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´╗┐Title: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 1995, Memorial Issue
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 1995, Memorial Issue" ***

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By Various

Edited and Assembled by Judith Boss and  John Hamm

Table of Contents -----------------

     Sojourner Truth, the Libyan Sibyl.............Harriet Beecher Stowe
     Reconstruction................................Frederick Douglass
     An Appeal to Congress for Impartial Suffrage..Frederick Douglas
     The Negro Exodus..............................James B. Runnion
     My Escape from Slavery........................Frederick Douglass
     The Goophered Grapevine.......................Charles W. Chesnutt
     Po' Sandy.....................................Charles W. Chesnutt
     Dave's Neckliss...............................Charles W. Chesnutt
     The Awakening of the Negro....................Booker T. Washington
     The Story of Uncle Tom's Cabin................Charles Dudley Warner
     Strivings of the Negro People.................W. E. Burghardt Du Bois
     The Wife of his Youth.........................Charles W. Chesnutt
     The Bouquet...................................Charles W. Chesnutt
     The Case of the Negro.........................Booker T. Washington
     Hot-Foot Hannibal.............................Charles W. Chesnutt
     A Negro Schoolmaster in the New South.........W. E. Burghardt Du Bois
     The Capture of a Slaver.......................J. Taylor Wood
     Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt's Stories.............W. D. Howells
     Paths of Hope for the Negro
     Practical Suggestions of a Southerner.........Jerome Dowd
     Signs of Progress Among the Negroes...........Booker T. Washington
     The March of Progress.........................Charles W. Chesnutt
     The Freedmen's Bureau.........................W. E. Burghardt Du Bois
     Of the Training of Black Men..................W. E. Burghardt Du Bois
     The Fruits of Industrial Training.............Booker T. Washington
     The Negro in the Regular Army.................Oswald Garrison Villard
     Baxter's Procrustes...........................Charles W. Chesnutt
     The Heart of the Race Problem.................Quincy Ewing
     Negro Suffrage in a Democracy.................Ray Stannard Baker

     Bibliography of Sources


Many years ago, the few readers of radical Abolitionist papers must
often have seen the singular name of Sojourner Truth, announced as a
frequent speaker at Anti-Slavery meetings, and as travelling on a
sort of self-appointed agency through the country. I had myself often
remarked the name, but never met the individual. On one occasion, when
our house was filled with company, several eminent clergymen being our
guests, notice was brought up to me that Sojourner Truth was below, and
requested an interview. Knowing nothing of her but her singular name, I
went down, prepared to make the interview short, as the pressure of many
other engagements demanded.

When I went into the room, a tall, spare form arose to meet me. She was
evidently a full-blooded African, and though now aged and worn with many
hardships, still gave the impression of a physical development which
in early youth must have been as fine a specimen of the torrid zone as
Cumberworth's celebrated statuette of the Negro Woman at the Fountain.
Indeed, she so strongly reminded me of that figure, that, when I recall
the events of her life, as she narrated them to me, I imagine her as a
living, breathing impersonation of that work of art.

I do not recollect ever to have been conversant with any one who had
more of that silent and subtle power which we call personal presence
than this woman. In the modern Spiritualistic phraseology, she would
be described as having a strong sphere. Her tall form, as she rose up
before me, is still vivid to my mind. She was dressed in some stout,
grayish stuff, neat and clean, though dusty from travel. On her head,
she wore a bright Madras handkerchief, arranged as a turban, after
the manner of her race. She seemed perfectly self-possessed and at her
ease,--in fact, there was almost an unconscious superiority, not unmixed
with a solemn twinkle of humor, in the odd, composed manner in which she
looked down on me. Her whole air had at times a gloomy sort of drollery
which impressed one strangely.

"So this is YOU," she said.

"Yes," I answered.

"Well, honey, de Lord bless ye! I jes' thought I'd like to come an' have
a look at ye. You's heerd o' me, I reckon?" she added.

"Yes, I think I have. You go about lecturing, do you not?"

"Yes, honey, that's what I do. The Lord has made me a sign unto this
nation, an' I go round a'testifyin', an' showin' on 'em their sins agin
my people."

So saying, she took a seat, and, stooping over and crossing her arms
on her knees, she looked down on the floor, and appeared to fall into a
sort of reverie. Her great gloomy eyes and her dark face seemed to work
with some undercurrent of feeling; she sighed deeply, and occasionally
broke out,--

"O Lord! O Lord! Oh, the tears, an' the groans, an' the moans! O Lord!"

I should have said that she was accompanied by a little grandson of ten
years,--the fattest, jolliest woolly-headed little specimen of Africa
that one can imagine. He was grinning and showing his glistening white
teeth in a state of perpetual merriment, and at this moment broke out
into an audible giggle, which disturbed the reverie into which his
relative was falling.

She looked at him with an indulgent sadness, and then at me.

"Laws, Ma'am, HE don't know nothin' about it--HE don't. Why, I've
seen them poor critters, beat an' 'bused an' hunted, brought in all
torn,--ears hangin' all in rags, where the dogs been a'bitin' of 'em!"

This set off our little African Puck into another giggle, in which he
seemed perfectly convulsed.

She surveyed him soberly, without the slightest irritation.

"Well, you may bless the Lord you CAN laugh; but I tell you, 't wa'n't
no laughin' matter."

By this time I thought her manner so original that it might be worth
while to call down my friends; and she seemed perfectly well pleased
with the idea. An audience was what she wanted,--it mattered not whether
high or low, learned or ignorant. She had things to say, and was ready
to say them at all times, and to any one.

I called down Dr. Beecher, Professor Allen, and two or three other
clergymen, who, together with my husband and family, made a roomful. No
princess could have received a drawing-room with more composed dignity
than Sojourner her audience. She stood among them, calm and erect, as
one of her own native palm-trees waving alone in the desert. I presented
one after another to her, and at last said,--

"Sojourner, this is Dr. Beecher. He is a very celebrated preacher."

"IS he?" she said, offering her hand in a condescending manner, and
looking down on his white head. "Ye dear lamb, I'm glad to see ye! De
Lord bless ye! I loves preachers. I'm a kind o' preacher myself."

"You are?" said Dr. Beecher. "Do you preach from the Bible?"

"No, honey, can't preach from de Bible,--can't read a letter."

"Why, Sojourner, what do you preach from, then?"

Her answer was given with a solemn power of voice, peculiar to herself,
that hushed every one in the room.

"When I preaches, I has jest one text to preach from, an' I always
preaches from this one. MY text is, 'WHEN I FOUND JESUS.'"

"Well, you couldn't have a better one," said one of the ministers.

She paid no attention to him, but stood and seemed swelling with her own
thoughts, and then began this narration:--

"Well, now, I'll jest have to go back, an' tell ye all about it. Ye see,
we was all brought over from Africa, father an' mother an' I, an' a lot
more of us; an' we was sold up an' down, an' hither an' yon; an' I can
'member, when I was a little thing, not bigger than this 'ere," pointing
to her grandson, "how my ole mammy would sit out o' doors in the
evenin', an' look up at the stars an' groan. She'd groan an' groan, an'
says I to her,--

"'Mammy, what makes you groan so?'

"an' she'd say,--

"'Matter enough, chile! I'm groanin' to think o' my poor children: they
don't know where I be, an' I don't know where they be; they looks up at
the stars, an' I looks up at the stars, but I can't tell where they be.

"'Now,' she said, 'chile, when you're grown up, you may be sold away
from your mother an' all your ole friends, an' have great troubles come
on ye; an' when you has these troubles come on ye, ye jes' go to God,
an' He'll help ye.'

"An' says I to her,--

"'Who is God, anyhow, mammy?'

"An' says she,--

"'Why, chile, you jes' look up DAR! It's Him that made all DEM!"

"Well, I didn't mind much 'bout God in them days. I grew up pretty
lively an' strong, an' could row a boat, or ride a horse, or work round,
an' do 'most anything.

"At last I got sold away to a real hard massa an' missis. Oh, I tell
you, they WAS hard! 'Peared like I couldn't please 'em, nohow. An' then
I thought o' what my old mammy told me about God; an' I thought I'd got
into trouble, sure enough, an' I wanted to find God, an' I heerd some
one tell a story about a man that met God on a threshin'-floor, an' I
thought, 'Well an' good, I'll have a threshin'-floor, too.' So I went
down in the lot, an' I threshed down a place real hard, an' I used to go
down there every day, an' pray an' cry with all my might, a-prayin' to
the Lord to make my massa an' missis better, but it didn't seem to do no
good; an' so says I, one day,--

"'O God, I been a-askin' ye, an' askin' ye, an' askin' ye, for all this
long time, to make my massa an' missis better, an' you don't do it, an'
what CAN be the reason? Why, maybe you CAN'T. Well, I shouldn't wonder
ef you couldn't. Well, now, I tell you, I'll make a bargain with you.
Ef you'll help me to git away from my massa an' missis, I'll agree to
be good; but ef you don't help me, I really don't think I can be. Now,'
says I, 'I want to git away; but the trouble's jest here: ef I try to
git away in the night, I can't see; an' ef I try to git away in the
daytime, they'll see me, an' be after me.'

"Then the Lord said to me, 'Git up two or three hours afore daylight,
an' start off.'

"An' says I, 'Thank 'ee, Lord! that's a good thought.'

"So up I got, about three o'clock in the mornin', an' I started an'
travelled pretty fast, till, when the sun rose, I was clear away from
our place an' our folks, an' out o' sight. An' then I begun to think I
didn't know nothin' where to go. So I kneeled down, and says I,--

"'Well, Lord, you've started me out, an' now please to show me where to

"Then the Lord made a house appear to me, an' He said to me that I was
to walk on till I saw that house, an' then go in an' ask the people to
take me. An' I travelled all day, an' didn't come to the house till
late at night; but when I saw it, sure enough, I went in, an' I told the
folks that the Lord sent me; an' they was Quakers, an' real kind they
was to me. They jes' took me in, an' did for me as kind as ef I'd been
one of 'em; an' after they'd giv me supper, they took me into a room
where there was a great, tall, white bed; an' they told me to sleep
there. Well, honey, I was kind o' skeered when they left me alone with
that great white bed; 'cause I never had been in a bed in my life. It
never came into my mind they could mean me to sleep in it. An' so I jes'
camped down under it, on the floor, an' then I slep' pretty well. In the
mornin', when they came in, they asked me ef I hadn't been asleep; an' I
said, 'Yes, I never slep' better.' An' they said, 'Why, you haven't been
in the bed!' An' says I, 'Laws, you didn't think o' such a thing as my
sleepin' in dat 'ar' BED, did you? I never heerd o' such a thing in my

"Well, ye see, honey, I stayed an' lived with 'em. An' now jes' look
here: instead o' keepin' my promise an' bein' good, as I told the Lord
I would, jest as soon as everything got a'goin' easy, I FORGOT ALL ABOUT

"Pretty well don't need no help; an' I gin up prayin.' I lived there two
or three years, an' then the slaves in New York were all set free, an'
ole massa came to our home to make a visit, an' he asked me ef I didn't
want to go back an' see the folks on the ole place. An' I told him I
did. So he said, ef I'd jes' git into the wagon with him, he'd carry me
over. Well, jest as I was goin' out to git into the wagon, I MET GOD!
an' says I, 'O God, I didn't know as you was so great!' An' I turned
right round an' come into the house, an' set down in my room; for 't was
God all around me. I could feel it burnin', burnin', burnin' all around
me, an' goin' through me; an' I saw I was so wicked, it seemed as ef it
would burn me up. An' I said, 'O somebody, somebody, stand between God
an' me! for it burns me!' Then, honey, when I said so, I felt as it
were somethin' like an amberill [umbrella] that came between me an' the
light, an' I felt it was SOMEBODY,--somebody that stood between me an'
God; an' it felt cool, like a shade; an' says I, 'Who's this that stands
between me an' God? Is it old Cato?' He was a pious old preacher; but
then I seemed to see Cato in the light, an' he was all polluted an'
vile, like me; an' I said, 'Is it old Sally?' an' then I saw her, an'
she seemed jes' so. An' then says I, 'WHO is this?' An' then, honey, for
a while it was like the sun shinin' in a pail o' water, when it moves up
an' down; for I begun to feel 't was somebody that loved me; an' I tried
to know him. An' I said, 'I know you! I know you! I know you!'--an' then
I said, 'I don't know you! I don't know you! I don't know you!' An' when
I said, 'I know you, I know you,' the light came; an' when I said, 'I
don't know you, I don't know you,' it went, jes' like the sun in a
pail o' water. An' finally somethin' spoke out in me an' said, 'THIS IS
JESUS!' An' I spoke out with all my might, an' says I, 'THIS IS JESUS!
Glory be to God!' An' then the whole world grew bright, an' the trees
they waved an' waved in glory, an' every little bit o' stone on the
ground shone like glass; an' I shouted an' said, 'Praise, praise, praise
to the Lord!' An' I begun to feel such a love in my soul as I never felt
before,--love to all creatures. An' then, all of a sudden, it stopped,
an' I said, 'Dar's de white folks, that have abused you an' beat you an'
abused your people,--think o' them!' But then there came another rush
of love through my soul, an' I cried out loud,--'Lord, Lord, I can love

"Honey, I jes' walked round an' round in a dream. Jesus loved me! I
knowed it,--I felt it. Jesus was my Jesus. Jesus would love me always. I
didn't dare tell nobody; 't was a great secret. Everything had been got
away from me that I ever had; an' I thought that ef I let white folks
know about this, maybe they'd get HIM away,--so I said, 'I'll keep this
close. I won't let any one know.'"

"But, Sojourner, had you never been told about Jesus Christ?"

"No, honey. I hadn't heerd no preachin',--been to no meetin'. Nobody
hadn't told me. I'd kind o' heerd of Jesus, but thought he was like
Gineral Lafayette, or some o' them. But one night there was a Methodist
meetin' somewhere in our parts, an' I went; an' they got up an' begun
for to tell der 'speriences; an' de fust one begun to speak. I started,
'cause he told about Jesus. 'Why,' says I to myself, 'dat man's found
him, too!' An' another got up an' spoke, an I said, 'He's found him,
too!' An' finally I said, 'Why, they all know him!' I was so happy! An'
then they sung this hymn": (Here Sojourner sang, in a strange, cracked
voice, but evidently with all her soul and might, mispronouncing the
English, but seeming to derive as much elevation and comfort from bad
English as from good):--

     'There is a holy city,
       A world of light above,
      Above the stairs and regions,*
       Built by the God of Love.

     "An Everlasting temple,
       And saints arrayed in white
      There serve their great Redeemer
       And dwell with him in light.

     "The meanest child of glory
       Outshines the radiant sun;
      But who can speak the splendor
       Of Jesus on his throne?

     "Is this the man of sorrows
       Who stood at Pilate's bar,
      Condemned by haughty Herod
       And by his men of war?

     "He seems a mighty conqueror,
       Who spoiled the powers below,
      And ransomed many captives
       From everlasting woe.

     "The hosts of saints around him
       Proclaim his work of grace,
      The patriarchs and prophets,
       And all the godly race,

     "Who speak of fiery trials
       And tortures on their way;
      They came from tribulation
       To everlasting day.

     "And what shall be my journey,
       How long I'll stay below,
      Or what shall be my trials,
       Are not for me to know.

     "In every day of trouble
       I'll raise my thoughts on high,
      I'll think of that bright temple
       And crowns above the sky."

   * Starry regions.

I put in this whole hymn, because Sojourner, carried away with her own
feeling, sang it from beginning to end with a triumphant energy that
held the whole circle around her intently listening. She sang with
the strong barbaric accent of the native African, and with those
indescribable upward turns and those deep gutturals which give such a
wild, peculiar power to the negro singing,--but above all, with such an
overwhelming energy of personal appropriation that the hymn seemed to
be fused in the furnace of her feelings and come out recrystallized as a
production of her own.

It is said that Rachel was wont to chant the "Marseillaise" in a manner
that made her seem, for the time, the very spirit and impersonation of
the gaunt, wild, hungry, avenging mob which rose against aristocratic
oppression; and in like manner, Sojourner, singing this hymn, seemed to
impersonate the fervor of Ethiopia, wild, savage, hunted of all nations,
but burning after God in her tropic heart, and stretching her scarred
hands towards the glory to be revealed.

"Well, den ye see, after a while, I thought I'd go back an' see de folks
on de ole place. Well, you know, de law had passed dat de culled folks
was all free; an' my old missis, she had a daughter married about dis
time who went to live in Alabama,--an' what did she do but give her my
son, a boy about de age of dis yer, for her to take down to Alabama?
When I got back to de ole place, they told me about it, an' I went right
up to see ole missis, an' says I,--

"'Missis, have you been an' sent my son away down to Alabama?'

"'Yes, I have,' says she; 'he's gone to live with your young missis.'

"'Oh, Missis,' says I, 'how could you do it?'

"'Poh!' says she, 'what a fuss you make about a little nigger! Got more
of 'em now than you know what to do with.'

"I tell you, I stretched up. I felt as tall as the world!

"'Missis,' says I, 'I'LL HAVE MY SON BACK AGIN!'

"She laughed.

"'YOU will, you nigger? How you goin' to do it? You ha'n't got no

"'No, Missis,--but GOD has,--an' you'll see He'll help me!'--an' I
turned round an' went out.

"Oh, but I WAS angry to have her speak to me so haughty an' so scornful,
as ef my chile wasn't worth anything. I said to God, 'O Lord, render
unto her double!' It was a dreadful prayer, an' I didn't know how true
it would come.

"Well, I didn't rightly know which way to turn; but I went to the Lord,
an' I said to Him, 'O Lord, ef I was as rich as you be, an' you was as
poor as I be, I'd help you,--you KNOW I would; and, oh, do help me!' An'
I felt sure then that He would.

"Well, I talked with people, an' they said I must git the case before
a grand jury. So I went into the town when they was holdin' a court, to
see ef I could find any grand jury. An' I stood round the
court-house, an' when they was a-comin' out, I walked right up to the
grandest-lookin' one I could see, an' says I to him,--

"'Sir, be you a grand jury?'

"An' then he wanted to know why I asked, an' I told him all about it;
an' he asked me all sorts of questions, an' finally he says to me,--

"'I think, ef you pay me ten dollars, that I'd agree to git your son for
you.' An' says he, pointin' to a house over the way, 'You go 'long an'
tell your story to the folks in that house, an' I guess they'll give you
the money.'

"Well, I went, an' I told them, an' they gave me twenty dollars; an'
then I thought to myself, 'Ef ten dollars will git him, twenty dollars
will git him SARTIN.' So I carried it to the man all out, an' said,--

"'Take it all,--only be sure an' git him.'

"Well, finally they got the boy brought back; an' then they tried to
frighten him, an' to make him say that I wasn't his mammy, an' that he
didn't know me; but they couldn't make it out. They gave him to me,
an' I took him an' carried him home; an' when I came to take off his
clothes, there was his poor little back all covered with scars an' hard
lumps, where they'd flogged him.

"Well, you see, honey, I told you how I prayed the Lord to render unto
her double. Well, it came true; for I was up at ole missis' house not
long after, an' I heerd 'em readin' a letter to her how her daughter's
husband had murdered her,--how he'd thrown her down an' stamped the life
out of her, when he was in liquor; an' my ole missis, she giv a screech,
an' fell flat on the floor. Then says I, 'O Lord, I didn't mean all
that! You took me up too quick.'

"Well, I went in an' tended that poor critter all night. She was out of
her mind,--a-cryin', an' callin' for her daughter; an' I held her poor
ole head on my arm, an' watched for her as ef she'd been my babby. An'
I watched by her, an' took care on her all through her sickness after
that, an' she died in my arms, poor thing!"

"Well, Sojourner, did you always go by this name?"

"No, 'deed! My name was Isabella; but when I left the house of bondage,
I left everything behind. I wa'n't goin' to keep nothin' of Egypt on me,
an' so I went to the Lord an' asked Him to give me a new name. And the
Lord gave me Sojourner, because I was to travel up an' down the land,
showin' the people their sins, an' bein' a sign unto them. Afterwards
I told the Lord I wanted another name, 'cause everybody else had two
names; and the Lord gave me Truth, because I was to declare the truth to
the people.

"Ye see some ladies have given me a white satin banner," she said,
pulling out of her pocket and unfolding a white banner, printed with
many texts, such as, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all
the inhabitants thereof," and others of like nature. "Well," she said,
"I journeys round to camp-meetins, an' wherever folks is, an' I sets up
my banner, an' then I sings, an' then folks always comes up round me,
an' then I preaches to 'em. I tells 'em about Jesus, an' I tells 'em
about the sins of this people. A great many always comes to hear me; an'
they're right good to me, too, an' say they want to hear me agin."

We all thought it likely; and as the company left her, they shook hands
with her, and thanked her for her very original sermon; and one of the
ministers was overheard to say to another, "There's more of the gospel
in that story than in most sermons."

Sojourner stayed several days with us, a welcome guest. Her conversation
was so strong, simple, shrewd, and with such a droll flavoring of humor,
that the Professor was wont to say of an evening, "Come, I am dull,
can't you get Sojourner up here to talk a little?" She would come up
into the parlor, and sit among pictures and ornaments, in her simple
stuff gown, with her heavy travelling-shoes, the central object of
attention both to parents and children, always ready to talk or to sing,
and putting into the common flow of conversation the keen edge of some
shrewd remark.

"Sojourner, what do you think of Women's Rights?"

"Well, honey, I's ben to der meetins, an' harked a good deal. Dey wanted
me for to speak. So I got up. Says I,--'Sisters, I a'n't clear what
you'd be after. Ef women want any rights more 'n dey's got, why don't
dey jes' TAKE 'EM, an' not be talkin' about it?' Some on 'em came round
me, an' asked why I didn't wear Bloomers. An' I told 'em I had Bloomers
enough when I was in bondage. You see," she said, "dey used to weave
what dey called nigger-cloth, an' each one of us got jes' sech a strip,
an' had to wear it width-wise. Them that was short got along pretty
well, but as for me"--She gave an indescribably droll glance at her long
limbs and then at us, and added,--"Tell YOU, I had enough of Bloomers in
them days."

Sojourner then proceeded to give her views of the relative capacity of
the sexes, in her own way.

"S'pose a man's mind holds a quart, an' a woman's don't hold but a pint;
ef her pint is FULL, it's as good as his quart."

Sojourner was fond of singing an extraordinary lyric, commencing,--

   "I'm on my way to Canada,
     That cold, but happy land;
    The dire effects of Slavery
     I can no longer stand.
    O righteous Father,
     Do look down on me,
    And help me on to Canada,
     Where colored folks are free!"

The lyric ran on to state, that, when the fugitive crosses the Canada

   "The Queen comes down unto the shore,
     With arms extended wide,
    To welcome the poor fugitive
     Safe onto Freedom's side."

In the truth thus set forth she seemed to have the most simple faith.

But her chief delight was to talk of "glory," and to sing hymns whose
burden was,--

   "O glory, glory, glory,
     Won't you come along with me?"

and when left to herself, she would often hum these with great delight,
nodding her head.

On one occasion, I remember her sitting at a window singing and
fervently keeping time with her head, the little black Puck of a
grandson meanwhile amusing himself with ornamenting her red-and-yellow
turban with green dandelion-curls, which shook and trembled with her
emotions, causing him perfect convulsions of delight.

"Sojourner," said the Professor to her, one day, when he heard her
singing, "you seem to be very sure about heaven."

"Well, I be," she answered, triumphantly.

"What makes you so sure there is any heaven?"

"Well, 'cause I got such a hankerin' arter it in here," she
said,--giving a thump on her breast with her usual energy.

There was at the time an invalid in the house, and Sojourner, on
learning it, felt a mission to go and comfort her. It was curious to see
the tall, gaunt, dusky figure stalk up to the bed with such an air of
conscious authority, and take on herself the office of consoler
with such a mixture of authority and tenderness. She talked as from
above,--and at the same time, if a pillow needed changing or any office
to be rendered, she did it with a strength and handiness that inspired
trust. One felt as if the dark, strange woman were quite able to take
up the invalid in her bosom, and bear her as a lamb, both physically and
spiritually. There was both power and sweetness in that great warm soul
and that vigorous frame.

At length, Sojourner, true to her name, departed. She had her mission
elsewhere. Where now she is I know not; but she left deep memories
behind her.

To these recollections of my own I will add one more anecdote, related
by Wendell Phillips.

Speaking of the power of Rachel to move and bear down a whole audience
by a few simple words, he said he never knew but one other human being
that had that power, and that other was Sojourner Truth. He related a
scene of which he was witness. It was at a crowded public meeting in
Faneuil Hall, where Frederick Douglas was one of the chief speakers.
Douglas had been describing the wrongs of the black race, and as he
proceeded, he grew more and more excited, and finally ended by saying
that they had no hope of justice from the whites, no possible hope
except in their own right arms. It must come to blood; they must fight
for themselves, and redeem themselves, or it would never be done.

Sojourner was sitting, tall and dark, on the very front seat, facing the
platform; and in the hush of deep feeling, after Douglas sat down, she
spoke out in her deep, peculiar voice, heard all over the house,--

"Frederick, IS GOD DEAD?"

The effect was perfectly electrical, and thrilled through the whole
house, changing as by a flash the whole feeling of the audience. Not
another word she said or needed to say; it was enough.

It is with a sad feeling that one contemplates noble minds and bodies,
nobly and grandly formed human beings, that have come to us cramped,
scarred, maimed, out of the prison-house of bondage. One longs to know
what such beings might have become, if suffered to unfold and expand
under the kindly developing influences of education.

It is the theory of some writers, that to the African is reserved,
in the later and palmier days of the earth, the full and harmonious
development of the religious element in man. The African seems to seize
on the tropical fervor and luxuriance of Scripture imagery as something
native; he appears to feel himself to be of the same blood with those
old burning, simple souls, the patriarchs, prophets, and seers, whose
impassioned words seem only grafted as foreign plants on the cooler
stock of the Occidental mind.

I cannot but think that Sojourner with the same culture might have
spoken words as eloquent and undying as those of the African Saint
Augustine or Tertullian. How grand and queenly a woman she might have
been, with her wonderful physical vigor, her great heaving sea of
emotion, her power of spiritual conception, her quick penetration, and
her boundless energy! We might conceive an African type of woman so
largely made and moulded, so much fuller in all the elements of life,
physical and spiritual, that the dark hue of the skin should seem only
to add an appropriate charm,--as Milton says of his Penseroso, whom he

        "Black, but such as in esteem
     Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
     Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove
     To set her beauty's praise above
     The sea-nymph's."

But though Sojourner Truth has passed away from among us as a wave of
the sea, her memory still lives in one of the loftiest and most original
works of modern art, the Libyan Sibyl, by Mr. Story, which attracted
so much attention in the late World's Exhibition. Some years ago, when
visiting Rome, I related Sojourner's history to Mr. Story at a breakfast
at his house. Already had his mind begun to turn to Egypt in search of
a type of art which should represent a larger and more vigorous
development of nature than the cold elegance of Greek lines. His
glorious Cleopatra was then in process of evolution, and his mind was
working out the problem of her broadly developed nature, of all that
slumbering weight and fulness of passion with which this statue seems
charged, as a heavy thunder-cloud is charged with electricity.

The history of Sojourner Truth worked in his mind and led him into the
deeper recesses of the African nature,--those unexplored depths of being
and feeling, mighty and dark as the gigantic depths of tropical forests,
mysterious as the hidden rivers and mines of that burning continent
whose life-history is yet to be. A few days after, he told me that
he had conceived the idea of a statue which he should call the Libyan
Sibyl. Two years subsequently, I revisited Rome, and found the gorgeous
Cleopatra finished, a thing to marvel at, as the creation of a new
style of beauty, a new manner of art. Mr. Story requested me to come and
repeat to him the history of Sojourner Truth, saying that the conception
had never left him. I did so; and a day or two after, he showed me the
clay model of the Libyan Sibyl. I have never seen the marble statue; but
am told by those who have, that it was by far the most impressive work
of art at the Exhibition.

A notice of the two statues from the London "Athenaeum" must supply a
description which I cannot give.

"The Cleopatra and the Sibyl are seated, partly draped, with the
characteristic Egyptian gown, that gathers about the torso and falls
freely around the limbs; the first is covered to the bosom, the second
bare to the hips. Queenly Cleopatra rests back against her chair in
meditative ease, leaning her cheek against one hand, whose elbow the
rail of the seat sustains; the other is outstretched upon her knee,
nipping its forefinger upon the thumb thoughtfully, as though some firm,
wilful purpose filled her brain, as it seems to set those luxurious
features to a smile as if the whole woman 'would.' Upon her head is
the coif, bearing in front the mystic uraeus, or twining basilisk of
sovereignty, while from its sides depend the wide Egyptian lappels, or
wings, that fall upon her shoulders. The Sibilla Libica has crossed her
knees,--an action universally held amongst the ancients as indicative
of reticence or secrecy, and of power to bind. A secret-keeping looking
dame she is, in the full-bloom proportions of ripe womanhood, wherein
choosing to place his figure the sculptor has deftly gone between the
disputed point whether these women were blooming and wise in youth, or
deeply furrowed with age and burdened with the knowledge of centuries,
as Virgil, Livy, and Gellius say. Good artistic example might be quoted
on both sides. Her forward elbow is propped upon one knee; and to keep
her secrets close, for this Libyan woman is the closest of all the
Sibyls, she rests her shut mouth upon one closed palm, as if holding
the African mystery deep in the brooding brain that looks out through
mournful, warning eyes, seen under the wide shade of the strange horned
(ammonite) crest, that bears the mystery of the Tetragrammaton upon its
upturned front. Over her full bosom, mother of myriads as she was, hangs
the same symbol. Her face has a Nubian cast, her hair wavy and plaited,
as is meet."

We hope to see the day when copies both of the Cleopatra and the Libyan
Sibyl shall adorn the Capitol at Washington.

RECONSTRUCTION by Frederick Douglass

The assembling of the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress may
very properly be made the occasion of a few earnest words on the already
much-worn topic of reconstruction.

Seldom has any legislative body been the subject of a solicitude more
intense, or of aspirations more sincere and ardent. There are the best
of reasons for this profound interest. Questions of vast moment, left
undecided by the last session of Congress, must be manfully grappled
with by this. No political skirmishing will avail. The occasion demands

Whether the tremendous war so heroically fought and so victoriously
ended shall pass into history a miserable failure, barren of permanent
results,--a scandalous and shocking waste of blood and treasure,--a
strife for empire, as Earl Russell characterized it, of no value to
liberty or civilization,--an attempt to re-establish a Union by force,
which must be the merest mockery of a Union,--an effort to bring under
Federal authority States into which no loyal man from the North may
safely enter, and to bring men into the national councils who deliberate
with daggers and vote with revolvers, and who do not even conceal their
deadly hate of the country that conquered them; or whether, on the other
hand, we shall, as the rightful reward of victory over treason, have
a solid nation, entirely delivered from all contradictions and social
antagonisms, based upon loyalty, liberty, and equality, must be
determined one way or the other by the present session of Congress.
The last session really did nothing which can be considered final as to
these questions. The Civil Rights Bill and the Freedmen's Bureau Bill
and the proposed constitutional amendments, with the amendment already
adopted and recognized as the law of the land, do not reach the
difficulty, and cannot, unless the whole structure of the government is
changed from a government by States to something like a despotic central
government, with power to control even the municipal regulations of
States, and to make them conform to its own despotic will. While there
remains such an idea as the right of each State to control its own local
affairs,--an idea, by the way, more deeply rooted in the minds of men
of all sections of the country than perhaps any one other political
idea,--no general assertion of human rights can be of any practical
value. To change the character of the government at this point is
neither possible nor desirable. All that is necessary to be done is to
make the government consistent with itself, and render the rights of the
States compatible with the sacred rights of human nature.

The arm of the Federal government is long, but it is far too short to
protect the rights of individuals in the interior of distant States.
They must have the power to protect themselves, or they will go
unprotected, spite of all the laws the Federal government can put upon
the national statute-book.

Slavery, like all other great systems of wrong, founded in the depths
of human selfishness, and existing for ages, has not neglected its own
conservation. It has steadily exerted an influence upon all around it
favorable to its own continuance. And to-day it is so strong that
it could exist, not only without law, but even against law. Custom,
manners, morals, religion, are all on its side everywhere in the South;
and when you add the ignorance and servility of the ex-slave to the
intelligence and accustomed authority of the master, you have the
conditions, not out of which slavery will again grow, but under which
it is impossible for the Federal government to wholly destroy it, unless
the Federal government be armed with despotic power, to blot out State
authority, and to station a Federal officer at every cross-road. This,
of course, cannot be done, and ought not even if it could. The true way
and the easiest way is to make our government entirely consistent with
itself, and give to every loyal citizen the elective franchise,--a right
and power which will be ever present, and will form a wall of fire for
his protection.

One of the invaluable compensations of the late Rebellion is the
highly instructive disclosure it made of the true source of danger to
republican government. Whatever may be tolerated in monarchical and
despotic governments, no republic is safe that tolerates a privileged
class, or denies to any of its citizens equal rights and equal means to
maintain them. What was theory before the war has been made fact by the

There is cause to be thankful even for rebellion. It is an impressive
teacher, though a stern and terrible one. In both characters it has come
to us, and it was perhaps needed in both. It is an instructor never a
day before its time, for it comes only when all other means of progress
and enlightenment have failed. Whether the oppressed and despairing
bondman, no longer able to repress his deep yearnings for manhood,
or the tyrant, in his pride and impatience, takes the initiative, and
strikes the blow for a firmer hold and a longer lease of oppression, the
result is the same,--society is instructed, or may be.

Such are the limitations of the common mind, and so thoroughly
engrossing are the cares of common life, that only the few among men can
discern through the glitter and dazzle of present prosperity the dark
outlines of approaching disasters, even though they may have come up to
our very gates, and are already within striking distance. The yawning
seam and corroded bolt conceal their defects from the mariner until
the storm calls all hands to the pumps. Prophets, indeed, were abundant
before the war; but who cares for prophets while their predictions
remain unfulfilled, and the calamities of which they tell are masked
behind a blinding blaze of national prosperity?

It is asked, said Henry Clay, on a memorable occasion, Will slavery
never come to an end? That question, said he, was asked fifty years ago,
and it has been answered by fifty years of unprecedented prosperity.
Spite of the eloquence of the earnest Abolitionists,--poured out against
slavery during thirty years,--even they must confess, that, in all the
probabilities of the case, that system of barbarism would have continued
its horrors far beyond the limits of the nineteenth century but for
the Rebellion, and perhaps only have disappeared at last in a fiery
conflict, even more fierce and bloody than that which has now been

It is no disparagement to truth, that it can only prevail where reason
prevails. War begins where reason ends. The thing worse than rebellion
is the thing that causes rebellion. What that thing is, we have been
taught to our cost. It remains now to be seen whether we have the needed
courage to have that cause entirely removed from the Republic. At
any rate, to this grand work of national regeneration and entire
purification Congress must now address Itself, with full purpose that
the work shall this time be thoroughly done. The deadly upas, root and
branch, leaf and fibre, body and sap, must be utterly destroyed. The
country is evidently not in a condition to listen patiently to pleas for
postponement, however plausible, nor will it permit the responsibility
to be shifted to other shoulders. Authority and power are here
commensurate with the duty imposed. There are no cloud-flung shadows to
obscure the way. Truth shines with brighter light and intenser heat at
every moment, and a country torn and rent and bleeding implores relief
from its distress and agony.

If time was at first needed, Congress has now had time. All the
requisite materials from which to form an intelligent judgment are now
before it. Whether its members look at the origin, the progress, the
termination of the war, or at the mockery of a peace now existing, they
will find only one unbroken chain of argument in favor of a radical
policy of reconstruction. For the omissions of the last session, some
excuses may be allowed. A treacherous President stood in the way; and it
can be easily seen how reluctant good men might be to admit an apostasy
which involved so much of baseness and ingratitude. It was natural that
they should seek to save him by bending to him even when he leaned to
the side of error. But all is changed now. Congress knows now that
it must go on without his aid, and even against his machinations. The
advantage of the present session over the last is immense. Where that
investigated, this has the facts. Where that walked by faith, this may
walk by sight. Where that halted, this must go forward, and where that
failed, this must succeed, giving the country whole measures where that
gave us half-measures, merely as a means of saving the elections in a
few doubtful districts. That Congress saw what was right, but distrusted
the enlightenment of the loyal masses; but what was forborne in distrust
of the people must now be done with a full knowledge that the people
expect and require it. The members go to Washington fresh from the
inspiring presence of the people. In every considerable public
meeting, and in almost every conceivable way, whether at court-house,
school-house, or cross-roads, in doors and out, the subject has been
discussed, and the people have emphatically pronounced in favor of a
radical policy. Listening to the doctrines of expediency and compromise
with pity, impatience, and disgust, they have everywhere broken into
demonstrations of the wildest enthusiasm when a brave word has been
spoken in favor of equal rights and impartial suffrage. Radicalism, so
far from being odious, is not the popular passport to power. The
men most bitterly charged with it go to Congress with the largest
majorities, while the timid and doubtful are sent by lean majorities, or
else left at home. The strange controversy between the President and the
Congress, at one time so threatening, is disposed of by the people. The
high reconstructive powers which he so confidently, ostentatiously,
and haughtily claimed, have been disallowed, denounced, and utterly
repudiated; while those claimed by Congress have been confirmed.

Of the spirit and magnitude of the canvass nothing need be said. The
appeal was to the people, and the verdict was worthy of the tribunal.
Upon an occasion of his own selection, with the advice and approval
of his astute Secretary, soon after the members of the Congress had
returned to their constituents, the President quitted the executive
mansion, sandwiched himself between two recognized heroes,--men whom
the whole country delighted to honor,--and, with all the advantage which
such company could give him, stumped the country from the Atlantic to
the Mississippi, advocating everywhere his policy as against that of
Congress. It was a strange sight, and perhaps the most disgraceful
exhibition ever made by any President; but, as no evil is entirely
unmixed, good has come of this, as from many others. Ambitious,
unscrupulous, energetic, indefatigable, voluble, and plausible,--a
political gladiator, ready for a "set-to" in any crowd,--he is beaten
in his own chosen field, and stands to-day before the country as a
convicted usurper, a political criminal, guilty of a bold and persistent
attempt to possess himself of the legislative powers solemnly secured to
Congress by the Constitution. No vindication could be more complete, no
condemnation could be more absolute and humiliating. Unless reopened by
the sword, as recklessly threatened in some circles, this question is
now closed for all time.

Without attempting to settle here the metaphysical and somewhat
theological question (about which so much has already been said
and written), whether once in the Union means always in the
Union,--agreeably to the formula, Once in grace always in grace,--it
is obvious to common sense that the rebellious States stand to-day,
in point of law, precisely where they stood when, exhausted, beaten,
conquered, they fell powerless at the feet of Federal authority. Their
State governments were overthrown, and the lives and property of
the leaders of the Rebellion were forfeited. In reconstructing the
institutions of these shattered and overthrown States, Congress should
begin with a clean slate, and make clean work of it. Let there be
no hesitation. It would be a cowardly deference to a defeated and
treacherous President, if any account were made of the illegitimate,
one-sided, sham governments hurried into existence for a malign purpose
in the absence of Congress. These pretended governments, which were
never submitted to the people, and from participation in which four
millions of the loyal people were excluded by Presidential order,
should now be treated according to their true character, as shams and
impositions, and supplanted by true and legitimate governments, in the
formation of which loyal men, black and white, shall participate.

It is not, however, within the scope of this paper to point out the
precise steps to be taken, and the means to be employed. The people
are less concerned about these than the grand end to be attained.
They demand such a reconstruction as shall put an end to the present
anarchical state of things in the late rebellious States,--where
frightful murders and wholesale massacres are perpetrated in the very
presence of Federal soldiers. This horrible business they require shall
cease. They want a reconstruction such as will protect loyal men, black
and white, in their persons and property; such a one as will cause
Northern industry, Northern capital, and Northern civilization to flow
into the South, and make a man from New England as much at home in
Carolina as elsewhere in the Republic. No Chinese wall can now be
tolerated. The South must be opened to the light of law and liberty,
and this session of Congress is relied upon to accomplish this important

The plain, common-sense way of doing this work, as intimated at the
beginning, is simply to establish in the South one law, one government,
one administration of justice, one condition to the exercise of the
elective franchise, for men of all races and colors alike. This great
measure is sought as earnestly by loyal white men as by loyal blacks,
and is needed alike by both. Let sound political prescience but take the
place of an unreasoning prejudice, and this will be done.

Men denounce the negro for his prominence in this discussion; but it is
no fault of his that in peace as in war, that in conquering Rebel armies
as in reconstructing the rebellious States, the right of the negro is
the true solution of our national troubles. The stern logic of events,
which goes directly to the point, disdaining all concern for the color
or features of men, has determined the interests of the country as
identical with and inseparable from those of the negro.

The policy that emancipated and armed the negro--now seen to have been
wise and proper by the dullest--was not certainly more sternly demanded
than is now the policy of enfranchisement. If with the negro was success
in war, and without him failure, so in peace it will be found that the
nation must fall or flourish with the negro.

Fortunately, the Constitution of the United States knows no distinction
between citizens on account of color. Neither does it know any
difference between a citizen of a State and a citizen of the United
States. Citizenship evidently includes all the rights of citizens,
whether State or national. If the Constitution knows none, it is clearly
no part of the duty of a Republican Congress now to institute one. The
mistake of the last session was the attempt to do this very thing, by
a renunciation of its power to secure political rights to any class of
citizens, with the obvious purpose to allow the rebellious States to
disfranchise, if they should see fit, their colored citizens. This
unfortunate blunder must now be retrieved, and the emasculated
citizenship given to the negro supplanted by that contemplated in the
Constitution of the United States, which declares that the citizens of
each State shall enjoy all the rights and immunities of citizens of the
several States,--so that a legal voter in any State shall be a legal
voter in all the States.


A very limited statement of the argument for impartial suffrage, and for
including the negro in the body politic, would require more space than
can be reasonably asked here. It is supported by reasons as broad as the
nature of man, and as numerous as the wants of society. Man is the only
government-making animal in the world. His right to a participation
in the production and operation of government is an inference from his
nature, as direct and self-evident as is his right to acquire property
or education. It is no less a crime against the manhood of a man, to
declare that he shall not share in the making and directing of the
government under which he lives, than to say that he shall not acquire
property and education. The fundamental and unanswerable argument in
favor of the enfranchisement of the negro is found in the undisputed
fact of his manhood. He is a man, and by every fact and argument by
which any man can sustain his right to vote, the negro can sustain his
right equally. It is plain that, if the right belongs to any, it belongs
to all. The doctrine that some men have no rights that others are bound
to respect, is a doctrine which we must banish as we have banished
slavery, from which it emanated. If black men have no rights in the
eyes of white men, of course the whites can have none in the eyes of the
blacks. The result is a war of races, and the annihilation of all proper
human relations.

But suffrage for the negro, while easily sustained upon abstract
principles, demands consideration upon what are recognized as the urgent
necessities of the case. It is a measure of relief,--a shield to break
the force of a blow already descending with violence, and render it
harmless. The work of destruction has already been set in motion all
over the South. Peace to the country has literally meant war to the
loyal men of the South, white and black; and negro suffrage is the
measure to arrest and put an end to that dreadful strife.

Something then, not by way of argument, (for that has been done by
Charles Sumner, Thaddeus Stevens, Wendell Phillips, Gerrit Smith, and
other able men,) but rather of statement and appeal.

For better or for worse, (as in some of the old marriage ceremonies,)
the negroes are evidently a permanent part of the American population.
They are too numerous and useful to be colonized, and too enduring and
self-perpetuating to disappear by natural causes. Here they are, four
millions of them, and, for weal or for woe, here they must remain. Their
history is parallel to that of the country; but while the history of
the latter has been cheerful and bright with blessings, theirs has
been heavy and dark with agonies and curses. What O'Connell said of the
history of Ireland may with greater truth be said of the negro's. It may
be "traced like a wounded man through a crowd, by the blood." Yet the
negroes have marvellously survived all the exterminating forces of
slavery, and have emerged at the end of two hundred and fifty years
of bondage, not morose, misanthropic, and revengeful, but cheerful,
hopeful, and forgiving. They now stand before Congress and the country,
not complaining of the past, but simply asking for a better future.
The spectacle of these dusky millions thus imploring, not demanding, is
touching; and if American statesmen could be moved by a simple appeal to
the nobler elements of human nature, if they had not fallen, seemingly,
into the incurable habit of weighing and measuring every proposition of
reform by some standard of profit and loss, doing wrong from choice, and
right only from necessity or some urgent demand of human selfishness, it
would be enough to plead for the negroes on the score of past services
and sufferings. But no such appeal shall be relied on here. Hardships,
services, sufferings, and sacrifices are all waived. It is true that
they came to the relief of the country at the hour of its extremest
need. It is true that, in many of the rebellious States, they were
almost the only reliable friends the nation had throughout the
whole tremendous war. It is true that, notwithstanding their alleged
ignorance, they were wiser than their masters, and knew enough to be
loyal, while those masters only knew enough to be rebels and traitors.
It is true that they fought side by side in the loyal cause with
our gallant and patriotic white soldiers, and that, but for their
help,--divided as the loyal States were,--the Rebels might have
succeeded in breaking up the Union, thereby entailing border wars and
troubles of unknown duration and incalculable calamity. All this and
more is true of these loyal negroes. Many daring exploits will be told
to their credit. Impartial history will paint them as men who deserved
well of their country. It will tell how they forded and swam rivers,
with what consummate address they evaded the sharp-eyed Rebel pickets,
how they toiled in the darkness of night through the tangled marshes
of briers and thorns, barefooted and weary, running the risk of losing
their lives, to warn our generals of Rebel schemes to surprise and
destroy our loyal army. It will tell how these poor people, whose rights
we still despised, behaved to our wounded soldiers, when found cold,
hungry, and bleeding on the deserted battle-field; how they assisted our
escaping prisoners from Andersonville, Belle Isle, Castle Thunder,
and elsewhere, sharing with them their wretched crusts, and otherwise
affording them aid and comfort; how they promptly responded to the
trumpet call for their services, fighting against a foe that denied them
the rights of civilized warfare, and for a government which was without
the courage to assert those rights and avenge their violation in
their behalf; with what gallantry they flung themselves upon Rebel
fortifications, meeting death as fearlessly as any other troops in the
service. But upon none of these things is reliance placed. These facts
speak to the better dispositions of the human heart; but they seem of
little weight with the opponents of impartial suffrage.

It is true that a strong plea for equal suffrage might be addressed to
the national sense of honor. Something, too, might be said of national
gratitude. A nation might well hesitate before the temptation to betray
its allies. There is something immeasurably mean, to say nothing of the
cruelty, in placing the loyal negroes of the South under the political
power of their Rebel masters. To make peace with our enemies is all well
enough; but to prefer our enemies and sacrifice our friends,--to exalt
our enemies and cast down our friends,--to clothe our enemies, who
sought the destruction of the government, with all political power, and
leave our friends powerless in their hands,--is an act which need not be
characterized here. We asked the negroes to espouse our cause, to be our
friends, to fight for us, and against their masters; and now, after
they have done all that we asked them to do,--helped us to conquer their
masters, and thereby directed toward themselves the furious hate of the
vanquished,--it is proposed in some quarters to turn them over to the
political control of the common enemy of the government and of the
negro. But of this let nothing be said in this place. Waiving humanity,
national honor, the claims of gratitude, the precious satisfaction
arising from deeds of charity and justice to the weak and
defenceless,--the appeal for impartial suffrage addresses itself with
great pertinency to the darkest, coldest, and flintiest side of
the human heart, and would wring righteousness from the unfeeling
calculations of human selfishness.

For in respect to this grand measure it is the good fortune of the negro
that enlightened selfishness, not less than justice, fights on his side.
National interest and national duty, if elsewhere separated, are firmly
united here. The American people can, perhaps, afford to brave the
censure of surrounding nations for the manifest injustice and meanness
of excluding its faithful black soldiers from the ballot-box, but
it cannot afford to allow the moral and mental energies of rapidly
increasing millions to be consigned to hopeless degradation.

Strong as we are, we need the energy that slumbers in the black man's
arm to make us stronger. We want no longer any heavy-footed, melancholy
service from the negro. We want the cheerful activity of the quickened
manhood of these sable millions. Nor can we afford to endure the
moral blight which the existence of a degraded and hated class must
necessarily inflict upon any people among whom such a class may exist.
Exclude the negroes as a class from political rights,--teach them that
the high and manly privilege of suffrage is to be enjoyed by white
citizens only,--that they may bear the burdens of the state, but that
they are to have no part in its direction or its honors,--and you at
once deprive them of one of the main incentives to manly character and
patriotic devotion to the interests of the government; in a word, you
stamp them as a degraded caste,--you teach them to despise themselves,
and all others to despise them. Men are so constituted that they largely
derive their ideas of their abilities and their possibilities from the
settled judgments of their fellow-men, and especially from such as they
read in the institutions under which they live. If these bless them,
they are blest indeed; but if these blast them, they are blasted indeed.
Give the negro the elective franchise, and you give him at once a
powerful motive for all noble exertion, and make him a man among men.
A character is demanded of him, and here as elsewhere demand favors
supply. It is nothing against this reasoning that all men who vote are
not good men or good citizens. It is enough that the possession and
exercise of the elective franchise is in itself an appeal to the nobler
elements of manhood, and imposes education as essential to the safety of

To appreciate the full force of this argument, it must be observed, that
disfranchisement in a republican government based upon the idea of
human equality and universal suffrage, is a very different thing from
disfranchisement in governments based upon the idea of the divine right
of kings, or the entire subjugation of the masses. Masses of men can
take care of themselves. Besides, the disabilities imposed upon all are
necessarily without that bitter and stinging element of invidiousness
which attaches to disfranchisement in a republic. What is common to
all works no special sense of degradation to any. But in a country
like ours, where men of all nations, kindred, and tongues are freely
enfranchised, and allowed to vote, to say to the negro, You shall not
vote, is to deal his manhood a staggering blow, and to burn into his
soul a bitter and goading sense of wrong, or else work in him a stupid
indifference to all the elements of a manly character. As a nation, we
cannot afford to have amongst us either this indifference and stupidity,
or that burning sense of wrong. These sable millions are too powerful
to be allowed to remain either indifferent or discontented. Enfranchise
them, and they become self-respecting and country-loving citizens.
Disfranchise them, and the mark of Cain is set upon them less mercifully
than upon the first murderer, for no man was to hurt him. But this
mark of inferiority--all the more palpable because of a difference of
color--not only dooms the negro to be a vagabond, but makes him the prey
of insult and outrage everywhere. While nothing may be urged here as
to the past services of the negro, it is quite within the line of this
appeal to remind the nation of the possibility that a time may come when
the services of the negro may be a second time required. History is said
to repeat itself, and, if so, having wanted the negro once, we may want
him again. Can that statesmanship be wise which would leave the negro
good ground to hesitate, when the exigencies of the country required his
prompt assistance? Can that be sound statesmanship which leaves millions
of men in gloomy discontent, and possibly in a state of alienation
in the day of national trouble? Was not the nation stronger when
two hundred thousand sable soldiers were hurled against the Rebel
fortifications, than it would have been without them? Arming the negro
was an urgent military necessity three years ago,--are we sure that
another quite as pressing may not await us? Casting aside all thought
of justice and magnanimity, is it wise to impose upon the negro all the
burdens involved in sustaining government against foes within and foes
without, to make him equal sharer in all sacrifices for the public good,
to tax him in peace and conscript him in war, and then coldly exclude
him from the ballot-box?

Look across the sea. Is Ireland, in her present condition, fretful,
discontented, compelled to support an establishment in which she does
not believe, and which the vast majority of her people abhor, a source
of power or of weakness to Great Britain? Is not Austria wise in
removing all ground of complaint against her on the part of Hungary? And
does not the Emperor of Russia act wisely, as well as generously, when
he not only breaks up the bondage of the serf, but extends him all the
advantages of Russian citizenship? Is the present movement in England in
favor of manhood suffrage--for the purpose of bringing four millions of
British subjects into full sympathy and co-operation with the British
government--a wise and humane movement, or otherwise? Is the existence
of a rebellious element in our borders--which New Orleans, Memphis, and
Texas show to be only disarmed, but at heart as malignant as ever, only
waiting for an opportunity to reassert itself with fire and sword--a
reason for leaving four millions of the nation's truest friends with
just cause of complaint against the Federal government? If the doctrine
that taxation should go hand in hand with representation can be appealed
to in behalf of recent traitors and rebels, may it not properly be
asserted in behalf of a people who have ever been loyal and faithful
to the government? The answers to these questions are too obvious to
require statement. Disguise it as we may, we are still a divided nation.
The Rebel States have still an anti-national policy. Massachusetts
and South Carolina may draw tears from the eyes of our tender-hearted
President by walking arm in arm into his Philadelphia Convention, but a
citizen of Massachusetts is still an alien in the Palmetto State. There
is that, all over the South, which frightens Yankee industry, capital,
and skill from its borders. We have crushed the Rebellion, but not its
hopes or its malign purposes. The South fought for perfect and permanent
control over the Southern laborer. It was a war of the rich against the
poor. They who waged it had no objection to the government, while they
could use it as a means of confirming their power over the laborer. They
fought the government, not because they hated the government as such,
but because they found it, as they thought, in the way between them and
their one grand purpose of rendering permanent and indestructible their
authority and power over the Southern laborer. Though the battle is
for the present lost, the hope of gaining this object still exists, and
pervades the whole South with a feverish excitement. We have thus
far only gained a Union without unity, marriage without love, victory
without peace. The hope of gaining by politics what they lost by the
sword, is the secret of all this Southern unrest; and that hope must be
extinguished before national ideas and objects can take full possession
of the Southern mind. There is but one safe and constitutional way to
banish that mischievous hope from the South, and that is by lifting the
laborer beyond the unfriendly political designs of his former master.
Give the negro the elective franchise, and you at once destroy the
purely sectional policy, and wheel the Southern States into line with
national interests and national objects. The last and shrewdest turn
of Southern politics is a recognition of the necessity of getting into
Congress immediately, and at any price. The South will comply with
any conditions but suffrage for the negro. It will swallow all the
unconstitutional test oaths, repeal all the ordinances of Secession,
repudiate the Rebel debt, promise to pay the debt incurred in conquering
its people, pass all the constitutional amendments, if only it can have
the negro left under its political control. The proposition is as modest
as that made on the mountain: "All these things will I give unto thee if
thou wilt fall down and worship me."

But why are the Southerners so willing to make these sacrifices? The
answer plainly is, they see in this policy the only hope of saving
something of their old sectional peculiarities and power. Once
firmly seated in Congress, their alliance with Northern Democrats
re-established, their States restored to their former position inside
the Union, they can easily find means of keeping the Federal government
entirely too busy with other important matters to pay much attention
to the local affairs of the Southern States. Under the potent shield of
State Rights, the game would be in their own hands. Does any sane man
doubt for a moment that the men who followed Jefferson Davis through the
late terrible Rebellion, often marching barefooted and hungry, naked and
penniless, and who now only profess an enforced loyalty, would plunge
this country into a foreign war to-day, if they could thereby gain their
coveted independence, and their still more coveted mastery over the
negroes? Plainly enough, the peace not less than the prosperity of this
country is involved in the great measure of impartial suffrage. King
Cotton is deposed, but only deposed, and is ready to-day to reassert all
his ancient pretensions upon the first favorable opportunity. Foreign
countries abound with his agents. They are able, vigilant, devoted. The
young men of the South burn with the desire to regain what they call
the lost cause; the women are noisily malignant towards the Federal
government. In fact, all the elements of treason and rebellion are there
under the thinnest disguise which necessity can impose.

What, then, is the work before Congress? It is to save the people of the
South from themselves, and the nation from detriment on their account.
Congress must supplant the evident sectional tendencies of the South by
national dispositions and tendencies. It must cause national ideas and
objects to take the lead and control the politics of those States. It
must cease to recognize the old slave-masters as the only competent
persons to rule the South. In a word, it must enfranchise the negro, and
by means of the loyal negroes and the loyal white men of the South build
up a national party there, and in time bridge the chasm between North
and South, so that our country may have a common liberty and a common
civilization. The new wine must be put into new bottles. The lamb may
not be trusted with the wolf. Loyalty is hardly safe with traitors.

Statesmen of America! beware what you do. The ploughshare of rebellion
has gone through the land beam-deep. The soil is in readiness, and the
seed-time has come. Nations, not less than individuals, reap as they
sow. The dreadful calamities of the past few years came not by accident,
nor unbidden, from the ground. You shudder to-day at the harvest of
blood sown in the spring-time of the Republic by your patriot fathers.
The principle of slavery, which they tolerated under the erroneous
impression that it would soon die out, became at last the dominant
principle and power at the South. It early mastered the Constitution,
became superior to the Union, and enthroned itself above the law.

Freedom of speech and of the press it slowly but successfully banished
from the South, dictated its own code of honor and manners to the
nation, brandished the bludgeon and the bowie-knife over Congressional
debate, sapped the foundations of loyalty, dried up the springs
of patriotism, blotted out the testimonies of the fathers against
oppression, padlocked the pulpit, expelled liberty from its literature,
invented nonsensical theories about master-races and slave-races of men,
and in due season produced a Rebellion fierce, foul, and bloody.

This evil principle again seeks admission into our body politic. It
comes now in shape of a denial of political rights to four million loyal
colored people. The South does not now ask for slavery. It only asks for
a large degraded caste, which shall have no political rights. This
ends the case. Statesmen, beware what you do. The destiny of unborn and
unnumbered generations is in your hands. Will you repeat the mistake
of your fathers, who sinned ignorantly? or will you profit by the
blood-bought wisdom all round you, and forever expel every vestige of
the old abomination from our national borders? As you members of the
Thirty-ninth Congress decide, will the country be peaceful, united, and
happy, or troubled, divided, and miserable.

THE NEGRO EXODUS by James B. Runnion

A recent sojourn in the South for a few weeks, chiefly in Louisiana and
Mississippi, gave the writer an opportunity to inquire into what has
been so aptly called "the negro exodus." The emigration of blacks to
Kansas began early in the spring of this year. For a time there was a
stampede from two or three of the river parishes in Louisiana and
as many counties opposite in Mississippi. Several thousand negroes
(certainly not fewer than five thousand, and variously estimated as high
as ten thousand) had left their cabins before the rush could be stayed
or the excitement lulled. Early in May most of the negroes who had quit
work for the purpose of emigrating, but had not succeeded in getting
off, were persuaded to return to the plantations, and from that time on
there have been only straggling families and groups that have watched
for and seized the first opportunity for transportation to the North.
There is no doubt, however, that there is still a consuming desire among
the negroes of the cotton districts in these two States to seek new
homes, and there are the best reasons for believing that the exodus will
take a new start next spring, after the gathering and conversion of the
growing crop. Hundreds of negroes who returned from the river-banks for
lack of transportation, and thousands of others infected with the ruling
discontent, are working harder in the fields this summer, and practicing
more economy and self-denial than ever before, in order to have the
means next winter and spring to pay their way to the "promised land."

"We've been working for fourteen long years," said an intelligent negro,
in reply to a question as to the cause of the prevailing discontent,
"and we ain't no better off than we was when we commenced." This is the
negro version of the trouble, which is elaborated on occasion into a
harrowing story of oppression and plunder.

"I tell you it's all owing to the radical politicians at the North,"
explained a representative of the type known as the Bourbons; "they've
had their emissaries down here, and deluded the 'niggers' into a
very fever of emigration, with the purpose of reducing our basis of
representation in Congress and increasing that of the Northern States."

These are the two extremes of opinion at the South. The first is
certainly the more reasonable and truthful, though it implies that all
the blame rests upon the whites, which is not the case; the second,
preposterous as it will appear to Northern readers, is religiously
believed by large numbers of the "unreconciled." Between these two
extremes there is an infinite variety of theories, all more or less
governed by the political faction to which the various theorizers
belong; there are at least a dozen of these factions, such as the
Bourbons, the conservatives, the native white republicans, the
carpet-bag republicans, the negro republicans, etc. There is a political
tinge in almost everything in the extreme Southern States. The
fact seems to be that the emigration movement among the blacks was
spontaneous to the extent that they were ready and anxious to go. The
immediate notion of going may have been inculcated by such circulars,
issued by railroads and land companies, as are common enough at emigrant
centres in the North and West, and the exaggeration characteristic of
such literature may have stimulated the imagination of the negroes far
beyond anything they are likely to realize in their new homes. Kansas
was naturally the favorite goal of the negro emigre, for it was
associated in his mind with the names of Jim Lane and John Brown, which
are hallowed to him. The timid learned that they could escape what they
have come to regard as a second bondage, and they flocked together to
gain the moral support which comes from numbers.

Diligent inquiry among representative men, of all classes and from
all parts of Louisiana, who were in attendance at the constitutional
convention in New Orleans, and careful observation along the river among
the land owners and field hands in both Louisiana and Mississippi, left
a vivid impression of some material and political conditions which fully
account for the negro exodus. I have dropped the social conditions out
of the consideration, because I became convinced that the race troubles
at the South can be solved to the satisfaction of both whites and blacks
without cultivating any closer social relations than those which now
prevail. The material conditions which I have in mind are less familiar
than the political conditions; they are mainly the land-tenure and
credit systems, and mere modifications (scarcely for the better) of the
peculiar plantation system of slavery days.

The cotton lands at the South are owned now, as they were before the
war, in large tracts. The land was about all that most of the Southern
whites had left to them after the war, and they kept it when they could,
at the first, in the hope that it would yield them a living through the
labor of the blacks; of late years they have not been able to sell their
plantations at any fair price, if they desired to do so. The white men
with capital who went to the South from the North after the war seemed
to acquire the true Southern ambition to be large land owners and
planters; and when the ante-bellum owners lost their plantations the
land usually went in bulk to the city factors who had made them advances
from year to year, and had taken mortgages on their crops and broad
acres. As a consequence, the land has never been distributed among
the people who inhabit and cultivate it, and agricultural labor in the
Southern States approaches the condition of the factory labor in England
and the Eastern States more nearly than it does the farm labor of the
North and West. Nearly every agricultural laborer north of Mason and
Dixon's line, if not the actual possessor of the land he plows, looks
forward to owning a farm some time; at the South such an ambition is
rare, and small ownership still more an exception. The practice of
paying day wages was first tried after the war; this practice is still
in vogue in the sugar and rice districts, where laborers are paid from
fifty to seventy cents per day, with quarters furnished and living
guaranteed them at nine or ten cents a day. In sections where the wages
system prevails, and where there have been no political disturbances,
the negroes seem to be perfectly contented; at all events, the
emigration fever has not spread among them. But it was found
impracticable to maintain the wage system in the cotton districts. The
negroes themselves fought against it, because it reminded them too much
of the slave-gang, driven out at daybreak and home at sundown. In many
cases the planters were forced to abandon it, because they had not the
means to carry on such huge farming, and they could not secure the same
liberal advances from capitalists as when they were able to mortgage
a growing "crop of niggers." Then the system of working on shares was
tried. This was reasonably fair, and the negro laborers were satisfied
as long as it lasted. The owners of the land, under this system, would
furnish the indispensable mule and the farming implements, and take one
half the product. The planters themselves relinquished this system. Some
of them contend that the laziness and indifference of the negro made the
partnership undesirable; many others admit that they were not able to
advance the negro tenant his supplies pending the growth of the year's
crop, as it was necessary they should do under the sharing system.
Now the renting system is almost universal. It yields the land owner a
certainty, endangered only by the death, sickness, or desertion of the
negro tenant; but it throws the latter upon his own responsibility, and
frequently makes him the victim of his own ignorance and the rapacity
of the white man. The rent of land, on a money basis, varies from six to
ten dollars an acre per year, while the same land can be bought in
large quantities all the way from fifteen to thirty dollars per acre,
according to location, clearing, improvement, richness, etc. When paid
in product, the rent varies from eighty to one hundred pounds of lint
cotton per acre for land that produces from two hundred to four hundred
pounds of cotton per acre; the tenant undertakes to pay from one quarter
to one half--perhaps an average of one third--of his crop for the use
of the land, without stock, tools, or assistance of any kind. The land
owners usually claim that they make no money even at these exorbitant
figures. If they do not, it is because only a portion of their vast
possessions is under cultivation, because they do no work themselves,
and in some cases because the negroes do not cultivate and gather as
large a crop as they could and ought to harvest. It is very certain that
the negro tenants, as a class, make no money; if they are out of debt at
the end of a season, they have reason to rejoice.

The credit system, which is as universal as the renting system, is even
more illogical and oppressive. The utter viciousness of both systems in
their mutual dependence is sufficiently illustrated by the single fact
that, after fourteen years of freedom and labor on their own account,
the great mass of the negroes depend for their living on an advance of
supplies (as they need food, clothing, or tools during the year) upon
the pledge of their growing crop. This is a generic imitation of the
white man's improvidence during the slavery times; then the planters
mortgaged their crops and negroes, and where one used the advances to
extend his plantation, ten squandered the money. The negro's necessities
have developed an offensive race, called merchants by courtesy, who keep
supply stores at the cross-roads and steamboat landings, and live upon
extortion. These people would be called sharks, harpies, and vampires in
any Northwestern agricultural community, and they would not survive more
than one season. The country merchant advances the negro tenant such
supplies as the negro wants up to a certain amount, previously fixed
by contract, and charges the negro at least double the value of every
article sold to him. There is no concealment about the extortion; every
store-keeper has his cash price and his credit price, and in nearly all
cases the latter is one hundred per cent. higher than the former. The
extortion is justified by those who practice it on the ground that
their losses by bad debts, though their advances are always secured by
mortgage on the growing crop, overbalance the profits; this assertion is
scarcely borne out by the comparative opulence of the "merchant" and
the pitiful poverty of the laborer. Some of the largest and wealthiest
planters have sought to protect their tenants from the merciless
clutches of the contrary merchant, who is more frequently than not an
Israelite, by advancing supplies of necessary articles at reasonable
prices. But the necessities of the planter, if not his greed, often
betray him into plundering the negro. The planter himself is generally a
victim to usury. He still draws on the city factor to the extent of ten
dollars a bale upon his estimated crop. He pays this factor two and one
half per cent. commission for the advance, eight per cent. interest for
the money, two and one half per cent. more for disposing of the crop
when consigned to him, and sometimes still another commission for the
purchase of the supplies. The planter who furnishes his tenants with
supplies on credit is usually paying an interest of fifteen to eighteen
per cent. himself, and necessarily takes some risk in advancing upon
an uncertain crop and to a laborer whom he believes to be neither
scrupulous nor industrious; these conditions necessitate more than the
ordinary profit, and in many cases suggest exorbitant and unreasonable
charges. But whether the negro deals with the merchant or the land
owner, his extravagance almost invariably exhausts his credit, even if
it be large. The negro is a sensuous creature, and luxurious in his way.
The male is an enormous consumer of tobacco and whisky; the female
has an inordinate love for flummery; both are fond of sardines, potted
meats, and canned goods generally, and they indulge themselves without
any other restraint than the refusal of their merchant to sell to them.
The man who advances supplies watches his negro customers constantly;
if they are working well and their crop promises to be large, he will
permit and even encourage them to draw upon him liberally; it is only a
partial failure of the crop, or some intimation of the negro's intention
to shirk his obligations, that induces his country factor to preach the
virtue of self-restraint, or moralize upon the advantages of economy.

The land owner's rent and the merchant's advances are both secured by a
chattel mortgage on the tenant's personal property, and by a pledge of
the growing crop. The hired laborer (for it is common for negroes to
work for wages for other negroes who rent lands) has also a lien upon
the growing crops second only to the land owner's; but as the law
requires that the liens shall be recorded, which the ignorant laborer
usually neglects and the shrewd merchant never fails to do, the former
is generally cheated of his security. Among those who usually work for
hire are the women, who are expert cotton pickers, and the loss of wages
which so many of them have suffered by reason of the prior lien gained
by landlord and merchant has helped to make them earnest and effective
advocates of emigration. The Western farmer considers it hard enough to
struggle under one mortgage at a reasonable interest; the negro tenant
begins his season with three mortgages, covering all he owns, his labor
for the coming year, and all he expects to acquire during that period.
He pays one third his product for the use of the land; he pays double
the value of all he consumes; he pays an exorbitant fee for recording
the contract by which he pledges his pound of flesh; he is charged two
or three times as much as he ought to pay for ginning his cotton;
and, finally, he turns over his crop to be eaten up in commissions, if
anything still be left to him. It is easy to understand why the negro
rarely gets ahead in the world. This mortgaging of future services,
which is practically what a pledge of the growing crop amounts to, is in
the nature of bondage. It has a tendency to make the negro extravagant,
reckless, and unscrupulous; he has become convinced from previous
experience that nothing will be coming to him on the day of settlement,
and he is frequently actuated by the purpose of getting as much as
possible and working as little as possible. Cases are numerous in which
the negro abandons his own crop at picking time, because he knows that
he has already eaten up its full value; and so he goes to picking for
wages on some other plantation. In other cases, where negroes have
acquired mules and farming implements upon which a merchant has secured
a mortgage in the manner described, they are practically bound to that
merchant from year to year, in order to retain their property; if he
removes from one section to another, they must follow him, and rent
and cultivate lands in his neighborhood. It is only the ignorance,
the improvidence, and the happy disposition of the negro, under the
influence of the lazy, drowsy climate, to which he is so well adapted
physically, that have enabled him to endure these hardships so long.
And, though the negro is the loser, the white man is not often the
gainer, from this false plantation and mercantile system. The incidental
risk may not be so large as the planter and merchant pretend, but the
condition of the people is an evidence that the extortion they practice
yields no better profit in the long run than would be gained by
competition in fair prices on a cash system; and in leading up to a
general emigration of the laboring population the abuses described will
eventually ruin and impoverish those who have heretofore been the only
beneficiaries thereof. The decay of improvements inevitable under annual
rentings, the lack of sufficient labor to cultivate all the good land,
and the universal idleness of the rural whites have kept the land
owners comparatively poor; the partial failure of crops and the
unscrupulousness of the negro debtor, engendered by the infamous
exactions of his creditor, have prevented the merchants, as a class,
from prospering as much as might be supposed; and, finally, the uniform
injustice to the laborers induces them to fly to ills they know not of,
rather than bear those they have. It is a blessing to the negro that
the laws do not yet provide for a detention of the person in the case of
debt, or escape would be shut off entirely; as it is, various influences
and circumstances appertaining to the system in vogue have been used
to prevent the easy flight of those who desire to go, and have detained
thousands of blacks for a time who are fretting to quit the country.

Political oppression has contributed largely to the discontent which
is the prime cause of the exodus. "Bulldozing" is the term by which
all forms of this oppression are known. The native whites are generally
indisposed to confess that the negroes are quitting the country on
account of political injustice and persecution; even those who freely
admit and fitly characterize the abuses already described seek to deny,
or at least belittle, the political abuses. The fact that a large number
of negroes have emigrated from Madison Parish, Louisiana, where there
has never been any bulldozing, and where the negroes are in full
and undisputed political control, is cited as proof that political
disturbances cut no figure in the case. But the town of Delta, in
Madison Parish, is at once on the river and the terminus of a railroad
that runs back through the interior of the State; thus Madison Parish
would furnish the natural exit for the fugitives from the adjoining
counties, where there have been political disturbances. It would be just
as reasonable to contend that the plundering of the negroes has had no
influence in driving them away, since many of those who have emigrated
were among the most prosperous of the blacks, as to deny the agency
of political persecution. Families that had been able to accumulate
a certain amount of personal property, in spite of the extortionate
practices, sold their mules, their implements, their cows, their
pigs, their sheep, and their household goods for anything they would
bring,--frequently as low as one sixth of their value,--in order that
they might improve an immediate opportunity to go away; it is evident
that there must have been some cause outside of extortion in their case.
There are candid native whites who do not deny, but justify, the violent
methods which have been employed to disfranchise the negroes, or compel
them to vote under white dictation, in many parts of Louisiana and
Mississippi, on the ground that the men who pay the taxes should vote
them and control the disbursement of the public moneys. The gentlemen
who advance this argument seem to ignore the fact that the very
Northerner whom they are seeking to convert to "the Mississippi plan"
may himself be a taxpayer in some Northern city, where public affairs
are controlled by a class of voters in every way as ignorant and
irresponsible as the blacks, but where bulldozing has never yet
been suggested as a remedy. For the rest, the evidences of political
oppression are abundant and convincing. The bulldozers as a class are
more impecunious and irresponsible than the negroes, and, unlike the
negroes, they will not work. There has been more of the "night-riding,"
the whippings, the mysterious disappearances, the hangings, and the
terrorism comprehended in the term bulldozing than has been reported
by those "abstracts and brief chronicles of the time," the Southern
newspapers, which are now all of one party, and defer to the ruling
sentiment among the whites. The exodus has wrung from two or three of
the more candid and independent journals, however, a virtual confession
of the fiendish practices of bulldozing in their insistance that these
practices must be abandoned. The non-resident land owners and the
resident planters, the city factors and the country merchants of means
and respectability, have taken no personal part in the terrorizing of
the negro, but they have tolerated it, and sometimes encouraged it, in
order to gratify their preference for "white government." The negroes
have suffered the more because they have not resisted and defended
themselves; now they have begun to convince those who have persecuted
them that, if they will not strike back, they can and will run away.
No one who is at all familiar with the freedman can doubt that the
abridgment of his political rights has been one of the main causes of
the exodus. Voting is widely regarded at the North as a disagreeable
duty, but the negro looks upon it as the highest privilege in life; to
be frightened out of the exercise of this privilege, or compelled to
exercise it in conflict with his convictions and preferences, is to
suffer from a cruel injustice, which the negro will now try to escape,
since he has learned that escape is possible. The women, though free
from personal assaults, suffer from the terrorism that prevails in
certain districts as much as the men. "We might as well starve or freeze
to death in Kansas," they say, "as to be shot-gunned here." If they talk
to you in confidence, they declare that the ruling purpose is to escape
from the "slaughter-pens" of the South. Political persecution, and not
the extortion they suffer, is the refrain of all the speakers at negro
meetings that are held in encouragement and aid of the emigration. It is
idle to deny that the varied injustice which the negroes have suffered
as voters is accountable for a large part of their universal yearning
for new homes, and it will be folly for the responsible classes at the
South to ignore this fact.

As it is the negroes who are fleeing from the South, it is natural to
look among the dominant class for the injustice which is driving them
away; but it would be unfair to conclude that the blame rests entirely
upon the whites, and still more so to leave the impression that there
is no extenuation for the mistakes and abuses for which the whites are
responsible. Much of the intimidation of the blacks has been tolerated,
if not suggested, by a fear of negro uprisings. The apprehension is a
legacy from the days of slavery, and is more unreasonable now than
it was then; but still it exists. This is not an excuse, but an
explanation. The Pharaohs of the time of Moses were in constant dread
lest the Hebrews under their rule should go over to their enemies, and
their dread doubtless increased the cruelty of the Egyptians; but, while
this dread was an extenuation in the eyes of the persecutors, it did
not prevent the Hebrews from fleeing the persecution. So the blacks are
going without regard to the justification which the whites may set up
for their treatment; the only difference between the old and new exodus
is that, as the writer heard one negro speaker express it, "every black
man is his own Moses in this exodus." The negro may be lazy; it seems
impossible to be otherwise in the Southern climate. He may not be
willing to work on Saturdays, no matter how urgent the necessity; the
indulgence in holidays is said to be one of the chief drawbacks to the
advancement of the emancipated serfs of Russia. The blacks are certainly
extravagant in their way, though the word seems to be almost misused in
connection with a race who live largely on pork and molasses, and rarely
wear more than half a dollar's worth of clothes at one time. They have
not the instinct of home as it prevails among the whites, but incline
to a crude and unsystematic communism; the negro quarters of the old
plantations are all huddled together in the centre, and, except where
the land owners have interfered to encourage a different life, there is
still too much promiscuousness in the relation of the sexes. The negro,
as a rule, has no ambition to become a land owner; he prefers to invest
his surplus money, when he has any, in personal and movable property.
In most cases where the blacks have been given the opportunity of buying
land on long time, and paying yearly installments out of the proceeds of
their annual crops, they have tired of the bargain after a year or two,
and abandoned the contract. The negro politicians and preachers are not
all that reformers and moralists would have them; the imitative faculty
of the African has betrayed the black politician into many of the
vicious ways of the white politician, and the colored preacher is
frequently not above "the pomps and vanity of this wicked world." All
this is the more unfortunate, as the blacks have a child-like confidence
in their chosen leaders, founded partly on their primitive character,
and partly on their distrust of the native whites. Both their
politicians and their preachers have given abundant evidence of their
insincerity during the excitement of emigration by blowing hot and
blowing cold; by talking to the negroes one way, and to the whites
another; and even to the extent, in some instances, of taking money to
use their influence for discouraging and impeding emigration. These are
some of the faults and misfortunes on the part of the blacks which enter
into the race troubles. The chief blame which attaches to the whites
is the failure to make a persistent effort, by education and kind
treatment, to overcome the distrust and cure the faults of the
negroes. The whites control, because they constitute the "property and
intelligence" of the South, to use the words of a democratic statesman;
this power should have been used to gain the confidence of the blacks.
Had such a course been taken, there would not have been the fear of
reenslavement, which actually prevails to a considerable extent among
the negroes. So long as a portion of the whites entertain the conviction
that the war of the sections will be renewed within a few years, as is
the case, the negroes will suspect and dread the class who would treat
them as enemies in case the war should come, and will seek to escape to
a section of the country where they would not be so treated. Perhaps,
too, there would have been a voluntary political division among the
black voters, had the whites used more pacific means to bring it about,
and had they themselves set the example. And last, but not least, in
making up the sum of blame that the whites must bear, is their own
unwillingness to labor, which gives the rural population too much time
for mischief and too little sympathy with the working classes.

As we have traced the causes that have led to the exodus, and described
the conditions which warrant the belief that there will be a renewal of
the emigration on a more extended scale next spring, and endeavored to
distribute the responsibility for the troubles equitably among whites
and blacks, remedies have naturally suggested themselves to the reader;
in fact, they are more easily to be thought out than accomplished. A
few general reflections may be added, however, in order to indicate
the probable solution of the race troubles that have brought about the
exodus, if, indeed, the whites and blacks of the South are ever going to
live together in peace.

(1.) It is certain that negro labor is the best the South can have, and
equally certain that the climate and natural conditions of the South
are better suited to the negro than any others on this continent.
The alluvial lands, which many persons believe the negroes alone can
cultivate, on account of climatic conditions, are so rich that it might
literally be said it is only necessary to tickle them with a hoe to make
them laugh back a harvest. The common prosperity of the country--the
agricultural interests of the South and the commercial interests of the
North--will be best served, therefore, by the continued residence and
labor of the blacks in the cotton States.

(2.) The fact stated in the foregoing paragraph is so well understood at
the North that the Southern people should dismiss the idea that there is
any scheming among the Northern people, political or otherwise, to draw
the black labor away from its natural home. The same fact should also
influence the people at the North not to be misled by any professional
philanthropists who may have some self-interest in soliciting aid to
facilitate negro emigration from the South. The duty of the North in
this matter is simply to extend protection and assure safe-conduct
to the negroes, if the Southern whites attempt to impede voluntary
emigration by either law or violence. Any other course might be cruel
to the negro in encouraging him to enter on a new life in a strange
climate, as well as an injustice to the white land owners of the South.

