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A Century of Negro Migration by Carter G. Woodson

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wished a few dozen Trinidad planters would come to that city on the same
business and on a much larger scale.[24] N.W. Pollard, agent of the
Government of Trinidad, came to Baltimore in 1851 to make his appeal for
emigrants, offering to pay all expenses.[25] At a meeting held in
Baltimore, in 1852, the parents of Mr. Stanbury Boyce, now a retired
merchant in Washington, District of Columbia, were also induced to go.
They found there opportunities which they had never had before and well
established themselves in their new home. The account which Mr. Boyce
gives in a letter to the writer corroborates the newspaper reports as to
the success of the enterprise.[26]

The _New York Journal of Commerce_ reported in 1841 that, according
to advices received at New Orleans from Jamaica, there had arrived in that
island fourteen Negro emigrants from the United States, being the first
fruits of Mr. Barclay's mission to this country. A much larger number of
Negroes were expected and various applications for their services had been
received from respectable parties.[27] The products of soil were reported
as much reduced from former years and to meet its demand for labor some
freedmen from Sierra Leone were induced to emigrate to that island in
1842.[28] One Mr. Anderson, an agent of the government of Jamaica,
contemplated visiting New York in 1851 to secure a number of laborers,
tradesmen and agricultural settlers.[29]

In the course of time, emigration to foreign lands interested a larger
number of representative Negroes. At a national council called in 1853 to
promote more effectively the amelioration of the colored people, the
question of emigration and that only was taken up for serious
consideration. But those who desired to introduce the question of Liberian
colonization or who were especially interested in that scheme were not
invited. Among the persons who promoted the calling of this council were
William Webb, Martin R. Delaney, J. Gould Bias, Franklin Turner, Augustus
Greene, James M. Whitfield, William Lambert, Henry Bibb, James T. Holly
and Henry M. Collins.

There developed in this assembly three groups, one believing with Martin
R. Delaney that it was best to go to the Niger Valley in Africa, another
following the counsel of James M. Whitfield then interested in emigration
to Central America, and a third supporting James T. Holly who insisted
that Hayti offered the best opportunities for free persons of color
desiring to leave the United States. Delaney was commissioned to proceed
to Africa, where he succeeded in concluding treaties with eight African
kings who offered American Negroes inducements to settle in their
respective countries. James Redpath, already interested in the scheme of
colonization in Hayti, had preceded Holly there and with the latter as his
coworker succeeded in sending to that country as many as two thousand
emigrants, the first of whom sailed from this country in 1861.[30] Owing
to the lack of equipment adequate to the establishment of the settlement
and the unfavorable climate, not more than one third of the emigrants
remained. Some attention was directed to California and Central America
just as in the case of Africa but nothing in that direction took tangible
form immediately, and the Civil War following soon thereafter did not give
some of these schemes a chance to materialize.

[Footnote 1: _The African Repository_, XVI, p. 22.]

[Footnote 2: _The African Repository_, XVI, p. 23; Alexander, _A
History of Colonization_, p. 347.]

[Footnote 3: _Ibid_., XVI, p. 113.]

[Footnote 4: Jay, _An Inquiry_, pp. 25, 29; Hodgkin, _An
Inquiry_, p. 31.]

[Footnote 5: _The African Repository_, IV, p. 276; Griffin, _A Plea
for Africa_, p. 65.]

[Footnote 6: Jay, _An Inquiry_, passim; _The Journal of Negro
History_, I, pp. 276-301; and Stebbins, _Facts and Opinions_, pp.

[Footnote 7: Hart, _Slavery and Abolition_, p. 237.]

[Footnote 8: _The Journal of Negro History_, I, pp. 284-296;
Garrison, _Thoughts on Colonization_, p. 204.]

[Footnote 9: _The African Repository_, XXXIII, p. 117.]

[Footnote 10: _The African Repository_, XXIII, p. 117.]

[Footnote 11: _The African Repository_, IX, pp. 86-88.]

[Footnote 12: _Ibid._, IX, p. 88.]

[Footnote 13: "If something is not done, and soon done," said he, "we
shall be the murderers of our own children. The '_murmura venturos nautis
prudentia ventos_' has already reached us (from Santo Domingo); the
revolutionary storm, now sweeping the globe will be upon us, and happy if
we make timely provision to give it an easy passage over our land. From
the present state of things in Europe and America, the day which begins
our combustion must be near at hand; and only a single spark is wanting
to make that day to-morrow. If we had begun sooner, we might probably have
been allowed a lengthier operation to clear ourselves, but every day's
delay lessens the time we may take for emancipation."

As to the mode of emancipation, he was satisfied that that must be a
matter of compromise between the passions, the prejudices, and the real
difficulties which would each have its weight in that operation. He
believed that the first chapter of this history, which was begun in St.
Domingo, and the next succeeding ones, would recount how all the whites
were driven from all the other islands. This, he thought, would prepare
their minds for a peaceable accommodation between justice and policy; and
furnish an answer to the difficult question, as to where the colored
emigrants should go. He urged that the country put some plan under way,
and the sooner it did so the greater would be the hope that it might be
permitted to proceed peaceably toward consummation.--See Ford edition of
_Jefferson's Writings_, VI, p. 349, VII, pp. 167, 168.]

[Footnote 14: _Letter of Mr. Stanbury Boyce;_ and _The African

[Footnote 15: _Philadelphia Gazette,_ Aug. 2, 3, 4, 8, 1842;
_United States Gazette,_ Aug. 2-5, 1842; and the _Pennsylvanian,_
Aug. 2, 3, 4, 8, 1842.]

[Footnote 16: _The African Repository_, XVI, pp. 113-115.]

[Footnote 17: _The African Repository,_ XXI, p. 114.]

[Footnote 18: _The African Repository,_ XVI, p. 116.]

[Footnote 19: _The African Repository,_ XVI, p. 115.]

[Footnote 20: _Ibid.,_ XVI, p. 116.]

[Footnote 21: Speaking of this colony Kingsley said: "About eighteen
months ago, I carried my son George Kingsley, a healthy colored man of
uncorrupted morals, about thirty years of age, tolerably well educated, of
very industrious habits, and a native of Florida, together with six prime
African men, my own slaves, liberated for that express purpose, to the
northeast side of the Island of Hayti, near Porte Plate, where we arrived
in the month of October, 1836, and after application to the local
authorities, from whom I rented some good land near the sea, and thickly
timbered with lofty woods, I set them to work cutting down trees, about
the middle of November, and returned to my home in Florida. My son wrote
to us frequently, giving an account of his progress. Some of the fallen
timber was dry enough to burn in January, 1837, when it was cleared up,
and eight acres of corn planted, and as soon as circumstances would allow,
sweet potatoes, yams, cassava, rice, beans, peas, plantains, oranges, and
all sorts of fruit trees, were planted in succession. In the month of
October, 1837, I again set off for Hayti, in a coppered brig of 150 tons,
bought for the purpose and in five days and a half, from St. Mary's in
Georgia, landed my son's wife and children, at Porte Plate, together with
the wives and children of his servants, now working for him under an
indenture of nine years; also two additional families of my slaves, all
liberated for the express purpose of transportation to Hayti, where they
were all to have as much good land in fee, as they could cultivate, say
ten acres for each family, and all its proceeds, together with one-fourth
part of the net proceeds of their labor, on my son's farm, for themselves;
also victuals, clothes, medical attendance, etc., gratis, besides
Saturdays and Sundays, as days of labor for themselves, or of rest, just
at their option."

"On my arrival at my son's place, called Cabaret (twenty-seven miles east
of Porte Plate) in November, 1837, as before stated, I found everything in
the most flattering and prosperous condition. They had all enjoyed good
health, were overflowing with the most delicious variety and abundance of
fruits and provisions, and were overjoyed at again meeting their wives and
children; whom they could introduce into good comfortable log houses, all
nicely whitewashed, and in the midst of a profuse abundance of good
provisions, as they had generally cleared five or six acres of their land
each, which being very rich, and planted with every variety to eat or to
sell on their own account, and had already laid up thirty or forty dollars
apiece. My son's farm was upon a larger scale, and furnished with more
commodious dwelling houses, also with store and out houses. In nine months
he had made and housed three crops of corn, of twenty-five bushels to the
acre, each, or one crop every three months. His highland rice, which was
equal to any in Carolina, so ripe and heavy as some of it to be couched or
leaned down, and no bird had ever troubled it, nor had any of his fields
ever been hoed, or required hoeing, there being as yet no appearance of
grass. His cotton was of an excellent staple. In seven months it had
attained the height of thirteen feet; the stalks were ten inches in
circumference, and had upwards of five hundred large boles on each stalk
(not a worm nor red bug as yet to be seen). His yams, cassava, and sweet
potatoes, were incredibly large, and plentifully thick in the ground; one
kind of sweet potato, lately introduced from Taheita (formerly Otaheita)
Island in the Pacific, was of peculiar excellence; tasted like new flour
and grew to an ordinary size in one month. Those I ate at my son's place
had been planted five weeks, and were as big as our full grown Florida
potatoes. His sweet orange trees budded upon wild stalks cut off (which
every where abound), about six months before had large tops, and the buds
were swelling as if preparing to flower. My son reported that his people
had all enjoyed good health and had labored just as steadily as they
formerly did in Florida and were well satisfied with their situation and
the advantageous exchange of circumstances they had made. They all enjoyed
the friendship of the neighboring inhabitants and the entire confidence of
the Haytian Government."

"I remained with my son all January, 1838 and assisted him in making
improvements of different kinds, amongst which was a new two-story house,
and then left him to go to Port au Prince, where I obtained a favorable
answer from the President of Hayti, to his petition, asking for leave to
hold in fee simple, the same tract of land upon which he then lived as a
tenant, paying rent to the Haytian Government, containing about
thirty-five thousand acres, which was ordered to be surveyed to him, and
valued, and not expected to exceed the sum of three thousand dollars, or
about ten cents an acre. After obtaining this land in fee for my son, I
returned to Florida in February, in 1838."--See _The African
Repository_, XIV, pp. 215-216.]

[Footnote 22: _Niles Register_, LXVI, pp. 165, 386.]

[Footnote 23: _Niles Register_, LXVII, p. 180.]

[Footnote 24: _The African Repository_, XVI, p. 28.]

[Footnote 25: _Ibid._, p. 29.]

[Footnote 26: _Letter of Mr. Stanbury Boyce._]

[Footnote 27: St. Lucia and Trinidad were then considered unfavorable to
the working of the new system.--See _The African Repository_, XXVII,
p. 196.]

[Footnote 28: _Niles Register_, LXIII, p. 65.]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid._, LXIII, p. 65.]

[Footnote 30: Cromwell, _The Negro in American History_, pp. 43-44.]



The reader will naturally be interested in learning exactly what these
thousands of Negroes did on free soil. To estimate these achievements the
casual reader of contemporary testimony would now, as such persons did
then, find it decidedly easy. He would say that in spite of the unfailing
aid which philanthropists gave the blacks, they seldom kept themselves
above want and, therefore, became a public charge, afflicting their
communities with so much poverty, disease and crime that they were
considered the lepers of society. The student of history, however, must
look beyond these comments for the whole truth. One must take into
consideration the fact that in most cases these Negroes escaped as
fugitives without sufficient food and clothing to comfort them until they
could reach free soil, lacking the small fund with which the pioneer
usually provided himself in going to establish a home in the wilderness,
and lacking, above all, initiative of which slavery had deprived them.
Furthermore, these refugees with few exceptions had to go to places where
they were not wanted and in some cases to points from which they were
driven as undesirables, although preparation for their coming had
sometimes gone to the extent of purchasing homes and making provision for
employment upon arrival.[1] Several well-established Negro settlements in
the North, moreover, were broken up by the slave hunters after the passing
of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.[2]

The increasing intensity of the hatred of the Negroes must be understood
too both as a cause and result of their intolerable condition. Prior to
1800 the Negroes of the North were in fair circumstances. Until that time
it was generally believed that the whites and the blacks would soon reach
the advanced stage of living together on a basis of absolute equality.[3]
The Negroes had not at that time exceeded the number that could be
assimilated by the sympathizing communities in that section. The
intolerable legislation of the South, however, forced so many free Negroes
in the rough to crowd northern cities during the first four decades of the
nineteenth century that they could not be easily readjusted. The number
seeking employment far exceeded the demand for labor and thus multiplied
the number of vagrants and paupers, many of whom had already been forced
to this condition by the Irish and Germans then immigrating into northern
cities. At one time, as in the case of Philadelphia, the Negroes
constituting a small fraction of the population furnished one half of the
criminals.[4] A radical opposition to the Negro followed, therefore,
arousing first the laboring classes and finally alienating the support of
the well-to-do people and the press. This condition obtained until 1840 in
most northern communities and until 1850 in some places where the Negro
population was considerable.

