W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du Bois.

Economic co-operation among Negro Americans. Report of a social study made by Atlanta University under the patronage of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. together with the proceedings of the 12th Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, held at Atlanta University, on Tuesday, May t online

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Online LibraryW. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du BoisEconomic co-operation among Negro Americans. Report of a social study made by Atlanta University under the patronage of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. together with the proceedings of the 12th Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, held at Atlanta University, on Tuesday, May t → online text (page 7 of 22)
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knew better," he said, "or so well as the Board under what daily responsibili
ties Governor Russwurm s life in Africa was passed, and how conscientiously
he discharged them; how, at periods when the very existence of the then in
fant colony depended upon its relations with surrounding tribes of excited
natives, his coolness and admirable judgment obviated or averted impending
perils; how, when the authority and dignity of the colonial government were
at stake in lamentable controversies with civilized and angry white men, the
calm decorum of his conduct brought even his opponents to his side; how,
popular clamor among the colonists calling upon him as a judge to disregard
the forms of law and sacrifice of offending individuals in the absence of legal
proof, he rebuked the angry multitude by the stern integrity of his conduct;
and how, when on his visit to Baltimore in 1848 he was thanked personally by
the members of the board, he deprecated the praise bestowed upon him for
the performance of his duty, and impressed all who saw him with the modest
manliness of his character and his most excellent and courteous bearing."*

Most of the thinking Negroes of the United States were, however,
opposed to emigration to Africa. Bishop Allen wrote a strong letter
against it in 1827 to the Freedmen^s Journal.

In the first Negro convention held at Philadelphia in 1831,

The question of emigration to Canada West, after an exhaustive discussion
which continued during the two days of the convention s sessions, was recom
mended as a measure of relief against the persecution from which the colored
American suffered in many places in the North. Strong resolutions against
the American Colonization Society were adopted. The formation of a parent
society with auxiliaries in the different localities represented in the conven
tion, for the purpose of raising money to defray the object of purchasing a
colony in the province of upper Canada, and ascertain more definite informa
tion, having been effected, the convention adjourned to reassemble on the
first Monday in June, 1831, during which time the order of the convention re
specting the organization of the auxiliary societies had been carried into
operation, t

Again at a second convention in 1832,

The question exciting the greatest interest was one which proposed the pur
chase of other lands for settlement in Canada ; for 800 acres of land had already
been secured, two thousand individuals had left the soil of their birth, crossed
the line and laid the foundation for a structure which promised an asylum for
the colored population of the United States. They had already erected two
hundred log houses and five hundred acres of land had been brought under
cultivation. But hostility to the settlement of the Negro in that section had
been manifested by Canadians, many of whom would sell no land to the Ne
gro. This may explain the hesitation of the convention and the appointment
of an agent, whose duty it was to make further investigation and report to the
subsequent convention.

Atlanta University Publication, No. 5, pp. 32-3.
{-American Negro Academy, occasional papers, No. 9, p. 6.

48 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

Opposition to the colonization movement was emphasized by a strong pro
test against any appropriation by Congress in behalf of the American Coloni
zation Society. Abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia was also
urged at the same convention. This was one year before the organization of
the American Anti-Slavery Society.

A convention at Rochester, N. Y., in 1853 pronounced against emigra

But those who saw only in emigration the solution of the evils with which
they were beset, immediately called another convention to consider and decide
upon the subject of emigration from the United States. According to the call,
no one was admitted to the convention who would introduce the subject of
emigration to any part of the eastern hemisphere, and opponents of emigra
tion were also to be excluded.

Bishop Holly of Hayti, writes : " The convention was accordingly held. The
Rev. William Munroe was president, the Rt. Rev. (William) Paul Quiim, vice-
president, Dr. Delaney, chairman of the business committee, and I was the

"There were three parties in that emigration convention, ranged according
to the foreign fields they preferred to emigrate to. Dr. Delaney headed the
party that desired to go to the Niger V alley in Africa, Whitfield the party
which preferred to go to Central America, and Holly the party which pre
ferred to go to Hayti.