(3.) There is danger that the Southern whites will, as a rule,
misinterpret the meaning of the exodus. Many are inclined to underrate
its importance, and those who appreciate its significance are apt to
look for temporary and superficial remedies. The vague promises made at
the Vicksburg convention, which was controlled by the whites, and called
to consider the emigration movement, have had no influence with
the negroes, because they have heard such promises before. Had the
convention adopted some definite plan of action, such as ex-Governor
Foote, of Mississippi, submitted, its session might not have been in
vain. This plan was to establish a committee in every county, composed
of men who have the confidence of both whites and blacks, that should
be auxiliary to the public authorities, listen to complaints, and
arbitrate, advise, conciliate, or prosecute, as each case should demand.
It is short-sighted for the Southern people to make mere temporary
concessions, such as have been made in some cases this year, for that
course would establish an annual strike. It is folly for them to suppose
they can stem the tide of emigration by influencing the regular lines of
steamboats not to carry the refugees, for the people of the North will
see that the blacks shall not be detained in the South against their
will. It is unwise for them to devise schemes for importing Chinese,
or encouraging the immigration of white labor as a substitute for negro
labor, when they may much better bestir themselves to make the present
effective labor content.

(4.) Education will be the most useful agent to employ in the permanent
harmonizing of the two races, and the redemption of both from the faults
and follies which constitute their troubles. It is not the education of
the negro alone, whose ambition for learning is increasing notably with
every new generation, but the education of the mass of the young whites,
that is needed to inculcate more tolerance of color and opinion, to give
them an aspiration beyond that of riding a horse and hanging a "nigger,"
and to enable them to set a better example to the imitative blacks in
the way of work and frugality. The blacks need the education to protect
them from designing white men; the whites need it to teach them that
their own interests will be best served by abandoning bulldozing of all

(5.) Reform in the land tenure, by converting the plantation monopolies
into small holdings; abolition of the credit system, by abandoning the
laws which sustain it; a diversification of crops; and attention to
new manufacturing, maritime, and commercial enterprises,--these are the
material changes that are most needed. They can be secured only through
the active and earnest efforts of the whites. The blacks will be found

(6.) The hope of the negro exodus at its present stage, or even if it
shall continue another season, is that the actual loss of the valuable
labor that has gone, and the prospective loss of more labor that is
anxious to go, will induce the intelligent and responsible classes
at the South to overcome their own prejudices, and to compel the
extremists, irreconcilables, and politicians generally, of all parties,
to abandon agitation, and give the South equal peace and equal chance
for black and white.

MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Frederick Douglass

In the first narrative of my experience in slavery, written nearly forty
years ago, and in various writings since, I have given the public what I
considered very good reasons for withholding the manner of my escape. In
substance these reasons were, first, that such publication at any time
during the existence of slavery might be used by the master against the
slave, and prevent the future escape of any who might adopt the same
means that I did. The second reason was, if possible, still more binding
to silence: the publication of details would certainly have put in peril
the persons and property of those who assisted. Murder itself was not
more sternly and certainly punished in the State of Maryland than that
of aiding and abetting the escape of a slave. Many colored men, for
no other crime than that of giving aid to a fugitive slave, have, like
Charles T. Torrey, perished in prison. The abolition of slavery in my
native State and throughout the country, and the lapse of time, render
the caution hitherto observed no longer necessary. But even since the
abolition of slavery, I have sometimes thought it well enough to baffle
curiosity by saying that while slavery existed there were good reasons
for not telling the manner of my escape, and since slavery had ceased to
exist, there was no reason for telling it. I shall now, however, cease
to avail myself of this formula, and, as far as I can, endeavor to
satisfy this very natural curiosity. I should, perhaps, have yielded to
that feeling sooner, had there been anything very heroic or thrilling
in the incidents connected with my escape, for I am sorry to say I
have nothing of that sort to tell; and yet the courage that could risk
betrayal and the bravery which was ready to encounter death, if need be,
in pursuit of freedom, were essential features in the undertaking. My
success was due to address rather than courage, to good luck rather than
bravery. My means of escape were provided for me by the very men who
were making laws to hold and bind me more securely in slavery.

It was the custom in the State of Maryland to require the free colored
people to have what were called free papers. These instruments they were
required to renew very often, and by charging a fee for this writing,
considerable sums from time to time were collected by the State. In
these papers the name, age, color, height, and form of the freeman were
described, together with any scars or other marks upon his person which
could assist in his identification. This device in some measure defeated
itself--since more than one man could be found to answer the same
general description. Hence many slaves could escape by personating the
owner of one set of papers; and this was often done as follows: A
slave, nearly or sufficiently answering the description set forth in the
papers, would borrow or hire them till by means of them he could escape
to a free State, and then, by mail or otherwise, would return them to
the owner. The operation was a hazardous one for the lender as well as
for the borrower. A failure on the part of the fugitive to send back the
papers would imperil his benefactor, and the discovery of the papers
in possession of the wrong man would imperil both the fugitive and his
friend. It was, therefore, an act of supreme trust on the part of a
freeman of color thus to put in jeopardy his own liberty that another
might be free. It was, however, not unfrequently bravely done, and was
seldom discovered. I was not so fortunate as to resemble any of my free
acquaintances sufficiently to answer the description of their papers.
But I had a friend--a sailor--who owned a sailor's protection, which
answered somewhat the purpose of free papers--describing his person,
and certifying to the fact that he was a free American sailor. The
instrument had at its head the American eagle, which gave it the
appearance at once of an authorized document. This protection, when in
my hands, did not describe its bearer very accurately. Indeed, it called
for a man much darker than myself, and close examination of it would
have caused my arrest at the start.

In order to avoid this fatal scrutiny on the part of railroad officials,
I arranged with Isaac Rolls, a Baltimore hackman, to bring my baggage to
the Philadelphia train just on the moment of starting, and jumped upon
the car myself when the train was in motion. Had I gone into the station
and offered to purchase a ticket, I should have been instantly and
carefully examined, and undoubtedly arrested. In choosing this plan
I considered the jostle of the train, and the natural haste of the
conductor, in a train crowded with passengers, and relied upon my skill
and address in playing the sailor, as described in my protection, to do
the rest. One element in my favor was the kind feeling which prevailed
in Baltimore and other sea-ports at the time, toward "those who go
down to the sea in ships." "Free trade and sailors' rights" just then
expressed the sentiment of the country. In my clothing I was rigged out
in sailor style. I had on a red shirt and a tarpaulin hat, and a black
cravat tied in sailor fashion carelessly and loosely about my neck. My
knowledge of ships and sailor's talk came much to my assistance, for
I knew a ship from stem to stern, and from keelson to cross-trees, and
could talk sailor like an "old salt." I was well on the way to Havre de
Grace before the conductor came into the negro car to collect tickets
and examine the papers of his black passengers. This was a critical
moment in the drama. My whole future depended upon the decision of this
conductor. Agitated though I was while this ceremony was proceeding,
still, externally, at least, I was apparently calm and self-possessed.
He went on with his duty--examining several colored passengers before
reaching me. He was somewhat harsh in tome and peremptory in manner
until he reached me, when, strange enough, and to my surprise and
relief, his whole manner changed. Seeing that I did not readily produce
my free papers, as the other colored persons in the car had done, he
said to me, in friendly contrast with his bearing toward the others:

"I suppose you have your free papers?"

To which I answered:

"No sir; I never carry my free papers to sea with me."

"But you have something to show that you are a freeman, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir," I answered; "I have a paper with the American Eagle on it,
and that will carry me around the world."

With this I drew from my deep sailor's pocket my seaman's protection, as
before described. The merest glance at the paper satisfied him, and he
took my fare and went on about his business. This moment of time was one
of the most anxious I ever experienced. Had the conductor looked closely
at the paper, he could not have failed to discover that it called for
a very different-looking person from myself, and in that case it would
have been his duty to arrest me on the instant, and send me back to
Baltimore from the first station. When he left me with the assurance
that I was all right, though much relieved, I realized that I was still
in great danger: I was still in Maryland, and subject to arrest at any
moment. I saw on the train several persons who would have known me in
any other clothes, and I feared they might recognize me, even in my
sailor "rig," and report me to the conductor, who would then subject me
to a closer examination, which I knew well would be fatal to me.

Though I was not a murderer fleeing from justice, I felt perhaps quite
as miserable as such a criminal. The train was moving at a very high
rate of speed for that epoch of railroad travel, but to my anxious mind
it was moving far too slowly. Minutes were hours, and hours were days
during this part of my flight. After Maryland, I was to pass through
Delaware--another slave State, where slave-catchers generally awaited
their prey, for it was not in the interior of the State, but on its
borders, that these human hounds were most vigilant and active. The
border lines between slavery and freedom were the dangerous ones for the
fugitives. The heart of no fox or deer, with hungry hounds on his trail
in full chase, could have beaten more anxiously or noisily than did mine
from the time I left Baltimore till I reached Philadelphia. The passage
of the Susquehanna River at Havre de Grace was at that time made by
ferry-boat, on board of which I met a young colored man by the name of
Nichols, who came very near betraying me. He was a "hand" on the boat,
but, instead of minding his business, he insisted upon knowing me, and
asking me dangerous questions as to where I was going, when I was coming
back, etc. I got away from my old and inconvenient acquaintance as soon
as I could decently do so, and went to another part of the boat. Once
across the river, I encountered a new danger. Only a few days before,
I had been at work on a revenue cutter, in Mr. Price's ship-yard in
Baltimore, under the care of Captain McGowan. On the meeting at this
point of the two trains, the one going south stopped on the track just
opposite to the one going north, and it so happened that this Captain
McGowan sat at a window where he could see me very distinctly, and
would certainly have recognized me had he looked at me but for a second.
Fortunately, in the hurry of the moment, he did not see me; and the
trains soon passed each other on their respective ways. But this was not
my only hair-breadth escape. A German blacksmith whom I knew well was on
the train with me, and looked at me very intently, as if he thought he
had seen me somewhere before in his travels. I really believe he knew
me, but had no heart to betray me. At any rate, he saw me escaping and
held his peace.

The last point of imminent danger, and the one I dreaded most,
was Wilmington. Here we left the train and took the steam-boat for
Philadelphia. In making the change here I again apprehended arrest, but
no one disturbed me, and I was soon on the broad and beautiful Delaware,
speeding away to the Quaker City. On reaching Philadelphia in the
afternoon, I inquired of a colored man how I could get on to New York.
He directed me to the William-street depot, and thither I went, taking
the train that night. I reached New York Tuesday morning, having
completed the journey in less than twenty-four hours.

My free life began on the third of September, 1838. On the morning of
the fourth of that month, after an anxious and most perilous but safe
journey, I found myself in the big city of New York, a FREE MAN--one
more added to the mighty throng which, like the confused waves of the
troubled sea, surged to and fro between the lofty walls of Broadway.
Though dazzled with the wonders which met me on every hand, my thoughts
could not be much withdrawn from my strange situation. For the moment,
the dreams of my youth and the hopes of my manhood were completely
fulfilled. The bonds that had held me to "old master" were broken. No
man now had a right to call me his slave or assert mastery over me. I
was in the rough and tumble of an outdoor world, to take my chance with
the rest of its busy number. I have often been asked how I felt when
first I found myself on free soil. There is scarcely anything in my
experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. A
new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath and the "quick
round of blood," I lived more in that one day than in a year of my slave
life. It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely
describe. In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York,
I said: "I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry
lions." Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but
gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.
During ten or fifteen years I had been, as it were, dragging a heavy
chain which no strength of mine could break; I was not only a slave, but
a slave for life. I might become a husband, a father, an aged man, but
through all, from birth to death, from the cradle to the grave, I had
felt myself doomed. All efforts I had previously made to secure my
freedom had not only failed, but had seemed only to rivet my fetters the
more firmly, and to render my escape more difficult. Baffled, entangled,
and discouraged, I had at times asked myself the question, May not my
condition after all be God's work, and ordered for a wise purpose, and
if so, Is not submission my duty? A contest had in fact been going on
in my mind for a long time, between the clear consciousness of right and
the plausible make-shifts of theology and superstition. The one held me
an abject slave--a prisoner for life, punished for some transgression
in which I had no lot nor part; and the other counseled me to manly
endeavor to secure my freedom. This contest was now ended; my chains
were broken, and the victory brought me unspeakable joy.

But my gladness was short-lived, for I was not yet out of the reach and
power of the slave-holders. I soon found that New York was not quite so
free or so safe a refuge as I had supposed, and a sense of loneliness
and insecurity again oppressed me most sadly. I chanced to meet on the
street, a few hours after my landing, a fugitive slave whom I had once
known well in slavery. The information received from him alarmed me. The
fugitive in question was known in Baltimore as "Allender's Jake," but in
New York he wore the more respectable name of "William Dixon." Jake, in
law, was the property of Doctor Allender, and Tolly Allender, the son
of the doctor, had once made an effort to recapture MR. DIXON, but
had failed for want of evidence to support his claim. Jake told me the
circumstances of this attempt, and how narrowly he escaped being sent
back to slavery and torture. He told me that New York was then full
of Southerners returning from the Northern watering-places; that the
colored people of New York were not to be trusted; that there were hired
men of my own color who would betray me for a few dollars; that there
were hired men ever on the lookout for fugitives; that I must trust
no man with my secret; that I must not think of going either upon the
wharves or into any colored boarding-house, for all such places were
closely watched; that he was himself unable to help me; and, in fact, he
seemed while speaking to me to fear lest I myself might be a spy and
a betrayer. Under this apprehension, as I suppose, he showed signs of
wishing to be rid of me, and with whitewash brush in hand, in search of
work, he soon disappeared.

This picture, given by poor "Jake," of New York, was a damper to my
enthusiasm. My little store of money would soon be exhausted, and since
it would be unsafe for me to go on the wharves for work, and I had no
introductions elsewhere, the prospect for me was far from cheerful. I
saw the wisdom of keeping away from the ship-yards, for, if pursued, as
I felt certain I should be, Mr. Auld, my "master," would naturally seek
me there among the calkers. Every door seemed closed against me. I was
in the midst of an ocean of my fellow-men, and yet a perfect stranger
to every one. I was without home, without acquaintance, without money,
without credit, without work, and without any definite knowledge as to
what course to take, or where to look for succor. In such an extremity,
a man had something besides his new-born freedom to think of. While
wandering about the streets of New York, and lodging at least one
night among the barrels on one of the wharves, I was indeed free--from
slavery, but free from food and shelter as well. I kept my secret to
myself as long as I could, but I was compelled at last to seek some
one who would befriend me without taking advantage of my destitution
to betray me. Such a person I found in a sailor named Stuart, a
warm-hearted and generous fellow, who, from his humble home on Centre
street, saw me standing on the opposite sidewalk, near the Tombs prison.
As he approached me, I ventured a remark to him which at once enlisted
his interest in me. He took me to his home to spend the night, and in
the morning went with me to Mr. David Ruggles, the secretary of the New
York Vigilance Committee, a co-worker with Isaac T. Hopper, Lewis and
Arthur Tappan, Theodore S. Wright, Samuel Cornish, Thomas Downing,
Philip A. Bell, and other true men of their time. All these (save Mr.
Bell, who still lives, and is editor and publisher of a paper called the
"Elevator," in San Francisco) have finished their work on earth. Once in
the hands of these brave and wise men, I felt comparatively safe. With
Mr. Ruggles, on the corner of Lispenard and Church streets, I was hidden
several days, during which time my intended wife came on from Baltimore
at my call, to share the burdens of life with me. She was a free woman,
and came at once on getting the good news of my safety. We were
married by Rev. J. W. C. Pennington, then a well-known and respected
Presbyterian minister. I had no money with which to pay the marriage
fee, but he seemed well pleased with our thanks.

Mr. Ruggles was the first officer on the "Underground Railroad" whom I
met after coming North, and was, indeed, the only one with whom I had
anything to do till I became such an officer myself. Learning that my
trade was that of a calker, he promptly decided that the best place
for me was in New Bedford, Mass. He told me that many ships for whaling
voyages were fitted out there, and that I might there find work at my
trade and make a good living. So, on the day of the marriage ceremony,
we took our little luggage to the steamer JOHN W. RICHMOND, which, at
that time, was one of the line running between New York and Newport,
R. I. Forty-three years ago colored travelers were not permitted in the
cabin, nor allowed abaft the paddle-wheels of a steam vessel. They were
compelled, whatever the weather might be,--whether cold or hot, wet or
dry,--to spend the night on deck. Unjust as this regulation was, it
did not trouble us much; we had fared much harder before. We arrived at
Newport the next morning, and soon after an old fashioned stage-coach,
with "New Bedford" in large yellow letters on its sides, came down to
the wharf. I had not money enough to pay our fare, and stood hesitating
what to do. Fortunately for us, there were two Quaker gentlemen who were
about to take passage on the stage,--Friends William C. Taber and
Joseph Ricketson,--who at once discerned our true situation, and, in a
peculiarly quiet way, addressing me, Mr. Taber said: "Thee get in." I
never obeyed an order with more alacrity, and we were soon on our way to
our new home. When we reached "Stone Bridge" the passengers alighted
for breakfast, and paid their fares to the driver. We took no breakfast,
and, when asked for our fares, I told the driver I would make it right
with him when we reached New Bedford. I expected some objection to this
on his part, but he made none. When, however, we reached New Bedford, he
took our baggage, including three music-books,--two of them collections
by Dyer, and one by Shaw,--and held them until I was able to redeem them
by paying to him the amount due for our rides. This was soon done, for
Mr. Nathan Johnson not only received me kindly and hospitably, but, on
being informed about our baggage, at once loaned me the two dollars
with which to square accounts with the stage-driver. Mr. and Mrs. Nathan
Johnson reached a good old age, and now rest from their labors. I am
under many grateful obligations to them. They not only "took me in
when a stranger" and "fed me when hungry," but taught me how to make an
honest living. Thus, in a fortnight after my flight from Maryland, I
was safe in New Bedford, a citizen of the grand old commonwealth of

Once initiated into my new life of freedom and assured by Mr. Johnson
that I need not fear recapture in that city, a comparatively unimportant
question arose as to the name by which I should be known thereafter in
my new relation as a free man. The name given me by my dear mother was
no less pretentious and long than Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey.
I had, however, while living in Maryland, dispensed with the Augustus
Washington, and retained only Frederick Bailey. Between Baltimore and
New Bedford, the better to conceal myself from the slave-hunters, I had
parted with Bailey and called myself Johnson; but in New Bedford I
found that the Johnson family was already so numerous as to cause some
confusion in distinguishing them, hence a change in this name seemed
desirable. Nathan Johnson, mine host, placed great emphasis upon
this necessity, and wished me to allow him to select a name for me. I
consented, and he called me by my present name--the one by which I have
been known for three and forty years--Frederick Douglass. Mr. Johnson
had just been reading the "Lady of the Lake," and so pleased was he with
its great character that he wished me to bear his name. Since reading
that charming poem myself, I have often thought that, considering the
noble hospitality and manly character of Nathan Johnson--black man
though he was--he, far more than I, illustrated the virtues of the
Douglas of Scotland. Sure am I that, if any slave-catcher had entered
his domicile with a view to my recapture, Johnson would have shown
himself like him of the "stalwart hand."

The reader may be surprised at the impressions I had in some way
conceived of the social and material condition of the people at the
North. I had no proper idea of the wealth, refinement, enterprise, and
high civilization of this section of the country. My "Columbian Orator,"
almost my only book, had done nothing to enlighten me concerning
Northern society. I had been taught that slavery was the bottom fact
of all wealth. With this foundation idea, I came naturally to the
conclusion that poverty must be the general condition of the people of
the free States. In the country from which I came, a white man holding
no slaves was usually an ignorant and poverty-stricken man, and men
of this class were contemptuously called "poor white trash." Hence I
supposed that, since the non-slave-holders at the South were ignorant,
poor, and degraded as a class, the non-slave-holders at the North must
be in a similar condition. I could have landed in no part of the
United States where I should have found a more striking and gratifying
contrast, not only to life generally in the South, but in the condition
of the colored people there, than in New Bedford. I was amazed when Mr.
Johnson told me that there was nothing in the laws or constitution of
Massachusetts that would prevent a colored man from being governor of
the State, if the people should see fit to elect him. There, too, the
black man's children attended the public schools with the white man's
children, and apparently without objection from any quarter. To impress
me with my security from recapture and return to slavery, Mr. Johnson
assured me that no slave-holder could take a slave out of New Bedford;
that there were men there who would lay down their lives to save me from
such a fate.

The fifth day after my arrival, I put on the clothes of a common
laborer, and went upon the wharves in search of work. On my way down
Union street I saw a large pile of coal in front of the house of Rev.
Ephraim Peabody, the Unitarian minister. I went to the kitchen door and
asked the privilege of bringing in and putting away this coal. "What
will you charge?" said the lady. "I will leave that to you, madam." "You
may put it away," she said. I was not long in accomplishing the
job, when the dear lady put into my hand TWO SILVER HALF-DOLLARS. To
understand the emotion which swelled my heart as I clasped this money,
realizing that I had no master who could take it from me,--THAT IT WAS
MINE--THAT MY HANDS WERE MY OWN, and could earn more of the precious
coin,--one must have been in some sense himself a slave. My next job was
stowing a sloop at Uncle Gid. Howland's wharf with a cargo of oil for
New York. I was not only a freeman, but a free working-man, and no
"master" stood ready at the end of the week to seize my hard earnings.

The season was growing late and work was plenty. Ships were being fitted
out for whaling, and much wood was used in storing them. The sawing
this wood was considered a good job. With the help of old Friend Johnson
(blessings on his memory) I got a saw and "buck," and went at it. When
I went into a store to buy a cord with which to brace up my saw in the
frame, I asked for a "fip's" worth of cord. The man behind the counter
looked rather sharply at me, and said with equal sharpness, "You don't
belong about here." I was alarmed, and thought I had betrayed myself.
A fip in Maryland was six and a quarter cents, called fourpence in
Massachusetts. But no harm came from the "fi'penny-bit" blunder, and I
confidently and cheerfully went to work with my saw and buck. It was new
business to me, but I never did better work, or more of it, in the same
space of time on the plantation for Covey, the negro-breaker, than I did
for myself in these earliest years of my freedom.

Notwithstanding the just and humane sentiment of New Bedford three and
forty years ago, the place was not entirely free from race and color
prejudice. The good influence of the Roaches, Rodmans, Arnolds,
Grinnells, and Robesons did not pervade all classes of its people. The
test of the real civilization of the community came when I applied for
work at my trade, and then my repulse was emphatic and decisive. It so
happened that Mr. Rodney French, a wealthy and enterprising citizen,
distinguished as an anti-slavery man, was fitting out a vessel for
a whaling voyage, upon which there was a heavy job of calking and
coppering to be done. I had some skill in both branches, and applied
to Mr. French for work. He, generous man that he was, told me he would
employ me, and I might go at once to the vessel. I obeyed him, but upon
reaching the float-stage, where others [sic] calkers were at work, I
was told that every white man would leave the ship, in her unfinished
condition, if I struck a blow at my trade upon her. This uncivil,
inhuman, and selfish treatment was not so shocking and scandalous in
my eyes at the time as it now appears to me. Slavery had inured me to
hardships that made ordinary trouble sit lightly upon me. Could I have
worked at my trade I could have earned two dollars a day, but as a
common laborer I received but one dollar. The difference was of great
importance to me, but if I could not get two dollars, I was glad to
get one; and so I went to work for Mr. French as a common laborer. The
consciousness that I was free--no longer a slave--kept me cheerful under
this, and many similar proscriptions, which I was destined to meet
in New Bedford and elsewhere on the free soil of Massachusetts. For
instance, though colored children attended the schools, and were treated
kindly by their teachers, the New Bedford Lyceum refused, till several
years after my residence in that city, to allow any colored person to
attend the lectures delivered in its hall. Not until such men as Charles
Sumner, Theodore Parker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Horace Mann refused
to lecture in their course while there was such a restriction, was it

Becoming satisfied that I could not rely on my trade in New Bedford to
give me a living, I prepared myself to do any kind of work that came to
hand. I sawed wood, shoveled coal, dug cellars, moved rubbish from back
yards, worked on the wharves, loaded and unloaded vessels, and scoured
their cabins.

I afterward got steady work at the brass-foundry owned by Mr. Richmond.
My duty here was to blow the bellows, swing the crane, and empty the
flasks in which castings were made; and at times this was hot and heavy
work. The articles produced here were mostly for ship work, and in the
busy season the foundry was in operation night and day. I have often
worked two nights and every working day of the week. My foreman, Mr.
Cobb, was a good man, and more than once protected me from abuse that
one or more of the hands was disposed to throw upon me. While in this
situation I had little time for mental improvement. Hard work, night and
day, over a furnace hot enough to keep the metal running like water,
was more favorable to action than thought; yet here I often nailed a
newspaper to the post near my bellows, and read while I was performing
the up and down motion of the heavy beam by which the bellows was
inflated and discharged. It was the pursuit of knowledge under
difficulties, and I look back to it now, after so many years, with some
complacency and a little wonder that I could have been so earnest and
persevering in any pursuit other than for my daily bread. I certainly
saw nothing in the conduct of those around to inspire me with such
interest: they were all devoted exclusively to what their hands found
to do. I am glad to be able to say that, during my engagement in this
foundry, no complaint was ever made against me that I did not do my
work, and do it well. The bellows which I worked by main strength was,
after I left, moved by a steam-engine.


About ten years ago my wife was in poor health, and our family doctor,
in whose skill and honesty I had implicit confidence, advised a change
of climate. I was engaged in grape-culture in northern Ohio, and decided
to look for a locality suitable for carrying on the same business
in some Southern State. I wrote to a cousin who had gone into the
turpentine business in central North Carolina, and he assured me that no
better place could be found in the South than the State and neighborhood
in which he lived: climate and soil were all that could be asked for,
and land could be bought for a mere song. A cordial invitation to visit
him while I looked into the matter was accepted. We found the weather
delightful at that season, the end of the summer, and were most
hospitably entertained. Our host placed a horse and buggy at our
disposal, and himself acted as guide until I got somewhat familiar with
the country.

I went several times to look at a place which I thought might suit me.
It had been at one time a thriving plantation, but shiftless cultivation
had well-night exhausted the soil. There had been a vineyard of some
extent on the place, but it had not been attended to since the war,
and had fallen into utter neglect. The vines--here partly supported
by decayed and broken-down arbors, there twining themselves among the
branches of the slender saplings which had sprung up among them--grew in
wild and unpruned luxuriance, and the few scanty grapes which they bore
were the undisputed prey of the first comer. The site was admirably
adapted to grape-raising; the soil, with a little attention, could not
have been better; and with the native grape, the luscious scuppernong,
mainly to rely upon, I felt sure that I could introduce and cultivate
successfully a number of other varieties.

One day I went over with my wife, to show her the place. We drove
between the decayed gate-posts--the gate itself had long since
disappeared--and up the straight, sandy lane to the open space where a
dwelling-house had once stood. But the house had fallen a victim to the
fortunes of war, and nothing remained of it except the brick pillars
upon which the sills had rested. We alighted, and walked about the place
for a while; but on Annie's complaining of weariness I led the way back
to the yard, where a pine log, lying under a spreading elm, formed a
shady though somewhat hard seat. One end of the log was already occupied
by a venerable-looking colored man. He held on his knees a hat full of
grapes, over which he was smacking his lips with great gusto, and a pile
of grape-skins near him indicated that the performance was no new thing.
He respectfully rose as we approached, and was moving away, when I
begged him to keep his seat.

"Don't let us disturb you," I said. "There's plenty of room for us all."

He resumed his seat with somewhat of embarrassment.

"Do you live around here?" I asked, anxious to put him at his ease.

"Yas, suh. I lives des ober yander, behine de nex' san'-hill, on de
Lumberton plank-road."

"Do you know anything about the time when this vineyard was cultivated?"

"Lawd bless yer, suh, I knows all about it. Dey ain' na'er a man in dis
settlement w'at won' tell yer ole Julius McAdoo 'uz bawn an' raise' on
dis yer same plantation. Is you de Norv'n gemman w'at's gwine ter buy de
ole vimya'd?"

"I am looking at it," I replied; "but I don't know that I shall care to
buy unless I can be reasonably sure of making something out of it."

"Well, suh, you is a stranger ter me, en I is a stranger ter you, en we
is bofe strangers ter one anudder, but 'f I 'uz in yo' place, I wouldn'
buy dis vimya'd."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Well, I dunner whe'r you b'lieves in cunj'in er not,--some er de w'ite
folks don't, er says dey don't,--but de truf er de matter is dat dis yer
ole vimya'd is goophered."

"Is what?" I asked, not grasping the meaning of this unfamiliar word.

"Is goophered, cunju'd, bewitch'."

He imparted this information with such solemn earnestness, and with such
an air of confidential mystery, that I felt somewhat interested, while
Annie was evidently much impressed, and drew closer to me.

"How do you know it is bewitched?" I asked.

"I wouldn' spec' fer you ter b'lieve me 'less you know all 'bout de
fac's. But ef you en young miss dere doan' min' lis'n'in' ter a ole
nigger run on a minute er two w'ile you er restin', I kin 'splain to yer
how it all happen'."

We assured him that we would be glad to hear how it all happened, and
he began to tell us. At first the current of his memory--or
imagination--seemed somewhat sluggish; but as his embarrassment wore
off, his language flowed more freely, and the story acquired perspective
and coherence. As he became more and more absorbed in the narrative,
his eyes assumed a dreamy expression, and he seemed to lose sight of his
auditors, and to be living over again in monologue his life on the old

"Ole Mars Dugal' McAdoo bought dis place long many years befo' de wah,
en I 'member well w'en he sot out all dis yer part er de plantation
in scuppernon's. De vimes growed monst'us fas', en Mars Dugal' made a
thousan' gallon er scuppernon' wine eve'y year.

"Now, ef dey's an'thing a nigger lub, nex' ter 'possum, en chick'n,
en watermillyums, it's scuppernon's. Dey ain' nuffin dat kin stan' up
side'n de scuppernon' fer sweetness; sugar ain't a suckumstance ter
scuppernon'. W'en de season is nigh 'bout ober, en de grapes begin ter
swivel up des a little wid de wrinkles er ole age,--w'en de skin git
sof' en brown,--den de scuppernon' make you smack yo' lip en roll yo'
eye en wush fer mo'; so I reckon it ain' very 'stonishin' dat niggers
lub scuppernon'.

"Dey wuz a sight er niggers in de naberhood er de vimya'd. Dere wuz ole
Mars Henry Brayboy's niggers, en ole Mars Dunkin McLean's niggers, en
Mars Dugal's own niggers; den dey wuz a settlement er free niggers
en po' buckrahs down by de Wim'l'ton Road, en Mars Dugal' had de only
vimya'd in de naberhood. I reckon it ain' so much so nowadays, but befo'
de wah, in slab'ry times, er nigger didn' mine goin' fi' er ten mile in
a night, w'en dey wuz sump'n good ter eat at de yuther een.

"So atter a w'ile Mars Dugal' begin ter miss his scuppernon's. Co'se he
'cuse' de niggers er it, but dey all 'nied it ter de las'. Mars Dugal'
sot spring guns en steel traps, en he en de oberseah sot up nights
once't er twice't, tel one night Mars Dugal'--he 'uz a monst'us keerless
man--got his leg shot full er cow-peas. But somehow er nudder dey
couldn' nebber ketch none er de niggers. I dunner how it happen, but it
happen des like I tell yer, en de grapes kep' on a-goin des de same.

"But bimeby ole Mars Dugal' fix' up a plan ter stop it. Dey 'uz a cunjuh
'ooman livin' down mongs' de free niggers on de Wim'l'ton Road, en all
de darkies fum Rockfish ter Beaver Crick wuz feared uv her. She could
wuk de mos' powerfulles' kind er goopher,--could make people hab fits er
rheumatiz, er make 'em des dwinel away en die; en dey say she went out
ridin' de niggers at night, for she wuz a witch 'sides bein' a cunjuh
'ooman. Mars Dugal' hearn 'bout Aun' Peggy's doin's, en begun ter 'flect
whe'r er no he couldn' git her ter he'p him keep de niggers off'n de
grapevimes. One day in de spring er de year, ole miss pack' up a basket
er chick'n en poun'-cake, en a bottle er scuppernon' wine, en Mars
Dugal' tuk it in his buggy en driv ober ter Aun' Peggy's cabin. He tuk
de basket in, en had a long talk wid Aun' Peggy. De nex' day Aun' Peggy
come up ter de vimya'd. De niggers seed her slippin' 'roun', en dey soon
foun' out what she 'uz doin' dere. Mars Dugal' had hi'ed her ter goopher
de grapevimes. She sa'ntered 'roun' mongs' de vimes, en tuk a leaf fum
dis one, en a grape-hull fum dat one, en a grape-seed fum anudder one;
en den a little twig fum here, en a little pinch er dirt fum dere,--en
put it all in a big black bottle, wid a snake's toof en a speckle' hen's
gall en some ha'rs fum a black cat's tail, en den fill' de bottle wid
scuppernon' wine. W'en she got de goopher all ready en fix', she tuk 'n
went out in de woods en buried it under de root uv a red oak tree, en
den come back en tole one er de niggers she done goopher de grapevimes,
en a'er a nigger w'at eat dem grapes 'ud be sho ter die inside'n twel'

"Atter dat de niggers let de scuppernon's 'lone, en Mars Dugal' didn'
hab no 'casion ter fine no mo' fault; en de season wuz mos' gone, w'en
a strange gemman stop at de plantation one night ter see Mars Dugal' on
some business; en his coachman, seein' de scuppernon's growin' so nice
en sweet, slip 'roun' behine de smoke-house, en et all de scuppernon's
he could hole. Nobody didn' notice it at de time, but dat night, on de
way home, de gemman's hoss runned away en kill' de coachman. W'en we
hearn de noos, Aun' Lucy, de cook, she up 'n say she seed de strange
nigger eat'n' er de scuppernon's behine de smoke-house; en den we knowed
de goopher had b'en er wukkin. Den one er de nigger chilluns runned
away fum de quarters one day, en got in de scuppernon's, en died de nex'
week. W'ite folks say he die' er de fevuh, but de niggers knowed it wuz
de goopher. So you k'n be sho de darkies didn' hab much ter do wid dem
scuppernon' vimes.

"W'en de scuppernon' season 'uz ober fer dat year, Mars Dugal' foun' he
had made fifteen hund'ed gallon er wine; en one er de niggers hearn
him laffin' wid de oberseah fit ter kill, en sayin' dem fifteen hund'ed
gallon er wine wuz monst'us good intrus' on de ten dollars he laid
out on de vimya'd. So I 'low ez he paid Aun' Peggy ten dollars fer to
goopher de grapevimes.

"De goopher didn' wuk no mo' tel de nex' summer, w'en 'long to'ds de
middle er de season one er de fiel' han's died; en ez dat lef' Mars
Dugal' sho't er han's, he went off ter town fer ter buy anudder. He
fotch de noo nigger home wid 'im. He wuz er ole nigger, er de color er
a gingy-cake, en ball ez a hoss-apple on de top er his head. He wuz a
peart ole nigger, do', en could do a big day's wuk.

"Now it happen dat one er de niggers on de nex' plantation, one er ole
Mars Henry Brayboy's niggers, had runned away de day befo', en tuk ter
de swamp, en ole Mars Dugal' en some er de yuther nabor w'ite folks had
gone out wid dere guns en dere dogs fer ter he'p 'em hunt fer de nigger;
en de han's on our own plantation wuz all so flusterated dat we fuhgot
ter tell de noo han' 'bout de goopher on de scuppernon' vimes. Co'se he
smell de grapes en see de vimes, an atter dahk de fus' thing he done
wuz ter slip off ter de grapevimes 'dout sayin' nuffin ter nobody. Nex'
mawnin' he tole some er de niggers 'bout de fine bait er scuppernon' he
et de night befo'.

"W'en dey tole 'im 'bout de goopher on de grapevimes, he 'uz dat
tarrified dat he turn pale, en look des like he gwine ter die right in
his tracks. De oberseah come up en axed w'at 'uz de matter; en w'en dey
tole 'im Henry be'n eatin' er de scuppernon's, en got de goopher on 'im,
he gin Henry a big drink er w'iskey, en 'low dat de nex' rainy day he
take 'im ober ter Aun' Peggy's, en see ef she wouldn' take de goopher
off'n him, seein' ez he didn' know nuffin erbout it tel he done et de

"Sho nuff, it rain de nex' day, en de oberseah went ober ter Aun'
Peggy's wid Henry. En Aun' Peggy say dat bein' ez Henry didn' know 'bout
de goopher, en et de grapes in ign'ance er de quinseconces, she reckon
she mought be able fer ter take de goopher off'n him. So she fotch out
er bottle wid some cunjuh medicine in it, en po'd some out in a go'd fer
Henry ter drink. He manage ter git it down; he say it tas'e like whiskey
wid sump'n bitter in it. She 'lowed dat 'ud keep de goopher off'n him
tel de spring; but w'en de sap begin ter rise in de grapevimes he ha'
ter come en see her agin, en she tell him w'at e's ter do.

"Nex' spring, w'en de sap commence' ter rise in de scuppernon' vime,
Henry tuk a ham one night. Whar'd he git de ham? I doan know; dey wa'nt
no hams on de plantation 'cep'n' w'at 'uz in de smoke-house, but I never
see Henry 'bout de smoke-house. But ez I wuz a-sayin', he tuk de ham
ober ter Aun' Peggy's; en Aun' Peggy tole 'im dat w'en Mars Dugal' begin
ter prume de grapevimes, he mus' go en take 'n scrape off de sap whar it
ooze out'n de cut een's er de vimes, en 'n'int his ball head wid it; en
ef he do dat once't a year de goopher wouldn' wuk agin 'im long ez he
done it. En bein' ez he fotch her de ham, she fix' it so he kin eat all
de scuppernon' he want.

"So Henry 'n'int his head wid de sap out'n de big grapevime des ha'f way
'twix' de quarters en de big house, en de goopher nebber wuk agin him
dat summer. But de beatenes' thing you eber see happen ter Henry. Up
ter dat time he wuz ez ball ez a sweeten' 'tater, but des ez soon ez de
young leaves begun ter come out on de grapevimes de ha'r begun ter grow
out on Henry's head, en by de middle er de summer he had de bigges' head
er ha'r on de plantation. Befo' dat, Henry had tol'able good ha'r 'roun
de aidges, but soon ez de young grapes begun ter come Henry's ha'r begun
ter quirl all up in little balls, des like dis yer reg'lar grapy ha'r,
en by de time de grapes got ripe his head look des like a bunch er
grapes. Combin' it didn' do no good; he wuk at it ha'f de night wid er
Jim Crow [1], en think he git it straighten' out, but in de mawnin' de
grapes 'ud be dere des de same. So he gin it up, en tried ter keep de
grapes down by havin' his ha'r cut sho't."

[Footnote 1: A small card, resembling a curry-comb in construction, and
used by negroes in the rural districts instead of a comb.]

"But dat wa'nt de quares' thing 'bout de goopher. When Henry come ter de
plantation, he wuz gittin' a little ole an stiff in de j'ints. But
dat summer he got des ez spry en libely ez any young nigger on de
plantation; fac' he got so biggity dat Mars Jackson, de oberseah, ha'
ter th'eaten ter whip 'im, ef he didn' stop cuttin' up his didos en
behave hisse'f. But de mos' cur'ouses' thing happen' in de fall, when
de sap begin ter go down in de grapevimes. Fus', when de grapes 'uz
gethered, de knots begun ter straighten out'n Henry's h'ar; en w'en de
leaves begin ter fall, Henry's ha'r begin ter drap out; en w'en de vimes
'uz b'ar, Henry's head wuz baller 'n it wuz in de spring, en he begin
ter git ole en stiff in de j'ints ag'in, en paid no mo' tention ter de
gals dyoin' er de whole winter. En nex' spring, w'en he rub de sap on
ag'in, he got young ag'in, en so soopl en libely dat none er de young
niggers on de plantation couldn' jump, ner dance, ner hoe ez much cotton
ez Henry. But in de fall er de year his grapes begun ter straighten out,
en his j'ints ter git stiff, en his ha'r drap off, en de rheumatiz begin
ter wrastle wid 'im.

"Now, ef you'd a knowed ole Mars Dugal' McAdoo, you'd a knowed dat
it ha' ter be a mighty rainy day when he couldn' fine sump'n fer his
niggers ter do, en it ha' ter be a mighty little hole he couldn' crawl
thoo, en ha' ter be a monst'us cloudy night w'en a dollar git by him in
de dahkness; en w'en he see how Henry git young in de spring en ole
in de fall, he 'lowed ter hisse'f ez how he could make mo' money outen
Henry dan by wukkin' him in de cotton fiel'. 'Long de nex' spring, atter
de sap commence' ter rise, en Henry 'n'int 'is head en commence fer ter
git young en soopl, Mars Dugal' up 'n tuk Henry ter town, en sole 'im
fer fifteen hunder' dollars. Co'se de man w'at bought Henry didn' know
nuffin 'bout de goopher, en Mars Dugal' didn' see no 'casion fer ter
tell 'im. Long to'ds de fall, w'en de sap went down, Henry begin ter git
ole again same ez yuzhal, en his noo marster begin ter git skeered
les'n he gwine ter lose his fifteen-hunder'-dollar nigger. He sent fer
a mighty fine doctor, but de med'cine didn' 'pear ter do no good; de
goopher had a good holt. Henry tole de doctor 'bout de goopher, but de
doctor des laff at 'im.

"One day in de winter Mars Dugal' went ter town, en wuz santerin' 'long
de Main Street, when who should he meet but Henry's noo marster. Dey
said 'Hoddy,' en Mars Dugal' ax 'im ter hab a seegyar; en atter dey
run on awhile 'bout de craps en de weather, Mars Dugal' ax 'im, sorter
keerless, like ez ef he des thought of it,--

"'How you like de nigger I sole you las' spring?'

"Henry's marster shuck his head en knock de ashes off'n his seegyar.

"'Spec' I made a bad bahgin when I bought dat nigger. Henry done good
wuk all de summer, but sence de fall set in he 'pears ter be sorter
pinin' away. Dey ain' nuffin pertickler de matter wid 'im--leastways de
doctor say so--'cep'n' a tech er de rheumatiz; but his ha'r is all fell
out, en ef he don't pick up his strenk mighty soon, I spec' I'm gwine
ter lose 'im."

"Dey smoked on awhile, en bimeby ole mars say, 'Well, a bahgin's a
bahgin, but you en me is good fren's, en I doan wan' ter see you lose
all de money you paid fer dat digger [sic]; en ef w'at you say is so, en
I ain't 'sputin' it, he ain't wuf much now. I spec's you wukked him
too ha'd dis summer, er e'se de swamps down here don't agree wid de
san'-hill nigger. So you des lemme know, en ef he gits any wusser I'll
be willin' ter gib yer five hund'ed dollars fer 'im, en take my chances
on his livin'.'

"Sho nuff, when Henry begun ter draw up wid de rheumatiz en it look like
he gwine ter die fer sho, his noo marster sen' fer Mars Dugal', en Mars
Dugal' gin him what he promus, en brung Henry home ag'in. He tuk
good keer uv 'im dyoin' er de winter,--give 'im w'iskey ter rub his
rheumatiz, en terbacker ter smoke, en all he want ter eat,--'caze a
nigger w'at he could make a thousan' dollars a year off'n didn' grow on
eve'y huckleberry bush.

"Nex' spring, w'en de sap ris en Henry's ha'r commence' ter sprout, Mars
Dugal' sole 'im ag'in, down in Robeson County dis time; en he kep' dat
sellin' business up fer five year er mo'. Henry nebber say nuffin 'bout
de goopher ter his noo marsters, 'caze he know he gwine ter be tuk good
keer uv de nex' winter, w'en Mars Dugal' buy him back. En Mars Dugal'
made 'nuff money off'n Henry ter buy anudder plantation ober on Beaver

"But long 'bout de een' er dat five year dey come a stranger ter stop
at de plantation. De fus' day he 'uz dere he went out wid Mars Dugal' en
spent all de mawnin' lookin' ober de vimya'd, en atter dinner dey spent
all de evenin' playin' kya'ds. De niggers soon 'skiver' dat he wuz a
Yankee, en dat he come down ter Norf C'lina fer ter learn de w'ite folks
how to raise grapes en make wine. He promus Mars Dugal' he cud make de
grapevimes b'ar twice't ez many grapes, en dat de noo wine-press he wuz
a-sellin' would make mo' d'n twice't ez many gallons er wine. En ole
Mars Dugal' des drunk it all in, des 'peared ter be bewitched wit dat
Yankee. W'en de darkies see dat Yankee runnin' 'roun de vimya'd en
diggin' under de grapevimes, dey shuk dere heads, en 'lowed dat dey
feared Mars Dugal' losin' his min'. Mars Dugal' had all de dirt dug away
fum under de roots er all de scuppernon' vimes, an' let 'em stan' dat
away fer a week er mo'. Den dat Yankee made de niggers fix up a mixtry
er lime en ashes en manyo, en po' it roun' de roots er de grapevimes.
Den he 'vise' Mars Dugal' fer ter trim de vimes close't, en Mars Dugal'
tuck 'n done eve'ything de Yankee tole him ter do. Dyoin' all er dis
time, mind yer, 'e wuz libbin' off'n de fat er de lan', at de big house,
en playin' kyards wid Mars Dugal' eve'y night; en dey say Mars Dugal'
los' mo'n a thousan' dollars dyoin' er de week dat Yankee wuz a runnin'
de grapevimes.

"W'en de sap ris nex' spring, ole Henry 'n'inted his head ez yuzhal,
en his ha'r commence' ter grow des de same ez it done eve'y year. De
scuppernon' vimes growed monst's fas', en de leaves wuz greener en
thicker dan dey eber be'n dyowin my rememb'ance; en Henry's ha'r growed
out thicker dan eber, en he 'peared ter git younger 'n younger, en
soopler 'n soopler; en seein' ez he wuz sho't er han's dat spring,
havin' tuk in consid'able noo groun', Mars Dugal' 'cluded he wouldn'
sell Henry 'tel he git de crap in en de cotton chop'. So he kep' Henry
on de plantation.

"But 'long 'bout time fer de grapes ter come on de scuppernon' vimes,
dey 'peared ter come a change ober dem; de leaves wivered en swivel' up,
en de young grapes turn' yaller, en bimeby eve'ybody on de plantation
could see dat de whole vimya'd wuz dyin'. Mars Dugal' tuck 'n water de
vimes en done all he could, but 't wan' no use: dat Yankee done bus' de
watermillyum. One time de vimes picked up a bit, en Mars Dugal' thought
dey wuz gwine ter come out ag'in; but dat Yankee done dug too close
unde' de roots, en prune de branches too close ter de vime, en all
dat lime en ashes done burn' de life outen de vimes, en dey des kep' a
with'in' en a swivelin'.

"All dis time de goopher wuz a-wukkin'. W'en de vimes commence' ter
wither, Henry commence' ter complain er his rheumatiz, en when de leaves
begin ter dry up his ha'r commence' ter drap out. When de vimes fresh up
a bit Henry 'ud git peart agin, en when de vimes wither agin Henry 'ud
git ole agin, en des kep' gittin' mo' en mo' fitten fer nuffin; he des
pined away, en fine'ly tuk ter his cabin; en when de big vime whar he
got de sap ter 'n'int his head withered en turned yaller en died, Henry
died too,--des went out sorter like a cannel. Dey didn't 'pear ter
be nuffin de matter wid 'im, 'cep'n de rheumatiz, but his strenk des
dwinel' away 'tel he didn' hab ernuff lef' ter draw his bref. De goopher
had got de under holt, en th'owed Henry fer good en all dat time.

"Mars Dugal' tuk on might'ly 'bout losin' his vimes en his nigger in de
same year; en he swo' dat ef he could git hold er dat Yankee he'd wear
'im ter a frazzle, en den chaw up de frazzle; en he'd done it, too, for
Mars Dugal' 'uz a monst'us brash man w'en he once git started. He sot de
vimya'd out ober agin, but it wuz th'ee er fo' year befo' de vimes got
ter b'arin' any scuppernon's.

"W'en de wah broke out, Mars Dugal' raise' a comp'ny, en went off ter
fight de Yankees. He saw he wuz mighty glad dat wah come, en he des want
ter kill a Yankee fer eve'y dollar he los' 'long er dat grape-raisin'
Yankee. En I 'spec' he would a done it, too, ef de Yankees hadn'
s'picioned sump'n, en killed him fus'. Atter de s'render ole miss move'
ter town, de niggers all scattered 'way fum de plantation, en de vimya'd
ain' be'n cultervated sence."

"Is that story true?" asked Annie, doubtfully, but seriously, as the old
man concluded his narrative.

"It's des ez true ez I'm a-settin' here, miss. Dey's a easy way ter
prove it: I kin lead de way right ter Henry's grave ober yander in de
plantation buryin'-groun'. En I tell yer w'at, marster, I wouldn' 'vise
yer to buy dis yer ole vimya'd, 'caze de goopher's on it yit, en dey
ain' no tellin' w'en it's gwine ter crap out."

"But I thought you said all the old vines died."

"Dey did 'pear ter die, but a few ov 'em come out ag'in, en is mixed in
mongs' de yuthers. I ain' skeered ter eat de grapes, 'caze I knows de
old vimes fum de noo ones; but wid strangers dey ain' no tellin' w'at
might happen. I wouldn' 'vise yer ter buy dis vimya'd."

I bought the vineyard, nevertheless, and it has been for a long time
in a thriving condition, and is referred to by the local press as a
striking illustration of the opportunities open to Northern capital in
the development of Southern industries. The luscious scuppernong holds
first rank among our grapes, though we cultivate a great many other
varieties, and our income from grapes packed and shipped to the Northern
markets is quite considerable. I have not noticed any developments of
the goopher in the vineyard, although I have a mild suspicion that our
colored assistants do not suffer from want of grapes during the season.

I found, when I bought the vineyard, that Uncle Julius had occupied a
cabin on the place for many years, and derived a respectable revenue
from the neglected grapevines. This, doubtless, accounted for his advice
to me not to buy the vineyard, though whether it inspired the goopher
story I am unable to state. I believe, however, that the wages I pay him
for his services are more than an equivalent for anything he lost by the
sale of the vineyard.

PO' SANDY by Charles W. Chesnutt

On the northeast corner of my vineyard in central North Carolina, and
fronting on the Lumberton plank-road, there stood a small frame house,
of the simplest construction. It was built of pine lumber, and contained
but one room, to which one window gave light and one door admission. Its
weather-beaten sides revealed a virgin innocence of paint. Against one
end of the house, and occupying half its width, there stood a huge brick
chimney: the crumbling mortar had left large cracks between the bricks;
the bricks themselves had begun to scale off in large flakes, leaving
the chimney sprinkled with unsightly blotches. These evidences of decay
were but partially concealed by a creeping vine, which extended its
slender branches hither and thither in an ambitious but futile attempt
to cover the whole chimney. The wooden shutter, which had once protected
the unglazed window, had fallen from its hinges, and lay rotting in the
rank grass and jimson-weeds beneath. This building, I learned when I
bought the place, had been used as a school-house for several years
prior to the breaking out of the war, since which time it had remained
unoccupied, save when some stray cow or vagrant hog had sought shelter
within its walls from the chill rains and nipping winds of winter.

One day my wife requested me to build her a new kitchen. The house
erected by us, when we first came to live upon the vineyard, contained
a very conveniently arranged kitchen; but for some occult reason my wife
wanted a kitchen in the back yard, apart from the dwelling-house, after
the usual Southern fashion. Of course I had to build it.

To save expense, I decided to tear down the old school-house, and
use the lumber, which was in a good state of preservation, in the
construction of the new kitchen. Before demolishing the old house,
however, I made an estimate of the amount of material contained in it,
and found that I would have to buy several hundred feet of new lumber in
order to build the new kitchen according to my wife's plan.

One morning old Julius McAdoo, our colored coachman, harnessed the gray
mare to the rockaway, and drove my wife and me over to the saw-mill from
which I meant to order the new lumber. We drove down the long lane which
led from our house to the plank-road; following the plank-road for about
a mile, we turned into a road running through the forest and across the
swamp to the sawmill beyond. Our carriage jolted over the half-rotted
corduroy road which traversed the swamp, and then climbed the long hill
leading to the saw-mill. When we reached the mill, the foreman had gone
over to a neighboring farm-house, probably to smoke or gossip, and
we were compelled to await his return before we could transact our
business. We remained seated in the carriage, a few rods from the mill,
and watched the leisurely movements of the mill-hands. We had not waited
long before a huge pine log was placed in position, the machinery of
the mill was set in motion, and the circular saw began to eat its
way through the log, with a loud whirr which resounded throughout the
vicinity of the mill. The sound rose and fell in a sort of rhythmic
cadence, which, heard from where we sat, was not unpleasing, and not
loud enough to prevent conversation. When the saw started on its second
journey through the log, Julius observed, in a lugubrious tone, and with
a perceptible shudder:--

"Ugh! but dat des do cuddle my blood!"

"What's the matter, Uncle Julius?" inquired my wife, who is of a very
sympathetic turn of mind. "Does the noise affect your nerves?"

"No, Miss Annie," replied the old man, with emotion, "I ain' narvous;
but dat saw, a-cuttin' en grindin' thoo dat stick er timber, en moanin',
en groanin', en sweekin', kyars my 'memb'ance back ter ole times,
en 'min's me er po' Sandy." The pathetic intonation with which he
lengthened out the "po' Sandy" touched a responsive chord in our own

"And who was poor Sandy?" asked my wife, who takes a deep interest in
the stories of plantation life which she hears from the lips of the
older colored people. Some of these stories are quaintly humorous;
others wildly extravagant, revealing the Oriental cast of the negro's
imagination; while others, poured freely into the sympathetic ear of a
Northern-bred woman, disclose many a tragic incident of the darker side
of slavery.

"Sandy," said Julius, in reply to my wife's question, "was a nigger w'at
useter b'long ter ole Mars Marrabo McSwayne. Mars Marrabo's place wuz
on de yuther side'n de swamp, right nex' ter yo' place. Sandy wuz a
monst'us good nigger, en could do so many things erbout a plantation, en
alluz 'ten ter his wuk so well, dat w'en Mars Marrabo's chilluns growed
up en married off, dey all un 'em wanted dey daddy fer ter gin 'em
Sandy fer a weddin' present. But Mars Marrabo knowed de res' wouldn' be
satisfied ef he gin Sandy ter a'er one un 'em; so w'en dey wuz all done
married, he fix it by 'lowin' one er his chilluns ter take Sandy fer a
mont' er so, en den ernudder for a mont' er so, en so on dat erway tel
dey had all had 'im de same lenk er time; en den dey would all take him
roun' ag'in, 'cep'n oncet in a w'ile w'en Mars Marrabo would len' 'im
ter some er his yuther kinfolks 'roun' de country, w'en dey wuz short er
han's; tel bimeby it go so Sandy didn' hardly knowed whar he wuz gwine
ter stay fum one week's een ter de yuther.

"One time w'en Sandy wuz lent out ez yushal, a spekilater come erlong
wid a lot er niggers, en Mars Marrabo swap' Sandy's wife off fer a noo
'oman. W'en Sandy come back, Mars Marrabo gin 'im a dollar, en 'lowed he
wuz monst'us sorry fer ter break up de fambly, but de spekilater had gin
'im big boot, en times wuz hard en money skase, en so he wuz bleedst ter
make de trade. Sandy tuk on some 'bout losin' his wife, but he soon seed
dey want no use cryin' ober spilt merlasses; en bein' ez he lacked de
looks er de noo 'ooman, he tuk up wid her atter she b'n on de plantation
a mont' er so.

"Sandy en his noo wife got on mighty well tergedder, en de niggers
all 'mence' ter talk about how lovin' dey wuz. W'en Tenie wuz tuk sick
oncet, Sandy useter set up all night wid 'er, en den go ter wuk in
de mawnin' des lack he had his reg'lar sleep; en Tenie would 'a done
anythin' in de worl' for her Sandy.

"Sandy en Tenie hadn' b'en libbin' tergedder fer mo' d'n two mont's
befo' Mars Marrabo's old uncle, w'at libbed down in Robeson County, sent
up ter fine out ef Mars Marrabo couldn' len' 'im er hire 'im a good han'
fer a mont' er so. Sandy's marster wuz one er dese yer easy-gwine folks
w'at wanter please eve'ybody, en he says yas, he could len' 'im Sandy.
En Mars Marrabo tole Sandy fer ter git ready ter go down ter Robeson
nex' day, fer ter stay a mont' er so.

"Hit wuz monst'us hard on Sandy fer ter take 'im 'way fum Tenie. Hit wuz
so fur down ter Robeson dat he didn' hab no chance er comin' back ter
see her tel de time wuz up; he wouldn' a' mine comin' ten er fifteen
mile at night ter see Tenie, but Mars Marrabo's uncle's plantation wuz
mo' d'n forty mile off. Sandy wuz mighty sad en cas' down atter w'at
Mars Marrabo tole 'im, en he says ter Tenie, sezee:--

"'I'm gittin monstus ti'ed er dish yer gwine roun' so much. Here I is
lent ter Mars Jeems dis mont', en I got ter do so-en-so; en ter Mars
Archie de nex' mont', en I got ter do so-en-so; den I got ter go ter
Miss Jinnie's: en hit's Sandy dis en Sandy dat, en Sandy yer en Sandy
dere, tel it 'pears ter me I ain' got no home, ner no marster, ner no
mistiss, ner no nuffin'. I can't eben keep a wife: my yuther ole 'oman
wuz sole away widout my gittin' a chance fer ter tell her good-by; en
now I got ter go off en leab you, Tenie, en I dunno whe'r I'm eber gwine
ter see yer ag'in er no. I wisht I wuz a tree, er a stump, er a rock, er
sump'n w'at could stay on de plantation fer a w'ile.'

"Atter Sandy got thoo talkin', Tenie didn' say naer word, but des sot
dere by de fier, studyin' en studyin'. Bimeby she up'n says:--

"'Sandy, is I eber tole you I wuz a cunjuh-'ooman?'

"Co'se Sandy hadn' nebber dremp' er nuffin lack dat, en he made a great
miration w'en he hear w'at Tenie say. Bimeby Tenie went on:--

"'I ain' goophered nobody, ner done no cunjuh-wuk fer fifteen yer er mo;
en w'en I got religion I made up my mine I wouldn' wuk no mo' goopher.
But dey is some things I doan b'lieve it's no sin fer ter do; en ef you
doan wanter be sent roun' fum pillar ter pos', en ef you doan wanter go
down ter Robeson, I kin fix things so yer won't haf ter. Ef you'll des
say de word, I kin turn yer ter w'ateber yer wanter be, en yer kin stay
right whar yer wanter, ez long ez yer mineter.'

"Sandy say he doan keer; he's willin' fer ter do anythin' fer ter stay
close ter Tenie. Den Tenie ax 'im ef he doan wanter be turnt inter a

"Sandy say, 'No, de dogs mout git atter me.'

"'Shill I turn yer ter a wolf?' sez Tenie.

"'No, eve'ybody's skeered er a wolf, en I doan want nobody ter be
skeered er me.'

"'Shill I turn yer ter a mawkin'-bird?'

"'No, a hawk mout ketch me. I wanter be turnt inter sump'n w'at'll stay
in one place.'

"'I kin turn yer ter a tree,' sez Tenie. 'You won't hab no mouf ner
years, but I kin turn yer back oncet in a w'ile, so yer kin git sump'n
ter eat, en hear w'at's gwine on.'

"Well, Sandy say dat'll do. En so Tenie tuk 'im down by de aidge er de
swamp, not fur fum de quarters, en turnt 'im inter a big pine-tree, en
sot 'im out mongs' some yuther trees. En de nex' mawnin', ez some er de
fiel' han's wuz gwine long dere, dey seed a tree w'at dey didn' 'member
er habbin' seed befo; it wuz monst'us quare, en dey wuz bleedst ter
'low dat dey hadn' 'membered right, er e'se one er de saplin's had be'n
growin' monst'us fas'.

"W'en Mars Marrabo 'skiver' dat Sandy wuz gone, he 'lowed Sandy had
runned away. He got de dogs out, but de las' place dey could track Sandy
ter wuz de foot er dat pine-tree. En dere de dogs stood en barked, en
bayed, en pawed at de tree, en tried ter climb up on it; en w'en dey wuz
tuk roun' thoo de swamp ter look fer de scent, dey broke loose en made
fer dat tree ag'in. It wuz de beatenis' thing de w'ite folks eber hearn
of, en Mars Marrabo 'lowed dat Sandy must a' clim' up on de tree en
jump' off on a mule er sump'n, en rid fur 'nuff fer ter spile de scent.
Mars Marrabo wanted ter 'cuse some er de yuther niggers er heppin Sandy
off, but dey all 'nied it ter de las'; en eve'ybody knowed Tenie sot too
much by Sandy fer ter he'p 'im run away whar she couldn' nebber see 'im
no mo'.

"W'en Sandy had be'n gone long 'nuff fer folks ter think he done got
clean away, Tenie useter go down ter de woods at night en turn 'im back,
en den dey'd slip up ter de cabin en set by de fire en talk. But dey ha'
ter be monst'us keerful, er e'se somebody would a seed 'em, en dat would
a spile de whole thing; so Tenie alluz turnt Sandy back in de mawnin'
early, befo' anybody wuz a'stirrin'.

"But Sandy didn' git erlong widout his trials en tribberlations. One day
a woodpecker come erlong en 'mence' ter peck at de tree; en de nex' time
Sandy wuz turnt back he had a little roun' hole in his arm, des lack a
sharp stick be'n stuck in it. Atter dat Tenie sot a sparrer-hawk fer ter
watch de tree; en w'en de woodpecker come erlong nex' mawnin' fer ter
finish his nes', he got gobble' up mos' fo' he stuck his bill in de

"Nudder time, Mars Marrabo sent a nigger out in de woods fer ter chop
tuppentime boxes. De man chop a box in dish yer tree, en hack' de bark
up two er th'ee feet, fer ter let de tuppentime run. De nex' time Sandy
wuz turnt back he had a big skyar on his lef' leg, des lack it be'n
skunt; en it tuk Tenie nigh 'bout all night fer ter fix a mixtry ter kyo
it up. Atter dat, Tenie sot a hawnet fer ter watch de tree; en w'en de
nigger come back ag'in fer ter cut ernudder box on de yuther side'n de
tree, de hawnet stung 'im so hard dat de ax slip en cut his foot nigh
'bout off.

"W'en Tenie see so many things happenin' ter de tree, she 'cluded she'd
ha' ter turn Sandy ter sump'n e'se; en atter studyin' de matter ober,
en talkin' wid Sandy one ebenin', she made up her mine fer ter fix up a
goopher mixtry w'at would turn herse'f en Sandy ter foxes, er sump'n,
so dey could run away en go some'rs whar dey could be free en lib lack
w'ite folks.

"But dey ain' no tellin' w'at's gwine ter happen in dis worl'. Tenie had
got de night sot fer her en Sandy ter run away, w'en dat ve'y day one
er Mars Marrabo's sons rid up ter de big house in his buggy, en say his
wife wuz monst'us sick, en he want his mammy ter len' 'im a 'ooman fer
ter nuss his wife. Tenie's mistiss say sen Tenie; she wuz a good nuss.
Young mars wuz in a tarrible hurry fer ter git back home. Tenie wuz
washin' at de big house dat day, en her mistiss say she should go right
'long wid her young marster. Tenie tried ter make some 'scuse fer ter
git away en hide tel night, w'en she would have eve'ything fix' up
fer her en Sandy; she say she wanter go ter her cabin fer ter git
her bonnet. Her mistiss say it doan matter 'bout de bonnet; her
head-hankcher wuz good 'nuff. Den Tenie say she wanter git her bes'
frock; her mistiss say no, she doan need no mo' frock, en w'en dat one
got dirty she could git a clean one whar she wuz gwine. So Tenie had ter
git in de buggy en go 'long wid young Mars Dunkin ter his plantation,
w'ich wuz mo' d'n twenty mile away; en dey want no chance er her seein'
Sandy no mo' tel she come back home. De po' gal felt monst'us bad erbout
de way things wuz gwine on, en she knowed Sandy mus' be a wond'rin' why
she didn' come en turn 'im back no mo'.

"W'iles Tenie wuz away nussin' young Mars Dunkin's wife, Mars Marrabo
tuk a notion fer ter buil' 'im a noo kitchen; en bein' ez he had lots
er timber on his place, he begun ter look 'roun' fer a tree ter hab de
lumber sawed out'n. En I dunno how it come to be so, but he happen fer
ter hit on de ve'y tree w'at Sandy wuz turnt inter. Tenie wuz gone, en
dey wa'n't nobody ner nuffin' fer ter watch de tree.

"De two men w'at cut de tree down say dey nebber had sech a time wid
a tree befo': dey axes would glansh off, en didn' 'pear ter make no
progress thoo de wood; en of all de creakin', en shakin', en wobblin'
you eber see, dat tree done it w'en it commence' ter fall. It wuz de
beatenis' thing!

"W'en dey got de tree all trim' up, dey chain it up ter a timber waggin,
en start fer de saw-mill. But dey had a hard time gittin' de log dere:
fus' dey got stuck in de mud w'en dey wuz gwine crosst de swamp, en
it wuz two er th'ee hours befo' dey could git out. W'en dey start' on
ag'in, de chain kep' a-comin' loose, en dey had ter keep a-stoppin' en
a-stoppin' fer ter hitch de log up ag'in. W'en dey commence' ter climb
de hill ter de saw-mill, de log broke loose, en roll down de hill en in
mongs' de trees, en hit tuk nigh 'bout half a day mo' ter git it haul'
up ter de saw-mill.

"De nex' mawnin' atter de day de tree wuz haul' ter de saw-mill, Tenie
come home. W'en she got back ter her cabin, de fus' thing she done wuz
ter run down ter de woods en see how Sandy wuz gittin' on. W'en she seed
de stump standin' dere, wid de sap runnin' out'n it, en de limbs layin'
scattered roun', she nigh 'bout went out'n her mine. She run ter her
cabin, en got her goopher mixtry, en den foller de track er de timber
waggin ter de saw-mill. She knowed Sandy couldn' lib mo' d'n a minute er
so ef she turn' him back, fer he wuz all chop' up so he'd a be'n bleedst
ter die. But she wanted ter turn 'im back long ernuff fer ter 'splain
ter 'im dat she hadn' went off a-purpose, en lef' 'im ter be chop' down
en sawed up. She didn' want Sandy ter die wid no hard feelin's to'ds

"De han's at de saw-mill had des got de big log on de kerridge, en wuz
startin' up de saw, w'en dey seed a 'oman runnin up de hill, all out er
bref, cryin' en gwine on des lack she wuz plumb 'stracted. It wuz Tenie;
she come right inter de mill, en th'owed herse'f on de log, right in
front er de saw, a-hollerin' en cryin' ter her Sandy ter fergib her,
en not ter think hard er her, fer it wa'n't no fault er hern. Den Tenie
'membered de tree didn' hab no years, en she wuz gittin' ready fer ter
wuk her goopher mixtry so ez ter turn Sandy back, w'en de mill-hands
kotch holt er her en tied her arms wid a rope, en fasten' her to one er
de posts in de saw-mill; en den dey started de saw up ag'in, en cut de
log up inter bo'ds en scantlin's right befo' her eyes. But it wuz mighty
hard wuk; fer of all de sweekin', en moanin', en groanin', dat log
done it w'iles de saw wuz a-cuttin' thoo it. De saw wuz one er dese yer
ole-timey, up-en-down saws, en hit tuk longer dem days ter saw a log
'en it do now. Dey greased de saw, but dat didn' stop de fuss; hit kep'
right on, tel finely dey got de log all sawed up.

"W'en de oberseah w'at run de saw-mill come fum brekfas', de han's up
en tell him 'bout de crazy 'ooman--ez dey s'posed she wuz--w'at had
come runnin' in de saw-mill, a-hollerin' en gwine on, en tried ter th'ow
herse'f befo' de saw. En de oberseah sent two er th'ee er de han's fer
ter take Tenie back ter her marster's plantation.

"Tenie 'peared ter be out'n her mine fer a long time, en her marster
ha' ter lock her up in de smoke-'ouse tel she got ober her spells. Mars
Marrabo wuz monst'us mad, en hit would a made yo' flesh crawl fer ter
hear him cuss, caze he say de spekilater w'at he got Tenie fum had
fooled 'im by wukkin' a crazy 'oman off on him. Wiles Tenie wuz lock up
in de smoke-'ouse, Mars Marrabo tuk'n' haul de lumber fum de saw-mill,
en put up his noo kitchen.

"W'en Tenie got quiet' down, so she could be 'lowed ter go 'roun' de
plantation, she up'n tole her marster all erbout Sandy en de pine-tree;
en w'en Mars Marrabo hearn it, he 'lowed she wuz de wuss 'stracted
nigger he eber hearn of. He didn' know w'at ter do wid Tenie: fus' he
thought he'd put her in de po'-house; but finely, seein' ez she didn' do
no harm ter nobody ner nuffin', but des went roun' moanin', en groanin',
en shakin' her head, he 'cluded ter let her stay on de plantation
en nuss de little nigger chilluns w'en dey mammies wuz ter wuk in de

"De noo kitchen Mars Marrabo buil' wuzn' much use, fer it hadn' be'n put
up long befo' de niggers 'mence' ter notice quare things erbout it. Dey
could hear sump'n moanin' en groanin' 'bout de kitchen in de night-time,
en w'en de win' would blow dey could hear sump'n a-hollerin' en sweekin'
lack hit wuz in great pain en sufferin'. En hit got so atter a w'ile dat
hit wuz all Mars Marrabo's wife could do ter git a 'ooman ter stay in de
kitchen in de daytime long ernuff ter do de cookin'; en dey wa'n't naer
nigger on de plantation w'at wouldn' rudder take forty dan ter go 'bout
dat kitchen atter dark,--dat is, 'cep'n Tenie; she didn' pear ter mine
de ha'nts. She useter slip 'roun' at night, en set on de kitchen steps,
en lean up agin de do'-jamb, en run on ter herse'f wid some kine er
foolishness w'at nobody couldn' make out; fer Mars Marrabo had th'eaten'
ter sen' her off'n de plantation ef she say anything ter any er de
yuther niggers 'bout de pine-tree. But somehow er nudder de niggers
foun' out all 'bout it, en dey knowed de kitchen wuz ha'anted by Sandy's
sperrit. En bimeby hit got so Mars Marrabo's wife herse'f wuz skeered
ter go out in de yard atter dark.

"W'en it come ter dat, Mars Marrabo tuk 'n' to' de kitchen down, en use'
de lumber fer ter buil' dat ole school-'ouse w'at youer talkin' 'bout
pullin' down. De school-'ouse wuzn' use' 'cep'n' in de daytime, en on
dark nights folks gwine 'long de road would hear quare soun's en see
quare things. Po' ole Tenie useter go down dere at night, en wander
'roun' de school-'ouse; en de niggers all 'lowed she went fer ter talk
wid Sandy's sperrit. En one winter mawnin', w'en one er de boys went
ter school early fer ter start de fire, w'at should he fine but po' ole
Tenie, layin' on de flo', stiff, en cole, en dead. Dere didn' 'pear ter
be nuffin' pertickler de matter wid her,--she had des grieve' herse'f
ter def fer her Sandy. Mars Marrabo didn' shed no tears. He thought
Tenie wuz crazy, en dey wa'n't no tellin' w'at she mout do nex'; en dey
ain' much room in dis worl' fer crazy w'ite folks, let 'lone a crazy

"Hit wa'n't long atter dat befo' Mars Marrabo sole a piece er his track
er lan' ter Mars Dugal' McAdoo,--MY ole marster,--en dat's how de ole
school-house happen to be on yo' place. W'en de wah broke out, de school
stop', en de ole school-'ouse be'n stannin' empty ever sence,--dat is,
'cep'n' fer de ha'nts. En folks sez dat de ole school-'ouse, er any
yuther house w'at got any er dat lumber in it w'at wuz sawed out'n de
tree w'at Sandy wuz turnt inter, is gwine ter be ha'nted tel de las'
piece er plank is rotted en crumble' inter dus'."

Annie had listened to this gruesome narrative with strained attention.

"What a system it was," she exclaimed, when Julius had finished, "under
which such things were possible!"

"What things?" I asked, in amazement. "Are you seriously considering the
possibility of a man's being turned into a tree?"

"Oh, no," she replied quickly, "not that;" and then she added absently,
and with a dim look in her fine eyes, "Poor Tenie!"

We ordered the lumber, and returned home. That night, after we had gone
to bed, and my wife had to all appearances been sound asleep for half an
hour, she startled me out of an incipient doze by exclaiming suddenly,--

"John, I don't believe I want my new kitchen built out of the lumber in
that old school-house."

"You wouldn't for a moment allow yourself," I replied, with some
asperity, "to be influenced by that absurdly impossible yarn which
Julius was spinning to-day?"

"I know the story is absurd," she replied dreamily, "and I am not so
silly as to believe it. But I don't think I should ever be able to
take any pleasure in that kitchen if it were built out of that lumber.
Besides, I think the kitchen would look better and last longer if the
lumber were all new."

Of course she had her way. I bought the new lumber, though not without
grumbling. A week or two later I was called away from home on business.
On my return, after an absence of several days, my wife remarked to

"John, there has been a split in the Sandy Run Colored Baptist Church,
on the temperance question. About half the members have come out from
the main body, and set up for themselves. Uncle Julius is one of the
seceders, and he came to me yesterday and asked if they might not hold
their meetings in the old school-house for the present."

"I hope you didn't let the old rascal have it," I returned, with some
warmth. I had just received a bill for the new lumber I had bought.

"Well," she replied, "I could not refuse him the use of the house for so
good a purpose."

"And I'll venture to say," I continued, "that you subscribed something
toward the support of the new church?"

She did not attempt to deny it.

"What are they going to do about the ghost?" I asked, somewhat curious
to know how Julius would get around this obstacle.

"Oh," replied Annie, "Uncle Julius says that ghosts never disturb
religious worship, but that if Sandy's spirit SHOULD happen to stray
into meeting by mistake, no doubt the preaching would do it good."

DAVE'S NECKLISS by Charles W. Chesnutt

"Have some dinner, Uncle Julius?" said my wife.

It was a Sunday afternoon in early autumn. Our two women-servants had
gone to a camp-meeting some miles away, and would not return until
evening. My wife had served the dinner, and we were just rising from
the table, when Julius came up the lane, and, taking off his hat, seated
himself on the piazza.

The old man glanced through the open door at the dinner-table, and his
eyes rested lovingly upon a large sugar-cured ham, from which several
slices had been cut, exposing a rich pink expanse that would have
appealed strongly to the appetite of any hungry Christian.

"Thanky, Miss Annie," he said, after a momentary hesitation, "I dunno ez
I keers ef I does tas'e a piece er dat ham, ef yer'll cut me off a slice
un it."

"No," said Annie, "I won't. Just sit down to the table and help
yourself; eat all you want, and don't be bashful."

Julius drew a chair up to the table, while my wife and I went out on
the piazza. Julius was in my employment; he took his meals with his own
family, but when he happened to be about our house at meal-times, my
wife never let him go away hungry.

I threw myself into a hammock, from which I could see Julius through an
open window. He ate with evident relish, devoting his attention chiefly
to the ham, slice after slice of which disappeared in the spacious
cavity of his mouth. At first the old man ate rapidly, but after the
edge of his appetite had been taken off he proceeded in a more leisurely
manner. When he had cut the sixth slice of ham (I kept count of them
from a lazy curiosity to see how much he COULD eat) I saw him lay it
on his plate; as he adjusted the knife and fork to cut it into smaller
pieces, he paused, as if struck by a sudden thought, and a tear rolled
down his rugged cheek and fell upon the slice of ham before him. But the
emotion, whatever the thought that caused it, was transitory, and in a
moment he continued his dinner. When he was through eating, he came
out on the porch, and resumed his seat with the satisfied expression of
countenance that usually follows a good dinner.

"Julius," I said, "you seemed to be affected by something, a moment ago.
Was the mustard so strong that it moved you to tears?"

"No, suh, it wa'n't de mustard; I wuz studyin' 'bout Dave."

"Who was Dave, and what about him?" I asked.

The conditions were all favorable to story-telling. There was an
autumnal languor in the air, and a dreamy haze softened the dark green
of the distant pines and the deep blue of the Southern sky. The generous
meal he had made had put the old man in a very good humor. He was not
always so, for his curiously undeveloped nature was subject to moods
which were almost childish in their variableness. It was only now and
then that we were able to study, through the medium of his recollection,
the simple but intensely human inner life of slavery. His way of looking
at the past seemed very strange to us; his view of certain sides of life
was essentially different from ours. He never indulged in any regrets
for the Arcadian joyousness and irresponsibility which was a somewhat
popular conception of slavery; his had not been the lot of the petted
house-servant, but that of the toiling field-hand. While he mentioned
with a warm appreciation the acts of kindness which those in authority
had shown to him and his people, he would speak of a cruel deed, not
with the indignation of one accustomed to quick feeling and spontaneous
expression, but with a furtive disapproval which suggested to us a doubt
in his own mind as to whether he had a right to think or to feel, and
presented to us the curious psychological spectacle of a mind enslaved
long after the shackles had been struck off from the limbs of its
possessor. Whether the sacred name of liberty ever set his soul aglow
with a generous fire; whether he had more than the most elementary ideas
of love, friendship, patriotism, religion,--things which are half, and
the better half, of life to us; whether he even realized, except in a
vague, uncertain way, his own degradation, I do not know. I fear not;
and if not, then centuries of repression had borne their legitimate
fruit. But in the simple human feeling, and still more in the undertone
of sadness, which pervaded his stories, I thought I could see a spark
which, fanned by favoring breezes and fed by the memories of the past,
might become in his children's children a glowing flame of sensibility,
alive to every thrill of human happiness or human woe.

"Dave use' ter b'long ter my ole marster," said Julius; "he wuz raise'
on dis yer plantation, en I kin 'member all erbout 'im, fer I wuz ole
'nuff ter chop cotton w'en it all happen'. Dave wuz a tall man, en
monst'us strong: he could do mo' wuk in a day dan any yuther two niggers
on de plantation. He wuz one er dese yer solemn kine er men, en nebber
run on wid much foolishness, like de yuther darkies. He use' ter go out
in de woods en pray; en w'en he hear de han's on de plantation cussin'
en gwine on wid dere dancin' en foolishness, he use' ter tell 'em 'bout
religion en jedgmen'-day, w'en dey would haf ter gin account fer eve'y
idle word en all dey yuther sinful kyarin's-on.

"Dave had l'arn' how ter read de Bible. Dey wuz a free nigger boy in
de settlement w'at wuz monst'us smart, en could write en cipher, en wuz
alluz readin' books er papers. En Dave had hi'ed dis free boy fer ter
l'arn 'im how ter read. Hit wuz 'g'in de law, but co'se none er de
niggers didn' say nuffin ter de w'ite folks 'bout it. Howsomedever, one
day Mars Walker--he wuz de oberseah--foun' out Dave could read. Mars
Walker wa'n't nuffin but a po' bockrah, en folks said he couldn' read
ner write hisse'f, en co'se he didn' lack ter see a nigger w'at knowed
mo' d'n he did; so he went en tole Mars Dugal'. Mars Dugal' sont fer
Dave, en ax' 'im 'bout it.

