The Journal of Negro History, Volume 7, 1922
Author: Various
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The Republican—Springfield, Mass.—Dec. 6, 1902.

The Milledgeville (Ga.) News of November tells the following interesting story of one of the young colored men connected with Booker T. Washington's school at Tuskegee, in regard to the work of which Mr. Washington is to speak in the high school hall in this city the 10th:—

A case has come to the News which deserves more than a mere passing mention. The story deals with the prettiest case of loyal Negro's devotion and gratitude to his white benefactors that we ever knew of. When we refer to the incident as a story we mean that there is in it a good subject for a real story with a genuine hero. And every word of it is true; in fact, there is more truth in it than we feel at liberty to tell.

About 30 years ago Buck Edwards of this city picked up a very small and dark-colored boy and undertook, in his language, "to raise him and make something of him." Mr. Edwards clothed and fed the boy, and in a general way taught him many things. In return the boy was bright and quick, and rendered such return as a boy of his years could. His name was Garner, and in time he came to be known as Garner Edwards, which name I think he yet clings to.

In the course of human events, Mr. Edwards passed from the stage of life and went to reap the reward of those who rescue the perishing and support the orphans. After his death, Mr. Edward's sisters, Misses Fanny and Laura, continued to care for the boy, and raised him to manhood. Garner was proud of his family, "and was as faithful as a watchdog, honest at all times, and a great protection to the good ladies who were befriending him, and who were now also alone in the world without parents or brothers. When Garner grew into manhood he did not forsake the home that had sheltered him, but insisted that it was his home—the only home he knew—and that it was his duty and pleasure to aid in supporting it; and he did come to bear a considerable part of its expenses.

Garner learned to be a brickmason, and finally moved to Alabama. He became acquainted with Booker Washington, the great Negro Educator, and the acquaintance ripened into friendship. Washington aided Garner in getting work that would enable him to take a course in the school at Tuskegee and at the same time be self-sustaining. Here as in all other of his positions, Garner made a good record and won many honors. In the meantime he did not forget the folks at home, and his remittances to them were always punctual. After finishing school he married, but continued in the employ of the school and Booker Washington and is there yet.

Sometime ago Miss Laura had a fall and sustained a painful injury which confined her to her room. As soon as Garner heard of it he telephoned to Warren Edwards here to provide the best medical attendance possible, and to supply every want at his expense. Following the telegraph came his wife, a trained nurse, "to take care of his white folks," and she is here yet performing every duty with a devotion seldom witnessed. Garner wanted to come too, very much, but he sacrificed the pleasure to keep his salary doing, "because they might need something."

Garner paid the taxes on the old home for years, but in the meantime he has saved enough to buy him another home in Alabama. No one of any color could have been more faithful and appreciative, and such gratitude and devotion as this humble Negro has shown for his white benefactors is a lovely thing to behold in this selfish day. It is said that he never once presumed anything or forgot his place and the respect due to those around him.[2]

The following letter and list accompanying it explain themselves:

BELOIT, WIS. Dec. 28, 1906. Dear Mr. Washington

In answer to your telegram for names of graduates and former students engaged in farming in Ala I send the following. I know there are others especially former students but I cannot now recall names. I will try to add to the list if possible.

I would say in regard to the Bowen sisters they have about 600 acres of land and look after the cultivation of it and some parts Cornelia and Katie care for directly actually raising a crop. McRae farmed last year at Louisville, Ala. the year just closing. Mr. W. A. Menafee has 200 acres of land at Alexander City. This he superintendents by two visits each year. Those marked with a cross farm on their own land. Edwards and Barnes own land at Snow Hill which they farm by the labor of others. Whether they and Mr. Chambliss come under the head of farmers according to your idea you can decide.

I leave January 3 for Denmark, S. C. You can write me there till further notice.

Yours (Signed) R. C. BEDFORD


*Cornelia Bowen '85 also teaches Waugh, Ala. J. T. Hollis '85 also teaches Armstrong, Ala. *Berry Bowen Campbell '84 also nurses Waugh, Ala. W. D. Floyd, teaches also Hawkinsville, Ala. Watt Buchanan 1889 farming wholly Montgomery, Ala. *Enoch Houser 1889 also teaches Antangville, Ala. William Chambliss 1890 Tuskegee, Ala. *Davis Henry 1890 Bells Landing, Ala. *Abner Jackson 1890 Newville, Ala. John W. Perry 1890 Myrtle, Ala. Abner Edwards 1890 Salem, Ala. *J. H. Michael 1890 Mt. Meigs, Ala. Robert B. Sherman 1890 Sprague Jc., Ala. *H. A. Barnes 1893 Snow Hill, Ala. *W. J. Edwards 1893 Snow Hill, Ala. *N. E. Henry 1893 China, Ala. Sophia Momen 1894 Notasulga, Ala. *C. A. Barrows 1894 Snow Hill, Ala. *S. F. Bizzell, has a store 1894 Hammac, Ala. E. W. McRae 1894 also teaches Louisville, Ala. *Moses Purifoy 1894 also teaches Evergreen, Ala. *J. C. Calloway 1896 also teaches Dawkins, Ala. Geo. W. Henderson, preacher 1899 Hannon, Ala. *Martin A. Menafee, Treasurer 1900 Alexander City, Ala. George K. Gordon, Dairying 1902 Mobile, Ala.


Katie Bowen also teaches Waugh, Ala. Benjamin Jones Waugh, Ala. Nelson Judkins Cecil, Ala. Gomine Judkins Cecil, Ala. Wm. Plato, also black smith Waugh, Ala. James Pinckett, carpenter Waugh, Ala. Ossie Williams Waugh, Ala. James Garrison Waugh, Ala. Nelson Garrison Waugh, Ala. John Mitchell also painter Waugh, Ala. *Wallace Campbell blacksmith Fitzpatrick, Ala. *R. T. Phillips blacksmith

This is a letter from a Negro farmer in the south:


Merryweather Co—near Stenson

Father belonged to Peter Martin near about 3 miles from where he was born—never did own any land. Went to work planting at 9—Worked 9 to 25—Had six or eight months schooling—Went one month in a year. School lasted about three months. Used Blue Back Speller got as high as Baker; Got as far as subtraction—Did not know anything outside of reading—Did not know what a newspaper was.

Father taught us to work corn, cotton sweet potatoes—He was a —— farmer—Had eleven children all worked—about 1880 they began to grow up and leave the farm—go on some other plantation—all married.

My older brother and all the younger children got more schooling Brother next younger—Payne's Institute Ga.—finished preaching in Americus Georgia. I had a cousin to come here—He wanted to buy —— here—He was interested in machine shop—He was down in Opelika. He met more boys on their way here, inquiring around to get down this far and get in.

I had saved up $200 in the bank. I was going to buy land. Went into day school a Preparatory about 800 or 900 students. The first work was in harness & shoe shop—Lewis Adams was in charge—I came there walking. I wanted to get away from the farm. Going around town I saw that everyone looked better than on the farm—I wanted to be something. Went in twice a year. We had plenty country churches. Rabbits, squirrels, ducks, possums—Geography, reading, Wentworth's Arithmetic. Miss Hunt and Miss Logan were one of my teachers. I read lots about Hiawatha. There was a number of little boys in the shop—they used to call me "Pop." They were ahead of me. Went to Blacksmith Shop. Worked about four months. Then went to work in Wheelwright. I learn a good deal about blacksmith and wood work. I find both these trade very handy.

I was here three weeks before I could eat in the dining room—had to go to restaurant—I was ashamed.

I was here only one term. Came in 1895—left in 96—Never came back until tonight. My mother sent for me—My mother was awful sick. My class was so low that I was ashamed to come back. I weighed 240 pounds. I went back home until 1898—on farm. I got to read my newspapers. I subscribed for the semi-monthly Atlanta Journal—I could read that.

I saw advertised and so much money paid out for wages—I thought I would go into business. I started grocery store and meat market—I had $2,500 made on farm. Father used to run us off the farm at 20 so I rented some land.

I was born 1870. I had been working for myself for years. 1898 I came to Birmingham. I failed in grocery business. "Credit." I made a lot of friends all over town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They had lots of money but they owed a lot. It take lot to feed them. Took three years and little over to get all of money.

Worked for Tenn. Coal and Iron Co. I leased some land from the Republic Iron and Steel Co. Leased 64 acres outside of Pratt City and went to trucking. I bought two mules for $40. It was a sale. They were old run down mules. They were blind—I worked there until I grew something. Farm about a mile from Pretts. Paid $1.50 per acre—now I pay $7. The company would not sell. I peddle vegetables to people here—ran two wagons—now I run three. Got new feed for horses. By fall had lots of stuff. Married in 1900—year after went to Birmingham. Second year I was able to buy two good mules—Had two good wagons made. Fall of second year had another which made three. Running three now. I employ six people—3 men and 3 women all the time. I drive the wholesale wagon.

