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A Social History of the American Negro by Benjamin Brawley

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the Constitution as to take away from every county the power of
self-government and centralize everything in the legislature. Now was
realized an extent of power over elections and election returns so
great that no party could wholly clear itself of the idea of corrupt

[Footnote 1: George W. Cable: _The Southern Struggle for Pure
Government_: An Address. Boston, 1890, included in _The Negro Question_,
New York, 1890.]

At the heart of the whole question of course was race. As a matter of
fact much work of genuine statesmanship was accomplished or attempted by
the reconstruction governments. For one thing the idea of common school
education for all people was now for the first time fully impressed upon
the South. The Charleston _News and Courier_ of July 11, 1876, formally
granted that in the administration of Governor Chamberlain of South
Carolina the abuse of the pardoning power had been corrected; the
character of the officers appointed by the Executive had improved; the
floating indebtedness of the state had been provided for in such a way
that the rejection of fraudulent claims was assured and that valid
claims were scaled one-half; the tax laws had been so amended as to
secure substantial equality in the assessment of property; taxes had
been reduced to eleven mills on the dollar; the contingent fund of
the executive department had been reduced at a saving in two years of
$101,200; legislative expenses had also been reduced so as to save
in two years $350,000; legislative contingent expenses had also been
handled so as to save $355,000; and the public printing reduced from
$300,000 to $50,000 a year. There were, undoubtedly, at first, many
corrupt officials, white and black. Before they were through, however,
after only a few years of experimenting, the reconstruction governments
began to show signs of being quite able to handle the situation; and it
seems to have been primarily the fear on the part of the white South
_that they might not fail_ that prompted the determination to regain
power at whatever cost. Just how this was done we are now to see.

3. _Reaction: The KuKlux Klan_

Even before the Civil War a secret organization, the Knights of the
Golden Circle, had been formed to advance Southern interests. After the
war there were various organizations--Men of Justice, Home Guards, Pale
Faces, White Brotherhood, White Boys, Council of Safety, etc., and, with
headquarters at New Orleans, the thoroughly organized Knights of the
White Camelia. All of these had for their general aim the restoration
of power to the white men of the South, which aim they endeavored to
accomplish by regulating the conduct of the Negroes and their leaders
in the Republican organization, the Union League, especially by playing
upon the fears and superstitions of the Negroes. In general, especially
in the Southeast, everything else was surpassed or superseded by the
KuKlux Klan, which originated in Tennessee in the fall of 1865 as an
association of young men for amusement, but which soon developed into a
union for the purpose of whipping, banishing, terrorizing, and murdering
Negroes and Northern white men who encouraged them in the exercise of
their political rights. No Republican, no member of the Union League,
and no G.A.R. man could become a member. The costume of the Klan
was especially designed to strike terror in the uneducated Negroes.
Loose-flowing sleeves, hoods in which were apertures for the eyes, nose,
and mouth trimmed with red material, horns made of cotton-stuff standing
out on the front and sides, high cardboard hats covered with white
cloth decorated with stars or pictures of animals, long tongues of red
flannel, were all used as occasion demanded. The KuKlux Klan finally
extended over the whole South and greatly increased its operations on
the cessation of martial law in 1870. As it worked generally at night,
with its members in disguise, it was difficult for a grand jury to get
evidence on which to frame a bill, and almost impossible to get a jury
that would return a verdict for the state. Repeated measures against
the order were of little effect until an act of 1870 extended the
jurisdiction of the United States courts to all KuKlux cases. Even then
for some time the organization continued active.

Naturally there were serious clashes before government was restored to
the white South, especially as the KuKlux Klan grew bolder. At Colfax,
Grant Parish, Louisiana, in April, 1873, there was a pitched battle in
which several white men and more than fifty Negroes were killed; and
violence increased as the "red shirt" campaign of 1876 approached.

In connection with the events of this fateful year, and with reference
to South Carolina, where the Negro seemed most solidly in power, we
recall one episode, that of the Hamburg Massacre. We desire to give this
as fully as possible in all its incidents, because we know of nothing
that better illustrates the temper of the times, and because a most
important matter is regularly ignored or minimized by historians.[1]

[Footnote 1: Fleming, in his latest and most mature account of
reconstruction, _The Sequel of Appomattox_, has not one word to say
about the matter. Dunning, in _Reconstruction Political and Economic_
(306), speaks as follows: "July 6, 1876, an armed collision between
whites and blacks at Hamburg, Aiken County, resulted in the usual
slaughter of the blacks. Whether the original cause of the trouble
was the insolence and threats of a Negro militia company, or the
aggressiveness and violence of some young white men, was much discussed
throughout the state, and, indeed, the country at large. Chamberlain
took frankly and strongly the ground that the whites were at fault."
Such a statement we believe simply does not do justice to the facts.
The account given herewith is based upon the report of the matter in a
letter published in a Washington paper and submitted in connection with
the debate in the United States House of Representatives, July 15th and
18th, 1876, on the Massacre of Six Colored Citizens at Hamburg, S.C.,
July 4, 1876; and on "An Address to the People of the United States,
adopted at a Conference of Colored Citizens, held at Columbia, S.C.,
July 20th and 21st, 1876" (Republican Printing Co., Columbia, S.C.,
1876). The Address, a document most important for the Negro's side of
the story, was signed by no less than sixty representative men, among
them R.B. Elliott, R.H. Gleaves, F.L. Cardozo, D.A. Straker, T. McC.
Stewart, and H.N. Bouey.]

In South Carolina an act providing for the enrollment of the male
citizens of the state, who were by the terms of the said act made
subject to the performance of militia duty, was passed by the General
Assembly and approved by the Governor March 16, 1869. By virtue of this
act Negro citizens were regularly enrolled as a part of the National
Guard of the State of South Carolina, and as the white men, with very
few exceptions, failed or refused to become a part of the said force,
the active militia was composed almost wholly of Negro men. The County
of Edgefield, of which Hamburg was a part, was one of the military
districts of the state under the apportionment of the Adjutant-General,
one regiment being allotted to the district. One company of this
regiment was in Hamburg. In 1876 it had recently been reorganized with
Doc Adams as captain, Lewis Cartledge as first lieutenant, and A.T.
Attaway as second lieutenant. The ranks were recruited to the requisite
number of men, to whom arms and equipment were duly issued.

On Tuesday, July 4, the militia company assembled for drill and while
thus engaged paraded through one of the least frequented streets of the
town. This street was unusually wide, but while marching four abreast
the men were interrupted by a horse and buggy driven _into their ranks_
by Thomas Butler and Henry Getzen, white men who resided about two
miles from the town. At the time of this interference the company was
occupying a space covering a width of not more than eight feet, so that
on either side there was abundant room for vehicles. At the interruption
Captain Adams commanded a halt and, stepping to the head of his column,
said, "Mr. Getzen, I did not think that you would treat me this way; I
would not so act towards you." To this Getzen replied with curses,
and after a few more remarks on either side, Adams, in order to avoid
further trouble, commanded his men to break ranks and permit the buggy
to pass through. The company was then marched to the drill rooms and

On Wednesday, July 5, Robert J. Butler, father of Thomas Butler and
father-in-law of Getzen, appeared before P.R. Rivers, colored trial
justice, and made complaint that the militia company had on the previous
day obstructed one of the public streets of Hamburg and prevented his
son and son-in-law from passing through. Rivers accordingly issued a
summons for the officers to appear the next day, July 6. When Adams and
his two lieutenants appeared on Thursday, they found present Robert J.
Butler and several other white men heavily armed with revolvers. On the
calling of the case it was announced that the defendants were present
and that Henry Sparnick, a member of the circuit bar of the county, had
been retained to represent them. Butler angrily protested against such
representation and demanded that the hearing be postponed until he
could procure counsel from the city of Augusta; whereupon Adams and his
lieutenants, after consultation with their attorney, who informed them
that there were no legal grounds on which the case could be decided
against them, waived their constitutional right to be represented by
counsel and consented to go to trial. On this basis the case was opened
and proceeded with for some time, when on account of some disturbance
its progress was arrested, and it was adjourned for further hearing on
the following Saturday, July 8, at four o'clock in the afternoon.

On Saturday, between two and three o'clock, General M.C. Butler, of
Edgefield, formerly an officer in the Confederate army, arrived in
Hamburg, and he was followed by mounted men in squads of ten or fifteen
until the number was more than two hundred, the last to arrive being
Colonel A.P. Butler at the head of threescore men. Immediately after his
arrival General Butler sent for Attorney Sparnick, who was charged with
the request to Rivers and the officers of the militia company to confer
with him at once. There was more passing of messengers back and forth,
and it was at length deemed best for the men to confer with Butler. To
this two of the officers objected on the ground that the whole plan was
nothing more than a plot for their assassination. They sent to ask if
General Butler would meet them without the presence of his armed force.
He replied Yes, but before arrangements could be made for the interview
another messenger came to say that the hour for the trial had arrived,
that General Butler was at the court, and that he requested the presence
of the trial justice, Rivers. Rivers proceeded to court alone and found
Butler there waiting for him. He was about to proceed with the case when
Butler asked for more time, which request was granted. He went away and
never returned to the court. Instead he went to the council chamber,
being surrounded now by greater and greater numbers of armed men, and he
sent a committee to the officers asking that they come to the council
chamber to see him. The men again declined for the same reason as
before. Butler now sent an ultimatum demanding that the officers
apologize for what took place on July 4 and that they surrender to him
their arms, threatening that if the surrender was not made at once he
would take their guns and officers by force. Adams and his men now awoke
to a full sense of their danger, and they asked Rivers, who was not only
trial justice but also Major General of the division of the militia to
which they belonged, if he demanded their arms of them. Rivers replied
that he did not. Thereupon the officers refused the request of Butler on
the ground that he had no legal right to demand their arms or to receive
them if surrendered. At this point Butler let it be known that he
demanded the surrender of the arms within half an hour and that if he
did not receive them he would "lay the d---- town in ashes." Asked in an
interview whether, if his terms were complied with, he would guarantee
protection to the people of the town he answered that he did not know
and that that would depend altogether upon how they behaved themselves.

Butler now went with a companion to Augusta, returning in about thirty
minutes. A committee called upon him as soon as he got back. He had only
to say that he demanded the arms immediately. Asked if he would accept
the boxing up of the arms and the sending of them to the Governor, he
said, "D---- the Governor. I am not here to consult him, but am here as
Colonel Butler, and this won't stop until after November." Asked again
if he would guarantee general protection if the arms were surrendered,
he said, "I guarantee nothing."

All the while scores of mounted men were about the streets. Such members
of the militia company as were in town and their friends to the number
of thirty-eight repaired to their armory--a large brick building
about two hundred yards from the river--and barricaded themselves for
protection. Firing upon the armory was begun by the mounted men, and
after half an hour there were occasional shots from within. After a
while the men in the building heard an order to bring cannon from
Augusta, and they began to leave the building from the rear, concealing
themselves as well as they could in a cornfield. The cannon was brought
and discharged three or four times, those firing it not knowing that the
building had been evacuated. When they realized their mistake they made
a general search through lots and yards for the members of the company
and finally captured twenty-seven of them, after two had been killed.
The men, none of whom now had arms, were marched to a place near the
railroad station, where the sergeant of the company was ordered to call
the roll. Allan T. Attaway, whose name was first, was called out
and shot in cold blood. Twelve men fired upon him and he was killed
instantly. The men whose names were second, third, and fourth on the
list were called out and treated likewise. The fifth man made a dash for
liberty and escaped with a slight wound in the leg. All the others were
then required to hold up their right hands and swear that they would
never bear arms against the white people or give in court any testimony
whatsoever regarding the occurrence. They were then marched off two by
two and dispersed, but stray shots were fired after them as they went
away. In another portion of the town the chief of police, James Cook,
was taken from his home and brutally murdered. A marshal of the town was
shot through the body and mortally wounded. One of the men killed was
found with his tongue cut out. The members of Butler's party finally
entered the homes of most of the prominent Negroes in the town, smashed
the furniture, tore books to pieces, and cut pictures from their frames,
all amid the most heartrending distress on the part of the women and
children. That night the town was desolate, for all who could do so fled
to Aiken or Columbia.

Upon all of which our only comment is that while such a process might
seem for a time to give the white man power, it makes no progress
whatever toward the ultimate solution of the problem.

