Some time ago he spent several weeks in Washington, D. C., and there the most kindly attention was extended to him by Secretary Wilson, who never fails to recognize merit wherever he may find it.
The name of G. W. Carver is now enrolled on the fellowship list of more than one scientific Institution.
The above subject is by no means an easy one to discuss, as reliable data are fragmentary and widely scattered; yet I am sure that I have been able to collect some interesting and valuable facts and figures bearing upon this important question. There is no doubt that the Negro as a tenant farmer is a failure; this we are forced to admit, but we do so with a justly proud feeling that it is not an inherent race characteristic, but the result of conditions over which we had little or no control. Failure is inevitably and indelibly stamped in the foreheads of any class of average tenant farmers, regardless of race or color.
In American agriculture the Negro has always held, and is yet holding, an important place; in fact, far more, as a rule, than has been accredited to him. Lest our judgment be too harsh in this particular, I have thought it wise to briefly scan the beginning and development of agriculture in the United States. In 1492 the first settlers found the Indians carrying on agriculture in a crude and limited way, by the women; their farm machinery consisting of their fingers, a pointed stick for planting, and the bones of animals and the shell of the clam for a hoe; with nothing more than a squatter's right as a voucher for the ownership of their farms. Prof. McMaster's History of the People of the United States, George K. Holmes, assistant statistician of the United States Department of Agriculture, in his "Progress of Agriculture in the United States," and other high authorities, tell us that the white man came, poor in the materials of wealth, a stranger in a strange land with a strange climate. His tools were but little, if any, improvement on those of the Indians, and agriculture as we know it to-day was an idealistic dream. The plow was an exceedingly crude thing and but little used, the hoe forming the principal implement of industry. After a piece of land had been continuously "cropped" until worn out, it was abandoned, or the cows turned upon it for a while. It is further said that the poor whites, who had formerly been indentured servants, were the most lazy, the most idle, the most shiftless and the most worthless of men. Their huts were scarcely better than Negro cabins, the chimneys were of logs, the chinks being filled with clay. The walls had no plaster, the windows had no glass, and the furniture was such as they themselves made.
The grain was threshed by driving horses over it in the open field. When they ground it they used a rude pestle and mortar, or placed it in the hollow of one stone and beat it with another. Beef or pork, generally salted, salt fish, dried apples, bread made of rye or Indian meal, milk, and a very limited variety of vegetables, constituted the food throughout the year. When night came on his light was derived from a few candles of home manufacture. The farmer and his family wore homespun. If linen was wanted, the flax was sown and weeded, pulled and retted, then broken and swingled, for all of which processes nearly a year was required before the flax was ready for the spinners, bleaching on the grass, and making and wearing. If woolens were wanted, sheep were sheared and the wool was dyed and spun and woven at home.
It was almost invariably true of all the settlers that the use and value of manures was little regarded. The barn was sometimes removed to get it out of the way of heaps of manure, because the owner would not go to the expense of removing the accumulations and putting them upon his fields. Such were the dreary conditions of the farmer's life in colonial days, living all the time very closely upon the margin of subsistence. Those conditions continued for some time after the Republic had been established, and were not measurably ameliorated until the present century had well advanced, until an improved intelligence—the dissemination of information, and the work of the inventor, had begun to take effect.
From the above we see how strikingly similar were the life, methods of agriculture, and the results obtained from the sturdy New Englander, who represented the best blood, bone and sinew of the old world, with its almost prehistoric civilization, to that of the American Negro, whose intellectual star is just beginning to rise above the horizon. Over two centuries and a half ago the Negro found his way as a slave to America, in a little Dutch trading vessel, cheap labor being the chief motive which prompted such a gigantic scheme. The experiment flourished and grew, and at about the close of the eighteenth century six million slaves had been brought to this country. The major part of all the cotton, corn, cane, potatoes, tobacco, and other agricultural products, were planted, cultivated, harvested and prepared for, and, not infrequently, marketed by, the slaves. In fact, they were the agricultural backbone of the South. Since cotton forms the largest, and has been the most important agricultural product in the South, I think a hundred and nine years of its production will prove interesting and valuable: In 1791, 8,889 bales were produced, and the second cotton mill built at Providence, Rhode Island! the first one being built at Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1787. From this time on the acreage planted, the output and the number of cotton mills and spindles increased. The estimated area planted in cotton alone in 1852, 6,300,000 acres, and the census report of 1860 showed 1,262 cotton mills and 5,235,727 spindles in the United States, with an output of 4,861,292 bales. Despite the depressing effect of the four years of civil strife, it took only five years to almost completely regain the highest point reached in previous years. In 1889 and 1890 we find in the United States 19,569,000 acres planted, giving an output of 7,311,322 bales, with 905 cotton mills operating 14,088,103 spindles. In 1898-99 the acreage increases to nearly 25,000,000, with an output of 11,189,205 bales, representing a money value of $305,467,041. Such is the history, production and growth of the cotton industry in the United States, and were we to trace the other staple products we would find them none the less interesting, since they were produced largely by Negroes as slaves before the war, and as freedmen after the war. This applies especially to Southern products.
Whatever of truth there is in Mr. Van de Graff's grave apprehensions for the Negro, he with us must admit that the ills of the black tenant farmer are simply the ills of the Southern farmer in a more or less aggravated form. It is also true that the curse of such a system falls the heaviest on the smallest and most ignorant tenant farmer, who is the least capable of self-defense. For years we have been content to let the preachers preach, the lawyers argue, the philosophers predict, the teachers and the doctors practice with scarcely a question as to our priority of right. We have, in the face of the many oppositions which come to every race similarly situated, labored with endurance, patience and forbearance, until the birth of the twentieth century dawns upon us, steadily marching on, with something over $263,000,000 worth of unencumbered property to our credit. Now as to the number owning farms and following agricultural pursuits as a livelihood, we are pleased to submit some figures from the last census report, from Crogman, in his "Progress of a Race," and from other authorities. Beginning with the little District of Columbia, with an aggregate area of 8,489 acres and 269 farms, there are seventeen Negro farmers, five of which own their land in whole or in part. Their farms contain 29 acres, of which 25 are improved. The total value of the land is $23,300, and the appurtenant buildings are worth $390; live stock to the value of $489; and farm incomes for 1899 amounting to $4,244. Ten farms, aggregating 258 acres, are operated by Negroes as cash tenants. The reported values are, land, $114,600; buildings, $9,200; implements and machinery, $1,200; and live stock, $1,383. The total incomes for these farms in 1899 were $10,300. Two farms, together consisting of 21 acres, valued at $149,630, are operated by Negroes as salaried managers. Of the 17 farms operated by Negroes, only 1 contains less than three acres; 7 contain from 3 to 9 acres; 5 from 10 to 19 acres; 2 from 20 to 49 acres; and 2 from 50 to 99 acres, giving an average size for all of 18.1 acres.
In the state of Delaware the farms constitute 85 per cent of the total land surface of the state, which is divided up into 9,687 farms, of which 8,869, or 91.6 per cent, are operated by whites, and 818, or 8.4 per cent, by Negroes. Of the latter class 297 are operated by owners, and 35 by part owners. The value of their farms, including implements, machinery and live stock, together with the value of implements, machinery and live stock on the farms which other Negroes operate as tenants, is $495,187.
In Arizona we find that three Negro farmers operate their farms as salaried managers. Twelve own farms containing 1,511 acres, with farm property valued at $60,422; one leases a 39-acre farm for cash, and has implements and live stock worth $130. The total investment by Negroes in agriculture, exclusive of farms owned by them and leased to others, is, therefore, $60,552, which is a rather encouraging showing for Arizona.
Messrs. Walker and Fitch, graduates of Hampton Institute, in 1896, made a careful canvass of one congressional district in Virginia, and found as follows: Out of a total acreage of 1,944,359 acres, one fifteenth, or 125,597 acres, is owned by the Colored people, roughly estimated at $1,000,000. These figures mean farm owning chiefly, as $79,611 represent the total city property. They also report that in Gloucester county, 25 years from the above date, the Colored people owned less than 100 acres of land. To-day they own 13,000 acres of land free from any encumbrance. Mr. Fitch further adds that he has traveled quite thoroughly through more than ten counties of Virginia, with horse and buggy, during the present year (1896), and that in no county through which he traveled did the Colored people own less than 5,000 acres of land. He found also that much of the improved farming was being done by Colored men, and that the strong public sentiment against moving to cities was having the desired effect.
Again, the statistician reports, in 1890, 12,690,152 homes and farms in the United States, and of this number the Negroes own 234,747 free from all encumbrance, and 29,541 mortgaged; giving the percentage of mortgaged property owned by Negroes as 10.71, while the whole percentage of mortgaged property for the whole country is 38.97. It is further stated that of all the property held by Negroes, 88.58 per cent is owned without encumbrance. Since so much has been accomplished in the Negro's pioneer days of freedom, may we not predict with a considerable degree of assurance that the next decade and a half will far exceed our most sanguine hope? The virgin fertility of our soils, and the vast amount of cheap and unskilled labor, have been a curse rather than a blessing to agriculture. This exhaustive system of cultivation, the destruction of forests, the rapid and almost constant decomposition of organic matter, together with the great multiplicity of insect and fungus diseases that appear every year, make the Southern agricultural problem one requiring more brains than that of the North, East or West. The advance of civilization has brought, and is constantly bringing, about a more healthy form of competition. The markets are becoming more fastidious, and he who puts such a product upon the market as it demands, controls that market, regardless of color. It is simply a survival of the fittest.
We are also aware that the demands upon agriculture were never so exacting as they are now. All other trades and professions are holding out their inducements to the young men and women who are ready and willing to grapple with life's responsibilities. One says, "Come and I will make you a Gould." Another, a Rockefeller; still another, an Astor—with all the luxuries their names suggest. Too many of our own farmers illy prepare their land, cultivate, harvest and market the scanty and inferior crop, selling the same for less than it cost to produce it. I need not tell you that the above conditions imperatively suggest the proverbial mule, implements more or less primitive, with frequently a vast territory of barren and furrowed hillsides and wasted valleys. Instead of the veritable Klondyke, of which their dreams are made sweet, another mortgage has been added as an unpleasant reminder of the year's hard labor. With this inevitable doom staring them in the face, is it any wonder that so many of the youth of our land flock to the cities with the hope of seeking some occupation other than farming? The above conditions, together with the seemingly higher civilization of the city folk, I claim, are largely responsible for this. But be this as it may, in the light of what has been accomplished, I see for us a very bright star of hope in the education of two-thirds of the brightest and best of our youth in scientific agriculture.
