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The Two Faces of Dixie: Politicians, Plantations and Slaves
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Undoubtedly there was corruption, but one could hardly claim that blacks had invented political conniving, especially in the bizarre climate of financial finagling North and South after the Civil War. Not only were seventy thousand Negro children going to school by where none had gone before, but fifty thousand white children were going to school where only twenty thousand had attended in Black voting in the period after resulted in two Negro members of the U.

Senate Hiram Revels and Blanche Bruce, both from Mississippi , and twenty Congressmen, including eight from South Carolina, four from North Carolina, three from Alabama, and one each from the other former Confederate states. This list would dwindle rapidly after ; the last black left Congress in One has to measure against those words the black leaders in the postwar South. For instance, Henry MacNeal Turner, who had escaped from peonage on a South Carolina plantation at the age of fifteen, taught himself to read and write, read law books while a messenger in a lawyer's office in Baltimore, and medical books while a handyman in a Baltimore medical school, served as chaplain to a Negro regiment, and then was elected to the first postwar legislature of Georgia.

In , the Georgia legislature voted to expel all its Negro members-two senators, twenty-five representatives- and Turner spoke to the Georgia House of Representatives a black woman graduate student at Atlanta University later brought his speech to light :. The scene presented in this House, today, is one unparalleled in the history of the world Never, in the history of the world, has a man been arraigned before a body clothed with legislative, judicial or executive functions, charged with the offense of being of a darker hue than his fellow-men.

The Anglo-Saxon race, sir, is a most surprising one I was not aware that there was in the character of that race so much cowardice, or so much pusillanimity. I tell you, sir, that this is a question which will not die today. This event shall be remembered by posterity for ages yet to come, and while the sun shall continue to climb the hills of heaven Why, sir, though we are not white, we have accomplished much. We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; we have worked in your fields, and garnered your harvests, for two hundred and fifty years!

And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you-for the rears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not. As black children went to school, they were encouraged by teachers, black and white, to express themselves freely, sometimes in catechism style. The records of a school in Louisville, Kentucky:. Black women helped rebuild the postwar South.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, born free in Baltimore, self-supporting from the age of thirteen, working as a nursemaid, later as an abolitionist lecturer, reader of her own poetry, spoke all through the southern states after the war. In the s she wrote the first novel published by a black woman: Iola Leroy or Shadows Uplifted. In she described what she had seen and heard recently in the South:.

Through all the struggles to gain equal rights for blacks, certain black women spoke out on their special situation. I am above eighty years old; it is about time for me to be going. I have been forty years a slave and forty years free, and would be here forty years more to have equal rights for all. I suppose I am kept here because some-thing remains for me to do; I suppose I am yet to help break the chain.

I have done a great deal of work; as much as a man, but did not get so much pay. I used to work in the field and bind grain, keeping with the cradler; but men doing no more, got twice as much pay I suppose I am about the only colored woman that goes about to speak for the rights of the colored women. I want to keep the thing stirring, now that the ice is cracked.

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The Constitutional amendments were passed, the laws for racial equality were passed, and the black man began to vote and to hold office. Cut so long as the Negro remained dependent on privileged whites for work, for the necessities of life, his vote could be bought or taken away by threat of force. Thus, laws calling for equal treatment became meaningless. While Union troops-including colored troops- remained in the South, this process was delayed. But the balance of military powers began to change. The southern white oligarchy used its economic power to organize the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups.

Northern politicians began to weigh the advantage of the political support of impoverished blacks-maintained in voting and office only by force-against the more stable situation of a South returned to white supremacy, accepting Republican dominance and business legislation. It was only a matter of time before blacks would be reduced once again to conditions not far from slavery. Violence began almost immediately with the end of the war. In Memphis, Tennessee, in May of , whites on a rampage of murder killed forty-six Negroes, most of them veterans of the Union army, as well as two white sympathizers.

Five Negro women were raped. Ninety homes, twelve schools, and four churches were burned. In New Orleans, in the summer of , another riot against blacks killed thirty-five Negroes and three whites. The violence mounted through the late s and early s as the Ku Klux Klan organized raids, lynchings, beatings, burnings. For Kentucky alone, between and , the National Archives lists acts of violence. A sampling:. A Negro blacksmith named Charles Caldwell, born a slave, later elected to the Mississippi Senate, and known as "a notorious and turbulent Negro" by whites, was shot at by the son of a white Mississippi judge in Caldwell fired back and killed the man.

