The New South
Holland Thompson

Part 2 out of 3

The industry of making fertilizer depends largely upon cottonseed meal.
More than a hundred oil mills have fertilizer departments. The phosphate
deposits of the South Atlantic States are also important, and the
fertilizer industry is showing more and more a tendency to become
sectional. Georgia easily leads, Maryland is second, and no Northern
State ranks higher than seventh.

From the standpoint of values lumbering is a more important industry
than the manufacture of fertilizers. In this respect Louisiana is the
second State in value of products, and the industry is important in
Arkansas, Mississippi, and North Carolina. The South furnishes nearly
half of the lumber produced in the United States. This industry is, of
course, only one step from the raw material. The manufacture of wood
into finished articles is, however, increasing in some of the Southern
States. The vehicle industry is considerable, and the same may be said
of agricultural machinery, railway and street cars, and coffins. North
Carolina especially is taking rank in the manufacture of furniture, most
of it cheap but some of it of high grade. So far, ambition has in few
cases gone beyond utilization of the native woods, some of which are
surprisingly beautiful. Many small establishments in different States
make such special products as spokes, shuttle blocks, pails, broom
handles, containers for fruits and vegetables, and the like, but the
total value of these products is small compared with the value of the
crude lumber which is sent out of the South.

The iron industry is important chiefly in Alabama, of the purely
Southern States. This State is fourth in the product of its blast
furnaces but supplied in 1914 only a little more than six per cent of
the total for the United States. Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia
produce appreciable quantities of pig iron; no Southern State plays a
really important part in the steel industry, though Maryland, Alabama,
and West Virginia are all represented. Birmingham, Alabama, is the
center of steel manufacture and has been called the Pittsburgh of
the South, but though the industry has grown rapidly in Birmingham, it
has also grown in Pittsburgh, and the Southern city is gaining very
slowly. There are great beds of bituminous coal in the South, but only
in West Virginia and Alabama is the production really important, though
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia produce appreciable quantities.

In the total value of the products of mines of all sorts, West Virginia
and Oklahoma are among the leaders, owing to their iron, coal, and
petroleum output. Other Southern States follow in the rear. Alabama,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana all have a
mineral output which is large in the aggregate but a small part of the
total. The sulphur mines of Louisiana are growing increasingly
important. North Carolina produces a little of almost everything, but
its mineral production, except of mica, is not important. In this State
large aluminum works have been constructed and the quantity of precious
and semiprecious stones found there is a large part of the production
for the United States.

The tobacco industry is growing rapidly in the South. There have always
been small establishments for the manufacture of tobacco, and many of
these during the last three decades have grown to large proportions. New
establishments have been opened, some of which are among the largest in
the world. The development of the American Tobacco Company and its
affiliated and subsidiary organizations has greatly reduced the number
of separate establishments. Many were bought by the combination; their
brands were transferred to another factory; and the original
establishments were closed as uneconomical. Many other small factories,
feeling or fearing the competition, closed voluntarily. But the total
production of tobacco has steadily increased. Plug and smoking tobacco
are largely confined to the Upper South. North Carolina easily leads,
while Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri (if it be classed as a Southern
State) also have factories which are known all over the world. Richmond,
St. Louis, Louisville, and New Orleans, and Winston-Salem and Durham in
North Carolina are the cities which lead in this industry. Winston-Salem
probably now makes more plug, and Durham more smoking tobacco, than any
other cities in the United States, and the cigarette production of the
former is increasing enormously. Some factories supply export trade
almost exclusively. There has been little development of the fine cigar
industry except in Louisiana and Florida, though in all cities of the
Lower South there are local establishments for the manufacture of cigars
from Cuban leaf. Richmond is a center for the manufacture of domestic
cigars and cheroots and has one mammoth establishment.

Twenty years or thirty years ago scattered over the South there were
thousands of small grist mills which ground the farmer's wheat or corn
between stones in the old-fashioned way. These are being superseded by
roller mills, some of them quite large, which handle all the local wheat
and even import some from the West. However, as the annual production of
wheat in the South has decreased rather than increased since 1880, it is
obvious that the industry has changed in form rather than increased in

There are other less important manufacturing enterprises in the South.
The census shows about two hundred and fifty distinct industries pursued
to a greater or less extent. Maryland ranked fourteenth in the total
value of manufactured products in 1914. Only seven Southern States were
found in the first twenty-five, while Minnesota, which is generally
considered an agricultural State, ranked higher in manufactures than any
of the Southern group in 1914. The next census will undoubtedly give
some Southern States high rank, though the section as a whole is not yet
industrial. The manufacturing output is increasing with marvelous
rapidity, but it is increasing in other sections of the country as well.
Although the South was credited in 1914 with an increase of nearly 72
per cent in the value of its products during the decade, its proportion
of the total value of products in the United States as a whole increased
only from 12.8 per cent in 1904 to 13.1 per cent in 1914. The section is
still far from equaling or surpassing other sections except in the
manufacture of textiles.



The laborer employed in the manufacturing enterprises of the South,
whether white or black, is native born and Southern born. Sporadic
efforts to import industrial workers from Europe have not been
successful and there has been no considerable influx of workers from
other sections of the Union. A few skilled workers have come, but the
rank and file in all the factories and shops were born in the State in
which they work or in a neighboring State. Speaking broadly, those
dealing with complicated machines are white, while those engaged in
simpler processes are white or black. We find, therefore, a
preponderance of whites in the textile industries and in the shops
producing articles from wood and iron, while the blacks are found in the
lumber industry, in the tobacco factories, in the mines, and at the
blast furnaces. There are some skilled workmen among the negroes,
especially in tobacco, but generally they furnish the unskilled labor.

The textile industry employs the greatest number of operatives, or at
least concentrates them more. From the farms or the mountain coves, or
only one generation removed from that environment, they have been drawn
to the mills by various motives. The South is still sparsely settled,
and the life of the tenant farmer or the small landowner and his family
is often lonely. Until recently, roads were almost universally bad,
especially in winter, and a visit to town or even to a neighbor was no
small undertaking. Attendance at the country church, which sometimes has
services only once a month, or a trip to the country store on Saturday
afternoon with an occasional visit to the county-seat furnish almost the
only opportunity for social intercourse. Work in a cotton mill promised
not merely fair wages but what was coveted even more--companionship.

During the period of most rapid growth in the textile industry,
agriculture, or at least agriculture as practiced by this class, was
unprofitable. During the decade from 1890 to 1900 the price of all kinds
of farm produce was exceedingly low, and the returns in money were very
small. Even though a farmer more farsighted than the average did produce
the greater part of his food on the farm, his "money crop"--cotton or
tobacco--hardly brought the cost of production. The late D.A. Tompkins, of
Charlotte, North Carolina, a close student of cotton, came to the
conclusion, about 1910, that cotton had been produced at a loss in the
South considered as a whole, at least since the Civil War. Many farmers,
however, were in a vicious economic circle and could not escape. If they
had bought supplies at the country store at inflated prices, the crops
sometimes were insufficient to pay the store accounts, and the balance was
charged against the next year's crop. Men who did not go heavily into debt
often handled less than $200 in cash in a year, and others found difficulty
in obtaining money even for their small taxes. To such men the stories of
$15 to $25 earned at a mill by a single family in a week seemed almost
fabulous. The whole family worked on the farm, as farmers' families have
always done, and it seemed the natural thing that, in making a change,
all should work in the mill.

To those families moved by loneliness and those other families driven by
an honest ambition to better their economic condition were added the
families of the incapable, the shiftless, the disabled, and the widowed.
In a few cases men came to the mills deliberately intending to exploit
their children, to live a life of ease upon their earnings. There were
places for the younger members of all these families, but a man with
hands calloused and muscles stiffened by the usual round of farm work
could seldom learn a new trade after the age of forty, no matter how
willing. Often a cotton mill is the only industrial enterprise in the
village, and the number of common laborers needed is limited. Too many
of the fathers who had come to the village intending themselves to work
gradually sank into the parasite class and sat around the village store
while their children worked.

During the early expansion of the industry, the wages paid were low
compared with New England standards, but they were sufficient to draw
the people from the farms and to hold them at the mills. In considering
the wages paid in Southern mills, this fact must never be forgotten.
There was always an abundance of land to which the mill people could
return at will and wrest some sort of living from the soil. For them to
go back to the land was not a venture full of unknown hazards. They had
been born on the land and even yet are usually only one generation removed,
and the land cries out for tenants and laborers. It must also be remembered
that though the wages measured in money were low, the cost of living was
likewise low. Rents were trifling, if indeed the tenements were not
occupied free; the cost of fuel and food was low; and many expenses
necessary in New England were superfluous in the South.

With the increasing number of mills and the rising price of agricultural
products, the supply of industrial laborers became less abundant, and
higher wages have been necessary to draw recruits from the farms until
at present the rate of wages approaches that of New England. The
purchasing power is probably greater for, while the cost of living has
greatly increased in the South, it is still lower than in other parts of
the country. This does not mean that the average Southern wage is equal
to the New England average. While there is a growing body of highly
skilled operatives in the South, the rapid growth of the industry has
made necessary the employment of an overwhelmingly large number of
untrained or partially trained operatives, who cannot tend so many
spindles or looms as the New England operatives. Again, much yarn in the
North is spun upon mules, while in the South these machines are uncommon.
For certain purposes, this soft but fine and even yarn is indispensable.
Only strong, highly skilled operatives, usually men, can tend these
machines. The earnings of such specialists cannot fairly be compared with
the amounts received by ordinary girl spinners on ring frames. Again the
weekly wage of an expert weaver upon fancy cloth cannot justly be compared
with that of a Southern operative upon plain goods. Where the work is
comparable, however, the rates per unit of product in North and South are
not far apart.

From the standpoint of the employer it may be possible that the wages
per unit of product are higher in some Southern mills than in some New
England establishments. In the case of an expensive machine, an
operative who gets from it only sixty to seventy-five per cent of its
possible production may receive higher wages, or what amounts to the
same thing, may produce at a higher cost per unit than a more highly
paid individual who more nearly approaches the theoretical maximum
production of the machine. There is much expensive machinery in the
Southern mills. In fact, on the whole, the machinery for the work in
hand is better than in New England, because it is newer. The recently built
Southern mills have been equipped with all the latest machinery, while
many of the older Northern mills have not felt able to scrap machines
which, though antiquated, were still running well. However, the advantage
in having a better machine is not fully realized if it is not run to its
full capacity. Both spinning frames and looms have generally been run at
a somewhat slower speed in the South than in the North. This fact was noted
by that careful English observer, T.M. Young: "Whether the cost per unit
of efficiency is greater in the South than in the North is hard to say. But
for the automatic loom, the North would, I think, have the advantage.
Perhaps the truth is that in some parts of the South where the industry
has been longest established and a generation has been trained to the work,
Southern labor is actually as well as nominally cheaper than Northern;
whilst in other districts, where many mills have sprung up all at once
amongst a sparse rural population, wholly untrained, the Southern labor at
present procurable is really dearer than the Northern[1]." This does not
mean that Southern labor is permanently inferior; but a highly skilled body
of operatives requires years for its development.

[Footnote 1: T.M. Young, _The American Cotton Industry_, p. 113.]

In the beginning there were no restrictions upon hours of work, age, or
sex of operatives, or conditions of employment. Every mill was a law
unto itself. Hours were long, often seventy-two and in a few cases
seventy-five a week. Wages were often paid in scrip good at the company
store but redeemable in cash only at infrequent intervals, if indeed any
were then presented. Yet, if the prices at the store were sometimes
exorbitant, they were likely to be less than the operatives had been
accustomed to pay when buying on credit while living on the farms. The
moral conditions at some of these mills were also bad, since the least
desirable element of the rural population was the first to go to the
mills. Such conditions, however, were not universal. Some of the
industrial communities were clean and self-respecting, but conditions
depended largely upon the individual in charge of the mill.

