The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 1995, Memorial Issue.

Part 5 out of 8

successful ventures would enrich any one. The slavers were
generally small, handy craft; fast, of course; usually schooner-
rigged, and carrying flying topsails and forecourse. Many were
built in England or elsewhere purposely for the business, without,
of course, the knowledge of the builders, ostensibly as yachts or
traders. The Spaniards and Portuguese were the principal
offenders, with occasionally an English-speaking renegade.

The slave depots, or barracoons, were generally located some miles
up a river. Here the slaver was secure from capture and could
embark his live cargo at his leisure. Keeping a sharp lookout on
the coast, the dealers were able to follow the movements of the
cruisers, and by means of smoke, or in other ways, signal when the
coast was clear for the coming down the river and sailing of the
loaded craft. Before taking in the cargoes they were always
fortified with all the necessary papers and documents to show they
were engaged in legitimate commerce, so it was only when caught in
flagrante delicto that we could hold them.

We had been cruising off the coast of Liberia doing nothing, when
we were ordered to the Gulf of Guinea to watch the Bonny and
Cameroons mouths of the great Niger River. Our consort was H.M.
schooner Bright, a beautiful craft about our tonnage, but with
half our crew, and able to sail three miles to our two. She was
an old slaver, captured and adapted as a cruiser. She had been
very successful, making several important captures of full
cargoes, and twice or thrice her commanding officer and others had
been promoted. Working our way slowly down the coast in company
with the Bright, we would occasionally send a boat on shore to
reconnoitre or gather any information we could from the natives
through our Krooman interpreter. A few glasses of rum or a string
of beads would loosen the tongue of almost any one. At Little
Bonny we heard that two vessels were some miles up the river,
ready to sail, and were only waiting until the coast was clear.
Captain James, of the Bright, thought that one, if not both, would
sail from another outlet of the river, about thirty miles to the
southward, and determined to watch it.

We both stood to that direction. Of course we were watched from
the shore, and the slavers were kept posted as to our movements.
They supposed we had both gone to the Cameroons, leaving Little
Bonny open; but after dark, with a light land breeze, we wore
round and stood to the northward, keeping offshore some distance,
so that captains leaving the river might have sufficient offing to
prevent their reaching port again or beaching their craft. At
daybreak, as far as we could judge, we were about twenty miles
offshore to the northward and westward of Little Bonny, in the
track of any vessel bound for the West Indies. The night was dark
with occasional rain squalls, when the heavens would open and the
water come down in a flood. Anxiously we all watched for
daylight, which comes under the equator with a suddenness very
different from the prolonged twilight of higher latitudes. At the
first glimmer in the east every eye was strained on the horizon,
all eager, all anxious to be the first to sight anything within
our vision. The darkness soon gave way to gray morn. Day was
dawning, when suddenly a Krooman by my side seized my hand and,
without saying a word, pointed inshore. I looked, but could see
nothing. All eyes were focused in that direction, and in a few
minutes the faint outline of a vessel appeared against the sky.
She was some miles inshore of us, and as the day brightened we
made her out to be a brigantine (an uncommon rig in those days),
standing across our bows, with all studding sails set on the
starboard side, indeed everything that could pull, including water
sails and save-all. We were on the same tack heading to the
northward. We set everything that would draw, and kept off two
points, bringing the wind abeam so as to head her off.

The breeze was light and off the land. We had not yet been seen
against the darker western horizon, but we knew it could only be a
few minutes longer before their sharp eyes would make us out.
Soon we saw the studding sails and all kites come down by the run
and her yards braced up sharp on the same tack as ours. We also
hauled by the wind. At sunrise she was four points on our weather
bow, distant about four miles. We soon perceived that she could
outsail our brig and if the wind held would escape. Gradually she
drew away from us until she was hull down. Our only hope now was
that the land breeze would cease and the sea breeze come in. As
the sun rose we gladly noticed the wind lessening, until at eleven
o'clock it was calm. Not a breath ruffled the surface of the sea;
the sun's rays in the zenith were reflected as from a mirror; the
waters seemed like molten lead.

I know of nothing more depressing than a calm in the tropics,--a
raging sun overhead, around an endless expanse of dead sea, and a
feeling of utter helplessness that is overpowering. What if this
should last? what a fate! The Rime of the Ancient Mariner comes
to our mind. Come storm and tempest, come hurricanes and
blizzards, anything but an endless stagnation. For some hours we
watched earnestly the horizon to the westward, looking for the
first dark break on the smooth sea. Not a cloud was in the
heavens. The brig appeared to be leaving us either by towing or
by sweeps; only her topgallant sail was above the horizon. It
looked as if the sea breeze would desert us. It usually came in
about one o'clock, but that hour and another had passed and yet we
watched for the first change. Without a breeze our chances of
overhauling the stranger were gone. Only a white speck like the
wing of a gull now marked her whereabouts on the edge of the
horizon, and in another hour she would be invisible even from the

When we were about to despair, our head Krooman drew the captain's
attention to the westward and said the breeze was coming. We saw
no signs of it, but his quick eye had noticed light feathery
clouds rising to the westward, a sure indication of the coming
breeze. Soon we could see the glassy surface ruffled at different
points as the breeze danced over it, coming on like an advancing
line of skirmishers; and as we felt its first gentle movement on
our parched faces, it was welcome indeed, putting new life into
all of us. The crew needed no encouragement to spring to their
work. As the little brig felt the breeze and gathered
steerageway, she was headed for the chase, bringing the wind on
her starboard quarter. In less than five minutes all the studding
sails that would draw were set, as well as everything that would
pull. The best quartermaster was sent to the wheel, with orders
to keep the chase directly over the weather end of the spritsail
yard. The captain ordered the sails wet, an expedient I never had
much faith in, unless the sails are very old. But as if to
recompense us for the delay, the breeze came in strong and steady.
Our one hope now was to follow it up close, and to carry it within
gunshot of the brig, for if she caught it before we were within
range she would certainly escape. All hands were piped to
quarters, and the long eighteen-pounder on the forecastle was
loaded with a full service charge; on this piece we relied to
cripple the chase. We were now rapidly raising her, and I was
sent aloft on the fore topsail yard, with a good glass to watch
her movements. Her hull was in sight and she was still becalmed,
though her head was pointed in the right direction, and everything
was set to catch the coming breeze. She carried a boat on each
side at the davits like a man-of-war, and I reported that I could
make out men securing them. They had been towing her, and only
stopped when they saw us drawing near.

Anxiously we watched the breeze on the water as it narrowed the
sheen between us, and we were yet two miles or more distant when
she first felt the breeze. As she did so we hoisted the English
blue ensign,--for the fleet at this time was under a Rear Admiral
of the Blue,--and fired a weather gun, but no response was made.
Fortunately the wind continued to freshen and the Porpoise was
doing wonderfully well. We were rapidly closing the distance
between us. We fired another gun, but no attention was paid to
it. I noticed from the movements of the crew of the brig that
they were getting ready for some manoeuvre, and reported to the
captain. He divined at once what the manoeuvre would be, and
ordered the braces be led along, hands by the studding-sail
halyards and tacks, and everything ready to haul by the wind. We
felt certain now of the character of our friend, and the men were
already calculating the amount of their prize money. We were now
within range, and must clip her wings if possible.

The first lieutenant was ordered to open fire with the eighteen-
pounder. Carefully the gun was laid, and as the order "fire" was
given, down came our English flag, and the stop of the Stars and
Stripes was broken at the gaff. The first shot touched the water
abeam of the chase and ricochetted ahead of her. She showed the
Spanish flag. The captain of the gun was ordered to elevate a
little more and try again. The second shot let daylight through
her fore topsail, but the third was wide again.

Then the sharp, quick order of the captain, "Fore topsail yard
there, come down on deck, sir!" brought me down on the run. "Have
both cutters cleared away and ready for lowering," were my orders
as I reached the quarter-deck. Practice from the bow chasers
continued, but the smoke that drifted ahead of us interfered with
the accuracy of the firing, and no vital part was touched, though
a number of shots went through her sails. The captain in the main
rigging never took his eye from the Spaniard, evidently expecting
that as a fox when hard pressed doubles on the hounds, the chase
would attempt the same thing. And he was not disappointed, for
when we had come within easy range of her, the smoke hid her from
view for a few minutes, and as it dispersed the first glimpse
showed the captain that her studding sails had all gone, and that
she had hauled by the wind, standing across our weather bow. Her
captain had lost no time in taking in his studding sails;
halyards, tacks, and sheets had all been cut together and dropped

It was a bold and well-executed manoeuvre, and we could not help
admiring the skill with which she was handled. However, we had
been prepared for this move. "Ease down your helm." "Lower away.
Haul down the studding sails." "Ease away the weather braces.
Brace up." "Trim down the head sheets," were the orders which
followed in rapid succession, and were as quickly executed. The
Spaniard was now broad on our lee bow, distant not more than half
a mile, but as she felt the wind which we brought down she fairly
spun through the water, exposing her bright copper. She was both
head-reaching and outsailing us; in half an hour she would have
been right ahead of us, and in an hour the sun would be down. It
was now or never. We could bring nothing to bear except the gun
on the forecastle. Fortunately it continued smooth, and we were
no longer troubled with smoke. Shot after shot went hissing
through the air after her; a number tore through the sails or
rigging, but not a spar was touched nor an important rope cut. We
could see some of her crew aloft reeving and stopping braces and
ready to repair any damage done, working as coolly under fire as
old man-of-war's men. But while we were looking, down came the
gaff of her mainsail, and the gaff-topsail fell all adrift; a
lucky shot had cut her peak halyards. Our crew cheered with a
will. "Well done, Hobson; try it again!" called the captain to
the boatswain's mate, who was captain of the gun.

After the next shot, the topgallant yard swayed for a few minutes
and fell forward. The order was given to cease firing; she was at
our mercy. We were rapidly nearing the chase, when she backed her
topsail. We kept off, and when within easy range of the
carronades "hove to" to windward. Lieutenant Bukett was ordered
to board her in the first cutter and take charge. I followed in
the second cutter, with orders to bring the captain on board with
his papers. A few strokes sent us alongside of a brig about our
tonnage, but with a low rail and a flush deck. The crew, some
eighteen or twenty fine-looking seamen, were forward eagerly
discussing the situation of affairs. The captain was aft with his
two officers, talking to Lieutenant Bukett. He was fair, with
light hair curling all over his head, beard cut short, about forty
years of age, well set up, with a frame like a Roman wrestler,
evidently a tough customer in a rough-and-ready scrimmage.

