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adoption of the Constitution," and on this division he found 14,243
"Americans" and 1271 "immigrants" distributed racially as follows:


English 10,376 English 345
Scotch-Irish 1439 German 245
German 659 Irish 200
Huguenot 589 Scotch 151
Scotch 436 Scotch-Irish 88
Dutch 336 French 63
Welsh 159 Canadian and
Irish 109 British Colonial 60
French 85 Scandinavian 18
Scandinavian 31 Welsh 16
Spanish 7 Belgian 15
Italian 7 Swiss 15
Swiss 5 Dutch 14
Greek 3 Polish 13
Russian 1 Hungarian 11
Polish 1 Italian 10
Greek 3
Russian 2
Spanish 1
Portuguese 1

Of the total number of individuals selected, a large number were
chosen by the editors as being of enough importance to entitle them to
a small portrait in the text, and fifty-eight persons who had achieved
some unusual distinction were accorded a full-page portrait. These,
however, represented achievement rather than ability, for they
included the Presidents of the United States and other political
personages. Of the total number selected for the distinction of a
small portrait, 1200 were "Americans" and 71 "immigrants." Of the 1200
"Americans," 856 were of English extraction, 129 Scotch-Irish, 57
Huguenot, 45 Scotch, 39 Dutch, 37 German, 15 Welsh, 13 Irish, 6
French, and one each of Scandinavian, Spanish, and Swiss. Of the
"immigrants" 15 were English, 14 German, 11 Irish, 8 Scotch-Irish, 7
Scotch, 6 Swiss, 4 French, 3 from Spanish Provinces, and 1 each from
Scandinavia, Belgium, and Poland. All the 58 whose full-page portraits
are presumed to be an index to unusual prominence were found to be
"Americans" and by race extraction they were distributed as follows:
English 41, Scotch-Irish 8, Scotch 4, Welsh 2, Dutch, Spanish, and
Irish 1 each.

Whatever may be said in objection to this index of ability (and
Senator Lodge effectively answered his critics in a note appended to
this study in his volume of _Historical and Political Essays_), it is
apparent that a large preponderance of leadership in American
politics, business, art, literature, and learning has been derived
from the American stock. This is a perfectly natural result. The
founders of the Republic themselves were in large degree the children
of the pick of Europe. The Puritan, Cavalier, Quaker, Scotch-Irish,
Huguenot, and Dutch pioneers were not ordinary folk in any sense of
the term. They were, in a measure, a race of heroes. Their sons and
grandsons inherited their vigor and their striving. It is not at all
singular that every President of the United States and every Chief
Justice of the Federal Supreme Court has come from this stock, nor
that the vast majority of Cabinet members, of distinguished Senators,
of Speakers of the House, and of men of note in the House of
Representatives trace back to it their lineage in whole or in part.
After the middle of the nineteenth century the immigrant vote began to
make itself felt, and politicians contended for the "Irish vote" and
the "German vote" and later for the "Italian vote" the "Jewish vote,"
and the "Norwegian vote." Members of the immigrant races began to
appear in Washington, and the new infusion of blood made itself felt
in the political life of the country.

But, if material were available for a comprehensive analysis of
American leadership in life and thought today, a larger number of
names of non-native origin would no doubt appear than was disclosed
in 1891 by Senator Lodge's analysis. All the learned professions, for
instance, and many lines of business are finding their numbers swelled
by persons of foreign parentage. This change is to be expected. The
influence of environment, especially of free education and unfettered
opportunity, is calling forth the talents of the children of the
immigrants. The number of descendants from the American stock yearly
becomes relatively less; intermarriage with the children of the
foreign born is increasingly frequent. Profound changes have taken
place since the American pioneers pushed their way across the
Alleghanies; changes infinitely more profound have taken place even
since the dawn of the twentieth century and have put to the test of
Destiny the institutions which are called "American."

