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´╗┐Title: A Mississippi View of Race Relations in the South
Author: Rowland, Dunbar
Language: English
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A Mississippi View of Race Relations in the South.


Read before the Alumni Association of the University of Mississippi,
June 3rd, 1802.





Director of Department of Archives and History.

Read before the Alumni Association of the University of Mississippi,
June 3rd 1902.

The purpose of all investigation should be to elicit truth. It is
therefore the object of this discussion to give a truthful, accurate
and unprejudiced statement of facts about the political, social and
industrial relations of the white man and the negro in the South. It is
to be desired that not even an allusion shall be made that may raise a
feeling of sectional prejudice in the breasts of any.

There are few men not of the South who can appreciate the sad trials of
the past, or realize the dangerous problems of the future. Some may see
the true nobility, calm dignity and Spartan fortitude which the South
has shown in meeting her responsibilities, few know what they really
mean. The wrongs and mistakes of the past would have driven a less
proud and noble race into anarchy.

When the perilous problems of the South are better understood, when
the clouds which political passion create are swept away by a sincere
sympathy and a desire to lend a helping hand, when a friendly interest
takes the place of unfriendly criticism, when what is right is the aim
of all then and not until then can pressing problems be intelligently

The great body of the people of this Republic want to do right. They
want to deal justly. The Southern people know the negro and understand
him, let them work out and solve the serious problems surrounding them
in a way which shall be of advantage to both races.

The social, political and industrial conditions which now exist in the
South can only be properly appreciated by taking a brief backward view
of what has gone before.

From early colonial times to 1860 the South was a garden for the
cultivation of all that was grand in oratory, true in science, sublime
and beautiful in poetry and sentiment, and enlightened and profound in
law and statesmanship. That period produced a roll too long to read of
noble spirits, bright wits and great scholars, whose names and deeds
are preserved in the archives of the nation's glory. From the Potomac
to the Rio Grande the Southern gentleman held sway. The South was
looked upon by its lordly owners as the most favored spot on earth. It
was called the Fair Land by those who owned it and loved it. Ruin and
desolation came upon this fair land and its people.

The boom of batteries in the harbor of Charleston on a beautiful April
day in 1861 was the beginning of a bloody fraternal strife which laid
desolate the happy homes of the people everywhere, brought about the
sacrifice of a half million lives and cost the country ten billions of
money. The war between the Confederate States and the United States
brought about the greatest political and social revolution known to
history. That revolution brought political, industrial and financial
ruin upon the South. When peace came a race of servile slaves were made
masters of her political destiny.

The Anglo Saxon has never bowed his head to the yoke of an inferior
race and he never will. We see now that it was cruel to condemn a brave
though fallen people to the suffering and humiliation which became
their portion. The enfranchisement of the negro was a mistake. It was
a stupendous blunder, and is now recognized as such by thoughtful
students of events everywhere.

After the negro had been clothed with the right of suffrage the
Southern people made an honest effort to give him a fair trial. If
he proved to be a worthy citizen the fears of the people would be

The Confederate States had given up their struggle for an independent
nationality upon a basis of freedom for the negro race. While the best
and most thoughtful men of the South believed that the experiment of
negro suffrage would ruin the country and prove fatal to the negroes
they knew that the trial must be made. They felt that they were bound
to the soil of the South for life, and they wanted to sleep in its
bosom after death. They tried to make that noble sentiment, which a
great man has given the world, their guide: "He who does the best his
circumstances allow does well, acts nobly; angels could not do more."

The South had suffered through four years of war. The blood of the best
and bravest had deluged the land. The whitened bones of her sons lay
upon the hilltops of Virginia and were strewn over the fertile valleys
of Mississippi. The people thought that they had suffered enough. The
bitter and humiliating chalice of negro rule was yet to be pressed to
their lips.

