists who encouraged the coming of the fugitives from labor in the South, one element of the citizens of Illinois unwilling to accept this unusual influx of members of another race passed the drastic law of 1853 prohibiting the immigration. It provided for the prosecution of any person bringing a Negro into the State and also for arresting and fining any Negro $50, should he appear there and remain longer than ten days. If he proved to be unable to pay the fine, he could be sold to any person who could pay the cost of the trial.
In Michigan the situation was a little better but, with the waves of hostile legislation then sweeping over the new commonwealths, Michigan was not allowed to constitute altogether an exception. Some of this intense feeling found expression in the form of a law hostile to the Negro, this being the act of 1827, which provided for the registration of all free persons of color and for the exclusion from the territory of all blacks who could not produce a certificate to the effect that they were free. Free persons of color were also required to file bonds with one or more freehold sureties in the penal sum of $500 for their good behavior, and the bondsmen were expected to provide for their maintenance, if they failed to support themselves. Failure to comply with this law meant expulsion from the territory.
The opposition to the Negroes immigrating into the new West was not restricted to the enactment of laws which in some cases were never enforced. Several communities took the law into their own hands. During these years when the Negroes were seeking freedom in the Northwest Territory and when free blacks were being established there by philanthropists, it seemed to the southern uplanders fleeing from slavery in the border States and foreigners seeking fortunes in the new world that they might possibly be crowded out of this new territory by the Negroes. Frequent clashes, therefore, followed after they had passed through a period of toleration and dependence on the execution of the hostile laws. The clashes of the greatest consequences occurred in the Northwest Territory where a larger number of uplanders from the South had gone, some to escape the ill effects of slavery, and others to hold slaves if possible, and when that seemed impossible, to exclude the blacks altogether. This persecution of the Negroes received also the hearty cooperation of the foreign element, who, being an undeveloped class, had to do menial labor in competition with the blacks. The feeling of the foreigners was especially mischievous for the reasons that they were, like the Negroes, at first settled in large numbers in urban communities.
Generally speaking, the feeling was like that exhibited by the Germans in Mercer County, Ohio. The citizens of this frontier community, in registering their protest against the settling of Negroes there, adopted the following resolutions:
Resolved, That we will not live among Negroes, as we have settled here first, we have fully determined that we will resist the settlement of blacks and mulattoes in this county to the full extent of our means, the bayonet not excepted.
Resolved, That the blacks of this county be, and they are hereby respectfully requested to leave the county on or before the first day of March, 1847; and in the case of their neglect or refusal to comply with this request, we pledge ourselves to remove them, peacefully if we can, forcibly if we must.
Resolved, That we who are here assembled, pledge ourselves not to employ or trade with any black or mulatto person, in any manner whatever, or permit them to have any grinding done at our mills, after the first day of January next.
In 1827 there arose a storm of protest on the occasion of the settling of seventy freedmen in Lawrence County, Ohio, by a philanthropic master of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. On Black Friday, January 1, 1830, eighty Negroes were driven out of Portsmouth, Ohio, at the request of one or two hundred white citizens set forth in an urgent memorial. So many Negroes during these years concentrated at Cincinnati that the laboring element forced the execution of the almost dead law requiring free Negroes to produce certificates and give bonds for their behavior and support. A mob attacked the homes of the blacks, killed a number of them, and forced twelve hundred others to leave for Canada West, where they established the settlement known as Wilberforce.
In 1836 another mob attacked and destroyed there the press of James G. Birney, the editor of the Philanthropist, because of the encouragement his abolitionist organ gave to the immigrating Negroes. But in 1841 came a decidedly systematic effort on the part of foreigners and proslavery sympathizers to kill off and drive out the Negroes who were becoming too well established in that city and who were giving offense to white men who desired to deal with them as Negroes were treated in the South. The city continued in this excited state for about a week. There were brought into play in the upheaval the police of the city and the State militia before the shooting of the Negroes and burning of their homes could be checked. So far as is known, no white men were punished, although a few of them were arrested. Some Negroes were committed to prison during the fray. They were thereafter either discharged upon producing certificates of nativity or giving bond or were indefinitely held.
In southern Indiana and Illinois the same condition obtained. Observing the situation in Indiana, a contributor of Niles Register remarked, in 1818, upon the arrival there of sixty or seventy liberated Negroes sent by the society of Friends of North Carolina, that they were a species of population that was not acceptable to the people of that State, "nor indeed to any other, whether free or slaveholding, for they cannot rise and become like other men, unless in countries where their own color predominates, but must always remain a degraded and inferior class of persons without the hope of much bettering their condition."