"All these parties were recognized and embraced by the convention. Dr.
Delaney was given a commission to go to Africa, in the Niger Valley, Whit-
field to go to Central America, and Holly to Hayti, to enter into negotiations
with the authorities of these various countries for Negro emigrants and to re
port to future conventions. Holly was the first to execute his mission, going
down to Hayti in 1855, when he entered into relations with the Minister of the
Interior, the father of the late President Hyppolite, and by him was presented
to Emperor Faustin I. The next emigration convention was held at Chatham,
Canada West, in 1856, when the report on Hayti was made. Dr. Delaney went
off on his mission to the Niger Valley, Africa, via England in 1858. There he
concluded a treaty signed by himself and eight kings, offering inducements
for Negro emigrants to their territories. Whitfield went to California, intend
ing to go later from thence to Central America, but died in San Francisco
before he could do so. Meanwhile (James) Redpath went to Hayti as a John
Brownist after the Harper s Ferry raid, and reaped the first fruits of Holly s
mission by being appointed Haytian Commissioner of Emigration in the
United States by the Haytian Government, but with the express injunction
that Rev. Holly should be called to co-operate with him. On Redpath s arrival
in the United States, he tendei ed Rev. Holly a commission from the Haytian
Government at $1,000 per annum and traveling expenses to engage emigrants
to go to Hayti. The first shipload of emigrants went from Philadelphia in

"Not more than one-third of the 2,000 emigrants to Hayti received through
this movement permanently abided there. They proved to be neither intel
lectually, industrially nor financially prepared to undertake to wring from
the soil the riches that it is ready to yield up to such as shall be thus prepared ;
nor are the Government and influential individuals sufficiently instructed in
social, industrial and financial problems which now govern the world, to turn
to profitable use willing workers among the laboring class.

"The Civil war put a stop to the African emigration project by Dr. Delaney

Migration 49

taking the commission of major from President Lincoln, and the Central
American project died out with Whitfield, leaving the Hay tian emigration as
the only remaining practical outcome of the emigration convention of 1854." *

Nothing more was heard of emigration from the Negroes themselves
until after the war. With the overthrow of the Negro suffrage in 1870
and the consequent reign of terror, the project was revived.

Simultaneously the movement arose in several states. The first
leader was Benjamin Singleton, a Negro undertaker of Tennessee, who
began in 1869 and brought in all two colonies of 7,432 Negroes to Kansas.

A corporation was formed as follows:

Certificate of Incorporation
The Singleton Colony


The name of this corporation shall be "The Singleton Colon} 7 of Morris and
Lyon Counties, State of Kansas."

The purpose for which this corporation is formed is to promote emigration
and the encouragement of agriculture and the acquisition of homes for colored

The place where its business is to be transacted is at Dunlap, in the county
of Morris, state of Kansas.


The term for which this corporation is to exist is fifty years.


The number of directors or trustees of this corporation shall not be more
than thirteen, f

Henry Adams started an even greater movement in Louisiana. He
said to the Senate committee:

In 1870, I believe it was, or about that year, after I had left the army I went
into the army in 1866, and came out the last of 1869 and went right back home
again, where I went from, Shreveport; I enlisted there, and went back there.
I enlisted in the regular army, and then I went back after I had come out of
the army. After we had come out a parcel of we men that was in the army
and other men thought that the way our people had been treated during the
time that we were in service we heard so much talk of how they had been
treated and oppressed so much and there was no help for it that caused me
to go into the army at first, the way our people was opposed. There was so
much going on that I went off and left it; when I came back it was still going
on, part of it, not quite so bad as at first. So a parcel of us got together and
said that we would organize ourselves into a committee and look into affairs
and see the true condition of our race, to see whether it was possible we could
stay under a people who had held us under bondage or not. Then we did so
and organized a committee. Some of the members of the committee was
ordered by the committee to go into every state in the South where we had
been slaves there, and post one another from time to time about the true con
dition of our race, and nothing but the truth.

American Negro Academy: Occasional papers,No. 9, pp. 20-1.

T Negro Exodus from the Southern States, Vol. 8, pp. 887-s,3rd part.

50 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

Then came increasing outrages. This organization appealed to the
President and Congress in September, 1874. By 1877, however, the
organization lost hopes of peace and justice in the South.

