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

Part 7 out of 8

substantial. It was at this period in the Negro's development,
when the distance between the races was greatest, and the spirit
and ambition of the colored people most depressed, that the idea
of industrial or business development was introduced and began to
be made prominent. It did not take the more level-headed members
of the race long to see that while the Negro in the South was
surrounded by many difficulties, there was practically no line
drawn and little race discrimination in the world of commerce,
banking, storekeeping, manufacturing, and the skilled trades, and
in agriculture, and that in this lay his great opportunity. They
understood that, while the whites might object to a Negro's being
a postmaster, they would not object to his being the president of
a bank, and in the latter occupation they would give him
assistance and encouragement. The colored people were quick to
see that while the negro would not be invited as a rule to attend
the white man's prayer-meeting, he would be invited every time to
attend the stockholders' meeting of a business concern in which he
had an interest and that he could buy property in practically any
portion of the South where the white man could buy it. The white
citizens were all the more willing to encourage the Negro in this
economic or industrial development, because they saw that the
prosperity of the Negro meant also the prosperity of the white
man. They saw, too, that when a Negro became the owner of a home
and was a taxpayer, having a regular trade or other occupation, he
at once became a conservative and safe citizen and voter; one who
would consider the interests of his whole community before casting
his ballot; and, further, one whose ballot could not be purchased.

One case in point is that of the twenty-eight teachers at our
school in Tuskegee who applied for life-voting certificates under
the new constitution of Alabama, not one was refused registration;
and if I may be forgiven a personal reference, in my own case, the
Board of Registers were kind enough to send me a special request
to the effect that they wished me not to fail to register as a
life voter. I do not wish to convey the impression that all
worthy colored people have been registered in Alabama, because
there have been many inexcusable and unlawful omissions; but, with
few exceptions, the 2700 who have been registered represent the
best Negroes in the state.

Though in some parts of the country he is now misunderstood, I
believe that the time is going to come when matters can be weighed
soberly, and when the whole people are going to see that president
Roosevelt is, and has been from the first, in line with this
policy,--that of encouraging the colored people who by industry
and economy have won their way into the confidence and respect of
their neighbors. Both before and since he became President I have
had many conversations with him, and at all times I have found him
enthusiastic over the plan that I have described.

The growth of the race in industrial and business directions
within the last few years cannot perhaps be better illustrated
than by the fact that what is now the largest secular national
organization among the colored people is the National Negro
Business League. This organization brings together annually
hundreds of men and women who have worked their way up from the
bottom to the point where they are now in some cases bankers,
merchants, manufacturers, planters, etc. The sight of this body
of men and women would surprise a large part of American citizens
who do not really know the better side of the Negro's life.

It ought to be stated frankly here that at first, and for several
years after the introduction of industrial training at such
educational centres as Hampton and Tuskegee, there was opposition
from colored people, and from portions of those Northern white
people engaged in educational and missionary work among the
colored people in the South. Most of those who manifested such
opposition were actuated by the highest and most honest motives.
From the first the rank and file of the blacks were quick to see
the advantages of industrial training, as is shown by the fact
that industrial schools have always been overcrowded. Opposition
to industrial training was based largely on the old and narrow
ground that it was something that the Southern white people
favored, and therefore must be against the interests of the Negro.
Again, others opposed it because they feared that it meant the
abandonment of all political privileges, and the higher or
classical education of the race. They feared that the final
outcome would be the materialization of the Negro, and the
smothering of his spiritual and aesthetic nature. Others felt
that industrial education had for its object the limitation of the
Negro's development, and the branding him for all time as a
special hand-working class.

Now that enough time has elapsed for those who opposed it to see
that it meant none of these things, opposition, except from a very
few of the colored people living in Boston and Washington, has
ceased, and this system has the enthusiastic support of the
Negroes and of most of the whites who formerly opposed it. All
are beginning to see that it was never meant that ALL Negro youths
should secure industrial education, any more than it is meant that
ALL white youths should pass through the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, or the Amherst Agricultural College, to the
exclusion of such training as is given at Harvard, Yale, or
Dartmouth; but that in a peculiar sense a large proportion of the
Negro youths needed to have that education which would enable them
to secure an economic foundation, without which no people can
succeed in any of the higher walks of life.

It is because of the fact that the Tuskegee Institute began at the
bottom, with work in the soil, in wood, in iron, in leather, that
it has now developed to the point where it is able to furnish
employment as teachers to twenty-eight Negro graduates of the best
colleges in the country. This is about three times as many Negro
college graduates as any other institution in the United States
for the education of colored people employs, the total number of
officers and instructors at Tuskegee being about one hundred and

Those who once opposed this see now that while the Negro youth who
becomes skilled in agriculture and a successful farmer may not be
able himself to pass through a purely literary college, he is
laying the foundation for his children and grandchildren to do it
if desirable. Industrial education in this generation is
contributing in the highest degree to make what is called higher
education a success. It is now realized that in so far as the
race has intelligent and skillful producers, the greater will be
the success of the minister, lawyer, doctor, and teacher.
Opposition has melted away, too, because all men now see that it
will take a long time to "materialize" a race, millions of which
hold neither houses nor railroads, nor bank stocks, nor factories,
nor coal and gold mines.

Another reason for the growth of a better understanding of the
objects and influence of industrial training is the fact, as
before stated, that it has been taken up with such interest and
activity by the Southern whites, and that it has been established
at such universities as Cornell in the East, and in practically
all of the state colleges of the great West.

It is now seen that the result of such education will be to help
the black man to make for himself an independent place in our
great American life. It was largely the poverty of the Negro that
made him the prey of designing politicians immediately after the
war; and wherever poverty and lack of industry exist to-day, one
does not find in him that deep spiritual life which the race must
in the future possess in a higher degree.

To those who still express the fear that perhaps too much stress
is put upon industrial education for the Negro I would add that I
should emphasize the same kind of training for any people, whether
black or white, in the same stage of development as the masses of
the colored people.

For a number of years this country has looked to Germany for much
in the way of education, and a large number of our brightest men
and women are sent there each year. The official reports show
that in Saxony, Germany, alone, there are 287 industrial schools,
or one such school to every 14,641 people. This is true of a
people who have back of them centuries of wealth and culture. In
the South I am safe in saying that there is not more than one
effective industrial school for every 400,000 colored people.

A recent dispatch from Germany says that the German Emperor has
had a kitchen fitted up in the palace for the single purpose of
having his daughter taught cooking. If all classes and
nationalities, who are in most cases thousands of years ahead of
the Negro in the arts of civilization, continue their interest in
industrial training, I cannot understand how any reasonable person
can object to such education for a large part of a people who are
in the poverty-stricken condition that is true of a large element
of my race, especially when such hand training is combined, as it
should be, with the best education of head and heart.

by Oswald Garrison Villard

When the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment stormed Fort Wagner
July 18, 1863, only to be driven back with the loss of its
colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, and many of its rank and file, it
established for all time the fact that the colored soldier would
fight and fight well. This had already been demonstrated in
Louisiana by colored regiments under the command of General
Godfrey Weitzel in the attack upon Port Hudson on May 27 of the
same year. On that occasion regiments composed for the greater
part of raw recruits, plantation hands with centuries of servitude
under the lash behind them, stormed trenches and dashed upon cold
steel in the hands of their former masters and oppressors. After
that there was no more talk in the portion of the country of the
"natural cowardice" of the negro. But the heroic qualities of
Colonel Shaw, his social prominence and that of his officers, and
the comparative nearness of their battlefield to the North,
attracted greater and more lasting attention to the daring and
bravery of their exploit, until it finally became fixed in many
minds as the first real baptism of fire of colored American

After Wagner the recruiting of colored regiments, originally
opposed by both North and South, went on apace, particularly under
the Federal government, which organized no less than one hundred
and fifty-four, designated as "United States Colored Troops."
Colonel Shaw's raising of a colored regiment aroused quite as much
comment in the North because of the race prejudice it defied, as
because of the novelty of the new organization. General Weitzel
tendered his resignation the instant General B. F. Butler assigned
black soldiers to his brigade, and was with difficulty induced to
serve on. His change of mind was a wise one, and not only because
these colored soldiers covered him with glory at Port Hudson. It
was his good fortune to be the central figure in one of the
dramatic incidents of a war that must ever rank among the most
thrilling and tragic the world has seen. The black cavalrymen who
rode into Richmond, the first of the Northern troops to enter the
Southern capital, went in waving their sabres and crying to the
negroes on the sidewalks, "We have come to set you free!" They
were from the division of Godfrey Weitzel, and American history
has no more stirring moment.

In the South, notwithstanding the raising in 1861 of a colored
Confederate regiment by Governor Moore of Louisiana (a magnificent
body of educated colored men which afterwards became the First
Louisiana National Guards of General Weitzel's brigade and the
first colored regiment in the Federal Army), the feeling against
negro troops was insurmountable until the last days of the
struggle. Then no straw could be overlooked. When, in December,
1863, Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne, who commanded a division
of Hardee's Corps of the Confederate Army of the Tennessee, sent
in a paper in which the employment of the slaves as soldiers of
the South was vigorously advocated, Jefferson Davis indorsed it
with the statement, "I deem it inexpedient at this time to give
publicity to this paper, and request that it be suppressed."
General Cleburne urged that "freedom within a reasonable time" be
granted to every slave remaining true to the Confederacy, and was
moved to this action by the valor of the Fifty-fourth
Massachusetts, saying, "If they [the negroes] can be made to face
and fight bravely against their former masters, how much more
probable is it that with the allurement of a higher reward, and
led by those masters, they would submit to discipline and face

With the ending of the civil war the regular army of the United
States was reorganized upon a peace footing by an act of Congress
dated July 28, 1866. In just recognition of the bravery of the
colored volunteers six regiments, the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and
the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, Fortieth, and Forth-first
Infantry, were designated as colored regiments. When the army was
again reduced in 1869, the Thirty-eighth and Forty-first became
the Twenty-fourth Infantry, and the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth
became the Twenty-fifth. This left four colored regiments in the
regular army as it was constituted from 1870 until 1901. There
has never been a colored artillery organization in the regular

To these new regiments came a motley mixture of veterans of
volunteer organizations, newly released slaves, and some freedmen
of several years' standing but without military experience. They
were eager to learn, and soon showed the same traits which
distinguish the black regiments to-day,--loyalty to their officers
and to their colors, sobriety and courage, and a notable pride in
the efficiency of their corps. But if ever officers had to
"father and mother" their soldiers they were the company officers
of these regiments. The captains in particular had to be bankers,
secretaries, advisers, and judges for their men. As Lieutenant
Grote Hutcheson has stated it, "The men knew nothing, and the non-
commissioned officers but little more. From the very
circumstances of their preceding life it could not be otherwise.
They had no independence, no self-reliance, not a thought except
for the present, and were filled with superstition." Yet the
officers were determined to prove the wisdom of the experiment.
To do this they were forced to give their own attention to the
minutest details of military administration, and to act as non-
commissioned officers. The total lack of education among the men
necessitated an enormous amount of writing by the officers. In
the Ninth Cavalry only one man was found able to write well enough
to be sergeant-major, and not for several years was it possible to
obtain troop clerks. When the Tenth Cavalry was being recruited
an officer was sent to Philadelphia with the express purpose of
picking up educated colored men for the non-commissioned
positions. Difficult as the tasks of the officers thus were, most
of them felt well repaid for their unusual labors by the
affectionate regard in which they were held by their soldiers, and
by the never-failing good humor with which the latter went about
their duties.

