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Title: The Negro in the South - His Economic Progress in Relation to his Moral and Religious Development
Author: Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915, DuBois, W. E. Burghardt
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.

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  The Negro in the South

  _His Economic Progress in Relation to
  His Moral and Religious Development_

  Being the William Levi Bull
  Lectures for the Year 1907

  _Of the Tuskeegee Normal and Industrial Institute_


  _Of the Atlanta University_



  Copyright, 1907, by
  _Published, June, 1907_

  _All rights reserved_
  Printed in U.S.A.

The Letter Establishing the Lectureship

Bishop Whitaker presented the Letter of Endowment of the Lectureship
on Christian Sociology from Rev. William L. Bull as follows:

For many years it has been my earnest desire to found a Lectureship on
Christian Sociology, meaning thereby the application of Christian
principles to the Social, Industrial, and Economic problems of the
time, in my Alma Mater, the Philadelphia Divinity School. My object in
founding this Lectureship is to secure the free, frank, and full
consideration of these subjects, with special reference to the
Christian aspects of the question involved, which have heretofore, in
my opinion, been too much neglected in such discussion. It would seem
that the time is now ripe and the moment an auspicious one for the
establishment of this Lectureship, at least tentatively.

After a trial of three years, I again make the offer, as in my letter
of January 1, 1901, to continue these Lectures for a period of three
years, with the hope that they may excite such an interest,
particularly among the undergraduates of the Divinity School, that I
shall be justified, with the approval of the authorities of the
Divinity School, in placing the Lectureship on a more permanent

I herewith pledge myself to contribute the sum of six hundred dollars
annually, for a period of three years, to the payment of a lecturer on
Christian Sociology, whose duty it shall be to deliver a course of not
less than four lectures to the students of the Divinity School,
either at the school or elsewhere, as may be deemed most advisable, on
the application of Christian principles to the Social, Industrial, and
Economic problems and needs of the times; the said lecturer to be
appointed annually by a committee of five members: the Bishop of the
Diocese of Pennsylvania; the Dean of the Divinity School; a member of
the Board of Overseers, who shall at the same time be an Alumnus; and
two others, one of whom shall be myself and the other chosen by the
preceding four members of the committee.

Furthermore, if it shall be deemed desirable that the Lectures shall
be published, I pledge myself to the additional payment of from one to
two hundred dollars for such purpose.

To secure a full, frank, and free consideration of the questions
involved, it is my desire that the opportunity shall be given from
time to time to the representatives of each school of economic thought
to express their views in these Lectures.

The only restriction I wish placed on the lecturer is that he shall be
a believer in the moral teachings and principles of the Christian
Religion as the true solvent of our Social, Industrial, and Economic
problems. Of course, it is my intention that a new lecturer shall be
appointed by the committee each year, who shall deliver the course of
Lectures for the ensuing year.

                                               WILLIAM LEVI BULL.


       _By Booker T. Washington_

       EMANCIPATION                                            43
       _By Booker T. Washington_

       _By W.E. Burghardt DuBois_

   IV. RELIGION IN THE SOUTH                                  123
       _By W.E. Burghardt DuBois_

       NOTES TO CHAPTERS III AND IV                           193

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *



We are now, I think, far enough removed from the period of slavery to
be able to study the influence of that institution objectively rather
than subjectively. Surely if any Negro who was a part of the
institution itself can do so, the remaining portion of the American
people ought to be able to do so, whether they live at the North or at
the South.

My subject naturally leads me to a discussion of the Negro as he was
in slavery. We must all acknowledge, whatever else resulted from
slavery that, first of all, it was the economic element involved that
brought the Negro to America, and it was largely this consideration
that held the race in slavery for a period of about 245 years. But,
in this discussion, I am not to consider the economic value of the
Negro as a slave, as such, but only the influence of his industrial
training while in slavery in the development of his moral and
religious life.

In my opinion, it requires no little effort on the part of a man who
was once himself a slave to be able to admit this. If any Negro who
was a part of the institution of slavery itself can so far rid himself
of the prejudices of the same, it seems to me other people, living in
whatever section, should be able to do so.

I have been a slave once in my life--a slave in body. But I long since
resolved that no inducement and no influence would ever make me a
slave in soul, in my love for humanity, and in my search for truth.

At the same time slaves were being brought to the shores of Virginia
from their native land, Africa, the woods of Virginia were swarming
with thousands of another dark-skinned race. The question naturally
arises: Why did the importers of Negro slaves go to the trouble and
expense of going thousands of miles for a dark-skinned people to hew
wood and draw water for the whites, when they had right among them a
people of another race who could have answered the purpose? The answer
is that the Indian was tried and found wanting in the commercial
qualities which the Negro seemed to possess. The Indian, as a race,
would not submit to slavery and in those instances where he was tried,
as a slave, his labor was not profitable and he was found unable to
stand the physical strain of slavery. As a slave, the Indian died in
large numbers. This was true in San Domingo and in other parts of the
American continent.

The two races, the Indian and the Negro, have been often compared to
the disadvantage of the Negro. It is often said of the Negro that he
is an imitative race. That, in a large degree, is true. That element
has its disadvantages and it also has its advantages. Very often the
Negro imitates the worst element in the white man; on the other hand I
believe that the masses of our people imitate the best they find in
the white man.

I have said more than once that one of the unfortunate conditions of
the Negro in the North is that,--because of the large proportion of
our people who are in menial service, their duties bring them in
contact with the worst. They, for example, are waiters in clubs and in
various organizations, and being engaged in that capacity makes it
necessary for them to touch the white man at his weakest point. In the
city of Philadelphia, there are hundreds, I do not suppose I should
exaggerate if I were to say thousands, who are serving the white man
as a waiter in some club or similar organization. When that white man
was at work in his factory, in his counting-room, in his bank, he was
far removed from him. When he was at his best the Negro did not come
into touch with him. In the evening when he lays aside the working
dress, takes matters easy, and gets his cigar and perhaps champagne,
the Negro comes into contact with him, not to an advantage, but at his
weakest point rather than at his strongest.

In the South, as in most parts of America, during slavery and after,
the Negro has gotten something from the white man that has made him
more valuable as a citizen. In most cases he imitates the best rather
than the worst. For example, you never see a Negro braiding his hair
in the same way as a Chinaman braids his, but he cuts his like the
white man. The Negro is seeking out the highest and best as to

It has been more than once stated that the Indian proved himself the
superior race in not submitting to slavery. We shall see about this.
In this respect it may be that the Indian secured a temporary
advantage in so far as race feeling or prejudice is concerned; I mean
by this that he escaped the badge of servitude which has fastened
itself upon the Negro,--not only upon the Negro in America, but upon
that race wherever found, for the known commercial value of the Negro
has made him a subject of traffic in other portions of the globe
during many centuries.

The Indian refused to submit to bondage and to learn the white man's
ways. The result is that the greater portion of the American Indians
have disappeared, the greater portion of those who remain are not
civilized. The Negro, wiser and more enduring than the Indian,
patiently endured slavery; and contact with the white man has given
him a civilization vastly superior to that of the Indian.

The Indian and the Negro met on the American continent for the first
time at Jamestown, in 1619. Both were in the darkest barbarism. There
were twenty Negroes and thousands of Indians. At the present time
there are between nine and ten million Negroes and two hundred and
eighty-four thousand and seventy-nine Indians. The annual tax upon the
Government on account of the Indian is $14,236,078.71 (1905); the cost
from 1789 to 1902, inclusive, reached the sum of $389,282,361.00. The
one in this case not only decreased in numbers and failed to add
anything to the economic value of his country, but has actually proven
a charge upon the state.

The Negro seems to be about the only race that has been able to look
the white man in the face during the long period of years and
live--not only live, but multiply. The Negro has not only done this,
but he has had the good sense to get something from the white man at
every point where he has touched him--something that has made him a
stronger and a better race.

Let me say in the beginning that nothing which I shall say should be
taken as an endorsement of the enslavement of my race. The experience
of the world's civilization teaches that the final and net result of
slavery is bad--bad for the enslaved, and perhaps worse for the
enslaver. If permitted a choice, I think I should prefer being the
first to being the last. But in the case of the Negro in America no
one, willing to be frank and fair, can fail to see that the Negro did
get certain benefits out of slavery; at the same time he was, as I
have stated, harmed. But in this connection we must deal with the
facts and not with prejudice, either for or against the race.

Let me make this statement with which you may or may not agree: In my
opinion, there cannot be found in the civilized or uncivilized world
ten millions of Negroes whose economic, educational, moral and
religious life is so advanced as that of the ten millions of Negroes
within the United States. If this statement be true, let us find the
cause thereof, especially as regards the Negro's moral and Christian
growth. In doing so, let credit be given wherever it is due, whether
to the Northern white man, the Southern white man, or the Negro
himself. If, as stated, the ten millions of black people in the United
States have excelled all the other groups of their race-type in moral
and Christian growth, let us trace the cause, and in doing so we may
get some light and information that will be of value in dealing with
the Negro race in America and elsewhere, and in elevating and
Christianizing other races.

In order to determine the influence of economic or industrial training
upon the moral and Christian life of the Negro, we must begin with
slavery and trace the development of the black man, noticing in a
brief manner his development through slavery to freedom, and to the
present time.

This involves, then, the period of slavery, and the period of
freedom. To begin with, let me repeat that at first, at least, the
underlying object of slavery was an economic, and an industrial one.
The climatic and other new conditions required that the slave should
wear clothing, a thing, for the most part, new to him. It has perhaps
already occurred to you that one of the conditions requisite for the
Christian life is clothing. So far as I know, Christianity is the only
religion that makes the wearing of clothes one of its conditions. A
naked Christian is impossible--and I may add that I have little faith
in a hungry Christian.

Some years ago we were holding the Tuskeegee Annual Negro Conference,
and I remember on several occasions there was one old fellow who tried
to get the floor without success. He tried continually to get
recognition from the chair, and, finally, was recognized. He said:
"Mr. Washington, we's making great progress in our community. It is
not the same as it used to be. We's making great progress. We's
getting to the point where nearly all the people in my community owns
their own pigs." I asked him why he was so much interested in his
neighbors owning their own pigs. He said: "I feel that when all my
neighbors own their own pigs, I can always sleep better every night."
There is a good deal of philosophy underlying that remark.

The economic element not only made it necessary that the Negro slave
should be clothed for the sake of decency and in order to preserve his
health, but the same considerations made it necessary that he be
housed and taught the comforts to be found in a home. Within a few
months, then, after the arrival of the Negro in America, he was
wearing clothes and living in a house--no inconsiderable step in the
direction of morality and Christianity. True, the Negro slave had worn
some kind of garment and occupied some kind of hut before he was
brought to America, but he had made little progress in the improvement
of his garments or in the kind of hut he inhabited. As we shall
perhaps see later, his introduction into American slavery was the
beginning of real growth in the two directions under consideration.

There is another important element. In his native country, owing to
climatic conditions, and also because of his few simple and crude
wants, the Negro, before coming to America, had little necessity to
labor. You have, perhaps, read the story, that it is said might be
true in certain portions of Africa, of how the native simply lies down
on his back under a banana-tree and falls asleep with his mouth open.
The banana falls into his mouth while he is asleep and when he wakes
up he finds that all he has to do is to chew it--he has his meal
already served.

Notwithstanding the fact that, in most cases, the element of
compulsion entered into the labor of the slave, and the main object
sought was the enrichment of the owner, the American Negro had, under
the regime of slavery, his first lesson in anything like continuous,
progressive, systematic labor. I have said that two of the signs of
Christianity are clothes and houses, and now I add a third, "work."

In the early days of slavery the labor performed by the slave was
naturally of a crude and primitive kind. With the growth of
civilization came a demand for a higher kind of labor, hence the Negro
slave was soon demanded as a skilled laborer, as well as for ordinary
farm and common labor. It soon became evident that from an economic
point of view it paid to give the Negro just as high a degree of skill
as possible--the more skill, the more dollars. When an ordinary slave
sold for, say seven hundred dollars, a skilled mechanic would easily
bring on the auction block from fourteen hundred to two thousand
dollars. It is strangely true that when a black man would bring two
thousand dollars a white man would not bring fifty cents.

As the slave grew in the direction of skilled labor, he was given an
increased amount of freedom. This was practiced by some owners to such
an extent that the skilled mechanic was permitted to "hire" his own
time, working where and for whom he pleased, and for what wage, on
condition that he pay his owner so much per month or year, as agreed
upon. Not a few masters found that this policy paid better than the
one of close personal supervision; many female slaves were trained not
only in ordinary house duties, but on every large plantation there was
at least one high class seamstress.

I have made a search but have not yet been able to find a single case
of abuse of confidence, and the policy to which I have referred was
practiced very largely in Virginia and especially in West
Virginia--the policy of permitting those slaves who were skilled
laborers to work for whom they pleased, on condition that they pay
their masters a fixed sum each month or each year. I have never yet
heard of a single case of failure at the end of the month or at the
end of the year to bring and place in his master's hands the
stipulated sum of money.

A discussion of this subject calls to mind one of those curious
changes in public opinion and custom with regard to races which often
occur in the United States. At the period to which I am now referring,
a great number of the Negroes in the South were compelled to follow a
trade, and they seem to have no difficulty in pursuing trades there
to-day. In the North where the agitation for the Negro's freedom
began, it is in most cases difficult, and often impossible, for a
black man to find an opportunity to work at any kind of skilled labor.
I sometimes wonder which man is the greater sinner,--the man who by
force compels the Negro to work without pay, or the man who by
physical force and through the force of public sentiment prevents the
Negro from working for him, when he is ready, willing, and fit to do

I do not overstate the matter when I say that I am quite sure that in
one county in the South during the days of slavery there were more
colored youths being taught trades than there are members of my race
now being taught trades in any of the larger cities of the North.

Before I go further, I ought, in justice, to add that as slavery
spread and the owners came to know their slaves better, there appeared
in nearly every section of the South, especially in Virginia and South
Carolina, a considerable number of slave-holders who rose above the
mere idea of economic and selfish gain; and thus, through the medium
of slavery, the opportunity to train the Negro in morality and
Christianity presented itself in many sections of the South. During
the days of slavery regular religious services were provided for the
slaves, the same minister who served the white congregation preached
to the blacks. In some of the most aristocratic families, the Negro
children were taught in the Sunday-school; this was true of the Lees
and Jacksons of Virginia, and of the family of Bishop Capers and other
men of that type in South Carolina.

At the end of the period of slavery, about two hundred and fifty
years, the Negro race as a whole had learned, as I have stated, to
wear clothes, to live in a home, to work with a reasonable degree of
regularity and system, and a few had learned to work with a high
degree of skill. Not only this, the race had reached the point where,
from speaking scores of dialects, it had learned to speak
intelligently the English language. It had also a fair knowledge of
American civilization and had changed from a pagan into a Christian
race. Further, at the beginning of his freedom, the Negro found
himself in possession of--in fact had a monopoly of--the common and
skilled labor throughout the South; not only this, but, by reason of
the contact of whites and blacks during slavery, the Negro found
business and commercial careers open to him at the beginning of his

Such conditions were unusual in the case of a race that had been
occupying so low a place in the civilization of another people. They
resulted from the fact that in slavery when the master wanted a pair
of shoes made, he went to the Negro shoemaker for those shoes; when he
wanted a suit of clothes, he went to the Negro tailor for those
clothes; and when he wanted a house built, he consulted the Negro
carpenter and mason about the plans and cost--thus the two races
learned to do business with each other. It was an easy step from this
to a higher plane of business, hence immediately after the war the
Negro found that he could become a dry goods merchant, a grocery
merchant, start a bank, go into real estate dealing, and secure the
trade not only of his own people, but also of the white man, who was
glad to do business with him and thought nothing of it.

In my own town of Tuskeegee there is a colored merchant who, not
excepting any other merchant, has the largest trade in that county in
retail groceries, and in a recent conversation with him he said that
for thirty-five years his customers had been among the best white
families of the county. More than a dozen times have I met the man who
owned this Negro in the days of slavery and he expressed himself as
more than pleased that his former slave had attained the honor of
being the most successful grocery dealer in the town of Tuskeegee.

You would be surprised, if you were to inquire into the facts, to
know how the Negro has grown in this direction. In the Southern states
there are one hundred and fifteen drug stores owned by Negroes. In
Anniston, Alabama, there are two large drug stores owned by black
people, and in one section a wholesale drug store owned and operated
successfully by a black man. The Negro who to-day owns and operates
that large wholesale drug store, selling drugs to the white as well as
colored retail druggists, was a slave, I think, until he was twelve or
fifteen years of age. It is interesting to know that more banks have
been organized in the last three years in the state of Mississippi
than ever before. There have been ten banks organized since Vardaman
became governor of the state.

For the reasons I have mentioned, the Negro in the South has not only
found a practically free field in the commercial world, but in the
world of skilled labor. Such a field is not open to him in such a
degree in any other part of the United States, or perhaps in the
world, as is open in the South. All of this has had a tremendously
strong bearing in developing the Negro's moral and Christian life.

In proportion to their numbers, I question whether so large a
proportion of any other race are members of some Christian Church as
is true of the American Negro. In many cases their practical ideas of
Christianity are crude, and their daily practice of religion is far
from satisfactory; still the foundation is laid, upon which can be
builded a rational, practical and helpful Christian life.

Let me illustrate the value of the economic and industrial training of
the Negro: If one chooses, let him try this plan which I have tried on
a good many occasions. Go into any village or town, North or South,
enter their Baptist and Methodist churches--for the most part they
belong to the Baptist Church--and ask their pastors to point out to
you the most reliable, progressive and leading colored man in the
community, the man who is most given to putting his religious
teachings into practice in his daily life, and in a majority of cases
one will have pointed out to him a Negro who learned a trade or got
some special economic training during the days of slavery,--in all
probability an individual who has become the owner of a little piece
of land, who lives in his own house.