"Dave didn't hardly knowed w'at ter do; but he couldn' tell no lie, so
he 'fessed he could read de Bible a little by spellin' out de words.
Mars Dugal' look' mighty solemn.

"'Dis yer is a se'ious matter,' sezee; 'it's 'g'in de law ter l'arn
niggers how ter read, er 'low 'em ter hab books. But w'at yer l'arn
out'n dat Bible, Dave?'

"Dave wa'n't no fool, ef he wuz a nigger, en sezee:--

"'Marster, I l'arns dat it's a sin fer ter steal, er ter lie, er fer ter
want w'at doan b'long ter yer; en I l'arns fer ter love de Lawd en ter
'bey my marster.'

"Mars Dugal' sorter smile' en laf' ter hisse'f, like he 'uz might'ly
tickle' 'bout sump'n, en sezee:--

"'Doan 'pear ter me lack readin' de Bible done yer much harm, Dave.
Dat's w'at I wants all my niggers fer ter know. Yer keep right on
readin', en tell de yuther han's w'at yer be'n tellin' me. How would yer
lack fer ter preach ter de niggers on Sunday?'

"Dave say he'd be glad fer ter do w'at he could. So Mars Dugal' tole de
oberseah fer ter let Dave preach ter de niggers, en tell 'em w'at wuz in
de Bible, en it would he'p ter keep 'em fum stealin' er runnin' erway.

"So Dave 'mence' ter preach, en done de han's on de plantation a heap er
good, en most un 'em lef' off dey wicked ways, en 'mence' ter love ter
hear 'bout God, en religion, en de Bible; en dey done dey wuk better, en
didn' gib de oberseah but mighty little trouble fer ter manage 'em.

"Dave wuz one er dese yer men w'at didn' keer much fer de
gals,--leastways he didn' tel Dilsey come ter de plantation. Dilsey wuz
a monst'us peart, good-lookin', gingybread-colored gal,--one er dese yer
high-steppin' gals w'at hol's dey heads up, en won' stan' no foolishness
fum no man. She had b'long' ter a gemman over on Rockfish, w'at died, en
whose 'state ha' ter be sol' fer ter pay his debts. En Mars Dugal' had
b'en ter de oction, en w'en he seed dis gal a-cryin' en gwine on 'bout
bein' sol' erway fum her ole mammy, Aun' Mahaly, Mars Dugal' bid 'em
bofe in, en fotch 'em ober ter our plantation.

"De young nigger men on de plantation wuz des wil' atter Dilsey, but it
didn' do no good, en none un 'em couldn' git Dilsey fer dey junesey,[2]
'tel Dave 'mence' fer ter go roun' Aun' Mahaly's cabin. Dey wuz a
fine-lookin' couple, Dave en Dilsey wuz, bofe tall, en well-shape',
en soopl'. En dey sot a heap by one ernudder. Mars Dugal' seed 'em
tergedder one Sunday, en de nex' time he seed Dave atter dat, sezee:--

"Dave, w'en yer en Dilsey gits ready fer ter git married, I ain' got no
rejections. Dey's a poun' er so er chawin'-terbacker up at de house, en
I reckon yo' mist'iss kin fine a frock en a ribbin er two fer Dilsey.
Youer bofe good niggers, en yer neenter be feared er bein' sol' 'way fum
one ernudder long ez I owns dis plantation; en I 'spec's ter own it fer
a long time yit.'"

[Footnote 2: Sweetheart.]

"But dere wuz one man on de plantation w'at didn' lack ter see Dave en
Dilsey tergedder ez much ez ole marster did. W'en Mars Dugal' went ter
de sale whar he got Dilsey en Mahaly, he bought ernudder han', by de
name er Wiley. Wiley wuz one er dese yer shiny-eyed, double-headed
little niggers, sha'p ez a steel trap, en sly ez de fox w'at keep
out'n it. Dis yer Wiley had be'n pesterin' Dilsey 'fo' she come ter our
plantation, en had nigh 'bout worried de life out'n her. She didn' keer
nuffin fer 'im, but he pestered her so she ha' ter th'eaten ter tell her
marster fer ter make Wiley let her 'lone. W'en he come ober to our
place it wuz des ez bad, 'tel bimeby Wiley seed dat Dilsey had got ter
thinkin' a heap 'bout Dave, en den he sorter hilt off aw'ile, en purten'
lack he gin Dilsey up. But he wuz one er dese yer 'ceitful niggers, en
w'ile he wuz laffin' en jokin' wid de yuther han's 'bout Dave en Dilsey,
he wuz settin' a trap fer ter ketch Dave en git Dilsey back fer hisse'f.

"Dave en Dilsey made up dere min's fer ter git married long 'bout
Christmas time, w'en dey'd hab mo' time fer a weddin'. But 'long 'bout
two weeks befo' dat time ole mars 'mence' ter lose a heap er bacon.
Eve'y night er so somebody 'ud steal a side er bacon, er a ham, er a
shoulder, er sump'n, fum one er de smoke-'ouses. De smoke-'ouses
wuz lock', but somebody had a key, en manage' ter git in some way er
'nudder. Dey's mo' ways 'n one ter skin a cat, en dey's mo' d'n one way
ter git in a smoke-'ouse,--leastways dat's w'at I hearn say. Folks w'at
had bacon fer ter sell didn' hab no trouble 'bout gittin' rid un it. Hit
wuz 'g'in' de law fer ter buy things fum slabes; but Lawd! dat law didn'
'mount ter a hill er peas. Eve'y week er so one er dese yer big covered
waggins would come 'long de road, peddlin' terbacker en w'iskey. Dey wuz
a sight er room in one er dem big waggins, en it wuz monst'us easy
fer ter swop off bacon fer sump'n ter chaw er ter wa'm yer up in de
winter-time. I s'pose de peddlers didn' knowed dey wuz breakin' de law,
caze de niggers alluz went at night, en stayed on de dark side er de
waggin; en it wuz mighty hard fer ter tell W'AT kine er folks dey wuz.

"Atter two er th'ee hund'ed er meat had be'n stole', Mars Walker call
all de niggers up one ebenin', en tol' 'em dat de fus' nigger he cot
stealin' bacon on dat plantation would git sump'n fer ter 'member it
by long ez he lib'. En he say he'd gin fi' dollars ter de nigger
w'at 'skiver' de rogue. Mars Walker say he s'picion' one er two er de
niggers, but he couldn' tell fer sho, en co'se dey all 'nied it w'en he
'cuse em un it.

"Dey wa'n't no bacon stole' fer a week er so, 'tel one dark night w'en
somebody tuk a ham fum one er de smoke-'ouses. Mars Walker des cusst
awful w'en he foun' out de ham wuz gone, en say he gwine ter sarch all
de niggers' cabins; w'en dis yer Wiley I wuz tellin' yer 'bout up'n
say he s'picion' who tuk de ham, fer he seed Dave comin' 'cross de
plantation fum to'ds de smoke-'ouse de night befo'. W'en Mars Walker
hearn dis fum Wiley, he went en sarch' Dave's cabin, en foun' de ham hid
under de flo'.

"Eve'ybody wuz 'stonish'; but dere wuz de ham. Co'se Dave 'nied it ter
de las', but dere wuz de ham. Mars Walker say it wuz des ez he 'spected:
he didn' b'lieve in dese yer readin' en prayin' niggers; it wuz all
'pocrisy, en sarve' Mars Dugal' right fer 'lowin' Dave ter be readin'
books w'en it wuz 'g'in de law.

"W'en Mars Dugal' hearn 'bout de ham, he say he wuz might'ly 'ceived en
disapp'inted in Dave. He say he wouldn' nebber hab no mo' conferdence in
no nigger, en Mars Walker could do des ez he wuz a mineter wid Dave er
any er de res' er de niggers. So Mars Walker tuk'n tied Dave up en gin
'im forty; en den he got some er dis yer wire clof w'at dey uses fer
ter make sifters out'n, en tuk'n wrap' it roun' de ham en fasten it
tergedder at de little een'. Den he tuk Dave down ter de blacksmif-shop,
en had Unker Silas, de plantation black-smif, fasten a chain ter de ham,
en den fasten de yuther een' er de chain roun' Dave's neck. En den he
says ter Dave, sezee:--

"'Now, suh, yer'll wear dat neckliss fer de nex' six mont's; en I
'spec's yer ner none er de yuther niggers on dis plantation won' steal
no mo' bacon dyoin' er dat time.'

"Well, it des 'peared ez if fum dat time Dave didn' hab nuffin but
trouble. De niggers all turnt ag'in' 'im, caze he be'n de 'casion er
Mars Dugal' turnin' 'em all ober ter Mars Walker. Mars Dugal' wa'n't a
bad marster hisse'f, but Mars Walker wuz hard ez a rock. Dave kep' on
sayin' he didn' take de ham, but none un 'em didn' b'lieve 'im.

"Dilsey wa'n't on de plantation w'en Dave wuz 'cused er stealin' de
bacon. Ole mist'iss had sont her ter town fer a week er so fer ter
wait on one er her darters w'at had a young baby, en she didn' fine out
nuffin 'bout Dave's trouble 'tel she got back ter de plantation. Dave
had patien'ly endyoed de finger er scawn, en all de hard words w'at de
niggers pile' on 'im, caze he wuz sho' Dilsey would stan' by 'im, en
wouldn' b'lieve he wuz a rogue, ner none er de yuther tales de darkies
wuz tellin' 'bout 'im.

"W'en Dilsey come back fum town, en got down fum behine de buggy whar
she be'n ridin' wid ole mars, de fus' nigger 'ooman she met says ter

"'Is yer seed Dave, Dilsey?'

"No, I ain' seed Dave,' says Dilsey.

"'Yer des oughter look at dat nigger; reckon yer wouldn' want 'im fer
yo' junesey no mo'. Mars Walker cotch 'im stealin' bacon, en gone en
fasten' a ham roun' his neck, so he can't git it off'n hisse'f. He
sut'nly do look quare.' En den de 'ooman bus' out laffin' fit ter kill
herse'f. W'en she got thoo laffin' she up'n tole Dilsey all 'bout de
ham, en all de yuther lies w'at de niggers be'n tellin' on Dave.

"W'en Dilsey started down ter de quarters, who should she meet but
Dave, comin' in fum de cotton-fiel'. She turnt her head ter one side, en
purten' lack she didn' seed Dave.

"'Dilsey!' sezee.

"Dilsey walk' right on, en didn' notice 'im.

"'OH, Dilsey!'

"Dilsey didn' paid no 'tention ter 'im, en den Dave knowed some er de
niggers be'n tellin' her 'bout de ham. He felt monst'us bad, but he
'lowed ef he could des git Dilsey fer ter listen ter 'im fer a minute er
so, he could make her b'lieve he didn' stole de bacon. It wuz a week er
two befo' he could git a chance ter speak ter her ag'in; but fine'ly he
cotch her down by de spring one day, en sezee:--

"'Dilsey, w'at fer yer won' speak ter me, en purten' lack yer doan see
me? Dilsey, yer knows me too well fer ter b'lieve I'd steal, er do dis
yuther wick'ness de niggers is all layin' ter me,--yer KNOWS I wouldn'
do dat, Dilsey. Yer ain' gwine back on yo' Dave, is yer?'

"But w'at Dave say didn' hab no 'fec' on Dilsey. Dem lies folks b'en
tellin' her had p'isen' her min' 'g'in' Dave.

"'I doan wanter talk ter no nigger,' says she, 'w'at be'n whip' fer
stealin', en w'at gwine roun' wid sich a lookin' thing ez dat hung roun'
his neck. I's a 'spectable gal, I is. W'at yer call dat, Dave? Is dat
a cha'm fer ter keep off witches, er is it a noo kine er neckliss yer

"Po' Dave didn' knowed w'at ter do. De las' one he had 'pended on fer
ter stan' by 'im had gone back on 'im, en dey didn' 'pear ter be nuffin
mo' wuf libbin' fer. He couldn' hol' no mo' pra'r-meetin's, fer Mars
Walker wouldn' 'low 'im ter preach, en de darkies wouldn' 'a' listen'
ter 'im ef he had preach'. He didn' eben hab his Bible fer ter comfort
hisse'f wid, fer Mars Walker had tuk it erway fum 'im en burnt it up, en
say ef he ketch any mo' niggers wid Bibles on de plantation he'd do 'em
wuss'n he done Dave.

"En ter make it still harder fer Dave, Dilsey tuk up wid Wiley. Dave
could see him gwine up ter Aun' Mahaly's cabin, en settin' out on de
bench in de moonlight wid Dilsey, en singin' sinful songs en playin' de
banjer. Dave use' ter scrouch down behine de bushes, en wonder w'at de
Lawd sen' 'im all dem tribberlations fer.

"But all er Dave's yuther troubles wa'n't nuffin side er dat ham. He had
wrap' de chain roun' wid a rag, so it didn' hurt his neck; but w'eneber
he went ter wuk, dat ham would be in his way; he had ter do his task,
howsomedever, des de same ez ef he didn' hab de ham. W'eneber he went
ter lay down, dat ham would be in de way. Ef he turn ober in his sleep,
dat ham would be tuggin' at his neck. It wuz de las' thing he seed
at night, en de fus' thing he seed in de mawnin'. W'eneber he met a
stranger, de ham would be de fus' thing de stranger would see. Most
un 'em would 'mence' ter laf, en whareber Dave went he could see folks
p'intin' at him, en year 'em sayin:--

"'W'at kine er collar dat nigger got roun' his neck?' er, ef dey knowed
'im, 'Is yer stole any mo' hams lately?' er 'W'at yer take fer yo'
neckliss, Dave?' er some joke er 'nuther 'bout dat ham.

"Fus' Dave didn' mine it so much, caze he knowed he hadn' done nuffin.
But bimeby he got so he couldn' stan' it no longer, en he'd hide hisse'f
in de bushes w'eneber he seed anybody comin', en alluz kep' hisse'f shet
up in his cabin atter he come in fum wuk.

"It wuz monst'us hard on Dave, en bimeby, w'at wid dat ham eberlastin'
en etarnally draggin' roun' his neck, he 'mence' fer ter do en say quare
things, en make de niggers wonder ef he wa'n't gittin' out'n his mine.
He got ter gwine roun' talkin' ter hisse'f, en singin' corn-shuckin'
songs, en laffin' fit ter kill 'bout nuffin. En one day he tole one er
de niggers he had 'skivered a noo way fer ter raise hams,--gwine ter
pick 'em off'n trees, en save de expense er smoke-'ouses by kyoin' 'em
in de sun. En one day he up'n tole Mars Walker he got sump'n pertickler
fer ter say ter 'im; en he tuk Mars Walker off ter one side, en tole 'im
he wuz gwine ter show 'im a place in de swamp whar dey wuz a whole trac'
er lan' covered wid ham-trees.

"W'en Mars Walker hearn Dave talkin' dis kine er fool-talk, en w'en he
seed how Dave wuz 'mencin' ter git behine in his wuk, en w'en he ax'
de niggers en dey tole 'im how Dave be'n gwine on, he 'lowed he reckon'
he'd punish' Dave ernuff, en it mou't do mo' harm dan good fer ter
keep de ham on his neck any longer. So he sont Dave down ter de
blacksmif-shop en had de ham tak off. Dey wa'n't much er de ham lef' by
dat time, fer de sun had melt all de fat, en de lean had all swivel' up,
so dey wa'n't but th'ee er fo' poun's lef'.

"W'en de ham had be'n tuk off'n Dave, folks kinder stopped talkin' 'bout
'im so much. But de ham had be'n on his neck so long dat Dave had sorter
got use' ter it. He look des lack he'd los' sump'n fer a day er so atter
de ham wuz tuk off, en didn' 'pear ter know w'at ter do wid hisse'f;
en fine'ly he up'n tuk'n tied a lightered-knot ter a string, en hid it
under de flo' er his cabin, en w'en nobody wuzn' lookin' he'd take it
out en hang it roun' his neck, en go off in de woods en holler en sing;
en he allus tied it roun' his neck w'en he went ter sleep. Fac', it
'peared lack Dave done gone clean out'n his mine. En atter a w'ile he
got one er de quarest notions you eber hearn tell un. It wuz 'bout dat
time dat I come back ter de plantation fer ter wuk,--I had be'n out ter
Mars Dugal's yuther place on Beaver Crick for a mont' er so. I had hearn
'bout Dave en de bacon, en 'bout w'at wuz gwine on on de plantation; but
I didn' b'lieve w'at dey all say 'bout Dave, fer I knowed Dave wa'n't
dat kine er man. One day atter I come back, me'n Dave wuz choppin'
cotton tergedder, w'en Dave lean' on his hoe, en motion' fer me ter come
ober close ter 'im; en den he retch' ober en w'ispered ter me.

"'Julius', [sic] sezee, 'did yer knowed yer wuz wukkin' long yer wid a

"I couldn 'magine w'at he meant. 'G'way fum yer, Dave,' says I. 'Yer
ain' wearin' no ham no mo'; try en fergit 'bout dat; 't ain' gwine ter
do yer no good fer ter 'member it.'

"Look a-yer, Julius,' sezee, 'kin yer keep a secret?'

"'Co'se I kin, Dave,' says I. 'I doan go roun' tellin' people w'at
yuther folks says ter me.'

"'Kin I trus' yer, Julius? Will yer cross yo' heart?'

"I cross' my heart. 'Wush I may die ef I tells a soul,' says I.

"Dave look' at me des lack he wuz lookin' thoo me en 'way on de yuther
side er me, en sezee:--

"'Did yer knowed I wuz turnin' ter a ham, Julius?'

"I tried ter 'suade Dave dat dat wuz all foolishness, en dat he oughtn't
ter be talkin' dat-a-way,--hit wa'n't right. En I tole 'im ef he'd
des be patien', de time would sho'ly come w'en eve'ything would be
straighten' out, en folks would fine out who de rale rogue wuz w'at
stole de bacon. Dave 'peared ter listen ter w'at I say, en promise' ter
do better, en stop gwine on dat-a-way; en it seem lack he pick' up a bit
w'en he seed dey wuz one pusson didn' b'lieve dem tales 'bout 'im.

"Hit wa'n't long atter dat befo' Mars Archie McIntyre, ober on de
Wimbleton road, 'mence' ter complain 'bout somebody stealin' chickens
fum his hen-'ouse. De chickens kip' on gwine, en at las' Mars Archie
tole de han's on his plantation dat he gwine ter shoot de fus' man he
ketch in his hen-'ouse. In less'n a week atter he gin dis warnin', he
cotch a nigger in de hen-'ouse, en fill' 'im full er squir'l-shot. W'en
he got a light, he 'skivered it wuz a strange nigger; en w'en he call'
one er his own sarven's, de nigger tole 'im it wuz our Wiley. W'en Mars
Archie foun' dat out, he sont ober ter our plantation fer ter tell Mars
Dugal' he had shot one er his niggers, en dat he could sen' ober dere en
git w'at wuz lef' un 'im.

"Mars Dugal' wuz mad at fus'; but w'en he got ober dere en hearn how
it all happen', he didn' hab much ter say. Wiley wuz shot so bad he wuz
sho' he wuz gwine ter die, so he up'n says ter ole marster:--

"'Mars Dugal',' sezee, 'I knows I's be'n a monst'us bad nigger, but
befo' I go I wanter git sump'n off'n my mine. Dave didn' steal dat bacon
w'at wuz tuk out'n de smoke-'ouse. I stole it all, en I hid de ham under
Dave's cabin fer ter th'ow de blame on him--en may de good Lawd fergib
me fer it.'

"Mars Dugal' had Wiley tuk back ter de plantation, en sont fer a doctor
fer ter pick de shot out'n 'im. En de ve'y nex' mawnin' Mars Dugal' sont
fer Dave ter come up ter de big house; he felt kinder sorry fer de way
Dave had be'n treated. Co'se it wa'n't no fault er Mars Dugal's, but he
wuz gwine ter do w'at he could fer ter make up fer it. So he sont word
down ter de quarters fer Dave en all de yuther han's ter 'semble up in
de yard befo' de big house at sun-up nex' mawnin'.

"Yearly in de mawnin' de niggers all swarm' up in de yard. Mars Dugal'
wuz feelin' so kine dat he had brung up a bairl er cider, en tole de
niggers all fer ter he'p deyselves.

"All dey han's on de plantation come but Dave; en bimeby, w'en it seem
lack he wa'n't comin', Mars Dugal' sont a nigger down ter de quarters
ter look fer 'im. De sun wuz gittin' up, en dey wuz a heap er wuk ter be
done, en Mars Dugal' sorter got ti'ed waitin'; so he up'n says:--

"'Well, boys en gals, I sont fer yer all up yer fer ter tell yer dat all
dat 'bout Dave's stealin' er de bacon wuz a mistake, ez I s'pose yer all
done hearn befo' now, en I's mighty sorry it happen'. I wants ter treat
all my niggers right, en I wants yer all ter know dat I sets a heap by
all er my han's w'at is hones' en smart. En I want yer all ter treat
Dave des lack yer did befo' dis thing happen', en mine w'at he preach
ter yer; fer Dave is a good nigger, en has had a hard row ter hoe. En de
fus' one I ketch sayin' anythin' 'g'in Dave, I'll tell Mister Walker ter
gin 'im forty. Now take ernudder drink er cider all roun', en den git
at dat cotton, fer I wanter git dat Persimmon Hill trac' all pick' ober

"W'en de niggers wuz gwine 'way, Mars Dugal' tole me fer ter go en hunt
up Dave, en bring 'im up ter de house. I went down ter Dave's cabin, but
couldn' fine 'im dere. Den I look' roun' de plantation, en in de aidge
er de woods, en 'long de road; but I couldn' fine no sign er Dave. I
wuz 'bout ter gin up de sarch, w'en I happen' fer ter run 'cross a
foot-track w'at look' lack Dave's. I had wukked 'long wid Dave so much
dat I knowed his tracks: he had a monst'us long foot, wid a holler
instep, w'ich wuz sump'n skase 'mongs' black folks. So I follered dat
track 'cross de fiel' fum de quarters 'tel I got ter de smoke-'ouse. De
fus' thing I notice' wuz smoke comin' out'n de cracks: it wuz cu'ous,
caze dey hadn' be'n no hogs kill' on de plantation fer six mont' er so,
en all de bacon in de smoke-'ouse wuz done kyoed. I couldn' 'magine fer
ter sabe my life w'at Dave wuz doin' in dat smoke-'ouse. I went up ter
de do' en hollered:--


"Dey didn' nobody answer. I didn' wanter open de do', fer w'ite folks is
monst'us pertickler 'bout dey smoke-'ouses; en ef de oberseah had a-come
up en cotch me in dere, he mou't not wanter b'lieve I wuz des lookin'
fer Dave. So I sorter knock at de do' en call' out ag'in:--

"'O Dave, hit's me--Julius! Doan be skeered. Mars Dugal' wants yer ter
come up ter de big house,--he done 'skivered who stole de ham.'

"But Dave didn' answer. En w'en I look' roun' ag'in en didn' seed none
er his tracks gwine way fum de smoke-'ouse, I knowed he wuz in dere yit,
en I wuz 'termine' fer ter fetch 'im out; so I push de do' open en look

"Dey wuz a pile er bark burnin' in de middle er de flo', en right ober
de fier, hangin' fum one er de rafters, wuz Dave; dey wuz a rope roun'
his neck, en I didn' haf ter look at his face mo' d'n once fer ter see
he wuz dead.

"Den I knowed how it all happen'. Dave had kep' on gittin' wusser en
wusser in his mine, 'tel he des got ter b'lievin' he wuz all done turnt
ter a ham; en den he had gone en built a fier, en tied a rope roun'
his neck, des lack de hams wuz tied, en had hung hisse'f up in de
smoke-'ouse fer ter kyo.

"Dave wuz buried down by de swamp, in de plantation buryin'-groun'.
Wiley didn' died fum de woun' he got in Mars McIntyre's hen-'ouse; he
got well atter a w'ile, but Dilsey wouldn' hab nuffin mo' ter do wid
'im, en 't wa'n't long 'fo' Mars Dugal' sol' 'im ter a spekilater on his
way souf,--he say he didn' want no sich a nigger on de plantation, ner
in de county, ef he could he'p it. En w'en de een' er de year come, Mars
Dugal' turnt Mars Walker off, en run de plantation hisse'f atter dat.

"Eber sence den," said Julius in conclusion, "w'eneber I eats ham, it
min's me er Dave. I lacks ham, but I nebber kin eat mo' d'n two er th'ee
poun's befo' I gits ter studyin' 'bout Dave, en den I has ter stop en
leab de res' fer ernudder time."

There was a short silence after the old man had finished his story, and
then my wife began to talk to him about the weather, on which subject he
was an authority. I went into the house. When I came out, half an hour
later, I saw Julius disappearing down the lane, with a basket on his

At breakfast, next morning, it occurred to me that I should like a slice
of ham. I said as much to my wife.

"Oh, no, John," she responded, "you shouldn't eat anything so heavy for

I insisted.

"The fact is," she said, pensively, "I couldn't have eaten any more of
that ham, and so I gave it to Julius."

THE AWAKENING OF THE NEGRO by Booker T. Washington

When a mere boy, I saw a young colored man, who had spent several years
in school, sitting in a common cabin in the South, studying a French
grammar. I noted the poverty, the untidiness, the want of system and
thrift, that existed about the cabin, notwithstanding his knowledge of
French and other academic subjects. Another time, when riding on the
outer edges of a town in the South, I heard the sound of a piano coming
from a cabin of the same kind. Contriving some excuse, I entered, and
began a conversation with the young colored woman who was playing, and
who had recently returned from a boarding-school, where she had been
studying instrumental music among other things. Despite the fact that
her parents were living in a rented cabin, eating poorly cooked food,
surrounded with poverty, and having almost none of the conveniences of
life, she had persuaded them to rent a piano for four or five dollars
per month. Many such instances as these, in connection with my own
struggles, impressed upon me the importance of making a study of our
needs as a race, and applying the remedy accordingly.

Some one may be tempted to ask, Has not the negro boy or girl as good
a right to study a French grammar and instrumental music as the white
youth? I answer, Yes, but in the present condition of the negro race in
this country there is need of something more. Perhaps I may be forgiven
for the seeming egotism if I mention the expansion of my own life partly
as an example of what I mean. My earliest recollection is of a small
one-room log hut on a large slave plantation in Virginia. After the
close of the war, while working in the coal-mines of West Virginia for
the support of my mother, I heart in some accidental way of the Hampton
Institute. When I learned that it was an institution where a black boy
could study, could have a chance to work for his board, and at the
same time be taught how to work and to realize the dignity of labor,
I resolved to go there. Bidding my mother good-by, I started out one
morning to find my way to Hampton, though I was almost penniless and
had no definite idea where Hampton was. By walking, begging rides,
and paying for a portion of the journey on the steam-cars, I finally
succeeded in reaching the city of Richmond, Virginia. I was without
money or friends. I slept under a sidewalk, and by working on a vessel
next day I earned money to continue my way to the institute, where
I arrived with a surplus of fifty cents. At Hampton I found the
opportunity--in the way of buildings, teachers, and industries provided
by the generous--to get training in the class-room and by practical
touch with industrial life, to learn thrift, economy, and push. I was
surrounded by an atmosphere of business, Christian influence, and a
spirit of self-help that seemed to have awakened every faculty in me,
and caused me for the first time to realize what it meant to be a man
instead of a piece of property.

While there I resolved that when I had finished the course of training I
would go into the far South, into the Black Belt of the South, and give
my life to providing the same kind of opportunity for self-reliance
and self-awakening that I had found provided for me at Hampton. My work
began at Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1881, in a small shanty and church, with
one teacher and thirty students, without a dollar's worth of property.
The spirit of work and of industrial thrift, with aid from the State and
generosity from the North, has enabled us to develop an institution of
eight hundred students gathered from nineteen States, with seventy-nine
instructors, fourteen hundred acres of land, and thirty buildings,
including large and small; in all, property valued at $280,000.
Twenty-five industries have been organized, and the whole work is
carried on at an annual cost of about $80,000 in cash; two fifths of the
annual expense so far has gone into permanent plant.

What is the object of all this outlay? First, it must be borne in mind
that we have in the South a peculiar and unprecedented state of things.
It is of the utmost importance that our energy be given to meeting
conditions that exist right about us rather than conditions that existed
centuries ago or that exist in countries a thousand miles away. What
are the cardinal needs among the seven millions of colored people in the
South, most of whom are to be found on the plantations? Roughly, these
needs may be stated as food, clothing, shelter, education, proper
habits, and a settlement of race relations. The seven millions of
colored people of the South cannot be reached directly by any missionary
agency, but they can be reached by sending out among them strong
selected young men and women, with the proper training of head, hand,
and heart, who will live among these masses and show them how to lift
themselves up.

The problem that the Tuskegee Institute keeps before itself constantly
is how to prepare these leaders. From the outset, in connection with
religious and academic training, it has emphasized industrial or hand
training as a means of finding the way out of present conditions. First,
we have found the industrial teaching useful in giving the student a
chance to work out a portion of his expenses while in school. Second,
the school furnishes labor that has an economic value, and at the same
time gives the student a chance to acquire knowledge and skill while
performing the labor. Most of all, we find the industrial system
valuable in teaching economy, thrift, and the dignity of labor, and in
giving moral backbone to students. The fact that a student goes out into
the world conscious of his power to build a house or a wagon, or to make
a harness, gives him a certain confidence and moral independence that he
would not possess without such training.

A more detailed example of our methods at Tuskegee may be of interest.
For example, we cultivate by student labor six hundred and fifty acres
of land. The object is not only to cultivate the land in a way to
make it pay our boarding department, but at the same time to teach the
students, in addition to the practical work, something of the chemistry
of the soil, the best methods of drainage, dairying, the cultivation
of fruit, the care of livestock and tools, and scores of other
lessons needed by a people whose main dependence is on agriculture.
Notwithstanding that eighty-five per cent of the colored people in the
South live by agriculture in some form, aside from what has been done by
Hampton, Tuskegee, and one or two other institutions practically nothing
has been attempted in the direction of teaching them about the very
industry from which the masses of our people must get their subsistence.
Friends have recently provided means for the erection of a large new
chapel at Tuskegee. Our students have made the bricks for this chapel.
A large part of the timber is sawed by students at our own sawmill, the
plans are drawn by our teacher of architecture and mechanical drawing,
and students do the brick-masonry, plastering, painting, carpentry work,
tinning, slating, and make most of the furniture. Practically, the whole
chapel will be built and furnished by student labor; in the end the
school will have the building for permanent use, and the students will
have a knowledge of the trades employed in its construction. In this way
all but three of the thirty buildings on the grounds have been erected.
While the young men do the kinds of work I have mentioned, the young
women to a large extent make, mend, and launder the clothing of the
young men, and thus are taught important industries.

One of the objections sometimes urged against industrial education for
the negro is that it aims merely to teach him to work on the same plan
that he was made to follow when in slavery. This is far from being the
object at Tuskegee. At the head of each of the twenty-five industrial
departments we have an intelligent and competent instructor, just as
we have in our history classes, so that the student is taught not only
practical brick-masonry, for example, but also the underlying principles
of that industry, the mathematics and the mechanical and architectural
drawing. Or he is taught how to become master of the forces of nature
so that, instead of cultivating corn in the old way, he can use a corn
cultivator, that lays off the furrows, drops the corn into them, and
covers it, and in this way he can do more work than three men by the
old process of corn-planting; at the same time much of the toil is
eliminated and labor is dignified. In a word, the constant aim is to
show the student how to put brains into every process of labor; how
to bring his knowledge of mathematics and the sciences into farming,
carpentry, forging, foundry work; how to dispense as soon as possible
with the old form of ante-bellum labor. In the erection of the chapel
just referred to, instead of letting the money which was given us go
into outside hands, we make it accomplish three objects: first, it
provides the chapel; second, it gives the students a chance to get a
practical knowledge of the trades connected with building; and third,
it enables them to earn something toward the payment of board while
receiving academic and industrial training.

Having been fortified at Tuskegee by education of mind, skill of hand,
Christian character, ideas of thrift, economy, and push, and a spirit
of independence, the student is sent out to become a centre of influence
and light in showing the masses of our people in the Black Belt of the
South how to lift themselves up. How can this be done? I give but one
or two examples. Ten years ago a young colored man came to the institute
from one of the large plantation districts; he studied in the class-room
a portion of the time, and received practical and theoretical training
on the farm the remainder of the time. Having finished his course at
Tuskegee, he returned to his plantation home, which was in a county
where the colored people outnumber the whites six to one, as is true
of many of the counties in the Black Belt of the South. He found the
negroes in debt. Ever since the war they had been mortgaging their crops
for the food on which to live while the crops were growing. The majority
of them were living from hand to mouth on rented land, in small,
one-room log cabins, and attempting to pay a rate of interest on their
advances that ranged from fifteen to forty per cent per annum. The
school had been taught in a wreck of a log cabin, with no apparatus, and
had never been in session longer than three months out of twelve. With
as many as eight or ten persons of all ages and conditions and of both
sexes huddled together in one cabin year after year, and with a minister
whose only aim was to work upon the emotions of the people, one can
imagine something of the moral and religious state of the community.

But the remedy. In spite of the evil, the negro got the habit of work
from slavery. The rank and file of the race, especially those on the
Southern plantations, work hard, but the trouble is, what they earn
gets away from them in high rents, crop mortgages, whiskey, snuff, cheap
jewelry, and the like. The young man just referred to had been trained
at Tuskegee, as most of our graduates are, to meet just this condition
of things. He took the three months' public school as a nucleus for his
work. Then he organized the older people into a club, or conference,
that held meetings every week. In these meetings he taught the people in
a plain, simple manner how to save their money, how to farm in a better
way, how to sacrifice,--to live on bread and potatoes, if need be, till
they could get out of debt, and begin the buying of lands.

Soon a large proportion of the people were in condition to make
contracts for the buying of homes (land is very cheap in the South),
and to live without mortgaging their crops. Not only this: under the
guidance and leadership of this teacher, the first year that he was
among them they learned how, by contributions in money and labor, to
build a neat, comfortable schoolhouse that replaced the wreck of a
log cabin formerly used. The following year the weekly meetings were
continued, and two months were added to the original three months of
school. The next year two more months were added. The improvement has
gone on, until now these people have every year an eight months' school.

I wish my readers could have the chance that I have had of going into
this community. I wish they could look into the faces of the people and
see them beaming with hope and delight. I wish they could see the two
or three room cottages that have taken the place of the usual one-room
cabin, the well-cultivated farms, and the religious life of the people
that now means something more than the name. The teacher has a good
cottage and a well-kept farm that serve as models. In a word, a
complete revolution has been wrought in the industrial, educational, and
religious life of this whole community by reason of the fact that they
have had this leader, this guide and object-lesson, to show them how to
take the money and effort that had hitherto been scattered to the wind
in mortgages and high rents, in whiskey and gewgaws, and concentrate
them in the direction of their own uplifting. One community on its
feet presents an object-lesson for the adjoining communities, and soon
improvements show themselves in other places.

Another student who received academic and industrial training at
Tuskegee established himself, three years ago, as a blacksmith and
wheelwright in a community, and, in addition to the influence of his
successful business enterprise, he is fast making the same kind of
changes in the life of the people about him that I have just recounted.
It would be easy for me to fill many pages describing the influence of
the Tuskegee graduates in every part of the South. We keep it constantly
in the minds of our students and graduates that the industrial or
material condition of the masses of our people must be improved, as well
as the intellectual, before there can be any permanent change in their
moral and religious life. We find it a pretty hard thing to make a good
Christian of a hungry man. No matter how much our people "get happy" and
"shout" in church, if they go home at night from church hungry, they are
tempted to find something before morning. This is a principle of human
nature, and is not confined to the negro.

The negro has within him immense power for self-uplifting, but for years
it will be necessary to guide and stimulate him. The recognition of
this power led us to organize, five years ago, what is now known as the
Tuskegee Negro Conference,--a gathering that meets every February, and
is composed of about eight hundred representative colored men and women
from all sections of the Black Belt. They come in ox-carts, mule-carts,
buggies, on muleback and horseback, on foot, by railroad: some traveling
all night in order to be present. The matters considered at the
conferences are those that the colored people have it within their own
power to control: such as the evils of the mortgage system, the one-room
cabin, buying on credit, the importance of owning a home and of putting
money in the bank, how to build schoolhouses and prolong the school
term, and how to improve their moral and religious condition.

As a single example of the results, one delegate reported that since
the conferences were started five years ago eleven people in his
neighborhood had bought homes, fourteen had got out of debt, and a
number had stopped mortgaging their crops. Moreover, a schoolhouse
had been built by the people themselves, and the school term had
been extended from three to six months; and with a look of triumph he
exclaimed, "We is done stopped libin' in de ashes!"

Besides this Negro Conference for the masses of the people, we now have
a gathering at the same time known as the Workers' Conference, composed
of the officers and instructors in the leading colored schools of the
South. After listening to the story of the conditions and needs from the
people themselves, the Workers' Conference finds much food for thought
and discussion.

Nothing else so soon brings about right relations between the two races
in the South as the industrial progress of the negro. Friction between
the races will pass away in proportion as the black man, by reason of
his skill, intelligence, and character, can produce something that the
white man wants or respects in the commercial world. This is another
reason why at Tuskegee we push the industrial training. We find that as
every year we put into a Southern community colored men who can start
a brick-yard, a sawmill, a tin-shop, or a printing-office,--men who
produce something that makes the white man partly dependent upon the
negro, instead of all the dependence being on the other side,--a change
takes place in the relations of the races.

Let us go on for a few more years knitting our business and industrial
relations into those of the white man, till a black man gets a mortgage
on a white man's house that he can foreclose at will. The white man on
whose house the mortgage rests will not try to prevent that negro from
voting when he goes to the polls. It is through the dairy farm, the
truck garden, the trades, and commercial life, largely, that the negro
is to find his way to the enjoyment of all his rights. Whether he will
or not, a white man respects a negro who owns a two-story brick house.

What is the permanent value of the Tuskegee system of training to the
South in a broader sense? In connection with this, it is well to bear
in mind that slavery taught the white man that labor with the hands was
something fit for the negro only, and something for the white man to
come into contact with just as little as possible. It is true that there
was a large class of poor white people who labored with the hands, but
they did it because they were not able to secure negroes to work for
them; and these poor whites were constantly trying to imitate the
slave-holding class in escaping labor, and they too regarded it as
anything but elevating. The negro in turn looked down upon the poor
whites with a certain contempt because they had to work. The negro, it
is to be borne in mind, worked under constant protest, because he felt
that his labor was being unjustly required, and he spent almost as much
effort in planning how to escape work as in learning how to work. Labor
with him was a badge of degradation. The white man was held up before
him as the highest type of civilization, but the negro noted that this
highest type of civilization himself did no labor; hence he argued that
the less work he did, the more nearly he would be like a white man.
Then, in addition to these influences, the slave system discouraged
labor-saving machinery. To use labor-saving machinery intelligence was
required, and intelligence and slavery were not on friendly terms; hence
the negro always associated labor with toil, drudgery, something to be
escaped. When the negro first became free, his idea of education was
that it was something that would soon put him in the same position
as regards work that his recent master had occupied. Out of these
conditions grew the Southern habit of putting off till to-morrow and the
day after the duty that should be done promptly to-day. The leaky house
was not repaired while the sun shone, for then the rain did not come
through. While the rain was falling, no one cared to expose himself to
stop the leak. The plough, on the same principle, was left where the
last furrow was run, to rot and rust in the field during the winter.
There was no need to repair the wooden chimney that was exposed to the
fire, because water could be thrown on it when it was on fire. There was
no need to trouble about the payment of a debt to-day, for it could just
as well be paid next week or next year. Besides these conditions, the
whole South, at the close of the war, was without proper food, clothing,
and shelter,--was in need of habits of thrift and economy and of
something laid up for a rainy day.

To me it seemed perfectly plain that here was a condition of things that
could not be met by the ordinary process of education. At Tuskegee we
became convinced that the thing to do was to make a careful systematic
study of the condition and needs of the South, especially the Black
Belt, and to bend our efforts in the direction of meeting these needs,
whether we were following a well-beaten track, or were hewing out a new
path to meet conditions probably without a parallel in the world.
After fourteen years of experience and observation, what is the result?
Gradually but surely, we find that all through the South the disposition
to look upon labor as a disgrace is on the wane, and the parents who
themselves sought to escape work are so anxious to give their children
training in intelligent labor that every institution which gives
training in the handicrafts is crowded, and many (among them Tuskegee)
have to refuse admission to hundreds of applicants. The influence of
the Tuskegee system is shown again by the fact that almost every
little school at the remotest cross-roads is anxious to be known as
an industrial school, or, as some of the colored people call it, an
"industrus" school.

The social lines that were once sharply drawn between those who labored
with the hand and those who did not are disappearing. Those who formerly
sought to escape labor, now when they see that brains and skill rob
labor of the toil and drudgery once associated with it, instead of
trying to avoid it are willing to pay to be taught how to engage in it.
The South is beginning to see labor raised up, dignified and beautified,
and in this sees its salvation. In proportion as the love of labor
grows, the large idle class which has long been one of the curses of the
South disappears. As its members become absorbed in occupations, they
have less time to attend to everybody else's business, and more time for
their own.

The South is still an undeveloped and unsettled country, and for the
next half century and more the greater part of the energy of the masses
will be needed to develop its material opportunities. Any force that
brings the rank and file of the people to a greater love of industry
is therefore especially valuable. This result industrial education
is surely bringing about. It stimulates production and increases
trade,--trade between the races,--and in this new and engrossing
relation both forget the past. The white man respects the vote of the
colored man who does $10,000 worth of business, and the more business
the colored man has, the more careful he is how he votes.

Immediately after the war, there was a large class of Southern people
who feared that the opening of the free schools to the freedmen and the
poor whites--the education of the head alone--would result merely in
increasing the class who sought to escape labor, and that the South
would soon be overrun by the idle and vicious. But as the results of
industrial combined with academic training begin to show themselves in
hundreds of communities that have been lifted up through the medium of
the Tuskegee system, these former prejudices against education are being
removed. Many of those who a few years ago opposed general education are
now among its warmest advocates.

This industrial training, emphasizing as it does the idea of economic
production, is gradually bringing the South to the point where it is
feeding itself. Before the war, and long after it, the South made what
little profit was received from the cotton crop, and sent its earnings
out of the South to purchase food supplies,--meat, bread, canned
vegetables, and the like; but the improved methods of agriculture are
fast changing this habit. With the newer methods of labor, which teach
promptness and system, and emphasize the worth of the beautiful,--the
moral value of the well-painted house, and the fence with every paling
and nail in its place,--we are bringing to bear upon the South an
influence that is making it a new country in industry, education, and

THE STORY OF UNCLE TOM'S CABIN by Charles Dudley Warner

On the 29th of June, 1852, Henry Clay died. In that month the two great
political parties, in their national conventions, had accepted as a
finality all the compromise measures of 1850, and the last hours of the
Kentucky statesman were brightened by the thought that his efforts had
secured the perpetuity of the Union.

But on the 20th of March, 1852, there had been an event, the
significance of which was not taken into account by the political
conventions or by Clay, which was to test the conscience of the nation.
This was the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Was this only an "event,"
the advent of a new force in politics; was the book merely an abolition
pamphlet, or was it a novel, one of the few great masterpieces of
fiction that the world has produced? After the lapse of forty-four
years and the disappearance of African slavery on this continent, it is
perhaps possible to consider this question dispassionately.

The compromise of 1850 satisfied neither the North nor the South. The
admission of California as a free State was regarded by Calhoun as fatal
to the balance between the free and the slave States, and thereafter a
fierce agitation sprang up for the recovery of this loss of balance, and
ultimately for Southern preponderance, which resulted in the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska war, and the civil war.
The fugitive slave law was hateful to the North not only because it was
cruel and degrading, but because it was seen to be a move formed for
nationalizing slavery. It was unsatisfactory to the South because it
was deemed inadequate in its provisions, and because the South did not
believe the North would execute it in good faith. So unstable did the
compromise seem that in less than a year after the passage of all its
measures, Henry Clay and forty-four Senators and Representatives united
in a manifesto declaring that they would support no man for office who
was not known to be opposed to any disturbance of the settlements of
the compromise. When, in February, 1851, the recaptured fugitive slave,
Burns, was rescued from the United States officers in Boston, Clay urged
the investment of the President with extraordinary power to enforce the

Henry Clay was a patriot, a typical American. The republic and its
preservation were the passions of his life. Like Lincoln, who was
born in the State of his adoption, he was willing to make almost any
sacrifice for the maintenance of the Union. He had no sympathy with the
system of slavery. There is no doubt that he would have been happy in
the belief that it was in the way of gradual and peaceful extinction.
With him, it was always the Union before state rights and before
slavery. Unlike Lincoln, he had not the clear vision to see that the
republic could not endure half slave and half free. He believed that the
South, appealing to the compromises of the Constitution, would sacrifice
the Union before it would give up slavery, and in fear of this menace
he begged the North to conquer its prejudices. We are not liable to
overrate his influence as a compromising pacificator from 1832 to 1852.
History will no doubt say that it was largely due to him that the war on
the Union was postponed to a date when its success was impossible.

It was the fugitive slave law that brought the North face to face with
slavery nationalized, and it was the fugitive slave law that produced
Uncle Tom's Cabin. The effect of this story was immediate and electric.
It went straight to the hearts of tens of thousands of people who had
never before considered slavery except as a political institution for
which they had no personal responsibility. What was this book, and how
did it happen to produce such an effect? It is true that it struck into
a time of great irritation and agitation, but in one sense there was
nothing new in it. The facts had all been published. For twenty years
abolition tracts, pamphlets, newspapers, and books had left little to be
revealed, to those who cared to read, as to the nature of slavery or its
economic aspects. The evidence was practically all in,--supplied largely
by the advertisements of Southern newspapers and by the legislation of
the slaveholding States,--but it did not carry conviction; that is, the
sort of conviction that results in action. The subject had to be carried
home to the conscience. Pamphleteering, convention-holding, sermons, had
failed to do this. Even the degrading requirements of the fugitive slave
law, which brought shame and humiliation, had not sufficed to fuse the
public conscience, emphasize the necessity of obedience to the moral
law, and compel recognition of the responsibility of the North for
slavery. Evidence had not done this, passionate appeals had not done
it, vituperation had not done it. What sort of presentation of the case
would gain the public ear and go to the heart? If Mrs. Stowe, in all her
fervor, had put forth first the facts in The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin,
which so buttressed her romance, the book would have had no more effect
than had followed the like compilations and arraignments. What was
needed? If we can discover this, we shall have the secret of this
epoch-making novel.

The story of this book has often been told. It is in the nature of a
dramatic incident of which the reader never tires any more than the son
of Massachusetts does of the minutest details of that famous scene in
the Senate Chamber when Webster replied to Hayne.

At the age of twenty-four the author was married and went to live in
Cincinnati, where her husband held a chair in the Lane Theological
Seminary. There for the first time she was brought into relations
with the African race and saw the effects of slavery. She visited
slaveholders in Kentucky and had friends among them. In some homes she
saw the "patriarchal" institution at its best. The Beecher family were
anti-slavery, but they had not been identified with the abolitionists,
except perhaps Edward, who was associated with the murdered Lovejoy.
It was long a reproach brought by the abolitionists against Henry Ward
Beecher that he held entirely aloof from their movement. At Cincinnati,
however, the personal aspects of the case were brought home to Mrs.
Stowe. She learned the capacities and peculiarities of the negro race.
They were her servants; she taught some of them; hunted fugitives
applied to her; she ransomed some by her own efforts; every day there
came to her knowledge stories of the hunger for freedom, of the ruthless
separation of man and wife and mother and child, and of the heroic
sufferings of those who ran away from the fearful doom of those "sold
down South." These things crowded upon her mind and awoke her deepest
compassion. But what could she do against all the laws, the political
and commercial interests, the great public apathy? Relieve a case here
and there, yes. But to dwell upon the gigantic evil, with no means of
making head against it, was to invite insanity.

As late as 1850, when Professor Stowe was called to Bowdoin College, and
the family removed to Brunswick, Maine, Mrs. Stowe had not felt impelled
to the duty she afterwards undertook. "In fact, it was a sort of general
impression upon her mind, as upon that of many humane people in those
days, that the subject was so dark and painful a one, so involved in
difficulty and obscurity, so utterly beyond human hope or help, that it
was of no use to read, or think, or distress one's self about it." But
when she reached New England the excitement over the fugitive slave law
was at its height. There was a panic in Boston among the colored people
settled there, who were daily fleeing to Canada. Every mail brought her
pitiful letters from Boston, from Illinois, and elsewhere, of the terror
and despair caused by the law. Still more was the impressed by the
apathy of the Christian world at the North, and surely, she said, the
people did not understand what the "system" was. Appeals were made to
her, who had some personal knowledge of the subject, to take up her pen.
The task seemed beyond her in every way. She was not strong, she was in
the midst of heavy domestic cares, with a young infant, with pupils to
whom she was giving daily lessons, and the limited income of the family
required the strictest economy. The dependence was upon the small salary
of Professor Stowe, and the few dollars she could earn by an occasional
newspaper or magazine article. But the theme burned in her mind, and
finally took this shape: at least she would write some sketches and show
the Christian world what slavery really was, and what the system was
that they were defending. She wanted to do this with entire fairness,
showing all the mitigations of the "patriarchal" system, and all that
individuals concerned in it could do to alleviate its misery. While
pondering this she came by chance, in a volume of an anti-slavery
magazine, upon the authenticated account of the escape of a woman with
her child on the ice across the Ohio River from Kentucky. She began to
meditate. The faithful slave husband in Kentucky, who had refused to
escape from a master who trusted him, when he was about to be sold "down
river," came to her as a pattern of Uncle Tom, and the scenes of the
story began to form themselves in her mind. "The first part of the book
ever committed to writing [this is the statement of Mrs. Stowe] was the
death of Uncle Tom. This scene presented itself almost as a tangible
vision to her mind while sitting at the communion-table in the little
church in Brunswick. She was perfectly overcome by it, and could
scarcely restrain the convulsion of tears and sobbings that shook her
frame. She hastened home and wrote it, and her husband being away, read
it to her two sons of ten and twelve years of age. The little fellows
broke out into convulsions of weeping, one of them saying through his
sobs, 'Oh, mamma, slavery is the most cursed thing in the world!' From
that time the story can less be said to have been composed by her than
imposed upon her. Scenes, incidents, conversations rushed upon her with
a vividness and importunity that would not be denied. The book insisted
upon getting itself into being, and would take no denial."

When two or three chapters were written she wrote to her friend, Dr.
Bailey, of Washington, the editor of The National Era, to which she
had contributed, that she was planning a story that might run through
several numbers of the Era. The story was at once applied for, and
thereafter weekly installments were sent on regularly, in spite of all
cares and distractions. The installments were mostly written during the
morning, on a little desk in a corner of the dining-room of the cottage
in Brunswick, subject to all the interruptions of house-keeping, her
children bursting into the room continually with the importunity of
childhood. But they did not break the spell or destroy her abstraction.
With a smile and a word and a motion of the hand she would wave them
off, and keep on in her magician's work. Long afterwards they recalled
this, dimly understood at the time, and wondered at her power of
concentration. Usually at night the chapters were read to the family,
who followed the story with intense feeling. The narrative ran on for
nine months, exciting great interest among the limited readers of the
Era, and gaining sympathetic words from the anti-slavery people, but
without making any wide impression on the public.

We may pause here in the narrative to note two things: the story was not
the work of a novice, and it was written out of abundant experience and
from an immense mass of accumulated thought and material. Mrs. Stowe was
in her fortieth year. She had been using her pen since she was twelve
years old, in extensive correspondence, in occasional essays, in short
stories and sketches, some of which appeared in a volume called The
Mayflower, published in 1843, and for many years her writing for
newspapers and periodicals had added appreciably to the small family
income. She was in the maturity of her intellectual powers, she was
trained in the art of writing, and she had, as Walter Scott had when he
began the Waverley Novels at the age of forty-three, abundant store of
materials on which to draw. To be sure, she was on fire with a moral
purpose, but she had the dramatic instinct, and she felt that her object
would not be reached by writing an abolition tract.

"In shaping her material the author had but one purpose, to show the
institution of slavery truly, just as it existed. She had visited in
Kentucky; had formed the acquaintance of people who were just, upright,
and generous, and yet slave-holders. She had heard their views, and
appreciated their situation; she felt that justice required that their
difficulties should be recognized and their virtues acknowledged. It was
her object to show that the evils of slavery were the inherent evils of
a bad system, and not always the fault of those who had become involved
in it and were its actual administrators. Then she was convinced that
the presentation of slavery alone, in its most dreadful forms, would
be a picture of such unrelieved horror and darkness as nobody could be
induced to look at. Of set purpose, she sought to light up the darkness
by humorous and grotesque episodes, and the presentation of the milder
and more amusing phases of slavery, for which her recollection of the
never-failing wit and drollery of her former colored friends in Ohio
gave her abundant material."

This is her own account of the process, years after. But it is evident
that, whether consciously or unconsciously, she did but follow the
inevitable law of all great dramatic creators and true story-tellers
since literature began.

For this story Mrs. Stowe received from the Era the sum of three hundred
dollars. Before it was finished it attracted the attention of Mr. J. P.
Jewett, of Boston, a young and then unknown publisher, who offered to
issue it in book form. His offer was accepted, but as the tale ran on
he became alarmed at its length, and wrote to the author that she was
making the story too long for a one-volume novel; that the subject was
unpopular; that people would not willingly hear much about it; that one
short volume might possibly sell, but that if it grew to two that might
prove a fatal obstacle to its success. Mrs. Stowe replied that she did
not make the story, that the story made itself, and that she could not
stop it till it was done. The publisher hesitated. It is said that a
competent literary critic to whom he submitted it sat up all night with
the novel, and then reported, "The story has life in it; it will sell."
Mr. Jewett proposed to Professor Stowe to publish it on half profits if
he would share the expenses. This offer was declined, for the Stowes had
no money to advance, and the common royalty of ten per cent on the sales
was accepted.

Mrs. Stowe was not interested in this business transaction. She was
thinking only of having the book circulated for the effect she had at
heart. The intense absorption in the story held her until the virtual
end in the death of Uncle Tom, and then it seemed as if the whole vital
force had left her. She sank into a profound discouragement. Would this
appeal, which she had written with her heart's blood, go for nothing, as
all the prayers and tears and strivings had already gone? When the last
proof sheets left her hands, "it seemed to her that there was no hope;
that nobody would read, nobody would pity; that this frightful system,
which had already pursued its victims into the free States, might at
last even threaten them in Canada." Resolved to leave nothing undone to
attract attention to her cause, she wrote letters and ordered copies
of her novel sent to men of prominence who had been known for their
anti-slavery sympathies,--to Prince Albert, Macaulay, Charles Dickens,
Charles Kingsley, and Lord Carlisle. Then she waited for the result.

She had not long to wait. The success of the book was immediate. Three
thousand copies were sold the first day, within a few days ten thousand
copies had gone, on the 1st of April a second edition went to press, and
thereafter eight presses running day and night were barely able to keep
pace with the demand for it. Within a year three hundred thousand copies
were sold. No work of fiction ever spread more quickly throughout the
reading community or awakened a greater amount of public feeling. It was
read by everybody, learned and unlearned, high and low, for it was an
appeal to universal human sympathy, and the kindling of this spread the
book like wildfire. At first it seemed to go by acclamation. But this
was not altogether owing to sympathy with the theme. I believe that
it was its power as a novel that carried it largely. The community was
generally apathetic when it was not hostile to any real effort to be rid
of slavery. This presently appeared. At first there were few dissenting
voices from the chorus of praise. But when the effect of the book began
to be evident it met with an opposition fiercer and more personal than
the great wave of affectionate thankfulness which greeted it at first.
The South and the defenders and apologists of slavery everywhere were
up in arms. It was denounced in pulpit and in press, and some of the
severest things were said of it at the North. The leading religious
newspaper of the country, published in New York, declared that it was

Mrs. Stowe was twice astonished: first by its extraordinary sale, and
second by the quarter from which the assault on it came. She herself
says that her expectations were strikingly different from the facts.
"She had painted slaveholders as amiable, generous, and just. She had
shown examples among them of the noblest and most beautiful traits of
character; had admitted fully their temptations, their perplexities, and
their difficulties, so that a friend of hers who had many relatives in
the South wrote to her: 'Your book is going to be the great pacificator;
it will unite both North and South.' Her expectation was that the
professed abolitionists would denounce it as altogether too mild in
its dealings with slaveholders. To her astonishment, it was the extreme
abolitionists who received, and the entire South who rose up against

There is something almost amusing in Mrs. Stowe's honest expectation
that the deadliest blow the system ever suffered should have been
received thankfully by those whose traditions, education, and interests
were all bound up in it. And yet from her point of view it was not
altogether unreasonable. Her blackest villain and most loathsome agent
of the system, Legree, was a native of Vermont. All her wrath falls
upon the slave-traders, the auctioneers, the public whippers, and
the overseers, and all these persons and classes were detested by the
Southerners to the point of loathing, and were social outcasts. The
slave-traders and the overseers were tolerated as perhaps necessary in
the system, but they were never admitted into respectable society. This
feeling Mrs. Stowe regarded as a condemnation of the system.

Pecuniary reward was the last thing that Mrs. Stowe expected for her
disinterested labor, but it suits the world's notion of the fitness of
things that this was not altogether wanting. For the millions of copies
of Uncle Tom scattered over the world the author could expect nothing,
but in her own country her copyright yielded her a moderate return that
lifted her out of poverty and enabled her to pursue her philanthropic
and literary career. Four months after the publication of the book
Professor Stowe was in the publisher's office, and Mr. Jewett asked him
how much he expected to receive. "I hope," said Professor Stowe, with a
whimsical smile, "that it will be enough to buy my wife a silk dress."
The publisher handed him a check for ten thousand dollars.

Before Mrs. Stowe had a response to the letters accompanying the books
privately sent to England, the novel was getting known there. Its career
in Great Britain paralleled its success in America. In April a copy
reached London in the hands of a gentleman who had taken it on the
steamer to read. He gave it to Mr. Henry Vizetelly, who submitted it to
Mr. David Bogue, a man known for his shrewdness and enterprise. He took
a night to consider it, and then declined it, although it was offered
to him for five pounds. A Mr. Gilpin also declined it. It was then
submitted to Mr. Salisbury, a printer. This taster for the public sat up
with the book till four o'clock in the morning, alternately weeping
and laughing. Fearing, however, that this result was due to his
own weakness, he woke up his wife, whom he describes as a rather
strong-minded woman, and finding that the story kept her awake and made
her also laugh and cry, he thought it might safely be printed. It seems,
therefore, that Mr. Vizetelly ventured to risk five pounds, and the
volume was brought out through the nominal agency of Clarke & Company.
In the first week an edition of seven thousand was worked off. It made
no great stir until the middle of June, but during July it sold at the
rate of one thousand a week. By the 20th of August the demand for it was
overwhelming. The printing firm was then employing four hundred
people in getting it out, and seventeen printing-machines, besides
hand-presses. Already one hundred and fifty thousand copies were sold.
Mr. Vizetelly disposed of his interest, and a new printing firm began to
issue monster editions. About this time the publishers awoke to the fact
that any one was at liberty to reprint the book, and the era of cheap
literature was initiated, founded on American reprints which cost the
publisher no royalty. A shilling edition followed the one-and-sixpence,
and then one complete for sixpence. As to the total sale, Mr. Sampson
Low reports: "From April to December, 1852, twelve different editions
(not reissues) were published, and within the twelve months of its first
appearance eighteen different London publishing houses were engaged in
supplying the great demand that had set in, the total number of editions
being forty, varying from fine illustrated editions at 15s., 10s., and
7s. 6d. to the cheap popular editions of 1s. 9d. and 6d. After carefully
analyzing these editions and weighing probabilities with ascertained
facts, I am able pretty confidently to say that the aggregate number of
copies circulated in Great Britain and the colonies exceeds one and a
half millions." Later, abridgments were published.

Almost simultaneously with this furor in England the book made its way
on the Continent. Several translations appeared in Germany and France,
and for the authorized French edition Mrs. Stowe wrote a new preface,
which served thereafter for most of the European editions. I find
no record of the order of the translations of the book into foreign
languages, but those into some of the Oriental tongues did not
appear till several years after the great excitement. The ascertained
translations are into twenty-three tongues, namely: Arabic, Armenian,
Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Hungarian,
Illyrian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, modern Greek, Russian,
Servian, Siamese, Spanish, Swedish, Wallachian, and Welsh. Into some
of these languages several translations were made. In 1878 the British
Museum contained thirty-five editions of the original text, and eight
editions of abridgments or adaptations.

The story was dramatized in the United States in August, 1852, without
the consent or knowledge of the author, and was played most successfully
in the leading cities, and subsequently was acted in every capital in
Europe. Mrs. Stowe had neglected to secure the dramatic rights, and
she derived no benefit from the great popularity of a drama which still
holds the stage. From the phenomenal sale of a book which was literally
read by the whole world, the author received only the ten per cent on
the American editions, and by the laws of her own country her copyright
expired before her death.

The narrative of the rise and fortunes of this book would be incomplete
without some reference to the response that the author received from
England and the Continent, and of her triumphant progress through the
British Isles. Her letters accompanying the special copies were almost
immediately replied to, generally in terms of enthusiastic and fervent
thankfulness for the book, and before midsummer her mail contained
letters from all classes of English society. In some of them appeared
a curious evidence of the English sensitiveness to criticism. Lord
Carlisle and Sir Arthur Helps supplemented their admiration by a protest
against the remark in the mouth of one of the characters that "slaves
are better off than a large class of the population of England." This
occurred in the defense of the institution by St. Clare, but it was
treated by the British correspondents as the opinion of Mrs. Stowe.
The charge was disposed of in Mrs. Stowe's reply: "The remark on that
subject occurs in the dramatic part of the book, in the mouth of an
intelligent Southerner. As a fair-minded person, bound to state for both
sides all that could be said, in the person of St. Clare, the best
that could be said on that point, and what I know IS in fact constantly
reiterated, namely, that the laboring class of the South are in many
respects, as to physical comfort, in a better condition than the poor
in England. This is the slaveholder's stereo-typed apology; a defense it
cannot be, unless two wrongs make one right."

In April, 1853, Mr. and Mrs. Stowe and the latter's brother, Charles
Beecher, sailed for Europe. Her reception there was like a royal
progress. She was met everywhere by deputations and addresses, and
the enthusiasm her presence called forth was thoroughly democratic,
extending from the highest in rank to the lowest. At Edinburgh there
was presented to her a national penny offering, consisting of a thousand
golden sovereigns on a magnificent silver salver, an unsolicited
contribution in small sums by the people.

At a reception in Stafford House, London, the Duchess of Sutherland
presented her with a massive gold bracelet, which has an interesting
history. It is made of ten oval links in imitation of slave fetters. On
two of the links were the inscriptions "March 25, 1807," the date of
the abolition of the slave-trade, and "August 1, 1838," the date of the
abolition of slavery in all British territory. The third inscription
is "562,848--March 19, 1853," the date of the address of the women of
England to the women of America on slavery, and the number of the women
who signed. It was Mrs. Stowe's privilege to add to these inscriptions
the following: "Emancipation D. C. Apl. 16, '62;" "President's
Proclamation Jan. 1, '63;" "Maryland free Oct. 13, '64;" "Missouri free
Jan. 11, '65;" and on the clasp link, "Constitution amended by Congress
Jan. 31, '65. Constitutional Amendment ratified." Two of the links are
vacant. What will the progress of civilization in America offer for the
links nine and ten?

One of the most remarkable documents which resulted from Uncle Tom
was an address from the women of England to the women of America,
acknowledging the complicity in slavery of England, but praying aid in
removing from the world "our common crimes and common dishonor," which
was presented to Mrs. Stowe in 1853. It was the result of a meeting at
Stafford House, and the address, composed by Lord Shaftesbury, was put
into the hands of canvassers in England and on the Continent, and as far
as Jerusalem. The signatures of 562,848 women were obtained, with their
occupations and residences, from the nobility on the steps of the throne
down to maids in the kitchen. The address is handsomely engrossed on
vellum. The names are contained in twenty-six massive volumes, each
fourteen inches high by nine in breadth and three inches thick, inclosed
in an oak case. It is believed that this is the most numerously signed
address in existence. The value of the address, with so many names
collected in haphazard fashion, was much questioned, but its use was
apparent in the height of the civil war, when Mrs. Stowe replied to it
in one of the most vigorous and noble appeals that ever came from her
pen. This powerful reply made a profound impression in England.

This is in brief the story of the book. It is still read, and read the
world over, with tears and with laughter; it is still played to excited
audiences. Is it a great novel, or was it only an event of an era of
agitation and passion? Has it the real dramatic quality--the poet's
visualizing of human life--that makes works of fiction, of imagination,
live? Till recently, I had not read the book since 1852. I feared to
renew acquaintance with it lest I should find only the shell of an
exploded cartridge. I took it up at the beginning of a three-hours'
railway journey. To my surprise the journey did not seem to last half an
hour, and half the time I could not keep back the tears from my eyes. A
London critic, full of sympathy with Mrs. Stowe and her work, recently
said, "Yet she was not an artist, she was not a great woman." What is
greatness? What is art? In 1862 probably no one who knew General Grant
would have called him a great man. But he took Vicksburg. This woman did
something with her pen,--on the whole, the most remarkable and effective
book in her generation. How did she do it? Without art? George Sand
said, "In matters of art there is but one rule, to paint and to move.
And where shall we find conditions more complete, types more vivid,
situations more touching, more original, than in Uncle Tom?" If there
is not room in our art for such a book, I think we shall have to stretch
our art a little. "Women, too, are here judged and painted with a master
hand." This subtle critic, in her overpoweringly tender and enthusiastic
review, had already inquired about the capacity of this writer. "Mrs.
Stowe is all instinct; it is the very reason that she appears to
some not to have talent. Has she not talent? What is talent? Nothing,
doubtless, compared to genius; but has she genius? I cannot say that she
has talent as one understands it in the world of letters, but she has
genius as humanity feels the need of genius,--the genius of goodness,
not that of the man of letters, but of the saint." It is admitted that
Mrs. Stowe was not a woman of letters in the common acceptation of that
term, and it is plain that in the French tribunal, where form is of
the substance of the achievement, and which reluctantly overlooked the
crudeness of Walter Scott, in France where the best English novel seems
a violation of established canons, Uncle Tom would seem to belong where
some modern critics place it, with works of the heart, and not of the
head. The reviewer is, however, candid: "For a long time we have striven
in France against the prolix explanations of Walter Scott. We have cried
out against those of Balzac, but on consideration have perceived that
the painter of manners and character has never done too much, that every
stroke of the pencil was needed for the general effect. Let us learn
then to appreciate all kinds of treatment, where the effect is good, and
where they bear the seal of a master hand."

It must be admitted to the art critic that the book is defective
according to the rules of the modern French romance; that Mrs. Stowe
was possessed by her subject, and let her fervid interest in it be felt;
that she had a definite purpose. That purpose was to quicken the sense
of responsibility of the North by showing the real character of slavery,
and to touch the South by showing that the inevitable wrong of it lay in
the system rather than in those involved in it. Abundant material was in
her hands, and the author burned to make it serviceable. What should she
do? She might have done what she did afterwards in The Key, presented to
the public a mass of statistics, of legal documents. The evidence would
have been unanswerable, but the jury might not have been moved by
it; they would have balanced it by considerations of political and
commercial expediency. I presume that Mrs. Stowe made no calculation of
this kind. She felt her course, and went on in it. What would an artist
have done, animated by her purpose and with her material? He would have
done what Cervantes did, what Tourgenieff did, what Mrs. Stowe did. He
would have dramatized his facts in living personalities, in effective
scenes, in vivid pictures of life. Mrs. Stowe exhibited the system of
slavery by a succession of dramatized pictures, not always artistically
welded together, but always effective as an exhibition of the system.
Cervantes also showed a fading feudal romantic condition by a series
of amusing and pathetic adventures, grouped rather loosely about a
singularly fascinating figure.

Tourgenieff, a more consummate artist, in his hunting scenes exhibited
the effect of serfdom upon society, in a series of scenes with no
necessary central figure, without comment, and with absolute concealment
of any motive. I believe the three writers followed their instincts,
without an analytic argument as to the method, as the great painter
follows his when he puts an idea upon canvas. He may invent a theory
about it afterwards; if he does not, some one else will invent it for
him. There are degrees of art. One painter will put in unnecessary
accessories, another will exhibit his sympathy too openly, the technique
or the composition of another can be criticised. But the question is, is
the picture great and effective?

Mrs. Stowe had not Tourgenieff's artistic calmness. Her mind was fused
into a white heat with her message. Yet, how did she begin her story?
Like an artist, by a highly dramatized scene, in which the actors, by
a few strokes of the pen, appear as distinct and unmistakable
personalities, marked by individual peculiarities of manner, speech,
motive, character, living persons in natural attitudes. The reader
becomes interested in a shrewd study of human nature, of a section
of life, with its various refinement, coarseness, fastidiousness and
vulgarity, its humor and pathos. As he goes on he discovers that every
character has been perfectly visualized, accurately limned from the
first; that a type has been created which remains consistent, which is
never deflected from its integrity by any exigencies of plot. This clear
conception of character (not of earmarks and peculiarities adopted as
labels), and faithful adhesion to it in all vicissitudes, is one of the
rarest and highest attributes of genius. All the chief characters in the
book follow this line of absolutely consistent development, from Uncle
Tom and Legree down to the most aggravating and contemptible of all,
Marie St. Clare. The selfish and hysterical woman has never been so
faithfully depicted by any other author.

Distinguished as the novel is by its character-drawing and its pathos,
I doubt if it would have captivated the world without its humor. This
is of the old-fashioned kind, the large humor of Scott, and again of
Cervantes, not verbal pleasantry, not the felicities of Lamb, but
the humor of character in action, of situations elaborated with great
freedom, and with what may be called a hilarious conception. This
quality is never wanting in the book, either for the reader's
entertainment by the way, or to heighten the pathos of the narrative by
contrast. The introduction of Topsy into the New Orleans household saves
us in the dangerous approach to melodrama in the religious passages
between Tom and St. Clare. Considering the opportunities of the subject,
the book has very little melodrama; one is apt to hear low music on the
entrance of little Eva, but we are convinced of the wholesome sanity of
the sweet child. And it is to be remarked that some of the most exciting
episodes, such as that of Eliza crossing the Ohio River on the floating
ice (of which Mr. Ruskin did not approve), are based upon authentic
occurrences. The want of unity in construction of which the critics
complain is partially explained by the necessity of exhibiting the
effect of slavery in its entirety. The parallel plots, one running
to Louisiana and the other to Canada, are tied together by this
consideration, and not by any real necessity to each other.

There is no doubt that Mrs. Stowe was wholly possessed by her theme,
rapt away like a prophet in a vision, and that, in her feeling at the
time, it was written through her quite as much as by her. This idea
grew upon her mind in the retrospective light of the tremendous stir the
story made in the world, so that in her later years she came to regard
herself as a providential instrument, and frankly to declare that she
did not write the book; "God wrote it." In her own account, when she
reached the death of Uncle Tom, "the whole vital force left her."
The inspiration there left her, and the end of the story, the weaving
together of all the loose ends of the plot, in the joining together
almost by miracle the long separated, and the discovery of the
relationships, is the conscious invention of the novelist.

It would be perhaps going beyond the province of the critic to remark
upon what the author considered the central power of the story, and
its power to move the world, the faith of Uncle Tom in the Bible.
This appeal to the emotion of millions of readers cannot, however, be
overlooked. Many regard the book as effective in regions remote from our
perplexities by reason of this grace. When the work was translated into
Siamese, the perusal of it by one of the ladies of the court induced her
to liberate all her slaves, men, women, and children, one hundred and
thirty in all. "Hidden Perfume," for that was the English equivalent of
her name, said she was wishful to be good like Harriet Beecher Stowe.
And as to the standpoint of Uncle Tom and the Bible, nothing more
significant can be cited than this passage from one of the latest
writings of Heinrich Heine:--

"The reawakening of my religious feelings I owe to that holy book the
Bible. Astonishing that after I have whirled about all my life over all
the dance-floors of philosophy, and yielded myself to all the orgies of
the intellect, and paid my addresses to all possible systems, without
satisfaction like Messalina after a licentious night, I now find myself
on the same standpoint where poor Uncle Tom stands,--on that of the
Bible! I kneel down by my black brother in the same prayer! What a
humiliation! With all my science I have come no further than the poor
ignorant negro who has scarce learned to spell. Poor Tom, indeed, seems
to have seen deeper things in the holy book than I.... Tom, perhaps,
understands them better than I, because more flogging occurs in
them; that is to say, those ceaseless blows of the whip which have
aesthetically disgusted me in reading the Gospels and the Acts. But a
poor negro slave reads with his back, and understands better than we
do. But I, who used to make citations from Homer, now begin to quote the
Bible as Uncle Tom does."

The one indispensable requisite of a great work of imaginative fiction
is its universality, its conception and construction so that it will
appeal to universal human nature in all races and situations and
climates. Uncle Tom's Cabin does that. Considering certain artistic
deficiencies, which the French writers perceived, we might say that it
was the timeliness of its theme that gave it currency in England and
America. But that argument falls before the world-wide interest in it
as a mere story, in so many languages, by races unaffected by our own
relation to slavery.

It was the opinion of James Russell Lowell that the anti-slavery element
in Uncle Tom and Dred stood in the way of a full appreciation, at least
in her own country, of the remarkable genius of Mrs. Stowe. Writing in
1859, he said, "From my habits and the tendency of my studies I cannot
help looking at things purely from an aesthetic point of view, and what
I valued in Uncle Tom was the genius, and not the moral." This had been
his impression when he read the book in Paris, long after the whirl of
excitement produced by its publication had subsided, and far removed by
distance from local influences. Subsequently, in a review, he wrote, "We
felt then, and we believe now, that the secret of Mrs. Stowe's power lay
in that same genius by which the great successes in creative literature
have always been achieved,--the genius that instinctively goes to the
organic elements of human nature, whether under a white skin or a black,
and which disregards as trivial the conventions and fictitious notions
which make so large a part both of our thinking and feeling.... The
creative faculty of Mrs. Stowe, like that of Cervantes in Don Quixote
and of Fielding in Joseph Andrews, overpowered the narrow specialty
of her design, and expanded a local and temporary theme with the
cosmopolitanism of genius."

A half-century is not much in the life of a people; it is in time an
inadequate test of the staying power of a book. Nothing is more futile
than prophecy on contemporary literary work. It is safe, however, to say
that Uncle Tom's Cabin has the fundamental qualities, the sure insight
into human nature, and the fidelity to the facts of its own time which
have from age to age preserved works of genius.


Berween me and the other world there is ever an unasked question:
unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the
difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it.
They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or
compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel
to be a problem? they say, I know an excellent colored man in my town;
or, I fought at Mechanicsville; or, Do not these Southern outrages
make your blood boil? At these I smile, or am interested, or reduce the
boiling to a simmer, as the occasion may require. To the real question,
How does it feel to be a problem? I answer seldom a word.

And yet, being a problem is a strange experience,--peculiar even for
one who has never been anything else, save perhaps in babyhood and
in Europe. It is in the early days of rollicking boyhood that the
revelation first bursts upon one, all in a day, as it were. I remember
well when the shadow swept across me. I was a little thing, away up in
the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac
and Taghanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put
it into the boys' and girls' heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards--ten
cents a package--and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a
tall newcomer, refused my card,--refused it peremptorily, with a glance.
Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different
from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but
shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to
tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common
contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great
wandering shadows. That sky was bluest when I could beat my mates
at examination-time, or beat them at a foot-race, or even beat their
stringy heads. Alas, with the years all this fine contempt began to
fade; for the world I longed for, and all its dazzling opportunities,
were theirs, not mine. But they should not keep these prizes, I said;
some, all, I would wrest from them. Just how I would do it I could never
decide: by reading law, by healing the sick, by telling the wonderful
tales that swam in my head,--some way. With other black boys the strife
was not so fiercely sunny: their youth shrunk into tasteless sycophancy,
or into silent hatred of the pale world about them and mocking distrust
of everything white; or wasted itself in a bitter cry. Why did God
make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? The "shades of the
prison-house" closed round about us all: walls strait and stubborn to
the whitest, but relentlessly narrow, tall, and unscalable to sons of
night who must plod darkly on in resignation, or beat unavailing palms
against the stone, or steadily, half hopelessly watch the streak of blue

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and
Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and
gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields
him no self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through
the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this
double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through
the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that
looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,--an
American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings;
two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps
it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the
history of this strife,--this longing to attain self-conscious manhood,
to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging
he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to
Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and
Africa; he does not wish to bleach his Negro blood in a flood of white
Americanism, for he believes--foolishly, perhaps, but fervently--that
Negro blood has yet a message for the world. He simply wishes to make
it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American without being
cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without losing the opportunity of

This is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of
culture, to escape both death and isolation, and to husband and use his
best powers. These powers, of body and of mind, have in the past been
so wasted and dispersed as to lose all effectiveness, and to seem like
absence of all power, like weakness. The double-aimed struggle of the
black artisan, on the one hand to escape white contempt for a nation
of mere hewers of wood and drawers of water, and on the other hand to
plough and nail and dig for a poverty-stricken horde, could only result
in making him a poor craftsman, for he had but half a heart in either
cause. By the poverty and ignorance of his people the Negro lawyer or
doctor was pushed toward quackery and demagogism, and by the criticism
of the other world toward an elaborate preparation that overfitted him
for his lowly tasks. The would-be black savant was confronted by the
paradox that the knowledge his people needed was a twice-told tale to
his white neighbors, while the knowledge which would teach the white
world was Greek to his own flesh and blood. The innate love of harmony
and beauty that set the ruder souls of his people a-dancing, a-singing,
and a-laughing raised but confusion and doubt in the soul of the black
artist; for the beauty revealed to him was the soul-beauty of a race
which his larger audience despised, and he could not articulate the
message of another people.

This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled
ideals, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of
eight thousand thousand people, has sent them often wooing false gods
and invoking false means of salvation, and has even at times seemed
destined to make them ashamed of themselves. In the days of bondage
they thought to see in one divine event the end of all doubt and
disappointment; eighteenth-century Rousseauism never worshiped freedom
with half the unquestioning faith that the American Negro did for two
centuries. To him slavery was, indeed, the sum of all villainies, the
cause of all sorrow, the root of all prejudice; emancipation was the key
to a promised land of sweeter beauty than ever stretched before the
eyes of wearied Israelites. In his songs and exhortations swelled
one refrain, liberty; in his tears and curses the god he implored had
freedom in his right hand. At last it came,--suddenly, fearfully, like
a dream. With one wild carnival of blood and passion came the message in
his own plaintive cadences:--

     "Shout, O children!
      Shout, you're free!
     The Lord has bought your liberty!"

Years have passed away, ten, twenty, thirty. Thirty years of national
life, thirty years of renewal and development, and yet the swarthy ghost
of Banquo sits in its old place at the national feast. In vain does the
nation cry to its vastest problem,--

"Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves Shall never tremble!"