4. _Counter-Reaction: The Negro Exodus_

The Negro Exodus of 1879 was partially considered in connection with our
study of Liberia; but a few facts are in place here.

After the withdrawal of Federal troops conditions in the South were
changed so much that, especially in South Carolina, Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Texas, the state of affairs was no longer tolerable.
Between 1866 and 1879 more than three thousand Negroes were summarily
killed.[1] The race began to feel that a new slavery in the horrible
form of peonage was approaching, and that the disposition of the men in
power was to reduce the laborer to the minimum of advantages as a free
man and to none at all as a citizen. The fear, which soon developed into
a panic, rose especially in consequence of the work of political mobs
in 1874 and 1875, and it soon developed organization. About this the
outstanding fact was that the political leaders of the last few years
were regularly distrusted and ignored, the movement being secret in its
origin and committed either to the plantation laborers themselves or
their direct representatives. In North Carolina circulars about Nebraska
were distributed. In Tennessee Benjamin ("Pap") Singleton began about
1869 to induce Negroes to go to Kansas, and he really founded two
colonies with a total of 7432 Negroes from his state, paying of his own
money over $600 for circulars. In Louisiana alone 70,000 names were
taken of those who wished to better their condition by removal; and by
1878 98,000 persons in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas were
ready to go elsewhere. A convention to consider the whole matter of
migration was held in Nashville in 1879. At this the politician managed
to put in an appearance and there was much wordy discussion. At the same
time much of the difference of opinion was honest; the meeting was
on the whole constructive; and it expressed itself as favorable to
"reasonable migration." Already, however, thousands of Negroes were
leaving their homes in the South and going in greatest numbers to
Kansas, Missouri, and Indiana. Within twenty months Kansas alone
received in this way an addition to her population of 40,000 persons.
Many of these people arrived at their destination practically penniless
and without prospect of immediate employment; but help was afforded by
relief agencies in the North, and they themselves showed remarkable
sturdiness in adapting themselves to the new conditions.

[Footnote 1: Emmett J. Scott: Negro Migration during the War (in
Preliminary Economic Studies of the War--Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace: Division of Economics and History). Oxford
University Press, American Branch, New York, 1920.]

Many of the stories that the Negroes told were pathetic.[1] Sometimes
boats would not take them on, and they suffered from long exposure on
the river banks. Sometimes, while they were thus waiting, agents of
their own people employed by the planters tried to induce them to
remain. Frequently they were clubbed or whipped. Said one: "I saw nine
put in one pile, that had been killed, and the colored people had to
bury them; eight others were found killed in the woods.... It is done
this way: they arrest them for breach of contract and carry them to
jail. Their money is taken from them by the jailer and it is not
returned when they are let go." Said another: "If a colored man stays
away from the polls and does not vote, they spot him and make him vote.
If he votes their way, they treat him no better in business. They hire
the colored people to vote, and then take their pay away. I know a
man to whom they gave a cow and a calf for voting their ticket. After
election they came and told him that if he kept the cow he must pay for
it; and they took the cow and calf away." Another: "One man shook his
fist in my face and said, 'D---- you, sir, you are my property.' He said
that I owed him. He could not show it and then said, 'You sha'n't go
anyhow.' All we want is a living chance." Another: "There is a general
talk among the whites and colored people that Jeff Davis will run for
president of the Southern states, and the colored people are afraid they
will be made slaves again. They are already trying to prevent them from
going from one plantation to another without a pass." Another: "The
deputy sheriff came and took away from me a pair of mules. He had a
constable and twenty-five men with guns to back him." Another: "Last
year, after settling with my landlord, my share was four bales of
cotton. I shipped it to Richardson and May, 38 and 40 Perdido Street,
New Orleans, through W.E. Ringo & Co., merchants, at Mound Landing,
Miss. I lived four miles back of this landing. I received from Ringo a
ticket showing that my cotton was sold at nine and three-eighths cents,
but I could never get a settlement. He kept putting me off by saying
that the bill of lading had not come. Those bales averaged over four
hundred pounds. I did not owe him over twenty-five dollars. A man may
work there from Monday morning to Saturday night, and be as economical
as he pleases, and he will come out in debt. I am a close man, and I
work hard. I want to be honest in getting through the world. I came away
and left a crop of corn and cotton growing up. I left it because I did
not want to work twelve months for nothing. I have been trying it for
fifteen years, thinking every year that it would get better, and it gets
worse." Said still another: "I learned about Kansas from the newspapers
that I got hold of. They were Southern papers. I got a map, and found
out where Kansas was; and I got a History of the United States, and read
about it."

[Footnote 1: See _Negro Exodus_ (Report of Colonel Frank H. Fletcher).]

Query: Was it genuine statesmanship that permitted these people to feel
that they must leave the South?

* * * * *

5. _A Postscript on the War and Reconstruction_

Of all of the stories of these epoch-making years we have chosen one--an
idyl of a woman with an alabaster box, of one who had a clear conception
of the human problem presented and who gave her life in the endeavor to
meet it.

In the fall of 1862 a young woman who was destined to be a great
missionary entered the Seminary at Rockford, Illinois. There was little
to distinguish her from the other students except that she was very
plainly dressed and seemed forced to spend most of her spare time at
work. Yes, there was one other difference. She was older than most of
the girls--already thirty, and rich in experience. When not yet fifteen
she had taught a country school in Pennsylvania. At twenty she was
considered capable of managing an unusually turbulent crowd of boys and
girls. When she was twenty-seven her father died, leaving upon her very
largely the care of her mother. At twenty-eight she already looked back
upon fourteen years as a teacher, upon some work for Christ incidentally
accomplished, but also upon a fading youth of wasted hopes and
unfulfilled desires.

Then came a great decision--not the first, not the last, but one of the
most important that marked her long career. Her education was by no
means complete, and, at whatever cost, she would go to school. That she
had no money, that her clothes were shabby, that her mother needed her,
made no difference; now or never she would realize her ambition. She
would do anything, however menial, if it was honest and would give her
food while she continued her studies. For one long day she walked the
streets of Belvidere looking for a home. Could any one use a young woman
who wanted to work for her board? Always the same reply. Nightfall
brought her to a farmhouse in the suburbs of the town. She timidly
knocked on the door. "No, we do not need any one," said the woman who
greeted her, "but wait until I see my husband." The man of the house
was very unwilling, but decided to give shelter for the night. The
next morning he thought differently about the matter, and a few days
afterwards the young woman entered school. The work was hard; fires
had to be made, breakfasts on cold mornings had to be prepared, and
sometimes the washing was heavy. Naturally the time for lessons was
frequently cut short or extended far into the night. But the woman of
the house was kind, and her daughter a helpful fellow-student.

The next summer came another season at school-teaching, and then the
term at Rockford. 1862! a great year that in American history, one more
famous for the defeat of the Union arms than for their success. But in
September came Antietam, and the heart of the North took courage. Then
with the new year came the Emancipation Proclamation.

The girls at Rockford, like the people everywhere, were interested
in the tremendous events that were shaking the nation. A new note of
seriousness crept into their work. Embroidery was laid aside; instead,
socks were knit and bandages prepared. On the night of January 1 a
jubilee meeting was held in the town.

To Joanna P. Moore, however, the news of freedom brought a strange
undertone of sadness. She could not help thinking of the spiritual and
intellectual condition of the millions now emancipated. Strange that she
should be possessed by this problem! She had thought of work in China,
or India, or even in Africa--but of this, never!

In February a man who had been on Island No. 10 came to the Seminary and
told the girls of the distress of the women and children there. Cabins
and tents were everywhere. As many as three families, with eight or
ten children each, cooked their food in the same pot on the same fire.
Sometimes the women were peevish or quarrelsome; always the children
were dirty. "What can a man do to help such a suffering mass of
humanity?" asked the speaker. "Nothing. A woman is needed; nobody else
will do." For the student listening so intently the cheery schoolrooms
with their sweet associations faded; the vision of foreign missions also
vanished; and in their stead stood only a pitiful black woman with a
baby in her arms.

She reached Island No. 10 in November. The outlook was dismal enough.
The Sunday school at Belvidere had pledged four dollars a month toward
her support, and this was all the money in sight, though the Government
provided transportation and soldiers' rations. That was in 1863, sixty
years ago; but every year since then, until 1916, in summer and winter,
in sunshine and rain, in the home and the church, with teaching and
praying, feeding and clothing, nursing and hoping and loving, Joanna P.
Moore in one way or another ministered to the Negro people of the South.

In April, 1864, her whole colony was removed to Helena, Arkansas. The
Home Farm was three miles from Helena. Here was gathered a great crowd
of women and children and helpless old men, all under the guard of a
company of soldiers in a fort nearby. Thither went the missionary alone,
except for her faith in God. She made an arbor with some rude seats,
nailed a blackboard to a tree, divided the people into four groups,
and began to teach school. In the twilight every evening a great crowd
gathered around her cabin for prayers. A verse of the Bible was read and
explained, petitions were offered, one of the sorrow-songs was chanted,
and then the service was over.

Some Quaker workers were her friends in Helena, and in 1868 she went to
Lauderdale, Mississippi, to help the Friends in an orphan asylum. Six
weeks after her arrival the superintendent's daughter died, and the
parents left to take their child back to their Indiana home to rest. The
lone woman was left in charge of the asylum. Cholera broke out. Eleven
children died within one week. Still she stood by her post. Often, she
said, those who were well and happy when they retired, ere daylight came
were in the grave, for they were buried the same hour they died. Night
after night she prayed to God in the dark, and at length the fury of the
plague was abated.

From time to time the failing health of her mother called her home, and
from 1870 to 1873 she once more taught school near Belvidere. The first
winter the school was in the country. "You can never have a Sunday
school in the winter," they told her. But she did; in spite of the snow,
the house was crowded every Sunday, whole families coming in sleighs.
Even at that the real work of the teacher was with the Negroes of the
South. In her prayers and public addresses they were always with her,
and in 1873 friends in Chicago made it possible for her to return to the
work of her choice. In 1877 the Woman's Baptist Home Mission Society
honored itself by giving to her its first commission.

Nine years she spent in the vicinity of New Orleans. Near Leland
University she found a small, one-room house. After buying a bed, a
table, two chairs, and a few cooking utensils, she began housekeeping.
Often she started out at six in the morning, not to return until
dark. Most frequently she read the Bible to those who could not read.
Sometimes she gave cheer to mothers busy over the washtub. Sometimes
she would teach the children to read or to sew. Often she would write
letters for those who had been separated from friends or kindred in the
dark days. She wrote hundreds and hundreds of such letters; and once in
a while, a very long while, came a response.

Most pitiful of all the objects she found in New Orleans were the old
women worn out with years of slavery. They were usually rag-pickers who
ate at night the scraps for which they had begged during the day. There
was in the city an Old Ladies' Home; but this was not for Negroes.
A house was secured and the women taken in, Joanna Moore and her
associates moving into the second story. Sometimes, very often, there
was real need; but sometimes, too, provisions came when it was not known
who sent them; money or boxes came from Northern friends who had never
seen the workers; and the little Negro children in the Sunday schools in
the city gave their pennies.

In 1878 the laborer in the Southwest started on a journey of
exploration. In Atlanta Dr. Robert at Atlanta Baptist Seminary (now
Morehouse College) gave her cheer; so did President Ware at Atlanta
University. At Benedict in Columbia she saw Dr. Goodspeed, President
Tupper at Shaw in Raleigh, and Dr. Corey in Richmond. In May she
appeared at the Baptist anniversaries, with fifteen years of missionary
achievement already behind her.

But each year brought its own sorrows and disappointments. She wanted
the Society to establish a training school for women; but to this
objection was raised. In Louisiana also it was not without danger that a
white woman attended a Negro association in 1877; and there were always
sneers and jeers. At length, however, a training school for mothers was
opened in Baton Rouge. All went well for two years; and then a notice
with skull and crossbones was placed on the gate. The woman who had
worked through the cholera still stood firm; but the students had gone.
Sick at heart and worn out with waiting, she at last left Baton Rouge
and the state in which so many of her best years had been spent.

"Bible Band" work was started in 1884, and _Hope_ in 1885. The little
paper, beginning with a circulation of five hundred, has now reached a
monthly issue of twenty thousand copies, and daily it brings its
lesson of cheer to thousands of mothers and children in the South. In
connection with it all has developed the Fireside School, than which few
agencies have been more potent in the salvation and uplift of the humble
Negro home.

