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Title: Why Colored People in Philadelphia Are Excluded from the Street Cars
Author: Hunt, Benjamin P. (Benjamin Peter)
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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WHY COLORED PEOPLE

IN

PHILADELPHIA

ARE

EXCLUDED FROM THE STREET CARS.


PHILADELPHIA:
MERRIHEW & SON, PRINTERS,
No. 243 Arch Street, below Third St.
1866.



THE COLORED PEOPLE AND THE CARS.


Some remarks lately communicated to the New York Anti-Slavery Standard,
on the continued exclusion of colored people from our street cars,
leave the impression that no efforts have been made here to procure
for this class of people admission to these cars. This is incorrect.
It will be found on inquiry, that a Committee, consisting of some
twenty-five or thirty gentlemen, appointed at a public meeting, in
January of last year, to effect, if possible, this object, is still
in existence. This Committee is evidently somewhat slow. No report of
its proceedings has yet been published, and the only reason suggested
for its silence is, that there has been nothing good to report: an
insufficient reason.

But these gentlemen have not been entirely idle. It seems that
immediately on their appointment, they called on the respective
Presidents of the nineteen street railway companies, and, in a
courteous manner, requested them to withdraw from their list of running
regulations the rule excluding colored people. Some few favored
compliance, more or less conditional, the others not; but all, or
nearly all, finally settled on the subterfuge of referring the question
to a car-vote of their passengers. The subterfuge answered its purpose,
for the self-respecting part of the community did not vote.

Shortly after this vote was taken, a colored man was ejected from a
car by the help of a policeman. The Committee called on the late Mayor
Henry, and respectfully inquired if this had been done by his order.
His reply was: "Not by my order, but with my knowledge and approbation;
as the right to exclude colored people has been claimed by the railway
companies, and has not been judicially determined, the police assists
in maintaining the rules of the companies, to prevent breaches of the
peace." And he added: "I am not with you, gentlemen; I do not wish the
ladies of my family to ride in the cars with colored people." It is
proper to state here, that at the time of this interview, the latest
three decisions of the Courts of the country, bearing on this question,
had been directly against the right of exclusion,--the last being that
of Judge Allison, of our Court of Quarter Sessions.

The Committee then turned to the Legislature. A bill to prevent
exclusion from the cars on account of race or color had been introduced
into, and passed by the Senate, early in the session of 1865, and was
referred to the Passenger Railway Committee of the House. Here it was
smothered. No persuasion could induce this Railway Committee,--twelve
out of its fifteen members being Republicans, and eight Republicans
from Philadelphia,--to report the bill to the House in any shape.
According to the statement of the Chairman, Mr. Lee, the school-boy
trick was resorted to of stealing it from his file, in order that
it might be said that there was no such bill in the hands of the
Committee. This assertion was made to an inquirer, several times over,
by Mr. Freeborn, one of its members.

Finally, recourse was had to the Courts. Funds were raised, and within
the last sixteen months, the Committee has attempted to bring suits for
assault in seven different cases of ejection, all of which have been
ignored by various grand juries,--the last only a few days ago. In one
case, a white man,--a highly respectable physician,--who interposed,
by remonstrance only, to prevent the ejection of a colored man, was
himself ejected. He brought an action for assault, and his complaint
was ignored also. In five of these cases civil actions for damages have
been commenced, which are still pending. One of them, by appeal from a
verdict, given under a charge of Judge Thompson, in Nisi Prius, against
the ejected plaintiff, is now on its way to the Supreme Court in banc,
where it is hoped the whole question will be finally and justly settled.

The colored people at present rarely make any attempt to enter the
cars. As is their wont, they submit peaceably to what they must. The
last case of ejection was that of a young woman, so light of color that
she was mistaken for white, and invited into a car of the Union Line
by its conductor. When he found she was colored, he ejected her with
violence, and somewhat to her personal injury.

Thus stands this matter at present; and such has been the action of
official bodies in it. Let us now see what has been the action of
the unofficial public, and what spirit that public has manifested
towards it indirectly, by its action on kindred matters. The claim
of the colored people to enter the cars, though a local question, is
inseparable from the great policy of Equality before the Law, now
offering itself to the national acceptance; and any local fact which
bears on the one relates also to the other, and is therefore relevant
to this subject.

And first, it is found that even colored women, when ejected from
the cars with insult and violence, seldom meet with sympathy from
the casual white passengers, of either sex, who are present, while
the conductor often finds active partisans among them. But one white
passenger has ever volunteered testimony in any case; and for want
of this, generally the only proof possible, several cases have been
dropped.

Events early last year, such as the voting in the cars, the petition
of the men working at the Navy Yard for continued exclusion of colored
people on the Second and Third Street Line, the "fillibustering" of
several hundred women, employed by the Government on army clothing, to
defeat the Fifth and Sixth Street experiment of admission, and other
acts of violence, show clearly that the classes represented by these
men and women are bitterly opposed to admission.

Of our seven daily newspapers, two--the _Press_ and _Bulletin_--have
spoken out manfully and repeatedly in reproof of these outrages and
in defence of the rights of the colored people. The others, it is
believed, while admitting communications on both sides, have been
editorially silent on the subject. In their local items, however, they
have generally given a version of these disturbances unfavorable to
the ejected colored people, under the heading of "riotous conduct of
negroes," or some similar caption.

Grand juries, from the way in which their members are brought together,
may be supposed fairly to represent the average public sentiment on
this question, and their uniform action has been shown. Colored
children have never been admitted to our general public schools, and
the Associated Friends of the Freedmen in this city, who have lately
adopted, as one of their cardinal rules, the admission of children of
both colors, indiscriminately, to their schools in the South, consider
that any effort to introduce the same rule here would be vain.