He spoke fairly good English, and was violently denouncing the
outrage done to his flag; his government would demand instant
satisfaction for firing upon a legitimate trader on the high seas.
I have the lieutenant Captain Thompson's orders, to bring the
captain and his papers on board at once. His harangue was cut
short by orders to get on board my boat. He swore with a terrible
oath that he would never leave his vessel. "Come on board, men,"
said I, and twenty of our crew were on deck in a jiffy. I
stationed my coxswain, Parker, at the cabin companion way with
orders to allow no one to pass. "Now," said Lieutenant Bukett to
the Spaniard, "I will take you on board in irons unless you go
quietly." He hesitated a moment, then said he would come as soon
as he had gone below to bring up his papers. "No, never mind your
papers; I will find them," said the lieutenant, for he saw the
devil in the Spaniard's eyes, and knew he meant mischief. Our
captive made one bound for the companion way, however, and seizing
Parker by the throat hurled him into the water ways as if he had
been a rag baby. But fortunately he slipped on a small grating
and fell on his knees, and before he could recover himself two of
our men threw themselves upon him.

I closed the companion way. The struggle was desperate for a few
minutes, for the Spaniard seemed possessed of the furies, and his
efforts were almost superhuman. Twice he threw the men from him
across the deck, but they were reinforced by Parker, who, smarting
under his discomfiture, rushed in, determined to down him. I was
anxious to end it with my pistol, but Lieutenant Bukett would not
consent. The Spaniard's officers and men made some demonstration
to assist, but they were quickly disposed of: his two mates were
put in irons and the crew driven forward. Struggling, fighting,
every limb and every muscle at work, the captain was overpowered;
a piece of the signal halyards brought his hands together, and
handcuffs were slipped on his wrists. Only then he succumbed, and
begged Lieutenant Bukett to blow out his brains, for he had been
treated like a pirate.

Without doubt if he had reached the cabin he would have blown up
the vessel, for in a locker over the transom were two open kegs of
powder. I led him to my boat, assisted him in, and returned to
the Porpoise. As soon as the Spaniard reached the deck the
captain ordered his irons removed, and expressed his regret that
it had been necessary to use force. The prisoner only bowed and
said nothing. The captain asked him what his cargo consisted of.
He replied, "About four hundred blacks bound to the Brazils."

I was then ordered to return to the brig, bring on board her crew,
leaving only the cook and steward, and to take charge of the prize
as Lieutenant Bukett, our first lieutenant, was not yet wholly
recovered from an attack of African fever. The crew of twenty
men, when brought on board, consisted of Spaniards, Greeks,
Malays, Arabs, white and black, but had not one Anglo-Saxon. They
were ironed in pairs and put under guard.

From the time we first got on board we had heard moans, cries, and
rumblings coming from below, and as soon as the captain and crew
were removed, the hatches had been taken off, when there arose a
hot blast as from a charnel house, sickening and overpowering. In
the hold were three or four hundred human beings, gasping,
struggling for breath, dying; their bodies, limbs, faces, all
expressing terrible suffering. In their agonizing fight for life,
some had torn or wounded themselves or their neighbors dreadfully;
some were stiffened in the most unnatural positions. As soon as I
knew the condition of things I sent the boat back for the doctor
and some whiskey. It returned bringing Captain Thompson, and for
an hour or more we were all hard at work lifting and helping the
poor creatures on deck, where they were laid out in rows. A
little water and stimulant revived most of them; some, however,
were dead or too far gone to be resuscitated. The doctor worked
earnestly over each one, but seventeen were beyond human skill.
As fast as he pronounced them dead they were quickly dropped

Night closed in with our decks covered so thickly with the ebony
bodies that with difficulty we could move about; fortunately they
were as quiet as so many snakes. In the meantime the first
officer, Mr. Block, was sending up a new topgallant yard, reeving
new rigging, repairing the sails, and getting everything ataunto
aloft. The Kroomen were busy washing out and fumigating the hold,
getting ready for our cargo again. It would have been a very
anxious night, except that I felt relieved by the presence of the
brig which kept within hail. Soon after daybreak Captain Thompson
came on board again, and we made a count of the captives as they
were sent below; 188 men and boys, and 166 women and girls.
Seeing everything snug and in order the captain returned to the
brig, giving me final orders to proceed with all possible dispatch
to Monrovia, Liberia, land the negroes, then sail for Porto Praya,
Cape de Verde Islands, and report to the commodore. As the brig
hauled to the wind and stood to the southward and eastward I
dipped my colors, when her crew jumped into the rigging and gave
us three cheers, which we returned.

As she drew away from us I began to realize my position and
responsibility: a young midshipman, yet in my teens, commanding a
prize, with three hundred and fifty prisoners on board, two or
three weeks' sail from port, with only a small crew. From the
first I kept all hands aft except two men on the lookout, and the
weather was so warm that we could all sleep on deck. I also
ordered the men never to lay aside their pistols or cutlasses,
except when working aloft, but my chief reliance was in my
knowledge of the negro,--of his patient, docile disposition. Born
and bred a slave he never thought of any other condition, and he
accepted the situation without a murmur. I had never heard of
blacks rising or attempting to gain their freedom on board a

My charges were all of a deep black; from fifteen to twenty-five
years of age, and, with a few exceptions, nude, unless copper or
brass rings on their ankles or necklaces of cowries can be
described as articles of dress. All were slashed, or had the
scars of branding on their foreheads and cheeks; these marks were
the distinguishing features of different tribes or families. The
men's hair had been cut short, and their heads looked in some
cases as if they had been shaven. The women, on the contrary,
wore their hair "a la pompadour;" the coarse kinky locks were
sometimes a foot or more above their heads, and trained square or
round like a boxwood bush. Their features were of the pronounced
African type, but, notwithstanding this disfigurement, were not
unpleasing in appearance. The figures of all were very good,
straight, well developed, some of the young men having bodies that
would have graced a Mercury or an Apollo. Their hands were small,
showing no evidences of work, only the cruel marks of shackles.
These in some cases had worn deep furrows on their wrists or

They were obedient to all orders as far as they understood them,
and would, I believe, have jumped overboard if told to do so. I
forbade the men to treat them harshly or cruelly. I had the sick
separated from the others, and allowed them to remain on deck all
the time, and in this way I partly gained their confidence. I was
anxious to learn their story. Fortunately one of the Kroomen
found among the prisoners a native of a tribe living near the
coast, and with him as interpreter was able to make himself
understood. After a good deal of questioning I learned that most
of them were from a long distance in the interior, some having
been one and some two moons on the way, traveling partly by land
and partly by river until they reached the coast. They had been
sold by their kings or by their parents to the Arab trader for
firearms or for rum. Once at the depots near the coast, they were
sold by the Arabs or other traders to the slave captains for from
twenty-five to fifty dollars a head. In the Brazils or West
Indies they were worth from two to five hundred dollars. This
wide margin, of course, attracted unscrupulous and greedy
adventurers, who if they succeeded in running a few cargoes would
enrich themselves.

Our daily routine was simple. At six in the morning the rope
netting over the main hatch which admitted light and air was taken
off, and twenty-five of each sex were brought up, and seated in
two circles, one on each side of the deck. A large pan of boiled
paddy was then placed in the centre by the cook and all went to
work with their hands. A few minutes sufficed to dispose of every
grain; then one of the Kroomen gave each of them a cup of water
from a bucket. For half an hour after the meal they had the
liberty of the deck, except the poop, for exercise, to wash and to
sun themselves; for sunshine to a negro is meat and drink. At the
end of this time they were sent below and another fifty brought
up, and so on until all had been fed and watered. Paddy or rice
was the staple article of food. At dinner boiled yams were given
with the rice. Our passengers were quartered on a flying deck
extending from the foremast to a point twenty feet abaft the main
hatch from which came light and air. The height was about five
feet; the men had one side and the women the other. Of course
there was no furnishing of any kind, but all lay prone upon the
bare deck in rows.

Every morning after breakfast the Kroomen would rig the force
pump, screw on the hose and drench them all, washing out
thoroughly between decks. They appeared to enjoy this, and it was
cooling, for be it remembered we were close under the equator, the
thermometer dancing about 90 deg. As the water was sluiced over
them they would rub and scrub each other. Only the girls would
try not to get their hair wet, for they were at all times
particular about their headdress. It may be that this was the
only part of their toilet that gave them any concern.

The winds were baffling and light, so we made but slow progress.
Fortunately frequent rains, with sometimes a genuine tropical
downpour or cloud-burst, gave us an opportunity of replenishing
our water casks, and by spreading the awnings we were able to get
a good supply. I found on inspection that there were at least
thirty days' provisions on board, so on this score and that of
water I felt easy. I lived on deck, seldom using the cabin, which
was a veritable arsenal, with racks of muskets and cutlasses on
two sides, many more than the captain needed to arm his crew,
evidently intended for barter. Two or three prints of his
favorite saints, ornamented with sharks' teeth, hung on one
bulkhead. A well-thrummed mandolin and a number of French novels
proved him to be a musical and literary fellow, who could probably
play a bolero while making a troublesome slave walk a plank. I
found also some choice vintages from the Douro and Bordeaux snugly
stowed in his spirit locker, which proved good medicines for some
of our captives, who required stimulants. Several of the girls
were much reduced, refused nearly all food, and were only kept
alive by a little wine and water. Two finally died of mere
inanition. Their death did not in the least affect their fellows,
who appeared perfectly indifferent and callous to all their
surroundings, showing not the least sympathy or desire to help or
wait on one another.

The fifth day after parting from the brig we encountered a
tropical storm. The sun rose red and angry, and owing to the
great refraction appeared three times its natural size. It
climbed lazily to the zenith, and at noon we were shadowless. The
sky was as calm as a vault, and the surface of the water was like
burnished steel. The heat became so stifling that even the
Africans were gasping for breath, and we envied them their freedom
from all impediments. The least exertion was irksome, and
attended with extreme lassitude. During the afternoon thin cirri
clouds, flying very high, spread out over the western heavens like
a fan. As the day lengthened they thickened to resemble the
scales of a fish, bringing to mind the old saying, "A mackerel sky
and a mare's tail," etc. The signs were all unmistakable, and
even the gulls recognized a change, and, screaming, sought shelter
on our spars. Mr. Block was ordered to send down all the light
yards and sails; to take in and furl everything, using storm
gaskets, except on the fore and main storm staysails; to lash
everything on deck; to batten down the hatches, except one square
of the main; see all the shifting boards in place, so that our
living cargo would not be thrown to leeward higgledy-piggledy, and
to take four or five of the worst cases of the sick into the cabin
and lay them on the floor.

The sun disappeared behind a mountainous mass of leaden-colored
clouds which rose rapidly in the southern and western quarters.
To the eastward, also, the signs were threatening. Night came on
suddenly as it does in the tropics. Soon the darkness enveloped
us, a palpable veil. A noise like the march of a mighty host was
heard, which proved to be the approach of a tropical flood,
heralded by drops as large as marbles. It churned the still
waters into a phosphorescent foam which rendered the darkness only
more oppressive. The rain came down as it can come only in the
Bight of Benin. The avalanche cooled us, reducing the temperature
ten or fifteen degrees, giving us new life, and relieving our
fevered blood. I told Mr. Block to throw back the tarpaulin over
the main hatch and let our dusky friends get some benefit of it.
In half an hour the rain ceased, but it was as calm and ominous as

I knew this was but the forerunner of something worse to follow,
and we had not long to wait, for suddenly a blinding flash of
lightning darted through the gloom from east to west, followed by
one in the opposite direction. Without intermission, one blaze
after another and thunder crashing until our eyes were blinded and
our ears deafened, a thousand times ten thousand pieces of
artillery thundered away. We seemed utterly helpless and
insignificant. "How wonderful are Thy works," came to my mind.
Still no wind; the brig lay helpless.

