PATRIOTISM OF THE RACE.
Another marked characteristic of race strength is love of country. The only race in this country which has more than a shadow of excuse to be indifferent to the nation's welfare is the Negro. Not unlike the dog in the fable whose devotion to his master's interest was recognized only after the sacrifice of life in that master's service, the Negro's love for his country in the civil service, on the tented field, and wherever sincere devotion should command the highest commendation, is commonly rewarded with cold indifference, or at least with damnable praise, and yet when driven, as it were, with brutal kicks and cuffs from the service and defense of his country's honor, he hangs on to the outer folds of its flag with a grim determination to maintain its glory as though that duty had been specially entrusted him by heaven. And herein again he shows the instinct of self-preservation, as people who would seek to become an appreciable power in the public affairs of their country, must be alive to every vital interest pertaining to it. To become rooted it must maintain an unyielding grasp. That the Negro is to-day only a passive member in the affairs of government, does not argue that his unflagging patriotism will not finally gain its reward. That he is quietly working now at long range to prepare himself for citizenship, means that he will in due time enter into that rich inheritance. The foaming stream is not the water carrying most matter into the ocean; the deep current which gives no evidence on its surface is the hydraulic force which forms the Delta. And so it is with the latent influence of Negro patriotism. In every essential matter pertaining to national welfare, however keen his grievance, fancied or real, his regard for the honor of the government and the maintenance of its power, induces him to throw his head-gear in air, out-yell the lustiest lung in the crowd and attest his enthusiasm by demoniac courage on the field of battle.
The chief magistrate of the nation is stricken down in the vigor of manhood and in the fullness of power. In the exercise of his great office morally and otherwise, without going out of his way, he might have benefited the race. But although he had no special claim to the Negro's regard, yet his untimely taking off has been lamented by none more sincerely than by our race. In country, in town, in state, in every section, the Negro is broadly American. Nothing that concerns this country is foreign to him, but with all there is to discourage him, what is the outcome of such steady, magnificent devotion to duty? Geologists affirm that the wondrous chasm of Niagara is the creation of trickling drops of water during myriads of ages. In like manner, the fervent, unflagging patriotism of the Negro is slowly but surely crumbling away the granite of American prejudice to give him a permanent place in the national life of this country. A nation, the bulb of which comes of a race whose love of fair play is proverbial and goes with them into every land and clime, will be constrained in the end to recognize and confirm the merit the race is developing as a strong pillar in the edifice of state.
In the heat of that terrific contest at Waterloo where charge after charge of the imperial guard seemed likely to consign the fate of Europe to the absolute sway of the little Corsican, Wellington exclaimed, to such of his staff as still remained around him, "Hot pounding this, gentlemen." But the day was at last won, and the endangered constitutional liberty of Europe leaped forth from the sea of blood, to inspire man with new hope and aspiration. As a race, we are struggling for life. Our hopes and fears are trembling in the balance against might, power, and moss-covered prejudices. A continuous pounding, directed by the impulse of a will to do, dare and succeed, will bring us victory.
But, says the carping critic, if the Negro were less patient, forbearing and more combative, if he risked less for country, and gloried more in deeds of heroism for his personal defense, he would lie truer to his self-preservation. Other races placed in condition quite similar to the Negroes have tried the experiment, and failed. They opposed simple brute force to intelligence, and they went down in the contest either to extinction or to servitude. The Britons gave way to Saxon numbers and tougher sinews, the latter bent the neck to Norman intelligence, bided their time and brought the victor down to an equality of rights and privileges. If the Negro should attempt another way, he would soon be undone.
ADAPTABILITY TO ENVIRONMENTS.
Again the adaptability of the race to environments constitutes one of the means of his endurance. In servitude as in freedom, no conditions have yet been so vigorous that the negro has not been able to adjust himself with ease. Indeed, it is not a figure of speech to assert that wherever he has suffered the most, there he has given the best proof of his vitality. His acquisition of wealth, his possession of material means in general, has been most rapid in parts where he has most obstacles to confront and encounter. He not only laughs at his misfortunes, but turns them to account. When he is ground down beyond the point of greatest resistance, he leaves for new and untried regions, with a radiant hope for a better fate. He goes to the semi-arctic lands of the West, readily becomes domesticated, and so insinuates himself into the hard, prosaic customs of the country that he at once becomes, in so far as he is not debarred from the rules of labor organizations, a sharp competitor with the wage-earner in the strife for bread. His blood has no lazy microbes to dam the current of its movement. Assure him of reasonable compensation, and his brawny arm is bared to the pick and the mattox. His ax and hoe and plow drag out wealth from mine and soil.
Wherever his lot is cast, there he enters with zest into the live sentiment of the community. No thought born of enterprise within the scope of his comprehension, no undertaking to enhance the common wealth fail to enlist his good will. He will at least talk for it and praise it, even if he has not a cent to invest. However limited by industrial conditions to few and humble ways of acquiring a livelihood, his scanty earnings are on the market to give healthy circulation to the arteries of trade. Merchants welcome him to open doors, and small dealers meet him with graceful smiles knowing he has come to apply the move-on ordinance to the jingling coin in his pocket. In church and school, in the pulpit and on the rostrum, his desire to fall in with the prevailing spirit to promote the betterment of the community, is equally pronounced.
Take as a sample the spirit of the race to absorb elevating influence from the dominant class. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is a race organization which justly challenges the admiration of every one of us no matter of what creed or sect. A race which in about one generation from a condition of base servitude can be so lively to a sense of its spiritual wants and the public weal as to advance enough to create such an organization is no mean factor in any age or country. In the show of this receptive capacity, it declares its eternal fitness to live and thrive under the blaze of the most searching civilization in the history of the world.
Take moreover, the many worthy bodies founded in the last quarter of a century for moral, mental and social elevation. All these have been inspired by the thought that if the race would hold its own, it must emulate the spirit of the country and age in which it lives.
Truly, if our coming to this land was involuntary, the genius of our being has built a home which can only be abandoned at our own will.
I am admonished that this paper must come to a close. I am compelled to omit even by mere mention many of the exemplary virtues of the race. I have, however, touched on just enough to furnish the enquiring mind with deductions. Even the pessimist is constrained to admit that, under the circumstances, as a whole, the race has made a remarkable record, and that chiefly, because of the qualities with which he is endowed. Many historic races who have dominated mankind, made less rapid progress than we, at the point we have reached. This remarkable advancement may be ascribed in the main to the superior attributes which give us a flexible and well balanced temperament.
The hardships the race undergoes in this period of development constitute the necessary training school and the virtues which spring thence are intended as much for the betterment of the other race as for our own. We are to soften their stern qualities, while our life is to take on some of the iron of their soul.
That our nature will be largely modified by the necessities of our growth must be an accepted fact, but our merit, worth and fitness in American life will substantially be the product of our qualities as they are to-day. The past gives us assurance of glorious possibilities to come. Just how far and to what extent we are to realize the fruition of our cherished dreams of rising to the full height of honorable manhood vests chiefly with us. God has endowed us with the capacity to suffer and undergo the trials incident to race development. If we can recognize the need for this training, severe though it be, if we do not chafe and fume and fret and get angry because our deliverance has not come, we may well be comforted in the meanwhile that any device of man to deny us a share in the government of a common heritage in this land consecrated by heaven to suffering humanity, will prove a complete failure.
THE SIGNS OF A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR THE AMERICAN NEGRO.
BY REV. F. J. GRIMKE, D. D.
FRANCIS J. GRIMKE, D. D.
Francis J. Grimke, clergyman, was born near Charleston, S. C., November 4, 1850. Son of Henry and Nancy (Weston) Grimke; attended school in Charleston; entered Lincoln University, Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1866, and graduated in 1870 (A. M., D. D.); graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1878. Ordained pastor of the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church the same year. Remained until 1885. Took charge of Lama Street Presbyterian Church 1885-1889. Returned to Fifteenth Street Church, Washington, D. C., in 1889, where he is still. Has published articles in the New York Independent and New York Evangelist. Wrote monographs on "The Negro: His Rights and Wrongs; The Forces For and Against Him." In 1898, "The Lynching of Negroes in the South: Its Causes and Remedy;" "Some Lessons from the Assassination of President William McKinley," 1901; "The Roosevelt-Washington Episode; or, Race Prejudice," 1901. Address, 1526 L Street, Washington, D. C.
Extracts from his sermon on the race problem.
"Some of these days all the skies will be brighter, Some of these days all the burdens be lighter, Hearts will be happier, souls will be whiter, Some of these days.
"Some of these days, in the deserts uprising, Fountains shall flash while the joybells are ringing, And the world, with its sweetest of birds, shall go singing, Some of these days.
"Some of these days: Let us bear with our sorrow, Faith in the future—its light we may borrow, There will be joy in the golden to-morrow— Some of these days."
