Walter L. (Walter Lynwood) Fleming.

Documentary history of reconstruction, political, military, social, religious, educational & industrial, 1865 to the present time online

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43° Documentary History of Reconstruction

down are correct, as we deem them to be . . it is clear that the
law in question cannot be sustained by any grant of legislative
power to Congress by the Fourteenth Amendment. . . This
is not corrective legislation; it is primary and direct; it takes
immediate and absolute possession of the subject of the right
of admission to inns, public conveyances, and places of amuse-
ment. It supersedes and displaces State legislation on the same
subject, or only allows it permissive course. It ignores such leg-
islation and assumes that the matter is one that belongs to the
domain of national regulation. . . Conceding the major proposi-
tion to be true, that Congress has the right to enact all necessary
and proper laws for the obliteration and prevention of slavery
with all its badges and incidents, is the minor proposition also
true, that the denial to any person of admission to the accom-
modation and privileges of an inn, a public conveyance, or a
theatre, does subject that person to any form of servitude, or
tend to fasten upon him any badge of slavery? If it does not,
then power to pass the law is not found in the Thirteenth
Amendment. . .

We are forced to the conclusion that such an act of refusal
has nothing to do with slavery or involuntary servitude, and
that if it is violative of any right of the party, his redress is to
be sought under the laws of the State. . . No countenance
of authority for the passage of the law in question can be
found in either the Thirteenth or Fourteenth Amendment of
the Constitution; and no other ground of authority for its pas-
sage being suggested, it must necessarily be declared void, at
least so far as its operation in the several States is concerned.
. . The first and second sections of the act of Congress of
March ist, 1875, entitled "An Act to protect all citizens in
their civil and legal rights," are unconstitutional and void.



LEGISLATIVE UNDOING OF
RECONSTRUCTION



Amnesty Act of 1872

Statutes at Large, vol. xvii, p. 142. [May 22, 1872]

Be it enacted . . (two-thirds of each house concurring there-
in), That all political disabilities imposed by the third section
of the fourteenth article of amendments of the Constitution of
the United States are hereby removed from all persons whom-
soever, except Senators and Representatives of the thirty-sixth
and thirty-seventh Congresses, officers in the judicial, military,
and naval service of the United States, heads of departments,
and foreign ministers of the United States.

Limitation on Use of the Army

Public Laws, U. 8. A., Jf5 Gong., 2 Sess., p. 152. Rider to Army Ap-
propriation Act. [June 18, 1878]

Sec. 15. From and after the passage of this act it shall not
be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States,
as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing
the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as
such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by
the Constitution or by act of Congress ; and no money appropri-
ated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred
in the employment of any troops in violation of this section and
any person wilfully violating the provisions of this section shall
be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof
shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or
imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and
imprisonment.

Army not to be Used at Elections

Public Laws, U. S. A., J/6 Cong., 2 Sess., p. 81. Rider to Army Ap-
propriation Act. [May 4, 1880]

Sec. 2. That no money appropriated in this act is appropriat-

43i



432 Documentary History of Reconstruction

ed or shall be paid for the subsistence, equipment, transporta-
tion, or compensation of any portion of the Army of the
United States to be used as a police force to keep the peace at
the polls at any election held within any State : Provided,
That nothing in this provision shall be construed to prevent
the use of troops to protect against domestic violence in each
of the States on application of the legislature thereof or of the
executive when the legislature cannot be convened.



Federal Election Laws Repealed

Statutes at Large, vol. xxviii, p. 36. The effect of this Act was
to discontinue Federal supervision over state elections.

[February 8, 1894]

Be it enacted . . That the following sections and parts of sec-
tions of the Revised Statutes of the United States be, and the
same are hereby, repealed; that is to say of title "Elective
Franchise" sections . . [2002, 2005-2020] . . relating to the
appointment, qualifications, power, duties, and compensation of
supervisors of election ; and also sections . . [202 1-203 1] ■ •
relating to the appointment, qualification, power, duties, and
compensation of special deputies; and also of title "Crimes,"
sections . . [5506, 5511-5515, 55 20 "55 2 3] • • relating to
election offenses. . .

