Writing out in correct lists all the groups of phenomena that make up the term disease, we will find that they invariably come from without. From my point of view all the groups of diseases are in truth accidents; exposure to some influence or influences that pervert function or create new motion. I must first refer to the cause to which at various times has been ascribed the responsibility for this excessive mortality, viz.: that innate vital weakness exists in the colored population of this country as a result of amalgamation. On this theory the black race when mixed with the Caucasian is the only one which produces with the latter a progeny of weakened innate vitality. I have never seen this statement supported by any trustworthy knowledge or information. On the other hand it has always been accompanied by the most absurd arguments which invariably tend to expose the mind of the writer as being prejudiced to the intermingling and the intermarriage between the two races. It is among the possibilities that physiological peculiarities account for dispositions to disease belonging to typical classes of the human family. No one has as yet been able to determine what those peculiarities are. Whether they are primitively impressed on a race, or are acquired is a question that can be answered only when the exact relationships of diseases to race are discovered. My own view is, that acquired and transmitted qualities and specific existing social peculiarities are sufficient agencies for the production of all the known variations of vitality belonging to peculiar races.
I am now thoroughly convinced that the causes of this great mortality of the colored people of the cities of the South are poverty, prejudice, and ignorance. For obvious reasons I will submit them in the following arrangement:
a. Contagious Diseases (close contact).—Diphtheria, scarlet fever, small-pox, tuberculosis, syphilis, etc.
b. Unsanitary Nuisances (11,705 abated in the District of Columbia for year ending June 30, 1900).—Filthy alleys, cellars, bad drainage, garbage, filthy gutters, hog pens, filthy houses, filthy lots, stagnant water, filthy privies, leaky roofs, sewers, filthy yards, filthy streets, wells, etc.
c. Unsanitary Homes.—Only those houses that are refused or abandoned by the white people are offered to the colored people for dwellings.
d. Impure Food.—The large quantity annually condemned in the District of Columbia is an indication of that to which the poor is subjected.
e. Impure Air.—Bad design and construction (small rooms) and unhealthy location.
f. Impure Water.—Unhealthy sources, cheap, shallow and unhealthy wells, etc.
g. Infantile Mortality.—Unusually large from poverty alone.
a. Idleness and Crime.—Late hours, broken rest, depraved association, tobacco, alcohol, syphilis, other diseases, etc.
b. A Destitute Laboring Class.—Prejudiced employers, poor pay, excess of work, deficient rest, worry combined with physical exhaustion, unsanitary rooms, etc.
c. Defective Homes.—Small rooms, poor ventilation, either no water supply, or a very bad one, neglect of sanitary measures by both landlord and agent, all the nuisances enumerated above, etc.
a. Diseases from bad hygiene (public, home, and personal).
b. Induced diseases from physical strain.
c. Diseases from combination of physical and mental strain.
d. Disease from the influence of the passions.
e. Disease from sloth and idleness.
f. Disease from late hours and broken rest.
g. Disease from food.
h. Disease from water.
i. Disease from alcohol.
j. Disease from tobacco.
k. Disease from errors of dress.
l. Children of parents diseased or weakened from various causes.
The space allowed for this article will not permit the discussion of all the causes mentioned above. There are, however, a few that are worthy of our special consideration. For the purpose of condensation, I will attempt the elucidation of the importance of such causes as demand our most serious attention by incorporating them in the following discussion of the most important part of this article: "How is this great mortality to be lessened?"
In my opinion the remedy for this alarming condition exists in education and money. In other words our remedy is the same as that of other races. The only difference is that the barriers we must surmount are so very peculiar and so very much greater than that of other peoples we must do our best to, at once, recognize the fact and begin the work. I believe the goal is ours and if we will only struggle manfully and hopefully onward we will soon reach it. With
EDUCATION AND MONEY
as the remedy, the colored people must be taught that the first step towards the reduction of disease is to begin at the beginning, to provide for the health of the unborn. The error, commonly entertained, that marriageable men and women have nothing to consider except money, station, or social relationships demands correction.
The offspring of marriage, the most precious of all fortunes, deserves surely as much forethought as is bestowed upon the offspring of the lower animals.
It is well that we teach, in the school room and from the pulpit, about the condition that exists in the parental line, maternal and paternal. The necessity for such instruction is somewhat indicated, in the effect upon the prenatal state, of such conditions as scrofula or struma, of various forms of tuberculosis and syphilis, of epilepsy, of rheumatism, and of insanity. These are only a few. We have to contend even with hereditary proclivity to some forms of the acute communicable diseases, such as diphtheria and scarlet fever and also to immunity from the same.
We must furnish, by all available means and through every possible channel of information, persistent and systematic instruction in public, home and personal hygiene. We should utilize especially the power of the pulpit and influence the public school authorities to institute, in the colored schools throughout the South, special instruction on these subjects. The importance of such instruction is evident in the agitation which is now occurring among the educators in the schools of the Eastern states. If it is needed there then the need of it in the colored schools of the South must be urgent indeed.
We must give such education as will tend to a better general knowledge, especially of the two diseases which, I believe, more than any, should be the most dreaded as being the most prolific of injury to mankind and especially to the colored people on account of their ignorance of the communicability of disease combined with their poverty. I refer to the contagious maladies tuberculosis and the one called "specific" or syphilis, the moral as well as the physical blot on all civilized life. The former is well known nowadays to be one, if not the worst contagion to which the human family is subjected. In its various forms it is responsible, probably, for more deaths among the colored people than any one disease with a definite phenomenon. As less is known about the latter disease, syphilis, I must mention it a little more forcibly, however unpleasant and brief the utterance. The poison of the malady once engrafted into the living body, and producing its effect there, leaves, according to my professional experience, and observation, organic evils which are never completely removed. Various forms of disease of the skin; some forms of consumption; some phases of struma or scrofula; many forms of cachectic feebleness and impaired physical build—what are denominated delicate states of constitution—these and other types of disease are so directly or indirectly connected with the "specific" taint, it becomes impossible to be too careful in tracing it out, or in measuring the degree to which it extends in the field of morbid phenomenon, in our efforts to improve the vitality of the colored people and to enlighten them upon this class of diseases.
The widespread encouragement of thrift, industry and efforts among the colored people to gain a livelihood or, to put it more boldly, to get money and keep it, thereby obtaining the means with which to supply themselves with the necessaries of life, and possibly, with some of its comforts, will materially wipe out a large percentage of that class of diseases and death that proceed from such causes as worry, excess of work, physical and mental strain, late hours, broken rest, etc.
Washington, D. C., is considered a very clean city. It is, therefore, significant that the 11,705 nuisances, referred to in the foregoing, are an indication as to the great risk, from this source throughout the South. It is obvious at once that the colored people, who form the bulk of the poor class, are the principal victims to that which escapes official inspection.
Notwithstanding the fact that the colored population of the District of Columbia is less than one-third of that of the whites, in the year 1899-1900, there died in the homes located in the back alleys of the city 411 colored persons and eleven white persons, indicating to what extent these unsanitary homes are occupied by the colored people.
Space will not permit the further elucidation of the foregoing causes and remedies, which I have done nothing more than to touch upon. However, I cannot close without giving further emphasis to my views by offering in evidence the conditions, as to vitality, of the Jews. The facts are that this race, from some cause or causes, presents an endurance against disease that does not belong to any other portion of the civilized communities amongst which its members dwell. We do not have far to go to find many causes for this high vitality. The causes are simply summed up in the term "soberness of life." The Jew drinks less than the Christian; he takes, as a rule, better food; he marries earlier; he rears the children he has brought into the world with greater personal care; he tends the aged more thoughtfully; he takes better care of the poor; he takes better care of himself; he does not boast of to-morrow, but he provides for it; and he holds tenaciously to all he gets. It may be true that he carries these virtues too far, but I do most earnestly plead that if the colored people will only emulate the Jew, they, like the Jew, will win, like him they will become strong, and like him in scorning boisterous mirth and passion, will become comparatively happy and healthy.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT MORTALITY AMONG THE NEGROES IN THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH, AND HOW IS THAT MORTALITY TO BE LESSENED?