Nevertheless in a large sense every great tradition of the original
American stock lives today: the tradition of free movement, of
initiative and enterprise; the tradition of individual responsibility;
the primary traditions of democracy and liberty. These give a virile
present meaning to the name American. A noted French journalist
received this impression of a group of soldiers who in 1918 were
bivouacked in his country: "I saw yesterday an American unit in which
men of very varied origin abounded - French, Polish, Czech, German,
English, Canadian - such their names and other facts revealed them.
Nevertheless, all were of the same or similar type, a fact due
apparently to the combined influences of sun, air, primary education,
and environment. And one was not long in discovering that the
intelligence of each and all had manifestly a wider outlook than that
of the man of single racial lineage and of one country." And these men
were Americans.


[Footnote 3: Among the names which have quite vanished were those
pertaining to household matters, such as Hash, Butter, Waffle, Booze,
Frill, Shirt, Lace; or describing human characteristics, as Booby,
Dunce, Sallow, Daft, Lazy, Measley, Rude; or parts of the body and its
ailments, as Hips, Bones, Chin, Glands, Gout, Corns, Physic; or
representing property, as Shingle, Gutters, Pump, Milkhouse, Desk,
Mug, Auction, Hose, Tallow. Nature also was drawn upon for a large
number of names. The colors Black, Brown, and Gray survive, but
Lavender, Tan, and Scarlet have gone out of vogue. Bogs, Hazelgrove,
Woodyfield, Oysterbanks, Chestnut, Pinks, Ragbush, Winterberry, Peach,
Walnut, Freeze, Coldair, Bear, Tails, Chick, Bantam, Stork, Worm,
Snake, and Maggot indicate the simple origin of many names. There were
many strange combinations of Christian names and surnames: Peter
Wentup, Christy Forgot, Unity Bachelor, Booze Still, Cutlip Hoof, and
Wanton Bump left little to the imagination.]

[Footnote 4: These tables and those on the pages immediately following
are taken from _A Century of Population Growth_, issued by the United
States Census Bureau in 1908.]

[Footnote 5: _The Scotch-Irish in America_ pp. 219-20.]

[Footnote 6: See _The Century Magazine_, September, 1891, and Lodge's
_Historical and Political Essays_, 1892.]



Not many years ago a traveler was lured into a London music hall by
the sign: _Spirited American Singing and Dancing_. He saw on the stage
a sextette of black-faced comedians, singing darky ragtime to the
accompaniment of banjo and bones, dancing the clog and the cakewalk,
and reciting negro stories with the familiar accent and smile, all to
the evident delight of the audience. The man in the seat next to him
remarked, "These Americans are really lively." Not only in England,
but on the continent, the negro's melodies, his dialect, and his
banjo, have always been identified with America. Even Americans do not
at once think of the negro as a foreigner, so accustomed have they
become to his presence, to his quaint mythology, his soft accent, and
his genial and accommodating nature. He was to be found in every
colony before the Revolution; he was an integral part of American
economic life long before the great Irish and German immigrations,
and, while in the mass he is confined to the South, he is found today
in every State in the Union.

The negro, however, is racially the most distinctly foreign element in
America. He belongs to a period of biological and racial evolution far
removed from that of the white man. His habitat is the continent of
the elephant and the lion, the mango and the palm, while that of the
race into whose state he has been thrust is the continent of the horse
and the cow, of wheat and the oak.

There is a touch of the dramatic in every phase of the negro's contact
with America: his unwilling coming, his forcible detention, his final
submission, his emancipation, his struggle to adapt himself to
freedom, his futile competition with a superior economic order. Every
step from the kidnaping, through "the voiceless woe of servitude" and
the attempted redemption of his race, has been accompanied by tragedy.
How else could it be when peoples of two such diverse epochs in racial
evolution meet?