The freedman has not yet found in freedom his promised land. Whatever of
lesser good may have come in these years of change, the shadow of a deep
disappointment rests upon the Negro people,--a disappointment all the
more bitter because the unattained ideal was unbounded save by the
simple ignorance of a lowly folk.

The first decade was merely a prolongation of the vain search for
freedom, the boom that seemed ever barely to elude their grasp,--like
a tantalizing will-o'-the-wisp, maddening and misleading the headless
host. The holocaust of war, the terrors of the Kuklux Klan, the lies of
carpet-baggers, the disorganization of industry, and the contradictory
advice of friends and foes left the bewildered serf with no new
watchword beyond the old cry for freedom. As the decade closed, however,
he began to grasp a new idea. The ideal of liberty demanded for its
attainment powerful means, and these the Fifteenth Amendment gave
him. The ballot, which before he had looked upon as a visible sign of
freedom, he now regarded as the chief means of gaining and perfecting
the liberty with which war had partially endowed him. And why not? Had
not votes made war and emancipated millions? Had not votes enfranchised
the freedmen? Was anything impossible to a power that had done all this?
A million black men started with renewed zeal to vote themselves
into the kingdom. The decade fled away,--a decade containing, to the
freedman's mind, nothing but suppressed votes, stuffed ballot-boxes, and
election outrages that nullified his vaunted right of suffrage. And yet
that decade from 1875 to 1885 held another powerful movement, the rise
of another ideal to guide the unguided, another pillar of fire by night
after a clouded day. It was the ideal of "book-learning;" the curiosity,
born of compulsory ignorance, to know and test the power of the
cabalistic letters of the white man, the longing to know. Mission
and night schools began in the smoke of battle, ran the gauntlet of
reconstruction, and at last developed into permanent foundations. Here
at last seemed to have been discovered the mountain path to Canaan;
longer than the highway of emancipation and law, steep and rugged, but
straight, leading to heights high enough to overlook life.

Up the new path the advance guard toiled, slowly, heavily, doggedly;
only those who have watched and guided the faltering feet, the misty
minds, the dull understandings of the dark pupils of these schools know
how faithfully, how piteously, this people strove to learn. It was weary
work. The cold statistician wrote down the inches of progress here and
there, noted also where here and there a foot had slipped or some one
had fallen. To the tired climbers, the horizon was ever dark, the mists
were often cold, the Canaan was always dim and far away. If, however,
the vistas disclosed as yet no goal, no resting-place, little but
flattery and criticism, the journey at least gave leisure for reflection
and self-examination; it changed the child of emancipation to the youth
with dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect. In
those sombre forests of his striving his own soul rose before him, and
he saw himself,--darkly as through a veil; and yet he saw in himself
some faint revelation of his power, of his mission. He began to have a
dim feeling that, to attain his place in the world, he must be himself,
and not another. For the first time he sought to analyze the burden he
bore upon his back, that dead-weight of social degradation partially
masked behind a half-named Negro problem. He felt his poverty; without
a cent, without a home, without land, tools, or savings, he had entered
into competition with rich, landed, skilled neighbors. To be a poor man
is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom
of hardships. He felt the weight of his ignorance,--not simply of
letters, but of life, of business, of the humanities; the accumulated
sloth and shirking and awkwardness of decades and centuries shackled his
hands and feet. Nor was his burden all poverty and ignorance. The red
stain of bastardy, which two centuries of systematic legal defilement
of Negro women had stamped upon his race, meant not only the loss of
ancient African chastity, but also the hereditary weight of a mass of
filth from white whoremongers and adulterers, threatening almost the
obliteration of the Negro home.

A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world,
but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social
problems. But alas! while sociologists gleefully count his bastards and
his prostitutes, the very soul of the toiling, sweating black man is
darkened by the shadow of a vast despair. Men call the shadow prejudice,
and learnedly explain it as the natural defense of culture against
barbarism, learning against ignorance, purity against crime, the
"higher" against the "lower" races. To which the Negro cries Amen! and
swears that to so much of this strange prejudice as is founded on just
homage to civilization, culture, righteousness, and progress he humbly
bows and meekly does obeisance. But before that nameless prejudice
that leaps beyond all this he stands helpless, dismayed, and well-nigh
speechless; before that personal disrespect and mockery, the ridicule
and systematic humiliation, the distortion of fact and wanton license
of fancy, the cynical ignoring of the better and boisterous welcoming of
the worse, the all-pervading desire to inculcate disdain for everything
black, from Toussaint to the devil,--before this there rises a sickening
despair that would disarm and discourage any nation save that black host
to whom "discouragement" is an unwritten word.

They still press on, they still nurse the dogged hope,--not a hope
of nauseating patronage, not a hope of reception into charmed social
circles of stock-jobbers, pork-packers, and earl-hunters, but the hope
of a higher synthesis of civilization and humanity, a true progress,
with which the chorus

    "Peace, good will to men,"
    "May make one music as before,
     But vaster."

Thus the second decade of the American Negro's freedom was a period of
conflict, of inspiration and doubt, of faith and vain questionings, of
Sturm and Drang. The ideals of physical freedom, of political power, of
school training, as separate all-sufficient panaceas for social ills,
became in the third decade dim and overcast. They were the vain dreams
of credulous race childhood; not wrong, but incomplete and over-simple.
The training of the schools we need to-day more than ever,--the training
of deft hands, quick eyes and ears, and the broader, deeper, higher
culture of gifted minds. The power of the ballot we need in sheer
self-defense, and as a guarantee of good faith. We may misuse it, but
we can scarce do worse in this respect than our whilom masters. Freedom,
too, the long-sought, we still seek,--the freedom of life and limb, the
freedom to work and think. Work, culture, and liberty,--all these we
need, not singly, but together; for to-day these ideals among the Negro
people are gradually coalescing, and finding a higher meaning in the
unifying ideal of race,--the ideal of fostering the traits and talents
of the Negro, not in opposition to, but in conformity with, the greater
ideals of the American republic, in order that some day, on American
soil, two world races may give each to each those characteristics which
both so sadly lack. Already we come not altogether empty-handed: there
is to-day no true American music but the sweet wild melodies of the
Negro slave; the American fairy tales are Indian and African; we are the
sole oasis of simple faith and reverence in a dusty desert of dollars
and smartness. Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal,
dyspeptic blundering with the light-hearted but determined Negro
humility; or her coarse, cruel wit with loving, jovial good humor; or
her Annie Rooney with Steal Away?

Merely a stern concrete test of the underlying principles of the
great republic is the Negro problem, and the spiritual striving of the
freedmen's sons is the travail of souls whose burden is almost beyond
the measure of their strength, but who bear it in the name of an
historic race, in the name of this land of their fathers' fathers, and
in the name of human opportunity.

THE WIFE OF HIS YOUTH by Charles W. Chesnutt


Mr. Ryder was going to give a ball. There were several reasons why this
was an opportune time for such an event.

Mr. Ryder might aptly be called the dean of the Blue Veins. The original
Blue Veins were a little society of colored persons organized in
a certain Northern city shortly after the war. Its purpose was to
establish and maintain correct social standards among a people whose
social condition presented almost unlimited room for improvement. By
accident, combined perhaps with some natural affinity, the society
consisted of individuals who were, generally speaking, more white
than black. Some envious outsider made the suggestion that no one was
eligible for membership who was not white enough to show blue veins. The
suggestion was readily adopted by those who were not of the favored few,
and since that time the society, though possessing a longer and
more pretentious name, had been known far and wide as the "Blue Vein
Society," and its members as the "Blue Veins."

The Blue Veins did not allow that any such requirement existed for
admission to their circle, but, on the contrary, declared that character
and culture were the only things considered; and that if most of their
members were light-colored, it was because such persons, as a rule, had
had better opportunities to qualify themselves for membership. Opinions
differed, too, as to the usefulness of the society. There were those who
had been known to assail it violently as a glaring example of the very
prejudice from which the colored race had suffered most; and later, when
such critics had succeeded in getting on the inside, they had been heard
to maintain with zeal and earnestness that the society was a life-boat,
an anchor, a bulwark and a shield, a pillar of cloud by day and of fire
by night, to guide their people through the social wilderness. Another
alleged prerequisite for Blue Vein membership was that of free birth;
and while there was really no such requirement, it is doubtless true
that very few of the members would have been unable to meet it if there
had been. If there were one or two of the older members who had come up
from the South and from slavery, their history presented enough romantic
circumstances to rob their servile origin of its grosser aspects. While
there were no such tests of eligibility, it is true that the Blue Veins
had their notions on these subjects, and that not all of them were
equally liberal in regard to the things they collectively disclaimed.
Mr. Ryder was one of the most conservative. Though he had not been
among the founders of the society, but had come in some years later, his
genius for social leadership was such that he had speedily become its
recognized adviser and head, the custodian of its standards, and the
preserver of its traditions. He shaped its social policy, was active in
providing for its entertainment, and when the interest fell off, as
it sometimes did, he fanned the embers until they burst again into a
cheerful flame. There were still other reasons for his popularity. While
he was not as white as some of the Blue Veins, his appearance was such
as to confer distinction upon them. His features were of a refined type,
his hair was almost straight; he was always neatly dressed; his manners
were irreproachable, and his morals above suspicion. He had come to
Groveland a young man, and obtaining employment in the office of a
railroad company as messenger had in time worked himself up to the
position of stationery clerk, having charge of the distribution of
the office supplies for the whole company. Although the lack of early
training had hindered the orderly development of a naturally fine mind,
it had not prevented him from doing a great deal of reading or from
forming decidedly literary tastes. Poetry was his passion. He could
repeat whole pages of the great English poets; and if his pronunciation
was sometimes faulty, his eye, his voice, his gestures, would respond to
the changing sentiment with a precision that revealed a poetic soul, and
disarm criticism. He was economical, and had saved money; he owned and
occupied a very comfortable house on a respectable street. His residence
was handsomely furnished, containing among other things a good library,
especially rich in poetry, a piano, and some choice engravings. He
generally shared his house with some young couple, who looked after his
wants and were company for him; for Mr. Ryder was a single man. In the
early days of his connection with the Blue Veins he had been regarded
as quite a catch, and ladies and their mothers had manoeuvred with much
ingenuity to capture him. Not, however, until Mrs. Molly Dixon visited
Groveland had any woman ever made him wish to change his condition to
that of a married man.

Mrs. Dixon had come to Groveland from Washington in the spring, and
before the summer was over she had won Mr. Ryder's heart. She possessed
many attractive qualities. She was much younger than he; in fact, he was
old enough to have been her father, though no one knew exactly how old
he was. She was whiter than he, and better educated. She had moved in
the best colored society of the country, at Washington, and had taught
in the schools of that city. Such a superior person had been eagerly
welcomed to the Blue Vein Society, and had taken a leading part in
its activities. Mr. Ryder had at first been attracted by her charms of
person, for she was very good looking and not over twenty-five; then by
her refined manners and by the vivacity of her wit. Her husband had
been a government clerk, and at his death had left a considerable life
insurance. She was visiting friends in Groveland, and, finding the town
and the people to her liking, had prolonged her stay indefinitely. She
had not seemed displeased at Mr. Ryder's attentions, but on the contrary
had given him every proper encouragement; indeed, a younger and less
cautious man would long since have spoken. But he had made up his mind,
and had only to determine the time when he would ask her to be his wife.
He decided to give a ball in her honor, and at some time during the
evening of the ball to offer her his heart and hand. He had no special
fears about the outcotme, but, with a little touch of romance, he wanted
the surroundings to be in harmony with his own feelings when he should
have received the answer he expected.

Mr. Ryder resolved that this ball should mark an epoch in the
social history of Groveland. He knew, of course,--no one could know
better,--the entertainments that had taken place in past years, and what
must be done to surpass them. His ball must be worthy of the lady in
whose honor it was to be given, and must, by the quality of its guests,
set an example for the future. He had observed of late a growing
liberality, almost a laxity, in social matters, even among members of
his own set, and had several times been forced to meet in a social way
persons whose complexions and callings in life were hardly up to the
standard which he considered proper for the society to maintain. He had
a theory of his own.

"I have no race prejudice," he would say, "but we people of mixed blood
are ground between the upper and the nether millstone. Our fate lies
between absorption by the white race and extinction in the black.
The one doesn't want us yet, but may take us in time. The other would
welcome us, but it would be for us a backward step. 'With malice towards
none, with charity for all,' we must do the best we can for ourselves
and those who are to follow us. Self-preservation is the first law of

His ball would serve by its exclusiveness to counteract leveling
tendencies, and his marriage with Mrs. Dixon would help to further the
upward process of absorption he had been wishing and waiting for.


The ball was to take place on Friday night. The house had been put in
order, the carpets covered with canvas, the halls and stairs decorated
with palms and potted plants; and in the afternoon Mr. Ryder sat on his
front porch, which the shade of a vine running up over a wire netting
made a cool and pleasant lounging-place. He expected to respond to the
toast "The Ladies," at the supper, and from a volume of Tennyson--his
favorite poet--was fortifying himself with apt quotations. The volume
was open at A Dream of Fair Women. His eyes fell on these lines, and he
read them aloud to judge better of their effect:--

"At length I saw a lady within call. Stiller than chisell'd marble,
standing there; A daughter of the gods, divinely tall, And most divinely

He marked the verse, and turning the page read the stanza beginning,--

   "O sweet pale Margaret,
    O rare pale Margaret."

He weighed the passage a moment, and decided that it would not do. Mrs.
Dixon was the palest lady he expected at the ball, and she was of a
rather ruddy complexion, and of lively disposition and buxom build. So
he ran over the leaves until his eye rested on the description of Queen

    "She seem'd a part of joyous Spring:
   A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
   Buckled with golden clasps before;
   A light-green tuft of plumes she bore
     Closed in a golden ring.

  . . . . . . . . . .

  "She look'd so lovely, as she sway'd
     The rein with dainty finger-tips,
   A man had given all other bliss,
   And all his worldly worth for this,
   To waste his whole heart in one kiss
     Upon her perfect lips."

As Mr. Ryder murmured these words audibly, with an appreciative thrill,
he heard the latch of his gate click, and a light footfall sounding on
the steps. He turned his head, and saw a woman standing before the door.

She was a little woman, not five feet tall, and proportioned to her
height. Although she stood erect, and looked around her with very bright
and restless eyes, she seemed quite old; for her face was crossed and
recrossed with a hundred wrinkles, and around the edges of her bonnet
could be seen protruding here and there a tuft of short gray wool. She
wore a blue calico gown of ancient cut, a little red shawl fastened
around her shoulders with an old-fashioned brass brooch, and a large
bonnet profusely ornamented with faded red and yellow artificial
flowers. And she was very black--so black that her toothless gums,
revealed when she opened her mouth to speak, were not red, but blue. She
looked like a bit of the old plantation life, summoned up from the past
by the wave of a magician's wand, as the poet's fancy had called into
being the gracious shapes of which Mr. Ryder had just been reading.

He rose from his chair and came over to where she stood.

"Good-afternoon, madam," he said.

"Good-evenin', suh," she answered, ducking suddenly with a quaint
curtsy. Her voice was shrill and piping, but softened somewhat by age.
"Is dis yere whar Mistuh Ryduh lib, suh?" she asked, looking around her
doubtfully, and glancing into the open windows, through which some of
the preparations for the evening were visible.

"Yes," he replied, with an air of kindly patronage, unconsciously
flattered by her manner, "I am Mr. Ryder. Did you want to see me?"

"Yas, suh, ef I ain't 'sturbin' of you too much."

"Not at all. Have a seat over here behind the vine, where it is cool.
What can I do for you?"

"'Scuse me, suh," she continued, when she had sat down on the edge of
a chair, "'scuse me, suh, I's lookin' for my husban'. I heerd you wuz a
big man an' had libbed heah a long time, an' I 'lowed you wouldn't min'
ef I'd come roun' an' ax you ef you'd eber heerd of a merlatter man by
de name er Sam Taylor 'quirin' roun' in de chu'ches ermongs' de people
fer his wife 'Liza Jane?"

Mr. Ryder seemed to think for a moment.

"There used to be many such cases right after the war," he said, "but it
has been so long that I have forgotten them. There are very few now. But
tell me your story, and it may refresh my memory."

She sat back farther in her chair so as to be more comfortable, and
folded her withered hands in her lap.

"My name's 'Liza," she began, "'Liza Jane. Wen I wuz young I us'ter
b'long ter Marse Bob Smif, down in old Missourn. I wuz bawn down dere.
W'en I wuz a gal I wuz married ter a man named Jim. But Jim died, an'
after dat I married a merlatter man named Sam Taylor. Sam wuz free-bawn,
but his mammy and daddy died, an' de w'ite folks 'prenticed him ter my
marster fer ter work fer 'im 'tel he wuz growed up. Sam worked in
de fiel', an' I wuz de cook. One day Ma'y Ann, ole miss's maid, come
rushin' out ter de kitchen, an' says she, ''Liza Jane, ole marse gwine
sell yo' Sam down de ribber.'

"'Go way f'm yere,' says I; 'my husban's free!'

"'Don' make no diff'ence. I heerd ole marse tell ole miss he wuz gwine
take yo' Sam 'way wid 'im ter-morrow, fer he needed money, an' he knowed
whar he could git a t'ousan' dollars fer Sam an' no questions axed.'

"W'en Sam come home f'm de fiel', dat night, I tole him 'bout ole marse
gwine steal 'im, an' Sam run erway. His time wuz mos' up, an' he swo'
dat w'en he wuz twenty-one he would come back an' he'p me run erway, er
else save up de money ter buy my freedom. An' I know he'd 'a' done it,
fer he thought a heap er me, Sam did. But w'en he come back he didn'
fin' me, fer I wuzn' dere. Ole marse had heerd dat I warned Sam, so he
had me whip' an' sol' down de ribber.

"Den de wah broke out, an' w'en it wuz ober de cullud folks wuz
scattered. I went back ter de ole home; but Sam wuzn' dere, an' I
couldn' l'arn nuffin' 'bout 'im. But I knowed he'd be'n dere to look fer
me an' hadn' foun' me, an' had gone erway ter hunt fer me.

"I's be'n lookin' fer 'im eber sence," she added simply, as though
twenty-five years were but a couple of weeks, "an' I knows he's be'n
lookin' fer me. Fer he sot a heap er sto' by me, Sam did, an' I know
he's be'n huntin' fer me all dese years,--'less'n he's be'n sick er
sump'n, so he couldn' work, er out'n his head, so he couldn' 'member his
promise. I went back down de ribber, fer I 'lowed he'd gone down dere
lookin' fer me. I's be'n ter Noo Orleens, an' Atlanty, an' Charleston,
an' Richmon'; an' w'en I'd be'n all ober de Souf I come ter de Norf. Fer
I knows I'll fin' 'im some er dese days," she added softly, "er he'll
fin' me, an' den we'll bofe be as happy in freedom as we wuz in de ole
days befo' de wah." A smile stole over her withered countenance as she
paused a moment, and her bright eyes softened into a far-away look.

This was the substance of the old woman's story. She had wandered a
little here and there. Mr. Ryder was looking at her curiously when she

"How have you lived all these years?" he asked.

"Cookin', suh. I's a good cook. Does you know anybody w'at needs a good
cook, suh? I's stoppin' wid a cullud fam'ly roun' de corner yonder 'tel
I kin fin' a place."

"Do you really expect to find your husband? He may be dead long ago."

She shook her head emphatically. "Oh no, he ain' dead. De signs an' de
tokens tells me. I dremp three nights runnin' on'y dis las' week dat I
foun' him."

"He may have married another woman. Your slave marriage would not have
prevented him, for you never lived with him after the war, and without
that your marriage doesn't count."

"Wouldn' make no diff'ence wid Sam. He wouldn' marry no yuther 'ooman
'tel he foun' out 'bout me. I knows it," she added. "Sump'n's be'n
tellin' me all dese years dat I's gwine fin' Sam 'fo I dies."

"Perhaps he's outgrown you, and climbed up in the world where he
wouldn't care to have you find him."

"No, indeed, suh," she replied, "Sam ain' dat kin' er man. He wuz good
ter me, Sam wuz, but he wuzn' much good ter nobody e'se, fer he wuz one
er de triflin'es' han's on de plantation. I 'spec's ter haf ter suppo't
'im w'en I fin' 'im, fer he nebber would work 'less'n he had ter. But
den he wuz free, an' he didn' git no pay fer his work, an' I don'
blame 'im much. Mebbe he's done better sence he run erway, but I ain'
'spectin' much."

"You may have passed him on the street a hundred times during the
twenty-five years, and not have known him; time works great changes."

She smiled incredulously. "I'd know 'im 'mongs' a hund'ed men. Fer dey
wuzn' no yuther merlatter man like my man Sam, an' I couldn' be mistook.
I's toted his picture roun' wid me twenty-five years."

"May I see it?" asked Mr. Ryder. "It might help me to remember whether I
have seen the original."

As she drew a small parcel from her bosom, he saw that it was fastened
to a string that went around her neck. Removing several wrappers, she
brought to light an old-fashioned daguerreotype in a black case. He
looked long and intently at the portrait. It was faded with time, but
the features were still distinct, and it was easy to see what manner of
man it had represented.

He closed the case, and with a slow movement handed it back to her.

"I don't know of any man in town who goes by that name," he said, "nor
have I heard of any one making such inquiries. But if you will leave me
your address, I will give the matter some attention, and if I find out
anything I will let you know."

She gave him the number of a house in the neighborhood, and went away,
after thanking him warmly.

He wrote down the address on the flyleaf of the volume of Tennyson,
and, when she had gone, rose to his feet and stood looking after her
curiously. As she walked down the street with mincing step, he saw
several persons whom she passed turn and look back at her with a smile
of kindly amusement. When she had turned the corner, he went upstairs
to his bedroom, and stood for a long time before the mirror of his
dressing-case, gazing thoughtfully at the reflection of his own face.


At eight o'clock the ballroom was a blaze of light and the guests had
begun to assemble; for there was a literary programme and some routine
business of the society to be gone through with before the dancing.
A black servant in evening dress waited at the door and directed the
guests to the dressing-rooms.

The occasion was long memorable among the colored people of the city;
not alone for the dress and display, but for the high average of
intelligence and culture that distinguished the gathering as a whole.
There were a number of school-teachers, several young doctors, three or
four lawyers, some professional singers, an editor, a lieutenant in
the United States army spending his furlough in the city, and others in
various polite callings; these were colored, though most of them would
not have attracted even a casual glance because of any marked difference
from white people. Most of the ladies were in evening costume, and dress
coats and dancing-pumps were the rule among the men. A band of string
music, stationed in an alcove behind a row of palms, played popular airs
while the guests were gathering.

The dancing began at half past nine. At eleven o'clock supper was
served. Mr. Ryder had left the ballroom some little time before the
intermission, but reappeared at the supper-table. The spread was worthy
of the occasion, and the guests did full justice to it. When the coffee
had been served, the toastmaster, Mr. Solomon Sadler, rapped for order.
He made a brief introductory speech, complimenting host and guests,
and then presented in their order the toasts of the evening. They were
responded to with a very fair display of after-dinner wit.

"The last toast," said the toast-master, when he reached the end of the
list, "is one which must appeal to us all. There is no one of us of the
sterner sex who is not at some time dependent upon woman,--in infancy
for protection, in manhood for companionship, in old age for care and
comforting. Our good host has been trying to live alone, but the fair
faces I see around me to-night prove that he too is largely dependent
upon the gentler sex for most that makes life worth living,--the society
and love of friends,--and rumor is at fault if he does not soon yield
entire subjection to one of them. Mr. Ryder will now respond to the
toast,--The Ladies."

There was a pensive look in Mr. Ryder's eyes as he took the floor and
adjusted his eyeglasses. He began by speaking of woman as the gift of
Heaven to man, and after some general observations on the relations of
the sexes he said: "But perhaps the quality which most distinguishes
woman is her fidelity and devotion to those she loves. History is full
of examples, but has recorded none more striking than one which only
to-day came under my notice."

He then related, simply but effectively, the story told by his visitor
of the afternoon. He told it in the same soft dialect, which came
readily to his lips, while the company listened attentively and
sympathetically. For the story had awakened a responsive thrill in many
hearts. There were some present who had seen, and others who had heard
their fathers and grandfathers tell, the wrongs and sufferings of this
past generation, and all of them still felt, in their darker moments,
the shadow hanging over them. Mr. Ryder went on:--

"Such devotion and such confidence are rare even among women. There are
many who would have searched a year, some who would have waited five
years, a few who might have hoped ten years; but for twenty-five years
this woman has retained her affection for and her faith in a man she has
not seen or heard of in all that time.

"She came to me to-day in the hope that I might be able to help her find
this long-lost husband. And when she was gone I gave my fancy rein, and
imagined a case I will put to you.

"Suppose that this husband, soon after his escape, had learned that
his wife had been sold away, and that such inquiries as he could make
brought no information of her whereabouts. Suppose that he was young,
and she much older than he; that he was light, and she was black; that
their marriage was a slave marriage, and legally binding only if they
chose to make it so after the war. Suppose, too, that he made his way
to the North, as some of us have done, and there, where he had larger
opportunities, had improved them, and had in the course of all these
years grown to be as different from the ignorant boy who ran away from
fear of slavery as the day is from the night. Suppose, even, that he
had qualified himself, by industry, by thrift, and by study, to win the
friendship and be considered worthy the society of such people as these
I see around me to-night, gracing my board and filling my heart with
gladness; for I am old enough to remember the day when such a gathering
would not have been possible in this land. Suppose, too, that, as
the years went by, this man's memory of the past grew more and more
indistinct, until at last it was rarely, except in his dreams, that any
image of this bygone period rose before his mind. And then suppose that
accident should bring to his knowledge the fact that the wife of his
youth, the wife he had left behind him,--not one who had walked by his
side and kept pace with him in his upward struggle, but one upon whom
advancing years and a laborious life had set their mark,--was alive
and seeking him, but that he was absolutely safe from recognition or
discovery, unless he chose to reveal himself. My friends, what would
the man do? I will suppose that he was one who loved honor, and tried
to deal justly with all men. I will even carry the case further, and
suppose that perhaps he had set his heart upon another, whom he had
hoped to call his own. What would he do, or rather what ought he to do,
in such a crisis of a lifetime?

"It seemed to me that he might hesitate, and I imagined that I was an
old friend, a near friend, and that he had come to me for advice; and
I argued the case with him. I tried to discuss it impartially. After we
had looked upon the matter from every point of view, I said to him, in
words that we all know:

   'This above all: to thine own self be true,
   And it must follow, as the night the day,
   Thou canst not then be false to any man.'

Then, finally, I put the question to him, 'Shall you acknowledge her?'

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, friends and companions, I ask you, what
should he have done?"

There was something in Mr. Ryder's voice that stirred the hearts of
those who sat around him. It suggested more than mere sympathy with
an imaginary situation; it seemed rather in the nature of a personal
appeal. It was observed, too, that his look rested more especially upon
Mrs. Dixon, with a mingled expression of renunciation and inquiry.

She had listened, with parted lips and streaming eyes. She was the first
to speak: "He should have acknowledged her."

"Yes," they all echoed, "he should have acknowledged her."

"My friends and companions," responded Mr. Ryder, "I thank you, one and
all. It is the answer I expected, for I knew your hearts."

He turned and walked toward the closed door of an adjoining room, while
every eye followed him in wondering curiosity. He came back in a moment,
leading by the hand his visitor of the afternoon, who stood startled and
trembling at the sudden plunge into this scene of brilliant gayety. She
was neatly dressed in gray, and wore the white cap of an elderly woman.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "this is the woman, and I am the man,
whose story I have told you. Permit me to introduce to you the wife of
my youth."

THE BOUQUET by Charles W. Chesnutt

Mary Myrover's friends were somewhat surprised when she began to teach
a colored school. Miss Myrover's friends are mentioned here, because
nowhere more than in a Southern town is public opinion a force which
cannot be lightly contravened. Public opinion, however, did not oppose
Miss Myrover's teaching colored children; in fact, all the colored
public schools in town--and there were several--were taught by white
teachers, and had been so taught since the state had undertaken to
provide free public instruction for all children within its boundaries.
Previous to that time there had been a Freedman's Bureau school and a
Presbyterian missionary school, but these had been withdrawn when the
need for them became less pressing. The colored people of the town had
been for some time agitating their right to teach their own schools, but
as yet the claim had not been conceded.

The reason Miss Myrover's course created some surprise was not,
therefore, the fact that a Southern white woman should teach a colored
school; it lay in the fact that up to this time no woman of just her
quality had taken up such work. Most of the teachers of colored schools
were not of those who had constituted the aristocracy of the old regime;
they might be said rather to represent the new order of things, in which
labor was in time to become honorable, and men were, after a somewhat
longer time, to depend, for their place in society, upon themselves
rather than upon their ancestors. But Mary Myrover belonged to one
of the proudest of the old families. Her ancestors had been people of
distinction in Virginia before a collateral branch of the main stock had
settled in North Carolina. Before the war they had been able to live
up to their pedigree. But the war brought sad changes. Miss Myrover's
father--the Colonel Myrover who led a gallant but desperate charge at
Vicksburg--had fallen on the battlefield, and his tomb in the white
cemetery was a shrine for the family. On the Confederate Memorial Day no
other grave was so profusely decorated with flowers, and in the oration
pronounced the name of Colonel Myrover was always used to illustrate the
highest type of patriotic devotion and self-sacrifice. Miss Myrover's
brother, too, had fallen in the conflict; but his bones lay in some
unknown trench, with those of a thousand others who had fallen on the
same field. Ay, more, her lover, who had hoped to come home in the
full tide of victory and claim his bride as a reward for gallantry, had
shared the fate of her father and brother. When the war was over, the
remnant of the family found itself involved in the common ruin,--more
deeply involved, indeed, than some others; for Colonel Myrover had
believed in the ultimate triumph of his cause, and had invested most
of his wealth in Confederate bonds, which were now only so much waste

There had been a little left. Mrs. Myrover was thrifty, and had laid by
a few hundred dollars, which she kept in the house to meet unforeseen
contingencies. There remained, too, their home, with an ample garden and
a well-stocked orchard, besides a considerable tract of country land,
partly cleared, but productive of very little revenue.

With their shrunken resources, Miss Myrover and her mother were able to
hold up their heads without embarrassment for some years after the close
of the war. But when things were adjusted to the changed conditions, and
the stream of life began to flow more vigorously in the new channels,
they saw themselves in danger of dropping behind, unless in some way
they could add to their meagre income. Miss Myrover looked over the
field of employment, never very wide for women in the South, and found
it occupied. The only available position she could be supposed prepared
to fill, and which she could take without distinct loss of caste, was
that of a teacher, and there was no vacancy except in one of the colored
schools. Even teaching was a doubtful experiment; it was not what she
would have preferred, but it was the best that could be done.

"I don't like it, Mary," said her mother. "It's a long step from owning
such people to teaching them. What do they need with education? It will
only make them unfit for work."

"They're free now, mother, and perhaps they'll work better if they're
taught something. Besides, it's only a business arrangement, and doesn't
involve any closer contact than we have with our servants."

"Well, I should say not!" sniffed the old lady. "Not one of them will
ever dare to presume on your position to take any liberties with us.
I'll see to that."

Miss Myrover began her work as a teacher in the autumn, at the opening
of the school year. It was a novel experience at first. Though there
always had been negro servants in the house, and though on the streets
colored people were more numerous than her own people, and though she
was so familiar with their dialect that she might almost be said to
speak it, barring certain characteristic grammatical inaccuracies, she
had never been brought in personal contact with so many of them at once
as when she confronted the fifty or sixty faces--of colors ranging
from a white almost as clear as her own to the darkest livery of the
sun--which were gathered in the schoolroom on the morning when she began
her duties. Some of the inherited prejudice of her caste, too, made
itself felt, though she tried to repress any outward sign of it; and she
could perceive that the children were not altogether responsive;
they, likewise, were not entirely free from antagonism. The work was
unfamiliar to her. She was not physically very strong, and at the close
of the first day she went home with a splitting headache. If she could
have resigned then and there without causing comment or annoyance to
others, she would have felt it a privilege to do so. But a night's rest
banished her headache and improved her spirits, and the next morning she
went to her work with renewed vigor, fortified by the experience of the
first day.

Miss Myrover's second day was more satisfactory. She had some natural
talent for organization, though she had never known it, and in the
course of the day she got her classes formed and lessons under way. In a
week or two she began to classify her pupils in her own mind, as bright
or stupid, mischievous or well behaved, lazy or industrious, as the case
might be, and to regulate her discipline accordingly. That she had come
of a long line of ancestors who had exercised authority and mastership
was perhaps not without its effect upon her character, and enabled her
more readily to maintain good order in the school. When she was fairly
broken in she found the work rather to her liking, and derived much
pleasure from such success as she achieved as a teacher.

It was natural that she should be more attracted to some of her pupils
than to others. Perhaps her favorite--or rather, the one she liked
best, for she was too fair and just for conscious favoritism--was Sophy
Tucker. Just the ground for the teacher's liking for Sophy might not at
first be apparent. The girl was far from the whitest of Miss Myrover's
pupils; in fact, she was one of the darker ones. She was not the
brightest in intellect, though she always tried to learn her lessons.
She was not the best dressed, for her mother was a poor widow, who went
out washing and scrubbing for a living. Perhaps the real tie between
them was Sophy's intense devotion to the teacher. It had manifested
itself almost from the first day of the school, in the rapt look of
admiration Miss Myrover always saw on the little black face turned
toward her. In it there was nothing of envy, nothing of regret; nothing
but worship for the beautiful white lady--she was not especially
handsome, but to Sophy her beauty was almost divine--who had come to
teach her. If Miss Myrover dropped a book, Sophy was the first to spring
and pick it up; if she wished a chair moved, Sophy seemed to anticipate
her wish; and so of all the numberless little services that can be
rendered in a school-room.

Miss Myrover was fond of flowers, and liked to have them about her. The
children soon learned of this taste of hers, and kept the vases on her
desk filled with blossoms during their season. Sophy was perhaps the
most active in providing them. If she could not get garden flowers, she
would make excursions to the woods in the early morning, and bring
in great dew-laden bunches of bay, or jasmine, or some other fragrant
forest flower which she knew the teacher loved.

"When I die, Sophy," Miss Myrover said to the child one day, "I want
to be covered with roses. And when they bury me, I'm sure I shall rest
better if my grave is banked with flowers, and roses are planted at my
head and at my feet."

Miss Myrover was at first amused at Sophy's devotion; but when she grew
more accustomed to it, she found it rather to her liking. It had a sort
of flavor of the old regime, and she felt, when she bestowed her kindly
notice upon her little black attendant, some of the feudal condescension
of the mistress toward the slave. She was kind to Sophy, and permitted
her to play the role she had assumed, which caused sometimes a little
jealousy among the other girls. Once she gave Sophy a yellow ribbon
which she took from her own hair. The child carried it home, and
cherished it as a priceless treasure, to be worn only on the greatest

Sophy had a rival in her attachment to the teacher, but the rivalry was
altogether friendly. Miss Myrover had a little dog, a white spaniel,
answering to the name of Prince. Prince was a dog of high degree, and
would have very little to do with the children of the school; he made
an exception, however, in the case of Sophy, whose devotion for his
mistress he seemed to comprehend. He was a clever dog, and could fetch
and carry, sit up on his haunches, extend his paw to shake hands, and
possessed several other canine accomplishments. He was very fond of his
mistress, and always, unless shut up at home, accompanied her to school,
where he spent most of his time lying under the teacher's desk, or, in
cold weather, by the stove, except when he would go out now and then and
chase an imaginary rabbit round the yard, presumably for exercise.

At school Sophy and Prince vied with each other in their attentions to
Miss Myrover. But when school was over, Prince went away with her, and
Sophy stayed behind; for Miss Myrover was white and Sophy was black,
which they both understood perfectly well. Miss Myrover taught the
colored children, but she could not be seen with them in public. If they
occasionally met her on the street, they did not expect her to speak to
them, unless she happened to be alone and no other white person was in
sight. If any of the children felt slighted, she was not aware of it,
for she intended no slight; she had not been brought up to speak to
negroes on the street, and she could not act differently from other
people. And though she was a woman of sentiment and capable of deep
feeling, her training had been such that she hardly expected to find
in those of darker hue than herself the same susceptibility--varying in
degree, perhaps, but yet the same in kind--that gave to her own life the
alternations of feeling that made it most worth living.

Once Miss Myrover wished to carry home a parcel of books. She had the
bundle in her hand when Sophy came up.

"Lemme tote yo' bundle fer yer, Miss Ma'y?" she asked eagerly. "I'm
gwine yo' way."

"Thank you, Sophy," was the reply. "I'll be glad if you will."

Sophy followed the teacher at a respectful distance. When they reached
Miss Myrover's home Sophy carried the bundle to the doorstep, where Miss
Myrover took it and thanked her.

Mrs. Myrover came out on the piazza as Sophy was moving away. She said,
in the child's hearing, and perhaps with the intention that she should
hear: "Mary, I wish you wouldn't let those little darkies follow you
to the house. I don't want them in the yard. I should think you'd have
enough of them all day."

"Very well, mother," replied her daughter. "I won't bring any more of
them. The child was only doing me a favor."

Mrs. Myrover was an invalid, and opposition or irritation of any kind
brought on nervous paroxysms that made her miserable, and made life a
burden to the rest of the household; so that Mary seldom crossed her
whims. She did not bring Sophy to the house again, nor did Sophy again
offer her services as porter.

One day in spring Sophy brought her teacher a bouquet of yellow roses.

"Dey come off'n my own bush, Miss Ma'y," she said proudly, "an' I didn'
let nobody e'se pull 'em, but saved 'em all fer you, 'cause I know you
likes roses so much. I'm gwine bring 'em all ter you as long as dey

"Thank you, Sophy," said the teacher; "you are a very good girl."

For another year Mary Myrover taught the colored school, and did
excellent service. The children made rapid progress under her tuition,
and learned to love her well; for they saw and appreciated, as well as
children could, her fidelity to a trust that she might have slighted, as
some others did, without much fear of criticism. Toward the end of her
second year she sickened, and after a brief illness died.

Old Mrs. Myrover was inconsolable. She ascribed her daughter's death
to her labors as teacher of negro children. Just how the color of the
pupils had produced the fatal effects she did not stop to explain. But
she was too old, and had suffered too deeply from the war, in body
and mind and estate, ever to reconcile herself to the changed order
of things following the return of peace; and with an unsound yet not
unnatural logic, she visited some of her displeasure upon those who had
profited most, though passively, by her losses.

"I always feared something would happen to Mary," she said. "It seemed
unnatural for her to be wearing herself out teaching little negroes who
ought to have been working for her. But the world has hardly been a fit
place to live in since the war, and when I follow her, as I must before
long, I shall not be sorry to go."

She gave strict orders that no colored people should be admitted to the
house. Some of her friends heard of this, and remonstrated. They knew
the teacher was loved by the pupils, and felt that sincere respect from
the humble would be a worthy tribute to the proudest. But Mrs. Myrover
was obdurate.

"They had my daughter when she was alive," she said, "and they've killed
her. But she's mine now, and I won't have them come near her. I don't
want one of them at the funeral or anywhere around."

For a month before Miss Myrover's death Sophy had been watching her
rosebush--the one that bore the yellow roses--for the first buds of
spring, and when these appeared had awaited impatiently their gradual
unfolding. But not until her teacher's death had they become full-blown
roses. When Miss Myrover died, Sophy determined to pluck the roses and
lay them on her coffin. Perhaps, she thought, they might even put them
in her hand or on her breast. For Sophy remembered Miss Myrover's thanks
and praise when she had brought her the yellow roses the spring before.

On the morning of the day set for the funeral Sophy washed her
face until it shone, combed and brushed her hair with painful
conscientiousness, put on her best frock, plucked her yellow roses, and,
tying them with the treasured ribbon her teacher had given her, set out
for Miss Myrover's home.

She went round to the side gate--the house stood on a corner--and stole
up the path to the kitchen. A colored woman, whom she did not know, came
to the door.

"W'at yer want, chile?" she inquired.

"Kin I see Miss Ma'y?" asked Sophy timidly.

"I don' know, honey. Ole Miss Myrover say she don' want no cullud folks
roun' de house endyoin' dis fun'al. I'll look an' see if she's roun' de
front room, whar de co'pse is. You sed-down heah an' keep still, an' ef
she's upstairs maybe I kin git yer in dere a minute. Ef I can't, I kin
put yo' bokay 'mongs' de res', whar she won't know nuthin' erbout it."

A moment after she had gone there was a step in the hall, and old Mrs.
Myrover came into the kitchen.

"Dinah!" she said in a peevish tone. "Dinah!"

Receiving no answer, Mrs. Myrover peered around the kitchen, and caught
sight of Sophy.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded.

"I--I'm-m waitin' ter see de cook, ma'am," stammered Sophy.

"The cook isn't here now. I don't know where she is. Besides, my
daughter is to be buried to-day, and I won't have any one visiting the
servants until the funeral is over. Come back some other day, or see the
cook at her own home in the evening."

She stood waiting for the child to go, and under the keen glance of her
eyes Sophy, feeling as though she had been caught in some disgraceful
act, hurried down the walk and out of the gate, with her bouquet in her

"Dinah," said Mrs. Myrover, when the cook came back, "I don't want
any strange people admitted here to-day. The house will be full of our
friends, and we have no room for others."

"Yas'm," said the cook. She understood perfectly what her mistress
meant; and what the cook thought about her mistress was a matter of no

The funeral services were held at St. John's Episcopal Church, where the
Myrovers had always worshiped. Quite a number of Miss Myrover's pupils
went to the church to attend the services. The church was not a large
one. There was a small gallery at the rear, to which colored people were
admitted, if they chose to come, at ordinary services; and those who
wished to be present at the funeral supposed that the usual custom
would prevail. They were therefore surprised, when they went to the side
entrance, by which colored people gained access to the gallery stairs,
to be met by an usher who barred their passage.

"I'm sorry," he said, "but I have had orders to admit no one until the
friends of the family have all been seated. If you wish to wait until
the white people have all gone in, and there's any room left, you may
be able to get into the back part of the gallery. Of course I can't tell
yet whether there'll be any room or not."

Now the statement of the usher was a very reasonable one; but, strange
to say, none of the colored people chose to remain except Sophy. She
still hoped to use her floral offering for its destined end, in some
way, though she did not know just how. She waited in the yard until the
church was filled with white people, and a number who could not gain
admittance were standing about the doors. Then she went round to the
side of the church, and, depositing her bouquet carefully on an old
mossy gravestone, climbed up on the projecting sill of a window near the
chancel. The window was of stained glass, of somewhat ancient make. The
church was old, had indeed been built in colonial times, and the stained
glass had been brought from England. The design of the window showed
Jesus blessing little children. Time had dealt gently with the window;
but just at the feet of the figure of Jesus a small triangular piece of
glass had been broken out. To this aperture Sophy applied her eyes, and
through it saw and heard what she could of the services within.

Before the chancel, on trestles draped in black, stood the sombre casket
in which lay all that was mortal of her dear teacher. The top of the
casket was covered with flowers; and lying stretched out underneath it
she saw Miss Myrover's little white dog, Prince. He had followed the
body to the church, and, slipping in unnoticed among the mourners, had
taken his place, from which no one had the heart to remove him.

The white-robed rector read the solemn service for the dead, and then
delivered a brief address, in which he spoke of the uncertainty of life,
and, to the believer, the certain blessedness of eternity. He spoke of
Miss Myrover's kindly spirit, and, as an illustration of her love and
self-sacrifice for others, referred to her labors as a teacher of the
poor ignorant negroes who had been placed in their midst by an all-wise
Providence, and whom it was their duty to guide and direct in the
station in which God had put them. Then the organ pealed, a prayer was
said, and the long cortege moved from the church to the cemetery, about
half a mile away, where the body was to be interred.

When the services were over, Sophy sprang down from her perch, and,
taking her flowers, followed the procession. She did not walk with the
rest, but at a proper and respectful distance from the last mourner. No
one noticed the little black girl with the bunch of yellow flowers, or
thought of her as interested in the funeral.

The cortege reached the cemetery and filed slowly through the gate; but
Sophy stood outside, looking at a small sign in white letters on a black

"NOTICE. This cemetery is for white people only. Others please keep

Sophy, thanks to Miss Myrover's painstaking instruction, could read this
sign very distinctly. In fact, she had often read it before. For Sophy
was a child who loved beauty, in a blind, groping sort of way, and had
sometimes stood by the fence of the cemetery and looked through at the
green mounds and shaded walks and blooming flowers within, and wished
that she could walk among them. She knew, too, that the little sign on
the gate, though so courteously worded, was no mere formality; for she
had heard how a colored man, who had wandered into the cemetery on a hot
night and fallen asleep on the flat top of a tomb, had been arrested
as a vagrant and fined five dollars, which he had worked out on the
streets, with a ball-and-chain attachment, at twenty-five cents a day.
Since that time the cemetery gate had been locked at night.

So Sophy stayed outside, and looked through the fence. Her poor bouquet
had begun to droop by this time, and the yellow ribbon had lost some
of its freshness. Sophy could see the rector standing by the grave, the
mourners gathered round; she could faintly distinguish the solemn words
with which ashes were committed to ashes, and dust to dust. She heard
the hollow thud of the earth falling on the coffin; and she leaned
against the iron fence, sobbing softly, until the grave was filled and
rounded off, and the wreaths and other floral pieces were disposed upon
it. When the mourners began to move toward the gate, Sophy walked slowly
down the street, in a direction opposite to that taken by most of the
people who came out.

When they had all gone away, and the sexton had come out and locked the
gate behind him, Sophy crept back. Her roses were faded now, and from
some of them the petals had fallen. She stood there irresolute, loath to
leave with her heart's desire unsatisfied, when, as her eyes fell upon
the teacher's last resting place, she saw lying beside the new-made
grave what looked like a small bundle of white wool. Sophy's eyes
lighted up with a sudden glow.

"Prince! Here, Prince!" she called.

The little dog rose, and trotted down to the gate. Sophy pushed the poor
bouquet between the iron bars. "Take that ter Miss Ma'y, Prince," she
said, "that's a good doggie."

The dog wagged his tail intelligently, took the bouquet carefully in his
mouth, carried it to his mistress's grave, and laid it among the other
flowers. The bunch of roses was so small that from where she stood Sophy
could see only a dash of yellow against the white background of the mass
of flowers.

When Prince had performed his mission he turned his eyes toward Sophy
inquiringly, and when she gave him a nod of approval lay down and
resumed his watch by the graveside. Sophy looked at him a moment with a
feeling very much like envy, and then turned and moved slowly away.

THE CASE OF THE NEGRO by Booker T. Washington

All attempts to settle the question of the Negro in the South by his
removal from this country have so far failed, and I think that they are
likely to fail. The next census will probably show that we have nearly
ten million black people in the United States, about eight millions of
whom are in the Southern states. In fact, we have almost a nation
within a nation. The Negro population in the United States lacks but
two millions of being as large as the whole population of Mexico, and
is nearly twice as large as that of Canada. Our black people equal
in number the combined populations of Switzerland, Greece, Honduras,
Nicaragua, Cuba, Uraguay [sic], Santo Domingo, Paraguay, and Costa Rica.
When we consider, in connection with these facts, that the race has
doubled itself since its freedom, and is still increasing, it hardly
seems possible for any one to take seriously any scheme of emigration
from America as a method of solution. At most, even if the government
were to provide the means, but a few hundred thousand could be
transported each year. The yearly increase in population would more than
likely overbalance the number transported. Even if it did not, the time
required to get rid of the Negro by this method would perhaps be fifty
or seventy-five years.

Some have advised that the Negro leave the South, and take up his
residence in the Northern states. I question whether this would make him
any better off than he is in the South, when all things are considered.
It has been my privilege to study the condition of our people in nearly
every part of America; and I say without hesitation that, with some
exceptional cases, the Negro is at his best in the Southern states.
While he enjoys certain privileges in the North that he does not have
in the South, when it comes to the matter of securing property, enjoying
business advantages and employment, the South presents a far better
opportunity than the North. Few colored men from the South are as yet
able to stand up against the severe and increasing competition that
exists in the North, to say nothing of the unfriendly influence of labor
organizations, which in some way prevents black men in the North, as a
rule, from securing occupation in the line of skilled labor.

Another point of great danger for the colored man who goes North is the
matter of morals, owing to the numerous temptations by which he finds
himself surrounded. More ways offer in which he can spend money than in
the South, but fewer avenues of employment for earning money are open to
him. The fact that at the North the Negro is almost confined to one line
of occupation often tends to discourage and demoralize the strongest
who go from the South, and makes them an easy prey for temptation. A few
years ago, I made an examination into the condition of a settlement
of Negroes who left the South and went into Kansas about twenty years
since, when there was a good deal of excitement in the South concerning
emigration from the West, and found it much below the standard of that
of similar communities in the South. The only conclusion which any one
can reach, from this and like instances, is that the Negroes are to
remain in the Southern states. As a race they do not want to leave the
South, and the Southern white people do not want them to leave. We must
therefore find some basis of settlement that will be constitutional,
just, manly; that will be fair to both races in the South and to the
whole country. This cannot be done in a day, a year, or any short
period of time. We can, however, with the present light, decide upon a
reasonably safe method of solving the problem, and turn our strength
and effort in that direction. In doing this, I would not have the Negro
deprived of any privilege guaranteed to him by the Constitution of the
United States. It is not best for the Negro that he relinquish any of
his constitutional rights; it is not best for the Southern white man
that he should, as I shall attempt to show in this article.

In order that we may concentrate our forces upon a wise object, without
loss of time or effort, I want to suggest what seems to me and many
others the wisest policy to be pursued. I have reached these conclusions
not only by reason of my own observations and experience, but after
eighteen years of direct contact with leading and influential colored
and white men in most parts of our country. But I wish first to mention
some elements of danger in the present situation, which all who desire
the permanent welfare of both races in the South should carefully take
into account.

First. There is danger that a certain class of impatient extremists
among the Negroes in the North, who have little knowledge of the actual
conditions in the South, may do the entire race injury by attempting to
advise their brethren in the South to resort to armed resistance or
the use of the torch, in order to secure justice. All intelligent and
well-considered discussion of any important question, or condemnation of
any wrong, whether in the North or the South, from the public
platform and through the press, is to be commended and encouraged; but
ill-considered and incendiary utterances from black men in the North
will tend to add to the burdens of our people in the South rather than
to relieve them. We must not fall into the temptation of believing that
we can raise ourselves by abusing some one else.

Second. Another danger in the South which should be guarded against
is that the whole white South, including the wise, conservative,
law-abiding element, may find itself represented before the bar of
public opinion by the mob or lawless element, which gives expression
to its feelings and tendency in a manner that advertises the South
throughout the world; while too often those who have no sympathy
with such disregard of law are either silent, or fail to speak in
a sufficiently emphatic manner to offset in any large degree the
unfortunate reputation which the lawless have made for many portions of
the South.

Third. No race or people ever got upon its feet without severe and
constant struggle, often in the face of the greatest discouragement.
While passing through the present trying period of its history, there
is danger that a large and valuable element of the Negro race may
become discouraged in the effort to better its condition. Every possible
influence should be exerted to prevent this.

Fourth. There is a possibility that harm may be done to the South and to
the Negro by exaggerated newspaper articles which are written near the
scene or in the midst of specially aggravating occurrences. Often these
reports are written by newspaper men, who give the impression that there
is a race conflict throughout the South, and that all Southern white
people are opposed to the Negro's progress; overlooking the fact that
though in some sections there is trouble, in most parts of the South,
if matters are not yet in all respects as we would have them, there
is nevertheless a very large measure of peace, good will, and mutual
helpfulness. In the same relation, much can be done to retard the
progress of the Negro by a certain class of Southern white people, who
in the midst of excitement speak or write in a manner that gives the
impression that all Negroes are lawless, untrustworthy, and shiftless.
For example, a Southern writer said, not long ago, in a communication
to the New York Independent: "Even in small towns the husband cannot
venture to leave his wife alone for an hour at night. At no time, in no
place, is the white woman safe from the insults and assaults of these
creatures." These statements, I presume, represented the feelings
and the conditions that existed, at the time of the writing, in one
community or county in the South; but thousands of Southern white men
and women would be ready to testify that this is not the condition
throughout the South, nor throughout any Southern state.

Fifth. Owing to the lack of school opportunities for the Negro in
the rural districts of the South, there is danger that ignorance
and idleness may increase to the extent of giving the Negro race a
reputation for crime, and that immorality may eat its way into the fibre
of the race so as to retard its progress for many years. In judging the
Negro we must not be too harsh. We must remember that it has been only
within the last thirty-four years that the black father and mother have
had the responsibility, and consequently the experience, of training
their own children. That perfection has not been reached in one
generation, with the obstacles that the parents have been compelled to
overcome, is not to be wondered at.

Sixth. Finally, I would mention my fear that some of the white people of
the South may be led to feel that the way to settle the race problem is
to repress the aspirations of the Negro by legislation of a kind that
confers certain legal or political privileges upon an ignorant and
poor white man, and withholds the same privileges from a black man in a
similar condition. Such legislation injures and retards the progress of
both races. It is an injustice to the poor white man, because it takes
from him incentive to secure education and property as prerequisites
for voting. He feels that because he is a white man, regardless of his
possessions, a way will be found for him to vote. I would label all such
measures "laws to keep the poor white man in ignorance and poverty."

The Talladega News Reporter, a Democratic newspaper of Alabama, recently
said: "But it is a weak cry when the white man asks odds on intelligence
over the Negro. When nature has already so handicapped the African in
the race for knowledge, the cry of the boasted Anglo-Saxon for still
further odds seems babyish. What wonder that the world looks on in
surprise, if not disgust? It cannot help but say, If our contention be
true that the Negro is an inferior race, then the odds ought to be on
the other side, if any are to be given. And why not? No; the thing to
do--the only thing that will stand the test of time--is to do right,
exactly right, let come what will. And that right thing, as it seems
to us, is to place a fair educational qualification before every
citizen,--one that is self-testing, and not dependent on the wishes of
weak men,--letting all who pass the test stand in the proud ranks
of American voters, whose votes shall be counted as cast, and whose
sovereign will shall be maintained as law by all the powers that be.
Nothing short of this will do. Every exemption, on whatsoever ground, is
an outrage that can only rob some legitimate voter of his rights."

Such laws have been made,--in Mississippi, for example,--with the
"understanding" clause, hold out a temptation for the election officer
to perjure and degrade himself by too often deciding that the ignorant
white man does understand the Constitution when it is read to him, and
that the ignorant black man does not. By such a law, the state not only
commits a wrong against its black citizens; it injures the morals of
its white citizens by conferring such a power upon any white man who may
happen to be a judge of elections.

Such laws are hurtful, again, because they keep alive in the heart of
the black man the feeling that the white man means to oppress him. The
only safe way out is to set a high standard as a test of citizenship,
and require blacks and whites alike to come up to it. When this is done,
both will have a higher respect for the election laws, and for those who
make them. I do not believe that, with his centuries of advantage
over the Negro in the opportunity to acquire property and education as
prerequisites for voting, the average white man in the South desires
that any special law be passed to give him further advantage over one
who has had but a little more than thirty years in which to prepare
himself for citizenship. In this relation, another point of danger is
that the Negro has been made to feel that it is his duty continually
to oppose the Southern white man in politics, even in matters where no
principle is involved; and that he is only loyal to his own race and
acting in a manly way in thus opposing the white man. Such a policy has
proved very hurtful to both races. Where it is a matter of principle,
where a question of right or wrong is involved, I would advise the
Negro to stand by principle at all hazards. A Southern white man has no
respect for or confidence in a Negro who acts merely for policy's sake;
but there are many cases, and the number is growing, where the Negro has
nothing to gain, and much to lose, by opposing the Southern white man in
matters that relate to government.

Under the foregoing six heads I believe I have stated some of the main
points which, all high-minded white men and black men, North and South,
will agree, need our most earnest and thoughtful consideration, if we
would hasten, and not hinder, the progress of our country.

Now as to the policy that should be pursued. On this subject I claim to
possess no superior wisdom or unusual insight. I may be wrong; I may be
in some degree right.

In the future we want to impress upon the Negro, more than we have done
in the past, the importance of identifying himself more closely with the
interests of the South; of making himself part of the South, and at home
in it. Heretofore, for reasons which were natural, and for which no one
is especially to blame, the colored people have been too much like a
foreign nation residing in the midst of another nation. If William Lloyd
Garrison, Wendell Phillips, or George L. Stearns were alive to-day, I
feel sure that he would advise the Negroes to identify their interests
as closely as possible with those of their white neighbors,--always
understanding that no question of right and wrong is involved. In
no other way, it seems to me, can we get a foundation for peace and
progress. He who advises against this policy will advise the Negro to
do that which no people in history, who have succeeded, have done. The
white man, North or South, who advises the Negro against it advises him
to do that which he himself has not done. The bed rock upon which every
individual rests his chances for success in life is the friendship,
the confidence, the respect, of his next-door neighbor in the little
community in which he lives. The problem of the Negro in the South turns
on whether he can make himself of such indispensable service to his
neighbor and the community that no one can fill his place better in the
body politic. There is at present no other safe course for the black man
to pursue. If the Negro in the South has a friend in his white neighbor,
and a still larger number of friends in his own community, he has a
protection and a guarantee of his rights that will be more potent and
more lasting than any our Federal Congress or any outside power can

The London Times, in a recent editorial discussing affairs in the
Transvaal, where Englishmen have been denied certain privileges by the
Boers, says: "England is too sagacious not to prefer a gradual reform
from within, even should it be less rapid than most of us might wish, to
the most sweeping redress of grievances imposed from without. Our object
is to obtain fair play for the Outlanders, but the best way to do it
is to enable them to help themselves." This policy, I think, is equally
safe when applied to conditions in the South. The foreigner who comes to
America identifies himself as soon as possible, in business, education,
and politics, with the community in which he settles. We have a
conspicuous example of this in the case of the Jews, who in the South,
as well as in other parts of our country, have not always been justly
treated; but the Jews have so woven themselves into the business and
patriotic interests of the communities in which they live, have made
themselves so valuable as citizens, that they have won a place in the
South which they could have obtained in no other way. The Negro in Cuba
has practically settled the race question there, because he has made
himself a part of Cuba in thought and action.

What I have tried to indicate cannot be accomplished by any sudden
revolution of methods, but it does seem that the tendency should be
more and more in this direction. Let me emphasize this by a practical
example. The North sends thousands of dollars into the South every year
for the education of the Negro. The teachers in most of the Southern
schools supported by the North are Northern men and women of the highest
Christian culture and most unselfish devotion. The Negro owes them
a debt of gratitude which can never be paid. The various missionary
societies in the North have done a work which to a large degree has
proved the salvation of the South, and the results of it will appear
more in future generations than in this. We have now reached the point,
in the South, where, I believe, great good could be accomplished in
changing the attitude of the white people toward the Negro, and of
the Negro toward the whites, if a few Southern white teachers, of high
character, would take an active interest in the work of our higher
schools. Can this be done? Yes. The medical school connected with
Shaw University at Raleigh, North Carolina, has from the first had as
instructors and professors almost exclusively Southern white doctors who
reside in Raleigh, and they have given the highest satisfaction. This
gives the people of Raleigh the feeling that the school is theirs, and
not something located in, but not a part of, the South. In Augusta,
Georgia, the Payne Institute, one of the best colleges for our people,
is officered and taught almost wholly by Southern white men and women.
The Presbyterian Theological School at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has only
Southern white men as instructors. Some time ago, at the Calhoun School
in Alabama, one of the leading white men in the county was given an
important position; since then the feeling of the white people in the
county has greatly changed toward the school.

We must admit the stern fact that at present the Negro, through no
choice of his own, is living in the midst of another race, which is far
ahead of him in education, property, and experience; and further, that
the Negro's present condition makes him dependent upon the white people
for most of the things necessary to sustain life, as well as, in a large
measure, for his education. In all history, those who have possessed
the property and intelligence have exercised the greatest control in
government, regardless of color, race, or geographical location. This
being the case, how can the black man in the South improve his estate?
And does the Southern white man want him to improve it? The latter part
of this question I shall attempt to answer later in this article.

The Negro in the South has it within his power, if he properly utilizes
the forces at land, to make of himself such a valuable factor in the
life of the South that for the most part he need not seek privileges,
but they will be conferred upon him. To bring this about, the Negro must
begin at the bottom and lay a sure foundation, and not be lured by any
temptation into trying to rise on a false footing. While the Negro is
laying this foundation, he will need help and sympathy and justice
from the law. Progress by any other method will be but temporary
and superficial, and the end of it will be worse than the beginning.
American slavery was a great curse to both races, and I should be the
last to apologize for it; but in the providence of God I believe that
slavery laid the foundation for the solution of the problem that is now
before us in the South. Under slavery, the Negro was taught every trade,
every industry, that furnishes the means of earning a living. Now if
on this foundation, laid in a rather crude way, it is true, but a
foundation nevertheless, we can gradually grow and improve, the future
for us is bright. Let me be more specific. Agriculture is or has been
the basic industry of nearly every race or nation that has succeeded.
The Negro got a knowledge of this under slavery: hence in a large
measure he is in possession of this industry in the South to-day. Taking
the whole South, I should say that eighty per cent of the Negroes live
by agriculture in some form, though it is often a very primitive and
crude form. The Negro can buy land in the South, as a rule, wherever the
white man can buy it, and at very low prices. Now, since the bulk of our
people already have a foundation in agriculture, are at their best when
living in the country engaged in agricultural pursuits, plainly,
the best thing, the logical thing, is to turn the larger part of our
strength in a direction that will put the Negroes among the most
skilled agricultural people in the world. The man who has learned to do
something better than any one else, has learned to do a common thing
in an uncommon manner, has power and influence which no adverse
surroundings can take from him. It is better to show a man how to make a
place for himself than to put him in one that some one else has made
for him. The Negro who can make himself so conspicuous as a successful
farmer, a large taxpayer, a wise helper of his fellow men, as to be
placed in a position of trust and honor by natural selection, whether
the position be political or not, is a hundredfold more secure in that
position than one placed there by mere outside force or pressure. I know
a Negro, Hon. Isaiah T. Montgomery, in Mississippi, who is mayor of a
town; it is true that the town is composed almost wholly of Negroes.
Mr. Montgomery is mayor of this town because his genius, thrift, and
foresight have created it; and he is held and supported in his office
by a charter granted by the state of Mississippi, and by the vote and
public sentiment of the community in which he lives.

Let us help the Negro by every means possible to acquire such an
education in farming, dairying, stock-raising, horticulture, etc., as
will place him near the top in these industries, and the race problem
will in a large part be settled, or at least stripped of many of its
most perplexing elements. This policy would also tend to keep the Negro
in the country and smaller towns, where he succeeds best, and stop the
influx into the large cities, where he does not succeed so well. The
race, like the individual, which produces something of superior worth
that has a common human interest, wins a permanent place, and is bound
to be recognized.

At a county fair in the South, not long ago, I saw a Negro awarded the
first prize, by a jury of white men, over white competitors, for the
production of the best specimen of Indian corn. Every white man at the
fair seemed to be proud of the achievement of the Negro, because it was
apparent that he had done something that would add to the wealth and
comfort of the people of both races in that county. At the Tuskegee
Normal and Industrial Institute, in Alabama, we have a department
devoted to training men along the lines of agriculture that I have
named; but what we are doing is small when compared with what should be
done in Tuskegee, and at other educational centres. In a material sense
the South is still an undeveloped country. While in some other affairs
race prejudice is strongly marked, in the matter of business, of
commercial and industrial development, there are few obstacles in the
Negro's way. A Negro who produces or has for sale something that the
community wants finds customers among white people as well as black.
Upon equal security, a Negro can borrow money at the bank as readily as
a white man can. A bank in Birmingham, Alabama, which has existed ten
years, is officered and controlled wholly by Negroes. This bank has
white borrowers and white depositors. A graduate of the Tuskegee
Institute keeps a well-appointed grocery store in Tuskegee, and he tells
me that he sells about as many goods to one race as to the other. What
I have said of the opening that awaits the Negro in the business of
agriculture is almost equally true of mechanics, manufacturing, and all
the domestic arts. The field is before him and right about him. Will
he seize upon it? Will he "cast down his bucket where he is"? Will his
friends, North and South, encourage him and prepare him to occupy
it? Every city in the South, for example, would give support to a
first-class architect or housebuilder or contractor of our race. The
architect or contractor would not only receive support, but through
his example numbers of young colored men would learn such trades as
carpentry, brickmasonry, plastering, painting, etc., and the race would
be put into a position to hold on to many of the industries which it
is now in danger of losing, because in too many cases brain, skill, and
dignity are not imparted to the common occupations. Any individual or
race that does not fit itself to occupy in the best manner the field or
service that is right about it will sooner or later be asked to move on
and let another take it.

But I may be asked, Would you confine the Negro to agriculture,
mechanics, the domestic arts, etc.? Not at all; but just now and for a
number of years the stress should be laid along the lines that I have
mentioned. We shall need and must have many teachers and ministers, some
doctors and lawyers and statesmen, but these professional men will
have a constituency or a foundation from which to draw support just in
proportion as the race prospers along the economic lines that I have
pointed out. During the first fifty or one hundred years of the life of
any people, are not the economic occupations always given the greater
attention? This is not only the historic, but, I think, the common-sense
view. If this generation will lay the material foundation, it will be
the quickest and surest way for enabling later generations to succeed in
the cultivation of the fine arts, and to surround themselves with some
of the luxuries of life, if desired. What the race most needs now, in my
opinion, is a whole army of men and women well-trained to lead, and
at the same time devote themselves to agriculture, mechanics, domestic
employment, and business. As to the mental training that these educated
leaders should be equipped with, I should say, give them all the
mental training and culture that the circumstances of individuals will
allow,--the more the better. No race can permanently succeed until its
mind is awakened and strengthened by the ripest thought. But I would
constantly have it kept in the minds of those who are educated in books
that a large proportion of those who are educated should be so trained
in hand that they can bring this mental strength and knowledge to
bear upon the physical conditions in the South, which I have tried to

Frederick Douglass, of sainted memory, once, in addressing his race,
used these words: "We are to prove that we can better our own condition.
One way to do this is to accumulate property. This may sound to you like
a new gospel. You have been accustomed to hear that money is the root of
all evil, etc.; on the other hand, property, money, if you please, will
purchase for us the only condition by which any people can rise to
the dignity of genuine manhood; for without property there can be no
leisure, without leisure there can be no thought, without thought there
can be no invention, without invention there can be no progress."

The Negro should be taught that material development is not an end, but
merely a means to an end. As professor W. E. B. Du Bois puts it, the
idea should not be simply to make men carpenters, but to make carpenters
men. The Negro has a highly religious temperament; but what he needs
more and more is to be convinced of the importance of weaving his
religion and morality into the practical affairs of daily life. Equally
does he need to be taught to put so much intelligence into his labor
that he will see dignity and beauty in the occupation, and love it for
its own sake. The Negro needs to be taught to apply more of the
religion that manifests itself in his happiness in prayer meeting to the
performance of his daily task. The man who owns a home, and is in the
possession of the elements by which he is sure of a daily living, has a
great aid to a moral and religious life. What bearing will all this have
upon the Negro's place in the South, as a citizen and in the enjoyment
of the privileges which our government confers?

To state in detail just what place the black man will occupy in the
South as a citizen, when he has developed in the direction named, is
beyond the wisdom of any one. Much will depend upon the sense of justice
which can be kept alive in the breast of the American people; almost
as much will depend upon the good sense of the Negro himself. That
question, I confess, does not give me the most concern just now. The
important and pressing question is, Will the Negro, with his own help
and that of his friends, take advantage of the opportunities that
surround him? When he has done this, I believe, speaking of his future
in general terms, that he will be treated with justice, be given the
protection of the law and the recognition which his usefulness and
ability warrant. If, fifty years ago, one had predicted that the Negro
would receive the recognition and honor which individuals have already
received, he would have been laughed at as an idle dreamer. Time,
patience, and constant achievement are great factors in the rise of a

I do not believe that the world ever takes a race seriously, in its
desire to share in the government of a nation, until a large number of
individual members of that race have demonstrated beyond question their
ability to control and develop their own business enterprises. Once a
number of Negroes rise to the point where they own and operate the most
successful farms, are among the largest taxpayers in their county, are
moral and intelligent, I do not believe that in many portions of the
South such men need long be denied the right of saying by their votes
how they prefer their property to be taxed, and who are to make and
administer the laws.

I was walking the street of a certain town in the South lately in
company with the most prominent Negro there. While we were together, the
mayor of the town sought out the black man, and said, "Next week we are
going to vote on the question of issuing bonds to secure water-works;
you must be sure to vote on the day of election." The mayor did not
suggest whether he should vote yes or no; but he knew that the very fact
of this Negro's owning nearly a block of the most valuable property in
the town was a guarantee that he would cast a safe, wise vote on this
important proposition. The white man knew that because of this Negro's
property interests he would cast his vote in the way he thought would
benefit every white and black citizen in the town, and not be controlled
by influences a thousand miles away. But a short time ago I read letters
from nearly every prominent white man in Birmingham, Alabama, asking
that the Rev. W. R. Pettiford, a Negro, be appointed to a certain
important federal office. What is the explanation of this? For nine
years Mr. Pettiford has been the president of the Negro bank in
Birmingham, to which I have alluded. During these nine years, the white
citizens have had the opportunity of seeing that Mr. Pettiford can
manage successfully a private business, and that he has proved himself a
conservative, thoughtful citizen, and they are willing to trust him in a
public office. Such individual examples will have to be multiplied, till
they become more nearly the rule than the exception they now are. While
we are multiplying these examples, the Negro must keep a strong and
courageous heart. He cannot improve his condition by any short-cut
course or by artificial methods. Above all, he must not be deluded
into believing that his condition can be permanently bettered by a mere
battledoor [sic] and shuttlecock of words, or by any process of mere
mental gymnastics or oratory. What is desired along with a logical
defense of his cause are deeds, results,--continued results, in the
direction of building himself up, so as to leave no doubt in the mind of
any one of his ability to succeed.

An important question often asked is, Does the white man in the South
want the Negro to improve his present condition? I say yes. From the
Montgomery (Alabama) Daily Advertiser I clip the following in reference
to the closing of a colored school in a town in Alabama:--

"EUFALA, May 25, 1899. The closing exercises of the city colored public
school were held at St. Luke's A. M. E. Church last night, and were
witnessed by a large gathering, including many whites. The recitations
by the pupils were excellent, and the music was also an interesting
feature. Rev. R. T. Pollard delivered the address, which was quite an
able one, and the certificates were presented by Professor T. L. McCoy,
white, of the Sanford Street School. The success of the exercises
reflects great credit on Professor S. M. Murphy, the principal, who
enjoys a deserved good reputation as a capable and efficient educator."

I quote this report, not because it is the exception, but because such
marks of interest in the education of the Negro on the part of the
Southern white people may be seen almost every day in the local
papers. Why should white people, by their presence, words, and actions,
encourage the black man to get education, if they do not desire him to
improve his condition?

The Payne Institute, an excellent college, to which I have already
referred, is supported almost wholly by the Southern white Methodist
church. The Southern white Presbyterians support a theological school
for Negroes at Tuscaloosa. For a number of years the Southern white
Baptists have contributed toward Negro education. Other denominations
have done the same. If these people do not want the Negro educated to a
higher standard, there is no reason why they should pretend they do.

Though some of the lynchings in the South have indicated a barbarous
feeling toward Negroes, Southern white men here and there, as well as
newspapers, have spoken out strongly against lynching. I quote from the
address of the Rev. Mr. Vance, of Nashville, Tennessee, delivered before
the National Sunday School Union, in Atlanta, not long since, as an

"And yet, as I stand here to-night, a Southerner speaking for my section
and addressing an audience from all sections, there is one foul blot
upon the fair fame of the South, at the bare mention of which the heart
turns sick and the cheek is crimsoned with shame. I want to lift my
voice to-night in loud and long and indignant protest against the awful
horror of mob violence, which the other day reached the climax of its
madness and infamy in a deed as black and brutal and barbarous as can be
found in the annals of human crime.

"I have a right to speak on the subject, and I propose to be heard.
The time has come for every lover of the South to set the might of an
angered and resolute manhood against the shame and peril of the lynch
demon. These people whose fiendish glee taunts their victim as his flesh
crackles in the flames do not represent the South. I have not a syllable
of apology for the sickening crime they meant to avenge. But it is high
time we were learning that lawlessness is no remedy for crime. For one,
I dare to believe that the people of my section are able to cope with
crime, however treacherous and defiant, through their courts of justice;
and I plead for the masterful sway of a righteous and exalted public
sentiment that shall class lynch law in the category with crime."

It is a notable and encouraging fact that no Negro educated in any of
our larger institutions of learning in the South has been charged with
any of the recent crimes connected with assaults upon women.

If we go on making progress in the directions that I have tried to
indicate, more and more the South will be drawn to one course. As I have
already said, it is not to the best interests of the white race of the
South that the Negro be deprived of any privilege guaranteed him by
the Constitution of the United States. This would put upon the South a
burden under which no government could stand and prosper. Every article
in our Federal Constitution was placed there with a view of stimulating
and encouraging the highest type of citizenship. To continue to tax
the Negro without giving him the right to vote, as fast as he qualifies
himself in education and property for voting, would insure the
alienation of the affections of the Negro from the state in which
he lives, and would be the reversal of the fundamental principles of
government for which our states have stood. In other ways than this
the injury would be as great to the white man as to the Negro. Taxation
without the hope of becoming voters would take away from one third of
the citizens of the Gulf states their interest in government, and a
stimulus to become taxpayers or to secure education, and thus be able
and willing to bear their share of the cost of education and government,
which now rests so heavily upon the white taxpayers of the South. The
more the Negro is stimulated and encouraged, the sooner will he be able
to bear a larger share of the burdens of the South. We have recently had
before us an example, in the case of Spain, of a government that left a
large portion of its citizens in ignorance, and neglected their highest

As I have said elsewhere: "There is no escape, through law of man or
God, from the inevitable.

   'The laws of changeless justice bind
    Oppressor with oppressed;
   And close as sin and suffering joined
    We march to fate abreast.'

Nearly sixteen millions of hands will aid you in pulling the load
upwards, or they will pull the load downwards against you. We shall
constitute one third and more of the ignorance and crime of the South,
or one third of its intelligence and progress; we shall contribute one
third to the business and industrial prosperity of the South, or we
shall prove a veritable body of death, stagnating, depressing, retarding
every effort to advance the body politic."

My own feeling is that the South will gradually reach the point where
it will see the wisdom and the justice of enacting an educational or
property qualification, or both, for voting, that shall be made to
apply honestly to both races. The industrial development of the Negro
in connection with education and Christian character will help to hasten
this end. When this is done, we shall have a foundation, in my opinion,
upon which to build a government that is honest, and that will be in a
high degree satisfactory to both races.

I do not suffer myself to take too optimistic a view of the conditions
in the South. The problem is a large and serious one, and will require
the patient help, sympathy, and advice of our most patriotic citizens,
North and South, for years to come. But I believe that if the principles
which I have tried to indicate are followed, a solution of the question
will come. So long as the Negro is permitted to get education, acquire
property, and secure employment, and is treated with respect in the
business world, as is now true in the greater part of the South, I
shall have the greatest faith in his working out his own destiny in our
Southern states. The education and preparation for citizenship of
nearly eight millions of people is a tremendous task, and every lover
of humanity should count it a privilege to help in the solution of a
problem for which our whole country is responsible.

HOT-FOOT HANNIBAL by Charles W. Chesnutt

"I hate and despise you! I wish never to see you or speak to you again!"

"Very well; I will take care that henceforth you have no opportunity to
do either."

These words--the first in the passionately vibrant tones of my
sister-in-law, and the latter in the deeper and more restrained accents
of an angry man--startled me from my nap. I had been dozing in my
hammock on the front piazza, behind the honeysuckle vine. I had been
faintly aware of a buzz of conversation in the parlor, but had not
at all awakened to its import until these sentences fell, or, I might
rather say, were hurled upon my ear. I presume the young people had
either not seen me lying there,--the Venetian blinds opening from the
parlor windows upon the piazza were partly closed on account of the
heat,--or else in their excitement they had forgotten my proximity.

I felt somewhat concerned. The young man, I had remarked, was proud,
firm, jealous of the point of honor, and, from my observation of him,
quite likely to resent to the bitter end what he deemed a slight or
an injustice. The girl, I knew, was quite as high-spirited as young
Murchison. I feared she was not so just, and hoped she would prove more
yielding. I knew that her affections were strong and enduring, but that
her temperament was capricious, and her sunniest moods easily overcast
by some small cloud of jealousy or pique. I had never imagined, however,
that she was capable of such intensity as was revealed by these few
words of hers. As I say, I felt concerned. I had learned to like Malcolm
Murchison, and had heartily consented to his marriage with my ward; for
it was in that capacity that I had stood for a year or two to my wife's
younger sister, Mabel. The match thus rudely broken off had promised to
be another link binding me to the kindly Southern people among whom I
had not long before taken up my residence.

Young Murchison came out of the door, cleared the piazza in two strides
without seeming aware of my presence, and went off down the lane at a
furious pace. A few moments later Mabel began playing the piano loudly,
with a touch that indicated anger and pride and independence and a dash
of exultation, as though she were really glad that she had driven away
forever the young man whom the day before she had loved with all the
ardor of a first passion.

I hoped that time might heal the breach and bring the two young people
together again. I told my wife what I had overheard. In return she gave
me Mabel's version of the affair.

"I do not see how it can ever be settled," my wife said. "It is
something more than a mere lovers' quarrel. It began, it is true,
because she found fault with him for going to church with that hateful
Branson girl. But before it ended there were things said that no woman
of any spirit could stand. I am afraid it is all over between them."

I was sorry to hear this. In spite of the very firm attitude taken by
my wife and her sister, I still hoped that the quarrel would be made up
within a day or two. Nevertheless, when a week had passed with no word
from young Murchison, and with no sign of relenting on Mabel's part, I
began to think myself mistaken.

One pleasant afternoon, about ten days after the rupture, old Julius
drove the rockaway up to the piazza, and my wife, Mabel, and I took
our seats for a drive to a neighbor's vineyard, over on the Lumberton

"Which way shall we go," I asked,--"the short road or the long one?"

"I guess we had better take the short road," answered my wife. "We will
get there sooner."

"It's a mighty fine dribe roun' by de big road, Mis' Annie," observed
Julius, "en it doan take much longer to git dere."

"No," said my wife, "I think we will go by the short road. There is a
bay tree in blossom near the mineral spring, and I wish to get some of
the flowers."

"I 'spec's you'd find some bay trees 'long de big road, ma'am," said

"But I know about the flowers on the short road, and they are the ones I

We drove down the lane to the highway, and soon struck into the short
road leading past the mineral spring. Our route lay partly through a
swamp, and on each side the dark, umbrageous foliage, unbroken by
any clearing, lent to the road solemnity, and to the air a refreshing
coolness. About half a mile from the house, and about halfway to the
mineral spring, we stopped at the tree of which my wife had spoken, and
reaching up to the low-hanging boughs I gathered a dozen of the fragrant
white flowers. When I resumed my seat in the rockaway, Julius started
the mare. She went on for a few rods, until we had reached the edge of a
branch crossing the road, when she stopped short.

