Nathaniel Hillyer. Egleston.

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the sister. And many questions not apparently falling into this
class have really vital humanitarian relations that ought to have
determining force in their solution. No discussion, for instance,
of the tariff question can be complete that treats it merely as
one of political economy, although the accumulation and right
distribution of national wealth is imdoubtedly a potent factor in
the elevation of modern society. As President Seeley has well
said : " Economic questions are wisely determined only by
ethical considerations."

But will it be said that the machinery of politics is debasing ?
Well, then, the answer is ready : Improve it, or destroy it. If
the caucus is corrupt, let the voter ignore it. If it is not a fit



416 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

place for women to attend, its decrees need have no binding force
on them, nor indeed on men. American virtue has already, in
conspicuous instances, risen to the height of defying them.
Nor is attendance at a caucus one of the necessary qualifications
for voting. There are large numbers of quiet men whom we
never expect to see there, but whom we are always glad to see at
the polls. Let those whose interest or taste leads them to manage
the machinery of politics do so j but let them know that they
must do so in the interest of good morals and good principles,
or the day of reckoning will be for them the day of crushing
defeat.

We hear sometimes of what is called " the Quaker vote," by
which, I suppose, is meant the votes of quiet citizens who have
little taste for ordinary politics, and who generally do not care
to be found at the polls, but who come out when their aid is
needed for truth or righteousness. In this reserve vote is often
the hope of the country. And so the state would be the safer
if, in every moral exigency, we could depend on the vote of our
independent, conscientious, and home-loving country-women.

ROBERT C. PITMAN.



THE AFRICAN PROBLEM.



AN article of mine, published in 1883, entitled " The African
in the United States/' has been the object of so much adverse
criticism, that I have felt called upon to reexamine the argument
carefully. The result, strengthening former conclusions, is
given in the following pages. The argument is as follows : If
the negro, while slowly advancing in education and wealth, is
rapidly gaining in population upon the whites ; and if he is,
and must continue to be, an alien and distinct race, and, strug
gling to rise, must be pressed back by the ruling whites toward
the labor-line ; then disastrous social disorders are threatened,
and colonization enforced, if necessary is the remedy.

Respecting the progress of races two views prevail. Ac
cording to one, enlightened nations were once savages, who,
gradually, and by a combination of lifting influences, partly
internal and partly external, have reached their present status.
According to the other, savage tribes are the swamps and bogs
along life's river, whose flow has been noble from the start, illus
trated, at different points in its course, by the Mosaic writings,
Greek art and poetry, Roman law, and modern civilization. We
give the negro the benefit of the former view, and hold that, as
Asia was once in the ascendant, as Europe is now, so the day
for Africa is to dawn. The negro, intellectually, is fairly ad
vancing, at least in the rudiments. His educational percentage
for the past decade shows better than that of the whites. In the
seven States where the negroes are massed, and where causes
abnormally affecting population, white and black, have been
least operative (the Carolinas, G-eorgia, Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana, and Arkansas), the decrease of illiteracy, as shown
by being unable to write, was two per cent, for the whites, and
seven per cent, for the blacks. The high figure for the latter
is largely due to temporary stimulants and will not be main
tained. The causes of the difference are : First, the novelty of

417



418 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

the educational privilege, which it is altogether unlikely the
blacks will continue to make use of with the same ardor j second,
that in 1870 illiteracy and school material among the blacks
(eighty-three per cent.) were far greater than among the whites
(twenty-seven per cent.); third, that the element among the
blacks the mulatto that has been receiving education most
freely, is declining, both in numbers and in character.