At the end of the war there was no ill will against the negro in the
hearts of the Southern people. The following extract from the charge
of Judge Clayton of Alabama to the grand jury of Pike County, made
September 9th, 1866, shows the prevailing statement:

     "Gentlemen, do we owe the negro any grudge? What has he himself
     done to provoke our hostility? Shall we be angry with him because
     freedom has been forced upon him? Shall it excite our animosity
     because he has been suddenly and without an effort on his part
     torn loose from the protection of a kind master? He is proud to
     call you master yet. In the name of humanity let him do so. He may
     have been the companion of your boyhood. He may be older than you
     and perhaps carried you in his arms when an infant. You may be
     bound to him by a thousand ties which only the Southern man knows,
     and which he alone can feel in all its force. It may be that
     when only a few years ago you girded on your cartridge box and
     shouldered your trusty rifle to go to meet the invaders of your
     country, you committed to his care your home and your loved ones,
     and when you were far away upon the weary march, upon the dreadful
     battle field, in the trenches and on the picket line, many and
     many a time you thought of that faithful old negro and your heart
     warmed toward him."

There was at the end of the war and is now a strong and steadfast
affection between the old slaves of the South and their former masters.
If that feeling of confidence had been allowed to continue without
the evil influence of the carpet-bagger all would have been well.
The Southern white man is the only man on earth who understands the
negro character, and he is the only man who is now fitted to solve the
intricate race relations of the future.

The reconstruction period found the negro free. His freedom was not the
result of his own efforts, although in most instances it was his desire
to be free. By reason of the entire absence of self-reliance, his want
of experience and his failure to understand or appreciate his changed
condition, the negro after his emancipation was helpless. At this
critical time the carpet-bagger invaded the South intent upon nothing
but gain. At best the pathway toward better things was blocked by many
difficulties. The coming of the carpet-bagger and the evil influence
he gained over the negro, by causing him to lose faith in his best
friends, was the crowning sorrow and humiliation of the South.

The picture of conditions existing in the South during the period of
reconstruction may strike those who know nothing of it as too dark.
Some thinking and impartial men of the North are inclined to believe
that Southern men overdraw the darkness of the night of reconstruction.
At this time--twenty-five years after--in the light of the facts of
history the student of that period, whose opinions are not embittered
by the trials of the times, stands in astonishment and marvels at the
patience and long suffering of a brave and chivalrous people. Therefore
the unprejudiced reader will be in sympathy with a brief, impartial
account of reconstruction conditions.

Reconstruction was the creation of men who knew nothing of conditions
surrounding the negro. Instead of adapting him to his new life the
measures of reconstruction made the negro a discontented enemy of good
government. The story of the trials of reconstruction is told not
with a spirit of bringing reproach on the men who made them possible
by unwise legislation, or by way of apology for the people of the
South, but from a purely historical standpoint giving the facts minus
prejudiced opinion. The debates in Congress pending the passage of
reconstruction measures clearly show that the most conservative and
self-contained men of the party then in power were opposed to universal
manhood suffrage for the negro. That President Lincoln was opposed
to manhood suffrage for the negro is now a well established fact of
history. The evidence upon which that statement rests, in addition to
Mr. Lincoln's own statements, is a letter written by Mr. McCulloch,
who was Secretary of the Treasury in the cabinet of President Lincoln
and later filled the same office for President Johnson and President
Arthur. Secretary McCulloch says:

     "It was, I know, the opinion of Mr. Lincoln and other friends of
     the colored race--it certainly was mine--that some qualification,
     such as the ownership of taxable property, the ability to read and
     write or both, should have been required for the exercise of the
     right to vote, as an inducement for the acquisition of what is
     needful on the part of self-governing people."

Previous to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment there was not a
Northern state where the negro had the right to vote. Mr. Garfield
wanted an intelligent negro suffrage. He said during the reconstruction
debates on that question:

     "I regret that we have not found the situation of affairs in
     this country such, and the public virtue such, that we might
     come out on the plain, unanswerable proposition that every adult
     intelligent citizen of the United States, unconvicted of crime,
     should enjoy the right of suffrage."

Senator Fessenden, of Maine, a very able man, one of the leaders of the
Republican party and a member of the reconstruction committee, said in
the Senate on the question of negro suffrage:

     "I think the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, himself,
     (Mr. Sumner) who is the great champion of universal suffrage,
     would hardly contend that now at this time the whole mass of the
     population of the recent slave states is fit to be admitted to
     the exercise of the right of suffrage. I presume that no man who
     looks dispassionately and calmly would contend that the great
     mass of those who were recently slaves (undoubtedly there may be
     exceptions) and who have been kept in ignorance all their lives,
     oppressed more or less, forbidden to acquire information, are fit
     at this day to exercise the right of suffrage or could be trusted
     to do it."

