Page images




HE last census shows that there are nearly


six millions of negroes in that part of the United States that is known as "The South." Comparatively speaking, there are few of them in the other sections of the Union-not enough to make an exigent question in labor, society, or politics. In the South the case is very different; the negroes are about one third of the whole population; in some States nearly one half. Thus, in Georgia, according to the census of 1880, the total population is 1,538,983; the colored people number 724,765. In some of the States they are in the majority.

The great majority of the colored people in the Southern States are pure-blood Africans, though many lighter skins among them show the mixture of races. The white blood betrays itself. This explains the hasty conclusions of some observers, traveling through the South. They think that

there are very large numbers of mulattoes. They are mistaken, and not unnaturally. A score of black children are passed unnoticed; one mulatto is observed. In a country peopled with only one race there might be as many children born out of wedlock as there are mulattoes in any one of the Southern States, but there would be no evidence to the eye. But where white and black are blended the yellow skin advertises the origin of its


As there are some prevalent misconceptions on this subject, one other remark may be allowed at this point; in the South the half-breeds are generally found in towns and cities, and from towns and cities most tourists derive their impressions of a country. But the great mass of the Southern population is rural. Of the entire Southern population hardly one million are in the cities.

When this whole subject, with its history and conditions, is well and fairly considered, and with the passionless attention that is bestowed upon any table of mere statistics, it will be concluded, I think, that there is but one other such case in history of a race living for generations within another race and yet keeping its blood so pure. The Jews alone can match this unique fact. Let it be observed that I am not speaking of the moralities implied in these remarkable parallels, but only of the fact of mixed bloods. The Americanized-Afri

cans increase rapidly. They numbered about seven hundred thousand at the close of the war for independence. They have multiplied more than eight times in a little less than a century. How many will they be in the year 1991 ?

I apprehend the difficulty of the subject taken in hand in these pages. The historian who may write of our times a century hence may offend-such is the sensitiveness and pertinacity of prejudice—some of the descendants of those who are now concerned in such a discussion. But this he can do, endeavor faithfully to state facts as they may then appear to him. He will have many advantages over any writer of the present time. Much smoke will have cleared away, and with it much heat and prejudice. Questions now in dispute will have been finally, and, let us hope, happily settled; experiments now only in process will have been ended. The historian, in forming his judgments upon our times, will have the benefit of results. If we could only foresee, and in a clear light, what will be very plain to him, we would understand not only our duties but each other much better than we do now. Lord Bacon dedicated his history of Henry VII. to Charles, then Prince of Wales, and apologized for any defect in the picture in these words: "I have not flattered him, but took him to life as well as I could, sitting so far off, and having no better light." But this advantage he had, he did not sit

too near, and the light he had was without heat. An artist may sit too near his subject, and the light may be so intense or so crossed as to blind or confuse him. This is peculiarly true of those who, in a long and fierce conflict, have felt either the exultations of victory or the humiliations of defeat.




OST of these six millions of Africans are very poor. Fifteen years ago they had nothing but their trained muscle and their hope. Of multitudes of them this ought to be added-their faith in God.

During these fifteen years, which many of them have spent in trying to find their reckoning on a wide and unknown sea, most of them have had a sharp struggle for existence. A very few have shown good capacity for business and have accumulated handsome properties. A larger number have built themselves humble houses that are their own, and a few have got some foot-hold in the land, and are the owners of small farms. Most of them depend for subsistence solely on their labor. A very great majority of the whole number are in the rural districts at work as hired laborers, or as tenants, upon contracts renewable at the beginning of each year.

The fact that the great body of them are on the plantations and farms gives them one marked advantage over certain laboring classes of some States and countries—they are not subject to “lock-outs,"

« PreviousContinue »