That the most intelligent of the colored population are the dis
tinct mulattoes is everywhere noticeable. I mark it at their higher
seats of learning. The representative men are mulattoes. In
Washington the prominent colored office-holders are almost ex
clusively of this class. I can recall but one exception, the Con
gressman from South Carolina j and generally he would be
regarded as a mulatto, with strong recession toward the pure
African type. And in the minor offices the genuine black hue
is the rare exception. Educational superiority for the mulatto
is indisputable j and his large percentage of Caucasian blood
would make it presumable. This element is diminishing; that
is, it is losing its white blood and receding toward the negro
type. For the decade ending with 1800, the excessive increase
(eighty- two per cent.) of the free blacks, almost exclusively
mulattoes, is readily accounted for. Compared with the whites
and the slaves they were then a very small body, and grew with
abnormal rapidity from the parentage of sensual white men
and negresses. Subsequently, the rate of increase steadily de
clined, until for the several decades prior to emancipation it
was about half that of the slaves. The illicit commingling of
white and black blood is now practically over, and the mulatto
gain from this source is cut off. Doubtless, there has been
gain under the new regime, from the more frequent marital re
lations between mulattoes and blacks, but not enough to com
pensate for this loss ; and it is clear that the mulatto is becoming
absorbed in the pure African type. The result is said to be
a mongrel race, inferior to the native negro. Whether mental
capacity is dependent upon the size of the brain, or its quality,
is a question. Certain scientists, assuming size as the criterion,
and testing the brains of a large number of half-breeds in vari
ous stages of amalgamation, have reached the conclusion that
three-fourths white blood gives mental capacity little below that
of the Caucasian ; half white, a capacity above that of the pure
negro ; while a quarter or an eighth white marks a breed decidedly



THE AFEICAN PROBLEM. 419

below the negro. Since the stream of original white blood has
been, through emancipation, almost entirely cut off, and will
remain so, mulattoes and blacks are left to mingle in marital
relation, with a deteriorating tendency. The better class of
mulattoes, marrying generally within their own circles, will be
able to maintain, for some period, the preponderance of white
blood. But from the white increment, divided and subdivided,
must be evolved in the end an inferior race.

In the accumulation of property it would be instructive to
know what progress the blacks are making, absolutely and rela
tively. To get statistics is almost impossible, the census not
giving the wealth, individually or collectively, according to races.
It is certain that progress is being made, but it is small
compared with the remarkable progress that the South, as a
whole, exhibits. The political supremacy of the whites, and
the general material prosperity of those of the middle class
who at the close of the war became possessed of the dismembered
estates of the bankrupt planters, have been instrumental in rous
ing throughout the South a vigorous life, and giving to her indus
trial interests a lift that, in the retrospect, is amazing. In the
general advancement, the colored man has undoubtedly gone for
ward ; it is matter of regret that the census does not show to what
degree. It will not be doubted that this progress has been very
largely made by the better class of mulattoes. Observation and
inquiry all tend to show this, as they also show that the genuine
blacks, still improvident, have not done much, generally, to
improve their worldly condition. With a large percentage now,
as just after emancipation, it is a hand-to-mouth existence.

I regret being unable to speak for the colored man a better
word in the way of moral advancement. As a slave he was an
enthusiast for religion. It was a symbol of freedom, and held
out to him the hope of sitting above kings, in a higher sphere.
Unfortunately, it took on, too generally, a sensuous form, and
negroes at the South sought their excited religious meetings for
the ecstasies and bodily pleasure they afforded. Emancipation,
education, increased worldly comfort, have enlarged both their
sphere of endeavor and the degree and variety of enjoyment, and
I fear religion does not possess the same attraction and influence
as of yore. Never, until within the past year or two, have I heard
negroes proclaim on the streets ultra and defiant infidelity. Sena
tor Morgan, of Alabama, who, with every opportunity and advan-



420 THE NOETH AMERICAN REVIEW.

tage, has examined the question closely, thinks it doubtful
whether negro morals have at all improved since emancipation.
It cannot be denied that an immense preponderance of the brutal
crimes reported from the South are charged against negroes,
and penitentiary reports sustain the charge. Though I do not
believe that mere intellectual development is a panacea for evil,
yet I am aware that ignorance and crime are associated, and that
negro illiteracy being so far in excess, an excess of crime is to be
expected in his direction. But I fear that the decrease of illit-
eYacy bears no proper ratio to that of crime. Such is the verdict
of criminal records, so far as I have been able to examine them.
In South Carolina, for the past few years, the exhibit is an
annual decrease of something under one per cent, for colored
illiteracy, while the annual increase of crime, as shown by peni
tentiary reports, is eight per cent., the population swelling at the
rate of three and a half per cent. The indications are that such
is the general status throughout the South.