We must also take into account the critical labor situation during these
years. The northern people were divided as to the way the Negroes should
be encouraged. The mechanics of the North raised no objection to having
the Negroes freed and enlightened but did not welcome them to that section
as competitors in the struggle of life. When, therefore, the blacks,
converted to the doctrine of training the hand to work with skill, began
to appear in northern industrial centers there arose a formidable
prejudice against them.[5] Negro and white mechanics had once worked
together but during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, when
labor became more dignified and a larger number of white persons devoted
themselves to skilled labor, they adopted the policy of eliminating the
blacks. This opposition, to be sure, was not a mere harmless sentiment. It
tended to give rise to the organization of labor groups and finally to
that of trades unions, the beginnings of those controlling this country
today. Carrying the fight against the Negro still further, these laboring
classes used their influence to obtain legislation against the employment
of Negroes in certain pursuits. Maryland and Georgia passed laws
restricting the privileges of Negro mechanics, and Pennsylvania followed
their example.[6]

Even in those cases when the Negroes were not disturbed in their new homes
on free soil, it was, with the exception of the Quaker and a few other
communities, merely an act of toleration.[7] It must not be concluded,
however, that the Negroes then migrating to the North did not receive
considerable aid. The fact to be noted here is that because they were not
well received sometimes by the people of their new environment, the help
which they obtained from friends afar off did not suffice to make up for
the deficiency of community cooperation. This, of course, was an unusual
handicap to the Negro, as his life as a slave tended to make him a
dependent rather than a pioneer.

It is evident, however, from accessible statistics that wherever the Negro
was adequately encouraged he succeeded. When the urban Negroes in northern
communities had emerged from their crude state they easily learned from
the white men their method of solving the problems of life. This tendency
was apparent after 1840 and striking results of their efforts were noted
long before the Civil War. They showed an inclination to work when
positions could be found, purchased homes, acquired other property, built
churches and established schools. Going even further than this, some of
them, taking advantage of their opportunities in the business world,
accumulated considerable fortunes, just as had been done in certain
centers in the South where Negroes had been given a chance.[8]

In cities far north like Boston not so much difference as to the result of
this migration was noted. Some economic progress among the Negroes had
early been observed there as a result of the long residence of Negroes in
that city as in the case of Lewis Hayden who established a successful
clothing business.[9] In New York such evidences were more apparent. There
were in that city not so many Negroes as frequented some other northern
communities of this time but enough to make for that city a decidedly
perplexing problem. It was the usual situation of ignorant, helpless
fugitives and free Negroes going, they knew not where, to find a better
country. The situation at times became so grave that it not only caused
prejudice but gave rise to intense opposition against those who defended
the cause of the blacks as in the case of the abolition riots which
occurred at several places in the State in 1834.[10]

To relieve this situation, Gerrit Smith, an unusually philanthropic
gentleman, came forward with an interesting plan. Having large tracts of
land in the southeastern counties of New York, he proposed to settle on
small farms a large number of those Negroes huddled together in the
congested districts of New York City. Desiring to obtain only the best
class, he requested that the Negroes to be thus colonized be recommended
by Reverend Charles B. Ray, Reverend Theodore S. Wright and Dr. J. McCune
Smith, three Negroes of New York City, known to be representative of the
best of the race. Upon their recommendations he deeded unconditionally to
black men in 1846 three hundred small farms in Franklin, Essex, Hamilton,
Fulton, Oneida, Delaware, Madison and Ulster counties, giving to each
settler beside $10.00 to enable him to visit his farm.[11] With these
holdings the blacks would not only have a basis for economic independence
but would have sufficient property to meet the special qualifications
which New York by the law of 1823 required of Negroes offering to vote.

This experiment, however, was a failure. It was not successful because of
the intractability of the land, the harshness of the climate, and, in a
great measure, the inefficiency of the settlers. They had none of the
qualities of farmers. Furthermore, having been disabled by infirmities and
vices they could not as beneficiaries answer the call of the benefactor.
Peterboro, the town opened to Negroes in this section, did maintain a
school and served as a station of the Underground Railroad but the
agricultural results expected of the enterprise never materialized. The
main difficulty in this case was the impossibility of substituting
something foreign for individual enterprise.[12]

Progressive Negroes did appear, however, in other parts of the State. In
Penyan, Western New York, William Platt and Joseph C. Cassey were
successful lumber merchants.[13] Mr. W.H. Topp of Albany was for several
years one of the leading merchant tailors of that city.[14] Henry Scott,
of New York City, developed a successful pickling business, supplying most
of the vessels entering that port.[15] Thomas Downing for thirty years ran
a creditable restaurant in the midst of the Wall Street banks, where he
made a fortune.[16] Edward V. Clark conducted a thriving business,
handling jewelry and silverware.[17] The Negroes as a whole, moreover, had
shown progress. Aided by the Government and philanthropic white people,
they had before the Civil War a school system with primary, intermediate
and grammar schools and a normal department. They then had considerable
property, several churches and some benevolent institutions.

In Southern Pennsylvania, nearer to the border between the slave and free
States, the effects of the achievements of these Negroes were more
apparent for the reason that in these urban centers there were sufficient
Negroes for one to be helpful to the other. Philadelphia presented then
the most striking example of the remaking of these people. Here the
handicap of the foreign element was greatest, especially after 1830. The
Philadelphia Negro, moreover, was further impeded in his progress by the
presence of southerners who made Philadelphia their home, and still more
by the prejudice of those Philadelphia merchants who, sustaining such
close relations to the South, hated the Negro and the abolitionists who
antagonized their customers.

In spite of these untoward circumstances, however, the Negroes of
Philadelphia achieved success. Negroes who had formerly been able to toil
upward were still restricted but they had learned to make opportunities.
In 1832 the Philadelphia blacks had $350,000 of taxable property, $359,626
in 1837 and $400,000 in 1847. These Negroes had 16 churches and 100
benevolent societies in 1837 and 19 churches and 106 benevolent societies
in 1847. Philadelphia then had more successful Negro schools than any
other city in the country. There were also about 500 Negro mechanics in
spite of the opposition of organized labor.[18] Some of these Negroes, of
course, were natives of that city.

Chief among those who had accumulated considerable property was Mr. James
Forten, the proprietor of one of the leading sail manufactories,
constantly employing a large number of men, black and white. Joseph Casey,
a broker of considerable acumen, also accumulated desirable property,
worth probably $75,000.[19] Crowded out of the higher pursuits of labor,
certain other enterprising business men of this group organized the Guild
of Caterers. This was composed of such men as Bogle, Prosser, Dorsey,
Jones and Minton. The aim was to elevate the Negro waiter and cook from
the plane of menials to that of progressive business men. Then came
Stephen Smith who amassed a large fortune as a lumber merchant and with
him Whipper, Vidal and Purnell. Still and Bowers were reliable coal
merchants, Adger a success in handling furniture, Bowser a well-known
painter, and William H. Riley the intelligent boot-maker.[20]

There were a few such successful Negroes in other communities in the
State. Mr. William Goodrich, of York, acquired considerable interest in
the branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad extending to Lancaster.[21]
Benjamin Richards, of Pittsburgh, amassed a large fortune running a
butchering business, buying by contract droves of cattle to supply the
various military posts of the United States.[22] Mr. Henry M. Collins, who
started life as a boatman, left this position for speculation in real
estate in Pittsburgh where he established himself as an asset of the
community and accumulated considerable wealth.[23] Owen A. Barrett, of the
same city, made his way by discovering the remedy known as _B.A.
Fahnestock's Celebrated Vermifuge_, for which he was retained in the
employ of the proprietor, who exploited the remedy.[24] Mr. John Julius
made himself indispensable to Pittsburgh by running the Concert Hall Cafe
where he served President William Henry Harrison in 1840.[25]

The field of greatest achievement, however, was not in the conservative
East where the people had well established their going toward an
enlightened and sympathetic aristocracy of talent and wealth. It was in
the West where men were in position to establish themselves anew and make
of life what they would. These crude communities, to be sure, often
objected to the presence of the Negroes and sometimes drove them out. But,
on the other hand, not a few of those centers in the making were in the
hands of the Quakers and other philanthropic persons who gave the Negroes
a chance to grow up with the community, when they exhibited a capacity
which justified philanthropic efforts in their behalf.

These favorable conditions obtained especially in the towns along the Ohio
river, where so many fugitives and free persons of color stopped on their
way from slavery to freedom. In Steubenville a number of Negroes had by
their industry and good deportment made themselves helpful to the
community. Stephen Mulber who had been in that town for thirty years was
in 1835 the leader of a group of thrifty free persons of color. He had a
brick dwelling, in which he lived, and other property in the city. He made
his living as a master mechanic employing a force of workmen to meet the
increasing demand for his labor.[26] In Gallipolis, there was another
group of this class of Negroes, who had permanently attached themselves to
the town by the acquisition of property. They were then able not only to
provide for their families but were maintaining also a school and a
church.[27] In Portsmouth, Ohio, despite the "Black Friday" upheaval of
1831, the Negroes settled down to the solution of the problems of their
new environment and later showed in the accumulation of property evidences
of actual progress. Among the successful Negroes in Columbus was David
Jenkins who acquired considerable property as a painter, glazier and paper
hanger.[28] One Mr. Hill, of Chillicothe, was for several years its
leading tanner and currier.[29]

It was in Cincinnati, however, that the Negroes made most progress in the
West. The migratory blacks came there at times in such large numbers, as
we have observed, that they provoked the hostile classes of whites to
employ rash measures to exterminate them. But the Negroes, accustomed to
adversity, struggled on, endeavoring through schools and churches to
embrace every opportunity to rise. By 1840 there were 2,255 Negroes in
that city. They had, exclusive of personal effects and $19,000 worth of
church property, accumulated $209,000 worth of real estate. A number of
their progressive men had established a real estate firm known as the
"Iron Chest" company which built houses for Negroes. One man, who had once
thought it unwise to accumulate wealth from which he might be driven, had,
by 1840, changed his mind and purchased $6,000 worth of real estate.