That is my faith; I am no pessimist on this Negro problem. Terrible as the facts are, cruel and bitter as is this race prejudice, and insurmountable, almost, as are the obstacles which it sets up in our pathway, I see a light ahead, I am hopeful, I look forward to better times. And I want to tell you this morning what the ground of this hope is.
(2.) I am hopeful, because of the progress which the Negro is making in intelligence and in wealth. Think of what our condition was at the close of the war, and of what it is to-day, in these respects. That we are progressing, there can be no doubt; indeed, in view of all the circumstances, our progress has been marvelous.
Take the matter of wealth. Since freedom, hundreds and thousands of our people have become property owners in the South. Many of them are prosperous and successful farmers; thousands and hundreds of thousands of acres of land have come into their possession, hundreds and thousands of them in the cities own their own homes, and are engaged in small but lucrative business enterprises of one kind or another. They are now paying taxes on some three hundred million dollars' worth of property. That is not a very large sum, I admit, considered as the aggregate wealth of a whole race, numbering some seven or eight millions; but whether much or little, it indicates progress, and very considerable progress, and that is the point to which I am directing attention. The acquisitive faculty in the Negro is being developed; his eyes are being opened more and more to the importance of getting wealth; and slowly, but surely, he is getting it.
Educationally, the same is true. Thirty years ago there were but few educational institutions among us, but few professional men—doctors, lawyers, ministers—ministers of intelligence—teachers; but few men and women of education. Now, there are thousands of well-equipped men and women in all the professions, and thousands upon thousands of men and women of education in every part of the country. Not only are there institutions, founded especially for our benefit, crowded with students, but all the great institutions of the land are now open to us, and in all of them, with scarcely an exception, are to be found representatives of our race; and the number in such institutions is steadily increasing. The last report of the Commissioner of Education shows that in the common schools of the sixteen former slave States and the District of Columbia, there are enrolled 1,429,713 pupils, and that in these schools, some twenty-five thousand teachers are employed. It also shows that there are 178 schools for secondary and higher education, with an enrollment of over forty thousand pupils. There are, of course, thousands of our people who are still very ignorant, but that there is vastly more intelligence in the race now than at the close of the war, no one will pretend to deny. The colleges and universities, the high and normal schools, are turning out hundreds of graduates every year. The educational outlook for the race is certainly very encouraging.
In view of these two factors—the growing desire on the part of the Negro for material possessions, the fact that he is actually acquiring property, and his growing intelligence—I see signs of a brighter future for him. These are elements of power that will make themselves felt. You may deprive a poor and ignorant people of their rights, and succeed in keeping them deprived of them, but you can't hope to do that when these conditions are changed; and the point to which I am directing attention here, is that this change is taking place. All that has been done, and is being done to stimulate in the Negro this principle of acquisitiveness, and to increase his thirst for knowledge, is a harbinger of a better day. Every dollar saved, or properly invested; every atom of brain power that is developed, is a John the Baptist in the wilderness, crying, Make straight the pathway of the Negro. In proportion as the race rises in intelligence and wealth, the valleys will be filled and the mountains will be leveled, that now stand in the way of his progress, in the way of the complete recognition of all of his rights. Ignatius Donnelly, in that remarkable book of his, "Doctor Huguet," which some of you, doubtless, have read, would seem to teach the opposite of this. He attempts to show that never mind what the intellectual attainments of the Negro may be—he may be a Doctor Huguet, learned with all the learning of the schools, and cultured with all the culture of the ages—still there is no chance for him, there is no hope of his being recognized. The story as told by him is, at first, quite staggering and terribly depressing. But when we remember that, according to the story, there was but one Doctor Huguet with a black skin, and that he was poor, and that all the rest of his race were poor and ignorant, light breaks in upon the darkness, the awful pall which it casts upon us, is at once lifted. How will it be when instead of one Doctor Huguet there are hundreds and thousands of them, scholarly men and women, cultivated men and women, men and women of wealth, of large resources? It will be very different. If the Negro was indifferent to education; if he was actually getting poorer, then we might lose heart; but, thank God, the very opposite is true. His face is in the right direction. He may not be pressing on as rapidly as he might towards the goal, as rapidly as some of us might wish to see him, but it is a matter for congratulation, that he is not retrograding, nor even standing still, but is moving on. Poor? Yes, but he isn't always going to be poor. Ignorant? Yes, but he isn't always going to be ignorant. The progress that he has already made in these directions shows clearly what the future is to be. Knowledge is power; wealth is power, and that power the Negro is getting. He is not always going to be a mere hewer of wood and a drawer of water; he is not always going to be crude, ignorant. American prejudice is strong, I know; it is full of infernal hate, I know, but in the long run it will be found to be no match for the power which comes from wealth and intelligence.
(3.) I am hopeful because I have faith in the ultimate triumph of right. You remember what Lowell says in his "Elegy on the Death of Dr. Channing:"
"Truth needs no champions: in the infinite deep Of everlasting Soul her strength abides, From Nature's heart her mighty pulses leap, Through Nature's veins her strength, undying tides.
* * * * *
"I watch the circle of the eternal years, And read forever in the storied page One lengthened roll of blood, and wrong, and tears— One onward step of Truth from age to age.
"The poor are crushed; the tyrants link their chain; The poet sings through narrow dungeon-grates; Man's hope lies quenched;—and, lo! with steadfast gain Freedom doth forge her mail of adverse fates.
"Men slay the prophets; fagot, rack, and cross Make up the groaning records of the past; But Evil's triumphs are her endless loss, And sovereign Beauty wins the soul at last."
* * * * *
"From off the starry mountain-peak of song, The spirit shows me, in the coming time, An earth unwithered by the foot of wrong, A race revering its own soul sublime."
And in the "Ode to France," from which I quoted on last Sabbath, the same glorious thought is expressed:—
"And surely never did thine altars glance With purer fires than now in France; While, in their bright white flashes, Wrong's shadow, backward cast, Waves cowering o'er the ashes Of the dead, blaspheming past, O'er the shapes of fallen giants, His own unburied brood, Whose dead hands clench defiance At the overpowering good: And down the happy future runs a flood Of prophesying light; It shows an Earth no longer stained with blood, Blossom and fruit where now we see the bud Of Brotherhood and Right."
That is my faith. The wrong may triumph for the moment, but in its very triumph is its death-knell; it cannot always prevail. God has so constituted the moral universe, has so planted in the human heart the sense of right, that ultimately justice is sure to be done. "Ever the Right comes uppermost," is no mere poetic fancy, but one of God's great laws. In the light of that law, I am hopeful. I know that things cannot go on as they are going on now, that the outrageous manner in which we are at present treated cannot always continue. It is bound to end sooner or later.
(4.) I am hopeful, because I have faith in the power of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ to conquer all prejudices, to break down all walls of separation, and to weld together men of all races in one great brotherhood. It is a religion that teaches the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, a religion in which there is neither Greek nor Jew, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free. And this religion is in this land. There are, according to the statistics of the churches for 1898, excluding Christian Scientists, Jews and Latter Day Saints, 135,667 ministers in the United States, 187,075 churches, and 26,100,884 communicants in these churches. This would seem to be a guarantee that every right belonging to the Negro would be secured to him; that in the struggle which he is making in this country for simple justice and fair play, for manhood recognition, for such treatment as his humanity and citizenship entitle him, back of him would be found these 135,667 ministers, 187,075 churches and 26,100,884 church members. But, alas, such is not the case. These professed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to seek and to save the lost, who was the friend of publicans and sinners, whose gospel was a gospel of love, and who was all the time reaching down and seeking to befriend the lowly, those who were despised and who were being trampled upon by others;—the Christ of whom it is written, "And he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth;" and who, in speaking of himself, said, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to comfort all that mourn; to give them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;"—these professed followers of this wonderfully glorious Christ, instead of standing back of the poor Negro in the earnest, desperate struggle which he is making against this damnable race-prejudice, which curses him because he is down, branding him with vile epithets, calling him low, degraded, ignorant, besotted; and yet putting its heel upon his neck so as to prevent him from rising; despising him because he is down, and hating him when he manifests any disposition to throw off his ignorance and degradation and show himself a man;—in this struggle, I say, against this damnable race-prejudice, these professing Christians are often his worst enemies, his most malignant haters and traducers.
