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´╗┐Title: A Comparative Study of the Negro Problem - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 4
Author: Cook, Charles C.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Comparative Study of the Negro Problem - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 4" ***

  The American Negro Academy.


  A Comparative Study
  --OF THE--

  Mr. Charles C. Cook.

  Price Fifteen Cents.

  Published by the Academy


Living as we do in the midst of a people, which, if not of unmixed
English blood, is at least English in institutions, language and laws,
where can we better read our destiny than in the pages of English
history? "In our own hearts," some will at once answer. But no, the
thread of our fate is, to-day, more in the hands of the American people
than in our own.

The three nations, which have in modern times, most startled the world
by their progress, are England, the United States, and Japan. In the
early years of the seventeenth century, a part of the English people,
impatient of the restrictions of their time, founded upon this continent
a new and more rapidly progressive civilization than that which they
left behind them in their old homes. But this was no beginning, only an
acceleration of the movement, which had already placed England among the
foremost powers of the earth. To study the conditions attending upon the
entrance of the American people upon their path of progress, we must
follow the pilgrims back to and into their English homes. What, then,
does the history of the American people teach us? A simple lesson, still
more impressively told by the history of Japan: that time may become an
insignificant element in the making of a powerful nation. What it took
England ten centuries to accomplish, the United States has done in two
hundred, and Japan in thirty years. What mighty leavening agency has
been employed, what secret learned from nature's workshop, that these
almost incredible results, should have been so quickly, yet beyond
question so well, won? The answer may be given in two words: England was
chiefly hand-made, the United States, and above all Japan, have been
made by machinery. Richly endowed with human genius, as with natural
resources, only time enough was needed to transplant modern political
institutions, and economic and industrial machinery, and to train
natives in their use, to enable Japan to raise herself, in one
generation, high in the scale of progressive nations.

Thirty years ago, Japan stood hesitatingly upon the threshold of her
hermit's cell, and considered whether she should go out and join the
throng of bustling Europeans. America, England and Holland had beaten
furiously at her doors, demanding her answer. At this fateful moment,
the daimio Okubu thus addressed the Mikado--"Since the middle Ages our
Emperor has lived behind a screen and has never trodden the earth.
Nothing of what went on outside his screen ever penetrated his sacred
ear; the imperial residence was profoundly secluded, and, naturally,
unlike the outer world. Not more than a few court nobles were allowed to
approach the throne, a practice most opposed to the principles of
Heaven. This vicious practice has been common in all ages. But now, let
pompous etiquette be done away with, and simplicity become our first
object. Kioto is in an-out-of-the way position, and is unfit to be the
seat of government! Let His Majesty take up his abode temporarily at
Ozaka, removing his capital hither, and thus cure one of the hundred
abuses which we inherit from past ages."

"The young Mikado, Mutsuhito, came in person to the meetings of the
council of state, and before the daimios and court nobles, promised on
oath that a deliberative assembly should be formed; all measures be
decided by public opinion; the uncivilized customs of former times
should be broken through; and the impartiality and justice displayed in
the workings of nature, be adopted as a basis of action; and that
intellect and learning should be sought for throughout the world, in
order to establish the foundations of empire." "These words," says the
translator, "seem an echo of the prophetic question of the Hebrew seer:
Can a nation be born at once."

In 1868 the quickly accomplished revolution occurred, which overthrew a
feudal aristocracy which had endured for nearly seven hundred years. At
its close, the Mikado emerged from the sacred seclusion, in which he had
been purposely kept, to take the reins of government and lead the half
unwilling nation into the ways of the western world. In a few years,
Japan had fitted herself out with a constitution, a bureau staff, an
army and navy, post office, railroad and telegraph facilities, customs
houses, a mint, docks, lighthouses, mills and factories, public schools,
colleges and schools of special instruction, newspapers, publishing
houses and a new literature written by Japanese students of European
life and history; Ambassadors and consuls were admitted to Japan and
sent to the other nations; scholars sought the western schools and
returned to put into practice western ideas; European ships established
commercial relations with the islands; and Christian missionaries
hurried into this promising new field. Japan, in thirty years had passed
from obscurity to fame, and no longer doomed to be the prey of other
nations, she had a voice in that great council, which decides the
destinies of mankind. By a not unnatural coincidence, she has been
attracted to that other island power, Great Britain, and it is to
England that her debt is greatest; for in political and economic
progress, England is the model of the world.