Another Negro paid $5,000 for himself and family and bought a home worth
$800 or $1,000. A freedman, who was a slave until he was twenty-four years
of age, then had two lots worth $10,000, paid a tax of $40 and had 320
acres of land in Mercer County. Another, who was worth only $3,000 in
1836, had seven houses in 1840, 400 acres of land in Indiana, and another
tract in Mercer County, Ohio. He was worth altogether about $12,000 or
$15,000. A woman who was a slave until she was thirty was then worth
$2,000. She had also come into potential possession of two houses on which
a white lawyer had given her a mortgage to secure the payment of $2,000
borrowed from this thrifty woman. Another Negro, who was on the auction
block in 1832, had spent $2,600 purchasing himself and family and had
bought two brick houses worth $6,000 and 560 acres of land in Mercer
County, Ohio, said to be worth $2,500.[30]

The Negroes of Cincinnati had as early as 1820 established schools which
developed during the forties into something like a modern system with
Gilmore's High School as a capstone. By that time they had also not only
several churches but had given time and means to the organization and
promotion of such as the _Sabbath School Youth's Society_, the
_Total Abstinence Temperance Society_ and the _Anti-Slavery
Society_. The worthy example set by the Negroes of this city was a
stimulus to noble endeavor and significant achievements of Negroes
throughout the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. Disarming their enemies of
the weapon that they would continue a public charge, they secured the
cooperation of a larger number of white people who at first had treated
them with contempt.[31]

This unusual progress in the Ohio valley had been promoted by two forces,
the development of the steamboat as a factor in transportation and the
rise of the Negro mechanic. Negroes employed on vessels as servants to the
travelling public amassed large sums received in the form of tips.
Furthermore, the fortunate few, constituting the stewards of these
vessels, could by placing contracts for supplies and using business
methods realize handsome incomes. Many Negroes thus enriched purchased
real estate and went into business in towns along the Ohio.

The other force, the rise of the Negro mechanic, was made possible by
overcoming much of the prejudice which had at first been encountered. A
great change in this respect had taken place in Cincinnati by 1840.[32]
Many Negroes who had been forced to work as menial laborers then had the
opportunity to show their usefulness to their families and to the
community. Negro mechanics were then getting as much skilled labor as they
could do. It was not uncommon for white artisans to solicit employment of
colored men because they had the reputation of being better paymasters
than master workmen of the favored race. White mechanics not only worked
with the blacks but often associated with them, patronized the same barber
shop, and went to the same places of amusement.[33]

Out of this group came some very useful Negroes, among whom may be
mentioned Robert Harlan, the horseman; A.V. Thompson, the tailor; J.
Presley and Thomas Ball, contractors, and Samuel T. Wilcox, the merchant,
who was worth $60,000 in 1859.[34] There were among them two other
successful Negroes, Henry Boyd and Robert Gordon. Boyd was a Kentucky
freedman who helped to overcome the prejudice in Cincinnati against Negro
mechanics by inventing and exploiting a corded bed, the demand for which
was extensive throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. He had a
creditable manufacturing business in which he employed twenty-five

Robert Gordon was a much more interesting man. He was born a slave in
Richmond, Virginia. He ingratiated himself into the favor of his master
who placed him in charge of a large coal yard with the privilege of
selling the slake for his own benefit. In the course of time, he
accumulated in this position thousands of dollars with which he finally
purchased himself and moved away to free soil. After observing the
situation in several of the northern centers, he finally decided to settle
in Cincinnati, where he arrived with $15,000. Knowing the coal business,
he well established himself there after some discouragement and
opposition. He accumulated much wealth which he invested in United States
bonds during the Civil War and in real estate on Walnut Hills when the
bonds were later redeemed.[36]

The ultimately favorable attitude of the people of Detroit toward
immigrating Negroes had been reflected by the position the people of that
section had taken from the time of the earliest settlements. Generally
speaking, Detroit adhered to this position.[37] In this congenial
community prospered many a Negro family. There were the Williams' most of
whom confined themselves to their trade of bricklaying and amassed
considerable wealth. Then there were the Cooks, descending from Lomax B.
Cook, a broker of no little business ability. Will Marion Cook, the
musician, belongs to this family. The De Baptistes, too, were among the
first to succeed in this new home, as they prospered materially from their
experience and knowledge previously acquired in Fredericksburg, Virginia,
as contractors. From this group came Richard De Baptiste, who in his day
was the most useful Negro Baptist preacher in the Northwest.[38] The
Pelhams were no less successful in establishing themselves in the economic
world. Having an excellent reputation in the community, they easily
secured the cooperation of the influential white people in the city. Out
of this family came Robert A. Pelham, for years editor of a weekly in
Detroit, and from 1901 to the present time an employee of the Federal
Government in Washington.

The children of the Richards, another old family, were in no sense
inferior to the descendants of the others. The most prominent and the most
useful to emerge from this group was the daughter, Fannie M. Richards. She
was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, October 1, 1841. Having left that
State with her parents when she was quite young, she did not see so much
of the antebellum conditions obtaining there. Desiring to have better
training than what was then given to persons of color in Detroit, she went
to Toronto where she studied English, history, drawing and needlework. In
later years she attended the Teachers' Training School in Detroit. She
became a public-school teacher there in 1863 and after fifty years of
creditable service in this work she was retired on a pension in 1913.[39]

The Negroes in the North had not only shown their ability to rise in the
economic world when properly encouraged but had begun to exhibit power of
all kinds. There were Negro inventors, a few lawyers, a number of
physicians and dentists, many teachers, a score of intelligent preachers,
some scholars of note, and even successful blacks in the finer arts. Some
of these, with Frederick Douglass as the most influential, were also doing
creditable work in journalism with about thirty newspapers which had
developed among the Negroes as weapons of defense.[40]

This progress of the Negroes in the North was much more marked after the
middle of the nineteenth century. The migration of Negroes to northern
communities was at first checked by the reaction in those places during
the thirties and forties. Thus relieved of the large influx which once
constituted a menace, those communities gave the Negroes already on hand
better economic opportunities. It was fortunate too that prior to the
check in the infiltration of the blacks they had come into certain
districts in sufficiently large numbers to become a more potential
factor.[41] They were strong enough in some cases to make common cause
against foes and could by cooperation solve many problems with which the
blacks in dispersed condition could not think of grappling.

Their endeavors along these lines proceeded in many cases from
well-organized efforts like those culminating in the numerous national
conventions which began meeting first in Philadelphia in 1830 and after
some years of deliberation in this city extended to others in the
North.[42] These bodies aimed not only to promote education, religion and
morals, but, taking up the work which the Quakers began, they put forth
efforts to secure to the free blacks opportunities to be trained in the
mechanic arts to equip themselves for participation in the industries then
springing up throughout the North. This movement, however, did not succeed
in the proportion to the efforts put forth because of the increasing power
of the trades unions.

After the middle of the nineteenth century too the Negroes found
conditions a little more favorable to their progress than the generation
before. The aggressive South had by that time so shaped the policy of the
nation as not only to force the free States to cease aiding the escape of
fugitives but to undertake to impress the northerner into the service of
assisting in their recapture as provided in the Fugitive Slave Law. This
repressive measure set a larger number of the people thinking of the Negro
as a national problem rather than a local one. The attitude of the North
was then reflected in the personal liberty laws as an answer to this
measure and in the increasing sympathy for the Negroes. During this
decade, therefore, more was done in the North to secure to the Negroes
better treatment and to give them opportunities for improvement.

[Footnote 1: _Cincinnati Morning Herald_, July 17, 1846.]

[Footnote 2: Woodson, _The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861_, p.

[Footnote 3: Turner, _The Negro in Pennsylvania_, p. 143;
_Correspondence of Dr. Benjamin Bush_, XXXIX, p. 41.]

[Footnote 4: DuBois, _The Philadelphia Negro_, pp. 26-27.]

[Footnote 5: _The Journal of Negro History_, I, p. 5; and
_Proceedings of the American Convention of Abolition Societies_.]

[Footnote 6: DuBois and Dill, _The Negro American Artisan_, p. 36.]

[Footnote 7: Jay, _An Inquiry_, pp. 34, 108, 109, 114.]

[Footnote 8: _The Journal of Negro History_, I, pp. 20-22.]

[Footnote 9: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, p. 106.]

[Footnote 10: _The Liberator_, July 9, 1835.]

[Footnote 11: Hammond, _Gerrit Smith_, pp. 26-27.]

[Footnote 12: Frothingham, _Gerrit Smith_, p. 73.]

[Footnote 13: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, pp.

[Footnote 14: _Ibid._, p. 102.]

[Footnote 15: _Ibid._, p. 102.]

[Footnote 16: _Ibid._, pp. 103-104.]

[Footnote 17: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, pp.

[Footnote 18: DuBois, _The Philadelphia Negro_, p. 31; _Report of
the Condition of the Free People of Color_, 1838; _ibid._, 1849;
and Bacon, _Statistics of the Colored People of Philadelphia_, 1859.]

[Footnote 19: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, p. 95.]

[Footnote 20: DuBois, _The Philadelphia Negro_, pp. 31-36.]

[Footnote 21: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, p. 109.]

[Footnote 22: _Ibid._, p. 101.]

[Footnote 23: _Ibid._, p. 104.]

[Footnote 24: _Ibid._, p. 105.]

[Footnote 25: _Ibid._, p. 107.]

[Footnote 26: _The Journal of Negro History_, I, p. 22.]

[Footnote 27: Hickok, _The Negro in Ohio_, p. 88.]

[Footnote 28: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, p. 99.]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid._, p. 101.]

[Footnote 30: _The Philanthropist_, July 21, 1840, gives these
statistics in detail.]

[Footnote 31: _The Philanthropist_, July 21, 1840.]

[Footnote 32: _The Cincinnati Daily Gazette_, Sept. 14, 1841.]

[Footnote 33: Barber's _Report on Colored People in Ohio_.]

[Footnote 34: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, pp. 97, 98.]

[Footnote 35: Delany, _Condition of the Colored People_, p. 98.]

[Footnote 36: These facts were obtained from his children and from
Cincinnati city directories.]

[Footnote 37: _Niles Register_, LXIX, p. 357.]

[Footnote 38: Letters received from Miss Fannie M. Richards of Detroit.]

[Footnote 39: These facts were obtained from clippings taken from Detroit
newspapers and from letters bearing on Miss Richard's career.]

[Footnote 40: _The A.M.E. Church Review_, IV, p. 309; and XX, p.

[Footnote 41: _Censuses of the United States_; and Clark, _Present
Condition of Colored People_.]

[Footnote 42: _Minutes and Proceedings_ of the Annual Convention of
the People of Color.]



The Civil War waged largely in the South started the most exciting
movement of the Negroes hitherto known. The invading Union forces drove
the masters before them, leaving the slaves and sometimes poor whites to
escape where they would or to remain in helpless condition to constitute a
problem for the northern army.[1] Many poor whites of the border States
went with the Confederacy, not always because they wanted to enter the
war, but to choose what they considered the lesser of two evils. The
slaves soon realized a community of interests with the Union forces sent,
as they thought, to deliver them from thralldom. At first, it was
difficult to determine a fixed policy for dealing with these fugitives. To
drive them away was an easy matter, but this did not solve the problem.
General Butler's action at Fortress Monroe in 1861, however, anticipated
the policy finally adopted by the Union forces.[2] Hearing that three
fugitive slaves who were received into his lines were to have been
employed in building fortifications for the Confederate army, he declared
them seized as contraband of war rather than declare them actually free as
did General Fremont[3] and General Hunter.[4] He then gave them employment
for wages and rations and appropriated to the support of the unemployed a
portion of the earnings of the laborers. This policy was followed by
General Wood, Butler's successor, and by General Banks in New Orleans.

An elaborate plan for handling such fugitives was carried out by E.S.
Pierce and General Rufus Saxton at Port Royal, South Carolina. Seeing the
situation in another light, however, General Halleck in charge in the West
excluded slaves from the Union lines, at first, as did General Dix in
Virginia. But Halleck, in his instructions to General McCullum, February,
1862, ordered him to put contrabands to work to pay for food and
clothing.[5] Other commanders, like General McCook and General Johnson,
permitted the slave hunters to enter their lines and take their slaves
upon identification,[6] ignoring the confiscation act of August, 1861,
which was construed by some as justifying the retention of such refugees.
Officers of a different attitude, however, soon began to protest against
the returning of fugitive slaves. General Grant, also, while admitting the
binding force of General Halleck's order, refused to grant permits to
those in search of fugitives seeking asylum within his lines and at the
capture of Fort Donelson ordered the retention of all blacks who had been
used by the Confederates in building fortifications.[7]

Lincoln finally urged the necessity for withholding fugitive slaves from
the enemy, believing that there could be in it no danger of servile
insurrection and that the Confederacy would thereby be weakened.[8] As
this opinion soon developed into a conviction that official action was
necessary, Congress, by Act of March 13, 1862, provided that slaves be
protected against the claims of their pursuers. Continuing further in this
direction, the Federal Government gradually reached the position of
withdrawing Negro labor from the Confederate territory. Finally the United
States Government adopted the policy of withholding from the Confederates,
slaves received with the understanding that their masters were in
rebellion against the United States. With this as a settled policy then,
the United States Government had to work out some scheme for the remaking
of these fugitives coming into its camps.