The many excellent schools, colleges, nature study leaflets, farmers' bulletins and reading courses, conferences, convocations, congresses, fairs, and the like, are all powerful educational factors designed to lead the race into higher agricultural activities. The agricultural schools, and higher institutions of that character, are wisely laying much stress upon stock raising, dairying, horticulture, landscape gardening, poultry raising, and every manipulation incident to the successful operation of this great industry. These subjects have been taught almost wholly to young men, but recent experience has taught, not only in this, but in other countries, that many of these studies seem especially suited to women; and many are taking the advantages offered by schools in the matter of learning the technique of poultry raising, dairying, horticulture, landscape gardening, and the related sciences, along with their academy or college work, and as a reward are finding pleasant, profitable and healthful employment. Nature study, with the first principles of agriculture, is compulsory in many of the primary schools, and ere another decade is indelibly placed upon the historical records of the greatest events of the greatest century, it will find us wonderfully in advance in this particular.
Every year we see a perceptible increase in the funds for public education, and magnificent schools and colleges, with better paid professors, springing up here and there, stand out as beacon lights to this new and wonderful epoch. The wisdom of spending these ever-increasing millions upon the youth of our land becomes from year to year a matter of less concern as we seek to give our boys and girls a broader education than that of a pure scientist. It is very encouraging to note the course taken by our young men and women who have gone out from those institutions—the way they have acquired land, built homes, and are devoting their entire time and talent in that direction. I have no fears but what we, in the course of time, will do our part both nobly and well in the matter of feeding a hungry world.
THE NEGRO AS A FARMER.
BY H. A. HUNT.
PROF. HENRY A. HUNT.
Henry A. Hunt was born in Hancock County, Ga., in 1866. He attended the public schools of Sparta, the county seat, until 1882, when he entered Atlanta University and was graduated from the college course in 1890. He also completed the course of instruction given in the Industrial Department of that university. He kept up his expenses, in a measure, by working as a carpenter during his vacations and during his spare hours while in school. He was considered a most promising young man and a thorough scholar by his professors and schoolmates. He became a professing Christian while pursuing his college course. In all of the athletic sports of the university he took an active part and served as captain of the base ball team for several years. He graduated with the highest honors of his class. Through a most flattering recommendation from the Superintendent of the Public Schools of Atlanta, Ga., he was called, in 1891, to the principalship of the Charlotte Graded School, which position he filled acceptably, until he resigned, during the same year, to accept the superintendency of the Industrial Department of Biddle University, Charlotte. N. C. In 1896 he was given, in addition to his industrial work, the superintendency of the Boarding Department of Biddle University. These two positions he is now filling in a most acceptable manner. Mr. Hunt's work and close touch with the young men of the university have been most gratifying. He encourages and takes part with them in all of their sports, being the leading spirit in their athletic association. He is a noble example of the manly man and his influence over the students for straightforward and manly endeavor has been truly helpful. The respect and esteem in which he is held by the graduates and undergraduates are most noteworthy. In August, 1900, Mr. Hunt called together the farmers of Mecklenburg and surrounding counties for the purpose of holding a farmers' conference. A permanent organization was effected, of which he was made president. The influence of these annual conferences is far-reaching and will no doubt result in great good to the farming class of western North Carolina. He was for several years the president of the Queen City Real Estate Company of Charlotte, N. C., an organization designed to help those wishing to obtain homes. He was forced to relinquish this work because of other duties. Mr. Hunt is a strong and courageous young man, he is firm in his convictions and believes the royal road to success is attained through the faithful performance of each day's duties. His sympathies are near to the interests of the working classes. As a college-bred man he urges his people to become skilled artisans and to build up reliable business enterprises and thus become independent. His kindness of heart and plain honest dealing with his fellow-man, along with his intellectual attainment, have won for him a host of friends and made him a popular man with all the people.
While attending Atlanta University, Mr. Hunt met the girl—Miss Florence S. Johnson, of Raleigh, N. C.—who in the year 1893 became his wife and to whom much of whatever success he has attained is attributable. To them there have been three bright and beautiful children born—two girls and a boy.
In a chapter on this subject it may not be out of place to give some little attention to the early history of the Negro as a farmer in America.
Without stopping to discuss the motives of the sea captain who brought over the first load of Negroes to America, or why the Northern colonists discontinued, at a comparatively early date, the use of slave labor, let us note a few things about the Negro in the South.
The fact that they could easily endure the summer sun of the cotton belt; that they learned quickly the simple methods of farming used in the cultivation of cotton, rice, sugar-cane, and tobacco; that they required but little in the way of food, clothing, housing and medical attention, and the further fact that they possessed a peculiarly happy and light-hearted disposition, all tended to make them especially valuable to the Southern planters.
It seems that slave labor was looked upon, at a comparatively early date, as being not only desirable, but absolutely necessary to the growth and development of the Southern colonies.
For several years after the settlement of Georgia no slaves were allowed to be used in that colony, but, finding that the colony seemed to be doomed to failure, the "trustees" permitted the introduction of slaves and the colony began immediately to prosper.
The following lines attributed to George Whitefield—the famous minister—in referring to his plantations in Georgia and South Carolina, give a fair idea of the feelings of the Southern colonists on the subject of slave labor at that time. He speaks thus about his Georgia plantation: "Upward of five thousand pounds have been expended in the undertaking, and yet very little proficiency made in the cultivation of my tract of land, and that entirely owing to the necessity I lay under of making use of white hands. Had a Negro been allowed I should now have had a sufficiency to support a great many orphans, without expending above half the sum which has been laid out." How different are his expressions concerning his South Carolina plantation, where slavery existed: "Blessed be God! This plantation has succeeded; and, though at present I have only eight working hands, yet, in all probability, there will be more raised in one year, and without a quarter of the expense, than had been produced at Bethesda for several years past. This confirms me in the opinion I have entertained for a long time that Georgia never can or will be a flourishing province without Negroes are allowed."
With the invention of the cotton gin slave labor became still more valuable, the South more prosperous, and the planters verily believed that cotton was king and South Carolina the hub of the universe.
But, while it is true that the Negro became an indispensable factor in the material prosperity of the South by his work on the plantations, yet he did not at that time occupy a position that could be dignified with the name of farmer. During the days of slavery the Negro occupied a position more closely akin to that of a farm animal than that of a farmer. Of course there were exceptions but we are speaking now of the masses.
The Negro having been looked upon by his master and schooled to look upon himself and his fellow bondmen as possessing none of the intelligence and virtues essential to success in life, there is little wonder that a comparatively small number of freedmen took advantage of the opportunities offered immediately after the close of the Civil War to become land owners. Indeed, when we take into account the fact that there was a sort of caste feeling among the slaves, with the "field hands" as the "mud sill," and all glad of any opportunity offered to rise above the despised position, the great wonder is that so many were willing to continue an occupation considered so degrading. The fact is, that it was to a very great extent simply a matter of accepting cheerfully the inevitable that held so many of the freedmen to the farms and to farm life.
Among the positive forces that operated in taking the Negro from the farm there was, perhaps, none stronger than the desire to have his children educated—the opportunity for which being very poor in the country districts—many of the very best and most thrifty among them left the farms for the towns and cities.
But whether on the farm or in the city, only a few years of freedom and its attendant responsibilities were necessary to enable the more intelligent ones of the ex-slaves to see the importance of not only knowing something, but owning something as well, if they were to entertain any hopes or aspirations above those of the "field hand," and it was from this class of Negro farm hands that the real Negro farmer came into existence. While there were many who showed decided intelligence, sound judgment and shrewd business sense by the manner in which they managed their affairs, still the great masses had arisen, if at all, only from the position of the master's farm animal in slavery to that of his less cared for farm hand in freedom.
The condition just described represents the state of affairs during the first few years after the war, as indeed it does present conditions, except that the number of those who may be called farmers is constantly increasing and the number of mere farm hands is growing proportionately smaller. We should keep constantly in mind the distinction between the man who tills his own land and the one who works the land of another, the former is the farmer, the latter the farm hand.
The distinction just noted would seem to be entirely justifiable as ownership of the land is the first requisite for the proper interest in, and love for the work being done, to entitle a man to the name of farmer.
In order to properly appreciate the opportunities and advantages of farm life to himself and his children, there must be that love for the farm itself, its rocks, its woods, its hills, its shady rills and its meadows that can come in no other way than through the proud sense of ownership. There must be the feeling of kinship for the very soil itself; the birds, the bees, the flowers must all be held dear to the heart of him who would know nature's choicest secrets and reap rich harvests from her beautiful storehouse.
In no field are the prospects brighter for the negro than in that of agriculture. There are thousands of acres of land in the South and Southwest that may be purchased upon terms so favorable that the land being purchased, may, by proper management, be made to yield sufficient income to meet the payments.
In the combination of a mild climate, cheap land, with easy payments, ready markets and previous training of the Negro, God seems to be offering special inducements for him to come out from the condition of a landless tenant—that may grow into a serfdom worse than slavery—to that of worthy, independent and self-respecting land owners.
There is no field in which he meets so little of the unreasoning and unreasonable prejudice as in farming.
The products of the farm are the necessaries of life and people do not stop to question too closely as to whence they come or by whom produced.
Owing to the growth of manufacturing in the South, especially of cotton goods and the consequent removal of large numbers of the poor whites into the cities and towns, just now would seem to be the high tide of the Negroes' opportunity to become an independent class of citizens; and we should be careful to seize it at its flood, or all the rest of our life's voyage may be bound in shallows and miseries more distressing than those already passed.
The opportunity for buying land, becoming independent and even wealthy, are, indeed, grand, but the fact must ever be kept in mind that the present favorable conditions will not obtain indefinitely. Let the tide of European immigration once turn southward and competition immediately becomes sharper, and the further progress of the Negro decidedly more difficult.
If the Negro would put himself in position to successfully withstand this competition that will inevitably come, let him begin now by purchasing his stronghold—the farm—and fortify himself, or he may awake, when it is too late, to find himself without a home or the means with which to secure it.
Let us note just here one of the most solemn obligations resting upon those who stand as leaders of the Negroes, viz.: The duty of impressing upon the masses the absolute necessity for purchasing land and the great need, yes, the absolute necessity of doing so now.