Only three members--Generals Owen, Tyndale, and Collis--of the Military
Committee of Arrangements of sixteen, for the late celebration of the
Fourth of July in this city, favored inviting colored troops to join
in it; and the officers of the "California" Regiment (71st P. V.) gave
notice, that if such troops did parade, their regiment must decline to
do so, and would forward its colors to Harrisburg by express.

On the 30th of June last there were, distributed through sixteen
counties of the State, and supported by State appropriations amounting
in all to $525,000, twenty-nine School-Homes, three being in this
city, containing 1837 orphans of white soldiers; and, according to
the estimate of the Superintendent, by the 1st of December next, the
number is expected to reach 3000. But, after careful inquiry, it does
not appear that an orphan child of any one of the 1488 colored soldiers
who lost their lives in the service, out of the 8681 belonging,
according to official records, to Pennsylvania, and enlisted at Camp
Wm. Penn, has yet found its way into any of these schools, or been
provided for in any manner out of the above fund. You examine the Act,
and find nothing there to exclude them from these privileges; you ask
explanation of the school matrons, and are told that they never before
heard the thing mentioned; and in reading the two annual reports of the
Superintendent, Mr. Thomas H. Burrows, you find not a word implying
knowledge of the fact that there was a single colored soldier enlisted
in the State. Now on the 6th of July, 1863, at National Hall, the
Hon. Wm. D. Kelley, a member of the late Supervisory Committee for
Recruiting Colored Regiments, in presence of his colleagues and a large
concourse of people, white and colored, asked, addressing his colored
auditors: "Will you not spring to arms, and march to the higher destiny
which awaits your race?" Then turning to his colleagues and their white
friends, he asked: "Will you not see that their orphans are secured
such educational opportunities as a great and humane commonwealth
should provide for the orphans of patriots?" Both these appeals were
answered by loud shouts of assent. And the men of color did "spring to
arms," and marched--not exactly "to the higher destiny which awaits
their race," for that seems to be rather a long march. They, however,
kept their pledge; the country admits that. But, Men of the late
Supervisory Committee, and the thousands whom you represented, how have
you kept yours?

Again: at the corner of Sixteenth and Filbert Streets, in this city,
there is a most comfortable Home for Disabled Soldiers. The State,
thus far, has appropriated $5000 a year and the rent of the building
to its support; the balance of its fund, $115,000, is chiefly the
proceeds of a fair held last October at the Academy of Music for the
benefit of disabled soldiers without regard to color. Colored disabled
soldiers are of course admitted to this institution, as well as white,
and both receive the same kind of fare. But the 160 white inmates eat,
sleep, amuse themselves, and attend the four schools of different
grades, under hired teachers, in well-aired and well-lighted rooms,
distributed through the high main building, separate things, for them,
being kept separate. The seven colored disabled soldiers (enlisted
at Camp William Penn) are quartered in a frame appendage to this
establishment, built on the pavement of the back yard, to which their
privileges are mainly restricted; and here they receive gratuitous
lessons from their benevolent volunteer teacher, Miss Biddle. There is
still room in this Home for one hundred more white soldiers, but there
are present accommodations for no more who are colored. An applicant,
formerly of the 1st U. S. C. T., wounded in the hand, lately requested
to be allowed quarters there for a day or two, until he could get work,
and was told that the colored ward was full. Another colored soldier,
his regiment not known, but who had lost an arm in the service, was
also lately turned away for the same reason. To the inquiry whether
it is absolutely necessary to make the distinction above noted, the
prompt answer is, "Yes; for otherwise the white soldiers would make a
row." But according to all testimony received, the white soldiers most
cheerfully accorded the post of danger, during the late war, to the
enlisted Blacks; and that the latter as cheerfully accepted and bravely
maintained this post, many battle-fields--Fort Wagner, Port Hudson and
Petersburg among the rest--testify. And it would seem that this fact
might be used as an unanswerable reason for establishing equality of
privilege in quarters where these soldiers meet in time of peace. The
quarters being free of expense to all, those who might dislike the
conditions could be made free to leave them. But it is found that this
suggestion, when made, cannot be entertained for a moment.

Now let us look at the question in its political aspect. And attention
may be called first to the fact that several members of the late House
Passenger Railway Committee,--the gentlemen who, in their quality
of legislative abortionists, prevented the anti-exclusion bill from
seeing the light,--were returned to the Legislature at the last Fall
election, by a full party vote, although this transaction had been
fully made known through the newspapers. This shows clearly that, by
their course in regard to the rights of the colored people, they had
not forfeited the confidence of our so-called radicals. One of these
gentlemen, the same who reiterated the assertion that "there was no
such bill in the hands of the Committee," is reputed to be one of the
most respectable and useful members of the Philadelphia delegation. He
is an especial favorite of the Union League, of which he has become a
member since his services on the above Committee were rendered, and
he was lately the recipient of a complimentary gift, with appropriate
ceremonials, in one of its rooms, as a token of his legislative
merit. This incident is mentioned only because it serves to show what
manner of spirit the League is of, in regard to this question of
admission; and one is constrained to believe that this spirit partakes
largely of indifference, tinged with contempt, and therefore of inert
opposition. And if anything were wanting to confirm this impression,
it is to be found in the fact that the League declines to permit the
rare distributing powers of its Publication Committee to be used in
spreading over the State documents which distinctly advocate negro
suffrage.