I raise between $3,500 and $4,000 worth of stuff each year. Have since the second year. I sell about $2,000 a year above expenses. Production increases every year. I learned all I know about trucking since then. I have fifteen head of cattle. Eight milking cows. I raise three crops. That is the highest. Third crop is not worth so much. 90,000 cabbages this year. Got the plants from South Carolina. I bought a piece of land in Oklahoma for $3,000 outside of 22 miles from Muskogee. Land rents now for $300. I own a lot in Red Bird. Have 2 children. 14 & and 17. They go to school.

Won county prize year before last—196 bushels—this year received State prize 200 bushels. Plant eight and ten acres of cotton, 14 acres corn. Raise all my fodder. Three-fourths acres of new sugar cane, 150 gals. of syrup. I make butter $30 per hundred. $40 retail. I take two or three little farm journals and take the bulletin.

These letters addressed to R. E. Park and to Booker T. Washington give information about the estate of John McKee:

Estate of } JOHN MCKEE, } Deceased. }

HON. BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, Tuskegee Institute, Alabama,

Dear sir:

Your favor has been received and in reply thereto I would state that the State Appraiser fixed the valuation in Estate of the late Colonel John McKee as follows:

Gross valuation of Personal estate, $ 71,644.29 Gross valuation of real estate in Pennsylvania, 271,188.33 —————- Making together, $342,832.62 =========== Net valuation of the above, $212,831.86

Of this $46,500. is in unimproved real estate from which, at this time, no income is derived.

In addition to the above the Estate owns the following from which no income (or but a nominal income) is derived:—a lot in Gloucester County, New Jersey, valued at One hundred Dollars ($100),—a large area of land in Atlantic County, New Jersey, known as McKee City, assessed for taxation at twenty-thousand six hundred and fifty Dollars ($20,650) and a tract of coal and mineral lands in Kentucky, which Colonel McKee always considered would turn out to be valuable and would eventually realize a considerable sum. It is assessed for taxation for 1909 at Seventy thousand Dollars ($70,000)—

In brief the testamentary directions of Colonel McKee are to accumulate the rents and income of his estate until the decease of all his children and grand-children, meanwhile improving (under certain conditions) his unimproved real estate. Upon the death of all his children and grand-children, the estate is to be made use of in the establishment and maintenance of a college for the education of colored and white fatherless boys.

Very truly yours, JOSEPH P. MCCULLEN February 23, 1909.

MR. ROBERT E. PARK, Tuskegee Institute, Ala.,

Dear Sir:

Yours of the 13th inst., post marked the 16th inst., has been received. You state you would be glad to have any information I can give you about Mr. McKee, particularly in regard to the amount of the estate he left at the time of his death.

The value of Mr. McKee's estate has been variously estimated from $1,000,000 to $4,000,000. I am not able to give a more exact estimate, as I have not seen any inventory made by his executors. He owned more than 300 houses in this city, all unencumbered. He also owned oil and coal lands in Kentucky and West Virginia, and lands in Bath and Steuben Counties, N. Y. As to his personal characteristics, I would suggest that you see the Philadelphia Press of April 20, 1902. If you desire a more exact estimate of the value of his estate, I would suggest that you write Joseph P. McCullen, Jr., No. 1008 Land Title Building, this city.

Yours truly, T. J. MINTON.

The following letter from Colonel James Lewis to Booker T. Washington gives valuable information about Thomy Lafon and incidentally about other persons in New Orleans:

New Orleans, La., Jany. 25/09. COLONEL JAMES LEWIS, Dear Sir:

In answer to your letter of 14th instant, will say that the delay in my answer was caused by my desire to obtain and furnish to you all informations regarding the late Mr. Thomy Lafon.

The baptismal records in the archive of the Cathedral at that time written in Spanish attest that the late Mr. Thomy Lafon was born in this city on December 28th, 1810. He died at his home, corner Ursulines & Robertson Streets, on December 23rd, 1893, at the ripe age of 83 years. His body rests in the St. Louis cemetery on Esplanade Avenue. He was a man of dignified appearance and affable manners. In early life he taught school; later he operated a small dry goods store in Orleans Street until near into 1850. He was never married. Sometime before the war of Secession he had started his vast fortune by loaning money at advantageous rates of interest and by the accumulation of his savings. Toward the close of his career he became attached to the lamented Archbishop Janssens and began his philanthropies. By the terms of his will, dated April 3rd, 1890, he provided amply for his aged sister and some friends, and wisely distributed the bulk of his estate among public charitable institutions of New Orleans. His legacy was appraised at $413,000.00 divided in securities and realty.

In recognition of his charity, the City of New Orleans, named after him one of its public schools.

Before his death he had established an asylum for orphan boys called the Lafon Asylum, situated in St. Peter Street between Claiborne Avenue & N. Derbigny Street. To this Asylum he bequeathed a sum of $2000, and the revenues, amounting to $275 per month of a large property situated corner Royal & Iberville Streets.

Other legacies were to the

Charity Hospital of New Orleans $10,000 " " Ambulance Dept. 3,000 Lafon Old Folks' Home 5,000 Little Sisters of the Poor 5,000 Shakespeare Almshouse Catholic Institution for indigent orphans 2,000 and the following property: 1st. St. Claude St. bet. St. Philip & Ursulines Sts., valued at $1500 2nd. Robertson St. bet. St. Philip & Ursulines Sts., valued at 2000 3rd. Burgundy St. bet. Hospital & Barracks Sts., valued at 2000 4th. Union St. between Royal & Dauphine Sts., valued at 2000 St. John Berchman Asylum for girls, under the care of Holy family 2000 and the following property: 1st. Burgundy St., No. 528, worth about $1500 2nd. Dumaine St., Nos. 2129/31, worth about 2500 3rd. Galvez St., No. 828, worth about 1800 4th. Toulouse St., Nos. 726/28, worth about 2500 5th. Tulane Ave., No. 1402, worth about 4000 Asylum for old indigents, corner Tonti & Hospital Streets 15000

and the following property: 1st. St. Andrew St., 1536/38 valued at $ 6000 2nd. Baronne St., No. 722 valued at 4000 3rd. Baronne St. Nos. 732/36 valued at 8000 4th. Canal & Villere Sts. valued at 6000 5th. Canal St., old No. 176 valued at 30000 An another cash $ 2000 Society of the Holy Family, Orleans St. 10000 Straight University of New Orleans 3000 Southern University of New Orleans 3000 New Orleans University of New Orleans 3000 Society of Jeunes Amis, New Orleans 3000 Eye, Ear Nose & Throat Hospital 3000 Mother St. Clair of the Convent of the Good Sheperd 20000

All of which cash legacies were doubled.

Yours respectfully, (Signed) P. A. BACAS


[1] This extract and the documents which follow were collected by Dr. R. E. Park.

[2] The Springfield Republican, Dec. 6, 1902.


The History of the Negro Church. By CARTER G. WOODSON, Ph.D. The Associated Publishers, Inc., Washington, D. C. 1921. Pp. 330.

With due regard for the modern scientific methods of historiography, the author of this book has traced the rise and spread of institutionalized Christianity among American Negroes. He discusses such salient points as the early efforts of white missionaries to evangelize the heathen bondmen, the difficulties which beset their labors, the respective contributions of the white denominations, showing the Baptists in the lead, followed closely by the Methodists, with the Presbyterians, Catholics and Congregationalists in the rear. There are set forth the psychological, geographical and other reasons why the Negro was attracted more readily to the Baptist and Methodist denominations, the causes for the reactions of slave holders for and against the evangelization of the slaves, the rise of Negro preachers of merit in the Baptist and Methodist denominations during the eighteenth century, and the founding of the first churches by Negroes of these sects. Among these he mentions the first African Baptist Church by Andrew Bryan in 1788, the first African Methodist Episcopal Church by Richard Allen in 1794, and the first African Presbyterian Church by John Gloucester in 1807.

The factors which caused the cleavage of the white denominations into North and South, the causes of the separation of the Negro communicants from the whites and the threefold cleavage of the Negro Methodists are adequately discussed. Attention is given also to the increase in the number of churches and the State and national centralization of the churches within the respective denominations. The ante-bellum beginnings of the only Negro education which aimed to develop Negro preachers through instructors of both races, the importance of Negro churches in developing race leaders, educators, and statesmen who figured in the economic, social and political life of the Negro after the war, are ably treated. The book gives an account of the rise of the conservative and progressive elements within the church and closes with a chapter on the present-day Negro church statistics which indicate the enormous spread of Christianity through the ascendancy of the Methodists and Baptists.

One can hardly appreciate the sympathetic and scholarly character of this work from the bald outline given above. Just therein may it be characterized as a pioneer work, a genuine contribution. In a larger sense it is more than the history of the Negro church; it is the very life history of the Negro race in America, so intimately have the spiritual strivings of the Negro been bound up with his sentiments and interests, his habits and endeavors, his situation and circumstances, his monuments and edifices, his poetry and song.


Unsung Heroes. By MRS. ELIZABETH ROSS HAYNES. N. Y. DuBois & Dill. 1921. 279 pp. Illustrated.