BY JAMES RANDALL WILDER, M. D., PHAR. D.
JAMES RANDALL WILDER, M. D., PHAR. D.
James Randall Wilder was born at Columbia, S. C., and is the son of Charles M. Wilder, who was postmaster at Columbia for many years. His mother was Marla Coleman, also a native of the Palmetto State.
Dr. Wilder is a man of spotless character, and enjoys a striking appearance, a magnetic personality, and a brilliant and versatile mind. His early training was received in the public schools of his native city. He spent a season in the classical department of Howard University, and from there he went to Howard Medical College, from which he graduated in the year 1888. Availing himself of the unrivalled opportunities afforded by the Freedman's Hospital, he rapidly acquired both theoretical and practical knowledge, so that when he stepped into the world he possessed a preparation seldom equaled by the young practitioner. He has also the degree of Phar. D. from Howard.
He located in Washington, the capital of the nation, where today he enjoys a large and lucrative practice. His modest, sympathetic nature makes him an ideal man for the sick room. His ability has won professional recognition not only for himself but for others. He was for many years physician to the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children, and is today the examining surgeon for a number of benevolent and charitable organizations. He has been prominently connected with many of the business ventures of the colored people in the District of Columbia for the past ten years, and is ranked as a broad-minded, solid, public-spirited citizen—a grand object lesson for what is best and most progressive in the community. He has invested his earnings judiciously, so that today he has a competency seldom attained by a man of his years. The success gained, the making the most of himself, renders him the best advocate of truth, and a potent factor in the growth and development of the race. This plain, honest, earnest young man is a type of the generation since citizenship came—a splendid example of worth since the selfhood of the race has been partially recognized, and the members have been permitted to add their quota to the sum of human advancement and achievement. The hour calls for fact, not fancy—for flesh-and-blood examples of what has been done by the young manhood of the country. The interest here and now is due to the fact that he has had somewhat to say on a subject of vital moment, and has said it vigorously and eloquently. Here he is the champion of truth, performing a service in a dignified, scholarly manner, and so winning the praise and gratitude of all lovers of truth. His article must call a halt to those inconsiderate ones who persistently repeat what through haste and insufficient data has been given to the world as fact—as logical inference from scientific investigation.
Dr. Wilder has collected a large library of professional and literary works, and has never ceased to be a hard student. His home shows the taste of the scholar and wide-awake practitioner. He married Miss Sallie C. Pearson of Columbia, S. C., and to them have been born two children—Charles McDuffie and Susan Maceo.
Dr. Wilder belongs to that class of quiet, earnest souls who pursue the "even tenor of their way" and are doing most to establish truth, to refute error, content to let the "deeds, though mute, speak loud the doer."
The American Negro finds himself, at the beginning of the twentieth century, seriously embarrassed by the many false and damaging accusations that have been made against him, not least of which is the charge of physical inferiority. The charge has been wholesale that the Negro differs from the white man physically, and that he is ethnically and strongly predisposed to certain fatal and contagious diseases. This stigma of disease has been placed upon him and repeatedly emphasized, but despite the fact that the effort has been made for years, by men learned in anthropology to find and prove the inherent inferiority of the Negro, based upon anatomical, physiological and biostatic peculiarity, to-day the bare statistical fact of his high mortality alone supports the calumnious fabrication. It is true that according to official statistics the Negro's death rate in this country is relatively high, but the causes of disparity are extrinsic and remedial and he was not stamped thus ab initio, but by the fiat of the Creative-will.
The Negro, identified as he is with the great human family, is subject to the same deteriorating influences that affect his fellow-man. Hence impure air and water, polluted soil from defective sewerage, adulterated food-stuffs, and the unhealthful conditions imposed during the school-going period of life—which are questions of public hygiene and general concern—contribute, in no small degree, to his mortality. But aside from these influences, common to all people, he is subject to others peculiar to himself, on account of the environments that govern him. The proverbial unreliability of statistics justifies the assumption that the Negro's death-rate is not as great as it is said to be. The occupations of the Negro tend to keep him in the back-ground and to encourage a neglect on the part of the census enumerator to record accurately all of the Negroes in a certain locality. But the Negro dies faster than the white man, and it is not my purpose to deny it, but to recite a few of the real causes of the disparity in the cities of the South, and to show how that mortality is to be lessened.
(1) American slavery, with its unparalleled cruelty and bestiality has injured the Negro, intellectually, physically and morally. It has been claimed that the admixture of the Negro with the Caucasian has given us a resulting mulatto, weaker physically than either of the parent stock, but this statement is based upon hypothesis, and is not borne out by the facts in the case. It is true, however, that a resulting lowering of vitality has followed the admixture of "kindred blood," which was almost unavoidable during the days of slavery as the result of certain well-known procreative practices that obtained on the part of the master, and on account of the itineracy of the Negro incident to his chattelism. In "those dark days" it was hard enough for the Negro to recognize his near kin on his maternal side, and it was infinitely impossible for him to trace the "family tree" from the paternal side. The evil effects of this consequent admixture of "similar" blood cannot be denied, and must bear a modicum of responsibility for the excessive mortality of the Negro of to-day.
(2) The fact that the great majority of the Negro women in the cities of the South are compelled to work steadily even while they are enceinte, doubtless often interferes with the normal development of the internal organs of their offspring, causing a lack of vitality which is not apparent to the casual observer, but which must make them an easy victim to disease.
(3) The same social and economic conditions that keep the expectant mother busy with her daily labors, also abbreviate her "lying-in-period," which not only weakens her physically, but deprives her newly-born offspring of its natural food—thus consigning it to an infant's grave, or so debilitating it that it succumbs to the first disease with which it becomes affected. It is bad enough to be bottle-fed, physiologists tell us, but it is infinitely worse to be hand-fed. The majority of the Negroes in the Southland are hand-fed from birth with food decidedly improper both as to quality and quantity, thus making defective the very substructure of their being. Is it any wonder that such a people die faster than another people, who nurse their young or have it done, or who give them pure cow's milk modified scientifically, or other artificial infant food prepared skilfully amid the best sanitary environments?
(4) The early motherhood of the Negro has its evil effects. The proper age for a woman to become a mother is at twenty-five years and usually before that time development is not complete, and the whole organism is in a transition state. It is equally true that the use of any organ before it has attained its complete growth or development is damaging to that organ and interferes with its normal function, and "we cannot but believe that children developed in immature sexual organs must be deficient in true vital force and energy. It is often noticeable that a child apparently strong and vigorous, may have but little power to resist disease, or may even be strongly predisposed to some infirmity." The colored women in the section under discussion who become mothers, are usually multiporae long before the twenty-fifth year.
(5) The element of overwork must come in for its increment of responsibility in the excessive mortality of the Negro. While deficiency in exercise favors a lack of nutrition conducive to wasting in size, on the other hand too much work favors hypertrophy of vital organs and tissue degeneration. The average healthy man should work about eight hours per day and "should do work to the equivalent of 150 foot-tons daily." The American Negro's working hours, as a rule, are regulated, if at all, by the exigencies of the work to be performed, as it appears to an exacting employer.
(6) The kind of work performed by the Negroes in the Southern cities includes all menial occupations, which conduce to accident and exposure. The death-rate among the laboring class of any community, irrespective and independent of its nationality, is necessarily greater than that of the well-to-do leisure class.
