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Title: Through Afro-America - An English Reading of the Race Problem
Author: Archer, William
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                          THROUGH AFRO-AMERICA


                       AN ENGLISH READING OF THE
                              RACE PROBLEM

                             WILLIAM ARCHER

                          CHAPMAN & HALL, LTD.

                              H. G. WELLS
                         WITH WHOM I SO RARELY
                          DISAGREE THAT, WHEN
                           I DO, I MUST NEEDS
                         WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT



                                                 INTRODUCTION    ix

                               PART FIRST
                             SOUTHWARD HO!

        I. ON THE THRESHOLD                                       3
       II. THE BLACK MAN’S PARADISE                              11
      III. THE NIGHTMARE OF THE SOUTH                            19
       IV. RHETORIC IN LOUISVILLE                                29
        V. “DISCRIMINATION” IN MEMPHIS                           38
       VI. TWO LEADERS                                           45
      VII. A WHITE TYPE AND A BLACK                              59
     VIII. IN THE BLACK BELT                                     67
        X. NEW ORLEANS                                           85
       XI. CRIME-SLAVERY AND DEBT-SERFDOM                        94
      XII. AN INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY                             104
     XIII. HAMPTON: AN AFTERMATH                                114
      XIV. BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA                                  126
       XV. THE CITY OF A HUNDRED HILLS                          135
      XVI. PROHIBITION                                          146
     XVII. THE NEGRO HOME AND THE NEGRO CHURCH                  156
     XVIII. CHARLESTON                                           167
      XIX. THE FRINGE OF FLORIDA                                177

                              PART SECOND
                           THE PROBLEM FACED

                               PART THIRD
                            HAVANA TO PANAMA

        I. THE AMERICAN IN CUBA                                 247
       II. A GAME FOR GODS                                      257
      III. A FRAGMENT OF FAIRYLAND                              263
       IV. THE PANAMA CANAL                                     276
           INDEX                                                293


“The problem of the twentieth century,” says Mr. W. B. Du Bois, “is the
problem of the colour line.” That, no doubt, is the view of a man born
“within the veil”; but, whatever our point of view, we cannot but admit
that racial adjustment is one of the two or three most urgent problems
of the near future.

Ought the colour-lines drawn by Nature to be enforced by human
ordinance, and even by geographical segregation? Or ought they to be
gradually obliterated by free intermingling and intermarriage? Or, while
intermarriage is forbidden (whether by law or public sentiment), is it
possible for people of different colours to dwell together in
approximately equal numbers and on terms of democratic equality? Or is
it for the benefit of both races that one race should always maintain,
by social and political discriminations, its superiority over the other?
Or is this opinion a mere hypocritical disguise of the instinct which
begot, and maintained throughout the ages, the “institution” of slavery?

These are questions which the coming century will have to answer, not
only in America, but in Africa. It is in the Southern United States,
however, that the problem presents itself in its acutest and most fully
developed form. In South Africa it is looming ahead, in America it is
present and hourly insistent. Though the conditions in the two countries
can never be precisely similar, yet the experience of the one ought
certainly to be of the utmost value in shaping the counsels of the
other. My interest, then, in the colour-question in the South was not a
mere abstract interest in an alien problem; nor was it due solely to the
special sympathy for America and all things American which (I am happy
to say) has been strong in me from my youth upward. It was a personal
interest which ought, I think, to be shared by every Englishman who is
so far an Imperialist as to feel that he cannot simply wash his hands of
the problems of Empire.

It was heightened, moreover, by the feeling that a great deal of what
passes in England as advanced thought on the subject of race-relations
is very superficial and remote from the realities of the case. This
suspicion had for some time beset me, and was perhaps the main factor in
inducing me to utilize a rare interval of leisure in getting into touch
with the facts of the problem as it presents itself in Afro-America.

Some thinkers display an almost furious antipathy to the very idea of
race. They hold it a mere superstition or illusion, and look forward,
not only with equanimity, but with eagerness, to an obliteration of all
race-boundaries in a universal “pan-mixture.” I cannot believe that this
is a true ideal of progress; nor does it seem to me that the world at
large is verging in that direction. No considerable fusion is taking
place between the European and the Asiatic races. No one dreams of
seeking on that line the solution of our difficulties in India. No
practical politician dreams of encouraging yellow immigration into
America or Australia on the same terms of permanent citizenship and free
intermixture that obtain in the case of white settlers. If the myriads
of China and Japan are to “expand” in the same sense in which the
European races have expanded, it must be by conquest and something like
extermination. That is, in fact, the “yellow peril” which haunts so many

The truth is, it seems to me, that no race problem, properly so called,
arises until two races are found occupying the same territory in such an
approach to equal numbers as to make it a serious question which colour
shall ultimately predominate. A handful of white administrators, as in
India, or of white traders, as in China and Japan, may give rise, no
doubt, to important and difficult questions, but they are not
specifically questions of race. No one doubts that India belongs to the
Indians; that is the theory of the British “raj” no less than of the
most fervid Nationalist; the dispute is as to whether the Indian people
do or do not benefit by the British administration. So, too, in China
and Japan: it may be doubtful whether the privileges accorded to
foreigners are judicious, but neither the racial integrity nor the
political autonomy of the yellow races is for a moment in question. The
race problem means (in its only convenient definition) the problem of
adjustment between two very dissimilar populations, locally intermingled
in such proportions that the one feels its racial identity potentially
threatened, while the other knows itself in constant danger of economic
exploitation. Now these conditions, as a matter of experience, arise
only where a race of very high development is brought into contact with
a race of very low development, and only where the race of low
development is at the same time tenacious of life and capable of
resisting the poisons of civilization. In other words, the race problem,
as here defined, is a purely Afro-European or Afro-American problem.

Where civilization has met civilization, as in India, China, Japan,
there has never been any question of local intermixture in such
proportions as to give rise to the conditions indicated. Where
civilization has met savagery, elsewhere than in Africa, the savage race
has generally dwindled to a degraded and negligible remnant. The African
races alone have shown considerable tenacity of life and considerable
power of putting on at any rate a veneer of civilization. This is as
much as to say that only between Europeans and Africans has the active
competition arisen which is the essence of the race problem. In some
parts of Spanish America it has resulted in the practical fusion of the
races; a solution which, as above noted, commends itself to some
thinkers. But where fusion is resisted, the problem must one day become
acute; and that day has arrived in the Southern States. There the two
races are more nearly than anywhere else on a footing of numerical
equality; there, more than anywhere else, is the ambition of the African
race stimulated by political theory and seconded by education,
organization, and considerable material resources. The Southern States,
then, are, so to speak, the great crucible in which this experiment in
inter-racial chemistry is working itself out. There you can watch the
elements simmering. To some hopeful eyes they may even seem to be
clarifying and settling down. The following pages will show that I,
personally, am not confident of any desirable solution, unless a new
element of far-sighted statesmanship can be thrown into the brew.

Mr. Ray Stannard Baker, author of that admirable series of studies,
“Following the Colour-Line,” was good enough to map out for me a zig-zag
tour through the States east of the Mississippi, which enabled me to
employ my time to the best advantage. I was also much indebted to Mr.
Baker, as well as to Mr. Walter H. Page and Dr. Booker Washington, for
many valuable introductions. Wherever I went, my first preoccupation was
with the colour question; but I also welcomed the opportunity to see
something of the great agricultural, industrial, and educational revival
which is rapidly transmuting the South from a ghost-haunted region of
depression and impoverishment into one of the most eagerly progressive,
and probably one of the wealthiest, of modern communities. This book,
then, is mainly to be regarded as a series of rapid impressions of
travel, intermingled with conversations, in which I try to present the
colour-problem from various points of view, and to suggest the temper in
which it is approached by men of both races. In the middle of my
travel-sketches, however, at the point where I leave the American
Continent, I have inserted an essay of some length which embodies my
reflections on the preceding “choses vues” with such tentative
conclusions as I felt justified in drawing. This essay, which appeared
in _McClure’s Magazine_ for July, 1909, has elicited a good deal of
criticism in the South, which has led me to modify one or two passages.
I am happy to say, however, that none of the criticism which has reached
me, either privately or through the Press, has been in any sense
hostile. Many critics have declared impossible the only solution of the
problem which at all commends itself to me; but only one out of a
hundred or thereabouts has accused me of seriously misrepresenting the

From Florida, I proceeded by way of Cuba and Jamaica to a detached but
very important section of the United States, the Canal Zone at Panama. I
make no apology for including in this book a few notes of that journey.
For one thing, I was still in Afro-America, still studying certain
aspects of the colour-problem. But another motive prompts the inclusion
of these sketches—the hope that some readers may be moved to follow in
my footsteps, and enjoy a very delightful and interesting tour. Anything
is worth doing, in my judgment, that tends to encourage Englishmen to
cross the Atlantic. If any considerable proportion of the English
travelling public could be induced to set their faces westward, we
should soon get rid of many of the little prejudices and ignorances
which still interpose themselves between the two branches of the
Anglo-Saxon stem. The route which I followed—roughly, New York,
Washington, Memphis, New Orleans, Charleston, Florida, Cuba, Jamaica,
Panama, Cartagena, Trinidad, Southampton—is as easy and comfortable as
it is interesting and instructive. No doubt the completion of the Canal
will carry a rush of travel in this direction. But even before the gates
of the Pacific are opened, I see no reason why the fascinating ferment
of the Southern States, in conjunction with the glorious beauty of the
West Indies, should not attract the travelling Briton.

The chapters in the First Part of this book appeared, with two
exceptions, in the _Westminster Gazette_; those in the Third Part, with
one exception, appeared either in the _Morning Leader_ or the _Pall Mall
Magazine_. The chapters on Hampton and on Jamaica are here printed for
the first time.

                                 PART I
                             SOUTHWARD HO!

                            ON THE THRESHOLD

The scene is Chicago; the occasion, a luncheon-party at the
Cliff-Dwellers’ Club. All the intellect and talent of the Middle West (I
am credibly assured) are gathered round one long table. I mention to an
eminent man of letters that I am going into the South.

“Well,” he says, “you are going into a country that is more foreign to
me than most parts of Europe. I do not understand the Southern people,
or their way of looking at things. I never feel at home among them. The
one thing I have in common with them is a strong antipathy to the black

This, of course, is only an individual point of view; but many other men
are listening, and, while some nod assent, no one protests.

But here is another point of view. A few days later I met an old friend,
a Philadelphian, who said, “I like the South and the Southerners. They
are men of our own stock and our own tongue—even the ‘poor whites’ whom
slavery and the hookworm have driven to the wall. In the North we are
being jostled and elbowed aside by the foreigner, who murders our
speech, and knows nothing and cares nothing about our history or
traditions. Yes; give me the South. It is true that, intellectually, it
scarcely exists. The Southerner may be living in the twentieth century,
but he has skipped the nineteenth. His knowledge of literature, for
instance, if he have any at all, stops at the Waverley Novels and ‘The
Corsair.’ But I’m not sure that that isn’t part of the charm.”

Thus early did I learn that no two men can talk to you about the South
without flatly contradicting each other.

It was evident that my plan must be simply to gather views and
impressions as I went along, and trust to sifting and co-ordinating them

An invitation, equivalent to a command, called me to Washington.
[Sidenote: Nearing the Colour-line.] For a whole day my slow train
dragged wearily through Northern Ohio; and in the course of that day two
young couples in succession got into my car, who interested me not a
little. In each case it seemed to me that the girl had a streak of black
blood in her, while the young man was in each case unimpeachably white.
As to one of the girls, I was practically certain; as to the other I may
have been mistaken. Her features were aquiline and she was uncommonly
handsome; but the tint of her skin, and more especially of her eyeballs,
strongly suggested an African strain. Both girls were lively,
intelligent, well-spoken, well-dressed, well-mannered—distinctly
superior, one would have said, to the commonplace youths by whom they
were accompanied. Yet I felt pretty certain that a few hours’ travel
would have taken them into regions where they would be forbidden by law
to sit in the same railroad-car, and where marriage between them would
be illegal.[1]


Footnote 1:

  “Intermarriage between the races is forbidden by law in all the
  Southern States, and also in the following Northern and Western
  States: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana,
  Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah. In all other Northern
  and Western States marriage between the races is lawful.”—Ray Stannard
  Baker: “Following the Colour-Line.”


At any rate, even supposing that in these particular cases my conjecture
was mistaken, it was not on the face of it improbable. On the other side
of the Ohio River, these girls would have had, so to speak, to clear
themselves of the suspicion of African blood, else any association on
equal terms between them and their male companions would have been
regarded as an outrage. This seemed a senseless and barbarous state of
affairs. But I was there to observe, not (as yet) to form conclusions;
and I kept my mind open, wondering whether, in the coming weeks, I
should discover any reason or excuse for the apparent barbarism.

In Indiana, rain; in Ohio, torrents; at Pittsburg, a deluge. But when I
awaken next morning, just on Mason and Dixon’s line, the sun is shining
on the woods of Maryland, and I feel at once that the South and the
spring are here. [Sidenote: “Summer is i-cumen in.”] These spring
coppices are far richer in colour than any of our English woods. They
run the whole gamut of green, from the blue-green of the pine to the
silver-green of the poplar and the gold-green of the birch; and the
greens are freely interspersed with red and yellow foliage, and with
white and pink blossoms. The red is that of the maple, whose blush at
birth is almost as vivid as its flush in death.

The new Union Station at Washington is a vast and grandiose palace of
shining white. Its “concourse” (a new American word for the central hall
of a station) seems a really impressive piece of architecture. But it is
a Sabbath Day’s journey from the platforms to the cabs; and the porters
seem to be making a Sabbath Day of it, for I cannot find a single one.
Let me not embark, however, on the endless story of a traveller’s
tribulations. Every country has its own inconveniences, and
recriminations are not only idle but mischievous.

The city of Washington is one great sea of exquisite green, out of which
the buildings rise like marble rocks and islands. Yes, I am in the
South; the leafless elms of New England and the shrewd, bracing blasts
of New York are left behind.

And this day of sunshine was the first of many days. Save for a few
thunder-showers, the South was to be all sunshine for me.

And with the sunshine—the Negro. Here he is in his thousands, and in his
deepest dye. [Sidenote: A Question of Elbow-room.] In the North one sees
him now and then, but he is swamped and submerged in the crowds of the
great cities. To be very clearly conscious of his presence you must go
to special quarters of New York or Chicago. “Coloured persons” (seldom
pure blacks) are waiters at hotels and clubs, but no longer at the best
hotels and clubs. The Pullman porter is always coloured; so are most, if
not all, of the ordinary railway porters—when there are any. But “at the
North” (as they say here) you have to go out of your way to find any
problem in the negro. The black strand in the web of life is not yet
particularly prominent—whatever it may be destined to become.

But here in Washington the web of life is a chequer of black-and-white—a
shepherd’s tartan, I think they call it. In 1900 there were over 85,000
negroes in the city—now there must be at least 100,000, in a total
population of considerably under a quarter of a million, or something
like the population of Nottingham.

Imagine nearly half the population of Nottingham suddenly converted into
black and brown people—people different not only in colour but in many
other physical characteristics from you and me. Imagine that all the
most striking of these differences are in the direction of what our
deepest instincts, inherited through a thousand generations, compel us
to regard as ugliness—an ugliness often grotesque and simian.[2] Imagine
that this horrible metamorphosis--or, if you shy at the word “horrible,”
let us say fantastic—imagine this fantastic metamorphosis to have taken
place as a punishment for certain ancestral crimes and stupidities, of
which the living men and women of to-day are personally innocent. Can
you conceive that, after the first shock of surprise was over,
Nottingham would take up life again as a mere matter of course, feeling
that there was no misfortune in this mingling of incongruities, no
problem in the adjustment of their relations?


Footnote 2:

  There is no doubt, I think, that the white man—and here I mean not the
  Southerner, nor the American, but the white man as such—resents in
  extremes of the negro type just that air of caricaturing humanity
  which renders the monkey tribe so painful and humiliating to
  contemplate. This seems an inhuman saying, but instinctive emotions
  are fundamental facts which it is useless to blink. And the suggestion
  of caricature is the stronger, the more closely the negro mimics the
  white man in dress and bearing. In Washington, on a Sunday, one meets
  scores of fat, middle-aged negro women, decked out in an exaggerated
  extreme of European fashion, from whom one can only look away as from
  something grotesque and degrading—a page of Swift at his bitterest.
  Yet the same women in cotton gowns and bandana headgear might look far
  from unpleasing. No doubt the like uneasy sense of humiliation besets
  one on seeing white women decked in finery unsuited to their age or
  their contours. But that does not alter the fact that the urban negro
  of either sex, when he or she indulges in extremes of European
  adornment, is a spectacle highly disturbing to Caucasian
  self-complacency. Caricature is none the more agreeable for being, in
  a certain sense, just.


Do not object that in Washington there has been no sudden metamorphosis,
but that the condition of things has gradually come to pass through the
slow operation of historic forces. That makes no real difference, save
that the Washingtonian has no “first shock of surprise” to get over. The
essence of the matter is that half of the elbow-room of life is taken up
by an alien race. Even disregarding, as (perhaps) temporary and
corrigible, the condition of hostility between the races, we cannot but
see in the bare fact of their juxtaposition in almost equal numbers,
and, theoretically, on a standing of equal citizenship, an anomalous
condition of affairs, as to the probable outcome of which history
affords us no guidance.

Walk the streets of Washington for a single day, and you will realize
that the colour-problem is not, as some English and Northern American
writers assume, a chimera sprung from nothing but the inhuman prejudice
of the Southern white. It is not a simple matter which a little patience
and good-temper will presently arrange. It is a real, a terrible
difficulty, not to be overcome by happy-go-lucky humanitarianism.

It may be a great pity that Nature implanted race-instincts deep in our
breasts—Nature has done so many thoughtless things in her day. But there
they are, not to be ignored or sentimentalized away. They are part of
the stuff of human character, out of which the future must be shaped.
The wise statesman will no more disregard them than the wise carpenter
will disregard the grain of a piece of timber—or the knots in it.

One principle I arrived at very early in this investigation—namely, that
black is not always white, nor white invariably black.

                        THE BLACK MAN’S PARADISE

It was my good fortune to have for my hosts in Washington two active
sympathizers with the negro. The husband hails from a North-Western
State; the wife is a New Englander. They knew personally some of the
Abolitionist leaders, and are still full of their spirit.

They related to me cruel and deplorable incidents in the everyday life
of the streets.

“One afternoon,” said my host, “I was sitting peaceably in a street-car,
when I was suddenly conscious of an altercation between the conductor
and a coloured man. The absolute rights of the matter I don’t know, but
it had somehow arisen out of a recent modification of the ‘transfer’
system, which the coloured man probably did not understand. I had
scarcely realized what was happening, before men were standing on the
seats of the car, shouting, ‘Kill the d——d nigger! We’ll all stand by
you! All Virginia is behind you!’ The motor-man detached the heavy brass
handle by which he works the car, ran up to the negro, and had actually
raised it to strike. I interposed, and told the man that, if anything
happened, he would get into trouble for leaving his post. He replied:
‘The nigger’s abusive,’ but sullenly went back to his platform.”

“_Was_ the nigger abusive?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t hear him say anything; but it is quite possible
that he had been ‘sassy.’ All I know is that he stood his ground like a
man, with that yelling crowd around him.”

“And what happened?”

“Oh, the thing blew over. The negro walked away, and the crowd
dispersed. As I took my seat again in the car, the man next me said, ‘If
that had happened in South Carolina, he would have been a dead nigger.’”

“Not long ago,” my hostess said, “I was in a crowded street-car.
[Sidenote: Street-Car Episodes.] A black woman with a baby got in, and
had to stand. You know how our Washington cars are constantly rounding
corners; and at every curve the woman was nearly thrown from her feet.
Presently one of two white shop-girls who were sitting near her rose and
gave the mother her place. The two girls soon after got out; and as they
passed me, the one who had kept her seat said to the other, ‘I wonder
you would do such a thing!’ ‘Didn’t you see she had a baby?’ the other
replied; so, after all, we are not quite without humanity.”

“But tell about the two boys,” my host put in.

“Oh, that was two or three years ago. I noticed in a street-car a very
distinguished-looking old man with two boys of about fourteen and
twelve, evidently his grandsons. I thought what very nicely-mannered
boys they were. A white woman got in, and, the car being full, the elder
boy rose and gave her his seat. Immediately after, a mulatto woman got
in, very well and quietly dressed—entirely a lady in manner and
appearance. The younger boy was rising to give her his seat, when the
elder pushed him down angrily, saying quite aloud, ‘I thought you knew
better than to get up for a nigger.’”

“Did the lady hear?”

“Oh, perfectly. It was most painful.”

“And what said the distinguished grandfather?”

“He smiled, and nodded to the elder boy.”

[Sidenote: Mr. Roosevelt and the Washerwoman.]

I took out my pocket-book and handed my hostess a cutting I had made a
few days before. It was a letter signed “Edgar S. Walz,” and ran thus:

  “To the Editor of the _New York Times_.

        “I read in your Sunday’s issue an item headed ‘Subway Manners:
  Boys keep their Seats rather than Give to a Sick Old Woman,’ which
  reminds me of the first time I saw Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, about eight
  or nine years ago. He was sitting next to me in a Broadway car, and
  somewhere along about Thirtieth-street the car stopped to let some
  people on. All secured seats except a coloured woman with a large
  bundle of clothes. As soon as Mr. Roosevelt saw that she had to stand,
  he jumped up, took off his hat, and bowed as graciously as though she
  were the first woman in the land.”

“Yes,” said my hostess, as she handed back the cutting; “you will find
these differences.”

“Of course,” I said, “Mr. Roosevelt is a Northerner.”

“I’m afraid that doesn’t always mean liberality of feeling nowadays,”
was the reply. “I should rather say Mr. Roosevelt is Mr. Roosevelt.”

My host is a chief of department in a large Government office.

[Sidenote: Sent to Coventry.]

“Have you any coloured people working under you?” I asked him.

“Not long ago,” he replied, “a coloured girl was sent to me—I think
because they knew that I would ‘kick’ less than any other chief of
department. It was suggested to me that I should assign her some special
work by herself. I refused. ‘No,’ I said, ‘if she comes to me at all,
she follows the regular routine.’ I made a point of speaking to the
three most responsible young women among my clerks—all girls of good
family and standing—and telling them they must behave well to her.”

“And how did they behave?”

“Oh, well enough, on the surface; there was no trouble; but she was
quietly sent to Coventry. Soon afterwards a Russian girl entered the
department, who knew nothing and cared nothing about our prejudices. She
made friends with the coloured girl; but when she sat at the same table
with her in the lunch-room, the quadroon herself said to her, ‘You
mustn’t do this; you’ll get into trouble with the others. They don’t
behave badly to me; but when I seat myself even at the other end of a
long table they make an excuse to move away.’”

“How are negroes placed in these positions?” I asked.

“Why, through various political ‘pulls.’”

“Do you think it a wise policy to try to break down the colour-line here
and there—at this point and that—by the nomination of negroes to
Government appointments?”

“Ah, that is just the question.”

“Meantime,” I asked, “are matters getting better or worse?”

“Oh, worse—decidedly worse,” said my hostess. “They are coming to
something like open war. For instance, I constantly see stone-fights
between white boys and black boys in the open space outside our house.
That doesn’t mean much, perhaps; for boys will be boys everywhere. But
sometimes lately the white boys have seemed to go frantic, and have
begun stoning black men and women who were going peaceably about their
business. Once I had to telephone to the police to interfere, or I
believe there would have been a riot.”

“I am told that in New York the white and black street-boys play
amicably together.”

“Yes,” said my host, “that is because the blacks are comparatively few.
The tension increases in the direct ratio of the number of negroes.”

This I find to be essentially, if not quite universally, true. What is
the inference? Is it not at bottom an instinct of self-preservation that
spurs the South to inhumanity—an unreasoning, or half-reasoned, panic
fear of racial submergence? There are many other factors in the
situation; but I think, beyond all doubt, this is one.

“You can see any day on the street-cars,” said my host, “the
embitterment of feeling. Formerly a black man would always rise and give
his seat to a white woman; now he aggressively refrains from doing so.”

I repeated this to a friend in Baltimore, a gentleman of an old Southern
family, who had fought for the Confederacy, even while he realized that
the institution of slavery was doomed. [Sidenote: A Pessimistic View.]
“You must remember,” he said, “that the problem is acute in Washington.
The Washington negro is particularly bumptious and intolerable.
Immediately after the war, Washington was the black man’s paradise. They
flocked there in their thousands, thinking that the Government was going
to do everything for them, and that there was nothing they had not a
right to expect. That spirit still survives and makes trouble.”

“And how do you feel as to the way things are shaping? Do you see any
actual or probable improvement in the relations of the races?”

“What shall I say?” he replied. “I do all I can to put the matter out of
my thoughts. I do not personally feel the pinch of the problem. My
children are in the North, and my life here pursues an even routine. I
have old coloured servants, with whom I get on very well. But I am
constitutionally a pessimist, and I confess I do not see how the thing
is going to work out.”

“Education?” I suggested.

“Education is all very well; but if it removes some difficulties it
raises others. It tends to make the negro unwilling to work where he is
wanted, and desirous of working where he is not wanted—at any rate by
the white artisan who is in the field before him. The industrial
education of the black race, which is in some quarters regarded as a
panacea, will no doubt do a great deal of good; but we cannot close our
eyes to the fact that it will intensify race-friction in the labour

“Still, you are not one of the Southerners who want to keep the black
ignorant—who think that education, as a whole, merely teaches him ‘not
to know his place’?”

“That is an outworn and impossible point of view. But you can understand
that even the reasonable Southerner feels a certain bitterness on the
subject of education when he sees the black child marching off to a
school provided by Northern philanthropy, while the child of the ‘poor
white’ goes into the cotton-factory.”[3]


Footnote 3:

  It is not only the child of the “poor white,” in the special Southern
  sense of the term, that goes to the factory. Mr. Stannard Baker, in
  “Following the Colour-Line,” says: “One day I visited the mill
  neighbourhood of Atlanta to see how the poorer classes of white people
  lived. I found one very comfortable home occupied by a family of mill
  employees. They hired a negro woman to cook for them, and while they
  sent their children to the mill to work, the cook sent her children to


“You say you have black servants?”

“Oh yes, I have; and many people still have. But you know the race as a
whole is turning against domestic service. I have friends in Mobile,
Alabama, who tell me that their servants make the most fantastic
conditions. For instance, they won’t do a stroke of work after three
o’clock. If you want a meal after that hour, you must prepare and serve
it yourself. As for the abstraction of household stuff from the kitchen,
it is carried on openly and systematically—they call it ‘Cook’s
excursion.’ In the case of domestic service, in fact, the difficult
conditions which are being felt all over the world are intensified
by—what shall I call it?—the race pride, or the race resentment, of the
black. Domestic service was one of the badges of slavery; and now, if he
or she will undertake it at all, it must be on such terms as shall
remove from it all taint of servility.”

“A very natural feeling,” I remarked.

“No doubt; but not calculated to relieve the friction between the

                       THE NIGHTMARE OF THE SOUTH

My original plan had been to go from Washington to Hampton, Virginia,
and see the great industrial school for negroes and Indians established
by General Samuel Armstrong, the _alma mater_ of Mr. Booker Washington,
and consequently of Tuskegee. But I found that both the President of
Hampton and the President of the University of Virginia at
Charlottesville were to be at a Southern Education Conference at
Memphis; so, instead of going due south into Virginia, I turned my face
south-westward towards Kentucky and Tennessee. But I determined to “stop
off” for a day at Virginia Hot Springs, where some friends had invited
me to visit them.

Virginia Hot Springs is nothing but a huge rambling hotel, with a number
of “cottage” dependencies. [Sidenote: A Happy Valley.] The hotel company
has bought up the whole mountain-valley, and runs it like a little
kingdom. It is a delightful place; the air fresh and sparkling, the
hotel and cottages sufficiently picturesque, the basin of the valley
entirely given up to the brilliant sward of the golf-course. Around the
hotel runs a spacious “piazza,” with innumerable rocking-chairs. A score
of buggies and saddle-horses, at the disposition of the guests, gather
round the steps. Inside, every American luxury is at command. You move
noiselessly on deep-piled carpets; the news-stand is heaped with the
latest magazines and novels; there is a little row of shops where you
can buy hats and frocks, jewellery and bric-à-brac, at fifty per cent.
over Fifth-avenue prices; and—most indispensable luxury of all—there is
a stock- and share-broker’s office, and there are long-distance
telephones, whereby you can keep in touch with Wall Street and the
various Exchanges. That curious oval excrescence at one corner of the
building is the ballroom. It opens into the great hall of the hotel,
called “Peacock Walk”; for here the ladies assemble after dinner to air
their “rags” and their diamonds.

My friends chartered a buggy, and drove me after lunch to Warm Springs,
an old Colonial health-resort, where it is on record that General
Washington came to nurse his gout; and thence to a point called
Flagstaff Hill, or something of the sort, where we had a glorious view
over an endless stretch of hill-country, running far into West Virginia.
But, oh! the reckless, suicidal waste of timber that is going on here,
as almost everywhere in America. Here, however, it is sheer
thoughtlessness that is at work—not the criminal cupidity which is
converting the forests of Maine and New Hampshire into wood-pulp, and
ruining for generations to come the climate, the fertility, the
water-power of the country.

Our talk, of course, strays (not through my leading) to the question of
the negro.

[Sidenote: The Darkest Phase.]

“I have two cousins,” says Mrs. X., “who are sisters. One of them
devotes all her spare money to the amelioration of the black race, while
personally she loathes them and shrinks from them. The other has no
philanthropic feeling whatever; she regrets that slavery was ever
abolished; but she likes the black people personally; she goes among
them, and nurses them when they are ill—just as she would a favourite
horse or dog. That is in Philadelphia, where, as you know, I was born.”

“And you yourself—how do you feel on the subject?”

“I had lived so much abroad that I had no very definite feeling towards
the black race, one way or another, until a few summers ago, when I
spent some time at Aiken, South Carolina, where the bulk of the
population is black. I don’t think I am hysterical, but I assure you it
was an almost intolerable sensation to walk down the main street of
Aiken, even at midday, under the eyes of those hundreds of great hulking
blacks, staring at you with half-suppressed insolence. It gives me a
little shudder now to think of it.”

“Last year,” said her husband, “I was shooting in North Carolina, in a
district where the population is pretty evenly divided between white and
black. I boarded in a farmer’s family. The grandfather had fought in the
war, of course on the Confederate side; the father and mother were
solid, unpretending, intelligent people. There was a school-house only a
mile and a half away, but they could not let their two daughters go to
it. They could not let them stir away from home unprotected. They had to
pay for their education at home, while at the same time they were being
taxed for the education of the negro children of the district. That is
not a pleasant state of affairs.”

[Sidenote: A Significant Admission.]

Some time afterwards, I stated this case to a loading educator of
negroes, a man widely recognized as one of the best friends of the race.

“Do you think,” I asked him, “that these girls could not safely have
gone to school? Or was their parents’ action the result of groundless,
or, at any rate, exaggerated, panic—as of one who should forbid his
children to pass through a wood lest a tree should fall upon them?”

“It would depend on the district,” was the reply. “In some districts the
girls could have gone to school safely enough; in others, no!”

This, I think, was a terrible admission; for, after all, a “safe”
district can only be one in which no outrage has occurred; and that is
no guarantee against its occurring to-morrow.[4] What father, what
husband, is going to rest on such security?


Footnote 4:

  In a paper read in 1901, Mr. A. H. Stone said of the Yazoo Mississippi
  Delta: “There is now no more feeling of fear on the white man’s part,
  whether for himself or his wife or his children, than in the days of
  slavery.” But he afterwards added: “Writing to-day, 1908, it would be
  necessary to modify this statement somewhat—certainly for some part of
  this territory.” “The American Race Problem,” p. 91. The footnotes to
  Mr. Stone’s paper point out one or two other instances of a
  deterioration of conditions.


Here, then, I was face to face with the most hideous factor in the
problem—that which keeps popular sentiment in the South chronically
inflamed and exasperated. Again and again, at every turn, I came upon
it; not only in the shape of revolting stories, but in accounts of the
constant and most burdensome precautions which the state of affairs

To give only one instance: I asked an American long resident in Havana
whether there was any trouble of this nature in Cuba. “No,” he said,
“practically none. It’s true that about a year ago a sort of half-witted
black was accused of an outrage on a mulatto woman, and committed
suicide in prison to escape the garotte; but I believe an American
nigger has since confessed that he was the real culprit. It’s very
different,” he went on, “in my native State, Louisiana. I have two
sisters married there. The husband of one of them never dares to leave
his home unless he takes his wife with him. The husband of the other is
compelled to leave home for days at a time; but he keeps a loaded
shot-gun in every room in the house, and he has made his wife practice
till she is a very fair shot, both with gun and revolver. There isn’t a
white man in the country districts that doesn’t take similar

Think what it means to have this nightmare constantly present to the
mind of every woman and girl of a community—at any rate in the country
districts, and on the outskirts of the towns. [Sidenote: A Malign
Enchantment.] No doubt the state of “nerves” it sets up is responsible
for many errors and cruelties. Many attempted outrages may be purely
imaginary. Negroes may have been lynched or shot down, not only for
crimes they themselves did not commit, but for crimes that were never
committed at all.[5] But there are quite enough authentic cases of
crime—denied by nobody—to justify the horror of the South.[6] It is all
very well to say that it is the precautions taken, and most of all the
lynchings, that suggests the crime to vagrant, dissolute,
drink-and-drug-ruined negroes. That is probably in great measure
true—the evil moves in a vicious circle. But who or what is to break the
circle of malign enchantment? Education? Yes, perhaps; but education is
at best a slow process. I cannot to-day throw my revolver into the
Mississippi because I hope that fifty years hence my grandson may have
no use for it.


Footnote 5:

  Among the “Causes Assigned” for lynchings in the statistical statement
  prepared by the Chicago _Tribune_, “Race Prejudice” stands fourth on
  the list; and in the four years, 1900-1903, twenty-four cases are
  assigned to it. Among the other causes are “Unknown offences” (10),
  “Mistaken Identity” (5), and “No offence” (1).

Footnote 6:

  “Making allowance for all exaggerations in attributing this crime to
  negroes, there still remain enough well-authenticated cases of brutal
  assault on women by black men in America to make every negro bow his
  head in shame.”—_Atlanta University Publications_, No. IX. (A negro


“During the war,” a very intelligent coloured man said to me, “the
planters’ wives and children were left to the protection of the negroes.
[Sidenote: Who is to Blame?] Not a single case of outrage occurred, and
scarcely a case of theft or breach of trust. Had we been the lecherous
brutes we are now supposed to be, we should have written the darkest
page in history, and brought the Southern armies home to the defence of
their own hearthstones.”

That is true. It is admitted on every hand that the conduct of the
slaves during the war was, on the whole, excellent, and in many cases
touchingly beautiful.[7] And therein lies, by the way, not, certainly,
an apology for slavery, but a proof that its most melodramatic horrors
were exceptional. But what matters the admission that the malignant and
bestial negro did not exist forty years ago, if it has to be admitted in
the same breath that he exists to-day?


Footnote 7:

  “No race ever behaved better than the negro behaved during the war.
  Not only were there no massacres and no outbreaks, but even the amount
  of defection was not large.... Many a master going off to the war
  entrusted his wife and children to the care of his servants with as
  much confidence as if they had been of his own blood. They acted
  rather like clansmen than like bondmen.... As Henry Grady once said,
  ‘A thousand torches would have disbanded the Southern army; but there
  was not one.’”—Thomas Nelson Page: “The Negro: The Southerner’s
  Problem,” p. 21.


What has bred him? Who is responsible for his existence? History may one
day apportion the burden between the doctrinaire self-righteousness of
the respectable North, the rascality of the “carpet-bag” politician, the
stiff-necked pride of the South, and the vanity, the resentfulness, and
the savagery of the negro himself. But what avails recrimination or
apportionment of blame, while the monstrous evil—none the less monstrous
because it necessarily awakens a morbid imagination on both sides—exists
and calls aloud to be dealt with? While the relations of the two races
remain as they are, there can be no doubt that an act of brutal lust
often justifies itself to a semi-savage imagination as an act of war—a
racial reprisal. And who shall say that a state of war does not exist?

Few sensible men in the South have now a word to say for lynching.[8] It
has proved itself as ineffectual in practice as it is unjustifiable in
theory. [Sidenote: Lynch Law.] It cannot even be palliated as an
ungovernable reaction of horror at the particular atrocity here in
question; seeing that, as a matter of fact, more negroes are lynched for
mere murder than for outrages on women.[9] There seems to be little
hope, however, of a cessation of lynchings in the near future. The
Southern Press abounds with evidences that the lynching impulse is
strong, and is with difficulty held in check[10] even when the
provocation is comparatively trifling.


Footnote 8:

  One of the most sensible men in the South is certainly Mr. E. G.
  Murphy, who writes (“The Present South,” p. 177): “The mob, so far as
  it has a conscious philosophy, has attempted the justification of its
  course upon these grounds: It has insisted that its methods were
  necessary in order to prevent the crime; in order to avoid the
  procrastination of the courts; and in order to protect the victim of
  assault from the ordeal of presenting testimony at the trial of the
  offender. It has become increasingly obvious, however, that the
  practice of lynching ... is not a remedy. It does not prevent crime.
  Through the morbid interest which it arouses, and through the
  publicity which it creates, it inflames to the utmost the power of
  criminal suggestion and aggravates all the conditions of racial
  suspicion and antagonism. The so-called ‘remedy’ has always been
  followed by new outbreaks of the disease, the most atrocious crimes
  coming at short intervals after the previous exercise of the mob’s
  philosophy of ‘prevention.’” “Lynching as a remedy,” says Mr. Thomas
  Nelson Page, “is a ghastly failure.” The opposite opinion, however,
  has still its champions. “The lynch lightning,” says Mr. W. B. Smith
  (an anti-negro extremist), “seldom strikes twice in the same district
  or community.” “The Colour-Line,” p. 259.

Footnote 9:

  The commonly accepted statistics of lynchings are those supplied by
  the Chicago _Tribune_. I have before me the figures for the years
  1885-1904, somewhat vitiated by the fact that the enumeration for 1888
  is incomplete. It would appear that in these years 2942 lynchings in
  all occurred, 2042 of the victims being negroes, and the remaining 900
  belonging to other races. But the proportion of negro lynchings
  steadily increased. In 1886, 71 negroes were lynched, as against 62
  men of other races; whereas in 1901 the respective figures were 107
  and 28. Out of the whole number of lynchings 25 per cent. were for
  rape, 42 per cent. for murder, and 33 per cent. for other offences.
  More than 80 per cent. of the whole number of lynchings occurred in
  the Southern States.

Footnote 10:

  Washington, November 15, 1909. “Ninety days’ imprisonment was imposed
  to-day upon ex-Sheriff Joseph F. Shipp, of Chattanooga, Tenn., by the
  supreme court of the United States for contempt of court in failing to
  prevent the lynching of a negro, Edward Johnson, whose execution had
  been stayed by the court.

  “Luther Williams and Nick Nolan were sentenced to imprisonment for
  ninety days for connection with the lynching, and Jeremiah Gibson, the
  jailer, Henry Padgett and William Mayers, all of Chattanooga, for
  sixty days.”


One thing seems to me certain—namely, that crimes against women, and all
sorts of negro crime, will be far more effectually checked when
respectable and well-disposed negroes can feel reasonably confident that
people of their race will be treated with common fairness in white
courts of law. At present it is certain that they can feel no such
confidence. But, in making this statement, I am anticipating matters.
The point is one to which I must return later.

                         RHETORIC IN LOUISVILLE

Louisville, Kentucky, is not an attractive city. It is as flat as my
hand; its atmosphere is grimy; its buildings vary from the commonplace
to the mean. It has one or two of the dumpy sky-scrapers—only some ten
or twelve storeys high—which are indispensable to the self-respect of
every American city of a certain size; but one feels that they are
products of mere imitative ostentation, not of economic necessity. In
Louisville the names, or numbers, of the streets are scarcely ever stuck
up. It is characteristic of a half-grown American town that you can
generally read the names of streets which have no houses in them; but
when the houses are built, the name-boards seem to be thrown away.

I am apt to estimate the civilization of a city by inspecting its
book-stores; but during a long day in Louisville I could not find a
single one. No doubt I failed to look in the right place; but I
certainly perambulated the leading business streets. I was reminded of a
couplet from I know not what poet—

            “Alas for the South! Her books have grown fewer;
            She was never much given to literature.”

Let me hasten to add that in all the other cities I visited I found one
or more fairly well-supplied book-stores.

For reasons I have elsewhere stated at length, an American barber’s shop
is an abomination to me. [Sidenote: Tonsorial Sarcasm.] Among the least
of its terrors is the interminable time occupied by the disgusting
processes to which you are submitted. However, I had time on my hands in
Louisville, and, being a vagrant with no fixed abode, had no
conveniences for shaving myself. So I ventured into a “tonsorial

I was “attended” by a white “artist”; for this is one of the trades from
which the negro is being rapidly ousted all over the South.[11]


Footnote 11:

  “There are more coloured barbers in the United States to-day than ever
  before, but a larger number than ever cater to only the coloured
  trade.”—W. E. B. Du Bois: “The Negro in the South,” p. 99. On this
  point, however, a wise word of Mr. E. G. Murphy’s deserves to be
  noted: “If the man who ‘disappears’ as a barber reappears as a
  carpenter, or as a small farmer on his own land, he may figure in the
  census-tables to prove all sorts of dismal theories; but, as a matter
  of fact, he has been forced into a sounder and stronger economic
  position. Many negroes are suffering displacement without gaining by
  the process; but it is a mistake to assume that displacement in itself
  is always an evidence of industrial defeat.” “The Basis of
  Ascendancy,” p. 64.


“Have you special seats for coloured people in the street-cars here”? I
asked my torturer.

“No,” he replied, “we haven’t. They can sit wherever they please. And,
what’s more, they won’t sit beside each other, but insist on plumping
themselves down alongside of white folks. If _I_ had my way, they’d ride
on the roof.” I need scarcely remark that, as American street-cars have
no outside seats, this was an ironical recommendation.

It was with some hesitancy that I offered a tip to this champion of the
dignity of the white man. But he showed no resentment.

I had been recommended to call on Mr. A. B. Shipton (I alter the name),
a coloured lawyer of some prominence. [Sidenote: A Negro Lawyer.]
Entering his office, I found a man of aquiline features and tawny rather
than brown complexion, carrying on a conversation through the telephone.
From its matter I gathered that he was talking to his wife; and this
conjecture was confirmed when he, so to speak, rang off with two
sounding kisses into the instrument. The trait was characteristic; for
the domestic negro is very domestic indeed.