In some of these cases the fugitives found themselves among men more
hostile to them than their masters were, for many of the Union soldiers of
the border States were slaveholders themselves and northern soldiers did
not understand that they were fighting to free Negroes. The condition in
which they were on arriving, moreover, was a new problem for the army.
Some came naked, some in decrepitude, some afflicted with disease, and
some wounded in their efforts to escape.[9] There were "women in travail,
the helplessness of childhood and of old age, the horrors of sickness and
of frequent deaths."[10] In their crude state few of them had any
conception of the significance of liberty, thinking that it meant idleness
and freedom from restraint. In consequence of this ignorance there
developed such undesirable habits as deceit, theft and licentiousness to
aggravate the afflictions of nakedness, famine and disease.[11]

In the East large numbers of these refugees were concentrated at
Washington, Alexandria, Fortress Monroe, Hampton, Craney Island and Fort
Norfolk. There were smaller groups of them at Yorktown, Suffolk and

STATES: 1910.

(Map 2, Bulletin 129, The United States Bureau of the Census.)]

Some of them were conducted from these camps into York, Columbia,
Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and by water to New York and
Boston, from which they went to various parts seeking labor. Some
collected in groups as in the case of those at Five Points in New
York.[13] Large numbers of them from Virginia assembled in Washington in
1862 in Duff Green's Row on Capitol Hill where they were organized as a
camp, out of which came a contraband school, after being moved to the
McClellan Barracks.[14] Then there was in the District of Columbia another
group known as Freedmen's village on Arlington Heights. It was said that,
in 1864, 30,000 to 40,000 Negroes had come from the plantations to the
District of Columbia.[15] It happened here too as in most cases of this
migration that the Negroes were on hand before the officials grappling
with many other problems could determine exactly what could or should be
done with them. The camps near Washington fortunately became centers for
the employment of contrabands in the city. Those repairing to Fortress
Monroe were distributed as laborers among the farmers of that



(Maps 3 and 4, Bulletin 129, U.S. Bureau of the Census.)

(Maps 5 and 6, Bulletin 129, U.S. Bureau of the Census.)]

In some of these camps, and especially in those of the West, the refugees
were finally sent out to other sections in need of labor, as in the cases
of the contrabands assembled with the Union army at first at Grand
Junction and later at Memphis.[17]

There were three types of these camp communities which attracted attention
as places for free labor experimentation. These were at Port Royal, on the
Mississippi in the neighborhood of Vicksburg, and in Lower Louisiana and
Virginia. The first trial of free labor of blacks on a large scale in a
slave State was made in Port Royal.[18] The experiment was generally
successful. By industry, thrift and orderly conduct the Negroes showed
their appreciation for their new opportunities. In the Mississippi section
invaded by the northern army, General Thomas opened what he called
_Infirmary Farms_ which he leased to Negroes on certain terms which
they usually met successfully. The same plan, however, was not so
successful in the Lower Mississippi section.[19] The failure in this
section was doubtless due to the inferior type of blacks in the lower
cotton belt where Negroes had been more brutalized by slavery.

In some cases, these refugees experienced many hardships. It was charged
that they were worked hard, badly treated and deprived of all their wages
except what was given them for rations and a scanty pittance, wholly
insufficient to purchase necessary clothing and provide for their
families.[20] Not a few of the refugees for these reasons applied for
permission to return to their masters and sometimes such permission was
granted; for, although under military authority, they were by order of
Congress to be considered as freemen. These voluntary slaves, of course,
were few and the authorities were not thereby impressed with the thought
that Negroes would prefer to be slaves, should they be treated as freemen
rather than as brutes.[21]

It became increasingly difficult, however, to handle this problem. In the
first place, it was not an easy matter to find soldiers well disposed to
serve the Negroes in any manner whatever and the officers of the army had
no desire to force them to render such services since those thus engaged
suffered a sort of social ostracism. The same condition obtained in the
case of caring for those afflicted with disease, until there was issued a
specific regulation placing the contraband sick in charge of the army
surgeons.[22] What the situation in the Mississippi Valley was during
these months has been well described by an observer, saying: "I hope I may
never be called on again to witness the horrible scenes I saw in those
first days of history of the freedmen in the Mississippi Valley.
Assistants were hard to find, especially the kind that would do any good
in the camps. A detailed soldier in each camp of a thousand people was the
best that could be done and his duties were so onerous that he ended by
doing nothing. In reviewing the condition of the people at that time, I am
not surprised at the marvelous stories told by visitors who caught an
occasional glimpse of the misery and wretchedness in these camps. Our
efforts to do anything for these people, as they herded together in
masses, when founded on any expectation that they would help themselves,
often failed; they had become so completely broken down in spirit, through
suffering, that it was almost impossible to arouse them."[23]

A few sympathetic officers and especially the chaplains undertook to
relieve the urgent cases of distress. They could do little, however, to
handle all the problems of the unusual situation until they engaged the
attention of the higher officers of the army and the federal functionaries
in Washington. After some delay this was finally done and special officers
were detailed to take charge of the contrabands. The Negroes were
assembled in camps and employed according to instructions from the
Secretary of War as teamsters, laborers and the like on forts and
railroads. Some were put to picking, ginning, baling and removing cotton
on plantations abandoned by their masters. General Grant, as early as
1862, was making further use of them as fatigue men in the department of
the surgeon-general, the quartermaster and the commissary. He believed
then that such Negroes as did well in these more humble positions should
be made citizens and soldiers.[24] As a matter of fact out of this very
suggestion came the policy of arming the Negroes, the first regiment of
whom was recruited under orders issued by General Hunter at Port Royal,
South Carolina in 1862. As the arming of the slave to participate in this
war did not generally please the white people who considered the struggle
a war between civilized groups, this policy could not offer general relief
to the congested contraband camps.[25]

A better system of handling the fugitives was finally worked out, however,
with a general superintendent at the head of each department, supported by
a number of competent assistants. More explicit instructions were given as
to the manner of dealing with the situation. It was to be the duty of the
superintendent of contrabands, says the order, to organize them into
working parties in saving the cotton, as pioneers on railroads and
steamboats, and in any way where their services could be made available.
Where labor was performed for private individuals they were charged in
accordance with the orders of the commander of the department. In case
they were directed to save abandoned crops of cotton for the benefit of
the United States Government, the officer selling such crops would turn
over to the superintendent of contrabands the proceeds of the sale, which
together with other earnings were used for clothing and feeding the
Negroes. Clothing sent by philanthropic persons to these camps was
received and distributed by the superintendent. In no case, however, were
Negroes to be forced into the service of the United States Government or
to be enticed away from their homes except when it became a military

Some order out of the chaos eventually developed, for as John Eaton, one
of the workers in the West, reported: "There was no promiscuous
intermingling. Families were established by themselves. Every man took
care of his own wife and children." "One of the most touching features of
our Work," says he, "was the eagerness with which colored men and women
availed themselves of the opportunities offered them to legalize unions
already formed, some of which had been in existence for a long time."[27]
"Chaplain A.S. Fiske on one occasion married in about an hour one hundred
and nineteen couples at one service, chiefly those who had long lived
together." Letters from the Virginia camps and from those of Port Royal
indicate that this favorable condition generally obtained.[28]

This unusual problem in spite of additional effort, however, would not
readily admit of solution. Benevolent workers of the North, therefore,
began to minister to the needs of these unfortunate blacks. They sent
considerable sums of money, increasing quantities of clothing and even
some of their most devoted men and women to toil among them as social
workers and teachers.[29] These efforts also took organized form in
various parts of the North under the direction of _The Pennsylvania
Freedmen's Relief Association, The Tract Society, The American Missionary
Association, Pennsylvania Friends Freedmen's Relief Association, Old
School Presbyterian Mission, The Reformed Presbyterian Mission, The New
England Freedmen's Aid Committee, The New England Freedmen's Aid Society,
The New England Freedmen's Mission, The Washington Christian Union, The
Universalists of Maine, The New York Freedmen's Relief Association, The
Hartford Relief Society, The National Freedmen's Relief Association of the
District of Columbia_, and finally the _Freedmen's Bureau_.[30]

As an outlet to the congested grouping of Negroes and poor whites in the
war camps it was arranged to send a number of them to the loyal States as
fast as there presented themselves opportunities for finding homes and
employment. Cairo, Illinois, in the West, became the center of such
activities extending its ramifications into all parts of the invaded
southern territory. Some of the refugees permanently settled in the North,
taking up the work abandoned by the northern soldiers who went to war.[31]
It was soon found necessary to appoint a superintendent of such affairs at
Cairo, for there were those who, desiring to lead a straggling life, had
to be restrained from crime by military surveillance and regulations
requiring labor for self-support. Exactly how many whites and blacks were
thus aided to reach northern communities cannot be determined but in view
of the frequent mention of their movements by travellers the number must
have been considerable. In some cases, as in Lawrence, Kansas, there were
assembled enough freedmen to constitute a distinct group.[32] Speaking of
this settlement the editor of the _Alton Telegraph_ said in 1862 that
although they amounted to many hundreds not one, that he could learn of,
had been a public charge. They readily found employment at fair wages, and
soon made themselves comfortable.[33]

There was a little apprehension that the North would be overrun by such
blacks. Some had no such fear, however, for the reason that the census did
not indicate such a movement. Many slaves were freed in the North prior to
1860, yet with all the emigration from the slave States to the North there
were then in all the Northern States but 226,152 free blacks, while there
were in the slave States 261,918, an excess of 35,766 in the slave States.
Frederick Starr believed that during the Civil War there might be an
influx for a few months but it would not continue.[34] They would return
when sure that they would be free. Starr thought that, if necessary, these
refugees might be used in building the much desired Pacific Railroad to
divert them from the North.

There was little ground for this apprehension, in fact, if their
readjustment and development in the contraband camps could be considered
an indication of what the Negroes would eventually do. Taking all things
into consideration, most unbiased observers felt that blacks in the camps
deserved well of their benefactors.[36] According to Levi Coffin, these
contrabands were, in 1864, disposed of as follows: "In military services
as soldiers, laundresses, cooks, officers' servants and laborers in the
various staff departments, 41,150; in cities, on plantations and in
freedmen's villages and cared for, 72,500. Of these 62,300 were entirely
self-supporting, just as any industrial class anywhere else, as planters,
mechanics, barbers, hackmen and draymen, conducting enterprises on their
own responsibility or working as hired laborers." The remaining 10,200
received subsistence from the government. 3,000 of these were members of
families whose heads were carrying on plantations, and had undertaken
cultivation of 4,000 acres of cotton, pledging themselves to pay the
government for their subsistence from the first income of the crop. The
other 7,200 included the paupers, that is, all Negroes over and under the
self-supporting age, the crippled and sick in hospitals. This class,
however, instead of being unproductive, had then under cultivation 500
acres of corn, 790 acres of vegetables, and 1,500 acres of cotton, besides
working at wood chopping and other industries. There were reported in the
aggregate over 100,000 acres of cotton under cultivation, 7,000 acres of
which were leased and cultivated by blacks. Some Negroes were managing as
many as 300 or 400 acres each.[37] Statistics showing exactly how much the
numbers of contrabands in the various branches of the service increased
are wanting, but in view of the fact that the few thousand soldiers here
given increased to about 200,000 before the close of the Civil War, the
other numbers must have been considerable, if they all grew the least

Much industry was shown among these refugees. Under this new system they
acquired the idea of ownership, and of the security of wages and learned
to see the fundamental difference between freedom and slavery. Some
Yankees, however, seeing that they did less work than did laborers in the
North, considered them lazy, but the lack of industry was customary in the
South and a river should not be expected to rise higher than its source.
One of their superintendents said that they worked well without being
urged, that there was among them a public opinion against idleness, which
answered for discipline, and that those put to work with soldiers labored
longer and did the nicer parts. "In natural tact and the faculty of
getting a livelihood," says the same writer, "the contrabands are inferior
to the Yankees, but quite equal to the mass of southern population."[38]
The Negroes also showed capacity to organize labor and use capital in the
promotion of enterprises. Many of them purchased land and cultivated it to
great profit both to the community and to themselves. Others entered the
service of the government as mechanics and contractors, from the
employment of which some of them realized handsome incomes.