As the years went on and more and more mills were built, the demand for
operatives increased. To draw them from the farms, it was necessary to
improve living conditions in the mill villages and to increase wages.
Today the mill communities are generally clean, and care is taken to
exclude immoral individuals. Payment of wages in cash became the rule. The
company store persisted, but chiefly as a matter of convenience to the
operatives; and in prices it met and often cut below those charged in
other stores in the vicinity. The hours of labor were reduced gradually.
Seventy-two became the maximum, but most mills voluntarily ran sixty-nine
or even sixty-six. The employment of children continued, though some
individual employers reduced it as much as possible without seriously
crippling their forces. This was a real danger so long as there were no
legal restrictions on child labor. Children worked upon the farm as
children have done since farming began, and the average farmer who moved
to the mill was unable to see the difference between working on the farm
and working in the mill. In fact, to his mind, work in the mill seemed
easier than exposure on the farm to the summer sun and the winter cold.

Men who were not conscious of deliberately exploiting their children
urged the manager of the mill to employ a child of twelve or even ten.
If the manager refused, he was threatened with the loss of the whole
family. A family containing good operatives could always find employment
elsewhere, and perhaps the manager of another mill would not be so
scrupulous. So the children went into the mill and often stayed there. If
illiterate when they entered, they remained illiterate. The number of young
children, however, was always exaggerated by the muckrakers, though
unquestionably several hundred children ten to twelve years old, and
possibly a few younger, were employed years ago. The nature of the work
permits the employment of operatives under sixteen only in the spinning
room; the girls, many of them older than sixteen, mend the broken ends of
the yarn at the spinning frames, and the boys remove the full bobbins and
fix empty ones in their stead. The possible percentage of workers under
sixteen in a spinning mill varies from thirty-five to forty-five. In a
mill which weaves the yarn into cloth, the percentage is greatly reduced,
as practically no one under sixteen can be profitably employed in a weaving

Public sentiment against the employment of children became aroused only
slowly. Crusades against such industrial customs are usually led by
organized labor, by professional philanthropists, by sentimentalists,
and by socialistic agitators. The mill operatives of the South have
shown little disposition to organize themselves and, in fact, have
protested against interference with their right of contract. The South is
only just becoming rich enough to support professional philanthropists, and
an outlet for sentimentality has been found in other directions. There has
been as yet too little disproportion of wealth among the Southern whites
to excite acute jealousy on this ground alone, and the operatives have
earned much more money in the mills than was possible on the farms. In
comparatively few cases does one man, or one family, own a controlling
interest in a mill. The ownership is usually scattered in small holdings,
and there is seldom a Croesus to excite envy. This wide ownership has had
its effect upon the general attitude of the more influential citizens and
hindered the development of active disapproval.

The chief reason for the inertia in labor matters, however, has been the
fact that the South has thought, and to a large extent still thinks, in
terms of agriculture. It has not yet developed an industrial philosophy.
Agriculture is individualistic, and Thomas Jefferson's ideas upon the
functions and limitations of government still have influence. Regulation
of agricultural labor would seem absurd, and the difference between a
family, with or without hired help, working in comparative freedom on a
farm, and scores of individuals working at the same tasks, day after day,
under more or less tension was slow to take shape in the popular
consciousness. It was obvious that the children were not actually
physically abused; almost unanimously they preferred work to school, just
as the city boy does today; and the children themselves opposed most
strongly any proposed return to the farm. The task of the reformers--for
in every State there were earnest men and women who saw the evils of
unrestricted child labor--was difficult. It was the same battle which had
been fought in England and later in New England, when their textile
industries were passing through the same stage of development. Every
student of industrial history realizes that conditions in the South were
neither so hard nor were the hours so long as they had been in England and
New England.

The attempt to apply pressure from without had little influence. Indeed
it is possible that the resentment occasioned by the exaggerated stories
of conditions really hindered the progress of restrictive legislation,
just as the bitter denunciation of the Southern attitude toward the
negro has increased conservatism. Every one knew that the pitiful
stories of abuse or oppression were untrue. No class of laborers
anywhere is more independent than Southern mill operatives. It has been a
long while since a family of even semi-efficient operatives has been
compelled to ask for employment. Runners for other mills, upon the
slightest hint of disaffection, are quick to seek them out and even to
advance the expense of moving and money to pay any debts. It is well known
that families move for the slightest reason or for no reason at all except
a vague unrest. Self-interest, if nothing else, would restrain an overseer
from an act which might send a whole family or perhaps half a dozen
families from his mill.

Gradually the States imposed limitations upon age of employment, hours
of labor, and night work for women and children, which practically meant
limiting or abolishing night work altogether. These restrictions were
slight at first, and the provisions for their enforcement were
inadequate, but succeeding legislatures increased them. Mild compulsory
attendance laws kept some of the children in school and out of the mill.
A more or less substantial body of labor legislation was gradually
growing up, when state regulation was stopped by the action of the
Federal Government. Since the first Federal Child Labor Act was declared
unconstitutional, several States have strengthened laws previously
existing, and have further reduced the hours of labor.

Until comparatively recently whatever provision was made for the social
betterment of the operatives depended upon the active manager of the
particular mill. Some assumed a patriarchal attitude and attempted to
provide those things which they thought the operatives should have.
Others took little or no responsibility, except perhaps to make a
contribution to all the churches represented in the community. This
practice is almost universal, and if the term of the public school is
short, it is usually extended by a contribution from the mill treasury.
During recent years much more has been done. Partly from an awakening
sense of social responsibility and partly from a realization that it is
good business to do so, the bigger mills have made large expenditures to
improve the condition of their operatives. They have provided reading
rooms and libraries, have opened many recreation rooms and playgrounds,
and have furnished other facilities for entertainment. Some of the mills
have athletic fields, and a few support semi-professional baseball
teams. At some mills community buildings have been erected, which
sometimes contain, in addition to public rooms, baths, and a swimming
pool, an office for a visiting nurse and rooms which an adviser in
domestic science may use for demonstration. The older women are hard to
teach, but not a few of the girls take an interest in the work. Nothing
is more needed than instruction in domestic science. The operatives
spend a large proportion of their income upon food--for the rent they
pay is trifling--but the items are not always well chosen, and the
cooking is often bad. To the monotonous dietary to which they were
accustomed on the farms they add many luxuries to be had in the mill
town, but these are often ruined by improper preparation. Owing to this
lack of domestic skill many operatives apparently suffer from
malnutrition, though they spend more than enough money to supply an
abundance of nourishing food.

Not many years ago the improvidence of the mill operatives was
proverbial. Wages were generally spent as fast as they were earned, and
often extravagantly. Little attempt was made to cultivate gardens or to
make yards attractive, with the result that a factory village with its
monotonous rows of unkempt houses was a depressing sight. The "factory
people," many of whom had been nomad tenant farmers seldom living long
in the same place, had never thought of attempting to beautify their
surroundings, and the immediate neighborhood of the mill to which they
moved was often bare and unlovely and afforded little encouragement to

The improvident family is still common, and many ugly mill villages yet
exist, but one who has watched the development of the cotton industry in
the South for twenty-five years has seen great changes in these
respects. Thousands of families are saving money today. Some buy homes;
others set up one member of the family in a small business; and a few
buy farms. More than seventy-five families have left one mill village
during the last ten years to buy farms with their savings, but this
instance is rather unusual; comparatively few families return to the
land. Efforts have been made to develop a community spirit, and the
results are perceptible. Many mill villages are now really attractive.
Scores of mills have had their grounds laid out by a landscape
architect, and a mill covered with ivy and surrounded by well-kept lawns
and flower beds is no longer exceptional. In scores of mill communities
annual prizes are offered for the best vegetable garden, the most
attractive premises, and the best kept premises from a sanitary

The Southern operative is too close to the soil to be either socialistic
in his views or collectivistic in his attitude. The labor agitator has
found sterile soil for his propaganda. Yet signs of a dawning class
consciousness are appearing. As always, the first manifestation is
opposition to the dominant political party or faction. This has not yet,
however, been translated into any considerable number of Republican
votes, except in North Carolina. In the other States, the votes of the
factory operatives seem to be cast in something of a block, in the
primary elections. The demagogic Blease is said to have found much of
his support in South Carolina in the factory villages.

Employees in other industries show so much diversity that few general
statements can be made concerning them. The workers in the furniture
factories--who are chiefly men, as few women or children can be employed
in this industry--are few in number compared with the male employees in
the cotton mills and, except in the case of a few towns, can hardly be
discussed as a group at all. Both whites and negroes are employed, but
the white man is usually in the responsible post, though a few negroes
tend important machines. The general average of education and
intelligence among the whites is higher here than in the cotton mills,
and wages are likewise higher. Conditions in other establishments making
articles of wood are practically the same.

Lumber mills range from a small neighborhood sawmill with a handful of
employees to the great organizations which push railroads into the deep
woods and strip a mountain side or devastate the lowlands. Such
organizations require a great number of laborers, whom they usually feed
and to whom they issue from a "commissary" various necessary articles
which are charged against the men's wages. As the work is hard, it has
not been at all uncommon for employees who had received large advances
to decamp. The companies, however, took advantage of various laws
similar to those mentioned in the chapter on agriculture to have these
deserters arrested and to have them, when convicted, "hired out" to the
very company or employer from whom they had fled. Conditions resulting
from this practice in some of the States of the Lower South became so
scandalous about 1905 that numerous individuals were tried in the courts
and were convicted of holding employees in a state of peonage. In 1911
the Supreme Court of the United States declared unconstitutional the
law of Alabama regarding contract of service.[1] This law regarded the
nonfulfillment of a contract on which an advance had been made as _prima
facie_ evidence of intent to defraud and thus gave employers immense
power over their employees. Conditions have therefore undoubtedly
improved since the peonage trials, but the lumber industry is one in
which the labor has apparently everywhere been casual, migratory, and

[Footnote 1: Bailey _vs._ Alabama, 219 U.S., 219.]

The manufacture of tobacco shows as much diversity of labor conditions
as the lumber industry. There are small establishments with little
machinery which manufacture plug and smoking tobacco and are open only a
few months in the year, as well as those which cover half a dozen city
blocks. In the smaller factories the majority of the laborers are black,
but in the larger establishments both negroes and whites are employed.
Sometimes they do the same sort of work on opposite sides of the same
room. In some departments negro and white men work side by side, while
in others only whites or only negroes are found. The more complicated
machines are usually tended by whites, and the filling and inspection of
containers is ordinarily done by white girls, who are also found in
large numbers in the cigarette factories. Not many years ago the
tobacco industry was supposed to belong to the negro, but with the
introduction of machinery he has lost his monopoly, though on account of
the expansion of the industry the total number of negroes employed is
greater than ever before.