In saying that the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ is in this land, I do not therefore, base my assertion upon the fact, that there are 135,667 ministers in it, and 187,075 churches, and 26,100,884 professing Christians. No. The American Church as such is only an apology for a church. It is an apostate church, utterly unworthy of the name which it bears. Its spirit is a mean and cowardly and despicable spirit. "One shall chase a thousand," we are told in the good Book—and "two shall put ten thousand to flight." And yet with 135,667 preachers, and more than 2,000,000 church members in this land, this awful, black record of murder and lawlessness against a weak and defenseless race, still goes on. In the presence of this appalling fact, I can well understand the spirit which moved Theodore Parker—that pulpit Jupiter of his day—when in his great sermon on "The True Idea of a Christian Church," he said, "In the midst of all these wrongs and sins—the crimes of men, society and the state—amid popular ignorance, pauperism, crime and war, and slavery, too—is the church, to say nothing, do nothing; nothing for the good of such as feel the wrong, nothing to save them who do the wrong? Men tell us so, in word and deed; that way alone is safe! If I thought so, I would never enter the church but once again, and then to bow my shoulders to their manliest work, to heave down its strong pillars, arch and dome, and roof, and wall, steeple and tower, though like Samson I buried myself under the ruins of that temple which profaned the worship of the God most high, of God most loved. I would do this in the name of men; in the name of Christ I would do it; yes, in the dear and blessed name of God." And I would do it, too.
But, in spite of the shallowness and emptiness and glaring hypocrisy of this thing which calls itself the church; this thing which is so timid, so cowardly that it dares not touch any sin that is unpopular, I still believe that Christianity is in this land. To-day it is like a little grain of mustard seed, but it has entered the soil, has germinated, and is springing up. It is like the little lump of leaven which the woman hid in three measures of meal; but it has begun to work, and will go on working, diffusing itself, until the whole is leavened. God has promised to give to his Son the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession; and in that promise this land is included. Christianity shall one day have sway even in Negro-hating America; the spirit which it inculcates, and which it is capable of producing, is sure, sooner or later, to prevail. I have, myself, here and there, seen its mighty transforming power. I have seen white men and women under its regenerating influence lose entirely the caste feeling, to whom the brother in black was as truly a brother as the brother in white. If Christianity were a mere world influence, I should have no such hope; but it is something more than a mere world influence; it is from above; back of it is the mighty power of God. The record is, "To as many as received him to them gave he power to become children of God, even to them that believed on his name, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." It can do what no mere human power can do. Jesus Christ is yet to reign in this land. I will not see it, you will not see it, but it is coming all the same. In the growth of Christianity, true, real, genuine Christianity in this land, I see the promise of better things for us as a race.
BY JOHN HENRY SMYTH.
JOHN HENRY SMYTH, LL. D.
John Henry Smyth, LL. D., ex-U. S. Minister Resident and Consul-General to Liberia, was born in the city of Richmond. His parents were Sully Smyth of Lynchburg, Campbell County, Va., and Ann Eliza, formerly Goode of Chesterfield County, Va. He received his first instruction from a lady of his own race, at a time when the laws of Virginia made it a penal offense to teach Negroes any other thing than manual labor. At the age of seven years he was sent to Philadelphia to be educated. He attended the public schools of that city four years and two private schools under the control and direction of friends or Quakers. He graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth, May 4, 1862. He displayed a decided taste and aptitude for the fine arts early in life, and at the age of sixteen years he became a student of art, and was admitted a member of the Life School of the Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, a year before graduation. In 1870 he graduated from the Law School of Howard University. The same year he married the daughter of Rev. John Shippen, of Washington, D. C., Miss Fannie Ellen, a lady whom he had the pleasure of instructing in the first elocution class of Howard University.
For eighteen years he was in the service of the United States, beginning as a first-class clerk and ending as United States Minister and Consul-General. For seven years he taught in the public schools of Pennsylvania, practiced law in the District of Columbia, North and South Carolina. On retiring from the diplomatic service in Liberia, two distinctions were conferred upon Mr. Smyth, by Liberia College, the honorary degree of LL. D., and by the President of Liberia, the Honorable Hilery Richard Wright Johnson, the order of Knight Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption. There were only two Americans so honored by the Black Republic. At present Mr. Smyth is at the head of the Negro Reformatory Association of Virginia, a corporation resident in Virginia, with authority to establish reform schools for delinquent Negro minors of both sexes in Virginia.
The first school of the association is the Virginia Manual Labor School, Hanover, Va., with 1,800 acres of land, 800 of which is under cultivation. The good people of Mr. Smyth's native city, Richmond, and friends in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York have made possible the purchase of the plantation known as Broad Neck, Hanover.
The principal benefactor was Mr. Collis P. Huntington of New York, who was pleased to make a contribution of $12,000 toward this worthy and necessary charity.
We have need to felicitate ourselves as members of a great though oppressed race, that an Armstrong, the founder and promoter of this institution of practical learning, was given to us and to the nation, and that through his influence and example, Tuskegee and other similar institutions have grown into vigorous youth. Two of these seats of industrial education, through a system of race conferences, have given to us who are deprived of a popular press an opportunity to be heard in our own behalf upon subjects, the public discussion of which, through literary mediums, has been monopolized by members of the other race. Our moral delinquencies have been discussed recently at the North and in the South—at times in a sensible and at other times in a nonsensical way; arguments have been made to the world by orators and writers seemingly more interested and concerned in making the worse appear the better reason than in philosophically looking into facts or honestly seeking to discover truth. From much that has been said, it would appear to one unacquainted with the American branch of the Negro race that within thirty-five years it has become criminal, although for nearly three centuries it has been a stranger to wrongdoing, law abiding and not law breaking. Such radical change, if change there has been, in individuals or classes of people, is rare, abnormal, and must be accounted for in some other way than by the wholesale charge of inherited savagery and innate moral obliquity. Crime from an hereditary standpoint may not justly be chargeable to one race of men to the exclusion of another, to the black race more than to the white, to the yellow races more than to the white or black.
The first crime was in the first family. The sacred writings teach that God gave, mid the thunderings of the heavens, the smoking of the mountain, and the consternation of the people, the criminal code in the ten commandments, which may be found in the traditions of heathen peoples, somewhat modified, just as in the written laws of all Christian nations. Had crime not existed prior to this heavenly edict, there would have been little apparent reason for this ancient pronouncement through a Hebrew medium. The conclusion seems then to be irresistible—that mankind coveted, stole, lied, were disobedient to parents, were adulterers and murderers from the earliest times, and only ceased to be so, measurably, in proportion as the sanctions of law were strong or weak. The Christian religion and civilizations other than Christian, with their religions, growth, and development under the influence of good, wise, and godly men, have contributed more than all else, to the decrease of crime and among all classes and conditions of men. "Thou shalt not" stays the course of crime.
The history of the black or African race, since the decadence and destruction of the cities of North Africa and the Nile Delta and the loss of prestige of the peoples who held sway in them, has been shrouded and obscured, and hence gratuitous arguments are made in regard to the savagery and bestiality (which it is claimed we inherit) of the progenitors of Negro Americans that are wholly unsupported by reliable data. The acts of the Puritan fathers of New England and of the cavaliers and Huguenots of the South, toward Indian and Negro heathen in the New World—men of whom it has been facetiously said that, "they fell first upon their knees and then upon the aborigines,"—these acts, together with the horrors of the middle passage and the unrequited toil of centuries, of which the blacks were victims, must be taken into account in considering the matter of crime in connection with this race, and go far to explain a condition which otherwise would be abnormal. The baleful influences of a dead and buried past account for crime among the old and the young Negro Americans, the responsibility for which rests upon the United States rather than the Southern states, upon this nation rather than any part of it.
In Virginia and Maryland there were indentured white slaves. When the system was abolished the same conditions plagued the colonists that annoy us now. Mr. Doyle, in his work entitled English Colonies in America, says, "The liberated servant (white) became an idler, socially corrupt and often politically dangerous." The whites became an irresponsible, shiftless, and criminal class, just as the Negroes have become to an alarming extent since freedom. There are to-day in certain sections of the South whole neighborhoods of whites almost without moral sense and near to barbarism. It will not be pretended, however, that there has not been and is not now, criminality among the Negro race just as there was during the years of its oppression; but a condition upheld and approved by the constitution, laws, and public sentiment of the nation cannot do other than plead guilty to having contributed to this result which has so greatly affected the estimation in which good men, equally with bad men, the innocent as well as the guilty of our race, are held by the whites. I am not clanking my chains as a Negro in remembering the past, and only do so in accounting for what the unreasoning and unsympathetic are disposed to regard as abnormal criminality in the American Negro.