He now put on his gold-rimmed eye-glasses and read my letter of
introduction, all the time smoking a long pipe, which he had kept alight
even while at the telephone. I presently found that some of his habits
in relation to the use of tobacco savoured of the period of “Martin
Chuzzlewit”; but he was a man whom one instinctively, and with no
effort, met on the equal terms on which one would meet a member of his
profession in England.

As I was well accredited, he received me with cordiality and talked
freely. Not only freely, indeed, but copiously; not only copiously, but
with rhetorical finish and emphasis. I soon realized that I was
listening to extracts from speeches which he was in the habit of

Looking back upon the whole tenor of our interview, I find it curiously
like the talk which a sixteenth-century Englishman might have held with
a Spanish or Venetian Jew. Mr. Shipton related, indeed, a series of
wrongs, injustices, and humiliations; but the ever-recurring burden of
his tale was a celebration of the material progress of his race, the
wealth they were amassing, the homes they were founding, the heroism
they were developing in the teeth of adverse circumstance.

[Sidenote: The Plaint of the Uncomplaining.]

“As you go southward, sir,” he said, “people will tell you over and over
again that they, the Southern whites, alone know the negro and know how
to deal with him. That is precisely the reverse of the truth. They do
not know the negro, because they won’t know him. They won’t enter into
any sympathetic relation with him.

“It was different in the days of slavery, no doubt. Then, in most cases,
there was a certain amount of human intercourse between the slave and
the master. But the growing white generation has no approach to the
knowledge of the black man (to say nothing of sympathy with him) that
its grandfathers had in ante-bellum days.

“Is race-prejudice weakening at all? It is not weakening, but altering,
and that in an ominous way. Thirty years ago the prejudice was against
the ignorant, shiftless and thriftless black; now it is against the
thrifty and industrious, the refined and the cultured—against those, in
a word, who come into competition with the middle-class white.[12]

“Just think, sir, what we have done! Forty years ago, when slavery came
to an end, we were four million ignorant, homeless, schoolless,
friendless creatures. Now there are ten millions of us, and we have a
hundred colleges, thousands of schools, tens of thousands of homes. We
pay taxes on a billion dollars’ worth of property.[13]


Footnote 12:

  “If my own city of Atlanta had offered it to-day the choice between
  five hundred negro college graduates—forceful, busy, ambitious men of
  property and self-respect—and five hundred black, cringing vagrants
  and criminals, the popular vote in favour of the criminals would be
  simply overwhelming. Why? Because they want negro crime? No, not that
  they fear negro crime less, but that they fear negro ambition and
  success more. They can deal with crime by chain-gang and lynch law, or
  at least they think they can. But the South can conceive neither
  machinery nor place for the educated, self-reliant, self-assertive
  black man.”—W. E. B. Du Bois: “The Negro in the South,” p. 180.

Footnote 13:

  According to Mr. W.H. Thomas, a negro writer violently hostile to his
  race, negroes in the year 1901 owned about $700,000,000, and paid
  state and municipal taxes of over $3,000,000. This, he reckons, would
  mean property to the amount of about $90 per head, or a saving of
  about $2·60 (ten and sixpence) per head per year since emancipation.
  Mr. Thomas also states that before the war there was in the South a
  free negro population of a quarter of a million, owning between
  thirty-five and forty million dollars’ worth of property. “The
  American Negro,” pp. 39 and 74. Mr. Thomas Nelson Page also points out
  that some negroes accumulated wealth during the Reconstruction period
  “by other means than those of honest thrift.” But it is probable that
  in most cases the money thus gained was not so employed as to
  constitute a permanent addition to the wealth of the race.


“Forty years ago we had no business men, no professional men. Now we
have painters, poets, architects, inventors, merchants, lawyers,
doctors, divines. And yet we are shut off from the body-politic. We have
to submit to taxation without representation. Even those of us who
cannot be defrauded of our votes are excluded from the councils of the
party which would not exist without us. That” (with peculiar bitterness)
“is what they call the lilywhite policy![14]


Footnote 14:

  See foot-note, p. 171.


“But, sir, we are uncomplaining. If there is a colour-problem, it is not
we who raise it. No! it is the unprincipled white politician who finds
anti-negro agitation a popular plank in his platform.

“Even under this government of the two races by and for the one race,
the negro is loyal to the country which he has enriched by his labour,
hallowed by his graves, watered with his blood.

“We are a docile and an instinctively religious race. You will find few
negro atheists or infidels. We are susceptible to any and all of the
forms of the Christian religion. We are Methodists or Baptists among the
Methodists and Baptists, Presbyterians among the Presbyterians,
Episcopalians among the Episcopalians, Roman Catholics among the Roman

I could not but think this remark significant of much—of far more,
indeed, than the speaker realized.

“Are you excluded from municipal as well as from political life?” I

“Even more strictly, if possible,” was the reply. “All municipal offices
are in the hands of ‘sho’ ’nuff white folks,’ though they may be Dagos,
or Germans, or Slavs. Of course the city government and the police
department are run by the Irish. No negro holds a job higher than that
of washing spittoons in the Court House. Yet in this city we pay taxes
on three millions of property.

[Sidenote: Arithmetical Progression.]

“But this is the saving trait of the negro’s character: shut off from
all other activities, he goes on quietly and uncomplainingly working,
educating himself, and accumulating property.[15] For the righting of
our wrongs we must look to the negroes in those States where they hold
the balance of power—in Ohio, Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, and
others. And think what an element we are destined to form in the body
politic! In fifty years we shall be twenty-five millions; next century
we shall be fifty millions. Not a drop of our blood is lost to us—the
whites take care of _that_. If you haven’t got but a sixteenth part of
black blood, you’re a negro all right.”


Footnote 15:

  Mr Booker Washington declares (“The Negro in the South,” p. 73) that
  “the race has acquired ownership in land that is equal in area to the
  combined countries of Belgium and Holland.” He does not say how much
  of it is under mortgage. Elsewhere, Mr. Washington has stated (on the
  authority of the census of 1900) “that from a penniless population
  just out of slavery, 372,414 owners of homes have emerged, and of
  these 255,156 are known to own their homes absolutely free of
  encumbrance.” See E. G. Murphy: “The Present South,” p. 184. But the
  negroes were not absolutely “penniless” at the outbreak of the war.
  See p. 33.


Twenty-five millions in fifty years! Next century fifty millions! I did
think of it; and it was a thought to give one pause. Perhaps a more
careful estimate would somewhat reduce the figures. Cautious
statisticians, proceeding on the best available data, place the probable
number of negroes at the beginning of the next century somewhere about
35,000,000—that is to say, some 10,000,000 more than the whole
population of the eighteen Southern States at last census.[16]


Footnote 16:

  But see foot-note, p. 189.


As I left Mr. Shipton I asked whether his practice was mainly among his
own people. “Yes,” he said; “ninety nine per cent. of it; though,
by-the-by, I got divorces for a couple of white men the other day.”

And now a word of amends to Louisville. An hour before sunset I took a
car down all the long length of Broad Street, till it landed me at the
entrance to Shawnee Park. [Sidenote: An Idyll.] This expanse of lush and
yet delicate verdure is embraced by a bend of the majestic Ohio. The
steep banks of the river are nobly wooded, and you look across the
splendid sheet of water to what might be primeval forest beyond. In that
soft sunset hour, the air was full of the scent of flowering shrubs. A
mocking-bird was singing in a thicket; far off I heard voices of
children playing, and, on the river, the clunk of a pair of oars in
rowlocks; but within sight there were only two lovers on a grassy mound,
and a student bent over his book. As the sun touched the trees of the
opposite bank and threw a glow over the yellow eddies of the great
river, I thought it would be hard to picture a more peaceful, a more
beautiful, a more idyllic scene. So even Louisville is not without its



A night’s railway journey on the Illinois Central carries you from
Louisville to Memphis, Tennessee, and from the Ohio to the Mississippi.
You strike the Father of Waters some time before you reach Memphis. Here
two sets of literary associations were awakened in my mind. We passed
through miles of swampy, malarial-looking forests, with snake-like vines
binding the trees together; and every here and there would come a
clearing on the river-bank, still bristling with huge gaunt stumps of
dead timber, and showing a melancholy cabin or two, which forcibly
recalled the Eden of “Martin Chuzzlewit.” And then, again, in some quiet
backwater, we would see a great raft of lumber, with a hut or tent on
it—the very raft of Huckleberry Finn and Jim. So strongly have the great
rivers always appealed to my imagination that the first thing I did in
Memphis was to go down to the wharf and ascertain whether I could not
travel at least part of the way to New Orleans by steamer. There are
plenty of huge sternwheel boats, still on the river; but alas! their
movements are not arranged in view of passenger traffic. Only in short
stages, and at great expenditure of time, could I have carried out my
ambition. Baffled at Memphis, I still hoped to take boat from Vicksburg
to Natchez; but I found that I should have to wait two days for a boat,
and should then spend two more days in covering a distance which I could
do by rail in a single night. So, except for a short excursion at New
Orleans, I did not go a-sailing on the waters of the Mississippi.

Memphis is a much brighter, cleaner, more alert and prosperous-looking
place than Louisville. [Sidenote: Charity and Colour.] There are shops
on Main Street that would make a good figure in Paris; and at night it
is as gay with electricity as the “Great White Way” of New York. When I
arrived, Memphis was evidently in the thick of some excitement. The
side-walks of Main Street were crowded with ladies, young and—less
young, who were making dashes at every male passer-by, and seeking to
pin a square purple badge to the lapel of his coat. It was soon evident
that life was not worth living unless you wore one of these badges; so I
secured one, at the expense of half-a-dollar, and on examining it found
that it was inscribed—“Tag-Day for the Tennessee Home for Incurables.”
This was, in fact, a sort of Hospital Saturday, and the tag pinned to
your coat was a certificate that you had paid up.

The system struck me as ingenious; but it is because of a significant
sequel that I mention it. In the afternoon, I called on a negro
professional man who had invited me to go for a drive in his buggy. As
we left the house I noticed that he wore no tag. I touched my own tag,
and said, smiling, “Dare you venture into the streets without one of
these?” “Why,” he replied, “they wouldn’t for anything ‘tag’ a coloured

This was “discrimination” with a vengeance! Even charity fenced round by
the colour-line! I felt that here at last I had touched the limit.

[Sidenote: “Free” Libraries.]

We drove past the small but attractive-looking Public Library, situated
on a bluff, with a glorious view over the lake-like Mississippi.

“Is there discrimination here?” I asked.

“Why, certainly,” was the reply. “My son is in an office where several
of the white young men have cards enabling them to draw books from the
library. My son applied for a card; and as he is very light in colour,
it at first seemed that there was going to be no difficulty. But when
they heard his name, they identified him as my son and refused him a
card. The librarian wrote to me privately, and said that the boy could
have as many books as he liked without any card. But I would not have
that; I threatened to take the case into court by refusing to pay any
tax for the support of the library. But then they offered to establish a
branch library for coloured people, and that compromise I accepted.”

Some time later, in another city, I was reminded of this conversation on
seeing a very handsome Carnegie Free Library occupying a prominent site.

“Is it free to coloured people?” I asked.

“Oh dear no,” was the reply. “Carnegie offered to give an extra $10,000
for a black branch library, if the town would contribute $1000 a year to
its support. This the town agreed to do, on condition that the negro
community provided the site. We, on our part, consented to this, merely
stipulating that we should have a voice in the management. The town
replied emphatically ‘No,’ and the whole thing fell through. It would
simply have meant, you see, that they would have dumped upon us any
rubbish for which they hadn’t room in the main library. Can you wonder
that we declined?” I could not.

To return to Memphis. I had gone there, not exactly to attend the annual
“Conference for Education in the South,” but to see several people who
were attending it. [Sidenote: Educators in Council.] However, I did go
to one or two meetings, and notably to one which was to be addressed by
the British Ambassador, Mr. James Bryce. It was in the Lyceum Theatre,
and I sat on the platform (the stage) and looked out over the crowded
house, where a dozen electric fans were keeping the sultry air in
motion. It seemed to me odd that, while the floor of the house and the
first and second circle were overcrowded, there were only one or two
people in the gallery. Presently I looked up again; there were now about
twenty people in the upper regions, and I had a curious difficulty in
distinguishing their features. A light burst upon me—they were negroes.
In a “Conference for Education in the South” the whites did all the
conferring and the blacks, if they were so minded, might listen from the

Next day my black, or rather olive-coloured, friend said: “I could have
whipped myself this morning when I opened the paper and saw that I’d
missed hearing Bryce. I was bent upon hearing him, but somehow I forgot
that yesterday was the evening.” I wondered whether he realized that he
would have had to sit in the gallery. But I did not ask him. Every now
and then, in this country, one turns tail and flees from the haunting
colour question. It is the skeleton at the feast of Southern life.

In New York I had met President Booker T. Washington, of Tuskegee, one
of the most notable men in America, an accomplished speaker, and an
authority, if ever there was one, on the education of the negro. “No
doubt I shall see you at Memphis,” I said, in an off-hand way. He
answered, rather drily, “No;” and some time afterwards he said, “You
asked me if I would be at Memphis—I am not at all sure that I should be
welcome there. I received a printed circular notifying me of the
meeting, but no invitation to attend it. You will find friends of the
negro there, and of negro education—oh yes, plenty. But they will not be
of my colour.”

I did, as a matter of fact, hear one friend of negro education hold
forth—Bishop Bratton, of Mississippi. [Sidenote: A Bishop on Race
Equality.] The Bishop laid down a good many principles—among them that
“the negro is capable of development to a point whose limit he (the
speaker) had not discovered,” but that “the vast majority are still
children intellectually, and little short of savages morally.” The
purport of his address was the assertion that negro education should not
be left entirely or mainly to negro teachers. The ideal school would be
one under the supervision of a white clergyman, where carefully selected
portions of Scripture should be necessary parts of the curriculum, and
“where the race should be taught that race integrity is obedience to
God’s own creation and appointment, and that race intercourse, kindly
and cordial, is not race equality.” “Indeed,” the Bishop proceeded, “the
very expression ‘race equality’ is an anachronism belonging to the
mediæval period of reconstruction history [that is, roughly, the period
between 1866 and 1876], which has long gone to its account.” These
remarks were warmly received by the audience, and greatly applauded by
the leading Southern papers. But one understands why Mr. Booker T.
Washington—and, still more, why Professor W. E. B. Du Bois, of Atlanta
University—were not bidden to the conference. Of these two negro leaders
I shall try to give a sketch in my next paper.

                              TWO LEADERS

“People are always laying stress on the white blood in me,” said Mr. W.
E. Burghardt Du Bois, “and attributing to that anything I do that is
worth doing. But they never speak of the white blood in Mr. Booker
Washington, who, as a matter of fact, has a larger share than I have.”

“How do you make that out?” I asked; and Mr. Du Bois gave me the story
of his ancestry. The story went back two hundred years, for he comes of
a New England stock, and has had no slave ancestors (I take it) for many
generations. I could not follow his proof that more of Africa flows in
his veins than in Mr. Booker Washington’s; nor does it greatly matter;
for if it be so in fact, Nature has taken great pains to conceal the
fact, and the popular error of which he complains is practically

[Sidenote: A Contrast of Personalities.]

Principal Booker T. Washington is a negro in every lineament, and not,
one would say, of the most refined type. His skin is neither black nor
copper-coloured, but rather of a sort of cloudy yellow, to which the
other shades are, perhaps, æsthetically preferable. His hair, his ears,
his nose, his jaw, all place his race beyond dispute; only his grave,
candid, forceful eyes announce a leader of men. He is above middle
height, and heavily built; seated, he is apt to sprawl. He has a curious
trick of drawing back the corners of his mouth, so as to reveal almost
the whole of his range of teeth. At first I took this for a slow smile,
heralding some humorous remark; but humour is not Mr. Washington’s
strong point. His grin is a nervous habit, and scarcely a pretty
one.[17] Altogether, in talking with him, you have no difficulty in
remembering the race of your interlocutor, and if you make an untactful
remark—if you let the irrepressible instinct of race-superiority slip
out—you have all the more reason to be ashamed.


Footnote 17:

  Since writing this, I have heard Mr. Washington make a speech, and now
  conceive this grin to be partly, at any rate, a habit contracted in
  the effort to secure perfectly clear enunciation.


With Mr. Du Bois the case is totally different. His own demonstration
notwithstanding, I cannot believe that there is more of the negro in him
than in (say) Alexandre Dumas fils. Meeting this quiet, cultivated,
French-looking gentleman, with his pointed beard, olive complexion, and
dark melancholy eyes, it is hard to believe that he is born, as he
himself phrases it, “within the Veil.” In appearance he reminded me a
good deal of Gabriele d’Annunzio, only that D’Annunzio happens to be
fair, while Mr. Du Bois has something more like the average Italian
complexion. In speaking to this man of fine academic culture—this
typical college don, one would have said—the difficulty was to feel any
difference of race and traditions, and not to assume, tactlessly, an
identical standpoint.

These two men are unquestionably the leaders of their race to-day; but
their ideals and their policy are as different as their physique. Mr.
Washington leads from within; Mr. Du Bois from without. Should he read
this phrase he will probably resent it; but it may be none the less
true. Mr. Washington could never have been anything else than a negro;
he represents all that is best in the race, but nothing that is not in
the race. Mr. Du Bois is a negro only from outside pressure. I do not
mean, of course, that there are no negro traits in his character, but
that it is outside pressure—the tyranny of the white man—that has made
him fiercely, passionately, insistently African. Had there been no
colour question—had the negro had no oppression, no injustice to
complain of—Mr. Du Bois would have been a cosmopolitan, and led the life
of a scholar at some English, German, or perhaps even American
University. As it was, he felt that to desert his race would be the
basest of apostasies; but it was because he could have been disloyal
that he became so vehemently—one might almost say fanatically—loyal.

I have heard a well-known New York publicist, the editor of an
influential paper, express the opinion that Mr. Booker Washington is one
of the greatest men at present alive in America. [Sidenote: “Up from
Slavery.”] One of the others was President Eliot, of Harvard; the third
I will not name—thus leaving the gate of hope ajar for many eminent
persons. There was, perhaps, a spice of paradox in this appraisement of
Mr. Washington; but a remarkable man he certainly is. Not, I think, a
great intellect, but assuredly a strong and admirable character. His
life, as related by himself in “Up from Slavery,” is a story of quiet
heroism to rank with any in literature. Born a slave in a one-room
cabin, with no glazed window and an earthen floor, he remained there
until, when he was eight or nine, emancipation came. After that he
worked in a salt-furnace and in a coal-mine, devoured all the time by a
passion for knowledge which overcame what seemed almost incredible
difficulties. At last he set forth for Hampton Institute, where General
Armstrong was then just beginning his beneficent work. He had five
hundred miles to travel and scarcely any money. He worked and even
begged his way; for Mr. Washington has never been ashamed to beg when
there was a good object to be served. Arriving at Richmond, Virginia,
without a cent, he worked for several days unloading a ship, and slept
at night in a hollow under a wooden side-walk.

At Hampton he found the system in operation which he has since adopted
at Tuskegee—namely, that tuition is covered by endowment, while the
student is enabled to pay (in part, at any rate) by work, for his board
and clothing. He soon distinguished himself, not by great attainments,
but by the thoroughness of his work and the sincerity and elevation of
his character. Then, in 1881, it occurred to the State of Alabama to
start a normal school for coloured people at a little village named
Tuskegee, some forty miles from the capital, Montgomery. It did not,
however, occur to the State of Alabama to provide any buildings or
apparatus; it simply allotted £400 a year to be applied to the salaries
of the teachers. On General Armstrong’s recommendation, Mr. Washington,
then a youth of some five-and-twenty, was entrusted with the
organization and management of the school; and the account of how, with
practically no resources at all, he built up the great and beneficent
institution which has now made the name of Tuskegee world-famous, is
indeed a remarkable story of indomitable courage and perseverance. Mr.
Washington felt that his personal failure would be reckoned a failure
for his race. Out of the nettle, danger, he plucked the flower, safety;
and Tuskegee now represents perhaps the greatest individual triumph his
race has ever achieved.

Of course it has been achieved largely through philanthropic help from
the North—Mr. Washington, as I have said, is an unashamed, though very
tactful, beggar. [Sidenote: Statesman or Time-Server?] It is precisely
that tactfulness, in its largest sense, with which the fierier spirits
of his race reproach him. In their milder moods they call him an
opportunist and time-server; in moments of irritation they call him a
betrayer of his people, and a pitiful truckler to the white man. He is,
in fact, nothing of the sort; on the wrongs of his race he has spoken
with no uncertain voice, when he felt it to be in season; but he has not
harped upon them in and out of season. While he has plenty of
race-pride, he has no race-vanity, and realizes that the negro has yet
to conquer his place among the fully-developed and civilized races of
the world. To help in this conquest is the mission and glory of his
life; and he feels, rightly or wrongly, that material progress must
precede and serve as a basis for intellectual progress. Therefore what
is called the academic course—the course of language, literature, and
abstract science—plays only a secondary part at Tuskegee. The curriculum
is mainly industrial and agricultural, though the chemical and
mechanical theory which lies behind agriculture and the handicrafts is
by no means neglected. The fostering of aptitudes and the upbuilding of
character—these are the two great aims of Tuskegee. The negro, says Mr.
Washington, must render himself necessary to the American Commonwealth
before he can expect to take a highly esteemed place in it, and the best
way to claim a vote is to show that you are capable of using it wisely.
Such are the maxims which he inculcates on his students—thereby earning
the contumely of the fierier spirits aforesaid. They broke up one of his
meetings in Boston, not long ago, with red pepper, and with the racial
weapon—the razor.

But if any one imagines that Mr. Washington is a saint-like spirit in
whom the wrongs of his race awaken no bitterness, he is very much
mistaken. He has, when he cares to show it, a quiet contempt for the
pettinesses of Southern policy which is rendered all the more scathing
by his acceptance of them as matters of course.

It was at the Atlanta Exposition of 1895 that Mr. Booker Washington made
his first great success—the success which brought him national renown as
a speaker and a leader of his race. [Sidenote: The Atlanta Compromise.]
In an address delivered at the opening ceremony, he formulated what has
since become famous as the Atlanta Compromise, in this oft-quoted
sentence: “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as
the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual

Mr. Washington has himself described with dignified simplicity the
enthusiasm which this speech aroused among an audience which, if not
hostile at the outset, was at least sceptical of the policy of allowing
a negro to speak on such an occasion. The chairman—the Governor of
Georgia—rushed across the platform and shook him by the hand, and the
country was soon ringing with the fame of his tactful eloquence. But
though it is the phrase above quoted that has become classic, there was
another, which, if I am not greatly mistaken, did more to conciliate his
audience. Speaking of the progress of his race, as manifested in their
department of the Exposition, he reminded his hearers that the negro had
“started thirty years ago with ownership here and there in a few quilts
and pumpkins and chickens (gathered from miscellaneous sources).” I
would wager a good deal that it was this parenthesis, this genial
allusion to the tender topic of chicken-stealing, that finally won the
hearts of his white hearers. It is impossible to imagine Mr. Du Bois
thus playing, not to the gallery, but rather to the stalls. And Mr.
Washington no doubt deliberately calculated his effect, for he is
certainly not by nature an irrepressibly facetious personage.

This famous speech, with its famous metaphor, was delivered, as I have
said, at Atlanta, in 1895. At Atlanta in 1906 an outbreak of popular
frenzy, excited by one or two real and several imaginary outrages, led
to the slaughter in the streets of an unknown number of negroes
(probably thirty or forty), not one of whom was even suspected of any
crime. It does not seem as though the Atlanta Compromise had as yet
borne much fruit, at any rate on its native soil.

Even more significant than Mr. Washington’s “Up from Slavery” is a book
called “Tuskegee and its People,” to which he contributes a general
introduction. [Sidenote: Tuskegee Ideals.] Two-thirds of the book
consist of “Autobiographies by Graduates of the School,” with such
titles as “A College President’s Story,” “A Lawyer’s Story,” “The Story
of a Blacksmith,” “The Story of a Farmer,” “A Druggist’s Story,“ “A
Negro Community Builder.” These stories are all interesting, many of
them heroic and touching, and all permeated with the Booker-Washington
spirit of indomitable self-help, unresentful acceptance of outward
conditions, and unquestioning measurement of success by material
standards. And yet not wholly material. The formation and maintenance of
the “home” are the aspiration and ideal everywhere proclaimed—the home
connoting, to the negro mind, not only pecuniary well-being, but
decency, morality, education, a certain standard of refinement. Here is
a characteristic passage from “The Story of a Farmer”:

  Rev. Robert C. Bedford, Secretary of the board of trustees, Tuskegee
  Institute, some time ago visited us.... He wrote the following
  much-appreciated compliment regarding our homes and ourselves: “The
  homes of the Reid brothers are very nicely furnished throughout.
  Everything is well kept and very orderly. The bedspreads are
  strikingly white, and the rooms—though I called when not expected—were
  in the best of order.”

To this subject of the “home” I shall return later. I have seen few
things more touching than the negro’s pride in the whiteness of his

Not less characteristic, however, is this further passage from the same
“Story of a Farmer,” which follows, indeed, on the same page:—

  Under the guidance of the Tuskegee influences ... the importance of
  land-buying was early brought to our attention, but because of the
  crude and inexperienced labourers about us, we found that we could,
  with advantage to all, rent large tracts of land, sub-rent to others,
  and in this way pay no rent ourselves, as these sub-renters did that
  for us. We could in this way also escape paying taxes, insurance, and
  other expenses that naturally follow.

It does not appear that “the Tuskegee influence” involves any economic
idealism, or any doubt as to the legitimacy of capitalistic

Principal Washington’s message, by his own admission, or, rather,
insistence, might not unfairly be called “The Gospel of the Toothbrush.”
[Sidenote: Washingtonian Optimism.] Again and again he uses this
unpretending appliance as a symbol of the clean-living self-respect
which he has made an ideal for his race. His policy, as he puts it in a
remarkable passage, is to teach the negro to “want more wants.” It is
the man with scarcely any wants who can satisfy them by working one day
a week and loafing the other six. The man who wants many things “to make
a happy fireside clime for weans and wife,” is the man who can be
trusted to work steadily for six days out of the seven. This undeniable
and (from the employer’s point of view) most salutary truth ought to put
to silence the dwindling minority of Southerners who still object to the
very idea and principle of negro education.

But suppose the majority of the race converted either into men of
independent substance or satisfactory labourers for hire, will the
problem be thereby solved? Principal Washington has no doubt on the
subject. In the introduction to “Tuskegee and its People,” he proclaims
his optimism in no uncertain voice:

  The immeasurable advancement of the negro, manifested in character,
  courage, and cash ... is “confirmation strong as proofs of Holy Writ”
  that the gospel of industry, as exemplified by Tuskegee and its
  helpers, has exerted a leavening influence upon civilization wherever
  it has been brought within the reach of those who are struggling
  towards the heights. Under this new dispensation of mind, morals, and
  muscle, with the best whites and best blacks in sympathetic
  co-operation, and justice meaning the same to the weak as to the
  strong, the South will no longer be vexed by a race problem.

Such is the teaching of Washingtonian optimism.

And what is the reply of Du Boisian idealism?

The reply is implicit in the very title of Mr. Du Bois’ book, “The Souls
of Black Folk.” [Sidenote: Du Boisian Idealism.] “Your method of
securing peace, decency, and comfort for our bodies,” say the idealists
to Mr. Washington, “implies, even if successful, the degradation and
atrophy of our souls.” Mr. Du Bois celebrates with fervour the saints,
the rebels, and the martyrs of his race, of whom Mr. Washington seems
never to have heard. Mr. Du Bois admits, of course, the misfortunes of
his people, but apparently regards them as a pure contrariety of Fate,
with nothing in the racial constitution or character to account for
them. Nothing less than the most perfect equality, not only economic and
political, but social and intellectual, will satisfy him. If the negro
is to hold a place apart, it must be by his own free choice, because he
does not desire or condescend to mingle with the white. “Those who
dislike amalgamation,” he says, “can best prevent it by helping to raise
the negro to such a plane of intelligence and economic independence that
he will never stoop to mingle his blood with those who despise him.” Mr.
Washington admits to the full the mistakes of the Reconstruction
Period—when the negro was made the dominant race in the South—and
promises that they shall never be repeated. For Mr. Du Bois the mistake
lay in not resolutely carrying through (of course, with greater wisdom
and purity of purpose) the Reconstruction policy. He sees no reason why
“the vision of ‘forty acres and a mule’—the righteous and reasonable
ambition to become a landowner, which the nation had all but
categorically promised to the freedmen”—should not have been literally
realized. In short, while Mr. Washington is an opportunist and a man of
action, Mr. Du Bois is a cloistered intransigeant.

But especially does he resent the over-emphasis laid, as he thinks, on
manual as opposed to intellectual training. Manual training is good; but
without intellectual training it must leave the race on a low and
servile level; and Mr. Washington’s “deprecation of institutions of
higher learning,” is leading to a “steady withdrawal of aid” from negro
universities. The spectacle of a “lone black boy poring over a French
grammar amid the weeds and dirt of a neglected home,” which raised in
Mr. Washington only a pitying smile, seems to Mr. Du Bois heroic and
admirable. The “gospel of work and money,” he thinks, “threatens almost
completely to overshadow the higher aims of life.” “To seek to make the
blacksmith a scholar is almost as silly as the more modern scheme of
making the scholar a blacksmith; almost, but not quite.”

I have paused in the story of my pilgrimage in order to give a little
sketch of two conflicting tendencies, embodied in two remarkable men.
Mr. Washington I have called an optimist; but it must not be understood
that Mr. Du Bois is wholly a pessimist. He even says in one place: “That
the present social separation and acute race-sensitiveness must
eventually yield to the influence of culture, as the South grows
civilized, is clear.” But is it? I wish I could share the confidence of
either the optimist or the idealist.

                        A WHITE TYPE AND A BLACK

In Memphis I had no difficulty in discovering what I had in vain looked
for in Louisville—a book-store. There are two or three on Main Street;
and into one of them I went to ask for Mr. Du Bois’s book, “The Souls of
Black Folk,” which I had not yet read.

Immediately the proprietor swooped down upon me. As to the possession of
that particular book he returned an evasive answer; but if I wanted
information about the negro, I had, in every sense, come to the right
shop. He exuded information at every pore. He had no prejudice against
the negro—no, not he! Why, he employed three or four of them on his own
place. (This protestation of impartiality I found to be the constant
exordium of such a tirade.) But he was simply stating a matter of
incontrovertible fact when he said that there was no nigger that would
not assault a white woman whenever he saw a chance of doing so with

“But,” I objected, “outrages are not, after all, such daily occurrences.
Do you mean to suggest that there are many outrages and lynchings that
are never heard of—that don’t get into the newspapers?”

“Oh no; they get into the papers right enough. The reason there aren’t
more outrages is simply that we whites have learnt to protect ourselves
against the negro, just as we do against the yellow fever and the
malaria—the work of noxious insects. You’re at the Hotel Gayoso, are
you? Well, you see the wire-gauze screens over all the doors and
windows? That’s to keep out the muskeeters; and just in the same way we
must keep the nigger out of our lives.”

[Sidenote: An Impartial Philosopher.]

Then came a phrase which I was to hear repeated many times, not by
irresponsible fanatics, but by Southerners of a much higher type: “I
tell you, sir, no pen can describe the horrors of the Reconstruction
Period, when all that was best in the white South was outlawed, and the
nigger rode roughshod over us. The true story of that time will never be
written in history. It is known only to those who went through it.”[18]


Footnote 18:

  For the benefit of English readers, it may be well to state clearly
  what Reconstruction meant. I do so in the words of Mr. Edgar Gardner
  Murphy (“The Present South,” p. 9): “The policies of reconstruction
  represented two cardinal movements of purpose. One was the withdrawal
  of political and civic power from those, especially those in official
  positions, who had borne arms against the United States. This effort
  was an expedient of distrust. It was as natural as it was
  unintelligent, and it was as successful as it was mischievous.... This
  was not all. The suffrage which the masters were denied was by the
  same act committed into the hands of their former slaves, vast dumb
  multitudes, more helpless with power than without power.” It is almost
  universally admitted that the Reconstruction policy was a mistake,
  which would never have been made had Lincoln lived, and that its
  results were grotesque and often tragic. I find only Professor Du Bois
  putting in a word for it and for some of its results. “The granting of
  the ballot to the black man,” he says (“The Souls of Black Folk,” p.
  38), “was a necessity, the very least a guilty nation could grant a
  wronged race, and the only method of compelling the South to accept
  the results of the war.” But he adds, “Thus negro suffrage ended a
  civil war by beginning a race feud.” The Reconstruction policy was
  overthrown by the “Revolution” of 1876, when the military support, on
  which the Reconstruction governments had rested, was withdrawn.


He then poured forth in terms of romantic extravagance the tale of the
Ku-Klux-Klan, and how it had saved American civilization. He referred
me, by way of proof, to the statue of General Forrest, right here in
Memphis, who had been Grand Titan, or Grand Dragon, or I know not what,
of the said organization, and whom British soldiers, General French and
General Wolseley, had declared to have been the greatest military genius
that ever lived.

To all this I was no unwilling listener; yet my time was limited, and
now and then I sought to return to the prime object of my visit. In
vain! He literally button-holed me, held me by the lapel of my coat,
while he informed me that there was not an honest woman, in any sense of
the word, among the whole negro race, and that the coloured population
was ravaged by every sort of vice and disease. Had it been possible to
take his assurances literally, one must have concluded that the race
problem must quickly solve itself by the extinction of the negro. And he
frankly looked forward to that consummation. “Our vagrancy laws are
going to be a bitter pill for them. You see”—here he sketched a diagram
to assist my understanding—“a nigger can’t come here to the front-door
of my house and ring the bell; but he can go round to the back door”—a
line represented his tortuous course—“and I tell you he does. Every
household supports at least four or five niggers. Now the vagrancy laws
are going to drive that class of niggers to the North, and the Yankee
ain’t goin’ to stand his ways. We’re a long-sufferin’ people here in the

As for Mr. Du Bois’s book, it was evident that, even if he had it, he
was not going to sell it to me. I left the shop with two books: one was
“The Clansman,” by Thomas Dixon, jun., a melodramatic romance of the
Ku-Klux-Klan; the other a pseudo-scientific onslaught on the negro
race—a brutal and disgusting volume.

An hour or two later I was sitting in the consulting-room or “office” of
a coloured physician—Dr. Oberman, let me call him. [Sidenote: A Doctor’s
Story.]His real name was that of a we ll-known Southern family, and I
remarked upon the fact, expecting to hear that he had been born a slave
in that family. In a sense this was the case; but his story was a
strange one, and he told it with frank simplicity.

“My father,” he said, “was in fact a member of that family”—and he told
of sundry political offices which his white kindred had filled. “But my
father attached himself openly and honourably to my mother, who was a
slave in the family, and for that reason had to leave his home in North
Carolina. For some reason or other they chose to go to the State of
Mississippi. In 1850 that was a long and toilsome journey; and I was
born on the way, not far from this place. For some years they lived in
Mississippi, but they were again driven from there and passed into Ohio.
My father was one of the noblest of men, and as soon as he was in a
State where he could legally do so, he married my mother. I was present
at the wedding.”

“Your mother, Dr. Oberman,” I said, “must surely have been a quadroon,
or even an octoroon?”

“My dear mother,” he said, “was very nearly of the same colour as
myself. You see, sir, we don’t breed straight,”—and he proceeded to give
several instances in which the children either of two people of mixed
blood, or of a white father and a mother of mixed blood, had varied very
widely in complexion and facial type, some seeming almost pure white,
others emphatically negroid. I did not say it, but I could not help
thinking: This is scarcely a point in favour of that mixing of bloods
which is here called miscegenation. Or is it merely another form of
race-prejudice to hold that marriage undesirable in which the colour of
the offspring cannot be foretold, and is apt to be variegated?

[Sidenote: “Miscegenation.”]

In a country where such terrible disabilities and humiliations await
those in whom there is the slightest strain of black blood, it is surely
manifest that the people who impose these humiliations, and scout the
idea of legal marriage between the races, ought to visit with the
severest penalties any relation (necessarily illicit) between a white
man and a coloured woman—any augmentation by the white man of that
half-bred caste on which colour-disabilities press with such peculiar
cruelty. I asked Dr. Oberman whether there was any adequate feeling of
this sort in the white community—whether the white man who was known to
have relations with coloured women was denounced and ostracised?

“My dear sir,” he replied, “I can assure you that many of those who
preach most loudly against miscegenation are far from practising what
they preach.”

I am glad to say, however, that white men everywhere assured me that
there was a strong and increasingly efficient public sentiment against
this most anti-social form of transgression.[19] I cannot but think that
the lynching of a few white men notoriously guilty of it would
beneficially equalize matters.


Footnote 19:

  That excellent investigator, Mr. Stannard Baker, in his chapter on
  “The Tragedy of the Mulatto,” presents a good deal of conflicting
  evidence on this point. In the city of Montgomery, with its 35,000
  inhabitants, it has been publicly stated without contradiction that
  400 negro women live in more or less permanent concubinage with white
  men, while “there are thirty-two negro dives operated for white
  patronage”; nor does it seem that this state of things is at all
  exceptional. On the other hand, the feeling against such connections
  is certainly growing, and finds expression on every hand. The New
  Orleans _Times Democrat_, for instance, declares it to be a public
  scandal that no law against miscegenation should be on the
  statute-book of Louisiana, “and that it should be left to mobs to
  break up the miscegenatious couples.” Mr. Baker is, however, able to
  say that “the class of white men who consort with negro women is of a
  much lower sort than it was five or ten years ago.”


[Sidenote: “Our Moses.”]

As I had come to Dr. Oberman with an introduction from Mr. Booker
Washington, it was natural that the talk should fall upon the
comparative merits of academic and of industrial education for the
negro. Said the doctor: “We acquire property, and we want bankers; we
fall ill, and we want physicians; we have business difficulties, and we
want lawyers; we have souls, and we want preachers who can give us
something better than the old ranting theology. But for every one of our
race who can profit by a literary education, there are ninety-nine for
whom manual training is the first essential.”

Then, looking up at a portrait of Mr. Washington on the wall of his
office, he said, “Ah! he is our Moses!”

But a stronger proof of the reverence with which this leader is regarded
awaited me as I left Dr. Oberman’s house. I had gone some twenty yards
down the street, when I fancied I heard my name called. It must be an
illusion, I thought, but nevertheless I looked round. There was the
doctor, with his head thrust out of his office-window on the first
floor, calling to me and beckoning me back.

“Did you take away that letter of Mr. Washington’s?” he asked.

I searched my pockets, but had it not. Meanwhile the doctor apparently
rummaged on his bureau, and found it.

“Here it is! All right!” he cried; and I passed on.

A formal type-written note of introduction, signed by the great man’s
hand, was a thing to be treasured like a pearl of great price. The first
thought in the doctor’s mind on parting from me had been to assure
himself of its safety!

                           IN THE BLACK BELT

For a whole long hot summer’s day I journeyed down the Mississippi
Valley from Memphis to Vicksburg, stopping at every wayside station.
Here I first felt—what was afterwards to grow upon me every day—an
impression of the extraordinary potential wealth of the South. These fat
champains, many of them scarcely reclaimed from the wilderness, and few
of them subjected to more than a rough surface culture, seemed to me to
reek of fertility and to cry aloud for development. As scenery they were
monotonous enough, but as the seed-plot of an illimitable future they
were vastly impressive.

There was no dining-car on the train, and at Clarksville, at 12.30, we
were allowed twenty minutes for “dinner.” We rushed for the dingy
refreshment-room, and found at each place a plate of soup, surrounded by
little saucers containing a cube of butter, a sort of dough-nut in
syrup, and some lettuce with a slice of hard-boiled egg. There was also
at each place a coffee-cup, a small milk-pot, and some sugar. The
soup-plates were removed by being piled in the middle of the table; a
negro waiter came round with fresh plates, and then served the following
menu, all dumped successively upon a single plate: (1) chunks of boiled
bacon with sauerkraut; (2) stewed veal; (3) mashed potatoes; (4) baked
beans; (5) roast chicken; (6) boiled beef. The meal ended with pumpkin
pie and ice-cream; and for beverage you had your choice of either coffee
or iced-tea. For this refection the charge was seventy-five cents, or
three shillings—the regular tariff, it would seem, at roadside stations.
Moral: Never, if you can help it, take a train without a dining-car.

Approaching Vicksburg, we ran for miles and leagues through a lovely
region of luxuriantly green, vine-tangled forest, mirrored in perfectly
clear water. Here, indeed, might the poet have sung of

                 “Annihilating all that’s made,
                 To a green thought in a green shade.”

How the water got there I cannot say. If it was simply the result of a
flood, how came it so exquisitely clear? It seemed as though the forest
grew naturally out of this pellucid mirror; the rather as we passed many
open glades of blue water, where a race of lake-dwellers had built their
cabins on piles. These glades I conceive to be “bayous,” but found no
native who could inform me. In any case, I shall never forget that run
up to Vicksburg. Until then, I scarcely knew the meaning of the word
“green.” The South was afterwards to teach me many other shades of its

This whole day’s journey lay through the “black belt” of the State of
Mississippi. [Sidenote: Africa in the Ascendant.] It was manifest to the
naked eye that the black population enormously outnumbered the white.
Few and far between were the cottages occupied by white folks,
numberless the cabins of the blacks. At the stations the blacks—who love
hanging around railway stations—were to the whites as ten to one. They
were a lively, good-humoured, talkative crowd, and on the whole, one
would have said, a fine race physically. Neither the men nor the women
showed any obvious sign of that dwindling vitality wherein my friend the
Memphis bookseller rejoiced—which is not to say that he was entirely
mistaken as regards the urban negro. These were rural negroes—a wholly
different matter.

The newsman on the train was selling the Memphis _Commercial Appeal_,
and I noticed that he found quite as many customers among the blacks as
among the whites—two or three at each station. This would have gratified
Mr. Booker Washington, for it was not only a proof of education but of
easy circumstances—the paper costing just about as much as the _Times_.
Mr. Washington, too, would have rejoiced to see the rather
exquisitely-dressed negro cavalier, mounted on a pretty little well-bred
mare, with spick-and-span new saddle and appurtenances, who, at Mound
Bayou, rode up to the Jim Crow car, and chatted with a friend. Here was
the Gospel of the Toothbrush supplemented by that of the curry-comb.

