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First edition, 2000
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
(title page) A School History of the Negro Race in America, from 1619 to 1890, With a Short Introduction as to the Origin of the Race; Also a Short Sketch of Liberia.
(spine) School History of the Negro Race in America
Edward A. Johnson, L. B.
194 p., ill.
Edwards & Broughton, Printers and Binders.
Call Number C326 J67 c. 4 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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To the many thousand colored teachers in our country is this book dedicated. During my experience of eleven years as a teacher, I have often felt that the children of the race ought to study some work that would give them a little information on the many brave deeds and noble characters of their own race. I have often observed the sin of omission and commission on the part of white authors, most of whom seem to have written exclusively for white children, and studiously left out the many creditable deeds of the Negro. The general tone of most of the histories taught in our schools has been that of the inferiority of the Negro, whether actually said in so many words, or left to be implied from the highest laudation of the deeds of one race to the complete exclusion of those of the other. It must, indeed, be a stimulus to any people to be able to refer to their ancestors as distinguished in deeds of valor, and peculiarly so to the colored people. But how must the little colored child feel when he has completed the assigned course of U. S. History and in it found not one word of credit, not one word of favorable comment for even one among the millions of his foreparents who have lived through
nearly three centuries of his country's history! The Negro is hardly given a passing notice in many of the histories taught in the schools; he is credited with no heritage of valor; he is mentioned only as a slave, while true historical records prove him to have been among the most patriotic of patriots, among the bravest of soldiers, and constantly a God-fearing, faithful producer of the nation's wealth. Though a slave to this government, his was the first blood shed in its defense in those days when a foreign foe threatened its destruction. In each of the American wars the Negro was faithful -- yes, faithful to a land not his own in point of rights and freedom, but, indeed, a land that, after he had shouldered his musket to defend, rewarded him with a renewed term of slavery. Patriotism and valor under such circumstances possess a peculiar merit and beauty. But such is the truth of history; and may I not hope that the study of this little work by the boys and girls of the race will inspire in them a new self-respect and confidence. Much, of course, will depend on you, dear teachers, into whose hands I hope to place this book. By your efforts and those of the children, you are to teach, from the truth of history, that complexions do not govern patriotism, valor and sterling integrity.
My endeavor has been to shorten this work as
much as I thought consistent with clearness. Personal opinions and comments have been kept out. A fair, impartial statement has been my aim. Facts are what I have tried to give without bias or prejudice, and may not something herein said hasten on that day when the race for which these facts are written, following the example of the noble men and women who have gone before, level themselves up to the highest pinnacle of all that is noble in human nature.
I respectfully request that my fellow-teachers will see to it that the word Negro is written with a capital N. It deserves to be so enlarged and will help, perhaps, to magnify the race it stands for in the minds of those who see it.
E. A. J.
The Origin of the Negro is definitely known. Some very wise men, writing to suit prejudiced readers, have endeavored to assign the race to a separate creation and deny its kindred with Adam and Eve. But historical records prove the Negro as ancient as the most ancient races -- for 5,000 years into the dim past mention is made of the Negro race. The Pyramids of Egypt, the great temples on the Nile, were either built by Negroes or people closely related to them. All the science and learning of ancient Greece and Rome was once in the hands of the foreparents of the American slaves. They are, then, descendants of a race of people once the most powerful on earth, the race of the Pharaohs. History, traced from the flood, makes the three sons of Noah, Ham, Shem and Japheth, the progenitors of the three primitive races of the earth -- the Mongolian, descended from Shem and settled in Southern
and Eastern Asia; the Caucasian, descended from Japheth and settled in Europe; the Ethiopian, descended from Ham and settled in Africa and adjacent countries. From Ham undoubtedly sprung the Egyptians who, in honor of Ham, their great head, named their principal god Hammon or Ammon.
Ham was the father of Canaan, from whom descended the powerful Canaanites so troublesome to the Jews. Cush, the oldest son of Ham, was the father of Nimrod, "the mighty one in the earth" and founder of the Babylonian Empire. Nimrod's son built the unrivalled City of Nineveh in the picturesque valley of the Tigress. Unless the Bible statement be false that "God created of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth," and the best historians have erred, then the origin of the Negro is high enough to merit his proudest boasts of the past, and arouse his grandest hopes for the future.
The Present Condition of the African is the result of the fall of the Egyptian empire, which was in accord with the Bible prophecy of all nations who forgot God and worshipped idols. That the Africans, were once a great people is shown by their natural love for the fine arts. They are poetic by nature, and national airs sung long ago by exploring parties in Central Africa are still held by them,
and strike the ears of more modern travellers with joy and surprise.
Ancient Cities Discovered in the very heart of Africa, having well laid off streets, improved wharfs, and conveniences for trade, connect these people with a better condition in the past than now. While many of the native Africans are desperately savage, yet in their poor, degraded condition it is the unanimous testimony of missionaries and explorers that many of these people have good judgment, some tribes have written languages, and show skill in weaving cloth, smelting and refining gold and iron and making implements of war.
Their Wonderful regard for truth and virtue is surprising, and fixes a great gulf between them and other savage peoples. They learn rapidly, and, unfortunately, it is too often the case that evil teaching is given them by the vile traders who frequent their country with an abundance of rum, mouths full of curses, and the worst of bad English.
Long Years Spent in the most debilitating climate on earth and violation of divine law, made the African what he was when the slave trade commenced in the 16th century. But his condition was not so bad that he could not be made a good citizen. Nay, he was superior to the ancient savage Briton whom Cæsar found in England and described as unfitted
to make respectable slaves of in the Roman Empire. The Briton has had eighteen centuries to be what he is, the Negro has had really but twenty-five years. Let us weigh his progress in just balances.
"The Sphinx may have been the shrine of the Negro population of Egypt, who, as a people, were unquestionably under our average size. Three million Buddhists in Asia represent their chief deity, Buddha, with Negro features and hair. There are two other images of Buddha, one at Ceylon and the other at Calanse, of which Lieutenant Mahoney says: 'Both these statues agree in having crisped hair and long, pendant earrings.'" -- Morton
"The African is a man with every attribute of humankind. Centuries of barbarism have had the same hurtful effects on Africans as Pritchard describes them to have had on certain of the Irish who were driven, some generations back, to the hills in Ulster and Connaught" -- the moral and physical effect are the same.
"Ethnologists reckon the African as by no means the lowest of the human family. He is nearly as
strong physically as the European; and, as a race, is wonderfully persistent among the nations of the earth. Neither the diseases nor the ardent spirits which proved so fatal to the North American Indians, the South Sea Islanders and Australians, seem capable of annihilating the Negroes. They are gifted with physical strength capable of withstanding the severest privations. Many would pine away in a state of slavery. No Krooman can be converted into a slave, and yet he is an inhabitant of the low, unhealthy west coast; nor can any of the Zulu or Kaffir tribe be reduced to bondage, though all these live in comparatively elevated regions. We have heard it stated by men familiar with some of the Kaffirs, that a blow given, even in play by a European, must be returned. A love of liberty is observable in all who have the Zulu blood, as the Makololo, the Watuta. But blood does not explain the fact. A beautiful Barotse Woman at Naliele, on refusing to marry a man whom she did not like, was in a pet given by the headman to some Mambari slave traders from Benguela. Seeing her fate, she seized one of their spears, and, stabbing herself, fell dead." -- Livingstone's Works.
"In ancient times the blacks were known to be so gentle to strangers that many believed that the
gods sprang from them. Homer sings of the ocean, father of the gods; and says that when Jupiter wishes to take a holiday, he visits the sea, and goes to the banquets of the blacks, -- a people humble, courteous and devout."
The following passage of scripture has been much quoted as an argument to prove the inferiority of the Negro race. The Devil can quote scripture but not always correctly: "And Noah began to be an husbandman and he planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken and was uncovered in his tent, and Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without, and Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness, and Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him, and he said, cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said: Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant."
After the flood Noah's mission as a preacher to the people was over. He so recognized it himself, and settled himself down with his family on a vineyard. He got drunk of the wine he made and disgracefully lay in nakedness; on awaking from his drunken stupor and learning of Ham's acts, he in rage speaks his feelings to Canaan, Ham's son. He was in bad temper at this time, and spoke as one in such a temper in those times naturally would speak. To say he was uttering God's will would be a monstrosity -- would be to drag the sacred words of prophecy through profane lips, and make God speak His will to men out of the mouth of a drunkard, of whom the holy writ says none can enter the kingdom. A drunken prophet strikes the mind with ridicule! Yet, such was Noah, if at all -- and such the character of that prophet, whom biased minds have chosen as the expounder of a curse on the Negro race. It is not strange that so few people have championed the curse theory of the race, when we think that in so doing they must at the same time endorse Noah's drunkenness.
But, aside from this, the so-called prophecy of Noah has not become true. The best evidence of a prophecy is its fulfillment. Canaan's descendants have often conquered, though Noah said they would not. Goodrich makes the Canaanites, so powerful in the fortified cities of Ai and Jericho, the direct descendants of Canaan. They were among the most powerful people of olden times. They and their kindred built up Egypt, Phoenicia, the mother of the alphabet, and Nineveh and Babylon the two most wonderful of ancient cities. The Jews, God's chosen people, were enslaved by the kindred of Canaan both in Egypt and Babylon. Melchizedek
(King of Righteousness), a sacred character of the old Testament, was a Canaanite. So, rather than being a race of slaves as Noah predicted, the Canaanitish people have been the greatest people of the earth. The great nations of antiquity were in and around Eastern Africa and Western Asia in which is located Mt. Ararat supposed to be the spot on which the ark rested after the flood. These nations sprang from the four sons of Ham -- Cush, Mizarim, Phut and Canaan. The Cushites were Ethiopians who lived in Abyssinia. The Mizarimites were Egyptians who lived in Egypt and so distinguished for greatness. The Canaanites occupied the country including Tyre and Sidon and stretching down into Arabia as far as Gaza and including the province of the renowned Queen of Sheba.
In the light of true history the curse theory of the Negro melts like snow under a summer sun. We contend from the above facts that Noah did not utter a prophecy when he spoke to Canaan, and as proof of that fact we have quoted a few historical facts to show that if he did make such a prophecy it was not fulfilled. We will add further, that the part of the alleged prophecy conferring blessings on Shem and Japheth has also fallen without verification, in that the descendants of these two personages have more than once been enslaved.
It seems hardly necessary in this age of enlightenment to refer to the Curse Theory argued so persistently by those who needed some such argument as an apology for wrong doing, but still there are some who still believe in it, having never cut loose from the moorings of blind prejudice. The Color Theory was also quite popular formerly as an argument in support of the curse of Noah. We hold that the color of the race is due to climatic influences, and in support of this view read this quotation in reference to Africa: "As we go westward we observe the light color predominating over the dark; and then, again, when we come within the influence of the damp from the sea air, we find the shade deepened into the general blackness of the coast population."
"It is well known that the Biseagan women are shining white, the inhabitants of Granada, on the contrary, dark, to such an extent that in this region (West Europe), the pictures of the blessed Virgin and other saints are painted of the same color."
Black is no mark of reproach to people who do not worship white. The West Indians in the interior represent the devil as white. The American Indians make fun of the "pale face" and so does the native African. People in this country have been educated to believe in white because all that is good has been ascribed to the white race both in pictures and words. God, the angels and all the prophets are pictured white and the Devil is represented as black.