Tried by an all-white jury, he argued self-defense and was acquitted, the first Negro to kill a white in Mississippi and go free after a trial. But on Christmas Day , Caldwell was shot to death by a white gang. It was a sign. The old white rulers were taking back political power in Mississippi, and everywhere else in the South. As white violence rose in the s, the national government, even under President Grant, became less enthusiastic about defending blacks, and certainly not prepared to arm them. The Supreme Court played its gyroscopic role of pulling the other branches of government back to more conservative directions when they went too far.

It began interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment- passed presumably for racial equality-in a way that made it impotent for this purpose. In , the Civil Rights Act of , outlawing discrimination against Negroes using public facilities, was nullified by the Supreme Court, which said: "Individual invasion of individual rights is not the subject-matter of the amendment. A remarkable dissent was written by Supreme Court Justice John Harlan, himself a former slaveowner in Kentucky, who said there was Constitutional justification for banning private discrimination.

He noted that the Thirteenth Amendment, which banned slavery, applied to individual plantation owners, not just the state. He then argued that discrimination was a badge of slavery and similarly outlawable. He pointed also to the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, saying that anyone born in the United States was a citizen, and to the clause in Article 4, Section 2, saying "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

Harlan was fighting a force greater than logic or justice; the mood of the Court reflected a new coalition of northern industrialists and southern businessmen-planters. The culmination of this mood came in the decision of , Plessy v. Ferguson , when the Court ruled that a railroad could segregate black and white if the segregated facilities were equal:.

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It was the year that spelled out clearly and dramatically what was happening. When the year opened, the presidential election of the past November was in bitter dispute. The Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden, had votes and needed one more to be elected: his popular vote was greater by , The Republican candidate, Rutherford Hayes, had electoral votes.

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Three states not yet counted had a total of 19 electoral votes; if Hayes could get all of those, he would have and be President. This is what his managers proceeded to arrange. They made concessions to the Democratic party and the white South, including an agreement to remove Union troops from the South, the last military obstacle to the reestablishment of white supremacy there. Northern political and economic interests needed powerful allies and stability in the face of national crisis.

The country had been in economic depression since , and by farmers and workers were beginning to rebel. Vann Woodward puts it in his history of the Compromise, Reunion and Reaction :. It was a time for reconciliation between southern and northern elites. Woodward asks: " With billions of dollars' worth of slaves gone, the wealth of the old South was wiped out. They now looked to the national government for help: credit, subsidies, flood control projects. So one of the things the South looked for was federal aid to the Texas and Pacific Railroad.

Woodward says: "By means of appropriations, subsidies, grants, and bonds such as Congress had so lavishly showered upon capitalist enterprise in the North, the South might yet mend its fortunes- or at any rate the fortunes of a privileged elite. The farmers wanted railroads, harbor improvements, flood control, and, of course, land-not knowing yet how these would be used not to help them but to exploit them.

For example, as the first act of the new North-South capitalist cooperation, the Southern Homestead Act, which had reserved all federal lands-one-third of the area of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi-for farmers who would work the land, was repealed. This enabled absentee speculators and lumbermen to move in and buy up much of this land.

And so the deal was made. The proper committee was set up by both houses of Congress to decide where the electoral votes would go. The decision was: they belonged to Hayes, and he was now President. The importance of the new capitalism in overturning what black power existed in the postwar South is affirmed by Horace Mann Bond's study of Alabama Reconstruction, which shows, after , "a struggle between different financiers. Without sentiment, without emotion, those who sought profit from an exploitation of Alabama's natural resources turned other men's prejudices and attitudes to their own account, and did so with skill and a ruthless acumen.

It was an age of coal and power, and northern Alabama had both. The only thing lacking was transportation. Morgan appears by as director for several lines in Alabama and Georgia. In the audience were J. Morgan, H. His talk was called "The New South" and his theme was: Let bygones be bygones; let us have a new era of peace and prosperity; the Negro was a prosperous laboring class; he had the fullest protection of the laws and the friendship of the southern people.

Grady joked about the northerners who sold slaves to the South and said the South could now handle its own race problem. He received a rising ovation, and the band played "Dixie.

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  8. The North, it must be recalled, did not have to undergo a revolution in its thinking to accept the subordination of the Negro. When the Civil War ended, nineteen of the twenty-four northern states did not allow blacks to vote. By , all the southern states, in new constitutions and new statutes, had written into law the disfranchisement and segregation of Negroes, and a New York Times editorial said: "Northern men The necessity of it under the supreme law of self-preservation is candidly recognized. While not written into law in the North, the counterpart in racist thought and practice was there.