Such statements show that the great leaders of the Republican party
long after the war had the correct idea of negro suffrage. If such was
the opinion of these great and good men, why was it not made the policy
of the Republican party? Why was negro suffrage finally determined
upon? The only conclusion to which the student of the situation can
come is that negro suffrage was adopted as a partisan political measure
intended for the perpetuation of political power.

The political situation in Washington in 1867 was exactly suited to
bring about the evils of partisan legislation. There was only one party
represented at the Capitol. There was no voice there to plead the cause
of the people upon whom the ruin of negro rule would fall. They were
at home silent and waiting, hoping that the evil might be averted. The
extreme radicals of the Republican party, led by Sumner and Stevens
prevailed and the reconstruction bill became a law on the 2nd of March,
1867. The negro was made an unwilling instrument for the oppression and
humiliation of his best friends. He was made the controlling political
influence in the South. He placed himself under the leadership of men
who poisoned his mind with a spirit of misrule, and who taught him to
mistrust and hate his former masters.

The bitter humiliation of negro domination was borne with fortitude
and patience. Under such conditions property was insecure. There was
open and notorious plunder without the hope of redress. Ignorance,
crime and hatred enthralled the white people. No such evil had ever
before been put upon a suffering section. It seemed as if the wheels
of civilization had been turned back a thousand years. Ignorant and
vicious negroes filled the most important positions of honor and
trust. They became county officers, members of the legislature, state
officers, members of Congress and United States senators.

The long continued rule of ignorance and vice could only have one
result--the ruin of the country and the confiscation of all property
by the power of taxation. The people of the South faced that condition
after seven years of negro rule. What did they do to remedy it? They
did exactly what the Anglo Saxon would have done under like conditions,
no matter whether they existed in Mississippi, in Massachusetts, in
England or in Germany. They met together in council and after mature
and thoughtful deliberation, they pledged their honor, fortune and
lives to rid themselves and their posterity from the blight of black
supremacy; by peaceful means, if possible, by force if necessary.

The struggle between white and black began. It was a time of deep
emotion and intense feeling all over the South. Every white man swore
a solemn oath before high Heaven that he would free himself and his
posterity from the disgrace of negro rule or die in the attempt. That
idea was the battle cry. The people felt that they were struggling
against infamy and dishonor. They felt that the peace of their homes,
the safety of their wives and the happiness of their children depended
on the result. Lawyers left their law books, doctors their patients,
preachers their sermons, merchants their stores and farmers their
fields and formed themselves into a mighty force for the overthrow of
misrule. During the time of such intense feeling and excitement many
mistakes were made, many irreparable wrongs were committed and many
innocent lives were lost. Truth and candor can now deal with that time.
It was a time of revolution when the wishes of wise leaders were often
set aside to give way to the passions of the hour. There were frequent
armed conflicts between the races, and the negroes always suffered
most from them. They were armed and incited to violence by their
white leaders who deserted them in time of peril. The issues of that
remarkable campaign were clear and well defined, and were:

First. The negro has proven himself unworthy of suffrage, and it should
be taken from him.

Second. Negro rule is ruinous to a State.

Third. The honest, intelligent people of a state should control it.

Fourth. Negro suffrage had been given a fair trial with terrible

Fifth. Freedom could not in a moment transform an ignorant man into an
intelligent citizen.

Sixth. The negro was being made a tool in the hands of thieves and

Seventh. There was not a state under negro rule that showed even a
trace of honest, intelligent government.

Eighth. That existing conditions must be overthrown at whatever cost.

The negroes were told plainly that they would not be allowed to
vote and it would be best for them not to attempt it. There was no
concealment. The men who guided the movement in the various states of
the South had the courage to declare that black supremacy must come to
an end.

The leaders of that revolution were John B. Gordon of Georgia, L. Q. C.
Lamar and James Z. George, of Mississippi, A. H. Garland, of Arkansas,
Isham G. Harris, of Tennessee, John T. Morgan, of Alabama, James B.
Eustis, of Louisiana, Wade Hampton, of South Carolina, Richard Coke
of Texas, and Zebulon B. Vance, of North Carolina. They belong to the
eternal honor roll of the South, and their names shall be remembered
after the monuments of marble and tablets of brass which mark the last
resting place of many of them shall have crumbled into dust.

