Black and White - Land, Labor, and Politics in the South
by Timothy Thomas Fortune
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In discussing the political and industrial problems of the South, I base my conclusions upon a personal knowledge of the condition of classes in the South, as well as upon the ample data furnished by writers who have pursued, in their way, the question before me. That the colored people of the country will yet achieve an honorable status in the national industries of thought and activity, I believe, and try to make plain.

In discussion of the land and labor problem I but pursue the theories advocated by more able and experienced men, in the attempt to show that the laboring classes of any country pay all the taxes, in the last analysis, and that they are systematically victimized by legislators, corporations and syndicates.

Wealth, unduly centralized, endangers the efficient workings of the machinery of government. Land monopoly—in the hands of individuals, corporations or syndicates—is at bottom the prime cause of the inequalities which obtain; which desolate fertile acres turned over to vast ranches and into bonanza farms of a thousand acres, where not one family finds a habitation, where muscle and brain are supplanted by machinery, and the small farmer is swallowed up and turned into a tenant or slave. While in large cities thousands upon thousands of human beings are crowded into narrow quarters where vice festers, where crime flourishes undeterred, and where death is the most welcome of all visitors.

The primal purpose in publishing this work is to show that the social problems in the South are, in the main, the same as those which afflict every civilized country on the globe; and that the future conflict in that section will not be racial or political in character, but between capital on the one hand and labor on the other, with the odds largely in favor of nonproductive wealth because of the undue advantage given the latter by the pernicious monopoly in land which limits production and forces population disastrously upon subsistence. My purpose is to show that poverty and misfortune make no invidious distinctions of "race, color, or previous condition," but that wealth unduly centralized oppresses all alike; therefore, that the labor elements of the whole United States should sympathize with the same elements in the South, and in some favorable contingency effect some unity of organization and action, which shall subserve the common interest of the common class.

T. THOMAS FORTUNE. New York City, July 20, 1884.


I—Black 1 II—White 6 III—The Negro and the Nation 13 IV—The Triumph of the Vanquished 19 V—Illiteracy—Its Causes 28 VI—Education—Professional or Industrial 38 VII—-How Not to Do It 55 VIII—The Nation Surrenders 62 IX—Political Independence of the Negro 67 X—Solution of the Political Problem 79 XI—Land and Labor 89 XII—Civilization Degrades the Masses 96 XIII—Conditions of Labor in the South 107 XIV—Classes in the South 120 XV—The Land Problem 133 XVI—Conclusion 145 Appendix 151

On a summer day, when the great heat induced a general thirst, a Lion and a Boar came at the same moment to a small well to drink. They fiercely disputed which of them should drink first, and were soon engaged in the agonies of a mortal combat. On their suddenly stopping to take breath for the fiercer renewal of the strife, they saw some vultures in the distance, waiting to feast on the one which should fall. They at once made up their quarrel, saying, "It is better for us to be friends, than to become the food of crows or vultures."—AEsop's Fables.



There is no question to-day in American politics more unsettled than the negro question; nor has there been a time since the adoption of the Federal Constitution when this question has not, in one shape or another, been a disturbing element, a deep-rooted cancer, upon the body of our society, frequently occupying public attention to the exclusion of all other questions. It appears to possess, as no other question, the elements of perennial vitality.

The introduction of African slaves into the colony of Virginia in August, 1619, was the beginning of an agitation, a problem, the solution of which no man, even at this late date, can predict, although many wise men have prophesied.

History—the record of human error, cruelty and misdirected zeal—furnishes no more striking anomaly than the British Puritan fleeing from princely rule and tyranny and dragging at his heels the African savage, bound in servile chains; praying to a just God for freedom, and at the same time riveting upon his fellow-man the gyves of most unjust and cruel slavery. A parallel for such hypocrisy, such sacrilegious invocation, is not matched in the various history of peoples.

It did not matter to the early settlers of the American colonies that, in the memorable struggle for the right to be represented if taxed, a black man—Crispus Attucks, a full-blooded Negro—died upon the soil of Massachusetts, in the Boston massacre of 1770, in common with other loyal, earnest men, as the first armed protest against an odious tyranny; it did not matter that in the armies of the colonies, in rebellion against Great Britain, there were (according to the report of Adjutant General Scammell), on the 24th day of August, 1778, 755 regularly enlisted negro troops; it did not matter that in the second war with Great Britain, General Andrew Jackson, on the 21st day of September, 1814, appealed to the "free colored people of Louisiana" as "sons of freedom," who were "called upon to defend our most inestimable blessing," the right to be free and sovereign, and to "rally around the standard of the eagle, to defend all which is dear in existence;" it did not matter that in each of these memorable struggles the black man was called upon, and responded nobly, to the call for volunteers to drive out the minions of the British tyrant. When the smoke of battle had dissolved into thin air; when the precious right to be free and sovereign had been stubbornly fought for and reluctantly conceded; when the bloody memories of Yorktown and New Orleans had passed into glorious history, the black man, who had assisted by his courage to establish the free and independent States of America, was doomed to sweat and groan that others might revel in idleness and luxury. Allured, in each instance, into the conflict for National independence by the hope held out of generous reward and an honest consideration of his manhood rights, he received as his portion chains and contempt. The spirit of injustice, inborn in the Caucasian nature, asserted itself in each instance. Selfishness and greed rode roughshod over the promptings of a generous, humane, Christian nature, as they have always done in this country, not only in the case of the African but of the Indian as well, each of whom has in turn felt the pernicious influence of that heartless greed which overleaps honesty and fair play, in the unmanly grasp after perishable gain.

The books which have been written in this country—the books which have molded and controlled intelligent public opinion—during the past one hundred and fifty years have been written by white men, in justification of the white man's domineering selfishness, cruelty and tyranny. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, down to the present time, the same key has been struck, the same song as been sung, with here and there a rare exception—as in the case of Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Judge Tourgee's A Fool's Errand, Dr. Haygood's Our Brother in Black, and some others of less note. The white man's story has been told over and over again, until the reader actually tires of the monotonous repetition, so like the ten-cent novels in which the white hunter always triumphs over the red man. The honest reader has longed in vain for a glimpse at the other side of the picture so studiously turned to the wall.

Even in books written expressly to picture the black man's side of the story, the author has been compelled to palliate, by interjecting extenuating, often irrelevant circumstances, the ferocity and insatiate lust of greed of his race. He has been unable to tell the story as it was, because his nature, his love of race, his inborn, prejudices and narrowness made him a lurking coward.

And so it has been with the newspapers, which have ever been the obsequious reflex of distempered public opinion, siding always with the strong and powerful; so that in 1831, when the "Liberator" (published in Boston by the intrepid and patriotic Garrison) made its appearance, it was a lone David among a swarm of Goliaths, any one of which was willing and anxious to serve the cause of the devil by crushing the little angel in the service of the Lord. So it is to-day. The great newspapers, which should plead the cause of the oppressed and the down-trodden, which should be the palladiums of the people's rights, are all on the side of the oppressor, or by silence preserve a dignified but ignominious neutrality. Day after day they weave a false picture of facts—facts which must measurably influence the future historian of the times in the composition of impartial history. The wrongs of the masses are referred to sneeringly or apologetically.

The vast army of laborers—men, women, and even tender children—find no favor in the eyes of these Knights of the Quill. The Negro and the Indian, the footballs of slippery politicians and the helpless victims of sharpers and thieves, are wantonly misrepresented—held up to the eyes of the world as beings incapable of imbibing the distorted civilization in the midst of which they live and have their being. They are placed in the attic, only to be aired when somebody wants an "issue" or an "appropriation."

There are no "Liberators" to-day, and the William Lloyd Garrisons have nearly all of them gone the way of all the world.

The part played by the ministry of Christ in the early conflict against human slavery in this country would be enigmatical in the extreme, utterly beyond apprehension, if it were not matter of history that the representatives of the Christian Church, in conflicts with every giant wrong, have always been the strongest supporters, the most obsequious tools of money power and the political sharpers who have imposed their vile tyrannies upon mankind. They have alternately supplicated and domineered, crawled in the dust or mounted the house-top, as occasion served, from Gregory to the Smiths and Joneses of the present time. So that it has passed into a proverb, that the ministers of the gospel may be always counted upon to take sides with the strongest party—always seeking to conciliate "King Cotton," "King Corporation," "King Monopoly," and all the other "Kings" of modern growth—swaying, like the reed in the wind, to the powers that be, whether of tyranny reared upon a thousand years of usurpation, military despotism of a day's growth, or presumptuous wealth accumulated by robbery, hypocrisy and insidious assassination. Instead of leading in the reformation of leviathan wrongs, the ministry waits for the rabble to applaud before it commends.[1] It was not in this manner that the great Christ set the world in motion, sowed broadcast the dynamite which uprooted long-established infamies, and prepared the way for the ultimate redemption of the world from sin and error.