The first Negroes landed at Jamestown, Va. In the year 1619, a Dutch trading vessel being in need of supplies weighed anchor at Jamestown, and exchanged fourteen Negroes for food and supplies. The Jamestown people made slaves of these fourteen Negroes, but did not pass any law to that effect until the year 1662, when the number of slaves in the colony was then nearly 2,000, most of whom had been imported from Africa.
How they were Employed. The Jamestown colony early discovered the profits of the tobacco crop, and the Negro slaves were largely employed in this industry where they proved very profitable, They were also enlisted in the militia, but could not bear arms except in defense of the colonists against the Indians. The greater part of the manual labor of all kinds was performed by the slaves.
The Slaves Imported came chiefly from the west coast of Africa. They were crowded into the holds of ships in droves, and often suffered for food and
drink. Many, when opportunity permitted, would jump overboard rather than be taken from their homes. Various schemes were resorted to by the slave-traders to get possession of the Africans. They bought many who had been taken prisoners by stronger tribes than their own; they stole others, and some they took at the gun and pistol's mouth.
Many of the Captives of the slave-traders sold in this country were from tribes possessing more or less knowledge of the use of tools. Some came from tribes skilled in making gold and ivory ornaments, cloth, and magnificent steel weapons of war. The men had been trained to truthfulness, honesty, and valor, while the women were virtuous even unto death. While polygamy is prevalent among most African tribes, yet their system of marrying off the young girls at an early age, and thus putting them under the guardianship of their husbands, is a protection to them; and the result is plainly seen by travellers who testify positively to the uprightness of the women.
The Ancestors of the American Negroes, though savage in some respects, yet were not so bad as many people think. The native African had then, and he has now, much respect for what we call law and justice. This fact is substantiated by the
numerous large tribes existing, individuals of which grow to be very old, a thing that could not happen were there the wholesale brutalism which we are sometimes told exists. All native Africans universally despise slavery, and even in Liberia, have a contempt for the colored people there who were once slaves in America.
The Jamestown Slaves were doomed to servitude and ignorance both by law and custom; they were not allowed to vote, and could not be set free even by their masters, except for "some meritorious service." Their religious instruction was of an inferior order, and slaves were sometimes given to the white ministers as pay for their services.
The Free Negroes of Jamestown were in a similar condition to that of the slaves. They could vote and bear arms in defence of the colony, but not for themselves. They were taxed to bear the expenses of the government, but could not be educated in the schools they helped to build. Some of them managed to acquire some education and property.
The Negro Heroes who may have exhibited their heroism in many a daring feat during the early history of Jamestown are not known. It is unfortunate that there was no record kept except that of the crimes of his ancestors in this country. Judging,
however, from the records of later years, we may conclude that the Negro slave of Jamestown was not without his Banneka or Blind Tom. Certainly his labor was profitable and may be said to have built up the colony.
When John Smith became Governor of the Jamestown colony, there were none but white inhabitants; their indolent habits caused him to make a law declaring that "he who would not work should not eat." Prior to this time the colony had proved a failure and continued so till the introduction of the slaves, under whose labor it soon grew prosperous and recovered from its hardships.
Thomas Fuller, sometimes called "the Virginia Calculator," must not be overlooked in speaking of the record of the Virginia Negro. He was stolen from his home in Africa and sold to a planter near Alexandria, Va. His genius for mathematics won for him a great reputation. He attracted the attention of such men as Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia, who, in company with others, was passing through Virginia. Tom was sent for by one of the company and asked, "how many seconds a man of seventy years, some odd months, weeks and days, had lived?" "He gave the exact number in a minute and a half." The gentleman who questioned him took his pen, and after some figuring
told him he must be mistaken, as the number was too great. "Top, massa!" cried Tom, you hab left out the leap year" -- and sure enough Tom was correct. -- Williams.
The following was published in several newspapers when Thomas Fuller died:
"DIED. -- Negro Tom, the famous African Calculator, aged 80 years. He was the property of Mrs. Elizabeth Cox, of Alexandria. Tom was a very black man. He was brought to this country at the age of fourteen, and was sold as a slave with many of his unfortunate countrymen. This man was a prodigy; though he could neither read nor write, he had perfectly acquired the use of enumeration. He could give the number of months, days, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds for any period of time that a person chose to mention, allowing in his calculations for all the leap years that happened in the time. He would give the number of poles, yards, feet, inches and barleycorns in a given distance -- say the diameter of the earth's orbit -- and in every calculation he would produce the true answer in less time than ninety-nine out of a hundred men would take with their pens. And what was, perhaps, more extraordinary, though interrupted in the progress of his calculations and engaged in discourse upon any other subject, his operations were
not thereby in the least deranged. He would go on where he left off, and could give any and all of the stages through which his calculations had passed. Thus died Negro Tom, this untaught arithmetician, this untutored scholar. Had his opportunities of improvement been equal to those of a thousand of his fellow men, neither the Royal Society of London, the Academy of Sciences at Paris, nor even a Newton himself need have been ashamed to acknowledge him a brother in science."
How many of his kind might there have been had the people of Jamestown seen fit to give the Negroes who came to their shores a laborer's and emigrant's chance, rather than enslaving them! Much bloodshed and dissension might thus have been avoided, and the honor of the nation never besmirched with human bondage.
The enslavement of the Negro seems to have commenced in the New York Colony about the same time as at Jamestown. The slaves were used on the farms and became so profitable that about the time the English took the colony from the Dutch, 1664, there was a great demand for slaves, and the trade grew accordingly.
The Privileges of the Slaves in New York were for a while a little better than in Virginia. They were taken into the church and baptized, and no law was passed to prevent their getting an education. But the famous Wall Street, now the financial center of the New World, was once the scene of an auction block where Indians and persons of Negro descent were bought and sold. A whipping boss was once a characteristic office in New York City.
The Riot of 1712 shows the feeling between the master and servant at that time. The Negro population being excluded from schools, not allowed to own land even when free, and forbidden to "strike a Christian or Jew" in self-defence, and their testimony
excluded from the courts, arose in arms and with the torch; houses were burned and many whites killed before the militia suppressed them. Many of the Negroes of New York were free, and many came from the Spanish provinces.
Negro slavery existed in Massachusetts as early as 1633. The Puritan fathers who came to this country in search of liberty did not hesitate to carry on for more than a century a disgraceful traffic in human flesh and blood. The New England ships of the 17th century brought cargoes of Negroes from the west coast of Africa and the Barbadoes. They sold many of them in New England as well as in the Southern colonies. In 1764 there were nearly 6,000 slaves in Massachusetts, about 4,000 in Rhode Island and the same in Connecticut.
The Treatmentof the slaves in these colonies at this time was regulated by laws which classed them as property, "being rated as horses and hogs." They could not bear arms nor be admitted to the schools. They were baptized in the churches, but this did not make them freemen, as it did white serfs.
Better Treatment was given the slaves as the colonies grew older and were threatened with wars. It was thought that the slaves might espouse the
cause of the enemy, and for this reason some leniency was shown them.
Judge Samuel Sewall, a Chief Justice of Massachusetts wrote a tract in 1700 warning the people of New England against slavery and ill treatment of Negroes. He said: "Forasmuch as Liberty is in real value next unto Life, none ought to part with it themselves, or deprive others of it, but upon most mature consideration."
Judge Sewall's tract greatly excited the New England people on the subject of emancipating their slaves. "The pulpit and the press were not silent, and sermons and essays in behalf of the enslaved Africans were continually making their appearance."
The Slaves Themselves aroused by these favorable utterances from friendly people made up petitions which they presented with strong arguments for their emancipation. A great many slaves brought suits against their masters for restraining them of their liberty. In 1774 a slave "of one Caleb Dodge," of Essex county, brought suit against his master praying for his liberty. The jury decided that there was "no law in the Province to hold a man to serve for life," and the slave of Caleb Dodge won the suit.
Felix Holbrook and other slaves presented a petition
to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1773, asking to be set free and granted some unimproved lands where they might earn an honest living as freemen. Their petition was delayed consideration one year, and finally passed. But the English governors, Hutchinson and Gage, refused to sign it, because they perhaps thought it would "choke the channel of a commerce in human souls."
British Hatred to Negro freedom thus made itself plain to the New England slaves, and a few years later, when England fired her guns to subdue the revolution begun at Lexington, the slave population enlisted largely in the defence of the colonists. And thus the Negro slave by valor, patriotism and industry, began to loosen the chains of his own bondage in the Northern colonies.
Before passing from the New England colonies it would be unfortunate to the readers of this book were they not made acquainted with the great and wonderful career of the young Negro slave who bore the above name. She came from Africa and was sold in a Boston slave market in the year 1761 to a kind lady who was a Mrs. Wheatley. As she
sat with a crowd of slaves in the market, naked, save a piece of cloth tied about the loins, her modest, intelligent bearing so attracted Mrs. Wheatley that she selected her in preference to all the others. Her selection proved a good one, for, with clean clothing and careful attention, Phillis soon began to show a great desire for learning. Though only eight years old, this young African, whose race all the learned men said were incapable of culture, within little over a year's time so mastered the English language as to be able to read the most difficult parts of the Bible intelligently. Her achievements in two or three years drew the leading lights of Boston to Mrs. Wheatley's house, and with them she talked and carried on correspondence concerning the popular topics of the day. Everybody either knew or knew of Phillis. She became skilled in Latin and translated one of Ovid's stories, which was published largely in English magazines. She published many poems in English, one of which was addressed to General George Washington. He sent her the following letter in reply, which shows that Washington was as great in heart as in war:
"CAMBRIDGE, 28th February, 1776.
-- Your favor of the 26th of October did not reach my hands till the middle of
December. * * * * I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you enclosed; and however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetical talents, in honor of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem, had I not been apprehensive that, while I only meant to give the world this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me not to give it place in the public prints.
"If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near headquarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and to whom Nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations. I am with great respect,
"Your humble servant,
Phillis was emancipated at the age of twenty-one. Soon after that her health failed and she was sent to Europe, where she created even a greater sensation than in America. Men and women in the very highest stations of the Old World were wonder-struck, and industriously attentive to this humble
born African girl. While Phillis was away Mrs. Wheatley became seriously ill and her daily longings were to see "her Phillis," to whom she was so much devoted. It is related that she would often turn on her sick-couch and exclaim, "See! Look at my Phillis! Does, she not seem as though she would speak to me?" Phillis was sent for to come, and in response to the multitude of kindnesses done her by Mrs. Wheatley, she hastened to her bed-side where she arrived just before Mrs. Wheatley died, and "shortly had time to close her sightless eyes."
Mr. Wheatley after the death of his wife, married again and settled in England. Phillis being thus left alone also married. Her husband was named Peters. He, far inferior to her in most every way and becoming jealous of the favors shown her by the best of society, became very cruel. Phillis did not long survive his harsh treatment, and she died "greatly beloved" and mourned on two continents on December 5th, 1784, at the age of 31.
Thus passed away one of the brightest of the race, whose life was as pure as a crystal and devoted to the most beautiful in poetry, letters and religion, and exemplifies the capabilities of the race.
She composed this verse: --
"'Twas mercy brought me from my pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God -- that there's a Saviour too;
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew."