It is not the purpose of the writer to create the impression that the leaders of our people are neglecting their duty, or that the masses are letting their opportunities for material betterment pass unimproved, but rather to arouse both leaders and followers to the necessity for greater activity in their work. Indeed when all things, favorable and unfavorable, are taken into account, there is much to be thankful for and hopeful over in the present condition of the Negro farmers.
In almost every community in the South there are to be found Negro farmers who are not only making a decent living, but buying land and improving it, building comfortable dwellings, improving the grades of their farm animals, giving liberal support to their schools and churches and bringing up their children in a manner that is altogether creditable and calculated to make of them good citizens.
It is encouraging to note the increased interest on the part of many young men on the subject of farming, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of the agricultural and mechanical colleges, and the lively interest taken by them in the farmers' conferences held in various parts of the South. The number of Negro farmers who read agricultural journals and make intelligent use of the bulletins issued by the agricultural departments of the various states and the United States, is constantly increasing.
Lest there be some doubt as to the truthfulness of the favorable conditions just mentioned, let the figures speak. Since last year the Negroes of the single state of Georgia have purchased 66,000 acres of land and added $380,000 to the value of farm lands. (Prof. W. E. B. DuBois in The Independent, Nov. 21, 1901.)
Indeed it seems that if in one particular line of work more than any other the Negro has won for himself a place in the history of this country's progress that work has been upon the farm. If one section of the country has profited more than another by his toil, that section is the South, whose forests he has felled, whose roads he has built, whose soil he has tilled, whose wealth he has created, and whose prosperity he has made possible. Then let us not be discouraged, but turn our faces to the sunlight of heaven and put forth our very best endeavors, confidently expecting to reap the full rewards for our labors and attain the full measure of manhood as a race in this "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
THE NEGRO AS AN INVENTOR.
BY H. E. BAKER.
HENRY E. BAKER.
Henry E. Baker is one of the most useful men in Washington. His life stands out in strong contrast to that of so many of our educated colored men who have come to Washington, obtained positions in the government service, and shriveled up so far as public usefulness is concerned. He is an active member of the Berean Baptist Church, being its treasurer, an office he has held for several years. For ten years he has been secretary, the executive officer of the Industrial Building and Savings Company, and a director of the Capital Savings Bank. His most notable characteristic is his public spirit, having been connected with almost every well-directed movement in this city for the last fifteen years, looking to the betterment of the condition of his race, especially in the matter of opening up business opportunities for them. The estimation in which he is held by those who know him best is attested by the fact that he is almost invariably called to the position of treasurer in every organization of which he is a member. Born just before the War in Columbus, Miss., he attended the public school of his home and also the Columbus Union Academy. He passed the entrance examination at Annapolis, and was admitted into the Naval Academy as cadet midshipman in 1875, where he remained nearly two years. In 1877, he was appointed "copyist" in the United States Patent Office, where he is at present employed, and where he was promoted, through the several intervening grades, to the position of Second Assistant Examiner at $1,600 per annum. He attended the Ben-Hyde Benton School of Technology in this city from 1877 to 1879; entered the law department of Howard University in 1879, graduating in 1881, at the head of his class, and from the post-graduate course in 1883.
He was married in May, 1893, at Lexington, Ky., to Miss Violetta K. Clark, of Detroit, Mich., who graces a cozy home at 2348 Sixth Street, N. W.
It is quite within the mark to say that no class of men of modern times has made so distinct a contribution to what is popularly called "modern civilization" as have the inventors of the world, and it is equally within bounds to say that the American inventor has led all the rest in the practical utility as well as in the scientific perfection of his inventive skill. Within the century just past the inventors of America have done more than was done in all the preceding centuries to multiply the comforts and minimize the burdens of domestic life. What Washington and Grant, Sherman and Sheridan did for the glory of America was done, and more, by Whitney, Morse, Thompson, Howe, Ericsson, Colt, Bell, Corliss, Edison, McCormick, and a host of other Americans, native and naturalized, to promote the progress of American inventive skill, and thus firmly to establish this country in the front rank of the enlightened nations of the world.
The true measure of a nation's worth in the great family of nations is proportionate to that nation's contribution to the welfare and happiness of the whole; and similarly, an individual is measured by the contribution he makes to the well being of the community in which he lives. If inventions therefore have played the important part here assigned to them in the gradual development of our complex national life, it becomes important to know what contribution the American Negro has made to the inventive skill of this country.
Unfortunately for the seeker after this particular information the public records of the United States government offer practically no assistance, since the public records distinguish only as to nations and not as to races. The Englishman and the American may instantly find out how each stands in the list of patentees, but the Irishman and the Negro are kept in the dark—especially the latter.
The official records of the United States Patent Office, with a single exception, give no hint whatever that of the thousands of mechanical inventions for which patents are granted annually by the government, any patent has ever been granted to a Negro. The single exception was the name of Henry Blair of Maryland, to whom the public records refer as "a colored man," stating that he was granted a patent for a corn harvester in 1834 and another patent for a similar invention in 1836.
It is altogether safe to assume that this Henry Blair was a "free person of color," as the language of those days would have phrased it; for the government seemed committed to the theory that "a slave could not take out a patent for his invention." And this dictum gave rise to some rather embarrassing situations on more occasions than one. For instance, in 1857, a Negro slave, living with his master in the state of Mississippi, perfected a valuable invention which his master sought to have protected by a patent. Now, in law, a patent is a contract between the government and the inventor or his assignees. The slave, although the inventor, could not under the law be a party to a contract, and therefore could not secure the patent himself. His master applied for the patent, but was refused on the ground that inasmuch as he was not the inventor and could not be the assignee of a slave, he could not properly make the required oath. The master was not satisfied with this interpretation of the law by the Commissioner of Patents, and at once appealed from the latter's decision to the Secretary of the Interior, who, in 1858, referred the case to the Attorney-General of the United States. This latter official, who was Hon. Jeremiah S. Black, of Pennsylvania, confirmed the decision of the Commissioner of Patent, and neither master nor slave was ever able to get a patent for the slave's invention. This case reported on page 171 of volume 9, of "Opinions of Attorneys-General, United States."
Another instance of a similar character occurred a few years later, in 1862, when a slave belonging to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, invented a propeller for vessels. He constructed an excellent model of his invention, displaying remarkable mechanical skill in wood and metal working. He was not able to get his invention patented, but the merits of his invention were commented upon approvingly by a number of influential Southern newspapers, and his propeller was finally put in use by the Confederate navy. With the barrier of slavery cast aside, a new opportunity was opened to the Negro inventor, and the purpose of this article is to show what use he has made of that opportunity.
It must still be borne in mind that the records of the United States Patent Office do not show whether a patentee is a Negro or a Caucasian, and that to ascertain what the Negro has accomplished in the field of invention other sources of information had to be utilized; and finally, that the very omission from the public records of all data calculated to identify a given invention with the Negro race completely destroys the possibility of arriving at any definite conclusion as to the exact number and character of negro inventions.
Judging from what has been duly authenticated as Negro inventions patented by the United States, it is entirely reasonable to assume that many hundreds of valuable inventions have been patented by Negro inventors for which the race will never receive due credit. This is the more unfortunate since the race now, perhaps, more than ever before, needs the help of every fact in its favor to offset as far as possible the many discreditable things that the daily papers are all too eager to publish against it.
It appears that no systematic effort was ever made by the government to collect information as to the number of inventions by Negroes until January, 1900, when the then Commissioner of Patents, Hon. Charles H. Duell, undertook the task. Previous to that time the United States Patent Office had received numerous requests from all parts of the country for information on that point, and the uniform reply was that the official records of the Patent Office did not show whether an inventor was colored or white, and that the office had no way of obtaining such information.
Notwithstanding this fact, however, an employee of the Patent Office had undertaken to collect a list of such patents, and this list was used in selecting a small exhibit of Negro inventions. First, for the Cotton Centennial at New Orleans, in 1884; again for the World's Fair at Chicago, in 1893; and, lastly, for the Southern Exposition at Atlanta in 1895. But it was reserved for the United States Commission to the Paris Exposition of 1900 to make the first definite effort to obtain this information, and at its request the following letter by the Commissioner of Patents was addressed to hundreds of patent lawyers throughout the country, to large manufacturing establishments, to the various newspapers edited by colored men, and to prominent men of the race:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, United States Patent Office. Washington, D. C., Jan. 26, 1900.
This Office is endeavoring to obtain information concerning patents issued to colored inventors, in accordance with a request from the United States Commission to the Paris Exposition of 1900, to be used in preparing the "Negro Exhibit."
To aid in this work, you are requested to send to this Office, in the enclosed envelope, which will not require a postage stamp, the names of any colored inventors you can furnish, together with the date of grant, title of invention, and patent number, so that a list without errors can be prepared.
You will confer a special favor by aiding in the preparation of this list by filling in the blank form below, and sending in any replies as promptly as possible. Should you be unable to furnish any data, will you kindly inform us of that fact?
C. H. Duell, Commissioner of Patents.
======================================================================== NAME. NUMBER. DATE. INVENTION. - -
The replies to this letter showed that the correspondents personally knew of and could identify by name, date and number more than four hundred patents granted by the United States to colored inventors. The letters also showed that nearly as many more colored inventors had completed their inventions, and had applied to patent lawyers throughout the country for assistance in obtaining patents for their inventions, but finally abandoned the effort through lack of means to prosecute their applications. The list of the patented inventions as furnished mainly by the letters above named is printed below, and shows that, beginning first with agricultural implements and culinary utensils, which circumscribed the character of his earlier employment, the Negro inventor gradually widened the field of his inventive effort until he had well nigh covered the whole range of patentable subjects.
A study of the list will disclose the fact that the Negro inventor has very often, like his white brother, caught the spirit of invention, and not being contented with a single success, has frequently been led to exert his energies along many different lines of inventions.
Elijah McCoy, of Detroit, Mich., heads the list with twenty-eight patents, relating particularly to lubricating appliances for engines both stationary and locomotive, but covering also a large variety of other subjects. The next is Granville T. Woods, of Cincinnati, whose inventions are confined almost exclusively to electricity, and cover a very wide range of devices for the utilitarian application of this wonderful force. Mr. W. B. Purvis, of Philadelphia, comes next with sixteen patents relating especially to paper bag machinery, but including a few other subjects as well. Mr. F. J. Ferrell, of New York, has ten patents on valves adapted for a variety of uses. Then comes ex-Congressman Geo. W. Murray of South Carolina, with eight patents on agricultural implements. Mr. Henry Creamer has seven patents on steam traps, and more than a dozen among the number have patented as many as five different inventions.