Now what lessons for the work that is before us can you and I learn
from what I have attempted to say? The lesson suggested in the
elevation of the black race in America will apply with equal force, in
my opinion, to the inculcating of moral and Christian principles into
_any_ race, regardless of color, that is in the same relative stage of
civilization. Here let me add that in all my advocacy of the value of
industrial training I have never done so because my people are black;
I would advocate the same kind of training for any race that is on
the same plane of civilization as our people are found on at the
present time.

But as to the lesson which may prove of direct interest, so far as you
are concerned. In the old days, the method of converting the heathen
to Christianity was very largely abstract. The Bible was, in most
cases, the only argument. In the conversion of the heathen to
Christianity or in raising the standard of moral and Christian living
for any people, I argue that in the use of the economic element and
the teaching of the industries we should be guided by the same rules
that are now used in the most advanced methods of ordinary
school-teaching--that is, to begin with the known and gradually
advance to the unknown; we should advance from the concrete to the
abstract. In doing this, industrial education, it seems to me,
furnishes a tremendously good opportunity.

Let me illustrate: Not long ago a missionary who was going into a
foreign field very kindly asked of me advice as to how he should
proceed to convert the people to Christianity. I asked him, first,
upon what the people depended mostly for a living in the country where
he was to labor; he replied that for the most part they were engaged
in sheep raising. I said to him at once that if I were going into that
country as a missionary, I should begin my efforts by teaching the
people to raise more sheep and better sheep. If he could convince them
that Christianity could raise more sheep and better sheep than
paganism, he would at once get a hold upon their sympathy and
confidence in a way he could not do by following more abstract methods
of converting them.

The average man can discern more quickly the difference between good
sheep and bad sheep, than he can the difference between Unitarianism
and Trinitarianism.

If the Christian missionary can gradually teach the heathen how to
build a better house than he has used, how to make better clothes, how
to grow, prepare and secure better food for his daily meals, the
missionary will have gone a long way, may I repeat, toward securing
the confidence of the heathen and will have laid the foundation in
this concrete manner for interesting the pagan in a higher moral life
and in getting him to appreciate the difference between the heathen
life and the Christian life. In teaching the child to read we use the
objective method; in converting the heathen we should employ the same
method--and this means the economic or industrial method.

Some six years ago a group of Tuskeegee graduates and former students
went to Africa for the purpose of giving the natives in a certain
territory of West Africa training in methods of raising American
cotton. They did not go there primarily as missionaries, nor was their
chief end the conversion of these pagans to Christianity. Naturally,
they began their work by training the natives how to cultivate their
land differently, how and when to plant the crop, and when to harvest
it, and gradually taught them how to use a small hand gin in getting
the cotton ready for market.

Largely through the leadership of this group of Tuskeegee students,
there is shipped from this section of Africa to the Berlin market each
year many bales of cotton. The natives have learned through the
teaching of these men to grow more cotton and better cotton. They have
learned to use their time, have learned that by working systematically
and regularly they can increase their income and thus add to their
independence and supply their wants. Not only this, but in order that
these people might be fitted for continuous and regular service in the
cotton field, their houses have been improved and the natives have
been taught how to take better care of their bodies. In a word,
during the years that these Tuskeegee people have been in the
community they have improved the entire economic, industrial, and
physical life of the people in this immediate territory.

The result is, as one of the men stated on his last visit to
Tuskeegee, there is little difficulty now in getting the children of
these people to attend Sunday-school and the older people to attend
church; in fact, in a natural, logical manner they seem to have been
converted to the idea that the religion practiced by these Tuskeegee
men is superior to their own. They believe this firmly, because they
have seen that better results have been produced through the Christian
influence of these Tuskeegee men than has been produced when they had
no such leadership. If these Tuskeegee people had gone there as
missionaries of the old type and had confined themselves to abstract
teachings of the Bible alone, it would have required many years to
have brought about the results which have been attained within a few

Some time ago in Montgomery, Alabama, there was a church, attended by
members of my race, which happened to be located not very far from the
residence of a white family. The cook who served in this white family
attended this church to which I refer. The members of the church made
considerable noise in their singing, shouting, and praying, and after
a while the white family grew rather exasperated because of this
noise. One Sunday the church services were prolonged until an unusual
hour and there was more noise than usual; so the next morning when the
cook came, the lady of the house called her into the sitting-room, and
said: "Jane, why in the world do you make so much noise in your
worship, in your singing, praying, and shouting? Why don't you be
orderly, quiet, and systematic in your worship? Why, Jane, in the
Bible we read that in the building of Solomon's Temple, no noise
pervaded the silence of the builders. Why can you not worship in the
same way?" The old colored woman looked at her mistress for a few
moments and said: "Lordy, missus, you don't know what we's doing;
Lordy, missus, you don't know what we's striving at; we's just
blasting out de stone for de foundation ob de Temple." So, my friends,
when you hear us laying so much emphasis upon the moral and economic
training, upon home-getting and all those things, remember we are
simply trying to teach our people to blast out the foundation of the
temple in which we are to grow and be useful.

Says the Psalmist: "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works; in wisdom hast
Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy riches." I believe that a
wise Providence means that we shall use all the material riches of the
earth: soil, wood, minerals, stones, water, air, and what not, as a
means through which to reach God and glorify Him.

I have thus briefly dealt with the problem of slavery in its relations
to the economic and moral growth of my people. Each one of these
periods has presented a problem of tremendous importance and
seriousness to your race and to my race.

If more attention had been given to the economic and industrial
development of Liberia in the early stages of the history of that
republic, Liberia would be far in advance of its present condition
both in morals and religion, to say nothing of commercial prosperity.
In Liberia there is an immense territory rich with resources.
Notwithstanding this, there are no improved or advanced methods of
agriculture; the soil is scarcely stirred; there are no carts, wagons
or other wheeled vehicles, practically no public roads, no bridges, no
railroads; the mineral wealth and the timber wealth remain almost
untouched; and I am told on good authority that, in spite of all this
wealth right at the very door of these people, even school-teachers
and ministers wear clothing manufactured in the United States or in
Europe, and eat canned goods that come from Chicago or Germany.

It requires no argument to impress the fact that the most practical
missionary work would have been in the direction of teaching these
people how to cultivate the soil in the best manner with the very best
implements, how to get the wealth out of their forests and water and
mines, how to build roads, decent bridges and decent houses; in a
word, how to take hold of the material riches with which Providence
has blessed the land and turn these riches into moral and religious
growth. This, in my opinion, would have represented the very highest
kind of missionary work.

I do not grow discouraged or despondent by reason of great and serious
problems. On the contrary, I deem it a privilege to be permitted to
live in an age when great, serious, and perplexing problems are to be
met and solved. I would not care to live in a period when there was no
weak part of the human family to be helped up and no wrongs to be
righted. It is only through struggle and the surmounting of
difficulties that races, like individuals, are made strong, powerful,
and useful.

This is the road the Negro should travel; this is the road, in my
opinion, the Negro will travel. I sometimes fear that in our great
anxiety to push forward we lay too much stress upon our former
condition. We should think less of our former growth and more of the
present and of the things which go to retard or hinder that growth. In
one of his letters to the Galatians, St. Paul says: "But the fruit of
the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law."

I believe that it is possible for a race, as it is for an individual,
to learn to live up in such a high atmosphere that there is no human
law that can prevail against it. There is no man who can pass a law to
affect the Negro in relation to his singing, his peace, and his
self-control. Wherever I go I would enter St. Paul's atmosphere and,
living through and in that spirit, we will grow and make progress and,
notwithstanding discouragements and mistakes, we will become an
increasingly strong part of the Christian citizenship of this

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *



In the preceding chapter, I referred to some of the things which the
Negro brought with him out of slavery into his life of freedom that he
used to his advantage. I shall now discuss those things that were to
his disadvantage.

We must bear in mind that one of the influences of slavery was to
impress upon both master and slave the fact that labor with the hand
was not dignified, was disgraceful, that labor of this character was
something to be escaped, to be gotten rid of just as soon as possible.
Hence, it was very natural that the Negro race looked forward to the
day of freedom as being that period when it would be delivered from
all necessity of laboring with the hand. It was natural that a large
proportion of the race, immediately after its freedom, should make the
mistake of confusing freedom with license. Under the circumstances,
any other race would have acted in the same manner.

One of the first and most important lessons, then, to be taught the
Negro when he became free was the one that labor with the hand or with
the head, so far from being something to be dreaded and shunned, was
something that was dignified and something that should be sought,
loved, and appreciated. Here began the function of the industrial
school for the education of the Negro. This was the uppermost idea of
General Armstrong, the father of industrial education of the Negro.
And permit me to say right here, that, in my opinion, General
Armstrong, more than any other single individual, is the father of
industrial education not only for the Negro, but in a large measure
for the entire United States. For you must always bear in mind that,
prior to the establishment of such institutions as the Hampton
Institute, there was practically no systematic industrial training
given for either black or white people, either North or South. At the
present time more attention is being paid to this kind of education
for white boys and girls than is being given to black boys and girls.

It is an interesting thought that this kind of education, started
thirty-five years ago for the education of the Negro, has spread
throughout the United States, in the North and West, and has taken
hold upon the people who once enslaved the Negro in our Southern

When industrial schools were first established in the South for the
education of members of my race, stubborn objection was raised against
them on the part of black people. This was the experience of Hampton,
and this in later years was the experience of the Tuskeegee

I remember that for a number of years after the founding of the
Tuskeegee Institute, objection on the part of parents and on the part
of students poured in upon me from day to day. The parents said that
they wanted their children taught "the book," but they did not want
them taught anything concerning farming or household duties. It was
curious to note how most of the people worshiped "the book." The
parent did not care what was inside the book; the harder and the
longer the name of it, the better it satisfied the parent every time,
and the more books you could require the child to purchase, the better
teacher you were. His reputation as a first-class pedagogue was added
to very largely in that section if the teacher required the child to
buy a long string of books each year and each month. I found some
white people who had the same idea.

They reminded me further that the Negro for two hundred and fifty
years as a slave had been worked, and now that the race was free they
contended that their children ought not to be taught to work and
especially while in school. In answer to these objections I said to
them that it was true that the race had been worked in slavery, but
the great lesson which we wanted to learn in freedom was to work. I
explained to them that there was a vast difference between being
worked and working. I said to them that being worked meant
degradation, that working meant civilization.

We have gone on at Tuskeegee from that day until this, emphasizing the
difference between being worked and working, until, I am glad to say,
every sign of opposition against any form of industrial education has
completely disappeared from among parents and students; and I but
state the truth when I say that industrial education, whether on the
farm or in the carpenter shop or in the cooking class, is even more
sought after at Tuskeegee than is training in purely academic
branches. It has been ten years since I have had a single application
for other than a form of industrial training. On the contrary, this
kind of training is so popular among them that we have many
applications from other students who live in other states who wish to
devote themselves wholly to the industrial side of education.

From Hampton and Tuskeegee and other large educational centres the
idea of industrial education has spread throughout the South, and
there are now scores of institutions that are giving this kind of
training in a most effective and helpful manner; so that, in my
opinion, the greatest thing that we have accomplished for the Negro
race within the last twenty-five years has been to rid his mind of all
idea of labor's being degrading. This has been no inconsiderable
achievement. If I were asked to point out the greatest change
accomplished for the Negro race, I would say that it was not a
tangible, physical change, but a change of the spirit,--the new idea
of our people with respect to Negro labor.

Industrial education has had another value wherever it has been put
into practice, that is in starting the Negro off in his new life in a
natural, logical, sensible manner instead of allowing him to be led
into temptation to begin life in an artificial atmosphere without any
real foundation.

All races that have reached success and have influenced the world for
righteousness have laid their foundation at one stage of their career
in the intelligent and successful cultivation of the soil; that is,
have begun their free life by coming into contact with earth and wood
and stone and minerals. Any people that begins on a natural foundation
of this kind, rises slowly but naturally and gradually in the world.

In my work at Tuskeegee and in what I have endeavored to accomplish in
writing and in speaking before the public, I have always found it
important to stick to nature as closely as possible, and the same
policy should be followed with a race. If you will excuse my making a
personal reference, just as often as I can when I am at home, I like
to get my hoe and dig in my garden, to come into contact with real
earth, or to touch my pigs and fowls. Whenever I want new material for
an address or a magazine article, I follow the plan of getting away
from the town with its artificial surroundings and getting back into
the country, where I can sleep in a log cabin and eat the food of the
farmer, go among the people at work on the plantations and hear them
tell their experiences. I have gotten more material in this way than I
have by reading books.

Many of these seemingly ignorant people, while not educated in the way
that we consider education, have in reality a very high form of
education--that which they have gotten out of contact with nature.
Only a few days ago I heard one of these old farmers, who could
neither read nor write, give a lesson before a Farmers' Institute that
I shall never forget. The old man got up on the platform and began
with this remark: "I'se had no chance to study science, but I'se been
making some science for myself," and then he held up before the
audience a stalk of cotton with only two bolls on it. He said he began
his scientific work with that stalk. Then he held up a second stalk
and showed how the following year he had improved the soil so that the
stalk contained four bolls, and then he held up a third stalk and
showed how he had improved the soil and method of cultivation until
the stalk contained six bolls, and so he went through the whole
process until he had demonstrated to his fellow farmers how he had
made a single stalk of cotton produce twelve or fourteen bolls. At the
close of the old man's address somebody in the audience asked what his
name was. He replied, "When I didn't own no home and was in debt,
they used to call me old Jim Hill, but now that I own a home and am
out of debt, they call me 'Mr. James Hill.'"

In the previous chapter I referred to the practical benefit that could
be achieved in foreign mission fields through economic and industrial
development. Now that industrial education is understood and
appreciated by the Negro in America, the question which has the most
practical value to you and to me is what effect has this kind of
development had upon the moral and religious life of the Negro right
here in America since the race became free.

By reason of the difficulty in getting reliable and comprehensive
statistics, it is not easy to answer this question with satisfaction,
but I believe that enough facts can be given to show that economic and
industrial development has wonderfully improved the moral and
religious life of the Negro race in America, and that, just in
proportion as any race progresses in this same direction, its moral
and religious life will be strengthened and made more practical.

Let me first emphasize the fact that in order for the moral and
religious life to be strengthened we must of necessity have industry,
but along with industry there must be intelligence and refinement.
Without these two elements combined, the moral and religious lives of
the people are not very much helped.

A few months ago I was in a mining camp composed largely of members of
my race who were, for the most part, ignorant and uncultivated, who
had had little opportunities in the way of education, but they had
been taught to mine coal. The operators of this mine complained that,
notwithstanding the unusually high wages being paid during that
season, these miners could not be induced to work more than three or
four days out of six. The difficulty was right here; these miners
were so ignorant that they had few wants, and these were simple and
crude. Their wants could be satisfied by working a few days out of
each week, and when they had satisfied their wants they could not
understand why it was necessary to work any longer, and we must all
acknowledge that there is a good deal of human nature in this point of

In a case of this kind, what is needed is not only to have the
individual educated in industry but to have his hand so trained that
he will become ambitious; as one man put it not long ago, "He will
want more wants." We should get the man to the point where he will
want a house, where his wife will want carpet for the floor, pictures
for the walls, books, a newspaper and a substantial kind of furniture.
We should get the family to the point where it will want money to
educate its children, to support the minister and the church. Later,
we should get this family to the point where it will want to put
money in the bank and perhaps have the experience of placing a
mortgage on some property. When this stage of development has been
reached, there is no difficulty in getting individuals to work six
days during the week.

I have in mind now an old colored man who lived some four miles from
the Institution. I first noticed him a number of years ago as I took
my daily exercise after my day's work. I found him and his wife living
in a little broken-down cabin and resolved to try an experiment on
them to see if I could not get them to realize that that kind of life
proved of no benefit. When I began, their wants were for the bare
necessities of life only. I gradually began to talk to his wife and
urge her to see the importance of living a different kind of life.
Without the old man's knowing it, I took pains to tell her of how some
of their neighbors were living and about some of the things her
neighbors were owning. Some had two-room houses, glass windows, new
furniture, and little pieces of carpet, and had whitewashed their
houses. Finally she became quite interested.

When I began with the man he was working about three days in the week.
The old fellow grew interested and began to work a little longer,
until the last time I rode by that house the old man was working
nearly every day in the week, while they were living in a two-room
house and everything had changed. The hardest task I had was to get
him to put up a chimney for the second room, finally he put up one and
although it was a pretty rickety, crooked affair, yet it answered the
purpose and he felt proud of it. When I left this time he informed me
that by the time I came back he would try to have both of those rooms
whitewashed. I am not through with that family yet. I am going to work
on that woman until through her I will get the old man to work five
and six days out of the week.

It should always be borne in mind that, for any person of any race,
literary education alone increases his want; and, if you increase
these wants without at the same time training the individual in a
manner to enable him to supply these increased wants, you have not
always strengthened his moral and religious basis.

The same principle might be illustrated in connection with South
Africa. In that country there are six millions of Negroes.
Notwithstanding this fact, South Africa suffers to-day perhaps as
never before for lack of labor. The natives have never been educated
by contact with the white man in the same way as has been true of the
American Negro. They have never been educated in the day school nor in
the Sunday-school nor in the church, nor in the industrial school or
college; hence their ambitions have never been awakened, their wants
have not been increased, and they work perhaps two days out of the
week and are in idleness during the remaining portion of the time.
This view of the case I had confirmed in a conversation with a
gentleman who had large interests in South Africa.

How different in the Southern part of the United States where we have
eight millions of black people! Ask any man who has had practical
experience in using the masses of these people as laborers and he will
tell you that in proportion to their progress in the civilization of
the world, it is difficult to find any set of men who will labor in a
more satisfactory way. True, these people have not by any means
reached perfection in this regard, but they have advanced on the whole
much beyond the condition of the South Africans. The trained American
Negro has learned to want the highest and best in our civilization,
and as we go on giving him more education, increasing his industrial
efficiency and his love of labor, he will soon get to the point where
he will work six days out of each week.