As the years passed the character of the colored soldiers
naturally changed. In place of the war veterans, and of the men
whose chains of servitude had just been struck off, came young men
from the North and East with more education and more self-
reliance. They depended less upon their officers, both in the
barracks and in the field, yet they reverenced and cared for them
as much as did their predecessors. Their greatest faults then as
now were gambling and quarreling. On the other hand, the negro
regiments speedily became favorably known because of greater
sobriety and of fewer desertions than among the white soldiers.
It was the Ninth Cavalry which a few years ago astonished the army
by reporting not a single desertion in twelve months, an unheard-
of and perhaps undreamed-of record. In all that goes to make a
good soldier, in drill, fidelity, and smartness, the negro regular
from the first took front rank.

Nor was there ever any lack of the fighting quality which had
gratified the nation at Fort Wagner, or at Fort Blakely, Ala.,
where the Seventy-third Colored Infantry, under Colonel Henry C.
Merriam, stormed the enemy's works, in advance of orders, in one
of the last actions of the war. It soon fell to the lot of the
Ninth and Tenth Cavalry to prove that the negroes could do as well
under fire in the Indian wars as they had when fighting for the
freedom of their race. While the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth
Infantry had merely garrison work to do, the Ninth and Tenth
Cavalry scouted for years against hostile Indians in Texas, New
Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas, always acquitting themselves
honorably. In September, 1868, a little over two years after
their organization, three troops of the Ninth Cavalry did well in
an action against Indians at Horsehead Hills, Texas. When General
George A. Forsyth and his detachment of fifty scouts were
surrounded and "corralled" by seven hundred Indians on an island
in the Republican River, it was the troop of Captain Louis H.
Carpenter, of the Tenth Cavalry, which first came to their rescue.
Similarly when Major T. T. Thornburg's command was nearly wiped
out by Utes in 1879, it was Captain F. S. Dodge's Troop D of the
Ninth which succeeded in reaching it in time, losing all its
horses in so doing. This regiment alone took part in sixty Indian
fights between 1868 and 1890, during which time it lost three
officers and twenty-seven men killed, and had three officers and
thirty-four men wounded. The Tenth Cavalry's casualties were also
heavy during this same period, and it fought for many years over a
most difficult country in New Mexico and Arizona, taking a
conspicuous part in running to earth Geronimo's and Victoria's
bands of Apaches.

On one of these campaigns Lieutenant Powhatan H. Clarke gave
effective proof of the affection which the officers of colored
regiments have for their men. In the fight in the Pineto
Mountains with a portion of Geronimo's forces this young
Southerner risked his life to save a colored sergeant who had
fallen wounded in an open space where both he and his rescuer were
easy marks for the Apaches. For this gallant act Lieutenant
Clarke rightly received a medal of honor. The Twenty-fourth
Infantry, on the other hand, has contributed a striking instance
of the devotion of colored soldiers to their officers. When Major
Joseph W. Wham, paymaster, was attacked by robbers on May 11,
1889, his colored escort fought with such gallantry that every one
of the soldiers was awarded a medal of honor or a certificate of
merit. Some of them stood their ground although badly wounded,
notably Sergeant Benjamin Brown, who continued to fight and to
encourage his men until shot through both arms. In a fight
against Apaches in the Cuchilo Negro Mountains of New Mexico on
August 16, 1881, Moses Williams, First Sergeant of Troop I, Ninth
Cavalry, displayed such gallantry that he was given a medal of
honor by common consent. When the only officer with the
detachment, Lieutenant Gustavus Valois, had his horse shot under
him, and was cut off from his men, Sergeant Williams promptly
rallied the detachment, and conducted the right flank in a running
fight for several hours with such coolness, bravery, and
unflinching devotion to duty that he undoubtedly saved the lives
of at least three comrades. His action in standing by and
rescuing Lieutenant Valois was the more noteworthy because he and
his men were subjected, in an exposed position, to a heavy fire
from a large number of Indians. For splendid gallantry against
Indians, while serving as sergeant of Troop K, Ninth Cavalry, on
May 14, 1880, and August 12, 1881, George Jordan was also given a
medal of honor. Five of the medal of honor men now in the service
are colored soldiers, while fifteen others have "certificates of
merit" also awarded for conspicuous deeds of bravery.

It was not until the battle of Santiago, however, that the bulk of
the American people realized that the standing army comprised
regiments composed wholly of black men. Up to that time only one
company of colored soldiers had served at a post east of the
Mississippi. Even Major, later Brigadier-General, Guy V. Henry's
gallop to the rescue of the Seventh Cavalry on December 30, 1890,
with four troops of the Ninth Cavalry, attracted but little
attention. This feat was the more remarkable because Major
Henry's command had just completed a march of more than one
hundred miles in twenty-four hours. But in the battle at
Santiago, the four colored regiments won praise from all sides,
particularly for their advance upon Kettle Hill, in which the
Rough Riders also figured. From the very beginning of the
movement of the army after its landing, the negro troops were in
the front of the fighting, and contributed largely to the
successful result. Although they suffered heavy losses,
especially in officers, the men fought with the same gallantry
they had displayed on the plains, as is attested by the honors
awarded. In every company there were instances of personal
gallantry. The first sergeants especially lived up to the
responsibilities placed upon them. The color sergeant of the
Tenth Cavalry, Adam Houston, bore to the front not only his own
flags, but those of the Third Cavalry when the latter's color
sergeant was shot down. In several emergencies where troops or
companies lost their white officers, the senior sergeants took
command and handled their men in a faultless manner, notably in
the Tenth Cavalry.

Indeed, the conduct of these men has done much to dispel the old
belief that colored soldiers will fight only when they have
efficient white officers. This may well have been true at one
period of the civil war when the colored race as a whole had never
even had the responsibilities attaching to free men. It is
growing less and less true as time passes and better educated men
enter the ranks. in recognition of their achievements at Santiago
a number of these black non-commissioned officers were made
commissioned officers in several of the so-called "immune"
regiments of United States Volunteers raised in July, 1898. None
of these organizations were in service long enough to become
really efficient, and a few were never properly disciplined.
Nevertheless, a majority of the officers promoted from the colored
regulars bore themselves well under exceedingly trying
circumstances. Some of them, and a number of regular sergeants
and corporals who had succeeded to their former places, were made
lieutenants and captains in the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth
Volunteer Infantry, which served in the Philippines for two years,
and to which we shall recur later.

At Santiago the characteristic cheerfulness of the negro soldiers
was as striking as their bravery. In his little book called The
Nth Foot In War, Lieutenant M. B. Stewart says of them:--

"The negro troops were in a high good humor. They had made the
charge of the day; they had fought with a dash and vigor which
forever established their reputation as fighters, and which would
carry them down in the pages of history. To have heard them that
night no one would have ever thought that they had lived for
twelve mortal hours under a galling fire. They were laughing and
joking over the events of the day, in the same manner they would
have done had they been returning from a picnic.

"'Golly,' laughed a six-foot sergeant, 'dere was music in de air
sho' nuff. Dat lead was flying around in sheets, I tell you. I
seen a buzzard flying around in front of our line, and I says to
myself, "Buzzard, you is in a mighty dangerous position. You
better git out uf dat, 'cause dey ain't room out dar for a
muskeeter."' Another remarked, 'Say, did you see dat man Brown;
pity dat man been killed. He'd a been a corporal, sho.'

"In the utter exhaustion of the moment all race and social
distinctions were forgotten. Officers lay down among their men
and slept like logs. The negro troops sought out soft places
along the sides of the road and lay down with their white
comrades. There was a little commotion among the latter, and an
officer was heard to yell: 'Here, you man, take your feet off my
stomach. Well, I'll be damned if it ain't a nigger. Get out, you
black rascal.' As the commotion subsided, the negro was heard to
remark, 'Well, if dat ain't de mos' particler man I ever see.'"

Characteristic also is a story of the negro cavalryman who,
returning to the rear, said to some troops anxious to get to the
front: "Dat's all right, gemmen; don't git in a sweat; dere's lots
of it lef' for you. You wants to look out for dese yere
sharpshooters, for dey is mighty careless with dere weapons, and
dey is specially careless when dey is officers aroun'."

As soon as the army settled down in the trenches before Santiago,
smuggled musical instruments--guitars, banjos, mouth organs, and
what not--appeared among the negro troops as if by magic, and they
were ever in use. It was at once a scene of cheerfulness and
gayety, and the officers had their usual trouble in making the men
go to sleep instead of spending the night in talking, singing, and
gaming. In the peaceful camp of the Third Alabama, in that state,
the scenes were similar. There was always "a steady hum of
laughter and talk, dance, song, shout, and the twang of musical
instruments." It was "a scene full of life and fun, of jostling,
scuffling, and racing, of clown performances and cake-walks, of
impromptu minstrelsy, speech-making, and preaching, of deviling,
guying, and fighting, both real and mimic." The colonel found
great difficulty in getting men to work alone. Two would
volunteer for any service. "Colonel," said a visitor to the camp,
"your sentinels are sociable fellows. I saw No. 5 over at the end
of his beat entertaining No. 6 with some fancy manual of arms.
Afterwards, with equal amiability, No. 6 executed a most artistic
cake-walk for his friend." It must be remembered here that this
colonel's men were typical Southern negroes, literate and
illiterate, and all new to military life.

In addition to the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteers, the
four regular colored regiments have served in the Philippines.
Here the work was particularly trying and the temptations to
misconduct many. The Filipino women were especially attractive to
the men because of their color, and it is on record that several
soldiers were tempted from their allegiance to the United States.
Two of these, whose sympathy and liking for the Filipinos overcame
their judgment, paid the full penalty of desertion, being hanged
by their former comrades. Both belonged to the Ninth Cavalry. On
the other hand, in a remarkable order issued by General A. S. Burt
in relinquishing command of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, on April
17, 1902, on his promotion to brigadier-general, he was able to
quote the Inspector-General of the army as saying: "The Twenty-
fifth Infantry is the best regiment I have seen in the
Philippines." General Burt praised highly the excellent conduct
of the enlisted men while in the Archipelago, which proved to his
mind that the American negroes are "as law-abiding as any race in
the world."