Suddenly, as a slap in the face, the wind struck us,--on the
starboard quarter, fortunately. "Hard-a-starboard." "Hanl aft
port fore staysail sheet," I called. But before she could gather
way she was thrown down by the wind like a reed. She was "coming
to" instead of "going off," and I tried to get the main storm
staysail down but could not make myself heard. She was lying on
her broadside. Luckily the water was smooth as yet. The main
staysail shot out of the boltropes with a report like a twelve-
pounder, and this eased her so that if the fore staysail would
only hold she would go off. For a few minutes all we could do was
to hold on, our lee rail in the water; but the plucky little brig
rallied a little, her head went off inch by inch, and as she
gathered way she righted, and catching the wind on our quarter we
were off like a shot out of a gun. I knew we were too near the
vortex of the disturbance for the wind to hang long in one
quarter, so watched anxiously for a change. The sea rose rapidly
while we were running to the northward on her course, and after a
lull of a few minutes the wind opened from the eastward, butt end
foremost, a change of eight points. Nothing was to be done but
heave to, and this in a cross sea where pitch, weather roll, lee
lurch, followed one another in such earnest that it was a wonder
her masts were not switched out of her.

I passed an anxious night, most concerned about the poor creatures
under hatches, whose sufferings must have been terrible. To
prevent their suffocating I kept two men at the main hatch with
orders to lift one corner of the tarpaulin whenever possible, even
if some water did go below. Toward morning the wind and the sea
went down rapidly, and as the sun rose it chased the clouds off,
giving us the promise of a fine day. When the cook brought me a
cup of coffee, I do not know that I ever enjoyed anything more.
Hatches off, I jumped down into the hold to look after my
prisoners. Battered and bruised they lay around in heaps. Only
the shifting boards had kept them from being beaten into an
indistinguishable mass. As fast as possible they were sent on
deck, and the sun's rays, with a few buckets of water that were
thrown over them, accomplished wonders in bringing them to life
and starting them to care for their sore limbs and bruises.

One boy, when I motioned for him to go on deck, pointed quietly to
his leg, and upon examination I found a fracture just above the
knee. Swelling had already commenced. I had seen limbs set, and
had some rough idea how it should be done. So while getting some
splints of keg staves and bandages ready, I kept a stream of water
pouring on the fracture, and then ordered two men to pull the limb
in place, and it took all their strength. That done I put on the
splints and wrapped the bandages tightly. Three weeks later I
landed him in a fair way of recovery.

Gradually I allowed a larger number of the blacks to remain on
deck, a privilege which they greatly enjoyed. To lie basking in
the sun like saurians, half sleeping, half waking, appeared to
satisfy all their wishes. They were perfectly docile and
obedient, and not by word, gesture, or look did they express any
dissatisfaction with orders given them. But again for any little
acts of kindness they expressed no kind of appreciation or
gratitude. Physically they were men and women, but otherwise as
far removed from the Anglo-Saxon as the oyster from the baboon, or
the mole from the horse.

On the fourteenth day from parting with the brig we made the palms
on Cape Mesurado, the entrance to Monrovia Harbor. A light sea
breath wafted us to the anchorage, a mile from the town, and when
the anchor dropped from the bows and the chain ran through the
hawse pipe, it was sweet music to my ears; for the strain had been
great, and I felt years older than when I parted from my
messmates. A great responsibility seemed lifted from my
shoulders, and I enjoyed a long and refreshing sleep for the first
time in a fortnight. At nine the next morning I went on shore and
reported to the authorities, the officials of Liberia, of which
Monrovia is the capital.

This part of the African coast had been selected by the United
States government as the home of emancipated slaves; for prior to
the abolition excitement which culminated in the war, numbers of
slaves in the South had been manumitted by their masters with the
understanding that they should be deported to Liberia, and the
Colonization Society, an influential body, comprising some of the
leading men, like Madison, Webster, and Clay, had assisted in the
same work. The passages of the negroes were paid; each family was
given a tract of land and sufficient means to build a house.
Several thousand had been sent out, most of whom had settled at
Monrovia, and a few at other places on the coast. They had made
no impression on the natives. On the contrary, many of them had
intermarried with the natives, and the off-spring of these unions
had lost the use of the English tongue, and had even gone back to
the life and customs of their ancestors, sans clothing, sans
habitations, and worship of a fetich.

Of course there were some notable exceptions, especially President
Roberts, who proved himself a safe and prudent ruler, taking into
consideration his surroundings and the material with which he had
to work. The form of government was modeled after that of the
United States, but it was top-heavy. Honorables, colonels, and
judges were thicker than in Georgia. Only privates were scarce;
for nothing delights a negro more than a little show or a gaudy
uniform. On landing I was met by a dark mulatto, dressed in a
straw hat, blue tail coat, silver epaulettes, linen trousers, with
bare feet, and a heavy cavalry sabre hanging by his side. With
him were three or four others in the same rig, except the
epaulettes. He introduced himself as Colonel Harrison, chief of
police. I asked to be directed to the custom house.

The collector proved to be an old negro from Raleigh, N. C., gray
as a badger, spectacled, with manners of Lord Grandison and
language of Mrs. Malaprop. I reported my arrival, and asked
permission to land my cargo as soon as possible. He replied that
in a matter of so much importance, devolving questions of
momentous interest, it would be obligatory on him to consult the
Secretary of the Treasury. I said I trusted he would so
facilitate affairs that I might at an early hour disembarrass
myself of my involuntary prisoners. I returned on board, and the
day passed without any answer. The next morning I determined to
go at once to headquarters and find out the cause of the delay by
calling on the President.

He received me without any formality. I made my case as strong as
possible, and pressed for an immediate answer. In reply he
assured me he would consult with other members of his cabinet, and
give me a final answer the next morning. That evening I dined
with him en famille, and recognized some old Virginia dishes on
the table. The next morning I waited impatiently for his
decision, having made up my mind however, if it was unfavorable,
to land my poor captives, be the consequences what they might.

About eleven o'clock a boat came off with an officer in full
uniform, who introduced himself as Colonel Royal, bearer of
dispatches from his Excellency the President. He handed me a
letter couched in diplomatic language, as long as some of his
brother presidents' messages on this side of the Atlantic. I had
hardly patience to read it. The gist of it was, I might not land
the captives at Monrovia, but might land them at Grand Bassa,
about a hundred and fifty miles to the eastward; that Colonel
Royal would accompany me with orders to the governor there to
receive them. This was something I had not anticipated, and
outside of my instructions. However, I thought it best to comply
with the wishes of the government of our only colony.

Getting under way we stood to the southward and eastward, taking
advantage of the light land and sea breeze, keeping the coast
close aboard. The colonel had come on board without any
impediments, and I wondered if he intended to make the voyage in
his cocked hat, epaulettes, sword, etc. But soon after we had
started he disappeared and emerged from the cabin bareheaded,
barefooted, and without clothing except a blue dungaree shirt and
trousers. Like a provident negro, having stowed away all his
trappings, he appeared as a roustabout on a Western steamer. But
he had not laid aside with his toggery any of his important and
consequential airs. He ran foul of Mr. Block, who called him Mr.
Cuffy, and ordered him to give him a pull with the main sheet.
The colonel complained to me that he was not addressed by his name
or title, and that he was not treated as a representative of his
government should be. I reprimanded Mr. Block, and told him to
give the visitor all his title. "All right, sir, but the colonel
must keep off the weather side of the deck," growled the officer.
The cook, the crew, and even the Kroomen, all took their cue from
the first officer, and the colonel's lot was made most unhappy.

On the third day we reached Grand Bassa, and anchored off the
beach about two miles, along which the surf was breaking so high
that any attempt to land would be hazardous. Toward evening it
moderated, and a canoe with three naked natives came off. One I
found could speak a little English. I told him to say to the
governor that I would come on shore in the morning and see him,
and land my cargo at the same time.

The next morning at sunrise we were boarded by a party of natives
headed by one wearing a black hat half covered with a tarnished
silver band, an old navy frock coat, much too small, between the
buttons of which his well-oiled skin showed clearly. A pair of
blue flannel trousers completed his outfit. An interpreter
introduced him as King George of Grand Bassa. With him were about
a dozen followers, each one wearing a different sort of garment--
and seldom more than a single one--representing old uniforms of
many countries. Two coats I noticed were buttoned up the back.

The king began by saying that he was and always had been a friend
of the Americans; that he was a big man, had plenty of men and
five wives, etc. While he was speaking, a white-bearded old
colored gentleman came over the gangway, dressed in a linen
roundabout and trousers, with a wide-brimmed straw hat. At the
same time Colonel Royal came up from the cabin in grande tenue and
introduced us to the Hon. Mr. Marshall, governor of Bassa,
formerly of Kentucky.

In a few minutes he explained the situation. With a few settlers
he was located at this place, on the frontier of the colony, and
they were there on sufferance only from the natives. I told him
Colonel Royal would explain my mission to him and the king. The
colonel, bowing low to the king, the governor, and myself, and
bringing his sword down with a thud on the deck, drew from between
the bursting buttons of his coat the formidable document I had
seen at Monrovia, and with most impressive voice and gesture
commenced to read it. The king listened for a few minutes, and
then interrupted him. I asked the interpreter what he said. He
replied, "King say he fool nigger; if he comes on shore he give
him to Voodoo women." Then turning his back he walked forward.
The colonel dropped his paper, and drawing his sword, in the most
dramatic manner claimed protection in the name of the government,
declaring that he had been insulted. I told him to keep cool,
since he was certainly safe as long as he was on board my ship.
He grumbled and muttered terrible things, but subsided gradually
like the departing thunder of a summer storm.

I arranged the landing of the passengers with Governor Marshall,
whom I found a sensible, clear-headed old man, ready to cooperate
in every way. But he suggested that I had better consult the king
before doing anything. I did so, and he at once said they could
not land. I told the interpreter to say they would be landed at
once and put under the protection of the governor; that if the
king or his people hurt them or ran them off I would report it to
our commodore, who would certainly punish him severely. Finding
me determined, he began to temporize, and asked that the landing
be put off until the next day, that he might consult with his head
people, for if I sent them on shore before he had done so they
would kill them. "If that is the case," I replied, "I will hold
you on board as a hostage for their good behavior." This threat
surprised him, and he changed his tactics. After a little powwow
with some of his followers, he said that if I would give him fifty
muskets, twenty pounds of powder, the colonel's sword, and some
red cloth for his wives, I might land them. I replied that I had
not a musket to spare nor an ounce of powder, that the colonel was
a high officer of his government, and that he of course would not
give up his uniform. Fortunately the colonel had retired to the
cabin and did not hear this modest demand, or he would have been
as much outraged as if his sable Majesty had asked for him to be
served "roti a l'Ashantee." However, I told the king I would send
his wives some cloth and buttons. He grunted his approval but
returned again to the charge, and asked that he might choose a few
of the captives for his own use, before landing. "Certainly not,"
I answered, "neither on board nor on shore," and added that he
would be held accountable for their good treatment as free men and
women. He left thoroughly disappointed and bent on mischief.