But as to the results of industrial training. Following the example of
the modern pedagogue, let me begin with that which I know most about,
the Tuskeegee Institute. This institution employs one of its officers
who spends a large part of his time in keeping in close contact with
our graduates and former students. He visits them in their homes and
in their places of employment and not only sees for himself what they
are doing, but gets the testimony of their neighbors and employers,
and I can state positively that not ten per cent. of the men and women
who have graduated from the Tuskeegee Institute or who have been there
long enough to understand the spirit and methods of that institution
can be found to-day in idleness in any part of the country. They are
at work because they have learned the dignity and beauty and
civilizing influence and, I might add, Christianizing power of labor;
they have learned the degradation and demoralizing influence of
idleness; they have learned to love labor for its own sake and are
miserable unless they are at work. I consider labor one of the
greatest boons which our Creator has conferred upon human beings.

Further, after making careful investigation, I am prepared to say that
there is not a single man or woman who holds a diploma from the
Tuskeegee Institute who can be found within the walls of any
penitentiary in the United States.

I have learned that not more than a score of the graduates of the
fifteen oldest and largest colleges and industrial schools in the
entire South have been sent to prison since these institutions were
established. Those who are guilty of crime for the most part are
individuals who are without education, without a trade, who own no
land, who are not taxpayers, who have no bank account, and who have
made no progress in industrial and economic development.

The following extracts from a letter written by a Southern white man
to the _Daily Advertiser_, of Montgomery, Alabama, contains most
valuable testimony. The letter refers to convicts in Alabama, most of
whom are colored:

    "I was conversing not long ago with the warden of one of our
    mining prisons, containing about 500 convicts. The warden is a
    practical man, who has been in charge of prisoners for more than
    fifteen years, and has no theories of any kind to support. I
    remarked to him that I wanted some information as to the effect
    of manual training in preventing criminality, and asked him to
    state what per cent. of the prisoners under his charge had
    received any manual training, besides acquaintance with the
    crudest agricultural labor. He replied: 'Perhaps about one per
    cent.' He added: 'No, much less than that. We have here at
    present only one mechanic; that is, there is one man who claims
    to be a house painter.'

    "'Have you any shoemakers?'

    "'Never had a shoemaker.'

    "'Have you any tailors?'

    "'Never had a tailor.'

    "'Any printers?'

    "'Never had a printer.'

    "'Any carpenters?'

    "'Never had a carpenter. There is not a man in this prison that
    could saw to a straight line.'"

Now these facts seem to show that manual training is almost as good a
preventative of criminality as vaccination is of smallpox.

The records of the South show that ninety per cent. of the colored
people in prisons are without knowledge of trades, and sixty-one per
cent. are illiterate.

There are few higher authorities on the progress of the Negro than
Joel Chandler Harris, of the _Atlanta Constitution_, of "Uncle Remus"
fame. Mr. Harris had opportunity to know the Negro before the war, and
he has followed his progress closely in freedom. In a printed
statement made some time ago Mr. Harris says:

    "The point I desire to make is that the overwhelming majority of
    the Negroes in all parts of the South, especially in the
    agricultural regions, are leading sober and industrious lives. A
    temperate race is bound to be industrious, and the Negroes are
    temperate when compared with the whites. Even in the towns the
    majority of them are sober and industrious."

Dr. Frissell makes the same statement regarding Hampton Institute. Not
more than a score of the graduates have been sent to prison since
these institutions were established. The majority is among those who
are without training and who have made no progress in industrial and
economic development. The idle and criminal classes among them make a
great show in the police court records, but right here in Atlanta the
respectable and decent Negroes far outnumber those who are on the
lists of the police as old or new offenders. I am bound to conclude
from what I see all about me, and what I know of the race elsewhere,
that the Negro, notwithstanding the late start he has made in
civilization and enlightenment, is capable of making himself a useful
member in the communities in which he lives and moves, and that he is
become more and more desirous of conforming to all the laws that have
been enacted for the protection of society.

Some time ago I sent out letters to representative Southern men,
covering each ex-slave state, asking them to state, judging by their
observation in their own communities, what effect industrial education
has upon the morals and religion of the Negro. To these questions I
received 136 replies as follows:

Has education improved the morals of the black race?

Answers--Yes, 97; No, 20; Unanswered, 19.

Has it made his religion less emotional and more practical?

Answers--Yes, 101; No, 16; Unanswered, 19.

Is it, as a rule, the ignorant or the educated who commit crime?

Answers--Ignorant, 115; Educated, 3; Unanswered, 18.

Does crime grow less as education increases among the colored people?

Answers--Yes, 102; No, 19; Unanswered, 15.

Do not these figures speak for themselves?

If possible I want to give you an idea of the progress of the Negro
race in a single county in one of the Southern States. For this
purpose I select Gloucester County, Virginia. I take this one for the
reason that I had the privilege of visiting it a number of years ago,
just about the time when interest in the education of the colored
people was beginning to be aroused, and for the further reason that
this is one of the counties in Virginia and the South that has been
longest under the influence of graduates of the Hampton Institute, or
of men and women trained in other centres of education.

Gloucester County is the tide-water section of Eastern Virginia.
According to the census of 1890, Gloucester County contained a total
population of 12,832, a little over one-half being colored, and both
sets of schools are in session from five and a half to six months, and
the pay of the two sets of teachers is about the same. The majority of
the colored teachers in this county were trained at Hampton, and have
been teaching in this county a number of years. For the most part, the
teachers of Gloucester County are not mentally superior, but what they
lack in methods of teaching and mental alertness is more than made up
for by the moral earnestness and the example they set. Most of the
teachers are natives of the county, and, what is more important, most
of them own property in the county.

Now, what is the economic or material result in one county where the
Negro has been given a reasonable chance to make progress? I say
"reasonable" because it must be kept in mind that the great body of
white people in America, with whom the Negro is constantly compared,
have schools that are in session from eight to nine months in the
year. Note especially what I am going to say now. According to the
public records, the total assessed value of the land in Gloucester
County is $666,132.33. Of the total value of the land, the colored
people own $87,953.55. The buildings in the county have an assessed
valuation of $466,127.05. The colored people pay taxes upon $79,387.00
of this amount. To state it differently, the Negroes of Gloucester
County, beginning about forty years ago in poverty, have reached the
point where they now own and pay taxes upon one-sixth of the real
estate in this county. This property is very largely in the shape of
small farms, varying in size from ten to one hundred acres. A large
proportion of the farms contain about ten acres.

It is interesting to note the influence of this material growth upon
the home life of the people. It is stated upon good authority that
about twenty-five years ago at least three-fourths of the colored
people lived in one-roomed cabins. Let a single illustration tell the
story of the growth. In a school where there were thirty pupils ten
testified that they lived in houses containing six rooms, and only one
said that he lived in a house containing but a single room.

I repeat, I have always believed that in proportion as the industrial,
not omitting the intellectual, condition of my race is improved, in
the same degree would their moral and religious life improve.

Some years ago, before the home life and economic condition of the
people had improved, bastardy was common in Gloucester County. In 1903
there were only eight cases of bastardy reported in the whole county,
and two of those were among the white population. During the year 1904
there was only one case of bastardy within a radius of ten miles of
the court house. Another gratifying evidence of progress is shown by
the fact that there is very little evidence of immoral relations
existing between the races. In the whole county, during the year 1903,
about twenty-five years after the work of education had gotten under
way, there were only thirty arrests for misdemeanors; of these sixteen
were white, fourteen colored. In 1904 there were fifteen such
arrests--fourteen white and one colored. In 1904 there were but seven
arrests for felonies; of these two were white and five were colored.

In one point at least the colored people in Gloucester County have set
an example for the rest of the religious world that ought to receive
attention. It is in this regard: there is only one religious
denomination in all of this county, and that is the Baptist. No
over-multiplying, no over-lapping, no denominational wrangling and
wasting of money and energy.

May I add that, out of my own observation and experience in the heart
of the South during the last twenty-five years, I have learned that
the man of my race who has some regular occupation, who owns his farm,
is a taxpayer and perhaps has a little money in the bank, is the most
reliable and helpful man in the Sunday-school, in the church, and in
all religious endeavor. The man who has gotten upon his feet in these
directions is almost never charged with crime, but is the one who has
the respect and the confidence of both races in his community.

I can give you no better idea of the tremendous advance which the
Negro has made since he became free than to say that largely through
the influence of industrial education the race has acquired ownership
in land that is equal in area to the combined countries of Belgium and
Holland. This, for a race starting in poverty and ignorance forty
years ago, it seems to me is a pretty good record.

I would not have you understand that I emphasize material possessions
as the chief thing in life or as an object within itself. I emphasize
economic growth because the civilization of the world teaches that the
possession of a certain amount of material wealth indicates the
ability of a race to exercise self-control, to plan to-day for
to-morrow, to do without to-day in order that it may possess
to-morrow. In other words, a race, like an individual, becomes highly
civilized and useful in proportion as it learns to use the good things
of this earth, not as an end, but as a means toward promoting its own
moral and religious growth and the prosperity and happiness of the
world. This is what I advocate for my race; it is what I would
advocate for any race.

The average white man of America, in passing judgment upon the black
race, very often overlooks the fact that geographically and physically
the semi-barbarous Negro race has been thrown right down in the centre
of the highest civilization that the world knows anything about.
Consciously or unconsciously, you compare the Negro's progress with
your progress, forgetting, when you are doing it, that you are placing
a pretty severe test on the members of my race. If, for example, we
were compared with the civilization of the Oriental countries, the
test would not be so severe. But we have been placed in the midst of a
pushing, surging, restless, conquering, successful civilization, and
you must acknowledge that when the American white man wants to lead,
no other race can go far ahead. In fact, he would have the whole
field to himself. The progress of the Negro will be in proportion as
they learn to get the material things of this world, consecrate them,
and weave them into the service of our Heavenly Father.

In conclusion, may I say that I hope the people of this country, North
and South, will learn to pray more and more; and, as they pray, to put
their hands upon their hearts and then ask God if they were placed in
the Negro's state, how, under the circumstances, would they like to be
treated by their fellows. Conscience will answer the question.

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *



Two questions may be asked of any group of human beings: first, How do
they earn their living, and secondly, What is their attitude toward
life? The first relates to the economic history and condition of that
people; the second is a study of their religion. In these two essays I
am to treat the first of these questions under the subject: The
Economic Revolution in the South, and the second under the subject:
Christianity in the South.

The last century was notable because of the great change in method and
organization of human work and we call the early part of the
nineteenth century the time of economic revolution in Europe and to
some extent in America. The southern United States, however, while
profoundly influenced by this revolution from the first, has not
until to-day actually felt its full effect. The new factory system of
the early nineteenth century is just to-day appearing in the South,
and yet its appearance in England and New England seventy-five years
ago made the South a part of the world industrial organization by
making it the seat of cotton culture (see Note [1]).

Two diverse developments resulted: In England and the North came a
change from household industry to social industry, a step forward
which led to an era of machinery, to a curious concentration of
individuals and wealth and the necessities of living in certain great
centres. That very concentration led to a wonderful contact of man
with man which sharpened mind and sharpened thought and in the long
run made the Europe of to-day. On the other hand, the southern United
States, though really a part of this great system through its work of
furnishing raw cotton, did not come into the whirl of the new
industry because she had an industrial system which forbade machinery,
discouraged human contact, and shackled thought.

Why did this system of slavery persist so long in the South as to be
caught in the vortex of the new industrial movement and rendered
almost inextricable?

If the South had been a place of intelligent farmers on small farms,
we could imagine a development which would have been the wonder of the
world; but because the fathers of the United States were so busy with
large questions that they forgot larger ones, so busy settling matters
of commerce and representation and politics that they forgot matters
of work and justice and human rights--because of this we have in the
South one of those curious back eddies of human progress that twist
and puzzle advance and thought.

The very forward forces of industry that fastened slavery on the South
were weaving a social system which made the enslavement of laborers
impossible and unprofitable. Consequently at the very time when the
South ought to have been increasing in intelligence, law and order,
the use of machinery, industrial concentration, and the intensive
culture of land with the rest of the world, she lost a half century in
a development backward toward a dispersing of population, extensive
rather than intensive land culture, increased and compulsory ignorance
of the laboring class, and the rearing of a complete system of caste
and aristocracy (see Note 2).

Evils there were to be sure in the new factory system of Europe and
the North, evils which southern leaders did not fail to note and gloat
over, but they were evils of another and newer industrial era, which
did not stop progress, but gave it added incentive.

The industrial back-set of the South meant of course but one thing:
the discovery of the paradox of slavery, the turning from the
mistake, and the adoption of remedial measures which should usher into
the South the same industrial revolution in methods of work which
Europe saw begin a century ago. This is exactly what has happened, and
to-day the Industrial Revolution is beginning south of Mason and
Dixon's line. The forecast of change was apparent by 1850. Slavery
still paid then--was still an economic success, but only under
conditions which became more and more impossible of realization
because of the factory system and the new industrial conditions in the
rest of the world (see Note 3).

It was, in other words, an attempt at an industrial system with the
lowest wages, the most oppressive labor laws, and the best natural
advantages. Such a system at such a time carried its own sentence of
death: fertile land was becoming scarce in the forties, the horrors of
the slave trade had shocked even the eighteenth century, and southern
labor laws which made knowledge a crime and migration of laborers a
capital offense, simply could not be enforced. It was in vain that the
solidly united capitalistic classes of the South threw themselves
bodily into the fray--raped Mexico, filibustered in Cuba and Central
America, encouraged slave-smuggling (see Note 4), and bullied the
hesitating North; their economic doom was written even if militant
Abolitionism had not appeared.

The economic student could have foretold and did foretell easily in
the forties and fifties that slavery in the South was doomed (see Note
5): even if all available territory had been thrown wide to the slave
system, slavery could not possibly have stayed in Kansas and Utah, in
New Mexico or in Arizona; it could have stayed only temporarily in
Missouri and in Texas. It had already reached its territorial limit,
it was bound to have evolved something different. It will always be an
interesting speculation as to how soon this economic necessity would
have been recognized; whether the South would have had the acumen
eventually to see the end, and what sort of gradual change could have
come about, had it not been for the political crisis precipitated in

Then came the war--that disgraceful episode of civil strife when,
leaving the arguments of men, the nation appealed to the last resort
of dogs, murdering and ravishing each other for four long shameful
years (see Note 6).

When this nightmare had passed there came, after the resulting period
of disorder, a new régime, a new problem of labor, a new industrial
order. Not only that, but gradually in the decade 1870-1880 there were
added to the South four new economic activities: first, the iron
industry; second, the manufacture of cotton cloth; third, the
transportation of these goods to, from, and through the South; and
fourth, the general exchange of goods in this growing Southern
industrial population--in other words, the Industrial Revolution was
beginning in the South. So that the South of the 80's was a different
South from the South of the 60's, not simply by reason of emancipation
but by reason of new economic possibilities.

However, this change could not go on unhindered by the mistakes of the
past. With all that was new in the South, there was also much that was
old, and of these old things the most important were the Ideals which
slavery handed down--ideals of government, of labor, of caste.

Consequently when the South tried to use its new freed labor on its
new industrial possibilities, it went to the problem full of the
ideals of slavery, and it made four separate attempts. In the first
place it was perfectly natural for a land which had said for
generations that free Negro labor was an impossibility, and free Negro
citizens unthinkable, to cherish a very distinct idea that the way to
get along with the emancipated Negro was to make him a slave in fact
if not in name. The idea that was back of the first apprentice laws
and the various labor codes passed directly after Lee's surrender was
that the labor of the blacks belonged to the former white owners by
right and could be directed only by force under a nominal wage system.
These labor codes therefore attempted to reëstablish slavery without a
slave trade (see Note 7).

These ill-advised attempts were frustrated by the Fifteenth Amendment
which made the freedmen voters. The Thirteenth Amendment did not
abolish slavery--it directed its abolition and the answer to it was
the labor codes. The Fourteenth Amendment gave the freedmen civil
rights and put a premium on granting them political rights, but the
premium was not accepted and the civil rights remained unenforced. The
Fifteenth Amendment went to the root of the matter by putting local
political power into the hands of the freedmen and their friends and
this made slavery and the slave system impossible.

What the nation had before it then was not the nice academic question
as to whether it would be better to have as voters men of intelligence
or men of ignorance, whether it would be better to throw into the
electorate of a great modern country a mass of slaves or a mass of
college graduates--no such question came before the country; it was,
as we are fond of saying, a situation and not a theory that confronted
the country and that situation was this: here in the South we had
attempted to abolish slavery by act of legislature--it was not
abolished. The people who hitherto held power did not believe in its
real abolishment; a great and growing economic revolution fronted
them, cotton was still king. They were about to solve that problem--to
meet the Revolution--according to their former labor ideals.

One could not expect any other outcome. One could not in justice ask
them voluntarily to accept free black labor; the only possible way to
insure the solving of that economic problem with labor really free was
to put in the South a political power which should make slavery in
fact or inference forever impossible. This truth the great Thaddeus
Stephens saw, and with a statesmanship far greater than Lincoln's he
forced Negro suffrage on the South.

Although the new voters thus introduced in the South were crude and
ignorant, and in many ways ill-fitted to rule, nevertheless in the
fundamental postulates of American freedom and democracy they were
sane and sound. Some of them were silly, some were ignorant, and some
were venal, but they were not as silly as those who had fostered
slavery in the South, nor as ignorant as those who were determined to
perpetuate it, and the black voters of South Carolina never stole half
as much as the white voters of Pennsylvania are stealing to-day.