What wisdom was gathered from the passing of fourscore years! On almost
every page of her tracts, her letters, her account of her life, one
finds quotations of proverbial pith:

The love of God gave me courage for myself and the rest of mankind;
therefore I concluded to invest in human souls. They surely are worth
more than anything else in the world.

Beloved friends, be hopeful, be courageous. God can not use discouraged

The good news spread, not by telling what we were going to do but by
praising God for what had been done.

So much singing in all our churches leaves too little time for the Bible
lesson. Do not misunderstand me. I do love music that impresses the
meaning of words. But no one climbs to heaven on musical scales.

I thoroughly believe that the only way to succeed with any vocation is
to make it a part of your very self and weave it into your every thought
and prayer.

You must love before you can comfort and help.

There is no place too lowly or dark for our feet to enter, and no place
so high and bright but it needs the touch of the light that we carry
from the Cross.

How shall we measure such a life? Who can weigh love and hope and
service, and the joy of answered prayer? "An annual report of what?" she
once asked the secretary of her organization. "Report of tears shed,
prayers offered, smiles scattered, lessons taught, steps taken, cheering
words, warning words--tender, patient words for the little ones, stern
but loving tones for the wayward--songs of hope and songs of sorrow,
wounded hearts healed, light and love poured into dark sad homes? Oh,
Miss Burdette, you might as well ask me to gather up the raindrops of
last year or the petals that fall from the flowers that bloomed. It is
true that I can send you a little stagnant water from the cistern, and a
few dried flowers; but if you want to know the freshness, the sweetness,
the glory, the grandeur, of our God-given work, then you must come
and keep step with us from early morn to night for three hundred and
sixty-five days in the year."

Until the very last she was on the roll of the active workers of the
Woman's American Baptist Home Mission Society. In the fall of 1915 she
decided that she must once more see the schools in the South that meant
so much to her. In December she came again to her beloved Spelman. While
in Atlanta she met with an accident that still further weakened her.
After a few weeks, however, she went on to Jacksonville, and then to
Selma. There she passed.

* * * * *

When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels
with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.... Then shall
the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered,
and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a
stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we
thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer
and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it
unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.



1. _Political Life: Disfranchisement_

By 1876 the reconstruction governments had all but passed. A few days
after his inauguration in 1877 President Hayes sent to Louisiana a
commission to investigate the claims of rival governments there. The
decision was in favor of the Democrats. On April 9 the President ordered
the removal of Federal troops from public buildings in the South; and
in Columbia, S.C., within a few days the Democratic administration of
Governor Wade Hampton was formally recognized. The new governments at
once set about the abrogation of the election laws that had protected
the Negro in the exercise of suffrage, and, having by 1877 obtained
a majority in the national House of Representatives, the Democrats
resorted to the practice of attaching their repeal measures to
appropriation bills in the hope of compelling the President to sign
them. Men who had been prominently connected with the Confederacy were
being returned to Congress in increasing numbers, but in general the
Democrats were not able to carry their measures over the President's
veto. From the Supreme Court, however, they received practical
assistance, for while this body did not formally grant that the states
had full powers over elections, it nevertheless nullified many of the
most objectionable sections of the laws. Before the close of the decade,
by intimidation, the theft, suppression or exchange of the ballot boxes,
the removal of the polls to unknown places, false certifications, and
illegal arrests on the day before an election, the Negro vote had been
rendered ineffectual in every state of the South.

When Cleveland was elected in 1884 the Negroes of the South naturally
felt that the darkest hour of their political fortunes had come. It had,
for among many other things this election said that after twenty years
of discussion and tumult the Negro question was to be relegated to the
rear, and that the country was now to give main attention to other
problems. For the Negro the new era was signalized by one of the most
effective speeches ever delivered in this or any other country, all
the more forceful because the orator was a man of unusual nobility of
spirit. In 1886 Henry W. Grady, of Georgia, addressed the New England
Club in New York on "The New South." He spoke to practical men and he
knew his ground. He asked his hearers to bring their "full faith in
American fairness and frankness" to judgment upon what he had to say.
He pictured in brilliant language the Confederate soldier, "ragged,
half-starved, heavy-hearted, who wended his way homeward to find his
house in ruins and his farm devastated." He also spoke kindly of the
Negro: "Whenever he struck a blow for his own liberty he fought in open
battle, and when at last he raised his black and humble hands that the
shackles might be struck off, those hands were innocent of wrong against
his helpless charges." But Grady also implied that the Negro had
received too much attention and sympathy from the North. Said he: "To
liberty and enfranchisement is as far as law can carry the Negro.
The rest must be left to conscience and common sense." Hence on this
occasion and others he asked that the South be left alone in the
handling of her grave problem. The North, a little tired of the Negro
question, a little uncertain also as to the wisdom of the reconstruction
policy that it had forced on the South, and if concerned with this
section at all, interested primarily in such investments as it had
there, assented to this request; and in general the South now felt that
it might order its political life in its own way.

As yet, however, the Negro was not technically disfranchised, and at any
moment a sudden turn of events might call him into prominence. Formal
legislation really followed the rise of the Populist party, which
about 1890 in many places in the South waged an even contest with the
Democrats. It was evident that in such a struggle the Negro might still
hold the balance of power, and within the next few years a fusion of the
Republicans and the Populists in North Carolina sent a Negro, George H.
White, to Congress. This event finally served only to strengthen the
movement for disfranchisement which had already begun. In 1890 the
constitution of Mississippi was so amended as to exclude from the
suffrage any person who had not paid his poll-tax or who was unable to
read any section of the constitution, or understand it when read to
him, or to give a reasonable interpretation of it. The effect of the
administration of this provision was that in 1890 only 8615 Negroes out
of 147,000 of voting age became registered. South Carolina amended her
constitution with similar effect in 1895. In this state the population
was almost three-fifths Negro and two-fifths white. The franchise of
the Negro was already in practical abeyance; but the problem now was
to devise a means for the perpetuity of a government of white men.
Education was not popular as a test, for by it many white illiterates
would be disfranchised and in any case it would only postpone the race
issue. For some years the dominant party had been engaged in factional
controversies, with the populist wing led by Benjamin R. Tillman
prevailing over the conservatives. It was understood, however, that each
side would be given half of the membership of the convention, which
would exclude all Negro and Republican representation, and that the
constitution would go into effect without being submitted to the people.
Said the most important provision: "Any person who shall apply for
registration after January 1, 1898, if otherwise qualified, shall be
registered; provided that he can both read and write any section of this
constitution submitted to him by the registration officer or can show
that he owns and has paid all taxes collectible during the previous
year on property in this state assessed at three hundred dollars or
more"--clauses which it is hardly necessary to say the registrars
regularly interpreted in favor of white men and against the Negro. In
1898 Louisiana passed an amendment inventing the so-called "grandfather
clause." This excused from the operation of her disfranchising act all
descendants of men who had voted before the Civil War, thus admitting
to the suffrage all white men who were illiterate and without property.
North Carolina in 1900, Virginia and Alabama in 1901, Georgia in 1907,
and Oklahoma in 1910 in one way or another practically disfranchised the
Negro, care being taken in every instance to avoid any definite clash
with the Fifteenth Amendment. In Maryland there have been several
attempts to disfranchise the Negro by constitutional amendments, one in
1905, another in 1909, and still another in 1911, but all have failed.
About the intention of its disfranchising legislation the South, as
represented by more than one spokesman, was very frank. Unfortunately
the new order called forth a group of leaders--represented by Tillman
in South Carolina, Hoke Smith in Georgia, and James K. Vardaman in
Mississippi--who made a direct appeal to prejudice and thus capitalized
the racial feeling that already had been brought to too high tension.

Naturally all such legislation as that suggested had ultimately to be
brought before the highest tribunal in the country. The test came
over the following section from the Oklahoma law: "No person shall be
registered as an elector of this state or be allowed to vote in any
election herein unless he shall be able to read and write any section
of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma; but no person who was on
January 1, 1866, or at any time prior thereto, entitled to vote under
any form of government, or who at any time resided in some foreign
nation, and no lineal descendant of such person shall be denied the
right to register and vote because of his inability to so read and
write sections of such Constitution." This enactment the Supreme Court
declared unconstitutional in 1915. The decision exerted no great and
immediate effect on political conditions in the South; nevertheless as
the official recognition by the nation of the fact that the Negro
was not accorded his full political rights, it was destined to have
far-reaching effect on the whole political fabric of the section.

When the era of disfranchisement began it was in large measure expected
by the South that with the practical elimination of the Negro from
politics this section would become wider in its outlook and divide on
national issues. Such has not proved to be the case. Except for the
noteworthy deflection of Tennessee in the presidential election of 1920,
and Republican gains in some counties in other states, this section
remains just as "solid" as it was forty years ago, largely of course
because the Negro, through education and the acquisition of property, is
becoming more and more a potential factor in politics. Meanwhile it is
to be observed that the Negro is not wholly without a vote, even in the
South, and sometimes his power is used with telling effect, as in the
city of Atlanta in the spring of 1919, when he decided in the negative
the question of a bond issue. In the North moreover--especially in
Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York--he
has on more than one occasion proved the deciding factor in political
affairs. Even when not voting, however, he involuntarily wields
tremendous influence on the destinies of the nation, for even though men
may be disfranchised, all are nevertheless counted in the allotment of
congressmen to Southern states. This anomalous situation means that in
actual practice the vote of one white man in the South is four or six
or even eight times as strong as that of a man in the North;[1] and it
directly accounted for the victory of President Wilson and the Democrats
over the Republicans led by Charles E. Hughes in 1916. For remedying
it by the enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment bills have been
frequently presented in Congress, but on these no action has been taken.

[Footnote 1: In 1914 Kansas and Mississippi each elected eight members
of the House of Representatives, but Kansas cast 483,683 votes for
her members, while Mississippi cast only 37,185 for hers, less than
one-twelfth as many.]

2. _Economic Life: Peonage_

Within fifteen years after the close of the war it was clear that the
Emancipation Proclamation was a blessing to the poor white man of the
South as well as to the Negro. The break-up of the great plantation
system was ultimately to prove good for all men whose slender means had
given them little chance before the war. At the same time came also the
development of cotton-mills throughout the South, in which as early as
1880 not less than 16,000 white people were employed. With the decay of
the old system the average acreage of holdings in the South Atlantic
states decreased from 352.8 in 1860 to 108.4 in 1900. It was still
not easy for an independent Negro to own land on his own account;
nevertheless by as early a year as 1874 the Negro farmers had acquired
338,769 acres. After the war the planters first tried the wage system
for the Negroes. This was not satisfactory--from the planter's
standpoint because the Negro had not yet developed stability as a
laborer; from the Negro's standpoint because while the planter might
advance rations, he frequently postponed the payment of wages and
sometimes did not pay at all. Then land came to be rented; but
frequently the rental was from 80 to 100 pounds of lint cotton an acre
for land that produced only 200 to 400 pounds. In course of time
the share system came to be most widely used. Under this the tenant
frequently took his whole family into the cotton-field, and when the
crop was gathered and he and the landlord rode together to the nearest
town to sell it, he received one-third, one-half, or two-thirds of the
money according as he had or had not furnished his own food, implements,
and horses or mules. This system might have proved successful if he had
not had to pay exorbitant prices for his rations. As it was, if
the landlord did not directly furnish foodstuffs he might have an
understanding with the keeper of the country store, who frequently
charged for a commodity twice what it was worth in the open market. At
the close of the summer there was regularly a huge bill waiting for the
Negro at the store; this had to be disposed of first, _and he always
came out just a few dollars behind_. However, the landlord did not mind
such a small matter and in the joy of the harvest might even advance a
few dollars; but the understanding was always that the tenant was to
remain on the land the next year. Thus were the chains of peonage forged
about him.

At the same time there developed a still more vicious system.
Immediately after the war legislation enacted in the South made severe
provision with reference to vagrancy. Negroes were arrested on the
slightest pretexts and their labor as that of convicts leased to
landowners or other business men. When, a few years later, Negroes,
dissatisfied with the returns from their labor on the farms, began a
movement to the cities, there arose a tendency to make the vagrancy
legislation still more harsh, so that at last a man could not stop work
without technically committing a crime. Thus in all its hideousness
developed the convict lease system.