Sec. 2. That all other statutes and parts of statutes relating
in any manner to supervisors of election and special deputy
marshals be and the same are hereby repealed.



Disabilities Removed

Statutes at Large, vol. xxx, p. 432. [June 6, 1898]

Be it enacted . . That the disability imposed by section three
of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United
States heretofore incurred is hereby removed.



7. RESULTS AND LATER CONDITIONS



The Negro's Heritage from the Carpetbaggers

Wallace, Carpet Bag Rule in Florida, p. 345. [1885]

Although the carpet-bag Government was overthrown in
1876, a certain property was bequeathed to the colored people
by the carpet-baggers which has been and still is to a certain
extent very damaging and burdensome to them. They left
upon the minds of thousands of our people the impression that
the drunkard, the thief or the most ignorant were as fit to
represent them in the government as the most intelligent and
upright men of the race. They impressed upon the minds of
thousands of our people the idea that the great privilege of the
suffrage is a purchasable merchandise; that political meetings
and conventions must be run and controlled by mobs, . . that
the best way to accumulate money and acquire an education
was to spend their time in gossiping in politics. The demoral-
ization in which our people were left by the carpet-baggers is
gradually being wiped out by the labors of the best men and
women and by the colored press of the State. Our people are
becoming fully awakened to the necessity of the proper educa-
tion of their children. The greater portion of them, who
heretofore spent their time in going around electioneering for
the purpose of pulling carpet-baggers into office to the neglect
of legitimate and profitable occupation, now turn their attention
to acquiring property and education.

"A Hole in the Ballot-box"

Senate Report on Labor and, Capital, testimony, vol. iv, p. 618. Sen-
ate committee (1883). Statement of a Georgia negro. [1883]

Whilst these bad politicians had possession of us, and while
we hadn't been educated enough to understand how those men
were doing, we were in trouble, but we came to look . . for
ourselves. We thought we wouldn't vote just as we were told,
but we would search a man and see if he was a reasonable man,

433

28



434 Documentary History of Reconstruction

whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. Now many of
us sometimes support the Democratic candidates as well as the
Republican candidates, because we believe that a man who is a
Democrat here is more honest than a Republican. . . We don't
mind party lines at all now. We are looking out for the best
interests of our people, and we are standing in the field and
looking for the party that will do us the most justice. What
we want is equal rights before the law. . . Some of them are
good men, and they proved better men than the Republicans,
but still we don't put the whole hog on them. . . And, again,
we picked out some men and sent them to the legislature, and
those men deceived us, and they made us hewers of wood and
drawers of water to ride on. . . Still we are deprived of juries
and various things. . . We elected one tax-collector and sent
one to the legislature, and he staid there awhile, but the Demo-
crats was in the majority, . . and he never came back any
more. . . You see the Democrats was in a majority, and they
passed a resolution to tie him up, and he didn't exactly under-
stand the resolution, and some of them voted for the resolution,
and whilst they done that it voted him out. . . We are in a
majority here, but you may vote till your eyes drop out or your
tongue drops out, and you can't count your colored man in out
of them boxes; there's a hole gets in the bottom of the boxes
some way and lets out our votes. Now, in other ways, we have
been getting along very well. There was times when the days
was dark; . . Now, when the Democrats get hold of the polls,
all the votes are counted, and so we shall ask the Senator to
sympathize with us, that we can all step up to the polls and vote
without men using violence; they don't do it now, but they
used to do it.

"Citizenship Made the Negro a Man"

Talbot, Samuel Chapman Armstrong, p. 260. Letter of S. C. Arm-
strong. Used by permission of Mrs. Talbot and Doubleday, Page
and Company. [1887]

After all, being a citizen and a voter has more than anything
else made the Negro a man. The recognition of his manhood
has done much to create it. Political power is a two-edged



Results and Later Conditions 435

sword which may cut both ways and do as much harm as good.
In the main, it has, I believe, been the chief developing force
in the progress of the race. It is, however, probable that this
would not have been so had it not been for the support of a
surrounding white civilization which, though not always kind,
has prevented the evils which would have resulted from an
unrestricted black vote.