In the smaller factories labor is usually paid by the day, but in the
larger establishments every operation possible is on a piecework basis.
These operations are so related in a series that a slacker feels the
displeasure of those who follow him and depend upon him for a supply of
material. In the smaller factories the work is regarded somewhat in the
light of a summer holiday, as the tasks are simple and the operatives
talk and sing at their work. This social element largely disappears,
however, with the introduction of machinery. As might be expected in a
labor force composed of men, women, and children, both white and black,
with some engaged in manual labor and others tending complicated
machines, there is little solidarity. An organized strike including any
large percentage of the force in a tobacco factory is a practical
impossibility. Those engaged in a particular process may strike and in
consequence tie up the processes depending upon them, but any sort of
industrial friction is uncommon. The general level of wages has been
steadily rising, and among the negroes the tobacco workers are the
aristocrats of the wage earners and are content with their situation. Since
the larger factories are almost invariably in the cities, the homes of the
workers are scattered and not collected in communities as around the cotton

Experiments have been made in employing negro operatives in the textile
industry, so far with little success, though the capacity of the negro
for such employment has not yet been disproved. Though several cotton
mills which made the experiment failed, in every case there were
difficulties which might have caused a similar failure even with white
operatives. Negroes have been employed successfully in some hosiery
mills and in a few small silk mills. The increasing scarcity of labor,
especially during the Great War, has led to the substitution of negroes
for whites in a number of knitting mills. Some successful establishments
are conducted with negro labor but the labor force is either all white
or all black except that white overseers are always, or nearly always

An important hindrance in the way of the success of negroes in these
occupations is their characteristic dislike of regularity and punctuality.
As the negro has acquired these virtues to some extent at least in the
tobacco industry, there seems to be no reason to suppose that in time he
may not succeed also in textiles, in which the work is not more difficult
than in other tasks of which negroes have proved themselves capable. So far
the whites have not resented the occasional introduction of black
operatives into the textile industry. If the negroes become firmly
established while the demand for operatives continues to be greater than
the supply, race friction on this account is unlikely, but if they are
introduced in the future as strikebreakers, trouble is sure to arise. In
the mines, blast furnaces, oil mills, and fertilizer factories the negroes
do the hardest and most unpleasant tasks, work which in the North is done
by recent immigrants.

The negroes are almost entirely unorganized and are likely to remain so
for a long time. Few negroes accumulate funds enough to indulge in the
luxury of a strike, and they have shown little tendency to organize or
support unions. However, their devotion to their lodges shows the
loyalty of which they are capable, and their future organization is not
beyond the range of possibility. Generally the South has afforded little
encouragement to organized labor. Even the white workers, except in the
cities and in a few skilled trades, have shown until recently little
tendency to organize. In the towns and villages they are not sharply
differentiated from the other elements of the population. They look upon
themselves as citizens rather than as members of the laboring class.
Except in a few of the larger towns one does not hear of "class conflict";
and the "labor vote," when by any chance a Socialist or a labor candidate
is nominated, is not large enough to be a factor in the result.

During 1918 and 1919, however, renewed efforts to organize Southern
labor met with some success particularly in textile and woodworking
establishments, though the tobacco industry and public utilities were
likewise affected. The efforts of employers to prevent the formation of
unions led to lockouts and strikes during which there was considerable
disorder and some bloodshed. Communities which had known of such
disputes only from hearsay stood amazed. The workers generally gained
recognition of their right to organize, and their success may mean
greater industrial friction in the future.



For a century, the presence of the negro in the United States has
divided the nation. Though the Civil War finally decided some questions
about his status, others affecting his place in the social order
remained unsettled; new controversies have arisen; and no immediate
agreement is in sight. Interest in the later phases of the race question
has found expression in scores of books, hundreds of articles, thousands
of orations and addresses, and unlimited private discussions which have
generally produced more heat than light. The question has kept different
sections of the country apart and has created bitterness which will long
endure. Moreover, this discussion about ten million people has produced
an effect upon them, and the negroes are beginning to feel that they
constitute a problem.

Differing attitudes toward the negro generally arise from fundamentally
different postulates.

Many Northerners start with the assumption that the negro is a black
Saxon and argue that his faults and deficiencies arise from the
oppression he has endured. At the other extreme are those who hold that
the negro is fundamentally different from the white man and inferior to
him: and some go so far as to say that he is incapable of development.
Fifty years ago General John Pope predicted, with a saving reservation,
hat the negroes of Georgia would soon surpass the whites in education,
culture, and wealth. Other predictions, similar in tone, were common in the
reports of various philanthropic associations. Obviously these
prophecies have not been fulfilled; but it is just as evident that the
predictions that the former slaves would relapse into barbarism and starve
have also not been realized. Practically every prophecy or generalization
made before 1890 with regard to the future of the negro has been
discredited by the events of the passing years.

It is perhaps worth while to take stock of what this race has
accomplished in America during something more than fifty years of
freedom. The negro has lived beside the white man and has increased in
numbers, though at a somewhat slower rate than the white. The census of
1870 was inaccurate and incomplete in the South, and in consequence the
census of 1880 seemed to show a phenomenal increase in the negro
population. Upon this supposed increase was based the theory that the South
would soon be overwhelmingly black. From the historical standpoint, Albion
W. Tourgee's _Appeal to Caesar_ is interesting as a perfect example of this
type of deduction, for he could see only a black South. The three censuses
taken since 1880 definitely establish the fact that the net increase of
negro population is smaller than that of the white. This seems to have been
true at every census since 1810, and the proportion of negroes to the total
population of the nation grows steadily, though slowly, smaller.[1]

[Footnote 1: Though the negro increase is smaller than the white,
nevertheless the 4,441,930 negroes in 1860 had increased to 9,827,763 in
1910. Of this number 8,749,427 lived in the Southern States, and
1,078,336 in the Northern. That is to say, 89 per cent of the negroes
lived in the three divisions classed as Southern, 10.5 per cent in the
four divisions classed as Northern and 0.5 per cent in the two Western
divisions. Since 1790 the center of negro population has been moving
toward the Southwest and has now reached northeast Alabama. Migration to
the North and West has been considerable since emancipation. In 1910
there were 415,533 negroes born in the South but living in the North,
and, owing to this migration, the percentage of increase of negro
population outside the South has been larger than the average. Between
1900 and 1910 the increase in the New England States was 12.2 per cent
and in the East North Central 16.7 per cent. The mountain divisions show
a large percentage of increase, but as there were in both of them
together less than 51,000 negroes, comprising less than 1 per cent of
the population, it is evident that the negro is not a serious factor in
the West. The negroes form an insignificant component (less than 5 per
cent) of the population of any Northern State, though in some Northern
cities the number of negroes is considerable. See _Abstract of the
Thirteenth Census of the United States,_ p. 78.]

Between 1900 and 1910, the native white population increased 20.9 per
cent while the negro population increased only 11.2 per cent. This
smaller increase in the later decade is due partly to negro migration to
the cities. It is believed that among the city negroes, particularly in
the North, the death rate is higher than the birth rate. The excessive
death rate results largely from crowded and unsanitary quarters.

Since 1910, the migration of negroes to the North has been larger than
before. The increase was not unusual, however, until the beginning of
the Great War. Up to that time the majority had been engaged in domestic
and personal service, but with the practical cessation of immigration
from Europe, a considerable number of negro laborers moved to the
Northern States. Indeed, in some Southern communities the movement
almost reached the proportions of an exodus. Until the next census there
is no means of estimating with any approach to accuracy the extent of
this migration. The truth is probably somewhere in between the published
estimates which range from 300,000 to 1,000,000. The investigations of
the United States Department of Labor indicate the smaller number.

The motives for this northward migration are various. The offer of
higher wages is the most important. The desire to get for their children
greater educational advantages than are offered in the South is also
impelling. The belief that race prejudice is less strong in the North is
another inducement to leave the South, for "Jim Crow" cars and political
disfranchisement have irritated many. Finally the dread of lynch law may
be mentioned as a motive for migration, though its actual importance may
be doubted. Not all the negroes who have moved to the North have
remained there. Many do not allow for the higher cost of food and
shelter in their new home, and these demands upon the higher wages leave
a smaller margin than was expected. Others find the climate too severe,
while still others are unable or unwilling to work regularly at the
speed demanded.

The overwhelming mass of the negro population in the South, and
therefore in the nation, is still rural, though among them, as among the
whites, the drift toward the cities is marked. The chief occupations are
agriculture, general jobbing not requiring skilled labor, and domestic
service, although there is a scattered representation of negroes in
almost every trade, business, and profession. In 1865 the amount of
property held by negroes was small. A few free negroes were upon the
tax-books, and former masters sometimes made gifts of property to
favorites among the liberated slaves, but the whole amount was trifling
compared with the total number of negroes. In 1910, in the Southern
States, title to 15,691,536 acres of land was held by negroes, and the
equity was large. This amount represents an increase of over 2,330,000
acres since 1900 but is nevertheless only 4.4 per cent of the total farm
land in the South. As tenants or managers, negroes cultivated in addition
nearly 27,000,000 acres. In other words, 29.8 per cent of the population
owned 4.4 per cent of the land and cultivated 12 per cent of it. The total
value of the land owned was $273,000,000, an average of $1250 to the

[Footnote 1: It must be noted, however, that during the decade ending in
1910, the percentage of increase in negro farm owners was 17 as against
12 for the whites, and of increase in the value of their holdings was
156 per cent as against 116 per cent for whites, while the proportion of
white tenants increased. The other property of the negro can only be
estimated, as most States do not list the races separately. The census
for 1910 reports 430,449 homes, rural and urban, owned by negroes, and of
these 314,340 were free of encumbrance, compared with a total of 327,537
homes in 1900, of which 229,158 were free. Further discussion of the
part of the negro in agriculture will be found in another chapter.]

Speaking broadly, the right of the negro to work at any sort of manual
or mechanical labor is not questioned in the South. Negroes and whites
work together on the farm, and a negro may rent land almost anywhere. In
thousands of villages and towns one may see negro plumbers, carpenters,
and masons working by the side of white men. A negro shoemaker or
blacksmith may get the patronage of whites at his own shop or may share
a shop with a white man. White and negro teamsters are employed
indiscriminately. Hundreds of negroes serve as firemen or as engineers
of stationary steam engines. Thousands work in the tobacco factories.
Practically the only distinction made is this: a negro man may work with
white men indoors or out, but he may not work indoors by the side of
white women except in some subordinate capacity, as porter or waiter.
Occasionally he works with white women out of doors. Lack of economic
success therefore cannot be charged entirely or even primarily to racial
discrimination. Where the negro often fails is in lack of reliability,
regularity, and faithfulness. In some occupations he is losing ground. Not
many years ago barbers, waiters, and hotel employees in the South usually
were negroes, but they have lost their monopoly in all these occupations.
White men are taking their place as barbers and white girls now often
serve in dining-rooms and on elevators. On the other hand, the number of
negro seamstresses seems to be increasing. A generation ago, many
locomotive firemen were negroes, but now the proportion is decreasing.
There are hundreds, even thousands, of negro draymen who own teams, and
some of them have become prosperous.

White patronage of negroes in business depends partly upon custom and
partly upon locality. Negroes who keep livery stables and occasionally
garages receive white patronage. In nearly every community there is a
negro woman who bakes cakes for special occasions. Many negroes act as
caterers or keep restaurants, but these must be for whites only or
blacks only, but not for both. A negro market gardener suffers no
discrimination, and a negro grocer may receive white patronage, though
he usually does not attempt to attract white customers. There are a few
negro dairymen, and some get the best prices for their products. Where a
negro manufactures or sells goods in a larger way, as in brickyards,
cement works lumber yards and the like, race prejudice does not
interfere with his trade.