"Why did you stop, Julius?" I asked.

"I didn', suh," he replied. "'T wuz de mare stop'. G' 'long dere, Lucy!
W'at you mean by dis foolis'ness?"

Julius jerked the reins and applied the whip lightly, but the mare did
not stir.

"Perhaps you had better get down and lead her," I suggested. "If you get
her started, you can cross on the log and keep your feet dry."

Julius alighted, took hold of the bridle, and vainly essayed to make the
mare move. She planted her feet with even more evident obstinacy.

"I don't know what to make of this," I said. "I have never known her to
balk before. Have you, Julius?"

"No, suh," replied the old man, "I nebber has. It's a cu'ous thing ter
me, suh."

"What's the best way to make her go?"

"I 'spec's, suh, dat ef I'd tu'n her roun' she'd go de udder way."

"But we want her to go this way."

"Well, suh, I 'low ef we des set heah fo' er fibe minutes, she'll sta't
up by herse'f."

"All right," I rejoined, "it is cooler here than any place I have struck
to-day. We'll let her stand for a while, and see what she does."

We had sat in silence for a few minutes, when Julius suddenly
ejaculated, "Uh huh! I knows w'y dis mare doan go. It des flash 'cross
my reccommemb'ance."

"Why is it, Julius?" I inquired.

"Ca'se she sees Chloe."

"Where is Chloe?" I demanded.

"Chloe's done be'n dead dese fo'ty years er mo'," the old man returned.
"Her ha'nt is settin' ober yander on de udder side er de branch, unner
dat willer tree, dis blessed minute."

"Why, Julius!" said my wife, "do you see the haunt?"

"No'm," he answered, shaking his head, "I doan see 'er, but de mare sees

"How do you know?" I inquired.

"Well, suh, dis yer is a gray hoss, en dis yer is a Friday; en a gray
hoss kin alluz see a ha'nt w'at walks on Friday."

"Who was Chloe?" said Mabel.

"And why does Chloe's haunt walk?" asked my wife.

"It's all in de tale, ma'am," Julius replied, with a deep sigh. "It's
all in de tale."

"Tell us the tale," I said. "Perhaps, by the time you get through, the
haunt will go away and the mare will cross."

I was willing to humor the old man's fancy. He had not told us a
story for some time; and the dark and solemn swamp around us; the
amber-colored stream flowing silently and sluggishly at our feet, like
the waters of Lethe; the heavy, aromatic scent of the bays, faintly
suggestive of funeral wreaths,--all made the place an ideal one for a
ghost story.

"Chloe," Julius began in a subdued tone, "use' ter b'long ter ole Mars'
Dugal' McAdoo--my ole marster. She wuz a ladly gal en a smart gal, en
ole mis' tuk her up ter de big house, en l'arnt her ter wait on de w'ite
folks, 'tel bimeby she come ter be mis's own maid, en 'peared ter 'low
she run de house herse'f, ter heah her talk erbout it. I wuz a young
boy den, en use' ter wuk about de stables, so I knowed ev'ythin' dat wuz
gwine on roun' de plantation.

"Well, one time Mars' Dugal' wanted a house boy, en sont down ter de
qua'ters fer hab Jeff en Hannibal come up ter de big house nex'
mawnin'. Ole marster en ole mis' look' de two boys ober, en 'sco'sed wid
deyse'ves fer a little w'ile, en den Mars' Dugal' sez, sezee:--

"'We laks Hannibal de bes', en we gwine ter keep him. Heah, Hannibal,
you'll wuk at de house fum now on. En ef you're a good nigger en min's
yo' bizness, I'll gib you Chloe fer a wife nex' spring. You other
nigger, you Jeff, you kin go back ter de qua'ters. We ain' gwine ter
need you.'

"Now Chloe had be'n standin' dere behin' ole mis' dyoin' all er dis yer
talk, en Chloe made up her min' fum de ve'y fus' minute she sot eyes on
dem two dat she didn' lak dat nigger Hannibal, en wa'n't nebber gwine
keer fer 'im, en she wuz des ez sho' dat she lak Jeff, en wuz gwine ter
set sto' by 'im, whuther Mars' Dugal' tuk 'im in de big house er no; en
so co'se Chloe wuz monst'us sorry w'en ole Mars' Dugal' tuk Hannibal en
sont Jeff back. So she slip' roun' de house en waylaid Jeff on de way
back ter de qua'ters en tol' 'im not ter be downhea'ted, fer she wuz
gwine ter see ef she couldn' fin' some way er 'nuther ter git rid er dat
nigger Hannibal, en git Jeff up ter de house in his place.

"De noo house boy kotch on monst'us fas', en it wa'n't no time ha'dly
befo' Mars' Dugal' en ole mis' bofe 'mence' ter 'low Hannibal wuz de
bes' house boy dey eber had. He wuz peart en soopl', quick ez lightnin',
en sha'p ez a razor. But Chloe didn' lak his ways. He wuz so sho' he wuz
gwine ter git 'er in de spring, dat he didn' 'pear ter 'low he had ter
do any co'tin', en w'en he'd run 'cross Chloe 'bout de house, he'd swell
roun' 'er in a biggity way en say:

"'Come heah en kiss me, honey. You gwine ter be mine in de spring. You
doan 'pear ter be ez fon' er me ez you oughter be.'

"Chloe didn' keer nuffin' fer Hannibal, en hadn' keered nuffin' fer 'im,
en she sot des ez much sto' by Jeff ez she did de day she fus' laid eyes
on 'im. En de mo' fermilyus dis yer Hannibal got, de mo' Chloe let
her min' run on Jeff, en one ebenin' she went down ter de qua'ters en
watch', 'tel she got a chance fer ter talk wid 'im by hisse'f. En she
tol' Jeff fer ter go down en see ole Aun' Peggy, de cunjuh-'oman down
by de Wim'l'ton Road, en ax her fer ter gib 'im sump'n ter he'p git
Hannibal out'n de big house, so de w'ite folks 'u'd sen' fer Jeff ag'in.
En bein' ez Jeff didn' hab nuffin' ter gib Aun' Peggy, Chloe gun i'm a
silber dollah en a silk han'kercher fer ter pay her wid, fer Aun' Peggy
nebber lak ter wuk fer nobody fer nuffin'.

"So Jeff slip' off down ter Aun' Peggy's one night, en gun 'er de
presents he brung, en tol' er all 'bout 'im en Chloe en Hannibal, en ax'
'er ter he'p 'im out. Aun' Peggy tol' 'im she'd wuk 'er roots, en fer
'im ter come back de nex' night, en she'd tell 'im w'at she c'd do fer

"So de nex' night Jeff went back, en Aun' Peggy gun 'im a baby-doll, wid
a body made out'n a piece er co'n-stalk, en wid splinters fer a'ms en
legs, en a head made out'n elderberry peth, en two little red peppers
fer feet.

"'Dis yer baby-doll,' sez she, 'is Hannibal. Dis yer peth head is
Hannibal's head, en dese yer pepper feet is Hannibal's feet. You take
dis en hide it unner de house, on de sill unner de do', whar Hannibal'll
hafter walk ober it ev'y day. En ez long ez Hannibal comes anywhar nigh
dis baby-doll, he'll be des lak it is--light-headed en hot-footed; en
ef dem two things doan git 'im inter trouble mighty soon, den I'm no
cunjuh-'oman. But w'en you git Hannibal out'n de house, en git all thoo
wid dis baby-doll, you mus' fetch it back ter me, fer it's monst'us
powerful goopher, en is liable ter make mo' trouble ef you leabe it
layin' roun'.'

"Well, Jeff tuk de baby-doll, en slip' up ter de big house, en whistle'
ter Chloe, en w'en she come out he tol' 'er w'at ole Aun' Peggy had
said. En Chloe showed 'im how ter git unner de house, en w'en he had
put de cunjuh-doll on de sill he went 'long back ter de qua'ters--en des

"Nex' day, sho' 'nuff, de goopher 'mence' ter wuk. Hannibal sta'ted in
de house soon in de mawnin' wid a armful er wood ter make a fier, en he
hadn' mo' d'n got 'cross de do'sill befo' his feet begun ter bu'n so
dat he drap' de armful er wood on de flo' en woke ole mis' up an hour
sooner'n yuzhal, en co'se ole mis' didn' lak dat, en spoke sha'p erbout

"W'en dinner-time come, en Hannibal wuz help'n de cook kyar de dinner
f'm de kitchen inter de big house, en wuz gittin' close ter de do' what
he had ter go in, his feet sta'ted ter bu'n en his head begun ter swim,
en he let de big dish er chicken en dumplin's fall right down in de
dirt, in de middle er de ya'd, en de w'ite folks had ter make dey dinner
dat day off'n col' ham en sweet pertaters.

"De nex' mawnin' he overslep' hisse'f, en got inter mo' trouble. Atter
breakfus', Mars' Dugal' sont 'im ober ter Mars' Marrabo Utley's fer ter
borry a monkey wrench. He oughter be'n back in ha'f an hour, but he
come pokin' home 'bout dinner'time wid a screw-driver stidder a monkey
wrench. Mars' Dugal' sont ernudder nigger back wid de screw-driver,
en Hannibal didn' git no dinner. 'Long in de atternoon, ole mis' sot
Hannibal ter weedin' de flowers in de front gyahden, en Hannibal dug up
all de bulbs ole mis' had sont erway fer, en paid a lot er money fer,
en tuk 'em down ter de hawg-pen by de ba'nya'd, en fed 'em ter de hawgs.
W'en ole mis' come out in de cool er de ebenin', en seed w'at Hannibal
had done, she wuz mos' crazy, en she wrote a note en sont Hannibal down
ter de obserseah wid it.

"But w'at Hannibal got fum de oberseah didn' 'pear ter do no good. Ev'y
now en den 'is feet'd 'mence ter torment 'im, en 'is min' 'u'd git all
mix' up, en his conduc' kep' gittin' wusser en wusser, 'tel fin'ly de
w'ite folks couldn' stan' it no longer, en Mars' Dugal' tuk Hannibal
back down ter de qua'ters.

"'Mr. Smif,' sez Mars' Dugal' ter de oberseah, 'dis yer nigger has tu'nt
out so triflin' yer lately, dat we can't keep 'im at de house no mo', en
I's fotch' 'im ter you ter be straighten' up. You's had 'casion ter deal
wid 'im once, so he knows w'at ter expec'. You des take 'im in han', en
lemme know how he tu'ns out. En w'en de han's comes in fum de fiel' dis
ebenin' you kin sen' dat yaller nigger Jeff up ter de house. I'll try
'im, en see ef he's any better'n Hannibal.'

"So Jeff went up ter de big house, en pleas' Mars' Dugal' en ole mis' en
de res' er de fambly so well dat dey all got ter lakin' 'im fus'rate, en
dey'd 'a' fergot all 'bout Hannibal ef it hadn' be'n fer de bad repo'ts
w'at come up fum de qua'ters 'bout 'im fer a mont' er so. Fac' is dat
Chloe en Jeff wuz so int'rusted in one ernudder since Jeff be'n up ter
de house, dat dey fergot all about takin' de baby-doll back ter Aun'
Peggy, en it kep' wukkin fer a w'ile, en makin' Hannibal's feet bu'n mo'
er less, 'tel all de folks on de plantation got ter callin' 'im Hot-Foot
Hannibal. He kep' gittin' mo' en mo' triflin', 'tel he got de name er
bein' de mos' no 'countes' nigger on de plantation, en Mars' Dugal'
had ter th'eaten ter sell 'im in de spring; w'en bimeby de goopher quit
wukkin', en Hannibal 'mence' ter pick up some en make folks set a little
mo' sto' by 'im.

"Now, dis yer Hannibal was a monst'us sma't nigger, en w'en he got rid
er dem so' feet his min' kep' runnin' on 'is udder troubles. Heah th'ee
er fo' weeks befo' he'd had a' easy job, waitin' on de w'ite folks,
libbin off'n de fat er de lan', en promus' de fines' gal on de
plantation fer a wife in de spring, en now heah he wuz back in de
co'nfiel', wid de oberseah a-cussin' en a r'arin' ef he didn' get a ha'd
tas' done; wid nuffin' but co'n bread en bacon en merlasses ter eat;
en all de fiel-han's makin' rema'ks, en pokin' fun at 'im ca'se he be'n
sont back fum de big house ter de fiel'. En de mo' Hannibal studied
'bout it de mo' madder he got, 'tel he fin'ly swo' he wuz gwine ter git
eben wid Jeff en Chloe ef it wuz de las' ac'.

"So Hannibal slipped 'way fum de qua'ters one Sunday en hid in de co'n
up close ter de big house, 'tel he see Chloe gwine down de road. He
waylaid her, en sezee:--

"'Hoddy, Chloe?'

"'I ain't got no time fer ter fool wid fiel'-han's,' sez Chloe, tossin'
her head; 'W'at you want wid me, Hot-Foot?'

"'I wants ter know how you en Jeff is gittin' 'long.'

"'I 'lows dat's none er yo' bizness, nigger. I doan see w'at 'casion any
common fiel'-han' has got ter mix in wid de 'fairs er folks w'at libs in
de big house. But ef it'll do you any good ter know, I mought say dat me
en Jeff is gittin' 'long mighty well, en we gwine ter git married in de
spring, en you ain' gwine ter be 'vited ter de weddin' nuther.'

"'No, no!' sezee, 'I wouldn' 'spec' ter be 'vited ter de weddin',--a
common, low-down fiel'-han' lak I is. But I's glad ter heah you en Jeff
is gittin' 'long so well. I didn' knowed but w'at he had 'mence' ter be
a little ti'ed.'

"'Ti'ed er me? Dat's rediklus!' sez Chloe. 'W'y, dat nigger lubs me so
I b'liebe he'd go th'oo fier en water fer me. Dat nigger is des wrop' up
in me.'

"'Uh huh,' sez Hannibal, 'den I reckon is mus' be some udder nigger w'at
meets a 'oman down by de crick in de swamp ev'y Sunday ebenin', ter say
nuffin' 'bout two er th'ee times a week.'

"'Yas, hit is ernudder nigger, en you is a liah w'en you say it wuz

"'Mebbe I is a liah, en mebbe I ain' got good eyes. But 'less'n I IS a
liah, en 'less'n I AIN' got good eyes, Jeff is gwine ter meet dat 'oman
dis ebenin' long 'bout eight o'clock right down dere by de crick in de
swamp 'bout halfway betwix' dis plantation en Mars' Marrabo Utley's.'

"Well, Chloe tol' Hannibal she didn' b'liebe a wud he said, en call'
'im a low-down nigger who wuz tryin' ter slander Jeff 'ca'se he wuz mo'
luckier'n he wuz. But all de same, she couldn' keep her min' fum runnin'
on w'at Hannibal had said. She 'membered she'd heared one er de niggers
say dey wuz a gal ober at Mars' Marrabo Utley's plantation w'at Jeff
use' ter go wid some befo' he got 'quainted wid Chloe. Den she 'mence'
ter figger back, en sho' 'nuff, dey wuz two er th'ee times in de las'
week w'en she'd be'n he'p'n de ladies wid dey dressin' en udder fixin's
in de ebenin', en Jeff mought 'a' gone down ter de swamp widout her
knowin' 'bout it at all. En den she 'mence' ter 'member little things
w'at she hadn' tuk no notice of befo', en w'at 'u'd make it 'pear lak
Jeff had sump'n on his min'.

"Chloe set a monst'us heap er sto' by Jeff, en would 'a' done mos'
anythin' fer 'im, so long ez he stuck ter her. But Chloe wuz a mighty
jealous 'oman, en w'iles she didn' b'liebe w'at Hannibal said, she seed
how it COULD 'a' be'n so, en she 'termine' fer ter fin' out fer herse'f
whuther it WUZ so er no.

"Now, Chloe hadn' seed Jeff all day, fer Mars' Dugal' had sont Jeff ober
ter his daughter's house, young Mis' Ma'g'ret's, w'at libbed 'bout fo'
miles fum Mars' Dugal's, en Jeff wuzn' 'spected home 'tel ebenin'. But
des atter supper wuz ober, en w'iles de ladies wuz settin' out on de
piazzer, Chloe slip' off fum de house en run down de road,--dis yer
same road we come; en w'en she got mos' ter de crick--dis yer same crick
right befo' us--she kin' er kip' in de bushes at de side er de road,
'tel fin'ly she seed Jeff settin' on de back on de udder side er de
crick,--right under dat ole willer tree droopin' ober de watah yander.
En ev'y now en den he'd git up en look up de road to'ds Mars' Marrabo's
on de udder side er de swamp.

"Fus' Chloe felt lak she'd go right ober de crick en gib Jeff a piece er
her min'. Den she 'lowed she better be sho' befo' she done anythin'. So
she helt herse'f in de bes' she could, gittin' madder en madder ev'ry
minute, 'tel bimeby she seed a 'oman comin' down de road on de udder
side fum to'ds Mars' Marrabo Utley's plantation. En w'en she seed Jeff
jump up en run to'ds dat 'oman, en th'ow his a'ms roun' her neck, po'
Chloe didn' stop ter see no mo', but des tu'nt roun' en run up ter de
house, en rush' up on de piazzer, en up en tol' Mars' Dugal' en ole mis'
all 'bout de baby-doll, en all 'bout Jeff gittin' de goopher fum Aun'
Peggy, en 'bout w'at de goopher had done ter Hannibal.

"Mars' Dugal' wuz monst'us mad. He didn' let on at fus' lak he b'liebed
Chloe, but w'en she tuk en showed 'im whar ter fin' de baby-doll, Mars'
Dugal' tu'nt w'ite ez chalk.

"'What debil's wuk is dis?' sezee. 'No wonder de po' nigger's feet
eetched. Sump'n got ter be done ter l'arn dat ole witch ter keep her
han's off'n my niggers. En ez fer dis yer Jeff, I'm gwine ter do des
w'at I promus', so de darkies on dis plantation'll know I means w'at I

"Fer Mars' Dugal' had warned de han's befo' 'bout foolin' wid
cunju'ation; fac', he had los' one er two niggers hisse'f fum dey bein'
goophered, en he would 'a' had ole Aun' Peggy whip' long ago, on'y Aun'
Peggy wuz a free 'oman, en he wuz 'feard she'd cunjuh him. En wi'les
Mars' Dugal' say he didn' b'liebe in cunj'in' en sich, he 'peared ter
'low it wuz bes' ter be on de safe side, en let Aun' Peggy alone.

"So Mars' Dugal' done des ez he say. Ef ole mis' had ple'd fer Jeff he
mought 'a' kep' 'im. But ole mis' hadn' got ober losin' dem bulbs yit,
en she nebber said a wud. Mars' Dugal' tuk Jeff ter town nex' day en'
sol' 'im ter a spekilater, who sta'ted down de ribber wid 'im nex'
mawnin' on a steamboat, fer ter take 'im ter Alabama.

"Now, w'en Chloe tol' ole Mars' Dugal' 'bout dis yer baby-doll en dis
udder goopher, she hadn' ha'dly 'lowed Mars' Dugal' would sell Jeff down
Souf. Howsomeber, she wuz so mad wid Jeff dat she 'suaded herse'f she
didn' keer; en so she hilt her head up en went roun' lookin' lak she wuz
rale glad 'bout it. But one day she wuz walkin' down de road, w'en who
sh'd come 'long but dis yer Hannibal.

"W'en Hannibal seed 'er he bus' out laffin' fittin' fer ter kill: 'Yah,
yah, yah! ho, ho, ho! ha, ha, ha! Oh, hol' me, honey, hol' me, er I'll
laf myse'f ter def. I ain' nebber laf' so much sence I be'n bawn.'

"'W'at you laffin' at, Hot-Foot?'

"'Yah, yah, yah! W'at I laffin' at? W'y, I's laffin' at myse'f, tooby
sho',--laffin' ter think w'at a fine 'oman I made.'

"Chloe tu'nt pale, en her hea't come up in her mouf.

"'W'at you mean, nigger?' sez she, ketchin' holt er a bush by de road
fer ter stiddy herse'f. 'W'at you mean by de kin' er 'oman you made?'

"W'at do I mean? I means dat I got squared up wid you fer treatin' me
de way you done, en I got eben wid dat yaller nigger Jeff fer cuttin' me
out. Now, he's gwine ter know w'at it is ter eat co'n bread en merlasses
once mo', en wuk fum daylight ter da'k, en ter hab a oberseah dribin'
'im fum one day's een' ter de udder. I means dat I sont wud ter Jeff dat
Sunday dat you wuz gwine ter be ober ter Mars' Marrabo's visitin' dat
ebenin', en you want i'm ter meet you down by de crick on de way home en
go de rest er de road wid you. En den I put on a frock en a sun-bonnet
en fix' myse'f up ter look lak a 'oman; en w'en Jeff seed me comin' he
run ter meet me, en you seed 'im,--fer I had be'n watchin' in de bushes
befo' en 'skivered you comin' down de road. En now I reckon you en Jeff
bofe knows w'at it means ter mess wid a nigger lak me.'

"Po' Chloe hadn' heared mo' d'n half er de las' part er w'at Hannibal
said, but she had heared 'nuff to l'arn dat dis nigger had fooler her en
Jeff, en dat po' Jeff hadn' done nuffin', en dat fer lovin' her too much
en goin' ter meet her she had cause' 'im ter be sol' erway whar she'd
nebber, nebber see 'im no mo'. De sun mought shine by day, de moon by
night, de flowers mought bloom, en de mawkin'-birds mought sing, but po'
Jeff wuz done los' ter her fereber en fereber.

"Hannibal hadn' mo' d'n finish' w'at he had ter say, w'en Chloe's knees
gun 'way unner her, en she fell down in de road, en lay dere half a'
hour er so befo' she come to. W'en she did, she crep' up ter de house
des ez pale ez a ghos'. En fer a mont' er so she crawled roun' de house,
en 'peared ter be so po'ly dat Mars' Dugal' sont fer a doctor; en de
doctor kep' on axin' her questions 'tel he foun' she wuz des pinin'
erway fer Jeff.

"W'en he tol' Mars' Dugal', Mars' Dugal' lafft, en said he'd fix dat.
She could hab de noo house boy fer a husban'. But ole mis' say, no,
Chloe ain' dat kinder gal, en dat Mars' Dugal' should buy Jeff back.

"So Mars' Dugal' writ a letter ter dis yer spekilater down ter
Wim'l'ton, en tol' ef he ain' done sol' dat nigger Souf w'at he bought
fum 'im, he'd lak ter buy 'm back ag'in. Chloe 'mence' ter pick up a
little w'en ole mis' tol' her 'bout dis letter. Howsomeber, bimeby Mars'
Dugal' got a' answer fum de spekilater, who said he wuz monst'us sorry,
but Jeff had fell ove'boa'd er jumped off'n de steamboat on de way ter
Wim'l'ton, en got drownded, en co'se he couldn' sell 'im back, much ez
he'd lak ter 'bleedge Mars' Dugal'.

"Well, atter Chloe heared dis she pu'tended ter do her wuk, en ole mis'
wa'n't much mo' use ter nobody. She put up wid her, en hed de doctor gib
her medicine, en let 'er go ter de circus, en all so'ts er things fer
ter take her min' off'n her troubles. But dey didn' none un 'em do no
good. Chloe got ter slippin' down here in de ebenin' des lak she 'uz
comin' ter meet Jeff, en she'd set dere unner dat willer tree on de
udder side, en wait fer 'im, night atter night. Bimeby she got so bad
de w'ite folks sont her ober ter young Mis' Ma'g'ret's fer ter gib her
a change; but she runned erway de fus' night, en w'en dey looked fer
'er nex' mawnin' dey foun' her co'pse layin' in de branch yander, right
'cross fum whar we're settin' now.

"Eber sence den," said Julius in conclusion, "Chloe's ha'nt comes eve'y
ebenin' en sets down unner dat willer tree en waits fer Jeff, er e'se
walks up en down de road yander, lookin' en lookin', en' [sic] waitin'
en waitin', fer her sweethea't w'at ain' nebber, nebber come back ter
her no mo'."

There was silence when the old man had finished, and I am sure I saw a
tear in my wife's eye, and more than one in Mabel's.

"I think, Julius," said my wife after a moment, "that you may turn the
mare around and go by the long road."

The old man obeyed with alacrity, and I noticed no reluctance on the
mare's part.

"You are not afraid of Chloe's haunt, are you?" I asked jocularly.

My mood was not responded to, and neither of the ladies smiled.

"Oh no," said Annie, "but I've changed my mind. I prefer the other

When we had reached the main road and had proceeded along it for a short
distance, we met a cart driven by a young negro, and on the cart were
a trunk and a valise. We recognized the man as Malcolm Murchison's
servant, and drew up a moment to speak to him.

"Who's going away, Marshall?" I inquired.

"Young Mistah Ma'colm gwine 'way on de boat ter Noo Yo'k dis ebenin',
suh, en I'm takin' his things down ter de wharf, suh."

This was news to me, and I heard it with regret. My wife looked sorry,
too, and I could see that Mabel was trying hard to hide her concern.

"He's comin' 'long behin', suh, en I 'spec's you'll meet 'im up de road
a piece. He's gwine ter walk down ez fur ez Mistah Jim Williams's, en
take de buggy fum dere ter town. He 'spec's ter be gone a long time,
suh, en say prob'ly he ain' nebber comin' back."

The man drove on. There were a few words exchanged in an undertone
between my wife and Mabel, which I did not catch. Then Annie
said: "Julius, you may stop the rockaway a moment. There are some
trumpet-flowers by the road there that I want. Will you get them for me,

I sprang into the underbrush, and soon returned with a great bunch of
scarlet blossoms.

"Where is Mabel?" I asked, noting her absence.

"She has walked on ahead. We shall overtake her in a few minutes."

The carriage had gone only a short distance when my wife discovered that
she had dropped her fan.

"I had it where we were stopping. Julius, will you go back and get it
for me?"

Julius got down and went back for the fan. He was an unconscionably long
time finding it. After we got started again we had gone only a little
way, when we saw Mabel and young Murchison coming toward us. They were
walking arm in arm, and their faces were aglow with the light of love.

I do not know whether or not Julius had a previous understanding with
Malcolm Murchison by which he was to drive us round by the long road
that day, nor do I know exactly what motive influenced the old man's
exertions in the matter. He was fond of Mabel, but I was old enough, and
knew Julius well enough, to be skeptical of his motives. It is certain
that a most excellent understanding existed between him and Murchison
after the reconciliation, and that when the young people set up
housekeeping over at the old Murchison place Julius had an opportunity
to enter their service. For some reason or other, however, he preferred
to remain with us. The mare, I might add, was never known to balk again.


Once upon a time I taught school in the hills of Tennessee, where the
broad dark vale of the Mississippi begins to roll and crumple to greet
the Alleghanies. I was a Fisk student then, and all Fisk men think that
Tennessee--beyond the Veil--is theirs alone, and in vacation time they
sally forth in lusty bands to meet the county school commissioners.
Young and happy, I too went, and I shall not soon forget that summer,
ten years ago.

First, there was a teachers' Institute at the county-seat; and there
distinguished guests of the superintendent taught the teachers fractions
and spelling and other mysteries,--white teachers in the morning,
Negroes at night. A picnic now and then, and a supper, and the rough
world was softened by laughter and song. I remember how--But I wander.

There came a day when all the teachers left the Institute, and began
the hunt for schools. I learn from hearsay (for my mother was mortally
afraid of firearms) that the hunting of ducks and bears and men is
wonderfully interesting, but I am sure that the man who has never hunted
a country school has something to learn of the pleasures of the chase.
I see now the white, hot roads lazily rise and fall and wind before me
under the burning July sun; I feel the deep weariness of heart and limb,
as ten, eight, six miles stretch relentlessly ahead; I feel my heart
sink heavily as I hear again and again, "Got a teacher? Yes." So I
walked on and on,--horses were too expensive,--until I had wandered
beyond railways, beyond stage lines, to a land of "varmints" and
rattlesnakes, where the coming of a stranger was an event, and men lived
and died in the shadow of one blue hill.

Sprinkled over hill and dale lay cabins and farmhouses, shut out from
the world by the forests and the rolling hills toward the east. There
I found at last a little school. Josie told me of it; she was a thin,
homely girl of twenty, with a dark brown face and thick, hard hair. I
had crossed the stream at Watertown, and rested under the great willows;
then I had gone to the little cabin in the lot where Josie was resting
on her way to town. The gaunt farmer made me welcome, and Josie, hearing
my errand, told me anxiously that they wanted a school over the hill;
that but once since the war had a teacher been there; that she herself
longed to learn,--and thus she ran on, talking fast and loud, with much
earnestness and energy.

Next morning I crossed the tall round hill, lingered to look at the blue
and yellow mountains stretching toward the Carolinas; then I plunged
into the wood, and came out at Josie's home. It was a dull frame cottage
with four rooms, perched just below the brow of the hill, amid peach
trees. The father was a quiet, simple soul, calmly ignorant, with no
touch of vulgarity. The mother was different,--strong, bustling, and
energetic, with a quick, restless tongue, and an ambition to live "like
folks." There was a crowd of children. Two boys had gone away. There
remained two growing girls; a shy midget of eight; John, tall, awkward,
and eighteen; Jim, younger, quicker, and better looking; and two babies
of indefinite age. Then there was Josie herself. She seemed to be
the centre of the family: always busy at service or at home, or
berry-picking; a little nervous and inclined to scold, like her
mother, yet faithful, too, like her father. She had about her a
certain fineness, the shadow of an unconscious moral heroism that would
willingly give all of life to make life broader, deeper, and fuller for
her and hers. I saw much of this family afterward, and grew to love them
for their honest efforts to be decent and comfortable, and for their
knowledge of their own ignorance. There was with them no affectation.
The mother would scold the father for being so "easy;" Josie would
roundly rate the boys for carelessness; and all knew that it was a hard
thing to dig a living out of a rocky side hill.

I secured the school. I remember the day I rode horseback out to the
commissioner's house, with a pleasant young white fellow, who wanted the
white school. The road ran down the bed of a stream; the sun laughed
and the water jingled, and we rode on. "Come in," said the
commissioner,--"come in. Have a seat. Yes, that certificate will do.
Stay to dinner. What do you want a month?" Oh, thought I, this is lucky;
but even then fell the awful shadow of the Veil, for they ate first,
then I--alone.

The schoolhouse was a log hut, where Colonel Wheeler used to shelter
his corn. It sat in a lot behind a rail fence and thorn bushes, near the
sweetest of springs. There was an entrance where a door once was, and
within, a massive rickety fireplace; great chinks between the logs
served as windows. Furniture was scarce. A pale blackboard crouched in
the corner. My desk was made of three boards, reinforced at critical
points, and my chair, borrowed from the landlady, had to be returned
every night. Seats for the children,--these puzzled me much. I was
haunted by a New England vision of neat little desks and chairs, but,
alas, the reality was rough plank benches without backs, and at
times without legs. They had the one virtue of making naps
dangerous,--possibly fatal, for the floor was not to be trusted.

It was a hot morning late in July when the school opened. I trembled
when I heard the patter of little feet down the dusty road, and saw the
growing row of dark solemn faces and bright eager eyes facing me. First
came Josie and her brothers and sisters. The longing to know, to be a
student in the great school at Nashville, hovered like a star above this
child woman amid her work and worry, and she studied doggedly. There
were the Dowells from their farm over toward Alexandria: Fanny, with her
smooth black face and wondering eyes; Martha, brown and dull; the pretty
girl wife of a brother, and the younger brood. There were the Burkes,
two brown and yellow lads, and a tiny haughty-eyed girl. Fat Reuben's
little chubby girl came, with golden face and old gold hair, faithful
and solemn. 'Thenie was on hand early,--a jolly, ugly, good-hearted
girl, who slyly dipped snuff and looked after her little bow-legged
brother. When her mother could spare her, 'Tildy came,--a midnight
beauty, with starry eyes and tapering limbs; and her brother,
correspondingly homely. And then the big boys: the hulking Lawrences;
the lazy Neills, unfathered sons of mother and daughter; Hickman, with a
stoop in his shoulders; and the rest.

There they sat, nearly thirty of them, on the rough benches, their faces
shading from a pale cream to a deep brown, the little feet bare and
swinging, the eyes full of expectation, with here and there a twinkle
of mischief, and the hands grasping Webster's blue-back spelling-book.
I loved my school, and the fine faith the children had in the wisdom of
their teacher was truly marvelous. We read and spelled together, wrote
a little, picked flowers, sang, and listened to stories of the world
beyond the hill. At times the school would dwindle away, and I would
start out. I would visit Mun Eddings, who lived in two very dirty rooms,
and ask why little Lugene, whose flaming face seemed ever ablaze with
the dark red hair uncombed, was absent all last week, or why I missed
so often the inimitable rags of Mack and Ed. Then the father, who worked
Colonel Wheeler's farm on shares, would tell me how the crops needed the
boys; and the thin, slovenly mother, whose face was pretty when washed,
assured me that Lugene must mind the baby. "But we'll start them again
next week." When the Lawrences stopped, I knew that the doubts of the
old folks about book-learning had conquered again, and so, toiling up
the hill, and getting as far into the cabin as possible, I put Cicero
pro Archia Poeta into the simplest English with local applications, and
usually convinced them--for a week or so.

On Friday nights I often went home with some of the children; sometimes
to Doc Burke's farm. He was a great, loud, thin Black, ever working, and
trying to buy the seventy-five acres of hill and dale where he lived;
but people said that he would surely fail, and the "white folks would
get it all." His wife was a magnificent Amazon, with saffron face and
shining hair, uncorseted and barefooted, and the children were strong
and beautiful. They lived in a one-and-a-half-room cabin in the hollow
of the farm, near the spring. The front room was full of great fat white
beds, scrupulously neat; and there were bad chromos on the walls, and
a tired centre-table. In the tiny back kitchen I was often invited to
"take out and help" myself to fried chicken and wheat biscuit, "meat"
and corn pone, string beans and berries. At first I used to be a
little alarmed at the approach of bed-time in the one lone bedroom, but
embarrassment was very deftly avoided. First, all the children nodded
and slept, and were stowed away in one great pile of goose feathers;
next, the mother and the father discreetly slipped away to the kitchen
while I went to bed; then, blowing out the dim light, they retired
in the dark. In the morning all were up and away before I thought of
awaking. Across the road, where fat Reuben lived, they all went outdoors
while the teacher retired, because they did not boast the luxury of a

I liked to stay with the Dowells, for they had four rooms and plenty
of good country fare. Uncle Bird had a small, rough farm, all woods and
hills, miles from the big road; but he was full of tales,--he preached
now and then,--and with his children, berries, horses, and wheat he was
happy and prosperous. Often, to keep the peace, I must go where life
was less lovely; for instance, 'Tildy's mother was incorrigibly dirty,
Reuben's larder was limited seriously, and herds of untamed bedbugs
wandered over the Eddingses' beds. Best of all I loved to go to Josie's,
and sit on the porch, eating peaches, while the mother bustled and
talked: how Josie had bought the sewing-machine; how Josie worked at
service in winter, but that four dollars a month was "mighty little"
wages; how Josie longed to go away to school, but that it "looked like"
they never could get far enough ahead to let her; how the crops failed
and the well was yet unfinished; and, finally, how "mean" some of the
white folks were.

For two summers I lived in this little world; it was dull and humdrum.
The girls looked at the hill in wistful longing, and the boys fretted,
and haunted Alexandria. Alexandria was "town,"--a straggling, lazy
village of houses, churches, and shops, and an aristocracy of Toms,
Dicks, and Captains. Cuddled on the hill to the north was the village of
the colored folks, who lived in three or four room unpainted cottages,
some neat and homelike, and some dirty. The dwellings were scattered
rather aimlessly, but they centred about the twin temples of the hamlet,
the Methodist and the Hard-Shell Baptist churches. These, in turn,
leaned gingerly on a sad-colored schoolhouse. Hither my little world
wended its crooked way on Sunday to meet other worlds, and gossip, and
wonder, and make the weekly sacrifice with frenzied priest at the altar
of the "old-time religion." Then the soft melody and mighty cadences of
Negro song fluttered and thundered.

I have called my tiny community a world, and so its isolation made it;
and yet there was among us but a half-awakened common consciousness,
sprung from common joy and grief, at burial, birth, or wedding; from a
common hardship in poverty, poor land, and low wages; and, above all,
from the sight of the Veil that hung between us and Opportunity. All
this caused us to think some thoughts together; but these, when ripe for
speech, were spoken in various languages. Those whose eyes thirty and
more years before had seen "the glory of the coming of the Lord" saw
in every present hindrance or help a dark fatalism bound to bring all
things right in His own good time. The mass of those to whom slavery
was a dim recollection of childhood found the world a puzzling thing:
it asked little of them, and they answered with little, and yet it
ridiculed their offering. Such a paradox they could not understand, and
therefore sank into listless indifference, or shiftlessness, or reckless
bravado. There were, however, some such as Josie, Jim, and Ben,--they
to whom War, Hell, and Slavery were but childhood tales, whose
young appetites had been whetted to an edge by school and story and
half-awakened thought. Ill could they be content, born without
and beyond the World. And their weak wings beat against their
barriers,--barriers of caste, of youth, of life; at last, in dangerous
moments, against everything that opposed even a whim.

The ten years that follow youth, the years when first the realization
comes that life is leading somewhere,--these were the years that passed
after I left my little school. When they were past, I came by chance
once more to the walls of Fisk University, to the halls of the chapel
of melody. As I lingered there in the joy and pain of meeting old school
friends, there swept over me a sudden longing to pass again beyond the
blue hill, and to see the homes and the school of other days, and to
learn how life had gone with my school-children; and I went.

Josie was dead, and the gray-haired mother said simply, "We've had a
heap of trouble since you've been away." I had feared for Jim. With a
cultured parentage and a social caste to uphold him, he might have made
a venturesome merchant or a West Point cadet. But here he was, angry
with life and reckless; and when Farmer Durham charged him with stealing
wheat, the old man had to ride fast to escape the stones which the
furious fool hurled after him. They told Jim to run away; but he would
not run, and the constable came that afternoon. It grieved Josie, and
great awkward John walked nine miles every day to see his little brother
through the bars of Lebanon jail. At last the two came back together in
the dark night. The mother cooked supper, and Josie emptied her purse,
and the boys stole away. Josie grew thin and silent, yet worked the
more. The hill became steep for the quiet old father, and with the boys
away there was little to do in the valley. Josie helped them sell the
old farm, and they moved nearer town. Brother Dennis, the carpenter,
built a new house with six rooms; Josie toiled a year in Nashville,
and brought back ninety dollars to furnish the house and change it to a

When the spring came, and the birds twittered, and the stream ran proud
and full, little sister Lizzie, bold and thoughtless, flushed with the
passion of youth, bestowed herself on the tempter, and brought home
a nameless child. Josie shivered, and worked on, with the vision of
schooldays all fled, with a face wan and tired,--worked until, on a
summer's day, some one married another; then Josie crept to her mother
like a hurt child, and slept--and sleeps.

I paused to scent the breeze as I entered the valley. The Lawrences have
gone; father and son forever, and the other son lazily digs in the earth
to live. A new young widow rents out their cabin to fat Reuben. Reuben
is a Baptist preacher now, but I fear as lazy as ever, though his cabin
has three rooms; and little Ella has grown into a bouncing woman, and is
ploughing corn on the hot hillside. There are babies a plenty, and one
half-witted girl. Across the valley is a house I did not know before,
and there I found, rocking one baby and expecting another, one of
my schoolgirls, a daughter of Uncle Bird Dowell. She looked somewhat
worried with her new duties, but soon bristled into pride over her neat
cabin, and the tale of her thrifty husband, the horse and cow, and the
farm they were planning to buy.

My log schoolhouse was gone. In its place stood Progress, and Progress,
I understand, is necessarily ugly. The crazy foundation stones still
marked the former site of my poor little cabin, and not far away, on six
weary boulders, perched a jaunty board house, perhaps twenty by thirty
feet, with three windows and a door that locked. Some of the window
glass was broken, and part of an old iron stove lay mournfully under
the house. I peeped through the window half reverently, and found things
that were more familiar. The blackboard had grown by about two feet, and
the seats were still without backs. The county owns the lot now, I hear,
and every year there is a session of school. As I sat by the spring and
looked on the Old and the New I felt glad, very glad, and yet--

After two long drinks I started on. There was the great double log house
on the corner. I remembered the broken, blighted family that used to
live there. The strong, hard face of the mother, with its wilderness
of hair, rose before me. She had driven her husband away, and while
I taught school a strange man lived there, big and jovial, and people
talked. I felt sure that Ben and 'Tildy would come to naught from such
a home. But this is an odd world; for Ben is a busy farmer in Smith
County, "doing well, too," they say, and he had cared for little 'Tildy
until last spring, when a lover married her. A hard life the lad had
led, toiling for meat, and laughed at because he was homely and crooked.
There was Sam Carlon, an impudent old skinflint, who had definite
notions about niggers, and hired Ben a summer and would not pay him.
Then the hungry boy gathered his sacks together, and in broad daylight
went into Carlon's corn; and when the hard-fisted farmer set upon him,
the angry boy flew at him like a beast. Doc Burke saved a murder and a
lynching that day.

The story reminded me again of the Burkes, and an impatience seized me
to know who won in the battle, Doc or the seventy-five acres. For it is
a hard thing to make a farm out of nothing, even in fifteen years. So
I hurried on, thinking of the Burkes. They used to have a certain
magnificent barbarism about them that I liked. They were never vulgar,
never immoral, but rather rough and primitive, with an unconventionality
that spent itself in loud guffaws, slaps on the back, and naps in the
corner. I hurried by the cottage of the misborn Neill boys. It was
empty, and they were grown into fat, lazy farm hands. I saw the home of
the Hickmans, but Albert, with his stooping shoulders, had passed from
the world. Then I came to the Burkes' gate and peered through; the
inclosure looked rough and untrimmed, and yet there were the same fences
around the old farm save to the left, where lay twenty-five other acres.
And lo! the cabin in the hollow had climbed the hill and swollen to a
half-finished six-room cottage.

The Burkes held a hundred acres, but they were still in debt. Indeed,
the gaunt father who toiled night and day would scarcely be happy out of
debt, being so used to it. Some day he must stop, for his massive frame
is showing decline. The mother wore shoes, but the lionlike physique of
other days was broken. The children had grown up. Rob, the image of his
father, was loud and rough with laughter. Birdie, my school baby of
six, had grown to a picture of maiden beauty, tall and tawny. "Edgar
is gone," said the mother, with head half bowed,--"gone to work in
Nashville; he and his father couldn't agree."

Little Doc, the boy born since the time of my school, took me horseback
down the creek next morning toward Farmer Dowell's. The road and the
stream were battling for mastery, and the stream had the better of it.
We splashed and waded, and the merry boy, perched behind me, chattered
and laughed. He showed me where Simon Thompson had bought a bit of
ground and a home; but his daughter Lana, a plump, brown, slow girl, was
not there. She had married a man and a farm twenty miles away. We wound
on down the stream till we came to a gate that I did not recognize, but
the boy insisted that it was "Uncle Bird's." The farm was fat with the
growing crop. In that little valley was a strange stillness as I rode
up; for death and marriage had stolen youth, and left age and childhood
there. We sat and talked that night, after the chores were done. Uncle
Bird was grayer, and his eyes did not see so well, but he was still
jovial. We talked of the acres bought,--one hundred and twenty-five,--of
the new guest chamber added, of Martha's marrying. Then we talked of
death: Fanny and Fred were gone; a shadow hung over the other daughter,
and when it lifted she was to go to Nashville to school. At last we
spoke of the neighbors, and as night fell Uncle Bird told me how, on a
night like that, 'Thenie came wandering back to her home over yonder, to
escape the blows of her husband. And next morning she died in the home
that her little bow-legged brother, working and saving, had bought for
their widowed mother.

My journey was done, and behind me lay hill and dale, and Life and
Death. How shall man measure Progress there where the dark-faced Josie
lies? How many heartfuls of sorrow shall balance a bushel of wheat? How
hard a thing is life to the lowly, and yet how human and real! And
all this life and love and strife and failure,--is it the twilight of
nightfall or the flush of some faint-dawning day?

Thus sadly musing, I rode to Nashville in the Jim Crow car.


From 1830 to 1850 both Great Britain and the United States, by joint
convention, kept on the coast of Africa at least eighty guns afloat for
the suppression of the slave trade. Most of the vessels so employed were
small corvettes, brigs, or schooners; steam at that time was just being
introduced into the navies of the world.

Nearly fifty years ago I was midshipman on the United States brig
Porpoise, of ten guns. Some of my readers may remember these little
ten-gun coffins, as many of them proved to be to their crews. The
Porpoise was a fair sample of the type; a full-rigged brig of one
hundred and thirty tons, heavily sparred, deep waisted, and carrying a
battery of eight twenty-four-pound carronades and two long chasers; so
wet that even in a moderate breeze or sea it was necessary to batten
down; and so tender that she required careful watching; only five feet
between decks, her quarters were necessarily cramped and uncomfortable,
and, as far as possible, we lived on deck. With a crew of eighty all
told, Lieutenant Thompson was in command, Lieutenant Bukett executive
officer, and two midshipmen were the line officers. She was so slow that
we could hardly hope for a prize except by a fluke. Repeatedly we had
chased suspicious craft only to be out-sailed.

At this time the traffic in slaves was very brisk; the demand in the
Brazils, in Cuba, and in other Spanish West Indies was urgent, and the
profit of the business so great that two or three successful ventures
would enrich any one. The slavers were generally small, handy craft;
fast, of course; usually schooner-rigged, and carrying flying topsails
and forecourse. Many were built in England or elsewhere purposely
for the business, without, of course, the knowledge of the builders,
ostensibly as yachts or traders. The Spaniards and Portuguese were the
principal offenders, with occasionally an English-speaking renegade.

The slave depots, or barracoons, were generally located some miles up a
river. Here the slaver was secure from capture and could embark his live
cargo at his leisure. Keeping a sharp lookout on the coast, the dealers
were able to follow the movements of the cruisers, and by means of
smoke, or in other ways, signal when the coast was clear for the coming
down the river and sailing of the loaded craft. Before taking in the
cargoes they were always fortified with all the necessary papers and
documents to show they were engaged in legitimate commerce, so it was
only when caught in flagrante delicto that we could hold them.

We had been cruising off the coast of Liberia doing nothing, when we
were ordered to the Gulf of Guinea to watch the Bonny and Cameroons
mouths of the great Niger River. Our consort was H.M. schooner Bright,
a beautiful craft about our tonnage, but with half our crew, and able to
sail three miles to our two. She was an old slaver, captured and adapted
as a cruiser. She had been very successful, making several important
captures of full cargoes, and twice or thrice her commanding officer
and others had been promoted. Working our way slowly down the coast in
company with the Bright, we would occasionally send a boat on shore to
reconnoitre or gather any information we could from the natives through
our Krooman interpreter. A few glasses of rum or a string of beads would
loosen the tongue of almost any one. At Little Bonny we heard that
two vessels were some miles up the river, ready to sail, and were only
waiting until the coast was clear. Captain James, of the Bright, thought
that one, if not both, would sail from another outlet of the river,
about thirty miles to the southward, and determined to watch it.

We both stood to that direction. Of course we were watched from the
shore, and the slavers were kept posted as to our movements. They
supposed we had both gone to the Cameroons, leaving Little Bonny open;
but after dark, with a light land breeze, we wore round and stood to the
northward, keeping offshore some distance, so that captains leaving the
river might have sufficient offing to prevent their reaching port again
or beaching their craft. At daybreak, as far as we could judge, we were
about twenty miles offshore to the northward and westward of Little
Bonny, in the track of any vessel bound for the West Indies. The night
was dark with occasional rain squalls, when the heavens would open and
the water come down in a flood. Anxiously we all watched for daylight,
which comes under the equator with a suddenness very different from the
prolonged twilight of higher latitudes. At the first glimmer in the east
every eye was strained on the horizon, all eager, all anxious to be the
first to sight anything within our vision. The darkness soon gave way to
gray morn. Day was dawning, when suddenly a Krooman by my side seized
my hand and, without saying a word, pointed inshore. I looked, but
could see nothing. All eyes were focused in that direction, and in a few
minutes the faint outline of a vessel appeared against the sky. She was
some miles inshore of us, and as the day brightened we made her out to
be a brigantine (an uncommon rig in those days), standing across
our bows, with all studding sails set on the starboard side, indeed
everything that could pull, including water sails and save-all. We were
on the same tack heading to the northward. We set everything that would
draw, and kept off two points, bringing the wind abeam so as to head her

The breeze was light and off the land. We had not yet been seen against
the darker western horizon, but we knew it could only be a few minutes
longer before their sharp eyes would make us out. Soon we saw the
studding sails and all kites come down by the run and her yards braced
up sharp on the same tack as ours. We also hauled by the wind. At
sunrise she was four points on our weather bow, distant about four
miles. We soon perceived that she could outsail our brig and if the wind
held would escape. Gradually she drew away from us until she was hull
down. Our only hope now was that the land breeze would cease and the sea
breeze come in. As the sun rose we gladly noticed the wind lessening,
until at eleven o'clock it was calm. Not a breath ruffled the surface of
the sea; the sun's rays in the zenith were reflected as from a mirror;
the waters seemed like molten lead.

I know of nothing more depressing than a calm in the tropics,--a raging
sun overhead, around an endless expanse of dead sea, and a feeling of
utter helplessness that is overpowering. What if this should last? what
a fate! The Rime of the Ancient Mariner comes to our mind. Come storm
and tempest, come hurricanes and blizzards, anything but an endless
stagnation. For some hours we watched earnestly the horizon to the
westward, looking for the first dark break on the smooth sea. Not a
cloud was in the heavens. The brig appeared to be leaving us either by
towing or by sweeps; only her topgallant sail was above the horizon. It
looked as if the sea breeze would desert us. It usually came in about
one o'clock, but that hour and another had passed and yet we watched
for the first change. Without a breeze our chances of overhauling the
stranger were gone. Only a white speck like the wing of a gull now
marked her whereabouts on the edge of the horizon, and in another hour
she would be invisible even from the masthead.

When we were about to despair, our head Krooman drew the captain's
attention to the westward and said the breeze was coming. We saw no
signs of it, but his quick eye had noticed light feathery clouds rising
to the westward, a sure indication of the coming breeze. Soon we could
see the glassy surface ruffled at different points as the breeze danced
over it, coming on like an advancing line of skirmishers; and as we felt
its first gentle movement on our parched faces, it was welcome indeed,
putting new life into all of us. The crew needed no encouragement to
spring to their work. As the little brig felt the breeze and gathered
steerageway, she was headed for the chase, bringing the wind on her
starboard quarter. In less than five minutes all the studding sails that
would draw were set, as well as everything that would pull. The best
quartermaster was sent to the wheel, with orders to keep the chase
directly over the weather end of the spritsail yard. The captain ordered
the sails wet, an expedient I never had much faith in, unless the sails
are very old. But as if to recompense us for the delay, the breeze came
in strong and steady. Our one hope now was to follow it up close, and to
carry it within gunshot of the brig, for if she caught it before we
were within range she would certainly escape. All hands were piped to
quarters, and the long eighteen-pounder on the forecastle was loaded
with a full service charge; on this piece we relied to cripple the
chase. We were now rapidly raising her, and I was sent aloft on the fore
topsail yard, with a good glass to watch her movements. Her hull was
in sight and she was still becalmed, though her head was pointed in the
right direction, and everything was set to catch the coming breeze.
She carried a boat on each side at the davits like a man-of-war, and I
reported that I could make out men securing them. They had been towing
her, and only stopped when they saw us drawing near.

Anxiously we watched the breeze on the water as it narrowed the sheen
between us, and we were yet two miles or more distant when she first
felt the breeze. As she did so we hoisted the English blue ensign,--for
the fleet at this time was under a Rear Admiral of the Blue,--and fired
a weather gun, but no response was made. Fortunately the wind continued
to freshen and the Porpoise was doing wonderfully well. We were rapidly
closing the distance between us. We fired another gun, but no attention
was paid to it. I noticed from the movements of the crew of the brig
that they were getting ready for some manoeuvre, and reported to the
captain. He divined at once what the manoeuvre would be, and ordered the
braces be led along, hands by the studding-sail halyards and tacks,
and everything ready to haul by the wind. We felt certain now of the
character of our friend, and the men were already calculating the amount
of their prize money. We were now within range, and must clip her wings
if possible.

The first lieutenant was ordered to open fire with the eighteen-pounder.
Carefully the gun was laid, and as the order "fire" was given, down came
our English flag, and the stop of the Stars and Stripes was broken
at the gaff. The first shot touched the water abeam of the chase and
ricochetted ahead of her. She showed the Spanish flag. The captain of
the gun was ordered to elevate a little more and try again. The second
shot let daylight through her fore topsail, but the third was wide

Then the sharp, quick order of the captain, "Fore topsail yard there,
come down on deck, sir!" brought me down on the run. "Have both cutters
cleared away and ready for lowering," were my orders as I reached the
quarter-deck. Practice from the bow chasers continued, but the smoke
that drifted ahead of us interfered with the accuracy of the firing,
and no vital part was touched, though a number of shots went through
her sails. The captain in the main rigging never took his eye from the
Spaniard, evidently expecting that as a fox when hard pressed doubles
on the hounds, the chase would attempt the same thing. And he was not
disappointed, for when we had come within easy range of her, the smoke
hid her from view for a few minutes, and as it dispersed the first
glimpse showed the captain that her studding sails had all gone, and
that she had hauled by the wind, standing across our weather bow. Her
captain had lost no time in taking in his studding sails; halyards,
tacks, and sheets had all been cut together and dropped overboard.

It was a bold and well-executed manoeuvre, and we could not help
admiring the skill with which she was handled. However, we had been
prepared for this move. "Ease down your helm." "Lower away. Haul down
the studding sails." "Ease away the weather braces. Brace up."
"Trim down the head sheets," were the orders which followed in rapid
succession, and were as quickly executed. The Spaniard was now broad on
our lee bow, distant not more than half a mile, but as she felt the wind
which we brought down she fairly spun through the water, exposing her
bright copper. She was both head-reaching and outsailing us; in half an
hour she would have been right ahead of us, and in an hour the sun would
be down. It was now or never. We could bring nothing to bear except the
gun on the forecastle. Fortunately it continued smooth, and we were no
longer troubled with smoke. Shot after shot went hissing through the air
after her; a number tore through the sails or rigging, but not a spar
was touched nor an important rope cut. We could see some of her crew
aloft reeving and stopping braces and ready to repair any damage done,
working as coolly under fire as old man-of-war's men. But while we were
looking, down came the gaff of her mainsail, and the gaff-topsail fell
all adrift; a lucky shot had cut her peak halyards. Our crew cheered
with a will. "Well done, Hobson; try it again!" called the captain to
the boatswain's mate, who was captain of the gun.

After the next shot, the topgallant yard swayed for a few minutes and
fell forward. The order was given to cease firing; she was at our mercy.
We were rapidly nearing the chase, when she backed her topsail. We kept
off, and when within easy range of the carronades "hove to" to windward.
Lieutenant Bukett was ordered to board her in the first cutter and
take charge. I followed in the second cutter, with orders to bring the
captain on board with his papers. A few strokes sent us alongside of a
brig about our tonnage, but with a low rail and a flush deck. The
crew, some eighteen or twenty fine-looking seamen, were forward eagerly
discussing the situation of affairs. The captain was aft with his two
officers, talking to Lieutenant Bukett. He was fair, with light hair
curling all over his head, beard cut short, about forty years of age,
well set up, with a frame like a Roman wrestler, evidently a tough
customer in a rough-and-ready scrimmage.

He spoke fairly good English, and was violently denouncing the outrage
done to his flag; his government would demand instant satisfaction for
firing upon a legitimate trader on the high seas. I have the lieutenant
Captain Thompson's orders, to bring the captain and his papers on board
at once. His harangue was cut short by orders to get on board my boat.
He swore with a terrible oath that he would never leave his vessel.
"Come on board, men," said I, and twenty of our crew were on deck in a
jiffy. I stationed my coxswain, Parker, at the cabin companion way with
orders to allow no one to pass. "Now," said Lieutenant Bukett to the
Spaniard, "I will take you on board in irons unless you go quietly." He
hesitated a moment, then said he would come as soon as he had gone below
to bring up his papers. "No, never mind your papers; I will find them,"
said the lieutenant, for he saw the devil in the Spaniard's eyes, and
knew he meant mischief. Our captive made one bound for the companion
way, however, and seizing Parker by the throat hurled him into the water
ways as if he had been a rag baby. But fortunately he slipped on a small
grating and fell on his knees, and before he could recover himself two
of our men threw themselves upon him.

I closed the companion way. The struggle was desperate for a few
minutes, for the Spaniard seemed possessed of the furies, and his
efforts were almost superhuman. Twice he threw the men from him across
the deck, but they were reinforced by Parker, who, smarting under his
discomfiture, rushed in, determined to down him. I was anxious to end it
with my pistol, but Lieutenant Bukett would not consent. The Spaniard's
officers and men made some demonstration to assist, but they were
quickly disposed of: his two mates were put in irons and the crew driven
forward. Struggling, fighting, every limb and every muscle at work,
the captain was overpowered; a piece of the signal halyards brought his
hands together, and handcuffs were slipped on his wrists. Only then he
succumbed, and begged Lieutenant Bukett to blow out his brains, for he
had been treated like a pirate.

Without doubt if he had reached the cabin he would have blown up the
vessel, for in a locker over the transom were two open kegs of powder.
I led him to my boat, assisted him in, and returned to the Porpoise.
As soon as the Spaniard reached the deck the captain ordered his irons
removed, and expressed his regret that it had been necessary to use
force. The prisoner only bowed and said nothing. The captain asked him
what his cargo consisted of. He replied, "About four hundred blacks
bound to the Brazils."

I was then ordered to return to the brig, bring on board her crew,
leaving only the cook and steward, and to take charge of the prize as
Lieutenant Bukett, our first lieutenant, was not yet wholly recovered
from an attack of African fever. The crew of twenty men, when brought on
board, consisted of Spaniards, Greeks, Malays, Arabs, white and black,
but had not one Anglo-Saxon. They were ironed in pairs and put under

From the time we first got on board we had heard moans, cries, and
rumblings coming from below, and as soon as the captain and crew were
removed, the hatches had been taken off, when there arose a hot blast as
from a charnel house, sickening and overpowering. In the hold were three
or four hundred human beings, gasping, struggling for breath, dying;
their bodies, limbs, faces, all expressing terrible suffering. In their
agonizing fight for life, some had torn or wounded themselves or
their neighbors dreadfully; some were stiffened in the most unnatural
positions. As soon as I knew the condition of things I sent the boat
back for the doctor and some whiskey. It returned bringing Captain
Thompson, and for an hour or more we were all hard at work lifting and
helping the poor creatures on deck, where they were laid out in rows.
A little water and stimulant revived most of them; some, however, were
dead or too far gone to be resuscitated. The doctor worked earnestly
over each one, but seventeen were beyond human skill. As fast as he
pronounced them dead they were quickly dropped overboard.

Night closed in with our decks covered so thickly with the ebony bodies
that with difficulty we could move about; fortunately they were as quiet
as so many snakes. In the meantime the first officer, Mr. Block, was
sending up a new topgallant yard, reeving new rigging, repairing the
sails, and getting everything ataunto aloft. The Kroomen were busy
washing out and fumigating the hold, getting ready for our cargo again.
It would have been a very anxious night, except that I felt relieved
by the presence of the brig which kept within hail. Soon after daybreak
Captain Thompson came on board again, and we made a count of the
captives as they were sent below; 188 men and boys, and 166 women and
girls. Seeing everything snug and in order the captain returned to the
brig, giving me final orders to proceed with all possible dispatch to
Monrovia, Liberia, land the negroes, then sail for Porto Praya, Cape de
Verde Islands, and report to the commodore. As the brig hauled to the
wind and stood to the southward and eastward I dipped my colors, when
her crew jumped into the rigging and gave us three cheers, which we

As she drew away from us I began to realize my position and
responsibility: a young midshipman, yet in my teens, commanding a prize,
with three hundred and fifty prisoners on board, two or three weeks'
sail from port, with only a small crew. From the first I kept all hands
aft except two men on the lookout, and the weather was so warm that we
could all sleep on deck. I also ordered the men never to lay aside their
pistols or cutlasses, except when working aloft, but my chief reliance
was in my knowledge of the negro,--of his patient, docile disposition.
Born and bred a slave he never thought of any other condition, and he
accepted the situation without a murmur. I had never heard of blacks
rising or attempting to gain their freedom on board a slaver.

My charges were all of a deep black; from fifteen to twenty-five years
of age, and, with a few exceptions, nude, unless copper or brass rings
on their ankles or necklaces of cowries can be described as articles of
dress. All were slashed, or had the scars of branding on their foreheads
and cheeks; these marks were the distinguishing features of different
tribes or families. The men's hair had been cut short, and their heads
looked in some cases as if they had been shaven. The women, on the
contrary, wore their hair "a la pompadour;" the coarse kinky locks were
sometimes a foot or more above their heads, and trained square or round
like a boxwood bush. Their features were of the pronounced African
type, but, notwithstanding this disfigurement, were not unpleasing in
appearance. The figures of all were very good, straight, well developed,
some of the young men having bodies that would have graced a Mercury or
an Apollo. Their hands were small, showing no evidences of work, only
the cruel marks of shackles. These in some cases had worn deep furrows
on their wrists or ankles.

They were obedient to all orders as far as they understood them, and
would, I believe, have jumped overboard if told to do so. I forbade the
men to treat them harshly or cruelly. I had the sick separated from the
others, and allowed them to remain on deck all the time, and in this way
I partly gained their confidence. I was anxious to learn their story.
Fortunately one of the Kroomen found among the prisoners a native of
a tribe living near the coast, and with him as interpreter was able to
make himself understood. After a good deal of questioning I learned that
most of them were from a long distance in the interior, some having been
one and some two moons on the way, traveling partly by land and partly
by river until they reached the coast. They had been sold by their kings
or by their parents to the Arab trader for firearms or for rum. Once at
the depots near the coast, they were sold by the Arabs or other traders
to the slave captains for from twenty-five to fifty dollars a head.
In the Brazils or West Indies they were worth from two to five hundred
dollars. This wide margin, of course, attracted unscrupulous and greedy
adventurers, who if they succeeded in running a few cargoes would enrich

Our daily routine was simple. At six in the morning the rope netting
over the main hatch which admitted light and air was taken off, and
twenty-five of each sex were brought up, and seated in two circles, one
on each side of the deck. A large pan of boiled paddy was then placed
in the centre by the cook and all went to work with their hands. A few
minutes sufficed to dispose of every grain; then one of the Kroomen gave
each of them a cup of water from a bucket. For half an hour after the
meal they had the liberty of the deck, except the poop, for exercise, to
wash and to sun themselves; for sunshine to a negro is meat and drink.
At the end of this time they were sent below and another fifty brought
up, and so on until all had been fed and watered. Paddy or rice was the
staple article of food. At dinner boiled yams were given with the
rice. Our passengers were quartered on a flying deck extending from the
foremast to a point twenty feet abaft the main hatch from which came
light and air. The height was about five feet; the men had one side and
the women the other. Of course there was no furnishing of any kind, but
all lay prone upon the bare deck in rows.

Every morning after breakfast the Kroomen would rig the force pump,
screw on the hose and drench them all, washing out thoroughly between
decks. They appeared to enjoy this, and it was cooling, for be it
remembered we were close under the equator, the thermometer dancing
about 90 deg. As the water was sluiced over them they would rub and
scrub each other. Only the girls would try not to get their hair wet,
for they were at all times particular about their headdress. It may be
that this was the only part of their toilet that gave them any concern.

The winds were baffling and light, so we made but slow progress.
Fortunately frequent rains, with sometimes a genuine tropical downpour
or cloud-burst, gave us an opportunity of replenishing our water casks,
and by spreading the awnings we were able to get a good supply. I found
on inspection that there were at least thirty days' provisions on board,
so on this score and that of water I felt easy. I lived on deck, seldom
using the cabin, which was a veritable arsenal, with racks of muskets
and cutlasses on two sides, many more than the captain needed to arm his
crew, evidently intended for barter. Two or three prints of his
favorite saints, ornamented with sharks' teeth, hung on one bulkhead. A
well-thrummed mandolin and a number of French novels proved him to be
a musical and literary fellow, who could probably play a bolero while
making a troublesome slave walk a plank. I found also some choice
vintages from the Douro and Bordeaux snugly stowed in his spirit locker,
which proved good medicines for some of our captives, who required
stimulants. Several of the girls were much reduced, refused nearly all
food, and were only kept alive by a little wine and water. Two finally
died of mere inanition. Their death did not in the least affect their
fellows, who appeared perfectly indifferent and callous to all their
surroundings, showing not the least sympathy or desire to help or wait
on one another.

The fifth day after parting from the brig we encountered a tropical
storm. The sun rose red and angry, and owing to the great refraction
appeared three times its natural size. It climbed lazily to the zenith,
and at noon we were shadowless. The sky was as calm as a vault, and
the surface of the water was like burnished steel. The heat became so
stifling that even the Africans were gasping for breath, and we envied
them their freedom from all impediments. The least exertion was irksome,
and attended with extreme lassitude. During the afternoon thin cirri
clouds, flying very high, spread out over the western heavens like a
fan. As the day lengthened they thickened to resemble the scales of
a fish, bringing to mind the old saying, "A mackerel sky and a mare's
tail," etc. The signs were all unmistakable, and even the gulls
recognized a change, and, screaming, sought shelter on our spars. Mr.
Block was ordered to send down all the light yards and sails; to take
in and furl everything, using storm gaskets, except on the fore and main
storm staysails; to lash everything on deck; to batten down the hatches,
except one square of the main; see all the shifting boards in place, so
that our living cargo would not be thrown to leeward higgledy-piggledy,
and to take four or five of the worst cases of the sick into the cabin
and lay them on the floor.

The sun disappeared behind a mountainous mass of leaden-colored
clouds which rose rapidly in the southern and western quarters. To the
eastward, also, the signs were threatening. Night came on suddenly as it
does in the tropics. Soon the darkness enveloped us, a palpable veil. A
noise like the march of a mighty host was heard, which proved to be the
approach of a tropical flood, heralded by drops as large as marbles. It
churned the still waters into a phosphorescent foam which rendered the
darkness only more oppressive. The rain came down as it can come only
in the Bight of Benin. The avalanche cooled us, reducing the temperature
ten or fifteen degrees, giving us new life, and relieving our fevered
blood. I told Mr. Block to throw back the tarpaulin over the main hatch
and let our dusky friends get some benefit of it. In half an hour the
rain ceased, but it was as calm and ominous as ever.

I knew this was but the forerunner of something worse to follow, and we
had not long to wait, for suddenly a blinding flash of lightning darted
through the gloom from east to west, followed by one in the opposite
direction. Without intermission, one blaze after another and thunder
crashing until our eyes were blinded and our ears deafened, a thousand
times ten thousand pieces of artillery thundered away. We seemed utterly
helpless and insignificant. "How wonderful are Thy works," came to my
mind. Still no wind; the brig lay helpless.

Suddenly, as a slap in the face, the wind struck us,--on the starboard
quarter, fortunately. "Hard-a-starboard." "Hanl aft port fore staysail
sheet," I called. But before she could gather way she was thrown down by
the wind like a reed. She was "coming to" instead of "going off," and
I tried to get the main storm staysail down but could not make myself
heard. She was lying on her broadside. Luckily the water was smooth as
yet. The main staysail shot out of the boltropes with a report like a
twelve-pounder, and this eased her so that if the fore staysail would
only hold she would go off. For a few minutes all we could do was to
hold on, our lee rail in the water; but the plucky little brig rallied
a little, her head went off inch by inch, and as she gathered way she
righted, and catching the wind on our quarter we were off like a shot
out of a gun. I knew we were too near the vortex of the disturbance for
the wind to hang long in one quarter, so watched anxiously for a change.
The sea rose rapidly while we were running to the northward on her
course, and after a lull of a few minutes the wind opened from the
eastward, butt end foremost, a change of eight points. Nothing was to
be done but heave to, and this in a cross sea where pitch, weather roll,
lee lurch, followed one another in such earnest that it was a wonder her
masts were not switched out of her.

I passed an anxious night, most concerned about the poor creatures under
hatches, whose sufferings must have been terrible. To prevent their
suffocating I kept two men at the main hatch with orders to lift one
corner of the tarpaulin whenever possible, even if some water did go
below. Toward morning the wind and the sea went down rapidly, and as the
sun rose it chased the clouds off, giving us the promise of a fine day.
When the cook brought me a cup of coffee, I do not know that I ever
enjoyed anything more. Hatches off, I jumped down into the hold to look
after my prisoners. Battered and bruised they lay around in heaps.
Only the shifting boards had kept them from being beaten into an
indistinguishable mass. As fast as possible they were sent on deck, and
the sun's rays, with a few buckets of water that were thrown over them,
accomplished wonders in bringing them to life and starting them to care
for their sore limbs and bruises.

One boy, when I motioned for him to go on deck, pointed quietly to
his leg, and upon examination I found a fracture just above the knee.
Swelling had already commenced. I had seen limbs set, and had some rough
idea how it should be done. So while getting some splints of keg staves
and bandages ready, I kept a stream of water pouring on the fracture,
and then ordered two men to pull the limb in place, and it took all
their strength. That done I put on the splints and wrapped the bandages
tightly. Three weeks later I landed him in a fair way of recovery.

Gradually I allowed a larger number of the blacks to remain on deck,
a privilege which they greatly enjoyed. To lie basking in the sun like
saurians, half sleeping, half waking, appeared to satisfy all their
wishes. They were perfectly docile and obedient, and not by word,
gesture, or look did they express any dissatisfaction with orders given
them. But again for any little acts of kindness they expressed no kind
of appreciation or gratitude. Physically they were men and women, but
otherwise as far removed from the Anglo-Saxon as the oyster from the
baboon, or the mole from the horse.

On the fourteenth day from parting with the brig we made the palms
on Cape Mesurado, the entrance to Monrovia Harbor. A light sea breath
wafted us to the anchorage, a mile from the town, and when the anchor
dropped from the bows and the chain ran through the hawse pipe, it was
sweet music to my ears; for the strain had been great, and I felt years
older than when I parted from my messmates. A great responsibility
seemed lifted from my shoulders, and I enjoyed a long and refreshing
sleep for the first time in a fortnight. At nine the next morning I went
on shore and reported to the authorities, the officials of Liberia, of
which Monrovia is the capital.

This part of the African coast had been selected by the United States
government as the home of emancipated slaves; for prior to the abolition
excitement which culminated in the war, numbers of slaves in the South
had been manumitted by their masters with the understanding that
they should be deported to Liberia, and the Colonization Society, an
influential body, comprising some of the leading men, like Madison,
Webster, and Clay, had assisted in the same work. The passages of the
negroes were paid; each family was given a tract of land and sufficient
means to build a house. Several thousand had been sent out, most of whom
had settled at Monrovia, and a few at other places on the coast. They
had made no impression on the natives. On the contrary, many of them had
intermarried with the natives, and the off-spring of these unions had
lost the use of the English tongue, and had even gone back to the life
and customs of their ancestors, sans clothing, sans habitations, and
worship of a fetich.

Of course there were some notable exceptions, especially President
Roberts, who proved himself a safe and prudent ruler, taking into
consideration his surroundings and the material with which he had
to work. The form of government was modeled after that of the United
States, but it was top-heavy. Honorables, colonels, and judges were
thicker than in Georgia. Only privates were scarce; for nothing delights
a negro more than a little show or a gaudy uniform. On landing I was
met by a dark mulatto, dressed in a straw hat, blue tail coat, silver
epaulettes, linen trousers, with bare feet, and a heavy cavalry sabre
hanging by his side. With him were three or four others in the same rig,
except the epaulettes. He introduced himself as Colonel Harrison, chief
of police. I asked to be directed to the custom house.

The collector proved to be an old negro from Raleigh, N. C., gray as a
badger, spectacled, with manners of Lord Grandison and language of Mrs.
Malaprop. I reported my arrival, and asked permission to land my cargo
as soon as possible. He replied that in a matter of so much importance,
devolving questions of momentous interest, it would be obligatory on him
to consult the Secretary of the Treasury. I said I trusted he would so
facilitate affairs that I might at an early hour disembarrass myself
of my involuntary prisoners. I returned on board, and the day passed
without any answer. The next morning I determined to go at once to
headquarters and find out the cause of the delay by calling on the

He received me without any formality. I made my case as strong as
possible, and pressed for an immediate answer. In reply he assured me
he would consult with other members of his cabinet, and give me a final
answer the next morning. That evening I dined with him en famille, and
recognized some old Virginia dishes on the table. The next morning I
waited impatiently for his decision, having made up my mind however, if
it was unfavorable, to land my poor captives, be the consequences what
they might.

About eleven o'clock a boat came off with an officer in full uniform,
who introduced himself as Colonel Royal, bearer of dispatches from his
Excellency the President. He handed me a letter couched in diplomatic
language, as long as some of his brother presidents' messages on this
side of the Atlantic. I had hardly patience to read it. The gist of it
was, I might not land the captives at Monrovia, but might land them
at Grand Bassa, about a hundred and fifty miles to the eastward; that
Colonel Royal would accompany me with orders to the governor there to
receive them. This was something I had not anticipated, and outside of
my instructions. However, I thought it best to comply with the wishes of
the government of our only colony.

Getting under way we stood to the southward and eastward, taking
advantage of the light land and sea breeze, keeping the coast close
aboard. The colonel had come on board without any impediments, and
I wondered if he intended to make the voyage in his cocked hat,
epaulettes, sword, etc. But soon after we had started he disappeared
and emerged from the cabin bareheaded, barefooted, and without clothing
except a blue dungaree shirt and trousers. Like a provident negro,
having stowed away all his trappings, he appeared as a roustabout on a
Western steamer. But he had not laid aside with his toggery any of his
important and consequential airs. He ran foul of Mr. Block, who called
him Mr. Cuffy, and ordered him to give him a pull with the main sheet.
The colonel complained to me that he was not addressed by his name or
title, and that he was not treated as a representative of his government
should be. I reprimanded Mr. Block, and told him to give the visitor all
his title. "All right, sir, but the colonel must keep off the weather
side of the deck," growled the officer. The cook, the crew, and even the
Kroomen, all took their cue from the first officer, and the colonel's
lot was made most unhappy.

On the third day we reached Grand Bassa, and anchored off the beach
about two miles, along which the surf was breaking so high that any
attempt to land would be hazardous. Toward evening it moderated, and
a canoe with three naked natives came off. One I found could speak a
little English. I told him to say to the governor that I would come on
shore in the morning and see him, and land my cargo at the same time.

The next morning at sunrise we were boarded by a party of natives headed
by one wearing a black hat half covered with a tarnished silver band,
an old navy frock coat, much too small, between the buttons of which
his well-oiled skin showed clearly. A pair of blue flannel trousers
completed his outfit. An interpreter introduced him as King George of
Grand Bassa. With him were about a dozen followers, each one wearing
a different sort of garment--and seldom more than a single
one--representing old uniforms of many countries. Two coats I noticed
were buttoned up the back.

The king began by saying that he was and always had been a friend of the
Americans; that he was a big man, had plenty of men and five wives, etc.
While he was speaking, a white-bearded old colored gentleman came
over the gangway, dressed in a linen roundabout and trousers, with a
wide-brimmed straw hat. At the same time Colonel Royal came up from
the cabin in grande tenue and introduced us to the Hon. Mr. Marshall,
governor of Bassa, formerly of Kentucky.

In a few minutes he explained the situation. With a few settlers he
was located at this place, on the frontier of the colony, and they were
there on sufferance only from the natives. I told him Colonel Royal
would explain my mission to him and the king. The colonel, bowing low to
the king, the governor, and myself, and bringing his sword down with a
thud on the deck, drew from between the bursting buttons of his coat
the formidable document I had seen at Monrovia, and with most impressive
voice and gesture commenced to read it. The king listened for a few
minutes, and then interrupted him. I asked the interpreter what he said.
He replied, "King say he fool nigger; if he comes on shore he give him
to Voodoo women." Then turning his back he walked forward. The colonel
dropped his paper, and drawing his sword, in the most dramatic manner
claimed protection in the name of the government, declaring that he had
been insulted. I told him to keep cool, since he was certainly safe
as long as he was on board my ship. He grumbled and muttered terrible
things, but subsided gradually like the departing thunder of a summer

I arranged the landing of the passengers with Governor Marshall, whom I
found a sensible, clear-headed old man, ready to cooperate in every
way. But he suggested that I had better consult the king before doing
anything. I did so, and he at once said they could not land. I told
the interpreter to say they would be landed at once and put under the
protection of the governor; that if the king or his people hurt them
or ran them off I would report it to our commodore, who would certainly
punish him severely. Finding me determined, he began to temporize, and
asked that the landing be put off until the next day, that he might
consult with his head people, for if I sent them on shore before he had
done so they would kill them. "If that is the case," I replied, "I will
hold you on board as a hostage for their good behavior." This threat
surprised him, and he changed his tactics. After a little powwow with
some of his followers, he said that if I would give him fifty muskets,
twenty pounds of powder, the colonel's sword, and some red cloth for his
wives, I might land them. I replied that I had not a musket to spare
nor an ounce of powder, that the colonel was a high officer of his
government, and that he of course would not give up his uniform.
Fortunately the colonel had retired to the cabin and did not hear this
modest demand, or he would have been as much outraged as if his sable
Majesty had asked for him to be served "roti a l'Ashantee." However, I
told the king I would send his wives some cloth and buttons. He grunted
his approval but returned again to the charge, and asked that he might
choose a few of the captives for his own use, before landing. "Certainly
not," I answered, "neither on board nor on shore," and added that he
would be held accountable for their good treatment as free men and
women. He left thoroughly disappointed and bent on mischief.

In the meantime Mr. Block had made all preparations for landing, and had
the boats lowered and ranged alongside, with sufficient rice to last the
blacks a week or ten days. The men and boys were sent first. When they
were called up from the hold and ordered into the boats not one of them
moved. They evidently divined what had been going on and dreaded leaving
the vessel, though our Kroomen tried to explain that they would be safe
and free on shore. The explanation was without effect, however, and
they refused to move. The could only understand that they were changing
masters, and they preferred the present ones. Sending three or four men
down, I told them to pass up the negroes one at a time. Only a passive
resistance was offered, such as one often sees exhibited by cattle being
loaded on the cars or on a steamer, and were silent, not uttering a word
of complaint. By noon the men were all on shore, and then we began with
the girls. They were more demonstrative than the men, and by their looks
and gestures begged not to be taken out of the vessel. I was much moved,
for it was a painful duty, and I had become interested in these beings,
so utterly helpless, so childlike in their dependence on those around
them. And I could not help thinking what their fate would be, thrown
upon the shore hundreds of miles from their homes, and among a people
strange to them in language.

