He was admitted to the bar of South Carolina in 1870. Returning to Cleveland, he for nine years served as justice of the peace. In 1881 he was elected member of the Ohio Legislature, serving three terms. In 1897 he was appointed to a position in the postoffice department by President McKinley.
He was also delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1872, in 1884 and 1896.
All citizens who are industrious, honest, brave and patriotic should vote, without regard to their color; for, a man may possess all these characteristics and yet be "ignorant." Ignorance is only relative anyway.
(a) The Negro is a citizen. See XIV Amendment to Constitution, etc.
(b) He is industrious, and by his industry has not only helped to develop the resources of the United States but he has produced much of the property which is unjustly held by many white voters, and withheld from him; especially in the South.
The property of the South is due not more to the capital invested in the agricultural and manufacturing enterprises of that section than to the labor of the Negro, who furnishes the foundation of all wealth—labor—there.
(c) The untutored Negro has shown himself to be honest; he has never betrayed a trust imposed in him. During the great Civil War he was true to the trust imposed in him by his master at the front, who confided to his care the sustenance and even life of his wife and little ones. This was the supremest test of his honesty, which he sacredly discharged. Since the war, he has faithfully adhered to and followed the fortunes of the Republican party, by the mandate of which he was emancipated; even though in doing so he has suffered all the evils which a hostile opponent can invent to plague and swerve him from what he considers the path of gratitude and honor.
(d) He is brave; as the records of our wars will prove. His blood has stained many battlefields where, under "Old Glory," he fought for the Union and Liberty; not only on American soil, but also in foreign lands. The Negro, in contending in war, for the life and liberties of this Republic, has literally covered himself with glory.
(1) That he is patriotic goes without saying, in the light of what has been written in the foregoing paragraph. With all his coarse and homely ignorance, the heart of the American Negro, when yet a slave, throbbed with patriotic love and loyalty; and this, too, at a time when his college-bred and intelligent (?) master was doing his uttermost to destroy this glorious fabric of Union.
It is only reasonable to assume that a man whose ignorance does not blind him from shooting right, can, and will, under proper instruction, which is given in prints and on the stump to all other voters, vote rightly.
(2) The first and most potent step in the direction of humiliating the Negro and relegating him to a condition of mental serfdom, is to deprive him of the ballot. It is the only token of real power which he possesses, aside from his brawn, which the white American really covets; and once shorn of that, he would, like Samson, be passive, in the hands of the Philistines.
(3) Another suggestion which may be urged in behalf of the suffrage rights of the "ignorant and non-property-holding Negro" is, that he is a hopeless minority; nor could he, by any means, control the destinies of this country, if the intelligent voters of the land would but be vigilant and prompt in the exercise of the franchise, imposed in them. It is a sad reflection that the alleged fraud and corruption which existed under "carpet-bag rule" in the South during the reconstruction period could never have existed had the white voters of the South, who were yet clothed with the elective franchise, given their countenance and affiliation to the Negro voters, instead of standing aloof from them and leaving them to be swayed by a set of educated men, many of whom were neither "to the manor born," nor particularly interested in the welfare of the several communities in which they operated.
(4) We must never lose sight of the fact that the welfare of the Republic is not resident altogether in the brains of the voters. The heart plays a very conspicuous part in the casting of a pure and salutary ballot. As between a voter possessing a pure, kind and patriotic heart but an uncultivated mind, and another endowed with all the learning of the universities, but swayed by ulterior and unpatriotic designs, one would experience little or no difficulty in making choice of the former, even though clad in a black skin.
(5) The fact that a Negro is a "non-property-holding Negro" should not militate against his right to exercise his rights of citizenship; for, many of the most useful and valuable of our voters, of both races, are "non-property-holding" voters. The fact of holding property is frequently predicated on conditions altogether fortuitous—a reverse of the wheel of fortune, a large or expensive family—a drought or flood, as well as many other contingencies all play conspicuous parts in preventing good and true citizens from accumulating property, even to the extent of an humble homestead; while fire, cyclone and flood often reduce a man of great possessions in a day to the conditions of a "non-property-holding" citizen; and did his right to vote depend on his property holding, he would be utterly bereft of it. On the contrary, it is no extraordinary thing to see a man of less than average intelligence endowed with "worldly goods" through a turn of the wheel of fortune or the expansion or contraction of a "margin," where men win or lose all on the casting of a die.
It does not seem to have occurred to many of those who are exceedingly anxious to deprive "ignorant and non-property-holding Negroes" of the ballot, that ignorance in a white man is just as vicious as ignorance in any other class of citizens; yet they go on eliminating, by laws of questionable validity, the hard working, wealth producing Negro of the South, while in most instances the ignorant, dilettante and faneant, with a white skin, is not only permitted to vote, but even protected in the exercise of the function.
Upon the whole, after mature reflection, an affirmative answer would seem to be the proper one to the foregoing proposition. Under our present Constitution, yes; the "ignorant and non-property-holding Negro" ought to vote.
IS THE CRIMINAL NEGRO JUSTLY DEALT WITH IN THE COURTS OF THE SOUTH?
BY ATTORNEY R. S. SMITH.
ATTORNEY REUBEN S. SMITH.
Reuben S. Smith, attorney-at-law, No. 420 Fifth Street, N. W., Washington, D. C., was born in Jackson County, Florida, April 1, 1854. He received his early education in the common schools of Marianna, in that county, and at Howard University, Washington, D. C. Before coming to Washington he taught school for a time and in 1876 served as an alternate delegate-at-large from Florida to the National Republican Convention, held at Cincinnati, Ohio. As a resident of the national capital he served as a clerk in the United States Treasury Department, in the office of the sixth auditor and in that of the second auditor. He was also Washington correspondent of several newspapers, but after graduating from the law department of the Howard University, in 1883, was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and has since been successfully employed in the practice of his profession. He has not only established a lucrative private business, but has acted as attorney for a life insurance company and other corporations. In November, 1899, he was unanimously elected moderator of the conference of the Congregational churches of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, and is Superintendent of the Lincoln Memorial Congregational Church Sunday School.
Mr. Smith was a delegate to the National Republican Convention held at Chicago in 1880, and a special agent of the eleventh census of the United States (1890), assigned to the work of collecting the statistics of the recorded indebtedness of the State of Florida. It is therefore evident that he is a man of versatility as well as ability.—Biographical Encyclopedia of the United States.
The subject of this sketch also served as assistant sergeant-at-arms of the Philadelphia National Republican Convention of 1900. He has been attorney in several important cases in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, involving damage suits against large corporations, and has been generally successful. He has also been retained in many equity, real estate and contested will cases, wherein he has been equally successful. He has been almost exclusively engaged in civil practice during his experience of fourteen years as a practitioner before the Supreme Court of the District.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith are domiciled at No. 715 Second Street, Northwest, where they have resided for the past twenty years. Two children survive to them: Master Jerome Bonaparte, a student at Howard University and Miss Rosa Virginia, a pupil in the Washington High School.
At first glance the above question would seem to be fully answered with one word comprising but two letters, namely, N-o. And yet, upon second thought, it will be seen that that answer would not apply, for the reason that the alleged criminal Negro seldom reaches a court-house in the South before alleged summary justice is visited upon him by an unreasoning Judge Lynch.
The fact that the question is asked whether the criminal Negro is justly dealt with in the courts of the South, would imply that there is at least a doubt as to the genuineness of the justice meted out to him there. In legal phraseology, a criminal is one who has been duly convicted of crime. This being so, it would seem that my first inquiry should be, whether the Negro who has been legally ascertained to be a criminal is justly dealt with in the South, in the matter of his punishment therefor? This line of inquiry leads me into the investigation of the convict lease system which obtains in certain Southern states, and other unlawful abuses of colored criminals there.
It is not my purpose in the limited space allotted to consider this phase of the subject at great length, but rather to briefly point out its manifest injustice.
One of the greatest wrongs of the South is its convict lease system; and its lynch law, and its disfranchising statutes are like unto it. Although the emancipation proclamation, written and promulgated by the immortal Lincoln, has been operative for more than thirty-six years, yet a species of slavery still exists there, fostered and nurtured by the statutes authorizing the convict lease system. So vile became this evil in Anderson county, South Carolina, that the leading officials there denounced it as brutal and barbarous, a crime against nature and nature's God—a crime against civilization and humanity.
