Take Your Choice
Separation or Mongrelization

By Theodore G. Bilbo

Chapter 3
The Negro Problem
in American History

The one excuse for slavery which the South can plead without fear before the Judgement bar of God is the blacker problem which their emancipation will create. -Robert E. Lee
FROM DARKEST Africa to the shores of North America where a mighty civilization was to be carved from a vast wilderness came the ships that brought the Negro slaves to the Arnerican colonies. To these vessels bearing their cargos of human freight, the words of the poet Milton have been aptly applied:
That fatal, that perfidious bark,
Built i' the eclipse, and rigged
With curses dark.
Just as the ships which brought the African to these shores were "rigged with curses dark," so have many pages of American history been filled with pages dark from the stain of the Negro problem.

The race problem may be said to have had its origin in the new world when a Dutch vessel brought the first cargo of Negro slaves and sold them to the settlers at Jamestown, Virginia, in August, 1619. There seems to be some disagreement among the historians as to whether there were fourteen or twenty African Negroes in this group, but it is conceded by all that this was the beginning of the slave trade in North America. The growth of the Negro population of Virginia was slow but steady, and by the time of the American Revolution there were over 200,000 Negroes in that colony. A few of this number were classified as freedmen, but the large majority were held in slavery. The demand for slave labor and the increase of the Negro population in Virginia was typical of the other colonies of the South.

There was also a demand for slaves in the colonies in the Northern section of the country. As early as 1741 Negroes were so numerous in the City of New York that panic-stricken colonists feared for their own safety, and by the time of the Revolution, there were 26,000 Negroes in the colony of New York.

Slavery in the New England section was on a much smaller scale since slave labor was most profitably utilized on the plantations in the South. The census of 1790 showed the presence of some 17,000 Negroes, practically all of whom were slaves, in the New England colonies. However, it should also be pointed out that while these colonies did not furnish a ready market for the purchase of slaves, New England ship owners quickly found that transporting Negroes from West Africa to be sold in the Southern colonies was a profitable enterprise. The slave trade was a regular business with the colonial Yankees; it furnished wealth and adventure. Having some one hundred and fifty vessels engaged in the African slave trade in 1770, Rhode Island is said to have been responsible for bringing more Africans to this country than any of the other New England colonies.

The business of transporting slaves from Africa to the Americas was immensely profitable, and most of the civilized nations of the old world engaged in it. Great Britain entered the field at an early date, and Royal companies were formed to engage in the slave trade. Succeeding in this undertaking,from the very first, the English did not abolish slave traffic until 1807, the year before the American markets were closed.

In all sections in the American colonies the Negroes were rigidly controlled. They were not considered to have ordinary human rights and could be severely punished for any act of insubordination. Harsh laws and punitive measures to enforce strict discipline among the Africans appeared early on the statute books and were strictly enforced.

There were 757,208 Negroes, the great mass of whom were held in slavery, in the United States in 1790. (1) Even before this date, the growth of the Negro population had already caused alarm. There were a number of men in the colonies who realized what the increase of slavery in this country would eventually mean, and there were efforts made to restrict slavery in the undeveloped regions of the Northwest by the Continental Congress in 1787.

In this same year, the members of the Constitutional Convention faced the question of slavery as they worked at their task to form a better and more perfect union. There were grave difficulties involved and compromises were necessary. The three following provisions concerning the Negro question (2) were embodied in the Constitution of the United States by the founding fathers:

Article 1, Section II: Rcpresentatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifth of all other persons.

Article 1, Section IX: The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

Article IV, Section II: No persons held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

The first section which was the result of a compromise and without which the Constitution would not have been ratified by the required number of states settled the question as to how the Negroes, not being citizens, were to be counted in determining the representation of the states in the House of Representatives of the Congress and in the Electoral College. The next section allowed the continuance of the slave trade for -the next twenty years, giving Congress the power to prohibit -such traffic in 1808. The last section enabling slave-holders to reclaim slaves which escaped into another state was later to form the basis for the widely-discussed "Fugitive Slave Law." Thus, in a spirit of compromise and even optimism, the framers of the Constitution disposed of the difficult problem of slavery and established the status of the Negro under the terms of the Constitution of the United States.

Regardless of the Constitutional provisions, problems caused by the presence of the African slaves continued to confront this Nation. Neither all the pressing problems connected with the organization and administration of the new government nor the War of 1812 succeeded in submerging the question of slavery. It again became acute and threatened our national existence in 1820. In that year Missouri, with a constitution providing for slavery, applied for admission into the Union. Until this time, the states had been admitted in balanced order, one in the South permitting slavery balancing with one in the North forbidding slavery. When Missouri sought to become a slave state, the fight to restrict slavery which had been begun with the adoption of the Northwestern Ordinance by the Continental Congress in 1787 was resumed with added vigor. The result was the famous Missouri Compromise of 1820 establishing the line of latitude thirty-six-thirty, north of which no state would be admitted to the Union permitting slavery within its borders.

Just as the framers of the Constitution failed permanently to settle the question of slavery, so the Missouri Compromise likewise failed. (3) As the years passed, the South felt the need for new slave territory; the North demanded that there be no extension of slavery. The Southern states proclaimed their right to maintain slavery within their borders; Northern sentiment for the abolition of slavery grew stronger and stronger. With the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854, the efforts of the North to restrict slavery gave way to the demand that it be abolished completely throughout the Nation. The pulpits sounded forth their condemnation of the institution of slavery; the printing press carried the pleas of William Lloyd Garrison far and wide; Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin with its egregious exaggerations of Southern plantation life found a ready and eager audience. The Nation swayed beneath the intensity of the abolition movement, and again our national existence was in imminent danger.