If the Christian ministry of the United States did at last recognize the demoralization and iniquity of slavery, it was because the heroic band, headed by William Lloyd Garrison, first fired the heart of the people and forced the ministry to take sides with the righteous cause. I speak not of the few heroic exceptions, but of the mass of the American clergy. If in the evangelization of the black man since the rebellion, the ministry have largely furthered the work, they have done so because there were hundreds and thousands of brave men and women ready to give their time and money to the upbuilding of outraged humanity and the cause of Christ. They have simply put in operation movements conceived and nurtured by the genius and philanthropy of others, and no one of them will claim that he has not reaped an abundant pecuniary harvest for his labors. Yet, I would accord to the ministry of the United States full meed of praise for all that they have done as the agents of the humane, intelligent and philanthropic opinions of the times; and, too, there have been good men who fought the good fight simply because the cause was just.


[1] Be thou the first true merit to befriend, His praise is lost who waits till all commend. Pope's Essay on Man.



It is my purpose in writing this work to show that the American Government has always construed people of African parentage to be aliens, not only when the Constitution was tortured by narrow-minded men to shield the cruel, murderous slave-holder in the possession of his human property, but even now, when the panoply of citizenship is, presumably, all-sufficient to insure to the late slave the enjoyment of full manhood rights as a sovereign citizen.

The conflict of law and the moral sentiment of the country has been long and bloody, and the end is not yet. Political parties in this country do not lead, but follow, public opinion. They hang upon the applause of the rabble, and succeed or fail in their efforts to administer the affairs of Government in proportion as they interpret the wishes of the rabble. Not alone do parties defer to the wishes of the illiterate, the "great unwashed" majority, but individuals as well, who prefer to ride upon the wave of success as the champions of great wrongs rather than to go into retirement as the champions of just principles. The voice of the Charmer is all too powerful to be successfully resisted.

Republics have always been fruitful of demagogues. Such vermin find the soil of democratic government the most fertile and congenial for their operations, because the audiences to which they speak, the passions to which they appeal, are not always of the most reflective, humane or enlightened. Demagogues are the parasites of republics; and that our country is afflicted with an abnormal number of them is to be expected from the tentative nature of our institutions, the extent of our territory and the heterogeneity of our vast population.

Under our government all the peoples of the world find shelter and protection—save the African (who was formerly used as a beast of burden and now as a football, to be kicked by one faction and kicked back by the other) and the industrious Chinaman, who was barred out by the over-obsequiousness of the Congress of the nation, in deference to the Sand-Lot demagogues of the Pacific coast, headed by Denis Kearney, because it was desirable to conciliate their votes, even at the expense of consistency and the unity of the Constitution. That great document, while constantly affirmed to be the most broad and liberal compact ever devised for the governance of man, has always been found to be narrow enough to serve the purposes of the slave oligarch and the make-shifts of the party in power; and has always afforded ample shelter and protection to the lazzaroni of Italy, the paupers of Ireland, and the incendiary spirits of other countries, but yet cannot shield a black man, a citizen and to the manor born, in any common, civil or political right which usually attaches to citizenship.

A putative citizen of the United States commits murder in the jurisdiction of a friendly power, and the Chief Executive of fifty millions of people deems it incumbent upon him as the head of the faction to which he belongs to "call the attention of Congress" to the fact, ostensibly in the interest of justice and fair-play, but obviously to court the good will of the American sympathizers of the assassin. While on the contrary, within a few hundred miles of the National capital, an armed mob of citizens shoot down in cold blood a dozen of their fellow-citizens, but the Chief of the Nation did not deem it at all pertinent or necessary to "call the attention of Congress" to the matter. And why? Because, forsooth, the newspapers, voicing the wishes of the rabble and the cormorants of trade, cry down the "Bloody Shirt," proclaiming, with brazen effrontery, that each State is "sovereign," and that its citizens have a perfect right to terrorize and murder one another, if they so desire. The Bible declares that "Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people." God save the Union!

But such argument is indicative, not only of American politics but of Caucasian human nature as well—that human nature which seldom rises above self-interest in business or politics. If you have abundance of money, the merchant is all accommodation, the lawyer all smiles; if you have votes that count, politicians cannot be too obsequious, too affable, too anxious to serve you. But if you simply have common humanity, clothed in the awful majesty of a just cause, you appeal in vain to the cormorants of trade, the harpies of law, or the demagogues of power. Unless you are of the salt salty, unless you are clothed in broadcloth and fine linen, you cannot obtain even a respectful hearing.

It took the Abolitionists full thirty years to convince the American people, the ministry of Christ included, that slavery was, pure and simple, a "Covenant with death and an agreement with hell;" and then, sad to say, they were convinced against their wills. Their sense of justice had become so obtuse as to wholly blunt the sense of reason, the brotherly sympathy of a common race-feeling, and the broad, liberal and just inculcations of Jesus Christ. The nation was sunk to the moral turpitude of Constantinople; and not even a John crying in the wilderness could arouse it to a sense of the exceeding foulness in the midst of which it grovelled, or of the storm gathering on the distant horizon.

Although the abolition of slavery had been agitated for more than thirty years, the nation, which was ruled by politicians of the usual mental caliber, was startled at the defiant shot upon Fort Sumter—the shot that echoed the downfall of the foulest institution which has sapped the vitality of any modern government, and that aroused the people to a sorrowful realization that the power which defied them was strong enough and desperate enough to stop at nothing short of the disintegration of the American Union. So the nation, still sympathizing with slavery, still playing with a coal of fire, grappled with the monster, feeling itself powerful to crush it in a few short months.

It was not because the people of the nation hated slavery and oppression that they rushed upon the field of battle; no such righteousness moved them: it was because the slave-power, which had for so long dictated legislation and the interpretation of the laws, would tolerate no adverse criticism or legislation upon the foul institution it championed, and appealed from the forum of reason to the forum of treasonable rebellion to enforce the right so long and (I blush to say it!) constitutionally conceded to it.

I do not believe that, in 1860, a majority (or even a respectable minority) of the American people desired the manumission of the slave; it is evident, from the temper of the political discussions of that time, that the combination of parties out of which, in 1856, the Republican party was formed, desired to do no more than to confine the institution of slavery within the territory then occupied. There was certainly very little comfort for the black man in this position of the "party of great moral ideas."

The overtures[2] made by President Lincoln to the slave-power during the first year of the war were all made in the interest of the perpetuation of the Union, and not in the interest of the slave.

His reply to Mr. Horace Greeley, who urged upon him the importance of issuing an emancipation proclamation is conclusive that he was more concerned about the Union than about the slave:


HON. HORACE GREELEY:—Dear Sir: I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements or assumptions of facts which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not, now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an imperious and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I seem to be pursuing, as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be the Union it was.

* * * If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purposes according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, should be free.


Everything—humanity, justice, posterity—was placed upon the sacrificial altar of the Union, and the slave-power was repeatedly and earnestly invited to lay down its traitorous arms, be forgiven, and keep its slaves. With Mr. Lincoln, as President, it was the Union, first, last, and all the time. And he but echoed the prevailing opinions of his time. I do not question or criticise his personal attitude; but what he himself called his "view of official duty" was to execute the will of the people, and that was not to abolish slavery, at that time.

As the politicians only took hold of the great question when they thought it would advance their selfish interests, they were prepared to abandon it or immolate it upon the altar of "expediency," when the great clouds of treason burst upon them in the form of gigantic rebellion. The politicians of that time, like the politicians of all times, were incapable of appreciating the magnitude of the questions involved in the conflict.

But the slave-power had been aroused. It was not to be appeased by overtures; it wanted no compromise. It would brook no interference inimical to its "peculiar institution." In the Congress of the nation, in the high places of power, it had so long been permitted to dictate the policy to be pursued towards slavery, it had so inoculated the institutions of the government with the virus of its vicious opinions, that, to be interfered with, to be dictated to, was out of the question. It was Ephraim and his idol repeated.