In Mississippi the struggle was bitter and bloody. Adelbert Ames, the
Republican Governor of the State, in his desperation over impending
disaster, applied to the Federal Government at Washington for United
States troops to be used in terrorizing the people on election day. He
is reported to have declared that the death of a few hundred negroes
would make sure the success of the Republican party. Bloody riots
occurred at Clinton, Yazoo City and Vicksburg, in which many negroes
and some white men were killed. President Grant refused to send Federal
troops into Mississippi, and his refusal was based on the report of Mr.
C. K. Chase, an agent of the Attorney General of the United States, who
had been sent to report on the application of Governor Ames for troops.
His report being that there was no legal excuse for the presence
of armed men. It was a struggle in which the forces of honesty and
intelligence were arrayed against those of dishonesty and ignorance.

There could only be one result in the battle for the mastery between
the white man and the negro; the negro must give way. The fight was
fought and won. The South was redeemed. The Southern people exercised
the right of revolution to free themselves. They used force, the only
means in their power to overthrow misrule, corruption and dishonesty.
The negroes were thoroughly beaten by the revolution of 1875. They
never again attempted to vote in large numbers.

A period of mild intimidation continued for fourteen years. That
method of preserving white supremacy was never entirely satisfactory,
and Southern leaders and statesmen were anxious to remove the menace
of future trouble by constitutional means. It was believed that the
continued suppression of the negro vote would promote a feeling among
the whites to use the same methods on each other and promote a low tone
of political morality.

The movement to disfranchise the negro vote by legal means began in
Mississippi under the leadership of Gen. James Z. George. The movement
rapidly became popular, and Mississippi provided for a Constitutional
Convention in 1890. Gen. George, the leader of the demand for white
supremacy by legal means, was a United States Senator from Mississippi,
and one of the great constitutional lawyers of the country. He was a
rugged, honest, able and thoughtful man of the humble walks of life,
who had carved out a brilliant career from a beginning of poverty
and want. Senator George was born in Monroe county, Georgia, October
20th, 1826. His father died when his son was an infant, and his mother
moved to the new State of Mississippi that her boy might have a better
chance in life. The mother first found a home in Noxubee county,
and lived there until her son was ten years old. They then moved to
Carroll county, in 1836, and it became the life-long home of the man
who was destined to lead the people of his adopted State out of the
darkness and doubt of a suppressed negro vote into the light and
freedom of a suffrage founded on justice and right and in keeping with
constitutional law and liberty. The childhood and young manhood of
James Z. George, like that of so many great men, was passed in genteel
poverty, without the advantages which wealth can bestow and without
the culture which education gives. He was not trained in the learning
of the schools. He was poor. Victor Hugo, the great Frenchman, who
made the world better by having lived in it, says that "Poverty is the
greatest of opportunities." The men who dominated the world in the
past--the great world leaders and nation makers--were not "clothed in
fine linen, faring sumptuously every day"; they toiled to the light
through the darkness of poverty. Senator George was one of those men

     "Who breaks his birth's invidious bar,
       And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
       And breasts the blows of circumstance,
     And grapples with his evil star."

The Constitutional Convention of 1890 met in Jackson, Mississippi, for
the purpose of giving the State a new organic law. The convention was
composed of the best men in Mississippi. Among the leaders and master
minds of the body were James Z. George, S. S. Calhoon, Edward Mayes, H.
F. Simrall, J. L. Alcorn and W. P. Harris. Judge Calhoon was an eminent
jurist of the State, and he became President of the Convention. Edward
Mayes was a law professor, Chancellor of the State University, and the
most learned lawyer in the State. Judge Simrall was an ex-Chief Justice
of the Supreme Court. He was a clean Republican, and represented
a Democratic constituency. Governor Alcorn was the most prominent
Republican in the State. He had been Governor, a United States Senator,
and was a forceful man of high character. Judge Harris was the leading
lawyer of the Mississippi bar. He was able, thoughtful and brave, and
did very active work in the Convention.