Next, it will be remembered how, last Fall, all classes of Republicans,
from the most conservative to, with few exceptions, the most radical,
united in expressions of the sincerest regret that the late Mayor
Henry positively declined again to be their candidate. Now it is the
general belief of those who have all along taken an interest in this
matter, that, with the assistance of the Mayor, our colored people
could have gained full admission to the cars more than eighteen months
ago, just as similar admission was obtained for the colored people
of New York, through the energetic course adopted in their favor by
Police Commissioner Ecton. There was then a sort of factitious public
feeling still running in favor of colored folks; war-made abolitionism
had not all melted away; peace had not come, and we might need more
of them to fight for us; these facts had their effect on the public
mind, and were reflected on the Board of Presidents; the Fifth and
Sixth Street Company tried the experiment of admission for a month;
their whole line was beginning to waver, when just then the Mayor
stepped to their side with his powerful official influence and aid, and
turned the scale in their favor. In their battle with the car-invading
negroes, he was their needle-gun. And yet, with a full knowledge of
these facts, no one doubts that the Republicans, last October, would
gladly have re-elected Mr. Henry as their Mayor, and that by a larger
majority than he ever before received. And it must be admitted that
the late Mayor is a most respectable man. By almost universal consent,
he was as brave and incorruptible in office as he has always been pure
in morals and unaffected in piety in private life. Possibly, here and
there an extremist might be found to object, that, thus openly to set
up, as he did, his own prejudices and those of his family, in the
place of law, justice and humanity, as his rule of official conduct,
to the manifest injury of twenty-seven thousands of innocent people,
was a most shameless abuse of power and perversion of authority. But
this objection, with the word shameless, cannot be admitted except
"with a difference." A young child, rolling upon the carpet and freely
exposing its little person, no one calls shameless; it is simply
unconscious. Just so was the late Mayor Henry. Many great and good men
have done gross wrongs unconsciously. Paul, when he was "haling men
and women," very much as our policemen were permitted to do last year,
and with purposes not dissimilar, since both were actuated by the
spirit of persecution, "verily thought" that he "ought to do" these
things; though it is true, at that time, Paul did not pretend to be a
Christian. We may, however, rest assured that when by such an inverted
arrangement of the moral forces as is described above, only negroes
are brought within the official vice and made to feel sharp pressure,
neither the late Mayor, nor the great majority of his friends and
supporters, see the matter in any discreditable light. And it may as
well be confessed, once for all, that to treat a man's sentiments in
respect to negroes as of any importance, in making up your estimate
of his character; or to announce, as your own motive, in whatever you
may do for colored people, the simple desire to do them good, because
it is just, irrespective of any object beyond, such as to save white
recruits, to weaken an enemy, or to gain possible future votes,--is to
bring upon yourself the contempt, secret or open, strong or mild, of
nine-tenths of the people you meet.

When Mr. Charles Gibbons, in his stirring address to the Union League,
shortly after the murder of Mr. Lincoln, described this murder and
other crimes of the South as "representative acts of slavery," and
logically referred to the wrongs done to the colored people in this
city in the same connection, the conclusion of his address was
pronounced "anti-climax." "After electrifying his audience," it was
said, "he flatted right down to the small matter of the cars and
colored people." Now while anything relating to the final position
in this country of four millions of its people, a question which has
already caused one war, and which may cause another, is contemptuously
termed "small" by highly intelligent and influential men, we have much
to learn and much to suffer before this question can be settled.

Another class indication of public feeling on this subject must not be
passed by in silence. At a late series of large and excited meetings
of our clergy and laity convened to remonstrate against the running of
the street cars on Sunday, not a word was said by the remonstrants,
though their attention was called to the matter, against the exclusion
of colored people from these cars on week-days. Like the grand juries,
they ignored the subject. Further, it is believed that only three of
the white clergy of this city have spoken, either from pulpit or
platform, in reprobation of this gross wrong; and if there are cases
in which saying nothing is committing sin, this would seem to be one
of them. But fair and reasonable men are tired of hearing clergymen
berated for not doing that which, if they would still remain clergymen,
they cannot do. It is easy and safe for a pastor to lay before his
people a certain set of what may be called sins by common consent,
such as over-worldliness, inattention to religion and the like. One
portion of his hearers meekly bows to this reproof, and the remainder
tacitly accepts it without argument. But when he earnestly calls on
them to give up some darling sin, which they hug to their bosoms
because they do not admit that it is such, his relations to them are
apt, at once, to become such as were those of St. Paul to the beasts
of Ephesus. And to expect a pastor fiercely to throttle each living,
vigorous, but unconfessed, if not unconscious sin of his people, as
it comes up, for $400 a year, (the average clerical pay, it is said,
of the wealthiest sect in this State,) and then to lose this small
stipend, which he is likely to do by dismissal, as the result of the
conflict, is asking more than a fair day's work for less than a fair
day's wages. Here and there may be found a man who can afford to enter
into this fight. One, rich in natural gifts, holds his hearers, by
the power of personal magnetism, while he pours into their ears a
torrent of unwelcome truths, to which they listen, like the Wedding
Guest, because they "cannot choose but hear," and then, not a few go
away, like an awakened medium, uninfluenced by them. Another, whose
voice neither denouncement nor desertion can silence, or make falter,
because its words are but the imperative utterances of a great heart
ever flowing in full tide, with good will to man, simply as man, always
finds fit audience though few. But these are exceptions, and though
courage might add to them, the great body of our clergymen must preach
what their people are not unwilling to hear, or cease to earn bread
for their families as clergymen. And here is the true reason of their
silence, or hesitating speech, on such proposed subjects of reform as,
at the time, have found but small acceptance; and as men and things
go, this reason is sufficient. Their grave fault is that they keep
it shut up in that dark, back cell of the heart, to which men never
admit each other, and rarely themselves, and put forward such phrases
as "secular subjects," "politics in the pulpit," and (a profanation
of the Holy Word) "my kingdom is not of this world," in the place of
it. Hence the chronic false position in which they stand to society.
For from the very nature of their relations either to their people, an
aristocracy, or their own order, the clergy are everywhere conservative
and not progressive. When Luther began to be a reformer he ceased
to be a monk. All that can reasonably be expected of them is not to
break new soil, but to refrain from upholding old abuses, and (a most
important trust) carefully to keep in order in the old way, but with
a readiness to accept new principles and improved methods, the ground
already fenced in. Their true type of reform is that of Mr. Lincoln. He
never professed to move except at the word of the people, but he always
watched for and joyfully obeyed the first sure signal to advance. But
there are cases in which clergymen are called on to make a direct
attack on a social abuse, and in which the practical good sense of all
classes will uphold them in so doing, whether that abuse has general
countenance or not; and that is where the defence of their own order
demands it. Such a supposed demand was the true cause of their late
loud and unwise protest against the running of the cars on Sunday. They
mistakenly believed this movement to be an invasion of their special
domain, which it was their duty to repel; whereas, if permitted, it
would unquestionably here, as it has done elsewhere, not only benefit
the poor, but increase church-going. And yet, notwithstanding this
readiness to rally in general self-defence, it appears that when the
Rev. Mr. Allston, rector of St. Thomas' (Colored Episcopal) Church, was
expelled from a Lombard and South Street car, and in such a manner that
the strength of his hands alone kept his head from being dashed on the
pavement, some of his brethren simply offered to see that any expense
which he might incur in case he chose to prosecute, should be made up
to him. One feels inclined to ask these gentlemen if they would have
contented themselves with this, as sufficient action in the case, had
the rector of Christ Church, or of St. Luke's, or even so young a man
as the rector of Holy Trinity, been subjected to such an outrage as
this,--one at any time likely to be repeated, and which is, in fact,
regularly kept up by continued exclusion. There can hardly be a doubt
that, had this been the case of a white clergyman, a meeting would
have been called, a protest made, and a deputation, lay and clerical,
appointed to wait on Mr. Dropsie, the President of the company, or
some other vigorous measures taken, to exact redress for present, and
guarantees against future injuries. This would be due, not only to the
outraged brother, but to themselves, outraged in him. The preservation
of their influence with, and the respect in which it is necessary they
should be held by, society, would imperatively demand such a course;
and the only conceivable reason why it was not pursued in the case
of the Rev. Mr. Allston is, that except by a sort of ecclesiastical
fiction, the Episcopal clergy of Philadelphia do not consider him
of their order, nor feel that, in the eyes of this community, their
reputation is in any manner identified with his; and therefore it was
not necessary to their common interests that they should pursue it.