The South forced the issue upon the people of the country. The Southerners marched off under the banner of "States Rights"—a doctrine they have always championed. They cared nothing for the Union then; they care less for the Union now. The State to them is sovereign; the nation a magnificent combination of nothingness. The State has in its keeping all option over life, individual rights, and property. The spirit of Hayne and Calhoun is still the star that lights the pathway of the Southern man in his duty to the government. He recognizes no sovereignty more potential than that of his State.

Long years of agitation and bloody war have failed to decide the rights of States, or the measure of protection which the National government owes to the individual members of States. We still grope in the sinuous by-ways of uncertainty. The State still defies the National authority; and the individual citizens of the Nation still appeal in vain for protection from oppressive laws of States or the violent methods of their citizens. The question, "Which is the greater, the State or the Sisterhood of States?" is still undecided, and may have to be adjudicated in some future stage of our history by another appeal to arms.


[2] I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare * * * that, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, and thenceforward, and forever free; * * * That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States.—" President Lincoln's "Conditional" Emancipation Proclamation.


The Negro and the Nation

The war of the Rebellion settled only one question: It forever settled the question of chattel slavery[3] in this country. It forever choked the life out of the infamy of the Constitutional right of one man to rob another, by purchase of his person, or of his honest share of the produce of his own labor. But this was the only question permanently and irrevocably settled. Nor was this the all-absorbing question involved. The right of a State to secede from the so-called Union remains where it was when the treasonable shot upon Fort Sumter aroused the people to all the horrors of internecine war. And the measure of protection which the National government owes the individual members of States, a right imposed upon it by the adoption of the XIVth Amendment[4] to the Constitution, remains still to be affirmed.

It was not sufficient that the Federal government should expend its blood and treasure to unfetter the limbs of four millions of people. There can be a slavery more odious, more galling, than mere chattel slavery. It has been declared to be an act of charity to enforce ignorance upon the slave, since to inform his intelligence would simply be to make his unnatural lot all the more unbearable. Instance the miserable existence of AEsop, the great black moralist. But this is just what the manumission of the black people of this country has accomplished. They are more absolutely under the control of the Southern whites; they are more systematically robbed of their labor; they are more poorly housed, clothed and fed, than under the slave regime; and they enjoy, practically, less of the protection of the laws of the State or of the Federal government. When they appeal to the Federal government they are told by the Supreme Court to go to the State authorities—as if they would have appealed to the one had the other given them that protection to which their sovereign citizenship entitles them!

Practically, there is no law in the United States which extends its protecting arm over the black man and his rights. He is, like the Irishman in Ireland, an alien in his native land. There is no central or auxiliary authority to which he can appeal for protection. Wherever he turns he finds the strong arm of constituted authority powerless to protect him. The farmer and the merchant rob him with absolute immunity, and irresponsible ruffians murder him without fear of punishment, undeterred by the law, or by public opinion—which connives at, if it does not inspire, the deeds of lawless violence. Legislatures of States have framed a code of laws which is more cruel and unjust than any enforced by a former slave State.

The right of franchise[5] has been practically annulled in every one of the former slave States, in not one of which, to-day, can a man vote, think or act as he pleases. He must conform his views to the views of the men who have usurped every function of government—who, at the point of the dagger, and with shotgun, have made themselves masters in defiance of every law or precedent in our history as a government. They have usurped government with the weapons of the coward and assassin, and they maintain themselves in power by the most approved practices of the most odious of tyrants. These men have shed as much innocent blood as the bloody triumvirate of Rome. To-day, red-handed murderers and assassins sit in the high places of power, and bask in the smiles of innocence and beauty.

The newspapers of the country, voicing the sentiments of the people, literally hiss into silence any man who has the courage to protest against the prevailing tendency to lawlessness[6] and bare-faced usurpation; while parties have ceased to deal with the question for other than purposes of political capital. Even this fruitful mine is well-nigh exhausted. A few more years, and the usurper and the man of violence will be left in undisputed possession of his blood-stained inheritance. No man will attempt to deter him from sowing broadcast the seeds of revolution and death. Brave men are powerless to combat this organized brigandage, complaint of which, in derision, has been termed "waving the bloody shirt."

Men organize themselves into society for mutual protection. Government justly derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. But what shall we say of that society which is incapable of extending the protection which is inherent in it? What shall we say of that government which has not power or inclination to insure the exercise of those solemn rights and immunities which it guarantees? To declare a man to be free, and equal with his fellow, and then to refrain from enacting laws powerful to insure him in such freedom and equality, is to trifle with the most sacred of all the functions of sovereignty. Have not the United States done this very thing? Have they not conferred freedom and the ballot, which are necessary the one to the other? And have they not signally failed to make omnipotent the one and practicable the other? The questions hardly require an answer. The measure of freedom the black man enjoys can be gauged by the power he has to vote. He has, practically, no voice in the government under which he lives. His property is taxed and his life is jeopardized, by states on the one hand and inefficient police regulations on the other, and no question is asked or expected of him. When he protests, when he cries out against this flagrant nullification of the very first principles of a republican form of government, the insolent question is asked: "What are you going to do about it?" And here lies the danger.

You may rob and maltreat a slave and ask him what he is going to do about it, and he can make no reply. He is bound hand and foot; he is effectually gagged. Despair is his only refuge. He knows it is useless to appeal from tyranny unto the designers and apologists of tyranny. Ignominious death alone can bring him relief. This was the case of thousands of men doomed by the institution of slavery. But such is not the case with free men. You cannot oppress and murder freemen as you would slaves: you cannot so insult them with the question, "What are you going to do about it?" When you ask free men that question you appeal to men who, though sunk to the verge of despair, yet are capable of uprising and ripping hip and thigh those who deemed them incapable of so rising above their condition. The history of mankind is fruitful of such uprisings of races and classes reduced to a condition of absolute despair. The American negro is no better and no worse than the Haytian revolutionists headed by Toussaint l'Overture, Christophe and the bloody Dessalaines.

I do not indulge in the luxury of prophecy when I declare that the American people are fostering in their bosoms a spirit of rebellion which will yet shake the pillars of popular government as they have never before been shaken, unless a wiser policy is inaugurated and honestly enforced. All the indications point to the fulfillment of such declaration.

The Czar of Russia squirms upon his throne, not because he is necessarily a bad man, but because he is the head and center of a condition of things which squeezes the life out of the people. His subjects hurl infernal machines at the tyrant because he represents the system which oppresses them. But the evil is far deeper than the throne, and cannot be remedied by striking the occupant of it-the throne itself must be rooted out and demolished. So the Irish question has a more powerful motive to foment agitation and murder than the landlord and landlordism. The landlord simply stands out as the representative of the real grievance. To remove him would not remove the evil; agitation would not cease; murder would still stalk abroad at noonday. The real grievance is the false system which makes the landlord possible. The appropriation of the fertile acres of the soil of Ireland, which created and maintains a privileged class, a class that while performing no labor, wrings from the toiler, in the shape of rents, so much of the produce of his labor that he cannot on the residue support himself and those dependent upon him aggravates the situation. It is this system which constitutes the real grievance and makes the landlord an odious loafer with abundant cash and the laborer a constant toiler always upon the verge of starvation. Evidently, therefore, to remove the landlord and leave the system of land monopoly would not remove the evil. Destroy the latter and the former would be compelled to go.

Herein lies the great social wrong which has turned the beautiful roses of freedom into thorns to prick the hands of the black men of the South; which made slavery a blessing, paradoxical as it may appear, and freedom a curse. It is this great wrong which has crowded the cities of the South with an ignorant pauper population, making desolate fields that once bloomed "as fair as a garden of the Lord," where now the towering oak and pine-tree flourish, instead of the corn and cotton which gladdened the heart and filled the purse. It was this gigantic iniquity which created that arrogant class who have exhausted the catalogue of violence to obtain power and the lexicon of sophistry for arguments to extenuate the exceeding heinousness of crime. How could it be otherwise? To tell a man he is free when he has neither money nor the opportunity to make it, is simply to mock him. To tell him he has no master when he cannot live except by permission of the man who, under favorable conditions, monopolizes all the land, is to deal in the most tantalizing contradiction of terms. But this is just what the United States did for the black man. And yet because he has not grown learned and wealthy in twenty years, because he does not own broad acres and a large bank account, people are not wanting who declare he has no capacity, that he is improvident by nature and mendacious from inclination.