In discussing the African advancement in population, the
substantial accuracy of the census of 1870 is assumed. I am
aware that in certain portions of South Carolina it has been
shown to be materially at fault; but there appears to be no
ground for suspecting its general correctness. The superior
credit attaching to the census of 1880 is due to its having been
made under the direction of supervisors appointed to the work
exclusively and for their special fitness ; whereas that of 1870
was superintended by the district marshals, who divided their
time between it and their regular duties. For the former, there
fore, there is presumptively greater accuracy; but the latter is
not considered so far inaccurate as to be incapable of giving
approximately true results. The inaccuracies, whatever they
may be, bear equally upon the two races, whose relative positions
would not be affected, even were the errors much more material.
A thoughtful writer on this subject has recently appeared in
Congressman Tucker, of Virginia, and as his conclusions are
adverse to my own, I beg leave to point out the errors. He says :
" While the whites were eighty and seven-tenths per cent, of
the population in 1790, they were eighty-one and one-half per
cent, in 1860. Including immigrants, the white population
gained and the colored lost six per cent, in the whole period
from 1790 to 1880, while in the last twenty years the whites
have gained one per cent." The errors are in the periods



THE AFRICAN PROBLEM. 421

compared, and in not allowing fully for the foreign element.
From 1790 to 1860 a gradual decline appears in the African rate
of increase; and, comparing the two entire populations, and
allowing for the foreign element, there was probably a gain
for the whites of about two per cent. From 1860 to 1880, the
same allowance being made, the two races advanced with but a
shade of difference. My figures make the whites, in 1860, eighty-
two and one-sixth per cent, of population 5 in 1880, eighty-two
and one-fifth per cent. But manifestly the true comparison is
between 1870 and 1880. Why Mr. Tucker should have chosen
1860 and 1880 as the testing dates, I am unable to see. The
period from 1860 to 1870 was radically transitional for the negro,
and peculiarly adverse to his increase. The year 1870 found
him first fairly adjusted to the new conditions arising from
emancipation, and evidently his relative rate of increase for the
ensuing decade is the crucial one.

To reach this, the foreign element should be eliminated. The
immense immigration that for years has been swelling the white
ranks must, before a great while, begin to diminish, and ulti
mately cease. The rapid filling up of our own lands, and the
inviting opportunities that are open to European settlers in
other portions of the world are the assurances. The negro has
had no accessions from abroad. The time is not distant when
he will compete with the whites unaffected by immigration. The
point therefore is, to determine his rate of increase compared
with that of the native whites. The census reports distinguish
between the foreign-born and those of foreign parentage, the
latter being the true foreign element.

1870. Foreign-born 5,567,229

1870. Foreign parentage ( one or both parents foreign) 10,892,015

1870. Foreign parentage (both parents foreign) 9,734,845

1880. Foreign-born 6,679,943

1880. Foreign parentage (one or both parents foreign) 15,021,744

1880. Foreign parentage (both parents foreign) 13,011,646

Rating the foreign element as those both of whose parents
were foreigners (and the figures should really be higher), we find
that in 1870 the native whites were eighty-three per cent, of the
population ; in 1880, eighty-two per cent. Contrasting popula
tions in the seven Southern States already mentioned, we find that
in 1870 the whites were fifty-four per cent, of the population, and
VOL. cxxxix. NO. 336. 31*



422 THE NOETH AMERICAN REVIEW.

in 1880, fifty-two per cent., a black gain, in excess of the white,
of two per cent, of the whole population. Because of the diffi
culty of obtaining exact figures, no allowance is made here for
immigration, the larger part of which came in after the comple
tion of the census of 1870, and the actual black gain is some
thing more. I see no cause for materially modifying my former
conclusions, that the negro rate of increase for the past decade
is thirty-five per cent, (more or less), or three and a half per cent,
per annum, while that for the native whites is twenty per cent. ;
and there appears to be no reason for doubting that these rela
tive rates will be maintained. The negro rate is not at all in
credible ; it has been surpassed in former decades 5 from 1800 to
1810 it was thirty-seven per cent.