Some of the specific charges against the system were that these unfortunate beings, without regard to sex, were huddled together in prison quarters like so many cattle. It has been a foul blot upon the escutcheon of the South, second only to the murderous stains made thereon by the lynchers. It is a disgrace even to the civilization of medieval times. For cruelty and outrage it is unparalleled in the annals of civilized society. Siberia itself is preferable to the convict camp. Given the worst form of human slavery plus the barbarities of prison life; add to this the horrors of a Spanish prison, and you have somewhat of an idea of the iniquitous institution of the barbarous convict lease system.
But as if compounding crime, it is asserted with many of the appearances of truth, that Negro boys and girls, upon trivial charges, are convicted and sent to the convict camp for the express purpose of securing to the lessees of convicts the benefit of their unrequited toil until they reach their majority. Thus confined among confirmed criminals they naturally partake of the character of their environments, and conceive and multiply vice and criminology. This system punishes the real criminal unjustly. The ill-gotten gain it offers furnishes the incentive to thrust the innocent into prison pens.
Then, too, it is claimed with the appearance of truth that unscrupulous white men in certain Southern localities actually trump up charges against Negro men and procure their convictions and sentence to the convict camp for the double purpose of affording the lessees the comparatively free labor of the alleged criminals and to deprive them of the right to vote. While heartily approving of such reasonable punishment as shall deter crime, I can command no language strong and severe enough to condemn in fitting terms the cruelties and deviltries heaped upon the Negro in certain sections of the South in the name and for the sake of those who profit by the convict lease system.
It is undisputed that some of those sent to the convict camp have been properly found guilty; some have been illegally convicted; some deserve proper punishment, while some, by reason of their tender years, should have been put into reformatories, where they might have been rescued from a life of crime and brought up as law-abiding citizens. Such institutions may have been intended to protect society from the dishonest and vicious and to repress crime, but they are really made hotbeds of vice; and where sufficient vitality remains in the unfortunates, they actually propagate and multiply criminals.
But if the question should become so varied as to inquire whether the Negro in the South charged with crime is justly dealt with in the courts thereof; in other words, is he afforded a fair trial there?—it could not be fully answered without taking into consideration the heinous crime with which the Negro is generally charged. There is nothing more revolting than rape, unless it be mob-rule. There is no true man, white or black, who would not rejoice to see condign punishment visited upon the brute legally proven guilty of this most diabolical crime.
The South justifies lynching on the ground that it shields the victim of the crime from the publicity to which a trial of the perpetrator would expose her. That is to say, the lynchers prefer to violate the organic law, which provides that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. They put the mob above the judicial system of the country, and arrogate to it greater power to protect the honor of the outraged female and uphold the majesty of the law than a court of justice. It is a sad reflection upon the administration of justice even to intimate that the mob which ruthlessly defies the law is better qualified to administer justice than the court established by law to try and determine the guilt or innocence of persons charged with the commission of crime.
In the dark ages of English history, it frequently happened that the person charged with the commission of crime was first executed and afterward his trial was had, and if a verdict of not guilty was found, his bones were disinterred and given a state funeral. But the Negro charged with the commission of crime in the South is frequently not granted a trial before or after execution; so that the Negro is not justly dealt with in the courts of the South, even after he has been hung, drawn and quartered, or burned.
In some instances where the Negro is fortunate enough to confront his accusers in a court in the South, the caste prejudice against him too often reduces his trial to a mere mockery of justice.
The cornerstone of the Republic is justice, to establish which, under liberty, its founders set foot upon these hostile shores in the early part of the seventeenth century. From that time to the present the slogan of every campaign, the rallying cry of every battle, has been justice in some form or other. And yet, in the alleged interest of innocence, justice, in certain localities, is often outraged, law dethroned, and mob rule exalted.
Whether or not the Negro charged with crime is justly dealt with in the courts of the South can only be answered relatively, for in some localities fair trials are granted even to Negroes charged with the commission of crime. But for the most part, it must be admitted that Negroes brought into the courts of the South accused of crime against white people are not accorded a fair trial.
The reason of this unjust dealing with the Negro in the courts of the South is not far to seek; he is looked upon as an alien; then, too, the doctrine that he has no rights which a white man is bound to respect is exploded in certain localities only in theory, for in practice it is still unmistakably prevalent.
The crying need of the times is a wholesome respect for law and order, and a righteous condemnation of mob rule everywhere. Every pulpit North and South should speak out against mob rule and lynch law. The eloquent divine in Greenville, Miss., who recently denounced with righteous indignation the damnable outrages of mob violence in that state, was as a voice crying in the wilderness. For some reason his brethren of the cloth have not seen fit to join him in a crusade against this abominable sin. If the Southern clergy could only be induced to preach against this evil occasionally, there would soon be created throughout the sin-ridden districts such a healthy public sentiment and respect for law and order that these crimes against the state would soon become things of the past; nor could there be found throughout our broad land a miscreant, who, under the influence of the spirit of lawlessness, would take the life of our Chief Magistrate; nor would there be anywhere such an illiberal public sentiment as would openly criticise our Chief Executive for dining a representative member of the race whose feasts even Jupiter did not disdain to grace.
But let us consider the alleged crime for which lynching is attempted to be justified. L. H. Perkins, Esq., of the Kansas Bar Association, in an address to its annual meeting, in July, 1901, said:
"Lord Coke observes: 'There are crimes that are not so much as to be named among Christians.' It is difficult for us in Kansas to believe that certain crimes exist; crimes against nature, practiced by force upon defenseless childhood, disclosed in criminal records of great cities; but there is one crime in Kansas that we have learned to know. It ought not to be named, much less permitted in a Christian land. The crime and its fit punishment, can scarcely be discussed; but how else can it be expunged? Shall it be by fire? Must he who writes the story of this new-born age still further shock the world and foul the fair name of America by pictures of a howling mob, profaning every law of God and man; with every bulwark of our rights thrown down, the gates of hell unchained, and passion, loose, unbridled as hurricane, roaring above the prostrate guardians of the peace, annihilating in an hour the civilization of six thousand years?
"Death in flames! Savage, bloodthirsty vengeance! Three things this savory orgy lacks: salt and sweet herbs and a good appetite.
"There is a law that in the last extremity, in the presence of impending death, all barriers are removed, all ranks are leveled, all rights are equalized. Supreme necessity is supreme law. Can it be possible that some such overmastering impulse at times dethrones the public mind, and, while the fit is on, the latent cannibal runs riot in the land? It seems it must be so; and, if it be, 'twill be until we rise to the necessity.
"We may excoriate the cannibal, but which of us will now affirm the provocation is not great? Poor, helpless woman! Why don't she learn to shoot? This monstrous crime pursues her like a nightmare. It is an ever present peril to every woman in the land. Must she shun every alley and fly from every bush lest lascivious eyes be on her and unbridled, brutal passion block her way? Of all the hobgoblins abroad in the night, in fact or fancy or in song or story, there is none so hideous as the stealthy form of the lecherous brute that leaps forth out of darkness and drags defenseless woman to her ruin.
"And can it be that we who make the laws; we who have wives and daughters and sisters and mothers who are dearer than life itself; we who honor woman, not for her strength but for the very attributes that render her the prey of force; can it be that we can make no laws that will protect her, or satisfy the public that justice will be done?
"Concede that in the sight of God the crime of rape is worse than murder, yet is it plain that the punishment should be death? In the interest of woman herself were it not better that the brutal ravisher have somewhat more to bear if he do also murder? Else would not the motive to silence forever the most dangerous witness be complete?
"I offer the suggestion of three degrees for rape—the first to cover only ravishment by brutal violence and force; the second all the intermediate grades save statutory rape, which alone shall constitute the third degree. I am no firm believer in the justice of our age of consent, and would leave corporal punishment for statutory rape to the discretion of the trial court. The terms of imprisonment as now prescribed are doubtless long enough, but let us add to them the sting and shame of the ancient whipping post. For the third degree, in the court's discretion, not more than seven lashes. For the second degree two floggings of twenty lashes each, soundly administered within twelve months. And for the first degree, three several floggings of forty lashes each within twelve months, and then castration. There is much reason in this ancient penalty, and the time has come when it should be revived. If, as some say, this morbid and unbridled passion is disease, then treat it like appendicitis—remove the cause."
Mr. Perkins is on the right track. I am glad that he neither endorses lynching nor takes stock in the absurd report from certain sections of the South that all Negroes are ravishers of white women. I think his suggested remedy against rape a good one for white and black.