The Indiana Farmer, voicing the sentiment of that same community, regretted the increase of this population that seemed to be enlarging the number sent to that territory. The editor insisted that the community which enjoys the benefits of the blacks' labor should also suffer all the consequences. Since the people of Indiana derived no advantage from slavery, he begged that they be excused from its inconveniences. Most of the blacks that migrated there, moreover, possessed, thought he, "feelings quite unprepared to make good citizens. A sense of inferiority early impressed on their minds, destitute of every thing but bodily power and having no character to lose, and no prospect of acquiring one, even did they know its value, they are prepared for the commission of any act, when the prospect of evading punishment is favorable."
With the exception of such centers as Eden, Upper Alton, Bellville and Chicago, this antagonistic attitude was general also in the State of Illinois. The Negroes were despised, abused and maltreated as persons who had no rights that the white man should respect. Even in Detroit, Michigan, in 1833 a fracas was started by an attack on Negroes. Because a courageous group of them had effected the rescue and escape of one Thornton Blackburn and his wife who had been arrested by the sheriff as alleged fugitives from Kentucky, the citizens invoked the law of 1827, to require free Negroes to produce a certificate and furnish bonds for their behavior and support. The anti-slavery sentiment there, however, was so strong that the law was not long rigidly enforced. And so it was in several other parts of the West which, however, were exceptional.
[Footnote 1: The New York Daily Advertiser, Sept. 22, 1800; The New York Journal of Commerce, July 12, 1834; and The New York Commercial Advertiser, July 12, 1834.]
[Footnote 2: Hart, Slavery and Abolition, pp. 53, 82.]
[Footnote 3: Goodell, American Slave Code, Part III, chap. i; Hurd, The Law of Freedom and Bondage, I, pp. 51, 61, 67, 81, 89, 101, 111; Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, pp. 151-178.]
[Footnote 4: Benezet, Short Observations, p. 12.]
[Footnote 5: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, pp. 143-145.]
[Footnote 6: Journal of House, 1823-24, p. 824.]
[Footnote 7: Journal of House, 1812-1813, pp. 481, 482.]
[Footnote 8: Ibid., 1814-1815, p. 101.]
[Footnote 9: United States Censuses, 1790-1860.]
[Footnote 10: Brannagan, Serious Remonstrances, p. 68.]
[Footnote 11: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, p. 145; The Philadelphia Gazette, June 30, 1819.]
[Footnote 12: Democratic Press, Philadelphia Gazette, Nov. 21, 1825.]
[Footnote 13: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, p. 146.]
[Footnote 14: De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, II, pp. 292, 294.]
[Footnote 15: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, p. 148.]
[Footnote 16: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, pp. 152, 153.]
[Footnote 17: African Repository, VIII, pp. 125, 283; Journal of House, 1840, I, pp. 347, 508, 614, 622, 623, 680.]
[Footnote 18: Journal of Senate, 1850, I, pp. 454, 479.]
[Footnote 19: This is well narrated in Turner's Negro in Pennsylvania, p. 160, and in DuBois's The Philadelphia Negro, p. 27.]
[Footnote 20: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, pp. 161, 162.]
[Footnote 21: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, pp. 162, 163.]
[Footnote 22: Turner, The Negro in Pennsylvania, p. 163; and The Liberator, July 4, 1835.]
[Footnote 23: The Liberator, Oct. 24, 1834.]
[Footnote 24: Ibid., October 24, 1834.]
[Footnote 25: Jay, An Inquiry, pp. 28-29.]
[Footnote 26: An Act in Addition to an Act for the Admission and Settlement of Inhabitants of Towns.
1. Whereas attempts have been made to establish literary institutions in this State for the instruction of colored people belonging to other States and countries, which would tend to the great increase of the colored population of the State, and thereby to the injury of the people, therefore;
Be it resolved that no person shall set up or establish in this State, any school, academy, or literary institution for the instruction or education of colored persons, who are not inhabitants of this State, nor instruct or teach in any school, academy, or other literary institution whatever in this State, or harbor or board for the purpose of attending or being taught or instructed in any such school, academy, or other literary institution, any person who is not an inhabitant of any town in this State, without the consent in writing, first obtained of a majority of the civil authority, and also of the selectmen, of the town in which such schools, academy, or literary institution is situated; and each and every person who shall knowingly do any act forbidden as aforesaid, or shall be aiding or assisting therein, shall for the first offense forfeit and pay to the treasurer of this State a fine of one hundred dollars and for the second offense shall forfeit and pay a fine of two hundred dollars, and so double for every offense of which he or she shall be convicted. And all informing officers are required to make due presentment of all breaches of this act. Provided that nothing in this act shall extend to any district school established in any school society under the laws of this State or to any incorporated school for instruction in this State.
3. Any colored person not an inhabitant of this State who shall reside in any town therein for the purpose of being instructed as aforesaid, may be removed in the manner prescribed in the sixth and seventh sections of the act to which this is an addition.