The avowed and confessed object of the convention was to eliminate
the ignorant vote whether white or black. Every thoughtful man in the
convention knew the terrible results of placing political power in
ignorant, incompetent hands.

Universal suffrage could not succeed where there was an electorate of
sixty per cent. who were illiterate. The experiment had been tried with
terrible results in other nations. In 1793 France founded a Republic
based on universal manhood suffrage. It went down in a sea of blood and
became a military despotism in 1800. The experiment was tried again in
1848. In 1852 they returned to a despotism of military power. There
could be no other result when more than one-half the voters could not
read their ballots. Spain has passed through the same experience. The
Republic of Castellar, built on an ignorant white rabble, passed away
in a few months to give place to the old ruinous rule of the Bourbons.
South America is full of little republics resting on an ignorant
suffrage. They are in a perpetual state of revolution, and such
conditions will continue until they have an intelligent ballot.

The franchise section of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 provides
an educational qualification and requires payment of all taxes for
two years before the election, and it eliminates all ignorant votes
regardless of color, who cannot measure up to the test. The educational
test is not exacting and only involves the power to read. It places
the right to vote as a reward in the reach of the negro, which may
be gained by effort. The negroes are slowly qualifying themselves to
become voters, and there is no disposition anywhere to prevent them
from doing so. If the negro is made to earn his full citizenship by his
own efforts it will teach him to take pride in it.

Under the Mississippi system the disfranchisement of a few whites was
unavoidable, but it was thought that they should pay the penalty of
ignorance rather than endanger the safety of the State. The whites who
were disfranchised accepted the situation without a murmur.

Five other Southern states have followed the lead of Mississippi
in framing a new organic law for the purpose of disfranchising the
ignorant voter. These states are South Carolina, North Carolina,
Alabama, Louisiana and Virginia. These states adopted the Mississippi
plan of an educational qualification, and in addition incorporated in
their constitutions the famous "grandfather clause," which prevents
the disfranchisement of any whites whatever. That clause of these
constitutions provides that all male descendants of those who were
voters before 1868, shall continue to exercise the right to vote
regardless of the required educational qualifications.

Here are the franchise sections of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890:

     SEC. 241.--Every male inhabitant of this State, except idiots,
     insane persons, and Indians not taxed, who is a citizen of the
     United States, twenty-one years old and upwards, who has resided
     in this State two years and one year in the election district,
     or in the incorporated city or town in which he offers to vote,
     and who is duly registered as provided in this article, and who
     has never been convicted of bribery, burglary, theft, arson,
     obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery,
     embezzlement, or bigamy, and who has paid, on or before the first
     day of February of the year in which he shall offer to vote, all
     taxes which may have been legally required of him, and, which
     he has had an opportunity of paying according to law, for the
     two preceding years, and who shall produce to officers holding
     the election satisfactory evidence that he has paid said taxes,
     is declared to be a qualified elector; but any minister of the
     gospel in charge of an organized church shall be entitled to vote
     after six month's residence in the election district, if otherwise

     Section 242 relates to registration of voters.

     SEC. 243.--A uniform poll tax of two dollars, to be used in aid of
     the common schools, and for no other purpose, is hereby imposed on
     every male inhabitant of this State between the ages of twenty-one
     and sixty years, except persons who are deaf and dumb or blind,
     or who are maimed by loss of hand or foot; said tax to be a lien
     only upon taxable property. The board of supervisors of any county
     may, for the purpose of aiding the common schools in that county,
     increase the poll tax in said county, but in no case shall the
     entire poll tax exceed in any one year three dollars on each poll.
     No criminal proceedings shall be allowed to enforce the collection
     of the poll tax.

     SEC. 244.--On and after the first day of January, A. D. 1892,
     every elector shall, in addition to the foregoing qualifications,
     be able to read any section of the constitution of this State; or
     he shall be able to understand the same when read to him, or give
     a reasonable interpretation thereof. A new registration shall be
     made before the next ensuing election after January the first, A.
     D. 1892.