(7) The manner of living of the majority of the colored people in the cities of the South—which is sometimes the progeny of ignorance, but oftener the result of necessity—is responsible, in a large measure, for their high mortality. They are crowded together on back streets, in lanes and ill-smelling bottoms, near ponds of stagnant water, on the banks of rivers—wherever their scanty means consign them. The ignorant among them, like the ignorant among any other people, ignore the teachings of hygiene, because they are ignorant, and not because they are black. They do not know the value of fresh air and sunlight and cleanliness, and hence are ignorant of the fatality attached to the unholy trinity—darkness, dampness and dirt, which is responsible for the tuberculosis that is charged to their "inherent tendencies." The pittance that is paid to the Negro in the name of wages forces him to crowd together in narrow and ill-ventilated sleeping apartments, which is decidedly unhealthful and favors the spread of contagious diseases. Thus smallpox spreads rapidly in a Negro settlement, not because they are Negroes, but because their manner of living brings them into the most intimate contact with one another, so that whatever disease attacks one, rapidly spreads to all of the others who are not immune.
The lack of suitable clothing and proper food, as a result of poverty, weakens the Negro physically. The neglect of the bath through lack of time, is responsible for much of the heart, kidney and skin diseases so prevalent among the laboring classes of the colored people. It takes time to keep clean, and the laborer has no leisure. Ignorance of the seriousness of certain diseases like syphilis, scrofula and rheumatism, has played an important role in the drama of his mortality.
(8) Another fruitful cause of his excessive mortality arises out of his struggle for existence. The exigencies of life are such with him that he does not heed the admonitions of nature made manifest in the early symptoms of disease, so that unwittingly he becomes habituated to discomfort and pain. When the common Negro laborer lays aside his implements of labor on account of sickness, the disease with which he is affected is well founded and passed beyond the abortive and often the curative stage, and very frequently when medical advice is obtained, it is of the dispensary or "physician to the poor" type, which too often savors of unconcern, inexperience and incompetency.
(9) The prevalent habit among the colored people of taking patented cure-all nostrums, which contain narcotics that insidiously benumb the sensibilities and mask the symptoms of disease, would naturally contribute to the mortality of any people.
(10) Not the least fruitful of all of the causes of the Negro's excessive mortality, is a lack of resistance to disease, engendered by the social conditions that obtain in the Southland. There he is so oppressed and persecuted that he finds himself not only an easy prey to disease, but an early victim to death. He has little to live for, and his religion promises him much after death, which, in a sense, he welcomes as a relief from his trials and troubles. This statement will not appear exaggerated when one considers the powerful influence that the mind has over the body. A cheerful, hopeful, contented mind, predisposes to a healthy body, and conversely, a discontented and despairful mind, interferes with the vital functions and invites disease and death.
(11) Lastly, in a consideration of the relatively high mortality of the Negro in the cities of the South, considerable weight must be given to the contracted death-rate of the whites due to their superior social and financial condition. Their environments are, as a rule, as healthful as education can suggest and as money can obtain, and when disease overtakes them, they combat it not only with the skill of science, but with the power of will. The incentives of life, so lacking for the colored people, are theirs in all of their plenitude. The earth is theirs and the fullness thereof, and there is no power therein that they may not covet. This feeling, this knowledge, becomes vis-a-mente that proves a potential factor in their struggle with disease. Despite this powerful influence however, and because of it, the morbidity of the white man in this country is great. I venture the assertion that his morbidity far exceeds that of the Negro—not because he is more prone to disease, but because he is enabled to live longer with disease on account of the influences to which allusion has already been made. The plain fact is, the Negro dies sooner and the white man lives longer with disease, which presents the unique question: Is it not more advantageous to the public good to die of a disease and be buried safely and deeply beneath the soil than to live with it and thus increase the opportunities of disseminating it?
(12) The remedies for the excessive mortality of the Negro in the cities of the South are self-evident. He is a man and identical with other men structurally, so that whatever is health-giving and life-lengthening for other civilized peoples, is health-giving and life-lengthening for him. To be specific, his greatest need is an increase of knowledge along the line of hygiene, and a studious application of that knowledge. He must not only be taught to run the race of life intelligently, but he must not be hindered in the process of his running. He must know the life to lead, and then lead it. In this he must have the liberal co-operation of his employer, and his brother-in-white generally. He must be paid in accordance with the labor that he performs and must be allowed an equitable participation in the every-day affairs of life. Actuated by the hopes and aspirations that actuate other men, and given a man's chance in the struggle of life, his industry and genius will soon improve his condition and bring him material prosperity, upon which depends, in a measure, the development of moral, intellectual and physical growth. Leisure and opportunity, comfort and freedom from sordid cares and anxieties regarding the immediate necessities of life, must be secured, if a race is to find time for study and thought, and to develop its best moral and physical life. May not the Negro justly find some consolation in his excessive mortality of to-day? May he not believe that "death is the philosophy of life?" May he not feel that his race is being strengthened by the dying of the weak, just as a tree is strengthened by losing its unsound branches? If so, then the future Negro in this country will be the fittest of "the survival of the fittest," and will represent the grandest type of physical manhood that the world has ever known.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT MORTALITY AMONG THE NEGROES IN THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH, AND HOW IS THAT MORTALITY TO BE LESSENED?
BY DR. R. F. BOYD.
R. F. BOYD, M. D., D. D. S.
Dr. R. F. Boyd has clearly demonstrated by energy, pluck, ability and upright dealing with his fellowman, the possibility of rising from poverty's hard estate to honor's golden prize. Dr. R. F. Boyd was born and partly reared on a farm in Giles County, Tennessee, where he learned to hoe, to plow, to reap and to mow. When quite a boy he worked for the famous surgeon, Dr. Paul F. Eve, in Nashville, and attended as best he could night school in the old Fisk buildings on Knowles street. He taught his first school at College Grove, Tennessee. The Doctor would teach a school and at its close re-enter Fisk University or Central Tennessee College. In 1882 he graduated from Meharry Medical College, with the degree of M. D. He went to Mississippi and taught a high school at New Albany and practiced his profession till the fall of 1882, when he re-entered the Central Tennessee College to complete his college course, receiving at the same time an adjunct Professorship in Chemistry at Meharry and made teacher of Physiology and Hygiene in Central Tennessee by which he was able to pay his college expenses. In 1883 he was made Professor of Physiology in Meharry, which position, together with a position in the Literary Department, he held till he graduated from the College Department of Central Tennessee College, in 1886. In 1887 he graduated from the Dental Department of Meharry, receiving the degree of D. D. S., teaching in the school at the same time. In June, 1887, he opened his office in Nashville, where so many had tried and failed. In 1888 Dr. Boyd was made Professor of Anatomy and Physiology in Meharry; in 1890 he attended the Post-graduate School of Medicine at Chicago, from which he received a diploma. In 1890 he was made Professor of Hygiene, Physiology and Clinical Medicine, which position he held until 1893, when he was made Professor of the Diseases of Women and Clinical Medicine, which chair he still holds. In 1892 he took a special course in the Post-graduate Medical School and Hospital of Chicago, on the diseases of women and children, among whom the greater portion of his practice is. One of the greatest needs of the colored people in the South is well regulated hospitals, where trained nurses can handle and care for the sick under skilled physicians. Until Mercy Hospital was instituted, there was no place of this kind in the South. It was Dr. R. F. Boyd who established and instituted this the largest and most complete hospital owned and controlled by colored people. There surgeons of our race do all kinds of operations and trained and graduate nurses of the race care for the sick under their management.
It is in this institution where the graduates of Meharry in the Medical and Nurse-Training Departments get their practical work. It is the great center to which colored physicians of the South may send cases to be operated upon by skilled physicians and handled by trained nurses. The death rate of this institution has been less than three per cent from all causes.
Besides this work, Dr. Boyd has taken a great interest in secret societies. As an Immaculate, he has gained a National reputation and has filled nearly all of the offices in the Supreme Lodge. As a Pythian he has served the Grand Lodge as Grand Medical Register, and has been honored by the Supreme Lodge as Supreme Medical Register, and is Surgeon General of the Military or Uniform Rank of that Order. The Ancient United Sons and Daughters of Africa is a creation of his own brain and he is at present Supreme Secretary of that Order. As a business man he ranks among the foremost of the race. He owns some of the best realty of the city, among which is the Boyd Building, 417-419-421-423 Cedar Street. This building has four business fronts, a hotel and restaurant, offices of various kinds and four large society halls, in which about forty societies meet. The Mercy Hospital was purchased by him solely, at a cash value of $6,000. Besides this he is the owner of other valuable property of Nashville and suburbs.