But to return to the consideration of the other phase of the question, I desire to say that Mrs. Helen Douglass, the widow of the lamented Frederick Douglass, is accepted authority on the convict lease system, and consequently I am indebted to her for most of the data used in this article touching that subject. In a well prepared lecture on convict leases, Mrs. Douglass introduces her theme as follows:
"We know what happens when manufactories are shut down and a vast amount of accumulated material is suddenly thrown upon the market. For 250 years the South had been manufacturing a peculiar article; had been literally stamping this article with its own lineaments and putting it upon a market created especially for it. The war came! The manufactories were closed; the material was on hand; what should be done with it? Never in the world, perhaps, has there been a clearer demonstration of the irrevocable nature of law, as affecting society, and the awful power of habit as the sum of reiterated choice."
At the Prison Reform Convention, held in Atlanta in 1888, Dr. P. D. Sims of Chattanooga, Tenn., said that, the impoverished condition of the South succeeding the War of the Rebellion, caused it to drift into the convict lease system, for which there were many excuses, but no justification. The lessee buys from the State the discipline of prisoners solely for gain; that neither the State nor the lessee had regard to the element of reform or consideration of a philanthropic character; that although many good men were engaged in it, the system was wrong. He presented the statistics of thirty-nine State prisons, showing that in the non-leasing prisons, the annual mortality was fifteen per thousand, while in the leasing, it was sixty-four per thousand, and that in the former, escapes were but five per thousand, and in the latter, they were fifty-one per thousand. He appealed to the South to change the system.
The lease system was adopted in Georgia in 1869, both Democrats and Republicans favoring it. The first year there were 350 convicts to be hired, and the second year the number doubled. An investigation showed that one company paid nothing to the State for the labor of its convicts, and that although the law provided for a chaplain, the State had none; that convicts were worked on Sundays contrary to law, and in some instances whipped to death. The evils of the system became so flagrant that a Senator on the floor of the Senate Chamber declared that the rich and powerful were allowed to go free, while the poor white person and the ignorant Negro were shown no mercy. It was proved that even a governor of the State was himself a lessee, working State convicts for private gain, under a $37,000 bond in force until 1899, although he was the convict's only protection against the wrongs of the lessee.
The ease and facility with which colored persons were sent to the penitentiary kept a goodly supply of prisoners on hand. While it was burdensome to taxpayers to keep them within walls, it was unjust to mechanics to allow them to learn trades; ergo, they were leased out to grade streets, to work on railroads, in mines and the like, where their physical powers might be availed of, but where they could learn nothing, save yes and no, axe and hoe.
By an act passed in 1876, by the legislature, the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad Company was leased 250 convicts for three years, to grade its road where the people were too poor to pay for it. The rest of the convicts the governor was authorized to lease to three penitentiary companies for twenty years for $500,000, to be paid in annual installments of $25,000. In a test case by two of these companies, in the Supreme Court of Georgia it was decided that the lessees acquired a vested right of property in the labor of these convicts, which the legislature could not disregard unless their labor was required by the State, in which case the lessee demanded compensation. The Supreme Court consequently granted an injunction restraining the keeper from delivering said convicts to said railroad company, thereby securing to the lessees a legal right of property in the labor of the convicts till the contract is legally terminated.
In an investigation of 1896, presided over by Governor Atkinson, Capt. Lowe, a lessee, testified:
"We do not think ourselves liable for the conduct of whipping bosses. They are given their commissions by the State, and we insist that they are answerable to the State alone. We cannot direct the whipping of convicts; it must be done by the bosses. If all the convicts were disabled by whipping, we think the State would be liable to us for loss of time, because the whipping bosses are the agents of the State."
Lessee Lowe admitted he was a close corporation, being president, secretary, treasurer, boss and everything else of the company, which held no meetings, had no stock, and declared no dividends.
Attorney-General Terrell held that the convicts were under the care of the lessees, whose duty it was to see that they were treated humanely, citing the order of 1887 by Governor Gordon, to prove that while the whipping bosses were appointed by the governor, they were under the control of the lessees. Governor Atkinson said that he did not dream for a moment that the lessees did not consider it their duty to see that the convicts were properly treated.
Mr. Huff, addressing the legislature, said, that "any attempt at reformation of the present system is an absurdity, a swindle and a fraud. It is a damnable outrage. The lessee contract would not stand fifteen minutes before a petit jury. I could hang any of the lessees before a petit jury in two and a half hours," said he.
One convict testified that in his case the skin came off with every blow inflicted by a soaked strap drawn through sand; that twenty bastard children were in one camp. A female convict testified that during her prison life of fourteen years she had borne seven children. A lessee testified that such irregularities as bastard children would occasionally occur as long as women were guarded by men.
Dr. Felton, addressing the Georgia Legislature, said:
"I stated ten years ago that the State was acting as a procuress for convict camps; the legislature is keeping up the supply in accordance with the demand. I repeat the accusation here and now."
In 1895 a number of convicts had their feet so frozen that the flesh and toes rotted off. Governor Atkinson enlightened the legislature of the deplorable condition existing in the convicts' camps through the report thereon by Hon. R. F. Wright, showing nearly fifty misdemeanor camps. In the chain-gangs were twenty-seven white and 768 colored convicts; generally both races and sexes being together day and night. Among these were eleven children under fourteen years of age. Some slept in rude floorless houses; some in tents on the bare ground, and a few in bunks. The bedding was scant and filthy, and full of vermin. The camps were poorly ventilated, the sleeping quarters being generally sweat-boxes, constructed to prevent escapes. There were no hospitals and no preparations for comfort or medical treatment. Female prisoners dressed in male attire, worked side by side with men.
A member of the legislature declared:
"Most lessees would rather see the devil in their camps than a Methodist or Baptist preacher. I do not urge the bill for the Negro, but for the safety of homes and property. Crime has increased in the United States more than in any other country on the globe. I plead for the orphan boys and girls of the State. Better send them to a bottomless hell than to James' camp."
Said the lamented Colonel Alston:
"The public knows how hard it is to get testimony in a case like the lease question. If a guard kills a man, he is not going to tell of it. If a lessee chooses to whip one to death, who is to know it? If he starves them, who is the wiser? I never expect to give up the agitation of this question till I can point to my native State redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled from this great sin, and the finger of shame shall no longer be lifted at her, as a State that is banking on the crimes and misfortunes of her defenseless and ignorant population."
Three months after this Colonel Alston was shot dead in the State Capitol of Georgia, by a sub-lessee during a controversy arising from the leasing of some convicts; whereupon Governor Atkinson declared that, under heaven and by God's help, he meant to lift up the administration of the laws of the State to that high plane that will put an end to these things.
Mr. Byrd of Rome, Ga., by authority of Governor Atkinson, inspected the misdemeanor camps in 1897, and reported that private chain-gangs were being operated against law, and in spite of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and that the average penal camp of the State penitentiary is a heaven, compared to the agony and torture endured by the misdemeanor convicts in many of these joints. He said that Mr. Wright did valiant service for humanity by showing that a bondage worse than slavery was being inflicted upon the convicts, who were confined in these "hells upon earth."
In one camp, he said, an ante-bellum residence had been converted into a prison by removing every window, and closing up every aperture, leaving not even an auger hole for light or air. In the center of a room only 18 feet by 20, was an open can, the reeking cesspool of this dungeon in which sat a sick Negro convict confined in this dark sweat-box, perishing.
In another camp, after the visit of Mr. Wright, the guards took turns at beating a convict to death and buried him in his shackles. A respectable citizen asserted that they caught the convict by the shackles and ran through the woods dragging him feet foremost, and that when these facts were sworn to before the Grand Jury of Pulaski County, it was thought best to hush them up and keep the matter out of the newspapers, and out of court, as the superintendent of the prison camp had friends on the jury.
Another case sworn to before the coroner's jury was that of a guard who had whipped nearly all the life out of an old Negro, who said: "Boss, is ye gwine to kill me?" The guard replied with an oath in the affirmative, whereupon the convict begged to be shot and thus freed from his sufferings. He was chained up to a tree where he died in thirty minutes.
In another camp a white convict was being boarded at a hotel ten miles away, and doing a prosperous business at painting, while another white convict who had been made night guard and given a gun and the keys to the camp, had it so free and easy that he threw up his job and decamped.
Mr. Boies of Pennsylvania, in his instructive work, discusses the convict lease system, and shows that the sentences of Negroes in the South are double those of white men for the same offenses; that for petty larceny a Negro may be condemned to the criminal class for life, albeit he had to steal or starve. He shows that the criminal machinery of the South is frequently used to nullify the Negro's right of suffrage; that no hand is extended to lift him up when he falls, and no effort is put forth for his reformation, and for this reason the South turns out one-third of the criminals of the whole country; that Massachusetts expends $20 per capita upon the children of her public schools, while Mississippi with a heavier tax, expends but $2 per capita.