Negro professional men, on the other hand, get little or no white
patronage. No negro pastor preaches to a white congregation, and no
negro teaches in a school for whites. Negro lawyers, dentists, and
doctors are practically never employed by whites. In the past the number
engaged in these professions has been negligible, and that any increase
in the total of well trained negro professional men will make an
immediate change in the attitude of whites is unlikely. The relation of
lawyer and client or physician and patient presumes a certain intimacy
and subordination to greater wisdom which the white man is not willing
to acknowledge where a negro is involved. Negro women, trained or
partially trained, are employed as nurses, however, in increasing

In 1865, the great mass of negroes was wholly illiterate. Some of the
free negroes could read and write, and a few had graduated at some
Northern college. Though the laws which forbade teaching slaves to read
or write were not generally enforced, only favored house servants
received instruction. It is certain that the percentage of illiteracy
was at least 90, and possibly as high as 95. This has been progressively
reduced until in 1910 the proportion of the illiterate negro population
ten years old or over was 30.4 per cent, and the number of college and
university graduates was considerable though the proportion was small.
Since the percentage of native white illiteracy in the United States is
but 3, the negro is evidently ten times as illiterate as the native
white. This comparison is not fair to the negro, however, for illiteracy
in the urban communities in the United States is less than in the rural
districts, owing largely to better educational facilities in the cities;
and 82.3 per cent of the negro population is rural.[1]

[Footnote 1: In New England negro illiteracy is 7.1 per cent in the
cities and 16.9 per cent in the rural communities. Then, too, the great
masses of negroes live in States which are predominantly rural and in
which the percentage of white illiteracy is also high. The percentage of
native white illiteracy in the rural districts of the South Atlantic
States is 9.8 and in the East South Central is 11.1 per cent. Negro
illiteracy in the corresponding divisions is 36.1 per cent and 37.8 per
cent. In the urban communities of these divisions, illiteracy on the
part of both whites and negroes is less. Native white illiteracy is 1.1
per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively, while negro illiteracy in the
towns was 21.4 and 23.8 per cent respectively.]

The negroes along with the whites have suffered and still suffer from
the inadequate school facilities of the rural South. The percentage of
illiterate negro children between the ages of ten and fourteen in the
country as a whole was only 18.9 per cent compared with the general
average of 30.4 for the negroes as a whole. It is evident, then, that as
the negroes now fifty years old and over die off, the illiteracy of the
whole mass will continue to drop, for it is in the older group that the
percentage of illiterates is highest. It must not be concluded from
these figures that negro illiteracy is not a grave problem, nor that
negro ability is equal to that of the whites, nor that the negro has
taken full advantage of such opportunities as have been open to him. It
does appear, however, that the proportion of negro illiteracy is not
entirely his fault.

The negro fleeing from discrimination in the South has not always found
a fraternal welcome in the North, for the negro mechanic has generally
been excluded from white unions and has often been denied the
opportunity to work at his trade.[1] He has also found difficulty in
obtaining living accommodations and there has been much race friction.
It is perhaps a question worth asking whether any considerable number of
white men of Northern European stock are without an instinctive dislike
of those manifestly unlike themselves.

[Footnote 1: The American Federation of Labor in 1919 voted to take
steps to recognize and admit negro unions.]

The history of the contact between such stocks and the colored races
shows instance after instance of refusal to recognize the latter as
social or political equals. Indian, East Indian, and African have all
been subjected to the domination of the whites. There have been many
cases of illicit mating, of course, but the white man has steadily
refused to legitimize these unions. The South European, on the contrary,
has mingled freely with the natives of the countries he has colonized
and to some extent has been swallowed up by the darker mass. Mexico,
Brazil, Cuba, the Portuguese colonies in different parts of the world,
are obvious examples.[1]

[Footnote 1: How much of this difference in attitude is due to lack of
pride in race integrity and how much to religion is a question. The
Roman Catholic Church, which is dominant in Southern Europe, does not
encourage such inter-racial marriages, but, on the other hand, it does
not forbid them or pronounce them unlawful. Yet this cannot explain the
whole difference. There seems to be another factor.]

In the Southern States the white man has made certain decisions
regarding the relation of blacks and whites and is enforcing them
without regard to the negro's wishes. The Southerner is convinced that
the negro is inferior and acts upon that conviction. There is no
suggestion that the laws forbidding intermarriage be repealed, or that
separate schools be discontinued. Restaurants and hotels must cater to
one race only. Most of the States require separation of the races in
common carriers and even in railway stations. The laws require that
"equal accommodations" shall be furnished on railroads, but violations
are frequently evident, as the railways often assign old or inferior
equipment to the negroes. In street cars one end is often assigned to
negroes and the other to whites, and therefore the races alternate in
the use of the same seats when the car turns back at the end of the
line. The division in a railway station may be nothing more than a bar
or a low fence across the room, and one ticket office with different
windows may serve both races.

Some of these regulations are defended on the ground that by reducing
close contact they lessen the chances of race conflict. That such a
result is measurably attained is probable, and the comfort of traveling
is increased for the whites at least. William Archer, the English
journalist and author, in _Through Afro-America says_, "I hold the
system of separate cars a legitimate means of defence against constant
discomfort," and most travelers will approve his verdict. The chief
reason for such regulations, however, is to assert and emphasize white
superiority. Half a dozen black nurses with their charges may sit in the
car reserved for whites, because they are obviously dependents engaged in
personal service. Without such relationship, however, not one of them would
be allowed to remain. It is not so much the presence of the negro to which
the whites object but to that presence in other than an inferior capacity.
his is the explanation of much of the so-called race prejudice in the
South: it is not prejudice against the individual negro but is rather a
determination to assert white superiority. So long as the negro is plainly
dependent and recognizes that dependency, the question of prejudice does
not arise, and there is much kindly intimacy between individuals. The
Southern white man or white woman of the better class is likely to
protect and help many negroes at considerable cost of time, labor, and
money, but the relationship is always that of superior and inferior. If
a suggestion of race equality creeps in, antagonism is at once aroused.

It is the fashion to speak of the "old-time negro" and the "new negro."
The types are easily recognizable. One is quiet, unobtrusive, more or
less industrious. He "knows his place"--which may mean anything from
servility to self-respecting acceptance of his lot in life. The other
resents more or less openly the discrimination against his race, and this
resentment may range from impertinence to sullenness and even to dreams of
social equality imposed by force. Some have a smattering of education
while others, who have been subjected to little training or discipline,
are indolent and shiftless. The thoughtless, however, are likely to
include in this classification the industrious, intelligent negro who
orders his conduct along the same lines as the white man.

This last type, it is true, is sometimes regarded with suspicion. Many
men and women in the South fear the progress of the negro. They do not
realize that the South cannot really make satisfactory progress while
any great proportion of the population is relatively inefficient. Some
fear the negro's demand to be treated as a man. On the other hand, many
negroes demand to be treated as men, while ignoring or perhaps not
realizing the fact that, to be treated as a man, one must play a man's
part. As Booker Washington put the matter, many are more interested in
getting recognition than in getting something to recognize. Many are
much more interested in their rights than in their duties. To be sure
the negro is not alone in this, for the same attitude is to be found in
immigrants coming from the socially and politically backward states of
Europe. The ordinary negro, however, apparently does not think much of
such problems of the future, though no white man is likely to know
precisely what he does think. He goes about his business or his pleasure
seemingly at peace with the world, though perhaps he sings somewhat less
than he once did. He attends his church and the meetings of his lodge or
lodges, and works more or less regularly. Probably the great majority of
negroes more nearly realize their ambitions than do the whites. They do
not aspire to high position, and discrimination does not burn them quite
as deeply as the sometimes too sympathetic white man who tries to put
himself in their place may think.

There are, however, some individuals to whom the ordinary conditions of
any negro's life appear particularly bitter. With mental ability,
education, and aesthetic appreciation often comparable to those of the
whites, and with more than normal sensitiveness, they find the color
line an intolerable insult, since it separates them from what they value
most. They rage at the barrier which shuts them out from the society
which they feel themselves qualified to enter, and they are always on
the alert to discern injuries. These injuries need not be positive, for
neglect is quite as strong a grievance.

These individuals all spell negro with a capital and declare that they
are proud of their race. They parade its achievements--and these are not
small when enumerated all at once--but they avoid intimate association
with the great mass of negroes. They are not at all democratic, and in a
negro state they would assume the privileges of an aristocracy as a
matter of right. It would seem that their demand for full political and
social rights for all negroes has for its basis not so much the welfare
of the race as a whole, as the possibility of obtaining for themselves
special privileges and positions of leadership. They are not satisfied
merely with full legal rights. In those States where there is no legal
discrimination in public places, their denunciation of social prejudice
is bitter. They are not content to take their chances with other groups
but sometimes are illogical enough to demand social equality enforced by
law, though by this phrase they mean association with the whites merely
for themselves; they do not wish other negroes less developed than
themselves to associate with them.

In any city where there is any considerable number of this class, there
is a section of negro society in which social lines are drawn as strictly
as in the most aristocratic white community. To prove that the negroes are
not emotional, these aristocrats among them are likely to insist upon rigid
formality in their church services and upon meticulous correctness in all
the details of social gatherings. Since many of these individuals have a
very large admixture of white blood, occasionally one crosses the barrier
and "goes white." Removal to a new town or city gives the opportunity to
cut loose from all previous associations and to start a new life. The
transition is extremely difficult, of course, and requires much care and
discretion, but it has been made. The greater part of them nevertheless
remain negroes in the eyes of the law, however much they strive to
separate themselves in thought and action from the rest of their kind.
It is this small class of "intellectuals" who were Booker T.
Washington's bitterest enemies. His theory that the negro should first
devote himself to obtaining economic independence and should leave the
adjustment of social relations to the future was denounced as treason to
the race. Washington's opportunism was even more obnoxious to them than
is the superior attitude of the whites. They denounced him as a trimmer,
a time-server, and a traitor, and on occasion they hissed him from the
platform. From their safe refuges in Northern cities, some negro orators
and editors have gone so far as to advocate the employment of the knife and
the torch to avenge real or fancied wrongs, but these counsels have done
little harm for they have not been read by those to whom they were
addressed. Perhaps, indeed, they may not have been meant entirely
seriously, for the negro, like other emotional peoples, sometimes plays
with words without realizing their full import.

On the whole there is surprisingly little friction between the blacks
and the whites. One may live a long time in many parts of the South
without realizing that the most important problem of the United States
lies all about him. Then an explosion comes, and he realizes that much
of the South is on the edge of a volcano. For a time the white South
attempted to divest itself of responsibility for the negro. He had
turned against those who had been his friends and had followed after
strange gods; therefore let him go his way alone. This attitude never
was universal nor was it consistently maintained, for there is hardly
one of the older negroes who does not have a white man to whom he goes
for advice or help in time of trouble--a sort of patron, in fact. Many a
negro has been saved from the chain gang or the penitentiary because of
such friendly interest, and many have been positively helped thereby
toward good citizenship. Nevertheless there has been a tendency on the
part of the whites to remain passive, to wait until the negro asked for

Undoubtedly there is now developing in the South a growing sense of
responsibility for the welfare of the negro. The negro quarters of the
towns, so long neglected, are receiving more attention from the street
cleaners; better sidewalks are being built; and the streets are better
lighted. The sanitary officers are more attentive. The landowner is
building better cabins for his tenants and is encouraging them to plant
gardens and to raise poultry and pigs. The labor contractor is providing
better quarters, though conditions in many lumber and construction camps
are still deplorable. Observant lawyers and judges say that they see an
increasing number of cases in which juries evidently decide points of
doubt in favor of negro defendants, even where white men are concerned.
Socially minded citizens are forcing improvement of the disgraceful
conditions which have often prevailed on chain gangs and in prisons. Nor is
this all. More white men and women are teaching negroes than ever before.
The oldest university in the United States points proudly to the number of
Sunday schools for negroes conducted by its students, and it is not alone
in this high endeavor. Many Southern colleges and universities are studying
the negro problem from all sides and are trying to help in its solution.
The visiting nurses in the towns spend a large proportion of their time
among the negroes, striving to teach hygiene and sanitation. White men
frequently lecture before negro schools. Since the beginning of the Great
War negro women have been encouraged to aid in Red Cross work. Negroes have
been appointed members of city or county committees of defense and have
worked with the whites in many branches of patriotic endeavor. Negroes
have subscribed liberally in proportion to their means for Liberty Bonds
and War Savings Stamps and have given liberally to war work.