At this point I must face an avowal which I have long seen looming
ahead. [Sidenote: The Jim Crow Car.] Without sincerity these impressions
would be worse than useless. What I _think_ about the colour question
must be superficial, and may be foolish; but there is a certain
evidential value in what I _feel_. The whole question, ultimately, is
one of feeling; and the instinctive sensations of an observer, with the
prejudices of his race, no doubt, but with no local Southern prejudices,
are, so far as they go, worth taking into account.

Well, that day in the “black belt” of Mississippi brought home to me the
necessity of the Jim Crow car. The name—the contemptuous, insulting
name—is an outrage. The thing, on the other hand, I regard as
inevitable. There are some negroes (so called) with whom I should esteem
it a privilege to travel, and many others whose companionship would be
in no way unwelcome to me; but, frankly, I do not want to spend a whole
summer day in the Mississippi Valley cheek by jowl with a miscellaneous
multitude of the negro race.

The Jim Crow car is defended by many Southerners as a means of keeping
the peace, and on the ground of the special aversion which, owing to
deplorable and (in time) corrigible circumstances, the negro male
excites in the white woman. But I think the matter goes deeper than
this. The tension between the races might be indefinitely relaxed,
outrages might become a well-nigh incredible legend, the Gospel of the
Toothbrush might be disseminated among the negroes ten times more widely
than it is; and still it would not be desirable that the two races
should be intermingled at close quarters in the enforced intimacy of a
long railway journey. The permanent difficulty, underlying all
impermanent ones, that time, education, Christian charity, and soap and
water may remove, is that of sheer _unlikeness_.

Oh! they are terribly unlike, these two races! I am postulating no
superiority or inferiority. I say, with Bishop Bratton, that “the negro
is capable of development up to a point which neither he nor any one
else can as yet fix;” and I will even assume that, from an astral point
of view, the negro norm of physical beauty may be quite as well
justified as that of the white. But they are essentially, irreconcilably
different; and instincts rooted through untold centuries lead the white
man to associate ugliness and a certain tinge of animalism with the
negro physiognomy and physique. Call it illusion, prejudice, what you
will, this is an unalterable fact of white psychology; or, if alterable,
not in one generation, nor yet in one century. No doubt there is
something good-humoured and not unsympathetic in the very ugliness (from
the white point of view) of the negro. For that reason, among others,
the two races can get on well enough, if you give them elbow-room. But
elbow-room is just what the conditions of railway travelling preclude;
wherefore I hold the system of separate cars a legitimate measure of
defence against constant discomfort. Had it not been adopted, the South
would have been a nation of saints, not of men. It is in the methods of
its enforcement that they sometimes show themselves not only human but

Remember that the question is complicated by the American’s resolute
adherence to the constitutional fiction of equality. [Sidenote: The
Fiction of Equality.] As there are no “classes” in the great American
people, so there must be no first, second, or third class on the
American railways.[20] Of course, the theory remains a fiction on the
railroad no less than in life. Everyone travels first class; but those
who can pay for it may travel in classes higher than first, called
parlour-cars, drawing-room cars, and so forth. The only real validity of
the fiction, it seems to me, lies in the unfortunate situation it
creates with regard to the negro. If our three classes (or even two)
were provided on every train, the mass of the negro population would,
from sheer economic necessity, travel third. It might or might not be
necessary to provide separate cars on that level; but if it were, the
discrimination would not be greatly felt by the grade of black folks it
would affect. In the higher-class cars there would be no reasonable need
for discrimination, for the number of negroes using them would be few in
comparison, and personally unobjectionable. The essential elbow-room
would seldom be lacking; conditions in the first and second class would
be very much the same as they are at present in the North. It is the
crowding, the swamping, the submerging of the white race by the black,
that the South cannot reasonably be expected to endure; and what I
realized on that day in Mississippi was that such swamping would be an
inevitable and everyday incident unless measures were taken to obviate


Footnote 20:

  Is this one of what Mr. E. G. Murphy calls “the divine inconveniences
  of a Republic”?


[Sidenote: A Dual Paradox.]

Of all historic ironies this is surely the bitterest—that the Republic
founded to demonstrate eighteenth-century ideals of human equality
should have been fated to provide their most glaring _reductio ad
absurdum_. This is far from an original observation: but there is
another paradox in the case which is not so generally recognized. It is
that the most religious of modern peoples should all the time be flying
in the face of the plainest dictates of Christianity. The South is by a
long way the most simply and sincerely religious country that I ever was
in.[21] It is not, like Ireland, a priest-ridden country; it is not,
like England, a country in which the strength of religion lies in its
social prestige; it is not, like Scotland, a country steeped in
theology. But it is a country in which religion is a very large factor
in life, and God is very real and personal. In other countries men are
apt to make a private matter of their religion, in so far as it is not
merely formal; but the Southerner wears his upon his sleeve. There is a
simple sincerity in his appeal to religious principle which I have often
found really touching. I have often, too, been reminded of that saying
of my Pennsylvanian friend: “The South may be living in the twentieth
century, but it has skipped the nineteenth.” The Southerner goes to the
Gospels for his rule of life, and has never heard of Nietzsche; yet I am
wholly unable to discover how the system of race-discriminations is
reconcilable with the fundamental precepts of Christianity. It is far
easier to find in the Old Testament the justification of slavery than in
the New Testament the justification of the Jim Crow car, the white and
black school, and the white and black church.[22] This is not
necessarily a condemnation of the Southerner’s attitude; I do not think
that the colour problem was foreseen in the New Testament. Christianity
is one thing, sociology another, and the Southerner’s logical error,
perhaps, lies in not keeping the distinction clear.[23] But I am sure
there are many sincere and earnest Christians in the South who will
scarce be at ease in heaven unless they enter it, like a Southern
railway station, through a gateway marked “For Whites.”


Footnote 21:

  “The fancied home of the cavalier is the home of the nearest approach
  to puritanism and to the most vital protestant evangelicalism in the
  world to-day.”—Dr. E. A. Alderman: “The Growing South,” p. 20.

Footnote 22:

  “The result of the war was the complete expulsion of negroes from
  white churches.... The Methodist Church South simply set its negro
  members bodily out of doors. They did it with some consideration for
  their feelings ... but they virtually said to all their black members,
  ‘You cannot worship God with us.’ There grew up, therefore, the
  Coloured Methodist Episcopal Church.... From the North now came those
  negro church bodies born of colour discrimination in Philadelphia and
  New York in the eighteenth century; and thus a Christianity absolutely
  divided along the colour-line arose. There may be in the South a black
  man belonging to a white church to-day; but if so, he must be very old
  and very feeble. This anomaly—this utter denial of the very first
  principle of the ethics of Jesus Christ—is to-day so deep-seated and
  unquestionable a principle of Southern Christianity that its essential
  heathenism is scarcely thought of.” W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Negro in
  the South,” p. 174. I have been told, but make the statement “with all
  reserve,” that no colour-line is drawn in Roman Catholic churches in
  the South.

Footnote 23:

  The perils of biblical argument may be illustrated by this passage
  from “An Appeal to Pharaoh,” a book of which I shall have more to say
  later (p. 235): “The same inspired authority who tells us that ‘God
  made the world ... and hath made of one blood all nations of men, for
  to dwell on the face of the earth,’ reminds us in the same breath that
  He Himself ‘hath determined the bounds of their habitations.’” But if,
  on this principle, the presence of the negro in America is a breach of
  divine ordinance, what are we to say of the presence of the white man
  in America?



Enormous undeveloped or half-developed fertility is the impression one
receives on every hand in the South; but the lack of development belongs
to a state of things soon to pass away. There can be little doubt that
the South stands on the threshold of an agricultural Golden Age.[24] It
is being brought about mainly by three agencies: (1) The United States
Department of Agriculture; (2) The General Education Board of New York;
(3) the boll-weevil, which, entering Texas from Mexico in 1899, has
extended its ravages over the States of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana,
and part of Mississippi, and at one time threatened the ruin of the
whole cotton industry. It may seem odd that this unwelcome invader
should be reckoned among the factors that are promoting agricultural
development; but, in a very real sense, he has served as a pioneer to
the movement.


Footnote 24:

  “Mr. Richard H. Edmonds, in an illuminating article in the _Review of
  Reviews_ for February, 1906, has declared that no country ever
  dominated, as does the South, an industry of such value and importance
  as the cotton crop.... Three-fourths of this great crop, which must be
  relied on to clothe civilization, and in the exploitation of which two
  billions of capital are used, is raised in the South. It is a
  stupendous God-made monopoly. To-day, the South has invested, in 777
  mills, with their 9,200,000 spindles, $225,000,000, as against
  $21,000,000 twenty-five years ago. The fields of the South furnish the
  raw material for three-fourths of the mills of all the world with
  their 110,000,000 spindles. The South now consumes 2,300,000 bales,
  which is about the amount consumed by the rest of the country, and is
  a fourfold increase over its consumption in 1890.”—Dr. E. A. Alderman:
  “The Growing South,” p. 18. A threefold increase in the cotton-crops
  seems easily possible; but whether prices could be kept up under such
  conditions is another question. Be this as it may, an immense
  agricultural development seems practically certain.


Dr. Wallace Buttrick, of the General Education Board, was so kind as to
give me an outline of the course of events.

[Sidenote: Rockefeller to the Rescue.]

“Our Board,” he said, “was established and endowed, and has been at
various intervals re-endowed, by Mr. Rockefeller.”

“To promote education in the South?”

“Not in the South alone, nor even primarily; but we had, of course, to
study the special conditions prevailing in the South. We soon convinced
ourselves that the deficiencies of Southern education—and they were
enormous—were due to the sheer poverty of the country.[25] In the
Southern towns there are good schools, and the accommodation is fairly
adequate. But only 15 per cent. of the population of the South is a city
population. The remaining 85 per cent. is rural and agricultural—not
even, for the most part, gathered in villages of any size—so that the
problem of bringing education to the doors of the people is an immensely
difficult one.”


Footnote 25:

  “The figures of our national census show that from 1860 to 1870 there
  was a fall of $2,100,000,000 in the assessed value of Southern
  property, and that the period of Reconstruction added, in the years
  from 1870 to 1880, another $67,000,000 to the loss.”—E. G. Murphy,
  “The Present South,” p. 40. “No other region, except Poland, ever knew
  such losses; and Poland ceased to exist. The year 1900 had come and
  gone before the whole South had regained its _per capita_ wealth of
  1860.”—E. A. Alderman: “The Growing South,” p. 7.


“I suppose compulsory education is not to be thought of?”

“It is thought of; it is mooted; it is coming; but not yet awhile. That
is just what, as I say, we realized—that the South is too poor to pay
for an adequate system of education, and that the problem is too huge a
one for even the most lavish outside philanthropy to tackle. What was to
be done, then? Manifestly to enrich the Southern agriculturalist, so as
to enable him to pay for the schooling of his children. As it is, his
average income is something like a third of the average income of a man
of his class in (say) the State of Iowa, where the public-school system
is adequate and satisfactory. Multiply his income by three, or even by
two, and he also will be able to afford an adequate public-school

“So your problem was nothing less than to double or treble the wealth of
the fifteen or sixteen Southern States?”

[Sidenote: The Boll-Weevil.]

“Something like that; and it was right here that the boll-weevil came
in. With ruin staring them in the face, the farmers of the affected
districts took up eagerly the system of what are called Demonstration
Farms, organized by Dr. S. A. Knapp, of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. That department, at its experimental stations and with the
aid of its entomologists, had devised a method of combating the pest.
Roughly speaking, it consisted of getting in ahead of the
weevil—carefully preparing the ground and selecting the right varieties
of seed, so that the main part of the crop could be harvested before the
insect was ready to attack it. But it is one thing to devise a
scientific method and another thing to persuade and teach farmers to
carry it out. This difficulty Dr. Knapp got over by the following means:
he organized a body of skilled agents, who went to the leading
citizens—merchants, bankers, or what not—of a given district, and said,
‘Introduce us to the most intelligent and progressive farmer of your
neighbourhood.’ Then to this farmer the agent would say, ‘If you will
set apart a certain amount of land to be treated, under my supervision,
exactly as I shall prescribe, I (that is to say, the Government) will
provide you with the right seed for the purpose, and you will see what
the result will be.’ Then meetings would be called of the neighbouring
farmers, principles explained, and their attention directed to the
experiment. Their life-and-death interest in the matter would make them
watch the result closely; and as, in each case, the result would be a
far larger crop per acre than they had been used to before the
appearance of the weevil, you may imagine whether the methods of culture
were eagerly adopted and the right sorts of seed eagerly applied for.

[Sidenote: An Educational Campaign.]

“Well, we of the General Education Board saw in the method of Dr.
Knapp’s campaign against the boll-weevil the very thing we were wanting.
The Government was operating only in the boll-weevil districts—there
were constitutional objections to its extending its activity to regions
unaffected by the pest. There we stepped in, and offered to finance the
extension of the Demonstration Farms to other districts, in accordance
with their needs and capabilities. So long as only a nominal money
appropriation was required of it, the Government had no objection to our
acting under its authority, our agents thus having the prestige of
Government emissaries. For the current year, we have appropriated
£15,000 to the work, while Congress has voted a somewhat larger sum for
work in the boll-weevil States. Altogether, about 12,000 Demonstration
Farms have already been established, and about 20,000 farmers have
agreed to ‘co-operate’—that is, to work the whole or part of their land
according to our instructions. The system is quite new. It has nowhere
been at work more than two years, and there are many regions which are
not yet even touched by it; but already the results are surprising.”

“It does not, I presume, apply solely to cotton-growing?”

“Certainly not; on the contrary, one of our great objects is to break
down the exclusive reliance on cotton so common in many districts, and
to show how the exhaustion of land may be avoided by the judicious
rotation of crops. In short, we aim at providing object-lessons in
scientific agriculture all over the Southern States, and of course
always with strict reference to the particular advantages and
disadvantages of a district. I assure you the South is at the opening of
a new agricultural era; and it will not be many years before our work
will produce a marked effect on education. Come back ten years hence,
and you will no longer find it true that the Southern school is open, on
an average, only about three months in the year; that the Southerner
gets, on an average, something less than three years’ schooling in his
whole life; and that about 10 per cent. of the native-born white
population of the Southern States is wholly illiterate, and about 40 per
cent. of the negro population. We are going to change all that.”

[Sidenote: The Way to Wealth.]

Shortly afterwards I met, not Dr. Knapp himself, but his son, Mr. Arthur
Knapp, who gave me some further information as to the new era in
Southern agriculture.

“Not only,” he said, “is much Southern land unimproved, but much of it
is exhausted by careless and ignorant cultivation. It has been the
method of many Southern farmers to work their land until it would no
longer raise a paying crop of cotton; then to sell their farms for what
they could get and move on to fresher soil. The system of Demonstration
Farms will put an end to this, along with many other abuses and
stupidities. It is the only sound method of educating the farmer. You
may deluge him with Government bulletins of printed advice without
producing the slightest effect. Even if he reads and understands the
advice, he can’t or won’t apply it in practice. You must show him the
process and show him the results. Much more is done by talking than by
reading in the South; things circulate from mouth to mouth much more
effectually than even through the newspapers. Each of the 12,000
Demonstration Farms is visited by from thirty to one hundred
neighbouring farmers. That means that the object-lessons reach something
like 400,000 every year. And then the spirit of emulation is awakened.
Intelligent and energetic men are fired with the idea that they will
beat the Government; and they go off and have a very good try.”

“I think I roughly understand the method of fighting the boll-weevil;
but can you tell me something of what is being done for the benefit of
other products than cotton?”

“Well, we insist on the necessity of better drainage, of deeper and more
thorough ploughing, of carefully selecting and storing the best
varieties of seed. We demonstrate the judicious rotation of crops, and
show the advantages of devoting portions of the farm to legumes, which
have a high food value for stock, and at the same time enrich the soil.
Above all, perhaps, we insist on the necessity of economizing labour by
the use of more horse-power and better implements, and urge the
increasing of stock to such an extent that all the waste products and
idle lands of the farm may be utilized.”

“But most, if not all, of these prescriptions surely demand fresh
capital. Where is that to come from?”

“Why, no one pretends that the average farmer can introduce all these
improvements at once. The fundamental ones do not require more capital,
but only more thought and labour; and, these once applied, the more
expensive improvements will gradually become possible. The more
intelligent preparation of the soil and selection of the seed produce
wonderful results at once in the case of corn—what you call maize—no
less than in the case of cotton. If a farmer, under our guidance, plants
half his land with corn and cowpeas, and only the other half with
cotton, he gets as much cotton as he used to before, and has his corn
and cowpeas in addition, while the land will be gradually restored to
its original fertility. It is one of our great objects to teach farmers,
while keeping cotton their ‘cash crop,’ as they call it, to divert from
cotton as much land as is necessary to raise their own essential
food-stuffs and the fodder for their stock—things which, under the
present wasteful system, they mostly buy from outside.”

“Then the result of all this will not be an immense and immediate
increase in the whole output of cotton?”

“Not immediate, no; but who can tell what the ultimate result may be? It
is quite possible, for instance, that a cheaper and more effective
method of combating the boll-weevil may one day be discovered. As it is,
with all our care in breaking up the hibernating places of the pest, and
planting so that the greater part of the crop can be secured before he
is ready to attack it, we merely keep him effectively in check, we do
not exterminate him. He still puts us to much additional labour and
expense, and he still gets the end of the crop.”

“He seems to have been a valuable stimulus to effort, however; you ought
not to speak ungratefully of him.”

“His work in that respect is done—we have no further use for him.
By-the-by, have you seen his portrait?”

And I left Mr. Knapp with my note-book enriched with a counterfeit
presentment, many times enlarged, of the insect which has co-operated
with Mr. John D. Rockefeller in the agricultural regeneration of the

                              NEW ORLEANS

Vicksburg is situated on a solitary, abrupt bluff, at a bend of the
Mississippi; whence, I suppose, its strategic importance and its place
in history. I climbed to its highest point, and looked out, at sunset,
over the burnished river and the Louisiana shore beyond. It seemed one
unbroken stretch of dark forest, which might never have been threaded by
human foot, or only by that of the Red Man. When the first explorer of
the great river climbed the bluff (as he doubtless did), he must have
surveyed no very different scene.

The town, too, had a touch of the primitive South about it which I had
not hitherto encountered. Memphis was as civilized and modern as any
Northern city; but Vicksburg, with its steep-climbing streets, its
cavernous, dimly-lighted shops, and its lounging outdoor life, had
something of the air of an Italian hill-town. The principal hotel was a
gaunt, dingy caravanserai, with no pretence to modernity about it. Here,
and here only, I may say, I found the Northern allegation justified,
that the South had lagged behind the age in things material.

An odd little incident brought home to me vividly the width of the
empire of English literature. [Sidenote: Madrigals by the Mississippi.]
At a street corner a sharp-featured Yankee youth, mounted on a large
cart, was carrying on a book-auction, with a great deal of lively
patter. As I passed, a familiar phrase fell upon my ear:

                  “And shallow rivers, by whose falls
                  Melodious birds sing madrigals.”

I stopped and heard him read, not without understanding, the whole of
Marlowe’s canzonet. It carried me back from the Mississippi to the
Cherwell and the Chess; but what did it mean, I wonder, to the little
crowd of loafers, half white, half black, that surrounded his stall?
Then, with a little more patter, he modulated into

                      “As it fell upon a day
                      In the merry month of May,”

and I left him stumbling over the accentuation of

                   “King Pandion he is dead,
                   All thy friends are lapt in lead.”

Passing the same way half an hour later, I heard him thus deliver
himself: “Here y’are—Dr. Johnson’s great work ‘Rasselas’! Seventy-five
cents for ‘Rasselas’! He was Prince of Abyssinia—that’s a country in
West Africa where they’s a powerful lot o’ coloured folks.” But there
was, in the phrase of the country, nothing doing in “Rasselas.” I saw
only one actual transaction concluded—a negro could not resist the
allurement of “Doré’s Bible Gallery,” on which he lavished three

Next morning I awoke to look out upon a moist mist rising over the vast
green chequer-board of rice-fields, as we approached New Orleans.
[Sidenote: Disillusionment.] Again a country of wonderful richness, to
which clumps of splendid trees gave a park-like aspect. The population
seemed sparse. Little wooden churches were dotted every here and there,
each with its pigmy spire—a feature not elsewhere common. The whole
region, of course, was as flat as a windless sea.

But, oh! the disappointment of New Orleans! To come from the dainty
pages of Cable to this roaring, clanging, ragged-edged, commonplace
American city! It seemed particularly frayed and grimy, because the
streets had everywhere been torn up for much-needed sewerage operations;
but under the best of circumstances it must be, I should say, a city
devoid of charm. In respect of mere width, Canal Street is doubtless a
splendid thoroughfare; but even it, with its two or three scattered
sky-scrapers and its otherwise paltry buildings, produces a raw,
unfinished effect; while it is so often cluttered up with electric cars,
on its six or eight tracks, as to have the air of a crowded

The usually truthful Baedeker tells us that “New Orleans is in many ways
one of the most picturesque and interesting cities in America, owing to
the survival of the buildings, manners, and customs of its original
French and Spanish inhabitants.” He further states that “Canal Street
divides the French quarter, or ‘Vieux Carré’ from the new city, or
American quarter.” I therefore plucked up fresh hope, dodged the
swarming street-cars of Canal Street, and made for a street of the
“Vieux Carré,” which had at least a French name—Bourbon Street. But here
my disappointment became abysmal. It is difficult to believe that the
French city, with its narrow, rectangular streets and its commonplace
houses, can ever have been picturesque; now, at all events, it has sunk
into a rookery of grimy and dismal slums. There is still a certain
pleasantness about the old _Place d’ Armes_ (now Jackson Square), with
its cathedral and its old-world red-brick Pontalba Mansions; but, for
the rest, the glory of the old city has absolutely departed. Baedeker
duly informs us where “Sieur George” lived, and “Tite Poulette,” and
“Madame Délicieuse,” but I did not take the trouble to identify the
houses. If I am ever again to read Mr. Cable with pleasure, I must
forget all I saw of old New Orleans. Of only one spot in it have I a
grateful recollection—namely, Fabacher’s Restaurant, in Royal Street
(Rue Royale). There I partook of a “Creole Gumbo”—a soup compounded of
ham, crab, shrimps, chicken, and oysters—the bouillabaisse, I take it,
of Louisiana.

In the new residential quarters of the city, in St. Charles Avenue and
about Audubon Park, there are, no doubt, many beautiful houses,
pleasantly embowered in semi-tropical vegetation. One or two of the
newest and showiest mansions, in the Spanish style of architecture, I
suspected of being built after a fashion I had observed on the outskirts
of Memphis—with only a “veneer” of stone. The essential structure is of
wood; but an outside casing is added, consisting of rusticated blocks of
stone some three or four inches thick, an air-chamber being left between
the stone and the wood. Whether this method of building is found
successful I cannot say. The effect is often pleasing enough, even
though the Lamp of Truth may not shine conspicuous in the architecture.

A run in a river-steamer for several miles up and down the Mississippi
enabled me to realize in a measure the commercial magnitude and
importance of New Orleans. But what impressed me most of all in the city
was its cemeteries, of which it is justly proud. They are certainly
magnificent and “pretentious” cities of the dead. (The word
“pretentious” is currently used in America as a term of laudation.) Yes;
if you want to get buried with everything handsome about you, by all
means go to New Orleans. But as a place to live in, I cannot, on short
acquaintance, commend it.

[Sidenote: A Champion of the Children.]

My pleasantest memory of New Orleans is of a house on Prytania
Street—cool and airy, on an evening of extreme sultriness—where a lady
of Scottish name and descent was good enough to talk to me of her
manifold public activities. She is an ardent Suffragist—a rarity in
these climes—but, above all things, she devotes herself to the work of
holding in check, so far as may be, the terrible evils of child-labour,
which its rapidly growing industrialism has brought upon the South.

“It is quite true,” said Miss Graham, in answer to a question of mine,
“that you may often see the black child going to school while the white
child goes into the factory. The negro child is not wanted in the
factories; it could not be relied on; it would fall asleep over its
work. You know, I dare say, that we are now overrun in New Orleans with
Southern and Eastern Europeans—Italians, Roumanians, Lithuanians,
Greeks. It is their children that are the chief sufferers.”

“In what forms of employment?”

“Why, in cotton mills, stocking mills, candy factories, department
stores. We got an Act some time ago forbidding the employment in
factories of boys under twelve and girls under fourteen. But the proof
of age required was simply a certificate from the parents! And the
result was to make it appear that most boys had been born at the age of
twelve, and most girls at fourteen. We are now agitating for an Act
greatly increasing the penalties for employing children under age and
for issuing false certificates.”

“Just before coming here,” I said, “I went into a boot-blacking
‘parlour.’ It was a long, close gallery; and there I had seen a dozen
little boys working all this sweltering Sunday under a ‘boss.’ Unless he
had relays of boys (which seems unlikely) they must have been at it, to
my certain knowledge, for eight hours, and I don’t suppose they will
shut down for another two hours at least.”

“If you had inquired,” said Miss Graham, “you would probably have found
that they were all Greeks. The negro boot-blacks of New Orleans used to
be quite a class by themselves—Eugene Field has written a poem about
them. But now they have been quite ousted by the Greeks; while the
negroes, in turn, have ousted the Italian organ-grinders. Yes, the
boot-black boys are a bad case; but still worse is the case of the
telegraph-messengers. Just think of their working young boys from six in
the evening to six in the morning—sending them at all hours of the night
into the lowest streets of the lowest quarters of this wicked city—and
paying them two cents a message.”

“At what age do they take them?”

“Why, at any age when they can trot and have intelligence enough to find
an address that is given them. And, mark you, it isn’t always—perhaps
not generally—extreme poverty that makes the parents thus sacrifice
their children. Often the children’s earnings will go to pay the two or
two-and-a-half dollars a month demanded for a piano on the instalment
system. That instalment system is a great curse to the ignorant poor. I
have known a little child sent out to labour that its mother might
acquire—of course at four or five times its value—what do you think?—a
huge green plush album!

[Sidenote: An Island Inferno.]

“Just in these days,” Miss Graham continued, “we have had some terrible
revelations of child-labour, at a certain place on the Gulf Coast, where
more than 200 children, from nine years old upwards, are kept ‘shucking’
oysters for twelve hours a day, under the most horrible conditions,
physical and moral. And the Law Committee of our S.P.C.C. reports that
there is no remedy, because the factory law at present in force in
Louisiana applies only to ‘cities or towns having a population of 10,000
or more;’ whereas this place is a little private inferno, owned by a
single company and occupied solely by its serfs. But we are fighting a
good fight for better laws and better conditions.”

My greatly condensed report of her conversation may lead the reader to
mistake Miss Graham for a one-idea’d humanitarian. There could not be a
greater error. She is an eminently practical, energetic, broad-minded
young lady, with a keen sense of humour and an interest in many things
outside the work to which she has devoted herself. I am sure the little
children of New Orleans have in her not only a sincere but a very shrewd
and efficient friend.

Miss Graham reported the relations between the white and coloured
populations in New Orleans rather exceptionally good. The reason, I
think, is not far to seek—namely, that the whites outnumber the blacks
by about three to one. The acuteness of the problem in any given
locality is apt to depend largely on the numerical proportions of the


Footnote 26:

  “I lay it down as a fact which cannot successfully be challenged, that
  the relations between the white and negro races in every State in the
  Union have been, and are now, controlled by considerations ultimately
  governed by the factor of the relative numbers of the two.’—A. H.
  Stone: “The American Race Problem,” p. 57.


On the New Orleans street-cars the two races are kept apart, but the
discrimination is certainly made with the utmost urbanity. The
rear-seats of each car are marked “For Coloured Patrons Only.”


                   CRIME-SLAVERY AND DEBT-SERFDOM[27]

Montgomery, the legislative capital of Alabama, has the air of a
pleasant and prosperous country town, with spacious streets, for the
most part well shaded with trees. Its dignified, unpretending State
House—where the Confederate Government was organized in 1861, and where
Jefferson Davis took the oath as President—is admirably situated at the
top of a gradually sloping hill, and commands a fine view over the rich,
pleasant country. The soil in this district (and, indeed, in many parts
of Alabama and Georgia) is as red as that of South Devon, and has
naturally imparted its tint to the swirling Alabama river, which, when I
saw it, reminded me of the rivers through which Thomas the Rhymer rode
in the old ballad:

              “For a’ the blude that’s shed on earth
              Rins through the springs o’ that countrie.”


Footnote 27:

  “Two systems of controlling human labour which still flourish in the
  South are the direct children of slavery. These are the crop-lien
  system and the convict-lease system. The crop-lien system is an
  arrangement of chattel mortgages, so fixed that the housing, labour,
  kind of agriculture and, to some extent, the personal liberty of the
  free black labourer is put into the hands of the landowner and
  merchant. It is absentee landlordism and the ‘company-store’ systems
  united. The convict-lease system is the slavery in private hands of
  persons convicted of crimes and misdemeanors in the courts.”—_Atlanta
  University Publications_, No. IX. p. 2.


I was much disappointed not to find at his Alabama home Mr. Edgar G.
Murphy, whose book on “The Present South” proves him not only a humane
and judicious thinker, but one of the most accomplished living writers
of America. I take this opportunity of expressing my great indebtedness
to his admirable work.

My most interesting experience in Montgomery was a long talk with an
intelligent and prosperous negro tradesman, whom I shall call Mr. Albert
Millard. [Sidenote: A Contented Negro.] Mr. Millard did not, on the
whole, express serious dissatisfaction with the condition of his race in
the neighbourhood, and was inclined to take a hopeful view of the
situation in general. “It’s the low classes of both races,” said he,
“that keep us down and keep friction up.”

“In labour matters,” he went on, “no galling colour-line is drawn. In
the building trade, for example, there is a white union and a coloured
union, with a superior council representing both races. On Labour Day
they parade together until they come to a certain point. Then one body
turns to the right and the other to the left, and they finish the
celebration each in its own park.”

“I wonder,” I said, “whether that may not be a type and model in
miniature for the general solution of the question.”

But Mr. Millard’s note changed when I got him on the administration of

[Sidenote: Inter-Racial Justice.]

“No,” he said, “we do not get justice in the courts. A negro’s case gets
no fair hearing; and he is far more severely punished than a white man
for the same offence. I’ll give you a little instance of the sort of
thing that happens. A coloured man whom I know—a decent, quiet
fellow—used to work in a livery stable. The boss one day fell a-cursing
him so furiously that the man couldn’t stand it, and said he’d just as
soon quit. He went into a room to take off his overalls; the boss
followed him, and, without more ado, hit him over the head with an iron
crowbar and knocked him senseless. When the man recovered he got out a
warrant against the boss; but, instead of listening to his case, the
Recorder said he might be thankful his master hadn’t killed him, and the
next time he appeared in that court he would be sent to the farm.”

“Sent to the farm?”

“That means fined a sum he couldn’t pay, and sent to work it out either
on the State farm or under some private employer. Oh, the State makes a
big profit in this way! Suppose a man is fined 20 dollars and costs—say
25 dollars altogether—his labour being credited to him at 50 cents a
day, it takes him fifty days to work out his fine. But his labour is
worth far more than 50 cents a day. Private employers pay the State 60
or 70 cents a day for each convict labourer, and provide his food as
well; but he is credited only with 50 cents all the same.”

“And what are they employed in for the most part?”

“Oh, farming in general—cotton, corn, potatoes, some sugar-cane. The
State has lots of stock. And then there are the truck gardens
(market-gardens) and the coal-mines.”

“And do you mean to say that all magistrates behave like the Recorder
you spoke of?”

“When the regular Recorder is away, they select the hardest of the
aldermen to take his place. There is only one court in which we think we
get justice, and that is the Federal Court.”

This is one of the few points on which there is little conflict of
evidence—the negro, in the main, does not get justice in the courts of
the South.[28] [Sidenote: An Elective Magistracy.] The tone of the
courts is exemplified in the pious peroration of the lawyer who
exclaimed: “God forbid that a jury should ever convict a white man for
killing a nigger who knocked his teeth down his throat!” Exceptions
there are, no doubt; there are districts in which the negroes themselves
report that they are equitably treated. But the rule is that in criminal
cases a negro’s guilt is lightly assumed, and he is much more heavily
punished than a white man would be for the same offence;[29] while in
civil cases justice may be done between black and black, but seldom
between white and black.


Footnote 28:

  On the other hand, Mr. A. H. Stone (“The American Race Problem,” p.
  73) cites several cases of even-handed justice as between the two
  races, and adds: “There is not a community in the South where such
  things as these do not constantly occur, but their record is buried in
  the musty documents of courts, instead of being trumpeted abroad.” Mr.
  Stone also quotes a remark by Mr. Booker Washington to the same

Footnote 29:

  It appears, however, that in many cases the great demand for negro
  labour operates in favour of the negro who has been guilty of serious
  crime—he escapes with a fine which is paid by his white employer, and
  has to be worked off. Here, for instance, is a report from the
  township of Prendergrass, Georgia: “The Negroes in general are in a
  bad shape here. There are about eighty criminals here out on bond,
  some for murder, some for selling whisky, some for gambling, some for
  carrying concealed weapons, some for shooting, and most of them are
  guilty, too; but their captain (_i.e._ employer) takes their part in
  court. They generally pay about $25 and work the Negro from one and a
  half to two years, and the Negro never knows what it cost.”—_Atlanta
  University Publications_, No. IX. p. 47.


It would seem, too, that as a rule the negro lawyer receives scant
attention in the courts. Flagrant instances of this have been related to
me—too flagrant, I hope, to be typical. It is pointed out, indeed, that
while negro doctors are numbered by the thousand, negro lawyers (despite
the argumentative and rhetorical nature of the race) are comparatively
few. The reason alleged is that, though colour is no disqualification in
the courts of nature, it practically disbars in the courts of men.

In the last analysis, this condition of affairs is no doubt a sort of
automatic index of the state of public sentiment in the South. The
average man does not greatly desire, or does not desire at all, that
scrupulous justice should be done to the negro; and an elective
magistracy—elected, as a rule, for short terms—simply mirrors this
attitude of mind. A Recorder who held the scales even, as between the
races, would quickly become unpopular with his electorate. He must
record _their_ judgments, or he will record no longer.

But there are special causes which tend to deflect the scale against the
negro, and the chief of these is the system touched upon by Mr. Millard,
which makes convict labour a source of profit to the State. [Sidenote:
Profitable Crime.] No doubt white men as well as blacks are sentenced to
the “chain-gang”; but it is much more natural and simple to send a negro
than a white man into judicial slavery.[30] Why let any pedantic rule of
evidence or sentimental scruple of humanity deprive the commonwealth of
a profitable serf? I find it alleged that in the year 1904 the State of
Georgia made a clear profit of £45,000 out of “chain-gang” labour leased
to private contractors. There is perhaps some mistake about this, since
the average profit of the previous three years had been only £16,000 per
annum. But even that sum is surely £16,000 too much.[31]


Footnote 30:

  “Besides the penitentiary convicts there were in Georgia in 1902, 2221
  misdemeanour convicts undergoing punishment in county chain-gangs, of
  whom 103 were white males, 5 white females, 2010 coloured males, and
  103 coloured females.”—_Atlanta University Publications_, No. IX. p.

  “I have seen twelve-year-old boys working in chains on the public
  streets of Atlanta, directly in front of the schools, in company with
  old and hardened criminals; and this indiscriminate mingling of men,
  women and children makes the chain-gangs perfect schools of crime and
  debauchery.”—W. E. B. Du Bois: “The Souls of Black Folk,” p. 180.

Footnote 31:

  Since writing this I have seen an apparently authentic statement that
  in 1907 the profits from the Georgia chain-gangs had gone up to
  $354,853, or nearly £71,000.


One can understand the attractions of such a system, however unreal may
be the gains that accrue to the Commonwealth. It is much less easy to
understand another system, expounded to me by a leading white citizen of
the State of Alabama, which makes it to the interest of magistrates and
other officers of the law to promote litigation, and to keep the prisons
full, because of the fees it brings them—so much for issuing a warrant,
so much for filing it, so much for making an arrest, so much for
maintenance in prison, etc. I do not understand this system well enough
to attempt to explain it; but my informant declared that on one
occasion, in his own town, a temporary magistrate, who was appointed
during the serious illness of the regular occupant of the bench, found
the prison “stacked up” with 500 negroes. Half of them were “held” on
frivolous charges, which he simply dismissed; on the other half he
imposed light fines which they could pay. “These iniquities,” my friend
continued, “react upon us; they cost us money, and our gaols are
breeders of crime and filth and disease. But our best people see it, and
they’re going to correct it.”

While such systems prevail, it is manifest that statistics of negro
crime must be carefully scrutinized and largely discounted before any
value can be attached to them.[32] [Sidenote: An Outlawed Race.] At the
same time there is no doubt a considerable class of criminal negroes. It
is natural, and indeed inevitable, that there should be. They are
largely illiterate; they are for the most part poor; their white
environment does all it can to lower rather than to stimulate their
self-respect; the temptations of drink and drugs (mainly cocaine) beset
them in many places; and when once a negro comes in conflict with the
law, everything is done, not to reclaim him, but to harden him in crime.
When we consider in how many respects the race is outlawed, it seems
wonderful that more of them should not fall into habits of outlawry. No
one can reasonably pretend, I think, that there is in the negro any
innate and peculiar bent towards crime. Give him an equal chance, and he
will show himself quite as ready as the white man to respect the
criminal law at all events, if not, perhaps, the precepts of current
morality. I cannot believe that any deep-rooted “original sin” in the
African race is a serious element in the colour problem.


Footnote 32:

  “According to the census of 1890,” says Mr. Kelly Miller (“Race
  Adjustment,” p. 97), “the negro constituted only 12 per cent. of the
  population, and contributed 30 per cent. of the criminals.” But he
  goes on to say, “No person of knowledge or candour will deny that the
  negro in the South is more readily apprehended and convicted on any
  charge than the white offender. The negro constitutes the lower
  stratum of society, where the bulk of actionable crime is committed
  all the world over.” On the other hand, Mr. E. G. Murphy (“The Present
  South,” p. 176) says: “Petty crimes are often forgiven him, and in
  countless instances the small offences for which white men are quickly
  apprehended are, in the negro, habitually ignored.” A negro study of
  negro crime (_Atlanta University Publications_, No. IX.) says, “It
  seems fair to conclude that the negroes of the United States, forming
  about one-eighth of the population, were responsible in 1890 for about
  one-fifth of the crime.” This purports to be a correction of the
  estimate above quoted by Mr. Kelly Miller. Complete statistics of a
  later date do not seem to be available; but according to the same
  publication, negro crime reached its maximum about 1895, when negro
  convicts numbered 2·33 per thousand of the whole negro population.
  Since then the percentage has notably decreased. In 1904 it stood at
  1·78 per thousand.


Meanwhile, by treating him with consistent and systematic injustice, the
South is weakening and confusing her own case against the negro. In
spite of many better impulses among the more enlightened of her people,
her dominant instinct is to substitute for slavery a condition of
serfdom. The black race is to have no indefeasible rights, but rather
revocable licences to pretend to be freemen, so long as the pretence
does not seriously interfere with the convenience or profit of the white
race. And specially must the strictest limits be placed to the freeman’s
right to work when and where he will, and even, if it suits him, to
refrain from working. The South needs the negro’s labour, and is
determined to have it, not on his terms, but on hers. Far more important
and wide-reaching than the crime-slavery of the “chain-gang” is the
system of debt-slavery or peonage, whereby a negro, becoming hopelessly
indebted to a white landlord (and store-keeper), is compelled to spend
the remainder of his life in working off a claim which can never be
wiped out, because, for his very subsistence, he is forced to be ever
renewing it. There is all the less chance of escape as accounts are kept
by the landlord or his agent, and the negro is seldom in a position to
check them. Until the law comes to the relief of the “peon,” and ceases
to traffic in the sweat of the convict, the South, it seems to me,
cannot look the negro squarely in the face.

Many Southerners, even the not unthoughtful or inhuman, make it the
first and last word of their philosophy that “the nigger must be taught
to know his place.” This means, on analysis, simply that he must accept
his position as a serf. But no more than slavery, I take it, is serfdom
permanently possible in a modern democratic State; and in so far as she
fails to recognize this, the South is once more trying to put back the
hands of Time.


                        AN INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY

It is very difficult to get at the true truth as to public education for
the negro in the South. The probability is, in fact, that there are as
many truths as there are points of view. One high authority (a negro)
told me that for every single dollar expended on a black child about
five dollars are expended on a white child. That is very likely true;
but it is probably no less true that the sums expended on negro
education are large out of all proportion to the sums paid by negroes in
taxes. “Let us reduce their education to the scale of their taxation,” I
have heard it said, “and where would they be?”[33] The true question is:
Where would the South be? Probably half-way back to barbarism.


Footnote 33:

  It is said that in the State of Georgia the negroes pay only
  one-fifteenth of the taxes, but receive about one-third of the State
  appropriation for public schools. E. G. Murphy: “The Present South,”
  p. 39.


But if we ask: Has the South neglected its plain duty towards the
children of the freedmen? or has it heroically, in its poverty, devoted
to the education of the black child money that could be ill spared from
the beggarly education fund of the white child?[34] we cannot rest
content with the answer, “It depends on the point of view.” On the
whole, I am inclined to believe that the favourable judgment is the true
one; but I should hold it with greater confidence if there had not
existed in the past, and did not survive to some degree in the present,
a violent feeling against the very idea of negro education. In many
places white teachers of black children are to this day ostracised.[35]
One may even say, I think, that, as a general rule, it takes some
strength of mind for a white man or woman to follow the vocation of
teaching negroes.


Footnote 34:

  Among the native (as opposed to foreign-born) white population of the
  Southern States, there were in 1900 about 11 per cent. of illiterates
  of ten years old and upwards, as against a percentage of 4·6 for the
  whole United States. But this 11 per cent. showed a great improvement
  during twenty years; for in 1880 there were over 20 per cent. of
  illiterates. Among the coloured population of the same States, the
  illiterates in 1900 numbered about 48 per cent., as against 75 per
  cent. in 1880. It must be remembered that nearly 85 per cent. of the
  people of the South live in sparsely populated rural districts, where
  it is difficult for the schoolmaster to reach the children or the
  children the schoolmaster. In the whole United States, the annual
  expenditure per head of the pupils in average attendance at public
  schools is over $21, whereas in Alabama and the Carolinas it is only
  $4·50; yet in these States 50 per cent. of the whole State revenues
  for general purposes is appropriated to public education. See an
  admirable paper in “The Present South,” by Edgar Gardner Murphy. At
  the close of the war, says Mr. Murphy, “the South—defeated,
  impoverished, desolate—was forced to assume the task of providing for
  the education of two populations out of the poverty of one.”