In the Evening Star of Washington, D. C., of November 16, 1901, an exhaustive article on the prison camps of Florida appeared. Although guardedly, it favored the effort to make the criminal self-supporting, arguing that as he lives on the public when at large, he should not be permitted to continue to live on the public when in confinement. But it admits that the convict lease system is faulty. It says:
"At present, offenders of all grades and ages are thrown together, and the younger ones learn more evil than they knew at the time of their arrest, growing daily more depraved and vicious so long as they remain in bad company. It may be possible, however, to employ most of the convicts at tasks which will not require their close association, either at work or in quarters, and if that desideratum can be reached, the last argument against the leasing of prisoners will be met, and the system will be continued indefinitely, such minor matters as the corruption of inspectors, of which Alabama has complained, being capable of rebuke through legislation.
"There are now thirteen camps in Florida, each one of which is technically a State prison, and they are under the watch of a supervisor, who must visit them at least once in sixty days, examine the buildings, food, clothes, and bedding, question keepers and convicts as to work, punishment and health, enforce compliance with the laws and report to the governor every month. All leases are for four years, and the only cost of its criminals to the State are the salaries of supervisors and a sum of $300 a year for chaplain service.
"The country expends at least $200,000,000 per annum in maintaining its convicts. In the city of New York alone, the annual assessment for that purpose is $6 per citizen.
"Where the labor unions have not prevented it, society has made the criminal pay his own bills. In the South where the people are beginning to show a keenness for money that is not surpassed in the North, but where, as yet, capital is not gathered into such immense and usable sums as in the central and eastern States, a new policy has been adopted with regard to the offender. He is generally a Negro, hence he is sent back to slavery. He is sold to a farmer, a distiller, a phosphate miner, or a manufacturer, for a term of years, and his employer pays considerably less to the State than he would otherwise lay out in wages.
"In Alabama, if a State prisoner or long-termer escapes from his employer, he must pay into the public treasury $200, and $100 if a county prisoner or short-termer escapes.
"When an inspector is present at a whipping, the turbulent convict may be given twenty-one lashes on his bare back; in the absence of the inspector, the whipping boss is limited to fifteen lashes.
"The guards are of the poor white class, dull and illiterate, and receive from $20 to $30 per month and their 'keep.'
"In Florida shackling is seldom practiced except as a punishment for running away, as it interferes with the work of the convict. Guns and bloodhounds are much in evidence in the convict camps. Nothing is done for the betterment of the convicts intellectually or otherwise. Missionaries are graciously permitted to distribute tracts among them.
"White convicts are generally assigned to offices and cook shops, or become gang foremen. For the white prisoner, whatever his offense, there is always a hope of pardon, but the Negro prisoner, unless he be a crap-shooter or chicken thief, congratulates himself on being consigned to open air work in the convict's camps, for he remembers how dreadfully easy in Florida it is for a Negro to be lynched."
Judge M. W. Gibbs of Arkansas said he had known white employers in the South to be in collusion with magistrates to have colored men committed on the flimsiest pretext, simply that they might obtain more free labor on their plantations by means of the convict lease system.
The eleventh census shows that in the United States there were 2,468 county jails and only 44 reformatories. There were no reformatories in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Great Britain supports over 400 reformatories and inebriate schools, and they have closed 56 out of 113 prisons and jails in ten years, and thereby reduced to that extent the amount of material for the manufacture of criminals.
Said Judge Calhoun, of a recorder's court in Georgia:
"I tremble when I contemplate the future of little boys who come before me for the first time, and are sentenced to the chain-gang. Some of them are bright-faced and intelligent; some are orphans; many thoroughly penitent; and, I believe, nearly all could be reclaimed, could they be sent to a reform school and surrounded with an atmosphere that would benefit instead of contaminate."
Mrs. Helen Cook, wife of Hon. John F. Cook, of Washington, D. C., has established an organization in the District of Columbia, known as "The Woman's League," which is doing a wonderful work in reducing the number of those who are brought into the courts to be justly or unjustly dealt with. Let the good women of the race throughout the country follow her example and do something to rescue the perishing.
In conclusion, let us hope and believe with the widow of the Sage of Anacostia, that "Meanwhile Hampton and Wilberforce, Howard and Shaw and Fiske and Atlanta and Tuskegee and other like institutions are silently setting the seal of manhood and womanhood upon a race whose face, with ours, is set toward a higher and better civilization."
IS THE CRIMINAL NEGRO JUSTLY DEALT WITH IN THE COURTS OF THE SOUTH?
BY ATTORNEY I. L. PURCELL.
ISAAC LAWRENCE PURCELL.
Isaac Lawrence Purcell, the subject of this sketch, was born July 17, 1857, in Winnsboro, S. C. His father, John W. Purcell, by occupation a carpenter, was born in 1832 in Charleston, S. C., being one of the old free families.
Isaac Lawrence first attended a school provided by the Episcopal Church for Colored youths. He afterwards attended the public schools of his city and, in 1871, entered Brainard Institute, Chester, S. C., where he remained one term. In 1872 he entered Biddle University at Charlotte, N. C., where he remained until in the Fall of 1873, when the color line was removed at the South Carolina University. He entered the competitive examination for the scholarship in the South Carolina University from his county, being the only Colored applicant. In the Fall of 1873 he entered the South Carolina University, where he remained until the Spring of 1877, when the act of the Legislature of the State went into effect again drawing the color line, so he with the other Colored boys had to leave.
Mr. Purcell returned home, and under his father's instructions learned the carpenter's trade. He went to Palatka, Fla., in 1885, where he studied law, and was admitted to practice law in the Circuit and inferior courts October 8, 1889, and at once commenced the active work of his chosen profession at Palatka, Fla.
At the first term of the Circuit Court after his admittance he represented plaintiffs in several large damage suits, two against the city of Palatka; in both he got verdict for his clients; one was appealed to the Supreme Court. He was admitted to the State Supreme Court January 19, 1891, where he has successfully represented many cases. January 19, 1897, he was admitted to the United States Circuit and District Courts, and November 8, 1901, was duly admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. He has represented some of the most important cases coming before the courts of his State. He came to Pensacola, his present home, in February, 1899, and has by his energy and ability built up a fine and growing business.
In politics he is a Republican, and has attended as a delegate every State, congressional and county convention since coming to the State, several times presided over State and congressional conventions, was for twelve years chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of his county, Putnam. For many years an alderman of the city of Palatka, Fla. In 1895 he was elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention which convened in St. Louis, 1896. He has never held any office of profit, always honest and fearless in his opinions and his advocacy of right.
His private life has always been consistent; while not a member of any religious denomination, always attends the services of the Episcopal Church; is a temperate man; is generous and kind in disposition; was married October 24, 1895, to Miss E. L. Andrews, of Orangeburg, S. C.
First: What constitutes a court? In the South as in the North and other parts of the country, to constitute a court, there must be a judge, whose duty it is to preside over the court, a sheriff and deputies, and a State's solicitor, who looks after the interests of the State, and last, but by no means least, comes the jury, whose duty it is to discharge or pass on the innocence or guilt of the prisoner according to the law and evidence as offered; it requires all these to constitute an organized court of law.
First: The judge should be a man selected on account of his nobility of character, of heart, of soul and of mind; a man of experience and training, a man of affairs, learned in the affairs appertaining strictly to his branch, as also in literature and science; a man merciful, kind and generous, of a sterling character, temperate, though positive and unbiased by private opinion, in a word, he should be a man, the representative of justice, though not usurping that power as abiding in himself, but as the instrument of that power; whose moral character ought to be without blemish, a man whose habit, integrity, shrewd judgment and wise counsel place him above the average man, making him of the people and for the people.
Sheriffs and deputies ought to be honest and fearless, having the highest regard for the life and liberties of the people; they should be kind and generous, yet positive and fearless, ever ready to defend the life and liberties of the people, using their office only in consonance with the prescribed law in aiding the conviction of crime, but not as a means of revenging personal wrongs or injuries of the people whose color is their only sin.