In the meantime Mr. Block had made all preparations for landing,
and had the boats lowered and ranged alongside, with sufficient
rice to last the blacks a week or ten days. The men and boys were
sent first. When they were called up from the hold and ordered
into the boats not one of them moved. They evidently divined what
had been going on and dreaded leaving the vessel, though our
Kroomen tried to explain that they would be safe and free on
shore. The explanation was without effect, however, and they
refused to move. The could only understand that they were
changing masters, and they preferred the present ones. Sending
three or four men down, I told them to pass up the negroes one at
a time. Only a passive resistance was offered, such as one often
sees exhibited by cattle being loaded on the cars or on a steamer,
and were silent, not uttering a word of complaint. By noon the
men were all on shore, and then we began with the girls. They
were more demonstrative than the men, and by their looks and
gestures begged not to be taken out of the vessel. I was much
moved, for it was a painful duty, and I had become interested in
these beings, so utterly helpless, so childlike in their
dependence on those around them. And I could not help thinking
what their fate would be, thrown upon the shore hundreds of miles
from their homes, and among a people strange to them in language.

Even Mr. Block was deeply stirred. "He had not shipped," he said,
"for such work." I went to my cabin and left him in charge. In
the course of an hour he reported, "All ashore, sir." I told him
to have the gig manned and I would go on shore with Colonel Royal,
and get a receipt from Governor Marshall for my late cargo. The
colonel declined to accompany me, alleging sickness and requesting
me to get the necessary papers signed. No doubt he felt safer on
board than within reach of King George.

We landed through the surf on a sandy beach, on which the waves of
the Atlantic were fretting. Near by was a thick grove of cocoanut
trees, under which in groups of four and five were those who had
just been landed. They were seated on the ground, their heads
resting on their knees, in a position of utter abnegation,
surrounded by three or four hundred chattering savages of all
ages, headed by the king. With the exception of him and a few of
his head men, the clothing of the company would not have covered a
rag baby. They were no doubt discussing the appearance of the
strangers and making their selections.

I found the governor's house and the houses of the few settlers
some distance back on a slight elevation. The governor was
comfortably, though plainly situated, with a large family around
him. He gave me a receipt for the number of blacks landed, but
said it would be impossible for him to prevent the natives from
taking and enslaving them. I agreed with him, and said he must
repeat to the king what I had told him. Then bidding him good-by
I returned on board, sad and weary as one often feels after being
relieved of a great burden. At the same time I wondered whether
the fate of these people would have been any worse if the captain
of the slaver had succeeded in landing them in the Brazils or the
West Indies. Sierra Leone being a crown colony, the English could
land all their captives there and provide for them until they were
able to work for themselves. In this respect they had a great
advantage over us.

Getting under way, I proceeded to Monrovia to land Colonel Royal,
and then to Porto Praya, our squadron's headquarters. There I
found Commodore Gregory in the flagship corvette Portsmouth, and
reported to him. Soon after the Porpoise came in, and I joined my
old craft, giving up my command of the captured slaver rather

by W. D. Howells

The critical reader of the story called The Wife of his Youth,
which appeared in these pages two years ago, must have noticed
uncommon traits in what was altogether a remarkable piece of work.
The first was the novelty of the material; for the writer dealt
not only with people who were not white, but with people who were
not black enough to contrast grotesquely with white people,--who
in fact were of that near approach to the ordinary American in
race and color which leaves, at the last degree, every one but the
connoisseur in doubt whether they are Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-
African. Quite as striking as this novelty of the material was
the author's thorough mastery of it, and his unerring knowledge of
the life he had chosen in its peculiar racial characteristics.
But above all, the story was notable for the passionless handling
of a phase of our common life which is tense with potential
tragedy; for the attitude, almost ironical, in which the artist
observes the play of contesting emotions in the drama under his
eyes; and for his apparently reluctant, apparently helpless
consent to let the spectator know his real feeling in the matter.
Any one accustomed to study methods in fiction, to distinguish
between good and bad art, to feel the joy which the delicate skill
possible only from a love of truth can give, must have known a
high pleasure in the quiet self-restraint of the performance; and
such a reader would probably have decided that the social
situation in the piece was studied wholly from the outside, by an
observer with special opportunities for knowing it, who was, as it
were, surprised into final sympathy.

Now, however, it is known that the author of this story is of
negro blood,--diluted, indeed, in such measure that if he did not
admit this descent few would imagine it, but still quite of that
middle world which lies next, though wholly outside, our own.
Since his first story appeared he has contributed several others
to these pages, and he now makes a showing palpable to criticism
in a volume called The Wife of his Youth, and Other Stories of the
Color Line; a volume of Southern sketches called The Conjure
Woman; and a short life of Frederick Douglass, in the Beacon
Series of biographies. The last is a simple, solid, straight
piece of work, not remarkable above many other biographical
studies by people entirely white, and yet important as the work of
a man not entirely white treating of a great man of his
inalienable race. But the volumes of fiction ARE remarkable above
many, above most short stories by people entirely white, and would
be worthy of unusual notice if they were not the work of a man not
entirely white.

It is not from their racial interest that we could first wish to
speak of them, though that must have a very great and very just
claim upon the critic. It is much more simply and directly, as
works of art, that they make their appeal, and we must allow the
force of this quite independently of the other interest. Yet it
cannot always be allowed. There are times in each of the stories
of the first volume when the simplicity lapses, and the effect is
as of a weak and uninstructed touch. There are other times when
the attitude, severely impartial and studiously aloof, accuses
itself of a little pompousness. There are still other times when
the literature is a little too ornate for beauty, and the diction
is journalistic, reporteristic. But it is right to add that these
are the exceptional times, and that for far the greatest part Mr.
Chesnutt seems to know quite as well what he wants to do in a
given case as Maupassant, or Tourguenief, or Mr. James, or Miss
Jewett, or Miss Wilkins, in other given cases, and has done it
with an art of kindred quiet and force. He belongs, in other
words, to the good school, the only school, all aberrations from
nature being so much truancy and anarchy. He sees his people very
clearly, very justly, and he shows them as he sees them, leaving
the reader to divine the depth of his feeling for them. He
touches all the stops, and with equal delicacy in stories of real
tragedy and comedy and pathos, so that it would be hard to say
which is the finest in such admirably rendered effects as The Web
of Circumstance, The Bouquet, and Uncle Wellington's Wives. In
some others the comedy degenerates into satire, with a look in the
reader's direction which the author's friend must deplore.

As these stories are of our own time and country, and as there is
not a swashbuckler of the seventeenth century, or a sentimentalist
of this, or a princess of an imaginary kingdom, in any of them,
they will possibly not reach half a million readers in six months,
but in twelve months possibly more readers will remember them than
if they had reached the half million. They are new and fresh and
strong, as life always is, and fable never is; and the stories of
The Conjure Woman have a wild, indigenous poetry, the creation of
sincere and original imagination, which is imparted with a tender
humorousness and a very artistic reticence. As far as his race is
concerned, or his sixteenth part of a race, it does not greatly
matter whether Mr. Chesnutt invented their motives, or found them,
as he feigns, among his distant cousins of the Southern cabins.
In either case, the wonder of their beauty is the same; and
whatever is primitive and sylvan or campestral in the reader's
heart is touched by the spells thrown on the simple black lives in
these enchanting tales. Character, the most precious thing in
fiction, is as faithfully portrayed against the poetic background
as in the setting of the Stories of the Color Line.

Yet these stories, after all, are Mr. Chesnutt's most important
work, whether we consider them merely as realistic fiction, apart
from their author, or as studies of that middle world of which he
is naturally and voluntarily a citizen. We had known the
nethermost world of the grotesque and comical negro and the
terrible and tragic negro through the white observer on the
outside, and black character in its lyrical moods we had known
from such an inside witness as Mr. Paul Dunbar; but it had
remained for Mr. Chesnutt to acquaint us with those regions where
the paler shades dwell as hopelessly, with relation to ourselves,
as the blackest negro. He has not shown the dwellers there as
very different from ourselves. They have within their own circles
the same social ambitions and prejudices; they intrigue and
truckle and crawl, and are snobs, like ourselves, both of the
snobs that snub and the snobs that are snubbed. We may choose to
think them droll in their parody of pure white society, but
perhaps it would be wiser to recognize that they are like us
because they are of our blood by more than a half, or three
quarters, or nine tenths. It is not, in such cases, their negro
blood that characterizes them; but it is their negro blood that
excludes them, and that will imaginably fortify them and exalt
them. Bound in that sad solidarity from which there is no hope of
entrance into polite white society for them, they may create a
civilization of their own, which need not lack the highest
quality. They need not be ashamed of the race from which they
have sprung, and whose exile they share; for in many of the arts
it has already shown, during a single generation of freedom, gifts
which slavery apparently only obscured. With Mr. Booker
Washington the first American orator of our time, fresh upon the
time of Frederick Douglass; with Mr. Dunbar among the truest of
our poets; with Mr. Tanner, a black American, among the only three
Americans from whom the French government ever bought a picture,
Mr. Chesnutt may well be willing to own his color.

But that is his personal affair. Our own more universal interest
in him arises from the more than promise he has given in a
department of literature where Americans hold the foremost place.
In this there is, happily, no color line; and if he has it in him
to go forward on the way which he has traced for himself, to be
true to life as he has known it, to deny himself the glories of
the cheap success which awaits the charlatan in fiction, one of
the places at the top is open to him. He has sounded a fresh
note, boldly, not blatantly, and he has won the ear of the more
intelligent public.

by Jerome Dowd

It is too late in the day to discuss whether it would have been
better had the Negro never been brought into the Southern States.
If his presence here has been beneficial, or is ever to prove so,
the price of the benefit has already been dearly paid for. He was
the occasion of the deadliest and most expensive war in modern
times. In the next place, his presence has corrupted politics and
has limited statesmanship to a mere question of race supremacy.
Great problems concerning the political, industrial, and moral
life of the people have been subordinated or overshadowed, so
that, while important strides have been made elsewhere in the
investigation of social conditions and in the administration of
State and municipal affairs, in civil-service reform, in the
management of penal and charitable institutions, and in the field
of education, the South has lagged behind.

On the charts of illiteracy and crime the South is represented by
an immense black spot. Such are a few items of the account. It
will require millions more of dollars and generations more of
earnest work before the total cost is met of bringing the black
man to this side of the globe. But the debt has been incurred and
must be liquidated.