The eternal monument to these maligned victims of a nation's wrong is
the fact that they began the abolition of slavery in fact and not
merely attack it in theory, they established free schools, and they
passed laws on all subjects under which the white South is still
content to live (see Note 8). If these men had been protected in their
legal rights by the strong arm of the government, they would have been
able to protect themselves in a generation or so. They would have
increased in intelligence, responsibility, and power, and this the
South was determined to prevent. The North wavered; having put its
hand to the plow it looked back, and gradually allowed the black
peasantry of the South to be almost completely disfranchised. What

The time had passed for a reëstablishment of slavery, but serfdom and
peonage were still possible and probable. When you have the leading
classes of a country with the ideal of slavery in their minds and the
laboring classes ignorant and without political power, there is but
one system that can ensue and that is serfdom, and through serfdom was
the second way in which the South strove to meet its great post-bellum
economic problem.

Given these premises the economic answer of the South was, from a
business standpoint, perfectly sound. The men who, starting poor after
a miserable war, went into the development of the South, went in to
make money--to use the great American thesis, they were "not in
business for their health." They were going to grant to the laborer
just as little as they must; the laborer was unused to a system of
free labor, he was not a steady workman, he was not a skilled workman,
he had been for two or three hundred years driven to his work, he took
no pride in his work--how could he take pride in that which hitherto
had been the badge of his shame?

Now it was not considered the business of the new Southern business
man to develop and train the working man. It was his business, as I
have said, from the American point of view, to make money. And the
consequence was that he evolved a peculiarly ingenious system of land
serfdom, which bears many likenesses to the serfdom that replaced
slavery in Europe. The land belonged to the landlord--it was rented
out to the serf; the serf was nominally free, but as a matter of fact
he was not free at all; he was held to his labor: he rose with the
morning work bell of slavery days, he was driven to his labor by
mounted riders, he was whipped for delinquencies, he received no
stipulated return, but on the contrary the owner of the land made the
contract, kept the accounts, and gave him enough once or twice a year
to make him not too dissatisfied.

After a time this changed somewhat; instead of the land owner himself
undertaking the advancing of supplies, a third party, the merchant
with capital, came in. In order to enforce such a system it needed to
be backed by a peculiar law system--therefore the business men went
into politics in the South with the same result as when business men
go into politics in the North. Things were done quickly and quietly;
they were done not for the good of people who had no political voice,
but for the good of those who wielded the political power, _i.e._, the
business men and land owners. The laws were made to favor the landlord
and the merchant and to make it easy to exploit the tenant and

This system, which still is the rule of agricultural labor in the
black belt of the South, is not a system of free labor; it is simply
a form of peonage. The black peon is held down by perpetual debt or
petty criminal judgments; his rent rises with the price of cotton, his
chances to buy land are either non-existent or confined to infertile
regions. Judge and jury are in honor bound to hold him down; if by
accident or miracle he escapes and becomes a landholder, his property,
civil and political status are still at the mercy of the worst of the
white voters, and his very life at the whim of the mob. The power of
the individual white patron to protect colored men is still great and
is often exercised, but this is but another argument against the
system: it is undemocratic and un-American, and stamps on the serf
system its most damning criticism.

Moreover, this second attempt to meet the economic revolution of the
South is failing, and its failure is shown by the scarcity of farm
labor, the migration of Negroes, and the increase of crime and
lawlessness. Serfdom like slavery demands ignorance and strict laws.
The decade of Negro voting and Northern benevolence had however given
the Negro schools and aspiration.

What now has been the reaction of this group on the environment thrown
around it since slavery days?

The slaves had their select classes in the house servants and the
artisans. After freedom came, the Negro made four distinct efforts to
reach economic safety. The first effort was by means of the select
house-servant class; the second, by means of competitive industry; the
third, by land-owning; and the fourth, by what I shall call the group

First, let us look at the effort of the house servants. The one person
under the slave régime who came nearest to escaping from the toils of
slavery and the disabilities of caste was the favorite house servant.
This was because the house servant was brought into contact with the
culture of the master and the family, because he had often the
advantages of town and city life, was able to gain some smattering of
education, and also because he was usually a blood relative of the
master class. These house servants, therefore, became the natural
leaders of the emancipated race and the brunt of the burden of
reconstruction fell upon their shoulders. When the history of this
period is carefully written it will show that few men ever made a more
meritorious fight against overwhelming odds.

Under free competition it would have been natural for this class of
house servants to enter the economic life of the nation directly. In
some cases this happened, especially in the case of the barber and the
caterer. For the most part, however, the black applicant was refused
admittance to the economic society of the nation. He held his own in
the semi-servile work of barber until he met the charge of color
discrimination in his own race, and the competition of foreigners. The
caterer was displaced by palatial hotels in which he could have no

On the whole, then, the mass of house servants soon found the doors in
their own lines closed in their faces. They could remain good servants
but they could not by this means often escape into higher walks of
life. The better tenth of them went gradually into professions and
thus found economic independence for themselves and their children.
The mass of them either remained house servants or turned toward

The second attempt of the freedmen toward economic safety lay in
industry. It was a less ambitious effort than that of the house
servants, and included larger numbers of men. It was characterized by
a large migration to the towns. Here it was that the class of slave
artisans made themselves felt in freedom and they were joined by
numbers of unskilled workmen, such as steam railway hands, porters,
hostlers, etc. This class attracted considerable attention and bore
the brunt of the economic battle in competition with white working
men. It is a class that is growing and in the future it is going to
have a large development. At present, however, its fight is difficult.

The third effort of economic elevation was by land owning. This was
the ideal toward which the great mass of black people looked. They at
first thought that the government was going to help them, and the
government did in a few instances, as when Sherman distributed land in
Georgia and the government sold South Carolina lands for taxes. For
the most part, however, the Negroes had to buy their own lands which
they did in some cases by means of their bounty money for serving in
the army or by means of special monies which they earned as workmen
during the war or by the help of the former masters. Some too, by the
share tenant system gained enough to buy land. In this way about
200,000 to-day own their farms and thus approximate economic

The fourth and last effort, which I call the Group Economy, is of
great importance, but is not very well understood. It consists of a
coöperative arrangement of industry and service in a group which tends
to make the group a closed economic circle, largely independent of
surrounding whites. This development explains many anomalies in the
situation of the Negro. Many people think that the colored barber is
disappearing, yet there are more colored barbers in the United States
to-day than ever before, but a larger number than ever cater to only
colored trade. The Negro lawyer serves almost exclusively colored
clientage, so that his existence is half forgotten by the white world.
The new Negro business men are not successors of the old. There used
to be Negro business men in Northern cities and a few even in Southern
cities, but they catered to white trade; the Negro business man to-day
caters to colored trade. So far has this gone to-day that in every
city in the United States which has considerable Negro population, the
colored group is serving itself in religion, medical care, legal
advice and often educating its children. In growing degree also it is
serving itself in insurance, houses, books, amusements.

So extraordinary has been this development that it forms a large and
growing part in the economy of perhaps half the Negroes of the United
States, and in the case of perhaps 100,000 town Negroes, representing
at least 300,000 persons, the group economy approaches a complete
system. To these we may add the bulk of 200,000 farmers who own their
farms. Thus we have a group of half a million who are reaching
economic safety by means of group economy (see Note 9).

Here then are the two developments--a determined effort at an
established serfdom on the part of landholding capitalists, and a
determined effort on the part of freedmen and their sons to attain
economic independence.

While both these movements were progressing the full change of the
industrial revolution, so long postponed, began to be felt all over
the South; the iron and steel industry developed in Alabama and
Tennessee, coal mining in Tennessee and West Virginia, and cotton
manufacture in Carolina and Georgia; railways were consolidated into
systems and extended, commerce was organized and concentrated. The
greatest single visible result of this was the growth of cities. Towns
of eight thousand and more had a tenth of the white Southerners in
1860; they held a seventh of a much larger population in 1900, while
a fifth were in cities and villages. Still more striking was the
movement of Negroes; only four per cent. were in cities before the
war, to-day a seventh are there.

The reason for this is clear: the oppression and serfdom of the
country, the opportunities of the city. It was in the town and city
alone that the emerging classes, outside the landholders, were
successful, and even the landholders were helped by the earnings of
the city; the house servants with the upper class of barbers and
caterers, the artisans, the day laborers, the professional men,
including the best of the teachers, were in the cities, and the new
group economy was developed here.

On the other hand one of the inevitable expedients for fastening
serfdom on the country Negro was enforced ignorance.

The Negro school system established by the Negro reconstruction
governments reached its culmination in the decade 1870-1880. Since
then determined effort has been made in the country districts to make
the Negro schools less efficient. To-day these schools are worse than
they were twenty years ago; the nominal term is longer and the
enrolment larger, but the salaries are so small that only the poorest
local talent can teach. There is little supervision, there are few
appliances, few schoolhouses and no inspiration. On the other hand the
city schools have usually improved. It was natural that the Negro
should rush city-ward toward freedom, education, and decent wages.

This migration resulted in two things: in the increase and
intensification of the problems of the city, and in redoubled effort
to keep the Negro laborer on the plantations.

To take the latter efforts first, we find that the efforts of the
landlords to keep Negro labor varied from force to persuasion: force
was used by the landlords to the extent of actual peonage, by which
Negroes were held on plantations in large numbers; next to peonage for
crime came debt peonage, which used the indebtedness of the Negro
tenants to prevent their moving away; then came the system of labor
contracts and the laws making the breaking of a labor contract a crime
(see Note 10); after that came a crop of vagrancy laws aimed at the
idle Negroes in city and town and designed to compel them to work on
farms, going so far in several states as to reverse the common law
principle and force the person arrested for vagrancy to prove his
innocence (see Note 11).

In order that the farm laborers should not be tempted away by higher
wages, penalties were laid on "enticing laborers away" and agents were
compelled to take out licenses which ran as high as $2,000 for each
county in some states (see Note 12). Such laws and their
administration required, of course, absolute control of the
government and courts. This was secured by manipulation and fraud,
while at the same time the landlords of the black belt usually opposed
the disfranchisement of Negroes lest such a measure reduce their
political influence which was based on the Negro population.

All these measures were measures of force, while nothing was done to
attract laborers to the land. The only real attraction of the Negro to
the country was landowning. The Negroes had succeeded in buying land:
by government gift and bounty money they held about three million
acres in 1875, perhaps 8,000,000 in 1890, and 12,000,000 in 1900; but
distinct efforts appeared here and there to stop their buying land.

There are still vast tracts of land in the South, that anybody, black
or white, can buy for little or nothing, simply because it is worth
little or nothing. Some time, of course, these lands will become
valuable but they are not valuable to-day. Now the Negro cannot invest
in this land as a speculation, for he is too poor to wait. He must
have land which he knows how to cultivate, which is near a market, and
which is so situated as to provide reasonable protection for his
family. There are only certain crops which he knows how to cultivate.
He cannot be expected to learn quickly to cultivate crops which he was
not taught to cultivate in the past. He must be within reach of a
market and he must have some community life with his own people and
some protection from other people.

All these conditions are fulfilled chiefly in the black belt. That is
the cotton region, the crop which he knows best how to raise; from
certain parts of it he can get to the market and he has a great black
population for company and protection. But it is precisely here in the
black belt that it is most difficult to buy land. Capitalistic culture
of cotton, the high price of cotton, and the system of labor peonage
have made land high. Moreover in most of these regions it is
considered bad policy to sell Negroes land because, as has been said,
this "demoralizes" labor. Thus in the densest part of the black belt
in the South, the percentage of land holding is usually low among

The concentration of land-owning on the other hand in the hands of the
single white proprietors has gone on to a much larger extent than the
country realizes. This is shown not simply in the increase of the
average size of farms in the last decade but it must also be
remembered that the farms do not belong to single owners but are owned
in groups of five, forty or fifty by single landed proprietors. There
are 140,000 owners who own from two to fifty farms in the South and
there are 50,000 owners who have over twenty farms apiece.

It is not true then to-day that land-buying for the average colored
farmer in the South is an easy thing. The land which has been bought
has been bought by the exceptional men or by the men who have had
unusual opportunity, who have been helped by their former masters or
by some other patrons, who have been aided by members of their own
families in the North or in the cities, or who have escaped the
wretched crop system by some sudden rise in the price of cotton, which
did not enable the landlord to take the whole economic advantage. It
is therefore in spite of the land system and not because of it that
the Negroes to-day own 12,000,000 acres of land (see Note 13).

The net result of the whole policy of serfdom was so to deplete the
ranks of laborers that a new solution of the labor problem must be

Here it was that the southern city came forward. The city had new
significance, especially new cities like Atlanta, Birmingham, and
Chattanooga as contrasted with Charleston and Savannah. They saw a
new industrial solution of the problem of Negro labor. It was a simple
program: Industry and disfranchisement; the separation of the masses
of the Negroes from all participation in government, and such
technical training as should fit them to become skilled working men.

There was an _arriere pensee_ here too, born in the minds of northern
capitalists. The white southern working men were becoming unionized by
northern agitators; here was a chance to keep them down to reasonable
demands by black competition and the threat of more competition in the
future. Moreover working men without votes would be far more docile
and tractable. Politics had already spoiled the Negroes. Let the
whites rule and the blacks work.

The plea was specious, it had the sanction of great names, of wealth
and social influence, and it convinced not only those who wanted to be
convinced but practically all Americans who were eager to be relieved
of troublesome questions and difficult public duties.

All the more eagerly was this solution seized upon because of the
definite and distinct promises which it made. Disfranchise the Negro,
said the South, and the race problem is solved; there is no race
problem save the menace of an ignorant and venal vote;--relieve us
from this and the lion and the lamb will lie down together;--the Negro
will go peacefully and contentedly to work and the whites will wax
just and rich. We all remember with what confidence and absolute
certainty of conviction this program was announced when Mississippi
disfranchised her Negro voters seventeen years ago. It was repeated
twelve years ago in South Carolina, ten years ago in Louisiana, and
still more recently in North Carolina and Alabama.

What has been the result? Is the race problem solved? Is the Negro out
of politics in the South? Has there been a single southern campaign
in the last twenty years in which the Negro has not figured as the
prime issue? Have the southern representatives in Congress any settled
convictions or policy save hatred of black men, and can they discuss
any other matter? Is it not the irony of fate that in the state that
first discovered the legal fraud of disfranchisement a hot political
battle is to-day waging on the old, old question: the right of black
men to vote?

The reason for all this is not far to seek. In modern industrial
democracy disfranchisement is impossible. The fate, wishes, and
destiny of ten million human beings cannot be delivered, sealed and
bound into the keeping of Dixon, Tillman, Vardaman, and Nelson Page.
They are bound to vote even when disfranchised.

Disfranchised and voiceless though I am in Georgia to-day by the
illegal White Primary system, there are still fifty congressmen in
Washington fraudulently representing me and my fellows in the
councils of the nation (see Note 14).

It was promised that disfranchisement would lead to more careful
attention to the Negro's moral and economic advancement. It has on the
contrary stripped them naked to their enemies; discriminating laws of
all sorts have followed, the administration of other laws has become
harsher and more unfair, school funds have been curtailed and
education discouraged, and mobs and murder have gone on.

If the new policy has been a farce politically and socially, how much
more has it failed as an economic cure-all! No sooner was it
proclaimed from the house-tops than the rift in the lute appeared. "We
do not want educated farmers," cried the landlords, "we want docile
laborers." "We do not want educated Negro artisans," cried the white
artisans, and they enforced their demands by their votes and by mob
violence. "We do not want to raise the Negro; we want to put him in
his place and keep him there," cried the dominant forces of the South.
Then those northerners who had lightly embraced the fair sounding
program of limited labor training and disfranchisement found
themselves grasping the air.

Not only this, but the South itself faced a puzzling paradox. The
industrial revolution was demanding labor; it was demanding
intelligent labor, while the supposed political and social exigences
of the situation called for ignorance and subserviency. It was an
impossible contradiction and the South to-day knows it.

What is it that makes a successful laboring force? It is laborers of
education and natural intelligence, reasonably satisfied with their
conditions, inspired with certain ideals of life, and with a growing
sense of self-respect and self-reliance. How is the caste system of
the South influencing the Negro laborer? It is systematically
restricting his development; it is restricting his education so that
the public common schools of the South except in a few cities are
worse this moment than they were twenty years ago; it is seeking to
kill self-respect by putting upon the accident of color every mark of
humiliation that it can invent; it is discouraging self-reliance by
treating a class of men as wards and children; it is killing ambition
by drawing a color line instead of a line of desert and
accomplishment; and finally, through these things, it is encouraging
crime, and by the unintelligent and brutal treatment of criminals, it
is developing more crime.

This general attitude toward the main laboring class reflects itself
less glaringly but as certainly in the treatment even of white
laborers. So long as white labor must compete with black labor, it
must approximate black labor conditions--long hours, small wages,
child labor, labor of women, and even peonage. Moreover it can raise
itself above black labor only by a legalized caste system which will
cut off competition and this is what the South is straining every
nerve to create.

The last fatal campaign in Georgia which culminated in the Atlanta
Massacre was an attempt, fathered by conscienceless politicians, to
arouse the prejudices of the rank and file of white laborers and
farmers against the growing competition of black men, so that black
men by law could be forced back to subserviency and serfdom. It
succeeded so well that smouldering hate burst into flaming murder
before the politicians could curb it.

There is, however, a limit to this sort of thing. The day when mobs
can successfully cow the Negro to willing slavery is past. The Atlanta
Negroes shot back and shot to kill, and that stopped the riot with a
certain suddenness (see Note 15). The South is realizing that
lawlessness and economic advance cannot coexist. If the wonderful
industrial revolution is to develop unhindered, the South must have
law and order and it must have intelligent workmen.

It is only a question of time when white working men and black working
men will see their common cause against the aggressions of exploiting
capitalists. Already there are signs of this: white and black miners
are working as a unit in Alabama; white and black masons are in one
union in Atlanta (see Note 16). The economic strength of the Negro
cannot be beaten into weakness, and therefore it must be taken into
partnership, and this the Southern white working man, befuddled by
prejudice as he is, begins dimly to realize.