The political experience of the Negro has been a great educa-
tion to him. In spite of his many blunders and unintentional
crimes against civilization, he is to-day more of a man than he
would have been had he not been a voter. . . Manhood is best
brought out by recognition of it. Citizenship, together with
the common school, is the great developing force in this country.
It compels attention to the danger which it creates. There is
nothing like faith in man to bring out the manly qualities.

Suffrage furnished him (the Negro) with a stimulus which
was terribly misused, but it has reacted and given him a training
which it was out of the power of churches and schools to im-
part. The source of American intelligence is not so much the
pedagogue as the system which gives each man a share in the
conduct of affairs, leading him to think, discuss and act, and thus
educating him quite as much by his failure as by his success.



Negro and White Artisans

P. A. Bruce, Plantation Negro as a Freedman, ch. xt. Used by per-
mission of Mr. Bruce. Published 1889 by G. P. Putnam's Sons.

[1889]

Before slavery was abolished, every plantation . . was sup-
plied with mechanics from the ranks of the negroes attached
to it. . . No slaves played a more useful part in the economy
of the plantation than the black mechanics. . . Emancipation
had the same general effect on the mechanics as upon every
distinct class of the negroes. . . Their desertion of the localities
where they had always dwelt virtually meant, in most instances,
the abandonment of the trades to which they had been trained
by so many years of experience. . . The shops of the carpen-
ters and wheelwrights (which are always similarly situated)



436 Documentary History of Reconstruction

are usually occupied by white men . . one of the most discour-
aging features of the character of the negroes who have grown
up since the war is their extreme aversion to the mechanical
trades . . such pursuits constrain them to conform more closely
than they like to a steady routine of work which is most arduous
and trying, on the whole. . . The places of a few of the me-
chanics who were trained under the old regime, have been taken
by young negroes who have been trained in industrial schools.
. . Negroes who have been educated in industrial schools are,
however, very rare. In consequence of this, as well as of the
fact that the individuals of the race are not inclined to adopt
mechanical pursuits, these pursuits, as the mechanics among
the freedmen die, are in rural districts gradually falling into
the hands of the whites.

The Abodes of the Blacks in Cities

Twenty-first Report, Freedmen's Aid Society, p. 45. [1883]

They live in low, damp basements or crowded attics, situated
on narrow alleys reeking with filth and moral and physical pol-
lution. Their miserable abodes are exposed to the chilly blasts
of winter, with leaky roofs that offer but slight protection from
the snow and rain. If they were able to do so, in many places
they cannot, on account of their color, rent good houses in
respectable localities. They often suffer from insufficient cloth-
ing, and children may be seen in their bare feet even in the
midst of winter. Their food is often of poor quality and
lacking in quantity, corn-bread, bacon, coffee, and molasses
being the standard diet. They are obliged to labor early and
late, wet or dry, cold or hot; and this, with their insufficient
clothing, is frequently a prolific cause of disease.

Their ignorance concerning the laws of health is appalling.
Their churches are usually crowded, and ventilation is almost
unknown. In one of the largest churches in Nashville, in the
basement of which services were held for several years, there
was only about fifty cubic feet of air-space to each person, only
one-tenth of what is necessary; and during protracted meetings
they would remain in this poisonous atmosphere for hours.



Results and Later Conditions 437



Agriculture, 1860-1893

Report of Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, on Cotton
Production, vol. i, pp. 308-371, passim. The first and second selec-
tions are from Alabama planters' letters; the third is from Gen
Stephen D. Lee, then president of the Agricultural and Mechanical
College of Mississippi. [1893]

[1] The southern half of Henry and all of Geneva and Coffee
counties are in the great pine belt [white districts], a compara-
tively newly-settled section. The farmers in this section of the
district, as a rule, live on their farms and do their own work,
and work with their hired help when they have any, and, as a
rule, they raise their own supplies of meat and forage and some
horses and mules, consequently are in better condition as cotton
raisers than in any other portion of the district if not in the
State. . .