Time and space will not admit of any extended notice of many individual patentees, but mention should be made of a few of them.
Granville T. Woods is called the "Black Edison" because of his persistent and successful investigations into the mystery of electricity. Among his inventions may be found valuable improvements in telegraphy, important telephone instruments, a system for telegraphing from moving trains, an electric railway, a phonograph, and an automatic cut-off for an electric circuit. One of his telephone inventions was sold to the American Bell Telephone Company, who is said to have paid Mr. Woods handsomely for his patent. Mr. Ferrell's inventions of valves laid the foundation for a large and highly successful manufacturing and commercial enterprise which he now conducts in the city of New York.
Mr. Elijah McCoy succeeded in placing his lubricators on many of the steam car and steamboat engines in the northwest and also on some of the ocean steamers, and from these he receives a valuable annual royalty.
Mr. Matzeliger, of Massachusetts, is credited with being the pioneer in the art of attaching soles to shoes by machinery; and Mr. Joseph Lee, of Boston, is said to have placed his kneading machine in many of the first-class bakeries and hotels in Boston and New York, from which he receives a substantial royalty.
So far as is known to the writer Miss Miriam E. Benjamin, of Massachusetts, is the only colored woman who has received a patent for an invention, and the principle of her invention, that of a gong signal, has just been adopted in the United States House of Representatives in signalling for the pages to attend upon members who want them for errands. Formerly the pages were signalled by members clapping their hands, and the noise incident to this method was frequently a great disturbance of the House proceedings. The new system just adopted involves merely the pressing of a button on the member's chair, and this rings a small gong while displaying a signal on the back of the chair.
Another invention by a young colored man which has attracted considerable attention is the rapid-fire gun by Mr. Eugene Burkins, of Chicago. This gun has been examined by officers of the War and Navy Departments, and has been pronounced a valuable contribution to the scientific equipments for military and naval warfare.
The following description of Mr. Burkins' gun appeared in Howard's American Magazine some months ago:
"A brief description of the gun is not exactly out of place, although the Scientific American and other technical journals have long since given it to the world. It is an improvement upon all that has yet been done in the way of ordnance, and the principles involved in its construction can be applied to any size of gun, from a one-inch barker to a thirty-six-inch thunderer. The model as it now stands weighs 475 pounds, measures four inches at breech, and is constructed of the finest of gun brass at a cost of $3,500. There is a magazine at the breech in which a large number of heavy shells can be held in reserve, and in the action of the gun these slip down to their places and are fired at the rate of fourteen a minute, an improvement on the Maxim gun of four shots. The gun is elevated upon a revolving turret with electrical connections, enabling the gunner to direct the action of the machine with a touch of his finger. Firing, reloading and ejection of shells are all effected by electricity, and a child could conduct the work of manning the gun as easily as anyone."
These inventions show how completely in error are those who constantly assert that the Negro has made no lasting contribution to the civilization of the age, and they prove conclusively that under favorable environment he is capable of performing his whole duty in the work of mankind whether it be tilling the earth with his hoe or advancing the world by his thought.
LIST OF COLORED INVENTORS IN THE UNITED STATES AS FURNISHED FOR THE PARIS EXPOSITION, 1900.
Inventor. Invention. Date. Number.
Abrams, W. B. Hame Attachment Apr, 14, 1891. 450,550 Allen, C. W. Self-Leveling Table Nov. 1, 1898. 613,436 Allen, J. B. Clothes Line Support Dec. 10, 1895. 551,105 Ashbourne, A. P. Process for Preparing Cocoanut for Domestic Use June 1, 1875. 163,962 Ashbourne, A. P. Biscuit Cutter Nov. 30, 1875. 170,460 Ashbourne, A. P. Refining Cocoanut Oil July 27, 1880. 230,518 Ashbourne, A. P. Process of Treating Cocoanut Aug. 21, 1877. 194,287 Blair, H. Corn Planter Oct. 14, 1834. Bailey, L. C. Combined Truss and Bandage Sept. 25, 1883. 285,545 Blair, Henry Cotton Planter Aug. 31, 1836. Bailey, L. C. Folding Bed July 18, 1899. 629,286 Bailes, Wm. Ladder Scaffold Support Aug. 5, 1879. 218,154 Bailiff, C. O. Shampoo Headrest Oct. 11, 1898. 612,008 Ballow, W. J. Combined Hatrack and Table Mar. 29, 1898. 601,422 Barnes, G. A. E. Design for Sign Aug. 19, 1898. 29,193 Beard, A. J. Rotary Engine July 5, 1892. 478,271 Beard, A. J. Car-coupler Nov. 23, 1897. 594,059 Becket, G. E. Letter Box Oct. 4, 1892. 483,525 Bell, L. Locomotive Smoke Stack May 23, 1871. 115,153 Bell, L. Dough Kneader Dec. 10, 1872. 133,823 Benjamin, L. W. Broom Moisteners and Bridles May 16, 1893. 497,747 Benjamin, Gong and Signal Chairs Miss M. E. for Hotels July 17, 1888. 386,286 Blackburn, A. B. Railway Signal Jan. 10, 1888. 376,362 Blackburn. A. B. Spring Seat for Chairs Apr. 3, 1888. 380,420 Blackburn, A. B. Cash Carrier Oct. 23, 1888. 391,577 Blue, L. Hand Corn Shelling Device May 20, 1884. 298,937 Binga, M. W. Street Sprinkling Apparatus July 22, 1879. 217,843 Booker, L. F. Design Rubber Scraping Knife Mar. 28, 1899. 30,404 Boone, Sarah Ironing Board Apr. 26, 1892. 473,653 Bowman, H. A. Making Flags Feb. 23, 1892. 469,395 Brooks, C. B. Punch Oct. 31, 1893. 507,672 Brooks, C. B. Street-Sweepers Mar. 17, 1896. 556,711 Brooks, C. B Street-Sweepers May 12, 1896. 560,154 Brooks, Hallstead and Page Street-Sweepers Apr. 21, 1896. 558,719 Brown, Henry Receptacle for Storing and Preserving Papers Nov. 2, 1886. 352,036 Brown, L. F. Bridle Bit Oct. 25, 1892. 484,994 Brown, O. E. Horseshoe Aug. 23, 1892. 481,371 Brown & Latimer Water Closets for Railway Cars Feb. 10, 1874. 147,363 Burr, J. A. Lawn Mower May 9, 1899. 624,749 Burr, W. F. Switching Device for Railways Oct. 31, 1899. 636,197 Burwell, W. Boot or Shoe Nov. 28, 1899. 638,143 Butler, R. A. Train Alarm June 15, 1897. 584,540 Butts, J. W. Luggage Carrier Oct. 10, 1899. 634,611 Byrd, T. J. Improvement in Holders for Reins for Horses Feb. 6, 1872. 123,328 Byrd. T. J. Apparatus for Detaching Horses from Carriages Mar. 19, 1872. 124,790 Byrd, T. J. Improvement in Neck Yokes for Wagons Apr. 30, 1872. 126,181 Byrd, T. J. Improvement in Car-Couplings Dec. 1, 1874. 157,370 Burkins, Eugene Rapid-Fire Gun 649,433 Campbell, W. S. Self-Setting Animal Trap Aug. 30, 1881. 246,369 Cargill, B. F. Invalid Cot July 25, 1899. 629,658 Carrington, T. A Range July 25, 1876. 180,323 Carter, W. C. Umbrella Stand Aug. 4, 1885. 323,397 Certain, J. M. Parcel Carrier for Bicycles Dec. 26, 1899. 639,708 Cherry, M. A. Velocipede May 8, 1888. 382,351 Church, T. S. Carpet Beating Machine July 29, 1884. 302,237 Cherry, M. A. Street Car Fender Jan. 1, 1895. 531,908 Clare, O. B. Trestle Oct. 9, 1888. 390,753 Coates, R. Overboot for Horses Apr. 19, 1892. 473,295 Cook, G. Automatic Fishing Device May 30, 1899. 625,829 Coolidge, J. S. Harness Attachment Nov. 13, 1888. 392,908 Cooper, A. R. Shoemaker's Jack Aug. 22, 1899. 631,519 Cooper, J. Shutter and Fastening May 1, 1883. 276,563 Cooper, J. Elevator Device Apr. 2, 1895. 536,605 Cooper, J. Elevator Device Sept. 21, 1897. 590,257 Cornwell, P. W. Draft Regulator Oct. 2, 1888. 390,284 Cornwell, P. W. Draft Regulator Feb. 7, 1893. 491,082 Cralle, A. L. Ice-Cream Mold Feb. 2, 1897. 576,395 Creamer, H. Steam Feed Water Trap Mar. 17, 1885. 313,854 Creamer, H. Steam Traps Mar. 8, 1887. 358,964 Creamer, H. Steam Traps Jan. 17, 1888. 376,586 Creamer, H. Steam Trap Feeder Dec. 11, 1888. 394,463 Creamer, H. Steam Trap May 28, 1889. 404,174 Creamer, H. Steam Trap Aug. 18, 1891. 457,983 Creamer, H. Steam Trap Nov. 21, 1893. 509,202 Cosgrove, W. F. Automatic Stop Plug for Gas Oil Pipes Mar. 17, 1885. 313,993 Darkins, J. T. Ventilation Feb. 19, 1895. 