It is this paradox that brings us to-day in the South to a fourth
solution of the problem: Immigration. The voice that calls foreign
immigrants southward to-day is not single but double. First, the
exploiter of common labor wishes to exploit this new labor just as
formerly he exploited Negro labor. On the other hand the far-sighted
ones know that the present freedom of labor exploitation must
pass--that some time or other the industrial system of the South must
be made to conform more and more to the growing sense of industrial
justice in the North and in the civilized world. Consequently the
second object of the immigration philosopher is to make sure that,
when the rights of the laborer come to be recognized in the South,
that laborer will be white, and just so far as possible the black
laborer will still be forced down below the white laborer until he
becomes thoroughly demoralized or extinct.

The query is therefore: If immigration turns toward the South as it
undoubtedly will in time, what will become of the Negro? The view of
the white world is usually that there are two possibilities. First,
that the immigrants will crush the Negro utterly; or secondly, that by
competition there will come a sifting which will lead to the survival
of the best in both groups of laborers.

Let us consider these possibilities. First it is certain that so far
as the Negroes are land holders, and so far as they belong to a
self-employing, self-supplying group economy, no possible competition
from without can disturb them. I have shown already how rapidly this
system is growing. Further than that, there is a large group of
Negroes who have already gained an assured place in the national
economy as artisans, servants, and laborers. The worst of these may be
supplanted, but the best could not be unless there came a sudden
unprecedented and improbable influx of skilled foreign labor. A slow
infiltration of foreigners cannot displace the better class of Negro
workers; simply because the growing labor demand of the South cannot
spare them. If then it is to be merely a matter of ability to work,
the result of immigration will on the whole be beneficial and will
differentiate the good Negro workman from the careless and

But one element remains to be considered, and this is political power.
If the black workman is to remain disfranchised while the white native
and immigrant not only has the economic defense of the ballot, but the
power to use it so as to hem in the Negro competitor, cow and
humiliate him and force him to a lower plane, then the Negro will
suffer from immigration.

It is becoming distinctly obvious to Negroes that to-day, in modern
economic organization, the one thing that is giving the workman a
chance is intelligence and political power, and that it is utterly
impossible for a moment to suppose that the Negro in the South is
going to hold his own in the new competition with immigrants if, on
the one hand, the immigrant has access to the best schools of the
community and has equal political power with other men to defend his
rights and to assert his wishes, while, on the other hand, his black
competitor is not only weighed down by past degradation, but has few
or no schools and is disfranchised.

The question then as to what will happen in the South when immigration
comes, is a very simple question. If the Negro is kept disfranchised
and ignorant and if the new foreign immigrants are allowed access to
the schools and given votes as they undoubtedly will be, then there
can ensue only accentuated race hatred, the spread of poverty and
disease among Negroes, the increase of crime, and the gradual murder
of the eight millions of black men who live in the South except in so
far as they escape North and bring their problems there as thousands

If on the contrary, with the coming of the immigrants to the South,
there is given to the Negro equal educational opportunity and the
chance to cast his vote like a man and be counted as a man in the
councils of the county, city, state and nation, then there will ensue
that competition between men in the industrial world which, if it is
not altogether just, is at least better than slavery and serfdom.

There of course could be strong argument that the nation owes the
Negro something better than harsh industrial competition just after
slavery, but the Negro does not ask the payment of debts that are
dead. He is perfectly willing to come into competition with immigrants
from any part of the world, to welcome them as human beings and as
fellows in the struggle for life, to struggle with them and for them
and for a greater South and a better nation. But the black man
certainly has a right to ask, when he starts into this race, that he
be allowed to start with hands untied and brain unclouded (see Note

Such in bare outline is the economic history of the South. It is the
story of an attempt to degrade working men. It failed in 1860, after
it had sought for centuries to reduce laborers to the level of
purchasable cattle; it failed in 1870, after a fearful catastrophe
while endeavoring to revive this system under another name; it has
failed since then satisfactorily to maintain the present rural serfdom
or to establish a disfranchised caste of artisans; and it will fail in
the future to keep the stubbornly up-struggling masses of black
laborers down, by shackling their souls and loading immigrants atop of
them. It will always fail unless indeed, as sometimes seems possible,
both Church and State in America shall refuse longer to listen to the
teaching of Jesus when He said: "Come unto Me all ye that labor and
are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

"Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in
heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls.

"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *



It is often a nice question as to which is of greater importance among
a people--the way in which they earn their living, or their attitude
toward life. As a matter of fact these two things are but two sides of
the same problem, for nothing so reveals the attitude of a people
toward life as the manner in which they earn their living; and on the
other hand the earning of a living depends in the last analysis upon
one's estimate of what life really is. So that these two questions
that I am discussing with regard to the South are intimately bound up
with each other.

If we have studied the economic development of the South carefully,
then we have already seen something of its attitude toward life; the
history of religion in the South means a study of these same facts
over which we have gone, from a different point of view. Moreover, as
the economic history of the South is in effect the economics of
slavery and the Negro problem, so the essence of a study of religion
in the South is a study of the ethics of slavery and emancipation.

It is very difficult of course for one who has not seen the practical
difficulties that surround a people at any particular time in their
battle with the hard facts of this world, to interpret with sympathy
their ideals of life; and this is especially difficult when the
economic life of a nation has been expressed by such a discredited
word as slavery. If, then, we are to study the history of religion in
the South, we must first of all divest ourselves of prejudice, pro and
con; we must try to put ourselves in the place of those who are
seeking to read the riddle of life and grant to them about the same
general charity and the same general desire to do right that we find
in the average human being. On the other hand, we must not, in
striving to be charitable, be false to truth and right. Slavery in the
United States was an economic mistake and a moral crime. This we
cannot forget. Yet it had its excuses and mitigations. These we must

When in the seventeenth century there grew up in the New World a
system of human slavery, it was not by any means a new thing. There
were slaves and slavery in Europe, not, to be sure, to a great extent,
but none the less real. The Christian religion, however, had come to
regard it as wrong and unjust that those who partook of the privileges
and hopes and aspirations of that religion should oppress each other
to the extent of actual enslavement. The idea of human brotherhood in
the seventeenth century was of a brotherhood of co-religionists. When
it came to the dealing of Christian with heathen, however, the
century saw nothing wrong in slavery; rather, theoretically, they saw
a chance for a great act of humanity and religion. The slaves were to
be brought from heathenism to Christianity, and through slavery the
benighted Indian and African were to find their passport into the
kingdom of God. This theory of human slavery was held by Spaniards,
French, and English. It was New England in the early days that put the
echo of it in her codes (see Note 18) and recognition of it can be
seen in most of the colonies.

But no sooner had people adopted this theory than there came the
insistent and perplexing question as to what the status of the heathen
slave was to be after he was Christianized and baptized; and even more
pressing, what was to be the status of his children?

It took a great deal of bitter heart searching for the conscientious
early slave-holders to settle this question. The obvious state of
things was that the new convert awoke immediately to the freedom of
Christ and became a freeman. But while this was the theoretical,
religious answer, and indeed the answer which was given in several
instances, the practice soon came into direct and perplexing conflict
with the grim facts of economic life.

Here was a man who had invested his money and his labor in slaves; he
had done it with dependence on the institution of property. Could he
be deprived of his property simply because his slaves were baptized
afterward into a Christian church? Very soon such economic reasoning
swept away the theological dogma and it was expressly declared in
colony after colony that baptism did not free the slaves (see Note
19). This, of course, put an end to the old doctrine of the heathen
slave and it was necessary for the church to arrange for itself a new
theory by which it could ameliorate, if not excuse, the position of
the slave. The next question was naturally that of the children of
slaves born in Christianity and the church for a time hedged
unworthily on the subject by consigning to perpetual slavery the
children of heathen but not those born of Christian parents; this was
satisfactory for the first generation but it fell short of the logic
of slavery later, and a new adjustment was demanded.

Here again this was not found difficult. In Virginia there had been
built up the beginnings of a feudal aristocracy. Men saw nothing wrong
or unthinkable in the situation as it began to develop, but rather
something familiar. At the head of the feudal manor was the lord, or
master, beneath him the under-lord or overseers and then the artisans,
retainers, the free working men and lastly the serfs, slaves or
servants as they were called. The servant was not free and yet he was
not theoretically exactly a slave, and the laws of Virginia were
rather careful to speak very little of slaves.

Serfdom in America as in Europe was to be a matter of status or
position and not of race or blood, and the law of the South in the
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries made little or no
distinction between black and white bondservants save in the time of
their service. The idea, felt rather than expressed, was that here in
America we were to have a new feudalism suited to the new country. At
the top was the governor of the colony representing the majesty of the
English king, at the bottom the serfs or slaves, some white, most of
them black.

Slavery therefore was gradually transformed in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries into a social status out of which a man, even a
black man, could escape and did escape; and, no matter what his color
was, when he became free, he became free in the same sense that other
people were. Thus it was that there were free black voters in the
southern colonies (Virginia and the Carolinas) in the early days
concerning whose right to vote there was less question than there is
concerning my right to vote now in Georgia (see Note 20).

The church recognized the situation and the Episcopal church
especially gave itself easily to this new conception. This church
recognized the social gradation of men; all souls were equal in the
sight of God, but there were differences in worldly consideration and
respect, and consequently it was perfectly natural that there should
be an aristocracy at the top and a group of serfs at the bottom.

Meantime, however, America began to be stirred by a new democratic
ideal; there came the reign of that ruler of men, Andrew Jackson;
there came the spread of the democratic churches, Methodist and
Baptist, and the democratization of other churches. Now when America
became to be looked upon more and more as the dwelling place of free
and equal men and when the Methodist and, particularly, the Baptist
churches went down into the fields and proselyted among the slaves, a
thing which the more aristocratic Episcopal church had never done (see
Note 21), there came new questions and new heart-searchings among
those who wanted to explain the difficulties and to think and speak
clearly in the midst of their religious convictions.

As such people began to look round them the condition of the slaves
appalled them. The Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia
declared in 1833: "There are over two millions of human beings in the
condition of heathen and some of them in a worse condition. They may
be justly considered the heathen of this country, and will bear a
comparison with heathen in any country in the world. The Negroes are
destitute of the gospel, and ever will be under the present state of
things. In the vast field extending from an entire state beyond the
Potomac [_i.e._, Maryland] to the Sabine River [at the time our
southwestern boundary] and from the Atlantic to the Ohio, there are,
to the best of our knowledge, not twelve men exclusively devoted to
the religious instruction of the Negroes. In the present state of
feeling in the South, a ministry of their own color could neither be
obtained nor tolerated.

"But do not the Negroes have access to the gospel through the stated
ministry of the whites? We answer, no. The Negroes have no regular and
efficient ministry; as a matter of course, no churches; neither is
there sufficient room in the white churches for their accommodation.
We know of but five churches in the slave-holding states built
expressly for their use. These are all in the state of Georgia. We may
now inquire whether they enjoy the privileges of the gospel in their
own houses, and on our plantations? Again we return a negative answer.
They have no Bibles to read by their own firesides. They have no
family altars; and when in affliction, sickness, or death, they have
no minister to address to them the consolations of the gospel, nor to
bury them with appropriate services."

The same synod said in 1834: "The gospel, as things now are, can never
be preached to the two classes (whites and blacks) successfully in
conjunction. The galleries or back seats on the lower floor of white
churches are generally appropriated to the Negroes, when it can be
done without inconvenience to the whites. When it cannot be done
conveniently, the Negroes must catch the gospel as it escapes through
the doors and windows. If the master is pious, the house servants
alone attend family worship, and frequently few of them, while the
field hands have no attention at all. So far as masters are engaged in
the work [of religious instruction of slaves], an almost unbroken
silence reigns on this vast field."

The Rev. C.C. Jones, a Georgian and ardent defender of slavery (see
Note 22) says of the period 1790-1820: "It is not too much to say that
the religious and physical condition of the Negroes were both improved
during this period. Their increase was natural and regular, ranging
every ten years between thirty-four and thirty-six per cent. As the
old stock from Africa died out of the country, the grosser customs,
ignorance, and paganism of Africa died with them. Their descendants,
the country-born, were better looking, more intelligent, more
civilized, more susceptible of religious impressions.

"On the whole, however, but a minority of the Negroes, and that a
small one, attended regularly the house of God, and taking them as a
class, their religious instruction was extensively and most seriously

And of the decade 1830-40, he insists: "We cannot cry out against the
Papists for withholding the Scriptures from the common people and
keeping them in ignorance of the way of life, for we withhold the
Bible from our servants, and keep them in ignorance of it, while we
will not use the means to have it read and explained to them."

Such condition stirred the more radical-minded toward abolition
sentiments and the more conservative toward renewed effort to
evangelize and better the condition of the slaves. This condition was
deplorable as Jones pictures it. "Persons live and die in the midst of
Negroes and know comparatively little of their real character. They
have not the immediate management of them. They have to do with them
in the ordinary discharge of their duty as servants, further than this
they institute no inquiries; they give themselves no trouble.

"The Negroes are a distinct class in the community, and keep
themselves very much to themselves. They are one thing before the
whites and another before their own color. Deception before the former
is characteristic of them, whether bond or free, throughout the whole
United States. It is habit, a long established custom, which descends
from generation to generation. There is an upper and an under current.
Some are contented with the appearance on the surface; others dive
beneath. Hence the diversity of impressions and representations of the
moral and religious condition of the Negroes. Hence the disposition of
some to deny the darker pictures of their more searching and knowing

He then enumerates the vice of the slaves: "The divine institution of
marriage depends for its perpetuity, sacredness, and value, largely
upon the protection given it by the law of the land. Negro marriages
are neither recognized nor protected by law. The Negroes receive no
instruction on the nature, sacredness, and perpetuity of the
institution; at any rate they are far from being duly impressed with
these things. They are not required to be married in any particular
form, nor by any particular persons."

He continues: "Hence, as may well be imagined, the marriage relation
loses much of the sacredness and perpetuity of its character. It is a
contract of convenience, profit, or pleasure, that may be entered into
and dissolved at the will of the parties, and that without heinous
sin, or the injury of the property or interests of any one. That which
they possess in common is speedily divided, and the support of the
wife and children falls not upon the husband, but upon the master.
Protracted sickness, want of industrial habits, of congeniality of
disposition, or disparity of age, are sufficient grounds for a

Under such circumstances, "polygamy is practiced both secretly and
openly." Un-cleanness, infanticide, theft, lying, quarreling, and
fighting are noted, and the words of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in
1829 are recalled: "There needs no stronger illustration of the
doctrine of human depravity than the state of morals on plantations in
general. Besides the mischievous tendency of bad example in parents
and elders, the little Negro is often taught by these natural
instructors that he may commit any vice that he can conceal from his
superiors, and thus falsehood and deception are among the earliest
lessons they imbibe. Their advance in years is but a progression to
the higher grades of iniquity. The violation of the Seventh
Commandment is viewed in a more venial light than in fashionable
European circles. Their depredations of rice have been estimated to
amount to twenty-five per cent. of the gross average of crops."

John Randolph of Roanoke once visited a lady and "found her surrounded
with her seamstresses, making up a quantity of clothing. 'What work
have you in hand?' 'O sir, I am preparing this clothing to send to the
poor Greeks.' On taking leave at the steps of her mansion, he saw
some of her servants in need of the very clothing which their
tender-hearted mistress was sending abroad. He exclaimed, 'Madam,
madam, the Greeks are at your door!'"

One natural solution of this difficulty was to train teachers and
preachers for the slaves from among their own number. The old Voodoo
priests were passing away and already here and there new spiritual
leaders of the Negroes began to arise. Accounts of several of these,
taken from "The Negro Church," will be given.

Among the earliest was Harry Hosier who traveled with the Methodist
Bishop Asbury and often filled appointments for him. George Leile and
Andrew Bryan were preachers whose life history is of intense interest.
"George Leile or Lisle, sometimes called George Sharp, was born in
Virginia about 1750. His master (Mr. Sharp) some time before the
American war removed and settled in Burke County, Georgia. Mr. Sharp
was a Baptist and a deacon in a Baptist church, of which Rev. Matthew
Moore was pastor. George was converted and baptized under Mr. Moore's
ministry. The church gave him liberty to preach.

"About nine months after George Leile left Georgia, Andrew, surnamed
Bryan, a man of good sense, great zeal, and some natural elocution,
began to exhort his black brethren and friends. He and his followers
were reprimanded and forbidden to engage further in religious
exercises. He would, however, pray, sing, and encourage his fellow
worshipers to seek the Lord.

"Their persecution was carried to an inhuman extent. Their evening
assemblies were broken up and those found present were punished with
stripes. Andrew Bryan and Sampson, his brother, converted about a year
after him, were twice imprisoned, and they with about fifty others
were whipped. When publicly whipped, and bleeding under his wounds,
Andrew declared that he not only rejoiced to be whipped, but would
gladly suffer death for the cause of Jesus Christ, and that while he
had life and opportunity he would continue to preach Christ. He was
faithful to his vow and, by patient continuance in well-doing, he put
to silence and shamed his adversaries, and influential advocates and
patrons were raised up for him. Liberty was given Andrew by the civil
authority to continue his religious meetings under certain
regulations. His master gave him the use of his barn at Brampton,
three miles from Savannah, where he preached for two years with little

Lott Carey a free Virginia Negro "was evidently a man of superior
intellect and force of character, as is evidenced from the fact that
his reading took a wide range--from political economy, in Adam Smith's
'Wealth of Nations,' to the voyage of Captain Cook. That he was a
worker as well as a preacher is true, for when he decided to go to
Africa his employers offered to raise his salary from $800 to $1,000 a
year. Remember that this was over eighty years ago. Carey was not
seduced by such a flattering offer, for he was determined.