The more important development, however, was that of manhood. This was
best observed in their growing consciousness of rights, and their
readiness to defend them, even when encroached upon by members of the
white race. They quickly learned to appreciate freedom and exhibited
evidences of manhood in their desire for the comforts and conveniences of
life. They readily purchased articles of furniture within their means,
bringing their home equipment up to the standard of that of persons
similarly circumstanced. The indisposition to labor was overcome "in a
healthy nature by instinct and motives of superior forces, such as love of
life, the desire to be clothed and fed, the sense of security derived from
provision for the future, the feeling of self-respect, the love of family
and children and the convictions of duty."[39]

These enterprises, begun in doubt, soon ceased to be a bare hope or
possibility. They became during the war a fruition and a consummation, in
that they produced Negroes "who would work for a living and fight for
freedom." They were, therefore, considered "adapted to civil society."
They had "shown capacity for knowledge, for free industry, for
subordination to law and discipline, for soldierly fortitude, for social
and family relations, for religious culture and aspiration. These
qualities," said the observer, "when stirred, and sustained by the
incitements and rewards of a just society, and combining with the currents
of our continental civilization, will, under the guidance of a benevolent
Providence which forgets neither them nor us, make them a constantly
progressive race; and secure them ever after from the calamity of another
enslavement, and ourselves from the worst calamity of being their

It is clear that these smaller numbers of Negroes under favorable
conditions could be easily adjusted to a new environment. When, however,
all Negroes were declared free there set in a confused migration which was
much more of a problem. The first thing the Negro did after realizing that
he was free was to roam over the country to put his freedom to a test. To
do this, according to many writers, he frequently changed his name,
residence, employment and wife, sometimes carrying with him from the
plantation the fruits of his own labor. Many of them easily acquired a dog
and a gun and were disposed to devote their time to the chase until the
assistance in the form of mules and land expected from the government
materialized. Their emancipation, therefore, was interpreted not only as
freedom from slavery but from responsibility.[41] Where they were going
they did not know but the towns and cities became very attractive to them.

Speaking of this upheaval in Virginia, Eckenrode says that many of them
roamed over the country without restraint.[42] "Released from their
accustomed bonds," says Hall, "and filled with a pleasing, if not vague,
sense of uncontrolled freedom, they flocked to the cities with little hope
of obtaining remunerative work. Wagon loads of them were brought in from
the country by the soldiers and dumped down to shift for themselves."[43]
Referring to the proclamation of freedom, in Georgia, Thompson asserts
that their most general and universal response was to pick up and leave
the home place to go somewhere else, preferably to a town. "The lure of the
city was strong to the blacks, appealing to their social natures, to their
inherent love for a crowd."[44] Davis maintains that thousands of the
70,000 Negroes in Florida crowded into the Federal military camps and into
towns upon realizing that they were free.[45] According to Ficklen, the
exodus of the slaves from the neighboring plantations of Louisiana into
Baton Rouge, Carrollton and New Orleans was so great as to strain the
resources of the Federal authorities to support them. Ten thousand poured
into New Orleans alone.[46] Fleming records that upon leaving their homes
the blacks collected in gangs at the cross roads, in the villages and
towns, especially near the military posts. The towns were filled with
crowds of blacks who left their homes with absolutely nothing, "thinking
that the government would care for them, or more probably, not thinking at

The portrayal of these writers of this phase of Reconstruction history
contains a general truth, but in some cases the picture is overdrawn. The
student of history must bear in mind that practically all of our histories
of that period are based altogether on the testimony of prejudiced whites
and are written from their point of view. Some of these writers have aimed
to exaggerate the vagrancy of the blacks to justify the radical procedure
of the whites in dealing with it. The Negroes did wander about
thoughtlessly, believing that this was the most effective way to enjoy
their freedom. But nothing else could be expected from a class who had
never felt anything but the heel of oppression. History shows that such
vagrancy has always followed the immediate emancipation of a large number
of slaves. Many Negroes who flocked to the towns and army camps, moreover,
had like their masters and poor whites seen their homes broken up or
destroyed by the invading Union armies. Whites who had never learned to
work were also roaming and in some cases constituted marauding bands.[48]

There was, moreover, an actual drain of laborers to the lower and more
productive lands in Mississippi and Louisiana.[49] This developed later
into a more considerable movement toward the Southwest just after the
Civil War, the exodus being from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and
Mississippi to Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Here was the pioneering
spirit, a going to the land of more economic opportunities. This slow
movement continued from about 1865 to 1875, when the development of the
numerous railway systems gave rise to land speculators who induced whites
and blacks to go west and southwest. It was a migration of individuals,
but it was reported that as many as 35,000 Negroes were then persuaded to
leave South Carolina and Georgia for Arkansas and Texas.[50]

The usual charge that the Negro is naturally migratory is not true. This
impression is often received by persons who hear of the thousands of
Negroes who move from one place to another from year to year because of
the desire to improve their unhappy condition. In this there is no
tendency to migrate but an urgent need to escape undesirable conditions.
In fact, one of the American Negroes' greatest shortcomings is that they
are not sufficiently pioneering. Statistics show that the whites have more
inclination to move from State to State than the Negro. To prove this
assertion,[51] Professor William O. Scroggs has shown that, in 1910, 16.6
per cent of the Negroes had moved to some other State than that in which
they were born, while during the same period 22.4 per cent of the whites
had done the same.[52]

The South, however, was not disposed to look at the vagrancy of the
ex-slaves so philosophically. That section had been devastated by war and
to rebuild these waste places reliable labor was necessary. Legislatures
of the slave States, therefore, immediately after the close of the war,
granted the Negro nominal freedom but enacted measures of vagrancy and
labor so as to reduce the Negro again almost to the status of a slave.
White magistrates were given wide discretion in adjudging Negroes
vagrants.[53] Negroes had to sign contracts to work. If without what was
considered a just cause the Negro left the employ of a planter, the former
could be arrested and forced to work and in some sections with ball and
chain. If the employer did not care to take him back he could be hired out
by the county or confined in jail. Mississippi, Louisiana and South
Carolina had further drastic features. By local ordinance in Louisiana
every Negro had to be in the service of some white person, and by special
laws of South Carolina and Mississippi the Negro became subject to a
master almost in the same sense in which he was prior to emancipation.[54]
These laws, of course, convinced the government of the United States that
the South had not yet decided to let slavery go and for that reason
military rule and Congressional Reconstruction followed. In this respect
the South did itself a great injury, for many of the provisions of the
black codes, especially the vagrancy laws, were unnecessary. Most Negroes
soon realized that freedom did not mean relief from responsibility and
they quickly settled down to work after a rather protracted and exciting

During the last year of and immediately after the Civil War there set in
another movement, not of a large number of Negroes but of the intelligent
class who had during years of residence in the North enjoyed such
advantages of contact and education as to make them desirable and useful
as leaders in the Reconstruction of the South and the remaking of the
race. In their tirades against the Carpet-bag politicians who handled the
Reconstruction situation so much to the dissatisfaction of the southern
whites, historians often forget to mention also that a large number of the
Negro leaders who participated in that drama were also natives or
residents of Northern States.

Three motives impelled these blacks to go South. Some had found northern
communities so hostile as to impede their progress, many wanted to rejoin
relatives from whom they had been separated by their flight from the land
of slavery, and others were moved by the spirit of adventure to enter a
new field ripe with all sorts of opportunities. This movement, together
with that of migration to large urban communities, largely accounts for
the depopulation and the consequent decline of certain colored communities
in the North after 1865.

Some of the Negroes who returned to the South became men of national
prominence. William J. Simmons, who prior to the Civil War was carried
from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, returned to do religious and
educational work in Kentucky. Bishop James W. Hood, of the African
Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, went from Connecticut to North Carolina
to engage in similar work. Honorable R.T. Greener, the first Negro
graduate of Harvard, went from Philadelphia to teach in the District of
Columbia and later to be a professor in the University of South Carolina.
F.L. Cardoza, educated at the University of Edinburgh, returned to South
Carolina and became State Treasurer. R.B. Elliot, born in Boston and
educated in England, settled in South Carolina from which he was sent to

John M. Langston was taken to Ohio and educated but came back to Virginia
his native State from which he was elected to Congress. J.T. White left
Indiana to enter politics in Arkansas, becoming State Senator and later
commissioner of public works and internal improvements. Judge Mifflin
Wister Gibbs, a native of Philadelphia, purposely settled in Arkansas
where he served as city judge and Register of United States Land Office.
T. Morris Chester, of Pittsburgh, finally made his way to Louisiana where
he served with distinction as a lawyer and held the position of
Brigadier-General in charge of the Louisiana State Guards under the
Kellogg government. Joseph Carter Corbin, who was taken from Virginia to
be educated at Chillicothe, Ohio, went later to Arkansas where he served
as chief clerk in the post office at Little Rock and later as State
Superintendent of Schools. Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, who moved
north for education and opportunity, returned to enter politics in
Louisiana, which honored him with several important positions among which
was that of Acting Governor.

[Footnote 1: This is well treated in John Eaton's _Grant, Lincoln and
the Freedmen_. See also Coffin's _Boys of '61_.]

[Footnote 2: Williams, _History of the Negro Troops in the War of the
Rebellion_, p. 70.]

[Footnote 3: Greely, _American Conflict_, I, p. 585.]

[Footnote 4: _Ibid_., II, p. 246.]

[Footnote 5: _Official Records of the Rebellion_, VIII, p. 628.]

[Footnote 6: Williams, _Negro Troops_, p. 66 et seq.]

[Footnote 7: _Official Records of the Rebellion_, VIII, p. 370;
Williams, _Negro Troops_, p. 75.]

[Footnote 8: Eaton, _Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen_, pp. 87, 92.]

[Footnote 9: Pierce, _Freedmen of Port Royal, South Carolina_, passim;
Botume, _First Days Among the Contrabands_, pp. 10-22; and Pearson,
_Letters from Port Royal_, passim.]

[Footnote 10: Eaton, _Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen_, p. 92.]

[Footnote 11: _Ibid._, pp. 2, 3.]

[Footnote 12: Report of the _Committee of Representatives of the New
York Yearly Meeting of Friends_ upon the _Condition and Wants of the
Colored Refugees_, 1862, p. 1 et seq.]

[Footnote 13: _Report of the Committee of Representatives, etc_., p.

[Footnote 14: At an entertainment of this school, Senator Pomeroy of
Kansas, voicing the sentiment of Lincoln, spoke in favor of a scheme to
colonize Negroes in Central America.]

[Footnote 15: _Special Report_ of the United States Commission of
Education on the Schools of the District of Columbia, p. 215.]

[Footnote 16: _Christian Examiner_, LXXVI, p. 349.]

[Footnote 17: Eaton, _Lincoln, Grant and the Freedmen_, pp. 18, 30.]

[Footnote 18: Pierce, _The Freedmen of Port Royal, South Carolina,
Official Reports_; and Pearson, _Letters from Port Royal written at
the Time of the Civil War_.]