    An item in the Boston Transcript , September 25, In the postwar literature, images of the Negro came mostly from southern white writers like Thomas Nelson Page, who in his novel Red Rock referred to a Negro character as "a hyena in a cage," "a reptile,' "a species of worm," "a wild beast. I kin take a bar'l stave an fling mo' sense inter a nigger in one minnit dan all de schoolhouses betwixt dis en de state er Midgigin. In this atmosphere it was no wonder that those Negro leaders most accepted in white society, like the educator Booker T.

    Invited by the white organizers of the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta in to speak, Washington urged the southern Negro to "cast down your bucket where you are"-that is, to stay in the South, to be farmers, mechanics, domestics, perhaps even to attain to the professions. He urged white employers to hire Negroes rather than immigrants of "strange tongue and habits. Perhaps Washington saw this as a necessary tactic of survival in a time of hangings and burnings of Negroes throughout the South, It was a low point for black people in America.

    Thomas Fortune, a young black editor of the New York Globe, testified before a Senate committee in about the situation of the Negro in the United States. He spoke of "widespread poverty," of government betrayal, of desperate Negro attempts to educate themselves. The average wage of Negro farm laborers in the South was about fifty cents a day, Fortune said. He was usually paid in "orders," not money, which he could use only at a store controlled by the planter, "a system of fraud. Fortune spoke of "the penitentiary system of the South, with its infamous chain-gang.

    The white man who shoots a negro always goes free, while the negro who steals a hog is sent to the chaingang for ten years. Many Negroes fled. About six thousand black people left Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and migrated to Kansas to escape violence and poverty. Frederick Douglass and some other leaders thought this was a wrong tactic, but migrants rejected such advice. Henry Adams, another black migrant, illiterate, a veteran of the Union army, told a Senate committee in why he left Shreveport, Louisiana: "We seed that the whole South - every state in the South - had got into the hands of the very men that held us slaves.

    Even in the worst periods, southern Negroes continued to meet, to organize in self-defense. Herbert Aptheker reprints thirteen documents of meetings, petitions, and appeals of Negroes in the s - in Baltimore, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas - showing the spirit of defiance and resistance of blacks all over the South.

    This, in the face of over a hundred lynchings a year by this time. Despite the apparent hopelessness of this situation, there were black leaders who thought Booker T. Washington wrong in advocating caution and moderation. Rise, Brothers! Come let us possess this land. Be discontented. Be dissatisfied. Be as restless as the tempestuous billows on the boundless sea.

    Let your discontent break mountain-high against the wall of prejudice, and swamp it to the very foundation.. Another black man, who came to teach at Atlanta University, W. Du Bois, saw the late- nineteenth-century betrayal of the Negro as part of a larger happening in the United States, something happening not only to poor blacks but to poor whites. In his book Black Reconstruction, written in , he said:.

    Du Bois saw this new capitalism as part of a process of exploitation and bribery taking place in all the "civilized" countries of the world:. Was Du Bois right-that in that growth of American capitalism, before and after the Civil War, whites as well as blacks were in some sense becoming slaves? John Little, a former slave, wrote: They say slaves are happy, because they laugh, and are merry. I myself and three or four others, have received two hundred lashes in the day, and had our feet in fetters; yet, at night, we would sing and dance, and make others laugh at the rattling of our chains.

    Happy men we must have been! We did it to keep down trouble, and to keep our hearts from being completely broken: that is as true as the gospel! Just look at it,-must not we have been very happy? Yet I have done it myself-I have cut capers in chains. An answer was given in by James Hammond, a supporter of slavery: But if your course was wholly different-If you distilled nectar from your lips and discoursed sweetest music With a total population of 1,,, the State of Virginia was able to field a militia force of , men, including cavalry, artillery, grenadiers, riflemen, and light infantry!

    It is true that this was a "paper army" in some ways, in that the county regiments were not fully armed and equipped, but it is still an astonishing commentary on the state of the public mind of the time. During a period when neither the State nor the nation faced any sort of exterior threat, we find that Virginia felt the need to maintain a security force roughly ten percent of the total number of its inhabitants: black and white, male and female, slave and free! Ulrich Phillips, a southerner whose American Negro Slavery is a classic study, wrote: A great number of southerners at all times held the firm belief that the negro population was so docile, so little cohesive, and in the main so friendly toward the whites and so contented that a disastrous insurrection by them would be impossible.