"His last sermon in the old First Church in Richmond must have been
exceedingly powerful, for it was compared by an eye-witness, a
resident of another state, to the burning, eloquent appeals of George
Whitfield. Fancy him as he stands there in that historic building
ringing the changes on the word 'freely,' depicting the willingness
with which he was ready to give up his life for service in Africa.

"He, as you may already know, was the leader of the pioneer colony to
Liberia, where he arrived even before the agent of the Colonization
Society. In his new home his abilities were recognized, for he was
made vice governor, and became governor in fact while Governor Ashmun
was absent from the colony in this country. Carey did not allow his
position to betray the cause of his people, for he did not hesitate to
expose the duplicity of the Colonization Society and even to defy
their authority, it would seem, in the interests of the people.

"While casting cartridges to defend the colonists against the natives
in 1828, the accidental upsetting of a candle caused an explosion that
resulted in his death.

"Carey is described as a typical Negro, six feet in height, of massive
and erect frame, with the sinews of a Titan. He had a square face,
keen eyes, and a grave countenance. His movements were measured; in
short, he had all the bearing and dignity of a prince of the blood."

John Chavis was a full-blooded Negro, born in Granville County, N.C.,
near Oxford, in 1763. He was born free and was sent to Princeton,
studying privately under Dr. Witherspoon, where he did well. He went
to Virginia to preach to Negroes. In 1802, in the county court, his
freedom and character were certified to and it was declared that he
had passed "through a regular course of academic studies" at what is
now Washington and Lee University. In 1805 he returned to North
Carolina, where in 1809 he was made a licentiate in the Presbyterian
Church and allowed to preach. His English was remarkably pure, his
manner impressive, his explanations clear and concise.

For a long time he taught school and had the best whites as pupils--a
United States senator, the sons of a chief justice of North Carolina,
a governor of the state and many others. Some of his pupils boarded in
the family, and his school was regarded as the best in the State. "All
accounts agree that John Chavis was a gentleman," and he was received
socially among the best whites and asked to table. In 1830 he was
stopped from preaching by the law. Afterward he taught a school for
free Negroes in Raleigh.

Henry Evans was a full-blooded Virginia free Negro, and was the
pioneer of Methodism in Fayetteville, N.C. He found the Negroes there,
about 1800, without any religious instruction. He began preaching and
the town council ordered him away; he continued and whites came to
hear him. Finally the white auditors outnumbered the blacks and sheds
were erected for Negroes at the side of the church. The gathering
became a regular Methodist Church, with a white and Negro membership,
but Evans continued to preach. He exhibited "rare self-control before
the most wretched of castes! Henry Evans did much good, but he would
have done more good had his spirit been untrammeled by this sense of

His dying words uttered as he stood, aged and bent beside his pulpit,
are of singular pathos: "I have come to say my last word to you. It
is this: None but Christ. Three times have I had my life in jeopardy
for preaching the gospel to you. Three times I have broken ice on the
edge of the water and swam across the Cape Fear to preach the gospel
to you; and, if in my last hour I could trust to that, or anything but
Christ crucified, for my salvation, all should be lost and my soul
perish forever."

Early in the nineteenth century Ralph Freeman was a slave in Anson
County, N.C. He was a full-blooded Negro, and was ordained and became
an able Baptist preacher. He baptized and administered communion, and
was greatly respected. When the Baptists split on the question of
missions he sided with the anti-mission side. Finally the law forbade
him to preach.

Lunsford Lane was a Negro who bought his freedom in Raleigh, N.C., by
the manufacture of smoking tobacco. He later became a minister of the
gospel, and had the confidence of many of the best people.

The story of Jack of Virginia is best told in the words of a Southern

"Probably the most interesting case in the whole South is that of an
African preacher of Nottoway County, popularly known as 'Uncle Jack,'
whose services to white and black were so valuable that a
distinguished minister of the Southern Presbyterian Church felt called
upon to memorialize his work in a biography.

"Kidnapped from his idolatrous parents in Africa, he was brought over
in one of the last cargoes of slaves admitted to Virginia and sold to
a remote and obscure planter in Nottoway County, a region at that time
in the backwoods and destitute particularly as to religious life and
instruction. He was converted under the occasional preaching of Rev.
Dr. John Blair Smith, president of Hampden-Sidney College, and of Dr.
William Hill and Dr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton, then young
theologues, and by hearing the Scriptures read.

"Taught by his master's children to read, he became so full of the
spirit and knowledge of the Bible that he was recognized among the
whites as a powerful expounder of Christian doctrine, was licensed to
preach by the Baptist Church, and preached from plantation to
plantation within a radius of thirty miles, as he was invited by
overseers or masters. His freedom was purchased by a subscription of
whites, and he was given a home and tract of land for his support. He
organized a large and orderly Negro church, and exercised such a
wonderful controlling influence over the private morals of his flock
that masters, instead of punishing their slaves, often referred them
to the discipline of their pastor, which they dreaded far more.

"He stopped a heresy among the Negroes of Southern Virginia, defeating
in open argument a famous fanatical Negro preacher named Campbell, who
advocated noise and 'the spirit' against the Bible, and winning over
Campbell's adherents in a body. For over forty years, and until he was
nearly a hundred years of age, he labored successfully in public and
private among black and whites, voluntarily giving up his preaching in
obedience to the law of 1832, the result of 'Old Nat's war.'

"The most refined and aristocratic people paid tribute to him, and he
was instrumental in the conversion of many whites. Says his
biographer, Rev. Dr. William S. White: 'He was invited into their
houses, sat with their families, took part in their social worship,
sometimes leading the prayer at the family altar. Many of the most
intelligent people attended upon his ministry and listened to his
sermons with great delight. Indeed, previous to the year 1825, he was
considered by the best judges to be the best preacher in that county.
His opinions were respected, his advice followed, and yet he never
betrayed the least symptoms of arrogance or self-conceit.

"'His dwelling was a rude log cabin, his apparel of the plainest and
coarsest materials.' This was because he wanted to be fully identified
with his class. He refused gifts of better clothing, saying 'These
clothes are a great deal better than are generally worn by people of
my color, and besides if I wear finer ones I find I shall be obliged
to think about them even at meeting.'"

Thus slowly, surely, the slave, in the persons of such exceptional
men, appearing here and there at rare intervals, was persistently
stretching upward. The Negroes bade fair in time to have their
leaders. The new democratic evangelism began to encourage this, and
then came the difficulty--the inevitable ethical paradox.

The good men of the South recognized the needs of the slaves. Here and
there Negro ministers were arising. What now should be the policy? On
the part of the best thinkers it seemed as if men might strive here,
in spite of slavery, after brotherhood; that the slaves should be
proselyted, taught religion, admitted to the churches, and,
notwithstanding their civil station, looked upon as the spiritual
brothers of the white communicants. Much was done to make this true.
The conditions improved in a great many respects, but no sooner was
there a systematic effort to teach the slaves, even though that
teaching was confined to elementary religion, than the various things
followed that must follow all intellectual awakenings.

We have had the same thing in our day. A few Negroes of the South have
been taught, they consequently have begun to think, they have begun to
assert themselves, and suddenly men are face to face with the fact
that either one of two things must happen--either they must stop
teaching or these people are going to be men, not serfs or slaves. Not
only that, but to seek to put an awakening people back to sleep means
revolt. It meant revolt in the eighteenth century, when a series of
insurrections and disturbances frightened the South tremendously, not
so much by their actual extent as by the possibilities they suggested.
It was noticeable that many of these revolts were led by preachers.

The revolution in Hayti greatly stirred the South and induced South
Carolina to declare in 1800:

"It shall not be lawful for any number of slaves, free Negroes,
mulattoes, or mestizoes, even in company with white persons, to meet
together and assemble for the purpose of mental instruction or
religious worship either before the rising of the sun or after the
going down of the same. And all magistrates, sheriffs, militia
officers, etc., etc., are hereby vested with power, etc., for
dispersing such assemblies."

On petition of the white churches the rigor of this law was slightly
abated in 1803 by a modification which forbade any person, before nine
o'clock in the evening, "to break into a place of meeting wherein
shall be assembled the members of any religious society in this State,
provided a majority of them shall be white persons, or otherwise to
disturb their devotions unless such persons, etc., so entering said
place (of worship) shall first have obtained from some magistrate,
etc., a warrant, etc., in case a magistrate shall be then actually
within a distance of three miles from such place of meeting; otherwise
the provisions, etc. (of the Act of 1800) to remain in full force."

So, too, in Virginia the Haytian revolt and the attempted insurrection
under Gabriel in 1800 led to the Act of 1804, which forbade all
evening meetings of slaves. This was modified in 1805 so as to allow a
slave, in company with a white person, to listen to a white minister
in the evening. A master was "allowed" to employ a religious teacher
for his slaves. Mississippi passed similar restrictions.

By 1822 the rigor of the South Carolina laws in regard to Negro
meetings had abated, especially in a city like Charleston, and one of
the results was the Vesey plot.

"The sundry religious classes or congregations, with Negro leaders or
local preachers, into which were formed the Negro members of the
various churches of Charleston, furnished Vesey with the first
rudiments of an organization, and at the same time with a singularly
safe medium for conducting his underground agitation. It was
customary, at that time, for these Negro congregations to meet for
purposes of worship entirely free from the presence of whites. Such
meetings were afterward forbidden to be held except in the presence of
at least one representative of the dominant race, but during the three
or four years prior to the year 1822 they certainly offered Denmark
Vesey regular, easy, and safe opportunity for preaching his gospel of
liberty and hate. And we are left in no doubt whatever in regard to
the uses to which he put those gatherings of blacks.

"Like many of his race, he possessed the gift of gab, as the silver in
the tongue and the gold in the full or thick-lipped mouth are
oftentimes contemptuously characterized. And, like many of his race,
he was a devoted student of the Bible, to whose interpretation he
brought, like many other Bible students not confined to the Negro
race, a good deal of imagination and not a little of superstition,
which, with some natures, is perhaps but another name for the desires
of the heart.

"Thus equipped, it is no wonder that Vesey, as he pored over the Old
Testament scriptures, found many points of similitude in the history
of the Jews and that of the slaves in the United States. They were
both peculiar peoples. They were both Jehovah's peculiar peoples, one
in the past, the other in the present. And it seemed to him that as
Jehovah bent His ear, and bared His arm once in behalf of the one, so
would He do the same for the other. It was all vividly real to his
thought, I believe, for to his mind thus had said the Lord.

"He ransacked the Bible for apposite and terrible texts whose commands
in the olden times, to the olden people, were no less imperative upon
the new times and the new people. This new people were also commanded
to arise and destroy their enemies and the city in which they dwelt,
'both man and woman, young and old, with the edge of the sword.'
Believing superstitiously as he did in the stern and Nemesis-like God
of the Old Testament he looked confidently for a day of vengeance and
retribution for the blacks. He felt, I doubt not, something peculiarly
applicable to his enterprise and intensely personal to himself in the
stern and exultant prophecy of Zachariah, fierce and sanguinary words,
which were constantly in his mouth: 'Then shall the Lord go forth and
fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle.'
According to Vesey's lurid exegesis 'those nations' in the text meant
beyond peradventure the cruel masters, and Jehovah was to go forth to
fight them for the poor slaves and on whichever side fought that day
the Almighty God on that side would assuredly rest victory and

"It will not be denied that Vesey's plan contemplated the total
annihilation of the white population of Charleston. Nursing for many
dark years the bitter wrongs of himself and race had filled him
without doubt with a mad spirit of revenge and had given to him a
decided predilection for shedding the blood of his oppressors. But if
he intended to kill them to satisfy a desire for vengeance he intended
to do so also on broader ground. The conspirators, he argued, had no
choice in the matter, but were compelled to adopt a policy of
extermination by the necessity of their position. The liberty of the
blacks was in the balance of fate against the lives of the whites. He
could strike that balance in favor of the blacks only by the total
destruction of the whites. Therefore the whites, men, women, and
children, were doomed to death."[1]

Vesey's plot was well laid, but the conspirators were betrayed.

Less than ten years after this plot was discovered and Vesey and his
associates hanged, there broke out the Nat Turner insurrection in
Virginia. Turner was himself a preacher.

"He was a Christian and a man. He was conscious that he was a Man and
not a 'thing'; therefore, driven by religious fanaticism, he undertook
a difficult and bloody task. Nathaniel Turner was born in Southampton
County, Virginia, October 2, 1800. His master was one Benjamin Turner,
a very wealthy and aristocratic man. He owned many slaves, and was a
cruel and exacting master. Young 'Nat' was born of slave parents, and
carried to his grave many of the superstitions and traits of his
father and mother. The former was a preacher, the latter a 'mother in
Israel.' Both were unlettered but, nevertheless, very pious people.

"The mother began when Nat was quite young to teach him that he was
born, like Moses, to be the deliverer of his race. She would sing to
him snatches of wild, rapturous songs and repeat portions of prophecy
she had learned from the preachers of those times. Nat listened with
reverence and awe, and believed everything his mother said. He imbibed
the deep religious character of his parents, and soon manifested a
desire to preach. He was solemnly set apart to 'the gospel ministry'
by his father, the church, and visiting preachers. He was quite low in
stature, dark, and had the genuine African features. His eyes were
small but sharp, and gleamed like fire when he was talking about his
'mission' or preaching from some prophetic passage of scripture. It is
said that he never laughed. He was a dreamy sort of a man, and avoided
the crowd.

"Like Moses he lived in the solitudes of the mountains and brooded
over the condition of his people. There was something grand to him in
the rugged scenery that nature had surrounded him with. He believed
that he was a prophet, a leader raised up by God to burst the bolts of
the prison-house and set the oppressed free. The thunder, the hail,
the storm-cloud, the air, the earth, the stars, at which he would sit
and gaze half the night all spake the language of the God of the
oppressed. He was seldom seen in a large company, and never drank a
drop of ardent spirits. Like John the Baptist, when he had delivered
his message, he would retire to the fastness of the mountain or seek
the desert, where he could meditate upon his great work."

In the impression of the Richmond _Enquirer_ of the 30th of August,
1831, the first editorial or leader is under the caption of "The
Banditte." The editor says:

"They remind one of a parcel of blood-thirsty wolves rushing down from
the Alps; or, rather, like a former incursion of the Indians upon the
white settlements. Nothing is spared; neither age nor sex
respected--the helplessness of women and children pleads in vain for
mercy.... The case of Nat Turner warns us. No black man ought to be
permitted to turn preacher through the country. The law must be
enforced, or the tragedy of Southampton appeals to us in vain."

Mr. Gray, the man to whom Turner made his confession before dying,

"It has been said that he was ignorant and cowardly and that his
object was to murder and rob for the purpose of obtaining money to
make his escape. It is notorious that he was never known to have a
dollar in his life, to swear an oath, or drink a drop of spirits. As
to his ignorance, he certainly never had the advantages of an
education, but he can read and write, and for natural intelligence and
quickness of apprehension is surpassed by few men I have ever seen. As
to his being a coward, his reason as given for not resisting Mr.
Phipps, shows the decision of his character. When he saw Mr. Phipps
present his gun, he said he knew it was impossible for him to escape
as the woods were full of men. He, therefore, thought it was better
for him to surrender and trust to fortune for his escape.

"He is a complete fanatic or plays his part most admirably. On other
subjects he possesses an uncommon share of intelligence, with a mind
capable of attaining anything, but warped and perverted by the
influence of early impressions. He is below the ordinary stature,
though strong and active, having the true Negro face, every feature of
which is strongly marked.

"I shall not attempt to describe the effect of his narrative, as told
and commented on by himself, in the condemned hole of the prison; the
calm deliberate composure with which he spoke of his late deeds and
intentions; the expression of his fiend-like face when excited by
enthusiasm, still bearing the stains of the blood of the helpless
innocence about him, clothed with rags and covered with chains, yet
daring to raise his manacled hand to Heaven, with a spirit soaring
above the attributes of man. I looked on him and the blood curdled in
my veins."[2]

The Turner insurrection is so connected with the economic revolution
which enthroned cotton that it marks an epoch in the history of the
slave. A wave of legislation passed over the South prohibiting the
slaves from learning to read and write, forbidding Negroes to preach,
and interfering with Negro religious meetings.

Virginia declared, in 1831, that neither slaves nor free Negroes might
preach, nor could they attend religious service at night without
permission. In North Carolina slaves and free Negroes were forbidden
to preach, exhort or teach "in any prayer-meeting or other association
for worship where slaves of different families are collected together"
on penalty of not more than thirty-nine lashes. Maryland and Georgia
had similar laws. The Mississippi law of 1831 said: It is "unlawful
for any slave, free Negro, or mulatto to preach the gospel" upon pain
of receiving thirty-nine lashes upon the naked back of the
presumptuous preacher. If a Negro received written permission from his
master he might preach to the Negroes in his immediate neighborhood,
providing six respectable white men, owners of slaves, were present.
In Alabama the law of 1832 prohibited the assembling of more than five
male slaves at any place off the plantation to which they belonged,
but nothing in the act was to be considered as forbidding attendance
at places of public worship held by white persons. No slave or free
person of color was permitted to "preach, exhort, or harangue any
slave or slaves, or free persons of color, except in the presence of
five respectable slaveholders, or unless the person preaching was
licensed by some regular body of professing Christians in the
neighborhood, to whose society or church the Negroes addressed
properly belonged."

In the District of Columbia the free Negroes began to leave white
churches in 1831 and to assemble in their own.

Thus it was that through the fear of insurrection, the economic press
of the new slavery that was arising, and the new significance of
slavery in the economics of the South, the strife for spiritual
brotherhood was given up. Slavery became distinctly a matter of race
and not of status. Long years before, the white servants had been
freed and only black servants were left; now social condition came to
be not simply a matter of slavery but a matter of belonging to the
black race, so that even the free Negroes began to be disfranchised
and put into the caste system (see Note 23).