3. Any person not an inhabitant of this State who shall reside in any town therein for the purpose of being instructed as aforesaid, shall be an admissible witness in all prosecutions under the first section of this act, and may be compelled to give testimony therein, notwithstanding anything in this act, or in the act last aforesaid.
4. That so much of the seventh section of this act to which this is an addition as may provide for the infliction of corporal punishment, be and the same is hereby repealed.—See Hurd's Law of Freedom and Bondage, II, pp. 45-46.]
[Footnote 27: So many Negroes working on the rivers between the slave and free States helped fugitives to escape that there arose a clamor for the discourage of colored employees.]
[Transcriber's Note: The above should probably be "discouragement of colored employees."]
[Footnote 28: Constitution of Ohio, article I, sections 2, 6. The Journal of Negro History, I, p. 2.]
[Footnote 29: Laws of Ohio, II, p. 53.]
[Footnote 30: Laws of Ohio, V, p. 53.]
[Footnote 31: Hitchcock, The Negro in Ohio, II, pp. 41, 42.]
[Footnote 32: Revised Laws of Indiana, 1831, p. 278.]
[Footnote 33: Perkins, A Digest of the Declaration of the Supreme Court of Indiana, p. 590. Laws of 1853, p. 60.]
[Footnote 34: Gavin and Hord, Indiana Revised Statutes, 1862, p. 452.]
[Footnote 35: Illinois Statutes, 1853, sections 1-4, p. 8.]
[Footnote 36: In 1760 there were both African and Pawnee slaves in Detroit, 96 of them in 1773 and 175 in 1782. The usual effort to have slavery legalized was made in 1773. There were seventeen slaves in Detroit in 1810 held by virtue of the exceptions made under the British rule prior to the ratification of Jay's treaty. Advertisements of runaway slaves appeared in Detroit papers as late as 1827. Furthermore, there were thirty-two slaves in Michigan in 1830 but by 1836 all had died or had been manumitted.—See Farmer, History of Detroit and Michigan, I, p. 344.]
[Footnote 37: Laws of Michigan, 1827; and Campbell, Political History of Michigan, p. 246.]
[Footnote 38: Proceedings of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Convention, 1835, p. 19.]
[Footnote 39: African Repository, XXIII, p. 70.]
[Footnote 40: Ohio State Journal, May 3, 1837.]
[Footnote 41: Evans, A History of Scioto County, Ohio, p. 643.]
[Footnote 42: African Repository, V, p. 185.]
[Footnote 43: Howe, Historical Collections, pp. 225-226.]
[Footnote 44: Ibid., p. 226, and The Cincinnati Daily Gazette, Sept. 14, 1841.]
[Footnote 45: Niles Register, XXX, 416.]
[Footnote 46: Niles Register, XXX, 416; African Repository, III, p. 25.]
[Footnote 47: Farmer, History of Detroit and Michigan, I, chap. 48.]
[Footnote 48: There was the usual effort to have slavery legalized in Michigan. At the time of the fire in 1805 there were six colored men and nine colored women in the town of Detroit. In 1807 there were so many of them that Governor Hull organized a company of colored militia. Joseph Campan owned ten at one time. The importation of slaves was discontinued after September 17, 1792, by act of the Canadian Parliament which provided also that all born thereafter should be free at the age of twenty-five. The Ordinance of 1787 had by its sixth article prohibited it.]
[Footnote 49: In 1836 a colored man traveling in the West to Cleveland said:
"I have met with good treatment at every place on my journey, even better than what I expected under present circumstances. I will relate an incident that took place on board the steamboat, which will give an idea of the kind treatment with which I have met. When I took the boat at Erie, it being rainy and somewhat disagreeable, I took a cabin passage, to which the captain had not the least objection. When dinner was announced, I intended not to go to the first table but the mate came and urged me to take a seat. I accordingly did and was called upon to carve a large saddle of beef which was before me. This I performed accordingly to the best of my ability. No one of the company manifested any objection or seemed anyways disturbed by my presence."—Extract of a letter from a colored gentleman traveling to the West, Cleveland, Ohio, August 11, 1836.—See The Philanthropist, Oct. 21, 1836.]
COLONIZATION AS A REMEDY FOR MIGRATION
Because of these untoward circumstances consequent to the immigration of free Negroes and fugitives into the North, their enemies, and in some cases their well-intentioned friends, advocated the diversion of these elements to foreign soil. Benezet and Brannagan had the idea of settling the Negroes on the public lands in the West largely to relieve the situation in the North. Certain anti-slavery men of Kentucky, as we have observed, recommended the same. But this was hardly advocated at all by the farseeing white men after the close of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. It was by that time very clear that white men would want to occupy all lands within the present limits of the United States. Few statesmen dared to encourage migration to Canada because the large number of fugitives who had already escaped there had attached to that region the stigma of being an asylum for fugitives from the slave States.