     It will be observed that the foregoing does not disfranchise the
     negro any more than it does the white man. It simply means that
     the citizen--black or white--who will not pay all taxes, including
     the "uniform poll tax of two dollars, to be used in aid of the
     common school," on or before the first day of February in which
     he offers to vote, and who is not intelligent enough to read any
     section of the State constitution, or to understand the same
     when read to him, or give a reasonable interpretation thereof,
     shall not be allowed to vote. In other words, he voluntarily
     disfranchises himself for the period named. In the case of the
     poll tax, it will be noticed that no "criminal proceedings shall
     be allowed to enforce its collections." The only penalty is that
     the delinquent cannot vote. And the registration statistics of
     the several counties show that there are thousands of whites as
     well as blacks who thus disqualify themselves. And the fact that
     the poll tax is a school fund, and that it cannot be otherwise
     applied, makes this delinquency all the more to be regretted.

The new suffrage departure of Mississippi was the subject of much
discussion in political and legal circles in Washington during the
winter of 1890-91. It was made the subject of violent partisan attacks
in the Senate. Senators Hoar, Spooner, Hawley and Edmunds denounced it
as in conflict with the amendments of the Federal Constitution clothing
the negro with the right of suffrage. Senators Hoar and Edmunds were
generally regarded as autocrats on questions of constitutional law, and
they brought all the resources at their command in their attacks on the
new organic law of the State of Mississippi.

Senator George was in his seat in the Senate as the defender and
champion of the new charter of white supremacy. He was equipped for
the forensic battle. He was ready with the truth. He was armed with
courage to meet all comers. He began his celebrated speech in defense
of the Mississippi Constitution on the 31st day of December 1890. He
had been a member of the Senate nine years and was known to be an
authority on questions of constitutional law. While his ability was
recognized, the reserve force of the man was unknown to his associates
in the Senate. There was great responsibility resting upon him. He was
the chosen champion of the Southern crusade against ignorance at the
ballot box. He had been the chief agent in the construction of the
organic law which lifted the fatal shirt of Nessus from the shoulders
of the Southern people. If he failed, the people he loved would suffer.
If he gained the victory, future generations yet unborn would rise up
and call him blessed. His defense was conclusive. It was overwhelmingly
convincing. The great Senator showed a more intimate knowledge of
the constitutions of Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut than did
the Senators who represented those states. It was one of the great
constitutional law speeches of the Senate, and will take rank in the
future with Webster's superb speech in defense of the Constitution. All
of the contentions of Senator George were afterwards crystalized into
law by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Williams
v. Mississippi. The decision of that case forever settled the question
of negro suffrage. It was decided April 25, 1898.

Henry Williams, a negro, was indicted for murder in Washington
County, Mississippi, by a grand jury, made up entirely of white men.
A motion was made to quash the indictment on the ground that the laws
by which the grand jury was selected, that presented the indictment
were unconstitutional or repugnant to the Constitution of the United
States and of the 14th amendment. It was a direct attack on the
franchise clause creating electors and raised a Federal question which
enabled Williams to carry the case to the Supreme Court of the United
States. Williams was tried by a jury composed entirely of white men
and convicted. A motion for a new trial was denied and Williams was
sentenced to be hanged. An appeal to the supreme court of the State
was taken and the judgment of the court below was affirmed. The case
was then taken to the supreme court of the United States and Justice
McKenna delivered the opinion. The question presented to the court was,
"Are the Provisions of the Constitution of the State of Mississippi and
the Laws Enacted to Enforce Them Repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment
of the Constitution of the United States?" The court held that there
was no conflict and no discrimination between the races. It was decided
that equal protection of the laws was not denied to colored persons by
a State constitution and laws which make no discrimination against the
colored race in terms but which grant a discretion to certain officers
which can be used to the abridgment of the rights of colored persons
to vote and serve on juries, when it is not shown that their actual
administration is evil, but only that evil is possible under them.

In dealing with the race problem it must be born in mind that it is the
curing power of time aided by intelligent human effort which can cure
the ills of the past and promote the good results of the future. The
growth of social and political conditions is always slow. It requires
generations to make changes for good or evil. It must be remembered
that the negro has behind him six thousand years of ignorance and
barbarism. Universal suffrage can safely exist only where there is
universal education.