Three of General Burt's sergeants, Russell, McBryar, and Hoffman,
were promoted to the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteers, and
served, as lieutenants, for several months with their old
regiment, the Twenty-fifth, until the arrival of their new
regiments in Manila. During this time they were frequently under
fire. General Burt bore high testimony to their soldierly
bearing, their capacity and ability, and expressed great regret
when he was forced to let them go. McBryar had won a medal of
honor for gallantry against Indians in Arizona in 1890. In the
Forty-ninth Volunteers, Company L, composed wholly of colored men,
and commanded by Captain Edward L. Baker, a colored veteran of
Santiago, who had served for seventeen years in the Ninth and
Tenth Cavalry and in the Tenth "Immunes," made a wonderful record.
According to a statement which was widely published at the time
and never denied, this company had on its rolls during a period of
twelve months one hundred and six men who were fit for duty at all
times and never lost a day on account of sickness. No white
company remotely approached this record. More extraordinary still
is the fact that during this same period not one of these men ever
went before a court-martial. This is surely a striking
illustration of what can be done by colored officers. It is
noticeable, too, that neither the officers nor the men of any
colored regiment have figured in the charges and counter-charges
arising out of the use of the water-torture, except one man who at
the time of his offense was not with his regiment. The Forty-
ninth Volunteers was a very unhappy regiment during its brief
life, but its troubles were largely due to its white officers.
One of these, a major, was dismissed for misconduct, and his place
was filled by the senior captain, a colored man. Several other
white officers and one colored captain got into serious trouble,
the last being dismissed. The Forty-eighth was, on the contrary,
a contented organization in which the colored officers were
treated in a kindly and courteous manner by their white associates
and superiors. The two regiments afford a striking illustration
of Napoleon's saying, "There are no such things as poor
regiments,--only poor colonels."

The negro regiment unquestionably calls for different treatment
from that which would be accorded to white troops, just as the
Indian troops of King Edward's army require different handling
from that called for in the case of the King's Royal Rifles. Yet
as fighting machines, the Indian soldiers may be the equals if not
the superiors of the Englishmen. Major Robert L. Bullard, Twenty-
eighth United States Infantry who commanded the colored Third
Alabama Volunteers, already referred to, during the war with
Spain, discusses in a remarkable paper published in the United
Service Magazine for July, 1901, the differences between negro and
white soldiers. They are so great, he says, as to require the
military commander to treat the negro as a different species. He
must fit his methods of instruction and discipline to the
characteristics of the race. Major Bullard adds that "mistakes,
injustices, and failures would result from his making the same
rules and methods apply to the two races without regard to how far
apart set by nature or separated by evolution." But Major Bullard
would unquestionably concede that these differences in no way
require a treatment of the negro soldier which implies that he is
an inferior being and which ever impresses upon him his
inferiority. Yet this seems to have been the case in the Forty-
ninth United States Volunteers.

In the regular army, as well as in the volunteers, officers have
frequently appealed with success to the negroes' pride of race,
and have urged them on to greater efficiency and better behavior
by reminding them that they have the honor of their people in
their hands. To such appeals there is ever a prompt response.
One of the most effective ways of disciplining an offender is by
holding him up to the ridicule of his fellows. The desire of the
colored soldiers to amuse and to be amused gives the officers an
easy way of obtaining a hold upon them and their affections. The
regimental rifle team, the baseball nine, the minstrel troupe, and
the regimental band offer positions of importance for which the
competition is much keener than in the white regiments. There is
also a friendly rivalry between companies, which is much missed
elsewhere in the service. The negroes are natural horsemen and
riders. It is a pleasure to them to take care of their mounts,
and a matter of pride to keep their animals in good condition.
Personally they are clean and neat, and they take the greatest
possible pride in their uniforms. In no white regiment is there a
similar feeling. With the negroes the canteen question is of
comparatively slight importance, not only because the men can be
more easily amused within their barracks, but because their
appetite for drink is by no means as strong as that of the white
men. Their sociability is astonishing. They would rather sit up
and tell stories and crack jokes than go to bed, no matter how
hard the day has been.

The dark sides are, that the negro soldiers easily turn merited
punishment into martyrdom, that their gambling propensities are
almost beyond control, that their habit of carrying concealed
weapons is incurable, and that there is danger of serious fighting
when they fall out with one another. Frequent failure to act
honorably toward a comrade in some trifling matter is apt to cause
scuffling and fighting until the men are well disciplined. Women
are another cause of quarrels, and are at all times a potent
temptation to misconduct and neglect of duty. It is very
difficult to impress upon the men the value of government
property, and duty which requires memorizing of orders is always
the most difficult to teach. For the study of guard duty manuals
or of tactics they have no natural aptitude. The non-commissioned
officers are of very great importance, and in the regulars they
are looked up to and obeyed implicitly, much more so than is the
case with white troops. It is necessary, however, for the
officers to back up the sergeants and corporals very vigorously,
even when they are slightly in the wrong. Then colored men are
more easily "rattled" by poor officers than are their white
comrades. There was a striking instance of this two or three
years ago when a newly appointed and wholly untrained white
officer lost his head at a post in Texas. His black subordinates,
largely recruits, followed suit, and in carrying out his
hysterical orders imperiled many lives in the neighboring town.
Selections for service with colored troops should therefore be
most carefully made. Major Bullard declares that the officer of
negro troops "must not only be an officer and a gentleman, but he
must be considerate, patient, laborious, self-sacrificing, a man
of affairs, and he must have knowledge and wisdom in a great lot
of things not really military."

If the position of a white officer is a difficult one, that of the
colored officer is still more so. He has not the self-assumed
superiority of the white man, naturally feels that he is on trial,
and must worry himself incessantly about his relations to his
white comrades of the shoulder straps. While the United States
Navy has hitherto been closed to negroes who aspire to be
officers, the army has pursued a wiser and more just policy. The
contrast between the two services is really remarkable. On almost
every war vessel white and black sailors sleep and live together
in crowded quarters without protest or friction. But the negro
naval officer is kept out of the service by hook or by crook for
the avowed reason that the cramped quarters of the wardroom would
make association with him intolerable. In the army, on the other
hand, the experiment of mixed regiments has never been tried. A
good colored soldier can nevertheless obtain a commission by going
through West Point, or by rising from the ranks, or by being
appointed directly from civil life.

Since the foundation of the Military Academy there have been
eighteen colored boys appointed to West Point, of whom fifteen
failed in their preliminary examinations, or were discharged after
entering because of deficiency in studies. Three were graduated
and commissioned as second lieutenants of cavalry, Henry Ossian
Flipper, John Hanks Alexander, and Charles Young. Of these,
Lieutenant Flipper was dismissed June 30, 1882, for "conduct
unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." The other two proved
themselves excellent officers, notably Young, who is at this
writing a captain, and a most efficient one, in the Ninth Cavalry,
with which he recently served in the Philippines. Lieutenant
Alexander died suddenly in 1894. In announcing his death in a
regimental order his colonel spoke of him in terms of high praise,
and did not use the customary stereotyped phrases of regret. His
fellow white officers all had good words for him. There never was
more striking testimony to the discipline and spirit of fairness
at West Point than was afforded by the sight of Cadet Charles
Young, who is of very dark complexion, commanding white cadets.
Nothing else has impressed foreign visitors at West Point half so

An equally remarkable happening, and one which speaks even more
for the democratic spirit in the army, was the commissioning in
1901 of Sergeant-Major Benjamin O. Davis, Ninth Cavalry, and of
Corporal John E. Green, Twenty-fourth Infantry. Both these men
were examined by boards of white officers, who might easily have
excluded them because of color prejudice, in which case there
would have been no appeal from their findings. Lieutenant Davis's
former troop commander, a West Pointer, openly rejoiced at his
success, and predicted that he would make an excellent officer.
These are the first two colored men to rise from the ranks, but
there will be many more if the same admirable spirit of fair play
continues to rule in the army and is not altered by outside
prejudice. It was thought that there would be a severe strain
upon discipline when a colored officer rose to the rank of captain
and to the command of white officers. But in Captain Young's case
his white subordinates seem to have realized that it is the
position and rank that they are compelled to salute and obey, and
not the individual. This principle is at the bottom of all
discipline. Only too frequently do subordinates throughout the
army have to remind themselves of this when obeying men for whose
social qualities and character they have neither regard nor
respect. During the war with Spain Captain Young commanded a
negro battalion from Ohio, which was pronounced the best drilled
organization in the large army assembled at Camp Alger near
Washington. In addition to these officers, Captain John R. Lynch,
formerly a Congressman from Mississippi, and four colored
chaplains represent their race on the commissioned rolls of the
army. All of these men are doing well. One colored chaplain was
dismissed for drunkenness in 1894. Beyond this their record is

Despite the fairness shown in these appointments, there has been
considerable very just criticism of the War Department for its
failure to appoint to the regulars any of the colored officers who
did well in the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Volunteers. Every
colonel of volunteers was allowed to designate for examination for
appointment to the regular army the best officers in his regiment.
Hundreds of white officers were selected in this way, but not a
single colored officer was given an examination,--not even
Lieutenant McBryar, with his medal of honor, or Captain Baker.
Similarly fault has been found with Secretary Root because no new
colored regiments were established under the law of February 2,
1901, increasing the army by five regiments of infantry, five of
cavalry, and a large number of companies of artillery. The excuse
most often heard is that the negroes already have sufficient
representation in comparison with the percentage of negroes to
white persons within the borders of the United States. But the
sterling characteristics of the colored soldiers, their loyalty to
the service as shown by the statistics of desertion, and, above
all, their splendid service in Cuba, should have entitled them to
additional organizations. To say the least, the decision of the
War Department smacks considerably of ingratitude. Nevertheless,
the negro regiments have come to stay, both in the regulars and in
the volunteers. The hostilities of the last five years have
dispelled any doubt which may have existed upon this point.

by Charles W. Chesnutt

Baxter's Procrustes is one of the publications of the Bodleian
Club. The Bodleian Club is composed of gentlemen of culture, who
are interested in books and book-collecting. It was named, very
obviously, after the famous library of the same name, and not only
became in our city a sort of shrine for local worshipers of fine
bindings and rare editions, but was visited occasionally by
pilgrims from afar. The Bodleian has entertained Mark Twain,
Joseph Jefferson, and other literary and histrionic celebrities.
It possesses quite a collection of personal mementos of
distinguished authors, among them a paperweight which once
belonged to Goethe, a lead pencil used by Emerson, an autograph
letter of Matthew Arnold, and a chip from a tree felled by Mr.
Gladstone. Its library contains a number of rare books, including
a fine collection on chess, of which game several of the members
are enthusiastic devotees.

The activities of the club are not, however, confined entirely to
books. We have a very handsome clubhouse, and much taste and
discrimination have been exercised in its adornment. There are
many good paintings, including portraits of the various presidents
of the club, which adorn the entrance hall. After books, perhaps
the most distinctive feature of the club is our collection of
pipes. In a large rack in the smoking-room--really a superfluity,
since smoking is permitted all over the house--is as complete an
assortment of pipes as perhaps exists in the civilized world.
Indeed, it is an unwritten rule of the club that no one is
eligible for membership who cannot produce a new variety of pipe,
which is filed with his application for membership, and, if he
passes, deposited with the club collection, he, however, retaining
the title in himself. Once a year, upon the anniversary of the
death of Sir Walter Raleigh, who it will be remembered, first
introduced tobacco into England, the full membership of the club,
as a rule, turns out. A large supply of the very best smoking
mixture is laid in. At nine o'clock sharp each member takes his
pipe from the rack, fills it with tobacco, and then the whole
club, with the president at the head, all smoking furiously, march
in solemn procession from room to room, upstairs and downstairs,
making the tour of the clubhouse and returning to the smoking-
room. The president then delivers an address, and each member is
called upon to say something, either by way of a quotation or an
original sentiment, in praise of the virtues of nicotine. This
ceremony--facetiously known as "hitting the pipe"--being thus
concluded, the membership pipes are carefully cleaned out and
replaced in the club rack.