[Footnote 19: _Christian Examiner_, LXXVI, p. 354.]

[Footnote 20: _Continental Monthly_, II, p. 193.]

[Footnote 21: _Report_ of the Committee of Representatives of the New
York Yearly Meeting of Friends, p. 12.]

[Footnote 23: Eaton, _Lincoln, Grant and the Freedmen_, p. 2.]

[Footnote 23: Eaton, _Lincoln, Grant and the Freedmen_, p. 19. See
also Botume's _First Days Amongst the Contrabands_. This work vividly
portrays conditions among the refugees assembled at points in South

[Footnote 24: Eaton, _Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen_, p. 15.]

[Footnote 25: Williams, _Negro in the Rebellion_, pp. 90-98.]

[Footnote 26: _Official Records of the War of the Rebellion_, VII,
pp. 503, 510, 560, 595, 628, 668, 698, 699, 711, 723, 739, 741, 757, 769,
787, 801, 802, 811, 818, 842, 923, 934; VIII, pp. 444, 445, 451, 464, 555,
556, 564, 584, 637, 642, 686, 690, 693, 825.]

[Footnote 27: Eaton, _Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen_, pp. 34-35.]

[Footnote 28: Ames, _From a New England Woman's Diary_, passim; and
Pearson, _Letters from Port Royal_, passim.]

[Footnote 29: Ames, _From a New England Woman's Diary in 1865_,

[Footnote 30: _Special Report_ of the United States Commissioner of
Education on the Schools of the District of Columbia, p. 217.]

[Footnote 31: Eaton, _Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen_, p. 37.]

[Footnote 32: Eaton, _Grant, Lincoln and the Freedmen_, p. 38.]

[Footnote 33: _Ibid._, p. 39.]

[Footnote 34: Starr, _What shall be done with the People of Color in the
United States_, p. 25; Ward, _Contrabands_, pp. 3, 4.]

[Footnote 35: It is said that Lincoln suggested colonizing the contrabands
in South America.]

[Footnote 36: _Atlantic Monthly_, XII, p. 308.]

[Footnote 37: Levi Coffin, _Reminiscences_, p. 671.]

[Footnote 38: _Atlantic Monthly_, XII, p. 309.]

[Footnote 39: _Ibid._, XII, pp. 310-311.]

[Footnote 40: _Ibid_., p. 311.]

[Footnote 41: Hamilton, _Reconstruction in North Carolina_, pp. 156,

[Footnote 42: Eckenrode, _Political History of Virginia during the
Reconstruction_, p. 43.]

[Footnote 43: Hall, _Andrew Johnson_, p. 258.]

[Footnote 44: Thompson, _Reconstruction in Georgia_, p. 44.]

[Footnote 45: Davis, _Reconstruction in Florida_, p. 341.]

[Footnote 46: Ficklen, _History of Reconstruction in Louisiana_, p.

[Footnote 47: Fleming, _The Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama_,
p. 271.]

[Footnote 48: Thompson, _Reconstruction in Georgia_, p. 69.]

[Footnote 49: _Ibid._, p. 69.]

[Footnote 50: This exodus became considerable again in 1888 and 1889 and
the Negro population has continued in this direction of plentitude of land
including not only Arkansas and Texas but Louisiana and Oklahoma, all
which received in this way by 1900 about 200,000 Negroes.]

[Footnote 51: _American Journal of Political Economy_, XXII, pp. 10,

[Footnote 52: _Ibid._, XXV, p. 1038.]

[Footnote 53: Mecklin, _Black Codes_.]

[Footnote 54: Dunning, _Reconstruction_, pp. 54, 59, 110.]

[Footnote 55: DuBois, _Freedmen's Bureau_.]



Having come through the halcyon days of the Reconstruction only to find
themselves reduced almost to the status of slaves, many Negroes deserted
the South for the promising west to grow up with the country. The
immediate causes were doubtless political. _Bulldozing_, a rather
vague term, covering all such crimes as political injustice and
persecution, was the source of most complaint. The abridgment of the
Negroes' rights had affected them as a great calamity. They had learned
that voting is one of the highest privileges to be obtained in this life
and they wanted to go where they might still exercise that privilege. That
persecution was the main cause was disputed, however, as there were cases
of Negroes migrating from parts where no such conditions obtained. Yet
some of the whites giving their version of the situation admitted that
violent methods had been used so to intimidate the Negroes as to compel
them to vote according to the dictation of the whites. It was also learned
that the _bulldozers_ concerned in dethroning the non-taxpaying
blacks were an impecunious and irresponsible group themselves, led by men
of the wealthy class.[1]

Coming to the defense of the whites, some said that much of the
persecution with which the blacks were afflicted was due to the fear of
Negro uprisings, the terror of the days of slavery. The whites, however,
did practically nothing to remove the underlying causes. They did not
encourage education and made no efforts to cure the Negroes of faults for
which slavery itself was to be blamed and consequently could not get the
confidence of the blacks. The races tended rather to drift apart. The
Negroes lived in fear of reenslavement while the whites believed that the
war between the North and South would soon be renewed. Some Negroes
thinking likewise sought to go to the North to be among friends. The
blacks, of course, had come so to regard southern whites as their enemies
as to render impossible a voluntary division in politics.

Among the worst of all faults of the whites was their unwillingness to
labor and their tendency to do mischief.[2] As there were so many to live
on the labor of the Negroes they were reduced to a state a little better
than that of bondage. The master class was generally unfair to the blacks.
No longer responsible for them as slaves, the planters endeavored after
the war to get their labor for nothing. The Negroes themselves had no
land, no mules, no presses nor cotton gins, and they could not acquire
sufficient capital to obtain these things. They were made victims of fraud
in signing contracts which they could not understand and had to suffer the
consequent privations and want aggravated by robbery and murder by the Ku
Klux Klan.[3]

The murder of Negroes was common throughout the South and especially in
Louisiana. In 1875, General Sheridan said that as many as 3,500 persons
had been killed and wounded in that State, the great majority of whom
being Negroes; that 1,884 were killed and wounded in 1868, and probably
1,200 between 1868 and 1875. Frightful massacres occurred in the parishes
of Bossier, Catahoula, Saint Bernard, Grant and Orleans. As most of these
murders were for political reasons, the offenders were regarded by their
communities as heroes rather than as criminals. A massacre of Negroes
began in the parish of St. Landry on the 28th of September and continued
for three days, resulting in the death of from 300 to 400. Thirteen
captives were taken from the jail and shot and as many as twenty-five dead
bodies were found burned in the woods. There broke out in the parish of
Bossier another three-day riot during which two hundred Negroes were
massacred. More than forty blacks were killed in the parish of Caddo
during the following month. In fact, the number of murders, maimings and
whippings during these months aggregated over one thousand.[4] The result
was that the intelligent Negroes were either intimidated or killed so that
the illiterate masses of Negro voters might be ordered to refrain from
voting the Republican ticket to strengthen the Democrats or be subjected
to starvation through the operation of the mischievous land tenure and
credit system. What was not done in 1868 to overthrow the Republican
regime was accomplished by a renewed and extended use of such drastic
measures throughout the South in 1876.

Certain whites maintained, however, that the unrest was due to the work of
radical politicians at the North, who had sent their emissaries south to
delude the Negroes into a fever of migration. Some said it was a scheme to
force the nomination of a certain Republican candidate for President in
1880. Others laid it to the charge of the defeated white and black
Republicans who had been thrown from power by the whites upon regaining
control of the reconstructed States.[5] A few insisted that a speech
delivered by Senator Windom in 1879 had given stimulus to the
migration.[6] Many southerners said that speculators in Kansas had adopted
this plan to increase the value of their land. Then there were other
theories as to the fundamental causes, each consisting of a charge of one
political faction that some other had given rise to the movement, varying
according as they were Bourbons, conservatives, native white Republicans,
carpet-bag Republicans, or black Republicans.

Impartial observers, however, were satisfied that the movement was
spontaneous to the extent that the blacks were ready and willing to go.
Probably no more inducement was offered them than to other citizens among
whom land companies sent agents to distribute literature. But the
fundamental causes of the unrest were economic, for since the Civil War
race troubles have never been sufficient to set in motion a large number
of Negroes. The discontent resulted from the land-tenure and credit
systems, which had restored slavery in a modified form.[7]

After the Civil War a few Negroes in those parts, where such opportunities
were possible, invested in real estate offered for sale by the
impoverished and ruined planters of the conquered commonwealths. When,
however, the Negroes lost their political power, their property was seized
on the plea for delinquent taxes and they were forced into the ghetto of
towns and cities, as it became a crime punishable by social proscription
to sell Negroes desirable residences. The aim was to debase all Negroes to
the status of menial labor in conformity with the usual contention of the
South that slavery is the normal condition of the blacks.[8]

Most of the land of the South, however, always remained as large tracts
held by the planters of cotton, who never thought of alienating it to the
Negroes to make them a race of small farmers. In fact, they had not the
means to make extensive purchases of land, even if the planters had been
disposed to transfer it. Still subject to the experimentation of white
men, the Negroes accepted the plan of paying them wages; but this failed
in all parts except in the sugar district, where the blacks remained
contented save when disturbed by political movements. They then tried all
systems of working on shares in the cotton districts; but this was finally
abandoned because the planters in some cases were not able to advance the
Negro tenant supplies, pending the growth of the crop, and some found the
Negro too indifferent and lazy to make the partnership desirable. Then
came the renting system which during the Reconstruction period was general
in the cotton districts. This system threw the tenant on his own
responsibility and frequently made him the victim of his own ignorance and
the rapacity of the white man. As exorbitant prices were charged for rent,
usually six to ten dollars an acre for land worth fifteen to thirty
dollars an acre, the Negro tenant not only did not accumulate anything but
had reason to rejoice at the end of the year, if he found himself out of

Along with this went the credit system which furnished the capstone of the
economic structure so harmful to the Negro tenant. This system made the
Negroes dependent for their living on an advance of supplies of food,
clothing or tools during the year, secured by a lien on the crop when
harvested. As the Negroes had no chance to learn business methods during
the days of slavery, they fell a prey to a class of loan sharks, harpies
and vampires, who established stores everywhere to extort from these
ignorant tenants by the mischievous credit system their whole income
before their crops could be gathered.[10] Some planters who sympathized
with the Negroes brought forward the scheme of protecting them by
advancing certain necessities at more reasonable prices. As the planter
himself, however, was subject to usury, the scheme did not give much
relief. The Negroes' crop, therefore, when gathered went either to the
merchant or to the planter to pay the rent; for the merchant's supplies
were secured by a mortgage on the tenant's personal property and a pledge
of the growing crop. This often prevented Negro laborers in the employ of
black tenants from getting their wages at the end of the year, for,
although the laborer had also a lien on the growing crop, the merchant and
the planter usually had theirs recorded first and secured thereby the
support of the law to force the payment of their claims. The Negro tenant
then began the year with three mortgages, covering all he owned, his labor
for the coming year and all he expected to acquire during that
twelvemonth. He paid "one-third of his product for the use of the land, he
paid an exorbitant fee for recording the contract by which he paid his
pound of flesh; he was charged two or three times as much as he ought to
pay for ginning his cotton; and, finally, he turned over his crop to be
eaten up in commissions, if any was still left to him."[11]

The worst of all results from this iniquitous system was its effect on the
Negroes themselves. It made the Negroes extravagant and unscrupulous.
Convinced that no share of their crop would come to them when harvested,
they did not exert themselves to produce what they could. They often
abandoned their crops before harvest, knowing that they had already spent
them. In cases, however, where the Negro tenants had acquired mules,
horses or tools upon which the speculator had a mortgage, the blacks were
actually bound to their landlords to secure the property. It was soon
evident that in the end the white man himself was the loser by this evil
system. There appeared waste places in the country. Improvements were
wanting, land lay idle for lack of sufficient labor, and that which was
cultivated yielded a diminishing return on account of the ignorance and
improvidence of those tilling it. These Negroes as a rule had lost the
ambition to become landowners, preferring to invest their surplus money in
personal effects; and in the few cases where the Negroes were induced to
undertake the buying of land, they often tired of the responsibility and
gave it up.[12]

There began in the spring of 1879, therefore, an emigration of the Negroes
from Louisiana and Mississippi to Kansas. For some time there was a
stampede from several river parishes in Louisiana and from counties just
opposite them in Mississippi. It was estimated that from five to ten
thousand left their homes before the movement could be checked. Persons of
influence soon busied themselves in showing the blacks the necessity for
remaining in the South and those who had not then gone or prepared to go
were persuaded to return to the plantations. This lull in the excitement,
however, was merely temporary, for many Negroes had merely returned home
to make more extensive preparations for leaving the following spring. The
movement was accelerated by the work of two Negro leaders of some note,
Moses Singleton, of Tennessee, the self-styled Moses of the Exodus; and
Henry Adams, of Louisiana, who credited himself with having organized for
this purpose as many as 98,000 blacks.