The South fought back desperately to defend her position. Southern orators pleaded. Did not each state have the right under the Constitution to maintain slavery if the people of that state so desired? The arguments of Southern statesmen echoed in the halls of Congress, but they fell on deaf ears. It was fundamentally a question of states' rights and the interpretation of the Constitution, but the time for reason and compromise had passed. The abolition flame reached the point of white heat; the Nullification Act was passed; the South-the fighting South-could stand no more. Secession -Fort Sumter-The War Between the States was on!

It is not necessary for us to review the history of the tragic and fateful years of the War Between the States. The men who wore the gray and the blue wrote that history in blood upon the green valleys and hills of the Southland that were turned into battlefields. While the battle raged, President Abraham Lincoln sat at his White House desk in the Nation's Capital, struggling beneath his duties to preserve the Union and trying to work out a solution to the Negro problem.

Long before he became President of the United States, Lincoln had been a student of the race question. The issue was discussed at length in the famous debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, and the following quotations from Lincoln's speeches show his position:

When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me that whatever of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals. My own feelings will not admit of this and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of whites will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole question if indeed it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted, but for their tardiness in this I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South. (From Lincoln's speech at Peoria, Illinois, October 16, 1854.)

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people at the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races. . . Now I protest against the counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either....

A SEPARATION OF THE RACES IS THE ONLY PERFECT PREVENTIVE OF AMALGAMATION; But as an immediate separation is impossible the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together....

Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by colonization; and no political party, as such, is now doing anything directly for colonization. Party operations at present only favor or retard colonization incidentally. The enterprise is a difficult one; but 'where there is a will there is a way,' and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest.

LET US BE BROUGHT TO BELIEVE IT IS MORALLY RIGHT, AND AT THE SAME TIME FAVORABLE TO, OR AT LEAST NOT AGAINST, OUR INTERESTS TO TRANSFER THE AFRICAN TO HIS NATIVE CLIME, AND WE SHALL FIND A WAY TO DO IT, HOWEVER GREAT THE TASK MAY BE. The children of Israel, to such numbers as to include four hundred thousand fighting men, went out of Egyptian bondage in a body. (From Lincoln's speech at Springfield, Illinois, June 26, 1857.)


The last quotation from Lincoln's speech at Charleston should be especially emphasized because those words were frequently repeated with only slight variations in the wording in Lincoln's speeches during the next several years. Such was the seasoned opinion of the man who became the "Great Emancipator" of the Negro race; and it should not be forgotten that Lincoln, when a member of the Illinois Legislature, voted to exclude Negroes from that State.

In his first annual message to Congress in December, 1861, President Lincoln recommended that steps be taken for the colonization of the Negroes "at some place or places in a climate congenial to them." On August 24, 1862, in a speech to a committee of Negro men at the White House, he made the following statements:

You and I are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side....

We look to our condition. Owing to the existence of the two races on this continent, I need not recount to you the effects upon white men growing out of the institution of slavery.

I believe in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present condition-the country engaged in war-our white men cutting one another's throats-none knowing how far it will extend-and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of slavery, and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated ....

The practical thing I want to ascertain is, whether I can get a number of able-bodied men, with their wives and children, who are willing to go when I present evidence of encouragement and protection. Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, and able to 'cut their own fodder,' so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could find twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and children,-good things in the family relation, I think- I could make a successful commencement....

A few weeks after the above speech was made on September 24, 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. His views as to the solution of the Negro problem were again embodied in this document.
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and commander-in-chief of the army and navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the states and the people thereof, in which states that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave states, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which states may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent with their consent upon this continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the governments existing there, will be continued.

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.... (4)

In his second message to Congress, Lincoln proposed an amendment to the Constitution which would provide for the colonization of the Negroes in some place outside the United States. He was working on his plan for gradual colonization when the War Between the States was brought to a close. (5) He was also devoting all his great ability which was never disputed even by his political enemies to a generous program of reconstruction for the conquered South. But fate intervened and the wartime President fell before the assassin's bullet.

With Lincoln's death on April 14, 1865, his plans for rebuilding the South and reuniting the Nation as well as his plans for solving the Negro problem were completely cast aside and forgotten. While a Nation mourned for her fallen leader, a group of powerful politicians, led by Thaddeus Stevens, planned to take over the reins of government and force Negro domination upon the South. They were destined to write the blackest pages in American history.

While the hallowed chamber of the United States Senate echoed the speeches of Stevens and Charles Sumner, while the radicals laid their plans to give the ballot to the Negro and to pass the Civil Rights Laws to proclaim and enforce social equality, the South lay prostrate in humiliation and defeat. The fighting South had indeed fought to exhaustion. Leaving thousands of their comrades buried on the battlefields, the men in the worn uniforms of gray slowly made their way across the desolate and destitute countrysides and the wreckage of the towns and cities to their homes which were often found to be only a heap of ashes. General Sherman had done his job well. The land was lying idle, the houses and barns destroyed, and the fences down, the cattle, horses and mules had been driven away. It seems that nothing had escaped destruction. Businesses were gone; banks were closed; poverty was universal. And the white Southerner amid the wreckage and ruins was surrounded by the newly-freed Negroes who seemed to be the only concern of those directing the policy of the Federal government on the banks of the Potomac.