About the middle of the fifth century, the Roman armies, after a
military occupation of Britain which lasted for four hundred years,
were recalled to Rome. That imperial city, fattened upon oriental
plunder, and intoxicated by hundreds of military triumphs, was now
falling amidst the ruins of her temples and theatres, before the
onslaughts of barbarian hordes. Meanwhile the same drama, though upon a
smaller scale, was being enacted in the deserted province. The Romanized
Britons, their vitals eaten out by the corrosive civilization which they
had adopted, were slaughtered like sheep on their borders, by the
uncivilized tribes, until in desperation, they invited North German
pirate chiefs to Britain to protect them. To protect them! What bitter
irony! By the end of the next century, bones and ashes were about all
there was left to protect, and England was peopled afresh by the
devastating hosts of her protectors.

While in their native forests four centuries earlier, these Germans had
won the admiration of Tacitus by the simplicity of their manners and the
integrity of their lives. Lovers of freedom, they were loyal followers
of their leaders in battle: accustomed by the severity of their winters
to the greatest hardships, and hardened by lives of war into cruelty,
they were tender, almost reverential in their attitude toward women.
"They had no use for laws," said Tacitus "their good customs sufficed."

During the century following their arrival in England, they glutted the
savage in them, with the sight of bleeding corpses and burning homes;
nor did they escape demoralization; for they turned their arms against
each other and fought for three hundred years for tribal supremacy, only
to fall before a Danish, and later, a Norman conqueror. In 871, 422
years after the landing of Hengest, and 274 years after the coming of
Augustine the missionary, Alfred, the greatest of the Saxon kings,
ascended the throne. The intellectual condition of England at that time,
may be described in his own words, "When I began to reign I cannot
remember one south of Thames who could explain the service-book in
English,"--which is as much as to say that there was not one fairly
educated man in the richest and most progressive part of the island. For
more than three hundred years, the history of England is an almost
continuous record of anarchy and rapine.

Such conditions favor the strong, and, like the body of soldiers which,
while advancing over the smooth road, keeps its line unbroken, but when
obliged to cross a muddy, ploughed field, breaks up into a straggling
file, the commonwealth of ancient Germany, with its wonderful equality
and community, had so changed its form under pressure of the conditions
attending the conquest of the Britons, that monarchy and slavery, and
the accumulation by individuals of wealth and power, had, even before
the Norman invasion, become permanent features of the society. All had
possessed some share of power and wealth in the early time, and it
followed that the acquisition of them was little esteemed; but now these
gifts, when the Normans usurped them, grew to splendor in the eyes of
those from whose presence they were being ever farther and farther
withdrawn. The race for money and power had begun, and though the gaps
between the contestants widened, all pressed onwards: England had
entered upon her progressive stage. Now, after eight hundred years,
while the rich harvest is being reaped, let us look back at the sowers,
in the time of its sowing.

England was, before the rise of Japan, the only island power, and to her
consequent isolation may be traced many important differences between
her development and that of the continental powers. Prominent among
these was an early consciousness of national existence, which gave some
purpose to three centuries of otherwise meaningless bloodshed.

As the insulation of England was the most striking among the favorable
circumstances, so love of independence became the distinguishing feature
of the English character, belonging alike to the Saxon of the time of
Tacitus and the Englishman of to-day. The effect of this instinct has
been to invigorate all of the members of the society; and to it is due
the succession of glorious victories won by the English yeomanry over
the French army at Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt; the ranks of the
English army being so far superior, individually, to the ranks of the
French, that superiority in the numbers of the French was unavailing.

But, on the other hand, it was the same spirit which caused the Saxon
freeman to stay away from the tribal assembly for several days, in order
to show that he acknowledged no duty to obey: and this spirit, again
which spent the English by more than three hundred years of domestic
wars and left them helpless before sixty thousand Norman and French

The very different period of peace and prosperity, which followed upon
Norman tyranny, taught the English to distinguish between a just and an
exaggerated sense of the freedom to which each individual was entitled,
and in Burke's attitude towards the French revolution, we have the
residuum of the struggle between Saxon independence and Norman discipline.