As I have said, however, the raison d'etre of the club, and the
feature upon which its fame chiefly rests, is its collection of
rare books, and of these by far the most interesting are its own
publications. Even its catalogues are works of art, published in
numbered editions, and sought by libraries and book-collectors.
Early in its history it began the occasional publication of books
which should meet the club standard,--books in which emphasis
should be laid upon the qualities that make a book valuable in the
eyes of collectors. Of these, age could not, of course, be
imparted, but in the matter of fine and curious bindings, of hand-
made linen papers, of uncut or deckle edges, of wide margins and
limited editions, the club could control its own publications.
The matter of contents was, it must be confessed, a less important
consideration. At first it was felt by the publishing committee
that nothing but the finest products of the human mind should be
selected for enshrinement in the beautiful volumes which the club
should issue. The length of the work was an important
consideration,--long things were not compatible with wide margins
and graceful slenderness. For instance, we brought out
Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, an essay by Emerson, and another by
Thoreau. Our Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam was Heron-Allen's
translation of the original MS in the Bodleian Library at Oxford,
which, though less poetical than FitzGerald's, was not so common.
Several years ago we began to publish the works of our own
members. Bascom's Essay on Pipes was a very creditable
performance. It was published in a limited edition of one hundred
copies, and since it had not previously appeared elsewhere and was
copyrighted by the club, it was sufficiently rare to be valuable
for that reason. The second publication of local origin was
Baxter's Procrustes.

I have omitted to say that once or twice a year, at a meeting of
which notice has been given, an auction is held at the Bodleian.
The members of the club send in their duplicate copies, or books
they for any reason wish to dispose of, which are auctioned off to
the highest bidder. At these sales, which are well attended, the
club's publications have of recent years formed the leading
feature. Three years ago, number three of Bascom's Essay on Pipes
sold for fifteen dollars;--the original cost of publication was
one dollar and seventy-five cents. Later in the evening an uncut
copy of the same brought thirty dollars. At the next auction the
price of the cut copy was run up to twenty-five dollars, while the
uncut copy was knocked down at seventy-five dollars. The club had
always appreciated the value of uncut copies, but this financial
indorsement enhanced their desirability immensely. This rise in
the Essay on Pipes was not without a sympathetic effect upon all
the club publications. The Emerson essay rose from three dollars
to seventeen, and the Thoreau, being by an author less widely
read, and, by his own confession commercially unsuccessful,
brought a somewhat higher figure. The prices, thus inflated, were
not permitted to come down appreciably. Since every member of the
club possessed one or more of these valuable editions, they were
all manifestly interested in keeping up the price. The
publication, however, which brought the highest prices, and, but
for the sober second thought, might have wrecked the whole system,
was Baxter's Procrustes.

Baxter was, perhaps, the most scholarly member of the club. A
graduate of Harvard, he had traveled extensively, had read widely,
and while not so enthusiastic a collector as some of us, possessed
as fine a private library as any man of his age in the city. He
was about thirty-five when he joined the club, and apparently some
bitter experience--some disappointment in love or ambition--had
left its mark upon his character. With light, curly hair, fair
complexion, and gray eyes, one would have expected Baxter to be
genial of temper, with a tendency toward wordiness of speech. But
though he had occasional flashes of humor, his ordinary demeanor
was characterized by a mild cynicism, which, with his gloomy
pessimistic philosophy, so foreign to the temperament that should
accompany his physical type, could only be accounted for upon the
hypothesis of some secret sorrow such as I have suggested. What
it might be no one knew. He had means and social position, and
was an uncommonly handsome man. The fact that he remained
unmarried at thirty-five furnished some support for the theory of
a disappointment in love, though this the several intimates of
Baxter who belonged to the club were not able to verify.

It had occurred to me, in a vague way, that perhaps Baxter might
be an unsuccessful author. That he was a poet we knew very well,
and typewritten copies of his verses had occasionally circulated
among us. But Baxter had always expressed such a profound
contempt for modern literature, had always spoken in terms of such
unmeasured pity for the slaves of the pen, who were dependent upon
the whim of an undiscriminating public for recognition and a
livelihood, that no one of us had ever suspected him of
aspirations toward publication, until, as I have said, it occurred
to me one day that Baxter's attitude with regard to publication
might be viewed in the light of effect as well as of cause--that
his scorn of publicity might as easily arise from failure to
achieve it, as his never having published might be due to his
preconceived disdain of the vulgar popularity which one must share
with the pugilist or balloonist of the hour.

The notion of publishing Baxter's Procrustes did not emanate from
Baxter,--I must do him the justice to say this. But he had spoken
to several of the fellows about the theme of his poem, until the
notion that Baxter was at work upon something fine had become
pretty well disseminated throughout our membership. He would
occasionally read brief passages to a small coterie of friends in
the sitting-room or library,--never more than ten lines at once,
or to more than five people at a time,--and these excerpts gave at
least a few of us a pretty fair idea of the motive and scope of
the poem. As I, for one, gathered, it was quite along the line of
Baxter's philosophy. Society was the Procrustes which, like the
Greek bandit of old, caught every man born into the world, and
endeavored to fit him to some preconceived standard, generally to
the one for which he was least adapted. The world was full of men
and women who were merely square pegs in round holes, and vice
versa. Most marriages were unhappy because the contracting
parties were not properly mated. Religion was mostly
superstition, science for the most part sciolism, popular
education merely a means of forcing the stupid and repressing the
bright, so that all the youth of the rising generation might
conform to the same dull, dead level of democratic mediocrity.
Life would soon become so monotonously uniform and so uniformly
monotonous as to be scarce worth the living.

It was Smith, I think, who first proposed that the club publish
Baxter's Procrustes. The poet himself did not seem enthusiastic
when the subject was broached; he demurred for some little time,
protesting that the poem was not worthy of publication. But when
it was proposed that the edition be limited to fifty copies he
agreed to consider the proposition. When I suggested, having in
mind my secret theory of Baxter's failure in authorship, that the
edition would at least be in the hands of friends, that it would
be difficult for a hostile critic to secure a copy, and that if it
should not achieve success from a literary point of view, the
extent of the failure would be limited to the size of the edition,
Baxter was visibly impressed. When the literary committee at
length decided to request formally of Baxter the privilege of
publishing his Procrustes, he consented, with evident reluctance,
upon condition that he should supervise the printing, binding, and
delivery of the books, merely submitting to the committee, in
advance, the manuscript, and taking their views in regard to the

The manuscript was duly presented to the literary committee.
Baxter having expressed the desire that the poem be not read aloud
at a meeting of the club, as was the custom, since he wished it to
be given to the world clad in suitable garb, the committee went
even farther. Having entire confidence in Baxter's taste and
scholarship, they, with great delicacy, refrained from even
reading the manuscript, contenting themselves with Baxter's
statement of the general theme and the topics grouped under it.
The details of the bookmaking, however, were gone into thoroughly.
The paper was to be of hand-made linen, from the Kelmscott Mills;
the type black-letter, with rubricated initials. The cover, which
was Baxter's own selection, was to be of dark green morocco, with
a cap-and-bells border in red inlays, and doublures of maroon
morocco with a blind-tooled design. Baxter was authorized to
contract with the printer and superintend the publication. The
whole edition of fifty numbered copies was to be disposed of at
auction, in advance, to the highest bidder, only one copy to each,
the proceeds to be devoted to paying for the printing and binding,
the remainder, if any, to go into the club treasury, and Baxter
himself to receive one copy by way of remuneration. Baxter was
inclined to protest at this, on the ground that his copy would
probably be worth more than the royalties on the edition, at the
usual ten per cent, would amount to, but was finally prevailed
upon to accept an author's copy.

While the Procrustes was under consideration, some one read, at
one of our meetings, a note from some magazine, which stated that
a sealed copy of a new translation of Campanella's Sonnets,
published by the Grolier Club, had been sold for three hundred
dollars. This impressed the members greatly. It was a novel
idea. A new work might thus be enshrined in a sort of holy of
holies, which, if the collector so desired, could be forever
sacred from the profanation of any vulgar or unappreciative eye.
The possessor of such a treasure could enjoy it by the eye of
imagination, having at the same time the exaltation of grasping
what was for others the unattainable. The literary committee were
so impressed with this idea that they presented it to Baxter in
regard to the Procrustes. Baxter making no objection, the
subscribers who might wish their copies delivered sealed were
directed to notify the author. I sent in my name. A fine book,
after all, was an investment, and if there was any way of
enhancing its rarity, and therefore its value, I was quite willing
to enjoy such an advantage.

When the Procrustes was ready for distribution, each subscriber
received his copy by mail, in a neat pasteboard box. Each number
was wrapped in a thin and transparent but very strong paper
through which the cover design and tooling were clearly visible.
The number of the copy was indorsed upon the wrapper, the folds of
which were securely fastened at each end with sealing-wax, upon
which was impressed, as a guaranty of its inviolateness, the
monogram of the club.

At the next meeting of the Bodleian, a great deal was said about
the Procrustes, and it was unanimously agreed that no finer
specimen of bookmaking had ever been published by the club. By a
curious coincidence, no one had brought his copy with him, and the
two club copies had not yet been received from the binder, who,
Baxter had reported was retaining them for some extra fine work.
Upon resolution, offered by a member who had not subscribed for
the volume, a committee of three was appointed to review the
Procrustes at the next literary meeting of the club. Of this
committee it was my doubtful fortune to constitute one.

In pursuance of my duty in the premises, it of course became
necessary for me to read the Procrustes. In all probability I
should have cut my own copy for this purpose, had not one of the
club auctions intervened between my appointment and the date set
for the discussion of the Procrustes. At this meeting a copy of
the book, still sealed, was offered for sale, and bought by a non-
subscriber for the unprecedented price of one hundred and fifty
dollars. After this a proper regard for my own interests would
not permit me to spoil my copy by opening it, and I was therefore
compelled to procure my information concerning the poem from some
other source. As I had no desire to appear mercenary, I said
nothing about my own copy, and made no attempt to borrow. I did,
however, casually remark to Baxter that I should like to look at
his copy of the proof sheets, since I wished to make some extended
quotations for my review, and would rather not trust my copy to a
typist for that purpose. Baxter assured me, with every evidence
of regret, that he had considered them of so little importance
that he had thrown them into the fire. This indifference of
Baxter to literary values struck me as just a little overdone.
The proof sheets of Hamlet, corrected in Shakespeare's own hand,
would be well-nigh priceless.