We found ourselves in such condition that we looked around and we seed
that there was no way on earth, it seemed, that we could better our condition
there, and we discussed that thoroughly in our organization along in May.
We said that the whole South every state in the South had got into the
hands of the very men that held us slaves from one thing to another and we
thought that the men that held us slaves was holding the reins of govern
ment over our heads in every respect almost, even the constable up to the
governor. We felt we had almost as well be slaves under these men. In re
gard to the whole matter that was discussed, it came up in every council.

Then we said there was no hope for us and we had better go We

had several organizations; there were many organizations; I can t tell you
how many immigration associations, and so forth, all springing out of our
colonization council. We had a large meeting, some five thousand people
present, and made public speeches in 1877 on immigration.

The convention met April 17, 1879, and it declared:

The fiat to go forth is irresistible. The constantly recurring, nay r ever pres-
ent,fear which haunts the minds of these our people in the turbulent parishes
of the state is, that slavery in the horrible form of peonage is approaching ;
that the avowed disposition of the men now in power is to reduce the laborer
and his interest to the minimum of advantages as freemen and to absolutely
none as citizens, has produced so absolute a fear that in many cases it has
become a panic. It is flight from present sufferings and from the wrongs to
come. The committee finds that this exodus owes its effectiveness to society
organizations among plantation laborers ; that it began with the persecutions
and the political mobs of the years 1874 and 1875, and was organized as a coloni
zation council in August, 1874, for emigration. This organization beginning
in Caddo Parish, spread rapidly from parish to parish until it had permeated
the state, and in sections particularly known as the cotton belt, where law
lessness and outrages upon black persons are most frequent, the society has
been most active.

Today this organization, as your committee has definitely learned, numbers
on its rolls 92,800 names of men, women and children over twelve years of age,
in Louisiana, Northwestern Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama; 69,000
of these are represented in the different parishes of this state. The cohesive-
ness of this organization in its secrecy and management being entirely com
mitted to the plantation laborers and their direct representatives, has secured
its potency. The representative political leader was neither intrusted with
nor informed of its existence. Year by year since 1874 the organization, as
encroachment after encroachment was made on the rights of the colored peo
ple, grew and strengthened, and now when reduced to virtual peonage and
the threatened deprivation of all rights as freemen and citizens is imminent,
the exodus has ensued and its consequences are manifest.*

Actual movement of immigrants began in 1879. In Alabama the
movement took shape in a labor convention, at Montgomery in 1872,
which listened to a report from an agent sent to Kansas. The commit
tee on labor and wages declared :

* Negro Exodus from Southern States, Vol. 8, part 2, pp. 39, 101, 108-9.



It will be seen from the above figures that the laborer is compelled to pay,
in round numbers, 40 per cent for all the capital borrowed. We submit this is
usury ; the capitalist charging just five times the lawful interest:

Recapitulation of a Laborer s Account

Total from all sources $HK7.8l

Total outlay 3M 20

Prollts . .

..$ 81.11

Out of this amount ($81.11), the laborer must clothe himself and family, feed
the little ones, and furinsh medical attendance for the same. Hence his ina
bility to accumulate property. Mr. McKiel then introduced the following
resolution, which was adopted:

Whereas, the report of the committee on labor and wages shows a sad con
dition of affairs amongst the colored citizens of Alabama, owing in a great
part to the fact that we are landless: Therefore,

Be it resolved, That this convention memorialize the Congress of the United
{States to pass the bill now pending before that honorable body, known as "A
hill to incorporate the Freedmen s Homestead Company," thinking as we do
that such a company would do much good by assisting many poor men to ob
tain homes, thereby rendering him a free and independent citizen.*

On December 2, 1874, another convention met in Montgomery and
feent a long memorial to President Grant. The convention declared :

We have, therefore, organized an emigration association to give to them
authority to take steps as will best effect the early settlement of a colony of
colored families in the far West, which, in case of success, may be a nucleus
around which many thousands of the hard-working colored families of Ala
bama may build for themselves happy homes.f

In Texas we are told this story:

Last July we held a state conference ; that is, I mean the delegates, of whom
I was one. This conference was held in the city of Houston for the purpose
of consulting the best steps to be taken with regard to the migration of col
ored people, and also to their future elevation. I had the honor of being
elected one of the commissioners on migration from the sixth Congressional
district. I have been traveling over the counties of my district ever since,
lecturing to my people. Since last July I have gone through the following
counties, and received the following amounts from each county : Hays county,
$4.40; Caldwell county, $16.50; Gruadalupe county, $8.90; Comal county, $3.20;
Blanco county, $1.50; Kendall county, $2.75; Kerr county,$2.55; Wilson county,
^(i.85; (ionzales county, $14.35; DeWitt county, $2(5.95; Victoria county, $21.20;
Goliad county, $13.40, the total amounting to $122.55. In many counties I have
walked from thirty to forty miles, because the people were so poor they could
not help me.}

North Carolina had a movement in 1878:

We, the undersigned colored people of the second Congressional district of
North Carolina, having labored hard for several years, under disadvantages
over which we had no control, to elevate ourselves to a higher plane of Chris
tian civilization; and, whereas, our progress has been so retarded as to nearly

* Negro Exodus from Southern States, Vol. 8, p. 140, 8rd part,
t Negro Exodus from Southern States, Vol. 8, 2nd part, p, 40L
t Negro Exodus from Southern States, Vol. 7, pp. 430.

52 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans

nullify all our efforts, after dispassionate and calm consideration, our deliber
ate conviction is, that emigration is the only way in which we can elevate
ourselves to a higher plane of true citizenship. *

This was signed by 168 Negroes. South Carolina had a Charleston
Colored Western Emigration Society, which endorsed the Nashville
convention in 1879.

Finally all the movements culminated in a great convention at
Nashville, Tenn., May 6-9, 1879. Here were gathered 139 representatives
from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the
District of Columbia. Many noted Negro leaders were there: a former
lieutenant-governor of Louisiana, a future bishop, and United States
paymaster, and such men as Gibbs of Arkansas, Pledger and R. R.
Wright of Georgia, Council of Alabama, Knox of Indiana, T. W. Hen
derson of Kansas, Lewis of Louisiana, Lynch of Mississippi, Loudin of
Ohio, Still of Pennsylvania, Rainey of South Carolina, Burrus arid
Napier of Tennessee, Cuney of Texas, and Cromwell of the District of
Columbia. This, the most representative Negro convention ever as
sembled in the South, said in its address:

Fifteen years have elapsed since our emancipation, and though we have
made material advancement as citizens, yet we are forced to admit that ob
stacles have been constantly thrown in our way to obstruct and retard our
progress. Our toil is still unrequited, hardly less.under freedom than slavery,
whereby we are sadly oppressed by poverty and ignorance, and consequently
prevented from enjoying the blessings of liberty, while we are left to the
shame and contempt of all mankind. This unfortuate state of affairs is
because of the intolerant spirit exhibited on the part of the men who control
the state governments of the South today. Free speech in many localities is
not tolerated. The lawful exercise of the rights of citizenship is denied when
majorities must be overcome. Proscription meets us on every hand ; in the
school-room, in the church that sings praises to that God who made of one
blood all the nations of the earth ; in places of public amusement, in the jury
box, and in the local affairs of government we are practically denied the
rights and privileges of freemen.

We can not expect to rise to the dignity of true manhood under the system
of labor and pay as practically carried out in some portions of the South today.
Wages are low at best, but when paid in scrip having no purchasing power
beyond the prescribed limits of the landowner, it must appear obviously plain
that our condition must ever remain the same; but with a fair adjustment
between capital and labor, we as a race, by our own industry, would soon be
placed beyond want and in a self-sustaining condition

Resolved, That it is the sense of this conference that the great current of
migration which has for the past few mouths taken so many of our people
from their homes in the South, and which is still carrying hundreds to the
free and fertile "West, should be encouraged and kept in motion until those
who remain are accorded every right and privilege guaranteed by the consti
tution and laws.

Resolved, That we recommend great care on the part of those who migrate.