The growth of a sense of responsibility for the welfare of the negro
upon the part of the more thoughtful and more conscientious portion of
the white population has reduced racial friction in many communities.
White women are evincing more interest in the morals of black women than
was usual fifteen or twenty years ago. Ostracism is more likely to visit
a white man who crosses the line. There is no means of knowing the
actual amount of illicit intercourse, but the most competent observers
believe it to be decreasing. Though the percentage of mulattoes has
increased since 1890, according to the census, the figures are
confessedly inaccurate, and the increase can be easily accounted for by
the marriage of mulattoes with negroes, and the consequent diffusion of
white blood. An aspiring negro is likely to seek a mulatto wife, and
their children will be classed as mulattoes by the enumerators.

Except for the demagogues, whose abuse of the negro is their stock in
trade, the most bitter denunciations come from those nearest to him in
economic status. The town loafers, the cotton mill operatives, the small
farmers, particularly the tenant farmers, are those who most frequently
clash with both the impertinent and the self-respecting negro. In their
eyes self-respect may not be differentiated from insolence. If a negro
is not servile, they are likely to class him as impertinent or worse.
The political success of Blease of South Carolina, Vardaman of
Mississippi, and the late Jeff. Davis of Arkansas is largely due to
their appeal to these types of whites. The negro on the other hand may
resent the assumption of superiority on the part of men perhaps less
efficient than himself. Obviously friction may arise under such conditions.

The mobs which have so often stained the reputation of the South by
defiance of the law and by horrible cruelty as well do not represent the
best elements of the South. The statement so often made that the most
substantial citizens of a community compose lynching parties may have
been partially true once, but it is not true today. These mobs are
chiefly made up from the lowest third of the white community. Perhaps the
persistence of the belief has prevented the wiser part of the population
from stamping out such lawlessness; perhaps some lingering feeling of
mistaken loyalty to the white race restrains them from strong action;
perhaps the individualism of the Southerner has interfered with general
acceptance of the idea of the inexorable majesty of the law which must be
vindicated at any cost. Yet, in spite of all these undercurrents of
feeling, sheriffs and private citizens do on occasion brave the fury of
enraged mobs to rescue or to protect. Attempts to prosecute participants in
such mobs usually fail in the South as elsewhere, but occasionally a jury

The tradition that, years ago, lynching was only invoked in punishment
of the unspeakable crime is more or less true. It is not true now. The
statistics of lynching which are frequently presented are obviously
exaggerated, as they include many cases which are simply the results of
the sort of personal encounters which might and do occur anywhere. There
is a tendency to class every case of homicide in which a negro is the
victim as a lynching, which is manifestly unfair; but even though
liberal allowance be made for this error, in the total of about 3000
cases tabulated in the last thirty years, the undisputed instances of mob
violence are shamefully numerous. Rape is by no means the only crime thus
punished; sometimes the charge is so trivial that one recoils in horror at
the thought of taking human life as a punishment.

Yet it must not be forgotten that over certain parts of the South a
nameless dread is always hovering. In some sections an unaccompanied
white woman dislikes to walk through an unlighted village street at
night; she hesitates to drive along a lonely country road in broad
daylight without a pistol near her hand; and she does not dare to walk
through the woods alone. The rural districts are poorly policed and the
ears of the farmer working in the field are always alert for the sound of
the bell or the horn calling for help, perhaps from his own home.
Occasionally, in spite of all precautions some human animal, inflamed by
brooding upon the unattainable, leaves a victim outraged and dead, or
worse than dead. Granted that such a crime occurs in a district only once
in ten, or even in twenty years; that is enough. Rural folks have long
memories, and in the back of their minds persists an uncontrollable
morbid dread. The news of another victim sometimes turns men into fiends
who not only take life but even inflict torture beforehand. The mere
suspicion of intent is sometimes enough to deprive such a community of its
reason, for there are communities which have brooded over the possibility
of the commission of the inexpiable crime until the residents are not quite
sane upon this matter. Naturally calmness and forbearance in dealing with
other and less heinous forms of negro crime are not always found in such
a neighborhood. This fact helps to explain, though not to excuse, some of
the riots that occur.

The better element in the South, however, opposes mob violence, and this
opposition is growing stronger and more purposeful. Associations have
been formed to oppose mob rule and to punish participants. Where
reputable citizens are lukewarm it is largely because they have not
realized that the old tradition that lynching is the proper remedy for
rape cannot stand. If sudden, sharp retribution were inflicted upon
absolute proof, only for this one cause, it is doubtful whether much
effective opposition could be enlisted. Yet wiser men have seen defiance
of law fail to stop crime, have seen mobs act upon suspicions afterward
proved groundless, have seen mob action widely extended, and have seen
the growth of a spirit of lawlessness. Where one mob has had its way,
another is always more easily aroused, and soon the administration of
the law becomes a farce. In some years hardly a third of the victims of
this summary process have been charged with rape or intent to commit
rape. As a consequence the sentiment that the law should take its course
in every case is steadily growing.[1]

[Footnote 1: The statistics on lynching do not always agree. Those
compiled at Tuskegee Institute list 38 cases for 1917 and 62 for 1918.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in its
report _Thirty Years of Lynching_ (1919) reports 67 cases for 1918, and
325 cases for the five-year period ending with 1918, of which 304 are
said to have occurred in the South.]

Though mob fury has broken out on occasion in every Southern State,
Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina are measurably
free from such visitations. Over considerable periods of time, Georgia
comes unenviably first, followed by Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana.
These four States have furnished a large majority of the lynchings. The
other States range between the two groups, though in proportion to the
negro element in its population Oklahoma has had a disproportionate
share. It may be said that the lynchings occur chiefly in those sections
or counties where the numbers of whites and negroes are nearly equal.
They are fewer in the black belt and in those counties and States where
whites are in an overwhelming majority.

No man has been wise enough to propose any solution of the negro
question which does not require an immediate and radical change in human
nature. As the proportion of negroes able to read and write grows
larger, they will certainly demand full political rights, which the mass
of the whites, so far as any one can judge, will be unwilling to allow.
Deportation to Africa--proposed in all seriousness--is impossible. Negro
babies are born faster than they could easily be carried away, even if
there were no other obstacle. The suggestion that whites be expelled
from a State or two, which would then be turned over to negroes, is
likewise impracticable. Amalgamation apparently is going on more slowly
now, and more rapid progress would presuppose a state of society and an
attitude toward the negro entirely different from that which prevails
anywhere in the United States. There is left then the theory that, with
increasing wealth and wider diffusion of education, or even without them,
he negro must take his place on equal terms in the American political
and social system. This theory, of course, requires an absolute reversal
of attitude upon the part of many millions of whites.

Color and race prejudice are stubborn things, and California and South
Africa are no more free from such prejudices than the Southern States.
In fact, South Africa is today wrestling with a problem much like that
of the United States and is succeeding no better in solving it. The
movement of negroes to the North and West, if continued on any large
scale, seems likely to mean simply the diffusion of the problem and not
its solution.



Apologists for Reconstruction have repeatedly asserted that the
Reconstruction governments gave to the South a system of public schools
unknown up to that time, with the implication that this boon more than
compensated for the errors of those years. The statement has been so
often made, and by some who should have known better, that it has
generally been accepted at its face value. The status of public
education in the South in 1860, it is true, was not satisfactory, and
the percentage of illiteracy was high. Any attempt to distract attention
from these facts by pointing out the great proportion of the Southern
white population in colleges and academies is as much to be deprecated
as the denial of the existence of public schools at all.[1]

[Footnote 1: Some States had done little for public schools before 1860,
but others had made more than a respectable beginning. Delaware
established a "literary fund" in 1796, Tennessee in 1806, Virginia in
1810, Maryland in 1813, and Georgia in 1817. Kentucky and
Mississippi soon followed their example; North Carolina began to create
such a fund in 1825; Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland,
North Carolina, and South Carolina appropriated a part or the whole of
their shares of the "surplus" distributed by the Federal Government
under the Act of 1836 to increase these funds or establish new ones for
the support of schools; and some States levied considerable taxes for
the support of educational institutions.]

In general the public schools of the South began as charity schools, but
this was also the case in several of the older States in other parts of
the country. These schools were generally poorly taught in the early
years, and it has been questioned whether the training which the pupils
received compensated them for the humiliating acknowledgment of poverty
which their attendance implied. The amount of money available was small,
and the teacher was generally inefficient or worse, but these "old field
schools" did help some men on their way. Several States went beyond the
idea of charity in education, and some of the towns and cities
established excellent schools for all the people.

The literary fund in North Carolina, for example, amounted to nearly
$2,250,000 in 1840. The rapid increase of this fund had led to the
establishment of public schools in 1839. To every district which raised
$20 by local taxation, twice that amount was given from the income of the
literary fund. With the election of Calvin H. Wiley as state superintendent
of education in 1852, substantial progress began. In 1860 there were over
3000 schools, and the total expenditure was $279,000. The number of
illiterates had fallen proportionately and actually, and ten years more of
uninterrupted work would have done much to remove the stigma of illiteracy.
The school fund was left intact during the Civil War, and most of the
counties continued to levy school taxes. A part of the fund was lost,
however, through the failure of the banks in which it was invested, and the
remainder was squandered by the Reconstruction government. In spite of all
discouragements, Superintendent Wiley held on until deposed by the
provisional governor in 1865. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that
the schools of this State were better in 1860 than they were in 1880.

During the Reconstruction period a system of schools was established in
every one of the seceding States. On paper these schemes were often
admirable. Usually they were modeled after the system in the State from
which some influential carpetbagger came, and under normal conditions,
if honestly and judiciously administered, they would have answered their
ostensible purposes and would have done much to raise the intellectual
level of the population. Conditions, however, were not normal. The
production of wealth was hindered, and taxes had been increased to the
point of confiscation. In States which had been ravaged by war, and of
which the whole economic and social systems had been dislocated, an undue
proportion of the total social income was demanded for the schools. Under
existing conditions the communities could not support the schemes of
education which had been projected. This fact is enough to account for
their failure, for when an individual or a community is unable to pay the
price demanded, it matters little how desirable or laudable the object
may be.

As if to make failure doubly certain, the schools were neither honestly
nor judiciously administered. Much money was deliberately stolen, and
much more was wasted. Extravagant salaries were paid to favorites, and
unnecessary equipment was bought at exorbitant prices. The authorities
in several States seemed more interested in the idea of educating negro
children with white children than in the real process of education.
Though in but four States--South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and
Arkansas--were mixed schools the only schools, such an arrangement was
understood to be the ultimate goal in several other States. Several of the
state superintendents were negroes, and others were carpetbaggers dependent
upon negro votes. Before the end of Reconstruction, several of these were
forced to flee to avoid arrest for malfeasance in office. In those States
where mixed schools alone were provided, white children did not attend and
were thus cut off from educational opportunities at public expense. Where
separate schools were provided, the teachers were often carpetbaggers who
strove "to make treason odious." It is hardly surprising that some parents
objected to having their children forced to sing _John Brown's Body_ and
to yield assent to the proposition that all Southerners were barbarians and
traitors who deserved hanging.

Just after the close of the Civil War, thousands of white women went
South to teach in schools which were established for negroes by Northern
churches or benevolent associations. Every one who reads the reports of
such organizations now, fifty years after, must be touched by the lofty
faith and the burning zeal which impelled many of these educational
missionaries; but he must also be astonished by their ignorance of the
negro and their blindness to actual conditions. They went with an ideal
negro in their minds, and at first, they treated the negro as though he
were their ideal of what a negro ought to be. The phases through which
the majority of these teachers went were enthusiasm, doubt,
disillusionment, and despair. Some left the South and their charges,
holding that conditions were to blame rather than their methods; but others
were clearsighted enough to realize that they had set about solving the
problem in the wrong way.