This is a question of vital importance to us as a race and to the nation as well. Much thought has been given to it by the best thinkers of both races and many articles have been written by friend and foes. All kinds of solutions have been proposed and yet the great death-rate goes on. In the larger cities of the South our people die from two to three times as fast as the whites.
The number of premature deaths is on the increase; the infant death-rate is appalling; and consumption, a hitherto unknown disease among our people, is credited with one-fourth the victims of all ages.
All the powers of science and art are being taxed to the utmost to afford a complete solution to this problem. Every large city in the South is being awakened to the sense of the importance of this subject. And well they may; for the ignorance, the vice, the poverty, the habitation and the food that cause this alarming death-rate effect the whole community.
A proper knowledge and observance of the laws of health will give happiness to all.
Man is as subject to the organic laws as the inanimate bodies about him are to mechanical and chemical laws, and we as little escape the consequences of the neglect or violation of these natural laws, which affect the organic life, through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, and the circumstances surrounding our habitation, as the stone projected from the hand, or the shot from the mouth of the cannon can escape the bounds of gravitation.
What we need is the gospel of the physical health to be preached from every pulpit, and in every school room and in every home. All strong motives of religion and the eternal world are taught from the pulpit and the Sunday school to enforce certain duties that are no more important to the well-being of man than the laws of health, which are so widely disregarded. These laws are God's laws as truly as any inscribed by Him on the Table of Stones.
The boards of health of our cities prescribe rules and regulations to insure the peace and happiness of the individual and the longevity of life which must apply to all in order that they might live out the expected term of life. What is the natural term of life? Physiologists have fixed it at a hundred years. Florens at five times the time required to perfectly develop the skeleton. David says: "The days of man's life are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be four score years, yet indeed is his strength labor and sorrow."
Under modern hygienic rules and regulations the days of man have been increased in civilized countries. Carefully prepared statistics show that while the maximum age has not increased in many centuries, the number of persons who survive infancy and reap a ripe old age is greatly increased.
According to the Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce of New York City, civilization largely interferes with the laws of evolution, by survivorship and by encouraging the waste which arises from it. We know that a human being soundly constituted continues in good health until he reaps a ripe old age, provided certain conditions are observed and no injurious accident befall him.
We might learn a lesson from the early Jews, or the ancient Greeks or Romans, if we had at our command statistics of their mortality. Doubtless they had a small death-rate! For they were strong and vigorous and observed the laws of hygiene. When these laws are properly observed, they decrease mortality and bring about greater health, comfort and happiness to the individual and to the country at large. Those who would preserve health in themselves and in the community in which they live, who would reap the greatest benefits of earth, and live out the appointed time, must strictly conform to these essentials:
1. A constant supply of pure air.
2. Cleanliness of person and surroundings.
3. Sufficient nourishing food properly prepared and properly taken.
4. Sufficient exercise of the various organs of the body.
5. The proper amount of rest and sleep.
6. Right temperature.
7. Proper clothing.
8. Sufficient, cheerful, innocent enjoyment.
9. Exemption from harassing cares.
Conform strictly to these rules and all avoidable disease will be annihilated. On the other hand, where hygienic and sanitary science is not enforced, filth, decay and putrifying matter is sure to accumulate. In this we have suitable material for the propagation of disease germs, which cause all communicable and contagious diseases. These minute organisms exist in the atmosphere everywhere, and multiply by their own peculiar method of procreation; such as filth, heat and moisture.
A population under the influence of vice, poverty, filth, debauchery, foul air, poorly prepared food and crowded dwellings, or in low, damp localities, with no rule regulating their eating or sleeping, clothing or exercise, is sure to have a great degree of mortality.
With our thorough knowledge of how to prevent epidemics, most of the diseases that enter the body through the respiratory, digestive, cutaneous, circulatory, nervous, and genito-urinary systems should be less frequent. Taking the facts which I have here given into account one may see that not only do health and longevity depend upon laws which we can understand and successfully operate, but man has it in his power to modify to a great extent the circumstances in which he lives, with a view to the promotion of his well-being and preservation.
We know that the draining of a marsh pond banishes malaria; a change from the city to the country reinvigorates, and that those who live in the high, well drained portions of our cities have the smallest degree of mortality and that the greater comforts possessed by the affluent secure for them longer life than the poor who are not so favored. To diminish the mortality in the Southern cities will depend upon both the individual and social efforts as well as upon the public measures of the legally constituted authorities.
The dirty neglected portions of our city where refuse and rubbish, animal and vegetable matters are deposited and allowed to rest and send up their poisonous odors from house to house, must be looked after. The dwellings of our people must be improved. The old, dilapidated stables, in the narrow, filthy alleys; the low, damp basements and dark cellars, often below the ground, with an insufficiency of both light and air; the clusters of homes built in the bottom and low places, closely pent up, back to back so as to prevent ventilation with only one entrance to each, and a privy between; the over-crowded conditions of these uninhabitable quarters and the quality of the food taken by those who live in these disgraceful dwellings must be looked after.
Habits of living must be corrected and a crusade against ignorance and vice begun by society. I don't think I would miss it very far when I say that one-third of the colored people in our cities live in just such dwellings as I have described here; while most of the white population live in well-built houses in the healthy portions of the cities. Is there any surprise that there should be so great a disproportion in the mortality of the races? Compare the statistics of all the large cities and you will find that under similar conditions, this same proportion in mortality exists in the Northern and foreign cities, where the food and dwelling of the poor have the same difference. But this same difference exists nowhere in the world as it does in the South. It is almost impossible for a colored man to rent a respectable house anywhere in the cities; but the dark, low, damp, confined, ill-ventilated cellars and alley houses are rented for as much as comfortable quarters ought to bring. I don't wonder that the mortality of the Negro is so great; but I do wonder that it is not greater. Any other race of people would have been exterminated in twenty years.
The remedy for the high death-rate is the enactment, and enforcement of laws against allowing the people to sleep in basements, cellars, old stables, alley houses, in low malarial sections of the cities, and making the penalty against the landlords so great, that they will not rent such places for dwellings. Regulate the kind of tenement houses and the number of persons who shall sleep in one room, the kind of food and rules for its preparation; break up these late church meetings in poorly ventilated houses, and the problem will be solved.
The infant mortality will be reduced one-half when our people learn that the care of a good conscientious physician is necessary, from generation to development, and through the entire stage of adolescence; not so much to cure, as to prevent disease. Our whole system of medicine is now turning upon prevention rather than cure. When the public is educated up to the point of paying physicians to prevent as well as cure diseases, then, there will be less sickness and fewer epidemics.
Then sanitary science, under the strict observance of hygiene, will reach perfection; the rude, gross habits of living will be corrected; a system of perfect drainage and ventilation will be inaugurated; pure air and fresh water supply will be furnished to every public and private house; only pure, unadulterated foods will be on the markets; every hotel, private and boarding-house will furnish properly prepared diets, and universal cleanliness will be the law.
Last, but by no means least, I call your attention to another most potent remedy for the diminishing of the great mortality of the race in the South. Besides the city hospitals, the whites have many other hospitals and infirmaries, supported by church and benevolent organizations where those that pay are at the hospitals because they can receive the constant attention of a physician and nurse. We need and should have such hospitals. The benevolently disposed people, the churches and societies of the cities could establish and well support them. In them, there would be pay wards and charitable wards. Each church and society supporting the hospitals could send their indigent sick to the charity wards and those who can pay, to the private apartments.
These hospitals would afford a much needed opportunity for young women of the race to prepare for trained nurses and afford better facilities for the physicians to practice surgery and study remedies.