It should be noted that Southern whites are far more prolific
than Northern. In the States above named the rate is twenty-
nine per cent, for the past decade. An allowance must be made
for immigration, which, though small (one to ten) compared with
the great stream entering the North, has an appreciable effect
upon population. Much the larger portion went South in the
latter half of the last decade, and diminishes the native rate of
increase (probably) to twenty-five per cent. Connecticut, with
out her foreign element, shows a rate of less than twelve per
cent., and careful statistics put the Northern rate at fifteen per
cent., and the Southern at twenty-five per cent. The difference
is doubtless due to the superior wealth and culture of the former
section.

The high rate for the negro, as shown by census returns, is
sustained by further considerations. For the laboring and un
educated class a superior fertility is presumable. A labor
ing woman is strong to bear safely robust children ; but with the
delicacy generally attendant upon wealth, a reverse tendency
prevails. In the contracted circle of enjoyments open to the
poor and ignorant, sexual pleasures become prominent. In the
higher sphere and wider range of the cultivated and refined,
such pleasures decline. High living generates a fullness of habit
unfavorable to conception. From the desire of the possessor to
retain his wealth, competence creates a tendency against mar
riage and toward continence in marriage, and checks population.
Poverty and frugal fare produce opposite effects. The result of
all these causes is, to make Northern whites less prolific
than Southern, and Southern whites less prolific than the negro.



THE AFRICAN PROBLEM. 423

To this is to be added, that the negro finds at the South a cli
mate as favorable to himself as it is, in its most fertile portions,
unfavorable to whites ; and that his history bears witness to a
race with phenomenal breeding qualities. Personal inquiries in
a Maryland village (not the most congenial climate for the negro)
showed, in one instance, thirty -five living children in four negro
families j in another instance, twenty-one children in three
families. These families were not selected, but taken at ran
dom, with no anticipation of the result, apart from the swarms
of children generally observed about negro homes. And I have
seen a statement that in three colored families in Georgia thirty
children were recently counted.

To sum up : In the acquisition of wealth and education, the
negro, on the whole, gives promise of moderate advancement. In
morals, he appears to be not far from stationary. In respect to
population, he shows a marked increase, his rate being double that
of the Northern whites, and upward of one-third greater than that
of the Southern. It is matter for most serious regret that the bill
before the late session of Congress, " to provide for the creation
of a commission to inquire into and report upon the intellectual,
material, and industrial progress of the colored race in the
United States, since 1865," failed for lack of time to give it con
sideration. A measure bearing more directly and critically upon
the interests of the whole country, could not have been devised.
The data now at command, in some directions full enough,
warrant the substantial accuracy of these conclusions. The
statement in a former article, that eighty years hence the South
ern blacks would nearly double the Southern whites (96,000,000
for the former, 60,000,000 for the latter), was meant to mark a
tendency. The present rates of increase for the two races, which,
unchecked, would give such figures, are liable to be, and un
doubtedly will be, cut down by a variety of causes. A general
one is, that, as population grows in density, its percentage of
gain declines. But it is morally certain that by that date, and
perhaps sooner, the negroes throughout the South will have a
great numerical superiority, with a disproportionate gain in
wealth and education, and a gain lower still in the domain of
morals.