The welfare of the Negro is bound up with that of the white man in
many important particulars:

First, the low standard of living among the blacks keeps down the
wages of all classes of whites. So long as the Negroes are
content to live in miserable huts, wear rags, and subsist upon hog
fat and cow-pease, so long must the wages of white people in the
same kind of work be pressed toward the same level. The higher we
raise the standard of living among the Negroes, the higher will be
the wages of the white people in the same occupations. The low
standard of the Negroes is the result of low productive power.
The less intelligent and skilled the Negroes are, the less they
can produce, whether working for themselves or others, and hence,
the less will be the total wealth of the country.

But it may be asked, When the standard of living of the Negroes is
raised, will not wages go up, and will not that be a drawback?
Certainly wages will go up, because the income of all classes will
be increased. High wages generally indicate high productive power
and general wealth, while low wages indicate the opposite. Only
benefits can arise from better wages.

In the next place, the Negro's propensity to crime tends to excite
the criminal tendencies of the white man. The South enjoys the
distinction of having the highest percentage of crime in all the
civilized world, and the reason is that the crimes of the one race
provoke counter-crimes in the other.

The physical well-being of the one race has such a conspicuous
influence upon that of the other that the subject requires no
elaboration. The uncleanliness of person and habits of the
Negroes in their homes and in the homes of their employers tends
to propagate diseases, and thus impairs the health and increases
the death-rate of the whole population.

Again, the lack of refinement in intellect, manners, and dress
among the Negroes is an obstacle to the cultivated life of the
whites. Ignorance and the absence of taste and self-respect in
servants result in badly kept homes and yards, destruction of
furniture and ware, ill-prepared food, poor table service, and a
general lowering of the standard of living. Furthermore, the
corrupt, coarse, and vulgar language of the Negroes is largely
responsible for the jumbled and distorted English spoken by many
of the Southern whites.

Seeing that the degradation of the Negro is an impediment to the
progress and civilization of the white man, how may we effect an
improvement in his condition?

First, municipalities should give more attention to the streets
and alleys that traverse Negro settlements. In almost every town
in the South there are settlements, known by such names as "New
Africa," "Haiti," "Log Town," "Smoky Hollow," or "Snow Hill,"
exclusively inhabited by Negroes. These settlements are often
outside the corporate limits. The houses are built along narrow,
crooked, and dirty lanes, and the community is without sanitary
regulations or oversight. These quarters should be brought under
municipal control, the lanes widened into streets and cleaned, and
provision made to guard against the opening of similar ones in the

In the next place, property-owners should build better houses for
the Negroes to live in. The weakness in the civilization of the
Negroes is most pronounced in their family life. But improvement
in this respect is not possible without an improvement in the
character and the comforts of the houses they live in. Bad houses
breed bad people and bad neighborhoods. There is no more
distinctive form of crime than the building and renting of houses
unfit for human habitation.

Scarcely second in importance to improvements in house
architecture is the need among Negroes of more time to spend with
their families. Employers of Negro labor should be less exacting
in the number of hours required for a day's work. Many domestic
servants now work from six in the morning until nine and ten
o'clock at night. The Southern habit of keeping open shopping-
places until late at night encourages late suppers, retains cooks,
butlers, and nurses until bedtime, and robs them of all home life.
If the merchants would close their shops at six o'clock, as is the
custom in the North, the welfare of both races would be greatly

Again, a revolution is needed in the character of the Negro's
religion. At present it is too largely an affair of the emotions.
He needs to be taught that the religious life is something to grow
into by the perfection of personality, and not to be jumped into
or sweated into at camp-meetings. The theological seminaries and
the graduate preachers should assume the task of grafting upon the
religion of the Negro that much sanity at least.

A reform is as much needed in the methods and aims of Negro
education. Up to the present Negro education has shared with that
of the white man the fault of being top-heavy. Colleges and
universities have developed out of proportion to, and at the
expense of, common schools. Then, the kind of education afforded
the Negro has not been fitted to his capacities and needs. He has
been made to pursue courses of study parallel to those prescribed
for the whites, as though the individuals of both races had to
fill the same positions in life. Much of the Negro's education
has had nothing to do with his real life-work. It has only made
him discontented and disinclined to unfold his arms. The survival
of the Negroes in the race for existence depends upon their
retaining possession of the few bread-winning occupations now open
to them. But instead of better qualifying themselves for these
occupations they have been poring over dead languages and working
problems in mathematics. In the meantime the Chinaman and the
steam-laundry have abolished the Negro's wash-tub, trained white
"tonsorial artists" have taken away his barber's chair, and
skilled painters and plasterers and mechanics have taken away his
paint-brushes and tool-chests. Every year the number of
occupations open to him becomes fewer because of his lack of
progress in them. Unless a radical change takes place in the
scope of his education, so that he may learn better how to do his
work, a tide of white immigration will set in and force him out of
his last stronghold, domestic service, and limit his sphere to the

All primary schools for the Negroes should be equipped for
industrial training in such work as sewing, cooking, laundering,
carpentry, and house-cleaning, and, in rural districts, in
elementary agriculture.

Secondary schools should add to the literary courses a more
advanced course in industrial training, so as to approach as
nearly as possible the objects and methods of the Tuskegee and
Hampton Industrial and Normal Schools. Too much cannot be said in
behalf of the revolution in the life of the Negro which the work
of these schools promises and, in part, has already wrought. The
writer is fully aware that education has a value aside from and
above its bread-winning results, and he would not dissuade the
Negro from seeking the highest culture that he may be capable of;
but it is folly for him to wing his way through the higher realms
of the intellect without some acquaintance with the requirements
and duties of life.

Changes are needed in the methods of Negro education as well as in
its scope. Educators should take into account, more than they
have yet done, the differences in the mental characteristics of
the two races. It is a well-established fact that, while the
lower races possess marked capacity to deal with simple, concrete
ideas, they lack power of generalization, and soon fatigue in the
realm of the abstract. It is also well known that the inferior
races, being deficient in generalization, which is a subjective
process, are absorbed almost entirely in the things that are
objective. They have strong and alert eyesight, and are
susceptible to impressions through the medium of the eye to an
extent that is impossible to any of the white races. This fact is
evidenced in the great number of pictures found in the homes of
the Negroes. In default of anything better, they will paper their
walls with advertisements of the theater and the circus, and even
with pictures from vicious newspapers. They delight in street
pageantry, fancy costumes, theatrical performances, and similar
spectacles. Factories employing Negroes generally find it
necessary to suspend operations on "circus day." They love
stories of adventure and any fiction that gives play to their
imaginations. All their tastes lie in the realm of the objective
and the concrete.

Hence, in the school-room stress should be laid on those studies
that appeal to the eye and the imagination. Lessons should be
given in sketching, painting, drawing, and casting. Reprints of
the popular works of art should be placed before the Negroes, that
their love for art may be gratified and their taste cultivated at
the same time. Fancy needlework, dress-making, and home
decorations should also have an important place. These studies,
while not contributing directly to bread-winning, have a refining
and softening influence upon character, and inspire efforts to
make the home more attractive. The more interest we can make the
Negro take in his personal appearance and in the comforts of his
home, the more we shall strengthen and promote his family life and
raise the level of his civilization.

The literary education of the Negro should consist of carefully
selected poems and novels that appeal to his imagination and
produce clear images upon his mind, excluding such literature as
is in the nature of psychological or moral research. Recitations
and dialogues should be more generally and more frequently
required. In history emphasis should be given to what is
picturesque, dramatic, and biographical.

Coming to the political phase of the Negro problem, there is a
general agreement among white men that the Southern States cannot
keep pace with the progress of the world as long as they are
menaced by Negro domination, and that, therefore, it is necessary
to eliminate the Negro vote from politics. When the Negroes
become intelligent factors in society, when they become thrifty
and accumulate wealth, they will find the way to larger exercise
of citizenship. They can never sit upon juries to pass upon life
and property until they are property-owners themselves, and they
can never hold the reins of government by reason of mere
superiority of numbers. Before they can take on larger political
responsibilities they must demonstrate their ability to meet them.

The Negroes will never be allowed to control State governments so
long as they vote at every election upon the basis of color,
without regard whatever to political issues or private
convictions. If the Negroes would divide their votes according to
their individual opinions, as the lamented Charles Price, one of
their best leaders, advised, there would be no danger of Negro
domination and no objection to their holding offices which they
might be competent to fill. But as there is no present prospect
of their voting upon any other basis than that of color, the white
people are forced to accept the situation and protect themselves
accordingly. Years of bitter and costly experience have
demonstrated over and over again that Negro rule is not only
incompetent and corrupt, but a menace to civilization. Some
people imagine that there is something anomalous, peculiar, or
local in the race prejudice that binds all Negroes together; but
this clan spirit is a characteristic of all savage and semi-
civilized peoples.

It should be well understood by this time that no foreign race
inhabiting this country and acting together politically can
dominate the native whites. To permit an inferior race, holding
less than one tenth of the property of the community, to take the
reins of government in its hands, by reason of mere numerical
strength, would be to renounce civilization. Our national
government, in making laws for Hawaii, has carefully provided for
white supremacy by an educational qualification for suffrage that
excludes the semi-civilized natives. No sane man, let us hope,
would think of placing Manila under the control of a government of
the Philippine Islands based upon universal suffrage. Yet the
problem in the South and the problem in the Philippines and in
Hawaii differ only in degree.

The only proper safeguard against Negro rule in States where the
blacks outnumber or approximate in number the whites lies in
constitutional provisions establishing an educational test for
suffrage applicable to black and white alike. If the suffrage is
not thus limited it is necessary for the whites to resort to
technicalities and ballot laws, to bribery or intimidation. To
set up an educational test with a "grandfather clause," making the
test apply for a certain time to the blacks only, seems to an
outsider unnecessary, arbitrary, and unjust. The reason for such
a clause arises from the belief that no constitutional amendment
could ever carry if it immediately disfranchised the illiterate
whites, as many property-holding whites belong to that class. But
the writer does not believe in the principle nor in the necessity
for a "grandfather clause." If constitutional amendments were to
be submitted in North Carolina and Virginia applying the
educational test to both races alike after 1908, the question
would be lifted above the level of party gain, and would receive
the support of white men of all parties and the approbation of the
moral sentiment of the American people. A white man who would
disfranchise a Negro because of his color or for mere party
advantage is himself unworthy of the suffrage. With the suffrage
question adjusted upon an educational basis the Negroes would have
the power to work out their political emancipation, the white
people having made education necessary and provided the means for
attaining it.