But there is a symptom of public opinion on this subject worse than
the foregoing. The very Committee appointed for the special purpose
of securing to the colored people their rights, failed to be true to
their trust when tried by the test of party politics. At a meeting of
the said Committee, held not long before the last municipal election,
a resolution was offered, the purport of which was, to ask of the
present Mayor, when a candidate, a statement in writing as to the
course he intended to pursue in regard to this question, if elected.
But the Committee deprecated the very thought of jeopardizing the
success of the Republican candidate, by a committal on such a question
as this. The resolution was voted down by a majority of more than ten
to one of the members present. This action is to be regretted, not
only on account of its immediate effect on the work in hand,--for
it was of course reported to the Board of Presidents, who naturally
concluded that the Committee was not in earnest,--but because it
established the fact of weakness in that part of society in which,
of late, we have most looked for strength; and that is in the part
which consists of our able and leading private men of business. If
it is true of clergymen that they cannot be our leaders in reform, it
is no less so of politicians, even of the best class, in or out of
office, and of professional philanthropists, and of managers of the
various bodies of benevolent men and women permanently organized for
particular purposes relating to the public good. All these are, or in
time will be, biassed, either consciously or unconsciously, by private
interests, or party ties, or special objects in connection with these
Associations, whose plans they will seek to shape with a view to their
own purposes. But there is another disqualification common to them
all. They are not independent. They have somebody to consult besides
themselves. They do not act directly from their own convictions, but
are constantly striving to ascertain the average conviction of the
public, or of their constituents, in order to act from that; and as
each of their constituents, to a degree, is independent, and therefore
gives fair play to his convictions, they are very apt to under-estimate
this average, and fall short of it in action: Or, as Wendell Phillips
tersely states it, "representatives are timid, principals are bold."
Successful private men of business are free from these entanglements
and temptations; they alone, as a class, can afford to disregard them,
and therefore they and no others are fitted to take the lead in, or be
the chief promoters of, new movements for the good of society. The best
of this class are earnest, liberal, intelligent, brief in discussion,
practical and direct in operation, regardless of official honors and
the gains connected therewith, and, above all, they know how to master
and use wealth, without being in turn mastered by it. The danger of
such men is not in imprudence; the difficulty is to find quite enough
of them who are not too prudent; and if there are some working with
them who are earnest even to bitterness, and have nothing which they
greatly fear to lose, or hope to gain,--not even reputation,--so that
uses are performed, truths told and justice satisfied, it will be all
the better. Not the least valuable effect of the late war was the
discovery which it made for us of the great wealth of the country in
this kind of men. A few such men, in spite of the covert contempt and
inert opposition of President, Cabinet, congressmen, generals, and
army surgeons, made the Sanitary Commission an institution, whose
great and business-like work of patriotic charity and mercy became
the admiration of the civilized world. They first made the necessity
and practicability of their plan clear to the people, and then, with
them at their back, forced an unwilling government to recognize and
accept the Commission as a power to do good. Similar in character and
results was the Christian Commission, in the President of which is
found the most eminent single example that the war afforded, in support
of this position; such, also, but more limited in their operations,
because less popular, are the Freedmen's Associations; and such, in its
original conception and working during the war, was the Union League.