Negro parents under the old regime were parents physically only. The government of their children was in the hands of others. Obedience to parents enjoined by the decalogue was not rendered by children, was not encouraged by others, nor could it have been enforced by parental authority. Filial affection in the slave-child existed to an appreciable degree notwithstanding these disadvantages. Parents and children came into the possession of freedom not sufficiently understanding nor appreciating the relation of each to the other. While I am clearly of opinion that it may not be successfully shown that Negro children are more criminal in inclination than other children, their home-training, or, rather, their lack of home-training, is greatly responsible for what of criminality there is among them. Negro parents, as a rule, seem disposed not only to give larger liberty to their children than they ought, but they give absolute license in too many instances. In illustration of this fact, in cities particularly, children are allowed to go from their homes in the night-time and wander the streets amid their baleful associations until nine, ten, eleven o'clock and longer. And when they return home they do so unattended. The accounts given by them as to where they have been cannot be relied upon. Further, children are not required to be respectful to their elders of either sex. This condition does not obtain alone among children of ignorant and poor parentage, but absence of good manners is also often found among children and youths who have had fair common and high school advantages. This license has led directly and unerringly to the formation and cultivation of habits more likely to debase than elevate them. To venture criticism of parental laches or of the conduct of the young, to admonish or advise different manners and conduct from that which the inclination of the young seems to suggest, would be to run the risk of being regarded as officious or meddling, and thereby of inviting insult. Parents whose children are known to be of the class pictured are themselves timid and indisposed to insist upon obedience from them, for fear of offending them and causing them to go away from home. The inexperience and ignorance of childhood and youth, coupled with the grant of too great liberty, are responsible for the too general tendency to wrong doing.
Negro parents who were themselves victims of oppression as well as those who were born under the benign influences of freedom, have crude and unwise notions about the duty of requiring their children to do some kind of work. Too many Negro children are guarded from soiling their hands and developing their muscles with necessary and useful toil. The struggling, industrious widow as well as the well-conditioned housewife whose husband has a good home and makes a good living, seeks to relieve her children of work. This encouragement of laziness can have but one outcome—the living in the sweat of others' faces than their own. Under conditions such as these, parents possessed of radically ignorant and wrong notions about rearing their children, unconsciously cultivate tendencies which lead to criminality. To the extent that a child's mind becomes familiar with higher conditions and mind-work, to that degree does physical exertion in the way of mere muscle-work become distasteful, and as a result the child becomes less efficient as a mere bread-winner by the sweat of his brow. Education is chargeable with producing a condition for which parents and not school teachers are responsible. Complete and entire reform in our system of home-training of our boys and girls will go far to relieve youthful Negroes of just censure for ill-breeding. How far all these reflections are applicable to the rearing and training of white children is for white parents to consider.
Mr. Philip Alexander Bruce, in a recent publication in the Contemporary Review, accounts for moral delinquencies in the young of the race by the very natural and normal disposition of Negroes, where numerically strong, to segregate themselves from the whites. In London one finds a French settlement. In nearly every large city in the United States, Germans live together. Italians, Swedes, and Norwegians settle among their congeners. It is not contended that they are less law-abiding and loyal citizens as a consequence of their nearness of living and association. Mr. Bruce enlarges upon the thought thus: "The worst impression made by that society (a Negro community) is seen in the temper of the children. Whatever may be said in condemnation of the old system, it at least not only compelled the parents to restrain, and if needful to punish their offspring for bad conduct, but it also created an atmosphere of order and sobriety in the plantations which had a more or less beneficial influence on the character of the young. As the case now stands the only discipline to which the little Negro is subject is that exercised by parents too untrained themselves to understand how to govern him properly, and in most instances too ignorant to have any just idea as to the difference between right and wrong in the ordinary affairs of life. What is the result? The child grows up without any lessons in self-control and self-improvement, or any intelligent appreciation of the cardinal principles of morality. If the child is a boy, he leaves his parents almost as soon as he can earn his own support and only too often leads for years the life of a vagabond. All the worst impulses of his nature are further encouraged by this wandering and irresponsible existence. Is it strange that, under the operation of this influence alone, the number of black criminals in the Southern states is increased to an alarming degree?"
What good effect could result from restraint exercised or punishment inflicted by parents whose judgment and will were dormant? It is only when a parent governs and controls, ignorant though he may be, that the best results can be expected to follow. Judgment, affection, and concern for the child must enter into the method of his training if the rearing is to be beneficial and helpful.
To my mind but one merit can be claimed for the old system of enslavement—a discipline as to labor which produced the best results to the master class and made the slave orderly and systematic in the performance of his tasks. Though smarting, even now, under the resultant influences of a destroyed system, we can afford to do justice to the good men and women of the white race who constituted a part of the system. Slavery as it has been known in the outside world, is not slavery as it was in the genteel and pious homes and households of the South. Here the "people" were treated almost as members of the family, "uncles" and "aunts" and "mammies" and playmates. They were necessary supplements, sharers of all great occasions of joy or sorrow, of feasts and sufferings. And the tenderest and most watchful care was bestowed on them. Consideration for the servants was the test of the "quality." Mutual influences went to make as pure, high and beautiful a civilization as the system was capable of. And no philanthropist on earth has ever had a deeper horror for the evils that have been represented as slavery in the South than many of the "quality." Nor anywhere was the wise abolition of slavery more earnestly studied and desired than by the good people of the Southern states.
In the discussion of the criminality of the Negro, too much importance is attached to mere statistics. In any discussion of an ethical character mere statistics may not be relied upon. I shall present a few which are entirely authentic but which prove little, in my opinion, prejudicial to the Negroes of to-day as compared with the Negroes of the past, and could not unless figures could be adduced, alike authentic, showing the criminality of the Negroes as bondmen; neither can comparison between the criminality of the blacks and whites be cited to the Negroes' prejudice in the light of the disparity between the races in every essential element of race growth. The foregoing facts greatly detract from any comparative criminal exhibit in which Negroes of to-day are made to figure.
The last United States census furnishes some figures which seem to be more in the Negro's favor than against him. Persons of all races in the penitentiaries of the United States in 1890 were 45,233, of which number 14,687 were colored. Prisoners in county jails, 19,538, of which number 5,577 were colored. Inmates in juvenile reformatories, 14,846, of which 1,943 were colored. Of a total of 73,045 almshouse paupers, only 6,467 were Negroes. Of murderers there were 2,739 Negroes out of a total of 4,425. In 1850 there was one criminal to 3,500 of population; in 1890 one criminal to 645 of population; whites, one to every 1,000, and blacks, one to every 284. Take the ignorance of the Negro as to secular matters, the moral torpor in which he necessarily exists, his poverty, the presumption of guilt when charged with crime, his inability to defend himself, his being forced to plead to an information or indictment in forma pauperis; could crime charged and established against him be less than it is? Ought not the record to be worse rather than better? Of the 14,846 juvenile delinquents given an opportunity to re-enter society and walk in the straight path through reformatories, only 1,943 were Negroes. With the doors of almshouses swung wide to 73,046 paupers, racial pride prevented poor Negroes entering these homes of mercy, and only 6,467 allowed themselves to become objects of public charity. With a larger percentage of unskilled than skilled Negro laborers in 1890, only 2,253 of 6,546 convicts whose employments were known were in the penitentiaries of the land. Of 45,233 criminals but 253 were persons who had enjoyed higher educational advantages, and not a single educated Negro figures in the enumeration.
What are the remedies for existing criminality, and how may its increase be checked? Popular secular education for whites and blacks, compulsory, if possible, erected on a broad basis of Christianity, is the only safe, enduring, moral, and economic remedy. Mere secular education may not be relied upon to restrain crime, and we must honestly own that our only hope is in the diffusion of true religion. The church should take the initiative in this matter, the state, aye, the nation should come to the assistance of the church, and of those states in which the burden is too great for them to bear it successfully. If the Holy Scriptures be not the basis of all worthy knowledge our civilization is a fraud. Individual philanthropy has done much towards aiding in the matter of education, particularly so-called higher education. May not individual wealth help to minimize ignorance, dissipate poverty, help the feeble in mind and morals of the race to robust Christian manhood? "For many men of great possessions, the voice of conscience is effective, as the contemplated grasp of the tax-gatherer could never be. Around them they see ignorance to be banished, talent missing its career, misery appealing for relief. They know that the forces of the times have brought them their large fortunes, only through co-operation and the protection of the whole community; so with justice in their hearts, as well as generosity, they found the benefactions which are doing so much to foster the best impulses of American life; and in this response to public duty they find conferred upon riches a new power and fascination."
The reform schools for juveniles throughout the North and West, and those in Virginia, represent Christian agencies for the reduction and destruction of crime in its germinal state, and are a display of wise and humane statesmanship on the part of legislators. The white people of Virginia, ever responsive to appeals in behalf of human need, made possible the Virginia Manual Labor School at Broad Neck Farm, Hanover, Virginia. It was this sentiment in behalf of moral reform among Negro children and youths that brought to the aid of this institution the interested concern of a man of wealth and national influence, whose sympathy for the poor and ignorant of his countrymen, white and black, is as broad and far-reaching as ignorance and human suffering. This reformatory, opened September 12, 1899, and aided by the state February 5, 1900, began with a nucleus of five Negro boys, and has now under its guardianship fifty-two children. It has thus early demonstrated conclusively that saving and redemptive elements of character exist in Negro children no less than in those of other races; also that for tractableness and responsiveness to kindly influences, delinquent Negro children show themselves of legitimate kinship to that race among whom, as the classic writer tells us, "the gods delighted to disport themselves—the gentle Ethiopians."