The church of England also expresses the English spirit of liberty. It
stands not for dissent, but for national self-control; it is an
independent, not a protestant church. To realize this, we must remember,
that the desire for separation from the church of Rome showed itself in
the eleventh century; and from then on continuously, until Henry VIII
slit the thin thread which bound England to Rome, the cause of
ecclesiastical and of civil liberty advanced side by side.

It is a noteworthy characteristic of the Saxon, as described by
implication in the Germania of Tacitus, that, while he barely tolerated
a king, he cheerfully obeyed a captain, or war leader. When, therefore,
Angles and Saxons entered upon a period of conquest in England, which
lasted a hundred and fifty years, it became quite easy for the captain,
imperceptibly, and, to a certain extent involuntarily, to add to his
proper office that of law giver and administrator. In this way,
especially after the exchange of Saxon for Norman administrators, the
still rebellious Saxon freeman became hopelessly entangled in a network
of machinery, local and national, which kept him for many years an
obedient, unresisting subject.

So, being deprived for centuries of any considerable weight in the
English counsels, the commoner turned his attention to the increasing of
his material well-being. In this he was favored by the stern
enforcement, by the Norman kings, of law and order, and an enduring
peace; for, though English soldiers have often fought on the continent,
it may be said with almost literal truth that not since the Norman
Conquest has English soil felt the footsteps of a foreign foe. For this
blessing, England is indebted to her insular position, which has also
pointed so unmistakably to her destiny as a sea-faring power, carrying
the world's trade in her merchant ships and scattering colonies over
every continent.

Summing up then, the conditions favoring English progress at its
beginning: we have a people, instinct with the love of freedom and
power, subjected to law by desire for victory in war, and kept obedient
by bewilderment of machinery. Forced to reconcile themselves to Norman
usurpation of all power in church and state, they devote themselves to
the acquisition of wealth, and, because of their insular position and
small territory, end in commercial supremacy and colonial expansion.

The English people are, through their American descendants, our teachers
in everything, and their lessons we eagerly and unquestioningly learn
and practice. But we ought now, fairly and candidly to consider how far
we may realize with our dispositions and our circumstances, the
greatness which England has achieved. Could we colonize Cuba, our
environing conditions would be favorable to political and economic
development. Cuba is an island, fertile and, for commerce, almost ideal
in its situation. Or, can we not, remaining here, share in the
management of this splendid country, exercising the powers and
fulfilling the duties of government in those states where we are in the
majority, and influencing the government of other states where our
numbers are not so great? If either career is open to us, the study and
imitation of the English model will abundantly repay us. But do we
believe that it is so? No, we cannot hope that either path will be ours.
The white races have to-day the power and the determination to rule the

But, as if the first obstacle was not great enough, I must add another
which is even greater: we have not the disposition to follow England had
we the opportunity to do so.

The modern state is the product of centuries of war. Its architectural
model is the mediaeval castle. From that school of discipline we have
been excluded for more than two hundred years. That we have not quite
forgotten our early lessons, our fidelity to our leaders in battle and
devotion to our cause, have put beyond question. It has been more than
once shown that there are men among us who can charge up a hill in the
face of a withering fire; but who among us is capable of jumping into
the air, and falling with both knees upon a fellow-student in a college
foot-ball game; or of using against a savage tribe, as England proposed
to do, the mutilating dum dum bullet, forbidden by the rules of
civilized warfare, but too expensive to throw away? Yet this is the
spirit of the conqueror, careful, patient, exact, merciless, cool.
One-third of a victory to-day belongs, it is said, to the treasury
office, one-third to the war office, and only the remaining third, to
the general and soldiers in the field.

Since both opportunity and disposition, therefore, are wanting, which
would enable us to enter upon a political career, we must be content to
live here, a voiceless figure at the council-board of the American
nation. And yet, a mere element in the population ("Negroes and Indians
untaxed") we will never consent to be.