THE JURY: The jury ought to be composed, if possible, of men of learning, whose moral character, love of truth, unbiased by racial prejudice or private opinions, being only representatives of the people, who in the name of the people adjudge, condemn or acquit according to the evidence, not from any private opinion, but governed by such law as is made in the statement of the judge bearing upon the case given previously to their retiring; if these men of learning can not be found, as in most cases, let others who, for the above qualifications minus learning, be substituted in their stead. In the selection of the jury in the most cases they come as the most refined element of the scum and refuse of the party class, whose labor in the election of some democratic officer, can only be rewarded under these terms; being unqualified to fill even the most inferior office of their party, in a majority of cases, not even one of these is acquainted with even the lowest element of learning, and if, perchance, one can be found, he is made foreman. The Negro is never thought of, but if, perchance, one should be selected, and in such a manner is he prominent, even his color makes him conspicuous, he also is on a par with his companions; men of influence are never selected. Before I conclude with the jury may I say a word of those who select them? In most States they are selected by the county commissioners, in some by a jury commissioner. These commissioners, in most cases, are none other than tools, instruments who have no minds of their own, but like a reed before a gust of the mighty wind that blows nobody good, as serfs and pampered menials bend irrespective of that higher principle, that innate quality of man that places him above the brute creation, serving in abject slavery for the carrying out of party crime and cunning as well as subtle devices.
A court constituted of such elements as described, is an "Ideal One." One to be desired, and the only one at whose hands justice, and only that as gold refined, shall be tried, counterpoised and mete out to every man justice, in the name of Heaven and at the hands of man.
But may I ask how are our courts of the South constituted? are any two of the above qualities to be found in the most prominent of our Southern courts of criminal jurisdiction? If Diogenes of old would seek in our Southern courts for such a man, hereto, as in Greece, such an one could not be found, for truth is no longer enthroned on its sacred altar.
Having defined the true elements of which the courts of our Southland are constituted, I shall pass to consider, THE MANNER IN WHICH THE Negro is dealt with in these courts. Is the criminal Negro justly dealt with in the courts of the South? is a question that I think is more frequently asked than words can answer, language describe, or man's wisdom unravel. Our woes have gone out to the ends of the earth and, the stagnant waters can no longer contain its contaminating germs, and now, even on the other side of the globe, we hear the re-echo of our cries from this damnable cruelty wafted back to us by the zephyrs that sustain expectations impregnated with hope telling of some bright future.
What of the Negro in the sunny South? what of his rights as a citizen? what of his treatment at the bar of justice? are questions also propounded on the other side and since the trial cause of the alleged rape has been made clear, we expect and are looking forth to the dawn of a brighter future.
In our civil courts, in other words, our courts where property rights are tried, I must say, that where tenement rights are concerned, justice is meted out to the Negro even against the white man when elevated to our higher courts, this is the only sphere in which a lenient form of justice is prescribed and given the Negro. The same cannot be alleged of him when his life, his liberty, or reputation or citizenship is at stake.
Against a fellow Negro, he is in some instances protected, as against a white man, seldom, if ever. In this latter it is not justice that is the object of our courts, but the impeachment and condemnation of a fellow man, giving vent to a vindictive racial prejudice. Be the crime of the Negro ever so trivial, when against the white man, the sheriff, having to carry out the oath; the jury, their party plans; the judge, his selfish means; and, therefore, no evidence, however palpable, however substantial and convincing can shield the Negro under such instances. The skin of a white man being held sacred, cannot be violated or polluted by the touch of the Negro's hands, be it in self-defense, or in defense of his manhood, or in the defense of wife, daughter or some other female relative. On the other hand, seldom, if ever, can a white man be convicted when charged with striking a Negro, or for any insult he may offer to his wife, sister, daughter or mother; the juries being all white, they consider this no crime for a white man.
May we notice the following facts of the records of our courts; may I here testify and, without a fear of successful contradiction, that by these, as matter for the criminal statistics of the race serves no purpose.
First: Because our best citizens, the better class of our thinking men and the most virtuous of our people are not tried at the hands of an impartial jury, and innocence made to bear the stamp of guilt, can in no way be accounted justice; for instance, in a case of assault and battery, although the party charged is able and does prove, by legal evidence, that his actions were prompted only by resistance in self-defense, however convincing, if a white man can be found, if even he does not know anything, but can allege a negative, this unjust evidence counterpoises the balance of justice and the Negro is found guilty. If, on the other hand, larceny be charged, it is almost an impossibility even to attempt to defend, if there be a white witness against you, it being taken for granted that every Negro is a thief. Now in courts of justice according to my judgment, and according to the law, every man is presumed to be innocent until his guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, by legal evidence, and such evidence must be furnished or obtained by the prosecution. But men are daily convicted in our courts, simply because they are Negroes.
In concluding, let me say, that a majority of my people labor under appalling disadvantages, but I hope that the time is not far distant when our courts will be constituted as the "Altars of Justice," the judges and their associates, as its priests, and the American citizen, be his color what it may, can come and there receive at the hands of unblemished and unspotted servants redresses for wrongs, compensation for impeached innocence and justice for his wrongs.
The time is coming when all racial prejudice shall have passed away, and when color will no longer impede our obtaining what is due us, and when the Negro will receive a fair and impartial trial before a jury of his peers; then will justice and equity rule sublime, and the Negro being protected in all his rights; his liberty, life and reputation will be held sacred, and virtue and worth will be considered; and man, the prince of God's creation will be crowned for doing justice unto man.
IS THE CRIMINAL NEGRO JUSTLY DEALT WITH IN THE COURTS OF THE SOUTH?
BY GEORGE T. ROBINSON, A. M., LL. B.
CAPTAIN GEORGE T. ROBINSON, A. M., LL. B.
George Thomas Robinson was born in Macon, Miss., January 12, 1854, of slave parents. An orphan, in 1865, he set out to fight life's battles with no one to guide and protect him. He has risen to a place of distinction—a journalist of note, a lawyer of high standing, a learned professor of law, an orator of repute, a molder of thought, and a reformer. He received his first inspiration from a remark which he heard Hon. C. S. Smith, now a bishop in the A. M. E. Church, make to a public school of which he was a pupil. It was: "A boy can make of himself whatever he has a mind to." George said to himself, "I will make speeches, too." Since that time Captain Robinson and Bishop Smith have delivered many addresses together. They spoke at the Emancipation Celebration in Nashville, 1st of January, 1892, which took place in the Representative Hall of the capitol. They were the principal speakers.
An afternoon paper on the 2nd said: "The ablest address of the occasion was delivered by Capt. George T. Robinson on Abraham Lincoln. The speaker electrified the audience."
"Cap." Robinson graduated from Fisk University in 1885 and from law in Central Tennessee College, now Walden University, both of Nashville, Tenn. He is a professor of law in the university.
In 1875 he refused a seat in the Legislature of Mississippi, in order to complete his education. In 1886 he delivered the commencement address at Lane College, Jackson, Tenn.; the same year he began the publication of the "Tennessee Star" in Nashville. In 1887 he was made a Captain in the Tennessee National Guard by Governor R. L. Taylor, In 1888 he was on the invitation committee to invite President Cleveland to Nashville and served on Gen. W. H. Jackson's staff as commander of a division in the parade. In 1893 he was a nominee on the Citizens' ticket for the city council. In 1896 he was appointed a member of the executive committee of the Negro department of the Tennessee Centennial and was chairman of the Military Committee. But the entire committee resigned before the exposition opened.
Settling in Nashville in 1886, he soon forged his way to the front and became a champion of Negro rights. Hon. George N. Tillman says of him: "He is one of the best and ablest men of his race in the State." Bishop Evans Tyree says: "Professor Robinson is a giant physically and mentally." Mr. Robinson's fame rests on his journalistic career.
The "Star" was regarded as one of the ablest edited Negro journals ever published. After several years of successful work for God and humanity, it consolidated with the "Indianapolis Freeman."
The "Star" made its advent in the midst of a big social scandal with a pastor of the most prominent Baptist Church in the city, the central figure. With the large following the divine had, it was not only unpopular, but dangerous to fight him, especially since he had been acquitted by the courts; and a large majority of his congregation endorsed the verdicts. The editor routed the opposition. He told the preacher that he had to quit that pulpit and leave the city.
This was the beginning of a reformation in colored society in the city which was far reaching, and brought editor Robinson into prominence. "He woke up one morning and found himself famous." His article, "A Pure Ministry," caused the reformer to be welcomed to Nashville as a Moses.
I answer this question in the negative.
There are some exceptions, but proof is too abundant to gainsay the assertion.
In the first place, all of the machinery of the law is in the hands of the white man. He is judge, jury, sheriff, constable, and policeman.
Race prejudice and antipathy so over-ride reason, that the average dispenser of justice is blinded to a sense of right, especially when a white man appears against an accused Negro. What is sop for the white man, is not always sop for the black man. As a matter of fact, the black man is discriminated against in everything in the South, and it would be unreasonable to expect the courts would do otherwise.
The presumption of law is that the accused is innocent, and that presumption stands as a witness in his favor until overcome by credible proof. But in the average court of the South, this applies to white men only. The Negro is presumed to be guilty, and the burden of proof is placed upon him to establish his innocence.