Footnote 35:

  This is so in Atlanta, according to Mr. Stannard Baker. I cannot
  resist quoting from Mr. Baker’s book a letter written by “a well-to-do
  white citizen” to a South Carolina newspaper, apologizing for an act
  of courtesy to a negro school—

  “I had left my place of business here on a business trip a few miles
  below; on returning I came by the above-mentioned school (the Prince
  Institute, coloured), and was held up by the teacher and begged to
  make a few remarks to the children. Very reluctantly I did so, not
  thinking that publicity would be given to it, or that I was doing
  anything that would offend any one. I wish to say here and now that I
  am heartily sorry for what I did, and I hope after this humble
  confession and expression of regret that all whom I have offended will
  forgive me.”

  Was there ever a more abject document?


The hostility to negro education has, however, lost much of its former
strength. [Sidenote: A Teacher of Negroes.] This is apparent from the
case of Professor Patterson, head of an excellent State school for
negroes in Montgomery. The Professor (a title as lightly accorded in the
South as Major or Colonel) is a sturdy Scot. When he first came to the
South in Reconstruction days chance led him to a county in the State of
Alabama where there was, indeed, already a school, but it was kept by a
negro who could neither read nor write. An educator by instinct, if not
by training, Mr. Patterson determined to set up a school of his own. For
this misdemeanour he was twice shot at, and was finally arrested, and
put under a bond of 15,000 dollars to desist from teaching in that
county. He went into another county, and started a school in the frame
building that served as a negro church; but here the negroes themselves
had to turn him out, as they were warned that if they did not the church
would be burnt. These experiences only stiffened the professor’s
backbone. He said: “I _will_ teach—teach in Alabama—and teach negroes!”
And here he is to-day, head of a fine large school in the State capital,
and partially maintained by the State—a school well planned, well built,
and with an excellent system of industrial training going on in various
annexes in its spacious grounds.

As I passed through one of the senior school-rooms, a boy had just
written on the blackboard, in a fine round hand, a quotation from a
recent speech by Senator Foraker on the Brownsville affair—the affair of
the negro regiment which President Roosevelt is alleged to have treated
with high-handed injustice. The sentence ran: “We ask no favour for them
because they are negroes, but justice for them because they are men.”
Evidently there is no affectation of excluding from the schoolroom the
all-absorbing problem.

[Sidenote: Mr. Washington’s Staff.]

Tuskegee (pronounced like Righi, but with the first “e” sound
lengthened) is about forty miles from Montgomery, situated on an open
rolling upland, with many small knolls and sudden gullies. In the course
of a short drive from the station to the Institute, one passes a
dignified old ante-bellum plantation-house, not without wondering what
its owners of fifty years ago would have thought of the Tuskegee of

I am not going to attempt a minute description of “Booker Washington’s
City,” as it has been called. It is, beyond all doubt, a wonderful
place. Everywhere one sees the evidence of a great organizing capacity,
a great inspiring force, a tireless, indomitable singleness of
purpose—in short, a true magnanimity. I did not see Mr. Washington in
his principality—I had met him some weeks earlier in the North—but the
dominance of his spirit could perhaps be more clearly felt in his
absence than in his presence.

Mrs. Washington I did see—a lady with the mien and manner of a somewhat
dusky duchess. The observation may (or, rather, it does) seem an
impertinence; but such impertinences are forced upon one by the very
nature of the inquiry. Not only Mrs. Washington, but other members of
the General Staff with whom I was brought in contact—for instance, Mr.
Emmett J. Scott (Mr. Washington’s secretary) and Mr. Warren Logan (the
treasurer of the Institute)—were far more Caucasian than African in
feature, and very light in colour. Indeed, I saw no one in high position
at Tuskegee who would not, with a very small lightening of hue, have
been taken without question for a white man. I make the remark, however,
without suggesting any deduction from it. I believe there is little
evidence of any intellectual superiority of the mulatto (in all his
various degrees) over the pure negro. It is often assumed as a matter of
course; but those who have had the best opportunities for close
comparison are quite unconvinced of it. One well-known white educator of
the negro told me that for character, if not for intellect, he gave the
pure black the preference over the mulatto.

Mr. J. Stevenson, who conducted me over the Institute, showed precisely
the bright intelligence, the frank, unembarrassed courtesy, the quiet
enthusiasm for his _alma mater_, which I should have expected in a
senior “college boy” showing me the lions of Princeton or Cornell.

Tuskegee Institute is just twenty-seven years old. [Sidenote: Tuskegee.]
It was opened in 1881 with one teacher (Mr. Washington) and thirty
pupils. It had a grant of £400 a year from the Alabama Legislature; but
it had no land and no buildings. Operations began in a dilapidated
shanty and an old church, lent by the coloured people of the village.

It has now, or had two years ago, 2000 acres of land and 83 buildings,
large and small. Its property, exclusive of endowment fund, is valued at
about £170,000, and it has an endowment fund of a quarter of a million.
It now accommodates about 1500 students, two-thirds of them male. More
than 6000 students have passed through it, counting only those who have
remained long enough to benefit appreciably by their course. Of these
6000 Mr. Washington declares that, after diligent inquiry (and every
effort is made to keep in touch with former students), he cannot find a
dozen who are not usefully employed; nor has one Tuskegee graduate been
convicted of crime.

Instruction is given in thirty-seven industries, from agriculture and
stock-breeding to printing and electrical engineering. Mr. Stevenson
took me through the machine-room, the blacksmithing and carpentering,
carriage-building, harness-making, tailoring, and shoemaking
departments, the departments of agricultural chemistry, and of
mechanical and architectural drawing. Mrs. Washington herself was good
enough to be my guide through the women’s building (known as Dorothy
Hall), with its departments of plain sewing, dressmaking and millinery,
mattress-making, broom-making, basket-weaving, laundry-work, and
cookery, and its model dining-rooms and parlours, furnished, arranged,
and decorated by the students themselves. Everywhere I saw earnest work
in progress, everywhere order, discipline, and thorough scientific
method. All this had been made possible, no doubt, by white money; but
the whole organization and conduct of the Institute is the work of black
brains alone.

Externally, Tuskegee has none of the orderly design which one finds in
the “campus” of a Northern University. It is evidently a place that has
“growed.” Buildings are dotted here and there over the somewhat rugged
site, with small eye to picturesqueness or dignity of general effect.
Except the Carnegie Library, with its well-proportioned portico, there
is no building of much architectural ambition; but the chapel or general
assembly hall of the Institute struck me as showing real originality of
design. I was extremely sorry not to hear one of Mr. Washington’s Sunday
evening “talks” to the students in this fine hall. I had not time even
to see an assembly of the whole school, in its neat blue uniform, nor to
hear its singing of old negro melodies, which is said to be remarkable.

In speaking of Tuskegee architecture, one must not omit to mention that
nearly all the buildings of the Institute are built by the students
themselves, of bricks burnt in their own brickyard. All furniture and
fittings, too, are made and repaired within the Institute. I went
through one or two of the students’ dormitories; the little cubicles
were simple, neat, clean, fairly comfortable, but entirely devoid of
luxury or upholstery. As I have before explained, tuition is provided by
endowment, while the students are supposed to pay for their board and
lodging at the rate of about thirty-five shillings a month, which they
are enabled to earn, wholly or in part, for themselves.

After a far too brief visit, I left Tuskegee with the liveliest
admiration for its methods and results. [Sidenote: A Reflection and a
Query.] It is beyond all question a radiating centre of materially
helpful and morally elevating influences. Mr. Washington is assuredly
doing a great and an indispensable work for his race; nor is he doing it
in any such spirit of contempt for academic and literary culture as his
critics attribute to him.

But two reflections occurred to me as I returned through the red
twilight to Montgomery. The first was obvious enough—namely, that the
men and women turned out by such an institution as Tuskegee cannot
possibly be taken as representing the average of negro capacity. They
are a select company before they go there—or, rather, in the very fact
of their going there. They are impelled by individual and exceptional
intelligence, thirst for knowledge, desire for betterment. Some, it is
true, are sent by their parents, very much as white boys are sent to
school or college; but whereas the white boy’s parents are merely
following a social tradition, the black boy’s parents are taking a clear
step in advance, and showing not only ambition but (in all probability)
a good deal of self-denial. Almost every one, in short, who enrols
himself at Tuskegee is animated from the outset by some measure of Mr.
Washington’s own spirit; and not a few show, in the pursuit of
knowledge, something of the heroism which marked his early career.

My second reflection took the form of a query. I did not doubt for a
moment that Mr. Washington’s work was wise and salutary; but I wondered
whether the material and moral uplifting of the negro was going to bring
peace—or a sword. In other words, do the essential and fundamental
difficulties of the situation really lie in the defects of the negro
race? May not the development of its qualities merely create a new form
of friction? And far beneath the qualities and defects of either race,
may there not lie deep-rooted instincts which no “Atlanta Compromise”
will bring into harmony?

Tuskegee marks an inevitable stage of the conflict; but is it the
beginning of the end? I wonder.


                         HAMPTON: AN AFTERMATH

After the daughter, the mother. Being again in America this year (1909),
I stole a few days for a run into Virginia and a visit to Hampton, the
fount and origin of the whole movement for the industrial training of
the coloured race. It is perhaps well to take Tuskegee before Hampton,
just as, in visiting English Universities, it would be well to take
Liverpool or Birmingham before Oxford or Cambridge.

Hampton is on historic ground, and looks over still more historic
waters. It stands at the tip of the peninsula formed (roughly speaking)
by Chesapeake Bay to the east and north and the James River to the west
and south. Yet not quite at the tip; for the spit of land which Captain
John Smith in 1608 named Point Comfort runs some two miles further to
the southward, and forms a sort of breakwater for Hampton Roads. The
spit of land, now known as Old Point Comfort, is entirely given over to
two great establishments—Fortress Monroe, where Jefferson Davis was
imprisoned after the war, and the Hotel Chamberlin, one of those huge
American caravanserais which are devoted to the cultivation partly of
health, partly of sport, and wholly of fashion. The Chamberlin, despite
its Pompeian swimming-bath and its circular dancing-pavilion built out
over the waters of the sound, is not quite so extensive or so sumptuous
as the Virginia Hot Springs Hotel, to say nothing of the Ponce de Leon
and other palaces of Florida; but its life has a colour of its own, due
to the large infusion of artillery officers from the Fort, which is but
a stone’s throw away. The coming and going of the great white
river-steamers, too, lends animation to the scene. Old Point is a
meeting-place for these floating hotels, hailing from New York,
Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond. Moreover, there is plenty of
shipping in the Roads, consisting for the most part of the great four-
and five-masted schooners which still abound in these waters. Some six
miles up the estuary to the westward rise the immense coal elevators of
Newport News, with its navy-yard; while to the southward, on the further
shore, towards Norfolk, one can dimly descry a city of towers and domes,
the buildings of the Jamestown Exhibition of 1907. Altogether, despite
the flatness of the coasts, this confluence of great estuaries with the
Atlantic has a nobility and beauty of its own. The sky-effects are

[Sidenote: In Pastures Green.]

Twenty minutes in the electric car carry you from the Chamberlin to
Hampton Institute, from valetudinarianism and luxury, time-killing and
life-killing,[36] to industry, frugality, character-building and—in far
more than a theologic sense—soul-saving. The Institute is divided from
the little town of Hampton (with its church built in 1660, of English
bricks) by a wide creek, known as the Hampton River, which was populous,
when we passed it, with negro oyster-dredgers. On a spacious campus,
bordering on this creek, stand the buildings of the Institute—looking
out upon the very reach of the Roads where the fight between the
Merrimac and the Monitor opened a new chapter in naval history. Both
banks of the creek are well-wooded, and the white houses, with their
wide verandahs deep-set in the tender green of early spring, gave the
scene a semi-tropical air. It needed only a few palm-trees to transport
one to Florida. The campus, too, is rich in flowering shrubs. A
marvellous rose-tree in full bloom almost covered the office-building;
hard by, a great bush of wisteria (standard, not climbing) made the air
heavy with scent; and tulip-trees and climbing wisteria were to be seen
at every turn. In the exquisite amenity of its site lies one great
contrast between Hampton and Tuskegee. The red and gully-gashed Alabama
upland, where Booker Washington has established his city, is unkempt,
almost untimbered, and as nearly bleak as any place can be in that
southern climate; whereas the Hampton student may sing with literal

                “The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want;
                  He makes me down to lie
                In pastures green; He leadeth me
                  The quiet waters by.”

But as I watched the negroes plunging their dredgers into the mud of
Hampton Creek, I could not but wonder whether the downs of Tuskegee
might not be the healthier habitation.


Footnote 36:

  “The Hotel Chamberlin has a shooting preserve of 10,000 acres on the
  Chickahominy River (quail, duck, wild turkey, woodcock,


[Sidenote: The Pious Founder.]

The fundamental contrast, however, between the two institutions lies in
the fact that at Tuskegee the organizing and teaching staff is all black
(or brown), at Hampton all white.[37] The founder of Hampton, General S.
C. Armstrong, was born in the Sandwich Islands in 1839, the son of a
missionary. He was a man of extraordinary strength and vitality, a
muscular Christian in the fullest sense of the term. In the war, he
commanded a negro regiment,[38] and after the war he put aside all
opportunities of personal gain and advancement to devote himself to the
work of the Freedmen’s Bureau. This brought him to Hampton; and here, in
April, 1868, he opened his school, with one assistant teacher and
fifteen pupils. Next year the attendance increased to sixty-six, and in
1870 the Institute received a charter (but no endowment) from the
Virginia Legislature. In 1878 it was decided to admit Indians as well as
negroes, and now about ten per cent. of the students belong to the
aboriginal tribes. Armstrong had immense difficulties to contend with.
The whole of the money for his enterprise had to be raised by his
personal exertions; and the value of his idea—the value of negro
education in general and industrial training in particular—was not then
a tested fact, but remained to be proven in the face of much scepticism.
A minor difficulty lay in the prejudice of the negroes themselves
against manual training. This was still, in their eyes, the badge of
servitude; and they were apt to rebel when, asking for Greek, they were
given a hoe. With indomitable energy and geniality, however, Armstrong
stuck to his task; and when, early in the nineties, he was stricken with
paralysis, Hampton was already a great institution, and Tuskegee was
firmly founded.


Footnote 37:

  The ratio of instructors to pupils is as high as one to six.

Footnote 38:

  It is related of him that, while sedulously instructing his men to
  take cover, he would deliberately “pitch his own tent under fire,”
  excusing himself on the ground that “the _morale_ of the coloured
  troops required it—they would do anything for a man who showed himself
  superior to fear.”


At Hampton there are now 113 buildings (65 of them of considerable size)
and a home farm of 120 acres; while at Shellbank, six miles away, the
school owns a farm of over 600 acres, with 150 head of cattle, 30 horses
and mules, 100 hogs, and fowls by the thousand. The students enrolled in
the Institute number 863, while the Whittier Preparatory School has
nearly 500 pupils. In addition to all branches of agriculture and
horticulture, fifteen trades are taught to boys, while girls are
thoroughly trained in every form of domestic industry, laundry-work,
dressmaking, etc. The teaching and organizing staff numbers about 200,
or one to every six pupils. It is the deliberate policy of the Institute
to seek for increase of efficiency rather than of numbers, and the
entrance tests are correspondingly severe.

The Principal, Dr. H. B. Frissell, was unfortunately absent when I
visited Hampton. [Sidenote: A Tour of the Institute.] I had met him a
year before at Memphis, and learnt to appreciate his quietly commanding
personality. Mrs. Frissell received us most courteously in the very
beautiful old plantation-house which is now the Principal’s residence. A
patriarchal hospitality is the tradition at Hampton, and we were
cordially invited to remain, if not a week, at least a night. But a few
hours were all we could spare; and the chaplain, Dr. Herbert Turner,
very kindly constituted himself our guide.

He took us first to “the soul of the institution,” the Memorial Church,
externally a fine building, internally, to my mind, memorably beautiful.
It is a cruciform structure of romanesque style; but the arms of the
cross are so short that they may be called apses rather than nave and
transepts, and the great body of the space is covered by the dome. The
four great arches are magnificent in their airy dignity, and the
material, red and cream brick, is at once simple and beautiful. The
doctrine here preached is entirely undenominational. The students are
encouraged to adhere to their own denominations, “as they will thus be
best able to serve the communities to which they return.” The official
designation of the building is simple—“The Church of Christ in Hampton
Institute”—and after several hours’ talk with Dr. Turner, I feel sure
that his flock will imbibe from him no harsh or illiberal theology.

“We lay the greatest stress first and last,” he said, “on
character-building. It is not the clever self-seeker that we look for
and encourage—not the youth whose aim is personal success and
money-making. It is the service he is to do to his people that we keep
constantly before the student’s mind; and with the great majority that
is actually and effectively the dominant idea. Many of them, of course,
are training to be teachers; but all of them feel that they can teach
indirectly in their different communities, by uprightness in life and
efficiency in work. We follow carefully the careers of our students, and
I am able to say that 83 per cent. of those who are now out in the world
are Christian men and women, not merely in the sense of
church-membership, but of the practical Christianity which is known by
its fruits. We are especially careful to cultivate mutual kindliness and
good feeling among teachers and pupils alike. It was a saying of General
Armstrong’s that ‘cantankerousness is worse than heterodoxy,’ and we
still take that view.”

“Have you many students,” I asked, “who are supported by comparatively
well-to-do parents?”

“Very few,” Dr. Turner replied; “and we do not particularly care for
that class of young man or woman. All new students have to bring with
them a registration-fee of ten dollars, and eleven dollars for one
month’s board; but the great majority of them need little more than
that, for they are immediately put to various sorts of unskilled work by
which they are enabled to earn from fifteen to twenty dollars a month,
and so can not only pay their current board bills, but lay up a sum to
meet the expenses of the next year, when they go into the day-school or
into trades in which, during their apprenticeship, they are unable to
earn anything. You remember how Booker Washington, when he first
presented himself, was so ignorant that he was almost rejected; but when
he was told, by way of trial, to clean a room, the superintendent
noticed that the dark corners were as thoroughly cleaned as the most
visible parts, and accepted him on the strength of that observation.”

We were now in the boot- and harness-making division of the Trade School
building. Pursuing the theme of thoroughness suggested by the anecdote
of Booker Washington, Dr. Turner continued—

[Sidenote: Principles and Methods.]

“We insist that every student shall become highly skilled in whatever
trade or pursuit he takes up; but we allow him to acquire a partial and
rough-and-ready knowledge of other crafts subsidiary to his own. For
instance, it is found that the individual harness-maker cannot compete
with factory work, so that few students now take a complete course in
that craft; but a boy who becomes a thoroughly skilled shoemaker also
learns so much of harness-making as to render him an efficient repairer.
In the same way our thoroughly trained carpenters also acquire a certain
amount of skill in bricklaying, plastering, painting, and tinsmithing;
and the girls, in addition to complete instruction in house-work,
laundry-work, dressmaking and cooking, also learn something of simple
carpentry, paper-hanging, painting, and the repairing of tinware, shoes,
etc. In small villages and country districts it is very important to
know something of everything as well as everything of something.”

“And where, amid all this, does academic study come in?”

“Students in their first year who are working for wages attend the
night-school only. After that, if they are training for teachers, they
enter the day-school, and devote only a minor portion of their time to
manual work. But we take care that those who are mainly engaged in
handicrafts and agriculture do not neglect their mental development on
the academic side; and we find, with scarcely an exception, that the boy
who does the best work in the classroom does the best work at the bench.
The annual cost of academic training (apart from board, etc.), is
seventy dollars, or £14, of industrial training, thirty dollars, or £6.
To many of our students, in accordance with their abilities and their
necessities, we are able to allot scholarships which cover these fees;
but we are greatly in need of more such scholarships. For the general
needs of the institution an endowment fund of three million dollars is
required; but as yet we have been able to raise only about half that
sum. The United States Government pays a small sum for each of the
Indians whom it sends to the Institute; but it does not cover their

“And how do the negroes and the Indians get on together?”

“Without the slightest friction. They live in separate houses—there is
the Wigwam, the home of the Indian boys, and nearer the river is Winona
Lodge, the Indian girls’ dormitory. But you have seen them working side
by side in the workshops, and you will see them presently dining side by
side in Virginia Hall.”

[Sidenote: “A Changed Ideal.”]

Dr. Turner took us through the very interesting Indian Museum, used also
as a lecture-hall, and through the beautiful and admirably equipped
Huntington Memorial Library, containing, among other things, one of the
largest existing collections of books on the negro race and its

“Do you find,” I asked, “that many of your students come to you with the
idea that book-learning is a more dignified and desirable thing than
manual training?”

“No,” was the reply; “that particular form of ignorance is rapidly
passing away. But now and then students come to us with ambitions which
we can scarcely encourage. A good many years ago now, a boy presented
himself with the announcement that he wanted to be trained for the
career of a prize-fighter. We did not reject him, but we found means of
modifying his aspirations. He proved to be an unusually intelligent
youth, and at the end of his course was chosen the valedictorian of his
class. The subject of his address was ‘A Changed Ideal.’ He is now the
head of an agricultural college.”

[Sidenote: A Happy Family.]

Our perambulation of the Institute was interrupted by the bugle call
summoning us to midday dinner in Virginia Hall, a building partly “sung
up” by a travelling band of Hampton singers. The beautiful quality of
the students’ voices was manifest in the short grace which they sang. We
went through not only the dining-hall, but the kitchen, and were much
struck by the brilliant cleanliness and neatness of all the
arrangements, the rapidity of the service, and the appetizing appearance
of the meal. The young men and girls sit together at the same tables, a
lively, talkative, but well-mannered company—with enviable appetites, if
one may judge by the rapidity with which dishes were sent back to the
kitchen to be replenished. I noticed that for the most part, though not
strictly, the Indians and the negroes kept to separate tables. None of
the white instructors took part in the meal.

Hampton was the only negro college or school I ever visited in which I
saw no student who could have passed as white. There was, indeed, one
singularly beautiful girl with auburn hair, who might have been taken
for a European of peculiarly rich colouring; but she was of Indian, not
of negro, blood. There must, I think, have been some reason for the
absence of “white negroes” at Hampton; but I had not time to inquire
into it. We bade an unwilling farewell to our kind hosts, and departed
deeply impressed by the spirit and achievement of this noble



Birmingham, Alabama, is a city not yet forty years old; yet it numbers,
with its suburbs, 150,000 inhabitants. It is the Pittsburg of the South,
the centre of a great and rapidly growing iron and steel industry. But
as yet it has not created anything of a “black country” around it. From
the roof of its splendidly equipped and organized High School I saw
nothing in its environment but pleasant wooded hills and flourishing
“residential” suburbs. The city itself has spacious streets, handsome
shops, at least two first-class hotels, a fine Court House, and an
excellent streetcar service. There is far less rawness in Birmingham
than in many American cities three times its age.

A very remarkable feature of the town is the splendid Union Station now
in course of completion. Among the most conspicuous proofs of the
prosperity of the South are the spacious and handsome railway stations,
which are everywhere replacing the grimy old shanties of the past. In
almost all, as though by special word of command, the Spanish Mission
style of architecture is adopted, with its two towers crowning either
end of the structure. This Union Station at Birmingham was perhaps the
finest I saw; but the new station at Atlanta runs it hard; and
Charleston, Jacksonville, even little Vicksburg, have all handsome and
commodious stations. Each has its separate entrance, waiting-rooms,
ticket-office, etc., “for White Passengers” and “for Coloured
Passengers.” In some the colour-line is very palpably drawn in the shape
of a thick brass rod running across the main hall, or “concourse,” and
dividing it into two (unequal) portions. One end of this rod runs into
the news-stand, the other into the ticket-office; so that in each of
these departments both races can be served by one staff of clerks.
Wherever I observed this rod, it was no provisional or movable device,
but fixed as the foundations of the building.

Two little traits which I noted in the streets of Birmingham are perhaps
worth reproducing. The first was a parcel-van with the legend—

                            IMPERIAL LAUNDRY

                     WE WASH FOR WHITE PEOPLE ONLY.

Tho second was a placard inspired by a more catholic spirit. It ran:
“Largest glass of beer in the city, for White or Coloured, 5 cents.”

Dr. Phillips, Superintendent of the Birmingham Public Schools, was kind
enough to take me over the really magnificent High School building above
mentioned, in which, by the way, manual and industrial training is as
largely provided for as literary training. [Sidenote: The Young Idea.]
In Dr. Phillips’s opinion, compulsory education is now well within sight
in Alabama. They have already, he said, in the Birmingham district,
approximately the school accommodation required under a system of
compulsion. From a statistical report it appears that the number of
“seats” provided in the nine white schools of the city is 4903, while in
the four negro schools only 1607 are provided; whereas it would seem
that the negro population is little, if at all, less numerous than the
white. Indeed, the same report points to the inadequate accommodation
for coloured pupils as an evil calling for prompt remedy. I note with
interest that in the school year ending June, 1907, the “Cases of
Corporal Punishment” are set down as “White: 57. Negro: 432.” As the
average daily attendance of negroes was less than half that of the
whites, these figures mean a ratio of something like sixteen to one. On
the other hand, when we come to “Cases of Suspension” we find, “White:
105. Negro: 9.” It is clear that totally different systems of discipline
are applied to the two races.

On the question of the relative mental capacity of white and coloured
children Dr. Phillips holds decided views.

“Whatever the anthropologists may report,” he says, “the black race is
to all intents and purposes a young race; therefore it is imitative. The
black child has a good word-memory and a good eye-memory. He will often
learn by rote quicker than a white child—but it is a different thing
when it comes to understanding what he learns. Such an imitative
function as writing comes at least as easy to the negro as to the white;
but in anything that requires reasoning—in mathematics, for instance—the
negro soon falls behind.”

There is a general agreement, I may say, as to the remarkable brightness
of the young negro child, and a scarcely less general agreement as to
the fact that this brightness does not usually last far into the teens.
Some theorists tell you that the sutures of the skull close earlier in
the black than in the white, and thus do not leave room for brain
expansion. In the West Indies it is said that precocious sexual
development checks the mental growth of the negro. On the other hand,
negro investigators seek to show that the difference, in so far as it is
not purely imaginary, arises from such accidental causes as the inferior
nutrition of the average black child.

Dr. Phillips differs from some other authorities in holding the mulatto
distinctly superior in mental capacity to the pure black.[39] As to
industrial training, he admits its value for the negro, but adds that an
undue proportion of the race, even when brought up to a trade, manifests
an invincible preference for “some sort of teaching or preaching”—in a
word, for an easier life.


Footnote 39:

  This is also the view of Mr. W. B. Smith (“The Colour-Line,” p. 127),
  who says: “Then comes a race of mongrels of average mental powers
  higher than the lower breed, with exceptions little lower than the
  higher.” See p. 108.


It seemed as though all my introductions in Birmingham, save that to Dr.
Phillips, were to be of no avail. [Sidenote: A Character.] One gentleman
had gone to Kansas, another had gone to a picnic, a third had gone where
not even an inquisitive journalist could follow him—at least for the
present. I had packed my “gripsack” in preparation for an early start on
the morrow, when my telephone bell rang, and a visitor was announced. It
was the gentleman who had gone to Kansas; and to his timely return, and
kind promptitude in calling on me, I owe one of the most interesting
hours of all my pilgrimage. He stated few facts, and some of these I
have already mentioned in other contexts; he was very chary of
pronouncing judgments; but he gave me a charming glimpse of Southern
(though certainly not typical Southern) character.

A man of middle height, with a clear-cut, aquiline, rather careworn
face, and iron-grey hair. His features would certainly not strike you at
first sight as beautiful, or even as distinguished; you might class him,
in a crowd, as a well-to-do farmer; but ten minutes’ talk brought out a
curious distinction and charm in his face. It reminded me, vaguely, of
portraits of Cardinal Newman. He looked far older than his years—at
least, I found myself treating him with the deference due to marked
seniority, and was amazed when it appeared that he was three years my
junior. He had taken life earnestly, strenuously; he had been very
successful in his business career, and he felt his success, not as an
end achieved, but as an obligation imposed; so much I very soon made out
from his slow, reflective, simple, and open-hearted talk.

“I’m ve’y much attached, sir,” he said, “to the negro race. My father
was a large slaveholder, and he had a passion for them. He selected and
bought ve’y fine types of negroes. Fo’ myself, I have now an entirely
negro household, and they are all of them devoted to my wife and to my
children. Fo’ instance, we have in our house a coloured woman of
fo’ty-five or fifty—an old maid and a ve’y clever woman indeed—who is
passionately attached to my youngest daughter.”

It was curious to find such an old-time, antebellum household subsisting
in the go-ahead, intensely modern city of Birmingham. I felt, however,
that this casual survival had very small bearing upon the problems of
the present or future; so I tried to get at my visitor’s feeling on some
of the burning topics of the actual situation.

Almost in vain. He would not express himself either for or against the
“Jim Crow car,” though he was emphatic on the iniquity, which President
Roosevelt also has recently denounced, of giving negroes inferior
accommodation for the same rates as those charged to the whites. Not
even on the question of “miscegenation” would he give a decided personal

[Sidenote: The Mills of God.]

“I feel,” he said, “that these people have been left on our hands
through no fault of their own, and that it is our duty to do the best we
can for them, each in his own way. It is the business of some people to
think out theoretical questions; but that is not my business. I try to
do what practical good I can from day to day—and that keeps my hands
pretty full. As for such questions as that of social equality or
inequality, they will settle themselves in time, through the thinkers
and professional men of both races. Solutions will be found for many
problems that now seem terribly difficult, if both races will only have
patience. You know,

                    ‘God worketh in mysterious ways,
                      His wonders to perform.’

—these lines often come back to me.

“Many whites in the South,” he went on, “have hitherto held aloof from
the negro cause, because they felt that the negro regarded them with
suspicion and preferred to look for help to the North. That feeling is
now passing away on both sides.”

He had, naturally, no sympathy with the idea of supplanting negro labour
with imported European labour. “Even if there were nothing else against
it,” he said, “it is bad business policy. The Italians have carried four
hundred million dollars out of the country in [I forget what space of
time], whereas the earnings of the negro remain in the country.
Sixty-five per cent. of the raw material produced in this district is
mined by negroes.”

[Sidenote: Judge Not, that Ye be not Judged.]

I tried in vain even to get at what he regarded as the chief mistakes
made by white people in dealing with negroes—at the reasons, for
instance, why such households as his own were now such rare exceptions.
He could not be got to pass any judgments, even on his own race. The
nearest he came to it was in this speech, which I reproduce almost word
for word:

“My wife is a ve’y beautiful woman. Other ladies say to her, ‘Oh yes,
Mrs. ——, you get on with yo’ negroes because yo’ beautiful an’ yo’
rich—but it’s ve’y diffe’ent with us.’ But seems to me ’tisn’t he’
beauty no’ he’ wealth that makes the diffe’ence—’tis he’ ha’at.

“As to those questions you ask me,” he said, as we were parting, “I read
a’ticles upon them with great interest—oh yes, su’, with great interest
and profit. But what is happening now is to me of mo’ impo’tance than
what may possibly happen fifty years hence.

“You are going to Atlanta? Then you will see Judge Mansfield. He can
tell you far more than I can on all these matters.”

I did see Judge Mansfield, and he did tell me more.

                      THE CITY OF A HUNDRED HILLS

The quaintly named “Seaboard Air Line” carries you from Birmingham to
Atlanta, Georgia, for the most part through a region of fresh and woody
highlands, with blue mountains on the southern horizon. The woods
consist of pine and leaf trees about evenly mixed. Large tracts of them,
unfortunately, have been ruthlessly hewn or burnt away—that crime
against the future so prevalent in America.

Atlanta is finely situated at an elevation of about 1000 feet above the
sea, on a billowy upland which has earned for it the name of “the city
of a hundred hills.” The guide-book states that it is “laid out in the
form of a circle”; but to the casual observer it seems to lack the usual
regularity of plan. It has many spacious streets and handsome buildings,
with the usual sprinkling of sky-scrapers. Its Park Lane or Fifth Avenue
is named Peachtree Street, and is a really beautiful winding road, with
handsome houses on either hand, shadowed by fine trees. It was hard to
believe that this well-built, bright, busy, windy city had, only
eighteen months before, been the scene of a sanguinary riot, almost a
massacre, in which many innocent coloured people lost their lives.

The population of Atlanta is a little over 100,000, about 40 per cent.
being coloured. [Sidenote: Gunpowder and Fire.] Most of the white
people, I was told, come of a mountain stock, who never held slaves or
came in contact with the negro before the war. Hence there is even less
of mutual comprehension between the races here than elsewhere.

The riot was the outcome of a political campaign, in which negrophobia
had been carefully worked up with a view to securing votes—yellow
journalism aiding with inflammatory headlines. Then came a series of
five or six outrages on women within twenty-four hours. Two of them,
perhaps, were genuine; the rest were figments of hysterical imagination.
The papers came out with edition after edition, piling horror on
horror’s head; the saloons seethed with virtuous and highly alcoholized
indignation; and some trifling incident sufficed to let loose the
bloodthirsty frenzy of the mob. The police judiciously made themselves
scarce, and for four days there was no law in Atlanta.

It is admitted on all hands that not one of those who were killed was
even suspected of any crime. The mob went from unprotected house to
house, ostensibly searching for firearms. But it kept carefully to parts
of the city where it knew it would meet with no real resistance. It did
not go down into the negro quarter; it avoided the criminal negro, whose
criminality might have gone the length of “putting up a fight.” It
preferred to harry the respectable and law-abiding coloured person, and
“teach him his place.”

Atlanta is now very sorry for its sport. Its better people, of course,
reprobated and deplored the riot from the first; but even the average
man soon realized what it had cost the city. Its credit was shaken;
there was an immediate fall in real estate and rise in wages. In no
community does the sane element favour such outbreaks; but I had only to
think of my Memphis bookseller to realize that nowhere in the South is
the point very far distant at which the insane element may get out of

There were fears of an outbreak last Christmas, and if it had come it
would have been a very different matter, for the negroes were armed to
the teeth.

Nor did my talk with Judge Mansfield (as I shall call him) altogether
reassure me. [Sidenote: A Friend of the Negro.] The Judge is one of the
leading citizens of the State, and took a prominent part in a sort of
conciliation movement which immediately followed the riot. He is a man
well advanced in years, was himself a slaveholder before the war, and is
full of the warm Southern sentiment for the “old-time negro.” He is well
known among white people as a friend of the coloured race and a defender
of its rights. I do not know whether the negroes themselves rank him
high among their champions.

He seemed to me more concerned with injustices done by the North to
the South than with injustices done by the South to the negro.
“Sherman said, ‘War is hell,’” so he led off; “but there is a worse
state than hell, and we passed through that state. It was called


Footnote 40:

  This typical Southern view is forcibly expressed by Mr. Thomas Nelson
  Page: “The history of that period, of the Reconstruction period of the
  South, has never been fully told. It is only beginning to be written.
  When that history shall be told, it will constitute the darkest stain
  on the record of the American people.... They took eight millions of
  the Caucasian race, a people which in their devotion and their
  self-sacrifice, in their transcendent vigour of intellect, their
  intrepid valor in the field, and their fortitude in defeat, had just
  elevated their race in the sight of mankind, and placed them under the
  domination of their former slaves. There is nothing like it in modern
  history.”—“The Negro: the Southerner’s Problem,” pp. 243, 246.


As to that, however, he was content to let bygones be bygones. His real
complaint was of the immediate past and present—of the ignorant
intermeddling of Northern folk in Southern affairs, the ignorant and
contemptuous criticisms of the Northern Press.

“The other day,” he said, “Mr. Smith, a Congregationalist
minister—I’m a Baptist myself, but I have a great respect for the
Congregationalists—Mr. Smith came to me and said, ‘I hear that the
coloured people in your town are sending their children to school in
flies and waggons rather than let them ride in the street-cars. What
am I to say to my people in the North about that?’ ‘I suggest, sir,’
was my reply, ‘that you should tell them it is none of their

He was absolutely opposed in theory to lynching, but seemed hopeless of
its being put down so long as outrages on women continued. Here, again,
his last word was a _tu quoque_ to the North: “I addressed a meeting in
Ohio last year, and I said to them, ‘Here in Ohio you have 2 per cent.
of negroes; in Georgia we have 47 per cent.; yet you have lynchings
here, not so many fewer than ours. Until we have twenty-three times as
many as you have, I don’t see that you have anything to say to us.’”

His account of negro morality was very low, and he maintained that the
negro Churches could do little to check it, because at least 25 per
cent. of the preachers—in some places a much larger percentage—lived as
loosely as their flocks. I found other Southern white men of opinion
that the influence of the negro Church was, on the whole, a bad

But it was on the necessity for absolute social separation between the
races that Judge Mansfield was most emphatic. [Sidenote: “I would Brain
him.”] “Jim Crow” regulations, he declared, are essential to prevent
constant breaches of the peace. “If a big black man got into the
street-car and pressed up against my wife, I would brain him!”

And again: “I was staying with a friend in Ohio last year—a man of
wealth and position—in a place where there are several well-to-do
coloured people, and where coloured children go to the same school with
the whites. I said to my host, ‘Does your wife take her coloured lady
friends driving with her?’ ‘No.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Oh, because she doesn’t want
to.’ ‘Your boy has a rig?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Does he ask the coloured girl friends
he made at school to drive out with him?’ ‘No.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Oh, he doesn’t
want to.’ ‘I’ll tell you why he doesn’t want to, and you don’t want him
to. It’s because, if he did, the girl’s brother would come to you, and
say, “I want to marry your daughter”—and you would brain him!”

A third time this phrase occurred in the Judge’s conversation—I forget
the precise context, but it referred to another instance of negro

I felt that, after all, the key to the Atlanta riot was not so far to
seek; nor could I feel in the spirit of Judge Mansfield any absolute
guarantee against the recurrence of such unpleasantnesses. None the less
do I remember him with kindness and respect. He was as fine a type of
the Southern gentleman of the old school as any I met in my travels.

That evening I spent at Atlanta University with Mr. W. E. B. Du Bois.
Twilight fell as we stood on the eminence which is crowned by the
University buildings, and looked out over a wide expanse of red Georgian
landscape. [Sidenote: Atlanta University.] The sunset had left behind it
a delicate rosy flush, and, just where it paled off into greenish blue,
the slender crescent of a new moon hung in the sky, with a glorious
planet above it. Behind us lay the city, with its 60,000 white men ready
to “brain” its 40,000 black and brown men on the slightest provocation.
Before us lay the silent country and the ineffable peace of heaven. A
mood of deep melancholy fell upon me as I reflected that under the
silence of the country the same passions were vibrating, and that the
peace of heaven was nearer, at any rate to this generation, than any
peace on earth.

The influence of the immediate surroundings, too, had something to do
with my mood. About Atlanta University there is nothing of the cheerful
energy and optimism of Tuskegee. This is a home of intellectual culture;
and intellectual culture, however necessary, can scarcely be
exhilarating to the negro race at this stage of its history. The more
you strive to break through the veil (to use Mr. Du Bois’ favourite
metaphor), the more keenly are you conscious of its galling and
darkening encumbrance. For assuredly it galls and darkens, whether it be
a real barrier or a figment conjured up by the pride and folly of man.

At all events, his culture, which is great, and his genius, which is not
small, have not made of Mr. Du Bois a happy man. With perfect
simplicity, without an atom of pose, he is and remains a singularly
tragic figure. [Sidenote: Professor Du Bois.] He is, perhaps, more
impressive than his book, able as that is. In some of its pages we are
conscious of a little rhetorical shrillness; but there is nothing of
this in the man. He is perfectly urbane and dignified; there is nothing
of the apostle, and still less of the martyr about him. He regards and
discusses phenomena with the calm of the trained sociologist. But
beneath his calm one is conscious of a profound bitterness of spirit. If
he is hopeful at all, it is for a day that he will never see; and, in a
man still in the prime of life, such hope is not very different from

I met no man in the South with whom I felt more at ease, or seemed to
have more in common. And yet, as we talked, there lurked in my mind a
sense of hypocrisy, almost of treachery. I could not frankly expose to
him my doubts as to whether the stars in their courses did not fight
against his racial ideal.

Of his very interesting conversation I shall here record only a few

“The problem in the South,” he said (almost echoing Mr. Shipton, of
Louisville), “is not that of the vagabond or the criminal, but of the
negro who is coming forward. That is why even the good people of the
South are taking their hands off, saying, ‘We can’t do anything.’

“The older generation of negroes had friends among the white people of
their own age; but the boys and girls now growing up have no white
friends. The younger white people have no feeling towards the negro but
dislike, founded on utter lack of comprehension.

“The race antipathy is fomented in the schools. The progressive negro is
held up as a bugbear to the white child, who is told to ‘Look out, or he
will get ahead of you!’ Fear, jealousy, and hatred are actively taught
to the rising generation of whites. But, after all, they are being
taught _something_, and that’s more than their fathers were. Where
intelligence increases there is always hope.”

At one point I did come near to hinting to Mr. Du Bois the doubt lurking
in my mind. I quoted to him this passage from “The Souls of Black Folk:”

  “Deeply religious and intensely democratic as are the mass of the
  whites (in the South), they feel acutely the false position in which
  the negro problems place them.... But ... the present social position
  of the negro stands as a menace and a portent before even the most
  open-minded; if there were nothing to charge against the negro but his
  blackness or other physical peculiarities, they argue, the problem
  would be comparatively simple; but what can we say to his ignorance,
  shiftlessness, poverty, and crime?”

“Now, tell me, Mr. Du Bois,” I said, “whatever these people may say, is
it not really just the other way about? The ignorance, shiftlessness,
etc., are manifestly temporary and corrigible; is it not precisely the
‘blackness and other physical peculiarities’ that are the true crux of
the problem?”

Mr. Du Bois smiled. “No,” he said; “that is the point of view of the
outsider, the foreigner. The Southerner, brought up among negroes, has
no such feeling.[41] In using the argument I there attribute to him he
is perfectly sincere.”