When the question of Negro domination is settled the path of
progress of both races will be very much cleared. Race conflicts
will then be less frequent and race feeling less bitter. With
more friendly relations growing up, and with more concentration of
energy on the part of the Negroes in industrial lines, the
opportunities for them will be widened and the task of finding
industrial adjustment in the struggle for life made easier. The
wisest and best leaders among the Negroes, such as Booker
Washington and the late Charles Price, have tried to turn the
attention of the Negroes from politics to the more profitable
pursuits of industry, and if the professional politician would
cease inspiring the Negroes to seek salvation in political
domination over the whites, the race issue would soon cease to

The field is broad enough in the South for both races to attain
all that is possible to them. In spite of the periodic political
conflicts and occasional local riots and acts of individual
violence, the relations between the races, in respect to nine
tenths of the population, are very friendly. The general
condition has been too often judged by the acts of a small
minority. The Southern people understand the Negroes, and feel a
real fondness for those that are thrifty and well behaved. When
fairly treated the Negro has a strong affection for his employer.
He seldom forgets a kindness, and is quick to forget a wrong. If
he does not stay long at one place, it is not that he dislikes his
employer so much as that he has a restless temperament and craves
change. His disposition is full of mirth and sunshine, and not a
little of the fine flavor of Southern wit and humor is due to his
influence. His nature is plastic, and while he is easily molded
into a monster, he is also capable of a high degree of culture.
Many Negroes are thoroughly honest, notwithstanding their bad
environment and hereditary disposition to steal. Negro servants
are trusted with the keys to households to an extent that,
probably, is not the case among domestics elsewhere in the
civilized world.

It is strange that two races working side by side should possess
so many opposite traits of character. The white man has strong
will and convictions and is set in his ways. He lives an indoor,
monotonous life, restrains himself like a Puritan, and is inclined
to melancholy. The prevalence of Populism throughout the South is
nothing but the outcome of this morbid tendency. Farmers and
merchants are entirely absorbed in their business, and the women,
especially the married women, contrast with the women of France,
Germany, and even England, in their indoor life and disinclination
to mingle with the world outside. Public parks and public
concerts, such as are found in Europe, which call out husband,
wife, and children for a few hours of rest and communion with
their friends, are almost unknown in the South. The few
entertainments that receive sanction generally exclude all but the
well-to-do by the cost of admission. The life of the poor in town
and country is bleak and bare to the last degree.

Contrasting with this tendency is the free-and-easy life of the
blacks. The burdens of the present and the future weigh lightly
upon their shoulders. They love all the worldly amusements; in
their homes they are free entertainers, and in their fondness for
conversation and love of street life they are equal to the French
or Italians.

May we not hope that the conflict of these two opposite races is
working out some advantages to both, and that the final result
will justify all that the conflict has cost?

by Booker T. Washington

In addition to the problem of educating eight million negroes in
our Southern States and ingrafting them into American citizenship,
we now have the additional responsibility, either directly or
indirectly, of educating and elevating about eight hundred
thousand others of African descent in Cuba and Porto Rico, to say
nothing of the white people of these islands, many of whom are in
a condition about as deplorable as that of the negroes. We have,
however, one advantage in approaching the question of the
education of our new neighbors.

The experience that we have passed through in the Southern States
during the last thirty years in the education of my race, whose
history and needs are not very different from the history and
needs of the Cubans and Porto Ricans, will prove most valuable in
elevating the blacks of the West Indian Islands. To tell what has
already been accomplished in the South under most difficult
circumstances is to tell what may be done in Cuba and Porto Rico.

To this end let me tell a story.

In what is known as the black belt of the South--that is, where
the negroes outnumber the whites--there lived before the Civil War
a white man who owned some two hundred slaves, and was prosperous.
At the close of the war he found his fortune gone, except that
which was represented in land, of which he owned several thousand
acres. Of the two hundred slaves a large proportion decided,
after their freedom, to continue on the plantation of their former

Some years after the war a young black boy, who seemed to have
"rained down," was discovered on the plantation by Mr. S-----, the
owner. In daily rides through the plantation Mr. S----- saw this
boy sitting by the roadside, and his condition awakened his pity,
for, from want of care, he was covered from head to foot with
sores, and Mr. S----- soon grew into the habit of tossing him a
nickel or a dime as he rode by. In some way this boy heard of the
Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Alabama, and of the
advantages which it offered poor but deserving colored men and
women to secure an education through their own labor while taking
the course of study. This boy, whose name was William, made known
to the plantation hands his wish to go to the Tuskegee school. By
each one "chipping in," and through the efforts of the boy
himself, a few decent pieces of clothing were secured, and a
little money, but not enough to pay his railroad fare, so the boy
resolved to walk to Tuskegee, a distance of about one hundred and
fifty miles. Strange to say, he made the long distance with an
expenditure of only twenty cents in cash. He frankly told every
one with whom he came in contact where he was going and what he
was seeking. Both white and colored people along the route gave
him food and a place to sleep free of cost, and even the usually
exacting ferrymen were so impressed with the young negro's desire
for an education that, except in one case, he was given free
ferriage across the creeks and rivers.

One can easily imagine his appearance when he first arrived at
Tuskegee, with his blistered feet and small white bundle, which
contained all the clothing he possessed.

On being shown into my office his first words were: "I's come.
S'pose you been lookin' for me, but I didn't come on de railroad."
Looking up the records, it was found that this young man had been
given permission to come several months ago, but the
correspondence had long since been forgotten.

After being sent to the bath-room and provided with a tooth-
brush,--for the tooth-brush at Tuskegee is the emblem of
civilization,--William was assigned to a room, and was given work
on the school farm of fourteen hundred acres, seven hundred of
which are cultivated by student labor. During his first year at
Tuskegee William worked on the farm during the day, where he soon
learned to take a deep interest in all that the school was doing
to teach the students the best and most improved methods of
farming, and studied for two hours at night in the class-room
after his hard day's work was over. At first he seemed drowsy and
dull in the night-school, and would now and then fall asleep while
trying to study; but he did not grow discouraged. The new
machinery that he was compelled to use on the farm interested him
because it taught him that the farm work could be stripped of much
of the old-time drudgery and toil, and seemed to awaken his
sleeping intellect. Soon he began asking the farm-instructors
such questions as where the Jersey and Holstein cattle came from,
and why they produced more milk and butter than the common long-
tailed and long-horned cows that he had seen at home.

His night-school teachers found that he ceased to sleep in school,
and began asking questions about his lessons, and was soon able to
calculate the number of square yards in an acre and to tell the
number of peach-trees required to plant an acre of land. After he
had been at Tuskegee two or three months the farm-manager came
into my office on a cold, rainy day, and said that William was
virtually barefooted, the soles of his shoes having separated from
the uppers, though William had fastened them together as best he
could with bits of wire. In this condition the farm-instructor
found him plowing without a word of complaint. A pair of second-
hand shoes was secured for him, and he was soon very happy.

I will not take this part of the story further except to say that
at the end of his first year at Tuskegee this young man, having
made a start in his books, and having saved a small sum of money
above the cost of his board, which was credited to his account,
entered the next year our regular day-classes, though still
dividing his time between the class-room and work on the farm.

Toward the end of the year he found himself in need of money with
which to buy books, clothing, etc., and so wrote a carefully
worded letter to Mr. S-----, the white man on whose plantation he
had lived, and who had been, in slavery, the owner of his mother.

In the letter he told Mr. S----- how he got to Tuskegee, what he
was doing, and what his needs were, and asked Mr. S----- to lend
him fifteen dollars. Before receiving this letter Mr. S----- had
not thought once about the boy during his two years' absence; in
fact, did not know that he had left the plantation.

Mr. S----- was a good deal shocked, as well as amused, over such a
request from such a source. The letter went to the wastebasket
without being answered. A few weeks later William sent a second
letter, in which he took it for granted that the first letter had
not been received. The second letter shared the same fate as the
first. A third letter reached Mr. S----- in a few weeks, making
the same request. In answer to the third letter Mr. S----- told
me that, moved by some impulse which he himself never understood,
he sent William the fifteen dollars.

Two or three years passed, and Mr. S----- had about forgotten
William and the fifteen dollars; but one morning while sitting
upon his porch a bright young colored man walked up and introduced
himself as William, the boy to whom he used to toss small pieces
of money, and the one to whom he had sent fifteen dollars.

William paid Mr. S----- the fifteen dollars with interest, which
he had earned while teaching school after leaving Tuskegee.

This simple experience with this young colored man made a new and
different person of Mr. S-----, so far as the negro was concerned.

He began to think. He thought of the long past, but he thought
most of the future, and of his duty toward the hundreds of colored
people on his plantation and in his community. After careful
thought he asked William Edwards to open a school on his
plantation in a vacant log cabin. That was seven years ago. On
this same plantation at Snow Hill, Wilcox county, Alabama, a
county where, according to the last census, there are twenty-four
thousand colored people and about six thousand whites, there is
now a school with two hundred pupils, five teachers from Tuskegee,
and three school buildings. The school has forty acres of land.
In addition to the text-book lessons, the boys are taught farming
and carpentry, and the girls sewing and general house-keeping, and
the school is now in the act of starting a blacksmith and
wheelwright department. This school owes its existence almost
wholly to Mr. S-----, who gave to the trustees the forty acres of
land, and has contributed liberally to the building fund, as well
as to the pay of the teachers. Gifts from a few friends in the
North have been received, and the colored people have given their
labor and small sums in cash. When the people cannot find money
to give, they have often given corn, chickens, and eggs. The
school has grown so popular that almost every leading white man in
the community is willing to make a small gift toward its

In addition to the work done directly in the school for the
children, the teachers in the Snow Hill school have organized a
kind of university extension movement. The farmers are organized
into conferences, which hold meetings each month. In these
meetings they are taught better methods of agriculture, how to buy
land, how to economize and keep out of debt, how to stop
mortgaging, how to build school-houses and dwelling-houses with
more than one room, how to bring about a higher moral and
religious standing, and are warned against buying cheap jewelry,
snuff, and whisky.

No one is a more interested visitor at these meetings than Mr. S-----
himself. The matter does not end in mere talk and advice.
The women teachers go right into the cabins of the people and show
them how to keep them clean, how to dust, sweep, and cook.

When William Edwards left this community a few years ago for the
Tuskegee school, he left the larger proportion in debt, mortgaging
their crops every year for the food on which to live. Most of
them were living on rented land in small one-room log cabins, and
attempting to pay an enormous rate of interest on the value of
their food advances. As one old colored man expressed it, "I
ain't got but six feet of land, and I is got to die to git dat."
The little school taught in a cabin lasted only three or four
months in the year. The religion was largely a matter of the
emotions, with almost no practical ideas of morality. It was the
white man for himself and the negro for himself, each in too many
cases trying to take advantage of the other. The situation was
pretty well described by a black man who said to me: "I tells you
how we votes. We always watches de white man, and we keeps
watchin' de white man. De nearer it gits to 'lection-time de more
we watches de white man. We keeps watchin' de white man till we
find out which way he gwine to vote; den we votes 'zactly de odder
way. Den we knows we is right."

Now how changed is all at Snow Hill, and how it is gradually
changing each year! Instead of the hopelessness and dejection
that were there a few years ago, there are now light and buoyancy
in the countenances and movements of the people. The negroes are
getting out of debt and buying land, ceasing to mortgage their
crops, building houses with two or three rooms, and a higher moral
and religious standard has been established.

Last May, on the day that the school had its closing exercises,
there were present, besides the hundreds of colored-people, about
fifty of the leading white men and women of the county, and these
white people seemed as much interested in the work of the school
as the people of my own race.