[3] Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.—Art. XIII. Sec. 1 of the Constitution.

[4] All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State in which they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws—XIVth Amendment, Section 1.

[5] The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.—XVth Amendment, Sec. 1.

[6] While I write these lines, the daily newspapers furnish the following paragraph. It is but one of the waifs that are to be found in the newspapers day by day. There is always some circumstance which justifies the murder and exculpates the murderer. The black always deserves his fate. I give the paragraph:

"SPEAR, MITCHELL CO., N.C., March 19, 1884.—Col. J.M. English, a farmer and prominent citizen living at Plumtree, Mitchell County, N.C., shot and killed a mulatto named Jack Mathis at that place Saturday, March 1. There had been difficulty between them for several months.

"Mathis last summer worked in one of Col. English's mica mines. Evidence pointed to him being implicated in the systematic stealing of mica from the mine. Still it was not direct enough to convict him, but he was discharged by English. Mathis was also a tenant of one of English's houses and lots. In resentment he damaged the property by destroying fences, tearing off weather boards from the house, and injuring the fruit trees. For this Col. English prosecuted the negro, and on Feb. 9, before a local Justice, ex-Sheriff Wiseman, he got a judgment for $100. On the date stated, during a casual meeting, hot words grew into an altercation, and Col. English shot the negro. Mathis was a powerful man. English is a cripple, being lame in a leg from a wound received in the Mexican war.

"A trial was had before a preliminary court recently, Col. S.C. Vance appearing for Col. English. After a hearing of all the testimony the court reached a decision of justifiable homicide and English was released. The locality of the shooting is in the mountains of western North Carolina, and not far from the Flat Rock mica mine, the scene of the brutal midnight murder, Feb. 17, of Burleson, Miller, and Horton by Rae and Anderson, two revenue officers, who took this means to gain possession of the mica mine."

My knowledge of such affairs in the South is, that the black and the white have an altercation over some trivial thing, and the white to end the argument shoots the black man down. The negro is always a "powerful fellow" and the white man a "weak sickly man." The law and public opinion always side with the white man.


The Triumph of the Vanquished

There are those throughout the length and breadth of our great country who make a fair living by traducing better men than themselves; by continually crying out that the black man is incapable of being civilized; that he is born with the elements of barbarity, improvidence and untruthfulness so woven into his very nature that no amount of opportunity, labor, love, or sacrifice can ever lift him out of the condition, the "sphere God designed him to occupy"—as if the great Common Parent took any more pains in the making of one man than another. But those who utter such blasphemy, who call in the assistance of the Almighty to fight the battles of the devil, are the very persons who do most by precept and example to make possible the verification of their blasphemy. They carry their lamentations into the pulpit, grave convocations, newspapers, and even into halls of legislation, State and Federal. They are the false prophets who blind the eye of reason and blunt the sympathies of honest, well-meaning men. They are the Jonases on board the ship of progress. They belong to that class of men who would pick flaws in the finest work of art. They find fault with the great mass of ignorance around them, contending that the poor victims have only themselves to blame for their destitute and painful condition, and, therefore, are not entitled to the sympathy or charity of their more fortunate brethren—unmindful that the great Master, judging by the false laws of men, declared that "the poor ye have always with you;" while the very rich are held up as monsters of selfishness, rapacity and the most loathsome of social vices. It is, therefore, hardly to be expected that this class of persons would find anything good in the nature of the lately enslaved black man, or any improvement in his condition since a generous Government had made him an ignorant voter and a confirmed pauper—the victim of his former master, to be robbed outright by designing and unscrupulous harpies of trade, and to be defrauded of his franchise by blatant demagogues or by outlaws, to whom I will not apply the term "assassins" for fear of using bad English.

When the American Government conferred upon the black man the boon of freedom and the burden of the franchise, it added four million men to the already vast army of men who appear to be specially created to labor for the enrichment of vast corporations, which have no souls, and for individuals, whom our government have made a privileged class, by permitting them to usurp or monopolize, through the accepted channel of barter and trade, the soil, from which the masses, the laboring masses, must obtain a subsistence, and without the privilege of cultivating which they must faint and die.[7] It also added four millions of souls to what have been termed, in the refinement of sarcasm, "the dangerous classes"[8]—meaning by which the vast army of men and women who, while willing and anxious to make an honest living by the labor of their hands, and who—when speculators cry "over-production," "glutted market," and other clap-trap—threaten to take by force from society that which society prevents them from making honestly.

When a society fosters as much crime and destitution as ours, with ample resources to meet the actual necessities of every one, there must be something radically wrong, not in the society but in the foundation upon which society is reared. Where is this ulcer located? Is it to be found in the dead-weight of illiteracy which we carry? The masses of few countries are more intelligent than ours. Is it to be found in burdensome taxation or ill-adjusted tariff regulations? Few countries are burdened with less debt, and many have far worse tariff laws than curse our country. Is it to be found in an unjust pension list? We hardly miss the small compensation which we grant to the men (or their heirs) who, in the hour of National peril, gave their lives freely to perpetuate the Union of our States. Where, then, is secreted the parasite which is eating away the energies of the people, making paupers and criminals in the midst of plenty and the grandest of civilizations? Is it not to be found in the powerful monopolies we have created? Monopoly in land, in railroads, telegraphs, fostered manufactures, etc.,—the gigantic forces in our civilization which are, in their very nature, agents of public convenience, comfort and absolute necessity? Society, in the modern sense, could not exist without these forces; they are part and parcel of our civilization. Naturally, therefore, society should control them, or submit to the humiliation of being ruled by them. And this latter is largely the case at the present time. Having evolved those forces out of its necessities, made them strong and permanent, society failed to impose such conditions as wise policy should have dictated, and now suffers the calamitous consequences. The tail wags the dog, instead of the dog wagging the tail.

No government can afford, with any degree of safety, to make four million of citizens out of so many slaves. And when it is remembered that our slaves were turned loose upon their former masters—lifted by one stroke of the pen, as it were, from the most degraded condition to the very pinnacle of sovereign manhood—the equals in unrestricted manhood, with the privileges and immunities of citizens who had been born to rule, apparently, instead of being ruled—it will be seen readily how critical was the situation.

But the condition having once been created by the strong arm of the Federal Government, based upon a bloody and costly war in open defiance of the Constitution as designed by the compromising Fathers of the Republic; the slave once made a free man the same as his former master, and given the ballot, the highest privilege of government a man can exercise;—the Government having once gone so far, there was absolutely nothing for it to do but to interpose its omnipotent authority between the haughty and arrogant free man on the one hand and the crouching and fearful freed man on the other—the lion and the lamb. To do less would be more than cruel, it would be murderous;—the agency which created the condition was bound by all law and precedent to see that those conditions were maintained in their entirety. It could not evade the issue except at the expense of dignity, consistency and humanity. There was but one honorable course to pursue. Any other would be a horrible abandonment of principle. If it were powerful to create, to make free men and citizens, it must, manifestly, be powerful to insure the enjoyment of the freedom conferred, and protect the inviolability of the franchise granted. Any other conclusion would make government a by-word and a scoffing to the nations; any other conclusion would make its conferring of freedom and citizenship absurd in the extreme, a mere trick of the demagogue to ease the popular conscience. To do such a thing would sink a decent government lower in the estimation of the world than the miserable apology of government represented by the Khedive of Egypt.