One of the gravest problems now facing the Negroes in the United States, and a problem none the less grave because unrecognized by the unthinking majority, is that of reading for their children. Can anything be more dangerous than the continual subjection of our children to the influence of books, magazines, and newspapers in which their race is being held up constantly to pity or contempt? The use of opprobrious and insulting epithets with reference to the Negro is so common in English and American publications as to need no more than a mere reference here, and this practice is to be noted even in authors who are conscious of no active race hostility. If the psychological influence of such endlessly reiterated and therefore inescapable slurs is bad for adults, how much worse must it be for children. In The Brownies' Book, published by DuBois and Dill, a most praiseworthy attempt has been made to meet this need in the form of a children's magazine free from all objectionable matter, and it is nothing short of a national calamity that this periodical has been forced to suspend publication because of a lack of sufficient patronage. It is fitting, then, that the same publishers should issue the book now under our hand, a fine specimen of the printer's art in paper, presswork, binding, and illustrations.

In it the author, the wife of Dr. George E. Haynes, the well-known sociologist, has set forth in a language and style suited to young readers the lives of seventeen of the most celebrated men and women of Negro descent. Eight of them—Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Banneker, Phillis Wheatley, Josiah Henson, Sojourner Truth, Attucks, and Paul Cuffe—belong to the ante-bellum period in America; five—Dunbar, Booker Washington, B. K. Bruce, Crummell, and Langston—to the reconstruction and late nineteenth century periods; and four—Pushkin, the Russian; L'Ouverture, the Haytian; Coleridge-Taylor, the Englishman; and Alexandre Dumas, the Frenchman—belong across the ocean. It will be seen that the selection is a representative one, and that no living person is included. The material chosen from each life is carefully selected, too, to suit the minds and tastes of children. There are six illustrations by four of our well-known young artists. Altogether the book is the most satisfactory addition yet made to our children's literature in this country, and should be in every home where there are colored children, and in every library in which they are readers.


Les Daimons du Culte Voudo. By DR. ARTHUR HOLLY, Port-au Prince, Haiti, 1919. Pp. lx-523.

The author of this unique volume declares himself "boldly, but without vanity, or false modesty" an esoterist, that is to say, one who is an adept at the interpretation of the occult and secret doctrines. This book, an exposition of the secret doctrine, is not, therefore, as its title might suggest, a scientific treatise upon the Voudo cult as it has existed and as it still exists in Haiti. It is rather an interpretation and defense of the primitive religion of Africa, particularly as it is represented in the religious customs and practices of the common people in Haiti today.

The sentiments which have inspired this undertaking are altogether admirable. "Haitiens," he says, "have reached a point in their efforts to conform to an alien culture where they are in danger of losing their personality as a people as well as their native culture." But now if ever is the moment, after the great cataclysm in Europe, to lift the ancestral cult from the dust and make it worthy of Haiti, of the African race.

"We are," he continues, "African-Latins. But our Latin culture is all on the surface. The old African heritage persists in us and controls us to such an extent that under certain circumstances we feel ourselves moved by mysterious forces when the silence of the night, throbs with the irregular rhythm, melancholly, passionate and magical, of the sacred dances of Voudo."

Dr. Arthur Holly is evidently learning, but he draws his knowledge from sources that are esoteric and therefore inaccessible to all except the adepts. What he has written is, therefore, neither science nor history. It has the character rather of revelation. It is impressive, but not intelligible to the uninitiated.

From his introduction, however, one gathers that he intends to show that Christianity and Voudoism are from a common source, that "the Bible," as he says, "belongs to us," i.e., the black people, but that this earlier and more primitive form of religion which is revealed in it has been corrupted by the white race.

It is an interesting idea, but more interesting is the evidence that it offers of the rise, among the Negro people of Haiti, of a racial consciousness which embraces in one conscious unity the Negro peoples of Africa and America. It is another spontaneous manifestation of that unrest of the black man which has found expression in pan-Africanism and in the movement in this country headed by Marcus Garvey, whose program is Africa for the Africans.


The Wings of Oppression. By LESLIE PINCKNEY HILL. The Stratford Company, Publishers, Boston, Massachusetts. Price by mail, $2.15.

Bearing the certificate of the Lyric Muse, Mr. Leslie Pinckney Hill, schoolmaster of Cheney, Pennsylvania, and authentic singer, is the newest arrival on the slopes of Parnassus. A first glance tells that he is an agile climber, sinewy, easy of movement, light of step, with both grace and strength. Every indication in form and motion is for some point far up toward the summit. Youthful is he, ambitious plainly, and, in spite of a burden, buoyant. "Climber," I said. I will drop the figure. Poets were never pedestrians. Mr. Hill comes not afoot. If not on the wings of Pegasus, yet on wings he comes—the wings of oppression. Sad wings! Yet it must be remarked that it is commonly on such wings that poets of whatever race and time rise. And Mr. Hill's race knows no other wings. On the wings of oppression the Negro poet and the Negro people are rising toward the summits of Parnassus, Pisgah, and other peaks. This they know, too, and of it they are justly proud.

In his Foreword Mr. Hill thus states the case of his people, and, by implication, of himself:

"Nothing in the life of the nation has seemed to me more significant than that dark civilization which the colored man has built up in the midst of a white society organized against it. The Negro has been driven under all the burdens of oppression, both material and spiritual, to the brink of desperation, but he has always been saved by his philosophy of life. He has advanced against all opposition by a certain elevation of his spirit. He has been made strong in tribulation. He has constrained oppression to give him wings."

The significant thing about these wings, in a critical view, is that they fulfill the proper function of wings—bear aloft and sustain in flight through the azure depths. Mr. Hill's wings do bear aloft and sustain: if not always, nor even ever, into the very empyrean of poetry, yet invariably, seventy times, into the ampler air. Like all his race, he has suffered much; and, like all his race still, he has gathered wisdom from sorrow. As a true poet should have, he has philosophy, also vision and imagination—vision for himself and his people, imagination that sees facts in terms of beauty and presents truths with vital imagery. Add thereto craftsmanship acquired in the best traditions of English poetry and you have Hill the poet.

The merits of this book cannot be shown by the quoting of lines and stanzas. As ever with true art, the merit lies in the effect of complete poems. Still, we can here detach from this and that poem a stanza or two, despite the wrong to art. The first and fourth stanzas of the title-poem will indicate Mr. Hill's technique and philosophy:

I have a song that few will sing In honor of all suffering, A song to which my heart can bring The homage of believing— A song the heavy-laden hears Above the clamor of his fears, While still he walks with blinding tears, And drains the cap of grieving.

* * * * *

So long as life is steeped in wrong, And nations cry: "How long, how long!" I look not to the wise and strong For peace and self-possession: But right will rise, and mercy shine, And justice lift her conquering sign Where lowly people starve and pine Beneath a world oppression.

Significant as interpreting the character and temper of the Negro with whom today the white world has to deal, are the following lines from the blank verse poem entitled Armageddon:

Because ye schooled them in the arts of life, and gave to them your God, and poured your blood Into their veins to make them what they are, They shall not fail you in your hour of need, They hold in them enough of you to feel All that has made you masters in your time— The power of art and wealth, unending toil, Proud types of beauty, an unbounded will To triumph, wondrous science, and old law— These have they learned to value and to share.

If these poems, taken collectively, do not declare "what is on the Negro's mind," they yet truly reveal, to the reflecting person, what has sunk deep into his heart. They are therefore a message to America, a protest, an appeal, and a warning. They will penetrate, I predict, through breast armor of aes triplex into the hearts of those whom sermons and editorials fail to touch in the springs of action. Such is the virtue of music wed to persuasive words.

A sonnet entitled To a Caged Canary in a Negro Restaurant will present the poet's people and his own manner of poetic musing:

Thou little golden bird of happy song! A cage cannot restrain the rapturous joy Which thou dost shed abroad. Thou dost employ Thy bondage for high uses. Grievous wrong Is thine; yet in thy heart glows full and strong The tropic sun, though far beyond thy flight, And though thou flutterest there by day and night Above the clamor of a dusky throng. So let my will, albeit hedged about By creed and caste, feed on the light within; So let my song sing through the bars of doubt With light and healing where despair has been; So let my people bide their time and place, A hindered but a sunny-hearted race.

It would be an injustice to this poet did I convey the idea that his seventy-odd poems are exclusively occupied with race wrongs and oppression. Not a few of them bear no stamp of an oppressed or afflicted spirit, though of sorrow they may have been nurtured.

A lyric of pure loveliness is the following, entitled:


All the pleasance of her face Telleth of an inward grace; In her dark eyes I have seen Sorrows of the Nazarene; In the proud and perfect mould Of her body I behold, Rounded in a single view, The good, the beautiful, the true; And when her spirit goes up-winging On sweet air of artless singing, Surely the heavenly spheres rejoice In union with a kindred voice.

The Wings of Oppression strikes a high level of artistic expression and makes a quite extraordinary appeal. It is intense poetry, lyrical and meditative.

Here is that solid body of thought which, in addition to artistic expression, is requisite to poetry that attains and holds a high place of esteem. Great variety of form is also here; excellent blank verse with a movement at once easy and restrained, an equable, strong flow, bearing lofty meditations; sonnets after the manner of the masters; octo-syllabics of sententious felicity; various apt lyrical stanzas. Culture alone, of which there is abundant evidence, could not have produced these poems. The poetic endowment, thoroughly disciplined, was necessary. Mr. Leslie Pinckney Hill is a poet. His powers are rich, varied, and developing. His second book will be better than this excellent first.