Only a few years ago in the State of Alabama the law in reference
to the education of the negro read as follows: "Any person or
persons who shall attempt to teach any free person of color or
slave to spell, read, or write shall, upon conviction thereof by
indictment, be fined in a sum not less than two hundred and fifty
dollars nor more than five hundred dollars."

Within half a dozen years I have heard Dr. J. L. M. Curry, a
brave, honest ex-Confederate officer, in addressing both the
Alabama and Georgia State legislatures, say to those bodies in the
most emphatic manner that it was as much the duty of the State to
educate the negro children as the white children, and in each case
Dr. Curry's words were cheered.

Here at Snow Hill is the foundation for the solution of the legal
and political difficulties that exist in the South, and the
improvement of the industrial condition of the negro in Cuba and
Porto Rico. This solution will not come all at once, but
gradually. The foundation must exist in the commercial and
industrial development of the people of my race in the South and
in the West Indian Islands.

The most intelligent whites are beginning to realize that they
cannot go much higher than they lift the negro at the same time.
When a black man owns and cultivates the best farm to be found in
his county he will have the confidence and respect of most of the
white people in that county. When a black man is the largest
taxpayer in his community his white neighbor will not object very
long to his voting, and having that vote honestly counted. Even
now a black man who has five hundred dollars to lend has no
trouble in finding a white man who is willing to borrow his money.
The negro who is a large stockholder in a railroad company will
always be treated with justice on that railroad.

Many of the most intelligent colored people are learning that
while there are many bad white men in the South, there are
Southern whites who have the highest interests of the negro just
as closely at heart as have any other people in any part of the
country. Many of the negroes are learning that it is folly not to
cultivate in every honorable way the friendship of the white man
who is their next-door neighbor.

To describe the work being done in connection with the public
schools by graduates of Tuskegee and other institutions in the
South, at such places as Mount Meigs, under Miss Cornelia Bowen;
Denmark, South Carolina; Abbeville and Newville, Alabama;
Christiansburg, Virginia, and numbers of other places in the Gulf
States, would be only to repeat in a larger or smaller degree what
I have said of Snow Hill.

Not very long after the last national election I visited a town in
the South, to speak at a meeting which had for its object the
raising of money to complete the school-house. The audience was
about equally divided between white men and women and black men
and women. When the time for the collection came it was intensely
satisfactory to observe that the white side of the audience was
just as eager to make its small contributions as were the members
of my own race. But I was anxious to see how the late election
had been conducted in that community. I soon found out that the
Republican party, composed almost wholly of the black people, was
represented by an election officer in the person of one of the
best-educated colored men in the town, that both the Democratic
and Populist parties were equally well represented, and that there
was no suspicion of unfairness.

But I wished to go a little deeper, and I soon found that one of
the leading stores in this community was owned by a colored man;
that a cotton-gin was owned by a colored man; that the sawmill was
owned by another colored man. Colored men had mortgages on white
men's crops, and vice versa, and colored people not only owned
land, but in several cases were renting land to white men. Black
men were in debt to white men, and white men were in debt to black
men. In a word, the industrial and commercial relations of the
races were interwoven just as if all had been of one race.

An object-lesson in civilization is more potent in compelling
people to act right than a law compelling them to do so. Some
years ago a colored woman who had graduated at Tuskegee began her
life-work in a Southern community where the force of white public
sentiment was opposed to the starting of what was termed a "nigger
school." At first this girl was tempted to abuse her white
sister, but she remembered that perhaps the white woman had been
taught from her earliest childhood, through reading and
conversation, that education was not good for the negro, that it
would result only in trouble to the community, and that no amount
of abuse could change this prejudice.

After a while this colored teacher was married to an educated
colored man, and they built a little cottage, which, in connection
with her husband's farm, was a model. One morning one of the
white women who had been most intense in her feelings was passing
this cottage, and her attention was attracted to the colored woman
who was at work in her beautiful flower-garden. A conversation
took place concerning the flowers. At another time this same
white woman was so attracted by this flower-garden that she came
inside the yard, and from the yard she went into the sitting-room
and examined the books and papers.

This acquaintance has now ripened and broadened, so that to-day
there are few people in that community more highly respected than
this colored family. What did it all? This object-lesson. No
one could explain that away. One such object-lesson in every
community in the South is more powerful than all the laws Congress
can pass in the direction of bringing about right relations
between blacks and whites.

A few months ago an agricultural county fair, the first ever held
in that county, was organized and held at Calhoun, Alabama, by the
teachers in the Calhoun School, which is an offshoot of the
Hampton Institute. Both the colored people and numbers of white
visitors were astonished at the creditable exhibits made by the
colored people. Most of these white people saw the school work at
Calhoun for the first time. Perhaps no amount of abstract talk or
advice could have brought them to this school, but the best hog,
the largest pumpkin, or the most valuable bale of cotton possessed
a common interest, and it has been a comparatively easy thing to
extend their interest from the best hog to the work being done in
the school-room. Further, this fair convinced these white people,
as almost nothing else could have done, that education was making
the negroes better citizens rather than worse; that the people
were not being educated away from themselves, but with their
elevation the conditions about them were being lifted in a manner
that possessed an interest and value for both races.

It was after speaking, not long ago, to the colored people at such
a county fair in North Carolina that I was asked the next morning
to speak to the white students at their college, who gave me as
hearty a greeting as I have ever received at Northern colleges.

But such forces as I have described--forces that are gradually
regenerating the entire South and will regenerate Cuba and Porto
Rico--are not started and kept in motion without a central plant--
a power-house, where the power is generated. I cannot describe
all these places of power. Perhaps the whole South and the whole
country are most indebted to the Hampton Institute in Virginia.
Then there is Fisk University at Nashville, Tennessee; Talladega
College at Talladega, Alabama; Spelman Seminary, Atlanta
University, and Atlanta Baptist College at Atlanta; Biddle
University in North Carolina; Claflin University at Orangeburg,
South Carolina; and Knoxville College at Knoxville, Tennessee.
Some of these do a different grade of work, but one much needed.

At Tuskegee, Alabama, starting fifteen years ago in a little
shanty with one teacher and thirty students, with no property,
there has grown up an industrial and educational village where the
ideas that I have referred to are put into the heads, hearts, and
hands of an army of colored men and women, with the purpose of
having them become centers of light and civilization in every part
of the South. One visiting the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial
Institute to-day will find eight hundred and fifty students
gathered from twenty-four States, with eighty-eight teachers and
officers training these students in literary, religious, and
industrial work.

Counting the students and the families of the instructors, the
visitor will find a black village of about twelve hundred people.
Instead of the old, worn-out plantation that was there fifteen
years ago, there is a modern farm of seven hundred acres
cultivated by student labor. There are Jersey and Holstein cows
and Berkshire pigs, and the butter used is made by the most modern

Aside from the dozens of neat, comfortable cottages owned by
individual teachers and other persons, who have settled in this
village for the purpose of educating their children, he will find
thirty-six buildings of various kinds and sizes, owned and built
by the school, property valued at three hundred thousand dollars.
Perhaps the most interesting thing in connection with these
buildings is that, with the exception of three, they have been
built by student labor. The friends of the school have furnished
money to pay the teachers and for material.

When a building is to be erected, the teacher in charge of the
mechanical and architectural drawing department gives to the class
in drawing a general description of the building desired, and then
there is a competition to see whose plan will be accepted. These
same students in most cases help do the practical work of putting
up the building--some at the sawmill, the brick-yard, or in the
carpentry, brickmaking, plastering, painting, and tinsmithing
departments. At the same time care is taken to see not only that
the building goes up properly, but that the students, who are
under intelligent instructors in their special branch, are taught
at the same time the principles as well as the practical part of
the trade.

The school has the building in the end, and the students have the
knowledge of the trade. This same principle applies, whether in
the laundry, where the washing for seven or eight hundred people
is done, or in the sewing-room, where a large part of the clothing
for this colony is made and repaired, or in the wheelwright and
blacksmith departments, where all the wagons and buggies used by
the school, besides a large number for the outside public, are
manufactured, or in the printing-office, where a large part of the
printing for the white and colored people in this region is done.
Twenty-six different industries are here in constant operation.

When the student is through with his course of training he goes
out feeling that it is just as honorable to labor with the hand as
with the head, and instead of his having to look for a place, the
place usually seeks him, because he has to give that which the
South wants. One other thing should not be overlooked in our
efforts to develop the black man. As bad as slavery was, almost
every large plantation in the South during that time was, in a
measure, an industrial school. It had its farming department, its
blacksmith, wheelwright, brickmaking, carpentry, and sewing
departments. Thus at the close of the war our people were in
possession of all the common and skilled labor in the South. For
nearly twenty years after the war we overlooked the value of the
ante-bellum training, and no one was trained to replace these
skilled men and women who were soon to pass away; and now, as
skilled laborers from foreign countries, with not only educated
hands but trained brains, begin to come into the South and take
these positions once held by us, we are gradually waking up to the
fact that we must compete with the white man in the industrial
world if we would hold our own. No one understands his value in
the labor world better than the old colored man. Recently, when a
convention was held in the South by the white people for the
purpose of inducing white settlers from the North and West to
settle in the South, one of these colored men said to the
president of the convention: "'Fore de Lord, boss, we's got as
many white people down here now as we niggers can support."

The negro in the South has another advantage. While there is
prejudice against him along certain lines,--in the matter of
business in general, and the trades especially,--there is
virtually no prejudice so far as the native Southern white man is
concerned. White men and black men work at the same carpenter's
bench and on the same brick wall. Sometimes the white man is the
"boss," sometimes the black man is the boss.

Some one chaffed a colored man recently because, when he got
through with a contract for building a house, he cleared just ten
cents; but he said: "All right, boss; it was worth ten cents to be
de boss of dem white men." If a Southern white man has a contract
to let for the building of a house, he prefers the black
contractor, because he has been used to doing business of this
character with a negro rather than with a white man.

The negro will find his way up as a man just in proportion as he
makes himself valuable, possesses something that a white man
wants, can do something as well as, or better than, a white man.

I would not have my readers get the thought that the problem in
the South is settled, that there is nothing else to be done; far
from this. Long years of patient, hard work will be required for
the betterment of the condition of the negro in the South, as well
as for the betterment of the condition of the negro in the West

There are bright spots here and there that point the way. Perhaps
the most that we have accomplished in the last thirty years is to
show the North and the South how the fourteen slaves landed a few
hundred years ago at Jamestown, Virginia,--now nearly eight
millions of freemen in the South alone,--are to be made a safe and
useful part of our democratic and Christian institutions.

The main thing that is now needed to bring about a solution of the
difficulties in the South is money in large sums, to be used
largely for Christian, technical, and industrial education.

For more than thirty years we have been trying to solve one of the
most serious problems in the history of the world largely by
passing around a hat in the North. Out of their poverty the
Southern States have done well in assisting; many more millions
are needed, and these millions will have to come before the
question as to the negro in the South is settled.