No patriotic American would admit to himself, or to a foreigner, that the United States Government, through its accredited representatives in Congress, possessed constitutional power to confer a benefit and did not possess power to make that benefit available; to contract an obligation, pecuniary or other, which it had not inherent power to liquidate. The validity of a contract, as a matter of fact, depends upon the ability of the parties to enter into it, for no court can enforce a contract when it is shown that the principals to it had not legal right to make it or to fulfill the conditions of it. It is accepted as a surety of power to observe the conditions when a sovereign government makes itself a party to a contract. The people are bound by their agents, to whom they delegate authority. Nothing is regarded in a more obnoxious light than the repudiation of their honest debts by sovereign States. It is regarded in financial circles as the crime of all crimes the blackest. The credit of the State is reduced to a song, and moneyed men shun it as they would a rattlesnake. The State and its people are held up as monsters of depravity. It matters not how unjust the debt, how poor the people; the mere fact that they repudiate an obligation which they entered into in good faith is sufficient to destroy their credit in New York or London and make them the target of every virtuous newspaper which voices the sentiment of the class that deals in "futures" and "corners." As an illustration, take the State of Virginia. The people of that State contracted large debts to aid and abet the cause of the so-called Confederate Government, a thing which crystallized around the question: "Have the Sovereign States absolute, undivided authority to regulate their own internal concerns, slave and other, or is this authority vested in the Federal or National Government?" When the people of Virginia contracted those large debts, drawing upon her future resources, and placing burdens upon men yet unborn, to propagate theories at variance with sound doctrines of government, and to perpetuate an institution too vile to be mentioned with respect, in 1860, and immediately subsequent thereto, when the State of Virginia contracted the debts in question for the perpetuation of slavery, she had a population of 1,047,299; 65.6 per cent of which was white (free), and 34.4 per cent was colored (slave). Virginia, therefore, in contracting debts in 1860, did not calculate that twenty-two years thereafter the obligations would be repudiated, and the credit of the State depreciated, by the assistance of the very class of persons to bind whom to a cruel and barbarous servitude those debts were contracted. It is one of the most striking instances of retributive justice that I ever knew. Nothing was more natural, when the question came up for final settlement a few years ago, than that the black voters of Virginia should take sides with those who opposed the full settlement of the indebtedness. It is too much to expect of sensible men that they will assent, in a state of sovereign citizenship, to cancel debts contracted when they had no voice in the matter, and when, as a matter of fact, the debts were contracted to rivet upon them the chains of death. And yet for the part the black men of Virginia took upon the settlement of her infamous debt, they have been abused and maligned from one end of the country to the other. Because they refused to vote to tax themselves to pay money borrowed without their consent, and applied to purposes of death and slaughter, no man has been found to commend them or to accept as sufficiently extenuating, the peculiar circumstances surrounding the question. Shylock must have his pound of flesh, though the unlucky victim bleed his life away. But there are laws "higher" than any framed in the interest of tyrannical capital. In my opinion, the man who deliberately invests his money to perpetuate so vile an institution as slavery deserves not only to lose the interest upon his investment but the principal as well. I therefore have not a grain of sympathy for the greedy cormorants who invested their money in the so-called Confederate Government. Neither have I any sympathy for the people of the South who, having invested all their money in human flesh, found themselves at the close of the Rebellion paupers in more senses than one—being bankrupt in purse and unused to make an honest living by honest labor—too proud to work and too poor to loaf.

In a question of this kind, no one disputes the power of Virginia to contract debts to propagate opinions, erroneous or other, but it is a question whether the people of one generation have the right to tax—that is, enslave—the people of generations yet unborn. The creation of public debts is pernicious in practice, productive of more harm than good. What right have I to create debts for my grandson or granddaughter? I have no right even to presume that I will have a grandson, certainly none that he will be able to meet his own debts in addition to those I entail upon him. The character of the people called upon to settle the debt of Virginia, contracted in 1860, before or immediately after, differed radically from the character of the people who were called upon to tax themselves to cancel that debt. Not only had the character of the people undergone a radical change; the whole social and industrial mechanism of the state had undergone a wonderful, almost an unrecognizable, metamorphosis. The haughty aristocrat, with his magnificent plantation, his army of slaves, and his "cattle on a thousand hills," who eagerly contracted the debt, had been transformed into a sour pauper when called upon to honor his note; while the magnificent plantation had been in many instances cut into a thousand bits to make homes for the former slaves, now freemen and citizens, the equals of "my lord," while "his cattle on a thousand hills" had dwindled down to a stubborn jackass and a worn out milch cow. True, the white man possessed, largely, the soil; but he was, immediately after the war, utterly incapable of wringing from it the bounty of Nature; he had first to be re-educated.

But, when the bloody rebellion was over, the country, in its sovereign capacity, and by individual States, was called upon to deal with grave questions growing out of the conflict. Mr. Lincoln, by a stroke of the pen,[9] transferred the battle from the field to the halls of legislation. In view of the "Emancipation proclamation" as issued by Mr. Lincoln, and the invaluable service rendered by black troops[10] in the rebellion, legislation upon the status of the former slave could not be avoided. The issue could not be evaded; like Banquo's ghost, it would not down. There were not wanting men, even when the war had ended and the question of chattel slavery had been forever relegated to the limbo of "things that were," who were willing still to toy with half-way measures, to cater to the caprices of that treacherous yet brave power—the South. They had not yet learned that Southern sentiment was fundamentally revolutionary, dynamic in the extreme, and could not be toyed with as with a doll-baby. So the statesmen proceeded to manufacture the "Reconstruction policy"—a policy more fatuous, more replete with fatal concessions and far more fatal omissions than any ever before adopted for the acceptance and governance of a rebellious people on the one hand and a newly made, supremely helpless people on the other. It is not easy to regard with equanimity the blunders of the "Reconstruction policy" and the manifold infamies which have followed fast upon its adoption.

The South scornfully rejected and successfully nullified the legislative will of the victors.

Judge Albion W. Tourgee says of this policy in his book called A Fool's Errand: "It was a magnificent sentiment that underlay it all,—an unfaltering determination, an invincible defiance to all that had the seeming of compulsion or tyranny. One cannot but regard with pride and sympathy the indomitable men, who, being conquered in war, yet resisted every effort of the conqueror to change their laws, their customs, or even the personnel of their ruling class; and this, too, not only with unyielding stubbornness, but with success. One cannot but admire the arrogant boldness with which they charged the nation which had overpowered them—even in the teeth of her legislators—with perfidy, malice, and a spirit of unworthy and contemptible revenge. How they laughed to scorn the Reconstruction Acts of which the wise men boasted! How boldly they declared the conflict to be irrepressible, and that white and black could not and should not live together as co-ordinate ruling elements! How lightly they told the tales of blood—of the Masked Night-Riders, of the Invisible Empire of Rifle clubs and Saber clubs (all organized for peaceful purposes), of warnings and whippings and slaughter! Ah, it is wonderful! * * * Bloody as the reign of Mary, barbarous as the chronicles of the Comanche!"


[7] We of the United States take credit for having abolished slavery. Passing the question of how much credit the majority of us are entitled to for the abolition of Negro slavery, it remains true that we have only abolished one form of slavery—and that a primitive form which had been abolished in the greater portion of the country by social development, and that, notwithstanding its race character gave it peculiar tenacity, would in time have been abolished in the same way in other parts of the country. We have not really abolished slavery; we have retained it in its most insidious and widespread form—in the form which applies to whites as to blacks. So far from having abolished slavery, it is extending and intensifying, and we made no scruple of setting into it our own children—the citizens of the Republic yet to be. For what else are we doing in selling the land on which future citizens must live, if they are to live at all.—Henry George, Social Problems, p. 209.

[8] Although for the present there is a lull in the conflict of races at the South, it is a lull which comes only from the breathing-spells of a great secular contention, and not from any permanent pacification founded on a resolution of the race problem presented by the Negro question in its present aspects. So long as the existing mass of our crude and unassimilated colored population holds its present place in the body politic, we must expect that civilization and political rights will oscillate between alternate perils—the peril that comes from the white man when he places civilization, or sometimes his travesty of it, higher than the Negro's political rights, and the peril that comes from the black man when his political rights are placed by himself or others higher than civilization—President James C. Willing, on "Race Education" in The North American Review, April, 1883.

[9] By virtue of the power and for the purposes aforesaid, I do ordain and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States, are and henceforth shall be free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.—Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

[10] From Williams's History of the Negro Race in America I construct the following table showing the number of colored troops employed by the Federal Government during the war of the Rebellion:

Colored Troops Furnished 1861-65 Total of New England States 7,916 Total of Middle States 13,922 Total, Western States and Territories 12,711 Total, Border States 45,184 Total, Southern States 63,571 ———- Grand Total States 143,304 At Large 733 Not accounted for 5,083 Officers 7,122 ———- Grand total 156,242

This gives colored troops enlisted in the States in Rebellion; besides this, there were 92,576 colored troops (included with the white soldiers) in the quotas of the several States.