Under military rule, the South was securely bound by the chains of the conqueror. Federal soldiers were everywhere. Northern agitators flocked to the Southern states to excite and inflame the mobs of Negroes and turn them against their former masters. Carpetbaggers, scalawags, corrupt politicians, dishonorable military commanders infested the land. There seemed to be only one more possibility of adding insult upon injury, and this the negrophiles in Washington did. Negro troops wearing the uniform of the United States Army and armed with bayonets were stationed throughout the South to maintain order over a people already conquered, poverty-stricken, and possessing no arms!

This, then, was the combination against the peace of a fallen people-the soldiers inciting the blacks against their former masters, the Bureau agents preaching political and social equality, the white scum of the North fraternizing with the blacks in their shacks, and the thieves of the Treasury stealing cotton under the protection of Federal bayonets. And in the North, demagogic politicians and fanatics were demanding immediate negro suffrage and clamoring for the blood of Southern leaders. (6)
Impoverished and disfranchised, the white Southerners began their struggle to take back their state governments from those who had usurped them. They could expect no help from the politicians in Washington whose racial madness knew no bounds. This power-crazed group had succeeded in forcing the passage of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Federal Constitution.

The thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery was quickly ratified and received overwhelming support, but the fourteenth amendment bestowing citizenship upon the Negroes and the fifteenth amendment giving them the right to vote were the products of fraud and coercion. When the proponents of the fourteenth amendment could not otherwise obtain ratification from the necessary three-fourths of the states, legislatures were installed in ten of the Southern states under military rule. And the approval of six of these states given through these legislatures composed largely of Negroes and under military coercion was counted to secure the ratification of the required number of states. Because of the fraudulent methods used by the proponents of the fourteenth amendment to secure its approval, Secretary of State Seward felt compelled to express his doubts as to the validity of the amendment when it was incorporated into the Federal Constitution.

The Negro suffrage politicians were confronted with another difficult task when they began their efforts to secure the ratification of the fifteenth amendment. In every state throughout the North where the question of Negro suffrage had been submitted to the people, it had been rejected except in Iowa and Minnesota. (7)

In December, 1865, when the question of the establishment of Negro suffrage in the District of Columbia was submitted to the voters there, the vote stood, in Georgetown, 1 vote for and 812 against the measure, and in Washington, 35 votes for and 6,521 votes against the measure.

In September, 1865, the question was submitted to the voters of the Territory of Colorado. The vote stood 476 for and 4,912 against it.

In June, 1866, the people of Nebraska adopted a constitution which limited suffrage to the whites. In October, 1867, the proposition for Negro suffrage in Ohio was voted down by over 50,000 majority.

In 1868, in Missouri, the measure was voted down by 18,000 majority.

In Michigan, in 1868, when the Republican Party carried by nearly 32,000 majority, the question of Negro suffrage was voted down by nearly 39,000 majority.

In 1869, the people of New York defeated the proposed measure by over 32,000 majority, and the Legislature of that State rescinded a former act of a previous Legislature, which had, by a majority of two, ratified the Fifteenth Amendment.

On the 4th of March, 1869, in Indiana, seventeen Senators and thirty-six Representatives resigned from the Legislature to break a quorum and prevent the ratification of the amendment. Every one of these, with a single exception, was subsequently re-elected by the people.

Meantime, under the 'Reconstruction Acts,' the amendment was forced on the South. Seven of the Southern States ratified it by the Negro vote, the whites being generally disfranchised, while in three of them-Virginia, Mississippi and Texas-ratification was assented to as a condition of readmission to the Union. (8)

Thus, it is apparent that the faction which controlled Congress succeeded in forcing the adoption of the fifteenth amendment in direct opposition to the will of the majority of the people. The state legislatures throughout the North were made to feel the mighty pressure of the party whip. The dominant group in Congress was successful in having a bill passed to establish Negro suffrage in the District of Columbia and in all of the territories. Following this, Negro suffrage was forced upon the South, and it was only a matter of a few months until the fifteenth amendment was embodied into the Constitution of the United States.

Using methods never before nor after resorted to by men in high office, Stevens (9) and Sumner seemed to triumph in Washington. They had placed the ballot in the hands of the Negroes and left the great majority of the white population in "This assumption that she was Stevens's mistress was not confined, however, to undertone gossip, which is never impressive. It was current in the press, and the South voteless. The blacks and the unscrupulous politicians from the North with some dishonorable ones from the South maintained their sway over state and local governments throughout Dixie, but the white Southerners knew that they would find a way to redeem their power. The years were long and the road was difficult. There were heartaches and bloodshed, but one by one the Southern states threw off the yoke of Negro rule and domination.

The events which took place as Mississippi "broke her chains" were typical of those which occurred throughout the Southland. To refresh the memory of some and to help others to understand why the Southerner today instantly and emphatically cries "never again" at the slightest mention of Negroes in state politics, the following historical analysis by Claude Bowers of events in Mississippi-"dramatic as any in American history"-is related (10):

The events in Louisiana had their reactions in Mississippi, and immediately after sending his notorious message on bandits, Sheridan sent soldiers to Vicksburg to maintain the corrupt negro and carpetbag city government.