When de Toqueville wrote upon Democracy in America, he made the Negro
problem a part of the history of civilization, and it has continued to
increase in importance, as in difficulty, down to the present day. But
that it should be other than a problem for the whites had not been
thought of. How strange this seems to us, whose whole attention is
concentrated upon it from morning till night, from childhood to the
grave! We stand before it like Sisyphus before the great rock which he
rolled so laboriously and so vainly up that Tartarean hill.

A few years ago, I had occasion to seek the advice of a distinguished
member of the Board of Trustees of Howard University upon a school
matter. After hearing a part of the tale of trouble, he said solemnly,
"It is very unfortunate, but still true that your people are not united,
you don't act together." Now, as it happened, it was otherwise in this
instance, and I hastened to say that all of the colored teachers were on
one side and the white teachers on the other. "Now that will never do,"
he replied quickly. "You must never allow a color line to be drawn." He
spoke with such evident feeling that I realized that his last word was
said. We cannot exaggerate the importance of this fundamental dilemma.
If we hope to win in any contest, we must unite, but the unwisest thing
we can do, is to unite and win.

During the past forty years a great many people in western countries
have been deeply impressed by Darwin's view of the animal and vegetable
worlds as the theatre of a struggle for existence in which the fittest
have survived; and have applied this doctrine unrestrictedly to the life
of man. A deep tinge of Darwinism seems to have spread itself over our
own discussions, and two schools are rising in our midst, one advocating
an active, the other a passive part in the struggle.

In pursuance of the former policy, we are told to organize, and if need
be, to arm, in defense of our political and social rights; in the
pulpit, in the press and before the courts of law to defend ourselves;
and above all, to get money, for this is the key to the whole situation.
But nothing could be more unwise than willingly to match our strength
with that of the American people. It is vain to hope for a fair fight,
man against man. The whites will not fail to make use of every advantage
which they possess. The struggle will always be one between an armed
white man and an unarmed Negro; between a man on one hand, and a man
and a giant on the other, a giant made of store-houses, arsenals and
navies, railroads, organization, science and confidence. It is equally
idle to _demand_ an impartial administration of the law. The English
common law is but a stepmother of justice; her own child is prosperity.
The Saxon came to England a pirate. He grew to be a merchant, often
returning, however, to his old trade. After turning merchant, he turned
lawyer, and the law administered in our courts of justice is but his
replication in his own case. But it is vainest of all to suppose that we
can _buy_ our way into the respect and liking of the American people.
Somebody has been saying to us; Just let us own blocks of southern
railroad stock and who will bid us ride on a Jim Crow car? Who could it
have been, who offered us this advice? We should at least crown him king
of jesters and prince of wits. Is there anything in the English or
American past, to justify us in believing that they will part more
willingly with wealth than with power? Are we not shortsightedly
preparing for calamities far more destructive, and more enduring than
the political murders of the last thirty years? The black miners at
Virden could tell us something about the pursuit of wealth; and the Jews
about its social and political value after it has been acquired.

But the worst result _to-day_ of this kind of advice is that it is so
quickly taken up by rash and evil-minded men, who shout it from the
platform in its coarsest and most misleading form. After them follows
the newspaper vulture seizing upon what is worst in the speaker's
address to scatter it in large headlines through thousands of homes.

More numerous than these who bid us strike for our rights are the
counsellors of a pacific policy. Their aim is the same, survival, but
our part in the struggle must be, they say, a humble, or at least, an
inconspicuous one. We should stoop to conquer, one tells us; while
another, phrasing technically the same thought, says, we must march
along the path of least resistance.

That the second thought is only the first in another dress scarcely
needs the proof which a few words will give. In order to determine in
advance, which of many paths will offer the least resistance, we must
know the nature of the body moving, and of the field through which the
body moves; and also the changes which both the body and the field
undergo during the passage; the problem being a somewhat different one
at any moment from what it was at the preceding moment. Still, the
variations would be comparatively few were not the body, our own chaotic
mass, and the field, which is, in this case, the American people, such
changeable factors. As it is, the determination of the path of least
resistance for our eight millions is a task which a college of
scientists could not hope to accomplish.