We have established in the city of Nashville, the Mercy Hospital under the care and management of the Board of Trustees, composed of some of the best citizens and heads of our great universities. Among the directors are, Hon. J. C. Napier, President; W. T. Hightower, Treasurer; Dr. G. W. Hubbard, Dean of Meherry Medical College; Dr. P. B. Guernsey, President of Roger Williams University; Prof. H. H. Wright, Fisk University, and Dr. R. H. Boyd, President of the National Baptist Publishing Board.
The hospital is located at 811 S. Sherry street, Nashville, Tenn., in one of the most quiet, beautiful and healthful localities of the city. The site is high and well drained; the building large and commodious and up-to-date in all its apartments. There are two large wards; one for male and one for female, and private rooms, to which good pay patients are assigned where they will come in contact with no one but their physician and the nurse.
In this hospital great care is given to surgical work of all kinds and especially to abdominal surgery and gynecology. Colored physicians all over the South may send or bring their surgical cases here and get every advantage that can be provided by the best first-class hospitals and infirmaries all over the country. We have the best graduate-trained nurses in constant attendance and the resident physicians are men of the race who have made marvelous progress for two decades in all branches of their work.
Since the establishment of the hospital we have had a record of which few similar institutions can boast. During the first year we have had more than 140 surgical cases, including abdominal section and other major operations and yet the death-rate was less than 3 per cent from all causes.
Our operating room is well appointed, with an abundance of sunlight by day and gas light at night. Many of the physicians of the South have sent us cases for which we are very grateful. We have had cases from Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia. Until the other cities of the South are able to afford the facilities and accommodations and the skill and experience of the Mercy Hospital we feel that it is the duty and should be the great pleasure of every colored physician to send his surgical cases to this hospital. I consider this one of the great factors to solve this vexed problem.
The causes of the great mortality among the Negroes of the large cities of the South are due to ignorance; vice; debauchery; poor food, illy prepared; unsanitary environments; their habitation in the over-crowded tenement houses; in old stables; damp cellars; and low, damp sections and in narrow, filthy alleys, where the foul air, improper nourishment, poor ventilation and the want of personal cleanliness, furnish the proper condition for the development of disease and death. Correct these conditions and educate the people up to a thorough knowledge of and a strict compliance of the laws of health and the problem is solved. The death-rate among our people will not only be lessened, but I believe the Negro will outlive any other people on earth.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT MORTALITY AMONG THE NEGROES IN THE CITIES OF THE SOUTH, AND HOW IS THAT MORTALITY TO BE LESSENED?
BY HENRY R. BUTLER, A. M., M. D.
HENRY R. BUTLER, A. M., M. D.
Dr. Butler was born in Cumberland county, North Carolina, April 11, 1862. His early life was spent on the farm, during which time he received at odd times three months' free school instruction.
In 1874 his parents moved to Wilmington; there he worked in saw mills, lumber yards, with the cotton compresses and as a stevedore. He spent his nights studying under Prof. E. E. Green, now Dr. E. E. Green of Macon, Ga. January 3, through the assistance of his instructor, he entered Lincoln University, Pa., and was graduated June 18, 1887, receiving the degree of A. B.; October, the same year, he matriculated in Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn., graduating with the degree of M. D. February 27, 1890. The same year the degree of A. M. was conferred on him by Lincoln University. While at Nashville he won the H. T. Noel gold medal for proficiency in operative surgery and dissecting. He arrived in Atlanta March, 1890, and began the practice of medicine. He was one of the organizers of the first drug store owned and operated by colored men in Georgia. It was known as Butler, Slater & Co. He was organizer and first president of the Empire State Medical Association of colored physicians. He was appointed surgeon of the Second Georgia Battalion, colored volunteers, in 1891, with rank of first lieutenant, by the Honorable W. J. Northern, then governor.
May 5, 1893, he married Miss Salina May Sloan of Atlanta, a graduate of Spellman Seminary, who has been a most faithful, loving and helpful companion. He took a special course in the diseases of children in 1894 at the Harvard School of Medicine, Boston, Mass. In 1895, in the same school he took a special course in surgery. November 1, 1900, H. R. Butler, Jr. came, adding new blessings and happiness to his home and life. Dr. Butler is the first and so far the only colored man to be a regular contributor to the great Southern daily, The Atlanta Constitution. He has held that position since 1895. He was three years president of the Y. M. C. A. of colored men. He was four years physician and surgeon in charge at Spellman Seminary, and is now holding a similar position in Morris Brown College, and is organizing a nurse training department to that institution. He owns some valuable real-estate, besides a beautiful home on Auburn avenue. He has a large and lucrative practice. He is Grand Master of Masons of the Jurisdiction Georgia, is grand Medical Register of the Knights of Pythias. His life is truly full, every moment of his time is taken.
The causes of excessive mortality among the colored people in Southern cities are said to be many and have been discussed from just as many points of view by students of the social status of this people.
But after several years of professional service among these colored people, which service gave me an opportunity to more closely study them, their faults, habits, needs, methods of living and their knowledge of hygiene and its laws, I have calmly reached the conclusion that the want of money is the main cause of the excessive mortality of this people. It is true that there are several minor causes, but all have their origin in the one mentioned.
Among the most prominent of these minor causes may be mentioned Ignorance and Poverty. Let us briefly consider the first of these.
The colored people have made wonderful progress in the acquirement of knowledge since emancipation, and this improvement has played no small part in reducing their excessive death-rate. Yet from this height we look down and see the great masses of these people still held in the death-like grip of ignorance. To these, education has taken no knowledge of clean homes, pure air, ventilation, soap and water and other things conducive to good health. These are they who to-day are falling so rapidly before the great reaper, death.
It is a truth known to the profession, health departments and students of this subject that most of the deaths of the great human family occur between birth and the ages of five years. The children of the colored race are not an exception to the above statement.
If the children of the intelligent, good, better and best die fast, it stands to reason that those of the ignorant, bad and poor would die even faster, and this is just what I have found to be the case.
Ofttimes, among the lowly masses, ignorance is the first to take charge of the babies at birth; it sticks a slice of fat meat in their innocent little mouths immediately after birth; it rocks the cradle; it fills their little stomachs with all kinds of decoctions, of teas and whiskies to bring out the "hives;" yea, ignorance feeds these little ones on all kinds of solid foods before they are able to digest them, until it finally feeds the grave with the bodies of its little victims.
Even when manhood and womanhood are reached, ignorance, ghost-like, stands forbidding the ventilation and cleaning of homes; it says: "It's too cold to bathe;" it sends men and women to bed in wet and damp clothes and does many other acts that multiply the graves in the old church-yard on the hill.
We come now to consider poverty. Oh, what an enemy it is, and has been, to the human family! It makes its home mostly among the ignorant, and especially among the masses. In the cities of the South the great masses are colored people. Hence it is among these that poverty sits enthroned—a sceptered king ruling amid disease and death. It retards the masses of the race in their march to the city of improvement; it prevents them from having larger and cleaner and better homes; with its bony fingers it points them to the cheap renting huts in alleys, dens, dives and basements of cities, and commands them to enter and die; it follows them into the market places and fills their baskets with cheap adulterated and semi-decayed food-stuffs; aided by prejudice and man's inhumanity to man, it drives the colored people from the healthy country districts into the crowded, sickly settlements of the Southern cities, where they soon sicken and die.
Poverty, supplemented by ignorance, and the want of the true Christian spirit, stands in the doorways of the public hospitals, infirmaries and libraries where aids to health are to be found and forbids these people to enter either on account of their color or the "want of space." Poverty keeps these people from building such institutions for themselves.
Again, the colored people of Southern cities constitute the great labor force, hence most of the diseases that result from exposure are more prevalent among them than they are among the white race.
Those diseases that result from improper foods, poor sanitation, want of pure air, need of better homes and want of public parks and baths, together with those untimely deaths due to the want of proper medical attention, good nursing and surgical operations at the right time are more extensive among the colored masses because they are the ones that suffer the privations mentioned to a greater extent than any other people.