This institution and the accompanying chain-gang were at variance with
all the humanitarian impulses of the nineteenth century. Sometimes
prisoners were worked in remote parts of a state altogether away from
the oversight of responsible officials; if they stayed in a prison the
department for women was frequently in plain view and hearing of
the male convicts, and the number of cubic feet in a cell was only
one-fourth of what a scientific test would have required. Sometimes
there was no place for the dressing of the dead except in the presence
of the living. The system was worst when the lessee was given the entire
charge of the custody and discipline of the convicts, and even of their
medical or surgical care. Of real attention there frequently was none,
and reports had numerous blank spaces to indicate deaths from unknown
causes. The sturdiest man could hardly survive such conditions for more
than ten years. In Alabama in 1880 only three of the convicts had been
in confinement for eight years, and only one for nine. In Texas, from
1875 to 1880, the total number of prisoners discharged was 1651, while
the number of deaths and escapes for the same period totalled 1608. In
North Carolina the mortality was eight times as great as in Sing Sing.

At last the conscience of the nation began to be heard, and after 1883
there were remedial measures. However, the care of the prisoner still
left much to be desired; and as the Negro is greatly in the majority
among prisoners in the South, and as he is still sometimes arrested
illegally or on flimsy pretexts, the whole matter of judicial and penal
procedure becomes one of the first points of consideration in any final
settlement of the Negro Problem.[1]

[Footnote 1: Within recent years it has been thought that the convict
lease system and peonage had practically passed in the South. That this
was by no means the case was shown by the astonishing revelations from
Jasper County, Georgia, early in 1921, it being demonstrated in court
that a white farmer, John S. Williams, who had "bought out" Negroes from
the prisons of Atlanta and Macon, had not only held these people in
peonage, but had been directly responsible for the killing of not less
than eleven of them.

However, as the present work passes through the press, word comes of the
remarkable efforts of Governor Hugh M. Dorsey for a more enlightened
public conscience in his state. In addition to special endeavor for
justice in the Williams case, he has issued a booklet citing with detail
one hundred and thirty-five cases in which Negroes have suffered grave
wrong. He divides his cases into four divisions: (1) The Negro lynched,
(2) The Negro held in peonage, (3) The Negro driven out by organized
lawlessness, and (4) The Negro subject to individual acts of cruelty.
"In some counties," he says, "the Negro is being driven out as though he
were a wild beast. In others he is being held as a slave. In others no
Negroes remain.... In only two of the 135 cases cited is crime against
white women involved."

For the more recent history of peonage see pp. 306, 329, 344, 360-363.]

3. _Social Life: Proscription, Lynching_

Meanwhile proscription went forward. Separate and inferior traveling
accommodations, meager provision for the education of Negro children,
inadequate street, lighting and water facilities in most cities and
towns, and the general lack of protection of life and property, made
living increasingly harder for a struggling people. For the Negro of
aspiration or culture every day became a long train of indignities and
insults. On street cars he was crowded into a few seats, generally in
the rear; he entered a railway station by a side door; in a theater he
might occupy only a side, or more commonly the extreme rear, of the
second balcony; a house of ill fame might flourish next to his own
little home; and from public libraries he was shut out altogether,
except where a little branch was sometimes provided. Every opportunity
for such self-improvement as a city might be expected to afford him was
either denied him, or given on such terms as his self-respect forced him
to refuse.

Meanwhile--and worst of all--he failed to get justice in the courts.
Formally called before the bar he knew beforehand that the case was
probably already decided against him. A white boy might insult and pick
a quarrel with his son, but if the case reached the court room the white
boy would be freed and the Negro boy fined $25 or sent to jail for three
months. Some trivial incident involving no moral responsibility whatever
on the Negro's part might yet cost him his life.

Lynching grew apace. Generally this was said to be for the protection
of white womanhood; but statistics certainly did not give rape the
prominence that it held in the popular mind. Any cause of controversy,
however slight, that forced a Negro to defend himself against a white
man might result in a lynching, and possibly in a burning. In the period
of 1871-73 the number of Negroes lynched in the South is said to have
been not more than 11 a year. Between 1885 and 1915, however, the number
of persons lynched in the country amounted to 3500, the great majority
being Negroes in the South. For the year 1892 alone the figure was 235.

One fact was outstanding: astonishing progress was being made by the
Negro people, but in the face of increasing education and culture on
their part, there was no diminution of race feeling. Most Southerners
preferred still to deal with a Negro of the old type rather than with
one who was neatly dressed, simple and unaffected in manner, and
ambitious to have a good home. In any case, however, it was clear that
since the white man held the power, upon him rested primarily the
responsibility of any adjustment. Old schemes for deportation or
colonization in a separate state having proved ineffective or
chimerical, it was necessary to find a new platform on which both races
could stand. The Negro was still the outstanding factor in agriculture
and industry; in large numbers he had to live, and will live, in Georgia
and South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas; and there should have been
some plane on which he could reside in the South not only serviceably
but with justice to his self-respect. The wealth of the New South, it is
to be remembered, was won not only by the labor of black hands but also
that of little white boys and girls. As laborers and citizens, real or
potential, both of these groups deserved the most earnest solicitude of
the state, for it is not upon the riches of the few but the happiness of
the many that a nation's greatness depends. Moreover no state can build
permanently or surely by denying to a half or a third of those governed
any voice whatever in the government. If the Negro was ignorant, he was
also economically defenseless; and it is neither just nor wise to deny
to any man, however humble, any real power for his legal protection. If
these principles hold--and we think they are in line with enlightened
conceptions of society--the prosperity of the New South was by no means
as genuine as it appeared to be, and the disfranchisement of the Negro,
morally and politically, was nothing less than a crime.


"THE VALE OF TEARS," 1890-1910

1. _Current Opinion and Tendencies_

In the two decades that we are now to consider we find the working
out of all the large forces mentioned in our last chapter. After a
generation of striving the white South was once more thoroughly in
control, and the new program well under way. Predictions for both a
broader outlook for the section as a whole and greater care for the
Negro's moral and intellectual advancement were destined not to be
fulfilled; and the period became one of bitter social and economic

All of this was primarily due to the one great fallacy on which the
prosperity of the New South was built, and that was that the labor of
the Negro existed only for the good of the white man. To this one source
may be traced most of the ills borne by both white man and Negro during
the period. If the Negro's labor was to be exploited, it was necessary
that he be without the protection of political power and that he be
denied justice in court. If he was to be reduced to a peon, certainly
socially he must be given a peon's place. Accordingly there developed
everywhere--in schools, in places of public accommodation, in the
facilities of city life--the idea of inferior service for Negroes;
and an unenlightened prison system flourished in all its hideousness.
Furthermore, as a result of the vicious economic system, arose the
sinister form of the Negro criminal. Here again the South begged the
question, representative writers lamenting the passing of the dear dead
days of slavery, and pointing cynically to the effects of freedom on the
Negro. They failed to remember in the case of the Negro criminal that
from childhood to manhood--in education, in economic chance, in legal
power--they had by their own system deprived a human being of every
privilege that was due him, ruining him body and soul; and then they
stood aghast at the thing their hands had made. More than that, they
blamed the race itself for the character that now sometimes appeared,
and called upon thrifty, aspiring Negroes to find the criminal and give
him up to the law. Thrifty, aspiring Negroes wondered what was the
business of the police.

It was this pitiful failure to get down to fundamentals that
characterized the period and that made life all the more hard for those
Negroes who strove to advance. Every effort was made to brutalize a man,
and then he was blamed for not being a St. Bernard. Fortunately before
the period was over there arose not only clear-thinking men of the race
but also a few white men who realized that such a social order could not
last forever.

Early in the nineties, however, the pendulum had swung fully backward,
and the years from 1890 to 1895 were in some ways the darkest that the
race has experienced since emancipation. When in 1892 Cleveland was
elected for a second term and the Democrats were once more in power, it
seemed to the Southern rural Negro that the conditions of slavery had
all but come again. More and more the South formulated its creed; it
glorified the old aristocracy that had flourished and departed, and
definitely it began to ask the North if it had not been right after all.
It followed of course that if the Old South had the real key to the
problem, the proper place of the Negro was that of a slave.

Within two or three years there were so many important articles on the
Negro in prominent magazines and these were by such representative men
that taken together they formed a symposium. In December, 1891, James
Bryce wrote in the _North American Review_, pointing out that the
situation in the South was a standing breach of the Constitution, that
it suspended the growth of political parties and accustomed the section
to fraudulent evasions, and he emphasized education as a possible
remedy; he had quite made up his mind that the Negro had little or no
place in politics. In January, 1892, a distinguished classical scholar,
Basil L. Gildersleeve, turned aside from linguistics to write in the
_Atlantic_ "The Creed of the Old South," which article he afterwards
published as a special brochure, saying that it had been more widely
read than anything else he had ever written. In April, Thomas Nelson
Page in the _North American_ contended that in spite of the $5,000,000
spent on the education of the Negro in Virginia between 1870 and 1890
the race had retrograded or not greatly improved, and in fact that the
Negro "did not possess the qualities to raise himself above slavery."
Later in the same year he published _The Old South_. In the same month
Frederick L. Hoffman, writing in the _Arena_, contended that in view of
its mortality statistics the Negro race would soon die out.[1] Also in
April, 1892, Henry Watterson wrote of the Negro in the _Chautauquan_,
recalling the facts that the era of political turmoil had been succeeded
by one of reaction and violence, and that by one of exhaustion and
peace; but with all his insight he ventured no constructive suggestion,
thinking it best for everybody "simply to be quiet for a time." Early in
1893 John C. Wycliffe, a prominent lawyer of New Orleans, writing in
the _Forum_, voiced the desires of many in asking for a repeal of the
Fifteenth Amendment; and in October, Bishop Atticus G. Haygood, writing
in the same periodical of a recent and notorious lynching, said, "It
was horrible to torture the guilty wretch; the burning was an act of
insanity. But had the dismembered form of his victim been the dishonored
body of my baby, I might also have gone into an insanity that might have
ended never." Again and again was there the lament that the Negroes of
forty years after were both morally and intellectually inferior to
their antebellum ancestors; and if college professors and lawyers and
ministers of the Gospel wrote in this fashion one could not wonder that
the politician made capital of choice propaganda.

[Footnote 1: In 1896 this paper entered into an elaborate study, _Race
Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro_, a publication of the
American Economic Association. In this Hoffman contended at length that
the race was not only not holding its own in population, but that it was
also astonishingly criminal and was steadily losing economically. His
work was critically studied and its fallacies exposed in the _Nation_,
April 1, 1897.]

In this chorus of dispraise truth struggled for a hearing, but then as
now traveled more slowly than error. In the _North American_ for July,
1892, Frederick Douglass wrote vigorously of "Lynch Law in the South."
In the same month George W. Cable answered affirmatively and with
emphasis the question, "Does the Negro pay for his education?" He showed
that in Georgia in 1889-90 the colored schools did not really cost the
white citizens a cent, and that in the other Southern states the Negro
was also contributing his full share to the maintenance of the schools.
In June of the same year William T. Harris, Commissioner of Education,
wrote in truly statesmanlike fashion in the _Atlantic_ of "The Education
of the Negro." Said he: "With the colored people all educated in schools
and become a reading people interested in the daily newspaper; with all
forms of industrial training accessible to them, and the opportunity so
improved that every form of mechanical and manufacturing skill has its
quota of colored working men and women; with a colored ministry educated
in a Christian theology interpreted in a missionary spirit, and finding
its auxiliaries in modern science and modern literature; with these
educational essentials the Negro problem for the South will be solved
without recourse to violent measures of any kind, whether migration,
or disfranchisement, or ostracism." In December, 1893, Walter H. Page,
writing in the _Forum_ of lynching under the title, "The Last Hold of
the Southern Bully," said that "the great danger is not in the first
violation of law, nor in the crime itself, but in the danger that
Southern public sentiment under the stress of this phase of the race
problem will lose the true perspective of civilization"; and L.E.
Bleckley, Chief Justice of Georgia, spoke in similar vein. On the whole,
however, the country, while occasionally indignant at some atrocity, had
quite decided not to touch the Negro question for a while; and when in
the spring of 1892 some representative Negroes protested without avail
to President Harrison against the work of mobs, the _Review of Reviews_
but voiced the drift of current opinion when it said: "As for the
colored men themselves, their wisest course would be to cultivate the
best possible relations with the most upright and intelligent of their
white neighbors, and for some time to come to forget all about politics
and to strive mightily for industrial and educational progress."[1]

[Footnote 1: June, 1892, p. 526.]