Footnote 41:

  Another negro writer, Mr. W. H. Thomas (“The American Negro,” p. 295),
  is still more emphatic on this point: “That colour is the prime cause
  of American prejudice against negroes is not to be believed for one
  moment. Every shred of authentic evidence disproves conclusions so
  preposterous.” Mr. Thomas goes on to argue that the condition of “the
  low class of whites” in the South is “infinitely inferior to that of
  the lowest plantation negro.” Somewhat similar is the view of a
  clergyman who writes to me from Clyde, Kansas: “The problem is simply
  one of _caste_, and the negro is the extreme example of the _labour
  caste_. The problem is one of aristocracy whatever the colour of the
  plebeians.... Whatever its professions, the South is still
  pro-slavery. It wants the negro, but it wants him as a slave. And it
  would want to enslave any other race that came to take his place.”
  Both of these views seem to me so manifestly paradoxical and excessive
  that I venture to maintain the position taken up in the text. At the
  same time, I would not be understood to mean that the difficulty lies
  in colour alone, apart from the “other physical peculiarities.” On
  this point a gentleman in Port Arthur, Texas, writes to me: “I have
  long had a feeling that negrophobia is not a matter of colour.... No,
  the thing that rouses a blind disgust—not superficial, not capricious,
  but deep-rooted—is the body odour, the flat nose, the thick lips, the
  suggestion of ‘slobber’ in the voice and the mouth-movements, together
  with the unnatural hair and the animalism of bodily contour at many
  points. I have often thought that some accidental discovery may at any
  moment put it in the African’s power to remove the dark pigment from
  his skin: if this ever happens, it will, I think, be found that the
  real repulsiveness of the negroid type has been merely unveiled, not

  Let me take this opportunity of saying that to the best of my belief
  the “body odour” of which we hear so much is mainly a superstition.
  The fact probably is that the negro ought to be at least as scrupulous
  in his ablutions as the white man—but often is not.


I refrained from pressing the point, but Mr. Du Bois’ answer did not
quite meet my difficulty. I had no doubt of the Southerner’s sincerity;
what I questioned was rather his self-knowledge, or (perhaps I should
say) his reading of race psychology. And that doubt, I own, remains.

If the Ethiopian could but change his skin, how trifling would be the
problem raised by his ignorance, shiftlessness, poverty, and crime!


Every one agrees that the most remarkable phenomenon in the recent
history of the South is the “wave of prohibition” which has passed, and
is passing, over the country. “There are 20,000,000 people in the
fourteen Southern States, 17,000,000 of whom are under prohibitory law
in some form.” “Yes, sir,” says Mr. Dooley, “in the sunny Southland ’tis
as hard to get a dhrink now as it wanst was not to get wan.... Why,
Hinnissy, I read th’ other day iv a most unfortunate occurrence down in
Texas. A perfectly respectable an’ innocent man, of good connexions,
while attemptin’ to dhraw a revolver to plug an inimy, was hastily shot
down be th’ rangers, who thought he was pullin’ a pocket-flask. Is no
man’s life safe against th’ acts iv irresponsible officers iv the law?”

Georgia led the way in “State-wide” prohibition, by a law which came
into force on January 1, 1908. This law nominally affected only fifteen
counties, since 135 out of the 150 counties in the State had already
“gone dry” under local option. But its importance is not to be measured
by the mere number of the counties affected; it lies in the stoppage of
the “jug trade” between “wet” counties and “dry.”

Alabama and Mississippi both passed Statewide prohibition laws which
came into force in January, 1909. A strong fight is being made for
State-wide prohibition in Tennessee, though “all but five of the
ninety-six counties in the State are now ‘dry’, and only three
cities—Memphis, Nashville, and Chattanooga—remain ‘wet.’” Though
Kentucky has over £30,000,000 invested in distilleries, the saloon has
been expelled from 94 out of 119 counties, and from the great majority
of its towns and cities. All over the South, in fact, the same tale is
being told—even where Statewide prohibition cannot as yet be carried,
local option is riddling the defences of the whisky trade.

[Sidenote: First-hand Evidence.]

Of course I made it my business to inquire into the effects of this
great movement, and, of course, I received many conflicting answers to
my inquiries.

Many people told me, just as they would in England, that “You can’t make
a man sober by Act of Parliament.” They enlarged on the evils of the
“blind tiger,” or illicit saloon. They sang to me the refrain:

                “Hush, little grog-shop, don’t you cry:
                You’ll be a drug-store by-and-by!“

They told me of the “clubs” where each member can keep his private
locker full of alcohol, and get drunk at his leisure. As for drink and
the negro (they said), what is the use of keeping whisky out of his way,
when in ten cents’ worth of a “patent medicine” he can find enough
cocaine to make him more dangerous than could a gallon of whisky?

On the other hand, I was told of a State in which the gaol-keepers, who
(strange to say) made their living out of catering for the prisoners
under their charge, applied for a special “grant-in-aid” on the ground
that prohibition had so depopulated their preserves that they could no
longer keep body and soul together.

This, though I believe it to be true, sounded a little like a
fairy-tale; so I thought I would go to headquarters for exact
information. Atlanta was the only city I visited where prohibition was
actually in force; so I betook me to Decatur Street Police-court, in the
middle of its lowest quarters. I arrived at a fortunate moment: it
happened to be the first of May, and Mr. Preston, the Clerk of the
Court, was just making up his statistics for April. He took the trouble
of looking up the records of the previous year for me, and gave me the
following figures:

Number of cases tried in the first four months of 1907 (before
prohibition), 6056.

Number of cases tried in the first four months of 1908 (after
prohibition), 3139.

Convictions for drunkenness before prohibition, 1955.

Convictions for drunkenness after prohibition, 471.

“Take it all round,” said Mr. Preston, “our work has been reduced by
just about one-half.”[42]


Footnote 42:

  In _Atlanta University Publications_, No. IX. p. 49 (published in
  1904, when as yet prohibition seemed scarcely within the range of
  practical politics), I find the following remarkable prophecy: “The
  fountain-head of crime among the negroes of Atlanta is the open
  saloon. There is no doubt but that the removal of strong drink from
  the city would decrease crime by half.”


I afterwards attended a sitting of this Court (Judge Broyle’s), when, in
a very light calendar, there was not a single case of drunkenness.

Oddly enough, no distinction of colour seemed to appear on the records,
but I gathered that about 75 per cent. of the prisoners who come before
Judge Broyle were negroes.

Of the negroes to whom I spoke of prohibition, all but one were strongly
in its favour. That one, Dr. Oberman of Memphis, thought that more real
good would be done by a “high licence.” Mr. Millard, of Montgomery, was
emphatic in his approval. “I believe we’re the ones that are going to
get the biggest part of the bargain,“ he said. “My people are going to
have better homes and look after their families better—to pay for their
schooling and pay their bills.” It is only fair to point out, however,
that this was pure prophecy, since in Montgomery prohibition had not
then come into force.

Being myself but a small consumer of alcohol, I was not irresistibly
impelled to study the various methods of evading the liquor laws. One
mild evasion of them I did come across at one of the “Country Clubs”
which are such a delightful adjunct to American city life. [Sidenote:
Club Law.] Here each member could by law have his locker; but it was
found an intolerable nuisance to carry the system literally into effect.
So, as a matter of fact, drinks did not come from any individual locker;
they were supplied from the club cellar in the ordinary way; only the
club must not be paid for them, since that would be a confession that
the member ordering them had not stored them for his own use. What,
then, was the method adopted? Members bought of the club books of
ten-cent coupons, and with these coupons they paid the waiters who
brought the drinks—not for the drinks, but for their services in
bringing them! It appeared to me a complex and rather childish fiction,
but probably it was no one’s business to look into its seams.

It was at this club that a Senator from an adjoining State, who had been
very active in the prohibition campaign, was found one day seated before
a “high-ball” of imposing dimensions. On being reproached for
inconsistency, he replied: “Prohibition is for the masses, not for the
classes.” A most un-American sentiment, some will say; but to my
thinking characteristically American.

In Savannah, Georgia, 147 “locker clubs” were organized the day after
prohibition came into force, one of them, a negro club, numbering 1700
members. But it will not be long before this evasion is dealt with. It
is held by able jurists that, even under the present law, such clubs are
illegal. In the mean time, I suppose they exist in Atlanta no less than
in Savannah; yet, as we have seen, the work of the police court has been
reduced by one-half.

As for “blind tigers,” there is no doubt that they follow in the track
of prohibition laws, and that it is fairly easy, for those who know how,
to procure bad liquor at high prices. [Sidenote: The “Blind Tiger.”] But
in the first place you have got to “know how;” in the second place, even
for those who know how, it costs more time, trouble, and money than it
did of old, to attain the requisite exhilaration; in the third place,
“blind tigers” can, and do, have their claws pared now and then. Most of
the people I spoke to, at all events, admitted that the evils of the
“blind tiger” are not to be compared with the constant temptations
offered by the open saloon.

That these evils are serious enough, however, appears from the following
brief paragraph which I cut from the _Atlanta Constitution_:

                         KILLED AT A BLIND TIGER.

  Nashville (Tenn.), April 29.—“At a blind tiger on Knott Creek,
  Kentucky, Henry Pratt, a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, shot and killed
  Howard Maunds, also aged thirteen. The boys were intoxicated, and the
  killing followed a game of cards.”

During the days I was in Atlanta, five blind-tiger keepers were
prosecuted and “bound over under bonds to the city court,” one in the
sum of £200, the rest in sums of £100. What this “binding over”
precisely means I cannot say, but it seems to be a painful process to
the animals in question, for I read that “their howls filled the court.”

One of the persons “bound over” was a doctor. It was noticed that his
practice had of late increased enormously. A stream of patients resorted
to his office at all hours of the day, till at last a plain-clothes
officer joined the stream. The doctor told him that he was out of
whisky, but could fix up a good substitute, which proved to be some form
of alcohol, tinctured with syrup, to take away the crude taste. Of this
beverage the officer purchased two half-pints at two different times,
and then ungratefully arrested his benefactor.

On another occasion a plain-clothes officer was told off to watch a
house where it was suspected that an illicit trade was carried on. Near
it he came upon a negro lounging against a fence.

“Nager,” said the constable, “do you know where a fellow can get a quart
of good whisky?”

“Naw, sir, I don’t; but mebbe I kin find some,” was the reply.

The constable handed him a dollar and a half, and told him to see what
he could do.

“Yessir,” said the negro. “Just you hold this shoe-box for me while I
step down the street a piece.”

The policeman held the carefully wrapped shoe-box, while his emissary
disappeared round the corner. For half an hour he waited in vain, then
searched the neighbourhood up and down, and returned to the station
enraged at having let himself be victimized. But when he investigated
the shoe-box, expecting to find it full of rubbish, behold! it contained
a quart bottle of whisky.

Such are the dodges to which the liquor-trade is reduced. But however
manifold and ingenious its sleights, I cannot be persuaded that it is so
easy to get drunk in Atlanta as it is in New Orleans, with its 2000 open
saloons—to say nothing of cities nearer home.

South Carolina was for some time, and is still partially, under the
“dispensary” system, the State undertaking the function of providing its
citizens with alcohol. The dispensary is open only during limited hours,
and no liquor may be drunk on the premises. This system has proved the
reverse of satisfactory from the point of view of the temperance
reformer, while corruption has fleeced the State of hundreds of
thousands of dollars in the purchase of its liquors.

There have been “waves” of prohibition in America before, which have
more or less receded as time went on. Will that be the history of this
wave? The best authorities do not think so.

[Sidenote: Has Prohibition Come to Stay?]

In the first place, as I have said before, the South is deeply and
earnestly religious. The Churches are all opposed to the liquor traffic,
and it has been said that “a proposition to restore it would encounter
from them almost the same reception as a proposition to restore a State
Church establishment.”

In the second place, the presence of the negro in the South is a tower
of strength to the prohibitionist.

In the third place, the rapid industrial revival of the South is making
men alive to the economic waste involved in the liquor traffic.

In the fourth place, prohibition has touched the patriotic imagination
of the South, which is a very lively faculty indeed.

On this subject I spoke to Dr. E. A. Alderman, President of the
University of Virginia. In that State local option has banished the
saloon from almost all the country districts and from most of the towns.
Charlottesville, the seat of the University, is, according to Dr.
Alderman, distinctly a better town since it “went dry.” Manners are
better, the standard of comfort is higher, there is more money to spend.

“It seems to me,” said Dr. Alderman, “that society has an absolute right
to protect itself against the evils of alcohol, just as it has the right
to take compulsory measures of sanitation. Whether the best method of
protection has as yet been reached, I won’t undertake to say. But I
think you may safely assume that in the Southern States the age of the
open grog-shop is past.”


Wherever I went in the South, one invariable experience awaited me, of
which I scarcely know how to write. A buggy was ordered out, and I was
trotted round to visit six or eight negro “homes.” I came to regard it
as an established ritual, and learned to use the responses expected of

It would be base and stupid were I to laugh at these simple people who,
in all good faith, and with a touching pride, which one felt to be more
racial than personal, displayed to me their household gods. As a rule,
indeed, I felt much more inclined to weep than to laugh. And yet, in one
aspect, the parade was irresistibly ludicrous. It was as though one were
led from window to window in Tottenham Court Road and asked to read, in
the dining-room, drawing-room, and bedroom “suites,” the capacity of the
British people for culture and civilization.

The point, of course, was to show what progress the coloured race had
made, in wealth, education, and refinement, during the forty years which
had elapsed since their emancipation. Statistics on this point, as we
have seen, are apt to be a little deceptive. It is generally assumed
that, after the Civil War, the race as a whole started in absolute
pauperism. But this is not the fact. There were at that time many free
negroes, and not a few who possessed a good deal of property.[43] Thus
the well-to-do, “home”-owning class of negroes is not entirely a
creation of the past forty years. In Charleston, for instance, there
were a good many negro slave-holders before the war; and I was told
(though for this I should not like to vouch) that negro property-owners
are now fewer in that city than they had once been, many of the younger
generation having dissipated the savings of their elders. I may add that
by far the most homelike of the homes I visited belonged to a
professional man who could not truly be said to have risen from slavery.


Footnote 43:

  See pp. 33 and 35. Mr. A. H. Stone declares to be “fallacies” the two
  widely-accepted opinions “that the negro began life forty years ago
  with nothing but his freedom, and that the period of his emancipation
  has been one of marvellous economic achievement.”—“The American Race
  Problem,” p. 150.


Nevertheless, the evidence of thrift and material prosperity among a
considerable class of negroes is undeniable and very striking. As I was
driven from home to home, other homes and institutions were pointed out
to me, with details as to the number of dollars they represented, until
my head swam, and I began to wonder whether I were not back among the
Vanderbilts and Goulds in Fifth Avenue. For when you get well up among
the tens of thousands, my power of grasping and comparing numbers very
soon fails me.

“The greater part of this street here to the left belongs to the richest
man in our community. He pays taxes on half a million dollars.” “There
are three or four homes in this street belonging to coloured people
worth from 25,000 to 75,000 dollars.” “That is an infirmary for negroes
donated by a carpenter who couldn’t read or write. It cost 50,000
dollars. It is supported by various coloured clubs, with contributions
from the county and the city.” Such was the unvaried strain as the buggy
rattled along.

But one thing I noticed with interest—my coloured cicerones were just as
ready to point with pride to the fine residences and institutions of
white men as to the homes of their own people. Whatever their grounds of
complaint against the other race, they were, so far as they were
suffered to be, loyal citizens of their State.

To one negro Crœsus I was personally introduced, and an interesting
type he was. [Sidenote: A Coloured Carnegie.] An old man—well on in the
sixties, I should say. He had no negro traits that I could discover, and
his complexion was the very lightest yellow. His shrewd, many-wrinkled,
crab-apple face would have been remarked in Europe as distinctly
American, but he would scarcely have been suspected of black blood. In
one respect he was ostentatiously millionairish, for every tooth in his
head was of gold. Moreover, he wore in his shirt front a splendid
diamond pin, which contrasted oddly with his otherwise plain and even
rustic attire.

He is a banker, a general trader, an owner of real estate—and a liberal
benefactor to his own people. He has established in the negro quarter of
the city where he lives a sort of garden and recreation-ground for his
race, which is all the more appreciated, as negroes, even when not
formally excluded from the public parks, are made very unwelcome in
them. In the recreation ground is a plain but well-designed and
commodious wooden theatre, where companies of negro actors frequently
appear. I am told there is a remarkable development of negro theatrical
art in several quarters, but was not fortunate enough to come across any
specimens of it.

The keen little walnut-skinned Carnegie-Chrysostom accompanied my guide
and me over the garden and theatre. He said very little, but he gleamed
appreciation of my guide’s remarks, all tending to impress on me his
manifold activities, his astuteness, his success, and his beneficence.
Yet one did not feel, as one would have felt had a white millionaire
been concerned, that the poorer man was guilty of adulation, the richer
of ostentation. There was something impersonal about it all. It was not
the men but the race who boasted. The hero of the song of praise was not
“I,” nor “he,” but “we.”

And what, now, of the “homes” themselves? [Sidenote: Villa Residences.]
Those that I saw were without exception what are called by English
house-agents suburban villa residences, which would command, in the
neighbourhood of London, rents of from £40 to £70 a year. They were very
nice little houses, scrupulously neat and well kept. They had (to my
mind) the advantage over English houses of the same class, in the sense
of spaciousness which comes with steam-heat and the consequent absence
of doors. In some the doorways were filled with bead curtains—hanging
strings of glass beads—which seem to be very popular just now in
coloured society.

The furniture was always modern and in excellent condition, with a great
deal of plush about it. Much of it conveyed the impression (not uncommon
in English villa residences) of being intended rather for show than use.
The wall-papers ran to large patterns, and were apt to be sombre in
tint. Every home, without exception, had its piano, sometimes with open
music on it. In the matter of pictures, nicknacks, etc., there was no
affectation of “culture.” Æstheticism—that “unanimity of æsthetic
appreciations” which so troubled Mr. Wells in Boston—has not yet
penetrated the negro home. I did not see a single Wingless Victory. The
works of art are simple to the point of primitiveness, and pleasing in
so far as they genuinely represent the taste of their owners. One
handsomely furnished parlour stands out in my memory, in which a showy
overmantel was flanked by two amazing glass transparencies in heavy gilt
frames, one representing a moonlit landscape and the other the Houses of
Parliament and Clock Tower at Westminster.

As a rule, I would be received by the lady of the house (her husband was
apt to be away at business) with the stock phrases of American
politeness. In the great majority of cases the lady would be a quadroon,
or lighter; and in one or two instances I fancy nature had been assisted
by a whiff of the powder-puff. My inspection generally stopped short at
the living-rooms on the ground floor; but sometimes I was admitted to
regions of more intimate domesticity. It was embarrassing; it was
ludicrous; it was, above all, pathetic.

With people of a corresponding class in England the first impulse would
have been to offer a visitor “refreshment” of some sort. Never once was
there a hint of anything of the kind on the part of my negro hosts. I
wondered, and am still wondering, whether it simply was not the custom
of the country, or whether they imagined that I would scruple to eat or
drink with them.[44]


Footnote 44:

  Mr. Kelly Miller (coloured), author of “Race Adjustment,” in an open
  letter to Mr. Thomas Dixon, Junr., says: “You will doubtless remember
  that when I addressed the Congregational Ministers in New York City,
  you asked permission to be present ... although you beat a precipitous
  retreat when luncheon was announced.” At the invitation of Professor
  Du Bois, I had the great pleasure of dining one evening with the
  (coloured) students of Atlanta University; and at Tuskegee I was most
  hospitably entertained in the house of the Principal. The (white)
  instructors at Hampton Institute take their meals apart from the
  students. For a cruel instance of “discrimination” in hospitality, see
  Du Bois: “The Souls of Black Folk,” p. 63.


Though I did not partake of their bread and salt, I have a sense of
perfidy in thus criticizing the interiors in which they took such a
simple pride. [Sidenote: Resolute Refinement.] But, after all, I was
there for no other purpose than to report what I saw and felt. What I
felt, then, was certainly admiration for the thrift and progressiveness
which were apparent on every hand; nor was it the unsophisticated order
of taste displayed in furniture and adornment that qualified my
admiration. Far be it from me to attribute any absolute superiority to
the standards of Brixton, or even of Boston. What troubled me throughout
my domiciliary visits was the sense that (with one or two exceptions)
these homes were not homes at all. I do not doubt that each roof
sheltered a home; but I do not believe that the prim parlours I saw had
any essential connection with it. They were no more homelike than the
shopwindow rooms of the up-to-date upholsterer. If they were lived in at
all, it was from a sense of duty, a self-conscious effort after a life
of “refinement.” They were, in short, entirely imitative and mechanical
tributes to the American ideal of the prosperous, cultivated home. I
could find in them no real expression of the individuality of their

Let it be remembered, however, that this is the first generation of
negro prosperity. Will the second or third generation really assimilate
the American ideal, or develop a “refined” domesticity of its own?

A remark of my guide on one of these expeditions summed up the phase of
culture as I saw it. “We have a little whist club in our set,” he said.
“We meet and play once a month. But the best part of it is the good
dinner at the end of the season.”

The whist club, so frankly characterized, guided me to the word I had
been searching for in the back of my mind through all these experiences.
It was the word “veneer.”

A very different class of negro was represented in the congregation of
the only church which I had an opportunity of attending.

[Sidenote: African Methodism.]

It was an African Methodist church—a spacious, airy building, capable, I
should think, of seating some 2000 people. It was not full, but fairly
well attended; and black, as distinct from brown or yellow, was the
prevailing complexion. Every one was quite decently dressed, some of the
women in gaudy colours, but many of them, too, in black. The gaudiest
colours were in the awful stained-glass windows, which seemed to be made
of salvage from the wreck of a cheap kaleidoscope. Two pastors sat on a
platform at the end of the hall. There were flowers on a table before
them; and, as it was a sweltering morning, each of them held a fan.

The whole service was conducted by one of them, a man of rather
Caucasian features, but of dark-brown tint. In the hymn-singing there
was nothing peculiar—it was fairly spirited and good. But after the
first few sentences of the prayer, ejaculations began to break forth.
Their precise meaning, if they had any, I did not catch. They seemed to
me like “Yes, oh yes!” They ought, according to the best authorities, to
have been “Hallelujah!” “Praise de Lord!” and such phrases; but I
certainly did not distinguish them. And presently they grew quite
inarticulate, passing over into wails, moans, and now and then a sort of
wild, maniac laughing and yodelling.

And the whole sermon, after the first five minutes, was accompanied by
similar manifestations. The text was, “Blessed are they that do hunger
and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” I have heard
many worse sermons than this competent, fluent, popular discourse, which
consisted mainly of an exposition of the overpowering strength of the
metaphor of “hunger and thirst.” “We may credit our backs,” said the
preacher, “but we must pay our stomachs; we can put the back off, but we
can’t put off the stomach.” (“Yes, oh yes!” shouts, moans, and wails.)
“No doubt most of you, before you came here, have had a good drink of
coffee or tea; but how many of you have had a real good drink from the
fountain of everlasting life?” (Confused sounds not unlike the yelpings
of a large kennel.) “If some of you didn’t eat and drink more physically
than you do spiritually, you’d be skeletons. That’s plain talk.”
(Shrieks, wails, and yodelling.) “Some of you good sisters are so
anxious to get your people’s breakfasses that you have no time to ask a
blessing on the work of the day.” (“Hu! hu!” “Bless de Lord!”—for once
articulate—moans, and shrieks.)

These are but fragments of the discourse, which lasted half an hour.
What particularly interested me, both in the prayer and the sermon, was
the action and reaction between speaker and audience. Never once did he
take any notice of the wild sounds, as a political speaker would almost
necessarily have done. I do not remember that he even paused for them;
his rhetoric seemed to flow smoothly on. In other words, he did not
openly “play to the gallery.” Yet there is no doubt that the hysterical
cries and ululations were of value to him. He worked them up, and they
worked him up. It must not be understood, however, that anything like
the whole congregation joined in the noises. They seemed all to proceed
from two or three definite points in the hall. One could almost have
supposed them the prearranged paroxysms of an epileptic claque.

I stole out, under cover of a hymn, at the end of the sermon, not sorry
to find myself once more in America. In the church (where I was the only
white or even approximately white person present) I could not but feel
that I was in Africa—slightly veneered.


For any disappointment I had felt in New Orleans, Charleston more than
compensated me. Mr. Owen Wister, in “Lady Baltimore,” has in no way
exaggerated its charm.

In situation it is not at all unlike New York, being built on a tongue
of land between the broad estuaries of the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers.
At the tip of the tongue (as in New York) is the Battery; but here the
Battery is a beautiful, semi-tropical garden, full of live-oaks,
palmettos, and flowering shrubs, with an esplanade overlooking the blue
expanse of the harbour, the historic Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, and
the low shores beyond. This garden is a fascinating spot. I returned to
it again and again during my stay in the city. Passing up Meeting Street
(the Broadway of Charleston), one finds, instead of the skyscrapers
which shoulder one another in the lower end of New York, the simple,
dignified old houses of a vanishing generation of Southern aristocrats,
each standing end-on to the street, in its little plot of lawn and
flowering shrubs. The typical Charlestonian house is a plain two or
three storey structure, entirely surrounded at each level with broad
verandahs and balconies. In several cases the floor area of verandah and
balcony outside the walls must at least equal the floor area of the
rooms inside the walls. Now, spacious verandahs always suggest to the
mind the lazy luxury of a genial summer-land, deep lounging-chairs, cool
drinks, and the glow of cigar-tips in the twilight. I am bound to say
that I saw very little of this sort of life proceeding in the verandahs
of Charleston; but that only enabled one all the more easily to people
them with the ghosts of fifty years ago, before the guns of Fort
Moultrie startled their calm. In Charleston I felt, almost for the first
time, that the romance of the Old South had once been a reality. All of
the South that I had hitherto seen had been remorselessly new.

Further up-town (as they would say in New York) the streets of
Charleston become more commonplace, but always retain a character of
their own. There is not a vestige of a sky-scraper in the whole
peninsula. On the other hand, the city is dotted with old churches of
the Wren style, each with its quiet burial-ground around it. Close to
St. Michael’s Church and in front of the City Hall, is a sadly mutilated
statue of the elder Pitt. It was erected in 1770, and its mutilation was
begun by a British cannon-ball in 1780.

Let me add that Charleston, like New Orleans, is proud of its
cemeteries, and with much better reason. Magnolia Cemetery, with its
live-oaks and its little lake, is a really lovely garden. One historic
live-oak of enormous size, draped in Spanish moss and with exquisite
little ferns growing along each of its huge boughs, is not only a
wonderful but an extraordinarily beautiful tree.

As to the population of Charleston my informants differed. [Sidenote:
“No Trouble.”] A white man placed it at 60,000 in all, with 40,000
negroes; a negro at 65,000, with 33,000 negroes. As there has been no
census since 1900, probably no one knows exactly; but it seems to be
admitted that the blacks more or less considerably outnumber the whites.
The white people, by their own account, pay nine-tenths of the taxes;
the negroes aver that their real estate is assessed at a million and a
half dollars—assessment representing only about 60 per cent. of actual
value. Both statements are very likely true.

White Charleston plumes itself on a peculiar and hereditary
understanding of the negro, and knowledge of the way to deal with him;
whence it happens that there has been “no trouble”—no outrages or
lynchings—in or around the city. Moreover, I was assured that negroes
were employed in the police force, and that not long ago there was a
black lieutenant of police, with white men under him.

But mark how the aspect of things alters according to the point of view
from which they are regarded! When I mentioned to a little group of
leading negroes this proof of the equal treatment accorded to the two
races, I observed on their countenances an expressive smile. On
inquiring its reason, I learned that there were indeed three coloured
policemen out of a total force of 106; that they and a few others had
been appointed at some long-past period of political compromise; and
that, when they die off, there is not the smallest chance of their being
replaced by men of colour. “Here, as elsewhere, the Irish control the
police force; and the Irish hate us worse than the native Americans.”

It was an odd group, this coloured conclave in which I found myself.
[Sidenote: The Negro and his Vote.] Only one member (a doctor) was
dark-brown in complexion; two were very light-brown; while two others,
again, were indistinguishable from white men. One reminded me strongly
of a choleric old Scotch General whom I once knew; the other was very
English in type, with smooth, silvery hair (prematurely white), and a
large, round, placid, bovine face. Meeting him in England, you would
have said he was a trifle sunburnt.

Their talk was mainly of their political grievances, and the various
methods by which their race, all over the Southern States, were jockeyed
out of their votes. Much of what they said I failed to follow; with a
good deal of it, on the other hand, I was already pretty familiar.

The different States of the South have adopted methods differing in many
details for excluding incompetent and undesirable voters from the polls;
but the general principle has always been much the same. It has been to
impose some slight test of education and intelligence (generally to read
and explain some paragraph of the Constitution) on all who desire to
have their names placed on the register.[45]


Footnote 45:

  It would appear that in Mississippi there are 15,000 registered negro
  voters out of a negro male population of voting age stated by the
  census of 1900 at 197,936, of whom 53 per cent. were illiterate. For
  four other States the numbers stand as follows:—

                  Registered negro    Negro males of     Percentage of
                      voters.          voting age.        illiterates.
 Virginia              23,000            146,122               52
 S. Carolina           22,000            152,860               54
 Louisiana              6,400            147,348               61
 N. Carolina            6,250            127,114               53

  In several States, according to Mr. E. G. Murphy (“The Present South,”
  p. 198), “Many negroes have been discouraged from offering to register
  by reason of the fact that the State organization of the party with
  which they have been associated recently refused to admit even their
  most respected representatives to its Conventions. [This is the
  ‘lily-white’ policy referred to by Mr. Shipton, p. 34.] Large numbers
  have also refrained from registration because of their unwillingness
  to meet the poll-tax requirement. The interest of the masses of the
  negroes in things political has, for quite different reasons, been
  much exaggerated by the representatives of both parties.”


If these tests were applied equally to the two races, the negro would
have no ground of complaint. But exceptions are made in favour of the
whites in the very laws establishing the tests. Most of them contain
clauses analogous to what is known in Alabama as the “grandfather
clause,” which provides that illiteracy shall not bar any one whose
father or grandfather was entitled to vote at the outbreak of the Civil
War. This exception is defended on the ground that even an illiterate
person of the original Anglo-Saxon stock (the South is nothing if not
Anglo-Saxon) is generally a very shrewd fellow, and eminently capable of
exercising the franchise. Under the “grandfather clause,” then, only
illiterate aliens and illiterate negroes are excluded from the register;
and this discrimination is naturally resented by the negro.

But if the matter stopped there, the black race would not feel
themselves so very much aggrieved. The real burden of their complaint is
not the inequality of the laws, but the inequality of their
administration. The tests of intelligence are applied (they declare) by
unscrupulous registrars, who will ask a white man some simple question,
such as whether imprisonment for debt is permitted, while they will pose
a negro with some impossible technicality concerning a bill of attainder
or an estate in tail. The upshot is that admission to the register
depends entirely on the arbitrary will and pleasure of the registrars.
Their decisions can be appealed against, but the appeal is said to be
practically useless.

Nor is this all. When a negro happens to be a man of such property,
education, and position that it is absolutely impossible to reject his
vote, there is always the last resource of omitting to count it. One of
the Charleston group spoke of a particular election in which he himself,
and others of his people to his certain knowledge, cast Republican
ballots; but the result, as announced, showed not a single Republican

On this matter, as on so many others, it is very hard to get at the
truth. White men aver, and will prove by statistics, that in proportion
to his taxation the negro has very fair voting power, and is freely
permitted to exercise it. But I met no single negro who would admit
this; and most of them, like my Charleston friends, were very bitter on
the question, as well as on the exclusion of even the most respectable
of their race from the councils, the “machine,” of their party.

A remark made by one of this very intelligent Charleston group struck me
as a curious comment on the belief of white Charleston that it has a
special genius for dealing with the black race. “We negroes,” said this
member of the race, “have no respect for the Southern white man’s
opinions or his prophecies. He has always prophesied wrong. This thing
is going to work out in the usual mysterious way, that the South will be
very much surprised over.”

I quote word for word. “The usual mysterious way” may seem an odd
phrase, but its meaning is not very far to seek.

In Charleston, under the guidance of a genial Southern gentleman placed
in high educational authority, I saw a good deal both of white and of
coloured schools. My guide was an enthusiast for negro education.
“What’s the good,” he said, “of talking about being a superior race if
you’re afraid to educate the negro? [Sidenote: White Negroes.] There’s
not much superiority in that.” He admitted with regret that
accommodation for negro children was very deficient, and said that those
who were fighting for better accommodation had been crippled by the
recent appointment of a negro to a Federal office in the town.

In a school containing twelve hundred black children, the fire alarm was
given, and in exactly three minutes every child was in the playground,
the whole school being ranged in “column of companies,” or, rather, of
classes. Assuredly, such discipline cannot but be salutary. It was in
this school too, that I heard five hundred negro children (most of them
quite small, for three-fourths of them drop out after passing through
the primary classes) singing in their clear, shrill voices—

                       “In Dixie Land
                       I take my stand,
                       To live and die in Dixie.”

Poor quaint little mortals! They were unconscious of any irony in the

In every negro school or college that I visited—at Tuskegee among the
rest—I saw several young people in whom my eye could not discern the
slightest trace of black blood.[46] But it was in Charleston, at an
endowed school for negroes, that the most remarkable instance of this
kind came under my notice. I was present at the morning muster of the
whole school; and while the hymn was being sung I could not take my eyes
off two boys of thirteen or fourteen, evidently brothers, who stood side
by side in one of the upper classes. They were not only white, but (one
would have said) peculiarly and resplendently white. Their features were
delicate and distinguished, their eyes blue or grey, their hair a light
brown. They were slightly built, and, although their dress was quite
plain, they had somehow an air of grace and breeding. They could have
gone to Eton or Winchester and excited no remark.


Footnote 46:

  See, however, p. 125.


Shall I confess that the contrast between these boys and the ebony and
chocolate manikins among whom their lot was cast stirred in me the race
instinct in all its unreasoning crudity? I wanted to swoop down upon
them and rescue them from what I felt for the moment to be their
horrible and unnatural surroundings. They seemed to me like children in
a fairy-tale, carried off by some tribe of brownies or gnomes. And who
shall say, indeed, that the impulse to rescue them was wholly quixotic?
If they remain in America, there can be no doubt that the life that lies
before them will be one of painful misunderstandings, heart burnings,
and humiliations.

Before leaving Charleston, let me record a curious little street-car
incident. [Sidenote: A Street-car Incident.] Coloured people, in this
city, are not confined to a special part of the car; but, each seat
being designed to accommodate two passengers, a coloured person and
white person must not sit side by side on the same seat. One afternoon I
was in a car which was full save for one place. The foremost seat on the
left hand was occupied by one negro girl, and there was, of course, a
vacant place at her side. Presently a white woman got in and sat down in
this place. “Hallo!” I thought, “here is a violation of the rule,”—and I
wondered what would happen. The conductor was equal to the occasion. The
foremost right-hand seat was occupied by a cadet of the Charleston
Military Academy in his neat grey uniform, and by a lady. The conductor
touched the cadet on the shoulder and whispered to him. The young man at
once stood up, the white woman who had last entered the car transferred
herself to his place, and for the rest of the journey the cadet hung on
to the strap, while the seat beside the negro girl remained vacant!

                         THE FRINGE OF FLORIDA

At Charleston I was in some sense at a parting of the ways. In order to
attend the Educational Conference at Memphis I had been compelled to
leave out Virginia and North Carolina from the itinerary I had
originally planned. Should I now return to New York, repairing this
omission—taking Raleigh, Richmond, the Hampton Institute, and other
interesting places, on my way? Or should I set my face once more
southward, and return to England by way of the West Indies?

Several considerations determined me in favour of the latter course.
Chief among them, perhaps, was the desire to visit the southernmost
portion of the United States—a portion unknown to the past, but destined
to figure largely in the history of the future—the Canal Zone of Panama.

Still, then, my motto was “Southward Ho!”

A slight misadventure frustrated my design of paying a short visit to
Savannah. [Sidenote: St. Augustine.] At Jacksonville, the capital of
Florida, I stayed just long enough to find it intolerably hot and
excessively uninteresting; though here, as almost everywhere else on the
east coast of Florida, a magnificent sheet of water (the St. John’s
River) compensates for the monotony of the surrounding country.

I hurried on to St. Augustine, with its huge and really picturesque
hotels (the Alcazar and the Ponce de Leon), its narrow, semi-Spanish
streets, its fine old fort of the Vauban period, its beautiful lagoon,
and (on Anastasia Island) its glorious stretch of silver-white ocean
beach. But there was no temptation to linger anywhere in Florida, for
the hotels were all shut up and the season was entirely over. I can
imagine that, in the season, the Plaza de la Constitucion at St.
Augustine is a busy and amusing spot. But no one could explain to me why
the great hotels, instead of being placed in view of the bay or (still
better) of the open sea, were huddled together, on no “situation” at
all, in the centre of the little town. There is no doubt some reason for
this; but it passed my divining.

Onward, then, by the Florida East Coast Railway, which is, if I am
rightly informed, practically the undivided property of Mr. Flagler, a
Standard Oil magnate. [Sidenote: The American Riviera.] (I heard the
Governor of the State, Mr. Broward, deliver an attack on its monopolist
pretensions in the Plaza at St. Augustine.) With a few hours’ pause at
Daytona, I went right on to Miami, which was, till lately, the terminus
of the railway—366 miles from Jacksonville.

Undoubtedly this margin of the great peninsula—this Riviera of the
United States—has a charm of its own. Physically, however, nothing could
be less like the Riviera. Here there are no Alps, no Esterels. There is
not even a molehill that can be magnified into a mountain. It is a
region of broad skies and broad waters, green scrub, and leagues on
leagues of smooth, white beach, with the blue ocean curling idly over
it. Apart from gardens and a very few neglected orange groves, I saw
absolutely not one patch of cultivation between St. Augustine and Miami.
The railroad would pass through miles of tangled scrub and acres of
dwarf palmetto; the most dreary and monotonous country imaginable. Then
suddenly a blue lagoon would open out, with delightful, low,
board-veranda’d houses skirting it, and rich tropical gardens running
down to the water’s edge. Then into the wilderness again, with only here
and there a clearance and a cabin, and here and there, I grieve to say,
acres of beautiful pine-trees bleeding to death for the enrichment of
some turpentine company.

Miami—known to the natives as My-ammy—has the air of a busy and
prosperous frontier town. It has the usual huge hotel, unusually well
situated, at the junction between a beautiful river and a beautiful
lagoon. Here we are quite clearly on the very verge of the
tropics—coco-nut palms abound on every hand; coco-nut husks cumber the
white shell roads; the gardens are full of hybiscus and other splendid
flowering shrubs; and everywhere the gorgeous poinsiana regia flames in
unabashed vermilion against the deep blue of the sky.

[Sidenote: An Ocean-going Railroad.]

A wonderful piece of engineering is the railway over the Florida
Keys—the low margin of islands, like those of the upper Adriatic, in
which the peninsula tails off. By this time it may be completed all the
way from Miami to Key West; but when I was there it had a half-way
terminus at Knight’s Key.

For an hour after leaving Miami the railway runs through an almost
unbroken pine forest. Here and there a rude cabin is visible, occupied,
no doubt by platelayers; but there is not a single clearing or attempt
at cultivation. Then, all of a sudden, the forest ceases, and we emerge
upon open swamp prairies, dotted with clumps of low green scrub. To the
north we can see the edge of the pine forest running off, like a black
wall, into the dim distance. For another hour or thereabouts we trail
through the coarse grass of the swamp prairies or salt marshes, broken
only by occasional channels of water. Of habitation or cultivation there
is no sign. Then we run out upon vast lagoons dotted with occasional
scrub-covered islands. The railroad is built on a piled-up causeway of a
sort of white shell-limestone—or is it, perhaps, coral?

On the whole, the outlook is rather monotonous; but there are patches of
beauty. I remember vividly a huge green lagoon, with a low green shore
beyond; in the foreground some sort of heron lazily flapping its way
over the surface; and in the distance the white sails of a fore-and-aft
schooner shining in the sun.

Then we pass through many miles of amazing and fantastic jungle. No
tree, perhaps, is over thirty feet high; but all are strangely contorted
and interwoven with vines and creepers—like the forest round the
Sleeping Beauty’s castle. A few clearings are burnt away in this jungle,
and things like banana trees are growing in them. But for an hour and a
half after leaving Homestead (the station at the edge of the pine
forest) I saw not a single human habitation.

Soon, however, we begin to catch occasional glimpses of the open
sea—iridescent and exquisite—through gaps in the outer barrier of reefs.
And now there are one or two houses to be seen. We stop at what seems to
be a station. Some one in the car calls to a negro navvy on the line:
“Say, what’s the name of this town?” Negro: “Illago, sa’.” Passenger:
“How many people live here?” Negro: “None at all, sa’.”

[Sidenote: Under the Palm-trees.]

Now we are practically out at sea, crossing miles of blue water between
the islands, sometimes on limestone (or coral?) causeways, sometimes on
long bridges of wooden trestles. At one point there lies, about half a
mile from the line, a little island, perhaps a mile long, entirely
covered with palm-trees, and with a single wooden house upon
it—suggesting an atoll of the Southern Seas.

At a place called Long Key we stopped for lunch. Long Key is a
settlement of some twenty one-storey wooden houses, all raised on piles
about four feet from the ground, and with every doorway and window
screened with wire gauze. The whole place is embowered in palms; and
under the palms, twenty yards from the green sea, a wooden counter had
been set up, with the word “lunch,” rudely painted on a shingle,
displayed above it. Two white women served behind the counter and
dispensed coffee (the milk poured through a gimlet hole in a tin),
sandwiches, coco-nut milk, and little packages of coco-nut candy. I had
never before tasted coco-nut milk and am not eager to quaff it again. It
suggests nothing so much as weak _eau sucrée_. The frugal meal, in its
romantic surroundings, was pleasant enough; but I could wish that the
wire-gauze screens had been run round the lunch-counter. It was a “quick
lunch”—only fifteen minutes allowed—yet when I returned to the train I
found my neck quite rough with mosquito-bites.

From Long Key we presently ran out on an immense viaduct, some two miles
long, I should say, of concrete arches. [Sidenote: Asia and Africa.]
Then again across jungle-covered islands and some smaller lagoons. Here
signs of life grew more frequent, for we were approaching the point
where the extension of the line is actively proceeding. The labourers
seem to be for the most part accommodated in huge house-boats, which we
saw here and there moored in convenient creeks and channels. The
majority, I think, are negroes, with a considerable intermixture of
“Dagos” and some East Indian coolies.

At one point we passed a large truck crowded with half-naked negro
navvies, who swarmed over it and clung on to it in every possible
attitude, grinning, joking, indulging in horse-play, so far as their
close quarters would allow—the very picture, in short, of good-humoured,
muscular animalism. And in the middle of the swarm, penned in on every
side, and yet utterly aloof, stood two turbaned Easterns; austere,
unbending, sombre, a trifle sinister. The negroes’ vivacity and humour
made them, in a way, more sympathetic, but, at the same time, threw into
relief the distinction of the Orientals. They looked like kings in exile
among a rabble of savages. “Mere Aryan prejudice,” you will say. Yes;
but that means that it is prehistoric and inveterate.