Beginning with the assumption that the negro was equal or superior to
the white in natural endowment and burning with resentment against his
"oppressors," they attempted to bridge the gap of centuries in a
generation. They were anxious to bring the negro into contact with the
culture of the white race and thereby they strengthened the conclusion
to which the negro had already jumped that educational and manual labor
were an impossible combination. Then, too, in order to prove the
sincerity of their belief in the brotherhood of mankind, they entered
into the most intimate association with their pupils and their families.
Some of them, we know, were compelled to struggle hard to overcome their
instinctive repugnance to such intimacy. All of them taught by
implication, and some by precept as well, that the Southern whites who held
themselves apart were enemies to the blacks. That these teachers did some
good is undoubted, but whether in the end a true balance would show more
good than harm is not so certain.

When the native whites resumed control after the days of Reconstruction,
their first thought was to reduce the expenses of the State. Tax levies
were cut to the bone, school taxes among them. The school funds did not
always suffer proportionately, however. In 1870, when the whites secured
control in North Carolina, the expenditure for public schools in that
State was $152,000. In 1874, the school revenue was over $412,000, and
the number of white pupils was almost the same as in 1860; in addition
55,000 negroes were receiving instruction, but the school term was only
ten weeks. The negro seems to have received in the first years of the
new regime a fair share of the school money, but that share was not
large. The reaction from Reconstruction extravagance was long-continued,
and perhaps has not disappeared today.

Though the South was unable properly to support one efficient system, it
now attempted to maintain two, one for whites and the other for blacks.
Necessarily both systems were inadequate. The usual country school was only
a rude frame or log building, sometimes without glass windows, in which one
untrained teacher, without apparatus or the simplest conveniences,
attempted to give instruction in at least half a dozen subjects to a group
of children of all ages during a period of ten to fifteen weeks a year.
Often even this meager period was divided into a summer and winter term, on
the plea that the older children could not be spared from the farms for the
whole time or that bad roads and stormy weather prevented the youngest from
attending during the winter.

Though it seems almost incredible under such conditions, something was
nevertheless accomplished. Many children, it is true, learned little or
nothing and gave up the pretense of attending school. Others, however,
found something to feed their hungry minds and, when they had exhausted
what their neighborhood school had to offer, they attended the academies
which had been reestablished or had sprung up in the villages nearby or
at the countyseat. Between 1875 and 1890, it was not at all uncommon to
find in such academies grown men and women studying the regular high school
subjects. Some had previously taught rural schools and now sought further
instruction; and others had worked on the farms or had been in business.
Men of twenty-five or thirty sat in classes with town children of fifteen
or sixteen, but made such a large proportion of the total attendance that
they did not feel embarrassed by the contrast in ages.

In the eighties there were scores of these academies, institutes, and
seminaries in the towns of the South. They were not well graded; the
teachers may never have heard of pedagogy. Their libraries were small or
altogether lacking, and their apparatus was scanty; but in spite of
these drawbacks an unusually large proportion of the students were
desirous to learn. Many teachers loved mathematics or Latin, and some of
the students gained a thorough if narrow preparation for college. An
examination of college registers of the period shows a considerable
proportion of students of twenty-five or thirty years of age. There is
even a case where a college student remained out a term in order to
attend a session of the Legislature to which he had been elected. The
college students of the late seventies and early eighties were serious
minded and thought of questions as men and not as boys. Though the
clapper of the college bell was sometimes thrown into the well or the
president's wagon was transferred to the chapel roof, these things were
often done from a sort of sense of duty: college students were expected
to be mischievous. Yet the whole tone of college life was serious. There
were no organized college athletics, no musical or dramatic clubs, no
other outside activities such as those to which the student of today
devotes so much of his attention, except, of course, the "literary
societies" for practice in declamation and debating.

Though many towns established graded schools before 1890 by means of
special taxes, the condition of rural education at this time was
disheartening. The percentage of negro illiteracy was falling, because
it could not easily be raised, but the reduction of white illiteracy was
slow. The school terms were still short, and many of the school
buildings were unfit for human occupation. On the other hand, the
quality of the teachers was improving. The short term of the schools was
being lengthened by private subscription in some districts, and new and
adequate buildings appeared in others. Progress was evidently being
made, even if it was not obtrusive, and in that progress one of the
leading factors was the Peabody Fund.

In 1867 George Peabody, a native of Massachusetts but then a banker of
London, who had laid the foundation of his fortune in Baltimore, placed
in the hands of trustees $2,100,000 in securities to be used for the
encouragement of education in the Southern States. The Fund was
increased to $3,500,000 in 1869, though a considerable part consisted of
bonds of Mississippi and Florida which those States refused to recognize
as valid obligations. The chairman of the trustees for many years was
Robert C. Winthrop of Massachusetts, and the other members of the board
were distinguished men, both Northern and Southern. The first general
agent, as the active administrator was called, was Barnas Sears, who at
the time of his election was president of Brown University.

Dr. Sears was an unusual man, who comprehended conditions in the South
and was disposed to improve them in every feasible way by using the
resources at his command. He had no inflexible program and was willing
to modify his plans to fit changing conditions. The income of the Fund
appears small in this day of munificent foundations, but it seemed large
then; and its effects were far-reaching. Sears was not an educational
reformer in the modern sense. He seems to have had no new philosophy of
education but took the best schools of the nation as a standard and strove
to bring the schools of the South up to that standard. Through the aid of
the Fund model schools were established in every State. The University of
North Carolina opened its doors to the teachers of the State for
professional training during the summer and was apparently the first of the
summer schools now so numerous and popular. Direct appropriations in aid of
schools were made out of the Fund, provided the community by taxation or
subscription raised much larger sums. The Peabody Normal College at
Nashville, Tennessee, was founded, and no effort was spared to develop a
general interest in public education. Advice to legislatures, trustees, or
communities was given when asked but so tactfully that neither resentment
nor suspicion was aroused.

Before his death, Dr. Sears had chosen Dr. J.L.M. Curry as his
successor, and the choice was promptly ratified by the trustees. Dr.
Curry was a thorough Southerner, a veteran of both the Mexican and the
Civil War. He had first practiced law and had sat in the House of
Representatives of the United States and of the Confederate States. At
the time of his election to the management of the Peabody Fund he was a
professor in Richmond College, Virginia, and a minister of the Baptist
Church. He had a magnetic personality, an unyielding belief in the value
of education for both white and black, and the temperament and gifts of
the orator. As a Southerner, he could speak more freely and more
effectively to the people than his predecessor, who had done the pioneer
work. During the years of his service, Curry therefore gave himself
chiefly to the development of public sentiment, making speeches at every
opportunity before societies, conventions, and other gatherings. As he
himself said, he addressed legislatures "from the Potomac to the Rio

While the influence of the Peabody Fund and its agents was large, it was
not the only influence upon the educational development of the South.
There were throughout that section men who saw clearly that the main
hope centered in education for black and white. They talked in season
and out, though sometimes with little apparent result, for the opposing
forces were strong. Among these forces poverty was perhaps the
strongest. It is difficult to convince a people who must struggle for
the bare necessities of life that taxation for any purpose is a positive
good; and a large proportion of the families of the rural South handled
little money. This was true even for years after the towns began to feel
the thrill of growing industrialism. It has sometimes seemed that the
poorer a man and the larger the number of his children, the greater his
dread of taxes for education.

Then, too, the Southern people had followed the tradition of Jefferson
that the best government is that which assumes the fewest functions and
interferes least with the individual. Many honest men who meant to be
good citizens felt that education belonged to the family or the church
and could not see why the State should pay for teaching any more than
for preaching, or for food, or clothing, or shelter. There were, of
course, those claiming to hold this theory whose underlying motives were
selfish. They had property which they had inherited or accumulated, and
they objected to paying taxes for educating other people's children. It
must be said, however, that as a class, the larger taxpayers have been
more ready to vote higher taxes for schools than the poor and
illiterate, whose morbid dread of taxation has been fostered by the

There were others who were cold to the extension of public education on
account of the schools already existing. In many towns and villages
there were struggling academies, often nominally under church auspices.
Towns which could have supported one school were trying to support two
or three. In few cases was any direct financial aid given by the
religious organization, but the school was known as the Methodist or the
Presbyterian school, because the teaching force and the majority of the
patrons belonged to that denomination. The denominational influence
behind these schools was often lukewarm toward the extension of public
education, and the ministers themselves had been known to make slighting
references to "godless schools." There was still another class of people
who really opposed public schools because they did not believe that the
masses should be educated. This class was, however, small and is perhaps
more numerous in other sections of the Union than in the South.

Last, but by no means the least, of the obstacles to general public
education was the question of its influence upon the negro. The apparent
effects of negro education were not likely to make the average white man
feel that the experiment had been successful. The phrase that "an educated
negro was a good plough-hand spoiled" seemed to meet with general
acceptance. The smattering of an education which the negroes had
received--it would be difficult to call it more--seemed to have improved
neither their efficiency nor their morals. As a result there were many
white people so shortsighted that they would starve their own children
rather than feed the negro.

To all of these obstacles in human nature were added the defects of the
tax system. Almost invariably the tax was levied by the Legislature upon
the State as a whole or upon the county, and the constitutions or the
laws in some cases forbade the progressive smaller division to levy
special taxes for any purpose. Graded schools began, however, to appear
in the incorporated towns which were not subject to the same tax
limitations as the rural districts, and in time it became easier to levy
supplementary local taxes by legislative act, judicial interpretation,
or constitutional changes.

Gradually public sentiment in favor of schools grew stronger. The
legislatures raised the rate of taxation for school purposes, normal
schools were established, log schoolhouses began to be replaced by frame
or brick structures, uniform textbooks became the rule and not the
exception, teachers' salaries were raised, and the percentage of
attendance climbed upward, though there was still a remnant of the
population which did not attend at all. The school term was not
proportionately extended, since a positive mania for small districts
developed--a school at every man's door. In the olden days large
districts were common, and many of the children walked four or five miles
to school in the morning and back home in the afternoon. No one then
dreamed of transporting the children at public expense. The school
authorities were often unable to resist the pressure to make new districts,
and necessarily a contracted term followed. In 1900 the average school term
in North Carolina was not longer than in 1860, though much more money was
spent, and the salaries were little higher. It must be remembered, of
course, that no appropriations were made for negro education before the
Civil War.

Both during and after the War many schools were opened for negroes by
Freedmen's Aid Societies, various philanthropic associations, and
denominational boards or committees. As public schools were established
for negroes, some of these organizations curtailed their work and others
withdrew altogether. Others persisted, however, and new schools have been
founded by these and similar organizations, by private philanthropy, and
also by negro churches. As a result there are independent schools, state
schools, and Federal schools. The recent monumental report of the Bureau
of Education reports 653 schools for negroes other than regular public
schools[1]. Of these 28 are under public control, 507 are denominational
schools (of which 354 are under white boards and 153 under negro
boards), and 118 are classed as independent. This last group includes
not only the great national schools, such as Tuskegee and Hampton, but
small private enterprises supported chiefly by irregular donations.
These private and independent schools owned property valued at
$28,496,946 and had an income of over $3,000,000. State and Federal
appropriations at the date of the report reached about $963,000.

[Footnote 1. _Negro Education_, Bureau of Education Bulletins 38 and 39
(1916). This work supersedes all previous collections of facts upon
negro education.]

During the first years after the downfall of the Reconstruction
governments the negro received a fair proportion of the pittance devoted
to public schools. Governor Vance of North Carolina, in recommending in
1877 an appropriation to the University for a "professorship for the
purpose of instructing in the theory and art of teaching" went on to
state that "a school of similar character should be established for the
education of colored teachers, the want of which is more deeply felt by
the black race even than the white.... Their desire for education is a
very creditable one, and should be gratified so far as our means will
permit." Instead of establishing the chair of pedagogy recommended by
Governor Vance, the Legislature appropriated the money to conduct the
summer school for teachers at the University. An appropriation of equal
amount was made for negroes and similar allowances have been continued
to the present. Proportionately larger appropriations have been made for
the whites in recent years. Other States have established normal schools
for negroes, but in none of them is the supply of trained negro teachers
equal to the demand.