Out of the mass of conflicting opinions there have come two great ideas
about which there is no difference of opinion in the South. The first
is the necessity for the absolute social separation and isolation of
the negro. He will never be accepted as an equal no matter how great
his future advancement. He may gain the culture of the schools and
acquire something of the polish of polite society, but he can never
beat down the barriers between white and black.

The demands of civilization must be obeyed.

The second settled conviction is that the negro will never again be
allowed to control the public affairs of a single Southern state.

Good government demands that position.

If there is no higher motive than self interest; that demands that
the Southern people do everything in their power to make the negro an
industrious, honest, self-supporting citizen. If the people of the
North will help them do that in a fair sympathetic way their aid will
always be welcomed.

There are thoughtful men in the South who have lost faith in the power
of the education which has heretofore been given to uplift the negro,
and there is reason in their position, but public sentiment still
clings to the school houses and to industrial education as the only
hope of the future.

Here is what Gov. Longino, in his inaugural address, says upon this

     There is no danger so great to the affairs of any republic as an
     ignorant factious citizenship, whose tendencies have always been
     to overturn social order, political system, liberty, justice and
     right. Mississippi's greatest relief from this source of evil has
     been for many years found in the efficiency of her free schools
     and her colleges. The liberality, therefore, of the legislature
     in the past, in providing funds for their proper maintenance,
     has been both wise and patriotic, and I heartily commend the
     continuation of the same liberal spirit toward all the State's
     educational interests and institutions. The free school fund is
     now distributed among the counties per capita of the educable
     children in each. The relative attendance upon the free schools in
     the white is much greater than in the black counties, and hence,
     by reason of the fewer schools required for the accommodation of
     the attending pupils in the black counties affords those counties
     the use of the funds set apart to the non-attending children
     therein; hence, those counties are enabled from said fund to
     extend the term of their schools taught and to pay teachers better
     salaries than can the white counties where the larger proportion
     of the children attended the schools. Since the manifest purpose
     of the law is to favor equal educational facilities to all of the
     children of the State alike, I would commend to the legislature
     the submission of an amendment to section 206 of the constitution,
     so as to require the State free school fund to be distributed
     among the counties according to the actual attendance upon the
     schools, rather than per capita, as now.

     There has been some urgent insistence for the submission by this
     legislature of an amendment to the Constitution to provide for the
     distribution of the free school funds between the white and negro
     schools of the state, so as to give the benefits thereof to each
     race in proportion to the school tax which it pays. Though it may
     seem a little outside of the governor's expected prerogative to
     speak of the matter here (in advance of legislative action on the
     subject), I shall, nevertheless, at the risk of being considered
     meddlesome, venture to express the hope that no such amendment
     will find approval at the hands of the legislature. Without
     stopping here to discuss the constitutional conflicts which would
     be brought about between the State and Federal Constitutions,
     or if it be admitted that there would be no constitutional vice
     in such amendment because of its class or race distinction, its
     effect, which would be to take school benefits largely from
     the negro children, would be contrary to that broad and deep
     philanthropic spirit that has always moved the great common heart
     of Christian man and womanhood in Mississippi to a love of justice
     and fair play toward the weak and needy, whoever and wherever
     they are. It must be borne in mind that the negro is our neighbor
     and is here to stay; that he is the dependence largely of the
     white people for labor; that it is also in a great measure due to
     that labor that in the past the South's cotton, sugar and rice
     industries have brought the section's greatest wealth, and given
     it a commercial importance in every land and country where the
     nation's flag protects the American shipping. Besides, he is of
     our citizenship, and being of a weaker race, becomes a ward of the
     white people of the State, and they should not violate the trust
     by taking from him the benign influences of education, which help
     to make him a better man, a better citizen and a better Christian.

The Southern people have shown their faith in the negro by spending
one hundred million dollars for his education during the past thirty
years. There are now 1,750,000 negro children enrolled in the public
schools of the South. The nine cotton states, where the great mass of
the negroes live, that is, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida,
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas, had in
1860 an assessed valuation of property for taxation of $3,244,231,406.
In 1870, the valuation had decreased to $1,830,863,180 or 43 per
cent. The ability to raise money by taxation had decreased one-half.
The burden of negro education had been placed upon the people of the
South in their poverty. There has been murmuring at the burden in
Mississippi, and efforts have been made to confine appropriations of
money for negro education to the amount of money raised from negro
taxation for the benefit of schools, that plan, however, has never met
with popular approval. There are a few men in the South who contend
that the negro should be kept in an eternal state of ignorance, but
their following is small.