The State legislature is largely responsible for the credit
system, and the present odious negro tenant system, which has
fastened the all-cotton system in all the black belt, which em-
braces what is known as the great cotton belt of the State. Soon
after the war . . in a mistaken effort to assist the land-poor
. . farmer, the legislature enacted what is known as the u crop
lien law," making it legal to mortgage an unplanted crop to
enable the cotton-raiser . . to borrow money and get advances
to make a crop. Unfortunately this law had too wide a scope.
It opened up the flood gates of the credit system and turned
over the fairest portion of the State to negro tenants, who up
to that time was content on the wage or share system to culti-
vate the lands under the intelligent direction of the land owner
or his agent. . . The negro refused to be controlled or to work
under the direction of the owner of the farm or an agent, as
under this law he could get advances in mules, implements, and
supplies as a tenant. The cotton-raisers were forced to rent
to the labor on their lands or turn it out to the commons. The
whole labor system was completely demoralized. All farm an-
imals, cattle, and hogs, and forage soon changed hands or dis-
appeared, and the farmers generally in this great cotton belt
moved to the towns. The tenants relying upon the advancing
merchant for food and forage and supplies, raised but little of



438 Documentary History of Reconstruction

these necessities on the farm. . . Food crops now [1893]
about 10 per cent, increase over three years ago, 40 per cent,
over twenty years, and at least 50 per cent, less than in i860.

[2] The depression and financial distress among cotton-
growers in . . [Sumter] county is attributable, first, to the
decline of labor and intelligent management, caused by the
abolition of slavery. . . The second cause of said depression is
what is known in commercial circles in the South as the "advanc-
ing system." Under this system the farm lands [in the Black
Belt] are rented to thriftless negro tenants, who mortgage their
crops to merchants in the villages and towns for supplies to
raise them. Neither the owner of the land or the merchant ex-
ercises any control or management over the growing crops. . .
The results of this system had been the waste of the farm lands,
the destruction of the improvements upon them, and the culti-
vation of cotton, with very inferior methods of culture, to the
practical exclusion of all other crops. The reason why this
system came into existence was the demoralization and indolence
of the negro after his liberation, and the inability of the land-
owners to get him to do the labor which he would contract to
perform. . .

In i860 the district [Black Belt] was a land of hog and
hominy. Every farm, almost without exception, was self-sus-
taining; buying meat and corn was considered an evidence of
bad management, and the doing so was the rare exception and
by no means the rule, as has been ever since.

[3] In i860 the cotton planters raised their own supplies,
and their cotton crop was a surplus one. . . The difficulties of
raising food and forage under the new order of things has
caused this system to be abandoned. I do not believe it can
ever be done again in the black or negro belt under the planta-
tion system. Many have attempted it, but have failed. . . In
the white region of the State . . where the white people largely
outnumber the negroes, the people generally raise their meat,
their forage, and other supplies, and raise their cotton crop
as a surplus crop. The people are well to do, 'and are getting
on well, notwithstanding the low price of cotton. Their land,



Results and Later Conditions 439

which formerly was not worth half as much as in black belts,
is now valuable by double. . . There is no doubt of the fact
that on the richer lands where the negroes are found the finan-
cial condition of white and black is worse than it is on the poorer
or thinner lands where the white people outnumber the blacks.



Industrial Decay of the Black Belt

C. G. Smith, Colonization of Negroes in Central Alabama (pamphlet).
Smith is a Northern missionary in the Black Belt. [About 1900]

A SECTION where the white population is rapidly on the de-
crease and the negro population on the increase; where the
ignorance and destitution and suffering among the negroes are
greater than in any other portion of the South. . . This section
. . is almost the exact size of the German Empire. . .