His coming was almost contemporaneous with that of the white man.
"American slavery," says Channing,[7] "began with Columbus, possibly
because he was the first European who had a chance to introduce it:
and negroes were brought to the New World at the suggestion of the
saintly Las Casas to alleviate the lot of the unhappy and fast
disappearing red man" They were first employed as body servants and
were used extensively in the West Indies before their common use in
the colonies on the continent. In the first plantations of Virginia a
few of them were found as laborers. In 1619 what was probably the
first slave ship on that coast - it was euphemistically called a "Dutch
man-of-war" - landed its human cargo in Virginia. From this time onward
the numbers of African slaves steadily increased. Bancroft estimated
their number at 59,000 in 1714, 78,000 in 1727, and 263,000 in 1754.
The census of 1790 recorded 697,624 slaves in the United States. This
almost incredible increase was not due alone to the fecundity of the
negro. It was due, in large measure, to the unceasing slave trade.

It is difficult to imagine more severe ordeals than the negroes
endured in the day of the slave trade. Their captors in the jungles of
Africa - usually neighboring tribesmen in whom the instinct for
capture, enslavement, and destruction was untamed - soon learned that
the aged, the inferior, the defective, were not wanted by the trader.
These were usually slaughtered. Then followed for the less fortunate
the long and agonizing march to the seaboard. Every one not robust
enough to endure the arduous journey was allowed to perish by the way.
On the coast, the agent of the trader or the middle-man awaited the
captive. He was an expert at detecting those evidences of weakness and
disease which had eluded the eye of the captor or the rigor of the
march. "An African factor of fair repute," said a slave captain,[8]
"is ever careful to select his human cargo with consummate prudence,
so as not only to supply his employers with athletic laborers, but to
avoid any taint of disease." But the severest test of all was the
hideous "middle passage" which remained to every imported slave a
nightmare to the day of his death. The unhappy captives were crowded
into dark, unventilated holds and were fed scantily on food which was
strange to their lips; they were unable to understand the tongue of
their masters and often unable to understand the dialects of their
companions in misfortune; they were depressed with their helplessness
on the limitless sea, and their childish superstitions were fed by a
thousand new terrors and emotions. It was small wonder that, when
disease began its ravages in the shipload of these kidnaped beings,
"the mortality of thirty per cent was not rare." That this was
primarily a physical selection which made no allowance for mental
aptitudes did not greatly diminish in the eyes of the master the
slave's utility. The new continent needed muscle power; and so tens of
thousands of able-bodied Africans were landed on American soil, alien
to everything they found there.

These slaves were kidnaped from many tribes. "In our negro
population," says Tillinghast, "as it came from the Western Coast of
Africa, there were Wolofs and Fulans, tall, well-built, and very
black, hailing from Senegambia and its vicinity; there were hundreds
of thousands from the Slave Coast - Tshis, Ewes, and Yorubans,
including Dahomians; and mingled with all these Soudanese negroes
proper were occasional contributions of mixed stock, from the north
and northeast, having an infusion of Moorish blood. There were other
thousands from Lower Guinea, belonging to Bantu stock, not so black in
color as the Soudanese, and thought by some to be slightly superior to
them."[9] No historian has recorded these tribal differences. The new
environment, so strange, so ruthless, swallowed them; and, in the
welter of their toil, the black men became so intermingled that all
tribal distinctions soon vanished. Here and there, however, a careful
observer may still find among them a man of superior mien or a woman
of haughty demeanor denoting perhaps an ancestral prince or princess
who once exercised authority over some African jungle village.

Slavery was soon a recognized institution in every American colony. By
1665 every colony had its slave code. In Virginia the laws became
increasingly strict until the dominion of the master over his slaves
was virtually absolute. In South Carolina an insurrection of slaves in
1739, which cost the lives of twenty-one whites and forty-four blacks,
led to very drastic laws. Of the Northern colonies, New York seems to
have been most in fear of a black peril. In 1700 there were about six
thousand slaves in this colony, chiefly in the city, where there were
also many free negroes, and on the large estates along the Hudson.
Twice the white people of the city for reasons that have not been
preserved, believing that slave insurrections were imminent, resorted
to extreme and brutal measures. In 1712 they burned to death two
negroes, hanged in chains a third, and condemned a fourth to be
broken on the wheel. In 1741 they went so far as to burn fourteen
negroes, hang eighteen, and transport seventy-one.