I know how disposed as a race we are to wilt, to lose heart, and complain, in the glare of new exhibitions of prejudice, such as harass us in our native Virginia, and our brethren in other parts of the country. To such, I put the question: "By courage can we not lessen misfortune? Yes! A thousand times yes! Courage turns ignoble agony into beautiful martyrdom. Its alchemy is universal. Is the stake a misfortune to the martyr? It is his dearest fortune. Is oppression, prejudice, or ignorance, a misfortune to the reformer? It is the very condition of his reform. Is misunderstanding, injustice, suspicion, or contempt a misfortune to the earnest man or woman anywhere who is trying to guide his life by a more celestial trigonometry than petty minds can conceive? In one sense these things are to be deplored but in another and deeper sense nothing is to be dreaded that can be faced and known by an unfrighted human spirit. A misfortune bravely met is a fortune, and the world is full of people happy because bravely unhappy."
 The American Negro of To-day. Contemporary Review, February, 1900.
 The late Mr. C. P. Huntington of New York.
THE AMERICAN NEGRO'S OPPORTUNITIES IN AFRICA.
BY WILLIAM H. HEARD.
DR. WILLIAM H. HEARD.
Dr. William H. Heard, ex-Minister Resident and Consul General to Liberia, was born in Elbert County, Georgia, of slave parents and therefore was a slave himself until Lee surrendered to Grant in April, 1865. He was only fifteen years of age at this period. He began his education at this age, attended South Carolina University, Clark University and Atlanta University at Atlanta, Georgia; taught school twelve years, was elected to South Carolina Legislature from Abbeville County in 1876, appointed railway postal clerk in 1880, but resigned this position in 1883 and entered the ministry at Macon, Georgia. He pastored churches in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia; Aiken and Charleston, South Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and was appointed Minister Resident and Consul General to Liberia by President Grover Cleveland February, 1895. He served this position with honor to his race and to himself. He is one of the most successful ministers in his denomination, and has served the best appointments, both as pastor and as presiding elder. He is now the pastor of Allen Temple, Atlanta, Georgia; has written a book called the "Bright Side of African Life," which has a large circulation. He is now President of the Colored National Emigration Association.
The Liberian government takes charge of all persons landing as emigrants and looks after their comfort preparatory to their settling; but if one prefers he may secure board in the best of families at a cheap rate until settled. As the government gives each settler from fifteen to twenty-five acres of land, and allows him to choose his own plot, it takes a little time to settle. He must locate and survey his land and build his hut. All new-comers build the hut, as it is cheap and quickly built. From fifteen to fifty dollars will put up a good thatch hut which will answer all purposes for at least three years. The land cleared, coffee, ginger, sugar-cane, edoes, cassada, oranges, limes, plums, bread-fruit, pawpaws, can be planted. It takes three years for coffee to yield; five to six for oranges, limes, bread-fruit, etc. Edoes, cassadas and such bread-stuffs yield in three or four months, and ginger and sugar-cane once a year. From these two commodities an income at once is had. All of the above fruits and products are obtainable from neighbors while yours are maturing. This is the condition of the farmer. But should you go out as a professional or business man you have a wide field and little competition. Any educated person will find ready employment by individuals or the government and a remuneration in keeping with the vocation. Citizenship is the result of a deed to your land and this is obtained at your option; and citizenship means an election to any office save that of President and Vice-President. It requires a residence of five years to be elected to one of these offices. Attorney Wright, Professor Stevens, Rev. Frazier and others filled national positions before they had been citizens five years. The government needs strong men to assist in running the Republic, and such, if loyal, are always welcomed. The merchant of Liberia receives the greatest profit of any merchant on the face of the globe—not less than one hundred per cent on the purchasing price—and a hundred and fifty per cent on the selling price. Rent is cheap, taxes low, and duties moderate, so that everything is in favor of the merchant.
The scientist finds the widest field imaginable—silver, gold, precious stones, herbs, coal, iron and such articles are as plentiful as the leaves on the trees—they never fall. All that is needed is a scientific eye to see these things.
The zoologist could make a fortune in one year catching insects and shipping them to colleges in America, England, Germany and France.
Why so many of our young people, educated and refined, will don white aprons and stand behind chairs and watch other people eat is a problem, if there is one, that needs to be solved. Many of our educated girls, when they can work on people's heads and feet, and present a card with some big word on it, as "chiropodist," which means foot-cleaner, are perfectly satisfied. All of this must be done, but it does not require a knowledge of Latin, Greek, French, German, and all the sciences to do this successfully; yet it is the highest ambition of many of our young people, while Africa invites them to higher walks.
In America cotton is the staple in many of the Southern states. The farmer plants and grows this staple to obtain clothing and the necessaries of life, and, if possible, lay by a dollar for a rainy day. In Liberia coffee holds the same relation to the farmer as cotton in America; yet it is planted like the peach tree or apple tree. It takes about five years to yield, but when it begins to yield it increases yearly, costing about five cents a pound to clean, hull and ship to market, giving a clear profit of from two to five cents on the pound, while there is no real profit in cotton growing. Liberia would yield cotton as prolifically as Arkansas or Mississippi, if cultivated. The Englishmen are turning their attention to cotton growing in West Africa.
Cassadas takes the place of the American sweet potato, but is much easier produced, as the greatest cost is the labor of planting. It produces without cultivation, and, as there is no frost in West Africa, once planted it will produce for twenty years. It is a root as is the sweet potato.
The upland rice of West Africa grows anywhere and everywhere it chances to fall upon the ground. Very little attention is given to cultivation, yet it could be made an export which would yield the farmer a most valuable income. Corn grows as prolifically in Africa as in the bottoms of Georgia and Alabama. Planting is the hardest task.
The palm tree grows as the pine in Georgia or North Carolina, and the nut which it produces is as large as, or larger than, a horse chestnut. These nuts contain an oil that answers all the purposes of bacon, lard and butter in America. The greatest task is to have a boy climb the tree and cut them down. This oil fries your fish, seasons your greens, shortens your bread and answers all the purposes of lard or butter.
There are hogs, cows, sheep and goats in West Africa, but no meat can be cured, therefore all bacon is shipped from abroad.
Rubber farms are much more profitable than turpentine farms, for the reason that it costs so much less to produce rubber and the profit is so much greater. Rubber is produced at from fifteen to twenty cents per pound and sold at from seventy-five cents to one dollar per pound. While all of these products are used on the ground, with a few exceptions, yet all of them are profitable commodities for export.
We have presented this array of facts to sustain our position that the Negro will be benefited by returning home to Africa as fast as he is self-reliant and independent. But he must be a man; boys cannot stand the hardships of pioneer life.
THE NEGRO AND EDUCATION.
BY MRS. LENA MASON.
MRS. LENA MASON.
Mrs. Lena Mason, the Evangelist, was born in Quincy, Ill., May 8th, 1864. Her parents, Relda and Vaughn Doolin, were devout Christians, and they brought up their daughter Lena, as far as they knew how, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, so that Lena became a Christian at a very early age. She attended the Douglass High School of Hannibal, Mo. She also attended Professor Knott's School in Chicago. She married March 9th, 1883, to George Mason. Of this union six children were the result—four boys and two girls; of these only one, Bertha May, survives.
At the age of 23 Mrs. Mason entered the ministry, preaching for the first three years to white people exclusively, and later preaching to mixed congregations. She now belongs to the Colored Conference. Mrs. Mason has preached in nearly every state in the Union, and the preachers are few who can excel her in preaching. She has, since she has been preaching, been instrumental in the conversion of 1,617 souls. Her five months' work in colored and white churches in Minneapolis will never be forgotten by those who were greatly benefited by her services. Mrs. Mason possesses considerable ability as a poet, and has written several poems and songs that do not suffer by comparison with poems by the best poets. Mrs. Mason is powerful in argument and picture painting. Rev. C. L. Leonard, pastor of the Central German M. E. Church, in speaking of Mrs. Mason, says: "I desire to express my highest appreciation of Mrs. Mason's church and effective evangelical work in my church and in many others. Mrs. Mason is now making a tour of the South, and by her lectures and sermons is doing a work among the colored people that will bear good fruit in the future. One only needs to hear Mrs. Mason lecture and preach to understand how it is that one never tires listening to her."
1. Said once a noble ruler, Thomas Jefferson by name, "All men are created equal. All men are born the same." God made the Negro equal To any race above the grave, Although once made a captive And sold to man a slave.
2. Of all the crimes recorded Our histories do not tell Of a single crime more brutal, Or e'en a parallel. It was said by men of wisdom (?) "No knowledge shall they have, For if you educate a Negro You unfit him for a slave."
3. Fred Douglass' young mistress, Moved by a power divine, Determined she would let the rays Of knowledge on him shine, But her husband said, "'Twill never do, 'Twill his way to freedom pave, For if you educate a Negro You unfit him for a slave."