534,322 Davis, I. D. Tonic Nov. 2, 1886. 351,829 Davis, W. D. Riding Saddles Oct. 6, 1896. 568,939 Davis, W. R., Jr. Library Table Sept. 24, 1878. 208,378 Deitz, W. A. Shoe Apr. 30, 1867. 64,205 Dorticus, C. J. Device for Applying Coloring Liquids to Sides of Soles or Heels of Shoes Mar. 19, 1895. 535,820 Dickinson, J. H. Pianola Detroit, Mich., 1899. Dorticus, C. J. Machine for Embossing Photo Apr. 16, 1895. 537,422 Dorticus, C. J. Photographic Print Wash Apr. 23, 1895. 537,968 Dorticus, C. J. Hose Leak Stop July 18, 1899. 629,315 Downing, P. B. Electric Switch for Railroad June 17, 1890. 430,118 Downing, P. B. Letter Box Oct. 27, 1891. 462,093 Downing, P. B. Street Letter Box Oct. 27, 1891. 462,096 Dunnington, J. H. Horse Detachers Mar. 18, 1897. 578,979 Dorsey, O. Door-Holding Device Dec. 10, 1878. 210,764 Edmonds, T. H. Separating Screens July 20, 1897. 586,724 Elkins, T. Dining, Ironing Table and Quilting Frame Combined Feb. 22, 1870. 100,020 Elkins, T. Chamber Commode Jan. 9, 1872. 122,518 Elkins, T. Refrigerating Apparatus Nov. 4, 1879. 221,222 Evans, J. H. Convertible Settees Oct. 5, 1897. 591,095 Faulkner, H. Ventilated Shoe Apr. 20, 1890. 426,495 Ferrell, F. J. Steam Trap Feb. 11, 1890. 420,993 Ferrell, F. J. Apparatus for Melting Snow May 27, 1890. 428,670 Ferrell, F. J. Valve May 27, 1890. 428,671 Ferrell, F. J. Valve Apr. 14, 1891. 450,451 Ferrell, F. J. Valve Nov. 10, 1891. 462,762 Ferrell, F. J. Valve Jan. 26, 1892. 467,796 Ferrell, F. J. Valve Feb. 2, 1892. 468,242 Ferrell, F. J. Valve Feb. 9, 1892. 468,334 Ferrell, F. J. Valve Jan. 17, 1893. 490,227 Ferrell, F. J. Valve July 18, 1893. 501,497 Fisher, D. A. Joiners' Clamp Apr. 20, 1875. 162,281 Fisher, D. A. Furniture Castor Mar. 14, 1876. 174,794 Flemming, R. F., Jr. Guitar Mar. 3, 1886. 338,727 Goode, Sarah E. Folding Cabinet Bed July 14, 1885. 322,177 Grant, G. F. Golf-Tee Dec. 12, 1899. 638,920 Grant, W. S. Curtain Rod Support Aug. 28, 1894. 525,203 Gregory, J. Motor Apr. 26, 1887. 361,937 Gray, R. H. Cistern Cleaners Apr. 9, 1895. 537,151 Grenon, H. Razor Stropping Device Feb. 18, 1896. 554,867 Griffin, F. W. Pool Table Attachment June 13, 1899. 626,902 Gunn, S. W. Boot or Shoe Jan. 16, 1900. 641,642 Haines, J. H. Portable Basin Sept. 28, 1897. 590,833 Hammonds, J. F. Apparatus for Holding Yarn Skeins Dec. 15, 1896. 572,985 Harding, F. H. Extension Banquet Table Nov. 22, 1898. 614,468 Hawkins, J. Gridiron Mar. 26, 1845. 3,973 Hawkins, R. Harness Attachment Oct. 4, 1887. 370,943 Headen, M. Foot Power Hammer Oct. 5, 1886. 350,363 Hearness, R. Sealing Attachment for Bottles Feb. 15, 1898. 598,929 Hearness, R. Detachable Car Fender July 4, 1899. 628,003 Hilyer, A. F. Water Evaporator Attachment for Hot Air Registers Aug. 26, 1890. 435,095 Hilyer, A. F. Registers Oct. 14, 1890. 438,159 Holmes, E. H. Gage Nov. 12, 1895. 549,513 Hunter, J. H. Portable Weighing Scales Nov. 3, 1896. 570,553 Hyde, R. N. Composition for Cleaning and Preserving Carpets Nov. 6, 1888. 392,205 Jackson, B. F. Heating Apparatus Mar. 1, 1898. 599,985 Jackson, B. F. Matrix Drying Apparatus May 10, 1898. 603,879 Jackson. B. F. Gas Burner Apr. 4, 1899. 622,482 Jackson, H. A. Kitchen Table Oct. 6, 1896. 569,135 Jackson, W. H. Railway Switch Mar. 9, 1897. 578,641 Jackson, W. H. Railway Switch Mar. 16, 1897. 593,665 Jackson. W. H. Automatic Locking Switch Aug. 23, 1898. 609,436 Johnson, D. Rotary Dining Table Jan. 15, 1888. 396,089 Johnson, D. Lawn Mower Attachment Sept. 10, 1889. 410,836 Johnson, D. Grass Receivers for Lawn Mowers June 10, 1890. 429,629 Johnson, I. R. Bicycle Frame Oct. 10, 1899. 634,823 Johnson, P. Swinging Chairs Nov. 15, 1881. 249,530 Johnson, P. Eye Protector Nov. 2, 1880. 234,039 Johnson, W. Velocipede June 20, 1899. 627,335 Johnson, W. A. Paint Vehicle Dec. 4, 1888. 393,763 Johnson, W. H. Overcoming Dead Centers Feb. 4, 1896. 554,223 Johnson, W. H. Overcoming Dead Centers Oct. 11, 1898. 612,345 Johnson. W. Egg Beater Feb. 5, 1884. 292,821 Jones & Long Caps for Bottles Sept. 13, 1898. 610,715 Joyce, J. A. Ore Bucket Apr. 26, 1898. 603,143 Latimer, L. H. Manufacturing Carbons June 17, 1882. 252,386 Latimer, L. H. Apparatus for Cooling and Disinfecting Jan. 12, 1886. 334,078 Latimer, L. H. Locking Racks for Hats, Coats and Umbrellas Mar. 24, 1896. 557,076 Lavalette, W. A. Printing Press Sept. 17, 1878. 208,208 Lee, H. Animal Trap Feb. 12, 1867. 61,941 Lee, J. Kneading Machine Aug. 7, 1894. 524,042 Lee, J. Bread Crumbing Machine June 4, 1895. 540,553 Leslie, F. W. Envelope Seal Sept. 21, 1897. 590,325 Lewis, A. L. Window Cleaner Sept. 27, 1892. 483,359 Lewis, E. R. Spring Gun May 3, 1887. 362,096 Linden, H. Piano Truck Sept. 8, 1891. 459,365 Little, E. Bridle-Bit Mar. 7, 1882. 254,666 Loudin, F. J. Sash Fastener Dec. 12, 1892. 510,432 Loudin, F. J. Key Fastener Jan. 9, 1894. 512,308 Love, J. L. Plasterers' Hawk July 9, 1895. 542,419 Love, J. L. Pencil Sharpener Nov. 23, 1897. 594,114 Marshall, W. Grain Binder May 11, 1886. 341,589 Marshall, T. J. Fire Extinguisher May 26, 1872. 125,063 Martin, W. A. Lock July 23, 1889. 407,738 Martin, W. A. Lock Dec. 30, 1890. 443,945 Matzeliger, J. E. Mechanism for Distributing Tacks Nov. 26, 1899. 415,726 Matzeliger, J. E. Nailing Machine Feb. 25, 1896. 421,954 Matzeliger, J. E. Tack Separating Mechanism Mar. 25, 1890. 423,937 Matzeliger, J. E. Lasting Machine Sept. 22, 1891. 459,899 McCoy, E. Lubricator for Steam Engines July 2, 1872. 129,843 McCoy, E. Lubricator for Steam Engines Aug. 6, 1872. 130,305 McCoy, E. Lubricator May 27, 1873. 139,407 McCoy, E. Steam Lubricator Jan. 20, 1874. 146,697 McCoy, E. Ironing Table May 12, 1874. 150,876 McCoy, E. Steam Cylinder Lubricator Feb. 1, 1876. 173,032 McCoy, E. Steam Cylinder Lubricator July 4, 1876. 179,585 McCoy, E. Lubricator Mar. 28, 1882. 255,443 McCoy, E. Lubricator July 18, 1882. 261,166 McCoy, E. Lubricator Jan. 9, 1883. 270,238 McCoy, E. Lawn Sprinkler Design Sept. 26, 1899. 631,549 McCoy, E. Steam Dome June 16, 1885. 320,354 McCoy, E. Lubricator June 16, 1885. 320,379 McCoy, E. Lubricator Feb. 8, 1887. 357,491 McCoy, E. Lubricator Attachment Apr. 19, 1887. 361,435 McCoy, E. Lubricator for Safety Valves May 24, 1887. 363,529 McCoy, E. Lubricator May 29, 1888. 383,745 McCoy, E. Lubricator May 29, 1888. 383,746 McCoy & Hodges Lubricator Dec. 24, 1889. 418,139 McCoy, E. Dope Cup Sept. 29, 1891. 460,215 McCoy, E. Lubricator Dec. 29, 1891. 465,875 McCoy, E. Lubricator Mar. 1, 1892. 470,163 McCoy, E. Lubricator Apr. 5, 1892. 472,066 McCoy, E. Lubricator June 6, 1893. 498,809 McCoy, E. Lubricator Sept. 13, 1898. 610,634 McCoy, E. Lubricator Oct. 4, 1898. 611,759 McCoy, E. Lubricator Nov. 15, 1898. 614,307 McCoy, E. Lubricator June 27, 1899. 627,623 McCree, D. Portable Fire Escape Nov. 11, 1890. 440,322 Mendenhall, A. Holder for Driving Reins Nov. 28, 1899. 637,811 Miles, A. Elevator Oct. 11, 1887. 371,207 Mitchell, C. L. Phoneterisin Jan. 1, 1884. 291,071 Mitchell, J. M. Cheek Row Corn Planter Jan. 16, 1900. 641,462 Moody, W. U. Game Board Design May 11, 1897. 27,046 Morehead, K. Reel Carrier Oct. 6, 1896. 568,916 Murray, G. W. Combined Furrow Opener and Stalk-knocker Apr. 10, 1894. 517,960 Murray, G. W. Cultivator and Marker Apr. 10, 1894. 517,961 Murray, G. W. Planter June 5, 1894. 520,887 Murray, G. W. Cotton Chopper June 5, 1894. 520,888 Murray, G. W. Fertilizer Distributer June 5, 1894. 520,889 Murray, G. W. Planter June 5, 1894. 520,890 Murray, G. W. Combined Cotton Seed June 5, 1894. 520,891 Murray, G. W. Planter and Fertilizer Distributer Reaper June 5, 1894. 520,892 Murray, W. Attachment for Bicycles Jan. 27, 1891. 445,452 Nance, L. Game Apparatus Dec. 1, 1891. 464,035 Nash, H. H. Life Preserving Stool Oct. 5, 1875. 168,519 Newman, Miss L.D. Brush Nov. 15, 1898. 614,335 Newson, S. Oil Heater or Cooker May 22, 1894. 520,188 Nichols & Latimer Electric Lamp Sept. 13, 1881. 247,097 Nickerson, W. J. Mandolin and Guitar Attachment for Pianos June 27, 1899. 627,739 O'Conner & Turner Alarm for Boilers Aug. 25, 1896. 566,612 O'Conner & Turner Steam Gage Aug. 25, 1896. 566,613 O'Conner & Turner Alarm for Coasts Containing Vessels Feb. 8, 1898. 598,572 Outlaw, J. W. Horseshoes Nov. 15, 1898. 614,273 Perryman, F. R. Caterers' Tray Table Feb. 2, 1892. 