    But on the whole, there was much greater anxiety abroad in the land than historians have told of Du Bois wrote, in The Gift of Black Folk : As a tropical product with a sensuous receptivity to the beauty of the world, he was not as easily reduced to be the mechanical draft-horse which the northern European laborer became.

    An episode of this sort was recounted in a letter of a Georgia overseer to his absent employer: "Sir, I write you a few lines in order to let you know that six of your hands has left the plantation-every man but Jack. They displeased me with their work and I give some of them a few lashes, Tom with the rest. On Wednesday morning, they were missing.

    Genovese says: The slaveholders White men sometimes were linked to slave insurrectionary plots, and each such incident rekindled fears. That may well have been true, but Fanny Kemble, the famous actress and wife of a planter, wrote in her journal: But the Irish are not only quarrelers, and rioters, and fighters, and drinkers, and despisers of niggers-they are a passionate, impulsive, warm-hearted, generous people, much given to powerful indignations, which break out suddenly when not compelled to smoulder sullenly-pestilent sympathizers too, and with a sufficient dose of American atmospheric air in their lungs, properly mixed with a right proportion of ardent spirits, there is no saying but what they might actually take to sympathy with the slaves, and I leave you to judge of the possible consequences.

    You perceive, I am sure, that they can by no means be allowed to work together on the Brunswick Canal. But interviews with ex-slaves, done in the s by the Federal Writers Project of the New Deal for the Library of Congress, showed a different story, which George Rawick summarizes From Sundown to Sunup : The slave community acted like a generalized extended kinship system in which all adults looked after all children and there was little division between "my children for whom I'm responsible" and "your children for whom you're responsible.

    A kind of family relationship in which older children have great responsibility for caring for younger siblings is obviously more functionally integrative and useful for slaves than the pattern of sibling rivalry and often dislike that frequently comes out of contemporary middle-class nuclear families composed of highly individuated persons. Indeed, the activity of the slaves in creating patterns of family life that were functionally integrative did more than merely prevent the destruction of personality.

    It was part and parcel, as we shall see, of the social process out of which came black pride, black identity, black culture, the black community, and black rebellion in America. The remarkable southern black farmer Nate Shaw recalled that when his sister died, leaving three children, his father proposed sharing their care, and he responded: That suits me.

    Let's handle em like this; don't get the two little boys, the youngest ones, off at your house and the oldest one be at my house and we bold these little boys apart and won't bring em to see one another. I'll bring the little boy that I keep, the oldest one, around to your home amongst the other two.

    Beto O'Rourke's ancestors were slaveholders, records reveal

    And you forward the others to my house and let em grow up knowin that they are brothers. Don't keep em separated in a way that they'll forget about one another. Don't do that, Papa. Also insisting on the strength of blacks even under slavery, Lawrence Levine Black Culture and Black Consciousness gives a picture of a rich culture among slaves, a complex mixture of adaptation and rebellion, through the creativity of stories and songs: We raise de wheat, Dey gib us de corn; We bake de bread, Dey gib us de crust, We sif de meal, Dey gib us de huss; We peel de meat, Dey gib us de skin; And dat's de way Dey take us in; We skim de pot, Dey gib us de liquor, An say dat's good enough for nigger.

    Never make an attempt to gain our freedom or natural right from under our cruel oppressors and murderers, until you see your way clear-when that hour arrives and you move, be not afraid or dismayed. God has been pleased to give us two eyes, two hands, two feet, and some sense in our heads as well as they. They have no more right to hold us in slavery than we have to hold them Our sufferings will come to an end, in spite of all the Americans this side of eternity. Then we will want all the learning and talents among ourselves, and perhaps more, to govern ourselves.

    In his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass , he recalled his first childhood thoughts about his condition: Why am I a slave? Why are some people slaves, and others masters? Was there ever a time when this was not so? How did the relation commence? He spoke to a meeting in that city in The time has come to change the tones of submission into tones of defiance-and to tell Mr.

    Fillmore and Mr. Webster, if they propose to execute this measure upon us, to send on their blood-hounds.

    The Plantation Owners of Louisiana - TRACKS

    I received my freedom from Heaven, and with it came the command to defend my title to it. I don't respect this law-I don't fear it-I won't obey it! It outlaws me, and I outlaw it All your favorite books and authors in one place! Access to our library is limited to certain countries. Please see if you are allowed to start Read Online or Download from our library by creating an account.

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