The negro public schools were organized along the same lines as the
white, so far as circumstances permitted, but the work was difficult and
remains so to this day. The negro teachers were ignorant, and many of
them were indolent and immoral. In only a few places in the South do
whites teach negroes in public schools. The enthusiasm for education
displayed just after emancipation gradually wore off, and many parents
showed little interest in the education of their children. Education had
not proved the "open sesame" to affluence, and many parents were unwilling
or unable to compel their children to attend school. As a contributory
cause of this reluctance the poverty of the negro must be considered. It
was difficult for the negro to send to school a child who might be of
financial aid to the family. To many negro parents it seemed a matter of
little moment to keep a child away from school one or two days a week to
assist at home. It must also be remembered that the negro tenant farmer is
migratory in his habits and that he often moved in the middle of the short
term. Consequently the whole value of the term might easily be lost by the
transfer. It is not surprising that the final product of such unstable
educational conditions was not impressive.

The idea of the first educational missionaries to the negroes of the
South was to turn them into white men as soon as possible by bringing
them into contact with the traditional culture of the whites through the
study of Latin, Greek, mathematics, and sometimes Hebrew, especially in
the case of students for the ministry. The attempt was made to take the
negro, fresh from slavery and with no cultural background, through the
course generally pursued by whites. Numerous "universities" and "colleges"
were founded with this end in view. Hampton Institute with its insistence
upon fitting education to the needs of the race was unique for a time,
though later it received the powerful support of Tuskegee Institute and
its noted principal and founder, Booker T. Washington. The influence of
this educational prophet was great in the North, whence came most of the
donations for private schools. In imitation many mushroom schools have
recently added "rural" or "industrial" to their names, but few of them are
doing work of great value. Where the school appeals chiefly to the negro
for support, liberal use is made of such high-sounding names as "college"
and "university." The negro still thinks that the purpose of education is
to free him from manual labor, and he looks with little favor upon a
school which requires actual industrial training. For the same reason he
is quick to protest when the attempt is made to introduce manual training
into the public schools.

Partly because of this opposition on the part of the negroes themselves,
partly because industrial training is more expensive than purely
academic training, and partly because such training has only recently been
recognized as part of education, the South has made little provision for
the industrial education of the negro at public expense. According to the
_Report on Negro Education_, few of the agricultural and mechanical schools
maintained partly by the Federal land grants and partly by the States are
really efficient. A few state or city schools also give manual training.
About one-third of the private schools for negroes offer industrial
courses, but much of this work is ineffective--either so slight as to be
negligible or straight labor done in return for board and tuition and
without regard to educational value. Hampton and Tuskegee are known to do
excellent work, and a few of the smaller schools are to be classed as
efficient; but in the great majority of negro schools the old curriculum is
still followed, and the students gladly submit to its exactness. Why study
something so plebeian as carpentry when one may study such scholarly
subjects as Latin or Greek?

Most institutions for negroes desire to do work of college grade. Some
with not a single pupil above the elementary grades nevertheless proudly
call themselves colleges. Other so-called colleges have secondary pupils
but none in college classes.

Thirty-three institutions do have a total of 1643 students in college
classes and 994 students in professional courses, but these same schools
enroll more than 10,000 pupils in elementary and secondary grades. Some
of them are attempting to maintain college classes for less than 5 per
cent of their enrollment, and the teaching force gives a
disproportionate share of time to such students. Two of these
thirty-three institutions have nearly all the professional students, and
two have nearly half the total number of college students. Only three
can properly be called colleges--Howard University at Washington, Fisk
University, and Meharry Medical College at Nashville, Tennessee.

While several of the Southern States have greatly increased their
expenditures for schools since 1910, in some cases more than doubling
them, the proportion devoted to negro schools has not been greatly
increased, if indeed it has been increased at all. For example, in North
Carolina, which assigns for negro education much more than the average
of the States containing any considerable proportion of negroes, the
total paid to negro teachers in 1910-11 was $340,856, as against
$1,715,994 paid to white teachers. Five years later, negro teachers
received $536,272, but white teachers received $3,258,352. In other words,
in the former year all the negro teachers received one-fifth as much as all
the whites, while five years later they received about one-sixth; that is,
something less than one-third the total number of children received about
one-seventh of the money expended for instruction. A part of this wide
difference in expenditure may be explained or even defended. The districts
or townships which have voted additional local taxes are usually those in
which there are comparatively few negroes. The average salary paid to negro
teachers, although low, is as large as can be earned in most of the
occupations open to them, and any sudden or large increase would neither
immediately raise the standard of competency nor insure a much larger
proportion of the ability of the race. The percentage of school attendance
of negro children is lower than in the case of white children. Very few
negro children, whether because of economic pressure, lack of ability, or
lack of desire for knowledge, complete even the fifth grade. Among negroes
there is little real demand for high school instruction, which is more
expensive than elementary instruction. Therefore, the proportion of the
total funds spent for negro education might properly be less than their
numbers would indicate. If the proportionate amount spent today for the
instruction of certain racial groups of the foreign population could be
separated from the total, it would be found that less than the average is
spent upon them for the same reasons. However, when all allowances have
been made, it is obvious that the negro is receiving less than a fair share
of the appropriations made by the Southern States for education.

The inadequate public schools for negroes have been excused or justified
upon the ground that private and church schools are supplying the need.
This is true in some localities, for the great majority of negro private
schools, no matter by what name they are called, are really doing only
elementary or secondary work. These schools, however, only touch the
beginnings of the problem and have served in some degree to lessen the
sense of responsibility for negro education on the part of the Southern
whites. Where there is one of these schools supported by outside
philanthropy, the public school is likely to be less adequately equipped
and supported than in the towns where no such school exists. But at
best, these schools can reach only a small proportion of the children.

The difficulty lies in public sentiment. As a rule the tax rate is fixed
by the State but collected by the county, and the county board divides
the amount plus any local taxes levied, among the schools. Districts of the
same number of pupils may receive widely varying amounts, according to the
grade of instruction demanded. Generally, a part of the fund is
apportioned per capita, and the remainder is divided according to the
supposed special need of the districts. A white district which demands
high grade teachers is given the necessary money, if possible. Few colored
schools have advanced pupils, and only sufficient funds for a cheaper
teacher or teachers may be provided. Colored districts are often made too
large. The white districts ask so much that little more than the per
capita appropriation is left for the colored schools. The negroes are
politically powerless and public sentiment does not demand that money be
taken from white children to be given to negroes.

Mention should be made of several funds which have been established by
philanthropists for the education of the negro. The John F. Slater Fund,
founded by a gift of $1,000,000 in 1882, has now reached $1,750,000. The
greater part of the income is devoted to the encouragement of training
schools. No schools are established by the Fund itself, but it cooeperates
with the local authorities and the General Education Board. The Jeanes
Fund of $1,000,000 established by a Quaker lady, Miss Anna T. Jeanes of
Philadelphia, expends the greater part of its income in helping to pay
the salaries of county supervisors for rural schools. These are usually
young colored women, who work under the direction of the county
superintendents and visit the rural schools. They give simple talks upon
hygiene and sanitation, encourage better care of schoolhouses and grounds,
stimulate interest in gardening and simple home industries, and encourage
self help. Their work has been exceedingly valuable. The Phelps Stokes
Fund of $900,000, founded by Miss Caroline Phelps Stokes, is not wholly
devoted to the negroes of the South. It has been expended chiefly in the
study of the negro problem, in founding fellowships, and in making
possible the valuable report on negro education already mentioned. In 1914,
Mr. Julius Rosenwald of Chicago offered to every negro rural community
wishing to erect a comfortable and adequate school building a sum not to
exceed $300, provided that the community would obtain from private or
public funds at least as much more.

The interest of the General Education Board is not limited either to negro
or even to Southern education, but it has done much for both. This great
foundation has paid salaries of state supervisors of negro schools in
several States and has cooeperated with the Jeanes Fund in maintaining
county supervisors of negro schools. It has appropriated over half a
million dollars to industrial schools and about one-fourth as much to negro
colleges. Farm demonstration work, of which more is said elsewhere, is
also of aid to the negroes. The Board has realized, however, that the
development of negro schools is dependent upon the economic and educational
progress of the whites, and has contributed most to white schools or to
objects of a nature intended to benefit the whole population.

All testimony points to the conclusion that there is now real enthusiasm
for education among the Southern whites. The school terms are being
extended, often by means of local taxes levied in addition to the
minimum fixed by the State; the quality of the teaching is improving;
and popular interest is growing. In many sections, the school is
developing into a real community center. Good buildings are replacing
the shacks formerly so common. North Carolina is proud of the fact that
for more than fourteen years an average of more than one new school a day
has been built from plans approved by the educational department. More
and more attention is being paid to the surroundings of the buildings.
School gardens are common, and some schools even cultivate an acre or two
of ground, the proceeds of which go to furnish apparatus or supplies. Many
of the Southern towns and cities have schools which need not fear
comparison with those in other sections.

The crying need is more money which can come only in two ways, by
reforming the system of taxation, and by increasing the amount of
taxable property. All through the South the chief reliance is a general
property tax with local assessors who are either incompetent or else
desirous of keeping down assessments. The proportion of assessment to
value varies widely, but on the average it can hardly be more than fifty
per cent; and, as invariably happens, the assessment of the more
valuable properties is proportionately less than that of the small farm
or the mechanic's home. The South is growing richer, but the conflict
with the North set the section back thirty or forty years, while the
remainder of the country was increasing in wealth. Even today the South
must build two school systems without the aid of government land grants,
which have had so much to do with the successful development of the
schools of the Western States, and without the commercial prosperity
which has come to the East. The rate of taxation levied for schools in
many Southern communities is now among the highest in the United States.

During the past ten years, hundreds of public high schools have been
established, more than half of which are rural. Some still follow the
old curriculum, but a new institution known as the "farm life school" is
now being developed. Many other schools have such a department attached
and usually give instruction in household economics as well. The General
Education Board estimates that $20,000,000 has been spent for improved
buildings since the appointment of professors of secondary education in
Southern universities. This, by the way, is one of the most useful
contributions of the Board. These men, chosen by the institutions
themselves as regular members of the faculty but with their salaries
paid by an appropriation from the Board, may give a course or two in the
university, but their chief duties are to coordinate the work of the
high schools and to serve as educational missionaries. They go up and
down the States, exhorting, advising, and stimulating the people, and
the fruits of their work are present on every hand.

The South has a superabundance of colleges. Some of them have honorable
records; others represent faith and hope or denominational zeal rather
than accomplishment. Some of the older institutions were kept open
during War and Reconstruction but others were forced to close. With the
return of white supremacy old institutions have been revived and new
ones have been founded. The number of students has increased, but the
financial difficulties of the institutions have hardly diminished. Few
had any endowment worth considering, and the so-called state
institutions received very small appropriations or none at all. Good
preparatory schools were few and, since the colleges were dependent upon
tuition fees, many students with inadequate preparation were leniently
admitted. Preparatory departments were established for those students
who could not possibly be admitted to college classes. Necessarily the
quality of work was low, though many institutions struggled for the
maintenance of respectable standards. One college president frankly
said: "We are liberal about letting young men into the Freshman class,
but particular about letting them out." It was not uncommon for half of a
first year class to be found deficient and turned back at the end of the
year, or dismissed as hopeless. Obviously this was a wasteful method of
determining competency.

Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee, founded in 1873 by the
gifts of "Commodore" Vanderbilt, was the first Southern institution with
anything approaching an adequate endowment and was the first to insist
upon thorough preparation for entrance, though it was compelled to
organize a sub-freshman class in the beginning. Its policy had
considerable influence both upon college standards and upon the growth
of private preparatory schools. The development of public schools, for a
time, had made the work of colleges in general more difficult, because
they supplanted scores of private academies which had done passably well
the work of college preparation and yet were not themselves able to
prepare students for college in the first years of their existence. For
years it was difficult in many localities for a young man to secure
proper preparation, and the total of poorly prepared students applying
for admission to the colleges increased. The number of towns and cities
which have established high schools or high school departments has since
increased rapidly, and today a larger and larger proportion of college
students comes from public schools.

Since 1900, the resources of the colleges have greatly increased. States
which appropriated a few thousand dollars for higher education in the
early nineties now appropriate ten or even twenty times as much to their
universities, agricultural colleges, and normal and technical schools
for women, and have appropriated millions for new buildings. Many of the
denominational colleges have obtained substantial endowments. The
General Education Board up to 1914 had subscribed over $3,000,000 to
Southern colleges and universities on condition that the institutions
raise at least three times as much more. Southern men who have
accumulated wealth are realizing their social responsibility. Several
recent gifts of a million dollars or more are not included in the sum
mentioned above, and many smaller gifts or bequests likewise.

Standards of work have been raised with increasing income. As elsewhere
the effect of the reports of the Carnegie Foundation has been patent.
The stronger institutions have brought up their requirements to the
minimum, on paper at least, and to a great extent in fact. Some of the
weaker institutions have dropped the pretense of doing college
work; others have accepted the position of junior colleges doing two
years of college work and giving no degrees. The States exercise little
or no supervision over the quality of work done for college degrees, and
some institutions continue to grant diplomas for what is really
secondary work, but the fact that they are not up to the standard is
known and the management is generally apologetic.

No other phase of Southern life is more hopeful and more encouraging
than the educational revival. True, judged by the standards of the
richer States, the terms of the rural schools are short and the pay of
the teachers is small; but both are being increased, and no schools are
exercising more wholesome influence. The high schools are neither so
numerous nor so well equipped as in some other States, but nowhere else
is such evident progress being made. There are no universities in the
South which count their income in millions, but the number of
institutions adequately equipped to do efficient work is already large
and increasing. The spirit of faculty and students is admirable, and the
contact of the institutions and the people of the Southern States is
increasingly close and full of promise.



The South of the present is a changing South with its face toward the
future rather than the past. Nevertheless the dead hand is felt by all
the people a part of the time, and some of the people are never free
from its paralyzing touch. Old prejudices, the remembrance of past
grievances, and antipathies long cherished now and then assert
themselves in the most unexpected fashion. The Southerner, no matter how
much he may pride himself upon being liberal and broad, is likely to
make certain reservations and limitations in his attitude. There are
some questions upon which he is not open to argument, certain subjects
which he cannot discuss freely and dispassionately. Some Southerners
have so many of these reservations that conversation with them is
difficult unless one instinctively understands their psychology and is
willing to avoid certain subjects. The past has made so powerful an
impression upon them that it has affected their whole attitude of mind.

Time, travel, association, engrossing work, and economic prosperity have
weakened many of these prejudices and antipathies, however, and the
Southerner is becoming free. There are individuals who will always be
bound by the past; there are some men, and more women, who are yet
"unreconstructed"; there are neighborhoods and villages where men and
women yet live in the past and absolutely refuse to attempt to adjust
themselves cheerfully to changed and changing conditions. This is not
true of the Southern people as a whole. In fact there is danger that the
younger generation will think too little of the past. Much of the Old
South is worthy of preservation, and it is never safe for a country or a
section to break too abruptly with its older life.

Economically the South has prospered in proportion as the new spirit has
ruled. The question of secession is dead, and the man who refuses today
to treat it as past history but grows excited in discussing it is not
likely to be successful in his business or profession. The men of the
New South spend little time in discussing the relative wisdom of
Jefferson Davis and Robert Toombs or the reasons for the failure of the
Confederacy. The Southerners accept the results of the War, and all except
a negligible minority are convinced that the preservation of the Union was
for the best. To be sure they believe, partly through knowledge but more
largely through absorption, that the Confederate soldier was the best
fighting man ever known and that the War might have been won if the
civil government had been wiser, but on the whole they are not sorry that
secession failed. They thrill even today to _Dixie,_ and _The Bonnie Blue
Flag,_ but this feeling is now purely emotional.

All the Southern States have felt, though unequally, the effects of
industrialism. The South Atlantic States have been most influenced by
this movement, but even Mississippi and Arkansas have been affected. In
many sections the traveler is seldom out of sight of the factory
chimney. Some towns, in appearance and spirit, might easily seem to
belong to a Middle Western environment but for the presence of the negro
and the absence of the foreign born. The population in these Southern
towns is still overwhelmingly American. In no States except Maryland and
Texas did the foreign born number as many as 100,000 in 1910, and
Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina each had less than 10,000
at that time. The highest percentage of foreign born was 8.6 per cent in
Delaware, the lowest 0.3 per cent in North Carolina. In the South as a
whole the proportion of foreign born whites was only 2.5 per cent.

The laborers in the Southern shops and mills today are not only native
born but almost altogether Southern born. The South has been a great
loser through interstate migration. Other sections also have lost but
the excess of those departing has been replaced by the immigration of
foreign born. Comparatively few have come to the South from other
sections except in Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and fewer
foreign born have settled in the South. As a result, the percentage of
increase of population is less for the South, if Oklahoma be omitted,
than for the United States as a whole. Many of the laborers are of rural
origin or are only a generation removed from the farm. They preserve the
individualistic attitude of the rural mind and have learned little of
collective action. Labor unions have made small progress except in a few
skilled trades and class consciousness has not developed in the South.

The important industries have thus far been few and they have kept
rather close to the original raw material. The South does not spin all
the cotton it produces, does not weave all the yarn it spins, and does not
manufacture into clothing any considerable quantity of the cloth it weaves.
The greater part of both yarn and cloth is coarse, though some mills do
finer work. Little bleaching or printing, however, is done. The South is
a land of curious economic contrasts. It produces sugar but buys
confectionery. It produces immense quantities of lumber but works up
comparatively little, and this mainly into simple forms. It produces iron
and steel in considerable quantities but has few machine shops where really
delicate work can be done. It does not manufacture motor cars, electric or
even textile machinery or machine tools, nor does it make watches or
firearms in appreciable quantities. In short, the South carries some of the
most important raw materials only a step or two toward their ultimate form
and depends upon other parts of the country for the finished article.

Years ago the story was told of a Georgia funeral at which that State
furnished only the corpse and the grave. Georgia, and other States too,
can do much more today, if the funeral be not too elaborate. It can
furnish a cotton shroud, each year of finer quality. The knitting mills
of the South are able to supply an increasing proportion of the
population with hose and underclothing, and a number of the mills are
gaining a national trade through advertising. If demanded, Southern-made
shoes may be found, and a Southern-made coffin may be drawn on a
Southern-made wagon by Southern-bred horses and perhaps, though
improbably, in harness of local manufacture also.

The South was once the richest section of the Union. The vicissitudes of
the Civil War rendered it poor, but now it is rapidly growing richer and
since the beginning of the Great War has shown a phenomenal accumulation
of new capital. During this great struggle some of the cotton mills made
in a single month profits as large as they were formerly accustomed to
make in a year. Even though the farmer received for his cotton much more
than usual, the price of cloth would still have yielded a profit to the
manufacturer if cotton had been twice as high. Other enterprises have
likewise been profitable, and when normal conditions are restored this
capital will seek new investment. While prophecy is dangerous it seems
probable that manufacturing in the South will grow as never before; and
new forms of investment must be found, as the rural districts cannot
furnish any greatly increased supply of labor for cotton manufacturing
though the towns can supply some adult labor for other forms of industry.

The labor question is beginning to grow serious in some localities,
though it is difficult to discover whether the problem is chiefly one of
getting labor at all or of getting it at something like the wages
formerly paid. Apparently, however, the industrial growth of the South
has been more rapid than that of population. Heretofore the farmer has
had little difficulty in obtaining some sort of assistance in
cultivating his land, and this abundance of labor has lessened the
demand for agricultural machinery. Now the migration of the negro to the
North has created a shortage of labor which must force the farmer to
purchase machinery. Too much man and horse power has been employed upon
Southern farms in proportion to the results achieved. The South has been
producing a large value per acre but a small value per individual. If
the South is to become permanently prosperous, fewer persons must do the
work and must even increase the production.

A practical cotton-picking machine would help to solve some of the
South's problems, as any family can plant and cultivate after a fashion
much more cotton than it can pick. Many attempts to produce such a
machine have been made, but simplicity, efficiency, and cheapness have
not yet been attained. Like the reaper and binder, a machine of this
sort is needed for only a small portion of the year, but in that short
period the need is extreme. Such a machine would revolutionize the
tenant system, would permit a larger production of food, and at the same
time would set labor free for other occupations. Meanwhile the general
rate of wages in agriculture has risen and must rise still further, as
it has done in other occupations. Any student of economics who draws his
conclusions from observation of life as well as from books realizes how
large a part custom plays in determining wages, and hitherto farm wages
have been very low and labor has been inefficient in the South.

The economic future of the South must rest upon the advance of the
farmer. This thesis has already been developed at length in another
chapter, where the present unsatisfactory organization and conditions of
agriculture were also discussed. Improvement, however, is already
becoming evident. Cotton furnishes two-fifths of the value of all farm
products, with corn, hay, tobacco, and wheat following in the order
named. Gradually the West is ceasing to be the granary and the smokehouse
of the Southern farmer, but the South does not yet feed itself. In 1917
only Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Oklahoma produced a surplus of
wheat, though it is estimated that the South as a whole reduced its
deficiency by more than 35,000,000 bushels. The abnormal prices of
agricultural products since 1915 have brought many farmers out of debt and
set them on the road toward prosperity, but many have not yet realized that
they are no longer objects of commiseration. Though the high prices of
war times have brought prosperity to the farmer, the crying necessity today
is a larger production per man employed.

The political, as well as the economic, condition of the South today is
full of interest. Politically the common man is in control, and as a
rule he selects men of his own type to represent him. The primary was
almost universal in the South when the West was only thinking of it as a
radical innovation. The day of aristocratic domination is over, if
indeed it ever really existed. In many instances descent from well-known
ancestors who have held high positions has proved a positive detriment
to a political candidate of today. Some of the successful politicians,
as might be expected, are demagogues. States differ in the number of
politicians of this type, and the same State may vary from year to year.
It may at the same time send a demagogue and a statesman to the Senate. Men
are permitted to hold offices, both national and state, for longer periods
than formerly, and, as a result, in recent Democratic Congresses Southern
men have held the most important chairmanships.[1]

[Footnote 1: North Carolina, for example, had in the 65th Congress, the
chairmanship of the Committees on Finance and on Rules in the Senate,
and on Ways and Means, Rules, Judiciary, and Rivers and Harbors in the
House, besides other chairmanships of less account. Seldom in the whole
history of the country has the representation of any State been so

That the Southern representation in Congress is equal in ability,
culture, and character to that of the Old South or to that of even
thirty years ago can hardly be seriously maintained. There are in
Congress a few men today who recall the best traditions of Southern
leadership; there are more who are mediocre and parochial. For the most
part they come from law offices in country towns, and have the virtues
and the limitations of their environment. They are honest financially,
if not intellectually, and do not consciously yield to "the interests."
They are correct in their private lives and likely to be somewhat
bigoted. Many are convinced that cities are essentially wicked and
conceive them to be inhabited by vampires and parasites. Few can think
in national terms, and fewer have either knowledge or comprehension of


Back to Full Books