The problem becomes very easy however, if we make two assumptions: the
first, that the colored people of this country are immeasurably meek,
patient and long-suffering; and the second, that the white people are
determined, right or wrong, to rule and have. These premises being
granted, it _seems_ at least to follow, that the path of least
resistance for the colored people is one of submission. But there is a
difficulty, which at once confronts us: the unvarying meekness of the
Negro is denied by the very circumstance which brought out this
solution,--the race conflicts. This unquestionable fact, that "race
riots" do crop out in all parts of the South; and the equally
incontrovertible fact that men of character and influence encourage a
spirit of stubborn clinging to rights deemed inalienable, must be held
to justify us in raising the question: which path _is_ the Negro
pursuing, that of submission, or that of resistance. It avails us
nothing to insist that the former is the way of life, the latter, of
extinction; the way of least resistance is, by no means, always, the way
of life. The drunkard follows the path of least resistance, when he
lifts the cup for the twelfth time to his lips; the moth follows the
path of least resistance when it flies into the candle flame. The path
of least resistance is the path, which, whether chosen by ourselves or
forced upon us; whether it lead to life, or to death; we have followed
and are about to follow.

We come back then to the real thought, which is so clouded by that
technical expression. The cry goes up: A black man cannot stand up in
the South! Let him kneel down then, is the answer. It is our duty to
deal with this thought in its nakedness, and each of us answer for
himself, this question: Shall I kneel down?

The issue brings our moral courage to the supreme test. The moral coward
is he who sacrifices what he believes to be the higher from fear, who
sacrifices his inner self to save his skin. If we hold our political
rights dear above all else, if we think our manhood involved, let us be
ready to give up wealth, comfort, and even life itself in their defense;
let us, if attacked at this last point defend our privileges, and, if
defeated turn our faces to the wall and die.

But at such a crisis in our lives let us make no avoidable mistake; let
us not say that our self-respect is in peril, when we mean our pride. To
strike back, even in self-defence, is to turn our backs to the path
which Christ pointed out to us. To fight against almost insuperable
odds, as we must, can be justified only by a cause which we cannot
without degradation surrender, and can in no other way maintain. If we
give up our political rights for love of peace, and because our gentler
nature does not goad us on to return blow for blow, we forfeit none of
our self-respect; but if we give up this privilege for love of Christ,
that His law of love may become the law of the nations of the earth, we
have His promise of a glorious reward.

But, after all, why should we consider which path we should follow, that
of resistance, or that of submission, before we know where we are going?
What is that survival, which we must fight for; what is this conquest,
which gilds ignoble stooping?

In North Germany, where the climate is too severe for grain or grass to
flourish, there was nursed a race, which hunted in the forests, and
fished along the rocky coasts. In the fifth century, these men learned
that there were more beautiful parts of the earth. In less than fifteen
hundred years they have swept the Celts from England, the Indians from
North America, the Maoris from Australia. Will they continue their
devastating progress over the earth, never resting until they have
extinguished every other race? It may be so, but long before they have
dispersed the other inhabitants of the globe, they must themselves have
become scattered, divided, opposed. Already, the English language is
unintelligible in Germany, though Englishman and German are offshoots
from the same stock, the German of the North can hardly understand the
German of the South; Dutch and English vessels have fought desperately
at sea, in the past, and to-day, Dutch and English are face to face in
South Africa; England and America have fought two wars; the Northern and
Southern states of this country have fought one. As far back as we can
go the same condition reveals itself; Greece humiliates her sister
Persia, and falls before her more powerful sister, Rome: the barbarians
who sack Rome in the fifth century and the Romans themselves are of the
same Aryan stock: so are the English and Russians, who seem about to
grapple in a deadly struggle to-day. To assign a limit to this process
of selection seems as impossible in the future, as in the past. Yet it
may well be doubted whether, amidst the host of the fallen, there were
not many who were worthier than those who have survived.