Even Mr. Block was deeply stirred. "He had not shipped," he said, "for
such work." I went to my cabin and left him in charge. In the course
of an hour he reported, "All ashore, sir." I told him to have the gig
manned and I would go on shore with Colonel Royal, and get a receipt
from Governor Marshall for my late cargo. The colonel declined to
accompany me, alleging sickness and requesting me to get the necessary
papers signed. No doubt he felt safer on board than within reach of King

We landed through the surf on a sandy beach, on which the waves of the
Atlantic were fretting. Near by was a thick grove of cocoanut trees,
under which in groups of four and five were those who had just been
landed. They were seated on the ground, their heads resting on their
knees, in a position of utter abnegation, surrounded by three or four
hundred chattering savages of all ages, headed by the king. With the
exception of him and a few of his head men, the clothing of the company
would not have covered a rag baby. They were no doubt discussing the
appearance of the strangers and making their selections.

I found the governor's house and the houses of the few settlers some
distance back on a slight elevation. The governor was comfortably,
though plainly situated, with a large family around him. He gave me a
receipt for the number of blacks landed, but said it would be impossible
for him to prevent the natives from taking and enslaving them. I agreed
with him, and said he must repeat to the king what I had told him. Then
bidding him good-by I returned on board, sad and weary as one often
feels after being relieved of a great burden. At the same time I
wondered whether the fate of these people would have been any worse if
the captain of the slaver had succeeded in landing them in the Brazils
or the West Indies. Sierra Leone being a crown colony, the English could
land all their captives there and provide for them until they were able
to work for themselves. In this respect they had a great advantage over

Getting under way, I proceeded to Monrovia to land Colonel Royal,
and then to Porto Praya, our squadron's headquarters. There I found
Commodore Gregory in the flagship corvette Portsmouth, and reported to
him. Soon after the Porpoise came in, and I joined my old craft, giving
up my command of the captured slaver rather reluctantly.


The critical reader of the story called The Wife of his Youth, which
appeared in these pages two years ago, must have noticed uncommon traits
in what was altogether a remarkable piece of work. The first was the
novelty of the material; for the writer dealt not only with people who
were not white, but with people who were not black enough to contrast
grotesquely with white people,--who in fact were of that near approach
to the ordinary American in race and color which leaves, at the
last degree, every one but the connoisseur in doubt whether they are
Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-African. Quite as striking as this novelty of
the material was the author's thorough mastery of it, and his
unerring knowledge of the life he had chosen in its peculiar racial
characteristics. But above all, the story was notable for the
passionless handling of a phase of our common life which is tense with
potential tragedy; for the attitude, almost ironical, in which the
artist observes the play of contesting emotions in the drama under his
eyes; and for his apparently reluctant, apparently helpless consent
to let the spectator know his real feeling in the matter. Any one
accustomed to study methods in fiction, to distinguish between good and
bad art, to feel the joy which the delicate skill possible only from
a love of truth can give, must have known a high pleasure in the quiet
self-restraint of the performance; and such a reader would probably have
decided that the social situation in the piece was studied wholly from
the outside, by an observer with special opportunities for knowing it,
who was, as it were, surprised into final sympathy.

Now, however, it is known that the author of this story is of negro
blood,--diluted, indeed, in such measure that if he did not admit this
descent few would imagine it, but still quite of that middle world
which lies next, though wholly outside, our own. Since his first story
appeared he has contributed several others to these pages, and he now
makes a showing palpable to criticism in a volume called The Wife of
his Youth, and Other Stories of the Color Line; a volume of Southern
sketches called The Conjure Woman; and a short life of Frederick
Douglass, in the Beacon Series of biographies. The last is a simple,
solid, straight piece of work, not remarkable above many other
biographical studies by people entirely white, and yet important as
the work of a man not entirely white treating of a great man of his
inalienable race. But the volumes of fiction ARE remarkable above many,
above most short stories by people entirely white, and would be worthy
of unusual notice if they were not the work of a man not entirely white.

It is not from their racial interest that we could first wish to speak
of them, though that must have a very great and very just claim upon the
critic. It is much more simply and directly, as works of art, that
they make their appeal, and we must allow the force of this quite
independently of the other interest. Yet it cannot always be allowed.
There are times in each of the stories of the first volume when the
simplicity lapses, and the effect is as of a weak and uninstructed
touch. There are other times when the attitude, severely impartial and
studiously aloof, accuses itself of a little pompousness. There are
still other times when the literature is a little too ornate for beauty,
and the diction is journalistic, reporteristic. But it is right to add
that these are the exceptional times, and that for far the greatest part
Mr. Chesnutt seems to know quite as well what he wants to do in a given
case as Maupassant, or Tourguenief, or Mr. James, or Miss Jewett, or
Miss Wilkins, in other given cases, and has done it with an art of
kindred quiet and force. He belongs, in other words, to the good school,
the only school, all aberrations from nature being so much truancy and
anarchy. He sees his people very clearly, very justly, and he shows them
as he sees them, leaving the reader to divine the depth of his feeling
for them. He touches all the stops, and with equal delicacy in stories
of real tragedy and comedy and pathos, so that it would be hard to say
which is the finest in such admirably rendered effects as The Web of
Circumstance, The Bouquet, and Uncle Wellington's Wives. In some
others the comedy degenerates into satire, with a look in the reader's
direction which the author's friend must deplore.

As these stories are of our own time and country, and as there is not a
swashbuckler of the seventeenth century, or a sentimentalist of this, or
a princess of an imaginary kingdom, in any of them, they will possibly
not reach half a million readers in six months, but in twelve months
possibly more readers will remember them than if they had reached the
half million. They are new and fresh and strong, as life always is,
and fable never is; and the stories of The Conjure Woman have a wild,
indigenous poetry, the creation of sincere and original imagination,
which is imparted with a tender humorousness and a very artistic
reticence. As far as his race is concerned, or his sixteenth part of
a race, it does not greatly matter whether Mr. Chesnutt invented their
motives, or found them, as he feigns, among his distant cousins of the
Southern cabins. In either case, the wonder of their beauty is the same;
and whatever is primitive and sylvan or campestral in the reader's
heart is touched by the spells thrown on the simple black lives in these
enchanting tales. Character, the most precious thing in fiction, is as
faithfully portrayed against the poetic background as in the setting of
the Stories of the Color Line.

Yet these stories, after all, are Mr. Chesnutt's most important work,
whether we consider them merely as realistic fiction, apart from their
author, or as studies of that middle world of which he is naturally
and voluntarily a citizen. We had known the nethermost world of the
grotesque and comical negro and the terrible and tragic negro through
the white observer on the outside, and black character in its lyrical
moods we had known from such an inside witness as Mr. Paul Dunbar; but
it had remained for Mr. Chesnutt to acquaint us with those regions where
the paler shades dwell as hopelessly, with relation to ourselves, as the
blackest negro. He has not shown the dwellers there as very different
from ourselves. They have within their own circles the same social
ambitions and prejudices; they intrigue and truckle and crawl, and are
snobs, like ourselves, both of the snobs that snub and the snobs that
are snubbed. We may choose to think them droll in their parody of pure
white society, but perhaps it would be wiser to recognize that they
are like us because they are of our blood by more than a half, or three
quarters, or nine tenths. It is not, in such cases, their negro blood
that characterizes them; but it is their negro blood that excludes them,
and that will imaginably fortify them and exalt them. Bound in that sad
solidarity from which there is no hope of entrance into polite white
society for them, they may create a civilization of their own, which
need not lack the highest quality. They need not be ashamed of the race
from which they have sprung, and whose exile they share; for in many of
the arts it has already shown, during a single generation of freedom,
gifts which slavery apparently only obscured. With Mr. Booker Washington
the first American orator of our time, fresh upon the time of Frederick
Douglass; with Mr. Dunbar among the truest of our poets; with Mr.
Tanner, a black American, among the only three Americans from whom
the French government ever bought a picture, Mr. Chesnutt may well be
willing to own his color.

But that is his personal affair. Our own more universal interest in
him arises from the more than promise he has given in a department of
literature where Americans hold the foremost place. In this there is,
happily, no color line; and if he has it in him to go forward on the way
which he has traced for himself, to be true to life as he has known
it, to deny himself the glories of the cheap success which awaits the
charlatan in fiction, one of the places at the top is open to him. He
has sounded a fresh note, boldly, not blatantly, and he has won the ear
of the more intelligent public.



It is too late in the day to discuss whether it would have been better
had the Negro never been brought into the Southern States. If his
presence here has been beneficial, or is ever to prove so, the price of
the benefit has already been dearly paid for. He was the occasion of the
deadliest and most expensive war in modern times. In the next place, his
presence has corrupted politics and has limited statesmanship to a mere
question of race supremacy. Great problems concerning the political,
industrial, and moral life of the people have been subordinated or
overshadowed, so that, while important strides have been made elsewhere
in the investigation of social conditions and in the administration of
State and municipal affairs, in civil-service reform, in the management
of penal and charitable institutions, and in the field of education, the
South has lagged behind.

On the charts of illiteracy and crime the South is represented by an
immense black spot. Such are a few items of the account. It will require
millions more of dollars and generations more of earnest work before the
total cost is met of bringing the black man to this side of the globe.
But the debt has been incurred and must be liquidated.

The welfare of the Negro is bound up with that of the white man in many
important particulars:

First, the low standard of living among the blacks keeps down the wages
of all classes of whites. So long as the Negroes are content to live in
miserable huts, wear rags, and subsist upon hog fat and cow-pease, so
long must the wages of white people in the same kind of work be pressed
toward the same level. The higher we raise the standard of living among
the Negroes, the higher will be the wages of the white people in the
same occupations. The low standard of the Negroes is the result of low
productive power. The less intelligent and skilled the Negroes are, the
less they can produce, whether working for themselves or others, and
hence, the less will be the total wealth of the country.

But it may be asked, When the standard of living of the Negroes is
raised, will not wages go up, and will not that be a drawback? Certainly
wages will go up, because the income of all classes will be increased.
High wages generally indicate high productive power and general wealth,
while low wages indicate the opposite. Only benefits can arise from
better wages.

In the next place, the Negro's propensity to crime tends to excite the
criminal tendencies of the white man. The South enjoys the distinction
of having the highest percentage of crime in all the civilized world,
and the reason is that the crimes of the one race provoke counter-crimes
in the other.

The physical well-being of the one race has such a conspicuous influence
upon that of the other that the subject requires no elaboration. The
uncleanliness of person and habits of the Negroes in their homes and
in the homes of their employers tends to propagate diseases, and thus
impairs the health and increases the death-rate of the whole population.

Again, the lack of refinement in intellect, manners, and dress among the
Negroes is an obstacle to the cultivated life of the whites. Ignorance
and the absence of taste and self-respect in servants result in badly
kept homes and yards, destruction of furniture and ware, ill-prepared
food, poor table service, and a general lowering of the standard of
living. Furthermore, the corrupt, coarse, and vulgar language of the
Negroes is largely responsible for the jumbled and distorted English
spoken by many of the Southern whites.

Seeing that the degradation of the Negro is an impediment to the
progress and civilization of the white man, how may we effect an
improvement in his condition?

First, municipalities should give more attention to the streets and
alleys that traverse Negro settlements. In almost every town in the
South there are settlements, known by such names as "New Africa,"
"Haiti," "Log Town," "Smoky Hollow," or "Snow Hill," exclusively
inhabited by Negroes. These settlements are often outside the corporate
limits. The houses are built along narrow, crooked, and dirty lanes,
and the community is without sanitary regulations or oversight. These
quarters should be brought under municipal control, the lanes widened
into streets and cleaned, and provision made to guard against the
opening of similar ones in the future.

In the next place, property-owners should build better houses for the
Negroes to live in. The weakness in the civilization of the Negroes is
most pronounced in their family life. But improvement in this respect is
not possible without an improvement in the character and the comforts
of the houses they live in. Bad houses breed bad people and bad
neighborhoods. There is no more distinctive form of crime than the
building and renting of houses unfit for human habitation.

Scarcely second in importance to improvements in house architecture
is the need among Negroes of more time to spend with their families.
Employers of Negro labor should be less exacting in the number of hours
required for a day's work. Many domestic servants now work from six in
the morning until nine and ten o'clock at night. The Southern habit
of keeping open shopping-places until late at night encourages late
suppers, retains cooks, butlers, and nurses until bedtime, and robs
them of all home life. If the merchants would close their shops at six
o'clock, as is the custom in the North, the welfare of both races would
be greatly promoted.

Again, a revolution is needed in the character of the Negro's religion.
At present it is too largely an affair of the emotions. He needs to
be taught that the religious life is something to grow into by the
perfection of personality, and not to be jumped into or sweated into
at camp-meetings. The theological seminaries and the graduate preachers
should assume the task of grafting upon the religion of the Negro that
much sanity at least.

A reform is as much needed in the methods and aims of Negro education.
Up to the present Negro education has shared with that of the white man
the fault of being top-heavy. Colleges and universities have developed
out of proportion to, and at the expense of, common schools. Then,
the kind of education afforded the Negro has not been fitted to his
capacities and needs. He has been made to pursue courses of study
parallel to those prescribed for the whites, as though the individuals
of both races had to fill the same positions in life. Much of the
Negro's education has had nothing to do with his real life-work. It
has only made him discontented and disinclined to unfold his arms. The
survival of the Negroes in the race for existence depends upon their
retaining possession of the few bread-winning occupations now open to
them. But instead of better qualifying themselves for these occupations
they have been poring over dead languages and working problems in
mathematics. In the meantime the Chinaman and the steam-laundry have
abolished the Negro's wash-tub, trained white "tonsorial artists" have
taken away his barber's chair, and skilled painters and plasterers and
mechanics have taken away his paint-brushes and tool-chests. Every year
the number of occupations open to him becomes fewer because of his lack
of progress in them. Unless a radical change takes place in the scope of
his education, so that he may learn better how to do his work, a tide of
white immigration will set in and force him out of his last stronghold,
domestic service, and limit his sphere to the farm.

All primary schools for the Negroes should be equipped for industrial
training in such work as sewing, cooking, laundering, carpentry, and
house-cleaning, and, in rural districts, in elementary agriculture.

Secondary schools should add to the literary courses a more advanced
course in industrial training, so as to approach as nearly as possible
the objects and methods of the Tuskegee and Hampton Industrial and
Normal Schools. Too much cannot be said in behalf of the revolution in
the life of the Negro which the work of these schools promises and, in
part, has already wrought. The writer is fully aware that education has
a value aside from and above its bread-winning results, and he would
not dissuade the Negro from seeking the highest culture that he may be
capable of; but it is folly for him to wing his way through the higher
realms of the intellect without some acquaintance with the requirements
and duties of life.

Changes are needed in the methods of Negro education as well as in its
scope. Educators should take into account, more than they have yet done,
the differences in the mental characteristics of the two races. It is
a well-established fact that, while the lower races possess marked
capacity to deal with simple, concrete ideas, they lack power of
generalization, and soon fatigue in the realm of the abstract. It
is also well known that the inferior races, being deficient in
generalization, which is a subjective process, are absorbed almost
entirely in the things that are objective. They have strong and alert
eyesight, and are susceptible to impressions through the medium of the
eye to an extent that is impossible to any of the white races. This fact
is evidenced in the great number of pictures found in the homes of the
Negroes. In default of anything better, they will paper their walls with
advertisements of the theater and the circus, and even with pictures
from vicious newspapers. They delight in street pageantry, fancy
costumes, theatrical performances, and similar spectacles. Factories
employing Negroes generally find it necessary to suspend operations on
"circus day." They love stories of adventure and any fiction that gives
play to their imaginations. All their tastes lie in the realm of the
objective and the concrete.

Hence, in the school-room stress should be laid on those studies that
appeal to the eye and the imagination. Lessons should be given in
sketching, painting, drawing, and casting. Reprints of the popular works
of art should be placed before the Negroes, that their love for art
may be gratified and their taste cultivated at the same time. Fancy
needlework, dress-making, and home decorations should also have an
important place. These studies, while not contributing directly to
bread-winning, have a refining and softening influence upon character,
and inspire efforts to make the home more attractive. The more interest
we can make the Negro take in his personal appearance and in the
comforts of his home, the more we shall strengthen and promote his
family life and raise the level of his civilization.

The literary education of the Negro should consist of carefully selected
poems and novels that appeal to his imagination and produce clear
images upon his mind, excluding such literature as is in the nature of
psychological or moral research. Recitations and dialogues should be
more generally and more frequently required. In history emphasis should
be given to what is picturesque, dramatic, and biographical.

Coming to the political phase of the Negro problem, there is a general
agreement among white men that the Southern States cannot keep pace
with the progress of the world as long as they are menaced by Negro
domination, and that, therefore, it is necessary to eliminate the Negro
vote from politics. When the Negroes become intelligent factors in
society, when they become thrifty and accumulate wealth, they will
find the way to larger exercise of citizenship. They can never sit upon
juries to pass upon life and property until they are property-owners
themselves, and they can never hold the reins of government by reason
of mere superiority of numbers. Before they can take on larger political
responsibilities they must demonstrate their ability to meet them.

The Negroes will never be allowed to control State governments so long
as they vote at every election upon the basis of color, without regard
whatever to political issues or private convictions. If the Negroes
would divide their votes according to their individual opinions, as the
lamented Charles Price, one of their best leaders, advised, there would
be no danger of Negro domination and no objection to their holding
offices which they might be competent to fill. But as there is no
present prospect of their voting upon any other basis than that of
color, the white people are forced to accept the situation and protect
themselves accordingly. Years of bitter and costly experience have
demonstrated over and over again that Negro rule is not only incompetent
and corrupt, but a menace to civilization. Some people imagine that
there is something anomalous, peculiar, or local in the race
prejudice that binds all Negroes together; but this clan spirit is a
characteristic of all savage and semi-civilized peoples.

It should be well understood by this time that no foreign race
inhabiting this country and acting together politically can dominate the
native whites. To permit an inferior race, holding less than one tenth
of the property of the community, to take the reins of government in
its hands, by reason of mere numerical strength, would be to renounce
civilization. Our national government, in making laws for Hawaii, has
carefully provided for white supremacy by an educational qualification
for suffrage that excludes the semi-civilized natives. No sane man, let
us hope, would think of placing Manila under the control of a government
of the Philippine Islands based upon universal suffrage. Yet the problem
in the South and the problem in the Philippines and in Hawaii differ
only in degree.

The only proper safeguard against Negro rule in States where the blacks
outnumber or approximate in number the whites lies in constitutional
provisions establishing an educational test for suffrage applicable
to black and white alike. If the suffrage is not thus limited it is
necessary for the whites to resort to technicalities and ballot laws,
to bribery or intimidation. To set up an educational test with a
"grandfather clause," making the test apply for a certain time to the
blacks only, seems to an outsider unnecessary, arbitrary, and
unjust. The reason for such a clause arises from the belief that
no constitutional amendment could ever carry if it immediately
disfranchised the illiterate whites, as many property-holding whites
belong to that class. But the writer does not believe in the principle
nor in the necessity for a "grandfather clause." If constitutional
amendments were to be submitted in North Carolina and Virginia applying
the educational test to both races alike after 1908, the question would
be lifted above the level of party gain, and would receive the support
of white men of all parties and the approbation of the moral sentiment
of the American people. A white man who would disfranchise a Negro
because of his color or for mere party advantage is himself unworthy of
the suffrage. With the suffrage question adjusted upon an educational
basis the Negroes would have the power to work out their political
emancipation, the white people having made education necessary and
provided the means for attaining it.

When the question of Negro domination is settled the path of progress of
both races will be very much cleared. Race conflicts will then be less
frequent and race feeling less bitter. With more friendly relations
growing up, and with more concentration of energy on the part of the
Negroes in industrial lines, the opportunities for them will be widened
and the task of finding industrial adjustment in the struggle for life
made easier. The wisest and best leaders among the Negroes, such as
Booker Washington and the late Charles Price, have tried to turn the
attention of the Negroes from politics to the more profitable pursuits
of industry, and if the professional politician would cease inspiring
the Negroes to seek salvation in political domination over the whites,
the race issue would soon cease to exist.

The field is broad enough in the South for both races to attain all that
is possible to them. In spite of the periodic political conflicts and
occasional local riots and acts of individual violence, the relations
between the races, in respect to nine tenths of the population, are very
friendly. The general condition has been too often judged by the acts of
a small minority. The Southern people understand the Negroes, and feel
a real fondness for those that are thrifty and well behaved. When fairly
treated the Negro has a strong affection for his employer. He seldom
forgets a kindness, and is quick to forget a wrong. If he does not stay
long at one place, it is not that he dislikes his employer so much as
that he has a restless temperament and craves change. His disposition
is full of mirth and sunshine, and not a little of the fine flavor of
Southern wit and humor is due to his influence. His nature is plastic,
and while he is easily molded into a monster, he is also capable of
a high degree of culture. Many Negroes are thoroughly honest,
notwithstanding their bad environment and hereditary disposition to
steal. Negro servants are trusted with the keys to households to an
extent that, probably, is not the case among domestics elsewhere in the
civilized world.

It is strange that two races working side by side should possess so
many opposite traits of character. The white man has strong will and
convictions and is set in his ways. He lives an indoor, monotonous life,
restrains himself like a Puritan, and is inclined to melancholy. The
prevalence of Populism throughout the South is nothing but the outcome
of this morbid tendency. Farmers and merchants are entirely absorbed in
their business, and the women, especially the married women, contrast
with the women of France, Germany, and even England, in their indoor
life and disinclination to mingle with the world outside. Public
parks and public concerts, such as are found in Europe, which call out
husband, wife, and children for a few hours of rest and communion with
their friends, are almost unknown in the South. The few entertainments
that receive sanction generally exclude all but the well-to-do by the
cost of admission. The life of the poor in town and country is bleak and
bare to the last degree.

Contrasting with this tendency is the free-and-easy life of the blacks.
The burdens of the present and the future weigh lightly upon their
shoulders. They love all the worldly amusements; in their homes they are
free entertainers, and in their fondness for conversation and love of
street life they are equal to the French or Italians.

May we not hope that the conflict of these two opposite races is working
out some advantages to both, and that the final result will justify all
that the conflict has cost?


In addition to the problem of educating eight million negroes in our
Southern States and ingrafting them into American citizenship, we now
have the additional responsibility, either directly or indirectly, of
educating and elevating about eight hundred thousand others of African
descent in Cuba and Porto Rico, to say nothing of the white people of
these islands, many of whom are in a condition about as deplorable as
that of the negroes. We have, however, one advantage in approaching the
question of the education of our new neighbors.

The experience that we have passed through in the Southern States during
the last thirty years in the education of my race, whose history and
needs are not very different from the history and needs of the Cubans
and Porto Ricans, will prove most valuable in elevating the blacks of
the West Indian Islands. To tell what has already been accomplished in
the South under most difficult circumstances is to tell what may be done
in Cuba and Porto Rico.

To this end let me tell a story.

In what is known as the black belt of the South--that is, where the
negroes outnumber the whites--there lived before the Civil War a white
man who owned some two hundred slaves, and was prosperous. At the close
of the war he found his fortune gone, except that which was represented
in land, of which he owned several thousand acres. Of the two hundred
slaves a large proportion decided, after their freedom, to continue on
the plantation of their former owner.

Some years after the war a young black boy, who seemed to have "rained
down," was discovered on the plantation by Mr. S-----, the owner. In
daily rides through the plantation Mr. S----- saw this boy sitting by
the roadside, and his condition awakened his pity, for, from want of
care, he was covered from head to foot with sores, and Mr. S----- soon
grew into the habit of tossing him a nickel or a dime as he rode by. In
some way this boy heard of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute
in Alabama, and of the advantages which it offered poor but deserving
colored men and women to secure an education through their own labor
while taking the course of study. This boy, whose name was William, made
known to the plantation hands his wish to go to the Tuskegee school. By
each one "chipping in," and through the efforts of the boy himself, a
few decent pieces of clothing were secured, and a little money, but
not enough to pay his railroad fare, so the boy resolved to walk to
Tuskegee, a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles. Strange to
say, he made the long distance with an expenditure of only twenty cents
in cash. He frankly told every one with whom he came in contact where he
was going and what he was seeking. Both white and colored people along
the route gave him food and a place to sleep free of cost, and even
the usually exacting ferrymen were so impressed with the young negro's
desire for an education that, except in one case, he was given free
ferriage across the creeks and rivers.

One can easily imagine his appearance when he first arrived at Tuskegee,
with his blistered feet and small white bundle, which contained all the
clothing he possessed.

On being shown into my office his first words were: "I's come. S'pose
you been lookin' for me, but I didn't come on de railroad." Looking up
the records, it was found that this young man had been given permission
to come several months ago, but the correspondence had long since been

After being sent to the bath-room and provided with a tooth-brush,--for
the tooth-brush at Tuskegee is the emblem of civilization,--William was
assigned to a room, and was given work on the school farm of fourteen
hundred acres, seven hundred of which are cultivated by student labor.
During his first year at Tuskegee William worked on the farm during
the day, where he soon learned to take a deep interest in all that
the school was doing to teach the students the best and most improved
methods of farming, and studied for two hours at night in the class-room
after his hard day's work was over. At first he seemed drowsy and dull
in the night-school, and would now and then fall asleep while trying to
study; but he did not grow discouraged. The new machinery that he was
compelled to use on the farm interested him because it taught him that
the farm work could be stripped of much of the old-time drudgery and
toil, and seemed to awaken his sleeping intellect. Soon he began asking
the farm-instructors such questions as where the Jersey and Holstein
cattle came from, and why they produced more milk and butter than the
common long-tailed and long-horned cows that he had seen at home.

His night-school teachers found that he ceased to sleep in school, and
began asking questions about his lessons, and was soon able to calculate
the number of square yards in an acre and to tell the number of
peach-trees required to plant an acre of land. After he had been at
Tuskegee two or three months the farm-manager came into my office on
a cold, rainy day, and said that William was virtually barefooted, the
soles of his shoes having separated from the uppers, though William
had fastened them together as best he could with bits of wire. In
this condition the farm-instructor found him plowing without a word of
complaint. A pair of second-hand shoes was secured for him, and he was
soon very happy.

I will not take this part of the story further except to say that at the
end of his first year at Tuskegee this young man, having made a start in
his books, and having saved a small sum of money above the cost of his
board, which was credited to his account, entered the next year
our regular day-classes, though still dividing his time between the
class-room and work on the farm.

Toward the end of the year he found himself in need of money with which
to buy books, clothing, etc., and so wrote a carefully worded letter to
Mr. S-----, the white man on whose plantation he had lived, and who had
been, in slavery, the owner of his mother.

In the letter he told Mr. S----- how he got to Tuskegee, what he was
doing, and what his needs were, and asked Mr. S----- to lend him fifteen
dollars. Before receiving this letter Mr. S----- had not thought once
about the boy during his two years' absence; in fact, did not know that
he had left the plantation.

Mr. S----- was a good deal shocked, as well as amused, over such a
request from such a source. The letter went to the wastebasket without
being answered. A few weeks later William sent a second letter, in which
he took it for granted that the first letter had not been received. The
second letter shared the same fate as the first. A third letter reached
Mr. S----- in a few weeks, making the same request. In answer to the
third letter Mr. S----- told me that, moved by some impulse which he
himself never understood, he sent William the fifteen dollars.

Two or three years passed, and Mr. S----- had about forgotten William
and the fifteen dollars; but one morning while sitting upon his porch
a bright young colored man walked up and introduced himself as William,
the boy to whom he used to toss small pieces of money, and the one to
whom he had sent fifteen dollars.

William paid Mr. S----- the fifteen dollars with interest, which he had
earned while teaching school after leaving Tuskegee.

This simple experience with this young colored man made a new and
different person of Mr. S-----, so far as the negro was concerned.

He began to think. He thought of the long past, but he thought most of
the future, and of his duty toward the hundreds of colored people on his
plantation and in his community. After careful thought he asked William
Edwards to open a school on his plantation in a vacant log cabin.
That was seven years ago. On this same plantation at Snow Hill, Wilcox
county, Alabama, a county where, according to the last census, there are
twenty-four thousand colored people and about six thousand whites, there
is now a school with two hundred pupils, five teachers from Tuskegee,
and three school buildings. The school has forty acres of land. In
addition to the text-book lessons, the boys are taught farming and
carpentry, and the girls sewing and general house-keeping, and the
school is now in the act of starting a blacksmith and wheelwright
department. This school owes its existence almost wholly to Mr. S-----,
who gave to the trustees the forty acres of land, and has contributed
liberally to the building fund, as well as to the pay of the teachers.
Gifts from a few friends in the North have been received, and the
colored people have given their labor and small sums in cash. When the
people cannot find money to give, they have often given corn, chickens,
and eggs. The school has grown so popular that almost every leading
white man in the community is willing to make a small gift toward its

In addition to the work done directly in the school for the children,
the teachers in the Snow Hill school have organized a kind of university
extension movement. The farmers are organized into conferences, which
hold meetings each month. In these meetings they are taught better
methods of agriculture, how to buy land, how to economize and keep
out of debt, how to stop mortgaging, how to build school-houses and
dwelling-houses with more than one room, how to bring about a higher
moral and religious standing, and are warned against buying cheap
jewelry, snuff, and whisky.

No one is a more interested visitor at these meetings than Mr.
S-----himself. The matter does not end in mere talk and advice. The
women teachers go right into the cabins of the people and show them how
to keep them clean, how to dust, sweep, and cook.

When William Edwards left this community a few years ago for the
Tuskegee school, he left the larger proportion in debt, mortgaging their
crops every year for the food on which to live. Most of them were living
on rented land in small one-room log cabins, and attempting to pay an
enormous rate of interest on the value of their food advances. As one
old colored man expressed it, "I ain't got but six feet of land, and I
is got to die to git dat." The little school taught in a cabin lasted
only three or four months in the year. The religion was largely a matter
of the emotions, with almost no practical ideas of morality. It was the
white man for himself and the negro for himself, each in too many cases
trying to take advantage of the other. The situation was pretty well
described by a black man who said to me: "I tells you how we votes.
We always watches de white man, and we keeps watchin' de white man.
De nearer it gits to 'lection-time de more we watches de white man. We
keeps watchin' de white man till we find out which way he gwine to vote;
den we votes 'zactly de odder way. Den we knows we is right."

Now how changed is all at Snow Hill, and how it is gradually changing
each year! Instead of the hopelessness and dejection that were there a
few years ago, there are now light and buoyancy in the countenances and
movements of the people. The negroes are getting out of debt and buying
land, ceasing to mortgage their crops, building houses with two or three
rooms, and a higher moral and religious standard has been established.

Last May, on the day that the school had its closing exercises, there
were present, besides the hundreds of colored-people, about fifty of the
leading white men and women of the county, and these white people seemed
as much interested in the work of the school as the people of my own

Only a few years ago in the State of Alabama the law in reference to the
education of the negro read as follows: "Any person or persons who shall
attempt to teach any free person of color or slave to spell, read, or
write shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined in a sum
not less than two hundred and fifty dollars nor more than five hundred

Within half a dozen years I have heard Dr. J. L. M. Curry, a brave,
honest ex-Confederate officer, in addressing both the Alabama and
Georgia State legislatures, say to those bodies in the most emphatic
manner that it was as much the duty of the State to educate the negro
children as the white children, and in each case Dr. Curry's words were

Here at Snow Hill is the foundation for the solution of the legal and
political difficulties that exist in the South, and the improvement
of the industrial condition of the negro in Cuba and Porto Rico. This
solution will not come all at once, but gradually. The foundation must
exist in the commercial and industrial development of the people of my
race in the South and in the West Indian Islands.

The most intelligent whites are beginning to realize that they cannot go
much higher than they lift the negro at the same time. When a black man
owns and cultivates the best farm to be found in his county he will have
the confidence and respect of most of the white people in that county.
When a black man is the largest taxpayer in his community his white
neighbor will not object very long to his voting, and having that vote
honestly counted. Even now a black man who has five hundred dollars to
lend has no trouble in finding a white man who is willing to borrow his
money. The negro who is a large stockholder in a railroad company will
always be treated with justice on that railroad.

Many of the most intelligent colored people are learning that while
there are many bad white men in the South, there are Southern whites who
have the highest interests of the negro just as closely at heart as have
any other people in any part of the country. Many of the negroes are
learning that it is folly not to cultivate in every honorable way the
friendship of the white man who is their next-door neighbor.

To describe the work being done in connection with the public schools
by graduates of Tuskegee and other institutions in the South, at
such places as Mount Meigs, under Miss Cornelia Bowen; Denmark, South
Carolina; Abbeville and Newville, Alabama; Christiansburg, Virginia, and
numbers of other places in the Gulf States, would be only to repeat in a
larger or smaller degree what I have said of Snow Hill.

Not very long after the last national election I visited a town in the
South, to speak at a meeting which had for its object the raising of
money to complete the school-house. The audience was about equally
divided between white men and women and black men and women. When the
time for the collection came it was intensely satisfactory to observe
that the white side of the audience was just as eager to make its small
contributions as were the members of my own race. But I was anxious to
see how the late election had been conducted in that community. I soon
found out that the Republican party, composed almost wholly of the black
people, was represented by an election officer in the person of one of
the best-educated colored men in the town, that both the Democratic and
Populist parties were equally well represented, and that there was no
suspicion of unfairness.

But I wished to go a little deeper, and I soon found that one of the
leading stores in this community was owned by a colored man; that a
cotton-gin was owned by a colored man; that the sawmill was owned by
another colored man. Colored men had mortgages on white men's crops, and
vice versa, and colored people not only owned land, but in several cases
were renting land to white men. Black men were in debt to white men,
and white men were in debt to black men. In a word, the industrial and
commercial relations of the races were interwoven just as if all had
been of one race.

An object-lesson in civilization is more potent in compelling people to
act right than a law compelling them to do so. Some years ago a colored
woman who had graduated at Tuskegee began her life-work in a Southern
community where the force of white public sentiment was opposed to the
starting of what was termed a "nigger school." At first this girl was
tempted to abuse her white sister, but she remembered that perhaps the
white woman had been taught from her earliest childhood, through reading
and conversation, that education was not good for the negro, that it
would result only in trouble to the community, and that no amount of
abuse could change this prejudice.

After a while this colored teacher was married to an educated colored
man, and they built a little cottage, which, in connection with her
husband's farm, was a model. One morning one of the white women who
had been most intense in her feelings was passing this cottage, and
her attention was attracted to the colored woman who was at work in
her beautiful flower-garden. A conversation took place concerning the
flowers. At another time this same white woman was so attracted by this
flower-garden that she came inside the yard, and from the yard she went
into the sitting-room and examined the books and papers.

This acquaintance has now ripened and broadened, so that to-day there
are few people in that community more highly respected than this colored
family. What did it all? This object-lesson. No one could explain that
away. One such object-lesson in every community in the South is more
powerful than all the laws Congress can pass in the direction of
bringing about right relations between blacks and whites.

A few months ago an agricultural county fair, the first ever held in
that county, was organized and held at Calhoun, Alabama, by the teachers
in the Calhoun School, which is an offshoot of the Hampton Institute.
Both the colored people and numbers of white visitors were astonished at
the creditable exhibits made by the colored people. Most of these white
people saw the school work at Calhoun for the first time. Perhaps
no amount of abstract talk or advice could have brought them to this
school, but the best hog, the largest pumpkin, or the most valuable bale
of cotton possessed a common interest, and it has been a comparatively
easy thing to extend their interest from the best hog to the work
being done in the school-room. Further, this fair convinced these white
people, as almost nothing else could have done, that education was
making the negroes better citizens rather than worse; that the people
were not being educated away from themselves, but with their elevation
the conditions about them were being lifted in a manner that possessed
an interest and value for both races.

It was after speaking, not long ago, to the colored people at such a
county fair in North Carolina that I was asked the next morning to speak
to the white students at their college, who gave me as hearty a greeting
as I have ever received at Northern colleges.

But such forces as I have described--forces that are gradually
regenerating the entire South and will regenerate Cuba and Porto
Rico--are not started and kept in motion without a central plant--a
power-house, where the power is generated. I cannot describe all these
places of power. Perhaps the whole South and the whole country are
most indebted to the Hampton Institute in Virginia. Then there is Fisk
University at Nashville, Tennessee; Talladega College at Talladega,
Alabama; Spelman Seminary, Atlanta University, and Atlanta Baptist
College at Atlanta; Biddle University in North Carolina; Claflin
University at Orangeburg, South Carolina; and Knoxville College at
Knoxville, Tennessee. Some of these do a different grade of work, but
one much needed.

At Tuskegee, Alabama, starting fifteen years ago in a little shanty with
one teacher and thirty students, with no property, there has grown up an
industrial and educational village where the ideas that I have referred
to are put into the heads, hearts, and hands of an army of colored men
and women, with the purpose of having them become centers of light
and civilization in every part of the South. One visiting the Tuskegee
Normal and Industrial Institute to-day will find eight hundred and fifty
students gathered from twenty-four States, with eighty-eight teachers
and officers training these students in literary, religious, and
industrial work.

Counting the students and the families of the instructors, the visitor
will find a black village of about twelve hundred people. Instead of the
old, worn-out plantation that was there fifteen years ago, there is a
modern farm of seven hundred acres cultivated by student labor. There
are Jersey and Holstein cows and Berkshire pigs, and the butter used is
made by the most modern process.

Aside from the dozens of neat, comfortable cottages owned by individual
teachers and other persons, who have settled in this village for the
purpose of educating their children, he will find thirty-six buildings
of various kinds and sizes, owned and built by the school, property
valued at three hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps the most interesting
thing in connection with these buildings is that, with the exception of
three, they have been built by student labor. The friends of the school
have furnished money to pay the teachers and for material.

When a building is to be erected, the teacher in charge of the
mechanical and architectural drawing department gives to the class in
drawing a general description of the building desired, and then there is
a competition to see whose plan will be accepted. These same students in
most cases help do the practical work of putting up the building--some
at the sawmill, the brick-yard, or in the carpentry, brickmaking,
plastering, painting, and tinsmithing departments. At the same time care
is taken to see not only that the building goes up properly, but that
the students, who are under intelligent instructors in their special
branch, are taught at the same time the principles as well as the
practical part of the trade.

The school has the building in the end, and the students have the
knowledge of the trade. This same principle applies, whether in the
laundry, where the washing for seven or eight hundred people is done, or
in the sewing-room, where a large part of the clothing for this colony
is made and repaired, or in the wheelwright and blacksmith departments,
where all the wagons and buggies used by the school, besides a
large number for the outside public, are manufactured, or in the
printing-office, where a large part of the printing for the white and
colored people in this region is done. Twenty-six different industries
are here in constant operation.

When the student is through with his course of training he goes out
feeling that it is just as honorable to labor with the hand as with the
head, and instead of his having to look for a place, the place usually
seeks him, because he has to give that which the South wants. One other
thing should not be overlooked in our efforts to develop the black man.
As bad as slavery was, almost every large plantation in the South during
that time was, in a measure, an industrial school. It had its farming
department, its blacksmith, wheelwright, brickmaking, carpentry, and
sewing departments. Thus at the close of the war our people were in
possession of all the common and skilled labor in the South. For nearly
twenty years after the war we overlooked the value of the ante-bellum
training, and no one was trained to replace these skilled men and women
who were soon to pass away; and now, as skilled laborers from foreign
countries, with not only educated hands but trained brains, begin to
come into the South and take these positions once held by us, we are
gradually waking up to the fact that we must compete with the white man
in the industrial world if we would hold our own. No one understands his
value in the labor world better than the old colored man. Recently, when
a convention was held in the South by the white people for the purpose
of inducing white settlers from the North and West to settle in the
South, one of these colored men said to the president of the convention:
"'Fore de Lord, boss, we's got as many white people down here now as we
niggers can support."

The negro in the South has another advantage. While there is prejudice
against him along certain lines,--in the matter of business in general,
and the trades especially,--there is virtually no prejudice so far as
the native Southern white man is concerned. White men and black men work
at the same carpenter's bench and on the same brick wall. Sometimes the
white man is the "boss," sometimes the black man is the boss.

Some one chaffed a colored man recently because, when he got through
with a contract for building a house, he cleared just ten cents; but
he said: "All right, boss; it was worth ten cents to be de boss of
dem white men." If a Southern white man has a contract to let for the
building of a house, he prefers the black contractor, because he has
been used to doing business of this character with a negro rather than
with a white man.

The negro will find his way up as a man just in proportion as he makes
himself valuable, possesses something that a white man wants, can do
something as well as, or better than, a white man.

I would not have my readers get the thought that the problem in the
South is settled, that there is nothing else to be done; far from this.
Long years of patient, hard work will be required for the betterment of
the condition of the negro in the South, as well as for the betterment
of the condition of the negro in the West Indies.

There are bright spots here and there that point the way. Perhaps the
most that we have accomplished in the last thirty years is to show the
North and the South how the fourteen slaves landed a few hundred years
ago at Jamestown, Virginia,--now nearly eight millions of freemen in the
South alone,--are to be made a safe and useful part of our democratic
and Christian institutions.

The main thing that is now needed to bring about a solution of the
difficulties in the South is money in large sums, to be used largely for
Christian, technical, and industrial education.

For more than thirty years we have been trying to solve one of the most
serious problems in the history of the world largely by passing around
a hat in the North. Out of their poverty the Southern States have done
well in assisting; many more millions are needed, and these millions
will have to come before the question as to the negro in the South is

There never was a greater opportunity for men of wealth to place a few
million dollars where they could be used in lifting up and regenerating
a whole race; and let it always be borne in mind that every dollar given
for the proper education of the negro in the South is almost as much
help to the Southern white man as to the negro himself. So long as
the whites in the South are surrounded by a race that is, in a large
measure, in ignorance and poverty, so long will this ignorance and
poverty of the negro in a score of ways prevent the highest development
of the white man.

The problem of lifting up the negro in Cuba and Porto Rico is an easier
one in one respect, even if it proves more difficult in others. It will
be less difficult, because there is the absence of that higher degree of
race feeling which exists in many parts of the United States. Both the
white Cuban and the white Spaniard have treated the people of African
descent, in civil, political, military, and business matters, very much
as they have treated others of their own race. Oppression has not cowed
and unmanned the Cuban negro in certain respects as it has the American

In only a few instances is the color-line drawn. How Americans will
treat the negro Cuban, and what will be the tendency of American
influences in the matter of the relation of the races, remains an
interesting and open question. Certainly it will place this country in
an awkward position to have gone to war to free a people from Spanish
cruelty, and then as soon as it gets them within its power to treat a
large proportion of the population worse than did even Spain herself,
simply on account of color.

While in the matter of the relation of the races the problem before us
in the West Indies is easier, in respect to the industrial, moral, and
religious sides it is more difficult. The negroes on these islands are
largely an agricultural people, and for this reason, in addition to
a higher degree of mental and religious training, they need the same
agricultural, mechanical, and domestic training that is fast helping the
negroes in our Southern States. Industrial training will not only help
them to the ownership of property, habits of thrift and economy, but the
acquiring of these elements of strength will go further than anything
else in improving the moral and religious condition of the masses, just
as has been and is true of my people in the Southern States.

With the idea of getting the methods of industrial education pursued at
Hampton and Tuskegee permanently and rightly started in Cuba and Porto
Rico, a few of the most promising men and women from these islands
have been brought to the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute,
and educated with the view of having them return and take the lead in
affording industrial training on these islands, where the training can
best be given to the masses.

The emphasis that I have placed upon an industrial education does not
mean that the negro is to be excluded from the higher interests of
life, but it does mean that in proportion as the negro gets the
foundation,--the useful before the ornamental,--in the same proportion
will he accelerate his progress in acquiring those elements which do not
pertain so directly to the utilitarian.

Phillips Brooks once said, "One generation gathers the material, and
the next builds the palaces." Very largely this must be the
material-gathering generation of black people, but in due time the
palaces will come if we are patient.

THE MARCH OF PROGRESS by Charles W. Chesnutt

The colored people of Patesville had at length gained the object they
had for a long time been seeking--the appointment of a committee of
themselves to manage the colored schools of the town. They had argued,
with some show of reason, that they were most interested in the
education of their own children, and in a position to know, better than
any committee of white men could, what was best for their children's
needs. The appointments had been made by the county commissioners during
the latter part of the summer, and a week later a meeting was called for
the purpose of electing a teacher to take charge of the grammar school
at the beginning of the fall term.

The committee consisted of Frank Gillespie, or "Glaspy," a barber, who
took an active part in local politics; Bob Cotten, a blacksmith, who
owned several houses and was looked upon as a substantial citizen; and
Abe Johnson, commonly called "Ole Abe" or "Uncle Abe," who had a large
family, and drove a dray, and did odd jobs of hauling; he was also a
class-leader in the Methodist church. The committee had been chosen
from among a number of candidates--Gillespie on account of his political
standing, Cotten as representing the solid element of the colored
population, and Old Abe, with democratic impartiality, as likely to
satisfy the humbler class of a humble people. While the choice had not
pleased everybody,--for instance, some of the other applicants,--it was
acquiesced in with general satisfaction. The first meeting of the new
committee was of great public interest, partly by reason of its novelty,
but chiefly because there were two candidates for the position of
teacher of the grammar school.

The former teacher, Miss Henrietta Noble, had applied for the school.
She had taught the colored children of Patesville for fifteen years.
When the Freedmen's Bureau, after the military occupation of North
Carolina, had called for volunteers to teach the children of the
freedmen, Henrietta Nobel had offered her services. Brought up in a New
England household by parents who taught her to fear God and love her
fellow-men, she had seen her father's body brought home from a Southern
battle-field and laid to rest in the village cemetery; and a short six
months later she had buried her mother by his side. Henrietta had no
brothers or sisters, and her nearest relatives were cousins living in
the far West. The only human being in whom she felt any special personal
interest was a certain captain in her father's regiment, who had paid
her some attention. She had loved this man deeply, in a maidenly, modest
way; but he had gone away without speaking, and had not since written.
He had escaped the fate of many others, and at the close of the war was
alive and well, stationed in some Southern garrison.

When her mother died, Henrietta had found herself possessed only of the
house where she lived and the furniture it contained, neither being of
much value, and she was thrown upon her own resources for a livelihood.
She had a fair education and had read many good books. It was not
easy to find employment such as she desired. She wrote to her Western
cousins, and they advised her to come to them, as they thought they
could do something for her if she were there. She had almost decided
to accept their offer, when the demand arose for teachers in the South.
Whether impelled by some strain of adventurous blood from a Pilgrim
ancestry, or by a sensitive pride that shrank from dependence, or by
some dim and unacknowledged hope that she might sometime, somewhere,
somehow meet Captain Carey--whether from one of these motives or a
combination of them all, joined to something of the missionary spirit,
she decided to go South, and wrote to her cousins declining their
friendly offer.

She had come to Patesville when the children were mostly a mob of dirty
little beggars. She had distributed among them the cast-off clothing
that came from their friends in the North; she had taught them to wash
their faces and to comb their hair; and patiently, year after year, she
had labored to instruct them in the rudiments of learning and the first
principles of religion and morality. And she had not wrought in vain.
Other agencies, it is true, had in time cooperated with her efforts, but
any one who had watched the current of events must have been compelled
to admit that the very fair progress of the colored people of Patesville
in the fifteen years following emancipation had been due chiefly to the
unselfish labors of Henrietta Noble, and that her nature did not belie
her name.

Fifteen years is a long time. Miss Noble had never met Captain Carey;
and when she learned later that he had married a Southern girl in the
neighborhood of his post, she had shed her tears in secret and banished
his image from her heart. She had lived a lonely life. The white people
of the town, though they learned in time to respect her and to value her
work, had never recognized her existence by more than the mere external
courtesy shown by any community to one who lives in the midst of it. The
situation was at first, of course, so strained that she did not expect
sympathy from the white people; and later, when time had smoothed over
some of the asperities of war, her work had so engaged her that she had
not had time to pine over her social exclusion. Once or twice nature had
asserted itself, and she had longed for her own kind, and had visited
her New England home. But her circle of friends was broken up, and she
did not find much pleasure in boarding-house life; and on her last visit
to the North but one, she had felt so lonely that she had longed for the
dark faces of her pupils, and had welcomed with pleasure the hour when
her task should be resumed.

But for several reasons the school at Patesville was of more importance
to Miss Noble at this particular time than it ever had been before.
During the last few years her health had not been good. An affection
of the heart similar to that from which her mother had died, while not
interfering perceptibly with her work, had grown from bad to worse,
aggravated by close application to her duties, until it had caused her
grave alarm. She did not have perfect confidence in the skill of the
Patesville physicians, and to obtain the best medical advice had gone to
New York during the summer, remaining there a month under the treatment
of an eminent specialist. This, of course, had been expensive and had
absorbed the savings of years from a small salary; and when the time
came for her to return to Patesville, she was reduced, after paying her
traveling expenses, to her last ten-dollar note.

"It is very fortunate," the great man had said at her last visit, "that
circumstances permit you to live in the South, for I am afraid you could
not endure a Northern winter. You are getting along very well now, and
if you will take care of yourself and avoid excitement, you will be
better." He said to himself as she went away: "It's only a matter of
time, but that is true about us all; and a wise physician does as much
good by what he withholds as by what he tells."

Miss Noble had not anticipated any trouble about the school. When
she went away the same committee of white men was in charge that had
controlled the school since it had become part of the public-school
system of the State on the withdrawal of support from the Freedmen's
Bureau. While there had been no formal engagement made for the next
year, when she had last seen the chairman before she went away, he had
remarked that she was looking rather fagged out, had bidden her good-by,
and had hoped to see her much improved when she returned. She had left
her house in the care of the colored woman who lived with her and did
her housework, assuming, of course, that she would take up her work
again in the autumn.

She was much surprised at first, and later alarmed, to find a rival for
her position as teacher of the grammar school. Many of her friends and
pupils had called on her since her return, and she had met a number
of the people at the colored Methodist church, where she taught in the
Sunday-school. She had many friends and supporters, but she soon found
out that her opponent had considerable strength. There had been a time
when she would have withdrawn and left him a clear field, but at
the present moment it was almost a matter of life and death to
her--certainly the matter of earning a living--to secure the

The other candidate was a young man who in former years had been one of
Miss Noble's brightest pupils. When he had finished his course in the
grammar school, his parents, with considerable sacrifice, had sent him
to a college for colored youth. He had studied diligently, had worked
industriously during his vacations, sometimes at manual labor, sometimes
teaching a country school, and in due time had been graduated from his
college with honors. He had come home at the end of his school life,
and was very naturally seeking the employment for which he had fitted
himself. He was a "bright" mulatto, with straight hair, an intelligent
face, and a well-set figure. He had acquired some of the marks of
culture, wore a frock-coat and a high collar, parted his hair in the
middle, and showed by his manner that he thought a good deal of himself.
He was the popular candidate among the progressive element of his
people, and rather confidently expected the appointment.

The meeting of the committee was held in the Methodist church, where,
in fact, the grammar school was taught, for want of a separate
school-house. After the preliminary steps to effect an organization, Mr.
Gillespie, who had been elected chairman, took the floor.

"The principal business to be brought befo' the meet'n' this evenin',"
he said, "is the selection of a teacher for our grammar school for the
ensuin' year. Two candidates have filed applications, which, if there
is no objection, I will read to the committee. The first is from Miss
Noble, who has been the teacher ever since the grammar school was

He then read Miss Noble's letter, in which she called attention to her
long years of service, to her need of the position, and to her affection
for the pupils, and made formal application for the school for the
next year. She did not, from motives of self-respect, make known the
extremity of her need; nor did she mention the condition of her health,
as it might have been used as an argument against her retention.

Mr. Gillespie then read the application of the other candidate, Andrew
J. Williams. Mr. Williams set out in detail his qualifications for the
position: his degree from Riddle University; his familiarity with the
dead and living languages and the higher mathematics; his views of
discipline; and a peroration in which he expressed the desire to devote
himself to the elevation of his race and assist the march of progress
through the medium of the Patesville grammar school. The letter was well
written in a bold, round hand, with many flourishes, and looked very
aggressive and overbearing as it lay on the table by the side of the
sheet of small note-paper in Miss Noble's faint and somewhat cramped

"You have heard the readin' of the applications," said the chairman.
"Gentlemen, what is yo' pleasure?"

There being no immediate response, the chairman continued:

"As this is a matter of consid'able importance, involvin' not only the
welfare of our schools, but the progress of our race, an' as our action
is liable to be criticized, whatever we decide, perhaps we had better
discuss the subjec' befo' we act. If nobody else has anything to
obse've, I will make a few remarks."

Mr. Gillespie cleared his throat, and, assuming an oratorical attitude,

"The time has come in the history of our people when we should stand
together. In this age of organization the march of progress requires
that we help ourselves, or be forever left behind. Ever since the war we
have been sendin' our child'n to school an' educatin' 'em; an' now the
time has come when they are leavin' the schools an' colleges, an' are
ready to go to work. An' what are they goin' to do? The white people
won't hire 'em as clerks in their sto's an' factories an' mills, an' we
have no sto's or factories or mills of our own. They can't be lawyers
or doctors yet, because we haven't got the money to send 'em to medical
colleges an' law schools. We can't elect many of 'em to office, for
various reasons. There's just two things they can find to do--to preach
in our own pulpits, an' teach in our own schools. If it wasn't for
that, they'd have to go on forever waitin' on white folks, like their
fo'fathers have done, because they couldn't help it. If we expect our
race to progress, we must educate our young men an' women. If we want
to encourage 'em to get education, we must find 'em employment when they
are educated. We have now an opportunity to do this in the case of
our young friend an' fellow-citizen, Mr. Williams, whose eloquent an'
fine-lookin' letter ought to make us feel proud of him an' of our race.

"Of co'se there are two sides to the question. We have got to consider
the claims of Miss Noble. She has been with us a long time an' has
done much good work for our people, an' we'll never forget her work an'
frien'ship. But, after all, she has been paid for it; she has got
her salary regularly an' for a long time, an' she has probably saved
somethin', for we all know she hasn't lived high; an', for all we know,
she may have had somethin' left her by her parents. An' then again,
she's white, an' has got her own people to look after her; they've got
all the money an' all the offices an' all the everythin',--all that
they've made an' all that we've made for fo' hundred years,--an' they
sho'ly would look out for her. If she don't get this school, there's
probably a dozen others she can get at the North. An' another thing: she
is gettin' rather feeble, an' it 'pears to me she's hardly able to stand
teachin' so many child'n, an' a long rest might be the best thing in the
world for her.

"Now, gentlemen, that's the situation. Shall we keep Miss Noble, or
shall we stand by our own people? It seems to me there can hardly be but
one answer. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. Are there any
other remarks?"

Old Abe was moving restlessly in his seat. He did not say anything,
however, and the chairman turned to the other member.

"Brother Cotten, what is yo' opinion of the question befo' the board?"

Mr. Cotten rose with the slowness and dignity becoming a substantial
citizen, and observed:

"I think the remarks of the chairman have great weight. We all have
nothin' but kind feelin's fer Miss Noble, an' I came here to-night
somewhat undecided how to vote on this question. But after listenin' to
the just an' forcible arguments of Brother Glaspy, it 'pears to me that,
after all, the question befo' us is not a matter of feelin', but of
business. As a business man, I am inclined to think Brother Glaspy is
right. If we don't help ourselves when we get a chance, who is goin' to
help us?"

"That bein' the case," said the chairman, "shall we proceed to a vote?
All who favor the election of Brother Williams--"

At this point Old Abe, with much preliminary shuffling, stood up in his
place and interrupted the speaker.

"Mr. Chuhman," he said, "I s'pose I has a right ter speak in dis meet'n?
I S'POSE I is a member er dis committee?"

"Certainly, Brother Johnson, certainly; we shall be glad to hear from

"I s'pose I's got a right ter speak my min', ef I is po' an' black, an'
don' weah as good clo's as some other members er de committee?"

"Most assuredly, Brother Johnson," answered the chairman, with a
barber's suavity, "you have as much right to be heard as any one else.
There was no intention of cuttin' you off."

"I s'pose," continued Abe, "dat a man wid fo'teen child'n kin be 'lowed
ter hab somethin' ter say 'bout de schools er dis town?"

"I am sorry, Brother Johnson, that you should feel slighted, but there
was no intention to igno' yo' rights. The committee will be please' to
have you ventilate yo' views."

"Ef it's all be'n an' done reco'nized an' 'cided dat I's got de right
ter be heared in dis meet'n', I'll say w'at I has ter say, an' it won't
take me long ter say it. Ef I should try ter tell all de things dat Miss
Noble has done fer de niggers er dis town, it'd take me till ter-morrer
mawnin'. Fer fifteen long yeahs I has watched her incomin's an' her
outgoin's. Her daddy was a Yankee kunnel, who died fighting fer ou'
freedom. She come heah when we--yas, Mr. Chuhman, when you an' Br'er
Cotten--was jes sot free, an' when none er us didn' have a rag ter ou'
backs. She come heah, an' she tuk yo' child'n an' my child'n, an' she
teached 'em sense an' manners an' religion an' book-l'arnin'. When she
come heah we didn' hab no chu'ch. Who writ up No'th an' got a preacher
sent to us, an' de fun's ter buil' dis same chu'ch-house we're settin'
in ter-night? Who got de money f'm de Bureau to s'port de school? An'
when dat was stop', who got de money f'm de Peabody Fun'? Talk about
Miss Noble gittin' a sal'ry! Who paid dat sal'ry up ter five years ago?
Not one dollah of it come outer ou' pockets!

"An' den, w'at did she git fer de yuther things she done? Who paid her
fer de gals she kep' f'm throwin' deyse'ves away? Who paid fer de boys
she kep' outer jail? I had a son dat seemed to hab made up his min' ter
go straight ter hell. I made him go ter Sunday-school, an' somethin' dat
woman said teched his heart, an' he behaved hisse'f, an' I ain' got no
reason fer ter be 'shame' er 'im. An' I can 'member, Br'er Cotten, when
you didn' own fo' houses an' a fahm. An' when yo' fus wife was sick, who
sot by her bedside an' read de Good Book ter 'er, w'en dey wuzn' nobody
else knowed how ter read it, an' comforted her on her way across de
col', dahk ribber? An' dat ain' all I kin 'member, Mr. Chuhman! When yo'
gal Fanny was a baby, an' sick, an' nobody knowed what was de matter wid
'er, who sent fer a doctor, an' paid 'im fer comin', an' who he'ped nuss
dat chile, an' tol' yo' wife w'at ter do, an' save' dat chile's life,
jes as sho' as de Lawd has save' my soul?

"An' now, aftuh fifteen yeahs o' slavin' fer us, who ain't got no claim
on her, aftuh fifteen yeahs dat she has libbed 'mongs' us an' made
herse'f one of us, an' endyoed havin' her own people look down on her,
aftuh she has growed ole an' gray wukkin' fer us an' our child'n, we
talk erbout turnin' 'er out like a' ole hoss ter die! It 'pears ter me
some folks has po' mem'ries! Whar would we 'a' be'n ef her folks at de
No'th hadn' 'membered us no bettuh? An' we hadn' done nothin', neither,
fer dem to 'member us fer. De man dat kin fergit w'at Miss Noble has
done fer dis town is unworthy de name er nigger! He oughter die an' make
room fer some 'spectable dog!

"Br'er Glaspy says we got a' educated young man, an' we mus' gib him
sump'n' ter do. Let him wait; ef I reads de signs right he won't hab
ter wait long fer dis job. Let him teach in de primary schools, er in de
country; an' ef he can't do dat, let 'im work awhile. It don't hahm a'
educated man ter work a little; his fo'fathers has worked fer hund'eds
of years, an' we's worked, an' we're heah yet, an' we're free, an' we's
gettin' ou' own houses an' lots an' hosses an' cows--an' ou' educated
young men. But don't let de fus thing we do as a committee be somethin'
we ought ter be 'shamed of as long as we lib. I votes fer Miss Noble,
fus, las', an' all de time!"

When Old Abe sat down the chairman's face bore a troubled look. He
remembered how his baby girl, the first of his children that he could
really call his own, that no master could hold a prior claim upon,
lay dying in the arms of his distracted young wife, and how the thin,
homely, and short-sighted white teacher had come like an angel into his
cabin, and had brought back the little one from the verge of the grave.
The child was a young woman now, and Gillespie had well-founded hopes of
securing the superior young Williams for a son-in-law; and he realized
with something of shame that this later ambition had so dazzled his eyes
for a moment as to obscure the memory of earlier days.

Mr. Cotten, too, had not been unmoved, and there were tears in his eyes
as he recalled how his first wife, Nancy, who had borne with him the
privations of slavery, had passed away, with the teacher's hand in hers,
before she had been able to enjoy the fruits of liberty. For they had
loved one another much, and her death had been to them both a hard and
bitter thing. And, as Old Abe spoke, he could remember, as distinctly
as though they had been spoken but an hour before, the words of comfort
that the teacher had whispered to Nancy in her dying hour and to him in
his bereavement.

"On consideration, Mr. Chairman," he said, with an effort to hide a
suspicious tremor in his voice and to speak with the dignity consistent
with his character as a substantial citizen, "I wish to record my vote
fer Miss Noble."

"The chair," said Gillespie, yielding gracefully to the majority, and
greatly relieved that the responsibility of his candidate's defeat
lay elsewhere, "will make the vote unanimous, and will appoint Brother
Cotten and Brother Johnson a committee to step round the corner to Miss
Noble's and notify her of her election."

The two committeemen put on their hats, and, accompanied by several
people who had been waiting at the door to hear the result of the
meeting, went around the corner to Miss Noble's house, a distance of a
block or two away. The house was lighted, so they knew she had not gone
to bed. They went in at the gate, and Cotten knocked at the door.

The colored maid opened it.

"Is Miss Noble home?" said Cotten.

"Yes; come in. She's waitin' ter hear from the committee."

The woman showed them into the parlor. Miss Noble rose from her seat by
the table, where she had been reading, and came forward to meet them.
They did not for a moment observe, as she took a step toward them, that
her footsteps wavered. In her agitation she was scarcely aware of it

"Miss Noble," announced Cotten, "we have come to let you know that you
have be'n 'lected teacher of the grammar school fer the next year."

"Thank you; oh, thank you so much!" she said. "I am very glad.
Mary"--she put her hand to her side suddenly and tottered--"Mary, will

A spasm of pain contracted her face and cut short her speech. She would
have fallen had Old Abe not caught her and, with Mary's help, laid her
on a couch.

The remedies applied by Mary, and by the physician who was hastily
summoned, proved unavailing. The teacher did not regain consciousness.

If it be given to those whose eyes have closed in death to linger
regretfully for a while about their earthly tenement, or from some
higher vantage-ground to look down upon it, then Henrietta Noble's
tolerant spirit must have felt, mingling with its regret, a compensating
thrill of pleasure; for not only those for whom she had labored sorrowed
for her, but the people of her own race, many of whom, in the blindness
of their pride, would not admit during her life that she served them
also, saw so much clearer now that they took charge of her poor clay,
and did it gentle reverence, and laid it tenderly away amid the dust of
their own loved and honored dead.

TWO weeks after Miss Noble's funeral the other candidate took charge of
the grammar school, which went on without any further obstacles to the
march of progress.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois

The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line;
the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and
Africa, in America and the islands of the sea. It was a phase of this
problem that caused the Civil War; and however much they who marched
south and north in 1861 may have fixed on the technical points of union
and local autonomy as a shibboleth, all nevertheless knew, as we know,
that the question of Negro slavery was the deeper cause of the conflict.
Curious it was, too, how this deeper question ever forced itself to the
surface, despite effort and disclaimer. No sooner had Northern armies
touched Southern soil than this old question, newly guised, sprang
from the earth,--What shall be done with slaves? Peremptory military
commands, this way and that, could not answer the query; the
Emancipation Proclamation seemed but to broaden and intensify the
difficulties; and so at last there arose in the South a government of
men called the Freedmen's Bureau, which lasted, legally, from 1865 to
1872, but in a sense from 1861 to 1876, and which sought to settle the
Negro problems in the United States of America.

It is the aim of this essay to study the Freedmen's Bureau,--the
occasion of its rise, the character of its work, and its final success
and failure,--not only as a part of American history, but above all as
one of the most singular and interesting of the attempts made by a great
nation to grapple with vast problems of race and social condition.

No sooner had the armies, east and west, penetrated Virginia and
Tennessee than fugitive slaves appeared within their lines. They came at
night, when the flickering camp fires of the blue hosts shone like vast
unsteady stars along the black horizon: old men, and thin, with gray
and tufted hair; women with frightened eyes, dragging whimpering,
hungry children; men and girls, stalwart and gaunt,--a horde of starving
vagabonds, homeless, helpless, and pitiable in their dark distress. Two
methods of treating these newcomers seemed equally logical to opposite
sorts of minds. Said some, "We have nothing to do with slaves."
"Hereafter," commanded Halleck, "no slaves should be allowed to come
into your lines at all; if any come without your knowledge, when owners
call for them, deliver them." But others said, "We take grain and fowl;
why not slaves?" Whereupon Fremont, as early as August, 1861, declared
the slaves of Missouri rebels free. Such radical action was quickly
countermanded, but at the same time the opposite policy could not be
enforced; some of the black refugees declared themselves freemen, others
showed their masters had deserted them, and still others were captured
with forts and plantations. Evidently, too, slaves were a source
of strength to the Confederacy, and were being used as laborers and
producers. "They constitute a military resource," wrote the Secretary of
War, late in 1861; "and being such, that they should not be turned over
to the enemy is too plain to discuss." So the tone of the army chiefs
changed, Congress forbade the rendition of fugitives, and Butler's
"contrabands" were welcomed as military laborers. This complicated
rather than solved the problem; for now the scattering fugitives became
a steady stream, which flowed faster as the armies marched.

Then the long-headed man, with care-chiseled face, who sat in the White
House, saw the inevitable, and emancipated the slaves of rebels on New
Year's, 1863. A month later Congress called earnestly for the Negro
soldiers whom the act of July, 1862, had half grudgingly allowed to
enlist. Thus the barriers were leveled, and the deed was done. The
stream of fugitives swelled to a flood, and anxious officers kept
inquiring: "What must be done with slaves arriving almost daily? Am I to
find food and shelter for women and children?"

It was a Pierce of Boston who pointed out the way, and thus became in
a sense the founder of the Freedmen's Bureau. Being specially detailed
from the ranks to care for the freedmen at Fortress Monroe, he afterward
founded the celebrated Port Royal experiment and started the Freedmen's
Aid Societies. Thus, under the timid Treasury officials and bold army
officers, Pierce's plan widened and developed. At first, the able-bodied
men were enlisted as soldiers or hired as laborers, the women
and children were herded into central camps under guard, and
"superintendents of contrabands" multiplied here and there. Centres
of massed freedmen arose at Fortress Monroe, Va., Washington, D. C.,
Beaufort and Port Royal, S. C., New Orleans, La., Vicksburg and Corinth,
Miss., Columbus, Ky., Cairo, Ill., and elsewhere, and the army chaplains
found here new and fruitful fields.

Then came the Freedmen's Aid Societies, born of the touching appeals for
relief and help from these centres of distress. There was the American
Missionary Association, sprung from the Amistad, and now full grown for
work, the various church organizations, the National Freedmen's Relief
Association, the American Freedmen's Union, the Western Freedmen's
Aid Commission,--in all fifty or more active organizations, which sent
clothes, money, school-books, and teachers southward. All they did was
needed, for the destitution of the freedmen was often reported as "too
appalling for belief," and the situation was growing daily worse rather
than better.

And daily, too, it seemed more plain that this was no ordinary matter of
temporary relief, but a national crisis; for here loomed a labor problem
of vast dimensions. Masses of Negroes stood idle, or, if they worked
spasmodically, were never sure of pay; and if perchance they received
pay, squandered the new thing thoughtlessly. In these and in other
ways were camp life and the new liberty demoralizing the freedmen. The
broader economic organization thus clearly demanded sprang up here and
there as accident and local conditions determined. Here again Pierce's
Port Royal plan of leased plantations and guided workmen pointed out the
rough way. In Washington, the military governor, at the urgent appeal of
the superintendent, opened confiscated estates to the cultivation of
the fugitives, and there in the shadow of the dome gathered black farm
villages. General Dix gave over estates to the freedmen of Fortress
Monroe, and so on through the South. The government and the benevolent
societies furnished the means of cultivation, and the Negro turned again
slowly to work. The systems of control, thus started, rapidly grew, here
and there, into strange little governments, like that of General
Banks in Louisiana, with its 90,000 black subjects, its 50,000 guided
laborers, and its annual budget of $100,000 and more. It made out
4000 pay rolls, registered all freedmen, inquired into grievances and
redressed them, laid and collected taxes, and established a system of
public schools. So too Colonel Eaton, the superintendent of Tennessee
and Arkansas, ruled over 100,000, leased and cultivated 7000 acres of
cotton land, and furnished food for 10,000 paupers. In South Carolina
was General Saxton, with his deep interest in black folk. He succeeded
Pierce and the Treasury officials, and sold forfeited estates, leased
abandoned plantations, encouraged schools, and received from Sherman,
after the terribly picturesque march to the sea, thousands of the
wretched camp followers.

Three characteristic things one might have seen in Sherman's raid
through Georgia, which threw the new situation in deep and shadowy
relief: the Conqueror, the Conquered, and the Negro. Some see all
significance in the grim front of the destroyer, and some in the bitter
sufferers of the lost cause. But to me neither soldier nor fugitive
speaks with so deep a meaning as that dark and human cloud that clung
like remorse on the rear of those swift columns, swelling at times to
half their size, almost engulfing and choking them. In vain were they
ordered back, in vain were bridges hewn from beneath their feet; on
they trudged and writhed and surged, until they rolled into Savannah,
a starved and naked horde of tens of thousands. There too came the
characteristic military remedy: "The islands from Charleston south, the
abandoned ricefields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the
sea, and the country bordering the St. John's River, Florida, are
reserved and set apart for the settlement of Negroes now made free by
act of war." So read the celebrated field order.

All these experiments, orders, and systems were bound to attract and
perplex the government and the nation. Directly after the Emancipation
Proclamation, Representative Eliot had introduced a bill creating a
Bureau of Emancipation, but it was never reported. The following June,
a committee of inquiry, appointed by the Secretary of War, reported
in favor of a temporary bureau for the "improvement, protection,
and employment of refugee freedmen," on much the same lines as were
afterward followed. Petitions came in to President Lincoln from
distinguished citizens and organizations, strongly urging a
comprehensive and unified plan of dealing with the freedmen, under a
bureau which should be "charged with the study of plans and execution of
measures for easily guiding, and in every way judiciously and humanely
aiding, the passage of our emancipated and yet to be emancipated blacks
from the old condition of forced labor to their new state of voluntary

Some half-hearted steps were early taken by the government to put both
freedmen and abandoned estates under the supervision of the Treasury
officials. Laws of 1863 and 1864 directed them to take charge of and
lease abandoned lands for periods not exceeding twelve months, and to
"provide in such leases or otherwise for the employment and general
welfare" of the freedmen. Most of the army officers looked upon this
as a welcome relief from perplexing "Negro affairs;" but the Treasury
hesitated and blundered, and although it leased large quantities of land
and employed many Negroes, especially along the Mississippi, yet it
left the virtual control of the laborers and their relations to their
neighbors in the hands of the army.

In March, 1864, Congress at last turned its attention to the subject,
and the House passed a bill, by a majority of two, establishing a Bureau
for Freedmen in the War Department. Senator Sumner, who had charge of
the bill in the Senate, argued that freedmen and abandoned lands ought
to be under the same department, and reported a substitute for the House
bill, attaching the Bureau to the Treasury Department. This bill passed,
but too late for action in the House. The debate wandered over the
whole policy of the administration and the general question of slavery,
without touching very closely the specific merits of the measure in

Meantime the election took place, and the administration, returning from
the country with a vote of renewed confidence, addressed itself to the
matter more seriously. A conference between the houses agreed upon a
carefully drawn measure which contained the chief provisions of
Charles Sumner's bill, but made the proposed organization a department
independent of both the War and Treasury officials. The bill was
conservative, giving the new department "general superintendence of all
freedmen." It was to "establish regulations" for them, protect them,
lease them lands, adjust their wages, and appear in civil and military
courts as their "next friend." There were many limitations attached
to the powers thus granted, and the organization was made permanent.
Nevertheless, the Senate defeated the bill, and a new conference
committee was appointed. This committee reported a new bill, February
28, which was whirled through just as the session closed, and which
became the act of 1865 establishing in the War Department a "Bureau of
Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands."

This last compromise was a hasty bit of legislation, vague and uncertain
in outline. A Bureau was created, "to continue during the present War
of Rebellion, and for one year thereafter," to which was given "the
supervision and management of all abandoned lands, and the control of
all subjects relating to refugees and freedmen," under "such rules and
regulations as may be presented by the head of the Bureau and approved
by the President." A commissioner, appointed by the President and
Senate, was to control the Bureau, with an office force not exceeding
ten clerks. The President might also appoint commissioners in the
seceded states, and to all these offices military officials might be
detailed at regular pay. The Secretary of War could issue rations,
clothing, and fuel to the destitute, and all abandoned property was
placed in the hands of the Bureau for eventual lease and sale to
ex-slaves in forty-acre parcels.

Thus did the United States government definitely assume charge of
the emancipated Negro as the ward of the nation. It was a tremendous
undertaking. Here, at a stroke of the pen, was erected a government
of millions of men,--and not ordinary men, either, but black men
emasculated by a peculiarly complete system of slavery, centuries old;
and now, suddenly, violently, they come into a new birthright, at a time
of war and passion, in the midst of the stricken, embittered population
of their former masters. Any man might well have hesitated to assume
charge of such a work, with vast responsibilities, indefinite powers,
and limited resources. Probably no one but a soldier would have answered
such a call promptly; and indeed no one but a soldier could be called,
for Congress had appropriated no money for salaries and expenses.

Less than a month after the weary emancipator passed to his rest,
his successor assigned Major General Oliver O. Howard to duty
as commissioner of the new Bureau. He was a Maine man, then only
thirty-five years of age. He had marched with Sherman to the sea, had
fought well at Gettysburg, and had but a year before been assigned to
the command of the Department of Tennessee. An honest and sincere
men, with rather too much faith in human nature, little aptitude
for systematic business and intricate detail, he was nevertheless
conservative, hard-working, and, above all, acquainted at first-hand
with much of the work before him. And of that work it has been truly
said, "No approximately correct history of civilization can ever be
written which does not throw out in bold relief, as one of the great
landmarks of political and social progress, the organization and
administration of the Freedmen's Bureau."

On May 12, 1865, Howard was appointed, and he assumed the duties of his
office promptly on the 15th, and began examining the field of work. A
curious mess he looked upon: little despotisms, communistic experiments,
slavery, peonage, business speculations, organized charity, unorganized
almsgiving,--all reeling on under the guise of helping the freedman, and
all enshrined in the smoke and blood of war and the cursing and silence
of angry men. On May 19 the new government--for a government it really
was--issued its constitution; commissioners were to be appointed in each
of the seceded states, who were to take charge of "all subjects relating
to refugees and freedmen," and all relief and rations were to be given
by their consent alone. The Bureau invited continued cooperation with
benevolent societies, and declared, "It will be the object of all
commissioners to introduce practicable systems of compensated labor,"
and to establish schools. Forthwith nine assistant commissioners were
appointed. They were to hasten to their fields of work; seek gradually
to close relief establishments, and make the destitute self-supporting;
act as courts of law where there were no courts, or where Negroes were
not recognized in them as free; establish the institution of marriage
among ex-slaves, and keep records; see that freedmen were free to
choose their employers, and help in making fair contracts for them; and
finally, the circular said, "Simple good faith, for which we hope on
all hands for those concerned in the passing away of slavery, will
especially relieve the assistant commissioners in the discharge of their
duties toward the freedmen, as well as promote the general welfare."

No sooner was the work thus started, and the general system and local
organization in some measure begun, than two grave difficulties appeared
which changed largely the theory and outcome of Bureau work. First,
there were the abandoned lands of the South. It had long been the more
or less definitely expressed theory of the North that all the chief
problems of emancipation might be settled by establishing the slaves on
the forfeited lands of their masters,--a sort of poetic justice, said
some. But this poetry done into solemn prose meant either wholesale
confiscation of private property in the South, or vast appropriations.
Now Congress had not appropriated a cent, and no sooner did the
proclamations of general amnesty appear than the 800,000 acres of
abandoned lands in the hands of the Freedmen's Bureau melted quickly
away. The second difficulty lay in perfecting the local organization of
the Bureau throughout the wide field of work. Making a new machine and
sending out officials of duly ascertained fitness for a great work of
social reform is no child's task; but this task was even harder, for
a new central organization had to be fitted on a heterogeneous and
confused but already existing system of relief and control of ex-slaves;
and the agents available for this work must be sought for in an army
still busy with war operations,--men in the very nature of the case
ill fitted for delicate social work,--or among the questionable camp
followers of an invading host. Thus, after a year's work, vigorously as
it was pushed, the problem looked even more difficult to grasp and solve
than at the beginning. Nevertheless, three things that year's work did,
well worth the doing: it relieved a vast amount of physical suffering;
it transported 7000 fugitives from congested centres back to the
farm; and, best of all, it inaugurated the crusade of the New England

The annals of this Ninth Crusade are yet to be written, the tale of a
mission that seemed to our age far more quixotic than the quest of
St. Louis seemed to his. Behind the mists of ruin and rapine waved the
calico dresses of women who dared, and after the hoarse mouthings of
the field guns rang the rhythm of the alphabet. Rich and poor they were,
serious and curious. Bereaved now of a father, now of a brother, now of
more than these, they came seeking a life work in planting New England
schoolhouses among the white and black of the South. They did their work
well. In that first year they taught 100,000 souls, and more.

Evidently, Congress must soon legislate again on the hastily organized
Bureau, which had so quickly grown into wide significance and vast
possibilities. An institution such as that was well-nigh as difficult to
end as to begin. Early in 1866 Congress took up the matter, when Senator
Trumbull, of Illinois, introduced a bill to extend the Bureau and
enlarge its powers. This measure received, at the hands of Congress,
far more thorough discussion and attention than its predecessor. The war
cloud had thinned enough to allow a clearer conception of the work of
emancipation. The champions of the bill argued that the strengthening of
the Freedmen's Bureau was still a military necessity; that it was needed
for the proper carrying out of the Thirteenth Amendment, and was a work
of sheer justice to the ex-slave, at a trifling cost to the government.
The opponents of the measure declared that the war was over, and the
necessity for war measures past; that the Bureau, by reason of its
extraordinary powers, was clearly unconstitutional in time of peace,
and was destined to irritate the South and pauperize the freedmen, at a
final cost of possibly hundreds of millions. Two of these arguments
were unanswered, and indeed unanswerable: the one that the extraordinary
powers of the Bureau threatened the civil rights of all citizens; and
the other that the government must have power to do what manifestly
must be done, and that present abandonment of the freedmen meant their
practical enslavement. The bill which finally passed enlarged and made
permanent the Freedmen's Bureau. It was promptly vetoed by President
Johnson, as "unconstitutional," "unnecessary," and "extrajudicial," and
failed of passage over the veto. Meantime, however, the breach between
Congress and the President began to broaden, and a modified form of the
lost bill was finally passed over the President's second veto, July 16.