4. But there is no mortal being Who can the wheels of progress stay; An all-wise God intended He should see the light of day. God drew back the sable curtains That shut out wisdom's rays, He did give unto him knowledge And unfit him for a slave.
5. But God's works were not completed, For he had made decree, Since all men are born equal, Then all men shall be free. He removed the yoke of bondage, And unto him freedom gave; He did educate the Negro And unfit him for a slave.
6. When the Negro gained his freedom Of body and of soul, He caught the wheels of progress, Gave them another roll. He was held near three long centuries In slavery's dismal cave, But now he is educated And unfitted for a slave.
7. He's able to fill any place On this terrestrial ball, All the way from country teacher To the legislative hall. He has proved himself a hero, A soldier true and brave, And now he's educated And unfit to be a slave.
8. We have lawyers and we've doctors, Teachers and preachers brave, And a host of noble women, Who have safely crossed the wave. We are pressing on and upward, And for education crave, For it's written now in history, We shall never more be slaves.
A NEGRO IN IT.
BY MRS. LENA MASON.
1. In the last civil war, The white folks, they began it, But before it could close, The Negro had to be in it.
2. At the battle of San Juan hill, The rough-riders they began it; But before victory could be won The Negro had to be in it.
3. The Negro shot the Spaniard from the tree, And never did regret it; The rough-riders would have been dead to-day Had the Negro not been in it.
4. To Buffalo, McKinley went, To welcome people in it; The prayer was prayed, the speech made, The Negro, he was in it.
5. September sixth, in Music Hall, With thousands, thousands in it, McKinley fell, from the assassin's ball, And the Negro, he got in it.
6. He knocked the murderer to the floor, He struck his nose, the blood did flow; He held him fast, all nearby saw, When for the right, the Negro in it.
7. J. B. Parker is his name, He from the state of Georgia came; He worked in Buffalo, for his bread, And there he saw McKinley dead.
8. They bought his clothes for souvenirs, And may they ever tell it, That when the President was shot A brave Negro was in it.
9. He saved him from the third ball, That would have taken life with it; He held the foreigner fast and tight, The Negro sure was in it.
10. McKinley now in heaven rests, Where he will ne'er regret it; And well he knows, that in all his joys There was a Negro in it.
11. White man, stop lynching and burning This black race, trying to thin it, For if you go to heaven or hell You will find some Negroes in it.
12. Parker knocked the assassin down, And to beat him, he began it; In order to save the President's life, Yes, the Negro truly was in it.
13. You may try to shut the Negro out, The courts, they have begun it; But when we meet at the judgment bar God will tell you the Negro is in it.
14. Pay them to swear a lie in court, Both whites and blacks will do it; Truth will shine, to the end of time, And you will find the Negro in it.
THE NEGRO'S ADVERSITIES HELP HIM.
BY PROF. JOSEPH D. BIBB, A. M.
PROF. JOSEPH D. BIBB, A. M.
Prof. Joseph D. Bibb comes from the city of Montgomery, Ala., of excellent parents. His early life was spent among pleasant surroundings and he received his primary education at the Swain Public School of that city. While quite young he entered Fisk University, where he was prominent because of his splendid scholarship and original ideas. Being impressed with the idea that Negroes were the natural and best teachers for the Negro youth, he left that institution and entered Livingstone College at Salisbury, N. C., at the head of which was the justly celebrated Dr. J. C. Price. Here he received the degree of A. B. in 1886.
He was not contented with his academic attainment, but completed the courses of law and theology, and has constantly applied himself to the fulfillment of his high ideal.
After graduating he spent his first year as instructor in the State Normal at Montgomery, ten years as principal of the public school, in which he received his training, and two years as professor of Hebrew and Bible history at Morris Brown College, Atlanta, Ga. Neither of these nor the minor fields of usefulness satisfied his ideal, and it was not until he entered the active ministry that he felt that satisfaction that comes with fitness. He is now laboring acceptably as a minister in the A. M. E. Church and is recognized as one of its most scholarly divines.
The world needs men who will use all of their cultivated powers to bless and to lift up their fellowmen, who will dedicate themselves to their fullest energies and their energies to their people. Such a man is the subject of our sketch.
In this hour when the sun is just beginning to climb the horizon of a new day in the life of the Negro race, there is an imperative need for close observation and serious, earnest thought. We cannot content ourselves with appearances. We cannot trust the decision reached mainly through our emotional nature. We must bring the whole personal conscious man into our meditation in order that we may see and comprehend that hand of God laid in love upon the Negro of this country.
All problems in a nation's life must be unraveled and solved by that nation. It may take advantage of foreign influences and examples, incorporate and utilize them, but the real work must be done by the nation itself. The same principle obtains in problems affecting individual life or the life of a race. To adjust the Negro in harmonious relationship to American civilization is a question that depends for solution not so much upon the nation as upon the thought and life of the race itself. The Negro seen through the refractory medium of fear and prejudice is regarded as an unhealthy member, yet it is evident that he is a vital member and cannot be removed by the surgeon's scalpel. It is necessary, therefore, that this unhealthy member should be toned up to harmony with the great organism of which he is a part.
"No cross, no crown," is a trite saying, yet it has lost nothing of the beauty of strength of originality, but, rather, it has grown to be the sustaining, inspiring motto of all men as they plod up the hill of life. Great souls do not whine and fret in adversity. The men and women who lay the foundation of great institutions that bless mankind, that fling rainbows on the black bosom of the tempest, do not tremble and falter because of the clouds and mountain peaks, but onward and upward they go until the victory is won. The church came up by the way of the cross. If you would know the path of civilization, look for the great battlefields in the world's history. The greatest battles of reform in church and state have been fought, and the right has conquered. The Negro to-day reaches his hand out and plucks the best fruitage of the highest and grandest age known to man. Even liberty, a plant that grows luxuriantly only when watered with human blood, and rooted in the hearts and affections of a free people, is within the very grasp of the American Negro.
The history of the free American Negro is one continuous and unbroken chain of success. I shall lay the proof of the statement before you as we advance. Did you ever consider the agencies at work for the amelioration of the condition of the Negro in this country? Here and there counter-forces may appear to hinder the too rapid advance of the Negro, but such is the inevitable law of growth. Life is conditioned upon its ability to absorb and assimilate the good and reject and expel the bad. What are these counter-forces, these hostile external relations? Do they tend to destroy the equilibrium of the race, or, rather, do they conduce to its stability and strength? The answer is obvious. The Negro is being sharpened and fashioned here under Providence into a better and nobler manhood. He is suffering no more than all infant races suffered. Slavery and oppression is the school in which races are trained for the enjoyment of the fullest life. God has a purpose in thus dealing with the Negro. The power of his individuality, his highly developed religious nature, his disposition to linger in peace in whatever condition he finds himself; his preserving a truly magnanimous spirit in the very face of an unwarranted and violent opposition, foretell his future history. He is contributing his part toward the industrial development of the South and the religious elevation of the nation. Many of his redeeming qualities are often regarded as evidences of puerility and barbarism.
Character cannot be built in a day, neither in an individual nor in a race, but the Negro is old enough now to be an American citizen. He has reached the years of maturity; his character is formed, and what is good for the most advanced citizen is good for him. He demands equal and exact justice; he will content himself with nothing less. There are divine purposes in each life, in each race and nation. How well these purposes are subserved is left with the individual, the race or the nation.
Afflictions are a wholesome discipline, and the people who would survive the wreck of nations must fight their way up under the inexorable law of God, through trials, through tribulations, through persecution and through blood. I do not wish in any way to condemn the agitation of the hour in the name of justice, and civil political liberty, but rather to urge it in a reasonable way. Agitation, says Wendell Phillips, is the method that puts the school by the side of the ballot box. Agitation prevents rebellion, keeps the peace and secures progress. Every step she gains is gained forever. Muskets are the weapons of animals. "Agitation is the atmosphere of brains." Sir Robert Peel defines it as the marshaling of the conscience of a nation to mold its law. Injustice cannot stand before exposure and argument and the force of public opinion. No sharper weapon of defense will be required against the wrongs which afflict the South." No race can rise higher than its ideal. To teach the Negro that the evils of his environments will crush him forever, that a servant is and must be servile in disposition and in general habit of mind; that hair and skin and the shape of the head stamp him an inferior, is a doctrine of creation without God in it.
No, let him know and feel that he is a man with the great ever-expanding capacity of a man, and that a step beyond him is Deity. Let him see himself mirrored in Hamlet's sublime outbursts of admiration: "What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in reform, how express and admirable; in action how like an angel in apprehension how like a god." Let him know that he has and will yet realize in his racial life the loftiest ideal of civilization. The Negro has profited immeasurably by the lessons, stern and severe—taught him in this country.