Forty years ago, Hallam, after reviewing the Middle Ages, was forced to
say: "We cannot from any past experience, indulge the pleasing vision of
a constant and parallel relation between the moral and intellectual
energies, the virtues and civilization of mankind." And to-day, it is an
almost accepted view, that the least difference between the savage and
the civilized man is the difference in morality. It follows that
morality has played no conspicuous part in the process of selection;
that the extermination of others does little or nothing to improve the
character of those who survived; and finally, since Japan has put on
European civilization as easily as a Japanese can put on a suit of
English clothes, that civilization is a varnish, spread over the
material beneath. That this is the real belief of nearly every one of
us, and has always been so, our judgment of the conduct of individuals
proves. Do we go about the streets giving prizes to octogenarians, or
put down to wickedness the early death of a child? Why then, should we
otherwise regard long life in a whole people? Do we applaud the superior
strength or cunning of Cain, or pretend that the discovery of gun-powder
strengthened the arm of the _good_? No, neither loyalty, nor victory is
the true test;--it is by their fruits that God will know them.

Let us, then, throw away this narrow, self-justifying doctrine of the
survival of the fittest, and follow instead the noble counsel of

  Nor love thy life, nor hate, but what thou liv'st, live well.
  How long or short permit to heaven.

Let us find our model less in the conquering Saxon and more in the dying
Saviour. Christ died that we may live; and for the same purpose all
created life has passed away. Let us so live that when the last man goes
from the earth, he will, no matter what his race or color, owe a part of
the good there is in him, of the hope there is for him, to our
influence. Our life cannot be too brief for this influence to be
exerted; and when God shall look over his flocks to praise the worthy,
it is the witness of His Son that his first loving welcome will be for
the least and lowliest.

But we have so little faith to-day, that I hardly doubt that there is
chiming in the ears of many in this audience the refrain:--"This is all
sentiment and doesn't help us to deal with hard facts." We ought,
however, to hesitate, I think, before consigning this view to the
babies' limbs. It may be after all that the Sermon on the Mount was not
pure eccentricity, nor Christ a Don Quixote. Of the two counsels, 'Get
religion,' and 'Get money,' there is yet something to be said in support
of the former. Carlyle fairly exculpates the nobility of Scotland for
their cold treatment of the poet, Burns. "Had they not," he asks, "their
game to preserve; their borough interests to strengthen, dinners to eat
and give?... Let us pity and forgive them. The game they preserved and
shot, the dinners they ate and gave, the borough interests they
strengthened, the little Babylons they severally builded by the glory of
their might are all melted, or melting back into the primeval chaos, as
man's merely selfish endeavors are bound to do."

And after all, who are the poor? Let history answer! Is thrift taxed,
which seems able to bear, or prodigality, which spares nothing? Do we
tax clear-headed temperance, or the wretched drunkard, whose starving
wife and babes, by reason of the penny of internal revenue, lose one
more crust of bread? Upon whose shoulders falls the lash of scorn and
punishment? Upon those of the able man, who never tries to do his best,
or upon the ill-born, ill-bred creature's only, whose best is so little
above society's arbitrary passing mark, that to slip at all is to fall
below it? I have often thought that in the words, "The poor always ye
have with you," is contained, far from a curse, the greatest pledge of
the world's salvation; for except that hunger, cold, sorrow and disease
walk among us, the bond of sympathy which binds us to our fellow-man
slackens, and the heart grows dead and cold.

One night during the long period of hardship which the missionaries
experienced in the conversion of England, a snow-storm drove Cuthbert's
boat on the coast of Fife. "The snow closes the road along the shore,
mourned his comrades, the storm bars our way over sea." "There is still
the pathway of heaven that lies open," said Cuthbert. It is even so with
us. Can we regret it? Surely the problem is greatly simplified. While
our minds are fixed upon survival, no path is clear, and we weary
ourselves walking along roads which either lead nowhere at all, or bring
us back to our starting point. But, with only right living in view,
there is no mistaking the way; for there has always been a straight
road ahead of us, which we could follow if we would. It is hard to keep
plodding along the narrow path, when fields of wealth and power stretch
away on either side, but, happily for us, these are about all fenced in,
even the great Sahara desert is fenced in. We cannot be tyrants if we
would, nor can we despoil our fellows for they are as poor as we. Our
road is made smooth before us. God has not led us into temptation. We
ought then to come nearer than other peoples to a Christian life, to
that better community, where one half of the world is not happy while
the other half is miserable.