In New England where their numbers were relatively small and the laws
were less severe, the negroes were employed chiefly in domestic
service. In Quaker Pennsylvania there were many slaves, the proprietor
himself being a slave owner. Ten years after the founding of
Philadelphia, the authorities ordered the constables to arrest all
negroes found "gadding about" on Sunday without proper permission.
They were to remain in jail until Monday, receiving in lieu of meat or
drink thirty-nine lashes on the bare back.

Protests against slavery were not uncommon during the colonial period;
and before the Revolution was accomplished several of the States had
emancipated their slaves. Vermont led the way in 1777; the Ordinance
of 1787 forbade slavery in the Northwest Territory; and by 1804 all
the Northern States had provided that their blacks should be set free.
The opinion prevailed that slavery was on the road to gradual
extinction. In the Federal Convention of 1787 this belief was
crystallized into the clause making possible the prohibition of the
slave trade after the year 1808. Mutual benefit organizations among
the negroes, both slave and free, appeared in many States, North and
South. Negro congregations were organized. The number of free negroes
increased rapidly, and in the Northern States they acquired such civil
rights as industry, thrift, and integrity commanded. Here and there
colored persons of unusual gifts distinguished themselves in various
callings and were even occasionally entertained in white households.

The industrial revolution in England, with its spinning jenny and
power loom, indirectly influenced the position of the negro in
America. The new machinery had an insatiable maw for cotton. It could
turn such enormous quantities of raw fiber into cloth that the old
rate of producing cotton was entirely inadequate. New areas had to be
placed under cultivation. The South, where soil and climate combined
to make an ideal cotton land, came into its own. And when Eli
Whitney's gin was perfected, cotton was crowned king. Statistics tell
the story: the South produced about 8000 bales of cotton in 1790;
650,000 bales in 1820; 2,469,093 bales in 1850; 5,387,052 bales in
1860.[10] This vast increase in production called for human muscle
which apparently only the negro could supply.

Once it was shown that slavery paid, its status became fixed as
adamant. The South forthwith ceased weakly to apologize for it, as it
had formerly done, and began to defend it, at first with some
hesitation, then with boldness, and finally with vehement
aggressiveness. It was economically necessary; it was morally right;
it was the peculiar Southern domestic institution; and, above all, it
paid. On every basis of its defense, the cotton kingdom would brook no
interference from any other section of the country. So there was
formed a race feudality in the Republic, rooted in profits, protected
by the political power of the slave lords, and enveloped in a spirit
of defiance and bitterness which reacted without mercy upon its
victims. Tighter and tighter were drawn the coils of restrictions
around the enslaved race. The mind and the soul as well as the body
were placed under domination. They might marry to breed but not to
make homes. Such charity and kindness as they experienced, they
received entirely from individual humane masters; society treated them
merely as chattels.

Attempted insurrections, such as that in South Carolina in 1822 and
that in Virginia in 1831 in which many whites and blacks were killed,
only produced harsher laws and more cruel punishments, until finally
the slave became convinced that his only salvation lay in running
away. The North Star was his beacon light of freedom. A few thousand
made their way southward through the chain of swamps that skirt the
Atlantic coast and mingled with the Indians in Florida. Tens of
thousands made their way northward along well recognized routes to the
free States and to Canada: the Appalachian ranges with their
far-spreading spurs furnished the friendliest of these highways; the
Mississippi Valley with its marshlands, forests, and swamps provided
less secure hiding places; and the Cumberland Mountains, well supplied
with limestone caves, offered a third pathway. At the northern end of
these routes the "Underground Railway"[11] received the fugitives.
From the Cumberlands, leading through the heart of Tennessee and
Kentucky, this benevolent transfer stretched through Ohio and Indiana
to Canada; from southern Illinois it led northward through Wisconsin;
and from the Appalachian route mysterious byways led through New York
and New England.

How many thus escaped cannot be reckoned, but it is known that the
number of free negroes in the North increased so rapidly that laws
discriminating against them were passed in many States. Nowhere did
the negro enjoy all the rights that the white man had. In some States
the free negroes were so restricted in settling as to be virtually
prohibited; in others they were disfranchised; in others they were
denied the right of jury duty or of testifying in court. But in spite
of this discrimination on the part of the law, a great sympathy for
the runaway slave spread among the people, and the fugitive carried
into the heart of the North the venom of the institution of which he
was the unhappy victim.