Along with the observations already mentioned on this subject, and which observations have led me to reach the conclusion that "the want of money" is at the base of this excessive mortality, is this encouraging fact—that the colored people are not dying now as fast as they were even a decade ago. The reason of this is not far to seek. The truth of the matter is, these people are growing in wealth and intelligence and in proportion as they have acquired these essential qualities their mortality has decreased.
I have observed in my practice that those who live in good, clean, well ventilated homes have no more sickness and deaths than white citizens of equal intelligence and wealth. I now call to mind, here in Atlanta twenty homes of colored citizens which are fitted and furnished with all modern conveniences, including heating and baths. The owners are well-educated and spend much time and money in keeping their homes and yards clean and in good sanitary condition. What I wish to say is this, in twelve years' time only two deaths have occurred in that circle of twenty homes, and one of these was a baby whose death was due to an accident, and the other was an aged person whose death was the result of Bright's disease. Does not this speak volumes to prove the truth of my position? What I have observed here in Atlanta relative to the real causes and prevention of this excessive mortality is true in other Southern cities.
It is no doubt plain to the reader that I have not mentioned here a single cause upon which this excessive mortality rests, but that which money can remove. That being true, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? It is simply this:
1st. Pay the masses sufficient wages to remove their ignorance and poverty, to build better homes and to furnish and equip them with baths and other things necessary and conducive to good health, to purchase proper food-stuffs, fuel and comfortable clothing.
2d. The cities should enlarge their present hospital facilities, or build others especially for these people, cities and towns that have no such facilities should provide them at once, parks, public baths and libraries should be opened by the cities for the poor.
It is simply a matter of money, before that mighty king, ignorance and poverty, together with all their allies, take flight.
WHAT SHOULD BE THE NEGRO'S ATTITUDE IN POLITICS?
BY HON. GEORGE H. WHITE.
HON. GEORGE H. WHITE, LL. D.
Mr. White was born in a log cabin, located at the confluence of "Richland Branch" and "Slap Swamp" in Bladen County, North Carolina, near the line of Columbus County, remote from cities and towns. His maternal grandmother was half-Indian and his paternal grandmother was Irish, full-blood. His other admixture is facetiously described as "mostly Negro." His early boyhood was a struggle for bread and a very little butter, his schooling being necessarily neglected. He usually attended two or three months in the year. Later, by dint of toil, and saving a few dollars, he was able to secure training under Prof. D. P. Allen, President of the Whitten Normal School at Lumberton, N. C., and afterwards entered Howard University at Washington, graduating from the eclectic department in 1877. Believing that he could best serve his race and himself as an advocate of justice, he read law while taking the academic course, completing his reading under Judge William J. Clarke, of North Carolina, and was licensed to practice in all courts of that State by the Supreme Court in 1879.
Although Mr. White has won marked success in several walks of life, as lawyer, teacher and business man, it is his political achievements that have won for him not only a national reputation, but have evoked no small degree of comment from the press and diplomats of many of the countries of the old world. It is worthy of remark that up to this time, at the age of forty-nine, he has never held an appointive office, his commissions coming invariably from the hands of the sovereign people direct. He was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1880, and to the State Senate in 1884; was elected solicitor and prosecuting attorney for the second judicial district of North Carolina for four years in 1886, and for a like term in 1890; was nominated for Congress in 1894, but withdrew in the interest of harmony in his party. He made the race for Congress in 1896 and was triumphantly elected by a majority of 4,000, reversing a normal democratic majority of over 5,000—a change of fully 9,000 votes, indicating in no uncertain tone the confidence and esteem in which he was held by his friends and neighbors. He was re-elected in 1898. His services as a legislator were conscientious and valuable. At the close of his second term, he delivered a valedictory to the country, which was universally praised as the best, truest and most timely expression of the Negro's plea for equality of citizenship that ever rang through the halls of Congress. The speech was widely circulated, and was favorably commented upon by the leading newspapers of the nation.
Mr. White has accumulated quite a handsome fortune, his wealth being estimated at from $20,000 to $30,000. His personal popularity and the respect for his ability are attested by the fact that several honorary degrees have been conferred upon him by a number of the noted educational institutions of the land.
Mr. White is a thirty-third degree Mason. For six years he was Grand Master of Masons for the State of North Carolina, having filled most of the subordinate offices in that body before his elevation to the Grand Mastership.
Since his retirement from Congress, Mr. White has been engaged in the practice of law in Washington, D. C., and so favorably has he impressed his qualifications upon the bench and bar of the national capital that one of the judges publicly, and without precedent, complimented him in open court and set his methods up as an example for other lawyers who practice there. Eminent as are his abilities, Mr. White is proverbially modest. Of strong character, well-balanced mind and an unswerving sense of justice, liberal in views upon all subjects, political, social or religious, companionable in private life, unostentatious in manner of living or in the bestowal of charity, ready to sacrifice personal convenience to serve the worthy, Mr. White is indeed a typical American. The Negro people, in slavery or freedom, as serfs or citizens, offer no model more inspiring, no picture more inviting.
In presenting this subject to the public, I shall endeavor to treat it from a broad and liberal standpoint, eliminating all selfishness or individual political bias, and viewing the situation from the standpoint of an American citizen.
The first prerequisite to good government in a republic, is purity in the ballot. No stream can be pure unless its source is pure; neither can a republic hope for just and fair laws and the administration and execution of them, unless there is purity and fairness in the sources from whence these cardinal principles of government spring. Laws should be enacted for the whole people and not for individuals, races or sections—thereby securing the support and retaining the confidence of all the parts of our heterogeneous compact, to the end that a homogeneous whole may move in the same direction for the good of all concerned.
The Negroes ask for—and as a part of this republic—have a right to demand the perpetuation of these basic principles of our government. While we are young in citizenship, and admit having made many political mistakes, yet we are willing that the search-light of reason be thrown upon our acts, and a fair and impartial verdict rendered as to our conduct, when all the circumstances surrounding our variegated political history are taken into consideration. Liberated, enfranchised and turned loose among our former masters, who could not take kindly to our new citizenship, we naturally sought friendship and political alliance with those claiming to be our best friends—those who had been instrumental in obtaining our freedom. These new friends came largely from the Federal army, interspersed with many adventurers who followed in the wake of that army, seeking strange fields in which to ply their vocations. Many of these new-comers proved to be true friends to the Negro of the South and led us on and taught us as a faithful guardian would teach and care for his wards. But the great majority of them were wholly unscrupulous and worked upon the ignorance, inexperience and gullibility of the Negro, overtime, to place themselves into positions where they had unlimited sway. The result that followed was most natural—the use of public trust for private gain, the looting of many of the Southern states, the political degradation of the Negro, and the complete estrangement between him and his former neighbors. When all these things were accomplished, these human cormorants betook themselves to their Northern homes to live in ease and splendor on the results of their pillage, while the black man was left in the South to endure disfranchisement, torture and murder on account of the malice and hatred begotten from his first political experience.
Surrounded by such environments, the suppression of his right of franchise, the open and notorious examples of fraud, ballot-box stuffing and intimidation practiced in every Southern election for the last thirty years, on the one hand, and the unfaithfulness, "Jingoism," the free offering of bribes and the continued practice of duplicity, on the part of those claiming to be his friends, on the other hand, no fair-minded man would expect to find complete political perfection among a people thus treated. Thus has the Negro been obstructed, not only in politics, but his civil rights have been denied him, and the doors of many industries are closed against him.
But let us turn our faces away from all the horrors of slavery, reconstruction and all kindred wrongs which have been heaped upon us, and stand up, measuring the full statue of an American citizen, upon the threshold of the new century as a New Man. The slave who has grown out of the ashes of thirty-five years ago, is inducted into the political and social system, cast into the arena of manhood, where he constitutes a new element and becomes a competitor for all its emoluments. He is put upon trial, to test his ability to be accounted worthy of freedom, worthy of the elective franchise. After all these years of struggle against almost insurmountable odds, under conditions but little removed from slavery itself, he asks a fair and just judgment, not of those whose prejudice has endeavored to forestall—to frustrate—his every forward movement; rather those who have lent a helping hand that he might demonstrate the truth of "The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man."