There never was a greater opportunity for men of wealth to place a
few million dollars where they could be used in lifting up and
regenerating a whole race; and let it always be borne in mind that
every dollar given for the proper education of the negro in the
South is almost as much help to the Southern white man as to the
negro himself. So long as the whites in the South are surrounded
by a race that is, in a large measure, in ignorance and poverty,
so long will this ignorance and poverty of the negro in a score of
ways prevent the highest development of the white man.

The problem of lifting up the negro in Cuba and Porto Rico is an
easier one in one respect, even if it proves more difficult in
others. It will be less difficult, because there is the absence
of that higher degree of race feeling which exists in many parts
of the United States. Both the white Cuban and the white Spaniard
have treated the people of African descent, in civil, political,
military, and business matters, very much as they have treated
others of their own race. Oppression has not cowed and unmanned
the Cuban negro in certain respects as it has the American negro.

In only a few instances is the color-line drawn. How Americans
will treat the negro Cuban, and what will be the tendency of
American influences in the matter of the relation of the races,
remains an interesting and open question. Certainly it will place
this country in an awkward position to have gone to war to free a
people from Spanish cruelty, and then as soon as it gets them
within its power to treat a large proportion of the population
worse than did even Spain herself, simply on account of color.

While in the matter of the relation of the races the problem
before us in the West Indies is easier, in respect to the
industrial, moral, and religious sides it is more difficult. The
negroes on these islands are largely an agricultural people, and
for this reason, in addition to a higher degree of mental and
religious training, they need the same agricultural, mechanical,
and domestic training that is fast helping the negroes in our
Southern States. Industrial training will not only help them to
the ownership of property, habits of thrift and economy, but the
acquiring of these elements of strength will go further than
anything else in improving the moral and religious condition of
the masses, just as has been and is true of my people in the
Southern States.

With the idea of getting the methods of industrial education
pursued at Hampton and Tuskegee permanently and rightly started in
Cuba and Porto Rico, a few of the most promising men and women
from these islands have been brought to the Tuskegee Normal and
Industrial Institute, and educated with the view of having them
return and take the lead in affording industrial training on these
islands, where the training can best be given to the masses.

The emphasis that I have placed upon an industrial education does
not mean that the negro is to be excluded from the higher
interests of life, but it does mean that in proportion as the
negro gets the foundation,--the useful before the ornamental,--in
the same proportion will he accelerate his progress in acquiring
those elements which do not pertain so directly to the

Phillips Brooks once said, "One generation gathers the material,
and the next builds the palaces." Very largely this must be the
material-gathering generation of black people, but in due time the
palaces will come if we are patient.

by Charles W. Chesnutt

The colored people of Patesville had at length gained the object
they had for a long time been seeking--the appointment of a
committee of themselves to manage the colored schools of the town.
They had argued, with some show of reason, that they were most
interested in the education of their own children, and in a
position to know, better than any committee of white men could,
what was best for their children's needs. The appointments had
been made by the county commissioners during the latter part of
the summer, and a week later a meeting was called for the purpose
of electing a teacher to take charge of the grammar school at the
beginning of the fall term.

The committee consisted of Frank Gillespie, or "Glaspy," a barber,
who took an active part in local politics; Bob Cotten, a
blacksmith, who owned several houses and was looked upon as a
substantial citizen; and Abe Johnson, commonly called "Ole Abe" or
"Uncle Abe," who had a large family, and drove a dray, and did odd
jobs of hauling; he was also a class-leader in the Methodist
church. The committee had been chosen from among a number of
candidates--Gillespie on account of his political standing, Cotten
as representing the solid element of the colored population, and
Old Abe, with democratic impartiality, as likely to satisfy the
humbler class of a humble people. While the choice had not
pleased everybody,--for instance, some of the other applicants,--
it was acquiesced in with general satisfaction. The first meeting
of the new committee was of great public interest, partly by
reason of its novelty, but chiefly because there were two
candidates for the position of teacher of the grammar school.

The former teacher, Miss Henrietta Noble, had applied for the
school. She had taught the colored children of Patesville for
fifteen years. When the Freedmen's Bureau, after the military
occupation of North Carolina, had called for volunteers to teach
the children of the freedmen, Henrietta Nobel had offered her
services. Brought up in a New England household by parents who
taught her to fear God and love her fellow-men, she had seen her
father's body brought home from a Southern battle-field and laid
to rest in the village cemetery; and a short six months later she
had buried her mother by his side. Henrietta had no brothers or
sisters, and her nearest relatives were cousins living in the far
West. The only human being in whom she felt any special personal
interest was a certain captain in her father's regiment, who had
paid her some attention. She had loved this man deeply, in a
maidenly, modest way; but he had gone away without speaking, and
had not since written. He had escaped the fate of many others,
and at the close of the war was alive and well, stationed in some
Southern garrison.

When her mother died, Henrietta had found herself possessed only
of the house where she lived and the furniture it contained,
neither being of much value, and she was thrown upon her own
resources for a livelihood. She had a fair education and had read
many good books. It was not easy to find employment such as she
desired. She wrote to her Western cousins, and they advised her
to come to them, as they thought they could do something for her
if she were there. She had almost decided to accept their offer,
when the demand arose for teachers in the South. Whether impelled
by some strain of adventurous blood from a Pilgrim ancestry, or by
a sensitive pride that shrank from dependence, or by some dim and
unacknowledged hope that she might sometime, somewhere, somehow
meet Captain Carey--whether from one of these motives or a
combination of them all, joined to something of the missionary
spirit, she decided to go South, and wrote to her cousins
declining their friendly offer.

She had come to Patesville when the children were mostly a mob of
dirty little beggars. She had distributed among them the cast-
off clothing that came from their friends in the North; she had
taught them to wash their faces and to comb their hair; and
patiently, year after year, she had labored to instruct them in
the rudiments of learning and the first principles of religion and
morality. And she had not wrought in vain. Other agencies, it is
true, had in time cooperated with her efforts, but any one who had
watched the current of events must have been compelled to admit
that the very fair progress of the colored people of Patesville in
the fifteen years following emancipation had been due chiefly to
the unselfish labors of Henrietta Noble, and that her nature did
not belie her name.

Fifteen years is a long time. Miss Noble had never met Captain
Carey; and when she learned later that he had married a Southern
girl in the neighborhood of his post, she had shed her tears in
secret and banished his image from her heart. She had lived a
lonely life. The white people of the town, though they learned in
time to respect her and to value her work, had never recognized
her existence by more than the mere external courtesy shown by any
community to one who lives in the midst of it. The situation was
at first, of course, so strained that she did not expect sympathy
from the white people; and later, when time had smoothed over some
of the asperities of war, her work had so engaged her that she had
not had time to pine over her social exclusion. Once or twice
nature had asserted itself, and she had longed for her own kind,
and had visited her New England home. But her circle of friends
was broken up, and she did not find much pleasure in boarding-
house life; and on her last visit to the North but one, she had
felt so lonely that she had longed for the dark faces of her
pupils, and had welcomed with pleasure the hour when her task
should be resumed.

But for several reasons the school at Patesville was of more
importance to Miss Noble at this particular time than it ever had
been before. During the last few years her health had not been
good. An affection of the heart similar to that from which her
mother had died, while not interfering perceptibly with her work,
had grown from bad to worse, aggravated by close application to
her duties, until it had caused her grave alarm. She did not have
perfect confidence in the skill of the Patesville physicians, and
to obtain the best medical advice had gone to New York during the
summer, remaining there a month under the treatment of an eminent
specialist. This, of course, had been expensive and had absorbed
the savings of years from a small salary; and when the time came
for her to return to Patesville, she was reduced, after paying her
traveling expenses, to her last ten-dollar note.

"It is very fortunate," the great man had said at her last visit,
"that circumstances permit you to live in the South, for I am
afraid you could not endure a Northern winter. You are getting
along very well now, and if you will take care of yourself and
avoid excitement, you will be better." He said to himself as she
went away: "It's only a matter of time, but that is true about us
all; and a wise physician does as much good by what he withholds
as by what he tells."

Miss Noble had not anticipated any trouble about the school. When
she went away the same committee of white men was in charge that
had controlled the school since it had become part of the public-
school system of the State on the withdrawal of support from the
Freedmen's Bureau. While there had been no formal engagement made
for the next year, when she had last seen the chairman before she
went away, he had remarked that she was looking rather fagged out,
had bidden her good-by, and had hoped to see her much improved
when she returned. She had left her house in the care of the
colored woman who lived with her and did her housework, assuming,
of course, that she would take up her work again in the autumn.

She was much surprised at first, and later alarmed, to find a
rival for her position as teacher of the grammar school. Many of
her friends and pupils had called on her since her return, and she
had met a number of the people at the colored Methodist church,
where she taught in the Sunday-school. She had many friends and
supporters, but she soon found out that her opponent had
considerable strength. There had been a time when she would have
withdrawn and left him a clear field, but at the present moment it
was almost a matter of life and death to her--certainly the matter
of earning a living--to secure the appointment.

The other candidate was a young man who in former years had been
one of Miss Noble's brightest pupils. When he had finished his
course in the grammar school, his parents, with considerable
sacrifice, had sent him to a college for colored youth. He had
studied diligently, had worked industriously during his vacations,
sometimes at manual labor, sometimes teaching a country school,
and in due time had been graduated from his college with honors.
He had come home at the end of his school life, and was very
naturally seeking the employment for which he had fitted himself.
He was a "bright" mulatto, with straight hair, an intelligent
face, and a well-set figure. He had acquired some of the marks of
culture, wore a frock-coat and a high collar, parted his hair in
the middle, and showed by his manner that he thought a good deal
of himself. He was the popular candidate among the progressive
element of his people, and rather confidently expected the

The meeting of the committee was held in the Methodist church,
where, in fact, the grammar school was taught, for want of a
separate school-house. After the preliminary steps to effect an
organization, Mr. Gillespie, who had been elected chairman, took
the floor.

"The principal business to be brought befo' the meet'n' this
evenin'," he said, "is the selection of a teacher for our grammar
school for the ensuin' year. Two candidates have filed
applications, which, if there is no objection, I will read to the
committee. The first is from Miss Noble, who has been the teacher
ever since the grammar school was started."

He then read Miss Noble's letter, in which she called attention to
her long years of service, to her need of the position, and to her
affection for the pupils, and made formal application for the
school for the next year. She did not, from motives of self-
respect, make known the extremity of her need; nor did she mention
the condition of her health, as it might have been used as an
argument against her retention.

Mr. Gillespie then read the application of the other candidate,
Andrew J. Williams. Mr. Williams set out in detail his
qualifications for the position: his degree from Riddle
University; his familiarity with the dead and living languages and
the higher mathematics; his views of discipline; and a peroration
in which he expressed the desire to devote himself to the
elevation of his race and assist the march of progress through the
medium of the Patesville grammar school. The letter was well
written in a bold, round hand, with many flourishes, and looked
very aggressive and overbearing as it lay on the table by the side
of the sheet of small note-paper in Miss Noble's faint and


Back to Full Books