It is not strange that under the circumstances we have now to record
such discrimination, crime, and mob violence as can hardly be paralleled
in the whole of American history. The Negro was already down; he was now
to be trampled upon. When in the spring of 1892 some members of the race
in the lowlands of Mississippi lost all they had by the floods and the
Federal Government was disposed to send relief, the state government
protested against such action on the ground that it would keep the
Negroes from accepting the terms offered by the white planters. In
Louisiana in 1895 a Negro presiding elder reported to the _Southwestern
Christian Advocate_ that he had lost a membership of a hundred souls,
the people being compelled to leave their crops and move away within ten

In 1891 the jail at Omaha was entered and a Negro taken out and hanged
to a lamp-post. On February 27, 1892, at Jackson, La., where there was
a pound party for the minister at the Negro Baptist church, a crowd of
white men gathered, shooting revolvers and halting the Negroes as they
passed. Most of the people were allowed to go on, but after a while the
sport became furious and two men were fatally shot. About the same time,
and in the same state, at Rayville, a Negro girl of fifteen was taken
from a jail by a mob and hanged to a tree. In Texarkana, Ark., a Negro
who had outraged a farmer's wife was captured and burned alive, the
injured woman herself being compelled to light the fire. Just a few days
later, in March, a constable in Memphis in attempting to arrest a Negro
was killed. Numerous arrests followed, and at night a mob went to the
jail, gained easy access, and, having seized three well-known Negroes
who were thought to have been leaders in the killing, lynched them, the
whole proceeding being such a flagrant violation of law that it has not
yet been forgotten by the older Negro citizens of this important city.
On February 1, 1893, at Paris, Texas, after one of the most brutal
crimes occurred one of the most horrible lynchings on record. Henry
Smith, the Negro, who seems to have harbored a resentment against a
policeman of the town because of ill-treatment that he had received,
seized the officer's three-year-old child, outraged her, and then tore
her body to pieces. He was tortured by the child's father, her uncles,
and her fifteen-year-old brother, his eyes being put out with hot irons
before he was burned. His stepson, who had refused to tell where he
could be found, was hanged and his body riddled with bullets. Thus the
lynchings went on, the victims sometimes being guilty of the gravest
crimes, but often also perfectly innocent people. In February, 1893, the
average was very nearly one a day. At the same time injuries inflicted
on the Negro were commonly disregarded altogether. Thus at Dickson,
Tenn., a young white man lost forty dollars. A fortune-teller told him
that the money had been taken by a woman and gave a description that
seemed to fit a young colored woman who had worked in the home of a
relative. Half a dozen men then went to the home of the young woman and
outraged her, her mother, and also another woman who was in the house.
At the very close of 1894, in Brooks County, Ga., after a Negro named
Pike had killed a white man with whom he had a quarrel, seven Negroes
were lynched after the real murderer had escaped. Any relative or other
Negro who, questioned, refused to tell of the whereabouts of Pike,
whether he knew of the same or not, was shot in his tracks, one man
being shot before he had chance to say anything at all. Meanwhile the
White Caps or "Regulators" took charge of the neighboring counties,
terrifying the Negroes everywhere; and in the trials that resulted the
state courts broke down altogether, one judge in despair giving up the
holding of court as useless.

Meanwhile discrimination of all sorts went forward. On May 29, 1895,
moved by the situation at the Orange Park Academy, the state of Florida
approved "An Act to Prohibit White and Colored Youth from being Taught
in the same Schools." Said one section: "It shall be a penal offense
for any individual body of inhabitants, corporation, or association to
conduct within this State any school of any grade, public, private, or
parochial, wherein white persons and Negroes shall be instructed or
boarded within the same building, or taught in the same class or at the
same time by the same teacher." Religious organizations were not to be
left behind in such action; and when before the meeting of the Baptist
Young People's Union in Baltimore a letter was sent to the secretary of
the organization and the editor of the _Baptist Union_, in behalf of the
Negroes, who the year before had not been well treated at Toronto, he
sent back an evasive answer, saying that the policy of his society was
to encourage local unions to affiliate with their own churches.

More grave than anything else was the formal denial of the Negro's
political rights. As we have seen, South Carolina in 1895 followed
Mississippi in the disfranchising program and within the next fifteen
years most of the other Southern states did likewise. With the Negro
thus deprived of any genuine political voice, all sorts of social and
economic injustice found greater license.

2. _Industrial Education: Booker T. Washington_

Such were the tendencies of life in the South as affecting the Negro
thirty years after emancipation. In September, 1895, a rising educator
of the race attracted national attention by a remarkable speech that
he made at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta. Said Booker T.
Washington: "To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition
in a foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating
friendly relations with the Southern white man who is their next door
neighbor, I would say, 'Cast down your bucket where you are'--cast it
down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by
whom we are surrounded.... To those of the white race who look to the
incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the
prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to
my own race, 'Cast down your bucket where you are.' Cast it down among
8,000,000 Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you
have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of
your fire-sides.... In all things that are purely social we can be as
separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to
mutual progress."

The message that Dr. Washington thus enunciated he had already given in
substance the previous spring in an address at Fisk University, and even
before then his work at Tuskegee Institute had attracted attention.[1]
The Atlanta Exposition simply gave him the great occasion that he
needed; and he was now to proclaim the new word throughout the length
and breadth of the land. Among the hundreds of addresses that he
afterwards delivered, especially important were those at Harvard
University in 1896, at the Chicago Peace Jubilee in 1898, and before the
National Education Association in St. Louis in 1904. Again and again in
these speeches one comes upon such striking sentences as the following:
"Freedom can never be given. It must be purchased."[2] "The race, like
the individual, that makes itself indispensable, has solved most of its
problems."[3] "As a race there are two things we must learn to do--one
is to put brains into the common occupations of life, and the other is
to dignify common labor."[4] "Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not
strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the
top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the State
Legislature was worth more than real estate or industrial skill."[5]
"The opportunity to earn a dollar in a factory just now is worth
infinitely more than the opportunity to spend a dollar in an opera
house."[6] "One of the most vital questions that touch our American life
is how to bring the strong, wealthy, and learned into helpful contact
with the poorest, most ignorant, and humblest, and at the same time
make the one appreciate the vitalizing, strengthening influence of the
other."[7] "There is no defense or security for any of us except in the
highest intelligence and development of all."[8]

[Footnote 1: See article by Albert Shaw, "Negro Progress on the Tuskegee
Plan," in _Review of Reviews_, April, 1894.]

[Footnote 2,3: Speech before N.E.A., in St. Louis, June 30, 1904.]

[Footnote 4: Speech at Fisk University, 1805.]

[Footnote 5,6,8: Speech at Atlanta Exposition, September 18, 1895.]

[Footnote 7: Speech at Harvard University, June 24, 1896.]

The time was ripe for a new leader. Frederick Douglass had died in
February, 1895. In his later years he had more than once lost hold on
the heart of his people, as when he opposed the Negro Exodus or seemed
not fully in sympathy with the religious convictions of those who looked
to him. At his passing, however, the race remembered only his early
service and his old magnificence, and to a striving people his death
seemed to make still darker the gathering gloom. Coming when he did,
Booker T. Washington was thoroughly in line with the materialism of his
age; he answered both an economic and an educational crisis. He also
satisfied the South of the new day by what he had to say about social

The story of his work reads like a romance, and he himself has told it
better than any one else ever can. He did not claim the credit for
the original idea of industrial education; that he gave to General
Armstrong, and it was at Hampton that he himself had been nurtured. What
was needed, however, was for some one to take the Hampton idea down to
the cotton belt, interpret the lesson for the men and women digging in
the ground, and generally to put the race in line with the country's
industrial development. This was what Booker T. Washington undertook to

He reached Tuskegee early in June, 1881. July 4 was the date set for the
opening of the school in the little shanty and church which had been
secured for its accommodation. On the morning of this day thirty
students reported for admission. The greater number were school-teachers
and some were nearly forty years of age. Just about three months
after the opening of the school there was offered for sale an old and
abandoned plantation a mile from Tuskegee on which the mansion had been
burned. All told the place seemed to be just the location needed to
make the work effective and permanent. The price asked was five hundred
dollars, the owner requiring the immediate payment of two hundred and
fifty dollars, the remaining two hundred and fifty to be paid within a
year. In his difficulty Mr. Washington wrote to General J.F.B. Marshall,
treasurer of Hampton Institute, placing the matter before him and asking
for the loan of two hundred and fifty dollars. General Marshall replied
that he had no authority to lend money belonging to Hampton Institute,
but that he would gladly advance the amount needed from his personal
funds. Toward the paying of this sum the assisting teacher, Olivia A.
Davidson (afterwards Mrs. Washington), helped heroically. Her first
effort was made by holding festivals and suppers, but she also canvassed
the families in the town of Tuskegee, and the white people as well as
the Negroes helped her. "It was often pathetic," said the principal, "to
note the gifts of the older colored people, many of whom had spent their
best days in slavery. Sometimes they would give five cents, sometimes
twenty-five cents. Sometimes the contribution was a quilt, or a quantity
of sugarcane. I recall one old colored woman, who was about seventy
years of age, who came to see me when we were raising money to pay for
the farm. She hobbled into the room where I was, leaning on a cane. She
was clad in rags, but they were clean. She said, 'Mr. Washington, God
knows I spent de bes' days of my life in slavery. God knows I's ignorant
an' poor; but I knows what you an' Miss Davidson is tryin' to do. I
knows you is tryin' to make better men an' better women for de colored
race. I ain't got no money, but I wants you to take dese six eggs,
what I's been savin' up, an' I wants you to put dese six eggs into de
eddication of dese boys an' gals.' Since the work at Tuskegee started,"
added the speaker, "it has been my privilege to receive many gifts for
the benefit of the institution, but never any, I think, that touched me
as deeply as this one."

It was early in the history of the school that Mr. Washington conceived
the idea of extension work. The Tuskegee Conferences began in February,
1892. To the first meeting came five hundred men, mainly farmers, and
many woman. Outstanding was the discussion of the actual terms on which
most of the men were living from year to year. A mortgage was given on
the cotton crop before it was planted, and to the mortgage was attached
a note which waived all right to exemptions under the constitution and
laws of the state of Alabama or of any other state to which the tenant
might move. Said one: "The mortgage ties you tighter than any rope and a
waive note is a consuming fire." Said another: "The waive note is good
for twenty years and when you sign one you must either pay out or die
out." Another: "When you sign a waive note you just cross your hands
behind you and go to the merchant and say, 'Here, tie me and take
all I've got.'" All agreed that the people mortgaged more than was
necessary, to buy sewing machines (which sometimes were not used),
expensive clocks, great family Bibles, or other things easily dispensed
with. Said one man: "My people want all they can get on credit, not
thinking of the day of settlement. We must learn to bore with a small
augur first. The black man totes a heavy bundle, and when he puts it
down there is a plow, a hoe, and ignorance."

It was to people such as these that Booker T. Washington brought hope,
and serving them he passed on to fame. Within a few years schools on the
plan of Tuskegee began to spring up all over the South, at Denmark, at
Snow Hill, at Utica, and elsewhere. In 1900 the National Negro Business
League began its sessions, giving great impetus to the establishment of
banks, stores, and industrial enterprises throughout the country, and
especially in the South. Much of this progress would certainly have been
realized if the Business League had never been organized; but every one
granted that in all the development the genius of the leader at
Tuskegee was the chief force. About his greatness and his very definite
contribution there could be no question.

3. _Individual Achievement: The Spanish-American War_

It happened that just at the time that Booker T. Washington was
advancing to great distinction, three or four other individuals were
reflecting special credit on the race. One of these was a young scholar,
W.E. Burghardt DuBois, who after a college career at Fisk continued
his studies at Harvard and Berlin and finally took the Ph.D. degree
at Harvard in 1895. There had been sound scholars in the race before
DuBois, but generally these had rested on attainment in the languages or
mathematics, and most frequently they had expressed themselves in rather
philosophical disquisition. Here, however, was a thorough student of
economics, and one who was able to attack the problems of his people and
meet opponents on the basis of modern science. He was destined to do
great good, and the race was proud of him.