The act of 1866 gave the Freedmen's Bureau its final form,--the form by
which it will be known to posterity and judged of men. It extended
the existence of the Bureau to July, 1868; it authorized additional
assistant commissioners, the retention of army officers mustered out
of regular service, the sale of certain forfeited lands to freedmen
on nominal terms, the sale of Confederate public property for Negro
schools, and a wider field of judicial interpretation and cognizance.
The government of the un-reconstructed South was thus put very largely
in the hands of the Freedmen's Bureau, especially as in many cases
the departmental military commander was now made also assistant
commissioner. It was thus that the Freedmen's Bureau became a
full-fledged government of men. It made laws, executed them and
interpreted them; it laid and collected taxes, defined and punished
crime, maintained and used military force, and dictated such measures
as it thought necessary and proper for the accomplishment of its varied
ends. Naturally, all these powers were not exercised continuously nor to
their fullest extent; and yet, as General Howard has said, "scarcely any
subject that has to be legislated upon in civil society failed, at one
time or another, to demand the action of this singular Bureau."

To understand and criticise intelligently so vast a work, one must not
forget an instant the drift of things in the later sixties: Lee
had surrendered, Lincoln was dead, and Johnson and Congress were at
loggerheads; the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted, the Fourteenth
pending, and the Fifteenth declared in force in 1870. Guerrilla raiding,
the ever present flickering after-flame of war, was spending its force
against the Negroes, and all the Southern land was awakening as from
some wild dream to poverty and social revolution. In a time of perfect
calm, amid willing neighbors and streaming wealth, the social uplifting
of 4,000,000 slaves to an assured and self-sustaining place in the body
politic and economic would have been an herculean task; but when to the
inherent difficulties of so delicate and nice a social operation were
added the spite and hate of conflict, the Hell of War; when suspicion
and cruelty were rife, and gaunt Hunger wept beside Bereavement,--in
such a case, the work of any instrument of social regeneration was in
large part foredoomed to failure. The very name of the Bureau stood for
a thing in the South which for two centuries and better men had refused
even to argue,--that life amid free Negroes was simply unthinkable, the
maddest of experiments. The agents which the Bureau could command varied
all the way from unselfish philanthropists to narrow-minded busybodies
and thieves; and even though it be true that the average was far better
than the worst, it was the one fly that helped to spoil the ointment.
Then, amid all this crouched the freed slave, bewildered between friend
and foe. He had emerged from slavery: not the worst slavery in the
world, not a slavery that made all life unbearable,--rather, a
slavery that had here and there much of kindliness, fidelity, and
happiness,--but withal slavery, which, so far as human aspiration and
desert were concerned, classed the black man and the ox together. And
the Negro knew full well that, whatever their deeper convictions may
have been, Southern men had fought with desperate energy to perpetuate
this slavery, under which the black masses, with half-articulate
thought, had writhed and shivered. They welcomed freedom with a cry.
They fled to the friends that had freed them. They shrank from the
master who still strove for their chains. So the cleft between the white
and black South grew. Idle to say it never should have been; it was as
inevitable as its results were pitiable. Curiously incongruous elements
were left arrayed against each other: the North, the government, the
carpetbagger, and the slave, here; and there, all the South that was
white, whether gentleman or vagabond, honest man or rascal, lawless
murderer or martyr to duty.

Thus it is doubly difficult to write of this period calmly, so intense
was the feeling, so mighty the human passions, that swayed and blinded
men. Amid it all two figures ever stand to typify that day to coming
men: the one a gray-haired gentleman, whose fathers had quit themselves
like men, whose sons lay in nameless graves, who bowed to the evil of
slavery because its abolition boded untold ill to all; who stood at
last, in the evening of life, a blighted, ruined form, with hate in his
eyes. And the other, a form hovering dark and mother-like, her awful
face black with the mists of centuries, had aforetime bent in love over
her white master's cradle, rocked his sons and daughters to sleep, and
closed in death the sunken eyes of his wife to the world; ay, too, had
laid herself low to his lust and borne a tawny man child to the world,
only to see her dark boy's limbs scattered to the winds by midnight
marauders riding after Damned Niggers. These were the saddest sights
of that woeful day; and no man clasped the hands of these two passing
figures of the present-past; but hating they went to their long home,
and hating their children's children live to-day.

Here, then, was the field of work for the Freedmen's Bureau; and since,
with some hesitation, it was continued by the act of 1868 till 1869, let
us look upon four years of its work as a whole. There were, in 1868, 900
Bureau officials scattered from Washington to Texas, ruling, directly
and indirectly, many millions of men. And the deeds of these rulers
fall mainly under seven heads,--the relief of physical suffering, the
overseeing of the beginnings of free labor, the buying and selling
of land, the establishment of schools, the paying of bounties, the
administration of justice, and the financiering of all these activities.
Up to June, 1869, over half a million patients had been treated by
Bureau physicians and surgeons, and sixty hospitals and asylums had
been in operation. In fifty months of work 21,000,000 free rations were
distributed at a cost of over $4,000,000,--beginning at the rate of
30,000 rations a day in 1865, and discontinuing in 1869. Next came the
difficult question of labor. First, 30,000 black men were transported
from the refuges and relief stations back to the farms, back to the
critical trial of a new way of working. Plain, simple instructions went
out from Washington,--the freedom of laborers to choose employers, no
fixed rates of wages, no peonage or forced labor. So far so good; but
where local agents differed toto coelo in capacity and character, where
the personnel was continually changing, the outcome was varied. The
largest element of success lay in the fact that the majority of
the freedmen were willing, often eager, to work. So contracts were
written,--50,000 in a single state,--laborers advised, wages guaranteed,
and employers supplied. In truth, the organization became a vast labor
bureau; not perfect, indeed,--notably defective here and there,--but on
the whole, considering the situation, successful beyond the dreams of
thoughtful men. The two great obstacles which confronted the officers at
every turn were the tyrant and the idler: the slaveholder, who believed
slavery was right, and was determined to perpetuate it under another
name; and the freedman, who regarded freedom as perpetual rest. These
were the Devil and the Deep Sea.

In the work of establishing the Negroes as peasant proprietors the
Bureau was severely handicapped, as I have shown. Nevertheless,
something was done. Abandoned lands were leased so long as they remained
in the hands of the Bureau, and a total revenue of $400,000 derived from
black tenants. Some other lands to which the nation had gained title
were sold, and public lands were opened for the settlement of the few
blacks who had tools and capital. The vision of landowning, however,
the righteous and reasonable ambition for forty acres and a mule
which filled the freedmen's dreams, was doomed in most cases to
disappointment. And those men of marvelous hind-sight, who to-day are
seeking to preach the Negro back to the soil, know well, or ought to
know, that it was here, in 1865, that the finest opportunity of binding
the black peasant to the soil was lost. Yet, with help and striving, the
Negro gained some land, and by 1874, in the one state of Georgia, owned
near 350,000 acres.

The greatest success of the Freedmen's Bureau lay in the planting of
the free school among Negroes, and the idea of free elementary education
among all classes in the South. It not only called the schoolmistress
through the benevolent agencies, and built them schoolhouses, but it
helped discover and support such apostles of human development as Edmund
Ware, Erastus Cravath, and Samuel Armstrong. State superintendents of
education were appointed, and by 1870 150,000 children were in school.
The opposition to Negro education was bitter in the South, for the South
believed an educated Negro to be a dangerous Negro. And the South was
not wholly wrong; for education among all kinds of men always has
had, and always will have, an element of danger and revolution, of
dissatisfaction and discontent. Nevertheless, men strive to know. It was
some inkling of this paradox, even in the unquiet days of the Bureau,
that allayed an opposition to human training, which still to-day lies
smouldering, but not flaming. Fisk, Atlanta, Howard, and Hampton were
founded in these days, and nearly $6,000,000 was expended in five
years for educational work, $750,000 of which came from the freedmen

Such contributions, together with the buying of land and various other
enterprises, showed that the ex-slave was handling some free capital
already. The chief initial source of this was labor in the army, and his
pay and bounty as a soldier. Payments to Negro soldiers were at first
complicated by the ignorance of the recipients, and the fact that the
quotas of colored regiments from Northern states were largely filled by
recruits from the South, unknown to their fellow soldiers. Consequently,
payments were accompanied by such frauds that Congress, by joint
resolution in 1867, put the whole matter in the hands of the Freedmen's
Bureau. In two years $6,000,000 was thus distributed to 5000 claimants,
and in the end the sum exceeded $8,000,000. Even in this system, fraud
was frequent; but still the work put needed capital in the hands of
practical paupers, and some, at least, was well spent.

The most perplexing and least successful part of the Bureau's work lay
in the exercise of its judicial functions. In a distracted land where
slavery had hardly fallen, to keep the strong from wanton abuse of the
weak, and the weak from gloating insolently over the half-shorn strength
of the strong, was a thankless, hopeless task. The former masters of
the land were peremptorily ordered about, seized and imprisoned, and
punished over and again, with scant courtesy from army officers. The
former slaves were intimidated, beaten, raped, and butchered by angry
and revengeful men. Bureau courts tended to become centres simply for
punishing whites, while the regular civil courts tended to become solely
institutions for perpetuating the slavery of blacks. Almost every law
and method ingenuity could devise was employed by the legislatures to
reduce the Negroes to serfdom,--to make them the slaves of the state,
if not of individual owners; while the Bureau officials too often were
found striving to put the "bottom rail on top," and give the freedmen
a power and independence which they could not yet use. It is all well
enough for us of another generation to wax wise with advice to those who
bore the burden in the heat of the day. It is full easy now to see that
the man who lost home, fortune, and family at a stroke, and saw his land
ruled by "mules and niggers," was really benefited by the passing of
slavery. It is not difficult now to say to the young freedman, cheated
and cuffed about, who has seen his father's head beaten to a jelly and
his own mother namelessly assaulted, that the meek shall inherit
the earth. Above all, nothing is more convenient than to heap on the
Freedmen's Bureau all the evils of that evil day, and damn it utterly
for every mistake and blunder that was made.

All this is easy, but it is neither sensible nor just. Some one had
blundered, but that was long before Oliver Howard was born; there was
criminal aggression and heedless neglect, but without some system of
control there would have been far more than there was. Had that control
been from within, the Negro would have been reenslaved, to all intents
and purposes. Coming as the control did from without, perfect men and
methods would have bettered all things; and even with imperfect agents
and questionable methods, the work accomplished was not undeserving
of much commendation. The regular Bureau court consisted of one
representative of the employer, one of the Negro, and one of the Bureau.
If the Bureau could have maintained a perfectly judicial attitude,
this arrangement would have been ideal, and must in time have gained
confidence; but the nature of its other activities and the character of
its personnel prejudiced the Bureau in favor of the black litigants, and
led without doubt to much injustice and annoyance. On the other hand, to
leave the Negro in the hands of Southern courts was impossible.

What the Freedmen's Bureau cost the nation is difficult to determine
accurately. Its methods of bookkeeping were not good, and the whole
system of its work and records partook of the hurry and turmoil of
the time. General Howard himself disbursed some $15,000,000 during his
incumbency; but this includes the bounties paid colored soldiers, which
perhaps should not be counted as an expense of the Bureau. In bounties,
prize money, and all other expenses, the Bureau disbursed over
$20,000,000 before all of its departments were finally closed. To this
ought to be added the large expenses of the various departments of
Negro affairs before 1865; but these are hardly extricable from war
expenditures, nor can we estimate with any accuracy the contributions of
benevolent societies during all these years.

Such was the work of the Freedmen's Bureau. To sum it up in brief, we
may say: it set going a system of free labor; it established the black
peasant proprietor; it secured the recognition of black freemen before
courts of law; it founded the free public school in the South. On the
other hand, it failed to establish good will between ex-masters and
freedmen; to guard its work wholly from paternalistic methods
that discouraged self-reliance; to make Negroes landholders in any
considerable numbers. Its successes were the result of hard work,
supplemented by the aid of philanthropists and the eager striving of
black men. Its failures were the result of bad local agents, inherent
difficulties of the work, and national neglect. The Freedmen's
Bureau expired by limitation in 1869, save its educational and bounty
departments. The educational work came to an end in 1872, and General
Howard's connection with the Bureau ceased at that time. The work of
paying bounties was transferred to the adjutant general's office, where
it was continued three or four years longer.

Such an institution, from its wide powers, great responsibilities, large
control of moneys, and generally conspicuous position, was naturally
open to repeated and bitter attacks. It sustained a searching
congressional investigation at the instance of Fernando Wood in 1870. It
was, with blunt discourtesy, transferred from Howard's control, in his
absence, to the supervision of Secretary of War Belknap in 1872, on the
Secretary's recommendation. Finally, in consequence of grave intimations
of wrongdoing made by the Secretary and his subordinates, General Howard
was court-martialed in 1874. In each of these trials, and in other
attacks, the commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau was exonerated from
any willful misdoing, and his work heartily commended. Nevertheless,
many unpleasant things were brought to light: the methods of transacting
the business of the Bureau were faulty; several cases of defalcation
among officials in the field were proven, and further frauds hinted
at; there were some business transactions which savored of dangerous
speculation, if not dishonesty; and, above all, the smirch of the
Freedmen's Bank, which, while legally distinct from, was morally and
practically a part of the Bureau, will ever blacken the record of this
great institution. Not even ten additional years of slavery could have
done as much to throttle the thrift of the freedmen as the mismanagement
and bankruptcy of the savings bank chartered by the nation for their
especial aid. Yet it is but fair to say that the perfect honesty of
purpose and unselfish devotion of General Howard have passed untarnished
through the fire of criticism. Not so with all his subordinates,
although in the case of the great majority of these there were shown
bravery and devotion to duty, even though sometimes linked to narrowness
and incompetency.

The most bitter attacks on the Freedmen's Bureau were aimed not so much
at its conduct or policy under the law as at the necessity for any such
organization at all. Such attacks came naturally from the border states
and the South, and they were summed up by Senator Davis, of Kentucky,
when he moved to entitle the act of 1866 a bill "to promote strife
and conflict between the white and black races... by a grant of
unconstitutional power." The argument was of tremendous strength, but
its very strength was its weakness. For, argued the plain common sense
of the nation, if it is unconstitutional, unpracticable, and futile for
the nation to stand guardian over its helpless wards, then there is left
but one alternative: to make those wards their own guardians by arming
them with the ballot. The alternative offered the nation then was not
between full and restricted Negro suffrage; else every sensible man,
black and white, would easily have chosen the latter. It was rather a
choice between suffrage and slavery, after endless blood and gold had
flowed to sweep human bondage away. Not a single Southern legislature
stood ready to admit a Negro, under any conditions, to the polls; not
a single Southern legislature believed free Negro labor was possible
without a system of restrictions that took all its freedom away; there
was scarcely a white man in the South who did not honestly regard
emancipation as a crime, and its practical nullification as a duty.
In such a situation, the granting of the ballot to the black man was a
necessity, the very least a guilty nation could grant a wronged race.
Had the opposition to government guardianship of Negroes been less
bitter, and the attachment to the slave system less strong, the social
seer can well imagine a far better policy: a permanent Freedmen's
Bureau, with a national system of Negro schools; a carefully supervised
employment and labor office; a system of impartial protection before the
regular courts; and such institutions for social betterment as savings
banks, land and building associations, and social settlements. All this
vast expenditure of money and brains might have formed a great school of
prospective citizenship, and solved in a way we have not yet solved the
most perplexing and persistent of the Negro problems.

That such an institution was unthinkable in 1870 was due in part to
certain acts of the Freedmen's Bureau itself. It came to regard its work
as merely temporary, and Negro suffrage as a final answer to all present
perplexities. The political ambition of many of its agents and proteges
led it far afield into questionable activities, until the South, nursing
its own deep prejudices, came easily to ignore all the good deeds of the
Bureau, and hate its very name with perfect hatred. So the Freedmen's
Bureau died, and its child was the Fifteenth Amendment.

The passing of a great human institution before its work is done, like
the untimely passing of a single soul, but leaves a legacy of striving
for other men. The legacy of the Freedmen's Bureau is the heavy heritage
of this generation. Today, when new and vaster problems are destined to
strain every fibre of the national mind and soul, would it not be well
to count this legacy honestly and carefully? For this much all men know:
despite compromise, struggle, war, and struggle, the Negro is not free.
In the backwoods of the Gulf states, for miles and miles, he may not
leave the plantation of his birth; in well-nigh the whole rural South
the black farmers are peons, bound by law and custom to an economic
slavery, from which the only escape is death or the penitentiary. In
the most cultured sections and cities of the South the Negroes are a
segregated servile caste, with restricted rights and privileges. Before
the courts, both in law and custom, they stand on a different and
peculiar basis. Taxation without representation is the rule of their
political life. And the result of all this is, and in nature must have
been, lawlessness and crime. That is the large legacy of the Freedmen's
Bureau, the work it did not do because it could not.

I have seen a land right merry with the sun; where children sing, and
rolling hills lie like passioned women, wanton with harvest. And there
in the King's Highway sat and sits a figure, veiled and bowed, by which
the traveler's footsteps hasten as they go. On the tainted air broods
fear. Three centuries' thought has been the raising and unveiling of
that bowed human heart, and now, behold, my fellows, a century new
for the duty and the deed. The problem of the twentieth century is the
problem of the color line.


From the shimmering swirl of waters where many, many thoughts ago the
slave-ship first saw the square tower of Jamestown have flowed down to
our day three streams of thinking: one from the larger world here and
over-seas, saying, the multiplying of human wants in culture lands calls
for the world-wide co-operation of men in satisfying them. Hence arises
a new human unity, pulling the ends of earth nearer, and all men, black,
yellow, and white. The larger humanity strives to feel in this contact
of living nations and sleeping hordes a thrill of new life in the world,
crying, If the contact of Life and Sleep be Death, shame on such Life.
To be sure, behind this thought lurks the afterthought of force and
dominion,--the making of brown men to delve when the temptation of beads
and red calico cloys.

The second thought streaming from the death-ship and the curving river
is the thought of the older South: the sincere and passionate belief
that somewhere between men and cattle God created a tertium quid, and
called it a Negro,--a clownish, simple creature, at times even lovable
within its limitations, but straitly foreordained to walk within the
Veil. To be sure, behind the thought lurks the afterthought,--some of
them with favoring chance might become men, but in sheer self-defense we
dare not let them, and build about them walls so high, and hang between
them and the light a veil so thick, that they shall not even think of
breaking through.

And last of all there trickles down that third and darker thought, the
thought of the things themselves, the confused half-conscious mutter
of men who are black and whitened, crying Liberty, Freedom,
Opportunity--vouchsafe to us, O boastful World, the chance of living
men! To be sure, behind the thought lurks the afterthought: suppose,
after all, the World is right and we are less than men? Suppose this mad
impulse within is all wrong, some mock mirage from the untrue?

So here we stand among thoughts of human unity, even through conquest
and slavery; the inferiority of black men, even if forced by fraud; a
shriek in the night for the freedom of men who themselves are not yet
sure of their right to demand it. This is the tangle of thought and
afterthought wherein we are called to solve the problem of training men
for life.

Behind all its curiousness, so attractive alike to sage and dilettante,
lie its dim dangers, throwing across us shadows at once grotesque and
awful. Plain it is to us that what the world seeks through desert and
wild we have within our threshold;--a stalwart laboring force, suited to
the semi-tropics; if, deaf to the voice of the Zeitgeist, we refuse to
use and develop these men, we risk poverty and loss. If, on the other
hand, seized by the brutal afterthought, we debauch the race thus caught
in our talons, selfishly sucking their blood and brains in the future as
in the past, what shall save us from national decadence? Only that saner
selfishness which, Education teaches men, can find the rights of all in
the whirl of work.

Again, we may decry the color prejudice of the South, yet it remains
a heavy fact. Such curious kinks of the human mind exist and must
be reckoned with soberly. They cannot be laughed away, nor always
successfully stormed at, nor easily abolished by act of legislature.
And yet they cannot be encouraged by being let alone. They must be
recognized as facts, but unpleasant facts; things that stand in the way
of civilization and religion and common decency. They can be met in but
one way: by the breadth and broadening of human reason, by catholicity
of taste and culture. And so, too, the native ambition and aspiration
of men, even though they be black, backward, and ungraceful, must not
lightly be dealt with. To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is
to play with mighty fires; to flout their striving idly is to welcome
a harvest of brutish crime and shameless lethargy in our very laps. The
guiding of thought and the deft coordination of deed is at once the path
of honor and humanity.

And so, in this great question of reconciling three vast and partially
contradictory streams of thought, the one panacea of Education leaps to
the lips of all; such human training as will best use the labor of all
men without enslaving or brutalizing; such training as will give us
poise to encourage the prejudices that bulwark society, and stamp out
those that in sheer barbarity deafen us to the wail of prisoned souls
within the Veil, and the mounting fury of shackled men.

But when we have vaguely said Education will set this tangle straight,
what have we uttered but a truism? Training for life teaches living; but
what training for the profitable living together of black men and
white? Two hundred years ago our task would have seemed easier. Then
Dr. Johnson blandly assured us that education was needed solely for the
embellishments of life, and was useless for ordinary vermin. To-day we
have climbed to heights where we would open at least the outer courts of
knowledge to all, display its treasures to many, and select the few
to whom its mystery of Truth is revealed, not wholly by truth or
the accidents of the stock market, but at least in part according to
deftness and aim, talent and character. This programme, however, we are
sorely puzzled in carrying out through that part of the land where
the blight of slavery fell hardest, and where we are dealing with two
backward peoples. To make here in human education that ever necessary
combination of the permanent and the contingent--of the ideal and the
practical in workable equilibrium--has been there, as it ever must be
in every age and place, a matter of infinite experiment and frequent

In rough approximation we may point out four varying decades of work in
Southern education since the Civil War. From the close of the war until
1876 was the period of uncertain groping and temporary relief. There
were army schools, mission schools, and schools of the Freedmen's Bureau
in chaotic disarrangement, seeking system and cooperation. Then followed
ten years of constructive definite effort toward the building of
complete school systems in the South. Normal schools and colleges were
founded for the freedmen, and teachers trained there to man the public
schools. There was the inevitable tendency of war to underestimate the
prejudice of the master and the ignorance of the slave, and all seemed
clear sailing out of the wreckage of the storm. Meantime, starting
in this decade yet especially developing from 1885 to 1895, began the
industrial revolution of the South. The land saw glimpses of a new
destiny and the stirring of new ideals. The educational system striving
to complete itself saw new obstacles and a field of work ever broader
and deeper. The Negro colleges, hurriedly founded, were inadequately
equipped, illogically distributed, and of varying efficiency and grade;
the normal and high schools were doing little more than common school
work, and the common schools were training but a third of the children
who ought to be in them, and training these too often poorly. At the
same time the white South, by reason of its sudden conversion from the
slavery ideal, by so much the more became set and strengthened in its
racial prejudice, and crystallized it into harsh law and harsher custom;
while the marvelous pushing forward of the poor white daily threatened
to take even bread and butter from the mouths of the heavily handicapped
sons of the freedmen. In the midst, then, of the larger problem of Negro
education sprang up the more practical question of work, the inevitable
economic quandary that faces a people in the transition from slavery
to freedom, and especially those who make that change amid hate and
prejudice, lawlessness and ruthless competition.

The industrial school springing to notice in this decade, but coming to
full recognition in the decade beginning with 1895, was the proffered
answer to this combined educational and economic crisis, and an answer
of singular wisdom and timeliness. From the very first in nearly all the
schools some attention had been given to training in handiwork, but now
was this training first raised to a dignity that brought it in direct
touch with the South's magnificent industrial development, and given an
emphasis which reminded black folk that before the Temple of Knowledge
swing the Gates of Toil.

Yet after all they are but gates, and when turning our eyes from
the temporary and the contingent in the Negro problem to the broader
question of the permanent uplifting and civilization of black men in
America, we have a right to inquire, as this enthusiasm for material
advancement mounts to its height, if after all the industrial school is
the final and sufficient answer in the training of the Negro race; and
to ask gently, but in all sincerity, the ever recurring query of the
ages, Is not life more than meat, and the body more than raiment? And
men ask this to-day all the more eagerly because of sinister signs in
recent educational movements. The tendency is here born of slavery and
quickened to renewed life by the crazy imperialism of the day, to regard
human beings as among the material resources of a land to be trained
with an eye single to future dividends. Race prejudices, which keep
brown and black men in their "places," we are coming to regard as useful
allies with such a theory, no matter how much they may dull the ambition
and sicken the hearts of struggling human beings. And above all, we
daily hear that an education that encourages aspiration, that sets
the loftiest of ideals and seeks as an end culture and character than
bread-winning, is the privilege of white men and the danger and delusion
of black.

Especially has criticism been directed against the former educational
efforts to aid the Negro. In the four periods I have mentioned, we find
first boundless, planless enthusiasm and sacrifice; then the preparation
of teachers for a vast public school system; then the launching and
expansion of that school system amid increasing difficulties; and
finally the training of workmen for the new and growing industries. This
development has been sharply ridiculed as a logical anomaly and flat
reversal of nature. Soothly we have been told that first industrial
and manual training should have taught the Negro to work, then simple
schools should have taught him to read and write, and finally, after
years, high and normal schools could have completed the system, as
intelligence and wealth demanded.

That a system logically so complete was historically impossible, it
needs but a little thought to prove. Progress in human affairs is more
often a pull than a push, surging forward of the exceptional man, and
the lifting of his duller brethren slowly and painfully to his vantage
ground. Thus it was no accident that gave birth to universities
centuries before the common schools, that made fair Harvard the first
flower of our wilderness. So in the South: the mass of the freedmen
at the end of the war lacked the intelligence so necessary to modern
workingmen. They must first have the common school to teach them to
read, write, and cipher. The white teachers who flocked South went to
establish such a common school system. They had no idea of founding
colleges; they themselves at first would have laughed at the idea. But
they faced, as all men since them have faced, that central paradox of
the South, the social separation of the races. Then it was the sudden
volcanic rupture of nearly all relations between black and white, in
work and government and family life. Since then a new adjustment of
relations in economic and political affairs has grown up,--an adjustment
subtle and difficult to grasp, yet singularly ingenious, which leaves
still that frightful chasm at the color line across which men pass at
their peril. Thus, then and now, there stand in the South two separate
worlds; and separate not simply in the higher realms of social
intercourse, but also in church and school, on railway and street car,
in hotels and theatres, in streets and city sections, in books and
newspapers, in asylums and jails, in hospitals and graveyards. There is
still enough of contact for large economic and group cooperation, but
the separation is so thorough and deep, that it absolutely precludes
for the present between the races anything like that sympathetic and
effective group training and leadership of the one by the other, such
as the American Negro and all backward peoples must have for effectual

This the missionaries of '68 soon saw; and if effective industrial and
trade schools were impractical before the establishment of a common
school system, just as certainly no adequate common schools could be
founded until there were teachers to teach them. Southern whites would
not teach them; Northern whites in sufficient numbers could not be had.
If the Negro was to learn, he must teach himself, and the most effective
help that could be given him was the establishment of schools to train
Negro teachers. This conclusion was slowly but surely reached by every
student of the situation until simultaneously, in widely separated
regions, without consultation or systematic plan, there arose a series
of institutions designed to furnish teachers for the untaught. Above
the sneers of critics at the obvious defects of this procedure must ever
stand its one crushing rejoinder: in a single generation they put thirty
thousand black teachers in the South; they wiped out the illiteracy of
the majority of the black people of the land, and they made Tuskegee

Such higher training schools tended naturally to deepen broader
development: at first they were common and grammar schools, then some
became high schools. And finally, by 1900, some thirty-four had one year
or more of studies of college grade. This development was reached with
different degrees of speed in different institutions: Hampton is still
a high school, while Fisk University started her college in 1871, and
Spelman Seminary about 1896. In all cases the aim was identical: to
maintain the standards of the lower training by giving teachers and
leaders the best practicable training; and above all to furnish the
black world with adequate standards of human culture and lofty ideals of
life. It was not enough that the teachers of teachers should be trained
in technical normal methods; they must also, so far as possible, be
broad-minded, cultured men and women, to scatter civilization among a
people whose ignorance was not simply of letters, but of life itself.

It can thus be seen that the work of education in the South began with
higher institutions of training, which threw off as their foliage common
schools, and later industrial schools, and at the same time strove to
shoot their roots ever deeper toward college and university training.
That this was an inevitable and necessary development, sooner or later,
goes without saying; but there has been, and still is, a question in
many minds if the natural growth was not forced, and if the higher
training was not either overdone or done with cheap and unsound methods.
Among white Southerners this feeling is widespread and positive. A
prominent Southern journal voiced this in a recent editorial:

"The experiment that has been made to give the colored students
classical training has not been satisfactory. Even though many were able
to pursue the course, most of them did so in a parrot-like way, learning
what was taught, but not seeming to appropriate the truth and import
of their instruction, and graduating without sensible aim or valuable
occupation for their future. The whole scheme has proved a waste of
time, efforts, and the money of the state."

While most far-minded men would recognize this as extreme and overdrawn,
still without doubt many are asking, Are there a sufficient number of
Negroes ready for college training to warrant the undertaking? Are not
too many students prematurely forced into this work? Does it not have
the effect of dissatisfying the young Negro with his environment? And do
these graduates succeed in real life? Such natural questions cannot be
evaded, nor on the other hand must a nation naturally skeptical as to
Negro ability assume an unfavorable answer without careful inquiry and
patient openness to conviction. We must not forget that most Americans
answer all queries regarding the Negro a priori, and that the least that
human courtesy can do is to listen to evidence.

The advocates of the higher education of the Negro would be the last to
deny the incompleteness and glaring defects of the present system: too
many institutions have attempted to do college work, the work in some
cases has not been thoroughly done, and quantity rather than quality
has sometimes been sought. But all this can be said of higher education
throughout the land: it is the almost inevitable incident of educational
growth, and leaves the deeper question of the legitimate demand for the
higher training of Negroes untouched. And this latter question can be
settled in but one way--by a first-hand study of the facts. If we leave
out of view all institutions which have not actually graduated students
from a course higher than that of a New England high school, even though
they be called colleges; if then we take the thirty-four remaining
institutions, we may clear up many misapprehensions by asking
searchingly, What kind of institutions are they, what do they teach, and
what sort of men do they graduate?

And first we may say that this type of college, including Atlanta, Fisk
and Howard, Wilberforce and Lincoln, Biddle, Shaw, and the rest, is
peculiar, almost unique. Through the shining trees that whisper before
me as I write, I catch glimpses of a boulder of New England granite,
covering a grave, which graduates of Atlanta University have placed


This was the gift of New England to the freed Negro: not alms, but
a friend; not cash, but character. It was not and is not money these
seething millions want, but love and sympathy, the pulse of hearts
beating with red blood; a gift which to-day only their own kindred and
race can bring to the masses, but which once saintly souls brought to
their favored children in the crusade of the sixties, that finest thing
in American history, and one of the few things untainted by sordid greed
and cheap vainglory. The teachers in these institutions came not to keep
the Negroes in their place, but to raise them out of their places where
the filth of slavery had wallowed them. The colleges they founded were
social settlements; homes where the best of the sons of the freedmen
came in close and sympathetic touch with the best traditions of New
England. They lived and ate together, studies and worked, hoped and
harkened in the dawning light. In actual formal content their curriculum
was doubtless old-fashioned, but in educational power it was supreme,
for it was the contact of living souls.

From such schools about two thousand Negroes have gone forth with the
bachelor's degree. The number in itself is enough to put at rest the
argument that too large a proportion of Negroes are receiving higher
training. If the ratio to population of all Negro students throughout
the land, in both college and secondary training, be counted,
Commissioner Harris assures us "it must be increased to five times its
present average" to equal the average of the land.

Fifty years ago the ability of Negro students in any appreciable numbers
to master a modern college course would have been difficult to prove.
To-day it is proved by the fact that four hundred Negroes, many of whom
have been reported as brilliant students, have received the bachelor's
degree from Harvard, Yale, Oberlin, and seventy other leading colleges.
Here we have, then, nearly twenty-five hundred Negro graduates, of whom
the crucial query must be made. How far did their training fit them for
life? It is of course extremely difficult to collect satisfactory
data on such a point,--difficult to reach the men, to get trustworthy
testimony, and to gauge that testimony by any generally acceptable
criterion of success. In 1900, the Conference at Atlanta University
undertook to study these graduates, and published the results. First
they sought to know what these graduates were doing, and succeeded
in getting answers from nearly two thirds of the living. The direct
testimony was in almost all cases corroborated by the reports of the
colleges where they graduated, so that in the main the reports were
worthy of credence. Fifty-three per cent of these graduates were
teachers,--presidents of institutions, heads of normal schools,
principals of city school systems, and the like. Seventeen per cent were
clergymen; another seventeen per cent were in the professions, chiefly
as physicians. Over six per cent were merchants, farmers, and artisans,
and four per cent were in the government civil service. Granting
even that a considerable proportion of the third unheard from are
unsuccessful, this is a record of usefulness. Personally I know many
hundreds of these graduates and have corresponded with more than a
thousand; through others I have followed carefully the life-work of
scores; I have taught some of them and some of the pupils whom they
have taught, lived in homes which they have builded, and looked at life
through their eyes. Comparing them as a class with my fellow students in
New England and in Europe, I cannot hesitate in saying that nowhere have
I met men and women with a broader spirit of helpfulness, with deeper
devotion to their life-work, or with more consecrated determination to
succeed in the face of bitter difficulties than among Negro college-bred
men. They have, to be sure, their proportion of ne'er-do-weels,
their pedants and lettered fools, but they have a surprisingly small
proportion of them; they have not that culture of manner which we
instinctively associate with university men, forgetting that in reality
it is the heritage from cultured homes, and that no people a generation
removed from slavery can escape a certain unpleasant rawness and
gaucherie, despite the best of training.

With all their larger vision and deeper sensibility, these men have
usually been conservative, careful leaders. They have seldom been
agitators, have withstood the temptation to head the mob, and have
worked steadily and faithfully in a thousand communities in the South.
As teachers they have given the South a commendable system of city
schools and large numbers of private normal schools and academies.
Colored college-bred men have worked side by side with white college
graduates at Hampton; almost from the beginning the backbone of
Tuskegee's teaching force has been formed of graduates from Fisk and
Atlanta. And to-day the institute is filled with college graduates, from
the energetic wife of the principal down to the teacher of agriculture,
including nearly half of the executive council and a majority of the
heads of departments. In the professions, college men are slowly but
surely leavening the Negro church, are healing and preventing the
devastations of disease, and beginning to furnish legal protection for
the liberty and property of the toiling masses. All this is needful
work. Who would do it if Negroes did not? How could Negroes do it if
they were not trained carefully for it? If white people need colleges to
furnish teachers, ministers, lawyers, and doctors, do black people need
nothing of the sort?

If it be true that there are an appreciable number of Negro youth in the
land capable by character and talent to receive that higher training,
the end of which is culture, and if the two and a half thousand who
have had something of this training in the past have in the main proved
themselves useful to their race and generation, the question then
comes, What place in the future development of the South might the
Negro college and college-bred man to occupy? That the present social
separation and acute race sensitiveness must eventually yield to the
influences of culture as the South grows civilized is clear. But such
transformation calls for singular wisdom and patience. If, while the
healing of this vast sore is progressing, the races are to live for
many years side by side, united in economic effort, obeying a common
government, sensitive to mutual thought and feeling, yet subtly and
silently separate in many matters of deeper human intimacy--if this
unusual and dangerous development is to progress amid peace and order,
mutual respect and growing intelligence, it will call for social surgery
at once the delicatest and nicest in modern history. It will demand
broad-minded, upright men both white and black, and in its final
accomplishment American civilization will triumph. So far as white men
are concerned, this fact is to-day being recognized in the South, and a
happy renaissance of university education seems imminent. But the very
voices that cry Hail! to this good work are, strange to relate, largely
silent or antagonistic to the higher education of the Negro.

Strange to relate! for this is certain, no secure civilization can be
built in the South with the Negro as an ignorant, turbulent proletariat.
Suppose we seek to remedy this by making them laborers and nothing more:
they are not fools, they have tasted of the Tree of Life, and they will
not cease to think, will not cease attempting to read the riddle of
the world. By taking away their best equipped teachers and leaders,
by slamming the door of opportunity in the faces of their bolder and
brighter minds, will you make them satisfied with their lot? or will you
not rather transfer their leading from the hands of men taught to
think to the hands of untrained demagogues? We ought not to forget that
despite the pressure of poverty, and despite the active discouragement
and even ridicule of friends, the demand for higher training steadily
increases among Negro youth: there were, in the years from 1875 to 1880,
twenty-two Negro graduates from Northern colleges; from 1885 to 1895
there were forty-three, and from 1895 to 1900, nearly 100 graduates.
From Southern Negro colleges there were, in the same three periods,
143, 413, and over 500 graduates. Here, then, is the plain thirst for
training; by refusing to give this Talented Tenth the key to knowledge
can any sane man imagine that they will lightly lay aside their yearning
and contentedly become hewers of wood and drawers of water?

No. The dangerously clear logic of the Negro's position will more and
more loudly assert itself in that day when increasing wealth and more
intricate social organization preclude the South from being, as it so
largely is, simply an armed camp for intimidating black folk. Such
waste of energy cannot be spared if the South is to catch up with
civilization. And as the black third of the land grows in thrift and
skill, unless skillfully guided in its larger philosophy, it must more
and more brood over the red past and the creeping, crooked present,
until it grasps a gospel of revolt and revenge and throws its new-found
energies athwart the current of advance. Even to-day the masses of the
Negroes see all too clearly the anomalies of their position and the
moral crookedness of yours. You may marshal strong indictments against
them, but their counter-cries, lacking though they be in formal logic,
have burning truths within them which you may not wholly ignore, O
Southern Gentlemen! If you deplore their presence here, they ask,
Who brought us? When you shriek, Deliver us from the vision of
intermarriage, they answer, that legal marriage is infinitely better
than systematic concubinage and prostitution. And if in just fury you
accuse their vagabonds of violating women, they also in fury quite as
just may wail: the rape which your gentlemen have done against helpless
black women in defiance of your own laws is written on the foreheads
of two millions of mulattoes, and written in ineffaceable blood. And
finally, when you fasten crime upon this race as its peculiar
trait, they answer that slavery was the arch-crime, and lynching and
lawlessness its twin abortion; that color and race are not crimes, and
yet they it is which in this land receive most unceasing condemnation,
North, East, South, and West.

I will not say such arguments are wholly justified--I will not insist
that there is no other side to the shield; but I do say that of the nine
millions of Negroes in this nation, there is scarcely one out of the
cradle to whom these arguments do not daily present themselves in the
guise of terrible truth. I insist that the question of the future is how
best to keep these millions from brooding over the wrongs of the past
and the difficulties of the present, so that all their energies may
be bent toward a cheerful striving and cooperation with their white
neighbors toward a larger, juster, and fuller future. That one wise
method of doing this lies in the closer knitting of the Negro to the
great industrial possibilities of the South is a great truth. And this
the common schools and the manual training and trade schools are working
to accomplish. But these alone are not enough. The foundations of
knowledge in this race, as in others, must be sunk deep in the college
and university if we would build a solid, permanent structure. Internal
problems of social advance must inevitably come,--problems of work and
wages, of families and homes, of morals and the true valuing of
the things of life; and all these and other inevitable problems of
civilization the Negro must meet and solve largely for himself, by
reason of his isolation; and can there be any possible solution other
than by study and thought and an appeal to the rich experience of the
past? Is there not, with such a group and in such a crisis, infinitely
more danger to be apprehended from half-trained minds and shallow
thinking than from over-education and over-refinement? Surely we have
wit enough to found a Negro college so manned and equipped as to steer
successfully between the dilettante and the fool. We shall hardly induce
black men to believe that if their bellies be full it matters little
about their brains. They already dimly perceive that the paths of peace
winding between honest toil and dignified manhood call for the guidance
of skilled thinkers, the loving, reverent comradeship between the black
lowly and black men emancipated by training and culture.

The function of the Negro college then is clear: it must maintain the
standards of popular education, it must seek the social regeneration of
the Negro, and it must help in the solution of problems of race contact
and cooperation. And finally, beyond all this, it must develop men.
Above our modern socialism, and out of the worship of the mass, must
persist and evolve that higher individualism which the centres of
culture protect; there must come a loftier respect for the sovereign
human soul that seeks to know itself and the world about it; that seeks
a freedom for expansion and self-development; that will love and hate
and labor in its own way, untrammeled alike by old and new. Such souls
aforetime have inspired and guided worlds, and if we be not wholly
bewitched by our Rhine-gold, they shall again. Herein the longing
of black men must have respect: the rich and bitter depth of their
experience, the unknown treasures of their inner life, the strange
rendings of nature they have seen, may give the world new points of view
and make their loving, living, and doing precious to all human hearts.
And to themselves in these the days that try their souls the chance to
soar in the dim blue air above the smoke is to their finer spirits boon
and guerdon for what they lose on earth by being black.

I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move
arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women
glide in gilded halls. From out the caves of Evening that swing between
the strong-limbed earth and the tracery of the stars, I summon Aristotle
and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no
scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the Veil. Is
this the life you grudge us, O knightly America? Is this the life you
long to change into the dull red hideousness of Georgia? Are you so
afraid lest peering from this high Pisgah, between Philistine and
Amalekite, we sight the Promised Land?


The political, educational, social, and economic evolution through which
the South passed during, say, the first fifteen or twenty years after
the close of the civil war furnishes one of the most interesting periods
that any country has passed through.

A large share of the thought and activity of the white South, of the
black South, and of that section of the North especially interested
in my race, was directed during the years of the Reconstruction period
toward politics, or toward matters bearing upon what were termed civil
or social rights. The work of education was rather slow, and covered a
large section of the South; still I think I am justified in saying that
in the public mind the Negro's relation to politics overshadowed nearly
every other interest. The education of the race was conducted quietly,
and attracted comparatively little attention, just as is true at the
present time. The appointment of one Negro postmaster at a third or
fourth rate post office will be given wider publicity through the daily
press than the founding of a school, or some important discovery in

With reference to the black man's political relation to the state and
Federal governments, I think I am safe in saying that for many years
after the civil war there were sharp and antagonistic views between the
North and the South, as well as between the white South and the black
South. At practically every point where there was a political question
to be decided in the South the blacks would array themselves on one side
and the whites on the other. I remember that very soon after I began
teaching school in Alabama an old colored man came to me just prior to
an election. He said: "You can read de newspapers and most of us can't,
but dar is one thing dat we knows dat you don't, and dat is how to vote
down here; and we wants you to vote as we does." He added: "I tell you
how we does. We watches de white man; we keeps watching de white man;
de nearer it gits to election time de more we watches de white man. We
watches him till we finds out which way he gwine to vote. After we finds
out which way he gwine to vote, den we votes exactly de other way; den
we knows we 's right."

Stories on the other side might be given showing that a certain class of
white people, both at the polls and in the Legislatures, voted just as
unreasonably in opposing politically what they thought the Negro or the
North wanted, no matter how much benefit might ensue from a contrary
action. Unfortunately such antagonism did not end with matters
political, but in many cases affected the relation of the races in
nearly every walk of life. Aside from political strife, there was
naturally deep feeling between the North and the South on account of the
war. On nearly every question growing out of the war, which was debated
in Congress, or in political campaigns, there was the keenest difference
and often the deepest feeling. There was almost no question of even a
semi-political nature, or having a remote connection with the Negro,
upon which there was not sharp and often bitter division between the
North and South. It is needless to say that in many cases the Negro
was the sufferer. He was being ground between the upper and nether
millstones. Even to this day it is well-nigh impossible, largely by
reason of the force of habit, in certain states to prevent state and
even local campaigns from being centred in some form upon the black man.
In states like Mississippi, for example, where the Negro ceased nearly
a score of years ago, by operation of law, to be a determining factor
in politics, he forms in some way the principal fuel for campaign
discussion at nearly every election. The sad feature of this is, that
it prevents the presentation before the masses of the people of matters
pertaining to local and state improvement, and to great national issues
like finance, tariff, or foreign policies. It prevents the masses from
receiving the broad and helpful education which every political campaign
should furnish, and, what is equally unfortunate, it prevents the youth
from seeing and hearing on the platform the great political leaders of
the two national parties. During a national campaign few of the great
Democratic leaders debate national questions in the South, because it
is felt that the old antagonism to the Negro politically will keep the
South voting one way. Few of the great Republican leaders appear on
Southern platforms, because they feel that nothing will be gained.

One of the saddest instances of this situation that has come within my
knowledge occurred some years ago in a certain Southern state where a
white friend of mine was making the race for Congress on the Democratic
ticket in a district that was overwhelmingly Democratic. I speak of this
man as my friend, because there was no personal favor in reason which
he would have refused me. He was equally friendly to the race, and was
generous in giving for its education, and in helping individuals to
buy land. His campaign took him into one of the "white" counties, where
there were few colored people, and where the whites were unusually
ignorant. I was surprised one morning to read in the daily papers of a
bitter attack he had made on the Negro while speaking in this county.
The next time I saw him I informed him of my surprise. He replied that
he was ashamed of what he had said, and that he did not himself believe
much that he had stated, but gave as a reason for his action that he had
found himself before an audience which had heard little for thirty years
in the way of political discussion that did not bear upon the Negro, and
that he therefore knew it was almost impossible to interest them in any
other subject.

But this is somewhat aside from my purpose, which is, I repeat, to make
plain that in all political matters there was for years after the war
no meeting ground of agreement for the two races, or for the North and
South. Upon the question of the Negro's civil rights, as embodied in
what was called the Civil Rights Bill, there was almost the same sharp
line of division between the races, and, in theory at least, between the
Northern and Southern whites,--largely because the former were
supposed to be giving the blacks social recognition, and encouraging
intermingling between the races. The white teachers, who came from
the North to work in missionary schools, received for years little
recognition or encouragement from the rank and file of their own race.
The lines were so sharply drawn that in cities where native Southern
white women taught Negro children in the public schools, they would
have no dealings with Northern white women who, perhaps, taught Negro
children from the same family in a missionary school.

I want to call attention here to a phase of Reconstruction policy which
is often overlooked. All now agree that there was much in Reconstruction
which was unwise and unfortunate. However we may regard that policy, and
much as we may regret mistakes, the fact is too often overlooked that it
was during the Reconstruction period that a public school system for the
education of all the people of the South was first established in most
of the states. Much that was done by those in charge of Reconstruction
legislation has been overturned, but the public school system still
remains. True, it has been modified and improved, but the system
remains, and is every day growing in popularity and strength.

As to the difference of opinion between the North and the South
regarding Negro education, I find that many people, especially in the
North, have a wrong conception of the attitude of the Southern white
people. It is and has been very generally thought that what is termed
"higher education" of the Negro has been from the first opposed by the
white South. This opinion is far from being correct. I remember that,
in 1891, when I began the work of establishing the Tuskegee Institute
in Alabama, practically all of the white people who talked to me on the
subject took it for granted that instruction in the Greek, Latin, and
modern languages would be one of the main features of our curriculum. I
heard no one oppose what he thought our course of study was to embrace.
In fact, there are many white people in the South at the present time
who do not know that instruction in the dead languages is not given at
the Tuskegee Institute. In further proof of what I have stated, if one
will go through the catalogue of the schools maintained by the states
for Negro people, and managed by Southern white people, he will find in
almost every case that instruction in the higher branches is given with
the consent and approval of white officials. This was true as far back
as 1880. It is not unusual to meet at this time Southern white people
who are as emphatic in their belief in the value of classical education
as a certain element of colored people themselves. In matters relating
to civil and political rights, the breach was broad, and without
apparent hope of being bridged; even in the matter of religion,
practically all of the denominations had split on the subject of the
Negro, though I should add that there is now, and always has been, a
closer touch and more cooperation in matters of religion between the
white and colored people in the South than is generally known. But the
breach between the white churches in the South and North remains.

In matters of education the difference was much less sharp. The truth
is that a large element in the South had little faith in the efficacy
of the higher or any other kind of education of the Negro. They were
indifferent, but did not openly oppose; on the other hand, there has
always been a potent element of white people in all of the Southern
states who have stood out openly and bravely for the education of
all the people, regardless of race. This element has thus far been
successful in shaping and leading public opinion, and I think that it
will continue to do so more and more. This statement must not be taken
to mean that there is as yet an equitable division of the school funds,
raised by common taxation, between the two races in many sections of the
South, though the Southern states deserve much credit for what has been
done. In discussing the small amount of direct taxes the Negro pays, the
fact that he pays tremendous indirect taxes is often overlooked.

I wish, however, to emphasize the fact that while there was either open
antagonism or indifference in the directions I have named, it was the
introduction of industrial training into the Negro's education
that seemed to furnish the first basis for anything like united and
sympathetic interest and action between the two races in the South and
between the whites in the North and those in the South. Aside from its
direct benefit to the black race, industrial education has furnished
a basis for mutual faith and cooperation, which has meant more to the
South, and to the work of education, than has been realized.

This was, at the least, something in the way of construction. Many
people, I think, fail to appreciate the difference between the problems
now before us and those that existed previous to the civil war. Slavery
presented a problem of destruction; freedom presents a problem of

From its first inception the white people of the South had faith in the
theory of industrial education, because they had noted, what was
not unnatural, that a large element of the colored people at first
interpreted freedom to mean freedom from work with the hands. They
naturally had not learned to appreciate the fact that they had been
WORKED, and that one of the great lessons for freemen to learn is to
WORK. They had not learned the vast difference between WORKING and BEING
WORKED. The white people saw in the movement to teach the Negro youth
the dignity, beauty, and civilizing power of all honorable labor with
the hands something that would lead the Negro into his new life of
freedom gradually and sensibly, and prevent his going from one extreme
of life to the other too suddenly. Furthermore, industrial education
appealed directly to the individual and community interest of the white
people. They saw at once that intelligence coupled with skill would add
wealth to the community and to the state, in which both races would have
an added share. Crude labor in the days of slavery, they believed, could
be handled and made in a degree profitable, but ignorant and unskilled
labor in a state of freedom could not be made so. Practically every
white man in the South was interested in agricultural or in mechanical
or in some form of manual labor; every white man was interested in
all that related to the home life,--the cooking and serving of food,
laundering, dairying, poultry-raising, and housekeeping in general.
There was no family whose interest in intelligent and skillful nursing
was not now and then quickened by the presence of a trained nurse. As
already stated, there was general appreciation of the fact that
the industrial education of the black people had direct, vital, and
practical bearing upon the life of each white family in the South; while
there was no such appreciation of the results of mere literary training.
If a black man became a lawyer, a doctor, a minister, or an ordinary
teacher, his professional duties would not ordinarily bring him in touch
with the life of the white portion of the community, but rather confine
him almost exclusively to his own race. While purely literary or
professional education was not opposed by the white population, it was
something in which they found little or no interest, beyond a confused
hope that it would result in producing a higher and a better type of
Negro manhood. The minute it was seen that through industrial education
the Negro youth was not only studying chemistry, but also how to apply
the knowledge of chemistry to the enrichment of the soil, or to cooking,
or to dairying, and that the student was being taught not only geometry
and physics, but their application to blacksmithing, brickmaking,
farming, and what not, then there began to appear for the first time
a common bond between the two races and cooperation between North and

One of the most interesting and valuable instances of the kind that I
know of is presented in the case of Mr. George W. Carver, one of our
instructors in agriculture at Tuskegee Institute. For some time it has
been his custom to prepare articles containing information concerning
the conditions of local crops, and warning the farmers against the
ravages of certain insects and diseases. The local white papers are
always glad to publish these articles, and they are read by white and
colored farmers.

Some months ago a white land-holder in Montgomery County asked Mr.
Carver to go through his farm with him for the purpose of inspecting
it. While doing so Mr. Carver discovered traces of what he thought was
a valuable mineral deposit, used in making a certain kind of paint.
The interests of the land-owner and the agricultural instructor at once
became mutual. Specimens of the deposits were taken to the laboratories
of the Tuskegee Institute and analyzed by Mr. Carver. In due time the
land-owner received a report of the analysis, together with a statement
showing the commercial value and application of the mineral. I shall
not go through the whole interesting story, except to say that a stock
company, composed of some of the best white people in Alabama, has been
organized, and is now preparing to build a factory for the purpose
of putting their product on the market. I hardly need to add that
Mr. Carver has been freely consulted at every step, and his services
generously recognized in the organization of the concern. When the
company was being formed the following testimonial, among others, was
embodied in the printed copy of the circular:--

"George W. Carver, Director of the Department of Agriculture, Tuskegee,
Alabama, says:--

"'The pigment is an ochreous clay. Its value as a paint is due to the
presence of ferric oxide, of which it contains more than any of the
French, Australian, American, Irish, or Welsh ochres. Ferric oxides have
long been recognized as the essential constituents of such paints as
Venetian red, Turkish red, oxide red, Indian red, and scarlet. They are
most desirable, being quite permanent when exposed to light and air. As
a stain they are most valuable.'"

In further proof of what I wish to emphasize, I think I am safe in
saying that the work of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute,
under the late General S. C. Armstrong, was the first to receive any
kind of recognition and hearty sympathy from the Southern white people,
and General Armstrong was perhaps the first Northern educator of Negroes
who won the confidence and cooperation of the white South. The effects
of General Armstrong's introduction of industrial education at Hampton,
and its extension to the Tuskegee Institute in the far South, are now
actively and helpfully apparent in the splendid work being accomplished
for the whole South by the Southern Education Board, with Mr. Robert C.
Ogden at its head, and by the General Education Board, with Mr. William
H. Baldwin, Jr., as its president. Without the introduction of manual
training it is doubtful whether such work as is now being wrought
through these two boards for both races in the South could have been
possible within a quarter of a century to come. Later on in the
history of our country it will be recognized and appreciated that the
far-reaching and statesman-like efforts of these two boards for general
education in the South, under the guidance of the two gentlemen named,
and with the cooperation and assistance of such men as Mr. George Foster
Peabody, Dr. Wallace Buttrick, Mr. John D. Rockefeller, of the North,
and Mr. Edgar Gardner Murphy, Chancellor Hill, Dr. Alderman, Dr. McIver,
Dr. Dabney, and others of the South, will have furnished the material
for one of the brightest and most encouraging chapters in the history of
our country. The fact that we have reached the point where men and women
who were so far apart twenty years ago can meet in the South and discuss
freely from the same platform questions relating to the industrial,
educational, political, moral, and religious development of the two
races marks a great step in advance. It is true that as yet the Negro
has not been invited to share in these discussions.

Aside from the reasons I have given showing why the South favored
industrial education, coupled with intellectual and moral training,
many of the whites saw, for example, that the Negroes who were master
carpenters and contractors, under the guidance of their owners, could
become still greater factors in the development of the South if their
children were not suddenly removed from the atmosphere and occupations
of their fathers, and if they could be taught to use the thing in hand
as a foundation for higher growth. Many of the white people were wise
enough to see that such education would enable some of the Negro youths
to become more skillful carpenters and contractors, and that if they
laid an economic foundation in this way in their generation, they would
be laying a foundation for a more abstract education of their children
in the future.

Again, a large element of people at the South favored manual training
for the Negro because they were wise enough to see that the South was
largely free from the restrictive influences of the Northern trades
unions, and that such organizations would secure little hold in the
South so long as the Negro kept abreast in intelligence and skill with
the same class of people elsewhere. Many realized that the South would
be tying itself to a body of death if it did not help the Negro up. In
this connection I want to call attention to the fact that the official
records show that within one year about one million foreigners came into
the United States. Notwithstanding this number, practically none went
into the Southern states; to be more exact, the records show that in
1892 only 2278 all told went into the states of Alabama, Arkansas,
Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee, and Virginia. One ship sometimes brings as many to New York.
Various reasons are given to explain why these foreigners systematically
avoid the South. One is that the climate is so hot; and another is that
they do not like the restrictions thrown about the ballot; and still
another is the presence of the Negro is so large numbers. Whatever the
true reason is, the fact remains that foreigners avoid the South, and
the South is more and more realizing that it cannot keep pace with the
progress being made in other parts of the country if a third of its
population is ignorant and without skill.

The South must frankly face this truth, that for a long period it must
depend upon the black man to do for it what the foreigner is now doing
for the great West. If, by reason of his skill and knowledge, one man in
Iowa learns to produce as much corn in a season as four men can produce
in Alabama, it requires little reasoning to see that Alabama will buy
most of her corn from Iowa.

Another interesting result of the introduction of industrial education
for the Negro has been its influence upon the white people of the South,
and, I believe, upon the whites of the North as well. This phase of it
has proved of interest in making hand training a conciliatory element
between the races.

In 1883 I was delivering an address on industrial education before the
colored State Teachers' Association of one of our Southern states.
When I had finished, some of the teachers began to ask the State
Superintendent of Education, who was on the programme, some questions
about the subject. He politely but firmly stopped the questions by
stating that he knew absolutely nothing about industrial training, and
had never heard it discussed before. At that time there was no such
education being given at any white institution in that state. With one
or two exceptions this case will illustrate what was true of all the
Southern states. A careful investigation of the subject will show
that it was not until after industrial education was started among
the colored people, and its value proved, that it was taken up by the
Southern white people.

Manual training or industrial and technical schools for the whites have,
for the most part, been established under state auspices, and are at
this time chiefly maintained by the states. An investigation would also
show that in securing money from the state legislatures for the purpose
of introducing hand work, one of the main arguments used was the
existence and success of industrial training among the Negroes. It was
often argued that the white boys and girls would be left behind unless
they had the opportunities for securing the same kind of training
that was being given the colored people. Although it is, I think, not
generally known, it is a fact that since the idea of industrial or
technical education for white people took root within the last few
years, much more money is spent annually for such education for the
whites than for the colored people. Any one who has not looked into the
subject will be surprised to find how thorough and high grade the work
is. Take, for example, the state of Georgia, and it will be found that
several times as much is being spent at the Industrial College for
white girls at Milledgeville, and at the technical school for whites
at Atlanta, as is being spent in the whole state for the industrial
education of Negro youths. I have met no Southern white educators who
have not been generous in their praise of the Negro schools for taking
the initiative in hand training. This fact has again served to create in
matters relating to education a bond of sympathy between the two races
in the South. Referring again to the influence of industrial training
for the Negro in education, in the Northern states I find, while writing
this article, the following announcement in the advertisement of what
is perhaps the most high-priced and exclusive girls' seminary in

"In planning a system of education for young ladies, with the view of
fitting them for the greatest usefulness in life, the idea was conceived
of supplementing the purely intellectual work by a practical training in
the art of home management and its related subjects.

"It was the first school of high literary grade to introduce courses in
Domestic Science into the regular curriculum.

"The results were so gratifying as to lead to the equipment of
Experiment Hall, a special building, fitted for the purpose of studying
the principles of Applied Housekeeping. Here the girls do the actual
work of cooking, marketing, arranging menus, and attend to all the
affairs of a well-arranged household.

"Courses are arranged also in sewing, dressmaking, and millinery; they
are conducted on a similarly practical basis, and equip the student with
a thorough knowledge of the subject."

A dozen years ago I do not believe that any such announcement would have
been made.

Beginning with the year 1877, the Negro in the South lost practically
all political control; that is to say, as early as 1885 the Negro
scarcely had any members of his race in the national Congress or
state legislatures, and long before this date had ceased to hold state
offices. This was true, notwithstanding the protests and fervent oratory
of such strong race leaders as Frederick Douglass, B. K. Bruce, John R.
Lynch, P. B. S. Pinchback, and John M. Langston, with a host of others.
When Frederick Douglass, the greatest man that the race has produced,
died in 1895, it is safe to say that the Negro in the Southern states,
with here and there a few exceptions, had practically no political
control or political influence, except in sending delegates to national
conventions, or in holding a few Federal positions by appointment. It
became evident to many of the wise Negroes that the race would have to
depend for its success in the future less upon political agitations and
the opportunity of holding office, and more upon something more tangible
and substantial. It was at this period in the Negro's development, when
the distance between the races was greatest, and the spirit and ambition
of the colored people most depressed, that the idea of industrial or
business development was introduced and began to be made prominent. It
did not take the more level-headed members of the race long to see that
while the Negro in the South was surrounded by many difficulties, there
was practically no line drawn and little race discrimination in the
world of commerce, banking, storekeeping, manufacturing, and the skilled
trades, and in agriculture, and that in this lay his great opportunity.
They understood that, while the whites might object to a Negro's being a
postmaster, they would not object to his being the president of a
bank, and in the latter occupation they would give him assistance and
encouragement. The colored people were quick to see that while the negro
would not be invited as a rule to attend the white man's prayer-meeting,
he would be invited every time to attend the stockholders' meeting of
a business concern in which he had an interest and that he could buy
property in practically any portion of the South where the white man
could buy it. The white citizens were all the more willing to encourage
the Negro in this economic or industrial development, because they saw
that the prosperity of the Negro meant also the prosperity of the white
man. They saw, too, that when a Negro became the owner of a home and
was a taxpayer, having a regular trade or other occupation, he at once
became a conservative and safe citizen and voter; one who would consider
the interests of his whole community before casting his ballot; and,
further, one whose ballot could not be purchased.

One case in point is that of the twenty-eight teachers at our school
in Tuskegee who applied for life-voting certificates under the new
constitution of Alabama, not one was refused registration; and if I may
be forgiven a personal reference, in my own case, the Board of Registers
were kind enough to send me a special request to the effect that they
wished me not to fail to register as a life voter. I do not wish
to convey the impression that all worthy colored people have been
registered in Alabama, because there have been many inexcusable and
unlawful omissions; but, with few exceptions, the 2700 who have been
registered represent the best Negroes in the state.

Though in some parts of the country he is now misunderstood, I believe
that the time is going to come when matters can be weighed soberly, and
when the whole people are going to see that president Roosevelt is, and
has been from the first, in line with this policy,--that of encouraging
the colored people who by industry and economy have won their way into
the confidence and respect of their neighbors. Both before and since
he became President I have had many conversations with him, and at all
times I have found him enthusiastic over the plan that I have described.

The growth of the race in industrial and business directions within the
last few years cannot perhaps be better illustrated than by the fact
that what is now the largest secular national organization among the
colored people is the National Negro Business League. This organization
brings together annually hundreds of men and women who have worked their
way up from the bottom to the point where they are now in some cases
bankers, merchants, manufacturers, planters, etc. The sight of this body
of men and women would surprise a large part of American citizens who do
not really know the better side of the Negro's life.

It ought to be stated frankly here that at first, and for several
years after the introduction of industrial training at such educational
centres as Hampton and Tuskegee, there was opposition from colored
people, and from portions of those Northern white people engaged in
educational and missionary work among the colored people in the South.
Most of those who manifested such opposition were actuated by the
highest and most honest motives. From the first the rank and file of the
blacks were quick to see the advantages of industrial training, as is
shown by the fact that industrial schools have always been overcrowded.
Opposition to industrial training was based largely on the old and
narrow ground that it was something that the Southern white people
favored, and therefore must be against the interests of the Negro.
Again, others opposed it because they feared that it meant the
abandonment of all political privileges, and the higher or classical
education of the race. They feared that the final outcome would be the
materialization of the Negro, and the smothering of his spiritual and
aesthetic nature. Others felt that industrial education had for its
object the limitation of the Negro's development, and the branding him
for all time as a special hand-working class.

Now that enough time has elapsed for those who opposed it to see that
it meant none of these things, opposition, except from a very few of
the colored people living in Boston and Washington, has ceased, and this
system has the enthusiastic support of the Negroes and of most of the
whites who formerly opposed it. All are beginning to see that it was
never meant that ALL Negro youths should secure industrial education,
any more than it is meant that ALL white youths should pass through
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or the Amherst Agricultural
College, to the exclusion of such training as is given at Harvard, Yale,
or Dartmouth; but that in a peculiar sense a large proportion of the
Negro youths needed to have that education which would enable them to
secure an economic foundation, without which no people can succeed in
any of the higher walks of life.

It is because of the fact that the Tuskegee Institute began at the
bottom, with work in the soil, in wood, in iron, in leather, that it
has now developed to the point where it is able to furnish employment
as teachers to twenty-eight Negro graduates of the best colleges in the
country. This is about three times as many Negro college graduates as
any other institution in the United States for the education of colored
people employs, the total number of officers and instructors at Tuskegee
being about one hundred and ten.

Those who once opposed this see now that while the Negro youth who
becomes skilled in agriculture and a successful farmer may not be able
himself to pass through a purely literary college, he is laying the
foundation for his children and grandchildren to do it if desirable.
Industrial education in this generation is contributing in the highest
degree to make what is called higher education a success. It is now
realized that in so far as the race has intelligent and skillful
producers, the greater will be the success of the minister, lawyer,
doctor, and teacher. Opposition has melted away, too, because all men
now see that it will take a long time to "materialize" a race, millions
of which hold neither houses nor railroads, nor bank stocks, nor
factories, nor coal and gold mines.

Another reason for the growth of a better understanding of the objects
and influence of industrial training is the fact, as before stated, that
it has been taken up with such interest and activity by the Southern
whites, and that it has been established at such universities as Cornell
in the East, and in practically all of the state colleges of the great

It is now seen that the result of such education will be to help the
black man to make for himself an independent place in our great American
life. It was largely the poverty of the Negro that made him the prey of
designing politicians immediately after the war; and wherever poverty
and lack of industry exist to-day, one does not find in him that deep
spiritual life which the race must in the future possess in a higher

To those who still express the fear that perhaps too much stress is
put upon industrial education for the Negro I would add that I should
emphasize the same kind of training for any people, whether black or
white, in the same stage of development as the masses of the colored

For a number of years this country has looked to Germany for much in the
way of education, and a large number of our brightest men and women are
sent there each year. The official reports show that in Saxony, Germany,
alone, there are 287 industrial schools, or one such school to every
14,641 people. This is true of a people who have back of them centuries
of wealth and culture. In the South I am safe in saying that there is
not more than one effective industrial school for every 400,000 colored

A recent dispatch from Germany says that the German Emperor has had a
kitchen fitted up in the palace for the single purpose of having his
daughter taught cooking. If all classes and nationalities, who are
in most cases thousands of years ahead of the Negro in the arts of
civilization, continue their interest in industrial training, I cannot
understand how any reasonable person can object to such education for a
large part of a people who are in the poverty-stricken condition that is
true of a large element of my race, especially when such hand training
is combined, as it should be, with the best education of head and heart.

THE NEGRO IN THE REGULAR ARMY by Oswald Garrison Villard

When the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment stormed Fort Wagner July
18, 1863, only to be driven back with the loss of its colonel, Robert
Gould Shaw, and many of its rank and file, it established for all time
the fact that the colored soldier would fight and fight well. This had
already been demonstrated in Louisiana by colored regiments under the
command of General Godfrey Weitzel in the attack upon Port Hudson on May
27 of the same year. On that occasion regiments composed for the greater
part of raw recruits, plantation hands with centuries of servitude under
the lash behind them, stormed trenches and dashed upon cold steel in the
hands of their former masters and oppressors. After that there was no
more talk in the portion of the country of the "natural cowardice"
of the negro. But the heroic qualities of Colonel Shaw, his social
prominence and that of his officers, and the comparative nearness of
their battlefield to the North, attracted greater and more lasting
attention to the daring and bravery of their exploit, until it finally
became fixed in many minds as the first real baptism of fire of colored
American soldiers.

After Wagner the recruiting of colored regiments, originally opposed
by both North and South, went on apace, particularly under the Federal
government, which organized no less than one hundred and fifty-four,
designated as "United States Colored Troops." Colonel Shaw's raising of
a colored regiment aroused quite as much comment in the North because
of the race prejudice it defied, as because of the novelty of the new
organization. General Weitzel tendered his resignation the instant
General B. F. Butler assigned black soldiers to his brigade, and was
with difficulty induced to serve on. His change of mind was a wise one,
and not only because these colored soldiers covered him with glory at
Port Hudson. It was his good fortune to be the central figure in one
of the dramatic incidents of a war that must ever rank among the most
thrilling and tragic the world has seen. The black cavalrymen who rode
into Richmond, the first of the Northern troops to enter the Southern
capital, went in waving their sabres and crying to the negroes on the
sidewalks, "We have come to set you free!" They were from the division
of Godfrey Weitzel, and American history has no more stirring moment.

In the South, notwithstanding the raising in 1861 of a colored
Confederate regiment by Governor Moore of Louisiana (a magnificent body
of educated colored men which afterwards became the First Louisiana
National Guards of General Weitzel's brigade and the first colored
regiment in the Federal Army), the feeling against negro troops was
insurmountable until the last days of the struggle. Then no straw
could be overlooked. When, in December, 1863, Major-General Patrick R.
Cleburne, who commanded a division of Hardee's Corps of the Confederate
Army of the Tennessee, sent in a paper in which the employment of the
slaves as soldiers of the South was vigorously advocated, Jefferson
Davis indorsed it with the statement, "I deem it inexpedient at
this time to give publicity to this paper, and request that it be
suppressed." General Cleburne urged that "freedom within a reasonable
time" be granted to every slave remaining true to the Confederacy, and
was moved to this action by the valor of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts,
saying, "If they [the negroes] can be made to face and fight bravely
against their former masters, how much more probable is it that with
the allurement of a higher reward, and led by those masters, they would
submit to discipline and face dangers?"

With the ending of the civil war the regular army of the United States
was reorganized upon a peace footing by an act of Congress dated July
28, 1866. In just recognition of the bravery of the colored volunteers
six regiments, the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Thirty-eighth,
Thirty-ninth, Fortieth, and Forth-first Infantry, were designated
as colored regiments. When the army was again reduced in 1869, the
Thirty-eighth and Forty-first became the Twenty-fourth Infantry, and
the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth became the Twenty-fifth. This left four
colored regiments in the regular army as it was constituted from 1870
until 1901. There has never been a colored artillery organization in the
regular service.

To these new regiments came a motley mixture of veterans of volunteer
organizations, newly released slaves, and some freedmen of several
years' standing but without military experience. They were eager to
learn, and soon showed the same traits which distinguish the black
regiments to-day,--loyalty to their officers and to their colors,
sobriety and courage, and a notable pride in the efficiency of their
corps. But if ever officers had to "father and mother" their soldiers
they were the company officers of these regiments. The captains in
particular had to be bankers, secretaries, advisers, and judges for
their men. As Lieutenant Grote Hutcheson has stated it, "The men knew
nothing, and the non-commissioned officers but little more. From the
very circumstances of their preceding life it could not be otherwise.
They had no independence, no self-reliance, not a thought except for
the present, and were filled with superstition." Yet the officers were
determined to prove the wisdom of the experiment. To do this they were
forced to give their own attention to the minutest details of military
administration, and to act as non-commissioned officers. The total lack
of education among the men necessitated an enormous amount of writing by
the officers. In the Ninth Cavalry only one man was found able to write
well enough to be sergeant-major, and not for several years was it
possible to obtain troop clerks. When the Tenth Cavalry was being
recruited an officer was sent to Philadelphia with the express purpose
of picking up educated colored men for the non-commissioned positions.
Difficult as the tasks of the officers thus were, most of them felt well
repaid for their unusual labors by the affectionate regard in which they
were held by their soldiers, and by the never-failing good humor with
which the latter went about their duties.

As the years passed the character of the colored soldiers naturally
changed. In place of the war veterans, and of the men whose chains of
servitude had just been struck off, came young men from the North and
East with more education and more self-reliance. They depended less
upon their officers, both in the barracks and in the field, yet they
reverenced and cared for them as much as did their predecessors. Their
greatest faults then as now were gambling and quarreling. On the other
hand, the negro regiments speedily became favorably known because of
greater sobriety and of fewer desertions than among the white soldiers.
It was the Ninth Cavalry which a few years ago astonished the army by
reporting not a single desertion in twelve months, an unheard-of and
perhaps undreamed-of record. In all that goes to make a good soldier,
in drill, fidelity, and smartness, the negro regular from the first took
front rank.

Nor was there ever any lack of the fighting quality which had gratified
the nation at Fort Wagner, or at Fort Blakely, Ala., where the
Seventy-third Colored Infantry, under Colonel Henry C. Merriam, stormed
the enemy's works, in advance of orders, in one of the last actions of
the war. It soon fell to the lot of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry to prove
that the negroes could do as well under fire in the Indian wars as they
had when fighting for the freedom of their race. While the Twenty-fourth
and Twenty-fifth Infantry had merely garrison work to do, the Ninth and
Tenth Cavalry scouted for years against hostile Indians in Texas, New
Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas, always acquitting themselves honorably. In
September, 1868, a little over two years after their organization, three
troops of the Ninth Cavalry did well in an action against Indians
at Horsehead Hills, Texas. When General George A. Forsyth and his
detachment of fifty scouts were surrounded and "corralled" by seven
hundred Indians on an island in the Republican River, it was the troop
of Captain Louis H. Carpenter, of the Tenth Cavalry, which first came to
their rescue. Similarly when Major T. T. Thornburg's command was nearly
wiped out by Utes in 1879, it was Captain F. S. Dodge's Troop D of the
Ninth which succeeded in reaching it in time, losing all its horses in
so doing. This regiment alone took part in sixty Indian fights between
1868 and 1890, during which time it lost three officers and twenty-seven
men killed, and had three officers and thirty-four men wounded. The
Tenth Cavalry's casualties were also heavy during this same period, and
it fought for many years over a most difficult country in New Mexico and
Arizona, taking a conspicuous part in running to earth Geronimo's and
Victoria's bands of Apaches.

On one of these campaigns Lieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke gave effective
proof of the affection which the officers of colored regiments have
for their men. In the fight in the Pineto Mountains with a portion
of Geronimo's forces this young Southerner risked his life to save a
colored sergeant who had fallen wounded in an open space where both he
and his rescuer were easy marks for the Apaches. For this gallant act
Lieutenant Clarke rightly received a medal of honor. The Twenty-fourth
Infantry, on the other hand, has contributed a striking instance of the
devotion of colored soldiers to their officers. When Major Joseph W.
Wham, paymaster, was attacked by robbers on May 11, 1889, his colored
escort fought with such gallantry that every one of the soldiers was
awarded a medal of honor or a certificate of merit. Some of them stood
their ground although badly wounded, notably Sergeant Benjamin Brown,
who continued to fight and to encourage his men until shot through both
arms. In a fight against Apaches in the Cuchilo Negro Mountains of New
Mexico on August 16, 1881, Moses Williams, First Sergeant of Troop I,
Ninth Cavalry, displayed such gallantry that he was given a medal of
honor by common consent. When the only officer with the detachment,
Lieutenant Gustavus Valois, had his horse shot under him, and was cut
off from his men, Sergeant Williams promptly rallied the detachment, and
conducted the right flank in a running fight for several hours with such
coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty that he undoubtedly
saved the lives of at least three comrades. His action in standing by
and rescuing Lieutenant Valois was the more noteworthy because he and
his men were subjected, in an exposed position, to a heavy fire from a
large number of Indians. For splendid gallantry against Indians, while
serving as sergeant of Troop K, Ninth Cavalry, on May 14, 1880, and
August 12, 1881, George Jordan was also given a medal of honor. Five of
the medal of honor men now in the service are colored soldiers, while
fifteen others have "certificates of merit" also awarded for conspicuous
deeds of bravery.

It was not until the battle of Santiago, however, that the bulk of the
American people realized that the standing army comprised regiments
composed wholly of black men. Up to that time only one company of
colored soldiers had served at a post east of the Mississippi. Even
Major, later Brigadier-General, Guy V. Henry's gallop to the rescue of
the Seventh Cavalry on December 30, 1890, with four troops of the
Ninth Cavalry, attracted but little attention. This feat was the more
remarkable because Major Henry's command had just completed a march of
more than one hundred miles in twenty-four hours. But in the battle
at Santiago, the four colored regiments won praise from all sides,
particularly for their advance upon Kettle Hill, in which the Rough
Riders also figured. From the very beginning of the movement of the army
after its landing, the negro troops were in the front of the fighting,
and contributed largely to the successful result. Although they suffered
heavy losses, especially in officers, the men fought with the same
gallantry they had displayed on the plains, as is attested by the honors
awarded. In every company there were instances of personal gallantry.
The first sergeants especially lived up to the responsibilities placed
upon them. The color sergeant of the Tenth Cavalry, Adam Houston, bore
to the front not only his own flags, but those of the Third Cavalry when
the latter's color sergeant was shot down. In several emergencies where
troops or companies lost their white officers, the senior sergeants
took command and handled their men in a faultless manner, notably in the
Tenth Cavalry.

Indeed, the conduct of these men has done much to dispel the old belief
that colored soldiers will fight only when they have efficient white
officers. This may well have been true at one period of the civil war
when the colored race as a whole had never even had the responsibilities
attaching to free men. It is growing less and less true as time passes
and better educated men enter the ranks. In recognition of their
achievements at Santiago a number of these black non-commissioned
officers were made commissioned officers in several of the so-called
"immune" regiments of United States Volunteers raised in July, 1898.
None of these organizations were in service long enough to become really
efficient, and a few were never properly disciplined. Nevertheless,
a majority of the officers promoted from the colored regulars bore
themselves well under exceedingly trying circumstances. Some of them,
and a number of regular sergeants and corporals who had succeeded
to their former places, were made lieutenants and captains in the
Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteer Infantry, which served in the
Philippines for two years, and to which we shall recur later.

At Santiago the characteristic cheerfulness of the negro soldiers was
as striking as their bravery. In his little book called The Nth Foot In
War, Lieutenant M. B. Stewart says of them:--

"The negro troops were in a high good humor. They had made the charge of
the day; they had fought with a dash and vigor which forever established
their reputation as fighters, and which would carry them down in the
pages of history. To have heard them that night no one would have ever
thought that they had lived for twelve mortal hours under a galling
fire. They were laughing and joking over the events of the day, in the
same manner they would have done had they been returning from a picnic.

"'Golly,' laughed a six-foot sergeant, 'dere was music in de air sho'
nuff. Dat lead was flying around in sheets, I tell you. I seen a buzzard
flying around in front of our line, and I says to myself, "Buzzard, you
is in a mighty dangerous position. You better git out uf dat, 'cause dey
ain't room out dar for a muskeeter."' Another remarked, 'Say, did you
see dat man Brown; pity dat man been killed. He'd a been a corporal,

"In the utter exhaustion of the moment all race and social distinctions
were forgotten. Officers lay down among their men and slept like logs.
The negro troops sought out soft places along the sides of the road and
lay down with their white comrades. There was a little commotion among
the latter, and an officer was heard to yell: 'Here, you man, take your
feet off my stomach. Well, I'll be damned if it ain't a nigger. Get out,
you black rascal.' As the commotion subsided, the negro was heard to
remark, 'Well, if dat ain't de mos' particler man I ever see.'"

Characteristic also is a story of the negro cavalryman who, returning
to the rear, said to some troops anxious to get to the front: "Dat's all
right, gemmen; don't git in a sweat; dere's lots of it lef' for you.
You wants to look out for dese yere sharpshooters, for dey is mighty
careless with dere weapons, and dey is specially careless when dey is
officers aroun'."

As soon as the army settled down in the trenches before Santiago,
smuggled musical instruments--guitars, banjos, mouth organs, and what
not--appeared among the negro troops as if by magic, and they were
ever in use. It was at once a scene of cheerfulness and gayety, and the
officers had their usual trouble in making the men go to sleep instead
of spending the night in talking, singing, and gaming. In the peaceful
camp of the Third Alabama, in that state, the scenes were similar. There
was always "a steady hum of laughter and talk, dance, song, shout, and
the twang of musical instruments." It was "a scene full of life and
fun, of jostling, scuffling, and racing, of clown performances and
cake-walks, of impromptu minstrelsy, speech-making, and preaching, of
deviling, guying, and fighting, both real and mimic." The colonel found
great difficulty in getting men to work alone. Two would volunteer for
any service. "Colonel," said a visitor to the camp, "your sentinels are
sociable fellows. I saw No. 5 over at the end of his beat entertaining
No. 6 with some fancy manual of arms. Afterwards, with equal amiability,
No. 6 executed a most artistic cake-walk for his friend." It must be
remembered here that this colonel's men were typical Southern negroes,
literate and illiterate, and all new to military life.