But more than the merit that has been intimated there is in these lyrics and measured musings a pathos, a restrained Laocooen cry, that must be to thousands an arresting revelation of the unimagined sufferings of the cultured colored people of our land. Mr. Hill's Wings of Oppression has a message in it for America.



By aiding the education of Negroes in rural communities with the assistance of State governments and of Negroes themselves Mr. Julius Rosenwald has been making an important chapter in the history of this race during the last generation. The significance of this achievement is apparent when one merely glances at these statistics:

1223 buildings (2812 teachers).

Total Cost $4,012,923 Negroes $1,139,165 Whites 277,668 Public Funds 1,840,210 Rosenwald aid 755,880

These schoolbuildings have been built in the States as follows: Alabama 234, North Carolina 175, Mississippi 145, Louisiana 136, Tennessee 114, Virginia 105, South Carolina 73, Arkansas 54, Georgia 53, Kentucky 52, Texas 50, Maryland 16 and Oklahoma 15.

By types these buildings include:

357 one-teacher 464 two-teacher 191 three-teacher 106 four-teacher 39 five-teacher 32 six-teacher 5 seven-teacher 5 eight-teacher 1 nine-teacher 2 ten-teacher 1 eleven-teacher 1 twelve-teacher 1 sixteen-teacher 18 Teachers' Homes —— 1223

The fact that over $4,000,000 has been invested in these buildings is worthy of comment as is the added fact that more than one-fourth of this large total has been raised by the Negroes themselves. While the figures are of buildings which have been actually completed, it is well to note that there are in progress now, some of them nearly finished and all of them to be finished before June 30, 1922, other buildings which will increase the total to 1500, will show a total outlay of $5,500,000, will bring the total of contributions by the Negroes up to $1,500,000, and make Mr. Rosenwald's contribution over $1,000,000. These school building projects and the financial outlays for them have been definitely approved, and all that is lacking is the actual completion of contracts let.

When the work was first undertaken, the thought was to build one-room rural schoolhouses. Under the developing interest, however, larger and better buildings have been erected. As the teacher capacity is an important thing, the total number of teachers has been given to serve as another index to the value of this achievement.

Still another significant thing should be noted. All of the construction now going on is being done through the States themselves. Every project is presented for approval by the State educational authorities, and is certified as completed by the same officers. The interest manifested is sincere and continuing, and in North Carolina, for example, there are no fewer than eight people connected with the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction who are giving their time toward Negro education.

There is another point too which may be interesting. The buildings are constructed according to definite plans and specifications and no building receives Rosenwald aid unless it conforms to the details of such plans and specifications. As a result in the Rosenwald schools the windows are so placed as to give the right kind of light; the blackboards too are properly located; and the equipment in the way of desks is the best available for the funds on hand. No school building is paid for until inspection has shown it to be built according to the approved ideas.

* * * * *

The following extract from Current History, Vol. XV, pages 771-772, sets forth the participation of Alice Ball, a scholarly Negro chemist, in the treatment of leprosy through the use of chaulmoogra oil extracted by a difficult scientific process.

"Credit for initiating a revolutionary method of treatment is generally ascribed to Dr. Victor Heiser of the United States Public Health Service in the Philippines. Instead of giving raw chaulmoogra oil in doses, as had been the custom for centuries, he gave it by injection to the muscles. Mixed with olive oil and drugs, it was efficacious and helped all patients treated. The old method of taking the oil through the mouth, even in capsules, produced such violent nausea that very few could retain it. If retained, it was healing; the best remedy then known. The success of the Heiser treatment led physicians generally to adopt injections as the best method of giving the oil, but it was thick and not easily absorbed. This led Dr. Harry T. Hollman, a member of the Government Medical Corps at Honolulu, to call for a more diluted form of the oil, one freed from extraneous matter, an ethyl ester, or the vital principle, if there was one. The decomposition of the oil, he said, should be accomplished outside the body.

"After securing the approval of his superiors, Drs. McCoy and Currie, he asked the Chemistry Department of the University of Hawaii to liberate this essence from the vegetable compound. President Dean, himself an expert chemist, became greatly interested. He assigned to the task Miss Alice Ball, a young negro woman and an expert chemist, who found the task exceedingly elusive. She gave it all her time and secured a light essence, which Dr. Hollman administered with improved results; but he still insisted it could be improved. Miss Ball's health failed, possibly from chemical poisoning, and she went to California to recuperate. On her return she again took up the task, aided by Dr. Dean, but was again forced to give up the work entirely and soon afterward died in California.

"President Dean then entered upon the task with redoubled enthusiasm. He was encouraged from results obtained to give every possible aid to the indomitable and optimistic Dr. Hollman. There were months of persistent effort, the devising of expensive and complicated apparatus, including a special furnace for intense heat. At last the precise ethyl ester desired—with a number of others—was secured. Injections were made as before into the hips of patients—the large muscles were selected to avoid any possible introduction of the medicine into the large veins or arteries. The improvement following in every case was so marked as to cause surprise and decided gratification."

On the 3rd and 4th of April, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History will hold its spring conference in New York City. This meeting will come as a climax of a nation-wide membership drive now being conducted by the Association. The plans are to have present a large representation of persons from the various parts of the country that steps may be taken for a more thorough prosecution of the work.




VOL. VII—JULY, 1922—NO. 3


The recent decision of the Canadian government not to allow deportation to proceed in the case of Matthew Bullock, a Negro whose return was asked by the State of North Carolina, has served to recall to public attention in Canada certain cases occurring during the period of slavery in the United States when the Canadian courts were asked to order the return of fugitives. The most famous of these was the Anderson case tried before the Canadian courts at Toronto, in 1860, interest in which stirred the British provinces from end to end.

The Bullock case, recently decided, has some points of similarity to the Anderson case, though the circumstances vary greatly. Bullock was charged with participation in race riots in North Carolina in January 1921. He had made his way to Canada and succeeded in evading the immigration authorities in entering the country. It was admitted by the Canadian authorities that he was in the country illegally but in the final decision it was stated that, as he had conducted himself in an exemplary manner since entering, he would be allowed to remain. On behalf of the fugitive it was freely hinted that should he be returned to North Carolina he would risk being a victim of mob justice. While this plea doubtless influenced the Canadian immigration authorities, it could not, of course, be stated as their reason for allowing the man his freedom.

The Anderson case of 1860, to which so much newspaper reference was made during the progress of the Bullock case, came just on the eve of the American Civil War. In some respects it looked to be one of the last efforts of the slave-owners to secure complete enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. That measure, so detested by the North, became a dead letter in many sections by the force of public opinion but was also weakened by the fact that the fugitive in the North could soon cross into Canada, if threatened by any sudden enforcement of the law. An arrest under the Fugitive Slave Law in any northern city was usually followed by a swift trek into Canada of other Negroes who feared that they might be the next victims. But what if there could be found some means of using British law to secure the return of fugitives from Canada? This appears to have been in the minds of those who tried to get Anderson out of Canada in 1860. It is difficult to account, otherwise, for the strenuous efforts that were made to secure his extradition. That the Missouri slaveholders felt they were performing something in the nature of a public service by fighting this case in the Canadian courts, is evidenced by their request that the State should reimburse them for their outlay.[1]

John Anderson appears to have arrived in Canada in November 1853, crossing over the Detroit River to Windsor where he stayed with Mrs. Bibb, mother of Henry Bibb, who was attempting to organize a refugee settlement not far from that frontier point. Mrs. Laura S. Haviland, a philanthropic Michigan woman who was doing missionary and educational work among the fugitives, met him soon after his arrival and learned his story. She says that he came to her asking that she write a letter for him. This letter revealed the tragedy in which he had recently figured and that had caused him to flee to Canada. She had noted the sadness in his face which indicated the stress through which he had passed. He told her that to satisfy a debt he had been sold by his master, Seneca Diggs, and was to be separated from his wife and four children. Husband and wife pleaded not to be separated but the reply was that the buyer desired only the man. Later, however, the master indicated that some other arrangement might be arrived at but the man was suspicious and armed himself with a dirk. His suspicions were further aroused when he was told to come to the woods where some trees were to be chopped and when he noticed that the master had a stout rope under his coat. The slave kept at a distance from the master until the latter finally frankly admitted his purpose. The slave declared that he would never be taken but at this point another man appeared and Anderson began to run. The slavers followed him for seven miles and finally had him cornered. Anderson flourished his knife and threatened to kill the first man who laid hands upon him. All stood back but Diggs who, with a knife in his hand, rushed at the slave. In the melee the master was stabbed and the slave escaped into the woods. That night he saw his wife and family for the last time. The woman informed him that he had killed his master and that if he were caught he could expect to be burned alive or chopped to pieces. She urged him to flee to Canada, and if he arrived there safely, he was to write to her father who was free. This is the story as he told it to Mrs. Haviland and it was the letter to his father-in-law that he wished her to write.