Knight’s Key is but a temporary settlement with a wharf, a railway yard,
and one or two warehouses. Thence the comfortable little steamship Miami
conveyed us in about five hours to Key West, and in another seven or
eight hours to Havana—from the New World to the Old.

                                PART II
                           THE PROBLEM FACED

                           THE PROBLEM FACED

The Southern States of North America at present offer to the world a
spectacle unexampled in history. It is the spectacle of two races, at
the opposite extremes of the colour scale, forced to live together in
numbers not very far from equal, and on a theoretic basis of political
equality. In other regions where white men and black have come into
close contact, the circumstances have been, and are, essentially
different. In the greater part of Africa the white man is a conquering
invader, living among blacks who are either entirely savage, or
obviously and confessedly but little removed from savagery. No question
of “social equality” arises, and the question of political rights, where
it presents itself at all, is uncomplicated by any predetermined
constitutional principle. In a large part of Spanish America there has
been so free an intermixture of many races that it is practically
impossible to draw any colour line. Families of pure European descent
may hold themselves apart, but few of these regions can by any strain of
language be called “white men’s countries.”[47] In the British West
Indies the whites are so small a percentage of the population as to
constitute a natural aristocracy; and in most of the islands the two
races live peaceably under the slightly tempered despotism of Crown
Colony government. Moreover, the white West Indian, even though he may
rarely cross the Atlantic, has always England behind him. He is a member
of a great white community, which happens to control certain tropical
islands, mainly inhabited by blacks. Here he may prefer to pitch his
tent; but his essential citizenship is still British. His social and
political relations with his black surroundings are not to him a matter
of life and death. Whatever their local interest and importance, they do
not touch the fountain-head of his polity, the homeland of his race.


Footnote 47:

  Mr. A. H. Stone (“The American Race Problem,” p. 230) points out that
  “the Latin’s prejudice of colour is nowhere as strong as the
  Teuton’s.” In the same excellent book I find this sentence quoted from
  “The Foundations of Sociology,” by Professor E. A. Ross: “North
  America from the Behring Sea to the Rio Grande is dedicated to the
  highest type of civilisation; while for centuries the rest of our
  hemisphere will drag the ball and chain of hybridism.”


But it is his only homeland that the Southern American finds himself
compelled to share, on nominally equal terms, with a race which,
whatever its merits or demerits, its possibilities or its
impossibilities, stands at the extreme of physical dissimilarity from
his own. This is a condition of life not easily understood by the
European, and not always very vividly realized even by the Northern
American. I have devoted some effort to realizing it, both by personal
observation and through the medium of books. The details of my
observations form the First Part of the present volume. In this Second
Part I propose to set forth some of the large and essential facts of the
situation, as nearly as I can ascertain them, and to state the general
trend of the reflections these facts have suggested to me.


In the first place, what are the facts as to the negro’s numbers,
distribution, and rate of increase, if any? They are not easy to
ascertain: partly because it is nine years since the last census was
taken (1900); partly because American vital statistics are very scanty,
and, where they can be obtained at all, are apt to be untrustworthy.

It would appear that, roughly speaking, one-third of the population of
the seventeen Southern States is black or coloured. As against some 3
per cent. of negroes in the Northern and Western States, there are about
33 per cent. in the South. The total coloured population of the United
States is generally set down at about ten million, nine million dwelling
in the South and something over one million in the North and West.[48]


Footnote 48:

  I jot down almost at random, as they occur in my notes, a few
  statements on the population question.

  Mr. W. B. Smith, author of “The Colour-Line” (a strongly anti-negro
  book), makes out that the negro population has since 1860 increased by
  about 1,100,000 per decade. Thus, in 1860, it stood at 4,400,000, and
  in 1900 at 8,800,000. Meanwhile the number of negroes per thousand of
  the whole population has been steadily declining. In 1860 it was 141
  per thousand; in 1900 only 116.

  In the census of 1900, which gave the total population of the United
  States as 75,994,575, the coloured population was set down at
  9,185,379, or 12·1 per cent.; but as the term “coloured” included
  351,394 Indians and Mongolians, the actual number of negroes is
  reduced to 8,833,985. The coloured population of the South Atlantic
  and South Central States is given at 8,001,557; and as Indians and
  Mongolians are few in these regions, we may take it that the number of
  negroes was nearly eight millions. The white population of these
  States numbered 16,521,960, of whom only a little more than 2 per
  cent. were foreign-born, as against 22·5 per cent. in the North
  Atlantic division, and 15·8 per cent. in the North Central division.
  But, no doubt, the next census will show a much higher percentage of
  foreign-born whites in the South. See tables in “The Present South,”
  by E. G. Murphy.

  From a carefully argued statistical paper by W. F. Willcox in Stone’s
  “Studies in the American Race Problem,” it appears that, taking
  periods of twenty years together, the percentage of increase in the
  negro population of the United States has steadily declined. In
  1800-1820 it was 76 per cent., in 1880-1900 it was only 34 per cent.
  Mr. Willcox places the “maximum limit of probable negro population a
  century hence” at 25,000,000, and thinks that by that time the negroes
  will constitute only 17·8 per cent. of the population of the Southern
  States, instead of 32·4 per cent. as at present.


Now, are the negroes increasing? It used to be thought that they were
multiplying very rapidly. Judge Tourgée, in 1884, prophesied that by
1900 they would outnumber the whites in every State from Maryland to
Texas. This prediction is far from having fulfilled itself, and appears
to have been based on defective enumeration in the census of 1870, which
made the rate of negro increase between 1870 and 1880 seem quite
inordinate. Now speculation has gone to the other extreme, and
prophesies the not very distant extinction of the negro. This view is
set forth with uncompromising emphasis by Mr. P. A. Bruce in his “Rise
of the New South” (Philadelphia, 1905):

  The only cloud of any portentousness hanging over the prospects of the
  Southern States is the continued expansion of the black population....
  The fact, however, that the white inhabitants, as a body, are steadily
  outstripping the black in numbers, is an indication that the evils
  which are now created by the presence of so many negroes in the South
  will not relatively and proportionately grow more dangerous.... When
  the development of the Southern States along its present lines has
  reached its last stage, there is reason to think that an even greater
  relative decline in the numerical strength of the black population
  will set in. We have already pointed out the probable effect of the
  subdivision of Southern lands, and the growth of Southern towns, on
  the numerical expansion of the negro race. As injurious to that race
  in the end as being shut out of the general field of agriculture, or
  being subjected to an abnormally high rate of mortality, will be the
  relentless competition which is one of the conditions of modern life
  in all civilized communities. The vaster the growth of the Southern
  States in wealth and white population, the sharper and more urgent
  will be the struggle of the black man for existence. In order to hold
  even his present position as a common labourer he will have to exert
  himself to the utmost, and in doing so to submit to a manner of life
  that will be even more unwholesome and squalid than the one he now
  follows, and sure to lead to a great increase in the already very high
  rate of mortality for his race. The day will come in the South, just
  as it came long ago in the North, when for lack of skill, lack of
  sobriety, and lack of persistency, the negro will find it more
  difficult to stand up as a rival to the white working-man. Already it
  is the ultimate fate of the negro that is in the balance, not the
  ultimate fate of the Southern States in consequence of the presence of
  the negro. The darkest day for the Southern whites has passed.... The
  darkest day for the Southern blacks has only just begun.

When I find this forecast cited with approval by Dr. E. A. Alderman of
the University of Virginia, it acquires some authority in my eyes; but
still it seems far from convincing. It leaves out of account one
probability and one certainty. The probability is that what may be
called the Hampton-Tuskegee movement—industrial education and moral
discipline—will in time so leaven the mass of the negro race as to make
it fitter to compete with white labour, and abler to resist the
destructive influences on which Mr. Bruce dwells with such gusto. I call
this a probability, not a certainty, for it is hard to tell as yet
whether the Hampton-Tuskegee spirit is really leavening the mass, or
only playing upon the surface. The industrial college at Hampton is
barely forty years old; Mr. Booker Washington’s great institute at
Tuskegee came into being less than thirty years ago; and the minor
offshoots of the movement are, of course, still younger. They have not
had time to give any just measure of their influence in promoting the
self-respect and the efficiency of the negro race. But there is no doubt
whatever that they are doing a remarkable and (from the negro point of
view) a beneficent work; the only doubt being as to whether the work is
or is not proceeding fast enough to overtake and counteract the forces
that make for degradation.[49]


Footnote 49:

  Mr. Thomas Nelson Page, in the third chapter of “The Negro: The
  Southerner’s Problem,” takes a pessimistic view, arguing that the
  apparent progress of the coloured population is “confined to the upper
  fraction of the race,” while “the other nine-tenths, far from
  advancing in any way, have either stood stagnant, or have
  retrograded.” His argument leaves me unconvinced; and I think he gives
  too much weight to the evidence of Mr. William Hannibal Thomas, author
  of “The American Negro,” whose invectives against his own race are too
  virulent to be accepted without the utmost caution.


This, I say, is doubtful; but what is scarcely doubtful is that the
South, for its own sake, cannot suffer Mr. Bruce’s prophecy to fulfil
itself. The gist of the forecast is, briefly, this: the rural negro, who
is admittedly prolific, and whose children survive in fair proportions,
will gradually be driven into the towns, where all possible influences
are leagued against his moral and physical well-being, and where the
rate of negro mortality, both infant and adult, is always very high and
often appalling. Thus, according to Mr. Bruce, the “Afro-American” is
being inexorably hounded into the jaws of death, and must in due time
perish from off the face of the earth. But what is to be the state of
the South while this amiable prophecy is working itself out? If the
towns are the jaws of death to the negro, what are they to the white man
and his children? Putting all question of humanity aside, can any sane
civic policy permit negroes to crowd in their thousands into city slums,
and there to die like flies in conditions “even more unwholesome and
squalid” than those which at present obtain? Why is the rate of negro
mortality so high? Simply because the black folk are less able than the
whites to resist the poisonous influences of bad sanitation, moral as
well as physical. But bad sanitation, though it may be more fatal to one
race than to the other, inevitably takes its toll of both. Hear what a
Southern health officer has to say on this point:

  We face the following issues: First: one set of people, the Caucasian,
  with a normal death-rate of less than 16 per thousand per annum, and
  right alongside of them is the negro race, with a death-rate of 25 to
  30 per thousand. Second: the first-named race furnishing a normal, and
  the second race an abnormal, percentage of criminals.... The negro is
  with you for all time. He is what you will make him, and it is “up to”
  the white people to prevent him from becoming a criminal, and to guard
  him against tuberculosis, syphilis, etc. _If he is tainted with
  disease, you will suffer: if he develops criminal tendencies, you will
  be affected._

What can be more certain than this? And is it to be conceived that the
South will deliberately refrain from looking to its physical and moral
sewerage until the negro shall have been killed off?[50]


Footnote 50:

  There seems to be no doubt that the economic and social future of the
  South must be radically influenced by the campaign against the
  hookworm—uncinaria—which, financed by Mr. Rockefeller, is being
  actively set on foot. This intestinal parasite, which works its way in
  through the skin, has only of late years been recognized and studied;
  and as yet scarcely a beginning has been made in that cleansing of the
  polluted soil which is the obvious and only method of mastering the
  pest. Both races suffer from it, but the negro far less than the
  white; and it is said that the laziness and shiftlessness of the “po’
  white trash” of the South is almost entirely due to the terrible
  anæmia produced by its ravages. If this “poor white” population could
  be converted from two million degraded paupers into as many healthy
  and industrious citizens, the effect on the labour-market would
  certainly be far-reaching. The disease ought to be a comparatively
  easy one to stamp out; and, even when infection has occurred, it
  commonly yields, in early stages, to a simple treatment.


It is not to be conceived, and it is not what is happening. Better
sanitary conditions are everywhere being secured, though the movement is
slow in the cities of the South. In the North a great improvement has
already been effected. In a report on “The Health and Physique of the
Negro American” (_Atlanta University Publications_, No. XI., 1906) we

  Ten years ago the [negro] death-rate was twice the birth-rate in New
  York; to-day they are about the same, with the death-rate steadily
  decreasing and the birth-rate increasing. Ten years ago the birth-rate
  of Philadelphia was less than the death-rate; to-day it is six per
  thousand higher.... With the improved sanitary condition, improved
  education, and better economic opportunities, the mortality of the
  race may, and probably will, steadily decrease until it becomes

If there is any permanence and any efficacy in the “wave of prohibition”
that is passing over the South, it must certainly cause a great
reduction in negro mortality; and it surely cannot be long before means
are found to check the vending of noxious drugs. Unless, in short, the
civilization of the South is to stand still while the negro dies off,
there seems to be little likelihood of his fulfilling Mr. Bruce’s
prognostic. This great and beautiful region cannot possibly find its
salvation in making itself a hell for the negro.

When I quoted to Mr. Booker Washington Mr. Bruce’s death-sentence on his
people, he was moved to one of his rare laughs. In Mr. Washington’s
opinion, which may very well prove to be correct, the natural increase
of the negro in the South about keeps pace with that of the white man.
The white race, however, is being largely recruited by immigration, so
that its numerical preponderance is doubtless increasing. It would
appear, then, that, unless conditions very greatly alter, there is
little chance of the black race out-breeding and submerging the white,
but equally little chance of the black race being obliging enough to die
out. “Conservative” statisticians estimate that at the close of this
century there will be anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five million
negroes in America.[51]


Footnote 51:

  See foot-note, p. 190. The American use of the word “conservative,” as
  employed above, is curiously illustrated in this sentence from “The
  American Race Problem,” p. 247: “The position of the more
  conservative, or liberal, section of opinion was that of attempting to
  show the folly and injustice of attacking Roosevelt by an argument
  based upon a comparison of the number of negro appointments during his
  and McKinley’s administrations.”


Taking the Southern States at large, then, we find that one person out
of every three is wholly or partly of African blood. It is sometimes
maintained that really pure-bred negroes are very rare; but this seems
to be a mistake. Professor W. E. B. Du Bois, himself a man of mixed
origin and not likely to underestimate the number of his own class,
thinks that in two-thirds of the negroes of the United States there are
no “recognizable traces” of white blood. He adds that white blood
doubtless exists in many who show no trace of it; but for practical
purposes this speculation may be disregarded. I think we may take it as
pretty certain that if, in the South, one person out of every three is
of African descent, one person out of every four is either actually or
virtually a full-blooded negro. But it must not be supposed that the
distribution of the races is by any means even. Some districts, such as
the mountainous regions of Tennessee and West Virginia, contain hardly
any negroes; while in other districts, not a few, the blacks largely
outnumber the whites. These are, no doubt, the districts in which the
pure-bred black most abounds.


Having ascertained, approximately, the numerical relations of the two
races, we are now in a position to consider the problem or problems
involved. And first we are confronted with the question, “Is there any
real problem at all?”

Some people deny it, or at all events maintain that the problem is
created solely by the almost insane arrogance and inhumanity of the
Southern white man. This view lingers in the North, among the inheritors
of the old abolitionist sentiment. In England, it has been roundly
expressed by Mr. H. G. Wells, and somewhat more considerately by even so
high an authority as Sir Sydney Olivier. I need scarcely say that it is
a very popular view among the negroes in the South itself.

For a typical (though moderate) American utterance of this opinion the
following may suffice. It is a passage from “Race Questions and
Prejudices,” by a distinguished psychologist, Professor Royce of Harvard
(_International Journal of Ethics_, April, 1906):

  Scientifically viewed, these problems of ours turn out to be not so
  much problems caused by anything which is essential to the existence
  or to the nature of the races of men themselves. Our so-called race
  problems are merely the problems caused by our antipathies.... Such
  antipathies will always play their part in human history. But what we
  can do about them is to try not to be fooled by them, not to take them
  too seriously, because of their mere name. We can remember that they
  are childish phenomena in our lives, phenomena on a level with a dread
  of snakes or of mice, phenomena that we share with the cats and with
  the dogs, not noble phenomena, but caprices of our complex nature.

The attitude of the South, then, in the conception of Professor Royce,
is no more rational than that of a woman who shrieks, jumps on a chair,
and gathers her skirts about her ankles, because a mouse happens to run
across the floor. I should have thought that the wiser tendency of
modern science was to divine something more than a “caprice” in so
deep-rooted an instinct as the dread even of mice. As for the dread of
snakes, it was surely by a slip of the pen that Professor Royce adduced

Not at all dissimilar is the judgment of Mr. H. G. Wells. Hearing a
great deal of loose, illogical, inconclusive talk on the colour
question, and having himself taken a “mighty liking” to these “gentle,
human, dark-skinned people” as he saw them in a Chicago music-hall and
elsewhere, Mr. Wells formed the opinion that there was no reason at all
in the Southern frame of mind. His conclusion is that “these emotions
are a cult;” and by a cult he evidently means a contagious, fanatical

Now, Mr. Wells is a man for whose essential wisdom I have a very high
respect. If I were bound to acknowledge myself the disciple of any
living thinker, I should have small hesitation in selecting him as my
guide and philosopher. But his chapter on “The Tragedy of Colour” in
“The Future in America” is tinged with what I cannot but take to be a
dogmatic impatience of all distinctions and difficulties of race. Before
writing it, he might, I think, have asked himself whether the theory of
sheer race-monomania was not, perhaps, a rather too simple way of
accounting for “emotions” felt with absolute unanimity (in a greater or
less degree) by some twenty million Southern white people. The arguments
he heard might be weak, ill-informed, inconclusive; the conduct in which
the emotions expressed themselves might often be indefensible and
abhorrent; and yet there might lie at the root of the emotions something
very different from sheer unreason. I think Mr. Wells should have been
chary of “indicting a nation” without more careful reflection and a
closer scrutiny of evidence.

Sir Sydney Olivier, on the other hand, speaks with the authority of one
who has spent many years in close contact with negroes, having been a
successful administrator of large communities in which they greatly
preponderate. It is impossible to suspect him of hastiness or of _à
priori_ doctrinairism. What, then, is his view? In his “White Capital
and Coloured Labour” (1907), he tells us that both in visiting the
United States and in discussing race questions with American visitors to
Jamaica, “he found himself, as a British West Indian, unable to entirely
account for an attitude of mind which impressed him as superstitious, if
not hysterical, and as indicating misapprehensions of premises very
ominous for the United States of the future.” He proceeds:

  The theory held in the Southern States of America and in some British
  Colonies, comes, in substance, to this—that the negro is an inferior
  order in nature to the white man, in the same sense that the ape may
  be said to be so. It is really upon this theory that American
  negrophobia rests, and not only upon the viciousness or criminality of
  the negro. This viciousness and criminality are, in fact, largely
  invented, imputed, and exaggerated, in order to support and justify
  the propaganda of race exclusiveness (p. 43).

And again, in another part of his book:

  My argument has been that race prejudice is the fetish of the man of
  short views; and that it is a short-sighted and suicidal creed, with
  no healthy future for the community that entertains it (p. 173).

I have very real diffidence in contesting the deliberate judgment of a
man like Sir Sydney Olivier on a question which he has deeply studied;
but I cannot believe with him that the problem is simply one of Southern
unwisdom. On the contrary, I believe that, however unwise in much of her
talk and her action, the South is in the main animated by a just and
far-feeling, if not far-seeing, instinct. That there has been an
infinitude of tragic unwisdom in the matter, not in the South alone, no
one nowadays denies. But I believe that the problem, far from being
unreal, is so real and so dishearteningly difficult that nothing but an
almost superhuman wisdom, energy, and courage will ever effectually deal
with it.

Let me try to give my reasons for this belief.


No one, I suppose—not even Mr. Wells—would deny that the importation of
the African into America was an egregious blunder as well as a monstrous
crime. Without him the South would perhaps have developed more slowly
during the eighteenth century; but she would have escaped the arrest of
development which sums up her history during the nineteenth century. She
would have escaped the war by which she strove, with misguided heroism,
to perpetuate that arrest of development. She would have escaped the
“horrors” of that Reconstruction period which still haunts her memory
like a nightmare. She would have escaped the prostration and
impoverishment from which she is only now beginning—though very
rapidly—to recover. The negro has assuredly been her calamity in the
past. To say, as negro writers often do, that he has created her wealth,
is to ignore the appalling price she has paid for him. Much more truly
may he be said to have created her poverty.[52]


Footnote 52:

  In this connection it is perhaps worth noting that the hookworm—that
  “vampire of the South”—is now pretty clearly proved to be an
  importation from Africa. On the other hand, it is a far greater
  scourge to the white than to the black race, the negro possessing a
  power of resistance to its ravages which amounts almost to immunity.


This, however, is certainly not the negro’s fault. He did not thrust
himself upon the South: he was no willing immigrant. Historic
recriminations, therefore, are perfectly idle—as idle as the attempts of
Southern writers to shift responsibility for the slave trade to the
shoulders of the New England States. I cast a glance back at history
merely to remind the reader that the presence of the negro in America is
not the result of a natural movement, an inevitable expansion, a
migration springing from economic necessity or from deep impulses of
folk-psychology. It is, on the contrary, the outcome of what may almost
be called a disastrous accident—of inhuman cupidity in the slave-dealers
and economic short-sightedness in the slave-owners.

The upshot, as we find it to-day, is that in a magnificent country, well
outside the torrid zone, and eminently suited to be the home of a white
race, one person in every three is coloured, and one person in every
four is physically indistinguishable from an African savage. It would be
the extravagance of paradox to maintain that this is a positively
desirable condition, preferable to that of a country which presents a
normal uniformity of complexion. England, for instance, would certainly
not be a more desirable place of residence if one-fourth of her
population were transmuted into the semblance of Dahomeyans, even
supposing that the metamorphosis involved no moral or intellectual
change for the worse. A monochrome civilization is on the face of it
preferable to such a piebald civilization as at present exists in the
Southern States.

Here at once, then, we have a difference between the South and the West
Indies, which Sir Sydney Olivier seems strangely to overlook. The West
Indies are not climatically fitted to be a “white man’s land”; or, if it
was ever possible that they should become one, the chance was lost at
the very outset of their history. They are once for all black men’s
lands, with a sprinkling of whites governing and exploiting them. It
would be much more reasonable for the black to chafe under the dominance
of the white, than for the white to resent the presence of the black.
But the case in the Southern States is absolutely different. They were
explored, settled, organized by white men; by white men their liberties
were vindicated. They are fitted by their climate and resources to be
not only a white man’s land, but one of the greatest white men’s lands
in the world. The black man came there only as a (terribly ill-chosen)
tool for their development. When the tool ceases to be a tool and claims
a third part of the heritage, the “peripeteia” is no doubt dramatic and
exceedingly moral, but none the less exasperating to a generation which,
after all, was personally innocent of the original crime-blunder. No one
enjoys playing the scapegoat in a moral apologue; and the Southern white
man would be more than human if he accepted the part with perfect
equanimity. At any rate, the West Indian white man has no right to
assume an air of superior virtue until the conditions of his case are
even remotely analogous. The negro in the West Indies is the essence and
foundation of life: in the United States he is a regrettable accident.


It is time now that we should look more closely into the conditions of
this piebald community which a violent interference with the normal
course of race-distribution has established in the Southern States.

The future seems to contain four possibilities, or, rather,
conceivabilities, which may be examined in turn.

(1) Things may “worry along” in the present profoundly unsatisfactory
condition, until the negro gradually dies out.

(2) The education of both races, and the moral and economic elevation of
the black race, may gradually enable them to live side by side in mutual
tolerance and forbearance, without mingling, but without clashing.

(3) Marriage between persons of the two races may—I mean might
conceivably—be legalized, and the colour-line obliterated by

(4) The negro race might be geographically segregated, by deportation or
otherwise, and established in a community or communities of its own.

The first eventuality—the evanescence of the negro race—we have already
examined and seen to be highly improbable. Let me only add here that
there is one way in which it might conceivably be brought about—a way
too horrible to be contemplated, yet not wholly beyond the bounds of
possibility. The recurrence of such an outbreak as the Atlanta riot of
1906 might lead to very terrible consequences. On that occasion the
white mob found the negroes unarmed, and wreaked its frenzy practically
unopposed. But the lesson was not lost on the negroes, and a similar
onslaught would, in many places, find them armed and capable of a
certain amount of resistance. In that case one dares not think what
might happen. Their resistance could scarcely be effectual, in the sense
of intimidating and checking white violence. It would, on the contrary,
infuriate the mob, and lend some show of justification to their
proceedings; while the frenzy would spread from city to city, and the
result might quite well be one of the darkest pages in American or any
other history. Once let a dozen white men be killed by armed negroes in
any city of the South, and a flame would burst out all over the land
which would work untold devastation before either authority or humanity
could check it. The incident would be taken as a declaration of racial
war; everywhere the white mob would insist on searching for arms in the
negro quarters; the negroes would inevitably attempt some panic-stricken
defensive organization; and the more effective it proved, the more
terrible would be the calamity to their race. Not even in the wildest
frenzy, of course, could the race, or a tenth part of the race, be
violently wiped out; but they might be so dismayed and terrorized as to
lose that natural buoyancy of spirit which has hitherto sustained them,
and enabled them to increase and multiply. The prophets of extinction
already read hopelessness and a prescience of doom in the negro tone of
mind; but, so far, I think the wish is father to the thought. The race,
as a whole, is confident, in its happy-go-lucky way. But would their
spirit survive a great massacre, followed by an open and chronic
_Negerhetze_? I doubt it; and I believe it possible that in this way Mr.
P. A. Bruce’s prophecy might be realized more rapidly than he

It would be an exaggeration to say that the South lives on the brink of
such a horror; but there is no denying that the elements are present
which might one day bring it to pass.[53] Sir Sydney Olivier is quite
right in calling the feeling of a large class of Southerners towards the
negro “hysterical” and ungoverned; and this is just the class that is
handiest with its “guns.” Long and laborious treatises have been written
to prove, on Biblical evidence, that the negro is a “beast,” and, on
scientific evidence, that he is more nearly an ape than a man. These
works, no doubt, are scarcely sane; but their insanity is by no means
peculiar to their individual authors. The word “extermination” is
gravely spoken by men who are not therefore held to be maniacs or even
monomaniacs. The South, says Mr. W. E. B. Du Bois, is “simply an armed
camp for intimidating black folk”; and where such a condition prevails,
the possibility of sudden disaster is never far off. To recognize the
possibility is not to bring it nearer, but rather to indicate the urgent
need of measures that shall place it infinitely remote.


Footnote 53:

  “It has become the fashion of late for certain negro leaders to talk,
  in conventions held outside the South, of fighting for their rights.
  For their own sake and that of their race, let them take it out in
  talking. A single outbreak would settle the question.”—T. N. Page:
  “The Negro: The Southerner’s Problem,” p. 281.



We pass now to the second eventuality—the gradual smoothing away of
friction, so that the two races may live side by side, never blending
and yet never jarring. This is the conception set forth in Mr. Booker
Washington’s celebrated “Atlanta Compromise” speech of 1895, wherein he
said, “In all things purely social we can be as separate as the five
fingers, and yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual
progress.” Is this a possible—I will not say ideal, for that it
manifestly is not—but a possible working arrangement?

One thing is evident at the outset—namely, that the fourteen years that
have elapsed since Mr. Washington uttered this aspiration have brought
its fulfilment no nearer. Both negro education and white education have
advanced in the interim; the “respectable” and well-to-do class of
negroes has considerably increased; but the feeling between the races is
worse rather than better. Mr. Thomas Nelson Page used to say,
“Northerners espouse the cause of the negro as a race, but dislike
negroes individually; while Southerners do not dislike negroes
individually, but oppose them as a race.”[54] Ten years ago there was a
large element of truth in this saying; but it becomes less and less true
with every year that passes. The old-time kindliness of feeling between
the ex-owner and the ex-slave is rapidly becoming a mere tradition. No
common memories or sentiments hold together the new generations of the
two races; they are growing up in unmitigated mutual antipathy. At best,
indeed, the Southern kindliness of feeling towards the individual negro
subsisted only so long as he “knew his place” and kept it; and the very
process of education and elevation on which Mr. Washington relies
renders the negro ever less willing to keep the place the Southern white
man assigns him. In the North, too, while the dislike of the individual
has greatly increased, the theoretic fondness for the race has very
perceptibly cooled. Altogether, the tendency of events since 1895 has
not been at all in the direction of the Atlanta Compromise. The Atlanta
riot of eleven years later was a grimly ironic comment on Mr.
Washington’s speech.


Footnote 54:

  This distinction is illustrated by the anecdote of a negro in a
  Northern city going from door to door of a long street, asking for
  work and food, and being everywhere met by a polite and regretful
  refusal. At last he came to a door which was flung open by a man, who
  thus addressed him: “You d——d black hound, how have you the impudence
  to come to the front door! Go to the back door, ask for a broom, and
  sweep out the yard.” “Bless de Lord!” said the negro, “He’s led me to
  my own Southern people at last!”


This merely means, it may be said, that education has as yet produced no
sensible effect upon the inveterate and inhuman prejudice of the South.
Nevertheless, time and patience may justify Mr. Washington’s optimism.
There is no saying, indeed, what a great deal of time and a great deal
of patience may not effect. Meanwhile, let us see what is really
involved in the idea of the Atlanta Compromise.

We are to conceive, in the first place, an immense advance in the negro
race—an advance in education, industry, thrift, and general efficiency.
Well, this is possible enough—the negro is certainly civilizable, if not
indefinitely, at any rate far beyond the average level he has yet
attained. Negro crime might easily be reduced within normal limits; for
the race is not inherently criminal, but is rendered so by ignorance,
poverty, vice, injustice, and a thoroughly bad penal system. The next
fifty years, if present influences continue to work unimpeded, may see a
very large increase in the class of law-abiding, property-holding
negroes, and possibly a considerable improvement even in the condition
of the black proletariat. But supposing that, by the exercise of
infinite patience for fifty or a hundred years, a condition something
like that indicated in the Atlanta formula were ultimately attained,
would it be desirable? and could it be permanent?

The assumed improvement of conditions would, of course, imply a steady
increase in the numbers of the black race; so that, even with the aid of
immigration, the white race would probably not greatly add to its
numerical superiority. Let us suppose that at the end of fifty years the
coloured people were not as one in three, but as one in four, and that
this ratio remained pretty constant. Here, then, we should have a nation
within a nation, unassimilated and (by hypothesis) unassimilable,
occupying one-fourth of the whole field of existence, and performing no
function that could not, in their absence, be at least as well performed
by assimilable people, whose presence would be a strength to the
community.[55] The black nation would be a hampering, extraneous element
in the body politic, like a bullet encysted in the human frame. It may
lie there for years without setting up inflammation or gangrene, and
causing no more than occasional twinges of pain; but it certainly cannot
contribute to the health, efficiency, or comfort of the organism. Is it
wonderful that the Atlanta Compromise, supposing it realized in all
conceivable perfection, should excite little enthusiasm in the white


Footnote 55:

  Negro labour is indispensable to the South only inasmuch as the negro
  has kept and keeps out the white labourer. “Should the negro be
  deported, there would be no trouble in filling his place with white
  men, who would bring the South up to its proper agricultural
  standard.” William P. Calhoun, “The Caucasian and the Negro,” p. 15.
  Mr. A. H. Stone, a large employer of negro labour, writes: “It has
  been the curse of the South for a hundred years that her people have
  clung, and stubbornly, to a conviction, never reasonable or
  well-founded, that negro labour was essential to the cultivation of
  her soil.”—“The American Race Problem,” p. 174.


But to imagine it realized in perfection is to imagine an
impossibility—almost a contradiction in terms. We are, on the one hand,
to suppose the negro ambitious, progressive, prosperous, and, on the
other hand, to imagine him humbly acquiescent in his status as a social
pariah. The thing is out of the question; such saintlike humility has
long ceased to form any part of the moral equipment of the American
negro. The bullet could never be thoroughly encysted; it would always
irritate, rankle, fester. Mr. Washington’s formula in renouncing social
equality is judiciously vague as to political rights. But one thing is
certain—neither Mr. Washington nor any other negro leader really
contemplates their surrender. It is quite inconceivable that the nation
within a nation should acquiesce in disfranchisement; and the question
of the negro vote will always be a disturbing factor in Southern
political life. Either he must be jockeyed out of it by devices
abhorrent to democratic principle and more or less subversive of
political morality; or, if he be honestly suffered to cast his ballot,
he will block the healthy divergence of political opinion in the South,
since, in any party conflict, he would hold the balance between the two
sides, and thus become the dominant power in the State. This will always
be a danger so long as the unassimilated negro is forced, by his
separateness, to think and act first as a negro and only in the second
place as an American. Even if the Atlanta Compromise were otherwise
realizable, the friction at this point would always continue acute.

                        THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM.

The worst, however, remains behind. If the Atlanta Compromise were
possible in every other way, it would be impossible on the side of sex.
For two races to dwell side by side in large numbers, and to be
prohibited from coming together in legal marriage, is unwholesome and
demoralizing to both. I am not thinking mainly of what Mr. Ray Stannard
Baker calls “the tragedy of the mulatto.” It seems hard, no doubt, that
marriage should be impossible between a white man and a girl in whose
complexion, perhaps, an eighth or sixteenth part of negro blood is
entirely imperceptible; but such cases are romantic exceptions, and do
not constitute a serious factor in the problem. Negroes, at any rate,
will tell you proudly that the young men and women of their race,
however light-skinned, hold it no hardship that their choice of mates
should be restricted to their own people. Whatever be the truth as to
these marginal relations, they are not the essence of the matter. The
essence is simply this: the youth and manhood of the white South is
subjected to an altogether unfair and unwholesome ordeal by the constant
presence of a multitude of physically well-developed women, among whom,
in the lower levels, there is no strong tradition of chastity, and to
whom the penalties of incontinence are very slight. To say, as many
Southerners will, that there is no such thing as virtue among negro
women is stupidly libellous; but it is impossible to doubt that the
average standard of sexual conduct among the lower orders of the black
and brown population is anything but high. And this is not a state of
things that can be radically amended in one generation or in two. The
completest realization of the Atlanta Compromise that is conceivable
within, say, a century, would still leave the white male exposed, from
boyhood upward, to a stimulation of his animal instincts which, in the
peculiar circumstances of the case, cannot be otherwise than

We are here at the very heart of the problem. All other relations are
adjustable, at a certain sacrifice; but not this one. If the two races
are to live together without open and lawful intermingling, it must be
at the cost of incessant demoralization to both. “Miscegenation,” in the
sense of permanent concubinage and the rearing of hybrid families, may
be held in check by the strong social sentiment against it,[56] but
nothing can hold in check the still more degrading casual commerce
between the white man (and youth) and the coloured woman. It is probably
this fact, quite as much as the hideous proclivities of the criminal
negro male, that hardens the heart of the white woman against the black
race. Nor is the unwholesomeness of the condition measured by the actual
amount of laxity to which it leads. Temptation may in myriads of cases
be resisted; but this order of temptation ought not to be in the
air.[57] It cannot be good for any race of men to be surrounded by
strongly-accentuated Sex, which, for ulterior reasons, whereof the mere
animal nature takes little account, is placed under a tabu.


Footnote 56:

  See foot-note, p. 64.

Footnote 57:

  Mr. Booker Washington said to Mr. Wells: “May we not become a peculiar
  people—like the Jews? Isn’t that possible?” What so long kept the Jews
  a peculiar people was the constancy with which Jewish women declined
  to intermingle with the Gentiles around them. If negro women showed
  such a spirit of racial chastity, the problem would be very different.


I venture to say that no one—not even Mr. Washington himself—really
believes in the Atlanta Compromise as a stable solution of the problem.
The negroes who accept it as an interim ideal (so to speak), never doubt
that it is but a stepping-stone to freedom of racial intermixture. They
see that so long as constant physical propinquity endures, the colour
barrier between the sexes is factitious, and in great measure unreal,
and they believe that at last the race-pride of the white man will be
worn down, and he will accept the inevitable amalgamation.[58] The
ultimate forces at war in the South are the instinctive, half-conscious
desire of the black race to engraft itself on the white stock,[59] and
the no less instinctive horror of the white stock at such a surrender of
its racial integrity. This horror is all the more acute—all the more
morbid, if you will—because the white race is conscious of its own
frailty, and knows that it is, in some sense, fighting a battle against
perfidious nature. It is a hard thing to say, but I have little doubt it
is true, that much of the injustice and cruelty to which the negro is
subjected in the South is a revenge, not so much for sexual crime on the
negro’s part, as for an uneasy conscience or consciousness on the part
of the whites.[60] It is because the black race inevitably appeals to
one order of low instincts in the white, that it suffers from the
sympathetic stimulation of another order of low instincts.


Footnote 58:

  On p. 47 of “Race Adjustment,” by Mr. Kelly Miller, a coloured
  professor at Howard University, the author says, addressing Mr. Thomas
  Dixon, Junr., “You are mistaken. The negro does not ‘hope and dream of
  amalgamation.’... A more careful reading of the article referred to
  would have convinced you that I was arguing against amalgamation as a
  probable solution of the race problem. _I merely stated the
  intellectual conviction that two races cannot live indefinitely side
  by side, under the same general régime, without ultimately fusing._”
  For practical purposes, the difference is not great between “hoping
  and dreaming” of amalgamation, and merely looking forward to it as


Footnote 59:

  Of course this does not imply that many individual negroes would not
  be as unwilling as any white man or woman to marry outside their
  colour limits.

  It is on the whole very difficult to state my point in the above
  paragraph, without seeming to imply a great deal more of conscious and
  formulated will than I am, as a matter of fact, assuming. There are
  doubtless thousands of negroes who oppose a race-pride of their own to
  the race-pride of the whites, and hundreds of thousands who have no
  conscious desire whatever regarding the future of their race. I am
  trying to state what I believe, rightly or wrongly, to be deep
  instinctive tendencies, which seldom, perhaps, emerge into

Footnote 60:

  This I wrote from deep conviction, yet with a certain sense of daring;
  for I thought the idea entirely my own, and feared it might give dire
  offence. More than a year later, I was reassured on reading the
  following passage in “The Basis of Ascendancy,” by Mr. E. G. Murphy
  (p. 52): “Much of the South’s talk against the negro has therefore
  been the South talking to itself; it has been its rebuke, by
  implication, of those corrupting elements within the limits of its own
  life which answer to no high policy of social self-respect, to no fine
  purpose of racial conservation, but which, under the lowest impulses,
  would degrade the present and betray the future.”



This brings us, of course, to the third of the conceivabilities above
enumerated—the legalization of marriage between the two races. To the
white South, nothing is more inconceivable: to the critics of the white
South, nothing is more simple. Which of them is in the right?

It is significant that none of these outside critics puts the slightest
faith in the Atlanta Compromise. They see quite clearly that the two
races cannot live together and yet apart. Their solution is the obvious
one of free intermixture, and they cannot understand why the South
should be so inveterately opposed to it. Why make such a fuss, they say,
over such a simple matter?

And then comes a long array of arguments to minimize, in general, the
significance of race, and, in particular, the gap between the white race
and the black. Racial purity is a vain imagination; there is no such
thing, at any rate among European peoples; and if it existed it would
only be a limitation and a misfortune to the people afflicted with it.
Most of all is the Anglo-Saxon race ridiculed as a historic fallacy. The
South, which boasts itself almost the last stronghold of pure
Anglo-Saxondom,[61] is told that the pure Anglo-Saxon is a myth and a
superstition. As to the negro, we are assured that we were all negroes
once, or something very much to that effect. At any rate, it is asserted
that the Mediterranean races, with whom Western civilization originated,
were in great part of negro origin. Skull-measurement and brain-weight
are called in to prove—whatever the particular disputant wants to prove.
Special qualities are claimed for the negro—such as a rich imagination,
an innate courtesy, and a strong musical faculty; and it is argued that
these are the very things of which the (so-called) Anglo-Saxon race
stands most in need. Great play is made with the quasi-scientific modern
Rousseauism which avers that our barbarian ancestors were better men
than we, and thence argues that there is little or no real gap between
the savage of to-day and the civilized man. Weismannism is pressed into
the service to show that, as the aptitudes and tendencies that we sum up
in the word civilization are acquired and therefore (it is argued)
untransmissible, the white child can have profited nothing by its
ancestors’ centuries of upward struggle from barbarism, while the black
child cannot be in any way handicapped by his descent through untold
ages of savagery. We are even assured that civilization has sprung from
and must be maintained by “the commingling of all with all, the general
‘panmixture,’ the universal ‘half-breed.’”[62]


Footnote 61:

  “The only truly Anglo-Saxon communities in the world to-day are in
  rural England and the Southern States.” Dr. E. A. Alderman: “The
  Growing South,” p. 5. It may perhaps not be quite irrelevant to note
  that I was struck by the immense preponderance of fair hair and
  complexion among the women of the South. I would almost go so far as
  to say that, with the exception of women who had obviously a negro
  strain in their blood, I did not see a single brunette in the course
  of my wanderings. As regards Louisiana, this no doubt only means that
  I had not time or opportunity for adequate observation. But in the
  case of the other States, I am inclined to think there must be good
  grounds for the strong impression left on my mind.

Footnote 62:

  Jean Finot: “Race Prejudice,” London, 1806, p. xv.


Fortunately it is quite unnecessary that I should plunge into the mazes
of ethnological controversy. It is sufficient for my present purpose to
note that controversy, and very lively controversy, exists. The
practical equality of the two races is so far from being a point on
which all authorities are agreed, that it may rather be called a paradox
which charms a certain order of mind by reason of its very audacity. So,
too, with the opinion that, whether the African race be or be not
inferior, it possesses qualities that the European stock needs, and
ought to accept with gratitude. Whether true or false, this is, at
present at any rate, a quite undemonstrated speculation. Even Sir Sydney
Olivier, who maintains in general that a man of mixed race is
“potentially a more competent vehicle of humanity,” advances no proof of
the benefits of the particular mixture in question which can for a
moment be expected to carry conviction to the Southern white man. The
South, then, is urged by the amalgamation theorists to embark upon, or
submit to, what is at best a great experiment. It is to quell its higher
instincts (for so it regards them, rightly or wrongly) and commit what
it feels in the marrow of its bones to be a degrading race-abnegation,
in deference to a half-scientific, half-humanitarian opinion, held by
certain theorists outside its own boundaries, to the effect that, after
all, there is no great difference between black and white, and that the
complexion of the future will certainly be a uniform yellow. Can any one
blame the South for answering: “No, thank you! If you in England or in
New England are tired of being white men, and sigh for the blessings of
an African blend, we can send you several million negroes, of both
sexes, who will no doubt be happy, on suitable terms, to intermarry with
your sons and daughters. For our part, we are content with our
complexion as it is. We see no reason to believe that the African slave
trade was the means adopted by a beneficent Providence for the ultimate
improvement of our Anglo-Saxon stock; nor, on the other hand, can we
accept it as a just punishment for the sins of our fathers that our
race, as a race, should be merged and obliterated in indiscriminate

I do not pretend, of course, that the fixed antipathy of the South to
the very idea of amalgamation is a purely rational one. Who is so
foolish as to look for pure reason in aught that concerns the obscure
fundamentals of life? What I am trying to show is that, whatever
irrational elements may mingle with it, the Southern sentiment has a
solid and sufficient nucleus of reason. The advantages of fusion, as
between such antipodal races as the white European and the black
African, are, to say the least of it, unproved; and a race may be
forgiven, surely, which declines to try on its own body, so to speak, so
problematic and so irremediable an experiment. For, once made, this
experiment cannot be unmade. The South must choose between definitely
renouncing its position as a “white man’s land” or struggling to
maintain it. What wonder if it feels that it has no choice in the

                          THE RACES NOT EQUAL.