Yet these adverse forces are but ministers of Heaven, awakening his sleeping energies and accelerating his motion towards racial unity and organization. They are stern, at times, inhuman teachers, but so long as the Negro considers himself inferior, so long as a barber discriminates against his father and brother, so long as a waiter feels himself disgraced if he waits upon one of his own race, and the washer-woman if she washes for her sisters, so long as we loathe to serve only our own kith and kin these rough and severe teachers are absolutely indispensable.
The power that permanently lifts a people is within that people, so also the forces that degrade them. You cannot change public opinion by drifting with its current. You cannot present yourself in a slavish attitude and then demand a free man's portion. In that attitude you are neither feared nor loved, but tolerated. You are regarded an excrescent growth on the body of civil society. But it cannot always be thus.
How can this race fail? In this day a million new homes, comfortable homes of cultured black men, are built above the ruins of the slave's log cabin of yesterday. Wilberforce and Morris Brown, Tuskegee, Biddle and Livingstone, each gallantly manned by black men, and thousands of schools dotting the South—all immortalizing Christian philanthropy—are sending forth annually torch-bearers of truth to light the paths the race must pursue in the great civilization of to-day. How well these advantages will subserve his progress, his interest—depend upon the confidence and faith which they will inspire in him toward himself. Responsibility alone educates. Skill comes by constant practice. Any reason alleged that the Negro is not yet prepared for the leadership of his people, whether in the church or institutions of learning or in politics, or whether in any of the various avenues of business or of life, weakens the character of the race, and augments and quickens the prejudice of the enemy both within and without the race.
Our rightful leaders may be comparatively inexperienced, but experience is not acquired by inactivity. It took the Civil War to make Grant. The Northern missionary at the time when it tried the souls of men following in the wake of battle came to break the long night of ignorance that had settled down upon the Negro; but they have done their duty and gone to their reward. God bless them. The Negro is now prepared to take care of himself. Let the child crawl, he will learn to walk. Lift up the men and women of your own race. Let some great, towering example of Negro manhood and thrift and virtue and wisdom point the youth to the pole star of redemption. Trust the Negro now, and the future will take care of itself.
I repeat, if this and coming generations are taught to believe the crushing and slanderous dictum of natural inferiority, what hope is there for the salvation of the race, for a man can rise no higher than his ideal? These great, honest, sincere souls in the race, who show their love as do fathers to their children, rebuke because they love. Moses, the great leader of and lawgiver to the Israelites—a people who gave to the world its noblest song, its widest proverbs, its sweetest music—throws down the Table of the Ten Commandments in righteous indignation when he found them worshiping idols, but the next day his heart, gushing forth love for his people, he found his way in prayer to God, seeking forgiveness for his idolatrous people. This was but an expression of his burning zeal for the safety and progress of his people. So do I regard the scathing criticism given within the race by its own men. All other criticisms are questionable. But grant that the negro likes the idea, worships the idea of white supremacy, with its institutions and customs, vitalized apparently with the energy of violent opposition to his moral and industrial development; I cannot believe that he will always be thus.
Necessity is not merely the mother of invention, but the soul of the law of progress—the genius of civilization. It is here in the closing period of the Nineteenth Century effulgent with the light of all the historic past and marvelous achievements that the Negro must stand or fall. Here in the wilderness where peaks of cultivated mountain-tops in the near distance invite him onward and upward; here under the full ordered sun of the brightest day the world has seen he must work out his salvation with fear and trembling.
THE AMERICAN NEGRO AND HIS POSSIBILITIES.
BY GEO. L. KNOX.
GEORGE L. KNOX.
The subject of this sketch, George L. Knox, was born in Wilson County, Tenn., September 16, 1841. He was a slave, spending his early life on the farm and in following the vocation of shoemaker, which he learned while serving a master.
In 1862 he joined the Union forces in the Civil War; after the termination of that terrible crisis he went to Indianapolis, where he learned the tonsorial art. He did not stay any great while in that city, but went to Greenfield, Ind., not many miles away, where he concluded to make his home. He established himself in business in a small way, and by dint of persistency, thrift and integrity, such as has marked his course ever since, he, in a few years, succeeded in gaining a competence. He took an active part in politics as a Republican, of which party he has been an unswerving member up to this time. He won great respect for himself and family among the whites, and the older Greenfieldians never visit Indianapolis without dropping in to see George, as they so familiarly call him.
In 1895 he moved to Indianapolis and finally became the sole proprietor of the Bates House barber shop, said to be the most elegant shop in the country. He is a member of the M. E. Church, which has greatly honored him by sending him as a delegate-at-large to the general conference in New York in 1888, and to Omaha, Neb., in 1892. He has filled numerous offices in the local church.
He has been very active and prominent in Republican councils in his new home. Has served as delegate-at-large to the National Convention that met in Minneapolis, Minn., 1892, where Benjamin Harrison was nominated for the Presidency. He was selected as an Alternate Delegate-at-large to St. Louis, Mo., in 1896, when President McKinley was nominated. His voice has been heard all over the state in advocacy of the principles of his party.
In 1892 he look charge of the Freeman and since that time he has given the publication considerable attention, the results of which are shown by its very large and very wide circulation. The active management of this well-known paper is in charge of his son, Elwood C., who is rapidly developing as a man of business and affairs.
History has, since time begun, shown the rise, decline and fall of empires, nations, races and individuals. It is but fair to say that the fate of the Negro has been cast along these lines that were as fixed as the stars in their courses. There have been exceptions to the laws of civil and political change. We have read with joy the triumph of the black man of ancient times, his power in battle, his eminence in letters, his skill in science, his genius as an agriculturist, his patience as a herdsman. In the great cycles of changes, it stands to reason that the wheel of civil and political fortune will again revolve in the Negro's favor.
The history of the black man's past in no wise serves to usurp the functions of present duties. Notwithstanding the fact that there are lowering clouds and muttering thunders, yet there is every indication of a day, to express it boldly, that is coming that will outshine the glittering sun.
'Tis not much that the American Negro asks in this racial warfare; his aid has always been scant and rare; he has been thrown on his own resources, buffeted about until he has become hidebound, as it were, to those circumstances which have been so hurtful to the progress of other nations.
Slavery, while a curse, has been a redeeming institution to the American Negro.
It was that purgatorial step between African slavery and American wealth. It was a necessary evil to prepare us for this most advanced civilization of the world. Since that refining period, the Negro has proven that he has the elements that make him a fit part of this great country. There are those among us who have reached fame in nearly all of the avenues of life. I take this as an index to the total possibilities of the race. The masses, however, are to be reached. The abilities of the few will not answer for the sins of the many. Crispus Attucks, whose blood stained Boston Commons, the black soldiers of the wars of our country down to that memorable engagement at El Caney, will stand for Negro patriotism. Professors Washington, Councill and thousands of others who are holding up the torch of learning will stand for Negro intellect and citizenship, but behind all of these stand the Negro masses that are not sufficiently quickened. These must be prodded up, that they reach the front ranks of the procession. It is but justice to the Negroes, however, to say that the doors of opportunity do not swing wide for them. It ought to be otherwise, and I believe it will be otherwise when a better understanding exists between the races as to their aims and objects. The white man is quick to judge the Negroes by those he meets in his every-day life. Unfortunately, these are too much in evidence, giving color to the charge that all Negroes look alike. The better Negro is not, as a rule, seen; his works, as a rule, are not known; his refinement, his morals and industry are not advertised—hence a wrong notion as to the bent and intent of the race is noised abroad. Prejudice is not confined to one side alone; both races show it to a hurtful extent.
Hon. Robert Allen, one of the most noted criminal lawyers of Texas, said to a jury: "While it is true that we all have some trace of race prejudice against the Negro, which makes it hard for us to do him justice, I can not see why it is so; I know it should not be so. If the Negro owes us something, we also owe the Negro something. It is a mutual debt of gratitude that we owe each other. We as a race are inclined to think that the white man is against us naturally. It is true to a great extent, but we have reasons for thinking that the white man thinks more of the law-abiding, intelligent, taxpaying Negroes than he does of that set that turn up on election day, looking for something. It may be that the white man is jealous of the Negro's success, but I rather think that it is a mistaken notion. It is not toward the better class that he hurls his hatred, but against that class that the Negro himself is learning to fear. Until the colored man changes his position and conditions it will be useless for him to look for that consideration and respect that is accorded his more fortunate brother and fellow-citizen. The Negro must not conceive the idea that he has no friends among those now in supremacy; neither must he entertain the belief that fortune will come to him without effort on his part, or that citizenship will receive the proper recognition without improvement in his morals and political attitude. These are the days of newer and greater things in every conceivable direction. The Negroes are taking but a small part in their creation, glory and profit. If there are men among us who can be the means of bringing better conditions to the great Negro masses, and who can weed out the slow, dull, plodding process of evolution, they should not be denied the opportunity. The masses seem to be hedged about by a wall of indifference. Negroes have such little respect for their own kind that the thing is becoming proverbial. Now they pretend otherwise in self-defense.