468,038 Peterson, H. Attachment for Lawn Mowers Apr. 30, 1889. 402,189 Phelps, W. H. Apparatus for Washing Vehicles Mar. 23, 1897. 579,242 Pickering, J. F. Air Ship Feb. 20, 1900. 643,975 Pickett, H. Scaffold June 30, 1874. 152,511 Pinn, T. B. File Holder Aug. 17, 1880. 231,355 Polk, A. J. Bicycle Support Apr. 14, 1896. 558,103 Pugsley, A. Blind Stop July 29, 1890. 433,306 Purdy & Sadgwar Folding Chair June 11, 1889. 405,117 Purdy, W. Device for Sharpening Edged Tools Oct. 27, 1896. 570,337 Purdy, W. Device for Sharpening Edged Tools Aug. 16, 1898. 609,367 Purdy, W. Device for Sharpening Edged Tools Aug. 1, 1899. 630,106 Purdy & Peters Design for Spoons Apr. 23, 1895. 24,228 Purvis, W. B. Bag Fastener Apr, 25, 1882. 256,856 Purvis, W. B. Hand Stamp Feb. 27, 1883. 273,149 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Feb. 12, 1884. 293,353 Purvis, W. B. Fountain Pen Jan. 7, 1890. 419,065 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Jan. 28, 1890. 420,099 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine June 24, 1890. 430,684 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Aug. 19, 1890. 434,461 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Sept. 2, 1890. 435,524 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Sept. 22, 1891. 460,093 Purvis, W. B. Electric Railway May 1, 1894. 519,291 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine May 8, 1894. 519,348 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine May 8, 1894. 519,349 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Dec. 11, 1894. 530,650 Purvis, W. B. Magnetic Car Balancing Device May 21, 1895. 539,542 Purvis, W. B. Paper Bag Machine Mar. 9, 1897. 578,361 Purvis, W. B. Electric Railway Switch Aug. 17, 1897. 588,176 Queen, W. Guard for Companion Ways and Hatches Aug. 18, 1891. 458,131 Ray, E. P. Chair Supporting Device Feb. 21, 1899. 620,078 Ray, L. P. Dust Pan Aug. 3, 1897. 587,607 Reed, J. W Dough Kneader and Roller Sept. 23, 1884. 305,474 Reynolds, R. R. Non-Refillable Bottle May 2, 1899. 624,092 Reynolds, H. H. Window Ventilator for R. R. Cars Apr. 3, 1883. 275,271 Reynolds, H. H. Safety Gate for Bridges Oct. 7, 1890. 437,937 Rhodes, J. B. Water Closets Dec. 19. 1899. 639,290 Richardson, A. C. Hame Fastener Mar. 14, 1882. 255,022 Richardson, A. C. Churn Feb. 17, 1891. 446,470 Richardson, A. C. Casket Lowering device Nov. 13, 1894. 529,311 Richardson, A. C. Insect Destroyer Feb. 28, 1899. 620,362 Richardson, A. C. Bottle Dec. 12, 1899. 638,811 Richardson, W. H. Cotton Chopper June 1, 1886. 343,140 Richardson, W. H. Child's Carriage June 18, 1889. 405,599 Richardson, W. H. Child's Carriage June 18, 1889. 405,600 Richey, C. V. Car Coupling June 15, 1897. 584,650 Richey, C. V. Railroad Switch Aug. 3, 1897. 587,657 Richey, C. V. Railroad Switch Oct. 26, 1897. 592,448 Richey, C. V. Fire Escape Bracket Dec. 28, 1897. 596,427 Richey, C. V. Combined Hammock and Stretcher Dec. 13, 1898. 615,907 Rickman, A. L. Overshoe Feb. 8, 1898. 598,816 Ricks, J. Horseshoe Mar. 30, 1886. 338,781 Ricks, J. Overshoe for Horses June 6, 1899. 626,245 Robinson, E. R. Electric Railway Trolley Sept. 19, 1893. 505,370 Robinson, E. R. Casting Composite Nov. 23, 1897. 594,286 Robinson, J. H. Life Saving Guards for Locomotives Mar. 14, 1899. 621,143 Robinson, J. H. Life Saving Guards for Street Cars Apr. 25, 1899. 623,929 Robinson, J. Dinner Pail Feb. 1, 1887. 356,852 Romain, A. Passenger Register Apr. 23, 1889. 402,035 Roster, D. N. Feather Curler Mar. 10, 1896. 556,166 Ross, A. L. Runner for Stops Aug. 4, 1896. 565,301 Ross, A. L. Bag Closure June 7, 1898. 605,343 Ross, J. Bailing Press Sept. 5, 1899. 632,539 Ross, A. L. Trousers Support Nov. 28, 1899. 638,068 Ruffin, S. Vessels for Liquids and Manner of Sealing Nov. 20, 1899. 737,603 Russell, L. A. Guard Attachment for Beds Aug. 13, 1895. 544,381 Sampson, G. T. Sled Propeller Feb. 17, 1885. 312,388 Sampson, G. T. Clothes Drier June 7, 1892. 476,416 Scottron, S. R. Adjustable Window Cornice Feb. 17, 1880. 224,732 Scottron, S. R. Cornice Jan. 16, 1883. 270,851 Scottron, S. R. Pole Tip Sept. 21, 1886. 349,525 Scottron, S. R. Curtain Rod Aug. 30, 1892. 481,720 Scottron, S. R. Supporting Bracket Sept. 12, 1893. 505,008 Shorter, D. W. Feed Rack May 17, 1887. 363,089 Shanks, S. C. Sleeping Car Berth Register July 21, 1897. 587,165 Smith, J. W. Improvement in Games Apr. 17, 1900. 647,887 Smith, J. W. Lawn Sprinkler May 4, 1897. 581,785 Smith, J. W. Lawn Sprinkler Mar. 22, 1898. 601,065 Smith, P. D. Potato Digger Jan. 21, 1891. 445,206 Smith, P. D. Grain Binder Feb. 23, 1892. 469,279 Snow & Johns Liniment Oct. 7, 1890. 437,728 Standard, J. Oil Stove Oct. 29, 1889. 413,689 Standard, J. Refrigerator July 14, 1891. 455,891 Stewart, T. W. Mop June 13, 1893. 499,402 Stewart, T. W. Station Indicator June 20, 1893. 499,895 Stewart & Johnson Metal Bending Machine Dec. 27, 1887. 375,512 Stewart, E. W. Punching Machine May 3, 1887. 362,190 Stewart, E. W. Machine for Forming Vehicle Seat Bars Mar. 22, 1887. 373,698 Spears, H. Portable Shield for Infantry Dec. 27, 1870. 110,599 Sutton, E. H. Cotton Cultivator Apr. 7, 1874. 149,543 Sweeting, J. A. Device for Rolling Cigarettes Nov. 30, 1897. 594,501 Sweeting, J. A. Combined Knife and Scoop June 7, 1898. 605,209 Shewcraft, Frank Letter Box Detroit, Mich. Taylor, B. H. Rotary Engine Apr. 23, 1878. 202,888 Taylor, B. H. Slide Valve July 6, 1897. 585,798 Thomas, S. E. Waste Trap Oct. 18, 1883. 286,746 Thomas, S. E. Waste Trap for Basins, Closets, etc. Oct. 4, 1887. 371,107 Thomas, S. E. Casting July 31, 1888. 386,941 Thomas, S. E. Pipe Connection Oct. 9, 1888. 390,821 Toliver, George Propeller for Vessels Apr. 28, 1891. 451,086 Tregoning & Latimer Globe Supporter for Electric Lamps Mar. 21, 1882. 255,212 Walker, Peter Machine for Cleaning Seed Cotton Feb. 16, 1897. 577,153 Walker, Peter Bait Holder Mar. 8, 1898. 600,241 Waller, J. N. Shoemaker's Cabinet or Bench Feb. 3, 1880. 224,253 Washington, Wade Corn Husking Machine Aug. 14, 1883. 283,173 Watkins, Isaac Scrubbing Frame Oct. 7, 1890. 437,849 Watts, J. R. Bracket for Miners' Lamp Mar. 7, 1893. 493,137 West, E. H. Weather Shield Sept. 5, 1899. 632,385 West, J. W. Wagon Oct. 18, 1870. 108,419 White, D. L. Extension Steps for Cars Jan. 12, 1897. 574,969 White, J. T. Lemon Squeezer Dec. 8, 1896. 572,849 Williams, Carter Canopy Frame Feb. 2, 1892. 468,280 Williams, J. P. Pillow Sham Holder Oct. 10, 1899. 634,784 Winn, Frank Direct Acting Steam Engine Dec. 4, 1888. 394,047 Winters, J. R. Fire Escape Ladder May 7, 1878. 203,517 Winters, J. R. Fire Escape Ladder Apr. 8, 1879. 214,224 Woods, G. T. Steam Boiler Furnace June 3, 1884. 299,894 Woods, G. T. Telephone Transmitter Dec. 2, 1884. 308,817 Woods, G. T. Apparatus for Transmission of Messages by Electricity Apr. 7, 1885. 315,368 Woods, G. T. Relay Instrument June 7, 1887. 364,619 Woods, G. T. Polarized Relay July 5, 1887. 366,192 Woods, G. T. Electro Mechanical Brake Aug. 16, 1887. 368,265 Woods, G. T. Telephone System and Apparatus Oct. 11, 1887. 371,241 Woods, G. T. Electro-Magnetic Brake Apparatus Oct. 18, 1887. 371,655 Woods, G. T. Railway Telegraphy Nov. 15, 1887. 373,383 Woods, G. T. Induction Telegraph System Nov. 29, 1887. 373,915 Woods, G. T. Overhead Conducting System for Electric Railway May 29, 1888. 383,844 Woods, G. T. Electro-Motive Railway System June 26, 1888. 385,034 Woods, G. T. Tunnel Construction for Electric Railway July 17, 1888. 386,282 Woods, G. T. Galvanic Battery Aug. 14, 1888. 387,839 Woods, G. T. Railway Telegraphy Aug. 28, 1888. 388,803 Woods, G. T. Automatic Safety Cut-out for Electric Circuits Jan. 1, 1889. 395,533 Woods, G. T. Automatic Safety Cut-out for Electric Circuit Oct. 14, 1889. 438,590 Woods, G. T. Electric Railway System Nov. 10, 1891. 463,020 Woods, G. T. Electric Railway Supply System Oct. 31, 1893. 507,606 Woods, G. T. Electric Railway Conduit Nov. 21, 1893. 509,065 Woods, G. T. System of Electrical Distribution Oct. 13, 1896. 569,443 Woods, G. T Amusement Apparatus Dec. 19, 1899. 639,692 Wormley, James Life Saving Apparatus May 24, 1881. 242,091 Williams, P. B. Electro-Magnetic Electrical Railway Track Switch Apr. 24, 1900. 648,092 Williams, P. B. Electrically Controlled and Operated Railway Switch Jan. 15, 1901. 666,080
WHAT THE OMEN?