Mrs. Haviland shrewdly suspected that a letter from Canada addressed to a Negro related to Anderson would not likely reach its destination and would also give a clue to the fugitive's whereabouts. Accordingly she dated the letter from Adrian, Michigan, and asked that the reply be sent there. The answer, which came shortly after, said that Anderson's wife and four children were being brought to him. Mrs. Haviland replied to this letter but warned Anderson not to cross the Detroit River as she suspected a plot. In her message she asked the party to come to Adrian, Michigan, and inquire for Mrs. Laura Haviland, a widow, from whom information could be had regarding Anderson. A few days later a white man called, very clearly a southerner, and informed her that Anderson's family was in Detroit staying in the home of a Negro minister named Williams. The visitor seemed exceedingly anxious to find out where Anderson was and Mrs. Haviland finally told him that the man was in Chatham and advised that his family should be sent there. At this the visitor's face reddened rather noticeably. Mrs. Haviland lost no time in sending a message to Anderson advising him to leave Chatham. He got out none too soon for within a few days white men were in Chatham inquiring for him. They were told that he had gone to Sault Ste. Marie and they followed the trail there but without success. Finally they disappeared after leaving with Detroit people power of attorney to arrest Anderson, if he could ever be decoyed over the river or should be found there.

Mrs. Haviland, in her memoirs, says that after this effort to capture Anderson as a murderer she wrote a letter to Lord Elgin, the Governor of the Canadas, setting forth the facts, and that she received this reply from him: "In case of a demand for William Anderson, he should require the case to be tried in their British courts; and if twelve freeholders should testify that he had been a man of integrity since his arrival in their dominion it should clear him."[2]

There is a rather curious similarity between the latter part of this statement and the recent decision from Ottawa in the Bullock case, namely, that as the latter had conducted himself well since entering the country he should not be deported.

About three years after the events mentioned above, which would be about 1856, Mrs. Haviland records a meeting with D. L. Ward, a New Orleans attorney, who said to her: "We are going to have Anderson by hook or by crook; we will have him by fair means or foul; the South is determined to have that man."

The whereabouts of Anderson between 1853 and 1859 is not on record. Probably he lived most of that time in southwestern Ontario where his own people were most numerous. It is stated that he had worked in Hamilton and Caledonia. In the fall of 1860 he was working near Brantford when it came to the ears of a magistrate at Brantford, Matthews by name, that at some time in the past this Negro had committed a crime and was a fugitive from the justice of his own State. Matthews had the Negro arrested and locked him up. It would appear that he had no evidence of any kind other than rumor. S. B. Freeman, who defended Anderson later, says that he went to the Brantford magistrate and made inquiries about the prisoner, being told that the fugitive was held pending the receipt of necessary evidence. According to Freeman's charges, which were made publicly in The Toronto Globe of December 11, 1860, Matthews communicated with private detectives in Detroit who passed the word on to friends of the deceased Diggs in Missouri and they promptly applied at Washington for extradition papers. The Hamilton Times charged that Matthews had subjected his prisoner to most rigorous prison life for two months, keeping him ironed, permitting no Negro friends to see him, not even admitting Rev. Walter Hawkins, the Negro preacher who afterwards became a bishop.[3] It required very much persuasion on the part of Freeman, and apparently some threats as well, to induce the Brantford magistrate to release his prisoner. When let out of jail Anderson went to Simcoe and was working there when again arrested, this time, it would appear, on a warrant sworn out by a Detroit man named Gunning. There are indications in the press reports of the time that the Brantford magistrate was much aggrieved at his prisoner getting into other hands and sought to have the case transferred to Brantford, being aided in this by the county Crown attorney.

In a letter to the Hamilton Spectator Freeman made this charge against the magistrate: "Mr. Matthews arrested him as having been guilty of murder without any legal evidence of a murder having been committed, or, in fact, of any one having been killed by him. And after he had him in custody he communicated with the authorities for the necessary evidence."[4]

On November 24 Anderson was brought before the Court of Queen's Bench consisting of Chief Justice Robinson and Justices Burns and McLean. S. B. Freeman appeared for the prisoner and Henry Eccles and R. A. Harrison for the attorney-general. Freeman read the warrant of committal by William Matthews and the two other Brantford magistrates who had been associated with him. The evidence was to the effect that on September 28, 1859 (sic), Anderson was on the estate of Seneca T. P. Diggs in Howard County, Missouri, and that Diggs, while attempting with Negro help to arrest Anderson, was stabbed twice and later died. The question was whether Canada was to administer the slave laws of Missouri. The counsel for the Crown admitted that Anderson's act, if committed in Canada, would not be murder.

The Anderson case was practically the last important case to come before Chief Justice Sir John Beverly Robinson, and around perhaps no decision of his whole legal career did more excitement center. While the justices were considering the evidence public meetings were being held, not only in Toronto but in other Canadian cities. Newspapers were furiously defending the fugitive and the judgment of the court was being awaited with tense interest.

It was understood on November 30 that the Chief Justice was ready to give decision but that he deferred for his associates. On that date there were special police on duty about the court in fear of an attempt at rescue by the Negroes and others. The Globe of that date contended that the question of surrendering the man, being a matter of a treaty, should have been dealt with by the executive and not by the courts at all.

"The universal heart and conscience of the people of Canada and of the British nation will say upon the facts of the case that Anderson is not a murderer in the sight of God, or under British law," was a part of its comment editorially upon the case. A day or two later the paper pointed out the significance of this particular case. If Anderson were given up, it maintained, "no fugitive slave in Canada is safe on our soil ... there is not a fugitive in Canada whose extradition may not be demanded upon evidence sufficient to put the accused upon his trial."[5]

The court finally gave its judgment on Saturday, December 15. The papers of the following Monday say, that as the decision was being given, police stood about the court with muskets and that a company of Royal Canadian Rifles were also under arms at the Government House.

In its decision the court was not unanimous. The Chief Justice and Justice Burns favored extradition while Justice McLean dissented. The biographer of the Chief Justice says of this judgment: "Their decision was neither in support of nor against slavery but was based entirely upon the consideration of the treaty existing between the United States and Canada." The biographer quotes also as follows from an English contemporary: "These judges, proof against unpopularity and unswayed by their own bitter hatred of slavery, as well as unsoftened by their own feelings for a fellow man, in agonizing peril, upheld the law made to their hands and which they are sworn faithfully to administer. Fiat justitia. Give them their due. Such men are the ballast of nations."[6]

Gerrit Smith, the famous abolitionist, was one of those who acted on behalf of the fugitive, and his plea made a strong impression. He argued that Anderson was not guilty of murder but at the worst of homicide, that the Ashburton case did not require the surrender of fugitives and that in any case Anderson's delivery was a matter for the English courts to decide.

On the evening of December 19, 1860, a huge mass meeting was held in St. Lawrence Hall. The mayor of the city presided and the chief speaker of the evening was John Scoble, the abolitionist.[7] He was able to throw considerable light upon the exact meaning of the extradition treaty, having interviewed both Lord Aberdeen and Lord Brougham on its terms in relation to fugitive slaves at the time that it was passing through the British Parliament. He was at that time the secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society of England which had become alarmed over the possibilities to fugitives in Canada of the extradition clauses.[8]

Ashburton told him, he said, "that the article in question was no more designed to touch the fugitive slave than to affect the case of deserters or parties charged with high treason." Lord Aberdeen stated that instructions would be sent to the Governor of Canada that in the case of fugitive slaves great care was to be taken to see that the treaty did not work their ruin. Sir Charles Metcalfe, Governor of Canada, was quoted by the speaker as having said that he would never be a party to wronging fugitives.

In the course of his address Mr. Scoble gave some information about the arrest of Anderson. He said that he personally went to Brantford as soon as Anderson was taken up in April and tried to get a writ of habeas corpus but could get no help from counsel in Brantford. At the Brantford spring assizes Anderson was released by the judge, since there was no evidence against him, but was rearrested three days later. Other speakers at the St. Lawrence Hall gathering were Rev. Wm. King, M. C. Cameron, Rev. Dr. Willis, Rev. Dr. Burns, Peter Brown and Rev. Mr. Marling. At the close of the meeting there were cheers for Anderson and others and groans for Magistrate Matthews.

There was much comment in the Canadian press on the case as a whole and upon the judgment in particular. The Montreal Herald of December 19, 1860, said: "We hope that the day will never come when the wretches who traffic in the bodies and souls of their fellow creatures will be able to say to any British subject, 'And thou also art made like unto us.'" The Quebec Mercury said: "The judgment of the court in Anderson's case is one of those infamous prostitutions of judicial power to political expediency which in this degenerate age have too frequently polluted the judicial ermine." The Montreal Witness said: "Such a gigantic wrong cannot exist on the same continent with us without affecting the people of Canada in one way or another. Slaveholders long looked at Canada with evil eye. If the slavers get Anderson back they will execute him before the slaves. It would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to them annually."