To grasp the significance of the Vicksburg drama we must have the background of the wreckage wrought by the alien rule of Governor Adelbert Ames. Whatever may have been the intent of this deadly dull army office, he lacked the courage or capacity to cope with the criminals around him. His own election had drawn the color line; the blacks were more powerful than ever, and more exacting with the carpetbaggers. They controlled the Legislature, one of the most grotesque bodies that ever assembled. A mulatto was speaker of the House, a darker man was Lieutenant Governor, the negro Bruce had been sent to the Senate, a corrupt quadroon was in charge or the public schools, a black, more fool than knave, was Commissioner of Immigration. The Lieutenant-Governor was a merry soul who played high jinks with Ames when he sought his native North for the hot season, dismissing Ames's officials and appointing others, amusing himself with the personnel of the judiciary, pardoning his friends out of the penitentiary-six being pardoned before their trials. He could be persuaded to accept a monetary consideration for these favors.

The people were breaking under the confiscatory taxes necessary to maintain their rulers in the style to which they had been accustomed, and Ames's appeals for retrenchment fell on ears of stone. He was arrogant, insolent, tyrannical toward the courts, naming incompetents to the bench and presuming to dictate their decisions.

Nowhere was the government such a farce as in Vicksburg, ruled by incompetents and corruptionists levying destructive taxes, and darker days loomed with the Republican nominations for the city election. Scarcely a member of the board of supervisors could read or write, and the whites, paying ninety-nine percent of the taxes, had only three officers of their color in the county. But the nominees for the election were even worse. For mayor, a degraded white; for the eight aldermanic positions, seven negroes; for the eight school trustees, six blacks.

The negroes were jubilant, increasingly threatening. Tramp, tramp, marched the black militia through the streets, muskets loaded, bayonets fixed. Night after night they drilled with pickets posted to search pedestrians for arms and demand their business abroad. Talk there was of a slaughter of the whites in Vicksburg on election day, too. The excitement of negroes, drunk with power, spread through the county, where they were organizing to march on the city when called. The chancery clerk, a turbulent negro, was challenging fate with his speeches: 'There are thousands of Southern women . . . who would marry negroes today were they not afraid,' he was saying, '. . . for the white women now see that the negro is the coming man, that they have control of the State and city governments.' When the whites accepted the issue and nominated a strong ticket, the negro Lieutenant Governor asked Grant for troops, and Ames hurried back from his home in the North to repeat the request. 'No harm can result for troops are in many of our cities,' he wrote. Belknap telegraphed Grant's refusal and the Democrats won a sweeping victory.

Encouraged with the triumph, they turned at once to the redemption of the county. With enormous taxes, mounting debts, and brazen stealing, the chancery clerk was refusing citizens access to his books; court clerks were blithesomely putting out fraudulent witness certificates and county warrants; and, with tax-collecting time at hand, it was found that the bond of Peter Crosby, sheriff and tax collector, was defective. When reluctantly ordered by the board, yielding to public pressure, to file a sufficient bond, he announced he would ignore the order. Meanwhile, the grand jury had found indictments against two officials, and that day the taxpayers acted. Ten taxpayers, led by a captain in the Union Army, were instructed, in mass meeting, to call on the officials at the court-house and demand their resignations.

The committee made its demands, met jeering refusals, and reported back; and the meeting resolved to assemble at the court-house at noon and demand resignations. Marching in orderly procession, the taxpayers found the court-house deserted by all save Crosby, who resigned in writing. The Union soldier was put in temporary charge, guards were stationed about the jail, and the citizens dispersed until the morrow.

Meanwhile, Crosby had hastened to Jackson to be advised by Ames to summon a posse comitatus and demand his office; if this proved futile, Ames would send the militia to the scene. It was charged that Ames's Attorney-General had advised the summoning of the negroes of the county to Crosby's aid. Accompanied by Ames's Adjutant-General, and an officer of Ames's staff, Crosby hurried home, and soon runners, bearing handbills urging the negroes to organize and arm and march on Vicksburg on Monday, were rushing over the county. On Sunday, negro ministers urged compliance from their pulpits. Ames, in the meantime, issued his proclamation denouncing the taxpayers as 'riotous and disorderly persons' and flashed it over the country for political effect.

The news of the arming of the negroes to march upon the town reached Vicksburg on Sunday afternoon. Ames, ignoring the white militia, officered by a former Union soldier, had instructed the negro militia to cooperate with Crosby. Sleepless was that Sunday night, and by three o'clock Monday morning citizen soldiers had assembled to turn back the threatened inundation. The people were ordered to observe the laws and hold themselves in readiness.

At davbreat the watchman in the court-house tower saw a large black army moving on the town and sounded the alarm. The streets were filled with men, women and children when a hundred mounted men rode out to meet the invaders. Halting his men, the commander rode forward to urge the negroes to turn back. When time was asked to consult Crosby, the request was granted. Meanwhile, not a move was made, not a shot fired. But the lust for battle in the negroes was too strong-they 'had come to fight.' A volley followed, a few fell dead, the rest fled.

From the south, another band was marching on the town, and riding forth to meet them, the whites routed them easily, with some fatalities.

From down the Jackson road marched a larger crowd of negroes,who were met at the Pemberton Monument and scattered with a loss of twenty-five lives.

Thus the whites, of both political parties, including a hundred former Federal soldiers, prevailed. This was revolutionary, it was force, but it was necessary with the courts in possession of the tyrants and with no recourse from ruin in the law.