* Negro Exodus from Southern States, Vol. 7, p. 281, 1st part.

Migration 53

They should leave home well prepared with certain knowledge of localities to
which they intend to move ; money enough to pay their passage and enable
them to begin life in their new homes with prospect of ultimate success.*

On the Northern side both Negroes and whites organized immigra
tion aid societies. Some of them simply spent money furnished by
others. Others were more extensive organizations. In Indianapolis,
for instance:

On Wednesday evening, December 3, 1879, a meeting was held in the lecture
room of the Second Baptist Church to organize a relief society to care for the
colored emigrants, as we learned that some of them were on their way here
from North Carolina, and that they would arrive here destitute. After the
preliminary organization of the meeting, the object of the same being stated,
on motion it was voted that a society be organized tonight for the purpose of
helping and caring for those people when they arrive here, similar to and in
co-operation with the relief society which was organized at the A. M. E.
Church, November 24. t

This committee collected $296.85,

.Two similar societies worked in St. Louis:

The colored men of this city, who have been active in the organization of
the above named society to assist the colored immigrants from the South in
finding local habitation in the rich and growing West, have just perfected that
organization, with the above named as president, secretary, treasurer and di
rectors. These names include some of the leading colored men of the place
and an advisory board, to be composed of some of the most public-spirited and
benevolent of our citizens, and these are a guaranty to all who know them of
perfect good faith, integrity and trustworthiness in the distribution of such
funds as may be contributed to them for the purposes indicated.

The Colored Refugee Relief Board committee

Found 2,000 emigrants half clad, without food or means, filling the colored
churches, halls and houses, and began at once an active canvass for funds, and
for weeks liberal hands administered to their every want, and boxes of cloth
ing and baskets of food were given without stint; but still they came upon
every boat from the lower Mississippi, until the movement assumed stupen
dous proportions, and the original committee felt the necessity of extending
their appeal. Already the committee, through solicitations, have issued 50,000
rations and clothing and transportation for 4,004 persons.

The second society raised $3,341.42.

The result of this great movement was thus reported:

During the first year in Kansas the freedmen entered upon 20,000 acres of
land and plowed and fitted for grain-growing 3,000 acres. They built 300 cabins
and dugouts^ and accumulated $30,000.

In the month of February, 1880, John M. Brown, Esq., general superintend
ent of the Freedmen s Relief Association, read an interesting report before the
Association, from which the following extract is taken:

The great exodus of the colored people from the South began about the first
of February, 1879. By the first of April 1,300 refugees had gathered around
Wyandotte, Kans. Many of them were in a suffering condition. It was then

* Negro Exodus from Southern States. Vol. 8, 2nd part, pp. 244-5.
f Negro Exodus from the Southern States, Vol. 7, p. 355.

54 Economic Co-operation Among: Negro Americans

that the Kansas Relief Association came into existence for the purpose of
helping the most needy among the refugees from the Southern states. Up to
date about 60,000 refugees have come to the state of Kansas to live. Nearly
40,000 of them were in a destitute condition when they arrived, and have been
helped by our association. We have received to date $68,000 for the relief of
the refugees. About 5,000 of those who have come to Kansas have gone to
other states to live, leaving about 55,000 yet in Kansas. About 30,000 of that
number have settled in the country, some of them on lands of their own or
rented lands ; others have hired out to the farmers, leaving about 25,000 in and
around the different cities and towns of Kansas.*
The census shows the following Negroes in Kansas:

I860 627

1870 17,108

1880 43,107

1890 49,710

1900 62,008

Since 1880 immigration to the North has gone on steadily, but there
has been no large co-operative movement.

Part 3. Types of Cooperation
Section 9. The Church

The development of the Negro American has been as follows (see
diagram): The Christian Church did but little to convert the slaves
from their Obeah worship and primitive religion until the establish
ment of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
in 1701; this society and the rising Methodists and Baptists rapidly

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryW. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt) Du BoisEconomic co-operation among Negro Americans. Report of a social study made by Atlanta University under the patronage of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. together with the proceedings of the 12th Conference for the Study of the Negro Problems, held at Atlanta University, on Tuesday, May t → online text (page 7 of 22)