Contrary to the Connecticut slaveholder's feigned unbelief in the intellectual capacity of the Negro, and their assertions of his utter inferiority in all things, they early enacted the most rigid laws prohibiting the teaching of any Negro to read, bond or free, with a penalty of several hundred dollars for every such act. The following undeniable story is woven into the fabric of Connecticut's history, and tells a sad tale of the prejudice of her people against the Negro during the days of slavery there:
"Prudence Crandall a young Quaker lady of talent was employed to teach a 'boarding and day-school.' While at her post of duty one day, Sarah Harris, whose father was a well-to-do colored farmer, applied for admission. Miss Crandall hesitated somewhat to admit her, but knowing the girl's respectability, her lady-like and modest deportment, for she was a member of the white people's church and well known to them, she finally told her yes. The girl came. Soon Miss Crandall was called upon by the patrons, announcing their disgust and loathing that their daughters should attend school with a 'nigger girl.' Miss Crandall protested, but to no avail. The white pupils were finally taken from the school. Miss Crandall then opened a school for colored ladies. She enrolled about twenty, but they were subjected to many outrageous insults.
They were denied accommodation altogether in the village of Canterbury. Their well was filled up with trash, and all kinds of unpleasant and annoying acts were thrust upon them. The people felt determined that Canterbury should not have the disgrace of a colored school. No, not even the State of Connecticut. Miss Crandall sent to Brooklyn to some of her friends. They plead in her behalf privately, and went to a town meeting to speak for her, but were denied the privilege. Finally, the Legislature passed a law prohibiting colored schools in the State. From the advice of her friends and her own strong will, Miss Crandall continued to teach. She was arrested and her friends were sent for. They came, but would not be persuaded by the sheriff and other officers to stand her bond. The people saw the disgrace and felt ashamed to have it go down in history that she was put in jail. In agreement with Miss Crandall's wishes her friends still persisted, so about night she was put in jail, into a murderer's cell. The news flashed over the country, much to the Connecticut people's chagrin and disgrace. She had her trial -- the Court evaded giving a decision. She opened her school again, and an attempt was made to burn up the building while she and the pupils were there, but proved unsuccessful. One night about midnight
they were aroused to find themselves besieged by persons with heavy iron bars and clubs breaking the windows and tearing things to pieces. It was then thought unwise to continue the school longer. So the doors were closed and the poor girls, whose only offense was a manifestation for knowledge, were sent to their homes. This law, however, was repealed in 1838, after lasting five years.
New Hampshire slaves were very few in number. The people of this colony saw the evils of slavery very early and passed laws against their importation. Massachusetts was having so much trouble with her slaves that the New Hampshire people early made up their minds that, as a matter of business, as well as of humanity, they had best not try to build up their colony by dealing in human flesh and blood.
Maryland was, up to 1630, a part of Virginia, and slavery there partook of the same features. Owing to the feeling existing in the colony between the Catholics who planted it, and the Protestants, the slaves were treated better than in some other provinces. Yet their lot was a hard one at best; by law a white person could kill a slave and not suffer death; only pay a fine.
White Slaves existed in this colony, many of whom came as criminals from England. They, it seems, were chiefly domestic servants, while the Negroes worked the tobacco fields.
Banneka was born in Maryland in the year 1731. An English woman named Molly Welsh, who came to Maryland as an emigrant, is said to have been his maternal grandmother. This woman was sold as a slave to pay her passage to this country on board an emigrant ship; and after serving out her term of slavery she bought two Negro slaves herself. These slaves were men of extraordinary powers, both of mind and body. One of them, said to be the son of an African king, was set free by her, and she soon married him. There were four children, and one of them, named Mary, married a native African, Robert Banneka, who was the father of Benjamin.
The School Days of young Benjamin were spent in a "pay school" where some colored children were admitted. The short while that Benjamin was there he learned to love his books, and when the other children played he was studying. He was very attentive to his duties on his father's farm, and when through with his task of caring for the horses and cows, he would spend his leisure hours in reading books and papers on the topics of the day.
The Post-Office was the famous gathering place in those days, and there it was that young Benjamin was accustomed to go. He met many of the leading people of the community and fluently discussed with them difficult questions. He could answer almost any problem put to him in mathematics, and became known throughout the colonies as a genius. Many of his answers to questions were beyond the reach of ordinary minds.
Messrs. Ellicott & Co., who built flour mills on the Patapsco River near Baltimore, very early discovered Banneka's genius, and Mr. George Ellicott allowed him the use of his library and astronomical instruments. The result of this was that Benjamin Banneka published his first almanac in the year 1792, said to be the first almanac published in America. Before that he had made numerous calculations in astronomy and constructed for himself a splendid clock that, unfortunately, was burned with his dwelling soon after his death.
Banneka's Reputation spread all over America and even to Europe. He drew to him the association of the best and most learned men of his country. His ability was a curiosity to everybody, and did much to establish the fact that the Negro of his time could master the arts and sciences. It is said that he was the master of five different languages,
as well as a mathematical and astronomical genius. He accompanied and assisted the commissioners who surveyed the District of Columbia.
He sent Mr. Thomas Jefferson one of his almanacs, which Mr. Jefferson prized so highly he sent it to Paris and wrote Mr. Banneka the following letter in reply. Along with Mr. Banneka's almanac to Mr. Jefferson, he sent a letter pleading for better treatment of the people of African descent in the United States.
"PHILADELPHIA, August 30th, 1791.
-- I thank you sincerely for your letter of the 19th instant, and for the almanac it contained. Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit that Nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of a want of them is owing only to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa and America. I can add with truth, that no one wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body and mind, to what it ought to be, as fast as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected, will admit. I have taken the liberty of
sending your almanac to Monsieur de Cordorat, Secretary of the Academy of Sciences at Paris and member of the Philanthropic Society, because I considered it a document to which your whole color had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them.
"I am, with great esteem, sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"THOS. JEFFERSON."Mr. Benjamin Banneka, near Ellicott's
The Personal Appearance of Mr. Banneka is drawn from the letters of those who wrote about him. A certain gentleman who met him at Ellicott's Mills gives this description: "Of black complexion, medium stature, of uncommonly soft and gentlemanly manners, and of pleasing colloquial powers."
Mr. Banneka died about the year 1804, very greatly mourned by the people of this country and Europe. He left two sisters, who, according to his request, turned over his books, papers and astronomical calculations to Mr. Ellicott. There has been no greater mind in the possession of any American citizen than that of Benjamin Banneka. He stands out in history as one of those phenomenal characters whose achievements seem to be nothing short of miraculous.
Francis Ellen Watkins was another of Maryland's bright slaves. She distinguished herself as an anti-slavery lecturer in the Eastern States, and wrote a book entitled, "Poems and Miscellaneous Writings: By Francis Ellen Watkins." In that book was the following poem entitled, "Ellen Harris":
(1) Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild,
A woman swept by me bearing a child;
In her eye was the night of a settled despair,
And her brow was overshadowed with anguish and care.
(2) She was nearing the river, -- on reaching the brink
She heeded no danger, she paused not to think!
For she is a mother -- her child is a slave, --
And she'll give him his freedom or find him a grave!
(3) But she's free, -- yes, free from the land where the slave
From the hand of oppression must rest in the grave;
Where bondage and torture, where scourges and chains,
Have placed on our banner indelible stains.
(4) The blood-hounds have missed the scent of her way;
The hunter is rifled and foiled of his prey;
Fierce jargon and cursing, with clanking of chains,
Make sounds of strange discord on Liberty's plains.
(5) With the rapture of love and fullness of bliss,
She placed on his brow a mother's fond kiss, --
Oh! poverty, danger and death she can brave,
For the child of her love is no longer a slave!
Delaware was settled, as you will remember, by the Swedes and Danes in 1639. They were a simple, contented and religious people. It is recorded that they had a law very early in their history declaring it was "not lawful to buy and keep slaves." It is very evident, though, that later on in the history of the colony slaves were held, and their condition was the same as in New York. While the north of the colony was perhaps fully in sympathy with slavery, the western part was influenced by the religious sentiment of the Quakers in Pennsylvania.
The Friends of Pennsylvania were opposed to slavery, and although slavery was tolerated by law, the way was left open for their education and religious training. In 1688 Francis Daniel Pastorious*
addressed a memorial to the Friends of Germantown. His was said to be the first protest against slavery made by any of the churches of America. He believed that "slave and slave-owner should be equal at the Master's feet."
William Penn showed himself friendly to the slaves.
This colony in geographical position lies between South Carolina and Virginia, While it held slaves, it may be justly said its position on this great question was not so burdensome to the slave as the other Southern colonies, and even to the present time the Negroes and whites of this State seem to enjoy the most harmonious relations. The slave laws of this State gave absolute dominion of the master over the servant, but allowed him to join the churches from the first. Large communities of free Negroes lived in this State prior to the civil war and for a long time could vote. They had some rights of citizenship and many of them became men of note.
Prior to the Civil War there were schools for these free people. Some of them owned slaves themselves. In this colony the slaves were worked as a rule on small farms and there was a close relation established between master and slave, which bore its fruits in somewhat milder treatment than was customary in colonies where the slaves lived on
large cotton plantations governed by cruel overseers, some of whom were imported from the North.
The Eastern Section of North Carolina was thickly peopled with slaves, and some landlords owned as many as two thousand.
The increase and surplusage of the slave population in this State was sold to the more Southern colonies, where they were used on the cotton plantations.
George M. Horton was his name. He was the slave of James M. Horton, of Chatham County, N. C. Several of his special poems were published in the Raleigh Register. In 1829, A. M. Gales, of this State, afterwards of the firm of Gales & Seaton, Washington, D. C., published a volume of the slave Horton's poems which excited the wonder and admiration of the best men in this country. His poems reached Boston where they were much talked of and used as an argument against slavery. Horton, at the time his volume was published, could read but not write, and was, therefore, compelled to dictate his productions to some one who wrote them down for him. He afterwards learned to write. He seemed to have concealed all his achievements from his master, who knew nothing of his slave's ability
except what others told him. He simply knew George as a field-hand, which work he did faithfully and honestly, and wrote his poetry too. Though a slave, his was a noble soul inspired with the Muse from above. The Raleigh Register said of him, July 2d, 1829: "That his heart has felt deeply and sensitively in this lowest possible condition of human nature (meaning slavery), will be easily believed and is impressively confirmed by one of his stanzas, viz.:
"Come melting pity from afar,
And break this vast, enormous bar
Between a wretch and thee:
Purchase a few short days of time,
And bid a vassal soar sublime
On wings of Liberty."
Charters for the Settlement of North and South Carolina were obtained at the same time -- 1663. Slavery commenced with the colony. Owing to the peculiar fitness of the soil for the production of rice and cotton, slave labor was in great demand. White labor failed, and the colony was marvelously prosperous under the slave system. Negroes were imported from Africa by the thousands. Their labor proved very productive, and here it was that the slave code reached its maximum of harshness.
A Negro Regiment in the service of Spain was doing duty in Florida, and through it the Spanish, who were at dagger's ends with the British colonies, sent out spies who offered inducements to such of the South Carolina slaves as would runaway and join them. Many slaves ran away. Very rigid and extreme laws were passed to prevent slaves from running away, such as branding and cutting the "ham-string" of the leg.
A Riot followed the continued cruel treatment of slaves under the runaway code; 1748 is said to have been the year in which a crowd of slaves assembled in
the village of Stono, slew the guards at the arsenal and secured the ammunition there. They then marched to the homes of several leading men whom they murdered, together with their wives and children. The slaves captured considerable rum in their plundering expedition, and having indulged very freely stopped for a frolic, and in the midst of their hilarity were captured by the whites, and thus ended the riot.