In a nation like ours, blessed with peace, plenty and full of prosperity; filled with the spirit of "Expansion," sound money and a protective tariff; when there is a disposition to forget all sectional lines, and to know no North, no South, no East, no West, but having all to stand out in bold relief as one reunited whole, when one political party slaps the other upon the shoulder with a knowing look and a smile indicating the fraternal feeling everywhere present, the question naturally comes home to every colored American, "What should be the Negro's attitude in politics?" Constituting as we do, one-eighth of the entire population of this Nation, the Negro's political attitude should be a firm stand for the right, the support of honest men for office, the advocacy of strong, pure American policies, an unceasing contention for fair elections, a pure ballot, a complete repudiation of any party or man who seeks to bribe, or in any way to hamper or degrade him politically. Should he become self-effaced, politically? No, never! He should, at all times, contend wisely, firmly for every right accorded to other American citizens under the organic laws of the nation. He should identify himself with that political party which proves to be the most friendly towards him. There is very little in a name. Results should be sought, and the Negro should never waver until they are obtained. This will necessitate a division of the Negro vote. No fixed rule can be established as a political guide for him, any more than it can be done for any other people. The location, environment, men and measures sought to be obtained, should guide him. The political pathway for the future may seem dark and discouraging, but nothing daunted, we should continue to press forward, contending for every inch of our rights—no right which man enjoys aside from his own household should be guarded more sacredly than his right of franchise—a right which makes each one a sovereign in himself; a right which determines what laws shall govern us, who shall construe them and execute them.
I am not unmindful of the fact that the views here expressed, may sound rather Utopian. But in this age of rush and bustle for place, preferment and national gain, by individuals and the nation; and in an age when anarchists, lynchers and murderers set at defiance all law and government; in an age when, in certain sections of the country, the ballot-box ceases to stand as an exponent of the registered will of the people, but stands rather as a political cesspool of reeking rottenness, impregnating the national atmosphere with germs of discord that may yet stagnate and throttle the Union; in such an age, it is quite necessary that a halt should be called; a reckoning had, and that these small, though dangerous political sores should be lanced from the body politic before they develop into putrifying cancers that will destroy the life of the republic.
From any view that may be taken of the present political situation, it is apparent that the time is ripe for the colored American to think and act for himself. If he reasons correctly, he will certainly reach the conclusion that right must some day prevail; and in order that he may enjoy the resultant blessings flowing from a pure ballot, the colored man must set the pace, and thereby place himself in a position to command respect and proper recognition. "He who would have equity must first do equity."
The Negro's loyalty to his friends, his impressionable soul, his devotion to church, his yearning for education and enlightenment, his thrift, industry, devotion to country, fidelity to the flag shown upon hundreds of battle-fields, must be admitted and command the admiration of all fair-minded men. Let him add to all these attributes, purity in all things; let him cultivate a love for justice and fair play, live as an example for his neighbors, ally himself with the best men in the community or state where he lives, and the day must certainly come when his rights—political and civil—will be conceded to him.
Let us learn what is right and then dare to do the right; ever pressing forward to higher and nobler things; never lagging, but remember, "That constant effort will remove the mountain, and that continued dripping will wear away the stone."
WHAT SHOULD BE THE NEGRO'S ATTITUDE IN POLITICS?
BY T. T. FORTUNE
TIMOTHY THOMAS FORTUNE.
Timothy Thomas fortune, the subject of this sketch, is an author, a journalist, an agitator and a lecturer.
Mr. Fortune's grandmother was a mulatto, and his grandfather a Seminole Indian. Thomas was born of slave parents in Florida in 1856. His father took an important and active part in the reconstruction of Florida, being a delegate in the Constitutional Convention that framed the present constitution of Florida, and a member of the first five sessions of the reconstituted Florida Legislature.
During the Ku Klux Klan period, which followed, the father of Thomas had to stand for his life, which he manfully did by preparing his house to receive the night marauders. The father finally moved with his family to Jacksonville, Florida. Here young Thomas soon found a position as a printer's "devil," which was the first step to that high position which he now occupies. He left his printer's "case" for two years in order to attend school and to work in the Jacksonville city postoffice.
In 1874 he was appointed mail route agent between Jacksonville and Chattahoochee; but he was soon promoted to the position of special inspector of customs for the first district of Delaware. A year later, 1876, young Fortune entered that school which has been an inspiration to so many negro youths, Howard University. After two years' study in this school he returned to the printer's trade. While in Washington he married Miss Smiley of Florida.
In 1878 Mr. Fortune returned to Florida to try his hand at school teaching. After a year's experience at this work, he again returned to his first love, the printer's trade, but this time he went to New York City. Of course the other compositors objected to working with a "Nigger," but by the manly stand of the publisher, Mr. John Dougall, the "Nigger" remained, and after a short strike the white compositors were glad to return.
Mr. Fortune's real career as a journalist began in 1880, when, with two friends, he began the publication of the Rumor, which, after two years, was changed to the New York Globe. After four years the paper was forced to suspend. Mr. Fortune immediately began the publication of the New York Freeman. A year later, 1885, the name of the paper was changed to the New York Age, of which Mr. Fortune is still editor.
His writings are, however, not confined to the editing of his paper. He is the author of several books, but "Black and White" and "The Negro in Politics" are perhaps the most noted.
Mr. Fortune was the first to suggest the Afro-American League, an organization in the interest of the Negro race. He was the president of the first convention of this league, which met in Chicago in 1890. His address as president of the convention was a scathing arraignment of the South.
Mr. Fortune was also elected chairman of the executive committee of the National Afro-American Press Association which met in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1890.
The National Negro Business League was the outcome of a conversation between Booker T. Washington and Mr. Fortune. Mr. Fortune was elected chairman of the executive committee of the National Negro Business League which met in Boston in 1900, and also at its meeting in Chicago in 1901.
Mr. Fortune is, as might be suspected, a Republican in politics. In the presidential election of 1900 he took an active part in the political canvas of that year. He spoke in Indiana and in Missouri, advocating the re-election of President McKinley.
The whole energy of his life is devoted to the interests of the Negro race in America. He wields a sharp rapier. He is the complement of Booker T. Washington. Each is doing his own work in his own way; the one supplements the other's work.
There are some questions which, it seems to me, need no discussion, because the truths in them are self-evident; and yet, so perverse is the human understanding, that unanimity upon any subject of common interest is rare in social ethics; and by social ethics I mean the philosophy of organized government in all of its multifarious life.
How intricate and perplexing these questions are; even the uninitiated intuitively understand, although they cannot explain them; while ignorant and learned alike wrangle and often fight over the means to reach ends upon which there is no disagreement. There is, therefore, no phase of the Afro-American problem upon the proper solution of which there is not a substantial agreement among members of the race. The processes by which the solution shall be reached are the bases of the disagreements and discussions, which often defeat the common wish and aim.
"What should be the Afro-American's attitude in politics?" is a sophomoric, rather than a practical, question. What he should do at a given crisis is answered by what he has done ever since the right to vote was conferred upon him by the adoption of the war amendments to the Federal Constitution. Neither threats, fire, rope, nor bullet has been powerful enough to swerve him from pursuing the course made mandatory by his self interests. He may have pursued this course by the intricate process of reasoning employed by educated men, or of intuition employed by the unlettered. The fact remains that his attitude has been one of sympathy and helpfulness towards those who were unmistakably sympathetic and friendly towards him and as unmistakably antagonistic and troublesome to those who were antagonistic to him. With him, as with the rest of mankind, "self-preservation is the first law of nature." What his attitude in politics should be now will be what it has been—governed absolutely by his self interests.