In 1896 also an authentic young poet who had wrestled with poverty and
doubt at last gained a hearing. After completing the course at a high
school in Dayton, Paul Laurence Dunbar ran an elevator for four dollars
a week, and then he peddled from door to door two little volumes of
verse that had been privately printed. William Dean Howells at length
gave him a helping hand, and Dodd, Mead & Co. published _Lyrics of Lowly
Life_. Dunbar wrote both in classic English and in the dialect that
voiced the humor and the pathos of the life of those for whom he spoke.
What was not at the time especially observed was that in numerous poems
he suggested the discontent with the age in which he lived and thus
struck what later years were to prove an important keynote. After he had
waited and struggled so long, his success was so great that it became a
vogue, and imitators sprang up everywhere. He touched the heart of his
people and the race loved him.

By 1896 also word began to come of a Negro American painter, Henry O.
Tanner, who was winning laurels in Paris. At the same time a beautiful
singer, Mme. Sissieretta Jones, on the concert stage was giving new
proof of the possibilities of the Negro as an artist in song. In the
previous decade Mme. Marie Selika, a cultured vocalist of the first
rank, had delighted audiences in both America and Europe, and in 1887
had appeared Flora Batson, a ballad singer whose work at its best was of
the sort that sends an audience into the wildest enthusiasm. In 1894,
moreover, Harry T. Burleigh, competing against sixty candidates, became
baritone soloist at St. Georges's Episcopal Church, New York, and just a
few years later he was to be employed also at Temple Emanu-El, the Fifth
Avenue Jewish synagogue. From abroad also came word of a brilliant
musician, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who by his "Hiawatha's Wedding-Feast"
in 1898 leaped into the rank of the foremost living English composers.
On the more popular stage appeared light musical comedy, intermediate
between the old Negro minstrelsy and a genuine Negro drama, the
representative companies becoming within the next few years those of
Cole and Johnson, and Williams and Walker.

Especially outstanding in the course of the decade, however, was the
work of the Negro soldier in the Spanish-American War. There were at
the time four regiments of colored regulars in the Army of the United
States, the Twenty-fourth Infantry, the Twenty-fifth Infantry, the
Ninth Cavalry, and the Tenth Cavalry. When the war broke out President
McKinley sent to Congress a message recommending the enlistment of more
regiments of Negroes. Congress failed to act; nevertheless colored
troops enlisted in the volunteer service in Massachusetts, Indiana,
Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The
Eighth Illinois was officered throughout by Negroes, J.R. Marshall
commanding; and Major Charles E. Young, a West Point graduate, was in
charge of the Ohio battalion. The very first regiment ordered to the
front when the war broke out was the Twenty-fourth Infantry; and Negro
troops were conspicuous in the fighting around Santiago. They figured in
a brilliant charge at Las Quasimas on June 24, and in an attack on July
1 upon a garrison at El Caney (a position of importance for securing
possession of a line of hills along the San Juan River, a mile and a
half from Santiago) the First Volunteer Cavalry (Colonel Roosevelt's
"Rough Riders") was practically saved from annihilation by the gallant
work of the men of the Tenth Cavalry. Fully as patriotic, though in
another way, was a deed of the Twenty-fourth Infantry. Learning that
General Miles desired a regiment for the cleaning of a yellow
fever hospital and the nursing of some victims of the disease, the
Twenty-fourth volunteered its services and by one day's work so cleared
away the rubbish and cleaned the camp that the number of cases was
greatly reduced. Said the _Review of Reviews_ in editorial comment:[1]
"One of the most gratifying incidents of the Spanish War has been the
enthusiasm that the colored regiments of the regular army have
aroused throughout the whole country. Their fighting at Santiago was
magnificent. The Negro soldiers showed excellent discipline, the highest
qualities of personal bravery, very superior physical endurance,
unfailing good temper, and the most generous disposition toward all
comrades in arms, whether white or black. Roosevelt's Rough Riders have
come back singing the praises of the colored troops. There is not a
dissenting voice in the chorus of praise.... Men who can fight for their
country as did these colored troops ought to have their full share of
gratitude and honor."

[Footnote 1: October, 1898, p. 387.]

4. _Mob Violence; Election Troubles; The Atlanta Massacre_

After two or three years of comparative quiet--but only _comparative_
quiet--mob violence burst forth about the turn of the century with
redoubled intensity. In a large way this was simply a result of the
campaigns for disfranchisement that in some of the Southern states were
just now getting under way; but charges of assault and questions of
labor also played a part. In some places people who were innocent of any
charge whatever were attacked, and so many were killed that sometimes
it seemed that the law had broken down altogether. Not the least
interesting development of these troublous years was that in some cases
as never before Negroes began to fight with their backs to the wall, and
thus at the very close of the century--at the end of a bitter decade and
the beginning of one still more bitter--a new factor entered into the
problem, one that was destined more and more to demand consideration.

On one Sunday toward the close of October, 1898, the country recorded
two race wars, one lynching, two murders, one of which was expected to
lead to a lynching, with a total of ten Negroes killed and four wounded
and four white men killed and seven wounded. The most serious outbreak
was in the state of Mississippi, and it is worthy of note that in not
one single case was there any question of rape.

November was made red by election troubles in both North and South
Carolina. In the latter state, at Phoenix, in Greenwood County, on
November 8 and for some days thereafter, the Tolberts, a well-known
family of white Republicans, were attacked by mobs and barely escaped
alive. R.R. Tolbert was a candidate for Congress and also chairman of
the Republican state committee. John R. Tolbert, his father, collector
of the port of Charleston, had come home to vote and was at one of the
polling-places in the county. Thomas Tolbert at Phoenix was taking the
affidavits of the Negroes who were not permitted to vote for his brother
in order that later there might be ground on which to contest the
election. While thus engaged he was attacked by Etheridge, the
Democratic manager of another precinct. The Negroes came to Tolbert's
defense, and in the fight that followed Etheridge was killed and Tolbert
wounded. John Tolbert, coming up, was filled with buckshot, and a
younger member of the family was also hurt. The Negroes were at length
overpowered and the Tolberts forced to flee. All told it appears that
two white men and about twelve Negroes lost their lives in connection
with the trouble, six of the latter being lynched on account of the
death of Etheridge.

In North Carolina in 1894 the Republicans by combining with the
Populists had secured control of the state legislature. In 1896 the
Democrats were again outvoted, Governor Russell being elected by a
plurality of 9000. A considerable number of local offices was in the
hands of Negroes, who had the backing of the Governor, the legislature,
and the Supreme Court as well. Before the November elections in 1898 the
Democrats in Wilmington announced their determination to prevent Negroes
from holding office in the city. Especially had they been made angry by
an editorial in a local Negro paper, the _Record_, in which, under date
August 18, the editor, Alex. L. Manly, starting with a reference to a
speaker from Georgia, who at the Agricultural Society meeting at Tybee
had advocated lynching as an extreme measure, said that she "lost sight
of the basic principle of the religion of Christ in her plea for one
class of people as against another," and continued: "The papers are
filled with reports of rapes of white women, and the subsequent lynching
of the alleged rapists. The editors pour forth volleys of aspersions
against all Negroes because of the few who may be guilty. If the papers
and speakers of the other race would condemn the commission of crime
because it is crime and not try to make it appear that the Negroes
were the only criminals, they would find their strongest allies in the
intelligent Negroes themselves, and together the whites and blacks would
root the evil out of both races.... Our experience among poor white
people in the country teaches us that the women of that race are not any
more particular in the matter of clandestine meetings with colored men
than are the white men with colored women. Meetings of this kind go on
for some time until the woman's infatuation or the man's boldness brings
attention to them and the man is lynched for rape." In reply to this
the speaker quoted in a signed statement said: "When the Negro Manly
attributed the crime of rape to intimacy between Negro men and white
women of the South, the slanderer should be made to fear a lyncher's
rope rather than occupy a place in New York newspapers"--a method of
argument that was unfortunately all too common in the South. As election
day approached the Democrats sought generally to intimidate the Negroes,
the streets and roads being patrolled by men wearing red shirts.
Election day, however, passed without any disturbance; but on the next
day there was a mass meeting of white citizens, at which there were
adopted resolutions to employ white labor instead of Negro, to banish
the editor of the _Record_, and to send away from the city the
printing-press in the office of that paper; and a committee of
twenty-five was appointed to see that these resolutions were carried
into effect within twenty-four hours. In the course of the terrible
day that followed the printing office was destroyed, several white
Republicans were driven from the city, and nine Negroes were killed at
once, though no one could say with accuracy just how many more lost
their lives or were seriously wounded before the trouble was over.

Charles W. Chesnutt, in _The Marrow of Tradition_, has given a faithful
portrayal of these disgraceful events, the Wellington of the story being
Wilmington. Perhaps the best commentary on those who thus sought power
was afforded by their apologist, a Presbyterian minister and editor,
A.J. McKelway, who on this occasion and others wrote articles in the
_Independent_ and the _Outlook_ justifying the proceedings. Said he: "It
is difficult to speak of the Red Shirts without a smile. They victimized
the Negroes with a huge practical joke.... A dozen men would meet at a
crossroad, on horseback, clad in red shirts or calico, flannel or silk,
according to the taste of the owner and the enthusiasm of his womankind.
They would gallop through the country, and the Negro would quietly make
up his mind that his interest in political affairs was not a large one,
anyhow. It would be wise not to vote, and wiser not to register to
prevent being dragooned into voting on election day." It thus appears
that the forcible seizure of the political rights of people, the killing
and wounding of many, and the compelling of scores to leave their homes
amount in the end to not more than a "practical joke."

One part of the new program was the most intense opposition to Federal
Negro appointees anywhere in the South. On the morning of February 22,
1898, Frazer B. Baker, the colored postmaster at Lake City, S.C., awoke
to find his house in flames. Attempting to escape, he and his baby boy
were shot and killed and their bodies consumed in the burning house.
His wife and the other children were wounded but escaped. The
Postmaster-General was quite disposed to see that justice was done in
this case; but the men charged with the crime gave the most trivial
alibis, and on Saturday, April 22, 1899, the jury in the United States
Circuit Court at Charleston reported its failure to agree on a verdict.
Three years later the whole problem was presented strongly to President
Roosevelt. When Mrs. Minne Cox, who was serving efficiently as
postmistress at Indianola, Miss., was forced to resign because of
threats, he closed the office; and when there was protest against
the appointment of Dr. William D. Crum as collector of the port of
Charleston, he said, "I do not intend to appoint any unfit man to
office. So far as I legitimately can, I shall always endeavor to pay
regard to the wishes and feelings of the people of each locality; but I
can not consent to take the position that the door of hope--the door of
opportunity--is to be shut upon any man, no matter how worthy, purely
upon the grounds of race or color. Such an attitude would, according to
my convictions, be fundamentally wrong." These memorable words, coming
in a day of compromise and expediency in high places, greatly cheered
the heart of the race. Just the year before, the importance of the
incident of Booker T. Washington's taking lunch with President Roosevelt
was rather unnecessarily magnified by the South into all sorts of
discussion of social equality.

On Tuesday, January 24, 1899, a fire in the center of the town of
Palmetto, Ga., destroyed a hotel, two stores, and a storehouse, on which
property there was little insurance. The next Saturday there was another
fire and this destroyed a considerable part of the town. For some weeks
there was no clue as to the origin of these fires; but about the middle
of March something overheard by a white citizen led to the implicating
of nine Negroes. These men were arrested and confined for the night of
March 15 in a warehouse to await trial the next morning, a dummy guard
of six men being placed before the door. About midnight a mob came,
pushed open the door, and fired two volleys at the Negroes, killing four
immediately and fatally wounding four more. The circumstances of this
atrocious crime oppressed the Negro people of the state as few things
had done since the Civil War. That it did no good was evident, for in
its underlying psychology it was closely associated with a double crime
that was now to be committed. In April, Sam Hose, a Negro who had
brooded on the happenings at Palmetto, not many miles from the scene
killed a farmer, Alfred Cranford, who had been a leader of the mob, and
outraged his wife. For two weeks he was hunted like an animal, the white
people of the state meanwhile being almost unnerved and the Negroes
sickened by the pursuit. At last, however, he was found, and on Sunday,
April 23, at Newnan, Ga., he was burned, his execution being accompanied
by unspeakable mutilation; and on the same day Lige Strickland, a Negro
preacher whom Hose had accused of complicity in his crime, was hanged
near Palmetto. The nation stood aghast, for the recent events in Georgia
had shaken the very foundations of American civilization. Said the
_Charleston News and Courier_: "The chains which bound the citizen, Sam
Hose, to the stake at Newnan mean more for us and for his race than the
chains or bonds of slavery, which they supplanted. The flames that lit
the scene of his torture shed their baleful light throughout every
corner of our land, and exposed a state of things, actual and potential,
among us that should rouse the dullest mind to a sharp sense of our true
condition, and of our unchanged and unchangeable relations to the whole
race whom the tortured wretch represented."