Speaking on the evening of December 20 before the St. Patrick's Literary Society of Montreal, Hon. Thomas D'Arcy McGee condemned the decision in the Anderson case. "As a fugitive slave has never been yielded by this province," he said, "I cannot believe that we are going to take upon ourselves the yoke of that servitude just now. We have no bonds to break or keep with the 'peculiar institution' of the south; and the true voice and spirit of this province is that when the flying slave has once put the roar of Niagara between him and the bay of the bloodhounds of his master—from that hour, no man shall ever dream of recovering him as his chattel property."

As soon as the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench was given, abolitionists in Toronto decided to carry the case to English courts and did so, securing from the Court of Queen's Bench at Westminster an order to bring Anderson there. In the meantime the case was carried to the Court of Common Pleas in Toronto and there on February 16, 1861, Chief Justice Draper acquitted Anderson, for the following reasons, as quoted in The Toronto Leader: "In the first place, the magistrate's warrant was defective inasmuch as the words used in the warrant did not imply the charge of murder, though perhaps expressing more than manslaughter; secondly, the warrant of commitment was also defective in not adhering to the words of the treaty."

It would take long to list all the meetings, petitions, resolutions, and protests that were brought forth by the Anderson case. The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, with headquarters in Toronto, was, of course, active throughout the whole case. Early in January it was reported that a petition signed by more than 2500 people had been forwarded from Montreal on behalf of Anderson and from elsewhere in Canada came similar protests.

With the decision of Chief Justice Draper the Anderson case was closed and the fugitive disappears. As a result, however, of the unseemly action of the Brantford magistrate the Canadian law was revised so as to take from the control of ordinary magistrates jurisdiction as regards foreign fugitives from justice, leaving such cases with county judges and police justices.



[1] On March 27, 1861, certain Howard County citizens petitioned for money advanced by them to prosecute Anderson in the Canadian Courts (Session Laws, 1860, p. 534).

[2] For Mrs. Haviland's story see her book, "A Woman's Life Work," published at Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1881. Anderson's story as told to her is found on pages 197-8.

[3] See The Toronto Globe, Nov. 14, 1860.

[4] Quoted in The Toronto Globe, Nov. 29, 1860.

[5] The Toronto Globe, Dec. 3, 1860.

[6] Life of Sir John Beverly Robinson, London, 1904, pp. 326-7.

[7] The proceedings of this meeting are reported at length in The Globe of the following day.

[8] Article X of the Ashburton Treaty, dealing with extradition, reads as follows: "It is agreed that the United States and Her Britannic Majesty shall, upon mutual requisition by them, or their ministers, officers, or authorities, respectively made, deliver up to justice all persons who, being charged with the crime of murder, or assault with intent to commit murder, or piracy, or arson, or robbery, or forgery, or the utterance of forged paper, shall seek an asylum, or shall be found within the territories of the other; provided that this shall only be done upon such evidence of criminality as, according to the laws of the place where the fugitive or person so charged shall be found, would justify his apprehension and commitment for trial, if the crime or offence had there been committed, etc."


Incredible as it may sound to the twentieth century reader, the Commonwealth of Mississippi was for six years ably represented in the United States Senate by a distinguished Negro Senator, the Honorable B. K. Bruce. So inspiring is the story of Senator Bruce's efforts in the defense of humanity that it ought not to be permitted to lie in obscurity for want of a sympathetic pen. The present venture, therefore, is an attempt, though belated, to recount some of the achievements of this statesman whose public career looms up as a monument to the American Negro's self-confidence, resolution, and persistency.

Senator Bruce's career in the upper chamber of Congress began on March 5, 1875, at the special session of the Forty-fourth Congress, called by President Grant. His name appears in the Congressional Record of that session as "Branch" K. Bruce, Floreyville, Mississippi. He was assigned to the Committee on Manufactures and to the Committee on Education and Labor and later to the Committee on Pensions and the Committee on the Improvement of the Mississippi River and its Tributaries.[1]

Antedating his election to the United States Senate, Senator Bruce had held positions of trust and honor in the State of Mississippi. He had been Sheriff, Tax-Collector, Commissioner of the Levees Board, and County Superintendent of Education. Moreover, he had served as Sergeant-at-Arms of the first State Senate after the Reconstruction Period, and Commissioner of Elections in a county that was reputed as being the most lawless in the State. In all these positions, Senator Bruce had displayed such integrity of purpose, sagacious statesmanship, and tireless industry that his election to the United States Senate followed as a logical and merited promotion.[2]

Senator Bruce's "maiden speech" in the Senate was delivered shortly after he took his seat during the special session. The speech was a vigorous protest against the proposed removal of the troops from the South, Mississippi in particular, where the military authorities were still in control. The speech made a profound impression on the Senate and clearly indicated the manly stand which Senator Bruce was preparing to take against the injustices practised against Negro citizens both North and South.[3]

The regular session of the Forty-fourth Congress, which convened on Monday, December 6, 1875, gave Senator Bruce numerous opportunities for energetic efforts. Early in the session, he presented a petition of the Sons of Temperance of the District of Columbia, praying for legislation for the District of Columbia and the Territories; for the prohibition of the importation of alcoholic liquors from abroad and that total abstinence be made a condition of the civil, military, and naval service. Later he introduced a Bill "to provide for the payment of bounties, etc., to colored soldiers and sailors and their heirs."[4] His first important opportunity for valuable service came during the discussion of the resolution to admit former Governor Pinchback as a Senator from Louisiana. The resolution had been presented on March 5, 1875, at the special session of the Senate—"That P. B. S. Pinchback be admitted as a Senator from the State of Louisiana for the term of six years, beginning with the fourth of March 1873." Senator Bruce delivered the following address:

When I entered upon my duties here as Senator from Mississippi, the question ceased to be novel, and had already been elaborately and exhaustively discussed. So far as opportunity has permitted me to do so, I have dispassionately examined the question in the light of the discussion, and I venture my views now with the diffidence inspired by my limited experience in the consideration of such questions and by a just appreciation of the learning and ability of the gentlemen who have already attempted to elucidate and determine this case.

I believe, Mr. President, whatever seeming informalities may attach to the manner in which the will of the people was ascertained, Mr. Pinchback is the representative of a majority of the legal voters of Louisiana, and is entitled to a seat in the Senate. In the election of 1872, the white population of the State exceeded, by the census of 1872, the colored population by about two thousand, including in the white estimate 6,300 foreigners, only half of whom were naturalized. This estimate, at the same ratio in each race, would give a large majority of colored voters. The census and registration up to 1872 substantially agree, and both sustain this conclusion. The census of 1875, taken in pursuance of an article of the State constitution, gives, after including the foreign population (naturalized and unnaturalized) in the white aggregate, a majority of 45,695 colored population.

This view of the question is submitted not as determining the contest, but as an offset to the allegation that Mr. Pinchback does not fairly represent the popular will of the State, and as a presumption in favor of the legal title of the assembly that elected him.

The State government elected in 1872, and permanently inaugurated in January 1873, in the face of contest and opposition, obtained for its authority the recognition of the inferior and supreme courts of the State. When organized violence threatened its existence and the United States Government was appealed to for troops to sustain it, the national Executive, in pursuance of his constitutional authority and duty, responded to the demand made for help, prefacing said action by an authoritative declaration, made through the Attorney General, addressed to Lieutenant-Governor Pinchback, then Acting Governor, of date of December 12, 1872, that said Pinchback was "recognized as the lawful executive of Louisiana, and the body assembled at Mechanics' Institute as the lawful Legislature of the State"; and similar recognition of his successor was subsequently given. When in September 1874, an attempt was made to overthrow the government, the President again interposed with the Army and Navy for its protection and the maintenance of its authority.

This government has proceeded to enact and enforce laws for three years, which not only affect life, liberty, and property, but which have received the general obedience of the citizens of the State. The present government also has frequently been brought in official contact with the United States Congress—through its legislatures of 1873 and 1875, by memorials and joint resolutions addressed to the respective Houses; and through its executive, by credentials, borne by Congressmen and by Senators—and in no case has the legitimate authority of the Legislature been excepted to save in the action of electing a United States Senator; and in no instance has the sufficiency of the executive's credentials been questioned, in either House, except in the matter of the senatorial claimant.

Now, sir, shall we admit by our action on this ease that for three years the State of Louisiana has not had a lawful Legislature; that its laws have been made by an unauthorized mob; that the President of the United States actively, and Congress, by non-action at least, have sustained and perpetuated this abnormal, illegal, wrongful condition of things, thereby justifying and provoking the indignant and violent protests of one portion of the people of that State, and inviting them to renewed and continued agitation and violence? Such action by us would be unjust to the claimant, a great wrong to the people who sent him here, and cruel even to that class who have awaited an opportunity to bring to their support the overwhelming moral power of the nation in the pursuit of their illusion—which has so nearly ruined the future of that fair State—a government based upon the prejudices of caste.

I respectfully ask attention of Senators to another view of this subject, which is not without weight in determining the obligations of this body to the State of Louisiana and in ascertaining the title of the claimant. If the assumption that the present government inaugurated in 1873 is without legal authority and usurpation is true, the remedy for the state of things was to be found in the exercise of Congress through the joint action of the two Houses of the powers conferred under the guaranteeing clause of the Constitution relative to republican forms of government in the several States.