There will be nothing gained in the proper education and comprehension of the subject under discussion by holding up holy hands of horror at the statement that selfishness, pure and simple, has governed and will govern the attitude of the Afro-American in politics. The purists, who prate of the common interest and loyalty to the flag as the first and highest duty of the citizen, are entitled to their view of the matter, but the fact remains and is true of the people of every ancient and modern government that self-interest will govern the actions of the voter. One of the components which is discriminated against and oppressed by legal enactment through popular clamor will invariably produce substantial unanimity of thought and action on the part of the pariah against the common interest, and, in the last analysis, against the flag itself, as the emblem of governmental discrimination and oppression. The Helots of Sparta and the Jews under the Pharaohs were of this sort. The Jews in Russia and Germany and the Irish in Great Britain are modern examples. The first concern of every man and of his own race is his own concern. He will oppose those who oppose him, whether as individual or state; he will look to his interests first and to those of his neighbor afterwards. The Afro-American is just like other people in this, as well as in all respects, despite the puerile contention of some, even of his own household, that he is not as other men. He will not love those who hate him nor pray for those who despitefully use him, although enjoined to do so in thunderous tones from every pulpit in Christendom. And, therefore, the Afro-American's attitude in politics will be governed, as it has been, by his selfish interests. And, why not? The banker's attitude in politics is governed by the policy that serves his selfish interests best; the manufacturer's attitude is the same. The same rule of conduct governs all men in their social and civil relations to the state.
In a republic, government by party is the fundamental basis of it. There must be parties or there can be no government; this is equally true of democracies and limited monarchies. The primary is the basis of party government. His selfish interests, of whatever sort, make it necessary for every citizen, who wishes to conserve those interests, to belong to some one party. Unless he is permitted to enjoy the rights and benefits of the primary, or party referendum, he cannot hope to enjoy the rights and benefits of the party of his choice—enjoy them to their fullest extent—for the right to vote, which does not carry with it the right to be voted for, leaves the citizen in a voiceless condition as to those specific interests in which he is concerned, and which can only be secured from the state through the action of his party. No man can speak for another as he can speak for himself, hence, in every party, men and special interests, such as railroad, bank, manufacturing and the like interests, habitually seek to put in control persons who will represent them, speak for them and vote for them upon any question of legislation which arises. It is because of this that there is great rejoicing among Afro-Americans when any man of theirs is put forward for his party in any official capacity whatever, and it is because of this that so few of them have been, and are put forward.
Wherever an Afro-American is found supporting, by his lung-power and ballot, a party which denies him participation in its primary (basis of party) government, then you have found a man who does not know what his attitude in politics should be; and, whether he should be pitied or despised, must remain a question for each individual to decide. The democratic party is the only party in the United States which denies to the Afro-American this basic right in party government. Logically enough, it is the only party in the United States which has always sought to prevent him from enjoying the rights of the elective franchise, the right to vote and to be voted for, and which has necessarily, to justify this policy, always sought in every conceivable way to degrade his manhood to the brute standard. A voteless citizen is always a social and political outcast; a voteless race in a composite citizenship will always constitute a problem more or less dangerous to the state—enemies, fostered in the bosom, as Cleopatra's asp, only to wound to the death. It has been the way of the world since the dawn of history.
It is creditable to the good sense and the manhood of the Afro-American people that they have constantly recognized and acted upon the theory I have here laid down, as the consistent one in politics. Their attitude has been manly and consistent; they have stood by their friends and defied their enemies, even when their friends have been lukewarm, or brutally indifferent, and this has been the attitude of their friends since 1870.
Through good and evil report they have refused to be seduced from their allegiance to the party of freedom, and their enemies have wreaked their vengeance, without hindrance, so that the attitude books of every Southern state bristle with a code of laws as infamous and oppressive as the slave code. But that does not affect the principle in the least, and the principle is the thing; it is the essence of all life. He who clings to it, though he may die, as the poor Indian has done, deserves and receives the respect of mankind. When it has been said of him that he was corrupt, purchasable, unreliable in politics and that the franchise should be denied to him by fair or foul means, because of this, by the kuklux klan terrorists, or red shirt brutalists—sufficient answer to it all, in my mind, has been that if he could have been seduced from his best interests, from his friends in party politics, without violence towards him, none would have molested him or made him afraid. That is a self-evident proposition in partisan ethics.
We do not terrorize and shoot and defraud people who vote with us. No, the Afro-American has instinctively distrusted his political enemies, even when they came to him bearing grapes in their hands and honey on their tongues. His attitude has been one of manly protest, wherever he was allowed to vote, or made to sulk in silence and indignation. And here has been and here is the rub. When you cannot coax a man against his will, as Jonathan did David, or purchase his birthright as Jacob did Esau, if you have the power you terrorize and shoot him into compliance. That is what the political enemies of the Afro-American have done and are doing, but patient as the ass and with the faith of Job, which passes all understanding, he sticks to his principle of self-interest and waits; and the good proverb says, "All things come to him who waits." I believe it. And if every man of the race had the alternative of being shot in his tracks for clinging to his principles or life eternal for deserting them, the part of manhood and honor would be to stand up and be shot. As a matter of fact, thousands upon thousands of Afro-Americans have been shot to death by their political enemies since 1868, and perhaps thousands more will be shot in the future in the same way, and for the same reason and by the same heartless enemies, before the nation reaches the conclusion that an Afro-American citizen should have as much protection under the Federal Constitution as any other citizen with a white skin, despite the fact that the whole matter is largely one of state control and regulation. When cancers get on the body politic like this of disfranchisement and debasement of an entire element of the citizenship, they are usually cut out, as that of slavery, and its exceeding horrors, were.
Steadfastness, therefore, in the faith that moves mountains and patience which overcomes a world of wrong and injustice, will bring the reward as it has so often done with the race in the past. The reward is perfect equality under the laws of the Federal Government and of the several states. But our attitude must be one of absolute fidelity to the priceless sacred trust of citizenship, which comes to us out of the agonies of the greatest war of modern times. If we be true to ourselves, the great republic will be true to us "in God's way and time."
WHAT SHOULD BE THE NEGRO'S ATTITUDE IN POLITICS?
BY HON. GEORGE W. MURRAY.
GEORGE WASHINGTON MURRAY.
George Washington Murray was born September 22, 1853, of slave parents, near Rembert, Sumter County, S. C. Emancipation found him a lad of eleven summers, bereft of both parents. Without a friend upon whom to rely for either aid or advice in an impoverishing section, he entered upon the fierce combat then in progress for the indispensable bread of life. Among the waifs of his neighborhood in 1866, he learned the alphabet and acquired an imperfect pronunciation of monosyllables. In efforts to improve his meager stock of knowledge during the succeeding five years, he so industriously applied himself that in January, 1871, he entered a day school, while in session, for the first time, but as teacher, not scholar.
He taught until the Fall of 1874, when he successfully passed a competitive examination and secured a scholarship as sub-freshman in the reconstructed University of South Carolina. He was successfully employed as a teacher until February, 1890, when he secured an appointment as inspector of customs at the port of Charleston, S. C.
Entering the political arena in the contest for the Republican nomination for Congress in 1892, he successfully won the stake and was placed in the general election against Gen. E. W. Moise, one of the most brilliant, wealthy and popular Democrats in the State, whom he finally defeated and was declared elected to the Fifty-third Congress.
He was again elected to the Fifty-fourth Congress, and counted out, but contested and was finally seated. He was again elected to the Fifty-fifth and Fifty-sixth Congresses, and counted out, and failed to be seated after strong contests.
Since his retirement from congressional contests, seeing the primary and crying need of his race is a larger per cent of the ownership of homes, and the impossibility of securing them in the desired space of time, under the prevailing circumstances, where the necessaries of life and rents consume the entire resources year after year, he has applied himself to the development of a scheme of buying large estates and cutting them into small holdings, and giving long periods of time in which to pay for homes, receiving about the usual rents as payments.
He now has about 200 families located on about 9,000 acres of land, and is adding from 2,000 to 3,000 acres to his territory each year.
He has already secured twelve letters patent on a multiple farming machine, that is destined to revolutionize farming methods.
Without his request upon the demand of the President himself, he was recently appointed Division Internal Revenue Deputy Collector for the district of South Carolina.