A new adjustment of ethics and religion had to be made to meet this
new situation, and in the adjustment, no matter what might be said or
thought, the Negro and slavery had to be the central thing.

In the adjustment of religion and ethics that was made for the new
slavery, under the cotton kingdom, there was in the first place a
distinct denial of human brotherhood. These black men were not men in
the sense that white men were men. They were different--different in
kind, different in origin; they had different diseases (see Note 24);
they had different feelings; they were not to be treated the same;
they were not looked upon as the same; they were altogether apart and,
while perhaps they had certain low sensibilities and aspirations, yet
so far as this world is concerned, there could be with them neither
human nor spiritual brotherhood.

The only status that they could possibly occupy was the status of
slaves. They could not get along as freemen; they could not work as
freemen; it was utterly unthinkable that people should live with them
free. This was the philosophy that was worked out gradually, with
exceptions here and there, and that was thought through, written on,
preached from the pulpits and taught in the homes, until people in the
South believed it as they believed the rising and the setting of the

As this became more and more the orthodox ethical opinion, heretics
appeared in the land as they always do. But intolerance and anathema
met them. In community after community there was a demand for
orthodoxy on this one burning question of the economic and religious
South, and the heretics were driven out. The Quakers left North
Carolina, the abolitionists either left Virginia or ceased to talk,
and throughout the South those people who dared to think otherwise
were left silent or dead (see Note 25).

So long as slavery was an economic success this orthodoxy was all
powerful; when signs of economic distress appeared it became
intolerant and aggressive. A great moral battle was impending in the
South, but political turmoil and a development of northern thought so
rapid as to be unintelligible in the South stopped this development
forcibly. War came and the hatred and moral bluntness incident to war,
and men crystallized in their old thought.

The matter now could no longer be argued and thought out, it became a
matter of tradition, of faith, of family and personal honor. There
grew up therefore after the war a new predicament; a new-old paradox.
Upon the whites hung the curse of the past; because they had not
settled their labor problem then, they must settle the problem now in
the face of upheaval and handicapped by the natural advance of the

So after the war and even to this day, the religious and ethical life
of the South bows beneath this burden. Shrinking from facing the
burning ethical questions that front it unrelentingly, the Southern
Church clings all the more closely to the letter of a worn out
orthodoxy, while its inner truer soul crouches before and fears to
answer the problem of eight million black neighbors. It therefore
assiduously "preaches Christ crucified," in prayer meeting _patois_,
and crucifies "Niggers" in unrelenting daily life.

While the Church in the North, all too slowly but surely is struggling
up from the ashes of a childish faith in myth and miracle, and
beginning to preach a living gospel of civic virtue, peace and good
will and a crusade against lying, stealing and snobbery, the Southern
church for the most part is still murmuring of modes of "baptism,"
"infant damnation" and the "divine plan of creation."

Thus the post-bellum ethical paradox of the South is far more puzzling
than the economic paradox. To be sure there is leaven in the lump.
There are brave voices here and there, but they are easily drowned by
social tyranny in the South and by indifference and sensationalism in
the North (see Note 26).

First of all the result of the war was the complete expulsion of
Negroes from white churches. Little has been said of this, but perhaps
it was in itself the most singular and tremendous result of slavery.
The Methodist Church South simply set its Negro members bodily out of
doors. They did it with some consideration for their feelings, with as
much kindliness as crass unkindliness can show, but they virtually
said to all their black members--to the black mammies whom they have
almost fulsomely praised and whom they remember in such astonishing
numbers to-day, to the polite and deferential old servant, to whose
character they build monuments--they said to them: "You cannot worship
God with us." There grew up, therefore, the Colored Methodist
Episcopal Church.

Flagrantly unchristian as this course was, it was still in some ways
better than the absolute withdrawal of church fellowship on the part
of the Baptists, or the policy of Episcopalians, which was simply that
of studied neglect and discouragement which froze, harried, and well
nigh invited the black communicants to withdraw.

From the North now came those Negro church bodies born of color
discrimination in Philadelphia and New York in the eighteenth century,
and thus a Christianity absolutely divided along the color line arose.
There may be in the South a black man belonging to a white church
to-day but if so, he must be very old and very feeble. This
anomaly--this utter denial of the very first principles of the ethics
of Jesus Christ--is to-day so deep seated and unquestionable a
principle of Southern Christianity that its essential heathenism is
scarcely thought of, and every revival of religion in this section
banks its spiritual riches solidly and unmovedly against the color
line, without conscious question.

Among the Negroes the results are equally unhappy. They needed ethical
leadership, spiritual guidance, and religious instruction. If the
Negroes of the South are to any degree immoral, sexually unchaste,
criminally inclined, and religiously ignorant, what right has the
Christian South even to whisper reproach or accusation? How often have
they raised a finger to assume spiritual or religious guardianship
over those victims of their past system of economic and social life?

Left thus unguided the Negroes, with some help from such Northern
white churches as dared, began their own religious upbuilding (see
Note 27). They faced tremendous difficulties--lack of ministers,
money, and experience. Their churches could not be simply centres of
religious life--because in the poverty of their organized efforts all
united striving tended to centre in this one social organ. The Negro
Church consequently became a great social institution with some
ethical ideas but with those ethical ideas warped and changed and
perverted by the whole history of the past; with memories, traditions,
and rites of heathen worship, of intense emotionalism, trance, and
weird singing.

And above all, there brooded over and in the church the sense of all
their grievances. Whatsoever their own shortcomings might be, at least
they knew that they were not guilty of hypocrisy; they did not cry
"Whosoever will" and then brazenly ostracize half the world. They
knew that they opened their doors and hearts wide to all people that
really wanted to come in and they looked upon the white churches not
as examples but with a sort of silent contempt and a real inner
questioning of the genuineness of their Christianity.

On the other hand, so far as the white post-bellum Christian church is
concerned, I can conceive no more pitiable paradox than that of the
young white Christian in the South to-day who really believes in the
ethics of Jesus Christ. What can he think when he hangs upon his
church doors the sign that I have often seen, "All are welcome." He
knows that half the population of his city would not dare to go inside
that church. Or if there was any fellowship between Christians, white
and black, it would be after the manner explained by a white
Mississippi clergyman in all seriousness: "The whites and Negroes
understand each other here perfectly, sir, perfectly; if they come to
my church they take a seat in the gallery. If I go to theirs, they
invite me to the front pew or the platform."

Once in Atlanta a great revival was going on in a prominent white
church. The people were at fever heat, the minister was preaching and
calling "Come to Jesus." Up the aisle tottered an old black man--he
was an outcast, he had wandered in there aimlessly off the streets,
dimly he had comprehended this call and he came tottering and swaying
up the aisle. What was the result? It broke up the revival. There was
no disturbance; he was gently led out, but that sudden appearance of a
black face spoiled the whole spirit of the thing and the revival was
at an end.

Who can doubt that if Christ came to Georgia to-day one of His first
deeds would be to sit down and take supper with black men, and who can
doubt the outcome if He did?

It is this tremendous paradox of a Christianity that theoretically
opens the church to all men and yet closes it forcibly and insultingly
in the face of black men and that does this not simply in the visible
church but even more harshly in the spiritual fellowship of human
souls--it is this that makes the ethical and religious problem in the
South to-day of such tremendous importance, and that gives rise to the
one thing which it seems to me is the most difficult in the Southern
situation and that is, the tendency to deny the truth, the tendency to
lie when the real situation comes up because the truth is too hard to
face. This lying about the situation of the South has not been simply
a political subterfuge against the dangers of ignorance, but is a sort
of gasping inner revolt against acknowledging the real truth of the
ethical conviction which every true Southerner must feel, namely: that
the South is eternally and fundamentally wrong on the plain straight
question of the equality of souls before God--of the inalienable
rights of all men.

Here are men--they are aspiring, they are struggling piteously
forward, they have frequent instances of ability, there is no doubt as
to the tremendous strides which certain classes of Negroes have
made--how shall they be treated? That they should be treated as men,
of course, the best class of Southerners know and sometimes
acknowledge. And yet they believe, and believe with fierce conviction,
that it is impossible to treat Negroes as men, and still live with
them. Right there is the paradox which they face daily and which is
daily stamping hypocrisy upon their religion and upon their land.

Their irresistible impulse in this awful dilemma is to point to and
emphasize the Negro's degradation, even though they know that it is
not the degraded Negro whom they most fear, ostracize, and fight to
keep down, but rather the rising, ambitious Negro.

If my own city of Atlanta had offered it to-day the choice between 500
Negro college graduates--forceful, busy, ambitious men of property and
self-respect, and 500 black cringing vagrants and criminals, the
popular vote in favor of the criminals would be simply overwhelming.
Why? because they want Negro crime? No, not that they fear Negro crime
less, but that they fear Negro ambition and success more. They can
deal with crime by chain-gang and lynch law, or at least they think
they can, but the South can conceive neither machinery nor place for
the educated, self-reliant, self-assertive black man.

Are a people pushed to such moral extremities, the ones whose
level-headed, unbiased statements of fact concerning the Negro can be
relied upon? Do they really know the Negro? Can the nation expect of
them the poise and patience necessary for the settling of a great
social problem?

Not only is there then this initial falseness when the South excuses
its ethical paradox by pointing to the low condition of the Negro
masses, but there is also a strange blindness in failing to see that
every pound of evidence to prove the present degradation of black men
but adds to the crushing weight of indictment against their past
treatment of this race.

A race is not made in a single generation. If they accuse Negro women
of lewdness and Negro men of monstrous crime, what are they doing but
advertising to the world the shameless lewdness of those Southern men
who brought millions of mulattoes into the world, and whose deeds
throughout the South and particularly in Virginia, the mother of
slavery, have left but few prominent families whose blood does not
to-day course in black veins? Suppose to-day Negroes do steal; who
was it that for centuries made stealing a virtue by stealing their
labor? Have not laziness and listlessness always been the followers of
slavery? If these ten millions are ignorant by whose past law and
mandate and present practice is this true?

The truth then cannot be controverted. The present condition of the
Negro in America is better than the history of slavery proves we might
reasonably expect. With the help of his friends, North and South, and
despite the bitter opposition of his foes, South and North, he has
bought twelve million acres of land, swept away two-thirds of his
illiteracy, organized his church, and found leadership and articulate
voice. Yet despite this the South, Christian and unchristian, with
only here and there an exception, still stands like a rock wall and
says: Negroes are not men and must not be treated as men.

When now the world faces such an absolute ethical contradiction, the
truth is nearer than it seems.

It stands to-day perfectly clear and plain despite all sophistication
and false assumption: If the contention of the South is true--that
Negroes cannot by reason of hereditary inferiority take their places
in modern civilization beside white men, then the South owes it to the
world and to its better self to give the Negro every chance to prove
this. To make the assertion dogmatically and then resort to all means
which retard and restrict Negro development is not simply to stand
convicted of insincerity before the civilized world, but, far worse
than that, it is to make a nation of naturally generous, honest people
to sit humiliated before their own consciences.

I believe that a straightforward, honorable treatment of black men
according to their desert and achievement, will soon settle the Negro
problem. If the South is right few will rise to a plane that will
make their social reception a matter worth consideration; few will
gain the sobriety and industry which will deserve the ballot; and few
will achieve such solid moral character as will give them welcome to
the fellowship of the church. If, on the other hand, Negroes with the
door of opportunity thrown wide do become men of industry and
achievement, of moral strength and even genius, then such rise will
silence the South with an eternal silence.

The nation that enslaved the Negro owes him this trial; the section
that doggedly and unreasonably kept him in slavery owes him at least
this chance; and the church which professes to follow Jesus Christ and
does not insist on this elemental act of justice merits the denial of
the Master--"_I never knew you._"

This, then, is the history of those mighty moral battles in the South
which have given us the Negro problem. And the last great battle is
not a battle of South or East, of black or white, but of all of us.
The path to racial peace is straight but narrow--its following to-day
means tremendous fight against inertia, prejudice, and intrenched
snobbery. But it is the duty of men, it is a duty of the church, to
face the problem. Not only is it their duty to face it--they _must_
face it, it is impossible not to, the very attempt to ignore it is
assuming an attitude. It is a problem not simply of political
expediency, of economic success, but a problem above all of religious
and social life; and it carries with it not simply a demand for its
own solution, but beneath it lies the whole question of the real
intent of our civilization: Is the civilization of the United States

It is a matter of grave consideration what answer we ought to give to
that question. The precepts of Jesus Christ cannot but mean that
Christianity consists of an attitude of humility, of a desire for
peace, of a disposition to treat our brothers as we would have our
brothers treat us, of mercy and charity toward our fellow men, of
willingness to suffer persecution for right ideals and in general of
love not only toward our friends but even toward our enemies.

Judged by this, it is absurd to call the practical religion of this
nation Christian. We are not humble, we are impudently proud; we are
not merciful, we are unmerciful toward friend and foe; we are not
peaceful nor peacefully inclined as our armies and battle-ships
declare; we do not want to be martyrs, we would much rather be thieves
and liars so long as we can be rich; we do not seek continuously, and
prayerfully inculcate, love and justice for our fellow men, but on the
contrary the treatment of the poor, the unfortunate, and the black
within our borders is almost a national crime.

The problem that lies before Christians is tremendous (see Note 28),
and the answer must begin not by a slurring over of the one problem
where these different tests of Christianity are most flagrantly
disregarded, but it must begin by a girding of ourselves and a
determination to see that justice is done in this country to the
humblest and blackest as well as to the greatest and whitest of our

Now a word especially about the Episcopal church, whose position
toward its Negro communicants is peculiar. I appreciate this position
and speak of it specifically because I am one of those communicants.
For four generations my family has belonged to this church and I
belong to it, not by personal choice, not because I feel myself
welcome within its portals, but simply because I refuse to be read
outside of a church which is mine by inheritance and the service of my
fathers. When the Episcopal church comes, as it does come to-day, to
the Parting of the Ways, to the question as to whether its record in
the future is going to be, on the Negro problem, as disgraceful as it
has been in the past, I feel like appealing to all who are members of
that church to remember that after all it is a church of Jesus Christ.
Your creed and your duty enjoin upon you one, and only one, course of

In the real Christian church there is neither black nor white, rich
nor poor, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but all stand equal
before the face of the Master. If you find that you cannot treat your
Negro members as fellow Christians then do not deceive yourselves into
thinking that the differences that you make or are going to make in
their treatment are made for their good or for the service of the
world; do not entice them to ask for a separation which your
unchristian conduct forces them to prefer; do not pretend that the
distinctions which you make toward them are distinctions which are
made for the larger good of men, but simply confess in humility and
self-abasement that you are not able to live up to your Christian
vows; that you cannot treat these men as brothers and therefore you
are going to set them aside and let them go their half-tended way.

I should be sorry, I should be grieved more than I can say, to see
that which happened in the Southern Methodist Church and that which is
practically happening in the Presbyterian Church, and that which will
come in other sects--namely, a segregation of Negro Christians, come
to be true among Episcopalians. It would be a sign of Christian
disunity far more distressing than sectarianism. I should therefore
deplore it; and yet I am also free to say that unless this church is
prepared to treat its Negro members with exactly the same
consideration that other members receive, with the same brotherhood
and fellowship, the same encouragement to aspiration, the same
privileges, similarly trained priests and similar preferment for them,
then I should a great deal rather see them set aside than to see a
continuation of present injustice. All I ask is that when you do this
you do it with an open and honest statement of the real reasons and
not with statements veiled by any hypocritical excuses.

I am therefore above all desirous that the younger men and women who
are to-day taking up the leadership of this great group of men, who
wish the world better and work toward that end, should begin to see
the real significance of this step and of the great problem behind it.
It is not a problem simply of the South, not a problem simply of this
country, it is a problem of the world.

As I have said elsewhere: "Most men are colored. A belief in humanity
is above all a belief in colored men." If you cannot get on with
colored men in America you cannot get on with the modern world; and if
you cannot work with the humanity of this world how shall your souls
ever tune with the myriad sided souls of worlds to come?

It may be that the price of the black man's survival in America and in
the modern world, will be a long and shameful night of subjection to
caste and segregation. If so, he will pay it, doggedly, silently,
unfalteringly, for the sake of human liberty and the souls of his
children's children. But as he stoops he will remember the indignation
of that Jesus who cried, yonder behind heaving seas and years: "Woe
unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, that strain out a gnat and
swallow a camel,"--as if God cared a whit whether His Sons are born of
maid, wife or widow so long as His church sits deaf to His own

"Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters and he that hath
no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without
money and without price!"


[1] Grimke: "Right on the Scaffold."

[2] "The Negro Church," Atlanta University Publications, No. 8.

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *



"The history of slavery and the slave trade after 1820 must be read in
the light of the industrial revolution through which the civilized
world passed in the first half of the nineteenth century. Between the
years 1775 and 1825 occurred economic events and changes of the
highest importance and widest influence. Though all branches of the
industry felt the impulse of this new industrial life, yet, if we
consider single industries, cotton manufacture has, during the
nineteenth century, made the most magnificent and gigantic advances."

This fact is easily explained by the remarkable series of inventions
that revolutionized this industry between 1738 and 1830, including
Arkwright's, Watt's, Compton's, and Cartwright's epoch making
contrivances. The effect which these inventions had on the manufacture
of cotton goods is best illustrated by the fact that in England, the
chief cotton market of the world, the consumption of raw cotton rose
steadily from 13,000 bales in 1781, to 572,000 in 1820, to 871,000 in
1830, and to 3,366,000 in 1860. Very early, therefore, came the query
whence the supply of raw cotton was to come. Tentative experiments on
the rich, broad fields of the Southern United States, together with
the indispensable invention of Whitney's cotton gin, soon answered
this question. A new economic future was opened up to this land, and
immediately the whole South began to extend its cotton culture, and
more and more to throw its whole energy into this one staple.