Failing to exercise her power and perform her duty in this direction, and thus practically perpetuating the present government, I submit that, in my judgment, we cannot now ignore our obligation to give the State her full representation on the score of the alleged irregularity of the government through which she has expressed her will; and there does seem to me, in this connection, something incongruous in the proposition that we may impose upon the people a government without legal sanction and demand their obedience to and support thereof, said government meanwhile determining the character of its successors and thus perpetuating its talent, and yet are powerless to admit a Senator elected thereby.

In my judgment, this question shall at this juncture be considered and decided not on abstract but practical grounds. Whatever wrongs have been done and mistakes made in Louisiana by either party, the present order of things is accepted by the people of the State and by the nation, and will be maintained as a final settlement of the political issues that have divided the people there; and no changes in the administration of public affairs can or will be made except by the people, through the ballot, under the existing government and laws of the Commonwealth.

Under these circumstances, holding the question in abeyance is, in my judgment, an unconstitutional deprivation of the right of a State, and a provocation to popular disquietude; and in the interest of good-will and good government, the most judicious and consistent course is to admit the claimant to his seat.

I desire, Mr. President, to make a personal reference to the claimant. I would not attempt one or deem one proper were it not that his personal character has been assailed.

As a father, I know him to be affectionate; as a husband, the idol of a pleasant home and cheerful fireside; as a citizen, loyal, brave, and true. And in his character and success we behold an admirable illustration of the excellence of our republican institutions.[5]

This speech, printed in its entirety, is an honest, frank, and convincing enunciation of republican truths. It is an unselfish and sober appeal for justice to another member of the Negro race. Bereft of all rhetorical embellishments, as the speech is, it may well pass for a masterpiece of logical thought and dynamic expression. It is the forerunner of even mightier utterances.

Long before Senator Bruce donned his senatorial toga, rioting in Mississippi had become prevalent. In fact, his own county, Bolivar, was perhaps the only one in the State which had not furnished a stage for bitter race feuds; and even this county narrowly averted a calamity. Back in the early seventies, a report gained currency that in a few days there was to be a "shooting up" in Bolivar. Guns and ammunition were being stored, and the outlook became menacing. The riot, however, was averted because Senator Bruce went personally to the controlling citizens and succeeded in arousing a strong sentiment against the threatening disorder. Bolivar County was thus enabled to boast that it had never been stained with bloodshed, and even today the memory of Senator Bruce is held in highest respect in Bolivar County.

In other sections of the State, rioting became so prevalent, especially on election days, that the returns of the elections were open to serious doubt. The United States Senate was forced to take cognizance of this condition. On Friday, March 31, 1876, a Resolution was introduced appointing a Committee "to investigate the late election in Mississippi." Senator Bruce embraced this opportunity to give a clear exposition of the condition of affairs in his State. His speech on this occasion reveals him as a broad-minded and courageous statesman free from the curse of narrow dogma and paltry aim. He began by announcing the basic principles of a democracy that will survive:

The conduct of the late election in Mississippi affected not merely the fortunes of the partisans—as the same were necessarily involved in the defeat or success of the respective parties to the contest—but put in question and jeopardy the sacred rights of the citizens; and the investigation contemplated in the pending resolution has for its object not the determination of the question whether the offices shall be held and the public affairs of the State be administered by Democrats or Republicans, but the higher and more important end, the protection in all their purity and significance of the political rights of the people and the free institutions of the country.[6]

He continued by referring to the evidence which proved that the voters of Mississippi in the "late election" had not had an actual opportunity to cast their votes:

The evidence in hand and accessible will show beyond peradventure that in many parts of the State corrupt and violent influences were brought to bear upon the registrars of voters, thus materially affecting the character of the voting or poll lists; upon the inspectors of election, prejudicially and unfairly, thereby changing the number of votes cast; and finally threats and violence were practiced directly upon the masses of voters in such measure and strength as to produce grave apprehensions for personal safety and as to deter them from the exercise of their political franchises.

It was in this speech that Senator Bruce replied to the erstwhile criticism that the Negro was a coward because he endured every kind of indignity without retaliating. Taking the prevalent view of progressive thought of the nineteenth century, he spoke as follows:

It will not accord with the laws of nature or history to brand colored people a race of cowards. On more than one historic field, beginning in 1776 and coming down to the centennial year of the Republic, they have attested in blood their courage as well as a love of liberty. I ask Senators to believe that no consideration of fear or personal danger has kept us quiet and forbearing under the provocations and wrongs that have so sorely tried our souls. But feeling kindly towards our white fellow-citizens, appreciating the good purposes and offices of the better classes, and, above all, abhorring war of races, we determined to wait until such time as an appeal to the good sense and justice of the American people could be made.[7]

This pronouncement of Senator Bruce exalting the manly virtue of patience, even in the face of grave injustices, was preeminently representative of the most highly educated Negro thought of the century in which Senator Bruce lived, and must be interpreted in terms of the philosophy of his day. If it should be objected to by some of the most highly developed Negro thought of the present day, the increasing tendency towards retaliation should be attributed partly to the American Negro's metamorphosis since the colossal struggle for that Utopian dream—a World's Democracy.

Perhaps the part of Senator Bruce's speech which has given most impetus to similar modern expression is contained in the following excerpt:

The sober American judgment must obtain in the South as elsewhere in the Republic, that the only distinctions upon which parties can be safely organized and in harmony with our institutions are differences of opinion relative to principles and policies of government, and that differences of religion, nationality, or race can neither with safety nor propriety be permitted for a moment to enter into the party contests of the day. The unanimity with which the colored voters act with a party is not referable to any race prejudice on their part. On the contrary, they invite the political cooperation of their white brethren, and vote as a unit because proscribed as such. They deprecate the establishment of the color line by the opposition, not only because the act is unwise, but because it isolates them from the white men of the South and forces them, in sheer self-protection, and against their inclination, to act seemingly upon the basis of a race prejudice that they neither respect nor entertain. They not only recognize the equality of citizenship and the right of every man to hold without proscription any position of honor and trust to which the confidence of the people may elevate him; but owing nothing to race, birth, or surroundings, they above all other classes, in the community, are interested to see prejudices drop out of both politics and the business of the country, and success in life proceed upon the integrity and merit of the man who seeks it.... But withal, as they progress in intelligence and appreciation of the dignity of their prerogatives as citizens, they as an evidence of growth begin to realize the significance of the proverb, "When thou doest well for thyself, men shall praise thee"; and are disposed to exact the same protection and concession of rights that are conferred upon other citizens by the Constitution, and that too without humiliation involved in the enforced abandonment of their political convictions.

The speech closes with an enthusiastic expression of confidence in American institutions and in the American Negro:

I have confidence, not only in my country and her institutions, but in the endurance, capacity and destiny of my people. We will, as opportunity offers and ability serves, seek our places, sometimes in the field of letters, arts, science and the professions. More frequently mechanical pursuits will attract and elicit our efforts; more still of my people will find employment and livelihood as the cultivators of the soil. The bulk of this people—by surroundings, habits, adaptation, and choice will continue to find their homes in the South and constitute the masses of its yeomanry. We will there, probably of our own volition and more abundantly than in the past, produce the great staples that will contribute to the basis of foreign exchange, aid in giving the nation a balance of trade, and minister to the wants and comforts and build up the prosperity of the whole land. Whatever our ultimate position in the composite civilization of the republic and whatever varying fortunes attend our career, we will not forget our instincts for freedom nor our love for country.[8]

A careful study of the speech shows what a model it has been for speakers and writers of a much later period. It deals openly and frankly with the Southern question, and is prophetic of President Harding's recent utterances on the Negro's political status in the South.

During the second session of the Forty-fourth Congress, Mr. Bruce confined his efforts largely to the relief of the legal heirs of Negro soldiers who had fought to preserve the Union. Consequently, he introduced a number of bills praying that arrears of pensions be granted. In this way, he became the benefactor of many persons who otherwise might never have received their pensions. In addition to such relief legislation, he presented for the second time a petition praying for a general law prohibiting liquor traffic, and introduced a bill for certain improvements in the Mississippi River.[9]

The Forty-fifth Congress was not especially eventful. Senator Bruce, however, continued to introduce bills for the relief of legal heirs of soldiers. During the second session of this Congress, he took an active interest in the Chinese Exclusion Bill, registering his vote against the measure which seemed to him to be contrary to American principles. His denunciation of the selfish policy of the United States toward the Indian was more pronounced than that of his dissatisfaction with the restriction of the immigration of the Chinese. He believed that the attitude of the Americans toward the Indian bred hatred and discontent and made the Indian a fugitive and a vagabond. He believed that the United States Government should do something to civilize the Indian rather than to restrict him. The Indian could be made a desirable citizen if the best elements of his nature were developed to enable him to exercise the functions of citizenship. He early advocated, therefore, that the Indians should cease to be dealt with as tribes and should receive consideration as individuals, "subject to American law and beneficiaries of American institutions." The Indian then, when no longer branded as an outlaw, would in the very near future advance to the position when the cooperation and the protection of the white man would be welcomed as that of friends.[11]