BY PROF. W. S. SCARBOROUGH.
PROF. WILLIAM S. SCARBOROUGH, A. M., LL. D.
William S. Scarborough, now Vice-President of Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio, and Professor of Greek and Latin in the same institution, was born in Macon, Ga., February 18, 1852. He received his early education in his native city before and during the Civil War. In 1869 he entered Atlanta University where he remained two years in preparation for Yale University, but, instead, entered Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, in 1871, and was graduated from the Department of Philosophy and the Arts with the degree of A. B. in 1875. He spent a part of the following year in Oberlin Theological Seminary in special study of the Semitic languages and Hellenistic Greek.
In 1877 Professor Scarborough was elected as head of the Classical Department in Wilberforce University. In 1881 he published through A. S. Barnes & Co. (New York) a Greek text book—-"First Lessons in Greek"—the first and only Greek book ever written by a Negro. This book was widely used by both the white and colored schools of the country, especially in the North. Professor Scarborough has also written a treatise entitled "The Birds of Aristophanes—a Theory of Interpretation"—aside from numerous tracts and pamphlets, covering a variety of subjects—classical, archaeological, sociological and racial. He has written many papers for various societies to which he belongs. In 1891 he was transferred to the chair of Hellenistic Greek, Payne Theological Seminary. In 1897 he was again re-elected as Professor of Latin and Greek in the University and Vice-President of the same.
He has contributed largely to the press of the country, including the leading magazines. He is one of the editors of the A. M. E. Sunday-school publications, having filled that position for a number of years. He is a member of a number of associations: American Philological, American Dialect, American Social Science, Archaeological Institute of America, American Spelling Reform, American Folk-Lore, American Modern Language, American Political and Social Science, the Egyptian Exploration Fund Association and the American Negro Academy, of which he is First Vice-President. He has several times been one of the orators at the Lincoln League banquet of the State of Ohio. At a conference held by the leaders of the race in the city of Columbus, Ohio, he was elected President of the Afro-American State League designed to further the interests of the Negro throughout the country. Professor Scarborough has traveled extensively in Europe. He was a delegate to the Ecumenical Methodist Conference held in London in 1901, representing the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
We take the following from the "New York Age" of July 18:
"While in Boston Prof. W. S. Scarborough of Wilberforce University was delightfully entertained by the colored graduates of Harvard University and Amherst College at a reception given in his honor at the home of Mr. G. W. Forbes, a graduate of Amherst. Speeches were made by Messrs. Forbes, Morgan, Trotter, Lewis, Williams and others eulogistic of the life and services of the professor in behalf of his race. The professor replied, thanking them for the honor conferred upon him. Next year it will be twenty-five years since Professor Scarborough first became connected with Wilberforce University as its classical professor and he intends to mark the event by publishing a volume of his philological papers. These papers have all been read before the American Philological Association at its various annual sessions. Twenty years ago Professor Scarborough was first elected to membership in this body at Harvard University. This year the association again met at this venerable seat of learning and by way of commemorating the event Professor Scarborough read a paper on Thucydides. It is some of these papers that the professor intends to put into more tangible form for future use."
The all-absorbing question now before the American people seems to be the race question. Our magazines and papers generally—dailies and weeklies as well as monthlies—are deluged as it were with articles on the Negro people—the Negro as a citizen—his status, his future, the sort of education best adapted to his needs as a man and a citizen, and kindred subjects. In fact no phase of the Negro's life fails of discussion at the hands of the most flippant penny-a-liner as well as the gravest thinker. All have theories of some sort and they do not hesitate to express them—whether they are visionary or practical.
If theories alone could have solved this problem, long ere this would race friction have been removed; it would have been a question of the past, but unfortunately for the race, unfortunately for the people at large, many of those who knew least about the subject and who had no remedy for the troubles complained of—have had most to say and they have generally said it in the most reckless way, regardless of facts. Only now and then do we have a calm view of the situation with reasonable suggestions as to the best course to follow.
As we enter upon the twentieth century, it will be well for black and white to get together and understand one another and ascertain as far as possible what is best to do in the light of facts before us.
One thing is certain—the white man does not yet know the Negro. Strange as it may seem, the Northern white man does not know him after many years of close observation, neither does the Southern white man, for all the years gone by in which the Negro has lived in his midst. The observations of both in fact only leave the Negro largely an unknown quantity to either. I have claimed heretofore that there is a life that the white man knows nothing of. It is found in the hovel as well as in the cultured home, in the school and the church. It is a life in the bud-time of race pride and another race prejudice; and it is swelling to the blossoming. What will be the fruit?
To know the race one must do more than occasionally to visit it here and there, must see more than even a close examination of schools and churches, instructed, aided and supported by white philanthropy, will disclose. The toadying, the servile representatives of the race, the politicians, the dependent ones—all must be passed by and the people found. To know the Negro one must be with him and become a part of his life—see what he is doing, and above all, to know what he is thinking.
Go into the schools and churches where there is not a shadow of white influence to check freedom of speech or tinge thought and what do we see and hear? In every case we find those from the oldest to the youngest with some ideas upon the race question and ready to express them. Not so with white children. They are not thinking about the color of their skin or the texture of their hair or their rights and privileges or the deprivation of these rights, the contempt and ostracism following them everywhere; but the Negro child, on the other hand, of every shade of color has these almost constantly in mind, for they are thrust upon him. He can think of little else.
In such schools, in such communities, the field work, the social gathering, the literary society, the routine of school or church or community life, the platform—all are tinctured deeply with these ideas and these are expressed in some form on every possible occasion. All these questions are in a large degree to the race, as far as interest is concerned, at least, the momentous, the ever-present, ever-burning topic.
No youth of the white race feels the weight of any subject agitating the mind of the public as these colored youth feel this one. What is the omen, when boys and girls alike make it a common question, in some form or other for all their daily work? It has been said that the two races are growing apart, that there is as much race prejudice in the one as in the other. In many respects this is true, though the prejudice on the part of the Negro is a thing of natural growth from certain causes, not an inherent quality. The fact that the Negro is rising without anything like adequate recognition—at least other than a patronizing one—is one of these causes. As here and there the Negro comes, to the white man's higher level, among the best he is confronted with that "Ah-you-are-here." Ah, which means more than words can express and he straightway feels his pulses stirred to the defensive counter spirit of "I-am-and-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it?" The result is the two mutually draw back from each other.
Among the middle classes where the level of the whites intellectually and financially is more readily and more rapidly being reached by the greater number of Negroes there is still more prejudice to be found. It is here where the Negro has his fiercest battle ground; it is here where he finds his greatest opposition. It is only following out the idea of the French writer who said, "Mediocrity alone is jealous." The constant desire of this class of white people to rise to the highest level aggravates them upon seeing a Negro reaching out for or obtaining in any way that which they may have or may be seeking, and they "take it out" by greater assumption of superiority especially over those of the race who have reached their own plane of living, and here again is a creation of a counter prejudice.
Growing refinement brings with it to the Negro all that sensitiveness which is accorded to refined people wherever found, and naturally he recoils from rebuffs, insults, and contumely, and holds himself aloof more and more only as business demands contact. He has no growing reason to revere the whites as a mass, and if nations are proverbially ungrateful, what more can be expected of individuals, no matter how much fine theorizing there may be upon the subject of what the Negro owes to the white man.
With this increasing prejudice, for reasons named, there is a growing race pride. This is taking firm root among the young people of the Negro race who are being taught to respect those of their own number who have obtained honor and distinction through merit. The school-boy and school-girl are studying the history of their own race with eagerness. They are finding out that it is not an altogether degraded people from which they have sprung, and with the gathering evidences about them of education, refinement, even wealth, and high character, they see no good reason why they should be despised for mere color or the possession of some imperceptible drops of Negro blood, as in many cases. This is a laudable pride based upon both the past and present and, as we have said, they are more alive to all that pertains to race matters than any other set of young people whom we are able to mention.
What is the omen? Think you that the growing generation will tamely submit to the endless continuance of present and past grievances? Think you that this thoughtfulness of the Negro youth will be without some sort of fruit? Will these not have as much influence upon their ignorant brother masses as have the whites over the ignorant masses of their own color? I repeat, the white man does not thoroughly know the Negro. He does not begin to see all that boils and seethes and ferments in the brains of this growing class. It is well for the nation to learn wisdom from the mouths of babes and sucklings. And when these prattle of race issues it is an omen not to be unheeded.
WHY THE NEGRO RACE SURVIVES.
BY PROF. T. DE S. TUCKER.
THOMAS de S. TUCKER.
Thomas de S. Tucker first saw the light of day at Victoria, in Sherbro, Sierra Leone, West Coast of Africa, on the 21st day of July, 1844. His mother was the youngest daughter of James Tucker, hereditary chief of Sherbro. The founder of the family, about two hundred years previous, was an Englishman, from whom the surname is derived.
On the paternal side, Tucker comes of an ancient noble family in the east of France, the de Salieres, of Marseilles. His father, Joseph, although descended from this noble lineage, was an ardent admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose checkered fortunes he followed to the disastrous field of Waterloo.
In accordance with the custom of the country, the wife being deemed of higher social standing than the husband, the son took the maternal surname. Tucker was sent, at a tender age, to a school located in the family territory. Such was his rapid progress that in a few years he had acquired English sufficiently enough to read and write it about as well as the average child of his age in this country.