You think of some little device for testing race love; try it—it will do the rest. The white people have found that nothing is to be feared of colored people when it comes to helping racial cause. The individual who is loudest in defense of his race generally gets the most generous cursing from Negroes. Newspapers are often held in abomination by Negroes. A Negro editor would be mobbed if he told the truth about Negroes; they say, let the white people do it. Negroes who engage in business of any kind are usually criticised most severely by Negroes who are incapable of engaging in any kind of business for themselves. They are always full of suggestions as to how Mr. "A" and Mr. "B" should conduct or run their business; still they have nothing substantial to offer. Criticisms coming from such a source simply amount to nothing. It is about time for all of us to stop going out of our way, and making occasion, where none exists, to blackguard the Negro, and instead encourage him to industry and correct living and increase our efforts to make him a steadier laborer and better citizen. It is hardly fair to place the whole race under a common condemnation because of the slothfulness and lawlessness of some of its members; it would hardly be fair even if this percentage were larger than it is, and it is hardly worthy of a people to continue nagging at, and seeking to arouse further prejudice against its own race. No man can reach the elevated plane of good character and worth who drags behind him a great load of little and mean dislikes for his fellowman. The possibilities of higher professional standing of colored men and women depend upon the unity and determination of the colored people to push their professional and business men to the front. I appeal to you as a race to cultivate race pride, not race prejudice. Stand up like men and women and cultivate unity and protect and defend each other's interest. Let the elevation of one be the joy of the other, instead of pulling down those who are trying to elevate themselves and the race. The possibilities of colored professional men will be great to the extent that the colored people will allow their greatness. Their destiny is with the colored race. This world is not a place of peace and unmixed happiness. There has always been a struggle of individuals and races for existence and mastery.
It is beginning to dawn on the Negroes generally, that if they would be saved, they must save themselves. The idea that they were to enter at once into all the walks of American life without violent protest has been dissipated through the actual occurrences of the last four decades. It would be too long a story to rehearse the reasons for the seeming undiminished prejudices.
In the interest of truth, the exact truth, we feel free to say, however, that the reasons are not to be charged altogether to one race. There is much that can yet be done on the Negro's side that would tend to put a better face on the matter. There has been undergoing a gradual change in the minds of the thoughtful of both races concerning education and politics as it concerns the Negroes, which has, indeed, upset the first calculations of many, but which, after all, has a tendency to broaden the foundation on which racial progress must rest. The Booker T. Washington theory of education has come to stay; not because he advocates it; not because rich men are sustaining his school, but because he has an institution that meets the requirements, the demands of the day. It is a pity, but true, that the race as a rule has entertained inflated notions about the matter of education. It rather looked forward to an education that vied with the whites, with their centuries of leisure and their myriad routes for employment. Education that unfits the individual to grapple with his surroundings, his environments, is a misfit. The masses of any race do not hope to be educated as its classes do. Those who oppose Mr. Washington's theory advance the argument, but those intimately acquainted with the race must admit that the Negro parent slaves himself to make a fine lady or gentleman out of the daughter or son, whereas the poor white parents hope and endeavor to turn out breadwinners, notwithstanding they have no color conditions to overcome. The lady and gentleman idea, doubtless, was born of the slavery period, when the so-called "great" received flattering attention from master and slave. The desire to be the recipient of such attention, or to have it bestowed on their kind, was the result of association and infantile minds, which have not as yet left the will free to have the children taught to feel that the conditions must determine the education. Happily, we may say that the notion of turning out ladies and gentlemen instead of women and man is on the wane. The trades, the fields, the shops are, as they should now be, given greater consideration. Mr. Washington eternally dwells on the theory of doing something, producing something, and especially do we recommend the field, with its thousand-avenued opportunities. Competition in the products of the field is fair. The school prepares the farmer as well as it does the classic. A company of Negroes, equipped to make a wagon throughout, will at least make living wages, even should the article be sold for a few dollars less in order to make it go. Material is always the smaller item of expense. The public will not question the nationality of the makers. Reputation for good work is always understood to be a condition.
Other enterprises, with a small output of capital, would insure wages if no more. Do Negroes receive fair wages generally? If the Negroes have dreamed that they were to move unscathed in the industrial procession as they found it existing when they obtained their freedom, they have long ere this been rudely awakened. It is not always prejudice with shop owners and proprietors that prevent them from employing Negroes; it is that general mass prejudice that puts an emphatic veto on any such intentions. It resolves itself into a business proposition with him. The store owner allows no philanthropy in his business. He is dictated to by that course which insures him the greatest prosperity. He may not be wholly free from prejudices, but it is not that which determines his actions, it is the prejudice of the masses. He will not sacrifice his existence by opposing it. It is a mistake to wail at the class who is at the mercy of the masses. It is more than probable that they would do different if free to do so.
The question is often asked, can the Negroes work out their own salvation? Will they do it? The answer is: they have it to do or reap the very bitter consequences. The wardship idea is not the part of the American institution as it concerns them. Competition, deadly competition, is the pass word. The white man gives no quarter nor takes any; nothing but sheer force, absorption, extinction, annihilation, or what not in the commercial, industrial competitive sense. Nothing is longer conceded; no special place for the white man, for the black man, but for the man with the greatest pull. White barbers, white waiters, white coachmen, are no longer "curios;" they are persistent in their efforts to establish themselves, having no regard for peculiar races with peculiar occupations. It means that the Negroes must hustle and rustle, create avenues, open new vistas, announce new projects, and thus avoid alms-seeking and poor houses in the end.
Politics has played an undue part in perpetuating prejudices. It has contributed much in the way of wealth to many of the race. It has honored thousands by places of trust, honor and profit; it has been the means of developing the latent abilities of the village Hampdens, Pitts, Gladstones, Websters, Clays and Calhouns. It has been the means of demonstrating fealty to party, and to country. For this a glorious apostrophe is due those who have proven no cravens at any stage of the race's career. If there were but that picture on which to look, the occasion of this very lecture would not be necessary. The triumphs in political, civil, church, scholastic, and army life have been attested by such men as Douglass, Bruce, Washington, Langston, Revels, Walters, Turner, Derrick, Grant, Pinchback, Councill, Lyons, Cheatham, White and Dancy, not to speak of a host of younger men of journalistic careers, that, according to opportunity, compare favorably with those of greater reputations. But beyond all of this stands that grim complement in the way of civil depression, political stagnation, if not utter palsy. The courts have rendered their functions to the mobs in some localities, and all but anarchy sits enthroned. The white man has been held to blame altogether for the reversed picture. It is not quite the case. Slavery left a legacy of hate when it gave away to freedom. The older Negro, better groomed in the art of preserving peace, did not forget the depth from which he sprang. He was ever pouring oil on the troubled water, trying to bring peace out of confusion; as a consequence that period immediately subsequent to the war period was eventful, as it concerned the prospective peace of the races and general prosperity. It is the new Negro, the latter day product, who knows nothing but freedom, freedom modified by native propensities, idleness and a groveling disposition, that is causing the trouble. He does not understand the philosophy of the situation, and cares less—like the Andalusian, his mule, his guitar, and it ends right there. This strenuous American life demands work of every individual in some form; it revolts at the idler.
Disfranchisements owe their rise as much to the indolence and vice of too large a class of Negroes as they do to prejudice on the part of the whites. No respectable class of men, white or black, is going to be governed by a hoodlum element whose bellies are the main objects of their existence. The Indianapolis Journal, one of the most influential northern dailies, is right when it says that Booker T. Washington will not be disfranchised; it means further that his class will not be disturbed.
It will concern us but little as to what this country may do to the whites to spur them up to their duties, providing that is their object. The whites are not on trial; it is the Negroes. If the disfranchisements are the means of creating better Negroes they will have builded better than they knew. If they reduce hoodlumism, creating Washingtons, we will not be concerned about the hoodlums of other races. The decline and fall of disfranchisement are the two last acts of the great political drama. The Negroes have it in their power to hasten or prolong the day. What will they do with it? Our lives are measured by that which we are and that which we do. The two elements most essential to a successful life, are character and achievement. Character is the excellence of spirit. It consists not in external deeds, but in the thought, feeling and purpose enshrined in our character. In the sight of God and in the eyes of our own spirit it depends not so much upon the words we speak or the things we do, but the thoughts we think and the feelings we cherish are the purity, power and integrity of our spiritual nature. The first and best object of life is character; what we do may command the admiration of mankind, but to be is better than to do. The measure of our spiritual excellency lies within us. It is in the heart rather than the deed. Beauty, purity and generosity may appear in the external act, while the motive prompting it may be mean, ignoble and selfish. Sweet truth, purity and noble traits of character may be enshrined within the soul and the life be so modest that they may not manifest themselves to the public gaze.