Violence breeds violence, and two or three outstanding events are yet to
be recorded. On August 23, 1899, at Darien, Ga., hundreds of Negroes,
who for days had been aroused by rumors of a threatened lynching,
assembled at the ringing of the bell of a church opposite the jail and
by their presence prevented the removal of a prisoner. They were later
tried for insurrection and twenty-one sent to the convict farms for a
year. The general circumstances of the uprising excited great interest
throughout the country. In May, 1900, in Augusta, Ga., an unfortunate
street car incident resulted in the death of the aggressor, a young
white man named Whitney, and in the lynching of the colored man, Wilson,
who killed him. In this instance the victim was tortured and mutilated,
parts of his body and of the rope by which he was hanged being passed
around as souvenirs. A Negro organization at length recovered the body,
and so great was the excitement at the funeral that the coffin was not
allowed to be opened. Two months later, in New Orleans, there was a most
extraordinary occurrence, the same being important because the leading
figure was very frankly regarded by the Negroes as a hero and his fight
in his own defense a sign that the men of the race would not always be
shot down without some effort to protect themselves.

One night in July, an hour before midnight, two Negroes Robert Charles
and Leonard Pierce, who had recently come into the city from Mississippi
and whose movements had interested the police, were found by three
officers on the front steps of a house in Dryades Street. Being
questioned they replied that they had been in the town two or three days
and had secured work. In the course of the questioning the larger of
the Negroes, Charles, rose to his feet; he was seized by one of the
officers, Mora, who began to use his billet; and in the struggle that
resulted Charles escaped and Mora was wounded in each hand and the hip.
Charles now took refuge in a small house on Fourth Street, and when he
was surrounded, with deadly aim he shot and instantly killed the first
two officers who appeared.[1] The other men advancing, retreated and
waited until daylight for reenforcement, and Charles himself withdrew to
other quarters, and for some days his whereabouts were unknown. With the
new day, however, the city was wild with excitement and thousands of men
joined in the search, the newspapers all the while stirring the crowd
to greater fury. Mobs rushed up and down the streets assaulting Negroes
wherever they could be found, no effort to check them being made by the
police. On the second night a crowd of nearly a thousand was addressed
at the Lee Monument by a man from Kenner, a town a few miles above the
city. Said he: "Gentlemen, I am from Kenner, and I have come down here
to-night to assist you in teaching the blacks a lesson. I have killed a
Negro before and in revenge of the wrong wrought upon you and yours I am
willing to kill again. The only way you can teach these niggers a lesson
and put them in their place is to go out and lynch a few of them as
an object lesson. String up a few of them. That is the only thing to
do--kill them, string them up, lynch them. I will lead you. On to the
parish prison and lynch Pierce." The mob now rushed to the prison,
stores and pawnshops being plundered on the way. Within the next few
hours a Negro was taken from a street car on Canal Street, killed, and
his body thrown into the gutter. An old man of seventy going to work in
the morning was fatally shot. On Rousseau Street the mob fired into a
little cabin; the inmates were asleep and an old woman was killed in
bed. Another old woman who looked out from her home was beaten into
insensibility. A man sitting at his door was shot, beaten, and left for
dead. Such were the scenes that were enacted almost hourly from Monday
until Friday evening. One night the excellent school building given by
Thomy Lafon, a member of the race and a philanthropist, was burned.

[Footnote 1: From this time forth the wildest rumors were afloat and
the number of men that Charles had killed was greatly exaggerated. Some
reports said scores or even hundreds, and it is quite possible that any
figures given herewith are an understatement.]

About three o'clock on Friday afternoon Charles was found to be in
a two-story house at the corner of Saratoga and Clio Streets. Two
officers, Porteus and Lally, entered a lower room. The first fell dead
at the first shot, and the second was mortally wounded by the next. A
third, Bloomfield, waiting with gun in hand, was wounded at the first
shot and killed at the second. The crowd retreated, but bullets rained
upon the house, Charles all the while keeping watch in every direction
from four different windows. Every now and then he thrust his rifle
through one of the shattered windowpanes and fired, working with
incredible rapidity. He succeeded in killing two more of his assailants
and wounding two. At last he realized that the house was on fire, and
knowing that the end had come he rushed forth upon his foes, fired one
shot more and fell dead. He had killed eight men and mortally wounded
two or three more. His body was mutilated. In his room there was
afterwards found a copy of a religious publication, and it was known
that he had resented disfranchisement in Louisiana and had distributed
pamphlets to further a colonization scheme. No incriminating evidence,
however, was found.

In the same memorable year, 1900, on the night of Wednesday, August
15, there were serious riots in the city of New York. On the preceding
Sunday a policeman named Thorpe in attempting to arrest a colored woman
was stabbed by a Negro, Arthur Harris, so fatally that he died on
Monday. On Wednesday evening Negroes were dragged from the street cars
and beaten, and by midnight there were thousands of rioters between
25th and 35th Streets. On the next night the trouble was resumed. These
events were followed almost immediately by riots in Akron, Ohio. On the
last Sunday in October, 1901, while some Negroes were holding their
usual fall camp-meeting in a grove in Washington Parish, Louisiana, they
were attacked, and a number of people, not less than ten and perhaps
several more, were killed; and hundreds of men, women, and children felt
forced to move away from the vicinity. In the first week of March, 1904,
there was in Mississippi a lynching that exceeded even others of
the period in its horror and that became notorious for its use of a
corkscrew. A white planter of Doddsville was murdered, and a Negro,
Luther Holbert, was charged with the crime. Holbert fled, and his
innocent wife went with him. Further report we read in the Democratic
_Evening Post_ of Vicksburg as follows: "When the two Negroes were
captured, they were tied to trees, and while the funeral pyres were
being prepared they were forced to suffer the most fiendish tortures.
The blacks were forced to hold out their hands while one finger at a
time was chopped off. The fingers were distributed as souvenirs. The
ears of the murderers were cut off. Holbert was beaten severely, his
skull was fractured, and one of his eyes, knocked out with a stick, hung
by a shred from the socket.... The most excruciating form of punishment
consisted in the use of a large corkscrew in the hands of some of the
mob. This instrument was bored into the flesh of the man and the woman,
in the arms, legs, and body, and then pulled out, the spirals tearing
out big pieces of raw, quivering flesh every time it was withdrawn."
In the summer of this same year Georgia was once more the scene of a
horrible lynching, two Negroes, Paul Reed and Will Cato--because of the
murder of the Hodges family six miles from the town on July 20--being
burned at the stake at Statesville under unusually depressing
circumstances. In August, 1908, there were in Springfield, Illinois,
race riots of such a serious nature that a force of six thousand
soldiers was required to quell them. These riots were significant
not only because of the attitude of Northern laborers toward Negro
competition, but also because of the indiscriminate killing of Negroes
by people in the North, this indicating a genuine nationalization of the
Negro Problem. The real climax of violence within the period, however,
was the Atlanta Massacre of Saturday, September 22, 1906.

Throughout the summer the heated campaign of Hoke Smith for
the governorship capitalized the gathering sentiment for the
disfranchisement of the Negro in the state and at length raised the race
issue to such a high pitch that it leaped into flame. The feeling was
intensified by the report of assaults and attempted assaults by Negroes,
particularly as these were detailed and magnified or even invented by an
evening paper, the _Atlanta News_, against which the Fulton County Grand
Jury afterwards brought in an indictment as largely responsible for the
riot, and which was forced to suspend publication when the business men
of the city withdrew their support. Just how much foundation there was
to the rumors may be seen from the following report of the investigator:
"Three, charged to white men, attracted comparatively little attention
in the newspapers, although one, the offense of a man named Turnadge,
was shocking in its details. Of twelve such charges against Negroes in
the six months preceding the riot, two were cases of rape, horrible in
their details, three were aggravated attempts at rape, three may have
been attempts, three were pure cases of fright on the part of white
women, and in one the white woman, first asserting that a Negro had
assaulted her, finally confessed attempted suicide."[1] On Friday,
September 21, while a Negro was on trial, the father of the girl
concerned asked the recorder for permission to deal with the Negro with
his own hand, and an outbreak was barely averted in the open court.
On Saturday evening, however, some elements in the city and from
neighboring towns, heated by liquor and newspaper extras, became openly
riotous and until midnight defied all law and authority. Negroes
were assaulted wherever they appeared, for the most part being found
unsuspecting, as in the case of those who happened to be going home from
work and were on street cars passing through the heart of the city.
In one barber shop two workers were beaten to death and their bodies
mangled. A lame bootblack, innocent and industrious, was dragged from
his work and kicked and beaten to death. Another young Negro was stabbed
with jack-knives. Altogether very nearly a score of persons lost their
lives and two or three times as many were injured. After some time
Governor Terrell mobilized the militia, but the crowd did not take this
move seriously, and the real feeling of the Mayor, who turned on the
hose of the fire department, was shown by his statement that just so
long as the Negroes committed certain crimes just so long would they be
unceremoniously dealt with. Sunday dawned upon a city of astounded white
people and outraged and sullen Negroes. Throughout Monday and Tuesday
the tension continued, the Negroes endeavoring to defend themselves as
well as they could. On Monday night the union of some citizens with
policemen who were advancing in a suburb in which most of the homes were
those of Negroes, resulted in the death of James Heard, an officer, and
in the wounding of some of those who accompanied him. More Negroes were
also killed, and a white woman to whose front porch two men were chased
died of fright at seeing them shot to death. It was the disposition,
however, on the part of the Negroes to make armed resistance that really
put an end to the massacre. Now followed a procedure that is best
described in the words of the prominent apologist for such outbreaks.
Said A.J. McKelway: "Tuesday every house in the town (i.e., the suburb
referred to above) was entered by the soldiers, and some two hundred
and fifty Negroes temporarily held, while the search was proceeding and
inquiries being made. They were all disarmed, and those with concealed
weapons, or under suspicion of having been in the party firing on the
police, were sent to jail."[2] It is thus evident that in this case, as
in many others, the Negroes who had suffered most, not the white men who
killed a score of them, were disarmed, and that for the time being their
terrified women and children were left defenseless. McKelway also says
in this general connection: "Any Southern man would protect an innocent
Negro who appealed to him for help, with his own life if necessary."
This sounds like chivalry, but it is really the survival of the old
slavery attitude that begs the whole question. The Negro does not feel
that he should ask any other man to protect him. He has quite made up
his mind that he will defend his own home himself. He stands as a man
before the bar, and the one thing he wants to know is if the law and the
courts of America are able to give him justice--simple justice, nothing

[Footnote 1: R.S. Baker: _Following the Colour Line_, 3.]

[Footnote 2: _Outlook_, November 3, 1906, p. 561.]

5. _The Question of Labor_

From time to time, in connection with cases of violence, we have
referred to the matter of labor. Riots such as we have described are
primarily social in character, the call of race invariably being the
final appeal. The economic motive has accompanied this, however, and
has been found to be of increasing importance. Says DuBois: "The fatal
campaign in Georgia which culminated in the Atlanta Massacre was
an attempt, fathered by conscienceless politicians, to arouse the
prejudices of the rank and file of white laborers and farmers against
the growing competition of black men, so that black men by law could be
forced back to subserviency and serfdom."[1] The question was indeed
constantly recurrent, but even by the end of the period policies had
not yet been definitely decided upon, and for the time being there were
frequent armed clashes between the Negro and the white laborer. Both
capital and common sense were making it clear, however, that the
Negro was undoubtedly a labor asset and would have to be given place

[Footnote 1: _The Negro in the South_, 115.]