The men who led in these movements did not go to politicians and ask
if their plans were expedient, party interests considered. But with
the desire to do good for their motive and their own native energies
for their power, success soon brought the politicians to them. And if
private men, or associations of private men, will, this may always be
the case. To this end they have but to accept, and act up to these
propositions: That this country, with such a people in it as carried
through the late war, can never be ruined, politicians to the contrary
notwithstanding; that its nearest approach to ruin will come from
temporizing; that party management never saved a country nor advanced
a just cause; that a country is saved and a just cause advanced only
by doing justice and cultivating a right public opinion; that power
on any other basis is better lost than kept, even when the party that
gains is worse than the party that loses it; that when legitimate means
fail, or have not been used, to form this basis by a party in power,
then the misdeeds of evil men in power are the only resource left
to the country for creating a public opinion against their own evil
policy and in favor of justice, which they will do by causing reaction;
that this is the chief use of, and necessity for, a second party in
the State, and that these propositions are good at all times and in
every crisis, not excepting the present. By taking a firm stand on
this ground, and refusing absolutely to support for office candidates
of inadequate ability, bad personal character, or doubtful firmness
of principle, private men may become a power in the State, instead of
remaining the mere voting machines which they are at present in the
hands of cunning, short-sighted and selfish politicians. The chief
political value of such private men, in their associated capacity, and
the special advantage they possess over all other bodies convened for
consultation with a view to the public good, consist in their being
free to discuss and advocate just measures, with simple directness and
without side issues, and in their ability to enlighten, advance and
fortify public opinion in respect to these measures. When they do this,
they furnish to representative bodies--what they most need--firm and
well cleared ground to stand and work upon. But they never can do this
as mere appendages of State Central Committees, nor if, while they are
free from the representative responsibilities of congressmen, they are
more timid than Congress and speak only in echo of it, and long after
it. And whether they act as political or social reformers, there must
be no distrust of justice, as always a safe guide, and no putting her
aside for the lead of party hacks, as was unfortunately the case with
the aforesaid Car Committee; and the colored people, when they saw
their chosen champions thus postpone justice, in their case, to party
expediency, might well ask where they were to look for any real support
in this demand for their simple rights.

Aside then from the action of official and conventional bodies, it
has been shown that large numbers of the laboring classes are opposed
to the unreserved use of the cars by the colored people; and it must
be inferred from the foregoing facts that but a small number of any
class earnestly and actively advocate it. Between these extremes is
the great body of the respectable, intelligent and influential portion
of the community, the members of which are generally self-restraining
and above violence in speech or act, and who, at first sight, one
might suppose to be indifferent on the question, or perhaps torpidly
in favor of admission. A little friction, however, brings to the
surface unmistakable evidence that this body also is permeated with
latent prejudice sufficient to carry it, imperceptibly perhaps and by
dead weight only, but still to carry it against the colored people.
Many belong to this class who would take offence if told so. It is
not hard to find old hereditary abolitionists--Orthodox and other
Friends, and members of the late Supervisory Committee for Recruiting
Colored Regiments, who coldly decline all overtures for coöperation
in this work. The abolition of Slavery away in the South was all very
well, but here is a matter of personal contact. They are not opposed,
themselves, to riding with colored people--certainly not. The colored
people may get into the cars if they can; they will not hinder it. But
they do wish there were baths furnished at the public expense, for
the use of these friends, in order that they might be made thereby
less offensive to ladies. And from these ladies, no doubt, comes an
opposition--indirect and partially concealed--apparent perhaps only
through the manner and tone of the father, husband or brother, but
still most obstinate. It is often curious to observe how the discussion
of this subject will set in motion two opposing moral currents in the
same religious and cultivated female mind; that of conscience, which
calls for the admission of the colored people, and that of prejudice,
which hopes they will not get it. And thus the moral nature of many
men and women, who in general are friendly to equal rights, on this
question is divided. The sense of justice not being quickened by
sympathy, their movements in respect to it are like those of a man
palsied on one side--hindering rather than helpful. And it is this
great, respectable and intelligent portion of the community that is
really responsible for these wrongs and disturbances.

John Swift, a hard, shrewd man, now gone to his place, but in 1838
Mayor of this city, told a committee of Friends who called on him,
on the 17th of May of that year, for protection against men who
threatened violence, that "public opinion makes mobs;" and on the same
night a mob, so made, after a short, mild speech from the said Mayor,
counselling order and stating that the military would not be called
out, burnt down Pennsylvania Hall. And every mob that the country has
seen, during the last century, has had a similar origin and support,
from that of the Paxton Boys against harmless Indians, in 1763,
encouraged up to the threshold of murder, and then only opposed, when
too late, by the Rev. Mr. Elder and his colleagues, to that of the New
York Irish rioters against the negroes and the draft, in 1863, that
was addressed as "my friends" by Gov. Seymour, the representative of
a great party. And, to bring this subject up to date, may be added the
late rebel mob at New Orleans, hissed on, in its wholesale work of
murder, by the President of the United States through the telegraph.
The brain does not more surely impel or restrain the hand, than do
the more educated and influential classes, however imperceptibly,
those that are less so, in all cases in which premeditated violence is
forseen. And had there really existed any considerable degree of this
moral restraining power in our community, these outrages against the
people of color would long since have ceased.

We are forced then to the conclusion that this community, as a body,
by long indulgence in the wicked habit of wronging and maltreating
colored people, has become, like a moral lunatic, utterly powerless,
by the exercise of its own will, to resist or control the propensity.
And unless it finds an authoritative and sane guardian and controller
in the Supreme Court--unless this Court has itself, by chance, escaped
this widely spread moral imbecility of vicious type, there seems to be
no cure for the disease, nor end to its wickedness. And Philadelphia
must still continue to stand, as she now does, alone, among all the
cities of the old free States, in the exercise of this most infamous
system of class persecution.