At the next meeting of the club I observed that Thompson and
Davis, who were with me on the reviewing committee, very soon
brought up the question of the Procrustes in conversation in the
smoking-room, and seemed anxious to get from the members their
views concerning Baxter's production, I supposed upon the theory
that the appreciation of any book review would depend more or less
upon the degree to which it reflected the opinion of those to whom
the review should be presented. I presumed, of course, that
Thompson and Davis had each read the book,--they were among the
subscribers,--and I was desirous of getting their point of view.

"What do you think," I inquired, "of the passage on Social
Systems?" I have forgotten to say that the poem was in blank
verse, and divided into parts, each with an appropriate title.

"Well," replied Davis, it seemed to me a little cautiously, "it is
not exactly Spencerian, although it squints at the Spencerian
view, with a slight deflection toward Hegelianism. I should
consider it an harmonious fusion of the best views of all the
modern philosophers, with a strong Baxterian flavor."

"Yes," said Thompson, "the charm of the chapter lies in this very
quality. The style is an emanation from Baxter's own intellect,--
he has written himself into the poem. By knowing Baxter we are
able to appreciate the book, and after having read the book we
feel that we are so much the more intimately acquainted with
Baxter,--the real Baxter."

Baxter had come in during this colloquy, and was standing by the
fireplace smoking a pipe. I was not exactly sure whether the
faint smile which marked his face was a token of pleasure or
cynicism; it was Baxterian, however, and I had already learned
that Baxter's opinions upon any subject were not to be gathered
always from his facial expression. For instance, when the club
porter's crippled child died Baxter remarked, it seemed to me
unfeelingly, that the poor little devil was doubtless better off,
and that the porter himself had certainly been relieved of a
burden; and only a week later the porter told me in confidence
that Baxter had paid for an expensive operation, undertaken in the
hope of prolonging the child's life. I therefore drew no
conclusions from Baxter's somewhat enigmatical smile. He left the
room at this point in the conversation, somewhat to my relief.

"By the way, Jones," said Davis, addressing me, "are you impressed
by Baxter's views on Degeneration?"

Having often heard Baxter express himself upon the general
downward tendency of modern civilization, I felt safe in
discussing his views in a broad and general manner.

"I think," I replied, "that they are in harmony with those of
Schopenhauer, without his bitterness; with those of Nordau,
without his flippancy. His materialism is Haeckel's, presented
with something of the charm of Omar Khayyam."

"Yes," chimed in Davis, "it answers the strenuous demand of our
day,--dissatisfaction with an unjustified optimism,--and voices
for us the courage of human philosophy facing the unknown."

I had a vague recollection of having read something like this
somewhere, but so much has been written, that one can scarcely
discuss any subject of importance without unconsciously borrowing,
now and then, the thoughts or the language of others. Quotation,
like imitation, is a superior grade of flattery.

"The Procrustes," said Thompson, to whom the metrical review had
been apportioned, "is couched in sonorous lines, of haunting
melody and charm; and yet so closely inter-related as to be
scarcely quotable with justice to the author. To be appreciated
the poem should be read as a whole,--I shall say as much in my
review. What shall you say of the letter-press?" he concluded,
addressing me. I was supposed to discuss the technical excellence
of the volume from the connoisseur's viewpoint.

"The setting," I replied judicially, "is worthy of the gem. The
dark green cover, elaborately tooled, the old English lettering,
the heavy linen paper, mark this as one of our very choicest
publications. The letter-press is of course De Vinne's best,--
there is nothing better on this side of the Atlantic. The text is
a beautiful, slender stream, meandering gracefully through a wide
meadow of margin."

For some reason I left the room for a minute. As I stepped into
the hall, I almost ran into Baxter, who was standing near the
door, facing a hunting print of a somewhat humorous character,
hung upon the wall, and smiling with an immensely pleased

"What a ridiculous scene!" he remarked. "Look at that fat old
squire on that tall hunter! I'll wager dollars to doughnuts that
he won't get over the first fence!"

It was a very good bluff, but did not deceive me. Under his mask
of unconcern, Baxter was anxious to learn what we thought of his
poem, and had stationed himself in the hall that he might overhear
our discussion without embarrassing us by his presence. He had
covered up his delight at our appreciation by this simulated
interest in the hunting print.

When the night came for the review of the Procrustes there was a
large attendance of members, and several visitors, among them a
young English cousin of one of the members, on his first visit to
the United States; some of us had met him at other clubs, and in
society, and had found him a very jolly boy, with a youthful
exuberance of spirits and a naive ignorance of things American
that made his views refreshing and, at times, amusing.

The critical essays were well considered, if a trifle vague.
Baxter received credit for poetic skill of a high order.

"Our brother Baxter," said Thompson, "should no longer bury his
talent in a napkin. This gem, of course, belongs to the club, but
the same brain from which issued this exquisite emanation can
produce others to inspire and charm an appreciative world."

"The author's view of life," said Davis, "as expressed in these
beautiful lines, will help us to fit our shoulders for the heavy
burden of life, by bringing to our realization those profound
truths of philosophy which find hope in despair and pleasure in
pain. When he shall see fit to give to the wider world, in fuller
form, the thoughts of which we have been vouchsafed this
foretaste, let us hope that some little ray of his fame may rest
upon the Bodleian, from which can never be taken away the proud
privilege of saying that he was one of its members."

I then pointed out the beauties of the volume as a piece of
bookmaking. I knew, from conversation with the publication
committee, the style of type and rubrication, and could see the
cover through the wrapper of my sealed copy. The dark green
morocco, I said, in summing up, typified the author's serious view
of life, as a thing to be endured as patiently as might be. The
cap-and-bells border was significant of the shams by which the
optimist sought to delude himself into the view that life was a
desirable thing. The intricate blind-tooling of the doublure
shadowed forth the blind fate which left us in ignorance of our
future and our past, or of even what the day itself might bring
forth. The black-letter type, with rubricated initials, signified
a philosophic pessimism enlightened by the conviction that in duty
one might find, after all, an excuse for life and a hope for
humanity. Applying this test to the club, this work, which might
be said to represent all that the Bodleian stood for, was in
itself sufficient to justify the club's existence. If the
Bodleian had done nothing else, if it should do nothing more, it
had produced a masterpiece.

There was a sealed copy of the Procrustes, belonging, I believe,
to one of the committee, lying on the table by which I stood, and
I had picked it up and held it in my hand for a moment, to
emphasize one of my periods, but had laid it down immediately. I
noted, as I sat down, that young Hunkin, our English visitor, who
sat on the other side of the table, had picked up the volume and
was examining it with interest. When the last review was read,
and the generous applause had subsided, there were cries for

"Baxter! Baxter! Author! Author!"

Baxter had been sitting over in a corner during the reading of the
reviews, and had succeeded remarkably well, it seemed to me, in
concealing, under his mask of cynical indifference, the exultation
which I was sure he must feel. But this outburst of enthusiasm
was too much even for Baxter, and it was clear that he was
struggling with strong emotion when he rose to speak.

"Gentlemen, and fellow members of the Bodleian, it gives me
unaffected pleasure--sincere pleasure--some day you may know how
much pleasure--I cannot trust myself to say it now--to see the
evident care with which your committee have read my poor verses,
and the responsive sympathy with which my friends have entered
into my views of life and conduct. I thank you again, and again,
and when I say that I am too full for utterance,--I'm sure you
will excuse me from saying any more."

Baxter took his seat, and the applause had begun again when it was
broken by a sudden exclamation.

"By Jove!" exclaimed our English visitor, who still sat behind the
table, "what an extraordinary book!"

Every one gathered around him.

"You see," he exclaimed; holding up the volume, "you fellows said
so much about the bally book that I wanted to see what it was
like; so I untied the ribbon, and cut the leaves with the paper
knife lying here, and found--and found that there wasn't a single
line in it, don't you know!"

Blank consternation followed this announcement, which proved only
too true. Every one knew instinctively, without further
investigation, that the club had been badly sold. In the
resulting confusion Baxter escaped, but later was waited upon by a
committee, to whom he made the rather lame excuse that he had
always regarded uncut and sealed books as tommy-rot, and that he
had merely been curious to see how far the thing could go; and
that the result had justified his belief that a book with nothing
in it was just as useful to a book-collector as one embodying a
work of genius. He offered to pay all the bills for the sham
Procrustes, or to replace the blank copies with the real thing, as
we might choose. Of course, after such an insult, the club did
not care for the poem. He was permitted to pay the expense,
however, and it was more than hinted to him that his resignation
from the club would be favorably acted upon. He never sent it in,
and, as he went to Europe shortly afterwards, the affair had time
to blow over.

In our first disgust at Baxter's duplicity, most of us cut our
copies of the Procrustes, some of us mailed them to Baxter with
cutting notes, and others threw them into the fire. A few wiser
spirits held on to theirs, and this fact leaking out, it began to
dawn upon the minds of the real collectors among us that the
volume was something unique in the way of a publication.

"Baxter," said our president one evening to a select few of us who
sat around the fireplace, "was wiser than we knew, or than he
perhaps appreciated. His Procrustes, from the collector's point
of view, is entirely logical, and might be considered as the acme
of bookmaking. To the true collector, a book is a work of art, of
which the contents are no more important than the words of an
opera. Fine binding is a desideratum, and, for its cost, that of
the Procrustes could not be improved upon. The paper is above
criticism. The true collector loves wide margins, and the
Procrustes, being all margin, merely touches the vanishing point
of the perspective. The smaller the edition, the greater the
collector's eagerness to acquire a copy. There are but six uncut
copies left, I am told, of the Procrustes, and three sealed
copies, of one of which I am the fortunate possessor."

After this deliverance, it is not surprising that, at our next
auction, a sealed copy of Baxter's Procrustes was knocked down,
after spirited bidding, for two hundred and fifty dollars, the
highest price ever brought by a single volume published by the

by Quincy Ewing

"And, instead of going to the Congress of the United States and
saying there is no distinction made in Mississippi, because of
color or previous condition of servitude, tell the truth, and say
this: 'We tried for many years to live in Mississippi, and share
sovereignty and dominion with the Negro, and we saw our
institutions crumbling. . . . We rose in the majesty and highest
type of Anglo-Saxon manhood, and took the reins of government out
of the hands of the carpet-bagger and the Negro, and, so help us
God, from now on we will never share any sovereignty or dominion
with him again.'"--Governor JAMES K. VARDAMAN, Mississippi, 1904.