Taking this movement seriously a convention of the leading whites and
blacks was held at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the sixth of May, 1879. This
body was controlled mainly by unsympathetic but diplomatic whites. General
N.R. Miles, of Yazoo County, Mississippi, was elected president and A.W.
Crandall, of Louisiana, secretary. After making some meaningless but
eloquent speeches the convention appointed a committee on credentials and
adjourned until the following day. On reassembling Colonel W.L. Nugent,
chairman of the committee, presented a certain preamble and
resolutions citing causes of the exodus and suggesting remedies. Among the
causes, thought he, were: "the low price of cotton and the partial failure
of the crop, the irrational system of planting adopted in some sections
whereby labor was deprived of intelligence to direct it and the presence
of economy to make it profitable, the vicious system of credit fostered by
laws permitting laborers and tenants to mortgage crops before they were
grown or even planted; the apprehension on the part of many colored people
produced by insidious reports circulated among them that their civil and
political rights were endangered or were likely to be; the hurtful and
false rumors diligently disseminated, that by emigrating to Kansas the
Negroes would obtain lands, mules and money from the government without
cost to themselves, and become independent forever."[13]

Referring to the grievances and proposing a redress, the committee
admitted that errors had been committed by the whites and blacks alike, as
each in turn had controlled the government of the States there
represented. The committee believed that the interests of planters and
laborers, landlords and tenants were identical; that they must prosper or
suffer together; and that it was the duty of the planters and landlords of
the State there represented to devise and adopt some contract by which
both parties would receive the full benefit of labor governed by
intelligence and economy. The convention affirmed that the Negro race had
been placed by the constitution of the United States and the States there
represented, and the laws thereof, on a plane of absolute equality with
the white race; and declared that the Negro race should be accorded the
practical enjoyment of all civil and political rights guaranteed by the
said constitutions and laws. The convention pledged itself to use whatever
of power and influence it possessed to protect the Negro race against all
dangers in respect to the fair expression of their wills at the polls,
which they apprehended might result from fraud, intimidation or
_bulldozing_ on the part of the whites. And as there could be no
liberty of action without freedom of thought, they demanded that all
elections should be fair and free and that no repressive measures should
be employed by the Negroes "to deprive their own race in part of the
fullest freedom in the exercise of the highest right of citizenship."[14]

The committee then recommended the abolition of the mischievous credit
system, called upon the Negroes to contradict false reports as to crimes
of the whites against them and, after considering the Negroes' right to
emigrate, urged that they proceed about it with reason. Ex-Governor Foote,
of Mississippi, submitted a plan to establish in every county a committee,
composed of men who had the confidence of both whites and blacks, to be
auxiliary to the public authorities, to listen to complaints and
arbitrate, advise, conciliate or prosecute, as each case should demand.
But unwilling to do more than make temporary concessions, the majority
rejected Foote's plan.[15]

The whites thought also to stop the exodus by inducing the steamboat lines
not to furnish the emigrants' transportation. Negroes were also
detained by writs obtained by preferring against them false charges. Some,
who were willing to let the Negroes go, thought of importing white and
Chinese labor to take their places. Hearing of the movement and thinking
that he could offer a remedy, Senator D.W. Voorhees, of Indiana,
introduced a resolution in the United States Senate authorizing an inquiry
into the causes of the exodus.[16] The movement, however, could not be
stopped and it became so widespread that the people in general were forced
to give it serious thought. Men in favor of it declared their views,
organized migration societies and appointed agents to promote the
enterprise of removing the freedmen from the South.

Becoming a national measure, therefore, the migration evoked expressions
from Frederick Douglass and Richard T. Greener, two of the most prominent
Negroes in the United States. Douglass believed that the exodus was
ill-timed. He saw in it the abandonment of the great principle of
protection to persons and property in every State of the Union. He felt
that if the Negroes could not be protected in every State, the Federal
Government was shorn of its rightful dignity and power, the late rebellion
had triumphed, the sovereign of the nation was an empty vessel, and the
power and authority in individual States were supreme. He thought,
therefore, that it was better for the Negroes to stay in the South than to
go North, as the South was a better market for the black man's labor.
Douglass believed that the Negroes should be warned against a nomadic
life. He did not see any more benefit in the migration to Kansas than he
had years before in the emigration to Africa. The Negroes had a monopoly
of labor at the South and they would be too insignificant in numbers to
have such an advantage in the North. The blacks were then potentially able
to elect members of Congress in the South but could not hope to exercise
such power in other parts. Douglass believed, moreover, that this exodus
did not conform to the "laws of civilizing migration," as the carrying of
a language, literature and the like of a superior race to an inferior; and
it did not conform to the geographic laws assuring healthy migration from
east to west in the same latitude, as this was from south to north, far
away from the climate in which the migrants were born.[17]

The exodus of the Negroes, however, was heartily endorsed by Richard T.
Greener. He did not consider it the best remedy for the lawlessness of the
South but felt that it was a salutary one. He did not expect the United
States to give the oppressed blacks in the South the protection they
needed, as there is no abstract limit to the right of a State to do
anything. He would not encourage the Negro to lead a wandering life but in
that instance such advice was gratuitous. Greener failed to find any
analogy between African colonization and migration to the West as the
former was promoted by slaveholders to remove the free Negro from the
country and the other sprang spontaneously from the class considering
itself aggrieved. "One led out of the country to a comparative wilderness;
the other directed to a better land and larger opportunities." He did not
see how the migration to the North would diminish the potentiality of the
Negro in politics, for Massachusetts first elected Negroes to her General
Court, Ohio had nominated a Negro representative and Illinois another. He
showed also that Mr. Douglass's objection on the grounds of migrating from
south to north rather than from east to west was not historical. He
thought little of the advice to the Negroes to stick and fight it out, for
he had evidence that the return of the unreconstructed Confederates to
power in the South would for generations doom the blacks to political
oppression unknown in the annals of a free country.

Greener showed foresight here in urging the Negroes to take up desirable
western land before it would be preempted by foreigners. As the Swedes,
Norwegians, Irish, Hebrews and others were organizing societies and
raising funds to promote the migration of their needy to these lands, why
should the Negroes be debarred? Greener had no apprehension as to the
treatment the Negroes would receive in the West. He connected the movement
too with the general welfare of the blacks, considering it a promising
sign that they had learned to run from persecution. Having passed their
first stage, that of appealing to philanthropists, the Negroes were then
appealing to themselves.[18]

Feeling very much as Greener did, these Negroes rushed into Kansas and
neighboring States in 1879. So many came that some systematic relief had
to be offered. Mrs. Comstock, a Quaker lady, organized for this purpose
the Kansas Freedmen's Relief Association, to raise funds and secure for
them food and clothing. In this work she had the support of Governor J.P.
Saint John. There was much suffering upon arriving in Kansas but relief
came from various sources. During this year $40,000 and 500,000 pounds of
clothing, bedding and the like were used. England contributed 50,000
pounds of goods and $8,000. In 1879, the refugees took up 20,000 acres of
land and brought 3,000 under cultivation. The Relief Association at first
furnished them with supplies, teams and seed, which they profitably used
in the production of large crops. Desiring to establish homes, they built
300 cabins and saved $30,000 the first year. In April, 1,300 refugees had
gathered around Wyandotte alone. Up to that date 60,000 had come to
Kansas, nearly 40,000 of whom arrived in destitute condition. About 30,000
settled in the country, some on rented lands and others on farms as
laborers, leaving about 25,000 in cities, where on account of crowded
conditions and the hard weather many greatly suffered. Upon finding
employment, however, they all did well, most of them becoming
self-supporting within one year after their arrival, and few of them
coming back to the Relief Association for aid the second time.[19] This
was especially true of those in Topeka, Parsons and Kansas City.

The people of Kansas did not encourage the blacks to come. They even sent
messengers to the South to advise the Negroes not to migrate and, if they
did come anyway, to provide themselves with equipment. When they did
arrive, however, they welcomed and assisted them as human beings. Under
such conditions the blacks established five or six important colonies in
Kansas alone between 1879 and 1880. Chief among these were Baxter Springs,
Nicodemus, Morton City and Singleton. Governor Saint John, of Kansas,
reported that they seemed to be honest and of good habits, were certainly
industrious and anxious to work, and so far as they had been tried had
proved to be faithful and excellent laborers. Giving his observations
there, Sir George Campbell bore testimony to the same report.[20] Out of
these communities have come some most progressive black citizens. In
consideration of their desirability their white neighbors have given them
their cooperation, secured to them the advantages of democratic education,
and honored a few of them with some of the most important positions in the

Although the greater number of these blacks went to Kansas, about 5,000 of
them sought refuge in other Western States. During these years, Negroes
gradually invaded Indian Territory and increased the number already
infiltrated into and assimilated by the Indian nations. When assured of
their friendly attitude toward the Indians, the Negroes were accepted by
them as equals, even during the days of slavery when the blacks on account
of the cruelties of their masters escaped to the wilderness.[21] Here we
are at sea as to the extent to which this invasion and subsequent
miscegenation of the black and red races extended for the reason that
neither the Indians nor these migrating Negroes kept records and the
United States Government has been disposed to classify all mixed breeds in
tribes as Indians. Having equal opportunity among the red men, the Negroes
easily succeeded. A traveler in Indian Territory in 1880 found their
condition unusually favorable. The cosy homes and promising fields of
these freedmen attracted his attention as striking evidences of their
thrift. He saw new fences, additions to cabins, new barns, churches and
school-houses indicating prosperity. Given every privilege which the
Indians themselves enjoyed, the Negroes could not be other than

It was very unfortunate, however, that in 1889, when by proclamation of
President Harrison the Oklahoma Territory was thrown open, the intense
race prejudice of the white immigrants and the rule of the mob prevented a
larger number of Negroes from settling in that promising commonwealth.
Long since extensively advertised as valuable, the land of Oklahoma had
become a coveted prize for the adventurous squatters invading the
territory in defiance of the law before it was declared open for
settlement. The rush came with all the excitement of pioneer days
redoubled. Stakes were set, parcels of land were claimed, cabins were
constructed in an hour and towns grew up in a day.[23] Then came
conflicting claims as to titles and rights of preemption culminating in
fighting and bloodshed. And worst of all, with this disorderly group there
developed the fixed policy of eliminating the Negroes entirely.

The Negro, however, was not entirely excluded. Some had already come into
the territory and others in spite of the barriers set up continued to
come.[24] With the cooperation of the Indians, with whom they easily
amalgamated they readjusted themselves and acquired sufficient wealth to
rise in the economic world. Although not generally fortunate, a number of
them have coal and oil lands from which they obtain handsome incomes and a
few, like Sara Rector, have actually become rich. Dishonest white men with
the assistance of unprincipled officials have defrauded and are still
endeavoring to defraud these Negroes of their property, lending them money
secured by mortgages and obtaining for themselves through the courts
appointments as the Negroes' guardians. They turn out to be the robbers of
the Negroes, in case they do not live in a community where an enlightened
public opinion frowns down upon this crime.