Of the little guidance which is needed, a part we may get from others, a
part from ourselves. From the English, _before_ their entrance upon
their progressive stage, we may learn the importance of two bonds, that
of the family, and that of the neighborhood. National, state, even
municipal organization is denied us. The village is the highest unit of
population in which we may hope to develop our political instincts. The
village gave birth to literature, manners and customs; as indeed it did
to all institutions, political and social; for, let us not forget, that
for centuries, the western European peoples, so powerful to-day, had,
except in time of war, no other life than that of villagers. Deeper yet
in our nature the family has its source. To it we owe our earliest
expressions of chivalry, care and protection; of obedience, loyalty,
devotion, faith.

The basis upon which the historic monogamous family rests is reverence
for parents and respect for women: the basis upon which the village
community rests is the common ownership of land;--and it is in just
those great countries of Europe, where common ownership of land longest
prevailed, namely, in Russia and Germany, that great cities are fewest
and the inequality of wealth, least. In such village communities we
would be strong enough to resist single handed aggression, yet too weak
to warrant persecution; rich enough to escape the degradation of
unending toil, though not rich enough to arouse in our oppressors the
spirit of avarice. He who seeks to maintain himself in his social
privileges and political rights must have in reserve abundant means of
subsistence, and beyond this, rugged manhood. If he is going to defend
himself in the possession of anything which another covets, he must be
prepared to fight down the whole decline from civilization to savagery.

Not only would the village community furnish us with centres of
resistance to oppression, but what is of greater importance, with
custom, and tradition, that understanding among men and between
generations which is stronger than law. It is the peculiar weakness of
our efforts at organization, that they proceed from the minds and wills
of a few individuals, and not from any popular demand, and until our
many society constitutions, in part at least, codify existing customs,
it is like making ropes of sands to expect our organizations to endure,
or our articles to bind.

In the cities, where so many of us now live, the village community is no
longer available, and the replacing of it is one of the serious tasks
before us. Men who will help to solve this and other like problems are
desperately needed. Without armies and without government as we are,
leaders, whether statesmen diplomats, politicians or orators, we can
well depense with; without national life of any sort, national
organizations to control our political, social, religious, literary or
scientific affairs may easily be spared. But quiet, earnest, trained
workers, who will help to improve our family life, and bring into
communion even small groups of families, are destined to be the pioneers
of our civilization.

To confer any lasting benefit upon our people, however, patient
deliberation and foresight are needed. I appeal to our unselfish men
and women no longer to limit their discussions to the events which this
month or year brings forth. The present is always a bad time for
consideration. What hunter can _aim_ his gun at a bird which rises from
beneath his feet? Will he not rather fire at a bird which is coming or
going? We are gathered here tonight as amateur historians and prophets,
to review the past and lay plans for the future. But let me quickly
relieve myself of the charge of encouraging rash projects or empty
theories. I am proposing no vast schemes; I believe it useless to do so.
We move through life, with our backs toward, to the engine, and see all
that we see after it has passed. The reason, the imagination, with their
creative powers, picture for themselves the world that lies before, but
so swift and so unremitting is our progress, that the new revelations
constantly pouring in alter the premises before a conclusion can be
reached. Only the most gifted geniuses can draw in the vaguest outline a
picture of the future which the flight of time will prove to be true.
For the most part, our spiders' webs of theory are remorselessly cut
down by the scythe of time. It is good to investigate sociological
problems, and devise means for guiding our course safely through perils,
but in our moments of pride, we would do wisely to reflect, that it is
as though we were playing at chess with God as our adversary. All
efforts to improve our state are bountiful, which are made after prayer,
but other plans than those conceived in a spirit of humility and
obedience to God's law are, when we are mindful of His jealousy, at once
foolish and terrible.



[1] A study of the conditions attending upon the entrance of England and
of Japan upon their progressive stage, as a part of the problem of
determining the point of equilibrium between the white and colored
people of America.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "Hollaud" corrected to "Holland" (page 3)
  "unforlunate" corrected to "unfortunate" (page 7)

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