Throughout the crisis the people maintained their poise and common-sense. The representatives of Ames agreed with citizens that Crosby should resign and be given a safe-conduct from the town, and citizens battled to protect him. There was no feeling against the blacks. 'Grossly and criminally deceived,' was the verdict upon them by the Vicklburg Times. The negroes scattered to their homes, and absolute quiet was instantly restored. The Northern press justified the rising, and quoted Colonel Gordon Adams, Republican: 'My God ! the whites have borne and borne until forbearance ceased to be a virtue and almost became a crime.'

At his wits' end now, Ames called the Legislature to his aid hoping for authorization to raise a military force to turn against Vicksburg, but that body refused the responsibility and merely petitioned Grant for troops. The President issued his proclamation calling on the people, quietly going about their business, to 'disperse.' A successor to Crosby had been elected and installed.

And just then Sheridan's 'banditti' telegram flashed over the wires. (11)

And just then Sheridan telegraphed Ames that soldiers were on their way to Vicksburg.

Crosby and the others were restored, and one of these, not being one of the 'banditti,' was soon in jail for the commission of various crimes.

Sheridan had blundered again-he had unified the whites and intensified their determination to take possession of their government. They would fight in the fall to carry the Legislature, elect members of Congress and a State Treasurer. They had been dormant since Dent's failure in 1869. Now they were awake.

The Mississippi revolution began when the taxpayers met in Jackson and planned taxpayers' leagues in every county, and issued their call to arms. An impressive memorial was issued comparing the tax levies with that of 1869. 'For the year 1871 it was four times as great. For 1872 it was eight and a half times as great. For the year 1873 it was twelve and a half times as great. For the year 1874 it was fourteen times as great.'

The situation had become desperate. At the tax-collectors' sales the month the taxpayers met; half a million acres and four-fifths of the town of Greenville had been offered for sale for taxes, because the people were striking against such waste.

The cream of Mississippi manhood assembled in State Convention in August, listened to a dynamic, moving speech from Lamar, conservative and constructive, and adopted a platform in conformity with the spirit of the speech. It was while five hundred of these substantial citizens were standing in the State House yard that the hatred of alien rule was dramatically disclosed. Ames emerged from the mansion, and, crossing to the executive offices, had to thread his way among them. Not a man spoke; not a nod of recognition was given.

That day General J. Z. George was made commander for the battle of the polls. Distinguished in the law, a genius in organization, cautious yet determined, courteous but uncompromising, tactful and courageous, he dedicated himself to the task. It was not a campaign he was to manage-it was a revolution. 'The contest is rather a revolution than a political campaign,' said the Aberdeen Examiner, 'it is the rebellion, if you see fit to apply that term, of a downtrodden people against an absolutism imposed by their own hirelings, and by the grace of God, we will cast it off.' The negroes, no longer amenable to the carpetbaggers, raised the color line themselves. The Northern adventurers were alarmed. Had they created a Frankenstein monster? The Republican Columbus Press complained bitterly of the disposition of the negroes to despoil the carpetbaggers.

Then Ames, authorized to organize a negro militia, appointed as brigadier-general, William Gray, a drunken and debauched negro senator and preacher, and the monstrousness of the act steeled the grim determination of the native whites. While floor leader of his party in the Senate, Gray was peculiarly loathsome, living in open adultery and preaching hatred of the whites. A dictator of his party, the carpetbaggers jumped when he cracked his whip- none quicker than Ames himself. When in a letter to Ames he threatened to slap his face, the utterly subservient Governor replied obsequiously with an expression of his esteem. Exhilarated by his triumph, Gray was soon proclaiming from the platform that Ames was going to send him all the arms necessary for the election and that he would win if he had to kill every white man, woman and child in the county, which was predominantly black.

Such was the spirit in which the negroes were being drilled and organized, and in lonely places they met at night to listen to harangues from white demagogues fanning racial hate, predicting reenslavement should the Democrats prevail, declaring that Grant wanted them to vote with the carpetbaggers. Here was a menace greater than the Mississippians had yet confronted, and the effect was instantaneous. If there were to be armed bodies of men, the whites, too, would arm; if intimidation was to be used, they, too, would use it; if force was to be employed they, too, would employ it; if the blacks under the inspiration of the carpetbaggers would march with arms, so, too, would the whites-and they would not yield. Soon Democratic clubs of a semi-military nature were formed in every county, with every ablebodied man and youth enlisting. That seething summer saw but little business done. Merchants abandoned their stores, lawyers their offices, planters their fields, and all gave themselves without stint or ceasing to the campaign. Under the fine organizing genius of George, a whole people was mobilized, prepared for every contingency, and the Democracy moved with banners and transparencies, amidst the firing of anvils and even of cannon. Barbecues by day, mammoth torchlight processions by night, intensified the will to victory.

A new psychology was employed in dealing with the negroes, against whom, in the mass, there was no feeling. The carpetbaggers held the government because of the blacks' support; this support was due to a loss of respect for the native whites; this loss had come from too much patience, which the simple freedmen had interpreted as fear-so ran the new psychology. The negroes' childlike faith in the carpetbagger must be destroyed. Their meetings must be invaded by the native whites facing the adventurers with denunciations as cowards and corruptionists imposing on the blacks. The experiment soon justified itself. Thus there was a singular lack of the old-time arrogance and confidence in the Republican State Convention that fall. Alarmed, a little awed, by the rising of the whole people, it sent a committee to Grant with a plea for troops.