The Discontent of the Slaves grew, however, in spite of the speedy ending of this attempt at insurrection. Cruel and inhuman treatment was bearing its fruits in a universal dissatisfaction of the slaves, and in South Carolina, as in Massachusetts, it began to be a serious question as to what side the slaves would take in the war of the coming Revolution. England offered freedom and money to slaves who would join her army. The people of South Carolina did not wait long before they allowed the Negroes to enlist in defence of the colonies, and highly complimented their valor. If a slave killed a Briton he was emancipated; if he were taken prisoner and escaped back into the Province he was also set free.
From the time of its settlement in 1732 till 1750 this colony held no slaves. Manyof the inhabitants were anxious for the introduction of slaves, and when the condition of the colony finally became hopeless they sent many long petitions to the Trustees, stating that "the one thing needful" for their prosperity was Negroes. It was a long time before the Trustees would give their consent; they said that the colony of Georgia was designed to be a protection to South Carolina and the other more Northern colonies against the Spanish, who were then occupying Florida, and if the colonists had to control slaves it would weaken their power to defend their colonies. Finally, owing to the hopeless condition of the Georgia colony, the Trustees yielded. Slaves were introduced in large numbers.
Prosperity came with the slaves, and, as in the case of Virginia, the colony of Georgia took a fresh start and began to prosper. White labor proved a failure. It was the honest and faithful toil of the Negro that turned the richness of Georgia's soil into English gold, built cities and created large
estates, gilded mansions furnished with gold and silver plate.*
* The famous minister, George Whitfield, referring to his plantation in this colony, said: "Upward of five thousand pounds have been expended in the undertaking, and yet very little proficiency made in the cultivation of my tract of land, and that entirely owing to the necessity I lay under of making use of white hands. Had a Negro been allowed I should now have had a sufficiency to support a great many orphans, without expending above half the sum which has been laid out." He purchased a plantation in South Carolina, where slavery existed, and speaks of it thus: "Blessed be God! This plantation has succeeded; and though at present I have only eight working hands, yet, in all probability, there will be more raised in one year, and without a quarter of the expense, than has been produced at Bethesda for several years past. This confirms me in the opinion I have entertained for a long time, that Georgia never can or will be a flourishing province without Negroes are allowed."
* The famous minister, George Whitfield, referring to his plantation in this colony, said: "Upward of five thousand pounds have been expended in the undertaking, and yet very little proficiency made in the cultivation of my tract of land, and that entirely owing to the necessity I lay under of making use of white hands. Had a Negro been allowed I should now have had a sufficiency to support a great many orphans, without expending above half the sum which has been laid out." He purchased a plantation in South Carolina, where slavery existed, and speaks of it thus: "Blessed be God! This plantation has succeeded; and though at present I have only eight working hands, yet, in all probability, there will be more raised in one year, and without a quarter of the expense, than has been produced at Bethesda for several years past. This confirms me in the opinion I have entertained for a long time, that Georgia never can or will be a flourishing province without Negroes are allowed."
Oglethorpe Planned the Georgia colony as a home for Englishmen who had failed in business and were imprisoned for their debts. These English people were out of place in the wild woods of America, and continued a failure in America, as well as in England, until the toiling but "heathen" African came to their aid.
Cotton Plantations were numerous in Georgia under the slave system. The slave-owners had large estates, numbering thousands of acres in many cases. The slaves were experts in the culture of cotton. The climate was adapted to sugarcane and rice, both of which were raised in abundance.
This fortification, erected by some of the armies during the early colonial wars, had been abandoned.
It lies on the west bank of the Apalachicola River in Florida, forty miles from the Georgia line. Negro refugees from Georgia fled into the everglades of Florida as a hiding-place during the war of the Revolution. In these swamps they remained for forty years successfully baffling all attempts to re-enslave them. Many of those who planned the escape at first were now dead, and their children had grown up to hate the lash and love liberty. Their parents had taught them that to die in the swamps with liberty was better than to feast as a bondman and a slave. When Blount's Fort was abandoned and taken possession of by these children of the swamp, there were three hundred and eleven of them, out of which not more than twenty had ever been slaves. They were joined by other slaves who ran away as chance permitted. The neighboring slave-holders attempted to capture these people but failed. They finally, called on the President of the United States for aid. General Jackson, then commander of the Southern militia, delegated Lieutenant Colonel Clinch to take the Fort and reduce these people to slavery again. His sympathies being with the refugees, he marched to the fort and returned, reporting that "the fortification was not accessible by land."
Commodore Patterson next received orders. He
commanded the American fleet then lying In Mobile Bay. A "sub-order was given instantly to Lieutenant Loomis to ascend the Apalachicola River with two gun-boats, to seize the people in Blount's Fort, deliver them to their owners, and destroy the fort." At early dawn on the morning of September the 17th, 1816, the two boats, with full sail catching a gentle breeze, moved up the river towards the fort. They lowered a boat on their arrival and twelve men went ashore. They were met at the water's edge and asked their errand by a number of the leading men of the fort. Lieutenant Loomis informed them that he came to destroy the fort and turn over its inmates to the "slave-holders, then on board the gun-boat, who claimed them as fugitive slaves." The demand was rejected. The colored men returned to the fort and informed the inmates. Great consternation prevailed. The women were much distressed, but amid the confusion and excitement there appeared an aged father whose back bore the print of the lash, and whose shoulder bore the brand of his master. He assured the people that the fort could not be taken, and ended his speech with these patriotic words: "Give me liberty, or give me death." The shout went up from the entire fort as from one man, and they prepared to face the enemy.
The Gun-boats Soon Opened Fire. For several
hours they buried balls into the earthen walls and injured no one. Bombs were then fired. These had more effect, as there was no shelter from them. Mothers were more careful to hug their young babies closer to their bosoms. All this seemed little more than sport for the inmates of the fort, who saw nothing but a joke in it after shelter had been found.
Lieutenant Loomis saw his failure. He had a consultation and it was agreed to fire "hot shot at the magazine." So the furnaces were heated and the fiery flames began to whizz through the air. This last stroke was effectual, the hot shot set the magazine on fire and a terrible explosion covered the entire place with debris. Many were instantly killed by the falling earth and timbers. The mangled limbs of mothers and babies lay side by side. It was now dark. Fifteen persons in the fort had survived the explosion. The sixty sailors and officers now entered, trampling over the wounded and dying, and took these fifteen refugees in handcuffs and ropes back to the boats. The dead, wounded and dying were left.
As the two boats moved away from this scene of carnage the sight weakened the veteran sailors on board the boats, and when the officers retired the weather-worn sailors "gathered before the mast, and loud and bitter were the curses uttered against
slavery and against the officers of the government who had thus constrained them to murder innocent women and helpless children, merely for their love of liberty."
The Dead Remained unburied in the fort. The wounded and dying were not cared for and all were left as fat prey for vultures to feast upon. For fifty years afterward the bones of these brave people lay bleaching in the sun. Twenty years after the murder a Representative in Congress from one of the free States introduced a bill giving a gratuity to the perpetrators of this crime. The bill passed both houses.
Having briefly considered the establishment of slavery in the colonies, where the Negro slave was employed in every menial occupation, and where he accepted the conditions imposed upon him with a full knowledge of the wrong done, but still jubilant with songs of hope for deliverance, and trust in God whose promises are many to the faithful, let us turn to
The War of the Revolution which soon came on; and in it Providence no doubt designed an opportunity for the race to loosen up the rivets in the chains that bound them. They made good of this opportunity.
Barnes Gives the following account of the habits and customs of the Southern colonies during the days of slavery:
"The Southern Colonists differed widely from the Northern in habits and style of living. In place of thickly settled towns and villages, they had large plantations, and were surrounded by a numerous household of servants. The Negro quarters formed a hamlet apart, with its gardens and poultry yards. An estate in those days was a little empire. The planter had among his slaves men of every trade, and they made most of the articles needed for common use upon the plantation. There were large sheds for curing tobacco, and mills for grinding corn and wheat. The tobacco was put up and consigned directly to England. The flour of the Mount Vernon estate was packed under the eye of Washington himself, and we are told that barrels of flour bearing his brand passed in the West India market without inspection.
"Up the Ashley and Cooper (near Charleston), were the remains of the only bona fide nobility ever established on our soil. There the descendants of the Landgraves, who received their title in accordance with Locke's grand model, occupied their manorial dwellings. Along the banks of the James and Rappahannock, the plantation often passed from father to son, according to the law of entail.
"The heads of these great Southern families lived like lords, keeping their packs of choice hunting dogs, and their stables of blooded horses, and rolling to church or town in their coach of six, with outriders on horseback. Their spacious mansions were sometimes built of imported brick. Within, the grand staircases, the mantels, and the wainscot, reaching in a quaint fashion from floor to ceiling were of mahogany elaborately carved and paneled. The sideboards shone with gold and silver plate and the tables were loaded with the luxuries of the Old World. Negro servants thronged about, ready to perform every task.
"All Labor was done by Slaves, it being considered degrading for a white man to work. Even the superintendence of the plantation and slaves was generally committed to overseers, while the master dispensed a generous hospitality, and occupied himself with social and political life."
Objections to Enlisting Negroes caused much discussion at the beginning of the Revolutionary war. The Northern colonies partially favored their enlistment because they knew of their bravery, and rightly reasoned that if the Negroes were not allowed to enlist in the Colonial army, where their sympathies were, they would accept the propositions of the British, who promised freedom to every slave who would desert his master and join the English army.
Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, and the other British leaders, saw a good chance to weaken the strength of the colonies by offering freedom to the slaves if they would fight for England. They knew that the slaves would be used to throw up fortifications, do fatigue duties, and raise the provisions necessary to support the Colonial army. So Lord Dunmore issued a proclamation offering freedom to all slaves who would join his army. As the result of this, Thomas Jefferson is quoted as
saying 30,000 Negroes from Virginia alone joined the British ranks.
The Americans became fearful of the results that were sure to follow the plans of Lord Dunmore. Sentiment began to change in the Negro's favor; the newspapers were filled with kind words for the slaves, trying to convince them that the British Government had forced slavery upon the colonies against their will, and that their best interests were centred in the triumph of the Colonial army. A part of an article in one paper, headed "Caution to the Negro," read thus: "Can it, then, be supposed that the Negroes will be better used by the English, who have always encouraged and upheld this slavery, than by their present masters, who pity their condition; who wish in general to make it as easy and comfortable as possible, and who would, were it in their power, or were they permitted, not only prevent any more Negroes from losing their freedom, but restore it to such as have already unhappily lost it. * * * They will send the Negroes to the West Indies where every year they sell many thousands of their miserable brethren. Be not tempted, ye Negroes, to ruin yourselves by this proclamation." The colonies finally allowed the enlistment of Negroes, their masters being paid for them out of the public treasury. Those slaves
who had already joined the British were offered pardon if they would escape and return, and a severe punishment was to be inflicted on those who left the colony if they were caught.
To Offset the Plans of Lord Dunmore, the Americans proposed to organize a Negro army to be commanded by the brave Col. Laurens; and on this subject the following letter was addressed to John Jay, President of Congress, by the renowned Alexander Hamilton. This letter also shows in what esteem the Negro slave of America was held by men of note:
"HEADQUARTERS, March 14, 1779.