In the summer of 1856 he came to the United States to complete his education. Having just completed the English course in the public schools of Oberlin, Ohio, he entered college and completed the course in 1865. He then crossed over into Kentucky and opened day and night schools for the education of the newly freed race.
From Kentucky he removed to Louisiana, where the climate was more congenial to his tropical constitution. During his residence of many years in that State he was employed most of the time in the customs service with chances of preferment to higher and more lucrative posts, which he never sought nor cared for. His tastes have always inclined him to the more quiet and private walks of life, where he can promote the welfare of his fellow men, without show and the applause of the giddy crowd.
President Grant once advised him that he intended to offer him the Liberian Mission, but Tucker was so indifferent in the honor that he made no effort to be commissioned.
Anxious to pass away from official duties, he studied law and entered on practice in New Orleans. This profession was so fully in keeping with his tastes he hoped to pursue it the rest of his days. Finding that his legal training practically restricted him only to Louisiana, he removed to Florida and located at Pensacola. He was admitted to practice, and with it he rose rapidly both in knowledge of the common law and in securing a paying clientage. He stood high with the bar, from judge and attorneys to officials. He saw every prospect of realizing the fond dream of his ambition when once again a call of duty to serve God's humble children came in stentorious tones. The State in 1887 had founded a Normal and Industrial School for the training of Colored teachers. A telegram unexpectedly announced that Tucker had been elected by the State Board of Education to take the management of it. He demurred, he objected; but leading Colored men and the Chief Executive importuned and requested his acceptance of the place. By patient perseverance and tact he succeeded in enlisting the hearty good will of all classes to the maintenance of the institution. The history of his work is a part of the educational records. Many men and women of worth and saving influence in their respective communities in Florida owe their training to the devoted consecration to duty of this native of the "Dark Continent." The school itself will ever remain a lasting monument to his tireless, efficient devotion to the welfare of his race.
He retired from the field of his labors at the close of the fourteenth year, carrying with him universal regret for his departure, and the esteem and respect of the whole State and the acclamations of good will, especially of the people of the capital in which the Normal School is located.
It requires no stretch of thought to understand our constant and earnest interest in everything which concerns our environments. Every question and issue of national significance have for us a vital consideration for weal or woe. We scan with greedy eagerness the expressed policy of the statesman, we hang with bated breath on the eloquence of the sentiment moulder, we probe with tremulous care the feelings of the community to find out if we have been pushed to the rear or given a fair chance in the race to a higher life—our final place in American life.
While we are not, and should never be, unmindful of all interests which appertain to others in this vast country of which we form such a necessary part, it is natural and right that our first thought should be of our own welfare.
The position we are to definitely assume and maintain in the distinctive American civilization now in process of formation, is yet concealed in the womb of futurity; we can neither anticipate nor force it against the period of its advent. While we are passing through this slow process of development, it is well at times to take a reckoning of our race powers by way of encouragement to such as may become faint and weary in the combat. All are not strong, all are not determined, all are not forceful. The fiercest courage will now and then lose its force when battling against steady odds. Moreover, our shortcomings, like the shirt of Nessus, are not only with us ever, but they are on constant exhibition to shame, mortify and humiliate us. While it is not sensible to shut our eyes to these painful reminders of the obstacles to our progress, while it is even best to invite a searching scrutiny of them to the end that they may be torn off by heroic methods, if need be, after all an occasional study of our strong parts is a help in the struggle.
DISCARD SELF GRATULATION.
In the attempt to reflect on the staying powers of the race, I have not the remotest idea of pandering to conceit or vanity, to the contrary, I decry any disposition to extol and magnify whatever we are subjectively, and whatever we have achieved. The fierce conflicts we have undergone and the terrible crucible through which the cruel hand of fate promises to pass us, dispel the idea of self gratulation. Life for us in the conflict ahead is all stern and serious. Wounds and scars will for generations yet to come be the decorations for our leaders in thought and action; there is no niche in the edifice consecrated to our present and coming heroes for fulsome, windy flatteries airing their importance to the galleries. Hearts true and stout charged with big emotions to raise and elevate their suffering kind to a higher plane, should be the only thinkers to claim our considerate attention and command our homage.
THEME UNDER CONSIDERATION.
In the theme I have chosen for this paper, I shall endeavor to show that the latent and active attributes of the negro eminently adapt him to be classed among the survivals of the fittest in the family of races. Before proceeding, however, to a formal discussion of the subject, it might not be amiss for a minute or two, to take a running retrospect of the race since its advent into its present civil life.
The three decades which mark the close of our Civil War have perhaps not only written history more broadly in the behalf of humanity in general as interpreted by Christian civilization, than any other similar period, but they have been the most momentous in shaping the national life by moulding and settling policies of a lasting nature. The admission of millions, of what is termed an alien race into the solution of an untried problem of government by the people, rendered that problem still more difficult, hence, wild and extravagant speculations bearing on the future of the Negro and the questionable influence of his changed relations on American life, became the current literature of the country for two decades. Friends spoke in fulsome praise or doubtful measure, according to conviction, while enemies protested in exultant tone that a generation or two hence would suffice to write the Negro's epitaph. But even in that early period of his infancy, had the nation been disposed to study him with other than preconceived, erroneous views, it might have perceived traits which justified the wisdom implied in his changed condition. Thus far, if he has not risen to the dizzy heights to which the hopes of ardent enthusiasts invited him, he has at least, not only belied the gloomy fate of inglorious extinction, but he is going forward with steady strides to realize an honorable destiny in common with the many other people of the Republic.
ORIGIN OF A STRONG RACE.
A strong race, like marked personality, is the product of varied and opposing agencies. As in nature when conflicting elements struggle for the mastery and bear the impress of the strongest, so in the evolution of a forceful people, its character takes on the form of the means that has been most efficacious in moulding it. There is no instance in the authentic annals of the human family where a masterly people has emerged into greatness from the tame school of gentle methods. Trials keen and severe, have first slashed, cut and tortured the entire being in mind and soul to fit it for the new life it is to enjoy in accordance with its destined end. What has ever been thus will always be so.
QUALITIES INDICATING THE NEGRO'S SURVIVAL.
In this law of nature, in the formation of dominant powers, the Negro has no favor to expect. He must pass through the fiery furnace and be shorn of dross to leave the solid matter which is to constitute the framework of his strength. First among the many qualities of survival which distinguish him as an enduring race, is patient endurance and fortitude under affliction. The elastic temperament of the race in the ability to adapt itself to varying conditions, in swaying with the force of the tempest until the fury of it is spent, in seizing with instinct on circumstances that tend to save, is something not only amazing, but marvelous. No oppression however heavy, no ebullition of wrath however fiery, can swerve him from the road he has chosen to attain his purpose as a part of the pulsating life of this nation. From a dogged determination to butt aside forces which contained the elements of his salvation, the Indian has passed into a retreat closed to contact with the active life of the dominant power of the land. On the other hand, the future of the parent race of the American Negro in the dark continent is bright with hope from its ready assimilation of the civilizing agencies of European civilization. In obedience to this self-evident law of survival, Japan has entered on a new existence, while its neighbor, China, the home of a kindred race, bids fair to become the easy prey of Western greed.
STRENGTH, NOT WEAKNESS.
Now this easy swaying to conditions, when his welfare is in hazard, and for which the superficial thinker twits the negro with lack of manliness, is one of the strongest elements of his being. Were he less malleable than he is, less ready to concede where contention can only work him woe, were he wont to resent in wild and reckless fury, real or fancied wrongs, were he too obtuse to perceive and profit by the passing advantage, were he to remove his cause from the bar of reason, and the verdict of a calm judgment he would neither be imbibing the civilization of his native land, nor would he have achieved a tithe of the wonderful progress which is to-day the vindication of his freedom, and at the same time the shame and confusion of those who foretold his ignominious passing away. Patience pure and simple, coupled with, and gracing a quiet heroism, has enabled him to bridge over the earlier days of his trials, and confirm his status in the body politic to the general acceptance of the American people.
THE NEGRO'S WARFARE, MORAL AND MENTAL.
The honor which waits on material contest counts for little to the Negro's advantage. Indeed, if the strife with which he is confronted were to be waged on such an issue, the result could be foretold in advance. His warfare is moral and mental, and by the arts of peace he is to be left a cipher or rise in triumph to honorable destiny. Physical courage which the negro shows largely in common with other races has its trophies blazoned in marble and brass only to crumble beneath the corroding tooth of time. The warfare of mind and heart which ever calls in evidence only the highest courage of man's nature leaves its achievement to immortal fame to grow with the ages till time surrenders it to Eternity.
WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED.
By the exercise of this gentle but potent virtue of learning to labor and to wait, we have mined our way into the heart of educational authorities to grant such of our sons and daughters as are competent the privilege of becoming preceptors to the youth of the race. By the nurture of the same virtue, our slender means have tickled the greed of capital to call us away from obscure streets and narrow lanes that we may enjoy a wider range of selection of homes befitting higher tastes and growing ambition. Go, if you will, into the Southern section of our country where the bulk of our race resides, and there you will find by this same sturdy persistence to wait on time for a reward that schools, colleges, churches and business enterprises are being built and maintained. Prejudices which retard our progress are crumbling to pieces.
THE OPTIMISTIC TEMPERAMENT.
The cheerful sunny temperament of the Negro is another of the many sturdy qualities which declare his fitness to withstand the blows of adverse fortune. His long training in the school of mental and moral darkness wherein he had need to cultivate a sanguine temperament to buoy him up, stands proof against dark forebodings and pessimism. The grotesque and the ludicrous find in him a joyous patron. Where others count and bewail their woes, he sees only sunshine. Gloom and sorrow melt away at his approach, while his features are ever radiant with mirth and joy. His head is up and erect with every sense attuned to the bright, and dead to the doleful. He thanks God that the lot apportioned him is fashioned by infallible wisdom, while he munches with contentment the humble crust that honest toil has brought him. Malevolence towards his fellow men is at the most a passing emotion. Wealth and the happiness attendant on it, he neither envies nor mars. He asks a chance to live, no matter how sumptuously others may fare beyond his condition. Such a being is forever beyond the pale of anarchy, and other tendencies which work to the detriment of society. In this portraiture I have drawn no ideal, but the average Negro as he is known of all men.
In peace and in war such a being is an invaluable factor in a nation's well being. As he does not envy the class which fortune has blest with good things of this world, he therefore breeds no feeling of ill will by which he might seek to level conditions, while he is equally ready to assume his share of the dangers consequent on the maintenance of the existing order of affairs.