Never before since the days of Prentiss such meetings in Mississippi. Great masses moving from place to place with dash, daring, determination. Old men rising with trembling voices to pledge life, fortune and sacred honor to the winning of the fight. Youths turning politicians, grandsires urging them to battle for constitutional liberty. 'What a marvelous uprising!' said one man to another. 'Uprising? It is no uprising; it is an insurrection.' Immense crowds moving in orderly procession with bands and banners, pausing on every hilltop to fire cannon. Prancing cavalry on the highways, all homes thrown open for the entertainment of visiting clubs, a people impoverishing themselves by hospitality. Women joyously cooking for multitudes everywhere. The brilliant Lamar, literally inspired, rushing from meeting to meeting, arousing the wildest enthusiasm, without striking a demagogic note. Here the eloquent Gordon of Georgia thundering, there the able Barksdale, of the Jackson Clarion, and, most dramatic of all, Cassius M. Clay, the old Kentucky Abolitionist, penetrating the black belt and calling on the negroes to stand by their own and reject the carpetbagger. These enormous assemblies vibrate with emotion, these barbecues and basket meetings, these long processions of marching men with banners and music, this booming of cannon, put the fear of the Lord into the hearts of the enemy. There was just one hope-if rioting should begin and Grant should send troops. No one understood the danger more than the Democrats.

With every one armed, even to many of the women, the iron discipline of George maintained order. Ames knew that his only hope was in bloody conflicts that would invite the intervention of Grant. When nothing happened, Ames hastened the organization of a negro militia -which was a bitter challenge. When the mere announcement of his purpose failed to incite the whites to slaughter, he sent a company of negro militia upon a march, without objective or occasion, through Hinds County. Here was a clear invitation to attack. But such was the rigid discipline of George that nothing happened.

Even so there were some armed conflicts that served the purpose of politics. In Yazoo City the carpetbag leader, a degenerate ex-Union soldier living with a mulatto woman, advertised a meeting where he would talk on the color line and welcome a reply. When a negro rose to answer, and was howled down, the whites demanded that he be permitted to reply. The crowd boiled with excitement, pistols were drawn, some shots fired, one man fell, and the carpetbag leader fled to Jackson for protection.

A few days later, a more serious conflict came at Clinton, where a Democratic judge was accorded the right to speak at a negro meeting. A quarrel of whites and blacks in the rear of the crowd-blows-shots -a general firing- a mad stampede. Half a dozen whites ran toward the town, a hundred negroes in hot pursuit. One was overtaken, killed, mutilated, stripped; another was shot farther on; a non-combatant white whose house was passed was murdered by the frenzied negroes in the presence of wife and children. Most of the whites were wounded, four negroes killed. Fearful of the reaction, the negroes hurriedly hitched up their mules and lashed them to the military post at Jackson. The town was put under martial law, a former Union soldier in command, and patrols were organized and picketed the roads. Whites of both parties speedily organized two military companies for defense- but nothing happened.

Again the problem was beyond the solution of Ames's dull brain. His impulse was to put the Yazoo carpetbagger at the head of negro troops and send him back. Very well, said the Jacklon Clarion, that would justify any course the citizens of the town might adopt. Ames abandoned the idea. Indeed, Ames's days were full of trouble, his nights of disturbing dreams. White men guarded the State House to prevent forcibly the distribution of arms and ammunition to the negro militia, and Ames was warned that the arming of the negroes would be the signal for his death. All he could do was to phrase a proclamation for the inflaming of the North and call on Grant for troops. George protested vigorously to Edwards Pierrepont, the Attorney-General and a decent man, and Ames was told he had the power to summon the Legislature. Until then, Grant refused to move.

That was the last straw. Utterly helpless, deserted by Washington, Ames accepted the request of George for a conference. The leaders sat down in the parlors of the Executive Mansion and agreed upon a peace pact. Ames was to dismiss the militia, turn the arms over to the Federal troops, and send no armed men to Yazoo City. George pledged himself to maintain peace and order-and kept the faith.

A peaceful election, a Democratic landslide. Every candidate for Congress was elected, the Legislature carried, Lamar sent to the Senate he was to adorn. The day before the election, George sent telegrams everywhere demanding the maintenance of peace at all hazards. That many negroes were intimidated by the determination of the whites, there can be no doubt; and not a few actually voted with the Democrats. Senator Revels, the negro, wrote Grant. 'A great portion of them have learned that they were being used as mere tools,' he wrote, 'and determined, by casting their ballots against these unprincipled adventurers, to overthrow them.' As Grant sat pondering the explanation of Revels, he received a lengthy letter from the Republican Attorney-General of Mississippi putting the blame directly upon Ames.

Ames's reign was drawing to an ignominious close.

It was that summer that Charles Nordhoff, traveling in Mississippi, wrote of Ames, that 'his personal adherents are among the worst public thieves.... He has corrupted the courts, has protected criminals, and has played even with the lives of the blacks in a manner that, if this fall a good Legislature should be elected, ought to procure his impeachment and removal.'