"To John Jay.
"DEAR SIR: Col. Laurens, who will have the honor of delivering you this letter, is on his way to South Carolina on a project which I think, in the present situation of affairs there, is a very good one, and deserves every kind of support and encouragement. This is to raise two, or three, or four battalions of Negroes, with the assistance of the government of that State, by contributions from the owners in proportion to the number they possess. If you think proper to enter upon the subject with him, he will give you a detail of his plan. He wishes to have it recommended by Congress
and the State, and, as an inducement, they should engage to take those battalions into Continental pay.
"It appears to me that an expedient of this kind, in the present state of Southern affairs, is the most rational that can be adopted and promises very important advantages. Indeed, I hardly see how a sufficient force can be collected in that quarter without it, and the enemy's operations are growing infinitely more serious and formidable. I have not the least doubt that the Negroes will make very excellent soldiers with proper management; and I will venture to pronounce that they cannot be put in better hands than those of Mr. Laurens. He has all the zeal, intelligence, enterprise, and every other qualification necessary to succeed in such an undertaking. It is a maxim with some great military judges that, "with sensible officers, soldiers can hardly be too stupid"; and, on this principle, it is thought that the Russians would make the best troops in the world if they were under other officers than their own. I mention this, because I hear it frequently objected to, the scheme of embodying Negroes, that they are too stupid to make soldiers. This is so far from appearing, to me, a valid objection, that I think their want of cultivation (for their natural faculties are probably as good as ours),
joined to that habit of subordination from a life of servitude, will make them sooner become soldiers than our white inhabitants. Let officers be men of sense and sentiment, and the nearer the soldiers approach to machines perhaps the better.
"I foresee that this project will have to combat much opposition from prejudice and self-interest. The contempt we have been taught to entertain for the blacks, makes us fancy many things that are founded neither in reason nor experience, and an unwillingness to part with property of so valuable a kind will furnish a thousand arguments to show the impracticability or pernicious tendency of a scheme which requires such a sacrifice. But it should be considered that if we do not make use of them in this way the enemy probably will; and that the best way to counteract the temptations they hold out will be to offer them ourselves. An essential part of the plan is to give them their freedom with their muskets. This will secure their fidelity, animate their courage, and, I believe, will have a good influence upon those who remain by opening the door to their emancipation. This circumstance, I confess, has no small weight in inducing me to wish the success of the project, for the dictates of humanity and true policy equally
interest me in favor of this unfortunate class of men. With the truest respect and esteem, I am, sir, Your most obedient servant,
George Washington, James Madison, and the Continental Congress gave their consent to the plan of Col. Laurens, and recommended it to the Southern colonies. It was resolved by Congress to compensate the master for the slaves used by Col. Laurens at the rate of $1,000 apiece for each "able-bodied negro man of standard size, not exceeding thirty-five years of age, who shall be so enlisted and pass muster. That no pay be allowed to the said Negroes, but that they be clothed and subsisted at the expense of the United States; that every Negro who shall well and faithfully serve as a soldier to the end of the present war, and shall then return his arms, shall be emancipated and receive the sum of fifty dollars."
Congress commissioned Col. Laurens to carry out this plan. "He repaired to South Carolina and threw all his energies into his noble mission." The people of the States of Georgia and South Carolina refused to co-operate with him. It was difficult to get white troops to enlist. The Tories, who opposed the war against England,
were very strong in several of the Southern colonies.
A Letter from General Washington will help us to understand the condition of affairs in South Carolina and Georgia. He wrote to Col. Laurens, as follows: "I must confess that I am not at all astonished at the failure of your plan. That spirit of freedom which, at the commencement of this contest, would have gladly sacrificed everything to the attainment of its object, has long since subsided, and every selfish passion has taken its place. It is not the public but private interest which influences the generality of mankind, nor can the Americans any longer boast an exception. Under these circumstances it would rather have been surprising if you had succeeded, nor will you, I fear, have better success in Georgia."
Col. Laurens was killed in battle, but he had not entirely abandoned his plan of enlisting the slaves. But in spite of the recommendations of Congress he could not succeed, for the States of South Carolina and Georgia coveted their slaves too much to allow this entering wedge to their ultimate freedom. Had his plan been carried out slavery would probably have been abolished as soon at the South as at the North. The Negroes who would have come out of the war of the Revolution, would have set themselves
to work to relieve the condition of their brethren in shackles.
Connecticut Failed to endorse the enlistment of Negroes by its Legislature, but Mr. Williams in his history gives the roster of a company of Negroes in that State, numbering fifty-seven, with David Humphreys Captain. White officers refused to serve in the company. David Humphreys continued at the head of this force until the war closed.
Among Those whose blood was first shed for the cause of American liberty was the runaway slave, Crispus Attucks. Having escaped from his master, William Brown, of Framingham, Massachusetts, at the age of twenty-seven, being then six feet two inches high, with "short, curled hair," he made his way to Boston. His master in 1750 offered a reward of ten pounds for him, but Crispus was not found. When next heard from he turns up in the streets of Boston.
Attucks had no doubt been listening to the fiery eloquence of the patriots of those burning times. The words of the eloquent Otis had kindled his soul, and though a runaway slave, his patriotism was so deep that he it was who sacrificed his life first on the altar of American Liberty.
General Gage, the English commander, had taken possession of Boston. Under the British flag gaily
CRISPUS ATTUCKS AT THE BOSTON MASSACRE.
dressed soldiers marched the streets of Boston as through a conquered city; their every act was an insult to the inhabitants. Finally, on March 5, 1770, Crispus Attucks, at the head of a crowd of citizens, resolved no longer to be insulted, and determining to resist any invasion of their rights as citizens, a fight soon ensued on the street. The troops were ordered to fire on the "mob," and Attucks fell, the first one, with three others, Caldwell, Gray, and Maverick, The town bell was rung, the alarm given and citizens from the country ran into Boston, where the greatest excitement prevailed.
The Burial of Attucks, the only unknown dead, was from Faneuil Hall. The funeral procession was enormous, and many of the best citizens of Boston readily followed this former slave and unknown hero to an honored grave. Many orators spoke in the highest terms of Crispus Attucks. A verse mentioning him reads thus:
"Long as in freedom's cause the wise contend,
Dear to your country shall your fame extend;
While to the world the lettered stone shall tell
Where Caldwell, Attucks, Gray and Maverick fell."
PETER SALEM SHOOTS MAJOR PITCAIRN AT BUNKER HILL.
Bunker Hill was the scene of a brave deed by a Negro soldier. Major Pitcairn was commander of the British forces there. The battle was fierce; victory seemed sure to the English, when Pitcairn mounted an eminence, shouting triumphantly, "The day is ours!" At this moment the Americans stood as if dumfounded, when suddenly, with the leap of a tiger, there rushed forth Peter Salem, who fired directly at the officer's breast and killed him. Salem was said to have been a slave, of Framingham, Massachusetts. Gen. Warren, who was killed in this battle, greatly eulogized Crispus Attucks for his bravery in Boston, and had he not been stricken down so soon, Peter Salem would
doubtless also have received high encomiums from his eloquent lips.
Five Thousand Negroes are said to have fought on the side of the colonies during the Revolution. Most of them were from the Northern colonies. There were, possibly, 50,000 Negroes enlisted on the side of Great Britain, and 30,000 of these were from Virginia.
Primus Hall was body servant of Col. Pickering in Massachusetts. Gen. Washington was quite intimate with the Colonel and paid him many visits. On one occasion Washington continued his visit till a late hour, and being assured by Primus that there were blankets enough to accommodate him, he resolved, to spend the night in the Colonel's quarters. Accordingly, two beds of staw were made down and Washington and Col. Pickering retired, leaving Primus engaged about the tent. Late in the night Gen. Washington awoke, and seeing Primus sitting on a box nodding, rose up in his bed and said: "Primus, what did you mean by saying that you had blankets enough? Have you given up your blanket and straw to me, that I may sleep comfortable while you are obliged to sit through the night?"
"It's nothing," said Primus; "don't trouble yourself about me, General, but go to sleep again. No matter about me; I sleep very good." "But it is matter; it is matter," replied Washington, earnestly. "I cannot do it, Primus. If either is to sit up, I will. But I think there is no need of either sitting up. The blanket is wide enough for two. Come and lie down here with me." "O, no, General," said Primus; "let me sit here; I'll do very well on the box." Washington said, "I say come and lie down here! There is room for both, and I insist upon it;" and as he spoke he threw up the blanket and moved to one side of the straw. Primus hesitated, but Washington continuing to insist, Primus finally prepared himself and laid down by Washington, and on the same straw, and under the same blanket, where the General and the Negro servant slept till morning.
Washington is said to have been out walking one day in company with some distinguished gentlemen, and during the walk he met an old colored man who very politely tipped his hat and spoke to the General. Washington in turn took off his hat to the colored man, on seeing which one of the company in a jesting manner inquired of the General if he usually took off his hat to Negroes. Whereupon Washington replied: "Politeness is
cheap, and I never allow any one to be more polite to me than I to him."
BRAVE COLORED ARTILLERYMAN.
Judge Story gives an account of a colored artilleryman who was in charge of a cannon with a white soldier at Bunker Hill. He had one arm so badly wounded he could not use it. He suggested to the white soldier that he change sides so as to use the other arm. He did this, and while thus laboring under pain and loss of blood a shot came which killed him.
Prince ------ appears in the attempt to capture General Prescott of the Royal army stationed at Newport, R. I. General Lee of the American forces was held as a prisoner by the British, and it
was designed to capture Prescott so as to be able to give him in exchange for Lee. Colonel Barton planned the scheme, and set out to Prescott's sleeping apartments in the night. Prince followed the lead of Colonel Barton to the door. There the sentinel was seized with his bayonet at the Colonel's breast, and ordered to be silent on pain of death, when Prince came forward and with two strokes at the door with his head it came open. Prescott was seized by Prince while in bed and made a prisoner. Colonel Barton was presented an elegant sword for this brave exploit which Prince achieved.
Prince Whipple appears, as a body-guard, on the picture entitled "Washington Crossing the Delaware."
New London, Connecticut, was taken by the British under command of Arnold, the traitor, in 1781. The American troops retreated to Fort Groton, where the American commander Ledyard was in command. The British came up and overcame the Americans after a bold resistance. The British officer vainly strode into the ramparts and said, "Who commands this fort?" Ledyard replied, "I once did; you do now," handing the Briton his sword at the same time, which he took and ran through Ledyard up to
the hilt. L. Latham, a Negro slave, stood near the American. Scarcely had the British officer's hand left the murderous hilt when Latham stove him through with his bayonet. The enemy rushed on him and after a most daring fight he fell, not till pierced by thirty-three bayonets. L. Latham had been left at home by his master to care for the stock when the latter left to help to defend the fort; but as soon as he could unhitch his team he too made haste to the scene of the fray, and the above bold deed shows how deeply he felt moved to give his life in defence of his country.
John Freeman pinned Major Montgomery to the ground while he was being lifted upon the walls of Fort Griswold.
Samuel Charlton was in the battle of Monmouth and several others. Washington complimented him for his bravery. He returned to his master in New Jersey after the war, and at his master's death Charlton, with the other slaves, was set free and given a pension during his life.
James Armistead acted as scout for LaFayette in the Virginia campaign. He returned to his master after the surrender of Cornwallis and was set free by a special act of the Virginia Legislature.