Cases have come under my observation where the accused Negro was not only tried without being represented by counsel, but on ex parte evidence, the black defendant not being permitted to testify in his own behalf or to introduce proof. These cases were not in courts of record.
The organic law of the land guarantees not only trial by jury on an indictment or presentment, but entitles the accused to be heard by himself and counsel and to introduce witnesses. In some instances, the accused is not even in court. The matter is prearranged and the imprisoned wretch is informed afterward and forced into agreeing to the "sentence," as the easiest way out of trouble. It is a rare thing now to see a Negro on a jury In the South.
Even the Federal courts are ignoring him. A white man does not consider a Negro his peer. Then from a white man's standpoint, a colored man tried by a white jury is not tried by his peers.
The Constitution is violated in letter and spirit, in order that the criminal Negro may not be justly dealt with. The greater the demand to keep the convict ranks filled up, the more unjustly is the black criminal dealt with in the severity of the sentence.
The very fact that Negroes are not permitted to serve on juries, even when all the parties are black, proves that it is for the purpose of preventing justice being done the accused Negro.
One of the most popular courts in the South is the Court of Judge Lynch. This "court" comes pretty nearly voicing the sentiment of the section where it thrives and does a large business. Members of this court are summoned as jurors to try Negroes, in legal courts, and thus the mob spirit is carried into the very temple of justice and is meted out to the black criminal in the name of the law. In such cases, who could expect a just verdict? Again, the professional juror, believing his job depends on the number and severity of the convictions of Negroes, is always ready to strain a point in order to convict.
Instead of giving the accused the benefit of the doubt, he seeks to ease his guilty conscience by rapping criminal laws.
The Negro who outrages the person of a female, is worthy of death—a legal death. His crime is no less heinous because his victim is colored—the crime in either case is blacker than the hinges of midnight.
A mob composed of white men takes the ravisher of a white female and burns him at the stake or hangs him and riddles his body with bullets or dismembers his body.
In such a case the criminal is not only unjustly dealt with, for both the moral and civil laws are violated, but a great sin is committed against society, the moral sensibilities are blunted and the crime intended to be suppressed is given new impetus.
Mob violence is the violation of every penal law. The victim has no show whatever.
A mob is not composed of men who have it in their hearts to respect the rights of the victim of their fury.
This is the cause of so many innocent, inoffensive Negro men, women and children perishing at the hands of mobs. Mob violence leads to the utter disregard for law and order, and increases crime, making criminals of "some of the best citizens."
There can be no such thing as dealing justly with the criminal Negro, as long as the rule is to deal unjustly with all Negroes.
For instance, take the black laws, notably the Jim Crow car laws and the infamous election laws, the most outrageous ever inflicted upon a free people. The Negro has been legislated out of the legislative halls, leaving the white man clear sailing in enacting unjust laws which discriminate against all Negroes alike, regardless of condition, culture, refinement, wealth, position or station.
The law places the mark of Cain upon him. His aspirations and ambitions must be curbed in spite of his fitness by character and training. The worthlessness of the Negro does not cause the opposition that the prosperity of the best of the race does. The legislator and constitution maker aims his darts at the latter class.
This state of affairs obtains in every Southern State; and the fact that the ballot, our only safeguard, has been taken from us, shows that the criminal Negro need not expect to be dealt with justly.
The nearest approach to fair play is to be had in the larger towns and cities of the South, and even here the chances are against the Negro. But it will not always be thus. A change will come sooner or later. Let us be courageous, do our best and trust in God.
IS THE CRIMINAL NEGRO JUSTLY DEALT WITH IN THE COURTS OF THE SOUTH?
BY ATTORNEY J. THOMAS HEWIN.
J. THOMAS HEWIN.
J. Thomas Hewin was born in Dinwiddie County, Va., December 24, 1871. His parents were slaves. He was left an orphan at the age of thirteen, with no knowledge even of the alphabet. At the age of seventeen he was seized with a desire for an education. Finding no opportunity for mental improvement, he went to Richmond, Va., in 1889, where he found employment in a stone quarry. He took his books with him and studied at meal-time. In the fall he became janitor of a business college. Finding that he could do his janitor work mornings and evenings, he entered the public school of Richmond and afterward graduated from the Richmond Normal School as valedictorian of his class.
So thrifty was Mr. Hewin, that when he graduated from school, he had a bank account of $1,375 to his credit.
He also graduated from the Boston University Law School, and after returning to his native state was admitted to the bar. He was especially helpful to the unfortunate of his race.
He organized in Richmond the Anti-Deadly Weapon League among the young colored men of the place, for which he received the commendation of the press and people. He is a member of the Baptist Church, an ardent worker among his people, a power as an organizer and an orator of the Frederick Douglass type.
For a man of color to approach a subject of this kind, first of all, he must crucify "self." He must not imagine that he is writing to suit the whims, fancies and caprices of a single individual, but must confine himself to the pure and unadulterated truth. To discuss this question from a lawyer's point of view, that is to say, by detailed cases, would be unintelligible to an ordinary layman's mind.
Therefore, we must confine ourselves to the subject from a layman's way of understanding legal matters. The Negro occupies to-day a peculiar position in the body politic. He is not wanted in politics, because his presence in official positions renders him obnoxious to his former masters and their descendants. He is not wanted in the industrial world as a trained handicraftsman, because he would be brought into competition with his white brother. He is not wanted in city positions, because positions of that kind are always saved for the white wardheeling politicians. He is not wanted in State and Federal offices, because there is an unwritten law that a Negro shall not hold an office. He is not wanted on the Bench as a judge, because he would have to pass upon the white man's case also. Nor is he wanted on public conveyances, because here his presence is obnoxious to white people.
But let us not lose sight of our subject which is: Is the criminal Negro justly dealt with in the courts of the South? Permit the author of this article to say that there is no section in this country where there is not some prejudice against the Negro.
Whether the Negro be tried for a crime he commits in the North or South, he will get as fair a verdict upon the law and evidence as presented in a Southern court as in the courts of any State in this Union. When we see such awful examples of brutality and inhumanity as occur in some sections of our common country against the Negro, we do not wonder that people who live in distant lands say that there can be no justice for a Negro in the Southern States. This assertion has been repeated so often, that now it is a common thing for men to say that a Negro can get no justice in the South. Yet it is important for us to note that not one of these miscarriages of justice is traceable to the partiality of the courts. They are the result of men's prejudices, who are not willing for the Negro's case to be tested upon its merits, because they know that in nine cases in ten he would be acquitted in a court of justice; and for this reason they take the law into their own hands, rather than submit it to an intelligent, cool and unprejudiced judicial body as every court is. Is there a man under heaven who would charge this state of affairs up against the courts of the South? Certainly, no one can be found who would do it. It has been my experience in my State in the trial of criminal cases that in nine cases out of ten, the white juries are in sympathy with the poor, ignorant Negro. I think the game rule will hold good in other Southern States. When we approach the subject of criminal law, we must constantly bear in mind that the object of every criminal prosecution is twofold: (1) to reform the criminal; (2) to make an example of him, so that the public will be deterred from the commission of the same offense. It is not the severity of a criminal prosecution that deters crime, but it is the certainty of punishment, when crime is committed. While it is true that the courts of the South as constituted, at present, give the Negro equal justice upon the law and facts of his case, yet we must bear in mind that a criminal prosecution is not ended with judgment in the courts. There are other humane principles to be put into operation, in order that the criminal may receive the benefits of his punishment. The relation of the Southern courts towards the Negro in this respect is particularly weak. Splendid examples of this may be seen in the "Convict Lease System," prevailing in the States of South Carolina, Arkansas and other Southern States. Under this system a Negro may be convicted of a felony calling for a minimum term of imprisonment, and yet serve out a life-time in prison. It is a system which, instead of reforming the Negro, gradually re-enslaves him. It has become such an outrage upon justice and common decency that the eyes of the civilized world are upon the United States to see how long a democratic government will tolerate such an outrage upon common justice and a defenseless people. Yet, when we, at home, begin to trace the causes of this evil, we invariably ascribe them to the courts of the South. Wrong! Wrong! The courts of the South are not legislative bodies, but judicial bodies whose function it is to interpret the laws made, and not to make laws. That right in a republic, like ours, belongs exclusively to the legislative department, and not to the judiciary. The failure on the part of the public to distinguish between the legislative and judicial branches of the government accounts in a large measure for the criticism that has been made upon the courts of the South in their dealings with the criminal Negro. It is well for us to bear in mind that a court cannot make a law, but can only confine its opinion to the law as it is. It is a well-known fact