When Lear cries out "Let them anatomise Regan; see what breeds about
her heart," we are made to perceive that his mind was not so wholly
absorbed in his wrongs as to prevent it from speculating, in a wild
way, on their cause: a touch of nature suggesting that any statement of
wrongs which does not enter into the causes and conditions that made
their commission possible, is imperfect. And to the question constantly
recurring: What is it that has caused the people of Philadelphia thus
to stand apart from other northern and western free cities, in the
disposition to persecute negroes? the true answer seems to be this:
Philadelphia once owned more slaves than any other northern city, with
the possible exception of New York; she retains a greater number of
colored people now, in proportion to her white population, than any
other such city, with the accidental exception of New Bedford,[1] when
emancipation took place the process was left incomplete, and of all
cities, north or south, she most fears amalgamation.

The evils of slavery are in proportion to its density. In South
Carolina, which is the part of the United States where it was most
dense, these evils, especially in their effect on the Whites, were more
distinct and apparent than in any other State. The South Carolinians
were the most despotic of our slave owners, and they were the first to
secede in order to remain such undisturbed. But great as were these
evils in our slave States, where the Whites always outnumbered the
Blacks, they were infinitely greater in the West Indies, and especially
in St. Domingo, where the Blacks, in a much greater degree, outnumbered
the Whites. The most comprehensive evidence of this is to be found in
the fact that, in the United States there was a natural increase in the
slave population, while in the West Indies the reverse was the case,
to a remarkable degree. A slave, when landed in the United States,
always found here at least two Whites to one Black; for before the
introduction of the cotton gin, which was not until after the abolition
of the slave trade, the temptation was not great to drive plantation
work, or to increase the number of slaves. He came at once into such
multiplied contact with Whites that, though he was taught nothing,
he learnt much. His African superstitions soon died out, or became
greatly diluted; camp meeting exercises took their place; his games and
dances were assimilated to those of white people, and his spontaneous
songs, unlike those of the St. Domingo negroes, which mostly relate to
eating, satire and venery, early became emotional and religious.[2]
The first tincture of Christianity which West India slaves received,
was communicated to them by slaves from the United States. When Dr.
Coke landed in St. Eustatia, in 1788, he found, as his Journal says,
that "the Lord had raised up lately a negro slave named Harry, brought
here from the continent to prepare our way." The Baptists, now the
great sect of Jamaica, owe their origin there to George Lisle, a slave
preacher, who was taken thither from Georgia, by his tory master, at
the evacuation of Savannah by the British in 1782.

But a cargo of slaves, on being landed in French St. Domingo, found
there, towards the last days of the colony, nearly twenty of their own
to one of the white race. They were at once herded with the former.
As their immediate overseers were mostly creole Blacks, many of them
rarely, except at a distance, saw white people, of whom there were
barely enough to conduct the business of the colony. The number of
doctors was insufficient. The planters depended on importation rather
than personal care to keep up their stock of slaves. This stock was
often changed, in consequence of its being worked up. There was a
constant renewal of the savage element by slave ships. The new slaves
always found in St. Domingo the customs and superstitions they had left
in Africa. They added freshness to them, and then all went on together,
as nearly as possible, in the old African way. In fact, it might almost
have seemed, had it been possible, as if parts of French St. Domingo
had been covered with African sod, bearing with it its native life
and growth, little disturbed by the transfer. Hence _vaudouxism_,
or serpent-worship went on, in full vigor, in spite of law and the
police, and, to some extent, cannibalism, up to the very moment when
the colony was suddenly blown to atoms by the over-generation of its
own wickedness,--the Whites, who worked it, being thereby destroyed,
or scattered to distant lands, with all their means and appliances of
civilization. And as the Blacks, who remained in possession, shut the
door against the return of the Whites, from fear of returning slavery,
and yet keep it shut, in consequence of a still remaining vague
jealousy, thus barring out foreign improvements, it is not surprising
that the superstitious and barbarous usages of St. Domingo at this day
prevail, to no small degree, in Hayti. The towns around the coast,
where a few white merchants and the educated mulattoes reside, may be
considered as tufts of civilization, and the savage traits inseparable
from dense slavery have been a good deal softened down among the
country people. But we might as reasonably expect to find an advanced
state of civilization in the neighborhood of the Portuguese trading
settlements on the west coast of Africa as in the interior of Hayti.
For want of a proper knowledge of these facts, the non-civilization of
Hayti has always been a thorn in the side of abolitionists, and from
the same cause, the North generally, during the first half of the late
war, was constantly looking for a second edition of the "Horrors of St.
Domingo" in the South. But the freedmen of the South have no more in
common with the insurrectionary slaves of 1791, in St. Domingo, than
any other humanized people have with savages. It is fair to admit that
this superior moral and physical condition of our southern Blacks over
those of St. Domingo is due, in some degree, to difference of race in
the masters. The descendants of French Protestants, English Wesleyans
and Baptists, and Austrian Salzburgers, and even those resulting from
a cross between Cavaliers and convict-servants, were doubtless less
inhuman slave-masters than the progeny of buccaneers and _flibustiers_.
Still the main difference arose from different degrees of density in
slavery. Our southern slaves had the best opportunities to learn by
looking on. And the most valuable trait in the negro, and that which
will most avail to his salvation as a race, is that, whenever he is
within reach of civilization, he silently puts forth a tendril and
clasps it.