In March, 1895, there were bloody riots in New Orleans, these growing
out of the fact that white laborers who were beginning to be organized
objected to the employment Of Negro workers by the shipowners for the
unloading of vessels. When the trouble was at its height volley after
volley was poured upon the Negroes, and in turn two white men were
killed and several wounded. The commercial bodies of the city met,
blamed the Governor and the Mayor for the series of outbreaks, and
demanded that the outrages cease. Said they: "Forbearance has ceased to
be a virtue. We can no longer treat with men who, with arms in their
hands, are shooting down an inoffensive people because they will not
think and act with them. For these reasons we say to these people that,
cost what it may, we are determined that the commerce of this city must
and shall be protected; that every man who desires to perform honest
labor must and shall be permitted to do so regardless of race, color, or
previous condition." About August I of this same year, 1895, there were
sharp conflicts between the white and the black miners at Birmingham,
a number being killed on both sides before military authority could
intervene. Three years later, moreover, the invasion of the North by
Negro labor had begun, and about November 17, 1898, there was serious
trouble in the mines at Pana and Virden, Illinois. In the same month
the convention of railroad brotherhoods in Norfolk expressed strong
hostility to Negro labor, Grand Master Frank P. Sargent of the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen saying that one of the chief purposes
of the meeting of the brotherhoods was "to begin a campaign in advocacy
of white supremacy in the railway service." This November, it will be
recalled, was the fateful month of the election riots in North and South
Carolina. _The People_, the Socialist-Labor publication, commenting upon
a Negro indignation meeting at Cooper Union and upon the problem in
general, said that the Negro was essentially a wage-slave, that it was
the capitalism of the North and not humanity that in the first place had
demanded the freedom of the slave, that in the new day capital demanded
the subjugation of the working class--Negro or otherwise; and it blamed
the Negroes for not seeing the real issues at stake. It continued with
emphasis: "It is not the _Negro_ that was massacred in the Carolinas;
it was Carolina _workingmen_, Carolina _wage-slaves_ who happened to
be colored men. Not as Negroes must the race rise;... it is as
_workingmen_, as a branch of the _working class_, that the Negro must
denounce the Carolina felonies. Only by touching that chord can he
denounce to a purpose, because only then does he place himself upon that
elevation that will enable him to perceive the source of the specific
wrong complained of now." This point of view was destined more and more
to stimulate those interested in the problem, whether they accepted
it in its entirety or not. Another opinion, very different and also
important, was that given in 1899 by the editor of _Dixie_, a magazine
published in Atlanta and devoted to Southern industrial interests. Said
he: "The manufacturing center of the United States will one day be
located in the South; and this will come about, strange as it may seem,
for the reason that the Negro is a fixture here.... Organized labor,
as it exists to-day, is a menace to industry. The Negro stands as
a permanent and positive barrier against labor organization in the
South.... So the Negro, all unwittingly, is playing an important part in
the drama of Southern industrial development. His good nature defies the
Socialist." At the time this opinion seemed plausible, and yet the very
next two decades were to raise the question if it was not founded on
fallacious assumptions.

The real climax of labor trouble as of mob violence within the period
came in Georgia and in Atlanta, a city that now assumed outstanding
importance as a battleground of the problems of the New South. In April,
1909, it happened that ten white workers on the Georgia Railroad who had
been placed on the "extra list" were replaced by Negroes at lower wages.
Against this there was violent protest all along the route. A little
more than a month later the white Firemen's Union started a strike that
was intended to be the beginning of an effort to drive all Negro firemen
from Southern roads, and it was soon apparent that the real contest was
one occasioned by the progress in the South of organized labor on the
one hand and the progress of the Negro in efficiency on the other. The
essential motives that entered into the struggle were in fact the same
as those that characterized the trouble in New Orleans in 1895. Said
E.A. Ball, second vice-president of the Firemen's Union, in an address
to the public: "It will be up to you to determine whether the white
firemen now employed on the Georgia Railroad shall be accorded rights
and privileges over the Negro, or whether he shall be placed on the same
equality with the Negro. Also, it will be for you to determine whether
or not white firemen, supporting families in and around Atlanta on a pay
of $1.75 a day, shall be compelled to vacate their positions in Atlanta
joint terminals for Negroes, who are willing to do the same work for
$1.25." Some papers, like the Augusta _Herald_, said that it was a
mistaken policy to give preference to Negroes when white men would
ultimately have to be put in charge of trains and engines; but others,
like the Baltimore _News_, said, "If the Negro can be driven from one
skilled employment, he can be driven from another; but a country that
tries to do it is flying in the face of every economic law, and must
feel the evil effects of its policy if it could be carried out." At any
rate feeling ran very high; for a whole week about June I there were
very few trains between Atlanta and Augusta, and there were some acts of
violence; but in the face of the capital at stake and the fundamental
issues involved it was simply impossible for the railroad to give way.
The matter was at length referred to a board of arbitration which
decided that the Georgia Railroad was still to employ Negroes whenever
they were found qualified and that they were to receive the same wages
as white workers. Some thought that this decision would ultimately tell
against the Negro, but such was not the immediate effect at least, and
to all intents and purposes the white firemen had lost in the strike.
The whole matter was in fact fundamentally one of the most pathetic that
we have had to record. Humble white workers, desirous of improving the
economic condition of themselves and their families, instead of assuming
a statesmanlike and truly patriotic attitude toward their problem,
turned aside into the wilderness of racial hatred and were lost.

This review naturally prompts reflection as to the whole function of the
Negro laborer in the South. In the first place, what is he worth, and
especially what is he worth in honest Southern opinion? It was said
after the Civil War that he would not work except under compulsion; just
how had he come to be regarded in the industry of the New South? In 1894
a number of large employers were asked about this point. 50 per cent
said that in skilled labor they considered the Negro inferior to the
white worker, 46 per cent said that he was fairly equal, and 4 per cent
said that, all things considered, he was superior. As to common labor 54
per cent said that he was equal, 29 per cent superior, and 17 per cent
inferior to the white worker. At the time it appeared that wages
paid Negroes averaged 80 per cent of those paid white men. A similar
investigation by the Chattanooga _Tradesman_ in 1902 brought forth five
hundred replies. These were summarized as follows: "We find the Negro
more useful and skilled in the cotton-seed oil-mills, the lumber-mills,
the foundries, brick kilns, mines, and blast-furnaces. He is superior
to white labor and possibly superior to any other labor in these
establishments, but not in the capacity of skillful and ingenious
artisans." In this opinion, it is to be remembered, the Negro was
subjected to a severe test in which nothing whatever was given to him,
and at least it appears that in many lines of labor he is not less than
indispensable to the progress of the South. The question then arises:
Just what is the relation that he is finally to sustain to other
workingmen? It would seem that white worker and black worker would long
ago have realized their identity of interest and have come together. The
unions, however, have been slow to admit Negroes and give them the same
footing and backing as white men. Under the circumstances accordingly
there remained nothing else for the Negro to do except to work wherever
his services were desired and on the best terms that he was able to

6. _Defamation: Brownsville_

Crime demands justification, and it is not surprising that after such
violence as that which we have described, and after several states had
passed disfranchising acts, there appeared in the first years of the new
century several publications especially defamatory of the race. Some
books unfortunately descended to a coarseness in vilification such as
had not been reached since the Civil War. From a Bible House in St.
Louis in 1902 came _The Negro a Beast, or In the Image of God_, a book
that was destined to have an enormous circulation among the white people
of the poorer class in the South, and that of course promoted the
mob spirit.[1] Contemporary and of the same general tenor were R.W.
Shufeldt's _The Negro_ and W.B. Smith's _The Color Line_, while a member
of the race itself, William Hannibal Thomas, published a book, _The
American Negro_, that was without either faith or ideal and as a
denunciation of the Negro in America unparalleled in its vindictiveness
and exaggeration.[2]

[Footnote 1: Its fundamental assumptions were ably refuted by Edward
Atkinson in the _North American Review_, August, 1905.]

[Footnote 2: It was reviewed in the _Dial_, April 16, 1901, by W.E.B.
DuBois, who said in part: "Mr. Thomas's book is a sinister symptom--a
growth and development under American conditions of life which
illustrates peculiarly the anomalous position of black men, and the
terrific stress under which they struggle. And the struggle and the
fight of human beings against hard conditions of life always tends
to develop the criminal or the hypocrite, the cynic or the radical.
Wherever among a hard-pressed people these types begin to appear, it
is a visible sign of a burden that is threatening to overtax their
strength, and the foreshadowing of the age of revolt."]

In January, 1904, the new governor of Mississippi, J.K. Vardaman, in his
inaugural address went to the extreme of voicing the opinion of those
who were now contending that the education of the Negro was only
complicating the problem and intensifying its dangerous features. Said
he of the Negro people: "As a race, they are deteriorating morally every
day. Time has demonstrated that they are more criminal as freemen than
as slaves; that they are increasing in criminality with frightful
rapidity, being one-third more criminal in 1890 than in 1880." A
few weeks later Bishop Brown of Arkansas in a widely quoted address
contended that the Southern Negro was going backward both morally and
intellectually and could never be expected to take a helpful part in the
Government; and he also justified lynching. In the same year one of the
more advanced thinkers of the South, Edgar Gardner Murphy, in _Problems
of the Present South_ was not yet quite willing to receive the Negro on
the basis of citizenship; and Thomas Nelson Page, who had belittled the
Negro in such a collection of stories as _In Ole Virginia_ and in such a
novel as _Red Rock_[1] formally stated his theories in _The Negro: The
Southerner's Problem_. The worst, however--if there could be a worst in
such an array--was yet to appear. In 1905 Thomas Dixon added to a series
of high-keyed novels _The Clansman_, a glorification of the KuKlux Klan
that gave a malignant portrayal of the Negro and that was of such a
quality as to arouse the most intense prejudice and hatred. Within a
few months the work was put on the stage and again and again it threw
audiences into the wildest excitement. The production was to some
extent held to blame for the Atlanta Massacre. In several cities it was
proscribed. In Philadelphia on October 23, 1906, after the Negro
people had made an unavailing protest, three thousand of them made a
demonstration before the Walnut Street theater where the performance
was given, while the conduct of some within the playhouse almost
precipitated a riot; and in this city the play was suppressed the next
day. Throughout the South, however, and sometimes elsewhere it continued
to do its deadly work, and it was later to furnish the basis of "The
Birth of a Nation," an elaborate motion picture of the same general

[Footnote 1: For a general treatment of the matter of the Negro as dealt
with in American Literature, especially fiction, note "The Negro in
American Fiction," in the _Dial_, May 11, 1916, a paper included in
_The Negro in Literature and Art_. The thesis there is that imaginative
treatment of the Negro is still governed by outworn antebellum types,
or that in the search for burlesque some types of young and uncultured
Negroes of the present day are deliberately overdrawn, but that there is
not an honest or a serious facing of the characters and the situations
in the life of the Negro people in the United States to-day. Since the
paper first appeared it has received much further point; witness the
stories by E.K. Means and Octavius Roy Cohen.]

Still another line of attack was now to attempt to deprive the Negro of
any credit for initiative or for any independent achievement whatsoever.
In May, 1903, Alfred H. Stone contributed to the _Atlantic_ a paper,
"The Mulatto in the Negro Problem," which contended at the same time
that whatever meritorious work the race had accomplished was due to the
infusion of white blood and that it was the mulatto that was constantly
poisoning the mind of the Negro with "radical teachings and destructive
doctrines." These points found frequent iteration throughout the period,
and years afterwards, in 1917, the first found formal statement in the
_American Journal of Sociology_ in an article by Edward Byron Reuter,
"The Superiority of the Mulatto," which the next year was elaborated
into a volume, _The Mulatto in the United States_. To argue the
superiority of the mulatto of course is simply to argue once more the
inferiority of the Negro to the white man.

All of this dispraise together presented a formidable case and one from
which the race suffered immeasurably; nor was it entirely offset in the
same years by the appearance even of DuBois's remarkable book, _The
Souls of Black Folk_, or by the several uplift publications of Booker T.
Washington. In passing we wish to refer to three points: (1) The effect
of education on the Negro; (2) the matter of the Negro criminal (and of
mortality), and (3) the quality and function of the mulatto.

Education could certainly not be blamed for the difficulties of the
problem in the new day until it had been properly tried. In no one of
the Southern states within the period did the Negro child receive a fair
chance. He was frequently subjected to inferior teaching, dilapidated
accommodations, and short terms. In the representative city of Atlanta
in 1903 the white school population numbered 14,465 and the colored
8,118. The Negroes, however, while numbering 35 per cent of the whole,
received but 12 per cent of the school funds. The average white teacher
received $745 a year, and the Negro teacher $450. In the great reduction
of the percentage of illiteracy in the race from 70 in 1880 to 30.4
in 1910 the missionary colleges--those of the American Missionary

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