During the past decade, newspaper and magazine articles galore,
and not a few books, have been written on what is called the "Race
Problem," the problem caused by the presence in this country of
some ten millions of black and variously-shaded colored people
known as Negroes. But, strange as it may sound, the writer has no
hesitation in saying that at this date there appears to be no
clear conception anywhere, on the part of most people, as to just
what the essential problem is which confronts the white
inhabitants of the country because they have for fellow-citizens
(nominally) ten million Negroes. Ask the average man, ask even
the average editor or professor anywhere, what the race problem
is, the heart of it; why, in this land with its millions of
foreigners of all nationalities, THE race problem of problems
should be caused by ten million Negroes, not foreigners but native
to the soil through several generations; and in all probability
you will get some such answer as this:--

"The Negroes, as a rule, are very ignorant, are very lazy, are
very brutal, are very criminal. But a little way removed from
savagery, they are incapable of adopting the white man's moral
code, of assimilating the white man's moral sentiments, of
striving toward the white man's moral ideals. They are creatures
of brutal, untamed instincts, and uncontrolled feral passions,
which give frequent expression of themselves in crimes of horrible
ferocity. They are, in brief, an uncivilized, semi-savage people,
living in a civilization to which they are unequal, partaking to a
limited degree of its benefits, performing in no degree its
duties. Because they are spatially in a civilization to which
they are morally and intellectually repugnant, they cannot but be
as a foreign irritant to the body social. The problem is, How
shall the body social adjust itself, daily, hourly, to this
irritant; how feel at ease and safe in spite of it? How shall the
white inhabitants of the land, with their centuries of inherited
superiority, conserve their civilization and carry it forward to a
yet higher plane, hampered by ten million black inhabitants of the
same land with their centuries of inherited inferiority?"

To the foregoing answer, this might now and again be added, or
advanced independently in reply to our question: "Personal
aversion on the part of the white person for the Negro; personal
aversion accounted for by nothing the individual Negro is, or is
not, intellectually and morally; accounted for by the fact,
simply, that he is a Negro, that he has a black or colored skin,
that he is different, of another kind."

Now, certainly, there are very few average men or philosophers, to
whom the answer given to our question would not seem to state, or
at any rate fairly indicate, the race problem in its essence.
But, however few they be, I do not hesitate to align myself with
them as one who does not believe that the essential race problem
as it exists in the South (whatever it be in the North) is stated,
or even fairly indicated, in the foregoing answer. In Northern
and Western communities, where he is outnumbered by many thousands
of white people, the Negro may be accounted a problem, because he
is lazy, or ignorant, or brutal, or criminal, or all these things
together; or because he is black and different. But in Southern
communities, where the Negro is not outnumbered by many thousands
of white people, the race problem, essentially, and in its most
acute form, is something distinct from his laziness or ignorance,
or brutality, or criminality, or all-round intellectual and moral
inferiority to the white man. That problem as the South knows and
deals with it would exist, as certainly as it does to-day, if
there were no shadow of excuse for the conviction that the Negro
is more lazy, or more ignorant, or more criminal, or more brutal,
or more anything else he ought not to be, or less anything else he
ought to be, than other men. In other words, let it be supposed
that the average Negro is as a matter of fact the equal, morally
and intellectually, of the average white man of the same class,
and the race problem declines to vanish, declines to budge. We
shall see why, presently. The statements just made demand
immediate justification. For they are doubtless surprising to a
degree, and to some readers may prove startling.

I proceed to justify them as briefly as possible, asking the
reader to bear in mind that very much more might be said along
this line than I allow myself space to say.


That the Negro is not a problem because he is lazy, because he
declines to work, is evidenced by the patent fact that in
virtually every Southern community he is sought as a laborer in
fields, mills, mines, and that in very many Southern communities
the vexing problem for employers is not too many, but too few
Negroes. In certain agricultural sections, notably in the
Louisiana sugar district, quite a number of Italians ("Dagoes")
are employed. The reason is not dissatisfaction with Negro labor,
but simply that there is not enough of it to meet the requirements
of the large plantations. There is, perhaps, not one of these
plantations on which any able-bodied Negro could not get
employment for the asking; and as a rule, the Negroes are given,
not the work which demands the lowest, but that which demands the
highest, efficiency: they are the ploughmen, the teamsters, the
foremen. If any one doubts that Negroes are wanted as laborers in
Southern communities, very much wanted, let him go to any such
community and attempt to inveigle a few dozen of the laziest away.
He will be likely to take his life in his hands, after the usual
warning is disregarded!


The small politician's trump-card, played early and late, and in
all seasons, that the Negro is a black shadow over the Southland
because of his excessive criminality, serves well the politician's
purpose,--it wins his game; but only because the game is played
and won on a board where fictions, not facts, are dominant.
Nothing is easier than to offer so-called proofs of the contention
that the Negro's tendency to crime is something peculiar to his
race; there are the jail and penitentiary and gallows statistics,
for instance. But surely it should not be difficult for these so-
called proofs to present themselves in their true light to any one
who takes the trouble to consider two weighty and conspicuous
facts: this, first, that the Negroes occupy everywhere in this
country the lowest social and industrial plane, the plane which
everywhere else supplies the jail, the penitentiary, the gallows,
with the greatest number of their victims; and secondly this, that
in the section of the country where these penal statistics are
gathered, all the machinery of justice is in the hands of white

No Negro is a sheriff, or judge, or justice of the peace, or grand
or petit juryman, or member of a pardoning board. Charged with
crime, again and again, the black man must go to jail; he is
unable to give bond; he is defended, not by the ablest, but by the
poorest lawyers, often by an unwilling appointee of the court; he
lacks the benefit of that personal appeal to judge and jury, so
often enjoyed by other defendants, which would make them WANT to
believe him innocent until proven guilty; he faces, on the
contrary, a judge and jury who hold him in some measure of
contempt as a man, regardless of his guilt or innocence. He is
without means, except occasionally, to fight his case through
appeals to higher courts, and errors sleep in many a record that
on review would upset the verdict. In the light of such
considerations, it would seem impossible that criminal statistics
should not bear hard upon the Negro race, even supposing it to be
a fact that that race of all races in the world is the LEAST

Let it be admitted without question that in most Southern
communities the crimes and misdemeanors of the Negroes exceed
those committed by an equal number of white people, and we have
admitted nothing that at all explains or accounts for the race
problem. For is it not equally true that in every other community
the doers of society's rough work, the recipients of its meagrest
rewards, are chargeable, relatively, with the greatest number of
crimes and misdemeanors? Is it not true, as well in Massachusetts
and Connecticut as in Louisiana and Mississippi, that the vast
majority of those occupying prison cells are members of the social
lowest class? that the vast majority condemned, after trial, to
hard labor with their hands were accustomed to such labor before
their judicial condemnation? Nothing is more preposterous than
the idea that the race problem means more Negroes hanged, more
Negroes imprisoned, more Negroes in mines and chain-gangs, than
white people! If the Negro did not furnish the great bulk of the
grist for the grinding of our penal machinery in the Southern
states, he would constitute the racial miracle of this and all

My own conviction is, and I speak with the experience of forty
years' residence in Southern states, that the Negro is not more
given to crimes and misdemeanors than the laboring population of
any other section of the country. But be this as it may, it is
abundantly certain that no race of people anywhere are more easily
controlled than the Negroes by the guardians of law and order; and
there are none anywhere so easily punished for disobedience to the
statutes and mandates of their economic superiors. Courts and
juries may be sometimes subject to just criticism for undue
leniency toward white defendants; but that courts and juries are
ever subject to just criticism for undue leniency in dealing with
black defendants is the sheerest nonsense.

The frequent charge that the Negro's worst crimes partake of a
brutality that is peculiarly racial, is not supported by facts. I
need not enlarge upon this statement further than to say that the
Negro's worst crimes, with all their shocking accompaniments, are,
not seldom, but often, duplicated by white men. Let any one who
doubts the statement observe for one week the criminal statistics
of any cosmopolitan newspaper, and he will have his doubt removed.

Assuredly we do not hit upon the essence of the race problem in
the Negro's propensity to crime!


Do we hit upon it in his ignorance, in the fact that an immense
number of the black people are illiterate, not knowing the first
from the last letter of the alphabet? Hardly. For, almost to a
man, the people who most parade and most rail at the race problem
in private conversation, on the political platform, and in the
pages of newspapers, books, and periodicals, are disposed rather
to lament, than to assist, the passing of the Negro's ignorance.
Ex-Governor Vardaman, of Mississippi, used the following language
in a message to the legislature of that state, January, 1906:--

"The startling facts revealed by the census show that those
[Negroes] who can read and write are more criminal than the
illiterate, which is true of no other element of our population. .
. . The state for many years, at great expense to the tax-payers,
has maintained a system of Negro education which has produced
disappointing results, and I am opposed to the perpetuation of
this system. My own idea is, that the character of education for
the Negro ought to be changed. If, after forty years of earnest
effort, and the expenditure of fabulous sums to educate his head,
we have only succeeded in making a criminal of him and impairing
his usefulness and efficiency as a laborer, wisdom would suggest
that we make another experiment and see if we cannot improve him
by educating his hand and his heart. . . . Slavery is the only
process by which he has ever been partially civilized. God
Almighty created the Negro for a menial, he is essentially a

This is the reply of an ex-governor of one of our blackest states
to those who contend that the negro is a problem, a "burden
carried by the white people of the South," because of his
ignorance and consequent inefficiency; and that the lightening of
the burden depends upon more money spent, more earnest efforts
made, for the schooling of the black people. According to this
ex-governor, and there are thousands who agree with him in and out
of Mississippi, the race problem is heightened, rather than
mitigated, by all attempts to increase the negro's intellectual
efficiency. The more ignorant he is, the less burdensome he is to
the white man, provided his heart be good, and his hands skillful
enough to do the service of a menial. Nothing but slavery ever
partially civilized him, nothing but slavery continued in some
form can civilize him further!


If we listen vainly for the heart-throb of the race problem in the
Negro's laziness, and criminality, and brutality, and ignorance,
and inefficiency, do we detect it with clearness and certainty in
the personal aversion felt by the white people for the black
people, aversion which the white people can no more help feeling
than the black people can help exciting? Is this the real
trouble, the real burden, the real tragedy and sorrow of our white
population in those sections of the country where the Negroes are
many,--that they are compelled to dwell face to face, day by day,
with an inferior, degraded population, repulsive to their finer
sensibilities, obnoxious to them in countless ways inexplicable?
Facts are far from furnishing an affirmative answer. However
pronounced may be the feeling of personal aversion toward the
Negroes in Northern communities, where they are few, or known at
long range, or casually, there is no such thing in Southern
communities as personal aversion for the Negro pronounced enough
to be responsible for anything resembling a problem. How could
there be in the South, where from infancy we have all been as
familiar with black faces as with white; where many of us fell
asleep in the laps of black mammies, and had for playmates Ephrom,
Izik, Zeke, black mammy's grandchildren; where most of us have had
our meals prepared by black cooks, and been waited on by black
house-servants and dining-room servants, and ridden in carriages
and buggies with black hostlers? We are so used to the black
people in the South, their mere personal presence is so far from
being responsible for our race problem, that the South would not
seem Southern without them, as it would not without its crape
myrtles, and live-oaks, and magnolias, its cotton and its sugar-

It is very easy to go astray in regard to the matter of personal
aversion toward the members of alien races, to magnify greatly the
reality and importance of it. What seems race-aversion is
frequently something else, namely, revulsion aroused by the
presence of the strange, the unusual, the uncanny, the not-
understood. Such revulsion is aroused, not only by the members of
alien races, alien and unfamiliar, but as certainly by strange
animals of not more terrifying appearance than the well-loved cow
and horse; and it would be aroused as really and as painfully,
doubtless, by the sudden proximity of one of Milton's archangels.
It was not necessarily race-aversion which made Emerson, and may
have made many another Concord philosopher, uncomfortable in the
presence of a Negro, any more than it is race-aversion which makes
the Fifth Avenue boy run from the gentle farmyard cow; any more
than it is race-aversion which would make me uncomfortable in the
presence of Li Hung Chang. The Negro, simply, it may be, was a
mystery to Emerson, as the farmyard cow is a mystery to the Fifth
Avenue boy, as the Chinaman is a mystery to me.