On the Whites, the most curious effect of dense slavery is that of
destroying, or greatly impairing the power of moral vision in all
matters relating to Blacks. In this respect, the trial for murder of
the Hon. Arthur Hodge, planter and member of His Majesty's Council in
the island of Tortola, and there hanged, in 1811, is a psychological
study. Along through the years including 1805 and 1808, this gentleman,
by cart-whipping at "short quarters," by pouring boiling water down the
throat, by burning with hot irons and by dipping in coppers of scalding
water, murdered eight of his slaves and one freeman. Tortola is
twelve miles long by four broad and at the time in question contained
about 6000 inhabitants. These murders were well known to the slave
population, when committed, and as testimony afterwards proved, to
many of the Whites. But Hodge was not brought to trial till 1811, and
then formal complaint against him only reached his brother magistrates
through a family quarrel about property. John M'Donough declined to
serve on the jury because "the case would make the negroes saucy."
Stephen M'Keough, a planter and an important witness, who saw some of
these cases of flogging which ended in death, described Mr. Hodge as "a
good man, but comical, because he had bad slaves." Both the Attorney
General and the presiding Judge, apparently functionaries from England,
thought it necessary to go into a set argument to show that killing
negro slaves was really murder, and the jury, under the charge, brought
Hodge in guilty, but recommended him to mercy. Here was moral blindness
produced by an atmosphere of slavery which can only find its physical
counterpart in the eyeless fishes bred in the dark waters of the
Kentucky cave. Probably no case could be found in our Southern States
equal to this in enormity of crime and corresponding absence of moral
vision in respect to it, though that of Mrs. Abrahams, of Virginia,
with her four murders, and the alacrity with which "all the Richmond
lawyers" volunteered in her defence may approach it.

In Pennsylvania the slaves were never more than a sprinkling compared
to the free population, slavery never appeared in these dark colors,
and it was early declared to be prospectively abolished. And yet
this old, unmistakable characteristic of the slaveholder--defect
of moral vision where the black man is concerned, is to this day a
distinct feature of our society. We are still unable to see clearly the
wickedness of denying him the vote and expelling him from the cars;
and the same spirit of outrage and murder, which now shocks us by the
terrible energy with which it moves the late slaveholders against the
freedmen, is at this moment acting in a small, feeble, mean way within
ourselves against our own colored population. The difference is one of
degree, not of kind. Thus, eighty-six years after the passage of the
act for the gradual emancipation of the slaves of Pennsylvania, life
enough remains in the old institution, long since supposed extinct,
still to disturb the peace of society.

Our fathers made two great mistakes in this matter. First, the process
of extinction was to be gradual, which was as if one, instead of a
bullet, should give a dose of slow poison to a mad dog and then let him
run; and next, it was not only gradual but incomplete. The chain of the
slave was broken but not taken off; and any degree of civil disability
under which an emancipated slave is left, is just so much slavery left.
It not only restrains his movements both of progress and self-defence,
but it keeps alive the spirit of oppression in the "master race" as air
keeps alive flame. By a natural law, whatever of the slave is left in
one race will, while it lasts, always tempt into exercise and encounter
a corresponding amount of the slave master in the other. So long as
the law degrades a man, his neighbor will degrade him. Whoever can
call to mind a celebration of our day of Independence in Philadelphia
five and thirty years ago, may remember that the part of the day's
exercises which the boys took upon themselves was to stone and club
colored people out of Independence Square, because "niggers had nothing
to do with the Fourth of July." The fathers of these boys looked on
with placid satisfaction, cheerfully and hopefully remarking to each
other, how well their sons were learning to perform the duties of free
American citizens. Twenty years later and a change might be seen.
Colored people--place and occasion the same--were allowed to carry
water about among the crowd, without meeting other insult from the
thirsty than words of good-natured contempt. This was an improvement.
Those whom we formerly drove forth with blows and curses, we had now
learned to utilize. Twelve more years go by, and on the Fourth of
July we were enlisting our able bodied colored men to fight for us.
But we still were mindful of what was due to ourselves, as belonging
to the superior race, and when they came back to us, wounded in our
defence, we carefully restricted their wives and sisters to the front
platform of the cars, when they visited their husbands and brothers at
the hospitals. And now to-day, out of sixteen Philadelphia generals
and colonels, most of whom are believed to have seen some service in
the field, three vote in favor of permitting these returned colored
veterans actually to join in the celebration of our great National
Anniversary. This is progress, but it is slow, and the causes of the
obstruction to it must be sought in the incomplete emancipation of 1780.

But another cause which gives Philadelphia a bad eminence in respect
to the treatment of colored people, is the comparatively large numbers
of them which she possesses over other northern cities, with the one
exception above noted; and this cause seems simply to connect with
and form part of another--the fear of amalgamation. This fear greatly
disturbs a large portion of our white population. In discussing the
car question, an opponent of admission at once urges that it will be
a stepping stone to amalgamation. The suggestion that seven disabled
colored soldiers might safely be allowed equal privileges in a military
hospital with 160 white soldiers, is put aside with the remark that
such a rule would countenance amalgamation. The matron, with downcast
eyes and timid horror, intimates this objection to the reception, into
the same Orphan Home, of little white and colored children, mostly
between the ages of four and ten. All this sounds very illogical.
Hitherto, there has been little amalgamation of the two races at the
North, and as the colored people never make advances to the Whites,
that little cannot be increased until the Whites make advances to them.
When is this to begin? Let each one answer this question individually.
This matter, in its negative aspect, rests entirely within the control
of the white population.

The broad distinction, so often pointed out, between political
and social equality, is still by many of our people persistently
confounded, and perhaps it may be necessary to state it once more.
Political equality everybody has the present or prospective right to
demand--social equality nobody; for the barrier which separates the
two is made up of private door-steps. Each of these, its owner has
absolutely at his own command, and no man has a right to prescribe,
even by implication, whom he shall permit, or forbid, to pass it. It is
not an open question.