I have stated the case at the very lowest in saying that the advantages
of fusion are unproved. Though it is not essential to my position, I
must confess that my personal belief goes much further, and that the
disadvantages of fusion are, to my thinking, proved beyond all
reasonable doubt. I have not hitherto emphasized the essential and
innate inferiority of the negro race, because my argument did not demand
it. But the fact of this inferiority seems to me as evident as it is
inevitable. However fallacious may be the boundaries between this and
that European race, the boundary between the European and the African is
real, and not to be argued away. The European is the fruit of untold
generations of upward struggle, the African of untold generations of
immobility. At the very dawn of history, the ancestors of the white
American had advanced to a point beyond that which the ancestors of the
Afro-American had attained when they were shipped across the Atlantic
from fifty to two hundred years ago. That the negro race has some very
amiable qualities is not denied. It is not denied that civilization has
brought with it certain disadvantages and corruptions, and that the
white savage is in some ways a more deplorable phenomenon than the black
savage. Nor is it denied that the negro, in virtue of his strong
imitative instinct, has, in many cases, shown a remarkable power of
taking on a certain measure of civilization. But all this does not
practically lessen the huge historic gap between the two races. Even if
we admit the innate power of the negro to overtake the white man in
intellectual grasp and moral stability, we must in reason allow him a
few centuries to make up his millenniums of arrearage. Whatever it may
become in the course of ten or fifteen generations, the negro race here
and now is inferior to the white race, not only because of its “previous
condition of servitude,” but, ultimately and fundamentally, because of
its recent condition of savagery. Therefore, the white race, in
accepting amalgamation, would be derogating from its birthright and
climbing down the scale of humanity.

Our theorists are, on the whole, too much inclined to confound instinct
with prejudice. It is absurd to class as pure prejudice the white man’s
preference for the colour and facial contour of his race. This is no
place for an analysis of our sense of beauty; but to maintain offhand
that it is an unmeaning product of sheer habit, with no biological
justification, is simply to shirk the problem and postpone analysis to
dogma. Does any one really believe that the genius of Cæsar and
Napoleon, of Milton and Goethe, had nothing to do with their facial
angle, and could have found an equally convenient habitation behind
thick lips and under woolly skulls? The negro himself (as distinct from
the mulatto rhetorician) takes his stand on no such paradox. Whoever may
doubt the superiority of the white race, it is not he; and it is a
racial, not merely a social or economic superiority to which he does
instinctive homage. It does not enter his head to champion his own
racial ideal, to set up an African Venus in rivalry to the Hellenic, and
claim a new Judgment of Paris between them. If wishing could change the
Ethiopian’s skin there would be never a negro in America.[63] The black
race, out of its poverty, spends thousands of dollars annually on
“anti-kink” lotions, vainly supposed to straighten the African wool.[64]
The brown belle tones her complexion with pearl powder; and many a black
mother takes pride in the brown skin of her offspring, though it
proclaims their illegitimacy. There can be no reasonable doubt that
amalgamation, in the negro’s eyes, means an enormous gain to his race.
It means ennoblement, transfiguration. It is quite natural that he
should not too curiously inquire whether the gain to him would involve a
corresponding loss to the white man. That is the white man’s business,
not his. The one thing his instinct tells him is that, if he can break
down the white man’s resistance and make the Southern States a brown or
yellow man’s land, he will have achieved a splendid racial triumph.


Footnote 63:

  There is some conflict of evidence as to whether many persons of negro
  blood “cross the line” or “go over to white”—that is to say conceal
  and renounce the negro strain in their ancestry. Mr. Kelly Miller
  states that, as a result of white persecution, “hundreds of the
  composite progeny are daily crossing the colour-line and carrying as
  much of the despised blood as an albicant skin can conceal without
  betrayal.” (“Race Adjustment,” p. 49.) “Hundreds daily” is probably an
  exaggeration; but it would appear that such cases are not infrequent;
  and it is significant that negroes generally, instead of resenting
  this disloyalty to their blood, enter into “a sort of conspiracy of
  silence to protect the negro who crosses the line.” “Such cases,” says
  Mr. Stannard Baker, “even awaken glee among them, as though the negro
  thus, in some way, was getting even with the dominant white man.”

Footnote 64:

  “One day, while walking in one of the most fashionable residence
  districts of Atlanta, I saw a magnificent gray stone residence
  standing somewhat back from the street. I said to my companion, who
  was a resident of the city:

  “‘That’s a fine home.’

  “‘Yes; stop a minute,’ he said. ‘I want to tell you about that. The
  anti-kink man lives there.’

  “‘Anti-kink?’ I asked in surprise.

  “‘Yes; the man who occupies that house is one of the wealthiest men
  here. He made his money by selling to negroes a preparation to smooth
  the kinks out of their wool. They’re simply crazy on that subject.’

  “‘Does it work?’

  “‘You haven’t seen any straight-haired negroes, have you?’ he
  asked.”—Ray Stannard Baker.


                       THE CASE FOR THE MULATTO.

It is urged, as we have already seen, that the black man’s gain would
not be the white man’s loss, but that the black race would bring to the
white certain qualities of which it stands sorely in need, the result of
the mixture being a more competent “vehicle of all the qualities and
powers that we imply by humanity.” Has experience justified this
speculation? We have ample experience to go upon—in South America, in
the West Indies, in the Southern States themselves. The mulatto exists
and has existed for generations, not in hundreds or thousands, but in
millions; in what respect has he proved himself superior to the pure
Spaniard, or Portuguese, or Anglo-Saxon? Does South American history
bear testimony to his political competence? Have his achievements in
science, in art, in literature, in music, been superior to those of the
un-Africanized peoples? Or, waiving the question of superiority, has he
even, in these domains, produced meritorious work in any fair proportion
to his numbers? I do not say that it is impossible to make a sort of
case for him, by the ransacking of records and the employment of a very
indefinite standard of values. But I do most emphatically say that no
conspicuous and undeniable advantage has resulted from the blending of
bloods, such as can or ought to counteract the instinctive repugnance of
the South.

In a work entitled “Twentieth Century Negro Literature,”[65] published
in 1901, Mr. Edward E. Cooper, a mulatto journalist, quotes Byron’s

                  “You have the letters Cadmus gave;
                  Think ye he meant them for a slave?”

and then comments as follows:—

  Now Cadmus was a black African slave, captured in war; so was Æsop,
  the world’s greatest fabulist; so was Terence, among the grandest of
  Rome’s lyric poets; so was Pushkin, the national poet to-day of
  Russia; so was Alexandre Dumas, the first, the greatest, not only of
  French novelists, but of novelists of all times, and the infinite
  storehouse from which all novelists draw, Honoré de Balzac and Charles
  Dickens to the contrary notwithstanding.


Footnote 65:

  This volume contains portraits of ninety-seven contributors to it,
  whom I have roughly classified according to their features and
  apparent complexion. There are only three whom one can put down as
  probably pure negroes. Of the remainder, twenty-three seem to be
  predominantly negroes, but clearly not pure-bred; thirty-four are
  typical mulattoes (that is to say, appear to be half black, half
  white); in thirty-three the features are almost entirely Caucasian,
  but the complexion is unmistakably swarthy, while in five there is
  scarcely any recognizable trace of negro blood. The decoration round
  the portraits in this book is curious and instructive. It consists of
  a scroll-work encircling two pairs of contrasted medallions. On the
  one side we have a black slave being flogged, on the other a very
  light mulatto writing in a study, surrounded with books; on the one
  side a negro kneeling with broken fetters on his wrists, on the other
  a frock-coated mulatto on a platform, with an ice-water pitcher on his
  table, lecturing with gesticulation to a crowded audience.


This writer can scarcely mean what he says—namely, that Alexandre Dumas
and the rest were all black African slaves captured in war. We must
interpret him liberally, and take him to be simply asserting the
literary genius of the African race, whether pure or blended. A better
case than this might doubtless be made for it; but a ten times better
case would still be very far from a good case. And Mr. Edward E. Cooper
is a fair average specimen of the negro champion of negro genius.
Another spokesman of the race, by the way, in the same collection of
essays, argues that if the Southern clergy had done their duty in
denouncing lynching, there would have been no assassination of President
McKinley, “nor would there be anywhere such an illiberal public
sentiment as would openly criticize our Chief Executive for dining a
representative member of the race whose feasts even Jupiter did not
disdain to grace.”[66]


Footnote 66:

  “What evil spirit has come upon the present-day Afro-American that a
  people who, from the days of Homer until this generation, have borne
  the epithet of ‘blameless Ethiopians’ should now be accused as the
  scourge of mankind?” Kelly Miller (coloured), “Race Adjustment,” p.


                         A BIOLOGICAL ARGUMENT.

To wind up this attempt to place on a basis of reason the Southern
horror of amalgamation, I return for a moment to Sir Sydney Olivier’s
argument on the point.[67] He says:—

  There may naturally be aversion on the part of and a strong social
  objection on behalf of the white woman against her marriage with a
  black or coloured man. There is no correspondingly strong instinctive
  aversion, nor is there so strong an ostensible social objection to a
  white man’s marrying a woman of mixed descent. The latter kind of
  union is much more likely to occur than the former. There is good
  biological reason for this distinction. Whatever the potentialities of
  the African stocks as a vehicle for human manifestation, and I myself
  believe them to be exceedingly important and valuable, ... the white
  races are now, in fact, by far the farther advanced in effectual human
  development, and it would be expedient on this account alone that
  their maternity should be economized to the utmost. A woman may be the
  mother of a limited number of children, and our notion of the number
  advisable is contracting: it is bad natural economy, and instinct very
  potently opposes it, to breed backwards from her. There is no such
  reason against the begetting of children by white men in countries
  where, if they are to breed at all, it must be with women of coloured
  or mixed races. The offspring of such breeding, whether legitimate or
  illegitimate, is, from the point of view of efficiency, an acquisition
  to the community, and under favourable conditions, an advance on the
  pure-bred African.


Footnote 67:

  I do not dwell on his surely unadvised initial statement that the
  “barriers” between white and black “are not different in kind or in
  strength from those which once separated neighbouring European
  tribes.” I presume that “once” must be taken as referring to
  pre-historic ages, reconstructed on scanty ethnological evidence.


To this I have nothing to object, save that it manifestly and in its
very terms does not apply to the Southern States of America. Sir Sydney
does not intend it so to apply; but when he proceeds to speak of the
Southern States, he somehow neglects to draw the necessary distinctions.
The conditions he has in mind in the above paragraph are those of a
black man’s land, not of a white man’s land. It may readily be granted
that a fundamentally black community gains by the infusion of white
blood, though the circumstances of the “first cross” are scarcely
agreeable to civilized sentiment. There can be little beyond sheer
animalism in the relations between a white man and a black woman; and
such parentage cannot be reckoned the most desirable. This feeling,
however, is perhaps a mere superstition; the science of eugenics is not
yet far enough advanced, I take it, to afford us any authoritative
guidance. Sir Sydney Olivier, at all events, rejects without hesitation
the view that the mulatto is inferior, not only to the white, but to the
pure black. The mulatto element in a black community, he maintains, is a
distinct gain; and the larger it is the better. So far, I am quite
willing to follow him; but surely the same process of reasoning, applied
to a white community, must lead to exactly the opposite conclusion. It
is this fundamental distinction between a black and white community that
Sir Sidney either ignores, or declines to take into account. The South
is obviously not a country where, “if white men are to breed at all, it
must be with women of coloured races.” It is a country where a pure
white race increases rapidly in spite of the disturbance (economic and
sexual) undoubtedly set up by the constant propinquity of a black race.
In bygone days, when the black race was a herd of human chattels, with
no political or social rights, a great deal of intermixture took place.
It was, as Sir Sydney would doubtless admit, morally bestial and
degrading; but on the principles he lays down, and on the assumption
that slavery was part of the eternal scheme of things, it was probably
good policy, inasmuch as it improved the breed of the black
community—the community of slaves.[68] But when the black community
ceased to be, in its very nature, a thing apart—when its members became
freemen and citizens, indistinguishable, in constitutional theory, from
members of the white community—then the conditions entirely altered. It
was one thing to produce a superior breed of slaves; it is quite another
to go on producing an inferior breed of citizens, and to legalize the
production of such a breed. “But I deny the inferiority!” Sir Sydney may
say. “I contend that the good qualities of the white race are preserved,
and are reinforced by the addition of certain very valuable qualities
which are the special endowment of the black race.” It is not very easy
to see why, if this argument hold good, Sir Sydney should discountenance
the mating of the black man with the white woman. Either the African
strain is valuable or it is not; if it is, why should there be any “bad
natural economy” in such unions? Waiving this point, however, I think we
have already seen pretty clearly why Sir Sydney’s argument meets with
scant acceptance in the South. The plain reason is that it opposes to a
deep-rooted instinct a wholly unproved speculation. The South has not
discovered, in its own pretty considerable experience, the advantages of
hybridism as compared with purity of white blood; nor does Sir Sydney
himself advance anything that can possibly be called proof of his
opinion. A white nation can scarcely be expected to renounce its racial
integrity on the chance of breeding an occasional Alexandre Dumas.


Footnote 68:

  Yet I cannot but call attention once more to the doubt even on this
  point. See p. 108. The general manager (a Canadian) of the company
  which laid down the street-car lines in Kingston, Jamaica, reported
  that “the best and most reliable of the workmen were the pure blacks.
  This was found to be invariably the case.”—W. P. Livingstone, “Black
  Jamaica,” p. 182.


Sir Sydney Olivier’s biological principle, strictly and consistently
applied, would issue in a law making marriage legal between any male and
a female lower in the colour scale than himself, but illegal between any
female and a male with a larger proportion of African blood. Such a law
would, of course, be absolutely impossible of enforcement; and equally
inconceivable in practice would be any other partial and restricted
legalization of inter-racial unions. There is no middle course between a
resolute maintenance of the legal barrier between the races and a
complete acceptance of the principle of amalgamation. If the legal
barrier were ever removed, it would mean such a relaxation of public
sentiment as would insure the very rapid increase of the hybrid
race.[69] Three or four generations would see the South a brown man’s
land, with, no doubt, a rapidly narrowing white aristocracy. In another
three or four generations the prevailing complexion of the North would
be sensibly affected; and, finally, the whole American nation would be
typically negroid, the pure white man being the more or less rare
exception. For my part, I cannot but sympathize with the sentiment that
violently repudiates such a contingency. I do not understand how any
white man who has ever visited the South can fail to be dismayed at the
thought of absorbing into the veins of his race the blood of the African
myriads who swarm on every hand.

For the South itself, at any rate, the discussion is purely academic.
Amalgamation is a thousand leagues remote from the sphere of practical
politics. I have been endeavouring to state for outsiders the case of
the South as I understand it. I may have stated it wrongly, or
understated it; but no one can possibly overstate the resolve of the
South that the colour line shall not be obliterated by “miscegenation.”


Footnote 69:

  Several of my critics, when this essay first appeared, misunderstood
  this phrase. I do not mean that if the legal barriers were removed
  white men would rush to marry black women. What I mean is that, in a
  democratic community, the legal barrier could not possibly be removed
  unless there had previously occurred a relaxation, or rather reversal,
  of public sentiment with regard to mixed unions.



Lastly, we have to consider the fourth conceivable eventuality—the
geographical segregation of the negro race, whether within or without
the limits of the United States.

This is usually ridiculed as an absolutely Utopian scheme, and at the
outset of my investigation I myself regarded it in that light. But the
more I saw and read and thought, the oftener and the more urgently did
segregation recur to me as the one possible way of escape from an
otherwise intolerable situation. Not, of course, the instant, and
wholesale, and violent deportation of ten million people—that is a rank
impossibility. Between that and inert acquiescence in the ubiquity of
the negro throughout the Southern States, there are many middle courses;
and I cannot but believe that the first really great statesman who
arises in America will prove his greatness by grappling with this vast
but not insoluble problem. And, assuredly, the sooner he comes the

We have seen that the negro race is not dying out, or that, if it does
die out, it can only be, so to speak, at the cost of Southern
civilization—through the indefinite continuance of insanitary and
barbarous conditions. We have seen that the Atlanta Compromise is
illusory and impracticable, that there is no reasonable hope that the
two races will ever live together, yet apart—in economic solidarity, yet
without social or sexual contact. We have seen that the essence of the
whole situation lies in the negro’s inevitable ambition (even though it
be unformulated and largely unconscious) to be drawn upward, through
physical coalescence, into the white race, and the white man’s intense
resolve that, on a large and determining scale, no such coalescence
shall take place. Now this state of war—for such it undoubtedly is—will
not correct itself by lapse of time. It will continue to degrade and
demoralize both races until active measures are taken to put an end to
it. Though I sympathize with the white man’s horror of amalgamation, I
neither approve nor extenuate the systematic injustice and frequent
barbarity in which that horror expresses itself. The present state of
society in the South is as inhuman as it is inconsistent with the
democratic and Christian principles which the Southern white man so
loudly, and in the main sincerely, professes. The Jim Crow car, and all
such discriminations in the system of public conveyance, are, I believe,
necessities, but deplorable necessities none the less. The constant
struggle to exclude the negro from political power is at best a negative
and unproductive expenditure of energy, at worst a source of political
dishonesty and corruption. The wresting of the law, whether criminal or
civil, into an instrument for keeping the negro in a state of abject
serfdom, is a scandal and a disgrace to any civilized community. The
constant resort to lawless violence and cruelty in revenge for negro
crime (real or imaginary) is a hideous blot upon the fair fame of the
South, if not rather an impeachment of her sanity. The truth is, in
fact, that constant inter-racial irritation leaves neither race entirely
sane, and that abominable crime and no less abominable punishment are
merely the acutest symptom of an ill-omened conjuncture of things, which
puts an unfair and unnatural strain upon both black and white human
nature. The criminal stupidity that brought the negro to America cannot
be annulled by passively “making the best of it.” If its evil effects
are to be counteracted, corrected, and wiped out, it must be through an
active and constructive effort of large-minded statesmanship.

                            BACK TO AFRICA?

The deportation of the negro has been urged by many American writers,
generally in a somewhat illogical fashion. They start by asserting his
total incapacity for self-government, as demonstrated in Haiti, Liberia,
and elsewhere, and then recommend the foundation of a new negro republic
in some undefined portion of Africa. A curious scheme was put forward in
1889, in an anonymous book entitled, “An Appeal to Pharaoh,” written, I
believe, by Mr. Carl McKinley, of Charleston, South Carolina. Mr.
McKinley’s proposal was to promote “the voluntary and steady emigration
of the active maternal element of the negro race.” He calculated that if
12,500 child-bearing females, between the ages of twenty and thirty,
could every year be induced to emigrate (taking their husbands with
them), the whole “maternal element” of the coloured population would be
removed within fifty years. The plan was, apparently, that as soon as a
child was born to a young negro couple, they were to be persuaded to
emigrate, and that thus the prolific negro would gradually be
transferred to the new negro commonwealth, only the sterile element of
the race being left to die off at their leisure. It is unnecessary to
criticize this scheme, which is now twenty years old, and does not seem
to have found any serious champions. I mention it as perhaps the most
carefully considered of the suggestions for an exodus to Africa.

In no form does the African project seem to me at all a hopeful one. The
habitable portions of Africa are, I take it, pretty well staked out
among the European Powers, so that an elaborate and costly international
arrangement would be necessary before the requisite territory would be
available. But supposing this difficulty overcome, would the United
States be justified in simply dumping its coloured population in Africa,
and then washing its hands of them? It might just as well drive them
into the sea and have done with it. The negro character has shown no
fitness for the very difficult task of combined pioneering and
nation-building that it would have to encounter. To the lower elements
in the race, the return to Africa might mean repatriation in the sense
of a not unwelcome home-coming to savagery; but the better elements
would suffer greatly in such a relapse, while of their own strength they
probably could not resist it. Toward these better elements, and indeed
toward the whole race, the United States has a responsibility that it
could not, and certainly would not, shirk; so that it would in effect
have to undertake the policing of a distant, troublesome, and
unsatisfactory dependency, which might, in addition, not improbably
involve it in international difficulties. This would be preferable to
the present state of things, but still far from a desirable solution of
the problem.

The same objections apply to a settlement in South America, the
Philippines, or anywhere else outside the United States. Deportation, in
a word, is beset with disadvantages. It would be ruinously costly and
indefensibly cruel. If there ever was a time for it, that time is past.

                             A NEGRO STATE.

What, then, is the alternative? Manifestly, concentration within the
United States—the formation of a new State which should be, not a white
man’s land, but a black man’s land.

Is this physically possible? Is there enough unoccupied territory to
permit of such a concentration? Of absolutely unoccupied territory there
probably is not enough; but those who have studied the matter tell us
that there is plenty of territory so thinly occupied that the white
settlers could be removed and compensated at no extravagant cost.
According to the Honourable John Temple Graves:—

  Lower California might be secured. The lands west of Texas may be had.
  But the Government does not need to purchase. Four hundred million
  acres of Government land is yet untaken and undeveloped in the West.
  Of these vast acres the expert hydrographer of the Interior Department
  has reported that it is easily possible to redeem by irrigation enough
  to support in plenty a population of sixty million people.

We may liberally discount this estimate, and yet leave it unquestionable
that the resources of the United States are amply sufficient to admit of
the establishment of a new State without any exorbitant disturbance of
the existing distribution of territory.

It would be absurd for me to forecast in any detail the methods by which
the concentration should be brought about. They must be devised and
elaborated by the great American statesman who is to come. If he can
successfully grapple with this colossal task, he will deserve to rank
with Washington and Lincoln in the affections of his countrymen. It may
be pretty safely predicted that he will attempt no sudden and forcible
displacement of the mass of the negro race. Rather he will establish
local conditions that shall tempt the younger and more enterprising
negroes to migrate of their own free will; while he will probably fix by
legislation a pretty distant date—say five-and-twenty years ahead—after
which it shall be competent for the various State governments[70]
forcibly to evict (with compensation) and transplant to the new State
any negroes under, say, forty-five years of age still lingering within
their boundaries. There will be no need at any time to disturb old or
middle-aged negroes who are disinclined to start life afresh under new


Footnote 70:

  I assume that, the principle once accepted, there will be small
  difficulty in arranging the respective rights and duties in this
  matter of the central and the State governments. The colour problem is
  a national concern, if ever there was one.


The probability is, however, that if once the new State were judiciously
set on foot, the difficulty would be so to moderate the westward rush as
to prevent an unnecessary dislocation of the labour-market in the South.
Negro labour could and would be gradually replaced by white labour; but
a sudden negro exodus on a large scale would embarrass agriculture and
other industries in most of the Southern States. It would be one of the
main problems of the case so to regulate the flow of migration as to
make it continuous, yet not excessive.

There seems to be little doubt that the negro race, as a whole, would
welcome any reasonable means of escape from the galling conditions of
their life in the South. On the other hand, there is no doubt whatever
that all the more intelligent members of the race are staunchly and even
pathetically loyal to American ideals, and would be very unwilling to
live under any other than the American form of government. In the new
State, they would be members of a negro community without ceasing to be
American citizens. It might be necessary at first to establish some
provisional government like that of an American territory or English
crown colony; but as soon as the country was sufficiently settled, and
the mechanism of life in full swing, there could be no difficulty or
danger in admitting the new community into the Union, with full State
rights. Negro education has enormously progressed since the bad old days
of Reconstruction; and there is no reason to doubt that the population
could furnish a competent legislature, executive and judiciary.
Legislative aberrations would be checked by the Supreme Court of the
United States; and if things went thoroughly wrong, and a new Haiti
threatened to develop in the heart of the Republic, why, United States
troops would always be at hand to hold a black mob or a black adventurer
in awe. But it would doubtless be a fundamental principle that no white
man could vote or hold office in the negro State, while, reciprocally,
no coloured man could vote or hold office in the white States.[71] The
abrogation of the Fifteenth Amendment would remove from the Constitution
of the United States a constant source of trouble.


Footnote 71:

  The negro State would, of course, send to Congress its two Senators
  and its due proportion of members of the Lower House.


I am far from denying that this racial readjustment would demand a huge
effort and a very large expense. In many individual cases it might cause
a good deal of hardship to people of both colours. But that both colours
would enormously and permanently benefit by the effort seems to me
indubitable. It would be, before everything, an act of justice to the
negro. It would enable him to build up a polity of his own, on lines to
which his mind is already habituated. It would offer him full
opportunity for the development of his talents and ambitions, unhampered
by any social discriminations or disabilities. The Hampton-Tuskegee
movement has been fitting great numbers of the race to carry out the
necessary tasks of construction and organization involved in the
material and moral upbuilding of the new community. Every aid should, of
course, be afforded for the transference to the new domain of all negro
universities, colleges, and similar institutions. I see little reason to
doubt that the sense of new and unhampered opportunity would stimulate
the mental and moral energies of the race, and beget a higher
competency, a new self-respect. They would feel that they were on trial
before the eyes of the world, that their future was in their own hands,
and that they must vindicate their claim to the rights and liberties of
civilized humanity. They would have a very fair chance of success; and
in case of failure they would at worst relapse upon some sort of crown
colony government. A regularly established and benevolent despotism
would, at any rate, be better than the capricious and malevolent
despotism to which they are now subjected in the South.

“But,” it may be said, “the rights and liberties of civilized humanity
include the right to move freely hither and thither over the face of the
earth. This right, at any rate, would be denied to the Afro-American,
inclosed within the ring-fence of his own State.” There is, I think, a
sufficient answer to this objection. The right to travel would not be
denied to the negro. Nor would he be debarred from emigrating and
settling abroad among any community that was willing to receive him. It
is, I think, becoming more and more clear that the right of every man,
white, black, or yellow, to effect a permanent settlement outside his
own country, is subject to this qualification. The idea that all the
world ought to belong equally to all men, and that rational development
tends toward an unrestricted intermingling of races, seems to be
signally contradicted by the trend of events. Is it not the great
essential for the ultimate world-peace that races should learn to keep
themselves to themselves?

If the negro State is established with any success, I do not believe
that its inhabitants will feel it an undue restriction on their
liberties that they are forbidden to settle in other parts of the Union.
The population question will gradually regulate itself. A fairly
civilized people, with limited opportunities of expansion, will soon
realize the penalties of breeding beyond its means of subsistence.

And what of the South, when this act of justice to the negro shall have
been performed? It will awaken, as from a nightmare, to the realization
of its splendid destiny. No longer will one of the richest and most
beautiful regions of the world be hampered in its material and spiritual
development by a legacy of ancestral crime. All that is best in the
South—and the Southern nature is rich in elements of magnanimity and
humanity—abhors the inhuman necessities imposed upon it by the presence
of the negro. The Southern white man writhes under the criticisms of the
North and of Europe, which he feels to be ignorant and in great measure
unjust, yet which he can only answer by an impotent, “You do not know!
You cannot understand!”[72] He has to confess, too, that there is much
in Southern policy and practice that even the necessities of the
situation cannot excuse—much that can only be palliated as the result of
a constant overstrain to which human nature ought never to be subjected.
Remove the causes of this overstrain, and a region perhaps the most
favoured by Nature of all in the Western Hemisphere will stand where it
ought to stand—in the van, not only of civilization, but of humanity.


Footnote 72:

  “I know of no other community of white people of equal numbers in the
  world to-day carrying the burden borne by those of the Southern
  States.... I mean the burden of ... administering the same law for the
  two most diverse races on earth; of so carrying themselves in the
  various relations of daily life with these childish people that their
  conduct may have the approval of their consciences; of living with a
  due regard for the opinions of their fellow-men, the while oppressed
  by the consciousness that their fellow-men do not, will not, or cannot
  understand.”—A. H. Stone, “The American Race Problem,” p. 74.




                          THE AMERICAN IN CUBA

I have known few more curious sensations than that of crossing in a
single night from Florida to Cuba: leaving the New World at ten p.m. and
arriving at six a.m. in the Old World. For Havana is distinctly an Old
World city—more so, I am told, than some of the cities of modern Spain.
From the moment the steamer passes between Morro Castle and La Punta,
and skirts beneath the grey and pink cliffs of the huge idle fortress of
La Cabana, one feels that one has left behind the region of the
Immature, and entered upon that of the Over-ripe.

I am not going to attempt a description of Havana, with its
many-coloured, swarming Southern life; its arcaded side-walks; its huge
windows, all barred with ornamental ironwork, at which a great part of
the social life of the city is carried on; its narrow business streets,
the Calle Obispo and Calle O’Reilly, in which the frequent awnings
stretched from house to house create a rich golden shade; its grey old
cathedral; its cool green patios framed in the gloom of high-arched
gateways; its handsome, rather commonplace, modern squares; its Prado
and its esplanade, where the restless purple waters of the Gulf of
Mexico fling up, every now and then, white pillars of spray. Except for
its splendid harbour, the city has no great advantage of situation,
being placed on low hills, and surrounded by others not much higher. The
chief impression it leaves on the mind is that of opulent colour—often
garish where the hand of man has held the brush, but, where Nature has
her own way, in tree, shrub, soil, ocean, and sky, indescribably and
inexhaustibly gorgeous. A painter of the temperate zone would here throw
away his palette, except, it may be, for the wonderful blue distances,
of which, on the outskirts, one has now and then a glimpse.

[Sidenote: A Paradise Regained.]

From all that I could see and hear in Cuba, I felt thoroughly convinced
that American intervention had amply justified itself, and that this
noble island, after all its miseries and distractions, was now in a fair
way to become as prosperous and happy as, by its natural advantages, it
is entitled to be. The splendid work of cleansing and sanitation which
the Americans have done in Havana I more fully appreciated after a brief
inspection of a couple of unsanitated Spanish-American towns—Cartagena
and Barranquilla. But cleaning-up and road-making, and the organization
of public services, are not all that the Americans are doing. In the
Cuban guide-book it was significant to note the number of places which
owed their fame to having been the scene of this or that massacre or
military execution. It would be premature, perhaps, to say that all that
sort of thing is past and done with; but there will certainly not be
much more of it; the United States will see to that. I am bound to
confess that here, in my opinion, the Republic has “taken up the white
man’s burden” very efficiently and in a very true sense.

The sense of prosperity was very strongly borne in upon me in Vedado, a
suburb of Havana, whither I went to call upon an American gentleman,
resident for many years in Cuba, to whom I had an introduction. Vedado
is a great sun-baked stretch of ground between the low hills and the sea
to the west of Havana, where handsome bungalow-villas are rising in
great numbers. As yet it is in a somewhat raw and ragged condition; but
there is evidence of wealth and activity on every hand.

[Sidenote: The Cuban Colour-Line.]

My primary object in visiting Mr. Ogden (as I shall call him) was to
inquire into the relations of the white and coloured races in Cuba.

“It is very obvious,” I said, “in the streets of Havana, that, if there
is any colour-line here, it is not drawn anything like as strictly as in
the Southern States. I see a good many black policemen; and there are
black motor-men and conductors on the street-cars. Among the passengers
in the cars there is no distinction of colour. In the Colon Cemetery, as
I came down here, I noticed that, among the thirty heroes commemorated
on the Firemen’s Monument, four seemed to be pure negroes; and there
were negro traits in six or seven more. Is there really no colour
discrimination at all?”

“In the sense of legal disability,” said Mr. Ogden, “there is none.
Socially, of course, there is a good deal, though no hard-and-fast
barrier is raised between the races. Each family, each individual, draws
the colour-line according to taste. But, naturally, there is a tendency
for the pure white to exclude the unmistakably coloured.”

“Would a white man lose caste on marrying a coloured woman?”

“Oh, very distinctly. I could tell you of several instances.”

“But there is no serious friction—no feud—between the races?”

“At present, no; but I’m not at all sure that a race problem may not
declare itself when the new Constitution comes into force in February
next. We shall then have the negro in politics; and that is how trouble
always arises.”

“You fear a Cuban repetition of the Reconstruction time?”

“Yes, indeed I do. The negro is susceptible to every sort of political
machination. Every carpet-bag demagogue can make a tool of him, and that
the Cuban white men won’t stand for.”

“Meanwhile, however, there is no trouble? You have not any such Reign of
Terror here as there is some parts of the Southern States?”

“No. Outrages on women are practically unknown here.”

“And how do you account for the difference between Cuba and the Southern
States in respect to this class of crime?”

“Well, sir, I’m a Southern man myself, and all I can say is that the
nigger here don’t seem to me the same as he is at home. I believe it is
partly a real difference of race. [Sidenote: The Pick of the Basket.]
You see, most of the slave-ships used to touch at Havana before they
went on to Charleston or New Orleans; and the Cuban planters used to
make a study of the different races and tribes, and select the best
types. The daughter of a very wealthy planter—she’s an old lady now—has
told me all about it. They knew precisely the qualities of the different
breeds. Some were best fitted for body-servants, some for field-work,
some for handling stock, others for educating and making clerks and
book-keepers of. So, you see, the Cubans got the pick of the basket, and
only the lower class—the mere brawny animals—got to the United States.”

This theory did not strike me as wholly adequate to the case, nor did
Mr. Ogden pretend that it was. But there may be something in it, and I
commend it to the notice of students of negro ethnology.

“By-the-by,” Mr. Ogden continued, “there is a curious African survival
among the negroes here—a sort of semi-religious society called the
Ñanigo, which indulges in strange rites of its own, and occasionally in

“When you say ‘semi-religious,’ do you mean Christian or pagan?”

“Oh, pagan entirely. The members are generally tattooed or decorated
with scars and cicatrices. They come greatly to the front in Carnival
time, when they parade the streets, carrying a sort of illuminated
pagoda and making strange noises by grating gourds.”

[Sidenote: The Political Situation.]

The talk then strayed to politics, and Mr. Ogden gave me a no doubt
one-sided, but evidently sincere, view of the situation.

“I take it,” said I, “that Cuba is now peaceful and contented?”

“Oh yes, fairly so,” said Mr. Ogden; “but capital is still shy of coming
in, until the political condition is more stable.”

“What was the reason of President Palma’s downfall?”

“The sole reason was that he was too good for them—too honest, too
scrupulous. Ninety-five per cent. of those who took active part in the
revolution of 1906 were negroes, and the rest were, with very few
exceptions, men of no standing whatever, either political or social.

“The revolution was largely worked by the editor of a popular paper, a
very able man whose sole moral quality is a total lack of hypocrisy. He
said quite frankly, ‘In the old days I was always in touch with the
Spanish Governor, and all sorts of good things came my way. Now, on the
other hand, there’s nothing doing, and it don’t suit me.’ For a short
time I ran the English page of his paper for him; and once, when he
wanted me to put in something that I knew to be a blazing lie, I said to
him, ‘I wonder how you can reconcile it with either your principles or
your policy to print such an utter falsehood.’ He slapped his right
pocket, and said, ‘My principles are here;’ his left pocket, ‘and my
policy here.’

[Sidenote: Engineering a Revolution.]

“The chief of the secret service had warned Palma for some time that a
revolution was brewing—that there was open talk in the cafés of his
assassination or deportation. He only said, ‘Why, what is there to make
a revolution about? Our credit is good, our public works are going
forward, prosperity is spreading. Where should the revolution come

“A party of men were suborned to enter the barracks of a company of
rural guards, shoot all the men in their sleep, and seize their arms.
This was to be the signal for a general rising; but the bandits were
left in the lurch by their friends. Orders were given to take them alive
or dead—preferably dead. Unfortunately they were taken alive, and have
all been released by Mr. Taft, on the plea that their offence was

“Then a man got up a revolution in a remote province; which meant that
he set a lot of niggers looting stores and carrying off canned salmon,
and calico, and boots and shoes. A friend of his in Havana went down to
find out the reason of this revolution. The leader explained that he had
7000 dollars of gambling debts which he couldn’t pay; and for that sum
he would order off the revolution. The friend said: ‘You can’t have
7000, but I know of 3000 dollars allotted for a purpose that can stand
over; I think I can get you that, and you can make a composition with
your creditors.’ The leader agreed to this proposal, but Palma refused
to sanction the deal, and the rising went on, and spread, and became

“Palma confessed to me that the only troops he could rely on had only a
few rounds of ammunition. [Sidenote: A Foreign Legion.] ‘Why, then,’
said I, ‘there’s only one thing to be done—we’ll telegraph to the Colt
Manufacturing Company for twenty machine guns and a million rounds of
ammunition; and I’ll organize the men to work them.’ Palma held up his
hands in protest. ‘A million rounds! Why, that’s enough for a war!’

“The Colt Company could only deliver ten machine guns, but those we got;
and I organized a foreign legion. It contained Americans, Englishmen,
Frenchmen, Germans, Italians—450 men in all. We were just ready for
business when Mr. Taft arrived with the Peace Commission; and what
followed I have never understood, and don’t understand to this day.

“We went on board the _Des Moines_ to wait on Mr. Taft. He said to me,
‘Mr. Ogden, I understand you are an American citizen—then what are you
doing in that uniform, and under arms? And that man there? And that man
there?’ I replied, ‘Mr. Taft, I have lived in Cuba twelve years. This
gentleman is an Englishman—he has been fifteen years here. This
gentleman is French—he has been twenty years here. We have wives and
children here; and we have formed ourselves into a foreign legion,
because we think we have a right to protect our families and to preserve
the peace.’

“‘What do you want me to do?’ said Mr. Taft. [Sidenote: Muzzling the
Machine-Guns.] ‘The very thing you won’t do,’ said I. ‘How do you know?’
he said. ‘I’m a reasonable man, and I’m here to do something. How do you
know it mayn’t be what you want?’

“‘Well, sir,’ said I, ‘we want you to sit still, and smoke your cigar,
and do nothing.’

“‘For how long?’

“‘For twenty-four hours—at most for forty-eight.’

“‘And meantime,’ said he, ‘you propose to keep the peace by committing
an act of war?’

“‘It won’t be war, sir,’ I said. ‘These people can’t stand up for a
minute before machine guns. It isn’t in them. In the first place, they
haven’t more than six or eight rounds of ammunition apiece, and you know
you can’t make war with six rounds of ammunition. But I don’t care
though they had a million rounds—they simply cannot stand up. There’s no
reason why they should. There’s no patriotism, no principle among them.
They’re merely out for a little loot. If you tie our hands, and give the
country over to this gang, Cuba will stink to heaven before many months
are over.’

“But it was no use. Palma had to go, and now we don’t know what lies
before us.

“It isn’t that the Cubans aren’t fit for political life. Many of them
are, perfectly. But with the ignorant negro and low white vote, there is
no saying what may happen.

“I wish to heaven President Roosevelt had just added a few words of
postscript to his message to the Cubans. If he had only said, ‘Though we
intend that Cuba shall have honest self-government, we don’t propose to
put up with revolutions,’ all would have been well.”

                            A GAME FOR GODS

A cloudlessly hot Sunday afternoon in Havana—I am lounging in the Parque
Central, when I observe a poster announcing that a game of “Jai Alai” is
at that moment in progress. The very intelligent “Standard Guide to
Havana,” sold by Mr. Foster (the Cook of Cuba), notes this “famous
gambling game” as one of the sights of the city; so I charter a cab, and
jog through the baking streets to the “Frontón” in which it is played.
You first enter a long and evil-smelling hall, with various refreshment
bars, like the lower regions of a hippodrome; and then you pass into the
“Frontón” itself. Imagine an amphitheatre sliced in two at its
longitudinal axis; one half retained, with its shape unaltered, to serve
as the auditorium; the other half converted into a titanic racquet
court, 175 ft. long, 36 ft. deep, and (I imagine) something like 40 ft.
high. The long wall, of course, fronts the audience, the two short walls
close in the ends. The floor of the immense court is made of smooth and
almost shining concrete; the walls are of stone, painted chocolate
colour, and the long wall is marked off by perpendicular lines into
seventeen compartments. The purpose of this I did not understand, for
play takes place, not against this back wall, but up and down the whole
length of the great court. Imagine, now, the great auditorium, tier on
tier, filled with a vast crowd of excited, shouting, cheering men (there
were only about a dozen women present), while bookmakers in red Basque
caps move up and down in front of the first tier of seats, and permeate
the higher tiers as well, yelling the odds in their raucous voices. As a
vehicle for betting “Jai Alai” is generally recognized as “a curse to
the community,” and the American Governor has been much blamed for
tolerating it. But in itself,—as an exercise of skill, endurance,
strength, agility, and grace—I do not hesitate to call it out and away
the finest game I ever saw.

Readers who have been to Spain may recognize this as the Basque game of
pelota. [Sidenote: “Partido” and “Quiniela.”] I had heard its name; but
certainly its extraordinary merits had never reached my cars. Probably
it is too difficult for the ordinary amateur; the professionals whom I
saw are engaged at large salaries, and showed marvellous skill. But as a
mere spectacle I should think it would prove attractive anywhere.[73]
The game is perfectly simple to understand, and there is never a dull
moment in it, except the few moments of rest which the players allow
themselves. Here is my guide-book’s account of it:—

  Attached to a leather gauntlet worn by the players is a long, narrow,
  curved basket or cestus (_cesta_) from which the ball is hurled and in
  which it is caught. The small ball (_pelota_) is of indiarubber
  covered with leather, and weighs about four ounces. The players are
  distinguished by their dress as whites (_blancos_) and blues
  (_azules_). Two games are played. In one, called a _partido_, two
  blues play against two whites. In the other, called _quiniela_, five
  players participate, one against another in succession, until the
  winner shall have scored the game of six points.


Footnote 73:

  Since writing this I have learnt that pelota has been played both in
  London and at the St. Louis Exhibition, apparently without much
  success. Surely it was somehow mismanaged.


The _quiniela_ seemed to me more graceful and beautiful than the
_partido_, or foursome, if not quite so exciting. The players wear the
simplest costume—white drill trousers and either white or blue shirts.
For a long time I was puzzled to think what familiar object the “cesta”
recalled to me; but at last I hit on it—the thing is for all the world
like those wicker guards which linkmen put over hansom-wheels, to save
the gowns of ladies in alighting. The basket is, I take it, about two
feet long. When a player lets his arm drop from the shoulder, the tip of
the “cesta” is about level with his ankle.