Illiteracy—Its Causes

At the close of the rebellion there were in the Union (according to the census of 1860) 4,441,830 people of African origin; in 1880 they had increased to 6,580,793. Of this vast multitude in 1860, it is safe to say, not so many as one in every ten thousand could read or write. They had been doomed by the most stringent laws to a long night of mental darkness. It was a crime to teach a black man how to read even the Bible, the sacred repository of the laws that must light the pathway of man from death unto life eternal. For to teach a slave was to make a firebrand—to arouse that love of freedom which stops at nothing short of absolute freedom. It is not, therefore, surprising that every southern state should have passed the most odious inhibitary laws, with severe fines and penalties for their infraction, upon the question of informing the stunted intelligence of the slave population. The following table will show the condition of education in the South in 1880:

COMPARATIVE STATISTICS OF EDUCATION AT THE SOUTH ———————————————————————————————————— White Colored ————————————— ————————————- States School Enroll- [A] School Enroll- [A] [B] population ment population ment ———————————————————————————————————— Alabama 217,590 107,483 49 170,413 72,007 42 $375,465 Arkansas [b]181,799 [c]53,229 29 [b]54,332 [c]17,743 33 238,056 Delaware 31,505 25,053 80 3,954 2,770 70 207,281 Florida [b]46,410 [c]18,871 41 [b]42,099 [c]20,444 49 114,895 Georgia [d]236,319 150,134 64 [d]197,125 86,399 45 471,029 Kentucky [e]478,597 [c]241,679 50 [e]66,564 [c]23,902 36 803,490 Louisiana [c]139,661 [d]44,052 32 [c]134,184 [d]34,476 26 480,320 Maryland [f]213,669 134,210 63 [f]63,591 28,221 44 1,544,367 Mississippi 175,251 112,994 64 251,438 123,710 49 850,704 Missouri 681,995 454,218 67 41,489 22,158 53 3,152,178 N.Carolina 291,770 136,481 47 167,554 89,125 53 352,882 S.Carolina [g]83,813 61,219 73 [g]144,315 72,853 50 324,629 Tennessee 403,353 229,290 57 141,509 60,851 43 724,862 Texas [h]171,426 138,912 81 [h]62,015 47,874 77 753,346 Virginia 314,827 152,136 48 240,980 68,600 28 946,109 W.Virginia 202,364 138,799 68 7,749 4,071 53 716,864 District of Columbia 29,612 16,934 57 13,946 9,505 68 438,567 —————————————————————————————— Total 3,899,961 2,215,674 1,803,257 784,709 12,475,044 ———————————————————————————————————— [Table Header A: Percentage of the school population enrolled] [Table Header B: Total Expenditure for both races[a]]

[a] In Delaware the colored public schools have been supported by the school tax collected from colored citizens only; recently, however, they have received an appropriation of $2,400 from the State; in Kentucky the school-tax collected from colored citizens is the only State appropriation for the support of colored schools; in Maryland there is a biennial appropriation by the Legislature; in the District of Columbia one-third of the school moneys is set apart for colored public schools, and in the other States mentioned above the school moneys are divided in proportion to the school population without regard to race.

[b] Several counties failed to make race distinctions.

[c] Estimated.

[d] In 1879.

[e] For whites the school age is 6 to 20, for colored 6 to 16.

[f] Census of 1870.

[g] In 1877.

[h] These numbers include some duplicates; the actual school population is 230,527.

Speaking in the Senate of the United States June 13, 1882, the bill for National "Aid to Common Schools" being under consideration, Senator Henry W. Blair, of New Hampshire, said:

Excluding the states of Maryland and Missouri and the District of Columbia, and the total yearly expenditure for both races is only $7,339,932, while in the whole country the annual expenditure is, from taxation, $70,341,435, and from school funds $6,580,632, or a total of $76,922,067, (see tables 2 and 7,) or one-tenth of the whole, while they contain one-fifth of the school-population. The causes which have produced this state of things in the Southern States are far less important than the facts themselves as they now exist. To find a remedy and apply it is the only duty which devolves upon us. Without universal education, not only will the late war prove to be a failure, but the abolition of slavery be proved to be a tremendous disaster, if not a crime.

The country was held together by the strong and bloody embrace of war, but that which the nation might and did do to retain the integrity of its territory and of its laws by the expenditure of brute force will all be lost if, for the subjection of seven millions of men, by the statutes of the States is to be substituted the thraldom of ignorance and the tyranny of an irresponsible suffrage. Secession, and a confederacy founded upon slavery as its chief cornerstone, would be better than the future of the Southern States—better for both races, too—if the nation is to permit one-third, and that the fairest portion of its domain, to become the spawning ground of ignorance, vice, anarchy, and of every crime. The nation as such abolished slavery as a legal institution; but ignorance is slavery, and no matter what is written in your constitutions and your laws, slavery will continue until intelligence, handmaid of liberty, shall have illuminated the whole land with the light of her smile.

Before the war the Southern States were aristocracies, highly educated, and disciplined in the science of polities. Hence they preserved order and flourished at home, while they imposed their will upon the nation at large. Now all is changed. The suffrage is universal, and that means universal ruin unless the capacity to use it intelligently is created by universal education. Until the republican constitutions, framed in accordance with the Congressional reconstruction which supplanted the governments initiated by President Johnson, common-school systems, like universal suffrage, were unknown. Hence in a special manner the nation is responsible for the existence and support of those systems as well as for the order of things which made them necessary. That remarkable progress has been made under their influence is true, and that the common school is fast becoming as dear to the masses of the people at the South as elsewhere is also evident.

The Nation, through the Freedmen's Bureau, and perhaps to a limited extent in other ways, has expended five millions of dollars for the education of negroes and refugees in the earlier days of reconstruction, while religious charities have founded many special schools which have thus far cost some ten millions more. The Peabody fund has distilled the dews of heaven all over the South; but heavy rains are needed; without them every green thing must wither away.

This work belongs to the Nation. It is a part of the war. We have the Southern people as patriotic allies now. We are one; so shall we be forever. But both North and South have a fiercer and more doubtful fight with the forces of ignorance than they waged with each other during the bloody years which chastened the opening life of this generation.

The South lost in the destruction of property about two billion dollars and in prosecuting the war two billion more. No people can lose so much without seriously disarranging the entire mechanism of their government. It is for this reason, therefore, that the measure of "National Aid to Education" has so many and so persistent advocates. I wish to place myself among them. If the safety of republican government abides in the intelligence and virtue of the people, it can very readily be seen how much safety there is in the South at present. If it be true that an ulcer will vitiate the entire body, and endanger the life of the patient, we can see very plainly to what possible danger the spread of illiteracy may lead us.

Illiteracy in the South is one of the worst legacies which the rebellion bequeathed to the nation. It has been the prime cause of more misgovernment in the South than any other one cause, not even the insatiable rapacity of the carpet-bag adventurers taking precedence of it. It has not only served as a provocation to peculation and chicanery, but it has nerved the courage of the assassin and made merry the midnight ride of armed mobs bent upon righting wrongs by committing crimes before which the atrocities of savage warfare pale. Wholesale murders have been committed and sovereign majorities awed into silence and inaction by reason of the widespread illiteracy of the masses. The very first principles of republican government have been ruthlessly trampled under foot because the people were ignorant of their sovereign rights, and had not, therefore, courage to maintain them.

That there should be in sixteen States and the District of Columbia a population of 5,703,218 people to be educated out of $12,475,044 is sufficient to arouse the apprehension of the most indifferent friend of good government. The State of New York alone, with a school population of only 1,641,173 spent, in 1880, $9,675,922.

But I base my argument for the establishment and maintenance of a comprehensive system of National education upon other grounds than the "safety of the Union," which is the same argument used by Mr. Lincoln when he emancipated the slaves. This argument is strong, and will always greatly influence a certain class of people. And, naturally, it should, for the perpetuation of the Union is simply the perpetuation of a republican form of government. But there are stronger grounds to be considered.