that the United States and the several States composing the same are governed by written constitutions; also, that in a constitutional government all laws must be uniform in their operation. Hence, no law can be made that will operate more harshly upon a Negro than upon a white man who is guilty of the same offense. The criminal Negro naturally thinks that he is dealt with unjustly in the court. I have never seen in my practice a Negro who did not think that a white judge and a white jury were not his enemies, and that they were looking for false evidence upon which to convict him, and were not desirous of passing upon his case on the law and evidence as presented. This, in a large measure, accounts for the enormous fees paid by Negroes to white attorneys for the simplest trouble they may get into. They believe that a white man has more influence in a court than a Negro lawyer, as though the laws were based upon favors to individuals rather than upon fixed rules of judicial construction. As for the judiciary of other States, I cannot speak, but for Virginia, I can and will say, that for the integrity of her judiciary—a fairer and more impartial set of men cannot be found in this country. Never, in my life, has anyone of them treated me amiss in their courts, nor can I point to a single case where snap judgment was meted out to a man of color, for the simple reason that he was colored. The experience of my brother members of the Bar in other States seems to tally with mine in this respect. Though I did once read of a Mississippi judge who told some colored men who had assembled in his court to listen to the trial of one of their race that this was a white man's country, and that Negroes had no business in a court room, unless there on business. Lest we forget it, we will say it now that the greatest of all virtues is charity. The numerous complaints we hear about the maltreatment of the Negro, do not come from within, but from without. They come from people who know nothing of the position we occupy in the South. They tell us that the Southern people are our enemies, that they are doing us all the harm that can be done to any people. Worst of all, our people in many instances, are silly enough to believe them—ignorant of the fact that their success depends upon making their next door neighbors their friends. The same people take this charge and lay it to the courts of justice. Shame that in a democratic government like ours a free people should be slaves to such tricksters whose only object is to create discord among a poor and defenseless people! When we hear people charging the Southern courts with treating the Negro unjustly, it reminds us of an old colored lady who was once warning a young colored man about dying in his sins. The young man wanted to know if the fire in hell was hot. The old lady said, "Hunney de olde sinners fetch their fire wid dem." If the Negro gets a harsh verdict at the Bar in a Southern court, it is because he brings his fire with him. Just why it is that the Negro cannot see things in the same light, I do not know. It is a rule of physics that action is equal to reaction and in the contrary direction. By the side of that we can put this statement, that a man is worked upon by that which he works. The Negro, as a rule, labors under the belief that he is an object of persecution and proscription, and in turn that insane belief so works upon him that it is useless for anybody to endeavor to make him believe otherwise. There is one thing I must say before I close and that is this, that if the Negro wants to break down the great undercurrent against him in the courts of the South, he must do all in his power to establish among his own people the element of caste—a line between the good and bad. He must frown upon those who do wrong, and uphold those who do right. He must lay aside the old adage that you must never do anything against your own color. If a man is my color, and he is wrong, I am against him. If a man is my color and he is right, I am for him. Let the Negro adopt this as a maxim, and justice in the courts of the South is his, now and forever.
TO WHAT EXTENT IS THE NEGRO PULPIT UPLIFTING THE RACE?
BY BISHOP GEORGE WYLIE CLINTON, M. A., D. D.
BISHOP GEORGE WYLIE CLINTON, A. M., D. D.
The career of Bishop George Wylie Clinton, A. M., D. D., furnishes indisputable evidence that merit wins success, and that industry, joined with native and acquired ability, cannot be denied pre-eminence. His is a story of a man, who, starting life with a definite goal in view, has allowed neither the blandishments of flattery nor the frosts of discouragement to hinder his progress; but, impressing his great personality upon all with whom he came in contact, he moved steadily forward, and is now one of the best examples of erudition, eloquence and practicability in the Negro pulpit.
This remarkable man was born March 28, 1859, in Lancaster County, South Carolina. As a child he was religiously inclined and thoughtful beyond his years, and none who knew him was surprised, when at the age of ten years, he became a member of the A. M. E. Zion Church. When quite young he was sent to the public school, and afterwards to a private school where he remained until 1874, when he entered the South Carolina University. In 1876 when the Democrats succeeded in electing Wade Hampton governor, all the colored students were forced to withdraw from said university and thus, after finishing the Junior Classical year he went to Brainard Institute, Chester, S. C., from which he graduated with very high honors.
Young Clinton finished his education by taking Theology, Greek and Hebrew at Livingstone College. Realizing that the urgent need of his people was education, he became a successful and conspicuous educator. For ten years, with all his energy, he was engaged in the public education of his people, being at one time Principal of Lancaster (S. C.) High School and Industrial Institute; and he held a similar position in the Howard Graded School of Union, S. C. Both of the above schools made marvelous advancement while under his management. He founded a private school at Rock Hill, S. C., out of which has come the widely known Clinton Institute. As a writer, Bishop Clinton is easily among the best which the race has produced. In his style there is wonderful richness, energy and variety. His chaste, pleasing and conservative writings made the leading papers of his State seek his contributions.
He founded the A. M. E. Zion Quarterly Review, which he issued for two years with increasing success; and in 1892 he transferred it, free of debt, to the General Conference. His eminence as an editor was so pronounced that said General Conference elected him editor of the Star of Zion. During his incumbency in this office he added to his fame as a thoughtful, versatile writer, and inaugurated the plan by which the A. M. E. Zion publication was established.
Naturally, his greatest fame was made in the pulpit, for he is a most eloquent man, and possesses much magnetism. Added to a most pre-possessing personality, and a sonorous but well modulated voice, the Bishop has all the graces of a finished orator, and all the charms of a deep, earnest scholar. Like Martin Luther, he intended to study law; but the Bible overshadowed Blackstone. He began to preach at twenty years of age and in 1896 was elected Bishop in the A. M. E. Zion Church.
In spite of a multiplicity of duties, the Bishop finds time to serve as President of Atkinson College; and so well has he supervised and managed its affairs, that it is enjoying great popularity and is maintaining a high intellectual standing.
He was married, February 6, 1901, to Miss Marie Louise Clay of Huntsville, Ala. His wife is a highly accomplished lady, and a soloist of national repute. He has one son, George William, being the issue of his former marriage to the late Mrs. Annie K. Clinton. The Bishop lives in becoming style at Charlotte, N. C., where he owns some valuable, and well-located property. His mother, for whom he has always manifested the deepest affection, makes her home with her distinguished son. Bishop Clinton is yet young; and the church and the race have every reason to hope for many more years of the distinguished services of this brilliant leader.
From the establishment of the gospel system the pulpit has occupied an important, unique and potential position in all things pertaining to man's well being along moral, social and spiritual lines.
It has not failed to concern itself about other affairs that tended to man's betterment. It may be stated in brief that at one time or another the pulpit has taken a deep interest and exerted a helpful, as well as a healthy influence in whatever has tended to man's highest and best welfare. Speaking of the Christian ministry, Daniel Webster on one occasion said: "The ministers of Christianity, departing from Asia-Minor, traversing Asia, Africa and Europe, to Iceland, Greenland and the poles of the earth, suffering all things, enduring all things, raising men everywhere from ignorance of idol worship to the knowledge of the true God, and everywhere bringing life and immortality to light, have only been acting in obedience to the divine instruction; and they still go forth. They have sought, and they still seek, to be able to preach the gospel to every creature under the whole heaven. And where was Christianity ever received, where were the truths ever poured into human hearts, where did its waters, springing up into everlasting life, ever burst forth, except in the track of a Christian ministry?
"Did we ever hear of an instance; does history record an instance, of any part of the globe Christianized by lay preachers or lay teachers? And descending from kingdoms and empires to cities, countries, to parishes and villages, do we not all know, that, wherever Christianity has been carried, and wherever it has been taught by human agency, that agency was the agency of the ministers of the gospel."
In the above high tribute from one of the greatest American statesmen since the Republic began its existence, we have set forth the peculiar work as well as the grand achievements of the pulpit. But as has been stated in the previous paragraph the pulpit has ever sought to uplift man on every line where his uplifting meant his highest good.
The Negro pulpit has not been an exception in the great work of uplifting mankind, especially that part of mankind with which it is ostensibly identified. No other pulpit ever had a more difficult task or labored under greater disadvantages than the Negro pulpit. In the very beginning the Negro pulpit had the leadership and the enlightenment of the race in spiritual and intellectual knowledge thrust upon it, when it was neither qualified nor regularly organized. Despite the disability within and the disadvantages without the Negro pulpit became the pioneer in the first movements to better the condition of the race by lifting it from the degradation and disorganized state in which it was left by slavery.