Now, how shall I describe the actual play? It is racquets enormously
magnified, and carried to an almost superhuman pitch of skill. Only once
does the player touch the ball with his hand, and that is in leading
off. [Sidenote: Playing the Game.] Standing about the middle of the
court, he drops the ball on the floor, catches it with his “cesta” in
the rebound, and sends it whizzing against the end wall. It flies back
like a streak of lightning, and instantly one of the other side has it
in his “cesta,” makes two or three leaps to give himself impetus, and
hurls it again at the end wall. This time it is not improbable that he
has put such force into his cast that the ball rebounds the whole 175
feet, strikes the opposite wall, and flashes down to the floor. Then one
of his opponents must be ready to take it on the hop, and, reinforcing
its movement, to send it flying once more against the end wall, of
course doing his best to “place” it awkwardly for the other side. I have
seen the ball returned thirty times in a single rally; but the average
number would probably be some twelve or fifteen. And almost every catch
and return seemed an incredible feat of skill. Just consider: here is a
space of 6300 square feet, and only two players on each side—in the
_quiniela_ only one. What astounding rapidity of eye and agility of limb
it must take to be always at the right spot to catch a little demon of a
ball, that tears flashing about the court like a thing possessed! And
the men are almost always at the right spot. They may misplace the ball
or send it “out;” but it is the rarest thing for the ball to escape them
entirely. They run, they leap, they make the most amazing whirling
strokes; if the ball comes very low, they fall down, and often hurl it
with the greatest accuracy from the most unconventional positions on the
ground. Not once but hundreds of times that afternoon did I see things
done that looked absolutely impossible. Perhaps their variety of
resource is their most astonishing quality. But, wonderful as it all is,
it is still more beautiful. With all their rapidity, their grace is
perfect, like that of lithe, resilient, feline animals. If anything more
marvellous or more graceful was done at the Olympic games, then the
Greeks were athletes indeed.

Certainly, if one wanted to gamble, “Jai Alai” provides an intensely
exciting method of doing so. [Sidenote: The Fluctuating Odds.] In one
_partido_ that I saw it seemed at first that the “blancos” entirely
outclassed the “azules.” They gained about 8 points to their rivals’
3—the game being 30 up. But gradually the blues crept forward, until at
14 they tied. Then the whites spurted, and presently the score was
24-19. But again the blues pulled themselves together, and at 26 they
again tied. The whites, however, were the better team, and in the end
won by 2 points. Of course, at every fluctuation of the score, the odds
varied: when the twenties were reached the betting became fast and
furious, and both bookmakers and their “clients” shouted themselves
distracted. But there is no reason in the nature of things why this
exquisitely beautiful game should be “soiled with all ignoble use.” How
amazing is the brutality of taste that can prefer the bull-fight to

                        A FRAGMENT OF FAIRYLAND

Allowing time for a few hours’ stay at Matanzas, the journey from Havana
to Santiago di Cuba occupies two days and a night. At Matanzas, a town
in itself of no great interest, it is well worth while to climb to the
hermitage of Montserrate, which overlooks to the westward the Yumuri
valley, a great semicircular basin in the hills, and to the eastward a
magnificent sweep of sea and shore. The endless colonnades of palm-trees
give to the distant slopes an exquisite tone of silver-blue such as I
have never seen anywhere else. On the whole, however, the Cuban
landscape, as it presents itself between Havana and Santiago, is rich
and spacious rather than specially beautiful. Its characteristic aspect
is that of wide and fertile plains, with ranges of high hills, or low
mountains, in the distance, dappled with the shadows of the clouds; but
in the central province of Camaguëy the hills disappear, and the plains
become rather uninteresting, and to a considerable extent unimproved.
The general impression of fertility is very striking. The soil is often
of such a rich red or chocolate colour that it seems as though an artist
need only mix a little oil with it and transfer it to his canvas. The
species of palm which prevails in Cuba has an unfortunate tendency to
bulge in the wrong place, and assume a bottle-like contour, which is
fatal to the beauty of the individual trees. Patches of inextricable
jungle are not infrequent in the central districts, and suggest a use
for the huge, broad cutlasses—the _machetes_—with which the negro
peasantry are generally armed. As the line bends southward to Santiago,
I fancy that the scenery becomes more mountainous and picturesque; but
we ran through it in the dark. I retain only an impression of dense
forests jewelled with myriads of fire-flies, while some sort of cricket
or cicala made a pleasant tinkling sound, as though of running water.

Santiago I take to be one of the hottest places in the universe.
[Sidenote: Santiago to Kingston.] It is set in a vast basin of splendid
hills, the bottom of the basin being formed by the lake-like expanse of
the historic harbour. The gulf or fiord so narrows towards its mouth
that no sign of the open sea is visible, and no breath of sea breeze
seems ever to stir the mirror-like surface of the lake. The red roofs of
the town climb up the hill from the water’s edge, and seem to glow and
flame in the fierce sunlight. One envied the little brown and yellow
urchins running about stark naked in the shady side-streets. If they
wore anything at all, it was a necklace—an amulet or charm, as I


Footnote 74:

  In Havana I more than once saw mothers or nurses driving about in
  cabs, with children entirely naked save that they wore shoes and
  socks! A curious inversion of European custom.


From Santiago I took ship for Jamaica on the S.S. _Oteri_, the most
uncomfortable vessel on which I ever set foot. It belongs, I am told, to
the Cuba Eastern Railroad, which is largely an English company. Surely
it would pay them to assign a habitable ship to the service, and thus
encourage travellers to adopt this otherwise delightful route.

Over the passage I draw a veil. We wound our way down the narrow neck of
the fiord (sacred to the memory of the heroic Hobson), passed under the
bluff crowned by the bastions of Morro Castle, and plunged into the
rollers of a marvellous sapphire sea. From that time, I remember nothing
for about eighteen hours, except the truly infernal heat of a grimy
little oven, facetiously described as a stateroom. Next morning, when I
came on deck, the blue mountains of Jamaica were towering over us, and
we were heading for the low spit of Port Royal, which forms, as it were,
the breakwater of Kingston Harbour.

Of Jamaica I shall say very little, for the simple reason that my
feelings concerning it are beyond expression. [Sidenote: The City
Desolate.] The burden of my message is, “Go and see it.” Until you have
crossed the Blue Mountain range of this incomparable island you do not
know what Nature can achieve in the creation of pure beauty. In Italy
Nature is helped out by art, by architecture, by the magic of antiquity,
by all sorts of historic associations; and it would, of course, be
ridiculous to under-value these advantages. Here beauty has no such
adjuncts; if it is enhanced at all by the intervention of man, it is by
mere accident. Comparison, then, is futile; but with the liveliest
memory of many of the loveliest scenes in Italy, I say deliberately that
I did not know what pure beauty meant until I visited Jamaica.

But I did not learn it in Kingston. Rebuilding had scarcely begun in
that luckless city, which can at no time, I fancy, be very attractive.
It was, to put it briefly, the abomination of desolation. The heat in
the long, straight streets was torrid; and all the mortar that ought to
have been in the house-walls was blowing about in the form of scorching
and stinging dust-clouds. So I presently shook the dust of Kingston, not
so much off my feet as out of my eyes and lungs, and (under the advice
of kind friends at King’s House), set forth on a short tour, of which
the first stage was a railway journey to Port Antonio.

Never shall I forget that afternoon. [Sidenote: A Midsummer Day’s
Dream.] Perhaps it impressed me the more because I had not been led to
expect anything unusually beautiful. Between Kingston and the old
capital, Spanish Town, the route was of no great interest; but no sooner
had the train passed Spanish Town, and begun to creep up into the hills
which form the backbone of the island, than I found myself in a valley
of enchantment. A gorge rather than a valley—a winding, Highland glen,
with a clear blue river flowing musically down its rocky bed, and a
white road following the curves of the stream. Everywhere were glorious
forest trees and slender palms—very different from the paunchy Cuban
species—with an underwood of the richest tropical growths. The banana
groves, sometimes mixed with orange trees, were numberless, and at
almost every turn huge clumps of feathery bamboos were mirrored in the
stream. The giant limbs of the forest trees were often clad for their
whole length with the tender green of thick-clustering ferns. As for the
temperature, it was perfection. I can only describe it by a
contradiction in terms—very warm and yet beautifully cool—whereby I mean
that, though the thermometer was doubtless high, the delicate freshness
of the air, the clearness of the water, and the depth of the green
shadows through which we were running, produced a perfect illusion of
coolness. Slowly as the train meandered along, it went far too fast for
me. I was tortured by a desire to linger, to get out and walk, to fix in
my mind some of the ever-shifting aspects of beauty. Presently—all too
soon—we reached the top of the pass and began to wind down the wider
valley on the other side. Beneath jag-toothed mountain walls in the grey
distance, spread a labyrinth of crinkly hills, all tending to a
pyramidal form, and many of them crowned with red-roofed cabins or
wattle huts. Down their corrugations flowed exquisitely limpid brooks,
and up their sides climbed forests of broad-leaved bananas. On every
hand were palms, oranges, and brilliant flowering shrubs. It gave one an
odd little shock to see at a wayside station, amid all this wealth of
tropical colour, a patch of homely British vermilion in the shape of a
mail-cart inscribed with the familiar “E.R.” At times the train would
plunge into tunnels, just long enough to afford a pleasant pause in the
overpowering feast of beauty; then out again to serpentine along amid
fairy dells and dingles each lovelier than the last. As we drew
downwards, the noble mountain background began to flush in the evening
light; and at last we ran out into the wide bed of a torrent debouching
in a sweep of purple sea. This was Annotto Bay; whence the line skirts
round headland after headland of the romantic coast to the bright little
town of Port Antonio.

Here I spent a perfect tropical day. [Sidenote: At Port Antonio.] The
great American caravanserai on the promontory between the two bays was
closed; so I went to the pleasant little Waverley Hotel on the neck of
land at the base of the promontory. Through the still hot hours of
blazing sunlight, I sat in the airiest of attire on a shady verandah,
writing some of the foregoing pages, while the vulture-like “John Crows”
wheeled solemnly around, in sedulous devotion to their craft of
scavenging. The waters of the smaller bay were lapping at my feet; and I
looked out over their blue expanse to a little red-and-white light-house
on the opposite head-land, and the white walls of an American
millionaire’s villa gleaming through a forest of palms. In the cool of
the afternoon, I climbed to a small plantation on the top of a hill some
seven or eight hundred feet high, almost perpendicularly overhanging the
town. Nothing more glorious can be conceived than the falling of the
purple twilight over the innumerable folds of the foothills filling the
bottom of the great basin of mountains to the south; while northward lay
the measureless expanse of the sleeping Spanish Main. It was a scene of
sheer enchantment. I lingered until the great stars began to blaze in
the crystal deeps of heaven; then took my way downward, unutterably
moved, as by some august and gorgeous ritual. In the town, the lamplight
was glowing through the walls of the houses—for here, as often as not,
the walls are of pivoted slats which open and close like Venetian
blinds. The streets were swarming with a dusky throng, and a band of
black Salvationists was making an unholy clatter under the star-sown

But I must cut short my Jamaican raptures, and not attempt to express
the inexpressible. Starting from Buff Bay the next morning, at seven
o’clock, under the guidance of a negro whoso regal name was Clovis, I
rode all day long up a valley of paradise, into the heart of the
mountains. [Sidenote: A Valley of Paradise.] Sometimes, when the road
skirted a ravine, we would look down a hundred feet or so, and see
shining brown bodies plashing about in the silver pools, flecked with
sunlight through the overarching palms. More than once, in some
sequestered nook, we came upon a negro family party performing an
elaborate go-to-meeting toilet—for it happened to be Sunday, and the
road was populous with worshippers, all of whom gave us a grinning
good-day. While we took our midday rest at a hospitable plantation, half
ruined by the earthquake, a deluge of rain came down and lasted over an
hour; but when we rode forward—now on a mere bridle-path winding along
the sides of often precipitous gorges—it was wonderful to see the clouds
rolling up like giant curtains from the glittering mountain-sides. On we
clambered over the watershed, and a little way down the southern valley,
to the plantation of Chester Vale, 3000 feet high. There I spent several
delightful days of work and mountain wandering, on which I must not
allow myself to enlarge. Almost every afternoon—for it was the rainy
season—there came a tropical downpour. But rain itself, in this climate,
is a thing of beauty and of joy; and as for the lifting of the clouds
and breaking through of the evening sun, who shall describe the
splendours of the spectacle? Perhaps the most beautiful of all my
experiences was an early morning ride from Chester Vale along the ridge
to Newcastle, on my way back to Kingston. Such ferns, such exquisite
wild flowers, as lined the path, I have seen nowhere else; and the view
from our shady fringe of the forest, over the sunbathed valley fading
away to the northern sea, was sumptuous in the extreme.

I cannot better sum up my impressions of Jamaica than by saying that
there was scarcely an hour of my brief stay in the island which I would
not willingly have prolonged indefinitely. Again and again—many times in
the day—I would feel, “Why cannot the sun stand still? Why must this
marvellous moment pass away before I have absorbed a hundredth part of
its beauty? Why is there no means of ‘fixing’ on the memory, as on a
photographic plate, the details of this heavenly scene?” We have all, I
suppose, experienced these moments of exasperation at the tyrannous
march of time; but I have never known them come crowding upon me as they
did in Jamaica. In a very real sense, the island is too lovely; one is
sated, surfeited with beauty. I should hesitate to live there, lest
perchance I should sicken of Nature’s prodigality. But for a month or
two, or for a winter, nothing could be more fascinating. And Jamaica, in
my experience, has few or none of the usual draw-backs of the
tropics—poisonous insects, snakes, and so forth. It is the nearest
conceivable approach to an earthly Paradise. It is a fragment of

To confess the truth, I was too much occupied in sheer enjoyment of life
during my stay in Jamaica to pursue with any ardour my researches into
the race-problem. [Sidenote: Black, White, and Coloured.] But I saw
enough to realize the heaven-wide difference between this black
community, administered by a benevolent but scarcely qualified
despotism, and the piebald democracies of the Southern States. There
were in Jamaica, in 1905, 15,000 whites, ten times as many “coloured”
people (that is to say mulattoes), and nearly 630,000 blacks. In other
words, the white population of the island is smaller than that of Rugby,
the non-white population is larger than that of Manchester and Salford.
There are fifty-five non-whites to every one white. Moreover, the terms
of the enumeration point to a characteristic difference between the
United States and Jamaica. In America, every one with the smallest
strain of African blood is black, though he may, in fact, be as white as
George Washington. “Coloured man” and “negro” are synonymous, there
being no legal, social, or statistical distinction between the pure
black and the mulatto. We have seen how impossible it is to arrive at
anything but a merely conjectural estimate of the relative numbers of
the pure and mixed breeds. But in the West Indies “coloured” means “not
black” as clearly as it means “not white.” The “coloured” population is
a middle class between the white aristocracy and the black proletariat;
and whereas in America there is almost complete solidarity of feeling
and interest between the mulatto and the negro, I am told that in the
West Indies the “coloured” man despises the “nigger,” and feels himself
immeasurably his social superior.[75]


Footnote 75:

  “To create an intermediate classification as in Jamaica, and to divide
  the population into ‘white,’ ‘negro,’ and ‘coloured’ is but to
  increase the confusions and complexities of the problem ... the
  irritation between the coloured and negro classes being often quite as
  great as that between the negro and the white.”—E. G. Murphy, “The
  Basis of Ascendancy,” p. 43.


This means that no real race-problem exists in Jamaica. There may be a
certain amount of marginal friction and unpleasantness where the
coloured population, the intermediate stratum, touches the black basis
of society on the one hand, and the white upper-crust on the other; but
these difficulties are not essentially different from those which
necessarily arise in any community which includes a large class of
indeterminate social standing. There is, in fact, none of that race
rivalry which declares itself where two races are practically equal in
numbers and theoretically equal in political status. The integrity and
the social position of the white race are absolutely unthreatened. They
are, like the English in India, a small body of “sahibs” in a non-white
country. The situation in Jamaica, in fact, has scarcely an element in
common with that of the Southern States.

There are, I believe, some slight stirrings of democratic ambition, and
of resentment at their lack of political rights, among the Jamaican
populace—especially in the small class of urban negroes. [Sidenote: Let
Well Alone?] It would be absurd for me to offer an opinion as to whether
they have any substantial and practical grievance. But I confess I could
not work up any enthusiasm for the “elevation” of the Jamaican masses.
Beyond a little better sanitation, I do not know what they want. They
seemed as happy as South Sea Islanders, and much more tenacious of life.
Both the coloured population and the black population have nearly
doubled within the past half-century. From the point of view of the
white employer, no doubt, it is highly desirable that, as Mr. Booker
Washington puts it, they should “want more wants:” more civilization
would mean more stability and industry, with less inclination to
“prædial larceny.” But from the point of view of the black man himself,
the benefits of progress seem far more questionable. I read without the
appropriate sense of horror that “not more than half of the native
population is effectively reached by religious and educational
influences,” and that 60 per cent. of the births are illegitimate. It
seems to me that the Jamaican negro enjoys all the advantages of the
primitive life without its disadvantages, whereas the American negro
(broadly speaking) is subjected to all the evils of civilization, while
he receives but a disproportionate share of its benefits.

                            THE PANAMA CANAL

When, in New York, I was handed a sailing-list of the Royal Mail Steam
Packet Company’s boats, I observed that their first port of call, after
Jamaica, was Colon. In vain I hurriedly searched the map of the
Caribbean Sea, hoping to disguise my ignorance. I had to pocket my
pride, and inquire, “Where is Colon?” Afterwards I discovered that Colon
was a place of which I had often heard under its earlier name of
Aspinwall; for my father, one of the Californian Argonauts, had twice
crossed the Isthmus of Darien in the old days.

Under no conceivable name would Colon be an attractive place. It is
situated on flat ground (formerly an island) at the bottom of a little
bag of a bay; it consists of the ordinary jerry-built two-storey houses
of a more or less improvised tropical sea-port; its fringe of palms is
meagre and mangy; and it is backed by low and featureless wooded hills.

But, as we steam slowly up to the jetty, what is this cluster of some
twenty or thirty neat new houses, under a grove of palm-trees away to
the right? There is something odd about them, something dark and
blind-looking; they seem to have neither windows nor doors. After a
little searching of spirit, I realize what they suggest to me—they are
like a row of giant meat-safes.

And there, at the point of the spit of land, is a statue—a group of two
figures. Now I know where I am, for I have been reading things up a
little. This must be the statue of Columbus embracing an Indian maiden,
presented by the Empress Eugénie in the palmy days of French ambition
regarding the Isthmus; and the houses behind it must be those of the
American officials in the settlement of Cristobal, a suburb of Colon.

One soon learns to appreciate the “screened” houses of the Canal Zone,
with their verandahs enclosed in an impervious veil of wire gauze. But
outwardly, and especially at a distance, they are not things of beauty.

Three minutes in the broiling streets of Colon were quite enough for me.
I have seen frontier settlements before now; and Colon, though it has a
sort of a history, is at present, to all intents and purposes, a
frontier settlement. “Do you know Port Said?” a resident said to me;
“Well, this place is just about 50 per cent. wickeder.” I think the
resident (with pardonable partiality) exaggerated a little; but the
aspect of Colon, even by day, was quite sufficiently sinister.

Besides, I had an important introduction to present at Panama; so I took
the first train thither. This railway, or at any rate a railway more or
less on the line of this one, was built in the ’fifties, and is said to
have cost a life for every tie (_Anglice_, sleeper). Literal-minded
persons question this statement; to me it seems entirely probable. For
if ever there was a pestiferous-looking region, it is this land of swamp
and jungle and blood-red river. Though I knew that science had
practically annulled the evil spell that had so long rested on it, there
were still places which I could scarcely look at without a shudder.

Of course the Canal works, and the settlements of the workers, give an
air of great animation to many points on the line. But apart from these
I saw not a single sign of life on the whole route; not a square inch of
cultivation, not a man or woman who looked like a peasant of the region;
only a few undaunted cattle browsing here and there in the swamps. And
every here and there, to add to the desolation, lay great pieces of
machinery—travelling cranes, trucks, even engines—overturned by the
wayside and half submerged in jungle. They were relics of the French
fiasco, the abandoned impedimenta of De Lesseps’ Moscow. I have seen few
more tragic spectacles.

Here let me say, however, that intelligent Americans speak with great
respect of their French predecessors. “Consider the difficulties they
had to deal with,” a high official said to me—“difficulties that we have
had practically swept away for us! They knew nothing of tropical
hygiene, and malaria and yellow fever had it all their own way with
them. They knew nothing of cold storage, and the problem of supply was
practically insoluble. Considering all these circumstances, it is
wonderful what they did, and did well. If it bears a small proportion to
the £50,000,000, more or less, that were sunk in the enterprise, you
must remember that probably not half that sum of money ever got to the
Isthmus. Their material was all excellent. We use a considerable amount
of it to this day. We have dug many of their locomotives out of the
jungle, and found them practically as good as new. When we took over the
business, there was a great outcry over the £8,000,000 we paid to the
French Company. People said it was grossly extravagant; but we have
found that the bargain was a good one.” Despite all alteration of plans,
I gather that about half the excavation actually made by the French has
proved, or will prove, useful.

As one leaves the station at Panama, one fears that it is to prove a
second Colon. [Sidenote: A Sanitary Campaign.] Here are the same
two-storey shanties, half of them, it would seem, drinking-bars, and the
other half miscellaneous stores, kept by the ubiquitous Ah Sin and Wong
Lee. But after half a mile or so of this Hispano-Americano-Chinatown,
the Avenida Central leads one into the moderately old and not quite
uninteresting Spanish city, with its Plaza, its twin-towered Cathedral,
and its fort. And when you get to the fort, you find yourself on the
central promontory of one of the most beautiful bays in the world; but
of this more anon, from another point of view.

The towns of Panama and Colon are specially excluded from the Canal
Zone—the strip of territory extending five miles on each side of the
Canal, which the United States has bought from the Republic of Panama
for £2,000,000. But even in these two towns the Americans have
undertaken the work of paving and sanitation; the outlay to be repaid
by instalments extending over fifty years. So they have repeated here
the drastic cleaning-up which they have effected in Havana, even
outraging the feelings of the natives by abolishing the domestic
rain-water butt, the breeding-place of the “Anopheles” and “Stegomyia”
mosquitos—disseminators, respectively of malaria and yellow fever. It
is mainly, though of course not entirely, by waging war upon these
insects that the now almost perfect sanitation of the Canal Zone has
been secured. And it is in order to exclude them from the happy home
that all the I.C.C.—Isthmian Canal Commission—houses are “screened”
with wire gauze.

To one of these houses, in the suburb of Ancon, I drove in the early
afternoon, and presented my introduction, which was honoured with true
American cordiality. Once within the gauze fortification (and the door
shuts behind you with a spring, lest you should inadvertently admit a
casual Anopheles) you find yourself in a delightfully arranged tropical
house, with dining-room and drawing-room opening off a central hall, and
with the spacious verandah affording what is equivalent to another suite
of rooms. It is built entirely of hardwood, painted in white and shades
of green, and is as cool and airy as heart can desire. From within, the
“screen” is scarcely noticeable; in the normal Panama weather, indeed,
it merely softens agreeably the glare of the sun outside.

“Is this,” I asked, “the famous house that was built in some incredibly
short space of time?”

“Yes,” said my host, laughing. “That story has got around a good deal,
but it has the merit of being true. When the house was begun, I saw that
the workmen were simply dilly-dallying over it and making no way. I
spoke to our chief, Colonel Goethals, about it, and he came over and
looked at the preparations, so far as they had gone. He said to the
overseer: ‘This house must be finished and ready for occupation on the
15th of November’—just six weeks ahead. The overseer pulled a very long
face, and said, ‘I’ll do my best, sir.’ ‘That was not my order,’ said
Colonel Goethals. ‘I did not tell you to do your best—I told you to have
the house finished.’ And finished it was, in just thirty-six working

After taking me for a most interesting drive in the environs of Ancon,
my host was compelled, by a previous engagement, to leave me to myself
for the rest of the evening. [Sidenote: “A Peak in Darien.”] I did the
obvious thing, which was to climb Ancon Hill at sunset. To do so you
have first to wind your way through the beautifully situated hospital
buildings, all, of course, carefully screened in gauze. Straying a
little from the proper road, I came across a lumber-yard, outside of
which I was a little startled to find a pile of some fifty coffins of
assorted sizes. These, too, might, I thought, have been “screened”
without disadvantage to the spirits of the community.

A stiff climb of about half an hour brought me to the top of Ancon Hill,
and disclosed one of the loveliest views I have ever seen. Immediately
below lay the town of Panama on its promontory. To the left a huge bay
curved outward, with a magnificent sweep, and beyond it range on range
of mountains grew ever dimmer and more distant as they faded away into
South America. To the right of Panama lay the smaller bay of La Boca, in
which the canal will actually debouch, studded with beautiful
mountainous islands, not at all unlike those of the bay of Naples, on a
smaller scale. It was a glorious scene; and a white American cruiser
lying out in the anchorage gave a pleasant touch of life to it.

Observe that I have said “to the left” and “to the right” of Panama, not
to the south and to the north; for the orientation here is extremely
puzzling. I naturally expected to see the sun set over the Pacific; but,
to my great surprise, there seemed to be no sun in the heavens in that
direction. Yet the light proved that a sunset was going on somewhere;
and, turning inland, I found the luminary engaged in sinking behind the
mountains of the Isthmus—to the eastward it seemed to me. A study of a
large-scale map may show the reason for this paradox—I shall not attempt
to expound it.

The Isthmian Canal Commission has built and runs a delightful tropical
hotel at Ancon, called—heaven knows why—the Tivoli. [Sidenote: The
Tivoli Hotel.] Even the negro waiters wear at their belt the brazen
badges or checks showing their numbers on the I.C.C. pay-list. Salaries
are paid to numbers, not to names. Many of the labourers have no
ascertainable, or no spellable, name; many change their names as the
fancy strikes them; but their badge identifies them at once.

The telephone in my bedroom rang at 5.30 the next morning, for I had to
catch a train at 6.35 to meet my Ancon friend at Culebra, several
stations down the line. On the way, I saw a gang of black convicts
working at an embankment. The black and white stripes of their trousers
were conspicuous: less conspicuous the chain attaching one leg of each
man to a large bullet. A negro in khaki uniform stood sentry over them
with fixed bayonet.

There is, it appears, surprisingly little serious crime in the Zone.
There are three district judges, who, sitting in banc, form a supreme
court. Trial by jury has recently been introduced, on the theory that
the Constitution follows the flag. Two cases have been tried by jury: in
the first a white man was acquitted who ought (said my informant) to
have been found guilty; in the second, a negro was (justly) convicted
with promptitude and despatch.

After breakfast at the delightful house of one of the officials at
Culebra, my kind cicerone and I sallied forth to visit the famous
Culebra Cut. But, while waiting for our motor to appear, he showed me
two of the characteristic institutions of the Zone.

[Sidenote: A Club House.]

The first was an I.C.C. Club House—a spacious and admirably arranged
recreation-home, containing a library, reading and writing rooms,
billiard-room, gymnasium, skittle alley, and theatre for amateur
performances and minstrel shows.

“The great enemy we have to fight,” said my friend, “is not the climate,
and still less disease, but the monotony of the life. You cannot get
good work out of discontented and homesick people—you cannot even retain
their services. So it has been one of our most essential tasks to
organize amusements, and make the leisure time of our people agreeable.
This Culebra club-house is one of four already built, at the cost of
about £7000 apiece. The others are at Empire, Gorgona, and Cristobal;
and we have four or five more in contemplation.”

“And to whom are the club-houses open?”

“To all Gold Employees; and the dues are only one dollar a month.”

The Gold Employee means, on the face of it, the man or woman whose
salary is calculated in United States currency, while the Silver
Employee is the labourer, white or black, who works at so much an hour,
calculated in the currency of Panama, in which a dollar is equal to just
half the American or gold dollar. But to all intents and purposes, so
far as I could make out, the Gold Employee is the white American, the
Silver Employee is everybody else. There are 6000 American employees of
the Commission; and, counting officials of the Panama Railway and women
and children, there are altogether about 12,000 Americans on the Zone.
The total number of employees varies considerably, but is somewhere
about 40,000.

The second institution to which my friend introduced me was a Commissary
Store, of which there are half a dozen in the Zone. In this large and
roomy building commodities of every description are dispensed to
employees of the Commission. I say dispensed, for nothing is bought for
money. [Sidenote: A Socialistic Store.] Everything is paid for by
coupons various values, issued to employees alone—the object being to
ensure that none but they shall benefit by the institution. As the
region is almost wholly unproductive, everything has to be imported from
New York, New Orleans, and other points of the United States, from one
to two thousand miles distant—the “perishables” being handled by a
magnificent system of cold storage. As everything is supplied virtually
at cost price, the Canal employee on the average pays for what he
consumes rather less than he would in New York.

“But, my dear sir,” I said, as we left the Commissary Store, “this is
sheer unmitigated State Socialism.”

“I know it,” he replied, “but I have always thought that Socialism under
Carlyle’s ‘benevolent despot’ would be no bad thing. And we flatter
ourselves that, in the I.C.C., the benevolent despot has, for once, been

Our motor had by this time appeared—a motor running on the railroad—and
we set off. [Sidenote: The Culebra Cut.] First we ran down the ordinary
passenger track to Las Cascadas; and there, by means of an ingenious
portable turntable, we faced about and got ourselves switched on to
rails leading to the Cut. Times out of number had our motor-man to jump
off and turn the points so as to run us into a siding while some huge
“dirt train” rumbled past. The rule is that everything must give place
to a “business” train. Only for the President of the United States was
the line cleared.

Up in the North, an old soldier of the Union, now one of the most
delightful of scholars and critics—why should I not name Professor
Lounsbury?—had said to me, “I thought that the charge of Pickett’s
Brigade, on the third day at Gettysburg, was the greatest sight that I
ever had seen or would see; but the Culebra Cut really rivalled it.” I
was curious to see where any analogy could lie between two such
disparate spectacles; and, frankly, I could find it only in the
cannonade of dynamite through which we had occasionally to run. But
unquestionably the Cut is a wonderful spectacle, a tremendous
demonstration of human and mechanical energy.

It is simply the transformation of a mountain into a valley. Imagine all
the biggest railway cuttings you have ever seen ranged into a sort of
giant stairway, along the two sides of a great prism-shaped valley; and
imagine all these cuttings, at a dozen different levels, being daily and
hourly deepened by an army of machines and men. The activity is
enormous. Here we have whole companies of drills of various kinds boring
the rock to be charged with dynamite; a little farther on we pause at a
given signal, and presently come five or six detonations, one after the
other, like a sharp discharge of artillery. The usual charge is about
three hundred pounds; but on one occasion twenty-three tons were used in
a single explosion, to blow away a whole hillside. When the ground has
been loosened, or “fired,” as they call it, along comes that mammoth
earth-eater, the steam-shovel, with its attendant train of dirt-cars,
digs its shining steel teeth into the hillside, and munches it up at the
rate of five cubic yards to a mouthful. These giant mouthfuls it spits
out again one by one into the flat “Lidgertwood” cars on the adjoining
track, five or six mouthfuls (I forget the exact number), constituting a
carload. The train of some fifteen cars is, in fact, a long platform on
wheels; for iron aprons join car to car and make the platform
continuous. The cars, moreover, have but one side, so that, when the
train arrives at the dumping-ground, a sort of steam plough is dragged
by a cable along its whole length, and its huge burden of rock and soil
is discharged in a very few minutes. For another consistency of soil, a
tilting form of dirt-car is used. In short, no possible time- or
labour-saving device is neglected. Even the shifting of temporary
railway tracks, which is constantly required, is effected by a machine,
which lifts whole sections of rails and “ties,” and deposits them in
their new location.

Along the whole length of the Cut we made our way, zig-zagging from
level to level. [Sidenote: Engineering Difficulties.] When we were in
the very bottom of the “prism,” and the two sides of the eviscerated
mountain were towering above us, I inquired what was to be the ultimate
surface level of the water, and found that the surface level had not yet
been reached by many feet.

For about half its length, the Canal will not have the aspect of a canal
at all, but of a great lake. The low lands of the northern side of the
Isthmus are to be entirely flooded by the damming at Gatun of the
Chagres river. This lake-reservoir will have a surface area of about one
hundred and ten square miles, and will serve as a regulator of the water
supply. For instance, such a sudden rainfall as would cause the Chagres
river to rise thirty-five feet in twenty-four hours, will raise the
water in the dam only about three inches.

It is whispered in Colon that there is still one great engineering
difficulty in the way of the enterprise, and that is to find an adequate
foundation for the huge Gatun Dam. Whether such a difficulty exists I
cannot say, but, if it does, I am very sure it will be overcome.
Croakers also declare that it is well known that the proposed width of
the locks at Gatun and La Boca (100 feet) will be quite inadequate for
the greater Dreadnoughts and Lusitanias of the future, but that the
engineers dare not tackle a larger “proposition.” These are very likely
the idlest of rumours. The quidnuncs of Colon do not observe the
admirable resolution adopted by the Cristobal Women’s Club, namely,
“That every club-woman in the Canal Zone constitute herself a committee
of one to foster favourable instead of adverse criticism of the
conditions of the Zone and of the Isthmus of Panama.”

[Sidenote: A Triumph of Organization.]

We had just dodged our way through the Cut, when the eleven o’clock
whistle sounded, and work ceased for the “noon hour” of eleven to one,
essential in this climate. We were thus enabled to make a pretty clear
run into Panama. A recent rainfall had left some standing water along
the line, and wherever we saw a pool we saw, too, a negro treating it
with a can of crude petroleum. The mosquito has indeed a poor time of it
in the domain of the I.C.C.

Regretfully I bade my hosts farewell and took the 5.30 train for Colon.
As the twilight fell, about midway across the Isthmus, I saw, on the
same patch of green, one set of negroes playing baseball, and another
set playing cricket. The latter were, of course, Jamaicans, asserting
their privileges as citizens of the British Empire. This, I am told,
they are very apt to do, in and out of season. The moment they consider
their dignity outraged, their retort is, “Let me tell you, sah, I am a
British subject.” And, truly, for men of their hue, it is better to be
British subjects than American citizens.

It was at Colon, the same evening, that I heard those questionings as to
the engineering success of the Canal which I have recorded above.
Neither of its scientific nor of its political aspects do I profess to
judge; but I am much mistaken if the organization of the enterprise be
not an achievement of which America has good reason to be proud.


 Amalgamation of races, 56, 215, 217. (_See also_ “Miscegenation.”)
 Alderman, E. A., 74, 76, 77, 154, 192, 218
 Ancon Hill, Panama, 282
 Armstrong, General S. C., 48, 117
 Atlanta, Georgia, 135
      ”   Compromise, 51, 113, 208
      ”   Police Court, 148
      ”   Riot, 52, 136, 206
      ”   University, 140

 Baker, Ray Stannard, 5, 18, 64, 105, 224
 Baltimore, Maryland, 16
 Biological argument, 227
 Birmingham, Alabama, 126
 “Black Belt,” The, 67
 “Blind Tigers,” 147, 151
 Boll-Weevil, The, 77
 Bratton, Bishop, 43, 71
 Bruce, P. A., 191
 Buttrick, Wallace, 77

 Cable, G. W., 87
 Calhoun, William P., 211
 Canal Zone, The, 280
      ”    ”   Club Houses in, 284
      ”    ”   Commissary Stores in, 285
 Chain-gangs, 33, 99
 Charleston, South Carolina, 176
 Chicago, 3, 7
 Child labour, 18, 90
 “Clubs” and alcohol, 147, 150
 Colon (Aspinwall), 276
 Colour-Problem, Reality of, 9, 197
 “Coloured Man,” in Jamaica, distinct from negro, 272
 Convict labour, 96
 Cooper, Edward E., 226
 Cuba, 23, 247, 263
      ”   Colour-line in, 250
      ”   Revolution in, 253
 Culebra Cut, Panama, 287

 Demonstration farms, 79
 Deportation of negroes, Proposed, 235
 Discrimination, 5, 40, 70, 74, 97, 127, 139, 162, 176, 234
 Dispensary system, 153
 “Dooley, Mr.,” 146
 Du Bois, W. E. B., 30, 33, 45, 52, 56, 61, 75, 99, 140, 162, 208
 Dumas, Alexandre, 226, 231
      ”      ”   Fils, 46

 Education, 17, 22, 25, 43, 76, 104, 128
      ”   Academic, 17, 50, 122, 141
      ”   Agricultural, 76
      ”   Compulsory, 78, 128
      ”   Industrial, 17, 50, 57, 109, 119, 192
      ”   Board, General, 76
 Equality, Political, 9, 72
      ”   Race, 43, 231
 Ethnological argument, 217

 Finot, Jean, 219

 Florida, 177

 Florida East Coast Railway, 178, 180

 Frissell, H. B., 119

 Foraker, Senator, 107

 Gatun Dam, Panama, 289
 Goethals, Colonel, 281
 “Grandfather clause,” 171
 Graves, John Temple, 238

 Hampton Institute, 48, 114
 Havana, 23, 247, 257
 Hookworm, 3, 194, 202

 Immigration, European, 133, 196
 Indians, American, 123
      ”   Asiatic, 183
 Instinct, 8, 9, 16, 71, 201, 217
 Isthmian Canal Commission, 280, 283

 Jacksonville, Florida, 177
 “Jai Alai,” 257
 Jamaica, 265
 “Jim Crow Car,” 70, 131, 139, 234
 Justice, Administration of, 96

 Kingston, Jamaica, 265
 Knapp, S. A., 79
    ”   Arthur, 81

 “Lilywhite Policy,” 34, 171
 Louisville, Kentucky, 29, 36
 Lynching, 24, 26, 33, 139, 169, 216, 235
    ”     Statistics of, 27

 McKinley, Carl, 235
 Marriage of white with black, where legal, 5
 Massacre, Possibility of, 206
 Matanzas, Cuba, 263
 Memphis, Tennessee, 38, 59
 Miami, Florida, 179
 Miller, Kelly, 101, 161, 215, 223
 Miscegenation, 64, 132, 214, 231
 Montgomery, Alabama, 64, 94
 Mosquitos, “Anopheles” and “Stegomyia,” 280
 Mulattos, 108, 129, 213, 225, 230
    ”     do not “breed straight,” 63
    ”     separate class in Jamaica, 272
 Murphy, Edgar Gardner, 26, 30, 35, 60, 77, 95, 101, 105, 190, 216, 273

 Negro and Jew, 215
   ”   and Prohibition, 149, 195
   ”   as domestic servant, 18
   ”   barbers, 30
   ”   “Body odour” of, 144
   ”   churches, 139, 163
   ”   crime, 26, 28, 100, 142, 200
   ”   Cuban, 251
   ”   disfranchisement, 34, 171, 212, 234
   ”   education, 17, 22, 25, 43, 104, 174
   ”   homes, 32, 35, 53, 156
   ”   Inferiority of, 221
   ”   Instinctive feeling towards, 8, 144, 183
   ”   in the North, 7, 209
   ”   Jamaican, 272, 290
   ”   labour unnecessary to South, 211
   ”   lawyers, 31, 36, 98
   ”   loyalty during Civil War, 25
   ”   morality, 64, 139, 214
   ”   mortality, 193, 205
   ”   Northern feeling towards, 3, 14, 21, 209
   ”   Numbers of, 16, 93, 189
   ”   peonage, 102, 234
   ”   policemen, 169
   ”   precocity, 129
   ”   professional men, 33
   ”   Progressive, 142

  ”   religion, 34, 74, 139 ”   State, A, 237 ”   Rural, 69, 193
”   taxation, 104, 169 ”   thrift, 54, 175 ”   Urban, 69, 193
”   vitality, 189 ”   wealth, 32, 33, 35, 157 Negrophobia “not matter of
colour,” 144 New Orleans, 87, 153 New York, 7, 15, 195

 .sp 1
 Old Point Comfort, 114
 Olivier, Sir Sydney, 200, 203, 227

 Page, Thomas Nelson, 25, 27, 33, 138, 193, 207, 209
 Palma, President, 252
 Panama Canal, 276
    ”   City, 279
    ”   Isthmus of, 278
 “Pan-mixture,” 219
 Patterson, Professor, 106
 “Pelota,” 257
 Peonage, 102, 234
 Philadelphia, 21, 195
 Phillips, Dr., 127
 “Poor Whites,” 3, 18, 195
 Population, Proportion of black to white, 16, 93, 189, 196
        ”   Increase of negro, 36, 189, 196
 Port Antonio, Jamaica, 268
 Prohibition, 146

 Race Antipathy, 143, 198, 207
 Railway Stations, 126
 Rape, 22, 24, 59
 Reconstruction Period, 33, 43, 56, 60, 138
 Rockefeller, John D., 77, 84, 194
 Roosevelt, President, 13, 107, 227, 256
 Royce, Professor, 198

 St. Augustine, Florida, 178
 Santiago di Cuba, 264
 Segregation of Negroes, Proposed, 233
 Slavery, 3, 25, 32, 230
 Slave-trade, 201, 220
 Smith, W. B., 27, 129
 Southern States an Anglo-Saxon community, 218
 Southern States a “white man’s land,” 204, 229
 Southern States, Poverty of, 77, 105, 202
 Southern States, Religion of white population, 73, 143, 154
 Southern States, Wealth of, 76
 Stone, A. H., 23, 93, 97, 157, 188, 190, 211, 243
 Street-car episodes, 11, 30, 93, 176

 Taft, President, 254, 255
 Timber, Waste of, 20, 135, 179
 Thomas, William Hannibal, 33, 144, 193
 “Toothbrush, Gospel of,” 54, 70
 Turner, Herbert, 119
 Tuskegee, 49, 107, 116, 141

 Vicksburg, Mississippi, 68, 85
 Virginia Hot Springs, 19

 Washington, Booker T., 35, 42, 45, 48, 65, 69, 97, 121, 192, 196, 208,
    215, 274
 Washington, Mrs. Booker, 108
 Washington, D. C., 4, 6, 11, 16
 Wells, H. G., 199, 201
 West Indies, British, 188, 200, 203
 “White Negroes,” #125, 170, 174, 223

                               PRINTED BY
                          LONDON AND BECCLES.


                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

  163.12   he s[et/aid].                                  Replaced.
  181.9    but all are st[r]angely contorted              Inserted.
  272.31   in the West Indies “coloured[’/”] means        Replaced.
  273.19   none of that[,] race rivalry                   Removed.
  274.24   “prædial larcen[c]y.”                          Removed.

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