The Negro is NOT a mystery to people whom he has nursed and waited
on, whose language he has spoken, whose ways, good and bad, he has
copied for generations; and his personal presence does not render
them uncomfortable, not, at any rate, uncomfortable enough to
beget the sense of a burden or a problem.

It may be very difficult for Northern readers, to whom the Negro
is in reality a stranger, a foreigner, to appreciate fully the
force of what has just been said; but appreciated by them it must
be, or they can never hope to realize the innermost meaning of the
race problem in the South.

So much for what the race problem is not. Let me without further
delay state what it is. The foundation of it, true or false, is
the white man's conviction that the Negro as a race, and as an
individual, is his inferior: not human in the sense that he is
human, not entitled to the exercise of human rights in the sense
that he is entitled to the exercise of them. The problem itself,
the essence of it, the heart of it, is the white man's
determination to make good this conviction, coupled with constant
anxiety lest, by some means, he should fail to make it good. The
race problem, in other words, is NOT that the Negro is what he is
in relation to the white man, the white man's inferior; but this,
rather: How to keep him what he is in relation to the white man;
how to prevent his ever achieving or becoming that which would
justify the belief on his part, or on the part of other people,
that he and the white man stand on common human ground.

That such is the heart of the problem should be made evident by
this general consideration alone: namely, that everywhere in the
South friction between the races is entirely absent so long as the
Negro justifies the white man's opinion of him as an inferior; is
grateful for privileges and lays no claim to RIGHTS. Let him seem
content to be as the South insists he shall be, and not only is he
not harshly treated, not abused, and never boycotted, but he is
shown much kindness and generosity, and employment awaits him for
the asking. Trouble brews when he begins to manifest those
qualities, to reveal those tastes, to give vent to those
ambitions, which are supposed to be characteristic exclusively of
the higher human type, and which, unless restrained, would result
in confounding the lower with the higher. The expression "Good
Nigger" means everywhere in the South a real Negro, from the
Southern standpoint, one who in no respect gets out of focus with
that standpoint; the expression "Bad Nigger" means universally one
who in some respect, not necessarily criminal, does get out of
focus with it. So, stated differently, the race problem is the
problem how to keep the Negro in focus with the traditional

But we are very far from needing to rely upon any general
consideration in support of the proposition advanced above. It is
supported by evidences on every hand, waiting only the eye of
recognition. Scarcely a day passes but something is said or done
with this end in view, to emphasize, lest they forget, the
conviction for both white man and Negro that the latter is and
must remain an inferior. Let me instance a few such evidences.

Consider, first, the "Jim Crow" legislation in the manner of its
enforcement. Such legislation is supposed to have for its object
the separation of the races in trains, street-cars, etc., to save
the white people from occasional contact with drunken, rowdy, ill-
smelling Negroes, and to prevent personal encounters between the
whites and blacks. How is this object attained in the street cars
of Southern cities? Members of the different races occupy the
same cars, separated only by absurdly inadequate little open-mesh
wire screens, so tiny and light that a conductor can move them
from one seat to another with the strength of his little finger.
Needless to add, these screens would serve to obscure neither
sound, sight, nor smell of drunken rowdies who sat behind them!
In summer cars black and white passengers may be separated not
even by a make-believe screen; they are simply required,
respectively, to occupy certain seats in the front or the back end
of the cars.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the front seats are assigned to Negroes in
all closed cars, and the back seats in all open ones. Why the
front seats in the one case, and the back seats in the other, it
is not easy to understand in the light of the letter and alleged
spirit of the Jim Crow law! The underlying purpose of the law is
clearly not the separation of the races in space; for public
sentiment does not insist upon its fulfillment to that end. The
underlying purpose of it would seem to be the separation of the
races in status. The doctrine of inequality would be attacked if
white and black passengers rode in public conveyances on equal
terms; therefore the Negro who rides in a public conveyance must
do so, not as of undoubted right, but as with the white man's
permission, subject to the white man's regulation. "This place
you may occupy, that other you may not, because I am I and you are
you, lest to you or me it should be obscured that I am I and you
are you." Such is the real spirit of the Jim Crow laws.

Why is it that in every Southern city no Negro is allowed to
witness a dramatic performance, or a baseball game, from a first-
class seat? In every large city, there are hundreds of Negroes
who would gladly pay for first-class seats at the theatre and the
baseball game, were they permitted to. It can hardly be that
permission is withheld because theatres and baseball games are so
well attended by half the population that first-class seats could
not be furnished for the other half. As a matter of fact,
theatre-auditoriums and baseball grand-stands are seldom crowded;
the rule is, not all first-class seats occupied, but many vacant.
Surely as simple as moving from seat to seat a make-shift screen
in a street-car, would it be to set apart a certain number of
seats in the dress-circle of every theatre, and in the grand-stand
of every baseball park, for Negro patrons. The reason why this is
not done is perfectly obvious: it would be intolerable to the
average Southern man or woman to sit through the hours of a
theatrical performance or a baseball game on terms of equal
accommodation with Negroes, even with a screen between. Negroes
would look out of place, out of status, in the dress circle or the
grand-stand; their place, signifying their status, is the peanut-
gallery, or the bleachers. There, neither they nor others will be
tempted to forget that as things are they must continue.

How shall we account for the "intense feeling" (to quote the
language of the mayor or New Orleans) occasioned in that city one
day, last July, when it was flashed over the wires that the first
prize in the National Spelling Contest had been won by a Negro
girl, in competition with white children from New Orleans and
other Southern cities? The indignation of at least one of the
leading New Orleans papers verged upon hysterics; the editor's
rhetoric visited upon some foulest crime could hardly have been
more inflamed than in denunciation of the fact that, on the far-
away shore of Lake Erie, New Orleans white children had competed
at a spelling bee with a Negro girl. The superintendent of the
New Orleans schools was roundly denounced in many quarters for
permitting his wards to compete with a Negro; and there were broad
hints in "Letters from the People" to the papers that his
resignation was in order.

Certainly in the days following the National Spelling Contest the
race problem was in evidence, if it ever was, in New Orleans and
the South! Did it show itself, then, as the problem of Negro
crime, or brutality, or laziness? Assuredly not! Of the Negro's
personal repulsiveness? By no means! There was no evidence of
Negro criminality, or brutality, or laziness in the Negro child's
victory; and every day in the South, in their games and otherwise,
hundreds of white children of the best families are in closer
personal contact with little Negroes than were the white children
who took part in the Cleveland spelling bee. The "intense
feeling" can be explained on one ground only: the Negro girl's
victory was an affront to the tradition of the Negro's
inferiority; it suggested--perhaps indicated--that, given equal
opportunities, all Negroes are not necessarily the intellectual
inferiors of all white people. What other explanation is
rationally conceivable? If the race problem means in the South to
its white inhabitants the burden and tragedy of having to dwell
face to face with an intellectually and morally backward people,
why should not the Negro girl's triumph have occasioned intense
feeling of pleasure, rather than displeasure, by its suggestion
that her race is not intellectually hopeless?

Consider further that while no Negro, no matter what his
occupation, or personal refinement, or intellectual culture, or
moral character, is allowed to travel in a Pullman car between
state lines, or to enter as a guest a hotel patronized by white
people, the blackest of Negro nurses and valets are given food and
shelter in all first-class hotels, and occasion neither disgust,
nor surprise in the Pullman cars. Here again the heart of the
race problem is laid bare. The black nurse with a white baby in
her arms, the black valet looking after the comfort of a white
invalid, have the label of their inferiority conspicuously upon
them; they understand themselves, and everybody understands them,
to be servants, enjoying certain privileges for the sake of the
person served. Almost anything, the Negro may do in the South,
and anywhere he may go, provided the manner of his doing and his
doing is that of an inferior. Such is the premium put upon his
inferiority; such his inducement to maintain it.

The point here insisted on may be made clearer, if already it is
not clear enough, by this consideration, that the man who would
lose social caste for dining with an Irish street-sweeper might be
congratulated for dining with an Irish educator; but President
Roosevelt would scarcely have given greater offense by
entertaining a Negro laborer at the White House than he gave by
inviting to lunch there the Principal of Tuskegee Institute. The
race problem being what it is, the status of any Negro is
logically the status of every other. There are recognizable
degrees of inferiority among Negroes themselves; some are vastly
superior to others. But there is only one degree of inferiority
separating the Negro from the white person, attached to all
Negroes alike. The logic of the situation requires that to be any
sort of black man is to be inferior to any sort of white man; and
from this logic there is no departure in the South.

Inconsistent, perhaps, with what has been said may seem the defeat
in the Louisiana Legislature (1908) of the anti-miscegenation
bill, a measure designed to prohibit sexual cohabitation between
white persons and Negroes; to be specific, between white men and
Negro women. But there was no inconsistency whatever in the
defeat of that bill. In all times and places, the status of that
portion of the female population, Lecky's martyred "priestesses of
humanity," whose existence men have demanded for the gratification
of unlawful passion, has been that of social outcasts. They have
no rights that they can insist upon; they are simply privileged to
exist by society's permission, and may be any moment legislated
out of their vocation. Hence the defeat of an anti-miscegenation
measure by Southern legislators cannot be construed as a failure
on their part to live up to their conviction of race-superiority.
It must be construed, rather, as legislative unwillingness to
restrict the white man's liberty; to dictate by statute the kind
of social outcast which he may use as a mere means to the
gratification of his passion. To concede to Negro women the
status of a degraded and proscribed class, is not in any sense to
overlook or obscure their racial inferiority, but on the contrary,
it may be, to emphasize it. Precisely the same principle, in a
word, compasses the defeat of an anti-miscegenation bill which
would compass the defeat of a measure to prohibit Negro servants
from occupying seats in Pullman cars.

At the risk of reiteration, I must in concluding this article take
sharp issue with the view of a recent very able writer, who asks
the question, "What, essentially, is the Race Problem?" and
answers it thus: "The race problem is the problem of living with
human beings who are not like us, whether they are in our
estimation our 'superiors' or inferiors, whether they have kinky
hair or pigtails, whether they are slant-eyed, hook-nosed, or
thick-lipped. In its essence, it is the same problem, magnified,
which besets every neighborhood, even every family."