During the later eighties and the early nineties there were some other
interstate movements worthy of notice here. The mineral wealth of the
Appalachian mountains was being exploited. Foreigners, at first, were
coming into this country in sufficiently large numbers to meet the demand;
but when this supply became inadequate, labor agents appealed to the
blacks in the South. Negroes then flocked to the mining districts of
Birmingham, Alabama, and to East Tennessee. A large number also migrated
from North Carolina and Virginia to West Virginia and some few of the same
group to Southern Ohio to take the places of those unreasonable strikers
who often demanded larger increases in wages than the income of their
employers could permit. Many of these Negroes came to West Virginia as is
evidenced by the increase in Negro population of that State. West Virginia
had a Negro population of 17,980 in 1870; 25,886 in 1880; 32,690 in 1890;
43,499 in 1900; and 64,173 in 1910.[25]

[Footnote 1: _Atlantic Monthly_, LXIV, p. 222; _Nation_, XXVIII,
pp. 242, 386.]

[Footnote 2: Thompson, _Reconstruction in Georgia_, p. 69.]

[Footnote 3: Williams, _History of the Negro Race_, II, p. 375.]

[Footnote 4: Williams, _History of the Negro Race_, II, p. 374.]

[Footnote 5: American _Journal of Social Science_, XI, p. 34.]

[Footnote 6: _Ibid._, XI, p. 33.]

[Footnote 7: _Nation_, XXVIII, pp. 242, 386.]

[Footnote 8: Williams, _History of the Negro Race_, II, p. 378.]

[Footnote 9: _Atlantic Monthly_, LXIV, p. 225.]

[Footnote 10: _Ibid._, LXIV, p. 226.]

[Footnote 11: _Atlantic Monthly_, LXIV, p. 224.]

[Footnote 12: _The Atlantic Monthly_, XLIV, p. 223.]

[Footnote 13: _The Vicksburg Daily Commercial_, May 6, 1879.]

[Footnote 14: _The Vicksburg Daily Commercial_, May 6, 1879.]

[Footnote 15: _Ibid._, May 6, 1879.]

[Footnote 16: _Congressional Record_, 46th Congress, 2d Session, Vol.
X, p. 104.]

[Footnote 17: For a detailed statement of Douglass's views, see the
_American Journal of Social Science_, XI, pp. 1-21.]

[Footnote 18: _American Journal of Social Science_, XI, pp. 22-35.]

[Footnote 19: Williams, _History of the Negro_, II, p. 379.]

[Footnote 20: "In Kansas City," said Sir George Campbell, "and still more
in the suburbs of Kansas proper the Negroes are much more numerous than I
have yet seen. On the Kansas side they form quite a large proportion of
the population. They are certainly subject to no indignity or ill usage.
There the Negroes seem to have quite taken to work at trades." He saw them
doing building work, both alone and assisting white men, and also painting
and other tradesmen's work. On the Kansas side, he found a Negro
blacksmith, with an establishment of his own. He had come from Tennessee
after emancipation. He had not been back there and did not want to go. He
also saw black women keeping apple stalls and engaged in other such
occupations so as to leave him under the impression that in the States,
which he called intermediate between black and white countries the blacks
evidently had no difficulty.--See _American Journal of Social
Science_, XI, pp. 32, 33.]

[Footnote 21: _American Journal of Social Science_, XI, p. 33.]

[Footnote 22: _Ibid._, XI, p. 33.]

[Footnote 23: _Spectator_, LXVII, p. 571; _Dublin Review_, CV,
p. 187; _Cosmopolitan_, VII, p. 460; _Nation_, LXVIII, p. 279.]

[Footnote 24: According to the _United States Census, of 1910_, there
are 137,612 Negroes in Oklahoma.]

[Footnote 25: See _Censuses_ of the United States.]



In spite of these interstate movements, the Negro still continued as a
perplexing problem, for the country was unprepared to grant the race
political and civil rights. Nominal equality was forced on the South at
the point of the sword and the North reluctantly removed most of its
barriers against the blacks. Some, still thinking, however, that the two
races could not live together as equals, advocated ceding the blacks the
region on the Gulf of Mexico.[1] This was branded as chimerical on the
ground that, deprived of the guidance of the whites, these States would
soon sink to African level and the end of the experiment would be a
reconquest and a military regime fatal to the true development of American
institutions.[2] Another plan proposed was the revival of the old
colonization idea of sending Negroes to Africa, but this exhibited still
less wisdom than the first in that it was based on the hypothesis of
deporting a nation, an expense which no government would be willing to
incur. There were then no physical means of transporting six or seven
millions of people, moreover, as there would be a new born for every one
the agents of colonization could deport.[3]

With the deportation scheme still kept before the people by the American
Colonization Society, the idea of emigration to Africa did not easily die.
Some Negroes continued to emigrate to Liberia from year to year. This
policy was also favored by radicals like Senator Morgan, of Alabama, who,
after movements like the Ku Klux Klan had done their work of intimidating
Negroes into submission to the domination of the whites, concluded that
most of the race believed that there was no future for the blacks in the
United States and that they were willing to emigrate. These radicals
advocated the deportation of the blacks to prevent the recurrence of
"Negro domination." This plan was acceptable to the whites in general
also, for, unlike the consensus of opinion of today, it was then thought
that the South could get along without the Negro.[4] Even newspapers like
the _Charleston News and Courier_, which denounced the persecution of
the Negroes, urged them to emigrate to Africa as they could not be
permitted to rule over the white people. The _Minneapolis Times_
wished the scheme success and Godspeed and believed that the sooner it was
carried out the better it would be for the Negroes.

Most of the influential newspapers of the country, however, urged the
contrary. Citing the progress of the Negroes since emancipation to show
that the blacks were doing their full share toward developing the wealth
of the South, the _Indianapolis Journal_ characterized as barbarism
the suggestion that the government should furnish them transportation to
Africa. "The ancestors of most of the Negroes now in this country," said
the editor, "have doubtless been here as long as those of Senator Morgan,
and their descendants are as thoroughly acclimated and have as good a
right here as the Senator himself."[5] This was the opinion of all useful
Negroes except Bishop H.M. Turner, who endorsed Morgan's plan by
advocating the emigration of one fourth of the blacks to Africa. The
editor of the _Chicago Record-Herald_ entreated Turner to temper his
enthusiasm with discretion before he involved in unspeakable disaster any
more of his trustful compatriots.

Speaking more plainly to the point, the editor of the _Philadelphia
North American_ said that the true interest of the South was to
accommodate itself to changed conditions and that the duty of the freedmen
lies in making themselves worth more in the development of the South than
they were as chattels. Although recognizing the disabilities and hardships
of the South both to the whites and the blacks, he could not believe that
the elimination of the Negroes would, if practicable, give relief.[6] The
_Boston Herald_ inquired whether it was worth while to send away a
laboring population in the absence of whites to take its place and
referred to the misfortunes of Spain which undertook to carry out such a
scheme. Speaking the real truth, _The Milwaukee Journal_ said that no
one needed to expect any appreciable decrease in the black population
through any possible emigration, no matter how successful it might be.
"The Negro," said the editor, "is here to stay and our institutions must
be adapted to comprehend him and develop his possibilities." _The
Colored American_, then the leading Negro organ of thought in the
United States, believed that the Negroes should be thankful to Senator
Morgan for his attitude on emigration, because he might succeed in
deporting to Africa those Negroes who affect to believe that this is not
their home and the more quickly we get rid of such foolhardy people the
better it will be for the stalwart of the race.[7]

A number of Negroes, however, under the inspiration of leaders[8] like
Bishop H.M. Turner, did not feel that the race had a fair chance in the
United States. A few of them emigrated to Wapimo, Mexico; but, becoming
dissatisfied with the situation there, they returned to their homes in
Georgia and Alabama in 1895. The coming of the Negroes into Mexico caused
suspicion and excitement. A newspaper, _El Tiempo_, which had been
denouncing lynching in the United States, changed front when these Negroes
arrived in that country.

Going in quest of new opportunities and desiring to reenforce the
civilization of Liberia, 197 other Negroes sailed from Savannah, Georgia,
for Liberia, March 19, 1895. Commending this step, the _Macon
Telegraph_ referred to their action as a rebellion against the social
laws which govern all people of this country. This organ further said that
it was the outcome of a feeling which has grown stronger and stronger year
by year among the Negroes of the Southern States and which will continue
to grow with the increase of education and intelligence among them. The
editor conceded that they had an opportunity to better their material
condition and acquire wealth here but contended that they had no chance to
rise out of the peasant class. The _Memphis Commercial Appeal_ urged
the building of a large Negro nation in Africa as practicable and
desirable, for it was "more and more apparent that the Negro in this
country must remain an alien and a disturber," because there was "not and
can never be a future for him in this country." The _Florida Times
Union_ felt that this colonization scheme, like all others, was a
fraud. It referred to the Negro's being carried to the land of plenty only
to find out that there, as everywhere else in the world, an existence must
be earned by toil and that his own old sunny southern home is vastly the
better place.[9]

Only a few intelligent Negroes, however, had reached the position of being
contented in the South. The Negroes eliminated from politics could not
easily bring themselves around to thinking that they should remain there
in a state of recognized inferiority, especially when during the eighties
and nineties there were many evidences that economic as well as political
conditions would become worse. The exodus treated in the previous chapter
was productive of better treatment for the Negroes and an increase in
their wages in certain parts of the South but the migration, contrary to
the expectations of many, did not become general. Actual prosperity was
impossible even if the whites had been willing to give the Negro peasants
a fair chance. The South had passed through a disastrous war, the effects
of which so blighted the hopes of its citizens in the economic world that
their land seemed to pass, so to speak, through a dark age. There was then
little to give the man far down when the one to whom he of necessity
looked for employment was in his turn bled by the merchant or the banker
of the larger cities, to whom he had to go for extensive credits.[10]

Southern planters as a class, however, had not much sympathy for the
blacks who had once been their property and the tendency to cheat them
continued, despite the fact that many farmers in the course of time
extricated themselves from the clutches of the loan sharks. There were a
few Negroes who, thanks to the honesty of certain southern gentlemen,
succeeded in acquiring considerable property in spite of their
handicaps.[11] They yielded to the white man's control in politics, when
it seemed that it meant either to abandon that field or die, and devoted
themselves to the accumulation of wealth and the acquisition of education.

This concession, however, did not satisfy the radical whites, as they
thought that the Negro might some day return to power. Unfortunately,
therefore, after the restoration of the control of the State governments
to the master class, there swept over these commonwealths a wave of
hostile legislation demanded by the poor white uplanders determined to
debase the blacks to the status of the free Negroes prior to the Civil
War.[12] The Negroes have, therefore, been disfranchised in most
reconstructed States, deprived of the privilege of serving in the State
militia, segregated in public conveyances, and excluded from public places
of entertainment. They have, moreover, been branded by public opinion as
pariahs of society to be used for exploitation but not to be encouraged to
expect that their status can ever be changed so as to destroy the barriers
between the races in their social and political relations.

This period has been marked also by an effort to establish in the South a
system of peonage not unlike that of Mexico, a sort of involuntary
servitude in that one is considered legally bound to serve his master
until a debt contracted is paid. Such laws have been enacted in Florida,
Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. No such
distinction in law has been able to stand the constitutional test of the
United States courts as was evidenced by the decision of the Supreme Court
in 1911 declaring the Alabama law unconstitutional.[13] But the planters
of the South, still a law unto themselves, have maintained actual slavery
in sequestered; districts where public opinion against peonage is too weak
to support federal authorities in exterminating it.[14] The Negroes
themselves dare not protest under penalty of persecution and the peon
concerned usually accepts his lot like that of a slave. Some years ago it

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