But supposing the relations, so long sustained at the North, between
the two races, and which the Blacks do not complain of, when
unaccompanied with wrongs, were suddenly to cease; and everywhere,
North and South, on both sides, impelled by an irrepressible orgasm,
they should rush together. There are, in round numbers, 26,000,000
of white and 4,000,000 of colored people in the United States; and
after every Black had found a White, there would remain 22,000,000
of Whites still unmated. These, by necessity, would carry on the
pure white population, and they might safely be left, without help,
to sustain themselves in the struggle of race, against the 8,000,000
of amalgamationists. But here it is asserted, they will receive aid
from a distinct source. According to the theory of Doctors Nott and
Cartwright, the mixed race rapidly decays, and after three generations
dies out. This theory is accepted by those who fear amalgamation, and
is often quoted by them, as an argument against the theory of equal
rights. They also hate negroes and would be glad to see their numbers
less. But pure-blooded negroes, it is generally conceded, possess
great vitality of race and are killed off with difficulty. This
difficulty, it seems, can be overcome by amalgamation. By this process,
in one generation, all these negroes become mulattoes, and this once
accomplished, the whole African race is in a fair way to disappear from
the land. These advocates for pure white blood have been defeating
their own purpose. Let them reverse their policy and encourage, for a
time, the amalgamation they have hitherto opposed, and, with patience,
they can have a white man's government yet.

This proposition is less extravagant than are these insane and wicked
fears of impending amalgamation;--wicked, because they are made the
excuse, by the race that has the entire preventive control of the
matter, for maltreating colored people and denying them rights which
are accorded, without dispute, to every other man and woman in the
country.

But these people will never come to such an end as this; and if it
is true that amalgamation, here, leads towards it, then here, to any
considerable extent, it will never take place. They were never made
the valuable element of our population, which they are, simply to die
out. The greater part of the work which has yet been done on a large
portion of this continent has been done by them, and apparently they
ever will be, as they ever have been, absolutely essential to its full
development.

This statement does not imply that the slave trade and slavery were
right or necessary. The sin was not in the bringing of Africans to
America, but in the manner of bringing them. God has established His
own fixed laws to govern the movements of peoples, but He permits men
to carry them out according to their will. Had men willed to be just
and humane, they could have induced Africans to come to this continent
as free emigrants; but they were selfish and wicked, and therefore
forced them to come as slaves. Slavery has been, and is, destroying
itself everywhere; and in this country, the great system of free labor
and equal rights which prevails, without qualification, in some of the
Northern States, is now being offered, and in spite of all opposition
will soon be applied, to every State, north and south. It is not
probable that it will stop there. It is believed that the same system
is destined, in time, to be extended into our tropics. The so-called
Anglo-Saxon race in England colonizes; in the United States it expands.
Mr. Disraeli lately pronounced England more an Asiatic than a European
power; and the day may come when we shall be as much a power of South
America as we now are of North America. We have a means to facilitate
future extension into the tropics in an element of our home population,
suited to them, which England never possessed in hers; and after
this has been received into our body politic, and is thus enabled to
develop its powers, it is not easy to resist the conclusion that its
destiny is to carry our civilization into these latitudes. The feeble
and imperfect nationalities lying to the south of us are apparently
but provisional. They are waiting a better system than their own,
and higher powers than they possess, to apply it. The time is likely
to come when their ability to furnish the products peculiar to their
soil will fall short of the wants of the civilized world without; and
should this be the case, it will stimulate us to carry thither our
enterprise, and with it our laws and institutions. This has been the
process by which they have been carried into California, by Whites
alone--gold being the lure; but to places farther south our people of
color, from their special climatic fitness for it, must assist in being
their vehicle; and the two races must go towards the tropics, if at
all, together. The African will never leave this country, but he may,
in the legitimate pursuit of his own interests and happiness, assist in
its expansion beyond its present limits; and, soon or late, should the
practical assertion of our "Monroe Doctrine" make it necessary for us
to carry our arms into tropical latitudes, the late war has shown us
where to find soldiers. These are speculations, but it would be hard
to show that they are without some groundwork of probable reality in
the future. Meantime it is well to feel assured that these people are
here for the good, and not the evil of both races, and that interest
as well as justice demands that every right and privilege which we
possess should be freely and at once extended to them. Let us trust God
to do His own justice, not fearing that harm will come of it unless we
interpose with our injustice; and let us no longer believe that if we
do what is right and humane as a people to-day, we shall be punished
for it to-morrow; for this is practical atheism.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] According to the census of 1860, the proportion of the colored to
the white population in the cities named below, was as follows:


     Boston,        1 colored to 77-2/3 white.
     New York,      1    "     " 63½      "
     Philadelphia,  1    "     " 24½      "


In New Bedford, at the same census, the proportion was found to be one
colored to 13½ white. The comparatively large number of colored people
in that city is said to be due to the special kindness with which
runaway slaves were received there, and to the fact that it afforded
them a somewhat safe place of refuge, because it was out of the main
line of travel.

[2] Our Southern negro English, uncouth as it sounds, is pure compared
to that of the British Islands; and in the French West Indies and
Hayti, the divergence between the creole _patois_ and French is still
wider. The negroes actually impressed the use of their dialect deeply
upon the Whites, and to this day it is the colloquial language of all
classes, whether educated or not, in these islands. The same negro
ascendancy can be traced in their amusements. The _Bamboula_ and the
_Calenda_ of the French islands and Hayti, and certain similar dances
in Cuba, are, somewhat modified and restrained, still favorites with
the white people. They are all African in their origin, and their type
is lasciviousness. In the British islands these dances have in a great
degree given way before the teachings of the Baptist, Methodist and
Moravian missionaries.





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