Negro Soldiers in the North enlisted with the colonies so that they might thus get their freedom
from their Northern masters, while Negro soldiers in the South enlisted with the British, who promised freedom to all who would join their ranks.
Did the Negro Soldiers get their freedom after the war of the Revolution was over ? We may say yes, so far as the Northern colonies are concerned, but not without much opposition in the courts and legislatures. Virginia also passed an act in 1783 emancipating the slaves who had fought in the Revolution. Many individual slaves were emancipated by special acts of the legislatures for their courage and bravery.
George Washington set his slaves free by his will, and many slaveowners did the same.
The slaves who joined the British army were subjected to all sorts of horrors. Thousands died with small-pox and other contagious diseases. A great number were sent to the West Indies in exchange "for rum, sugar, coffee and fruit."
LaFayette, the brilliant young Frenchman, and Kosciusko, the generous Pole, volunteered their services in behalf of freedom for the Americans during the Revolution. They fought, though, for the freedom of all Americans. LaFayette said in
a letter to a Mr. Clarkson: "I would never have drawn my sword in the cause of America, if I could have conceived that thereby I was founding a land of slavery."
While Visiting America in 1825, he expressed a warm desire to see some of the many colored soldiers whom he "remembered as participating with him in various skirmishes." He believed in freedom to all men, and to put in practice his antislavery ideas he bought a plantation in French Guiana. There he collected all the "whips and other instruments of torture and punishment and made a bonfire of them in the presence of the assembled slaves."
He Gave One Day in each week to the slaves, and as soon as one could earn enough he might purchase another day, and so on until he gained his freedom.
Kosciusko Expressed great sorrow to learn that the colored men who served in the Revolution were not thereby to gain their freedom. He left $20,000 in the hands of Thomas Jefferson, to be used in educating colored children.
The War of the Revolution ended in 1781 at Yorktown. Many of the brave Negroes who shed their blood and helped to win America's liberty from England were, as soon as the war closed, put back into bondage. They were in the "Land of the free," but themselves slaves. Other troubles arose very soon between England and America. England still kept standing armies in America, and claimed the right to search American vessels for British sailors who had deserted. They often took off American seamen.
One Negro and Two White sailors were taken from the American man-of-war "Chesapeake" after she had been fired upon. Canada gave arms to and incited the Indians in the Northwest against the Americans. Finally, in 1812, war was declared during Madison's Administration.
Negro Troops were very much needed, as the Americans had a very poor navy, and England having whipped the French was now ready to turn all her forces against America.
A Call for Volunteers from the Union was issued, and many thousands of free Negroes answered the
call. The slaves were not allowed to enlist in the militia. Gen. Jackson thus spoke to his colored troops:
"To the Men of Color -- Soldiers: From the shores of Mobile I collected you to arms. I invited you to share in the perils and to divide the glory with your white countrymen. I expected much from you, for I was not uninformed of those qualities which must render you so formidable to an invading foe. I knew that you could endure hunger and thirst and all the hardships of war. I knew that you loved the land of your nativity, and that, like ourselves, you had to defend all that is most dear to man. But you have surpassed all my hopes. I have found in you, united to these qualities, that noble enthusiasm which impels to great deeds.
"Soldiers, the President of the United States shall be informed of your conduct on the present occasion and the voice of the Representatives of the American Nation shall applaud your valor as your General now praises your ardor. The enemy is near. His sails cover the lakes; but the brave are united, and if he finds us contending among ourselves, it will be for the prize of valor, and fame, it's noblest reward."
The Battle of New Orleans, we will remember ended in defeat for the British. Over two thousand were lost to the British, while the American loss
was seven killed and six wounded. There were over four hundred Negroes in this battle, and they occupied "no mean place and did no mean service." The British had a battalion of Negroes from the Island of San Domingo in this battle. The idea of fortifying the city with cotton is said to have been the suggestion of a slave who was a native African, and learned this mode of defence from the Arabs.
Mr. D. Lee Child, in a letter to a friend, states that the famous cotton breast-works, recognized the world over as a stroke of genius on the part of Gen. Jackson, was the suggestion of a colored man, a native African. He gives some data from a Portugese manuscript to prove that this mode of defence is in practice among the native Africans, who thus defend their wives and children against the Arabs. Gen. Jackson, of course, would be loath to admit that the suggestion came from a Negro, especially when the deed won extra laurels for himself.
There seemed to be no discrimination against any class of citizens joining our navy; nor is there now. About one-fifth of the marines were Negroes. That they did valuable service is testified to by
numerous commanders. Read what Commander Nathaniel Shaler of the "private armed" schooner "Governor Tompkins" says, in a letter dated --
"AT SEA, Jan. 1, 1813
My officers conducted themselves in a way that would have done honor to a more permanent service. * * * The name of one of my poor fellows who was killed ought to be registered in the book of fame, and remembered with reverence as long as bravery is a virtue. He was a black man by the name of John Johnson. A twenty-four pound shot struck him in the hip and took away all the lower part of his body. In this state the poor, brave fellow lay on the deck, and several times exclaimed to his shipmates, 'Fire away, my boys; no haul a color down!' The other was a black man by the name of John Davis, and was struck in much the same way. He fell near me, and several times requested to be thrown overboard, saying he was only in the way of others. While America has such tars, she has little to fear from the tyrants of the ocean."
Captain Perry had command of the American fleet on Lake Erie. He objected to recruits sent him, and described them in a letter to Commodore Chauncey as "a motley set -- blacks, soldiers and
boys," Commodore Chauncey replied: "I regret that you are not pleased with the men sent you. * * * I have yet to learn that the color of the skin, or the cut and trimmings of the coat, can affect a man's qualifications or usefulness. I have fifty blacks on board this ship, and many of them are among my best men."
Usher Parsons, Surgeon of the "Java," under Comodore Perry, wrote that the whites and blacks of his ship messed together, and there seemed to be no prejudice.
The End of the War of 1812 meant victory for America, and the Negro had scored a telling point in behalf of his recognition as an American citizen. But still many were in slavery.
Major Jeffreys, a "regular," during the engagement of Major-General Andrew Jackson at Mobile, mounted a horse and rallied the retreating troops to victory against the British, when the white commanders were forced to retire and defeat seemed certain. Gen. Jackson gave him the title of Major, which he bore till his death in Nashville, Tenn. He was much respected by all classes. On one occasion a white ruffian insulted him. Words ensued, and Major Jeffreys was forced to strike the white man in self-defence. For this, at the age of seventy years, this veteran, who had won a victory
for his country on the battle-field, was ordered to be given "nine and thirty lashes with a rawhide." He did not recover from the effects of this treatment, and soon died of a broken heart.
Jordon Noble was among the colored veterans of the War of 1812. For a long time after the war he lived in New Orleans, where he was brought out on every great occasion to give enthusiasm. Jordon Noble's name appearing in connection with any great occasion was sufficient guarantee of a tremendous crowd. He was drummer to the First Regiment Louisiana Volunteers in the Mexican War of 1846, and led the attack against the British in the Battle of New Orleans under Jackson in 1814. He was known as the "matchless drummer."
The War of 1812 was now over. America remained at peace with other nations about thirty-two years when the Mexican war broke out in 1846. During this interval, a war of words between Americans themselves was waged; and there were heroes in this contest, many of them Negroes and former slaves, and some of them women, who merit equal rank with the brave heroes of former battles.
The Abolitionists who were opposed to slavery, furnished many brave hearts and strong minds from their ranks. Their work began very early in the history of the colonies; it continued with slow growth for awhile, but nevertheless certain and effectual. The Quakers of Pennsylvania were foremost in the work of abolition. They set nearly all their slaves free. Anti-slavery societies were formed in nearly all the Northern States.
Benjamin Lundy is mentioned as the earliest leader of the Abolitionists. He published a paper called The Genius of Universal Emancipation. He visited nineteen States of the Union, travelled upwards of five thousand miles on foot, and more
than twenty thousand in other ways, and held more than two hundred public meetings. Lundy's paper was not regarded as very dangerous to the institution of slavery; but the Journal of the Times, published first at Bennington, Vermont, in support of J. Q. Adams for the presidency, became the inveterate foe to slavery under the editorship of William Lloyd Garrison, who was mobbed in the streets of Boston, and imprisoned for libel in the city of Baltimore for denouncing the crew of the ship "Francis Todd," on board of which were many ill-treated slaves bound for the slave marts of New Orleans. Garrison and Lundy united in getting out The Genius of Universal Emancipation at Baltimore.
Arthur Tappan, before this, paid Garrison's fine, and the enemy to slavery commenced his war with more vigor and zeal than before. In 1831 The Liberator was first published by Garrison, and, as was his desire, it continued till "every slave in America was free."
A "Colored Man," James Forten, sent $50 among the first twenty-five subscriptions that came to The Liberator. Garrison thought it his duty to obey God rather than man, and he denounced the Constitution of the United States as being a "Covenant with death and an agreement with hell," because he held that it supported slavery.
The National Anti-slavery Convention, white, was held in 1836: they had delegates from ten States, and 1,006 anti-slavery societies existed in the different States.
The Free Colored People of the North also held all anti-slavery convention in 1831. Their first work was to get recognition from the white organizations, who shut them out. The "Anti-slavery Free Women of America" organized in 1837 in New York. Mary S. Parker was President, Angelina E. Grimkie, Secretary.
Miss Sarah Forten addressed the following verses to her white sisters in behalf of co-operation:
"We are thy sisters. God has truly said,
That of one blood all nations He has made.
O Christian woman! in a Christian land,
Canst thou unblushing read this great command?
Suffer the wrongs which wring our inmost heart,
To draw one throb of pity on thy part?
Our skins may differ, but from thee we claim
A sister's privilege and a sister's name."
Soon After This the free Negroes of the North acted together with the whites in the great fight against slavery. Negro orators told in eloquent style the sad story of the bondage of their race.
Frederick Douglass, once a slave in Maryland, electrified the whole country with his eloquence.
He stood then, and now, as a living, breathing, convincing argument against the claim that the Negro's intellectual capacities fit him only for slavery. Mr. Douglass visited Europe and was received there with an ovation, for the cause of the slave had leaped across the Atlantic and touched a sympathetic chord in many a British heart.
Many Books were written by Negroes, as well as whites. Frederick Douglass wrote, "My Bondage and My Freedom"; Bishop Loguen, "As a Slave and as a Freeman"; other works by Rev. Samuel R. Ward, Rev. Austin Stewart, Solomon Northorp, Dr. Wm. Wells Brown, and others. Wm. Whipper edited an Abolition paper, known as the National Reformer.
Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, was the most read, and the most effectual work against slavery.
The Republic of Liberia was founded in 1816 by the American Colonization Society as a place of refuge and safety to the colored people of America who, before the abolition of slavery in the various States, had been set free by their masters; or, through industry, had purchased their liberty themselves. It is located on the West Coast of Africa, in South Sierra Leone, and is very productive of rice, coffee, indigo, peanuts, arrowroot, sugar, pepper, logwood, palm oil and cotton. Gold and other minerals are found in considerable quantities. The climate seems ill adapted to the American Negro.