Meanwhile the slave trade responded promptly to the lure of gain which
the increased demand for cotton held out. The law of 1807 prohibiting
the importation of slaves had, from the date of its enactment, been
virtually a dead letter. Messages of Presidents, complaints of
government attorneys, of collectors and agents called attention to the
continuous violation of the law; and its nullity was a matter of
common knowledge. When the market price of a slave rose to $325 in
1840 and to $500 after 1850, the increase in profits made slave piracy
a rather respectable business carried on by American citizens in
American built ships flying the American flag and paying high returns
on New York and New England capital. Owing to this steady importation
there was a constant intermingling of raw stock from the jungles with
the negroes who had been slaves in America for several generations.

In 1860 there were 4,441,830 negroes in the United States, of whom
only 488,070 were free. About thirteen per cent of the total number
were mulattoes. Among the four million slaves were men and women of
every gradation of experience with civilization, from those who had
just disembarked from slave ships to those whose ancestry could be
traced to the earliest days of the colonies. It was not, therefore, a
strictly homogeneous people upon whom were suddenly and dramatically
laid the burdens and responsibilities of the freedman. Among the
emancipated blacks were not a few in whom there still throbbed
vigorously the savage life they had but recently left behind and who
could not yet speak intelligible English. Though there were many who
were skilled in household arts and in the useful customary
handicrafts, large numbers were acquainted only with the simplest toil
of the open fields. There were a few free blacks who possessed
property, in some instances to the value of many thousands of
dollars, but the great bulk were wholly inexperienced in the
responsibilities of ownership. There were some who had mastered the
rudiments of learning and here and there was to be found a gifted
mind, but ninety per cent of the negroes were unacquainted with
letters and were strangers to even the most rudimentary learning.
Their religion was a picturesque blend of Christian precepts and
Voodoo customs.

The Freedmen's Bureau, authorized by Congress early in 1865, had as
its functions to aid the negro to develop self-control and
self-reliance, to help the freedman with his new wage contracts, to
befriend him when he appeared in court, and to provide for him schools
and hospitals. It was a simple, slender reed for the race to lean upon
until it learned to walk. But it interfered with the orthodox opinion
of that day regarding individual independence and was limited to the
period of war and one year thereafter. It was eyed with suspicion and
was regarded with criticism by both the keepers of the _laissez faire_
faith and the former slave owners. It established a number of schools
and made a modest beginning in peasant proprietorship and free

When this temporary guide was withdrawn, private organizations to some
extent took its place. The American Missionary Association continued
the educational work, and volunteers shouldered other benevolences.
But no power and no organization could take the place of the national
authority. If the Freedmen's Bureau could have been stripped of those
evil-intentioned persons who used it for private gain, been so
organized as to enlist the support of the Southern white population,
and been continued until a new generation of blacks were prepared for
civil life, the colossal blunders and criminal misfits of that bitter
period of transition might have been avoided. But political
opportunism spurned comprehensive plans, and the negro suddenly found
himself forced into social, political, and economic competition with
the white man.

The social and political struggle that followed was short-lived. There
were a few desperate years under the domination of the carpetbagger
and the Ku Klux Klan, a period of physical coercion and intimidation.
Within a decade the negro vote was uncast or uncounted, and the
grandfather clauses soon completed the political mastery of the former
slave owner. A strict interpretation of the Civil Rights Act denied
the application of the equality clause of the Constitution to social
equality, and the social as well as the political separation of the
two stocks was also accomplished. "Jim Crow," cars, separate
accommodations in depots and theaters, separate schools, separate
churches, attempted segregations in cities - these are all symbolic of
two separate races forcibly united by constitutional amendments.

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Online LibrarySamuel P. OrthOur Foreigners A Chronicle of Americans in the Making → online text (page 3 of 14)