Here it was that the fatal mistake of compromising with slavery in the
beginning, and of the policy of _laissez-faire_ pursued thereafter,
became painfully manifest; for, instead now of a healthy, normal,
economic development along proper industrial lines, we have the
abnormal and fatal rise of a slave-labor, large-farming system, which,
before it was realized, had so intertwined itself with and braced
itself upon the economic forces of an industrial age, that a vast and
terrible civil war was necessary to displace it. The tendencies to a
patriarchal serfdom, recognized in the age of Washington and
Jefferson, began slowly but surely to disappear; and in the second
quarter of the century Southern slavery was irresistibly changing from
a family institution to an industrial system.

DuBois, "Suppression of the Slave Trade," p. 151.

A list of the chief inventions most graphically illustrates the

  1738, John Jay, fly shuttle.
        John Wyatt, spinning by rollers.
  1748, Lewis Paul, carding machine.
  1760, Robert Kay, drop box.
  1769, Richard Arkwright, water-frame and throstle.
        James Watt, steam-engine.
  1772, James Lees, improvements on carding-machine.
  1775, Richard Arkwright, series of combinations.
  1779, Samuel Compton, mule.
  1785, Edmund Cartwright, power-loom.
  1803-4, Radcliffe and Johnson, dressing-machine.
  1817, Roberts, fly-frame.
  1818, William Eaton, self-acting frame.
  1825-30, Roberts, improvements on mule.

Cf. Baines, "History of the Cotton Manufactures," pp. 116-23;
"Encyclopædia Britannica," 9th ed., article "Cotton."


In 1832, Alabama declared that "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 $250, nor more than $500."

Georgia, in 1770, fined any person who taught a slave to read or write
twenty pounds. In 1829 the State enacted:

"If any slave, Negro or free person of color, or any white person,
shall teach any other slave, Negro or free person of color to read or
write, either written or printed characters, the same free person of
color or slave shall be punished by fine and whipping, or fine or
whipping, at the discretion of the court; and if a white person so
offend, he, she or they shall be punished with a fine not exceeding
$500 and imprisonment in the common jail at the discretion of the

In 1833 this law was put into the penal code, with additional
penalties for using slaves in printing offices to set type. These laws
were violated sometimes by individual masters, and clandestine schools
were opened for Negroes in some of the cities before the war. In 1850
and thereafter there was some agitation to repeal these laws and a
bill to that effect failed in the Senate of Georgia by two or three

Louisiana, in 1830, declared that "All persons who shall teach or
permit or cause to be taught any slave to read or write shall be
imprisoned not less than one month nor more than twelve months."

Missouri, in 1847, passed an act saying that "No person shall keep or
teach any school for the instruction of Negroes or mulattoes in
reading or writing in this state."

North Carolina had schools supported by free Negroes up until 1835,
when they were abolished by law.

South Carolina, in 1740, declared: "Whereas, the having of slaves
taught to write or suffering them to be employed in writing may be
attended with inconveniences, be it enacted, that all and every person
and persons whatsoever who shall hereafter teach or cause any slave
or slaves to be taught, or shall use or employ any slave as a scribe
in any manner of writing whatever, hereafter taught to write, every
such person or persons shall for every such offense forfeit the sum of
£100 current money."

In 1800 and 1833 the teaching of free Negroes was restricted: "And if
any free person of color or slave shall keep any school or other
places of instruction for teaching any slave or free person of color
to read or write, such free person of color or slave shall be liable
to the same fine, imprisonment and corporal punishment as by this act
are imposed and inflicted on free persons of color and slaves for
teaching slaves to write." Other sections prohibited white persons
from teaching slaves. Apparently whites might teach free Negroes to
some extent.

Virginia, in 1819, forbade "all meetings or assemblages of slaves or
free Negroes or mulattoes mixing and associating with such slaves,
... at any school or schools for teaching them reading and writing,
either in the day or night." Nevertheless free Negroes kept schools
for themselves until the Nat Turner Insurrection, when it was enacted,
1831, that "all meetings of free Negroes or mulattoes at any
school-house, church, meeting-house or other place, for teaching them
reading and writing, either in the day or night, under whatsoever
pretext, shall be deemed and considered an unlawful assembly." This
law was carefully enforced.

In the Northern States few actual prohibitory laws were enacted, but
in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and elsewhere, mob
violence frequently arose against Negro schools, and in Connecticut
the teaching of Negroes was restricted as follows in 1833: "No person
shall set up or establish in this state any school, academy or other
literary institution for the instruction or education of colored
persons who are not inhabitants of this State, or harbor or board,
for the purpose of attending or being taught or instructed in any such
school, academy or literary institution any colored person who is not
an inhabitant of any town in this State, without the consent, in
writing, first obtained, of a majority of the civil authority, and
also of the select-men of the town in which each school, academy or
literary institution is situated." This was especially directed
against the famous Prudence Crandall school, and was repeated in 1838.

Ohio decreed, in 1829, that "the attendance of black or mulatto
persons be specifically prohibited, but all taxes assessed upon the
property of colored persons for school purposes should be appropriated
to their instruction and no other purpose." This prohibition was
enforced, but the second clause was a dead letter for twenty years.
Cf. Atlanta University Publications, No. 6.


Cf. Cairnes' "Slave Power."


Stephen A. Douglas said "that there was not the shadow of doubt that
the slave-trade had been carried on quite extensively for a long time
back, and that there had been more slaves imported into the Southern
States, during the last year, than had ever been imported before in
any one year, even when the slave-trade was legal. It was his
confident belief, that over fifteen thousand slaves had been brought
into this country during the past year (1859). He had seen, with his
own eyes, three hundred of those recently-imported, miserable beings,
in a slave-pen in Vicksburg, Miss., and also large numbers at Memphis,
Tenn." It was currently reported that depots for these slaves existed
in over twenty large cities and towns in the South, and an interested
person boasted to a senator, about 1860, that "twelve vessels would
discharge their living freight upon our shores within ninety days from
the 1st of June last," and that between sixty and seventy cargoes had
been successfully introduced in the last eighteen months. (Cf. DuBois:
"Slave Trade," ch. xi.)


Cf. Olmsted's "Journeys" and Helper's "Impending Crisis."


Has not the time come for characterizing war plainly and ceasing to
envelope it in a haze of sentimental lies? We have near worshiped the
Civil War for a generation, when in truth it was a disgrace to
civilization and we know it.


Cf. Blaine: "Twenty Years in Congress"; "American Political Science
Review," Vol. 1, pp. 44-61; _e.g._, "South Carolina, besides thus
minutely regulating the labor of Negroes under contract, prohibited
them from practicing the 'art, trade or business of an artisan,
mechanic, or shopkeeper,' or any other trade or business on their own
account without paying an annual license fee to the district judge.
And no Negro could obtain a license who had not served a term of
'apprenticeship' at the trade. Tennessee also required licenses; and
Mississippi required Negroes to have written evidence of their home
and employment. Mississippi also prohibited the renting or leasing of
any land to Negroes, except in incorporated towns and cities."
Louisiana had perhaps the most outrageous provisions.


Albion W. Tourgee said: "They instituted a public school system in a
region where public schools had been unknown. They opened the
ballot-box and the jury-box to thousands of white men who had been
debarred from them by a lack of earthly possessions. They introduced
home rule in the South. They abolished the whipping-post, the
branding-iron, the stocks and other barbarous forms of punishment
which had up to that time prevailed. They reduced capital felonies
from about twenty to two or three. In an age of extravagance they were
extravagant in the sums appropriated for public works. In all that
time no man's rights of person were invaded under the forms of law."
Thomas E. Miller, a Negro member of the late Constitutional Convention
of South Carolina, said: "The gentleman from Edgefield (Mr. Tillman)
speaks of the piling of the State debt; of jobbery and peculation
during the period between 1869 and 1873 in South Carolina, but he has
not found voice eloquent enough nor pen exact enough to mention those
imperishable gifts bestowed upon South Carolina between 1873 and 1876
by Negro legislators--the laws relative to finance, the building of
penal and charitable institutions, and, greatest of all, the
establishment of the public school system. Starting as infants in
legislation in 1869, many wise measures were not thought of, many
injudicious acts were passed. But in the administration of affairs for
the next four years, having learned by experience the result of bad
acts, we immediately passed reformatory laws touching every department
of state, county, municipal and town governments. These enactments are
to-day upon the statute books of South Carolina. They stand as living
witnesses of the Negro's fitness to vote and legislate upon the rights
of mankind."

Cf. Love's "Disfranchisement of the Negro," p. 10.


Cf. "The Economic Future of the Negro," in papers and proceedings of
the eighteenth Annual Meeting, American Economic Association, pp.


See Alabama Laws on Labor Contracts.


See Laws of Alabama, 1906-1907.


See Laws of South Carolina, 1906-1907.


Cf. Bulletin Number 8, 12th United States Census.


This statement when made was challenged by a Virginia rector. Let John
Sharp Williams, minority leader of the House of Representatives answer

"It is the physical presence of the Negro which constitutes the Negro
problem and the race issue. It is not the fact that the Negro can vote
in the South, because, as a matter of fact, he cannot and does not.
The Negro problem would be just as troublesome as it is to-day if the
fifteenth amendment were repealed. The fifteenth amendment touches it
only on its political or voting side, where the trouble is cured
already in the South. It is true that the Negro does vote in Ohio,
Illinois and New Jersey and various other places. But the people of
those states could to-morrow, if they wanted to, get rid of his vote,
just as we have got rid of it in Mississippi. The very fact that they
have not done it is proof of the fact that they do not want to do it,
and that very fact is the death-blow of the Vardaman agitation."

Negroes are disfranchised by legal and illegal methods and by unfair
administration of the law. The "white" primary is a wide-spread
subterfuge: to the democratic primary election all white men are
admitted without question, and no Negro under any circumstances. The
verdict of the primary is then registered in a farce "election." In
Atlanta, _e.g._, at the "election" 700 votes are cast in a city of
100,000! The success of the "white" primary depends of course (_a_) on
the illegal power of the party chiefs to exclude any votes they choose
on any pretext and (_b_) on the absolute and unfair control of
election machinery and returns by one party and (_c_) on public
acquiescence in this travesty on popular government.


The Atlanta riot had two distinct phases: first, Saturday, the killing
of innocent and surprised Negroes by a white mob; then a lull when
blacks rapidly armed themselves; finally the attempt to renew the
assault by a crowd mingled with county policemen, who were repulsed by
a fierce defense by Negroes; these Negroes were afterward acquitted of
murder by a southern jury. The number of white and black killed in
that encounter will never be known, but it stopped the riot. Cf.
"World To-Day," Nov. 1906.


The executive officials of the miners in Alabama consist of four
whites and four Negroes.


Ten good references on the economic history of the Negro and slavery

1. Kemble, Fanny, "A Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation,"
N.Y., 1863. 337 pp. 12mo.

2. Olmsted, F.L., "A Journey in the Sea Board Slave States," N.Y.,
1856. 723 pp. 12mo.

3. Cairnes, J.E., "The Slave Power: Its Character, Career, and
Probable Designs," London, 1862. 304 pp., 2d ed. N.Y. 410 pp.

4. United States 12th Census, Bulletin No. 8: "Negroes in United
States," by W.F. Wilcox and W.E.B. DuBois, Wash., 1904, 333 pp.

5. "The Philadelphia Negro" (Publications of the University of
Pennsylvania) 520 pp. Ginn.

6. "The Suppression of the Slave Trade" (Harvard Historical
Monographs, No. 1) 335 pp. Longmans, 1896.

7. Atlanta University Publications:

No. 3, "Efforts for Social Betterment," 66 pp. 1898.

No. 4, "The Negro in Business," 77 pp. 1899.

No. 7, "The Negro Artisan," 192 pp. 1902.

8. Bulletins of the United States Department of Labor.

Nos. 10, 14, 22, 32, 35, 37, 38, 48.

9. United States: Report of the Industrial Commission 1901-2, 19 vols.

10. Proceedings of the American Economic Association, 1906.



See Atlanta University Publications, No. 8, Section 4.


"Baptism doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage
or freedom, in order that diverse masters freed from this doubt may
more carefully endeavor the propagation of Christianity." (Williams I,


Cf. Dr. Albert Bushnell Hart, "The Realities of Negro Suffrage,"
Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, Vol. II,


The Church of England through the "Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel" (incorporated 1701) sent several missionaries who worked
chiefly in the North. The history of the society goes on to say: "It
is a matter of commendation to the clergy that they have done thus
much in so great and difficult a work. But, alas! what is the
instruction of a few hundreds in several years with respect to the
many thousands uninstructed, unconverted, living, dying, utter pagans.
It must be confessed what hath been done is as nothing with regard to
what a true Christian would hope to see effected." After stating
several difficulties in respect to the religious instruction of the
Negroes, it is said: "But the greatest obstruction is the masters
themselves do not consider enough the obligation which lies upon them
to have their slaves instructed." The work of this society in America
ceased in 1783. The Methodists report the following members:

  1786                 1,890
  1790                11,682
  1791                12,884
  1796                12,215

Nearly all were in the North and the border states. Georgia had only
148. The Baptists had 18,000 Negro members in 1793. As to the
Episcopalians, the single state of Virginia where more was done than
elsewhere will illustrate the result:

"The Church Commission for Work among the Colored People at a late
meeting decided to request the various rectors of parishes throughout
the South to institute Sunday-schools and special services for the
colored population 'such as were frequently found in the South before
the war.' The commission hope for 'real advance' among the colored
people in so doing. We do not agree with the commission with respect
to either the wisdom or the efficiency of the plan suggested. In the
first place, this 'before the war' plan was a complete failure so far
as church extension was concerned, in the past when white churchmen
had complete bodily control of their slaves....

"The Journals of Virginia will verify the contention, that during the
'before the war' period, while the bishops and a large number of the
clergy were always interested in the religious training of the slaves,
yet as a matter of fact there was general apathy and indifference upon
the part of the laity with respect to this matter.

"At various intervals resolutions were presented in the Annual
Conventions with the avowed purpose of stimulating an interest in the
religious welfare of the slaves. But despite all these efforts the
Journals fail to record any great achievements along that line.... So
faithful had been the work under such conditions that as late as 1879
there were less than 200 colored communicants reported in the whole
state of Virginia." (_Church Advocate._)


Charles C. Jones: "The Religious Instruction of the Negroes in the
United States," Savannah, 1842. Cf. Atlanta University Publication,
No. 8, passim.


Cf. Hart, _supra._ Note too the decrease in the proportion of free


Note Dr. Cartwright's articles; DeBow's "Review," Vol. II, pp. 29,
184, 331 and 504. Cf. Fitzhugh, "Cannibals All."


Cf. Weeks, "Southern Quakers and Slavery," Balt. 1896; Ballagh,
"Slavery in Virginia."


There has been in the North a generously conceived campaign in the
last ten years to emphasize the good in the South and minimize the
evil. Consequently many people have come to believe that men like
Fleming and Murphy represent either the dominant Southern sentiment
or that of a strong minority. On the contrary the brave utterances of
such men represent a very small and very weak minority--a minority
which is growing very slowly and which can only hope for success by
means of moral support from the outside. Such moral support has not
been generally given; it is Tillman, Vardaman and Dixon who get the
largest hearing in the land and they represent the dominant public
opinion in the South. The mass of public opinion there while it
hesitates at the extreme brutality of these spokesmen is nearer to
them than to Bassett or Fleming or Alderman.


Cf. "The Negro Church," Atlanta University Publication, No. 8. 212 pp.


Twenty good references on the ethical and religious aspect of slavery
and the Negro problem are:

C.C. Jones, "The Religious Instruction of the Negroes in the United
States," Savannah, 1842. 277 pp. 12mo.

R.F. Campbell, "Some Aspects of the Race Problem in the South,"
Pamphlet, 1899. Asheville, N.C. 31 pp. 8vo.

R.L. Dabney, "Defence of Virginia, and Through Her of the South," New
York, 1867. 356 pp. 12mo.

Nehemiah Adams, "A South Side View of Slavery," Boston, 1854. viii,
7-214 pp. 16mo.

Richard Allen, First Bishop of the A.M.E. Church. "The life,
experience and gospel labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen." Written
by himself. Phila., 1793. 69 pp. 8vo.

Matthew Anderson, "Presbyterianism and Its Relation to the Negro,"
Phila., 1897.

Geo. S. Merriam, "The Negro and the Nation," N.Y., 1906. 436 pp.

M.S. Locke, "Anti-Slavery in America," 255 pp. 1901.

W.A. Sinclair, "The Aftermath of Slavery," etc., with an introduction
by T.W. Higginson, Boston, 1905. 358 pp.

N.S. Shaler, "The Neighbor: The Natural History of Human Contrasts"
(The problem of the African), Boston, 1904. vii, 342 pp. 12mo.

Atlanta University Publications:

    Number 6, "The Negro Common School," 120 pp. 1901.

    Number 8, "The Negro Church," 212 pp. 1903.

    Number 9, "Notes on Negro Crime," 76 pp. 1904.

E.H. Abbott, "Religious life in America," A record of personal
observation. N.Y.: _The Outlook_, 1902. xii, 730 pp. 8vo.

W.E.B. DuBois, "The Souls of Black Folk," Chicago, 1903.

Friends, "A Brief Testimony of the Progress of the Friends Against
Slavery and the Slave-Trade," 1671-1787. Phila., 1843.

J.W. Hood, "One Hundred Years of the A.M.E. Zion Church."

S.M. Janney, "History of the Religious Society of Friends," Phila.,

D.A. Payne, "History of the A.M.E. Church," Nashville, 1891.

S.B. Weeks, "Anti-Slavery Sentiment in the South," Washington, D.C.,
1898. "Southern Quakers and Slavery," Baltimore, 1896.

White, "The African Preacher."

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