Mr. Jehudi Ashmun was the pioneer in planting the colony, assisted by Lott Carey. The natives resisted the settlers, and for the first six years there were continual attempts to drive them out. Mr. Ashmun's health finally failed and he was compelled to leave the colony, now numbering 1,200 free Americans, to themselves in this new and wild land. They shed bitter tears on his departure, some clinging even to his garments. But
left to themselves, the Negroes did not lose all hope. They set about to found a government similar to that of the United States. They elected their first president, Roberts, organized a cabinet, established schools, made labor obligatory, and their flag is now recognized by the nations of Europe and the United States.
Its Population is now over 20,000 Negroes who went from America, or their descendants, The influence of Liberia is exercised over a million people along the West Coast of Africa. They speak English, and from them many tribes have learned our language and the arts of civilization. The United States has sent four Ministers to represent her at Monrovia, the Liberian capital, viz., from North Carolina, Messrs. J. H. Smythe, Moses A. Hopkins and E. E. Smith; from New York, Henry H. Garnet. The exports of Liberia aggregate about three-quarters of a million dollars annually.
Success has thus far attended the country, though the climate, atmosphere, and the surroundings are most unfavorable and unstimulating. The fact that these colored people have succeeded, shows what the race can do under favorable circumstances.
This great man is well known to the world. He is a conspicuous representative of the talents and capabilities possessed by the colored race. Born a slave on a plantation in Maryland, he has gradually, by industry and patient labor, worked himself to the highest rank of honor, both America and Europe. When Frederick Douglass speaks the world listens. He is as much quoted as any living American statesman.
The first ten years of Mr. Douglass' youth were spent on one of the many plantations of a rich planter named Lloyd, in the State of Maryland. He was separated from his mother, who only saw him at long intervals. He, with the other little slave boys, grew up from almost infancy in their tow shirts, with their ash-cake rations and frequent beatings, given them by a certain "old Aunt Kate," who had charge of the children on the plantation. In this wild way, young Fred was left to grow up as best he could among the rough farm hands and without a mother's care. He describes his mother to have been a noble-looking woman,
with the deepest of motherly affection and very fond of him, as shown by her running dangerous risks and walking long miles to see him.
At the age of ten years he was sent by his "Old Master " to live with his young mistress, in Baltimore, who was connected with the Lloyd family. This young lady became attached to him, and taught him to read. He learned to read the Bible and made such rapid progress that the young lady, feeling very proud of her work, told her husband. When he found it out he forbade her teaching him any further, saying it was unlawful, "could only lead to mischief," and, "if you give a nigger an inch he will take an ell." Nevertheless, Fred soon became proficient in reading, and he learned to write by the models in his young master's copybook. He bought a book called the Columbian Orator, in which he found speeches from Sheridan, Lord Chatham, William Pitt and Fox. These he read many times and gained much mental help from them.
Finally, young Fred, whose mind now was enlightened, became so dissatisfied with his position as a slave that he grew morose and gloomy. His young mistress chided him for this conduct, and it finally became necessary to hire him out. He soon found a good opportunity and ran away
to New Bedford, Mass. Here he found employment and spent his leisure time in study. He read Scott's "Lady of the Lake," and there came across the name of Douglass, which he for the first time assumed. He attended church; was surprised to see the colored people transacting their own business. Some of the first money he earned in New Bedford was invested in a subscription to The Liberator. He was not long in coming to the front. His story of escape from slavery was told in the various churches, and the year 1841 found him on the stage before an anti-slavery convention at Nantucket. A tremendous crowd was present, and the wildest enthusiasm prevailed. Mr. William Lloyd Garrison followed Mr. Douglass with a strong speech for the abolition of slavery. Mr. Douglass' career thus begun, continued; he spoke often and mightily for the cause of freedom. He became the leading orator of the time, and his presence was sufficient to draw a crowd in the bitterest pro-slavery community.
Since freedom, Mr. Douglass has held several important positions under the National Government. He was once Recorder of Deeds in the District of Columbia, and is now Minister to the Haytian Republic.
Nathaniel Turner is well remembered by many of the older people of Southampton, Virginia, as being the leader of the famous "Nat Turner Insurrection" of that county. He was an unusually bright child, having learned to read and write with such skill and rapidity that his own people and the neighbors regarded him as a prodigy. It is said that his mother predicted that he would be a prophet in his presence one day, and he remembered her prediction till he grew older. Turner devoted himself to the study of the Scriptures and the condition of his people. He believed his lot was to set them free. He had visions of white and black spirits fighting in battle. He imagined a voice spoke thus to him in the vision: "Such is your luck; such you are called to see, and let it come rough or smooth you must bear it." He thought while laboring in the fields "he discovered drops of blood on the corn, as though it were dew from heaven," and saw on the leaves of the trees pictures of men written in blood.
A Plan of Insurrection was devised in the month of February, 1831. Nat, together with four of his friends, Sam Edwards, Henry Porter, Nelson Williams and Hark Travis, held a council of war, as it were, in some lonely, desolate spot in the woods, where they discussed the project of freeing the slaves. Nat said in his speech that his purpose was not to shed blood wantonly; but in order to arouse his brethren he believed it necessary to kill such of the whites as would be most likely to give them trouble. He, like John Brown, expected his slave brethren to join him.
The Fatal Stroke was given in the month of August, 1831. The first house visited was that of a Mr. Joseph Travis. While on the way a slave from this plantation joined Nat's party. He was a giant of a man, athletic, quick, and best man on the muscle in the county, and was known as "Will." The slaves were armed with axes and knives, and killed indiscriminately, young and old, fifty-seven white persons, before they were killed or captured.
Several Artillery Companies from Richmond, seventy miles off, Petersburg, Norfolk and Portsmouth, with one cavalry company, were ordered out to take Nat and his followers. In a hand-to-hand struggle Will fell. His last words were "Bury my axe with me." Nat escaped with
some others to the swamps where he eluded the whites for nearly three months. After surrendering he was brought into court and answered Not Guilty to the inquiry of the Judge. The trial was gone through with. Nat was convicted and condemned to die on the gallows. He received the sentence with total indifference, but made a prophecy that on the day of his execution unusual occurrences would appear in the heavens; the sun would be darkened and immense clouds would appear, and threatening lightning. Many of the people believed it. The Sheriff could find no one willing to cut the rope, but a drunken sot, crazed by liquor, did the act for pay. The day of execution, as Nat had prophesied, was one of stormy and gloomy aspect, with terrible thunder, rain and lightning. Nat kept up his courage to the last, and, his neck in the noose, not a muscle quivered or a groan was uttered. He was undoubtedly a wonderful character. Knowing, as he did the risk he ran, what an immense courage he must have had to have undertaken this bold adventure. He was thus spoken of by a Mr. Gray, who interviewed him: "It has been said that he was ignorant and cowardly, and his purpose was to murder and rob. It is notorious that he was never known to have a dollar in his life, to swear an oath, or drink a drop of spirits. He can read and write, and for natural intelligence and quickness
of apprehension is surpassed by few men I have ever seen."*
One author says: "Upwards of one hundred slaves were slaughtered in the Southampton Tragedy, many of them in cold blood while walking in the streets -- and about sixty white persons. Some of the alleged conspirators had their noses and ears cut off, the flesh of their cheeks cut out, their jaws broken asunder, and in that condition they were set up as marks to be shot at. The whites burnt one with red-hot irons, cut off his ears and nose, stabbed him, cut his hamstrings, stuck him like a hog, and at last cut off his head and spiked it to the whipping post."
Avery Watkins, a colored preacher, of Rockingham, North Carolina, and, grandfather of Rev. R. H. W. Leak, a prominent minister in the A. M. E. Conference of North Carolina, is said to have been hanged in Rockingham, North Carolina, charged with endorsing the Nat. Turner Insurrection, because in a private conversation with his family he related to them something of what Nat. Turner was doing in Southampton, where he had lately been on a visit to his grandmother. According to the account of Mr. W. H. Quick, he was taken by a mob at a camp-meeting, and tried and hung in the same month in the year 1831.
Madison Washington was the name of a brave slave who, being a part of a cargo of 135 slaves en-route to New Orleans from Virginia, when the boat was eight days out organized the slaves, made an onslaught on the officers, took possession of the boat and carried it to Nassau, an English possession, where England gave them protection; refusing
to surrender them as "murderers and mutineers to perish on Southern gibbets."
The Kindness of Washington, in dressing the Captain's wounds and protecting and caring for his wife and children, marked him as a most magnanimous foe. Only one white man of the twelve commanding the ship was killed. He having fired into the slaves came at them with a spike, thereupon he was stabbed by one of Washington's men who wrenched a bowie knife from the hands of the Captain. Washington's only wish was, not blood, but freedom, which he gained.
The Famous Dismal Swamp, some fifty miles long, extending from Norfolk, Virginia, into North Carolina, was a noted rendezvous for runaway slaves before the civil war. It is estimated that the slave property in this swamp was worth a million and a half dollars. They carried on a secret trade with the Virginia merchants, but any merchant caught fostering these people by trading with them was punished severely by law. The traders who were pursued found shelter among the maroons of the swamp. The chivalry of the Old Dominion never dared venture into this colony, and blood-hounds
sent in came out no more. The Dismal Swamp colony continued from generation to generation, defying and outwitting the slave-owners right in the midst of one of the strongest slave-holding communities in the South.
Fifty-four Africans on board the Spanish slave schooner "Amistad," under Captain Ramon Ferrer, on June 28, 1839, sailed from Havana, Cuba, for Porto Principe, another place on the island of Cuba, about three hundred miles distant from Havana. The fifty-four slaves were just from Lemboko, their native country in Africa. Joseph Cinquez, son of an African prince, was among them. He was shrewd, brave and intelligent. He looked on with disgust at the cruel treatment given him and his fellow-slaves, some being "chained down between the decks -- space not more than four feet -- by their wrists and ankles; forced to eat rice, sick or well, and whipped upon the slightest provocation." Cinquez witnessed the brutality as long as his noble nature would allow, and when they were about five nights out from Havana, he chose a company of confederates from among his brethren and made an assault on the Captain of the
boat, and took him and his crew prisoners. Two sailors struck out for land when they found their Captain and cook in chains, and left the boat in full possession of the Negroes. The man at the helm (Montes) was ordered to steer direct for Africa, under pain of death. This he did by day, but at night would make towards the coast of America. Finally, after continual wandering, the vessel was cited off the coast of the United States in August. All the ports were notified, and a number of revenue cutters were dispatched after her. She was finally captured on the 26th of August, 1839, by Lieut. Gidney of the United States Navy, and the "Amistad" and her fifty-four Africans were landed in New London, Connecticut. The two Spaniards found on board the vessel were examined by the United States officials, and the whole number of Africans were bound over to await trial as pirates. They being unable to give bond of course went to prison, but not to stay long. Public sentiment was everywhere aroused in their favor. The anti-slavery friends organized schools among them; the Africans learned rapidly and soon told all the details of the capture of the "Amistad" in English from their own lips without an interpreter. The trial occupied several months, during which they busied themselves in cultivating a garden of fifteen acres in a most skillful and intelligent manner.