In almost every effort and successful plan which have been inaugurated since the race began its life of freedom the Negro pulpit has been the prime promoter and the advance guard. When other leaders have faltered, failed or retreated, the Negro pulpit has remained steadfast and redoubled its efforts.
As is indicated in the quotation from America's greatest orator, Daniel Webster, the chief and first work of the pulpit is spiritual instruction.
As an evidence of the success of the Negro pulpit along this line the race may point to a larger percentage of Negro Christians according to population than is true of any other people in this Christian land. While it is true the Negro brought the Christian religion over from slavery as the best heritage which that cruel system bequeathed to him, it remained for the Negro pulpit to give shape, tone and organic significance to Negro Christianity.
In organizing the Negro into separate and distinctly racial societies for the conduct of religious worship and church government the Negro pulpit did a work which has given the race greater prestige and more clearly demonstrated its capabilities and possibilities than any other work which has been done by or for the race toward uplifting it. When the Negro proved his ability to organize and conduct successfully a religious denomination of great size and strength, it proved its capacity to develop and govern itself along any other line. Surely the words of the prophet in which he speaks of a people "scattered and peeled," "a nation meted out and trodden down," seem fittingly applicable to the condition of the Negro just emerged from slavery.
It was this people, thus situated, that the Negro pulpit took hold of and formed into church societies and religious denominations, which now have followings which number up into the hundred thousands and possess property valued at millions of dollars deeded to, and held by and for the race.
Quickly seconding the work of organization followed the work of education. Before the free school began the Negro preacher became a teacher of his people to the full extent of his ability. Those who were sufficiently qualified found employment as public school teachers, while the more progressive and better qualified began to plan for institutions of higher grade to better qualify themselves and prepare teachers and leaders for the future weal of the race.
Whether we point to Wilberforce at Xenia, Ohio, secured to the A. M. E. Church through the late lamented Bishop D. A. Payne, D. D.; Livingstone College, over which that prince of American orators and foremost of Negro educators, Dr. Joseph Chas. Price, presided, from its permanent organization to his universally mourned death; the State University; the Chief Negro Baptist School located at Louisville, Kentucky, or the scores of other schools of high grade, it is a fact beyond dispute that the Negro pulpit began the initiative and has exerted the most helpful and controlling influence since they were founded.
A majority of the college, seminary and high school presidents and principals, as well as some of the strongest members of the several faculties, are men from the pulpit or men who do double duty by serving as best they can the pulpit and schoolroom.
In politics as well as in other spheres some of the most effective work which has been done for the uplifting of the race has been done by the Negro pulpit.
To the writer's personal knowledge some of the ablest, most faithful and useful men found in the constitutional conventions, legislatures and county offices during the reconstruction period were men from the Negro pulpit.
The Rev. James Walker Hood (A. M. E. Zion), now Bishop J. W. Hood, D. D., LL. D., in the Constitutional Convention of North Carolina, in the Legislature, and as Assistant Superintendent of Education for the State, did a work which contributed not only to the uplift of the race but to the best interest of all the people of the State.
Rev. Henry McNeal Turner, D. D., LL. D. (A. M. E. Church), as legislator in Georgia, exerted an influence which is still felt in that State.
Bishop B. W. Arnett, D. D. (A. M. E.), whose efforts in the Ohio Legislature secured the repeal of the "Black Laws"; Rev. D. I. Walker (A. M. E. Zion), as school commissioner and State Senator from Chester County, South Carolina; Rev. J. E. Wilson (M. E.), as school commissioner and postmaster at Florence, South Carolina; Rev. Wm. Thomas (A. M. E.), and R. H. Cain (A. M. E.), Legislator, Congressman and later Bishop; Rev. H. R. Revels (M. E.), United States Senator, whose deportment in the United States Senate and in other walks of life called forth the highest encomiums from the Southern press; Rev. Henry Highland Garnett (Presbyterian), and Rev. M. G. Hopkins (Presbyterian), and Owen L. W. Smith (A. M. E. Zion), United States Minister to the Republic of Liberia, each and all have contributed much to the uplifting of the race in the political sphere. But the Negro pulpit has not confined its efforts along the line of race organization to the religious sphere. Knowing, as every thoughtful leader and man of the race must know, that material possessions, financial standing and social combination for material well being are indispensable, the Negro pulpit has not failed to project, foster and encourage organizations of a character to benefit the race along the above lines. In Masonry the Negro pulpit has ever held a commanding influence and served a most useful purpose. The same is to some extent true in Odd Fellowship and other societies which have been helpful to the race. But the most substantial organization now operated by and for the Negro race in this country are the True Reformers, Galilean Fishermen and Birmingham, Alabama, Penny Savings Bank.
The well-known and much lamented Rev. Wm. W. Brown (M. E.), C. C. Steward (A. M. E. Zion), W. R. Pettiford (Baptist), were the chief factors in founding and firmly establishing these healthy and helpful race institutions, which are still doing a thriving and widening business which is not only uplifting the race but benefiting the community at large. The Hale Infirmary, established by the widow of the late Elder Hale (A. M. E. Zion), of Montgomery, Alabama, in compliance with the expressed wish of her husband while living; the Orphanages of Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina, established and now being managed by Revs. Jenkins and E. A. Carroll (Baptist), in the above cities; also the Orphanage at Oxford, North Carolina, established by ministers of the Baptist Church, according to information obtained by the writer; the Episcopal Industrial School of Charlotte, North Carolina, founded by Rev. P. P. Alston (Episcopal), are but a few of the many ways in which the Negro pulpit is uplifting the race. In the literary sphere the Negro pulpit has made numerous and valuable contributions which stand to the credit of the race and add to American literary productions.
Bishops Payne, whose "History of the A. M. E. Church" and "Domestic Education;" B. T. Tanner's several works; Levi J. Coppin's "Key to the Bible," and "Baptized Children;" W. J. Gaines' "Negro and the White Man;" Dr. H. T. Johnson's "Logos;" Rev. Whitman's works; Rev. T. G. Steward's works; Bishop J. W. Hood's (A. M. E. Zion) "Negro in Christian Pulpit," "History of the A. M. E. Zion Church" and "Apocalypse Revealed;" Bishop J. B. Small's "Pulpiteer," "Human Heart" and "Predestination;" Dr. W. J. Simmon's (Baptist) "Men of Mark;" Bishop Holsey's (C. M. E.) sermons and addresses; Dr. C. H. Phillip's (C. M. E.) "C. M. E. Church History;" Dr. G. L. Blackwell's (A. M. E. Zion) "Model Home;" Rev. Geo. C. Lowe's (Congregational) poems; Rev. J. D. Corrother's (A. M. E. Zion) poems; Rev. W. H. Nelson's (M. E.) "A Walk With Jesus;" Dr. Alexander Crummell's (Episcopal) sermons and addresses and papers, with scores of books I can not mention for lack of space, besides others I have not seen or heard about, are contributions which cannot help but inspire and uplift the race. The greatest and most widely known race organization that is endeavoring to uplift the Negro along social lines and combat the prejudices, caste regulations and other efforts to crush out race manhood and turn back the hand in the dial plate of the Negro's progress, is the Afro-American Council, headed by that born leader of men, the eminently pious and ever aggressive race leader, Bishop Alexander Walters, D. D. (A. M. E. Zion), and his most substantial following is made up of representatives of all the Negro pulpits in America.
In the Negro Press Association the Negro pulpit is largely and ably represented and the preacher editors are doing their work well. The above brief and partial (but partial only for lack of broader information and of more space) is but a feeble testimony to what the Negro pulpit is doing toward uplifting the race.
In the religious sphere the Negro pulpit stands out in bold prominence as the chief agency in the work of uplifting the race. In organizing and perpetuating existing organizations the Negro pulpit now, as before, leads all other agencies.
In the work of education the progressive pulpit is always a patron and supporter, as well as a workman which needeth not to be ashamed.
In the endeavor to constrain the people to a settled condition, instill the principles of Christianity in all the affairs of life, and promote peace and harmony between man and man, regardless of race, the Negro pulpit is doing a work which is ever adding new stones to the grand building of race progress and influence. I know no single agency which is accomplishing so much in the task of uplifting the race as the Negro pulpit. What the great Negro religious and social organizations are doing, especially in such establishments as the A. M. E. Zion, A. M. E. and Baptist Publication establishments at Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Nashville, Tennessee, and Jackson, Tennessee, is due largely to the management and business skill of the Negro pulpit. Now as in the past the Negro pulpit constitutes the true leadership of the race.