When I say that the negroes are, and will continue to be, an
alien people, I mean that they will socially stand apart, and
develop under the influence of environments peculiar to the



424 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

race j that they will not be merged in the general body, tending
toward a homogeneous whole. The thorough social intermin
gling of the two races on terms of unconsciously-recognized
equality, the freedom of marriage across the color line, and
the general fusion of bloods, is the contradictory and impossible
idea. Emancipation, citizenship, the ballot, full political rights,
have always been possibilities for the blacks ; but social fusion,
never. If it be said that the whites have been the persistent
miscegenationists, and that the million of ante helium half-
breeds with white fatherhood is the proof, the answer is, that
in the gross passions of white men running wanton among
slaves, can be traced no logical tendency toward social equality.
It has been asserted that the negroes themselves are not over-
zealous for such equality, and look with disfavor upon unions
across the line. If this be true, it strengthens my position j but,
probably, the grapes are sour. A recognized, genuine equality
is the vain goal of African ambition, vain, because white re
pugnance is invincible. A race distinct in color and feature,
yesterday in a condition of slavery, now free and advancing,
yet immensely behind, and with all the memories of their race
and of their former estate still fresh against them, cannot hope
for union with the children or children's children of their
masters. Those on the ground feel it stronger than words can
express it. Socially the two races are getting farther apart ;
and the State laws that have been enacted, making mixed mar
riages penal, are the expression of a profound sentiment that
the best interests of each race forbid them. The social status at
"Washington City is illustrative. No point offers such a showing
for the colored man. It is the center of his intelligence. In the
District of Columbia, for 1880, his illiteracy (as shown by being
unable to write) was thirty-two per cent., the race average being
sixty-three per cent. In Washington are to be found the fore
most and representative colored men Frederick Douglass, a
powerful orator, with a fame co-extensive with the country ; ex-
Senator Bruce, now Register of the Treasury, a cultivated and
courteous gentleman j and the colored congressmen. There,
too, has been dominant, for the past quarter of a century, the
political party with which the blacks affiliate, and which assumes
to be the special patron of the race. Yet I find, after several
months' sojourn in Washington, the social lines as strictly drawn
and fusion as thoroughly scouted there as anywhere in the South.



THE AFRICAN PROBLEM. 425

If this repugnance were founded on a mere prejudice, time
might remove it, but not before the development of the appre
hended evils. Against less weighty obstacles the coalescence of
Saxon and Norman required a century. Before the end of such
a period, negro fertility and race integrity will have wrought
their results. But fusion is forbidden by natural laws, and
white repugnance has a scientific and permanent basis. The
human family is marked off by color into three grand divisions
white, yellow, and black. It is altogether probable that fusion
between varieties of the same color is beneficial, but that fusion
across the color line is lowering. The blending of different white
bloods makes, in every way, a stronger race j but every instance
of blending between white and black has proven adverse, cre
ating, in the end, a half-breed race below the pure African
ancestry.

If these premises are true, the final result must be race antag
onism, growing in intensity, and menacing malignant evils.
One race must be above, the other below, with a struggle for
position ; equality is impossible. The blacks, though equal
before the law, are now, in every way, save a superb physique,
the inferior race, and are practically so treated by the whites.
The women are at the wash-tubs, the men in the fields, or filling
menial stations. Through a race instinct the whites hold them in
this lower sphere, and purpose keeping them there. The blacks
reasonably submit ; partly because the submissiveness of slavery
lingers, partly because they recognize the inequality of any con
test. But while the race, as a whole, is slowly advancing, a
considerable wing has made a pronounced advance, and reached
a position in respect to intelligence and wealth where social
ostracism and general race disabilities begin seriously to chal-
lengo remonstrance 5 and the twenty years from emancipation
will scarcely be doubled before the remonstrance will come strong
and threatening, however unavailing, from the entire race. The
two races are obeying irresistible propulsions, which raise the
danger signal, because they are irreconcilable. The blacks are
the victims of an inexorable caste 5 to stand in the social order
beyond a certain level, will not be allowed. Every higher step
of progress, every deepening of aspiration, will carry with it
increased humiliation. In all quarters the blacks will be checked
by the aroused antagonism and competition of the better-trained
race. The whites will refuse to negroes business association, as



426 THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

they now refuse the marriage-tie, the parlor, and the school-house.
Should black business competition become obtrusive, white inter



Online LibraryNathaniel Hillyer. EglestonThe North American review (Volume 139) → online text (page 41 of 60)