The result of the election announced, the Jackson Clarion demanded Ames's impeachment. The fact that a negro Lieutenant Governor would succeed was his one protection; but this man was notoriously corrupt and could be impeached on any one of a dozen charges. He was impeached for bribery. On Washington's Birthday, articles of impeachment were drawn against Ames. It was not unexpected. The day the articles were presented, Ben Butler, whose daughter had married Ames, sat in the House talking with Beck of Kentucky. The wily lawyer, canvassing the possibilities of conviction, expressed the utmost confidence, but he was clearly disturbed. He assured Beck that if the impeachment proceedings were dropped, Ames would immediately resign. That day Beck told Lamar of the conversation and he sent the word to Mississippi. Thus negotiations were opened with the managers and an agreement reached. The proceedings were dropped; Ames resigned; and the reign of the Mississippi carpetbaggers was over. Leaving an odorous and odious memory behind, Ames hurried back to his home in Minnesota. Time was to soften the hatred into a feeling of pity for a weakling; and he was to live to an extreme old age, to become the golf partner of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., in Florida.

Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and now Mississippi, had broken their chains and resumed their sovereignty.

The Constitution of Mississippi, adopted in 1890, contained two important sections on franchise. Section 241 provided that every qualified elector must have paid all taxes which had been legally required of him for the two preceding years (12) and that a qualified elector must have resided in the state two years and in the election district one year prior to the election. Section 244 provided that every qualified elector must be able to read any section of the state Constitution or understand same when read to him or give a reasonable interpretation thereof. The Mississippi Constitution of 1890 with subsequent statutes enacted thereunder had the effect of eliminating the Negro as a factor in county and state politics. (13) The other Southern states found similar methods to accomplish the same results, and by the turn of the century White supremacy had been restored throughout the Southland. It had been a long time since General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox on April 9, I865, and the years were filled with bitter memories, but at last the South had regained her power.

When the slaves were freed, a new pattern of race relations was necessary, and the Southern people put into operation the policy of racial segregation. Separate facilities and separate accommodations were provided for the white people and the Negroes, and the color line was drawn in every walk of life below the Mason and Dixon Line. Segregation of the races was established by custom, re-enforced by various state statutes, and this policy has remained through the years as a definite and fixed part of the Southern way of life.

The people of the South have continuously faced countless problems brought about by the presence of millions of Negroes within their midst. There have been economic and social problems, problems of health and education, and the white South has coped with these questions to the best of her ability. Any student who will approach the subject with fairness and justice will certainly come to the conclusion that the Negro in the South has made more progress under the guiding hand of the White Southerner than the black race has made anywhere else in the world in a similar period of time.

The following tables (14) give an indication of the Negro problem in numbers:

Alabama 983,290
Colorado 12,176
Connecticut 32,992
Delaware 35,876
District of Columbia187,266
Florida 514,198
Georgia 1,084,927
Idaho 595
Illinois 387,446
Indiana 121,916
Iowa 16,694
Kansas 65,138
Kentucky 214,031
Louisiana 849,303
Maine 1,304
Maryland 301,931
Massachusetts 55,391
Michigan 208,345
Minnesota 9,928
Mississippi 1,074,578
Montana 1,120
Nebraska 14,171
Nevada 664
New Hampshire 414
New Jersey 926,973
New Mexico 4,672
New York 571,221
North Carolina 981,298
North Dakota 201
Oklahoma 168,849
Rhode Island 11,024
South Carolina 814,164
South Dakota 474
Tennessee 508,736
Texas 924,391
Utah 1,235
Vermont 384
Virginia 661,449
Washington 7,424
West Virginia 117,754
Wisconsin 12,158
Wyoming 956

Georgia 1,084,927
Mississippi 1,074,578
Alabama 983,290
North Carolina 981,298
Texas 924,391
Louisiana 849,303
South Carolina 814,164
Virginia 661,449
Florida 514,198
Tennessee 508,736
Arkansas 482,578
Total 8,878,911

It should be noted that although three-fourths of the Nation's 12,865,518 Negroes still live in the South, the number in other sections has been increasing steadily in recent years. The great majority of the Negroes in the North are concentrated in segregated areas in the large cities, and there the "black belts" and slum sections present the Negro problem in a form unparalleled in the entire Southland.

It has generally been contended that the North has offered the Negro more freedom and greater opportunity than the South. Certainly that section has had more wealth with which to provide for education, and the Negro vote along the Eastern seaboard and in the middle West has increased in size until today this vote amounts to something of a balance of power between the white Democrats and white Republicans in the balance-of-power states.

It is unnecessary for us to discuss the different attitudes toward the Negro in various sections of the Nation. Whether the dominant white group is concerned chiefly with racial integrity or with the economic, social. cultural. or political aspect of the question. the race problem is universally a source of friction. And this much is certain. At no time in the history of this Nation in any section of the country has the Negro race been accorded full and absolute equality. The South has never pretended to offer complete political and social equality to the black race, and other sections have endorsed full equality in words only-with rare exceptions, they do not "practice what they preach." (15)

Equality means just what the word implies, and nothing less than full equality can, in reality, fulfill the meaning of the word. To be given equality, Negroes would have to be given business, industrial, political, social, and matrimonial equality with the whites. This has never been granted to the Negro race in the United States except on the statute books, and there is no indication that the great mass of the American people are willing to respond to the demands of the present-day leaders of the black race by granting this equality now. However, this situation certainly serves to make it both timely and urgent that a solution to the race question must be found and adopted.