1. The United States government is directly responsible for the illiteracy and the widespread poverty which obtain in the South. Under its sanction and by its connivance the institution of slavery flourished and prospered, until it had taken such deep root as to be almost impossible of extirpation. It was the Union, and not the States, severally, which made slavery part and parcel of the fundamental law of the land. If this be a correct statement of the case, and I assume that it is, the Union (and not the States, severally) is responsible for the ignorance of the black people of the South. Slavery could not have existed and grown in the Union save by permission of all the States of the Union. It is therefore obvious that the agency which created and fostered a great crime is obligated, not only by the laws of God but of man as well, to assume the responsibility of its creation and to remedy, as far as possible, the evil results of that crime. The issue cannot be evaded. The obligation rests upon the Union, not upon the several States, to assume the direction of methods by which the appalling illiteracy of the South is to be diminished.

2. There have not been wanting men and newspapers to urge that the United States should reimburse the slave-holders of the South for the wholesale confiscation, so to speak, of their property. True, these men and newspapers belong to that class of unrepentants who believed that slavery was a Divine institution and that the slave-holder was a sort of vicegerent of heaven, a holy Moses, as it were. But when we leave the absurdity of this claim, which lies upon the surface, there is much apparent reason in their representations. It was the Union which legalized the sale and purchase of slave property, thereby inviting capitalists to invest in it; and it was the Union which declared such contracts null and void by the abolition of slavery, or confiscation of slave property. As I said before, I have no sympathy with those who invested their money in slave property. They not only received their just deserts in having their property confiscated, but they should have been compelled to make restitution to the last penny to the poor slaves whom they had systematically robbed. But perhaps this would have been carrying justice too near the ideal. For the great debt to the slave, who was robbed of his honest wage, we go behind the slave-holder, who had been invited by the government to invest his money in blood; we go to the head of the firm for the payment of debts contracted by the firm, for each member of the government is, measurably, an agent of the government, contracting and paying debts by its delegated authority. Thus the law holds him guilty who willfully breaks a contract entered into in good faith by all the parties to it. Instead of holding the slave-holder responsible for the robbery of the black man through a period of a hundred years, we hold the government responsible.

What man can compute the dollars stolen from the black slave in the shape of wages, for a period of a hundred years! What claim has the slave-holder against the government for confiscation of property by the side of the claim of the slaves for a hundred years of wages and enervated and dwarfed manhood! A billion dollars would have bought every slave in the South in 1860, but fifty billions would not have adequately recompensed the slave for enforced labor and debased manhood. The debt grows in magnitude the closer it is inspected. And yet there are those who will laugh this claim to scorn; who will be unable to see any grounds upon which to base the justice of it; who will say that the black man was fully compensated for all the ills he had borne, the robbery to which he had been subjected, and the debasement—not to say enervation—of his manhood, by the great act by which he was made a free man and a citizen.

But there is, or should be, such a claim; it rests upon the strongest possible grounds of equity; while the conference of freedom and citizenship was simply the rendering back in the first instance that which no man has any right to appropriate, law or no law; and, in the second, bestowing a boon which had been honestly earned in every conflict waged by the Union from Yorktown to Appomatox Court House—a boon, I am forced to exclaim, which has, in many respects, proved to be more of a curse than a blessing, more a dead weight to carry than a help to conserve his freedom; and to aid in the fixing of his proper status as a co-equal citizen. I deny the right of any man to enslave his fellow; I deny the right of any government, sovereign as the Union or dependent as are the States in many respects, to pass any regulation which robs one man or class to enrich another. Individuals may invest their capital in human flesh, and governments may legalize the infamous compact; yet it carries upon its face the rankest injustice to the man and outrage upon the laws of God, the common Parent of all mankind. There are those in this country—men too of large influence, however small their wit, who, aping miserably the masterly irony of Junius, speak of the black man as the "ward of the nation"—a sort of pauper, dependent upon the charity of a generous and humane people for sustenance, and even tolerance to dwell among them, to enjoy the blessing of a civilization which I pronounce to be reared upon quicksand, a civilization more fruitful of poverty, misery and crime than of competence, happiness and virtue. Those who regard the black man in the light of a "ward of the nation," are too narrow-minded, ignorant or ungenerous to deserve my contempt. The people of this country have been made fabulously affluent by legalized robbery of the black man; the coffers of the National Government have overflowed into the channels of subsidy and peculation, enriching sharpers and thieves, with the earnings of slave labor; while nineteen out of every twenty landowners in the South obtained their unjust hold upon the soil by robbing the black man. When the rebellion at last closed, the white people of the South were poor in gold but rich indeed in lands, while the black man was poor in everything, even in manhood, not because of any neglect or improvidence on his part, but because, though he labored from the rising to the setting of the sun, he received absolutely nothing for his labor, often being denied adequate food to sustain his physical man and clothing to protect him from the rude inclemency of the weather. He was a bankrupt in purse because the government had robbed him; he was a bankrupt in character, in all the elements of a successful manhood, because the government had placed a premium upon illiteracy and immorality. It was not the individual slave-owner who held the black man in chains; it was the government; for, the government having permitted slavery to exist, the institution vanished the instant the government declared that it should no longer exist!

I therefore maintain that the people of this Nation who enslaved the black man, who robbed him of more than a hundred years of toil, who perverted his moral nature, and all but extinguished in him the Divine spark of intelligence, are morally bound to do all that is in their power to build up his shattered manhood, to put him on his feet, as it were, to fit him to enjoy the freedom thrust upon him so unceremoniously, and to exercise with loyalty and patriotism the ballot placed in his hands—the ballot, in which is wrapped up the destiny of republican government, the perpetuity of democratic institutions. It is the proper function of government to see to it that its citizens are properly prepared to exercise wisely the liberties placed in their keeping. Self-preservation would dictate as much; for, if it be considered the better part of valor to discretely build and maintain arsenals and forts to bar out the invader, to prepare against the assaults of the enemy from without, how much more imperative it is to take timely precautions to counteract the mischief of insidious foes from within? Are our liberties placed more in jeopardy by the assaults of an enemy who plans our destruction three thousand miles away than of the enemy within our very bosoms? Was it the puissance of the barbarian arms or the corruption and enervation of the character of her people which worked the downfall of Rome? Was it influences from without or influences from within which corrupted the integrity of the people of Sparta and led to their subjugation by a more sturdy people? Let us learn by the striking examples of history. A people's greatness should be measured, not by its magnificent palaces, decked out in all the gaudy splendors of art and needless luxuries, the price of piracy or direct thievery; not in the number of colossal fortunes accumulated out of the stipend of the orphan and widow and the son of toil; not in the extent and richness of its public buildings and palaces of idle amusement; not in vast aggregations of capital in the coffers of the common treasury—capital unnecessarily diverted from the channels of trade, extorted from the people by the ignorance of their "wise men," who seek in vain for a remedy for the evil, because they do not want to find one.[11] A people's greatness should not be measured by these standards, for they are the parasites which eat away the foundations of greatness and stability. On the contrary, such greatness is to be found in the general diffusion of wealth, the comparative contentment and competency of the masses, and the general virtue and patriotism of the whole people. It should, therefore, manifestly be the end and aim of legislators to so shape the machinery placed in their hands as to operate with the least possible restraint upon the energies of the people. It should not be the studied purpose to enrich the few at the expense of the many, to restrain this man and give that one the largest possible immunity. No law should be made or enforced which would abridge my right while enlarging the right of my neighbor. That such is the case at this time—that legislatures are manipulated in the interest of a few, and that the great mass of the people feel only the burdens placed upon them by their servants, who are more properly speaking become their masters—that to such perversion of popular sovereignty we have come, is admitted by candid men.

Therefore, that the people may more clearly know their rights and how best to preserve them and reap their fullest benefits, they should be instructed in the language which is the medium through which to interpret their grand Magna Charta.


[11] Since all sensible men know that the evil lies in a protective tariff and the bulky catalogue of monopoly.


Education—Professional or Industrial

The "Religious Training of the Freedmen" and the "Education of the Freedmen" have raised up an army of people more peculiar in many respects than any other like class in all the history of mankind. They stand off by themselves; they are not to be approached by any counter method of "advocating a cause" or "building up the Kingdom of Christ" in their field. Millions of dollars have been "raised" to root out the illiteracy and immorality of the Freedmen, and to build up their shattered manhood. Indeed, there have been times when I have seriously debated the question, whether the black man had any manhood left, after the missionaries and religious enthusiasts had done picturing, or, rather, caricaturing his debased moral and mental condition. He has been made the victim of the most exalted panegyric by one set of fanatics, and of the most painful, malignant abuse and detraction by another set. The one has painted him as a sort of angel, and the other as a sort of devil; when, in fact, he is neither one nor the other; when, simply, he is a man, a member of the common family, possessing no more virtue nor vice than his brother, the brother who has managed to so impose upon himself that he is pretty thoroughly convinced that nature expended all its most choice materials in the construction of his class. But this is simply the work of the devil, who delights in throwing cayenne pepper into the eyes of good men.