The most convincing argument of the fairness of the South to the negro
is the industrial opportunity which is afforded him. All professions
and callings and all industries are open to the negro. There is
absolutely no discrimination in industrial lines on account of color.
The negro is at liberty to sell his power to work everywhere. The negro
is not confined to menial employment. There are negroes in Mississippi
who are lawyers, doctors, teachers, and a few of them are preachers.
They are engaged in the various branches of the mercantile business and
in all of the trades. They are blacksmiths, carpenters and shoemakers.
When they can do their work as skilfully as the white man they are
employed. In the professions, of course, their duties are confined to
their own race.

It is a well known fact that the negro is eliminated as an industrial
factor in the North by trades unionism. It may be right and this
statement is not made in a spirit of criticism, but for the purpose of
showing the advantages which the South offers the negro. There is a
determined purpose in the South to curtail the power of the negro to
vote, but he has the same chance as the white man to earn his bread.

The common every day relations between the white man and the negro are
sincere and kindly. There is no persecution of the negro in Mississippi.

Rev. Edgar Garner Murphy beautifully and truthfully describes the
relations between the whites and the blacks in his very able paper on
"The White Man and the Negro at the South." Mr. Murphy says:

     "The Northern man sees in the men and women of the weaker race a
     great deal of ignorance, indolence, shiftlessness, poverty and
     crime, but also a great deal of humble probity, of every day
     willingness to work, of charming good humor, of happy contentment,
     and of naive dependence in every emergency of life upon the white
     man who is supposed to hate him. He sees the stronger race with
     infinite generosity and with incredible patience responding to his
     dependence. He sees the business man giving advice, lending money,
     (which he knows he will probably never see again) advancing wages
     and generally assuming a sort of paternal interest in the welfare
     of his negro hands. He sees the white man's attorney freely
     defending many a negro client. He sees the white man's physician
     freely caring for a negro patient. He sees the white man's
     minister befriending many a negro in illness, or need, or sorrow."

That picture should disarm all unkind, unthinking criticism of
a slandered South. What an object lesson of love, and trust and
faithfulness it would be if the beautiful relations existing now
between the old slaves, who are rapidly passing away, and their former
masters could be presented to every good man in the United States. The
old uncles and aunties of the South, as the old slaves are called, have
never faltered in their devotion to their "white folks" and thousands
of them are being tenderly cared for in their old age by their former
owners. There is not a town or a hamlet in the South where you will not
find old and helpless negroes being provided with all of the comforts
of life by white people simply because they were faithful servants of
the long ago.

The greatest obstacle to the advancement of the negro is his defective
moral nature, and that phase of negro character is the dark part of
the race problem. There is a rapid increase in crime and lawlessness
among negroes under forty years of age. The criminal class among
negroes is confined largely to the younger generation. That question
is exhaustively treated by Prof. W. F. Wilcox, of Cornell, General
Statistician of the Census Office, in his very learned article on
"Negro Criminality."

The people of the South do not fear the clouds which may darken the
future. They believe in themselves and in their power to meet and
solve the problems which the presence of the negro forces upon them.
They want the intelligent help and sympathy and good will of good men
everywhere. They see the threatening clouds, but behind them they
behold the brightness and glory of the future.

The negro is in the South to stay, for better or for worse, it must be
his home. There is no other place in this broad Republic for him, and
there is no other place where he is wanted.

The Southern people have suffered because of his presence among them.
The negro has been the victim of injustice at the hands of some of the
Southern people. The future is full of hope. The errors and mistakes of
the past will only increase the good deeds of the future. The history
of civilization teaches that all progress has come through trials and
tears, and at best has moved in a path marked by many blunders and

The South has passed through a bitter experience in the solution of the
suffrage question, and no pen can adequately describe the trial, but
she has borne it with dignity and fortitude and all the people of this
great country should feel that the time has come when a kindly sympathy
with each others difficulties would bind us nearer together and aid in
solving the grave problems of the future.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Mississippi View of Race Relations in the South" ***

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