I have contended so far, and I here repeat, that the race problem
is essentially NOT what this writer declares it to be. It is
emphatically not, in the South, "the problem of living with human
beings who are not like us, whether they are in our estimation our
superiors or inferiors." It may be, it probably is, that in the
North, where the Negro is largely a stranger, a foreigner, very
much to the same degree that the Chinese are strangers and
foreigners in the South; and where, consequently, the Negro's
personal repulsiveness is a much more significant force than it is
in the South. Assuredly there would be no race problem, anywhere,
were there no contact with others unlike ourselves! The
unlikeness of the unlike is everywhere its indispensable
foundation. But we get nowhither unless we carefully distinguish
between the foundation of the problem and the problem itself.
There is nothing in the unlikeness of the unlike that is
necessarily problematical; it may be simply accepted and dealt
with as a fact, like any other fact. The problem arises only when
the people of one race are minded to adopt and act upon some
policy more or less oppressive or repressive in dealing with the
people of another race. In the absence of some such policy, there
has never been a race problem since the world began. It is the
existence of such a policy become traditional, and supported by
immovable conviction, which constitutes the race problem of the
Southern states.

There was an immensely tragic race problem distressing the South
fifty years ago; but who will suggest that it was the problem of
"living with human beings who are not like us?" The problem then
was, clearly, how to make good a certain conviction concerning the
unlike, how to maintain a certain policy in dealing with them.
What else is it today? The problem, How to maintain the
institution of chattel slavery, ceased to be at Appomattox; the
problem, How to maintain the social, industrial, and civic
inferiority of the descendants of chattel slaves, succeeded it,
and is the race problem of the South at the present time. There
is no other.

Whether the policy adopted by the white South, and supported, as I
have said, by immovable conviction, is expedient or inexpedient,
wise or unwise, righteous or unrighteous, these are questions
which I have not sought to answer one way or another in this
article. Perhaps they cannot be answered at all in our time.
Certain is it, that their only real and satisfactory answer will
be many years ahead of the present generation.

In the mean time, nothing could be more unwarranted, than to
suppose that the race problem of one section of this country is
peculiar to that section, because its white inhabitants are
themselves in some sense peculiar; because they are peculiarly
prejudiced, because they are peculiarly behind the hour which the
high clock of civilization has struck. Remove the white
inhabitants of the South, give their place to the white people of
any other section of the United States, and, beyond a
peradventure, the Southern race problem, as I have defined it,
would continue to be--revealed, perhaps, in ways more perplexing,
more intense and tragic.

by Ray Stannard Baker

In this paper I endeavor to lay down the fundamental principles
which should govern the Negro franchise in a democracy, and to
outline a practical programme for the immediate treatment of the

As I see it, the question of Negro suffrage in the United States
presents two distinct aspects:--

FIRST: the legal aspect.

SECOND: the practical aspect.

It will be admitted, I think, without argument, that all
governments do and of a necessity must exercise the right to limit
the number of people who are permitted to take part in the weighty
responsibilities of the suffrage. Some governments allow only a
few men to vote; in an absolute monarchy there is only one voter;
other governments, as they become more democratic, permit a larger
proportion of the people to vote.

Our own government is one of the freest in the world in the matter
of suffrage; and yet we bar out, in most states, all women; we bar
out Mongolians, no matter how intelligent; we bar out Indians, and
all foreigners who have not passed through a certain probationary
stage and have not acquired a certain small amount of education.
We also declare--for an arbitrary limit must be placed somewhere--
that no person under twenty-one years of age may exercise the
right to vote, although some boys of eighteen are to-day better
equipped to pass intelligently upon public questions than many
grown men. We even place adult white men on probation until they
have resided for a certain length of time, often as much as two
years, in the state or the town where they wish to cast their
ballots. Our registration and ballot laws eliminate hundreds of
thousands of voters; and finally, we bar out everywhere the
defective and criminal classes of our population. We do not
realize, sometimes, I think, how limited the franchise really is,
even in America. We forget that out of nearly ninety million
people in the United States, fewer than fifteen million cast their
votes for President in 1908--or about one in every six.

Thus the practice of a restricted suffrage is very deeply
implanted in our system of government. It is everywhere
recognized that even in a democracy lines must be drawn, and that
the ballot, the precious instrument of government, must be hedged
about with stringent regulations. The question is, where shall
these lines be drawn in order that the best interests, not of any
particular class, but of the whole nation, shall be served.

Upon this question, we, as free citizens, have the absolute right
to agree or disagree with the present laws regulating suffrage;
and if we want more people brought in as partakers in government,
or some people who are already in, barred out, we have a right to
organize, to agitate, to do our best to change the laws. Powerful
organizations of women are now agitating for the right to vote;
there is an organization which demands the suffrage for Chinese
and Japanese who wish to become citizens. It is even conceivable
that a society might be founded to lower the suffrage age-limit
from twenty-one to nineteen years, thereby endowing a large number
of young men with the privileges, and therefore the educational
responsibilities, of political power. On the other hand, a large
number of people, chiefly in our Southern States, earnestly
believe that the right of the Negro to vote should be curtailed,
or even abolished.

Thus we disagree, and government is the resultant of all these
diverse views and forces. No one can say dogmatically how far
democracy should go in distributing the enormously important
powers of active government. Democracy is not a dogma; it is not
even a dogma of free suffrage. Democracy is a life, a spirit, a
growth. The primal necessity of any sort of government, democracy
or otherwise, whether it be more unjust or less unjust toward
special groups of its citizens, is to exist, to be a going
concern, to maintain upon the whole a stable and peaceful
administration of affairs. If a democracy cannot provide such
stability, then the people go back to some form of oligarchy.
Having secured a fair measure of stability, a democracy proceeds
with caution toward the extension of the suffrage to more and more
people--trying foreigners, trying women, trying Negroes.

And no one can prophesy how far a democracy will ultimately go in
the matter of suffrage. We know only the tendency. We know that
in the beginning, even in America, the right to vote was a very
limited matter. In the early years, in New England, only church-
members voted; then the franchise was extended to include
property-owners; then it was enlarged to include all white adults;
then to include Negroes; then, in several Western States, to
include women.

Thus the line has been constantly advancing, but with many
fluctuations, eddies, and back-currents--like any other stream of
progress. At the present time the fundamental principles which
underlie popular government, and especially the whole matter of
popular suffrage, are much in the public mind. The tendency of
government throughout the entire civilized world is strongly in
the direction of placing more and more power in the hands of the
people. In our own country we are enacting a remarkable group of
laws providing for direct primaries in the nomination of public
officials, for direct election of United States Senators, and for
direct legislation by means of the initiative and referendum; and
we are even going to the point, in many cities, of permitting the
people to recall an elected official who is unsatisfactory. The
principle of local option, which is nothing but that of direct
government by the people, is being everywhere accepted. All these
changes affect, fundamentally, the historic structure of our
government, making it less republican and more democratic.

Still more important and far-reaching in its significance is the
tendency of our government, especially our Federal Government, to
regulate or to appropriate great groups of business enterprises
formerly left wholly in private hands. More and more, private
business is becoming public business.

Now, then, as the weight of responsibility upon the popular vote
is increased, it becomes more and more important that the ballot
should be jealously guarded and honestly exercised. In the last
few years, therefore, a series of extraordinary new precautions
have been adopted: the Australian ballot, more stringent
registration systems, the stricter enforcement of naturalization
laws to prevent the voting of crowds of unprepared foreigners, and
the imposition by several states, rightly or wrongly, of
educational and property tests. It becomes a more and more
serious matter every year to be an American citizen, more of an
honor, more of a duty.

At the close of the Civil War, in a time of intense idealistic
emotion, some three-quarters of a million of Negroes, the mass of
them densely ignorant and just out of slavery, with the iron of
slavery still in their souls, were suddenly given the political
rights of free citizens. A great many people, and not in the
South alone, thought then, and still think, that it was a mistake
to bestow the high powers and privileges of a wholly unrestricted
ballot--a ballot which is the symbol of intelligent self-
government--upon the Negro. Other people, of whom I am one,
believe that it was a necessary concomitant of the revolution; it
was itself a revolution, not a growth, and like every other
revolution it has had its fearful reaction. Revolutions, indeed,
change names, but they do not at once change human relationships.
Mankind is reconstructed not by proclamations, or legislation, or
military occupation, but by time, growth, education, religion,
thought. At that time, then, the nation drove down the stakes of
its idealism in government far beyond the point it was able to
reach in the humdrum activities of everyday existence. A reaction
was inevitable; it was inevitable and perfectly natural that there
should be a widespread questioning as to whether all Negroes, or
indeed any Negroes, should properly be admitted to full political
fellowship. That questioning continues to this day.

Now, the essential principle established by the Fifteenth
Amendment to the Constitution was not that all Negroes should
necessarily be given an unrestricted access to the ballot; but
that the right to vote should not be denied or abridged 'on
account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.' This
amendment wiped out the color-line in politics so far as any
written law could possibly do it.

Let me here express my profound conviction that the principle of
political equality then laid down is a sound, valid, and
absolutely essential principle in any free government; that
restrictions upon the ballot, when necessary, should be made to
apply equally to white and colored citizens; and that the
Fifteenth Amendment ought not to be, and cannot be repealed.
Moreover, I am convinced that the principle of political equality
is more firmly established to-day in this country than it was
forty years ago, when it had only Northern bayonets behind it.
For now, however short the practice falls of reaching the legal
standard, the principle is woven into the warp and woof of
Southern life and Southern legislation. Many Southern white
leaders of thought are to-day CONVINCED, not FORCED believers in
the principle; and that is a great omen.

Limitations have come about, it is true, and were to be expected
as the back-currents of the revolution. Laws providing for
educational and property qualifications as a prerequisite to the
exercise of the suffrage have been passed in all the Southern
States, and have operated to exclude from the ballot large numbers
of both white and colored citizens, who on account of ignorance or
poverty are unable to meet the tests. These provisions, whatever
the opinion entertained as to the wisdom of such laws, are well
within the principle laid down by the Fifteenth Amendment. But
several Southern States have gone a step further, and by means of
the so-called 'grandfather laws,' have exempted certain ignorant
white men from the necessity of meeting the educational and
property tests. These unfair 'grandfather laws,' however, in some
of the states adopting them, have now expired by limitation.

Let me then lay down this general proposition:--

Nowhere in the South to-day is the Negro cut off LEGALLY, as a
Negro, from the ballot. Legally, to-day, any Negro who can meet
the comparatively slight requirements as to education, or
property, or both, can cast his ballot on a basis of equality with
the white man. I have emphasized the word legally, for I know the
PRACTICAL difficulties which confront the Negro votes in many
parts of the South. The point I wish to make is that legally the
Negro is essentially the political equal of the white man; but
that practically, in the enforcement of the law, the legislative
ideal is still pegged out far beyond the actual performance.

Now, then, if we are interested in the problem of democracy, we
have two courses open to us. We may think the laws are unjust to
the Negro, and incidentally to the 'poor white' man as well. If
we do, we have a perfect right to agitate for changes; and we can
do much to disclose, without heat, the actual facts regarding the
complicated and vexatious legislative situation in the South, as
regards the suffrage. Every change in the legislation upon this
subject should, indeed, be jealously watched, that the principle
of political equality between the races be not legally curtailed.


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