In our Nation's history, this Negro problem, like the ships which brought the African slaves, has indeed been rigged with curses dark. Attitudes may still differ and proposed solutions may vary, but today in all sections public opinion is beginning to realize that the problems presented by the colored tenth of our population are national in scope. The Negro question may today, in a restricted sense, belong primarily to the South, but it is indeed a matter which only the Nation as a whole can adequately and permanently solve.

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  1. This figure and those previously quoted in this chapter as to the number of slaves in the colonies were taken from: Pickett, William P., The Negro Problem: Abraham Lincoln's Solution: (New York and London: Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press. 1909), Ch. II.
  2. It will be noted that the word "Negro" and the word "slavery" do not appear in the Constitution.
  3. "From the time the slaves were first brought into the country, up to and to include the time when they were set free as a result of the Civil War, they were the cause of the framing and enforcing of no end of laws; of starting all sorts of legislation; of the formation of parties for and against the trade- of exciting the Church to action, of strife of many kinds and outbreaks of passion and speech. It is not the intention of the present work to pass into the history of this part of the subject. It is the darkest and the dirtiest page in American history, and I must leave it to those who care to follow it along other lines. Indeed, enough would have been said in this chapter had I merely stated the fact that the North American slave trade practically began when the Dutch brought twenty of them to Virginia in 1619, and that upwards of four hundred thousand more of these benighted, ignorant, semisimian, superstitious and treacherous cannibals were, up to 1862, landed upon our shores. The entire traffic was horrid in the extreme, and the injury it has done and is still powerfully doing those of Anglo-Saxon descent in these United States of America is immeasurable." Shufeldt, R. W., America's Greatest Problem: The Negro (Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company, l915). p. 76.
  4. First three paragraphs frown the Proclamation issued by Prtsident Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, attested by William H. Seward, Secretary of State (U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. 12, 36th Congress, p. 1267).
  5. An analysis of Lincoln's attitude toward the Negro throughout his lifetime with quotations from his speeches and . survey of his efforts for colonization may be found in: Pickett, William P., The Negro Problem: Abraham Lincoln's Solution, p. 306.
  6. Bowers, Claude, The Tragic Era (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, Houghton Mifflin Company 1929), p. 61.
  7. "There were but few Negroes in Minnesota (246 adults, according to the Census of 1870), while the State of Iowa had 1,542 Negroes as compared to 289,162 whites. Yet in these states Negro suffrage was carried by narrow margins." Cox, Earnest, White America, p. 242. Minnesota and Iowa likewise ratified the fifteenth amendment by narrow margins. It took three votes and all the pressure that the Republican party could bring to bear to secure ratification in Minnesota.
  8. Cox, Earnest, White America, p. 240. Mr. Cox has quoted the above passage from The Negro: The Southerner's Problem by Thomas Nelson Page.
  9. "Because of Stevens' obsession on negro rights to absolute equality, and his inveterate hatred of the Southern whites, his relation for many years to Lydia Smith, a mulatto, and until his death his housekeeper, cannot be ignored. It was the fashion of his enemies in his time openly to charge that there was an intimacy between them much more personal than that of employer and employee . . . When Stevens went to Washington, she accompanied him there. Wherever he was, there she was also . . . the relationship of the statesman and the mulatto 'created some scandal' in Washington. In no instance was the publisher rebuked or threatened with a libel suit... the 'Intelligencer' replied editorially: 'Nobody doubts that Thaddeus Stevens has always been in favor of negro equality, and here, where his domestic arrangements are so well known, his practical recognition of his pet theory is perfectly well understood... There are few men who have given to the world such open and notorious evidence of a belief in negro equality as Thaddeus Stevens. A personage, not of his race, a female of dusky hue, daily walks the streets of Lancaster when Mr. Stevens is at home. She has presided over his house for years. Even by his own party friends, she is constantly spoken of as Mrs. Stevens, though we fancy that no rite of Mother Church ever gave her a right to it. It is natural for men to desire to sleep their last with those they loved in life. If Thaddeus Stevens insists on being buried side by side with the woman he is supposed to have taken to his bosom, it is entirely a matter of taste ....' This was published in the leading paper of the small city in which Mr. Stevens lived and at a time when he was in town. There was no demand for a retraction, no suit for libel. The editorial was afterwards copied in papers throughout the country. Lydia Smith continued to live with him in the role of housekeeper and was to stand weeping at his bedside when he died, and to be a beneficiary of his will. These are the facts, and from these the reader must draw his own conclusions." Bowers, Claude, The Tragic Era, p. 80.
  10. Bowers, Claude, The Tragic Era, p. 448.)
  11. This was the infamous message in which Sheridan offered his plan to Grant to declare the most substantial people of Louisiana and Mississippi to be bandits, to be dealt with by the military. If Grant would proclaim the protesting people "banditti," Sheridan said, ' no further action need be taken except that which would devolve upon me."
  12. This section was amended in 1935, and qualified electors in Mississippi are no longer required to pay all real and personal taxes. Section 241, as amended provides that all poll taxes for the two preceding years must have been paid by the elector.
  13. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the validity of the Constitution of Mississippi in the case of Williams v. Mississippi, 73 Miss. 82O, 19 So.826, 170 U.S. 213, 18 Sup. Ct. 583, 42 L. ed. 1012 (1898).
  14. These figures have been taken from statistics compiled by the United States Bureau of the Census.
  15. In substantiation of this statement of fact, read A Negro's Faith in America by Spencer Logan (colored), who was awarded the Macmillan $2500 Centenary Award for writing this book.