He [the white in the Black Belt] certainly suffers as much,
or more, because of given conditions, than the negro. The
negro knew nothing better in the past. The conditions of
which I shall speak have reduced the greater portion of the
former wealthy class to comparative poverty. There are hun-
dreds of "the old mansion houses" going to decay, the glass
broken in the windows, the doors off hinges, the siding long
unused to paint, the columns of the verandas rotting away and
the bramble thickets encroaching to the very doors. The peo-
ple have sold their lands for what little they could get and
moved to the cities or towns, that they might educate their
children and escape the intolerable conditions surrounding them
at their old beloved homes. These people are the true aris-
tocracy of the South. . . They are the best friends the negro
has. They have this advantage over a Northern philanthro-
pist; they know the negro, his faults and virtues, his weakness
and strength. These friends have largely gone from the
negro's life, and he is left alone in the wilderness, and, unless
others come to take their place, his last state will be worse
than his first.

Why this decadence? When freedom came to the slave,
the one-time masters undertook to run the plantations by hiring
the former slaves. Partly because the white man did not know



440 Documentary History of Reconstruction

how to adjust himself to the new conditions, partly because the
slave did not know how to use his freedom, the plantations
could not be run, with profit, in this way. The renting of small
plats of land, say forty or fifty acres, to a negro family was
then generally adopted, and with better success. But this made
the negro entirely his own master, and he was ignorant, im-
provident, and childish. Hence the white man was compelled
to use what seemed to be harsh conditions in his contracts with
the negro. He was obliged to compel him to raise a certain
amount of cotton, on which he held a mortgage. But the
negro had to live until his crop was raised, and no one would
furnish him with supplies unless he gave a mortgage on the
product of his toil. The double mortgages interfered with
each other, and it finally developed that the way out of the
difficulty was for the white man who rented the land to keep a
supply station also. This could not be done by each plantation
owner, so one man would rent or buy several plantations, create
a supply station and sub-rent to negroes. This resulted, in
time, in the formation of great monopolies, so that one man
would control a whole county and have depending on him hun-
dreds of negroes. The greater part of the white people, as
above stated, moved to the cities and towns to commence again
the battle of life under new conditions. Sometimes the man
who controls is a just man and wise, and hence, in his section,
suffering is at the minimum. Sometimes he is a carpetbagger,
who, with a Northerner's push, is there to make money. Some-
times he is a man who has been raised in the South. . .

Land in this section of Alabama can be bought in small and
large tracts for from six to seven dollars per acre. The usual
rent asked on this land is three dollars per acre, or nearly one-
half its actual value. The negroes who rent the land have
nothing, hence they must get an advance supply of money for
living until the crop is raised. This supply is granted by the
landowner on condition that the renter plants and tills a certain
amount of cotton, and on this he gives a mortgage. He cannot
eat die cotton nor feed it, and he is compelled to take it to a
certain place to have it ginned, and here it falls into the hands



Results and Later Conditions 441

of the landowner, and frequently no part of it belongs to the
man who raised it when accounts are balanced, and he must
start over again and beg for advance for food. Ag am mort-
gages are given on his future toil; then some year there comes
a partial failure of crops. Then the landlord refuses to grant
further advance, and the tenant is stripped of what 'he has, and
turned out to seek a like fate somewhere else. This condition
makes it impossible to have a settled community, and hence
impossible to do permanent work in enlightenment.

Whites and Blacks as Cotton Producers

J. C. Hardy, in South's Supremacy in Cotton Growing, p. 8. Hardy
is president of the Agricultural College of Mississippi. [1900]

With the coming in of such citizens as this section is now re-
ceiving and with the going out of many of our most trifling
negroes, the productive power of our people will be greatly
increased. One of the greatest losses the South has is the low
productive capacity of her colored population. By improving
the intelligence, industry and skill of her farm laborers the
South can double her cotton production with every other con-
dition remaining the same. To become convinced of this one
has only to examine the statistics of the last census [1900],
which shows the following facts :

Lowndes county [Mississippi], with three negroes to one
white man, having 21,972 blacks and 7,121 whites, requires 3.15
acres to make a bale of cotton, while Jones county, with three
whites to one negro, having 13,156 whites and 4,670 blacks,
requires 1.98 acres to make a bale. The farm lands of Jones



Online LibraryWalter L. (Walter Lynwood) FlemingDocumentary history of reconstruction, political, military, social, religious, educational & industrial, 1865 to the present time → online text (page 35 of 41)