The aspects of the work which has been done in the South for the colored people by "missionaries," so to term them, by the assistance of large sums of money donated by philanthropic men and women, are very many-sided indeed. I would in no wise underrate the magnitude of the work performed, nor attribute to those who have been the agents in disbursing these unparalleled benefactions motives other than of the purest and loftiest, in a majority of cases; but I think the time has arrived when we may disrobe the matter of the romance which writers have industriously woven about it. In the early stages of the work a few men and women of large fortunes, who had been "born with a silver spoon in their mouths," may have gone South to labor for humanity and the Master, may have left comfortable firesides and congenial companionships to make their homes among strangers who shut them out from their affections and sympathies because they had come to labor for the poor and the despised. Examples of this lofty devotion to a good cause there undoubtedly were in the days long ago; but the bulk of the work was performed by persons, male and female, to whom employment, an opportunity to make an honest living in an honest way, was a godsend. That they possessed much bravery to undertake a work which shut them out from the sympathy and social recognition of those who may be called their equals, is not denied; but that they were the pampered children of fortune, laboring simply for God and humanity, which zealous persons have painted them to be in newspapers and magazines, religious and other, is simply making a mountain out of a mole-hill. They were neither millionaires nor paupers, but they were educated men and women, like thousands throughout the North and West, who went into the field to labor because it was rich unto the harvest and the laborers were few. To say that salaries offered were not accepted always with promptness would be to get on the wrong side of a correct statement of fact. There are hundreds and thousands of educated men and women in the North and West to-day "waiting for something to turn up," and who would not hesitate a moment to embrace an opportunity, honorable and lucrative, which should present itself. There was little romance in the undertaking; there was far less in the work to be performed. I simply desire to protest against the correctness of the distorted pictures drawn ostensibly to magnify the sacrifices, which were many, and to belittle the rewards, which were great, in the performance of an ordinary piece of work, by a class of persons now rapidly disappearing from the scenes that once knew them. Their work is fast being transferred to the hands of colored men and women—the pupil is taking the place of the master; the demand drawing upon the colored—not the white—supply, because "birds of a feather flock together," more especially when one class is composed of chickens and the other of chicken-hawks. When lines are drawn, men unconsciously, as it were, keep on their own side. So, in colored churches and schools the whites are at a discount because it is easier and more congenial to employ colored help. Colored people are like white people. When they see nothing but white ministers in the white churches they conclude that it is best to have nothing but colored ministers in their own pulpits, and they are perfectly consistent and logical in their conclusion; the rule which actuates mankind in such matters being, not the biblical one, which enjoins that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us, but, rather, do unto others as they do unto us; and this latter rule would seem to be better adapted for worldly success than the former, because it has more of the practical than the theoretical about it, and is more earthly than heavenly in its observance. The same is true of schools and school teachers. The colored people everywhere are constantly clamoring for colored teachers, since the rank injustice of separate schools is forced upon them.

I would interject just here a few words on the separate-school system. Aside from the manifest injustice of setting up two schoolhouses in the same ward or district—injustice to the children in the spirit, false from every standpoint, that one child is better than another—the double expense of maintaining two schools is obvious, and is sufficiently absurd to repel the sympathy or practical philanthropy of any man, Christian or Infidel. Why should the people be called upon to support two schools within speaking distance of each other to preserve an infamous distinction, a sneaking caste prejudice? Why! Because the people are wise in their own conceit—perfectly rational upon all other questions save the color question. The South is weighted down with debt, almost as poor as the proverbial "Job's turkey," and yet she supports a dual school system simple to gratify a prejudice. I notice with surprise that among the bills pending before Congress to give national aid to education it is not proposed to interfere with the irregular and ruinous dual caste schools; thereby, in effect, giving the national assent to a system repugnant to the genius of the constitution. But it is nothing new under the sun for the Congress of the Nation to aid and abet institutions and theories anti-republican and pernicious in all their ramifications.

Perhaps no people ever had more advantages to dedicate and prepare themselves for the ministry of Christ than the colored people of the South. The religious "idea" has been so thoroughly worked that other branches of study, other callings than the ministry, have paled into insignificance. The Cross of Christ has been held up before the colored youth as if the whole end and aim of life was to preach the Gospel, as if the philosophy of heaven superseded in practical importance the philosophy of life. The persistence with which this one "idea" has been forced upon colored students has produced the reverse of what was anticipated in a large number of cases, and very naturally. It is a false theory to suppose all the people of any one class to be specially fitted for only one branch of industry: for I maintain that preaching has largely become a trade or profession, in which the churches with large salaries have become prizes to be contended for with almost as much zeal and partisanship as the prizes in politics. This is true not only of colored ministers but white ones as well. It is no disparagement of colored ministers to say that day by day they grow more and more in favor of serving churches with fair salaries than in carrying around the cross as itinerants, without any special place to lay their heads when the storms blow and the rains descend. In this they do but pattern after white clergymen, who do not always set examples that angels would be justified in imitating.

Colored people are naturally sociable, and intensely religious in their disposition. Their excellent social qualities make them the best of companions. They are musical, humorous and generous to a fault. Coupled with their strong religious bias, these attractive qualities will in time lift them to the highest possible grade in our dwarfed civilization, where the fittest does not always survive; the drossiest, flimsiest, most selfish and superficial often occupying the high places, social and political. But I have still higher aspirations for my race. There is hope for any people who are social in disposition, for this supposes the largest capacity for mutual friendships, therefore of co-operation, out of which the highest civilization is possible to be evolved; while a love of music and the possession of musical and humorous talent is, undeniably, indicative of genius and prospective culture and refinement of the most approved standard.

Indeed, the constant evolution of negro character is one of the most marked and encouraging social phenomena of the times; it constantly tends upwards, in moral, mental development and material betterment. Those who contend that the negro is standing still, or "relapsing into barbarism," are the falsest of false prophets. They resolutely shut their eyes to facts all around them, and devote columns upon columns of newspaper, magazine and book argument—imaginary pictures—to the immorality, mental sterility and innate improvidence of this people; and they do this for various reasons, none of them honorable, many of them really disreputable. In dealing with this negro problem they always start off upon a false premise; their conclusions must, necessarily, be false. In the first place, disregarding the fact that the negroes of the South are nothing more nor less than the laboring class of the people, the same in many particulars as the English and Irish peasantry, they proceed to regard them as intruders in the community—as a people who continually take from but add nothing to the wealth of the community.

It is nothing unusual to see newspaper articles stating in the most positive terms that the schools maintained by the State for the education of the blacks are supported out of the taxes paid by white men; and, very recently, it was spoken of as a most laudable act of justice and generosity that the State of Georgia paid out annually for the maintenance of colored schools more money than the aggregate taxes paid into the treasury of the State by the Negro property owners of the State; while the grand commonwealth of Kentucky only appropriates for the maintenance of colored schools such moneys as are paid into the State treasury by the colored people. Can the philosophy of taxation be reduced to a more hurtful, a more demoralizing absurdity!

Suppose the same standard of distribution of school funds should be applied to the city or the State of New York; what would be the logical result? Should we appropriate annually from nine to twelve millions of dollars to improve the morals of the people by informing their intelligence? Would the State be able, after ten years of such an experiment, to pay the myriads of officials which would be required to preserve the public peace, to protect life and insure proper respect for the so-called rights of property? Such an experiment would in time require the deportation to New York of the entire male adult population of Ireland, to be turned into the "finest police in the world," to stem the tide of crime and immorality which such premium upon ignorance would entail. Since even under the present munificent and well ordered school system, it is almost impossible to elect a Board of Aldermen from any other than the slum elements of the population—the liquor dealers, the gamblers, and men of their kind, the President of the New York Board of Aldermen at this very writing being a liquor-dealer, who can estimate the calamity which the inauguration of the Kentucky system would bring upon the people of New York—appropriating to the support of the public schools only such taxes as were paid by the parents of the children who attend them!

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