It was during the Forty-sixth Congress that Senator Bruce was most active. Senator Bruce did most constructive work in advocating the improvement of the navigation of the Mississippi river. The importance of this question today is not so striking as it was at that time for the reason that little had been done to protect life and property from the inundations of that stream. Senator Bruce kept this important problem before Congress urging not only that the interest of the people in the valley itself be taken care of, but that this river should by adequate facilities be made the highway of interstate and foreign commerce. Toward this end Senator Bruce offered several bills meeting the exigencies of the time and providing for future needs. As the foresight of a majority of the members of Congress at that time was not sufficient to appreciate this statesmanlike effort of Senator Bruce, his program for this important internal improvement was not carried out, although some important efforts since then to supply this need in our economic development must be considered as due in some measure to the persistence and the courage of Senator Bruce in keeping this question before Congress.[12]

Senator Bruce, moreover, had been watching, with increasing misgivings, the affairs of that notorious banking bubble, more pretentiously known as the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. To protect the rights of the depositors of the defunct institution, he offered the following resolution, on April 7, 1879:

That the President of the Senate appoint a committee of five on the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company to take into consideration all matters relating to said institution, and that said committee be authorized to employ a clerk, and that the necessary expenses be paid out of the "miscellaneous items" of the contingent fund of the Senate.[13]

The resolution was considered by unanimous consent and agreed to. The Vice President, the Honorable William A. Wheeler, subsequently appointed Senator Bruce as Chairman of this committee. The other members were Senators Cameron of Wisconsin, Gordon, Withers, and Garland. To head such a committee was, indeed, an enviable privilege, but the real opportunity lay in the kind of service which the entangled affairs of the bank made possible. At this time, the affairs of the bank were in the hands of three commissioners, each receiving $3000 a year, and no promise of winding up the business of the bank was foreshadowed. Thus the available assets were reduced annually by the total amount of these salaries. The assets, of course, were to be paid pro rata to the depositors.

In order that his committee might have more power to go into the management of the bank, Senator Bruce offered the following resolution on May 16, 1879:

That the Select Committee on the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company appointed by resolution of the Senate of April 7, 1879, is authorized and directed to investigate the affairs of said savings and trust company and its several branches, to ascertain and report to the Senate all matters relating to the management of the same and the cause or causes of failure, with such other facts relating thereto as may be important to a full understanding of the management and present condition of the institution and to a more economical administration and speedy adjustment of its affairs.

Following this resolution, Senator Bruce presented a petition of R. M. Hall, M.D., and others, citizens of Baltimore, Maryland, praying the passage of an act requiring the commissioners of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company to close up the affairs of the institution and distribute the assets among the creditors thereof. This petition was presented on May 27, 1879.

The resolution and the petition had their desired effect. The services of the commissioners were dispensed with, thus saving $9000 a year for the depositors; and the final settlement of the claims was turned over to the Controller of the Treasury. To Senator Bruce's Committee, therefore, goes the credit of bringing a speedy close to the affairs of the defunct Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, with the minimum of further loss to the depositors. Later, Senator Bruce made a strong, but vain, appeal to reimburse the colored depositors of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company for losses incurred by the failure of the bank.

His final dealings with the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company came in the third session of the Forty-sixth Congress, when he introduced the following bill:

That the Senate authorize and direct the purchase by the Secretary of the Treasury, for public use, the property known as the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, and the real estate and parcels of ground adjacent thereto, belonging to the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, and located on Pennsylvania Avenue between Fifteenth and Fifteenth-and-a-half Streets, Washington, District of Columbia.

The bill was considered, amended, and passed.[14]

Ever alert to the educational needs of the colored youth, Senator Bruce introduced, among many other bills, during the second session of the Forty-sixth Congress, a bill:

To provide for the investment of certain unclaimed pay and bounty moneys now in the Treasury of the United States and to facilitate and encourage the education of the colored race in the several States and Territories.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, amended by Mr. Pendleton of Ohio, and reported back adversely and postponed indefinitely.[15]

Senator Bruce was not returned to the Forty-seventh Congress. The record, however, which he made in the Forty-fourth, Forty-fifth, and Forty-sixth Congresses will ever maintain for him a prominent place among the progressive and constructive statesmen of this country. And here our account should end if it were not for the fact that some of our readers will want a glimpse of some of the significant events in Senator Brace's life, exclusive of his career in the Senate. A condensed account of such facts will suffice.

Senator Bruce was not a native Mississippian. He was born in the little town of Farmville, Virginia. At an early age, he made his way to Missouri, thence to Mississippi where he arrived in 1868. In 1878, he married Miss Josephine B. Wilson, of Cleveland, Ohio, a lady of most excellent parts and refined culture. A son, Roscoe Conklin, was born in 1879—a polished gentleman by birth, an educator by training, an orator and debater by choice, and a scholar by nature. Both wife and son survive the late Senator.[16]

Senator Bruce belonged to that rugged, self-made type of manhood that did right to prosper in this world and hope for felicity in the next. He studied under private tutors and spent two years at Oberlin College. Like many successful statesmen, he served his time in the classroom as a teacher. It was during his teaching career that he was persuaded by Henry Ward Beecher to enter the Christian ministry, but the inward voice did not respond to the ministerial call.

Though his tenure of office as United States Senator lasted but one full term of six years, he was given further opportunities for public service. From 1881 to 1885, he served as Register of the Treasury, having been appointed to this office by President Garfield. In 1889, during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison, he was appointed Recorder of Deeds when the office was operated under a system of fees which netted from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars a year. President McKinley called him a second time to the office of Register of the Treasury, in which position he remained until his death in 1898.



[1] Congressional Record, 44th Congress, First Session.

[2] Simmons, Men of Mark, 699-703.

[3] Congressional Record, 44th Congress, 1st Session, pp. 2100-2105.

[4] Ibid., pp. 736, 1547, 5138.

[5] Congressional Record, 1st Session, pp. 1444, 1445.

[6] Congressional Record, 44th Congress, 1st Session, pp. 2100-2105.

[7] Congressional Record, 44th Congress, 1st Session, p. 2104.

[8] Congressional Record, Forty-sixth Congress, 1st Session, p. 2104.

[9] Ibid., p. 2105.

[10] Ibid., p. 2105.

[11] Congressional Record, Forty-sixth Congress, 2d Session, pp. 2195-2196.

[12] Congressional Record, Forty-fifth Congress, 1st Session, pp. 201, 245; 3d Session, pp. 1314, 1316, 2309.

[13] Ibid., Forty-sixth Congress, 1st Session, pp. 45, 71, 435, 1679, 2415; 3d Session, pp. 632, 668.

[14] Congressional Record, Forty-sixth Congress, 2d Session, pp. 45, 273, 538.

[15] Ibid., pp. 1619, 1953, 2053, 2384, 4563.

[16] See Simmons, Men of Mark, pp. 699-703.


There was some slavery in the Northwest Territory to which Lincoln moved with his father from Kentucky, for although that section had been dedicated to freedom by the Ordinance of 1787, slavery in a modified form existed there for three reasons. The Ordinance was not considered emancipatory so far as it regarded the British slaves held in such service prior to 1795, those of French masters prior to 1763 and those already in that condition when the Ordinance was passed. Furthermore, after separating from the Indiana Territory, Illinois legalized slavery by indenture, provided for the hiring of slaves from Southern States to supply labor in its various industries, and at the same time passed a stringent law to prohibit the immigration of free Negroes into that State. Later there followed an attempt to open the State to slavery by the Legislature of 1822-1823, but the slave party was defeated by the election of Governor Coles, who would not permit the reactionary element to reduce that commonwealth to a mediaeval basis.[1] Such slavery as existed in Illinois, however, differed widely from that in the South where it had become economic rather than patriarchal as it then existed in certain parts of the North.

On a trip by way of the Sangamon and the Mississippi to New Orleans in May 1831, Abraham Lincoln got his first impression of economic slavery when he "saw Negroes chained, maltreated, whipped and scourged."[2] He made no mention of this spectacle until a decade later when journeying from Louisville to St. Louis he saw ten or twelve slaves shackled together on a boat. This was sufficient to convince him that this institution was not only an economic evil but a disgrace to a country pretending to be free. Lincoln, therefore, early decided within himself that if he ever attained a position of sufficient power to do something for the extermination of this institution, he would count it the opportunity of his life.

There soon followed an occasion when Lincoln had an opportunity to show his constituents his position on this important question. As a result of the murder of Lovejoy the question of slavery was brought up at the session of the legislature held in 1837 and was referred to a committee. The report of this committee expressed disapproval of abolition societies and carried a declaration to the effect that the Federal Constitution secured the right of property in slaves, and the Government of the United States could not abolish slavery in the District of Columbia without the consent of its citizens. After much heated debate and filibustering these resolutions were finally passed, although Lincoln and five other members voted in the negative. Then there followed from Lincoln and Daniel A. Stone a protest, questioning and attacking the moral support of slavery, yet recognizing all the constitutional guarantees that protected it.[3]

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