In addition to the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteers, the four
regular colored regiments have served in the Philippines. Here the work
was particularly trying and the temptations to misconduct many. The
Filipino women were especially attractive to the men because of their
color, and it is on record that several soldiers were tempted from their
allegiance to the United States. Two of these, whose sympathy and liking
for the Filipinos overcame their judgment, paid the full penalty of
desertion, being hanged by their former comrades. Both belonged to
the Ninth Cavalry. On the other hand, in a remarkable order issued
by General A. S. Burt in relinquishing command of the Twenty-fifth
Infantry, on April 17, 1902, on his promotion to brigadier-general,
he was able to quote the Inspector-General of the army as saying:
"The Twenty-fifth Infantry is the best regiment I have seen in the
Philippines." General Burt praised highly the excellent conduct of the
enlisted men while in the Archipelago, which proved to his mind that the
American negroes are "as law-abiding as any race in the world."

Three of General Burt's sergeants, Russell, McBryar, and Hoffman, were
promoted to the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteers, and served,
as lieutenants, for several months with their old regiment, the
Twenty-fifth, until the arrival of their new regiments in Manila.
During this time they were frequently under fire. General Burt bore high
testimony to their soldierly bearing, their capacity and ability, and
expressed great regret when he was forced to let them go. McBryar had
won a medal of honor for gallantry against Indians in Arizona in 1890.
In the Forty-ninth Volunteers, Company L, composed wholly of colored
men, and commanded by Captain Edward L. Baker, a colored veteran of
Santiago, who had served for seventeen years in the Ninth and Tenth
Cavalry and in the Tenth "Immunes," made a wonderful record. According
to a statement which was widely published at the time and never denied,
this company had on its rolls during a period of twelve months one
hundred and six men who were fit for duty at all times and never lost
a day on account of sickness. No white company remotely approached
this record. More extraordinary still is the fact that during this same
period not one of these men ever went before a court-martial. This is
surely a striking illustration of what can be done by colored officers.
It is noticeable, too, that neither the officers nor the men of any
colored regiment have figured in the charges and counter-charges arising
out of the use of the water-torture, except one man who at the time of
his offense was not with his regiment. The Forty-ninth Volunteers was
a very unhappy regiment during its brief life, but its troubles were
largely due to its white officers. One of these, a major, was dismissed
for misconduct, and his place was filled by the senior captain, a
colored man. Several other white officers and one colored captain got
into serious trouble, the last being dismissed. The Forty-eighth was,
on the contrary, a contented organization in which the colored officers
were treated in a kindly and courteous manner by their white associates
and superiors. The two regiments afford a striking illustration of
Napoleon's saying, "There are no such things as poor regiments,--only
poor colonels."

The negro regiment unquestionably calls for different treatment from
that which would be accorded to white troops, just as the Indian troops
of King Edward's army require different handling from that called for
in the case of the King's Royal Rifles. Yet as fighting machines,
the Indian soldiers may be the equals if not the superiors of the
Englishmen. Major Robert L. Bullard, Twenty-eighth United States
Infantry who commanded the colored Third Alabama Volunteers, already
referred to, during the war with Spain, discusses in a remarkable paper
published in the United Service Magazine for July, 1901, the differences
between negro and white soldiers. They are so great, he says, as
to require the military commander to treat the negro as a different
species. He must fit his methods of instruction and discipline to
the characteristics of the race. Major Bullard adds that "mistakes,
injustices, and failures would result from his making the same rules and
methods apply to the two races without regard to how far apart set
by nature or separated by evolution." But Major Bullard would
unquestionably concede that these differences in no way require a
treatment of the negro soldier which implies that he is an inferior
being and which ever impresses upon him his inferiority. Yet this seems
to have been the case in the Forty-ninth United States Volunteers.

In the regular army, as well as in the volunteers, officers have
frequently appealed with success to the negroes' pride of race, and have
urged them on to greater efficiency and better behavior by reminding
them that they have the honor of their people in their hands. To such
appeals there is ever a prompt response. One of the most effective ways
of disciplining an offender is by holding him up to the ridicule of his
fellows. The desire of the colored soldiers to amuse and to be amused
gives the officers an easy way of obtaining a hold upon them and their
affections. The regimental rifle team, the baseball nine, the minstrel
troupe, and the regimental band offer positions of importance for which
the competition is much keener than in the white regiments. There
is also a friendly rivalry between companies, which is much missed
elsewhere in the service. The negroes are natural horsemen and riders.
It is a pleasure to them to take care of their mounts, and a matter of
pride to keep their animals in good condition. Personally they are clean
and neat, and they take the greatest possible pride in their uniforms.
In no white regiment is there a similar feeling. With the negroes the
canteen question is of comparatively slight importance, not only because
the men can be more easily amused within their barracks, but because
their appetite for drink is by no means as strong as that of the white
men. Their sociability is astonishing. They would rather sit up and tell
stories and crack jokes than go to bed, no matter how hard the day has

The dark sides are, that the negro soldiers easily turn merited
punishment into martyrdom, that their gambling propensities are almost
beyond control, that their habit of carrying concealed weapons is
incurable, and that there is danger of serious fighting when they fall
out with one another. Frequent failure to act honorably toward a comrade
in some trifling matter is apt to cause scuffling and fighting until the
men are well disciplined. Women are another cause of quarrels, and are
at all times a potent temptation to misconduct and neglect of duty.
It is very difficult to impress upon the men the value of government
property, and duty which requires memorizing of orders is always the
most difficult to teach. For the study of guard duty manuals or of
tactics they have no natural aptitude. The non-commissioned officers are
of very great importance, and in the regulars they are looked up to and
obeyed implicitly, much more so than is the case with white troops. It
is necessary, however, for the officers to back up the sergeants and
corporals very vigorously, even when they are slightly in the wrong.
Then colored men are more easily "rattled" by poor officers than are
their white comrades. There was a striking instance of this two or three
years ago when a newly appointed and wholly untrained white officer lost
his head at a post in Texas. His black subordinates, largely recruits,
followed suit, and in carrying out his hysterical orders imperiled
many lives in the neighboring town. Selections for service with colored
troops should therefore be most carefully made. Major Bullard declares
that the officer of negro troops "must not only be an officer and
a gentleman, but he must be considerate, patient, laborious,
self-sacrificing, a man of affairs, and he must have knowledge and
wisdom in a great lot of things not really military."

If the position of a white officer is a difficult one, that of
the colored officer is still more so. He has not the self-assumed
superiority of the white man, naturally feels that he is on trial, and
must worry himself incessantly about his relations to his white comrades
of the shoulder straps. While the United States Navy has hitherto been
closed to negroes who aspire to be officers, the army has pursued a
wiser and more just policy. The contrast between the two services is
really remarkable. On almost every war vessel white and black sailors
sleep and live together in crowded quarters without protest or friction.
But the negro naval officer is kept out of the service by hook or by
crook for the avowed reason that the cramped quarters of the wardroom
would make association with him intolerable. In the army, on the other
hand, the experiment of mixed regiments has never been tried. A good
colored soldier can nevertheless obtain a commission by going through
West Point, or by rising from the ranks, or by being appointed directly
from civil life.

Since the foundation of the Military Academy there have been eighteen
colored boys appointed to West Point, of whom fifteen failed in their
preliminary examinations, or were discharged after entering because of
deficiency in studies. Three were graduated and commissioned as second
lieutenants of cavalry, Henry Ossian Flipper, John Hanks Alexander, and
Charles Young. Of these, Lieutenant Flipper was dismissed June 30,
1882, for "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." The other
two proved themselves excellent officers, notably Young, who is at this
writing a captain, and a most efficient one, in the Ninth Cavalry, with
which he recently served in the Philippines. Lieutenant Alexander died
suddenly in 1894. In announcing his death in a regimental order his
colonel spoke of him in terms of high praise, and did not use the
customary stereotyped phrases of regret. His fellow white officers all
had good words for him. There never was more striking testimony to the
discipline and spirit of fairness at West Point than was afforded by the
sight of Cadet Charles Young, who is of very dark complexion, commanding
white cadets. Nothing else has impressed foreign visitors at West Point
half so much.

An equally remarkable happening, and one which speaks even more for
the democratic spirit in the army, was the commissioning in 1901 of
Sergeant-Major Benjamin O. Davis, Ninth Cavalry, and of Corporal John E.
Green, Twenty-fourth Infantry. Both these men were examined by boards
of white officers, who might easily have excluded them because of color
prejudice, in which case there would have been no appeal from their
findings. Lieutenant Davis's former troop commander, a West Pointer,
openly rejoiced at his success, and predicted that he would make an
excellent officer. These are the first two colored men to rise from the
ranks, but there will be many more if the same admirable spirit of
fair play continues to rule in the army and is not altered by outside
prejudice. It was thought that there would be a severe strain upon
discipline when a colored officer rose to the rank of captain and to
the command of white officers. But in Captain Young's case his white
subordinates seem to have realized that it is the position and rank
that they are compelled to salute and obey, and not the individual. This
principle is at the bottom of all discipline. Only too frequently do
subordinates throughout the army have to remind themselves of this when
obeying men for whose social qualities and character they have neither
regard nor respect. During the war with Spain Captain Young commanded
a negro battalion from Ohio, which was pronounced the best drilled
organization in the large army assembled at Camp Alger near Washington.
In addition to these officers, Captain John R. Lynch, formerly a
Congressman from Mississippi, and four colored chaplains represent their
race on the commissioned rolls of the army. All of these men are doing
well. One colored chaplain was dismissed for drunkenness in 1894. Beyond
this their record is unblemished.

Despite the fairness shown in these appointments, there has been
considerable very just criticism of the War Department for its failure
to appoint to the regulars any of the colored officers who did well in
the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteers. Every colonel of volunteers
was allowed to designate for examination for appointment to the regular
army the best officers in his regiment. Hundreds of white officers were
selected in this way, but not a single colored officer was given an
examination,--not even Lieutenant McBryar, with his medal of honor,
or Captain Baker. Similarly fault has been found with Secretary Root
because no new colored regiments were established under the law of
February 2, 1901, increasing the army by five regiments of infantry,
five of cavalry, and a large number of companies of artillery. The
excuse most often heard is that the negroes already have sufficient
representation in comparison with the percentage of negroes to white
persons within the borders of the United States. But the sterling
characteristics of the colored soldiers, their loyalty to the service
as shown by the statistics of desertion, and, above all, their splendid
service in Cuba, should have entitled them to additional organizations.
To say the least, the decision of the War Department smacks considerably
of ingratitude. Nevertheless, the negro regiments have come to stay,
both in the regulars and in the volunteers. The hostilities of the last
five years have dispelled any doubt which may have existed upon this

BAXTER'S PROCRUSTES by Charles W. Chesnutt

Baxter's Procrustes is one of the publications of the Bodleian Club. The
Bodleian Club is composed of gentlemen of culture, who are interested
in books and book-collecting. It was named, very obviously, after the
famous library of the same name, and not only became in our city a sort
of shrine for local worshipers of fine bindings and rare editions,
but was visited occasionally by pilgrims from afar. The Bodleian
has entertained Mark Twain, Joseph Jefferson, and other literary and
histrionic celebrities. It possesses quite a collection of personal
mementos of distinguished authors, among them a paperweight which once
belonged to Goethe, a lead pencil used by Emerson, an autograph letter
of Matthew Arnold, and a chip from a tree felled by Mr. Gladstone. Its
library contains a number of rare books, including a fine collection on
chess, of which game several of the members are enthusiastic devotees.

The activities of the club are not, however, confined entirely to books.
We have a very handsome clubhouse, and much taste and discrimination
have been exercised in its adornment. There are many good paintings,
including portraits of the various presidents of the club, which adorn
the entrance hall. After books, perhaps the most distinctive feature
of the club is our collection of pipes. In a large rack in the
smoking-room--really a superfluity, since smoking is permitted all over
the house--is as complete an assortment of pipes as perhaps exists in
the civilized world. Indeed, it is an unwritten rule of the club that no
one is eligible for membership who cannot produce a new variety of pipe,
which is filed with his application for membership, and, if he passes,
deposited with the club collection, he, however, retaining the title in
himself. Once a year, upon the anniversary of the death of Sir Walter
Raleigh, who it will be remembered, first introduced tobacco into
England, the full membership of the club, as a rule, turns out. A large
supply of the very best smoking mixture is laid in. At nine o'clock
sharp each member takes his pipe from the rack, fills it with tobacco,
and then the whole club, with the president at the head, all smoking
furiously, march in solemn procession from room to room, upstairs
and downstairs, making the tour of the clubhouse and returning to the
smoking-room. The president then delivers an address, and each member
is called upon to say something, either by way of a quotation or
an original sentiment, in praise of the virtues of nicotine. This
ceremony--facetiously known as "hitting the pipe"--being thus concluded,
the membership pipes are carefully cleaned out and replaced in the club

As I have said, however, the raison d'etre of the club, and the feature
upon which its fame chiefly rests, is its collection of rare books, and
of these by far the most interesting are its own publications. Even its
catalogues are works of art, published in numbered editions, and sought
by libraries and book-collectors. Early in its history it began
the occasional publication of books which should meet the club
standard,--books in which emphasis should be laid upon the qualities
that make a book valuable in the eyes of collectors. Of these, age
could not, of course, be imparted, but in the matter of fine and curious
bindings, of hand-made linen papers, of uncut or deckle edges, of
wide margins and limited editions, the club could control its own
publications. The matter of contents was, it must be confessed, a
less important consideration. At first it was felt by the publishing
committee that nothing but the finest products of the human mind should
be selected for enshrinement in the beautiful volumes which the
club should issue. The length of the work was an important
consideration,--long things were not compatible with wide margins and
graceful slenderness. For instance, we brought out Coleridge's Ancient
Mariner, an essay by Emerson, and another by Thoreau. Our Rubaiyat of
Omar Khayyam was Heron-Allen's translation of the original MS in
the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which, though less poetical than
FitzGerald's, was not so common. Several years ago we began to publish
the works of our own members. Bascom's Essay on Pipes was a very
creditable performance. It was published in a limited edition of one
hundred copies, and since it had not previously appeared elsewhere and
was copyrighted by the club, it was sufficiently rare to be valuable
for that reason. The second publication of local origin was Baxter's

I have omitted to say that once or twice a year, at a meeting of which
notice has been given, an auction is held at the Bodleian. The members
of the club send in their duplicate copies, or books they for any reason
wish to dispose of, which are auctioned off to the highest bidder. At
these sales, which are well attended, the club's publications have of
recent years formed the leading feature. Three years ago, number three
of Bascom's Essay on Pipes sold for fifteen dollars;--the original
cost of publication was one dollar and seventy-five cents. Later in the
evening an uncut copy of the same brought thirty dollars. At the next
auction the price of the cut copy was run up to twenty-five dollars,
while the uncut copy was knocked down at seventy-five dollars. The club
had always appreciated the value of uncut copies, but this financial
indorsement enhanced their desirability immensely. This rise in the
Essay on Pipes was not without a sympathetic effect upon all the club
publications. The Emerson essay rose from three dollars to seventeen,
and the Thoreau, being by an author less widely read, and, by his own
confession commercially unsuccessful, brought a somewhat higher figure.
The prices, thus inflated, were not permitted to come down appreciably.
Since every member of the club possessed one or more of these valuable
editions, they were all manifestly interested in keeping up the price.
The publication, however, which brought the highest prices, and, but
for the sober second thought, might have wrecked the whole system, was
Baxter's Procrustes.

Baxter was, perhaps, the most scholarly member of the club. A graduate
of Harvard, he had traveled extensively, had read widely, and while not
so enthusiastic a collector as some of us, possessed as fine a private
library as any man of his age in the city. He was about thirty-five
when he joined the club, and apparently some bitter experience--some
disappointment in love or ambition--had left its mark upon his
character. With light, curly hair, fair complexion, and gray eyes,
one would have expected Baxter to be genial of temper, with a tendency
toward wordiness of speech. But though he had occasional flashes of
humor, his ordinary demeanor was characterized by a mild cynicism,
which, with his gloomy pessimistic philosophy, so foreign to the
temperament that should accompany his physical type, could only be
accounted for upon the hypothesis of some secret sorrow such as I
have suggested. What it might be no one knew. He had means and social
position, and was an uncommonly handsome man. The fact that he remained
unmarried at thirty-five furnished some support for the theory of a
disappointment in love, though this the several intimates of Baxter who
belonged to the club were not able to verify.

It had occurred to me, in a vague way, that perhaps Baxter might be
an unsuccessful author. That he was a poet we knew very well, and
typewritten copies of his verses had occasionally circulated among us.
But Baxter had always expressed such a profound contempt for modern
literature, had always spoken in terms of such unmeasured pity for
the slaves of the pen, who were dependent upon the whim of an
undiscriminating public for recognition and a livelihood, that no one of
us had ever suspected him of aspirations toward publication, until, as I
have said, it occurred to me one day that Baxter's attitude with regard
to publication might be viewed in the light of effect as well as of
cause--that his scorn of publicity might as easily arise from failure
to achieve it, as his never having published might be due to his
preconceived disdain of the vulgar popularity which one must share with
the pugilist or balloonist of the hour.

The notion of publishing Baxter's Procrustes did not emanate from
Baxter,--I must do him the justice to say this. But he had spoken to
several of the fellows about the theme of his poem, until the notion
that Baxter was at work upon something fine had become pretty well
disseminated throughout our membership. He would occasionally read
brief passages to a small coterie of friends in the sitting-room or
library,--never more than ten lines at once, or to more than five people
at a time,--and these excerpts gave at least a few of us a pretty fair
idea of the motive and scope of the poem. As I, for one, gathered,
it was quite along the line of Baxter's philosophy. Society was the
Procrustes which, like the Greek bandit of old, caught every man born
into the world, and endeavored to fit him to some preconceived standard,
generally to the one for which he was least adapted. The world was full
of men and women who were merely square pegs in round holes, and vice
versa. Most marriages were unhappy because the contracting parties were
not properly mated. Religion was mostly superstition, science for the
most part sciolism, popular education merely a means of forcing the
stupid and repressing the bright, so that all the youth of the rising
generation might conform to the same dull, dead level of democratic
mediocrity. Life would soon become so monotonously uniform and so
uniformly monotonous as to be scarce worth the living.

It was Smith, I think, who first proposed that the club publish Baxter's
Procrustes. The poet himself did not seem enthusiastic when the subject
was broached; he demurred for some little time, protesting that the poem
was not worthy of publication. But when it was proposed that the edition
be limited to fifty copies he agreed to consider the proposition. When
I suggested, having in mind my secret theory of Baxter's failure in
authorship, that the edition would at least be in the hands of friends,
that it would be difficult for a hostile critic to secure a copy, and
that if it should not achieve success from a literary point of view,
the extent of the failure would be limited to the size of the edition,
Baxter was visibly impressed. When the literary committee at length
decided to request formally of Baxter the privilege of publishing his
Procrustes, he consented, with evident reluctance, upon condition that
he should supervise the printing, binding, and delivery of the books,
merely submitting to the committee, in advance, the manuscript, and
taking their views in regard to the bookmaking.

The manuscript was duly presented to the literary committee. Baxter
having expressed the desire that the poem be not read aloud at a meeting
of the club, as was the custom, since he wished it to be given to the
world clad in suitable garb, the committee went even farther. Having
entire confidence in Baxter's taste and scholarship, they, with great
delicacy, refrained from even reading the manuscript, contenting
themselves with Baxter's statement of the general theme and the topics
grouped under it. The details of the bookmaking, however, were gone into
thoroughly. The paper was to be of hand-made linen, from the Kelmscott
Mills; the type black-letter, with rubricated initials. The cover, which
was Baxter's own selection, was to be of dark green morocco, with a
cap-and-bells border in red inlays, and doublures of maroon morocco
with a blind-tooled design. Baxter was authorized to contract with the
printer and superintend the publication. The whole edition of fifty
numbered copies was to be disposed of at auction, in advance, to the
highest bidder, only one copy to each, the proceeds to be devoted to
paying for the printing and binding, the remainder, if any, to go into
the club treasury, and Baxter himself to receive one copy by way of
remuneration. Baxter was inclined to protest at this, on the ground that
his copy would probably be worth more than the royalties on the edition,
at the usual ten per cent, would amount to, but was finally prevailed
upon to accept an author's copy.

While the Procrustes was under consideration, some one read, at one of
our meetings, a note from some magazine, which stated that a sealed copy
of a new translation of Campanella's Sonnets, published by the Grolier
Club, had been sold for three hundred dollars. This impressed the
members greatly. It was a novel idea. A new work might thus be enshrined
in a sort of holy of holies, which, if the collector so desired, could
be forever sacred from the profanation of any vulgar or unappreciative
eye. The possessor of such a treasure could enjoy it by the eye of
imagination, having at the same time the exaltation of grasping what was
for others the unattainable. The literary committee were so impressed
with this idea that they presented it to Baxter in regard to the
Procrustes. Baxter making no objection, the subscribers who might wish
their copies delivered sealed were directed to notify the author. I sent
in my name. A fine book, after all, was an investment, and if there was
any way of enhancing its rarity, and therefore its value, I was quite
willing to enjoy such an advantage.

When the Procrustes was ready for distribution, each subscriber received
his copy by mail, in a neat pasteboard box. Each number was wrapped in
a thin and transparent but very strong paper through which the cover
design and tooling were clearly visible. The number of the copy was
indorsed upon the wrapper, the folds of which were securely fastened at
each end with sealing-wax, upon which was impressed, as a guaranty of
its inviolateness, the monogram of the club.

At the next meeting of the Bodleian, a great deal was said about the
Procrustes, and it was unanimously agreed that no finer specimen
of bookmaking had ever been published by the club. By a curious
coincidence, no one had brought his copy with him, and the two club
copies had not yet been received from the binder, who, Baxter had
reported was retaining them for some extra fine work. Upon resolution,
offered by a member who had not subscribed for the volume, a committee
of three was appointed to review the Procrustes at the next literary
meeting of the club. Of this committee it was my doubtful fortune to
constitute one.

In pursuance of my duty in the premises, it of course became necessary
for me to read the Procrustes. In all probability I should have cut my
own copy for this purpose, had not one of the club auctions intervened
between my appointment and the date set for the discussion of the
Procrustes. At this meeting a copy of the book, still sealed, was
offered for sale, and bought by a non-subscriber for the unprecedented
price of one hundred and fifty dollars. After this a proper regard for
my own interests would not permit me to spoil my copy by opening it, and
I was therefore compelled to procure my information concerning the poem
from some other source. As I had no desire to appear mercenary, I
said nothing about my own copy, and made no attempt to borrow. I did,
however, casually remark to Baxter that I should like to look at
his copy of the proof sheets, since I wished to make some extended
quotations for my review, and would rather not trust my copy to a typist
for that purpose. Baxter assured me, with every evidence of regret, that
he had considered them of so little importance that he had thrown them
into the fire. This indifference of Baxter to literary values struck
me as just a little overdone. The proof sheets of Hamlet, corrected in
Shakespeare's own hand, would be well-nigh priceless.

At the next meeting of the club I observed that Thompson and Davis,
who were with me on the reviewing committee, very soon brought up the
question of the Procrustes in conversation in the smoking-room, and
seemed anxious to get from the members their views concerning Baxter's
production, I supposed upon the theory that the appreciation of any book
review would depend more or less upon the degree to which it reflected
the opinion of those to whom the review should be presented. I presumed,
of course, that Thompson and Davis had each read the book,--they were
among the subscribers,--and I was desirous of getting their point of

"What do you think," I inquired, "of the passage on Social Systems?" I
have forgotten to say that the poem was in blank verse, and divided into
parts, each with an appropriate title.

"Well," replied Davis, it seemed to me a little cautiously, "it is not
exactly Spencerian, although it squints at the Spencerian view, with a
slight deflection toward Hegelianism. I should consider it an harmonious
fusion of the best views of all the modern philosophers, with a strong
Baxterian flavor."

"Yes," said Thompson, "the charm of the chapter lies in this very
quality. The style is an emanation from Baxter's own intellect,--he
has written himself into the poem. By knowing Baxter we are able to
appreciate the book, and after having read the book we feel that we are
so much the more intimately acquainted with Baxter,--the real Baxter."

Baxter had come in during this colloquy, and was standing by the
fireplace smoking a pipe. I was not exactly sure whether the faint
smile which marked his face was a token of pleasure or cynicism; it was
Baxterian, however, and I had already learned that Baxter's opinions
upon any subject were not to be gathered always from his facial
expression. For instance, when the club porter's crippled child died
Baxter remarked, it seemed to me unfeelingly, that the poor little devil
was doubtless better off, and that the porter himself had certainly
been relieved of a burden; and only a week later the porter told me in
confidence that Baxter had paid for an expensive operation, undertaken
in the hope of prolonging the child's life. I therefore drew no
conclusions from Baxter's somewhat enigmatical smile. He left the room
at this point in the conversation, somewhat to my relief.

"By the way, Jones," said Davis, addressing me, "are you impressed by
Baxter's views on Degeneration?"

Having often heard Baxter express himself upon the general downward
tendency of modern civilization, I felt safe in discussing his views in
a broad and general manner.

"I think," I replied, "that they are in harmony with those of
Schopenhauer, without his bitterness; with those of Nordau, without his
flippancy. His materialism is Haeckel's, presented with something of the
charm of Omar Khayyam."

"Yes," chimed in Davis, "it answers the strenuous demand of our
day,--dissatisfaction with an unjustified optimism,--and voices for us
the courage of human philosophy facing the unknown."

I had a vague recollection of having read something like this somewhere,
but so much has been written, that one can scarcely discuss any subject
of importance without unconsciously borrowing, now and then, the
thoughts or the language of others. Quotation, like imitation, is a
superior grade of flattery.

"The Procrustes," said Thompson, to whom the metrical review had been
apportioned, "is couched in sonorous lines, of haunting melody and
charm; and yet so closely inter-related as to be scarcely quotable with
justice to the author. To be appreciated the poem should be read as
a whole,--I shall say as much in my review. What shall you say of the
letter-press?" he concluded, addressing me. I was supposed to discuss
the technical excellence of the volume from the connoisseur's viewpoint.

"The setting," I replied judicially, "is worthy of the gem. The dark
green cover, elaborately tooled, the old English lettering, the heavy
linen paper, mark this as one of our very choicest publications. The
letter-press is of course De Vinne's best,--there is nothing better
on this side of the Atlantic. The text is a beautiful, slender stream,
meandering gracefully through a wide meadow of margin."

For some reason I left the room for a minute. As I stepped into the
hall, I almost ran into Baxter, who was standing near the door, facing a
hunting print of a somewhat humorous character, hung upon the wall, and
smiling with an immensely pleased expression.

"What a ridiculous scene!" he remarked. "Look at that fat old squire on
that tall hunter! I'll wager dollars to doughnuts that he won't get over
the first fence!"

It was a very good bluff, but did not deceive me. Under his mask of
unconcern, Baxter was anxious to learn what we thought of his poem, and
had stationed himself in the hall that he might overhear our discussion
without embarrassing us by his presence. He had covered up his delight
at our appreciation by this simulated interest in the hunting print.

When the night came for the review of the Procrustes there was a large
attendance of members, and several visitors, among them a young English
cousin of one of the members, on his first visit to the United States;
some of us had met him at other clubs, and in society, and had found
him a very jolly boy, with a youthful exuberance of spirits and a naive
ignorance of things American that made his views refreshing and, at
times, amusing.

The critical essays were well considered, if a trifle vague. Baxter
received credit for poetic skill of a high order.

"Our brother Baxter," said Thompson, "should no longer bury his talent
in a napkin. This gem, of course, belongs to the club, but the same
brain from which issued this exquisite emanation can produce others to
inspire and charm an appreciative world."

"The author's view of life," said Davis, "as expressed in these
beautiful lines, will help us to fit our shoulders for the heavy
burden of life, by bringing to our realization those profound truths
of philosophy which find hope in despair and pleasure in pain. When he
shall see fit to give to the wider world, in fuller form, the thoughts
of which we have been vouchsafed this foretaste, let us hope that some
little ray of his fame may rest upon the Bodleian, from which can never
be taken away the proud privilege of saying that he was one of its

I then pointed out the beauties of the volume as a piece of bookmaking.
I knew, from conversation with the publication committee, the style of
type and rubrication, and could see the cover through the wrapper of my
sealed copy. The dark green morocco, I said, in summing up, typified the
author's serious view of life, as a thing to be endured as patiently as
might be. The cap-and-bells border was significant of the shams by which
the optimist sought to delude himself into the view that life was a
desirable thing. The intricate blind-tooling of the doublure shadowed
forth the blind fate which left us in ignorance of our future and our
past, or of even what the day itself might bring forth. The black-letter
type, with rubricated initials, signified a philosophic pessimism
enlightened by the conviction that in duty one might find, after all, an
excuse for life and a hope for humanity. Applying this test to the club,
this work, which might be said to represent all that the Bodleian stood
for, was in itself sufficient to justify the club's existence. If the
Bodleian had done nothing else, if it should do nothing more, it had
produced a masterpiece.

There was a sealed copy of the Procrustes, belonging, I believe, to one
of the committee, lying on the table by which I stood, and I had picked
it up and held it in my hand for a moment, to emphasize one of my
periods, but had laid it down immediately. I noted, as I sat down, that
young Hunkin, our English visitor, who sat on the other side of the
table, had picked up the volume and was examining it with interest. When
the last review was read, and the generous applause had subsided, there
were cries for Baxter.

"Baxter! Baxter! Author! Author!"

Baxter had been sitting over in a corner during the reading of the
reviews, and had succeeded remarkably well, it seemed to me, in
concealing, under his mask of cynical indifference, the exultation which
I was sure he must feel. But this outburst of enthusiasm was too much
even for Baxter, and it was clear that he was struggling with strong
emotion when he rose to speak.

"Gentlemen, and fellow members of the Bodleian, it gives me unaffected
pleasure--sincere pleasure--some day you may know how much pleasure--I
cannot trust myself to say it now--to see the evident care with which
your committee have read my poor verses, and the responsive sympathy
with which my friends have entered into my views of life and conduct.
I thank you again, and again, and when I say that I am too full for
utterance,--I'm sure you will excuse me from saying any more."

Baxter took his seat, and the applause had begun again when it was
broken by a sudden exclamation.

"By Jove!" exclaimed our English visitor, who still sat behind the
table, "what an extraordinary book!"

Every one gathered around him.

"You see," he exclaimed; holding up the volume, "you fellows said so
much about the bally book that I wanted to see what it was like; so I
untied the ribbon, and cut the leaves with the paper knife lying here,
and found--and found that there wasn't a single line in it, don't you

Blank consternation followed this announcement, which proved only too
true. Every one knew instinctively, without further investigation, that
the club had been badly sold. In the resulting confusion Baxter escaped,
but later was waited upon by a committee, to whom he made the rather
lame excuse that he had always regarded uncut and sealed books as
tommy-rot, and that he had merely been curious to see how far the thing
could go; and that the result had justified his belief that a book with
nothing in it was just as useful to a book-collector as one embodying a
work of genius. He offered to pay all the bills for the sham Procrustes,
or to replace the blank copies with the real thing, as we might choose.
Of course, after such an insult, the club did not care for the poem. He
was permitted to pay the expense, however, and it was more than hinted
to him that his resignation from the club would be favorably acted upon.
He never sent it in, and, as he went to Europe shortly afterwards, the
affair had time to blow over.

In our first disgust at Baxter's duplicity, most of us cut our copies of
the Procrustes, some of us mailed them to Baxter with cutting notes, and
others threw them into the fire. A few wiser spirits held on to theirs,
and this fact leaking out, it began to dawn upon the minds of the real
collectors among us that the volume was something unique in the way of a

"Baxter," said our president one evening to a select few of us who
sat around the fireplace, "was wiser than we knew, or than he perhaps
appreciated. His Procrustes, from the collector's point of view, is
entirely logical, and might be considered as the acme of bookmaking. To
the true collector, a book is a work of art, of which the contents
are no more important than the words of an opera. Fine binding is a
desideratum, and, for its cost, that of the Procrustes could not be
improved upon. The paper is above criticism. The true collector loves
wide margins, and the Procrustes, being all margin, merely touches the
vanishing point of the perspective. The smaller the edition, the greater
the collector's eagerness to acquire a copy. There are but six uncut
copies left, I am told, of the Procrustes, and three sealed copies, of
one of which I am the fortunate possessor."

After this deliverance, it is not surprising that, at our next auction,
a sealed copy of Baxter's Procrustes was knocked down, after spirited
bidding, for two hundred and fifty dollars, the highest price ever
brought by a single volume published by the club.


"And, instead of going to the Congress of the United States and saying
there is no distinction made in Mississippi, because of color or
previous condition of servitude, tell the truth, and say this: 'We
tried for many years to live in Mississippi, and share sovereignty and
dominion with the Negro, and we saw our institutions crumbling.... We
rose in the majesty and highest type of Anglo-Saxon manhood, and took
the reins of government out of the hands of the carpet-bagger and
the Negro, and, so help us God, from now on we will never share any
sovereignty or dominion with him again.'"--Governor JAMES K. VARDAMAN,
Mississippi, 1904.

During the past decade, newspaper and magazine articles galore, and not
a few books, have been written on what is called the "Race Problem," the
problem caused by the presence in this country of some ten millions of
black and variously-shaded colored people known as Negroes. But, strange
as it may sound, the writer has no hesitation in saying that at this
date there appears to be no clear conception anywhere, on the part of
most people, as to just what the essential problem is which
confronts the white inhabitants of the country because they have for
fellow-citizens (nominally) ten million Negroes. Ask the average man,
ask even the average editor or professor anywhere, what the race problem
is, the heart of it; why, in this land with its millions of foreigners
of all nationalities, THE race problem of problems should be caused
by ten million Negroes, not foreigners but native to the soil through
several generations; and in all probability you will get some such
answer as this:--

"The Negroes, as a rule, are very ignorant, are very lazy, are very
brutal, are very criminal. But a little way removed from savagery, they
are incapable of adopting the white man's moral code, of assimilating
the white man's moral sentiments, of striving toward the white man's
moral ideals. They are creatures of brutal, untamed instincts,
and uncontrolled feral passions, which give frequent expression of
themselves in crimes of horrible ferocity. They are, in brief, an
uncivilized, semi-savage people, living in a civilization to which they
are unequal, partaking to a limited degree of its benefits, performing
in no degree its duties. Because they are spatially in a civilization to
which they are morally and intellectually repugnant, they cannot but be
as a foreign irritant to the body social. The problem is, How shall the
body social adjust itself, daily, hourly, to this irritant; how feel
at ease and safe in spite of it? How shall the white inhabitants of
the land, with their centuries of inherited superiority, conserve their
civilization and carry it forward to a yet higher plane, hampered by
ten million black inhabitants of the same land with their centuries of
inherited inferiority?"

To the foregoing answer, this might now and again be added, or advanced
independently in reply to our question: "Personal aversion on the part
of the white person for the Negro; personal aversion accounted for by
nothing the individual Negro is, or is not, intellectually and morally;
accounted for by the fact, simply, that he is a Negro, that he has a
black or colored skin, that he is different, of another kind."

Now, certainly, there are very few average men or philosophers, to whom
the answer given to our question would not seem to state, or at any rate
fairly indicate, the race problem in its essence. But, however few they
be, I do not hesitate to align myself with them as one who does not
believe that the essential race problem as it exists in the South
(whatever it be in the North) is stated, or even fairly indicated, in
the foregoing answer. In Northern and Western communities, where he
is outnumbered by many thousands of white people, the Negro may be
accounted a problem, because he is lazy, or ignorant, or brutal, or
criminal, or all these things together; or because he is black
and different. But in Southern communities, where the Negro is not
outnumbered by many thousands of white people, the race problem,
essentially, and in its most acute form, is something distinct from
his laziness or ignorance, or brutality, or criminality, or all-round
intellectual and moral inferiority to the white man. That problem as
the South knows and deals with it would exist, as certainly as it does
to-day, if there were no shadow of excuse for the conviction that the
Negro is more lazy, or more ignorant, or more criminal, or more brutal,
or more anything else he ought not to be, or less anything else he
ought to be, than other men. In other words, let it be supposed that
the average Negro is as a matter of fact the equal, morally and
intellectually, of the average white man of the same class, and the
race problem declines to vanish, declines to budge. We shall see why,
presently. The statements just made demand immediate justification. For
they are doubtless surprising to a degree, and to some readers may prove

I proceed to justify them as briefly as possible, asking the reader to
bear in mind that very much more might be said along this line than I
allow myself space to say.


That the Negro is not a problem because he is lazy, because he declines
to work, is evidenced by the patent fact that in virtually every
Southern community he is sought as a laborer in fields, mills, mines,
and that in very many Southern communities the vexing problem for
employers is not too many, but too few Negroes. In certain agricultural
sections, notably in the Louisiana sugar district, quite a number of
Italians ("Dagoes") are employed. The reason is not dissatisfaction
with Negro labor, but simply that there is not enough of it to meet the
requirements of the large plantations. There is, perhaps, not one
of these plantations on which any able-bodied Negro could not get
employment for the asking; and as a rule, the Negroes are given, not
the work which demands the lowest, but that which demands the highest,
efficiency: they are the ploughmen, the teamsters, the foremen. If any
one doubts that Negroes are wanted as laborers in Southern communities,
very much wanted, let him go to any such community and attempt to
inveigle a few dozen of the laziest away. He will be likely to take his
life in his hands, after the usual warning is disregarded!


The small politician's trump-card, played early and late, and in all
seasons, that the Negro is a black shadow over the Southland because
of his excessive criminality, serves well the politician's purpose,--it
wins his game; but only because the game is played and won on a board
where fictions, not facts, are dominant. Nothing is easier than to offer
so-called proofs of the contention that the Negro's tendency to crime is
something peculiar to his race; there are the jail and penitentiary and
gallows statistics, for instance. But surely it should not be difficult
for these so-called proofs to present themselves in their true light to
any one who takes the trouble to consider two weighty and conspicuous
facts: this, first, that the Negroes occupy everywhere in this country
the lowest social and industrial plane, the plane which everywhere else
supplies the jail, the penitentiary, the gallows, with the greatest
number of their victims; and secondly this, that in the section of the
country where these penal statistics are gathered, all the machinery of
justice is in the hands of white men.

No Negro is a sheriff, or judge, or justice of the peace, or grand or
petit juryman, or member of a pardoning board. Charged with crime, again
and again, the black man must go to jail; he is unable to give bond; he
is defended, not by the ablest, but by the poorest lawyers, often by an
unwilling appointee of the court; he lacks the benefit of that personal
appeal to judge and jury, so often enjoyed by other defendants, which
would make them WANT to believe him innocent until proven guilty; he
faces, on the contrary, a judge and jury who hold him in some measure of
contempt as a man, regardless of his guilt or innocence. He is without
means, except occasionally, to fight his case through appeals to higher
courts, and errors sleep in many a record that on review would upset the
verdict. In the light of such considerations, it would seem impossible
that criminal statistics should not bear hard upon the Negro race, even
supposing it to be a fact that that race of all races in the world is
the LEAST criminal.

Let it be admitted without question that in most Southern communities
the crimes and misdemeanors of the Negroes exceed those committed by an
equal number of white people, and we have admitted nothing that at all
explains or accounts for the race problem. For is it not equally true
that in every other community the doers of society's rough work, the
recipients of its meagrest rewards, are chargeable, relatively, with the
greatest number of crimes and misdemeanors? Is it not true, as well in
Massachusetts and Connecticut as in Louisiana and Mississippi, that the
vast majority of those occupying prison cells are members of the social
lowest class? that the vast majority condemned, after trial, to hard
labor with their hands were accustomed to such labor before their
judicial condemnation? Nothing is more preposterous than the idea that
the race problem means more Negroes hanged, more Negroes imprisoned,
more Negroes in mines and chain-gangs, than white people! If the Negro
did not furnish the great bulk of the grist for the grinding of our
penal machinery in the Southern states, he would constitute the racial
miracle of this and all ages!

My own conviction is, and I speak with the experience of forty years'
residence in Southern states, that the Negro is not more given to crimes
and misdemeanors than the laboring population of any other section of
the country. But be this as it may, it is abundantly certain that no
race of people anywhere are more easily controlled than the Negroes by
the guardians of law and order; and there are none anywhere so easily
punished for disobedience to the statutes and mandates of their economic
superiors. Courts and juries may be sometimes subject to just criticism
for undue leniency toward white defendants; but that courts and juries
are ever subject to just criticism for undue leniency in dealing with
black defendants is the sheerest nonsense.

The frequent charge that the Negro's worst crimes partake of a brutality
that is peculiarly racial, is not supported by facts. I need not enlarge
upon this statement further than to say that the Negro's worst crimes,
with all their shocking accompaniments, are, not seldom, but often,
duplicated by white men. Let any one who doubts the statement observe
for one week the criminal statistics of any cosmopolitan newspaper, and
he will have his doubt removed.

Assuredly we do not hit upon the essence of the race problem in the
Negro's propensity to crime!


Do we hit upon it in his ignorance, in the fact that an immense number
of the black people are illiterate, not knowing the first from the last
letter of the alphabet? Hardly. For, almost to a man, the people who
most parade and most rail at the race problem in private conversation,
on the political platform, and in the pages of newspapers, books, and
periodicals, are disposed rather to lament, than to assist, the passing
of the Negro's ignorance. Ex-Governor Vardaman, of Mississippi, used
the following language in a message to the legislature of that state,
January, 1906:--

"The startling facts revealed by the census show that those [Negroes]
who can read and write are more criminal than the illiterate, which
is true of no other element of our population.. .. The state for many
years, at great expense to the tax-payers, has maintained a system
of Negro education which has produced disappointing results, and I am
opposed to the perpetuation of this system. My own idea is, that the
character of education for the Negro ought to be changed. If, after
forty years of earnest effort, and the expenditure of fabulous sums to
educate his head, we have only succeeded in making a criminal of him
and impairing his usefulness and efficiency as a laborer, wisdom would
suggest that we make another experiment and see if we cannot improve him
by educating his hand and his heart.... Slavery is the only process by
which he has ever been partially civilized. God Almighty created the
Negro for a menial, he is essentially a servant."

This is the reply of an ex-governor of one of our blackest states to
those who contend that the negro is a problem, a "burden carried by
the white people of the South," because of his ignorance and consequent
inefficiency; and that the lightening of the burden depends upon more
money spent, more earnest efforts made, for the schooling of the black
people. According to this ex-governor, and there are thousands who agree
with him in and out of Mississippi, the race problem is heightened,
rather than mitigated, by all attempts to increase the negro's
intellectual efficiency. The more ignorant he is, the less burdensome he
is to the white man, provided his heart be good, and his hands skillful
enough to do the service of a menial. Nothing but slavery ever partially
civilized him, nothing but slavery continued in some form can civilize
him further!


If we listen vainly for the heart-throb of the race problem in the
Negro's laziness, and criminality, and brutality, and ignorance, and
inefficiency, do we detect it with clearness and certainty in the
personal aversion felt by the white people for the black people,
aversion which the white people can no more help feeling than the black
people can help exciting? Is this the real trouble, the real burden, the
real tragedy and sorrow of our white population in those sections of the
country where the Negroes are many,--that they are compelled to dwell
face to face, day by day, with an inferior, degraded population,
repulsive to their finer sensibilities, obnoxious to them in countless
ways inexplicable? Facts are far from furnishing an affirmative answer.
However pronounced may be the feeling of personal aversion toward the
Negroes in Northern communities, where they are few, or known at long
range, or casually, there is no such thing in Southern communities as
personal aversion for the Negro pronounced enough to be responsible for
anything resembling a problem. How could there be in the South, where
from infancy we have all been as familiar with black faces as with
white; where many of us fell asleep in the laps of black mammies, and
had for playmates Ephrom, Izik, Zeke, black mammy's grandchildren; where
most of us have had our meals prepared by black cooks, and been waited
on by black house-servants and dining-room servants, and ridden in
carriages and buggies with black hostlers? We are so used to the black
people in the South, their mere personal presence is so far from being
responsible for our race problem, that the South would not seem Southern
without them, as it would not without its crape myrtles, and live-oaks,
and magnolias, its cotton and its sugar-cane!

It is very easy to go astray in regard to the matter of personal
aversion toward the members of alien races, to magnify greatly the
reality and importance of it. What seems race-aversion is frequently
something else, namely, revulsion aroused by the presence of the
strange, the unusual, the uncanny, the not-understood. Such revulsion is
aroused, not only by the members of alien races, alien and unfamiliar,
but as certainly by strange animals of not more terrifying appearance
than the well-loved cow and horse; and it would be aroused as really
and as painfully, doubtless, by the sudden proximity of one of Milton's
archangels. It was not necessarily race-aversion which made Emerson,
and may have made many another Concord philosopher, uncomfortable in the
presence of a Negro, any more than it is race-aversion which makes the
Fifth Avenue boy run from the gentle farmyard cow; any more than it is
race-aversion which would make me uncomfortable in the presence of Li
Hung Chang. The Negro, simply, it may be, was a mystery to Emerson, as
the farmyard cow is a mystery to the Fifth Avenue boy, as the Chinaman
is a mystery to me.

The Negro is NOT a mystery to people whom he has nursed and waited on,
whose language he has spoken, whose ways, good and bad, he has copied
for generations; and his personal presence does not render them
uncomfortable, not, at any rate, uncomfortable enough to beget the sense
of a burden or a problem.

It may be very difficult for Northern readers, to whom the Negro is in
reality a stranger, a foreigner, to appreciate fully the force of what
has just been said; but appreciated by them it must be, or they can
never hope to realize the innermost meaning of the race problem in the

So much for what the race problem is not. Let me without further delay
state what it is. The foundation of it, true or false, is the white
man's conviction that the Negro as a race, and as an individual, is his
inferior: not human in the sense that he is human, not entitled to
the exercise of human rights in the sense that he is entitled to the
exercise of them. The problem itself, the essence of it, the heart
of it, is the white man's determination to make good this conviction,
coupled with constant anxiety lest, by some means, he should fail to
make it good. The race problem, in other words, is NOT that the Negro is
what he is in relation to the white man, the white man's inferior; but
this, rather: How to keep him what he is in relation to the white man;
how to prevent his ever achieving or becoming that which would justify
the belief on his part, or on the part of other people, that he and the
white man stand on common human ground.

That such is the heart of the problem should be made evident by this
general consideration alone: namely, that everywhere in the South
friction between the races is entirely absent so long as the Negro
justifies the white man's opinion of him as an inferior; is grateful for
privileges and lays no claim to RIGHTS. Let him seem content to be as
the South insists he shall be, and not only is he not harshly treated,
not abused, and never boycotted, but he is shown much kindness and
generosity, and employment awaits him for the asking. Trouble brews when
he begins to manifest those qualities, to reveal those tastes, to
give vent to those ambitions, which are supposed to be characteristic
exclusively of the higher human type, and which, unless restrained,
would result in confounding the lower with the higher. The expression
"Good Nigger" means everywhere in the South a real Negro, from the
Southern standpoint, one who in no respect gets out of focus with that
standpoint; the expression "Bad Nigger" means universally one who in
some respect, not necessarily criminal, does get out of focus with it.
So, stated differently, the race problem is the problem how to keep the
Negro in focus with the traditional standpoint.

But we are very far from needing to rely upon any general consideration
in support of the proposition advanced above. It is supported by
evidences on every hand, waiting only the eye of recognition. Scarcely
a day passes but something is said or done with this end in view, to
emphasize, lest they forget, the conviction for both white man and Negro
that the latter is and must remain an inferior. Let me instance a few
such evidences.

Consider, first, the "Jim Crow" legislation in the manner of its
enforcement. Such legislation is supposed to have for its object the
separation of the races in trains, street-cars, etc., to save the
white people from occasional contact with drunken, rowdy, ill-smelling
Negroes, and to prevent personal encounters between the whites and
blacks. How is this object attained in the street cars of Southern
cities? Members of the different races occupy the same cars, separated
only by absurdly inadequate little open-mesh wire screens, so tiny and
light that a conductor can move them from one seat to another with the
strength of his little finger. Needless to add, these screens would
serve to obscure neither sound, sight, nor smell of drunken rowdies
who sat behind them! In summer cars black and white passengers may be
separated not even by a make-believe screen; they are simply required,
respectively, to occupy certain seats in the front or the back end of
the cars.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the front seats are assigned to Negroes in all
closed cars, and the back seats in all open ones. Why the front seats
in the one case, and the back seats in the other, it is not easy to
understand in the light of the letter and alleged spirit of the Jim Crow
law! The underlying purpose of the law is clearly not the separation
of the races in space; for public sentiment does not insist upon its
fulfillment to that end. The underlying purpose of it would seem to be
the separation of the races in status. The doctrine of inequality would
be attacked if white and black passengers rode in public conveyances on
equal terms; therefore the Negro who rides in a public conveyance
must do so, not as of undoubted right, but as with the white man's
permission, subject to the white man's regulation. "This place you may
occupy, that other you may not, because I am I and you are you, lest to
you or me it should be obscured that I am I and you are you." Such is
the real spirit of the Jim Crow laws.

Why is it that in every Southern city no Negro is allowed to witness a
dramatic performance, or a baseball game, from a first-class seat? In
every large city, there are hundreds of Negroes who would gladly pay
for first-class seats at the theatre and the baseball game, were they
permitted to. It can hardly be that permission is withheld because
theatres and baseball games are so well attended by half the population
that first-class seats could not be furnished for the other half. As a
matter of fact, theatre-auditoriums and baseball grand-stands are seldom
crowded; the rule is, not all first-class seats occupied, but many
vacant. Surely as simple as moving from seat to seat a make-shift screen
in a street-car, would it be to set apart a certain number of seats
in the dress-circle of every theatre, and in the grand-stand of every
baseball park, for Negro patrons. The reason why this is not done is
perfectly obvious: it would be intolerable to the average Southern
man or woman to sit through the hours of a theatrical performance or a
baseball game on terms of equal accommodation with Negroes, even with a
screen between. Negroes would look out of place, out of status, in the
dress circle or the grand-stand; their place, signifying their status,
is the peanut-gallery, or the bleachers. There, neither they nor others
will be tempted to forget that as things are they must continue.

How shall we account for the "intense feeling" (to quote the language
of the mayor or New Orleans) occasioned in that city one day, last July,
when it was flashed over the wires that the first prize in the National
Spelling Contest had been won by a Negro girl, in competition with white
children from New Orleans and other Southern cities? The indignation of
at least one of the leading New Orleans papers verged upon hysterics;
the editor's rhetoric visited upon some foulest crime could hardly
have been more inflamed than in denunciation of the fact that, on the
far-away shore of Lake Erie, New Orleans white children had competed at
a spelling bee with a Negro girl. The superintendent of the New Orleans
schools was roundly denounced in many quarters for permitting his wards
to compete with a Negro; and there were broad hints in "Letters from the
People" to the papers that his resignation was in order.

Certainly in the days following the National Spelling Contest the race
problem was in evidence, if it ever was, in New Orleans and the South!
Did it show itself, then, as the problem of Negro crime, or brutality,
or laziness? Assuredly not! Of the Negro's personal repulsiveness? By
no means! There was no evidence of Negro criminality, or brutality, or
laziness in the Negro child's victory; and every day in the South,
in their games and otherwise, hundreds of white children of the best
families are in closer personal contact with little Negroes than were
the white children who took part in the Cleveland spelling bee. The
"intense feeling" can be explained on one ground only: the Negro girl's
victory was an affront to the tradition of the Negro's inferiority;
it suggested--perhaps indicated--that, given equal opportunities, all
Negroes are not necessarily the intellectual inferiors of all white
people. What other explanation is rationally conceivable? If the race
problem means in the South to its white inhabitants the burden and
tragedy of having to dwell face to face with an intellectually and
morally backward people, why should not the Negro girl's triumph have
occasioned intense feeling of pleasure, rather than displeasure, by its
suggestion that her race is not intellectually hopeless?

Consider further that while no Negro, no matter what his occupation,
or personal refinement, or intellectual culture, or moral character, is
allowed to travel in a Pullman car between state lines, or to enter as
a guest a hotel patronized by white people, the blackest of Negro nurses
and valets are given food and shelter in all first-class hotels, and
occasion neither disgust, nor surprise in the Pullman cars. Here again
the heart of the race problem is laid bare. The black nurse with a white
baby in her arms, the black valet looking after the comfort of a white
invalid, have the label of their inferiority conspicuously upon them;
they understand themselves, and everybody understands them, to be
servants, enjoying certain privileges for the sake of the person served.
Almost anything, the Negro may do in the South, and anywhere he may go,
provided the manner of his doing and his doing is that of an inferior.
Such is the premium put upon his inferiority; such his inducement to
maintain it.

The point here insisted on may be made clearer, if already it is not
clear enough, by this consideration, that the man who would lose social
caste for dining with an Irish street-sweeper might be congratulated for
dining with an Irish educator; but President Roosevelt would scarcely
have given greater offense by entertaining a Negro laborer at the White
House than he gave by inviting to lunch there the Principal of Tuskegee
Institute. The race problem being what it is, the status of any Negro is
logically the status of every other. There are recognizable degrees
of inferiority among Negroes themselves; some are vastly superior to
others. But there is only one degree of inferiority separating the Negro
from the white person, attached to all Negroes alike. The logic of the
situation requires that to be any sort of black man is to be inferior to
any sort of white man; and from this logic there is no departure in the

Inconsistent, perhaps, with what has been said may seem the defeat
in the Louisiana Legislature (1908) of the anti-miscegenation bill, a
measure designed to prohibit sexual cohabitation between white persons
and Negroes; to be specific, between white men and Negro women. But
there was no inconsistency whatever in the defeat of that bill. In all
times and places, the status of that portion of the female population,
Lecky's martyred "priestesses of humanity," whose existence men have
demanded for the gratification of unlawful passion, has been that of
social outcasts. They have no rights that they can insist upon; they
are simply privileged to exist by society's permission, and may be
any moment legislated out of their vocation. Hence the defeat of an
anti-miscegenation measure by Southern legislators cannot be
construed as a failure on their part to live up to their conviction
of race-superiority. It must be construed, rather, as legislative
unwillingness to restrict the white man's liberty; to dictate by statute
the kind of social outcast which he may use as a mere means to the
gratification of his passion. To concede to Negro women the status of
a degraded and proscribed class, is not in any sense to overlook or
obscure their racial inferiority, but on the contrary, it may be, to
emphasize it. Precisely the same principle, in a word, compasses the
defeat of an anti-miscegenation bill which would compass the defeat of a
measure to prohibit Negro servants from occupying seats in Pullman cars.

At the risk of reiteration, I must in concluding this article take sharp
issue with the view of a recent very able writer, who asks the question,
"What, essentially, is the Race Problem?" and answers it thus: "The race
problem is the problem of living with human beings who are not like us,
whether they are in our estimation our 'superiors' or inferiors,
whether they have kinky hair or pigtails, whether they are slant-eyed,
hook-nosed, or thick-lipped. In its essence, it is the same problem,
magnified, which besets every neighborhood, even every family."

I have contended so far, and I here repeat, that the race problem is
essentially NOT what this writer declares it to be. It is emphatically
not, in the South, "the problem of living with human beings who are not
like us, whether they are in our estimation our superiors or inferiors."
It may be, it probably is, that in the North, where the Negro is largely
a stranger, a foreigner, very much to the same degree that the Chinese
are strangers and foreigners in the South; and where, consequently, the
Negro's personal repulsiveness is a much more significant force than
it is in the South. Assuredly there would be no race problem, anywhere,
were there no contact with others unlike ourselves! The unlikeness
of the unlike is everywhere its indispensable foundation. But we get
nowhither unless we carefully distinguish between the foundation of the
problem and the problem itself. There is nothing in the unlikeness of
the unlike that is necessarily problematical; it may be simply accepted
and dealt with as a fact, like any other fact. The problem arises only
when the people of one race are minded to adopt and act upon some policy
more or less oppressive or repressive in dealing with the people of
another race. In the absence of some such policy, there has never been a
race problem since the world began. It is the existence of such a
policy become traditional, and supported by immovable conviction, which
constitutes the race problem of the Southern states.

There was an immensely tragic race problem distressing the South fifty
years ago; but who will suggest that it was the problem of "living with
human beings who are not like us?" The problem then was, clearly, how to
make good a certain conviction concerning the unlike, how to maintain a
certain policy in dealing with them. What else is it today? The problem,
How to maintain the institution of chattel slavery, ceased to be at
Appomattox; the problem, How to maintain the social, industrial, and
civic inferiority of the descendants of chattel slaves, succeeded it,
and is the race problem of the South at the present time. There is no

Whether the policy adopted by the white South, and supported, as I have
said, by immovable conviction, is expedient or inexpedient, wise or
unwise, righteous or unrighteous, these are questions which I have not
sought to answer one way or another in this article. Perhaps they cannot
be answered at all in our time. Certain is it, that their only real and
satisfactory answer will be many years ahead of the present generation.

In the mean time, nothing could be more unwarranted, than to suppose
that the race problem of one section of this country is peculiar to
that section, because its white inhabitants are themselves in some
sense peculiar; because they are peculiarly prejudiced, because they
are peculiarly behind the hour which the high clock of civilization has
struck. Remove the white inhabitants of the South, give their place to
the white people of any other section of the United States, and, beyond
a peradventure, the Southern race problem, as I have defined it, would
continue to be--revealed, perhaps, in ways more perplexing, more intense
and tragic.


In this paper I endeavor to lay down the fundamental principles which
should govern the Negro franchise in a democracy, and to outline a
practical programme for the immediate treatment of the problem.

As I see it, the question of Negro suffrage in the United States
presents two distinct aspects:--

FIRST: the legal aspect.

SECOND: the practical aspect.

It will be admitted, I think, without argument, that all governments do
and of a necessity must exercise the right to limit the number of people
who are permitted to take part in the weighty responsibilities of the
suffrage. Some governments allow only a few men to vote; in an absolute
monarchy there is only one voter; other governments, as they become more
democratic, permit a larger proportion of the people to vote.

Our own government is one of the freest in the world in the matter of
suffrage; and yet we bar out, in most states, all women; we bar out
Mongolians, no matter how intelligent; we bar out Indians, and all
foreigners who have not passed through a certain probationary stage
and have not acquired a certain small amount of education. We also
declare--for an arbitrary limit must be placed somewhere--that no person
under twenty-one years of age may exercise the right to vote, although
some boys of eighteen are to-day better equipped to pass intelligently
upon public questions than many grown men. We even place adult white men
on probation until they have resided for a certain length of time, often
as much as two years, in the state or the town where they wish to cast
their ballots. Our registration and ballot laws eliminate hundreds of
thousands of voters; and finally, we bar out everywhere the defective
and criminal classes of our population. We do not realize, sometimes, I
think, how limited the franchise really is, even in America. We forget
that out of nearly ninety million people in the United States, fewer
than fifteen million cast their votes for President in 1908--or about
one in every six.

Thus the practice of a restricted suffrage is very deeply implanted in
our system of government. It is everywhere recognized that even in
a democracy lines must be drawn, and that the ballot, the precious
instrument of government, must be hedged about with stringent
regulations. The question is, where shall these lines be drawn in order
that the best interests, not of any particular class, but of the whole
nation, shall be served.

Upon this question, we, as free citizens, have the absolute right to
agree or disagree with the present laws regulating suffrage; and if we
want more people brought in as partakers in government, or some people
who are already in, barred out, we have a right to organize, to agitate,
to do our best to change the laws. Powerful organizations of women are
now agitating for the right to vote; there is an organization which
demands the suffrage for Chinese and Japanese who wish to become
citizens. It is even conceivable that a society might be founded to
lower the suffrage age-limit from twenty-one to nineteen years, thereby
endowing a large number of young men with the privileges, and therefore
the educational responsibilities, of political power. On the other hand,
a large number of people, chiefly in our Southern States, earnestly
believe that the right of the Negro to vote should be curtailed, or even

Thus we disagree, and government is the resultant of all these diverse
views and forces. No one can say dogmatically how far democracy should
go in distributing the enormously important powers of active government.
Democracy is not a dogma; it is not even a dogma of free suffrage.
Democracy is a life, a spirit, a growth. The primal necessity of any
sort of government, democracy or otherwise, whether it be more unjust or
less unjust toward special groups of its citizens, is to exist, to be
a going concern, to maintain upon the whole a stable and peaceful
administration of affairs. If a democracy cannot provide such stability,
then the people go back to some form of oligarchy. Having secured a
fair measure of stability, a democracy proceeds with caution toward the
extension of the suffrage to more and more people--trying foreigners,
trying women, trying Negroes.

And no one can prophesy how far a democracy will ultimately go in the
matter of suffrage. We know only the tendency. We know that in the
beginning, even in America, the right to vote was a very limited matter.
In the early years, in New England, only church-members voted; then the
franchise was extended to include property-owners; then it was enlarged
to include all white adults; then to include Negroes; then, in several
Western States, to include women.

Thus the line has been constantly advancing, but with many fluctuations,
eddies, and back-currents--like any other stream of progress. At
the present time the fundamental principles which underlie popular
government, and especially the whole matter of popular suffrage, are
much in the public mind. The tendency of government throughout the
entire civilized world is strongly in the direction of placing more
and more power in the hands of the people. In our own country we are
enacting a remarkable group of laws providing for direct primaries in
the nomination of public officials, for direct election of United States
Senators, and for direct legislation by means of the initiative and
referendum; and we are even going to the point, in many cities,
of permitting the people to recall an elected official who is
unsatisfactory. The principle of local option, which is nothing but that
of direct government by the people, is being everywhere accepted. All
these changes affect, fundamentally, the historic structure of our
government, making it less republican and more democratic.

Still more important and far-reaching in its significance is the
tendency of our government, especially our Federal Government, to
regulate or to appropriate great groups of business enterprises formerly
left wholly in private hands. More and more, private business is
becoming public business.

Now, then, as the weight of responsibility upon the popular vote is
increased, it becomes more and more important that the ballot should
be jealously guarded and honestly exercised. In the last few years,
therefore, a series of extraordinary new precautions have been adopted:
the Australian ballot, more stringent registration systems, the stricter
enforcement of naturalization laws to prevent the voting of crowds of
unprepared foreigners, and the imposition by several states, rightly or
wrongly, of educational and property tests. It becomes a more and more
serious matter every year to be an American citizen, more of an honor,
more of a duty.

At the close of the Civil War, in a time of intense idealistic emotion,
some three-quarters of a million of Negroes, the mass of them densely
ignorant and just out of slavery, with the iron of slavery still in
their souls, were suddenly given the political rights of free citizens.
A great many people, and not in the South alone, thought then, and still
think, that it was a mistake to bestow the high powers and privileges
of a wholly unrestricted ballot--a ballot which is the symbol of
intelligent self-government--upon the Negro. Other people, of whom I am
one, believe that it was a necessary concomitant of the revolution; it
was itself a revolution, not a growth, and like every other revolution
it has had its fearful reaction. Revolutions, indeed, change names, but
they do not at once change human relationships. Mankind is reconstructed
not by proclamations, or legislation, or military occupation, but by
time, growth, education, religion, thought. At that time, then, the
nation drove down the stakes of its idealism in government far beyond
the point it was able to reach in the humdrum activities of everyday
existence. A reaction was inevitable; it was inevitable and perfectly
natural that there should be a widespread questioning as to whether
all Negroes, or indeed any Negroes, should properly be admitted to full
political fellowship. That questioning continues to this day.

Now, the essential principle established by the Fifteenth Amendment to
the Constitution was not that all Negroes should necessarily be given an
unrestricted access to the ballot; but that the right to vote should not
be denied or abridged 'on account of race, color, or previous condition
of servitude.' This amendment wiped out the color-line in politics so
far as any written law could possibly do it.

Let me here express my profound conviction that the principle of
political equality then laid down is a sound, valid, and absolutely
essential principle in any free government; that restrictions upon the
ballot, when necessary, should be made to apply equally to white and
colored citizens; and that the Fifteenth Amendment ought not to be,
and cannot be repealed. Moreover, I am convinced that the principle of
political equality is more firmly established to-day in this country
than it was forty years ago, when it had only Northern bayonets behind
it. For now, however short the practice falls of reaching the legal
standard, the principle is woven into the warp and woof of Southern life
and Southern legislation. Many Southern white leaders of thought are
to-day CONVINCED, not FORCED believers in the principle; and that is a
great omen.

Limitations have come about, it is true, and were to be expected as
the back-currents of the revolution. Laws providing for educational
and property qualifications as a prerequisite to the exercise of the
suffrage have been passed in all the Southern States, and have operated
to exclude from the ballot large numbers of both white and colored
citizens, who on account of ignorance or poverty are unable to meet
the tests. These provisions, whatever the opinion entertained as to
the wisdom of such laws, are well within the principle laid down by
the Fifteenth Amendment. But several Southern States have gone a step
further, and by means of the so-called 'grandfather laws,' have exempted
certain ignorant white men from the necessity of meeting the educational
and property tests. These unfair 'grandfather laws,' however, in some of
the states adopting them, have now expired by limitation.

Let me then lay down this general proposition:--

Nowhere in the South to-day is the Negro cut off LEGALLY, as a
Negro, from the ballot. Legally, to-day, any Negro who can meet the
comparatively slight requirements as to education, or property, or both,
can cast his ballot on a basis of equality with the white man. I have
emphasized the word legally, for I know the PRACTICAL difficulties which
confront the Negro votes in many parts of the South. The point I wish to
make is that legally the Negro is essentially the political equal of
the white man; but that practically, in the enforcement of the law, the
legislative ideal is still pegged out far beyond the actual performance.

Now, then, if we are interested in the problem of democracy, we have two
courses open to us. We may think the laws are unjust to the Negro,
and incidentally to the 'poor white' man as well. If we do, we have a
perfect right to agitate for changes; and we can do much to disclose,
without heat, the actual facts regarding the complicated and vexatious
legislative situation in the South, as regards the suffrage. Every
change in the legislation upon this subject should, indeed, be jealously
watched, that the principle of political equality between the races be
not legally curtailed. The doctrine laid down in the Fifteenth Amendment
must, at any hazard, be maintained.

But, personally,--and I am here voicing a profound conviction,--I think
our emphasis at present should be laid upon the practical rather than
upon the legal aspect of the problem; I think we should take advantage
of the widely prevalent feeling in the South that the question of
suffrage has been settled, legally, for some time to come: of the desire
on the part of many Southern people, both white and colored, to turn
aside from the discussion of the political status of the Negro.

In short, let us for the time being accept the laws as they are, and
build upward from that point. Let us turn our attention to the practical
task of finding out why it is that the laws we already have are not
enforced, and how best to secure an honest vote for every Negro
and equally for every 'poor white' man, who is able to meet the
requirements, but who for one reason or another does not or cannot now
exercise his rights. I include the disfranchised white man as well as
the Negro, because I take it that we are interested, first of all, in
democracy, and unless we can arouse the spirit of democracy, South and
North, we can hope for justice neither for Negroes, nor for the poorer
class of white men, nor for the women of the factories and shops, nor
for the children of the cottonmills.

Taking up this side of the problem we shall discover two entirely
distinct difficulties:--

First, we shall find many Negroes, and indeed hundreds of thousands
of white men as well, who might vote, but who, through ignorance, or
inability or unwillingness to pay the poll-taxes, or from mere lack of
interest, disfranchise themselves.

The second difficulty is peculiar to the Negro. It consists in open
or concealed intimidation on the part of the white men who control the
election machinery. In many places in the South to-day no Negro, how
well qualified, would dare to present himself for registration; when he
does, he is rejected for some trivial or illegal reason.

Thus we have to meet a vast amount of apathy and ignorance and poverty
on the one hand, and the threat of intimidation on the other.

First of all, for it is the chief injustice as between white and colored
men with which we have to deal,--an injustice which the law already
makes illegal and punishable,--how shall we meet the matter of
intimidation? As I have already said, the door of the suffrage is
everywhere legally open to the Negro, but a certain sort of Southerner
bars the passage-way. He stands there and, law or no law, keeps out many
Negroes who might vote; and he represents in most parts of the South the
prevailing public opinion.

Shall we meet this situation by force? What force is available? Shall
the North go down and fight the South? You and I know that the North
to-day has no feeling but friendship for the South. More than that--and
I say it with all seriousness, because it represents what I have heard
wherever I have gone in the North to make inquiries regarding the
Negro problem--the North, wrongly or rightly, is to-day more than half
convinced that the South is right in imposing some measure of limitation
upon the franchise. There is now, in short, no disposition anywhere in
the North to interfere in internal affairs in the South--not even with
the force of public opinion.

What other force, then, is to be invoked? Shall the Negro revolt? Shall
he migrate? Shall he prosecute his case in the courts? The very asking
of these questions suggests the inevitable reply.

We might as well, here and now, dismiss the idea of force, express or
implied. There are times of last resort which call for force; but this
is not such a time.

What other alternatives are there?

Accepting the laws as they are, then, there are two methods of
procedure, neither sensational nor exciting. I have no quick cure to
suggest, but only old and tried methods of commonplace growth.

The underlying causes of the trouble in the country being plainly
ignorance and prejudice, we must meet ignorance and prejudice with their
antidotes, education and association.

Every effort should be made to extend free education among both Negroes
and white people. A great extension of education is now going forward in
the South. The Negro is not by any means getting his full share; but,
as certainly as sunshine makes things grow, education in the South will
produce tolerance. That there is already such a growing tolerance no one
who has talked with the leading white men in the South can doubt. The
old fire-eating, Negro-baiting leaders of the Tillman-Vardaman type
are swiftly passing away: a far better and broader group is coming into

In his last book, Mr. Edgar Gardner Murphy, of Alabama, expresses this
new point of view when he says,--

'There is no question here as to the unrestricted admission [to the
ballot] of the great masses of our ignorant and semi-ignorant blacks.
I know no advocate of such admission. But the question is as to whether
the individuals of the race, upon conditions or restrictions legally
imposed and fairly administered, shall be admitted to adequate and
increasing representation in the electorate. And as that question
is more seriously and more generally considered, many of the leading
publicists of the South, I am glad to say, are quietly resolved that the
answer shall be in the affirmative.'

From an able Southern white man, a resident of New Orleans, I received
recently a letter containing these words:--

'I believe we have reached the bottom, and a sort of quiescent period.
I think it most likely that from now on there will be a gradual increase
of the Negro vote. And I honestly believe that the less said about it,
the surer the increase will be.'

Education--and by education I mean education of all sorts, industrial,
professional, classical, in accordance with each man's talents--will
not only produce breadth and tolerance, but will help to cure the apathy
which now keeps so many thousands of both white men and Negroes from
the polls: for it will show them that it is necessary for every man
to exercise all the political rights within his reach. If he fails
voluntarily to take advantage of the rights he already has, how shall he
acquire more rights?

And as ignorance must be met by education, so prejudice must be met with
its antidote, which is association. Democracy does not consist in mere
voting, but in association, the spirit of common effort, of which the
ballot is a mere visible expression. When we come to know one another
we soon find that the points of likeness are much more numerous than the
points of difference. And this human association for the common good,
which is democracy, is difficult to bring about anywhere, whether among
different classes of white people, or between white people and Negroes.
As one of the leaders of the Negro race, Dr. Du Bois, has said,--

'Herein lies the tragedy of the age. Not that men are poor: all men know
something of poverty. Not that men are wicked: who is good? Not that men
are ignorant: what is truth? Nay, but that men know so little of each

After the Atlanta riot I attended a number of conferences between
leading white men and leading colored men. It is true those meetings
bore evidence of awkwardness and embarrassment, for they were among the
first of the sort to take place in the South, but they were none the
less valuable. A white man told me after one of the meetings,--

'I did not know that there were any such sensible Negroes in the South.'

And a Negro told me that it was the first time in his life that he had
ever heard a Southern white man reason in a friendly way with a Negro
concerning their common difficulties.

More and more these associations of white and colored men, at certain
points of contact, must and will come about. Already, in connection
with various educational and business projects in the South, white and
colored men meet on common grounds, and the way has been opened to a
wider mutual understanding. And it is common enough now, where it was
unheard of a few years ago, for both white men and Negroes to speak
from the same platform in the South. I have attended a number of
such meetings. Thus slowly--awkwardly, at first, for two centuries of
prejudice are not immediately overcome--the white man and Negro will
come to know one another, not merely as master and servant, but as
co-workers. These things cannot be forced.

One reason why the white man and the Negro have not got together more
rapidly in the South than they have, is because they have tried always
to meet at the sorest points. When sensible people, who must live
together whether or no, find that there are points at which they cannot
agree, it is the part of wisdom to avoid these points, and to meet upon
other and common interests. Upon no other terms, indeed, can a democracy
exist, for in no imaginable future state will individuals cease to
disagree with one another upon something less than half of all the
problems of life.

'Here we all live together in a great country,' say the apostles of this
view; 'let us all get together and develop it. Let the Negro do his best
to educate himself, to own his own land, and to buy and sell with the
white people in the fairest possible way.'

It is wonderful, indeed, how close together men who are stooping to a
common task soon come.

Now, buying and selling, land ownership and common material pursuits,
may not be the highest points of contact between man and man, but they
are real points, and help to give men an idea of the worth of their
fellows, white or black. How many times, in the South, I heard white men
speak in high admiration of some Negro farmer who had been successful,
or of some Negro blacksmith who was a worthy citizen, or of some Negro
doctor who was a leader of his race.

It is curious, once a man (any man, white or black) learns to do his job
well, how he finds himself in a democratic relationship with other men.
I remember asking a prominent white citizen of a town in Central Georgia
if he knew anything about Tuskegee. He said,--

'Yes: I had rather a curious experience last fall. I was building a
hotel and couldn't get any one to do the plastering as I wanted it done.
One day I saw two Negro plasterers at work in a new house that a friend
of mine was building. I watched them for an hour. They seemed to know
their trade. I invited them to come over and see me. They came, took the
contract for my work, hired a white man to carry mortar at a dollar
a day, and when they got through it was the best job of plastering
in town. I found that they had learned their trade at Tuskegee. They
averaged four dollars a day each in wages. We tried to get them to
locate in our town, but they went back to school.'

When I was in Mississippi a prominent banker showed me his business

'Good job, isn't it?' he said. 'A Negro printer did it. He wrote to me
asking if he might bid on my work. I replied that although I had known
him a long time I couldn't give him the job merely because he was a
Negro. He told me to forget his color, and said that if he couldn't do
as good a job and do it as reasonably as any white man could, he didn't
want it. I let him try, and now he does most of our printing.'

Out of such points of contact, then, encouraged by such wise leaders
as Booker T. Washington, will grow an ever finer and finer spirit
of association and of common and friendly knowledge. And that will
inevitably lead to an extension upon the soundest possible basis of the
Negro franchise. I know cases where white men have urged intelligent
Negroes to come and cast their ballots, and have stood sponsor for them,
out of genuine respect. As a result, to-day, the Negroes who vote in the
South are, as a class, men of substance and intelligence, fully equal to
the tasks of citizenship.

Thus, I have boundless confidence not only in the sense of the white men
of the South, but in the innate capability of the Negro, and that once
these two come really to know each other, not at sore points of contact,
but as common workers for a common country, the question of suffrage
will gradually solve itself along the lines of true democracy.

Another influence also will tend to change the status of the Negro as a
voter. That is the pending break-up of the political solidarity of the
South. All the signs point to a political realignment upon new issues in
this country, both South and North. Old party names may even pass away.
And that break-up, with the attendant struggle for votes, is certain
to bring into politics thousands of Negroes and white men now
disfranchised. The result of a real division on live issues has been
shown in many local contests in the South, as in the fight against the
saloons, when every qualified Negro voter, and every Negro who could
qualify, was eagerly pushed forward by one side or the other. With such
a division on new issues the Negro will tend to exercise more and more
political power, dividing, not on the color line, but on the principles
at stake.

Thus in spite of the difficulties which now confront the Negro, I cannot
but look upon the situation in a spirit of optimism. I think sometimes
we are tempted to set a higher value upon the ritual of a belief than
upon the spirit which underlies it. The ballot is not democracy: it
is merely the symbol or ritual of democracy, and it may be full of
passionate social, yes, even religious significance, or it may be a mere
empty and dangerous formalism. What we should look to, then, primarily,
is not the shadow, but the substance of democracy in this country. Nor
must we look for results too swiftly; our progress toward democracy is
slow of growth and needs to be cultivated with patience and watered with

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SOURCES -----------------------

SOJOURNER TRUTH, THE LIBYAN SIBYL by Harriet Beecher Stowe Atlantic
Monthly 11 (April 1863): 473-481.

RECONSTRUCTION by Frederick Douglass Atlantic Monthly 18 (1866):

Atlantic Monthly 19 (Jan. 1867): 112-117.

THE NEGRO EXODUS by James B. Runnion Atlantic Monthly 44 (1879):

MY ESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Frederick Douglass The Century Illustrated
Magazine 23, n.s. 1 (Nov. 1881): 125-131.

THE GOOPHERED GRAPEVINE by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 60 (Aug.
1887): 254-260.

PO' SANDY by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 61 (1888): 605-611.

DAVE'S NECKLISS by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 64 (1889):

THE AWAKENING OF THE NEGRO by Booker T. Washington Atlantic Monthly 78
(1896): 322-328.

THE STORY OF UNCLE TOM'S CABIN by Charles Dudley Warner Atlantic Monthly
78 (1896): 311-321.

STRIVINGS OF THE NEGRO PEOPLE by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois Atlantic
Monthly 80 (1897): 194-198.

THE WIFE OF HIS YOUTH by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 82 (1898):

THE BOUQUET by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 84 (1899): 648-654.

THE CASE OF THE NEGRO by Booker T. Washington Atlantic Monthly 84
(1899): 577-587.

HOT-FOOT HANNIBAL by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 83 (1899):

Atlantic Monthly 83 (1899): 99-104.

THE CAPTURE OF A SLAVER by J. Taylor Wood Atlantic Monthly 86 (1900):

MR. CHARLES W. CHESNUTT'S STORIES by W. D. Howells Atlantic Monthly 85
(1900): 699-701.

Jerome Dowd Century Magazine 61.2 (Dec. 1900): 278-281.

Magazine 59 (1900): 472-478.

THE MARCH OF PROGRESS by Charles W. Chesnutt Century Magazine 61.3 (Jan.
1901): 422-428.

THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois Atlantic Monthly 87
(1901): 354-365.

OF THE TRAINING OF BLACK MEN by W. E. Burghardt Du Bois Atlantic Monthly
90 (1902): 289-297.

THE FRUITS OF INDUSTRIAL TRAINING by Booker T. Washington Atlantic
Monthly 92 (1903): 453-462.

THE NEGRO IN THE REGULAR ARMY by Oswald Garrison Villard Atlantic
Monthly 91 (1903): 721-729.

BAXTER'S PROCRUSTES by Charles W. Chesnutt Atlantic Monthly 93 (1904):

THE HEART OF THE RACE PROBLEM by Quincy Ewing Atlantic Monthly 103
(1909): 389-397.

NEGRO SUFFRAGE IN A DEMOCRACY by Ray Stannard Baker Atlantic Monthly 106
(1910): 612-619.

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