Their grievances were told all over America and aroused the sympathies of the people. Finally, the court decided that the "Amistad captives" were not slaves, but freemen. A thrill of joy passed through many an American heart, as well as their own. When the news of this decision spread abroad subscriptions began to come in. Mr. Lewis Tappan took a lively interest in the Africans, and in one way and another soon got together enough money to send them home to Africa, where they so much wanted to go. "If 'Merica men offered me as much gold as fill this cap," said one, "and give me houses, land, and everything, so dat I stay in this country, I say No! No!! I want to see my father, my mother, my brother, my sister." One said, "We owe everything to God; he keeps us alive, and makes us free. When we go home to Mendi, we tell our brethren about God, Jesus Christ and Heaven." One was asked, if he was again captured and about to be sold into slavery, would he murder the captain and cook of another vessel, and if he wouldn't pray for rather than kill them? Cinquez heard it and replied, shaking his head, "Yes; I would pray for 'em and kill 'em too."
These people were sent to Sierra Leone in Africa in company with five sainted missionaries. Great Britain sent them from Sierra Leone to their homes and thus their efforts for freedom were successful.
Slavery or No Slavery was the question now before the American people. Millions of tracts, pamphlets, circulars and newspapers, besides the ministers and orators of the North, were now making sentiment against slavery. The people of the North were aroused.
The Census of 1850 gave a population of three and one-half million slaves in America, and they lived in the States of Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Utah Territory, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Soon after this New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland freed their slaves.
The Political Parties were forced to take up the slavery question. The politicians were wily, and yielded to both sides for policy's sake. The South opposed every legislative act that favored the abolition of slavery. The great Daniel Webster hesitated to take a decided stand either way, and in 1858 Charles Sumner, a staunch anti-slavery man, came to the Senate from Massachusetts in
Webster's place. Mr. Sumner said more and did more for the freedom of the slave than any of the great statesmen of his time. He offered no compromise, and asked only for liberty to the slaves.
The Fugitive Slave Law allowed masters to capture their slaves in any State of the Union. Hence arose the underground railroad, which was a secret system for transporting runaway slaves into Canada. Some slaves were sent in boxes, and some carried in the night from one person to another until they reached the Canadian line. A great many runaway slaves made good their escape through this system.*
*See Underground Railroad, by Wm. Still.
New States coming into the Union caused great discussion as to whether they should come in as free States or slave States. Civil war broke out in Kansas between the inhabitants of that Territory who wanted, and those who did not want, slaves. The anti-slavery people were led by John Brown, afterwards the leader in an attempt to capture the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, and arm the slaves. He was hung as an insurrectionist.
Opposition in the North to the Abolitionists was manifested by the commercial people, who saw nothing in the whole question but the dollars and cents which they hoped to make out of the slave's
products of cotton, tobacco, sugar and rice. But the agitation continued.
Abraham Lincoln, endorsed by the anti-slavery people, was proposed as the Republican candidate for President in 1860, whereupon South Carolina declared if Lincoln was elected she would secede from the Union. Lincoln was elected and accordingly South Carolina seceded, and was soon followed by the other slave-holding States.
William and Ellen Craft were slaves in the State of Georgia. Their hearts yearned for freedom. Their minds were at once set to work to formulate some plan of escape. It was at last settled. Ellen being very fair, while William was dark was to pass for a young invalid planter, William being her slave and servant. Not being able to write, and without beard, she put her hand into a sling and tied her face up; after putting on male attire they were ready to start out. William attended to all the business, such as registering at the hotels and buying tickets. They stopped at a first-class hotel in Charleston, and also in Richmond finally reaching Philadelphia safely. Ellen gave up her male attire, untied her face, released her arm from the sling and her speech came to her. They put themselves under the care of the Abolitionists, were sent to Boston, but after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill attempts were made to capture and put them back into slavery again. They were at last sent to England, where they remained for nearly twenty years; then they returned and made their home in Savannah, Georgia, where, we learn, they are still living.
In the fifteen slave States there were 3,950,000 slaves in 1860, and 251,000 free colored people. Nearly 3,000,000 of the slaves were in the rural districts of the South; and the slave products of cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar cane, hemp and molasses amounted to about $136,505,435. These products, made by slave labor, formed the basis of Southern prosperity. The war of the rebellion, which commenced in the following year, was destined to shake the very foundation of Southern civilization. From a people unaccustomed to hard work, it was to take away those who worked for them and those same people who were to be taken away were to be regaled in the priceless boon of citizenship. Let us now study some of the efforts of Negroes in helping to achieve this citizenship, after which we shall see how well they deserved to be citizens.
The Secession of South Carolina and the other Southern States was the signal for war. True to its declaration to do so this State seceded when Lincoln was elected in 1861. Fort Sumter was fired on by the Confederates and captured. The North was divided on the question of slavery, and the Government at Washington was slow in making any efforts to stop the rebellion. A few troops were sent into the field with the hope of frightening the South. The battle of Bull Run was fought, and disgracefully lost to the Union. It took some losses and failures to make the North believe the South would fight. Finally, after the defeat at Bull Run,
Lincoln Issued a Proclamation for 75,000 volunteers. But the motto was, no blacks need apply. There was great prejudice in the North against the Negro's enlisting to fight for his freedom, and the President was also opposed to it.
The Confederates were already forming Negro
companies for the defence of Richmond and building fortifications. The third and fourth regiments of Georgia showed one Negro company as they passed through Augusta en route to Virginia. Free Negroes enlisted on the Confederate side at New Orleans and Memphis. They were highly spoken of by the Southern papers. But the North seemed to think still that to put the Negro in the Union blue would disgrace that uniform.
General Hunter, stationed at Port Royal, South Carolina, did not agree with Congress nor the President. When he succeeded General Sherman, instructions from the Secretary of War to "accept the services of all loyal persons" were handed him; and he seized this opportunity (there being nothing said about Negroes) to enlist a Negro regiment of fugitive slaves. His conduct was inquired into by Mr. Wickliffe, a Congressman from Kentucky, and a resolution of censure was offered.
Major-General Hunter replied to the enquiry made in Congress as to his enlisting slaves, that the Negroes seemed to be the only loyal people in that locality, and they were anxious to fight for their freedom, and gave every evidence of making "invaluable auxiliaries." They knew the country and were accustomed to the climate.
General Phelps, stationed in Louisiana about this time, was making a bold fight for the enlistment of Negroes in and around New Orleans. He was opposed by Gen. Benj. F. Butler, who protested so strongly against it that finally General Phelps was forced to resign and return to his home in Vermont. The sentiment of the Northern army seemed to have a conspicuous leaning toward admitting the right of the South to hold slaves. General Butler refused the runaway slaves quarters in his headquarters. McClellan, a reeking failure as a commander, said, with others, that if he thought he was fighting to free the "niggers" he would sheath his sword. He soon failed in the Virginia campaign and was forced to resign.
Mr. Stevens proposed a bill in Congress authorizing the President to "raise and equip 150,000 soldiers of African descent." Meanwhile Col. Thomas W. Higginson and Col. Montgomery with a company of Negro troops were ascending the St. John River in Florida, where he captured Jacksonville, which had been abandoned by white Union troops. Among those who favored Mr. Stevens' measure were Horace Greeley and Edwin M. Stanton, who seemed to have been convinced of the worth of the colored troops from the testimony of such men as Phelps, Higginson, Hunter and Montgomery, who
had already seen what Negro troops could accomplish.
Public Sentiment was being aroused on the subject. The newspapers discussed the matter. The New York Tribune said: "Drunkenness, the bane of our army, does not exist among the black troops." "Nor have I yet discovered the slightest ground of inferiority to white troops." Mr. Lincoln very soon changed his mind, Congress gave its consent and the order went forth to enlist Negroes in defence of the Union.
The Right to Fight for what they thought would ultimately end in their freedom was hailed with shouts of joy wherever the tidings reached the Negroes.
At Newbern, N. C., they made a great demonstration. The enlisting places at New Orleans and other Southern cities then in the hands of the Federals, were the scenes of the wildest confusion in the mad rush of the colored people to register their names on the army records.
A Difficulty arose in getting sufficient arms for all the colored troops; and a further difficulty was to be met in selecting white officers who had the courage to brave public sentiment and take the command of Negro troops. Negro daring and excellency on the battle-field soon broke down these
flimsy weaknesses of the white officers, and the summer of 1863 found over 100,000 Negroes in the Union ranks, and over 50,000 armed and equipped on the fields of battle.
Their Pay was seven dollars per month, with board and clothing. The whites received thirteen dollars per month with board and clothing. Thus the former slave went forth to meet his master on the battle-field, sometimes to capture, or be captured; sometimes to fall side by side, one pierced with the Southern, the other with the Northern bayonet.
Two Proclamations were issued by Mr. Lincoln. The first, on the 22d of September, 1862, defined the issue of the war to be "for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the States and the people thereof." It offered, first, to pay the masters for their slaves and colonize them in America or Africa. Second, it proposed to free the slaves of those persons and States then engaged in actual rebellion. Third, it offered to pay from the Federal treasury loyal masters who had lost their slaves in and during the rebellion.
The Second Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863, and is the one we celebrate. This measure was urged upon Mr. Lincoln by the Abolitionists and those who wished the Negro free. It did not free all the slaves. Some counties were left out. Though the Abolitionists saw in the proclamation the consummation of their prayers and hopes, Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet evidently regarded the proclamation as a war measure, very necessary under the circumstances, to shorten the war. The South would have surrendered in half the time, had not a large number of slaves remained on the plantations, raising supplies for the Confederate army, and supporting and protecting their masters' families.
Mr. Williams Says: "All history, ancient and modern, Pagan and Christian, justified the conduct of the Federal Government in the employment of slaves as soldiers. Greece had tried the experiment, and at the battle of Marathon there were two regiments composed of slaves. The beleagured city of Rome offered freedom to her slaves who would volunteer as soldiers, and at the battle of Cannæ a regiment of Roman slaves made Hannibal's cohorts reel before their unequalled courage. Negro officers, as well as soldiers, had shared the perils and glories of the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte; and even the Royal Guard at the Court of Imperial France had been mounted with black soldiers. In two wars in North America Negro soldiers had followed the fortunes of military life, and won the applause of white patriots on two continents. So, then, all history furnished a precedent for the guidance of the United States Government in the civil war of America."
Just How Well the Negro Soldiers Behaved may be gathered from a description of
Port Hudson, May 27, 1863. The Negro regiment under Colonel Nelson was assiged the difficult task of taking this fort, which seemed almost impregnable. It was situated on a high bluff overlooking the river in front. Around the sides and rear close under the bluff ran a bayou twelve feet deep and from fifteen to twenty feet wide. Looking out from openings in the embankment were the grim mouths of many deadly cannon. They were arranged so as to make a straight raking charge on the front of any approaching force, while a score and a half of heavy guns were to cut down the left and right wings with grape and canister.
Having Marched all Night, the "Black Regiment" stacked arms, at 5 A. M. One hour was given for rest and breakfast. Many, completely overcome by the enervating heat and dust, sank down "in their tracks" and slept.
The Officers received their instructions at 5:30, and at 6 o'clock the bugle sounded. "Fall in!" was heard ringing out among the soldiers; and the scene reminded one more of a holiday party than a march to death. The troops seemed anxious to fight. The white troops looked on with uneasiness, and doubts concerning the Negro's courage. The
Confederates in the fort ridiculed the idea that Negroes were to charge them.
The Negro Regiment moved towards the fort. There was death-like silence save the tramp of soldiers and the tap of drum. "Forward; double-quick, march!" rang out along the line; not a piece was fired. Now the rebel guns open on the left; one shell kills twelve men. "Right about!" was the command, the regiment wheeled to the right for about three hundred yards, then coolly and steadily faced the enemy again by companies.
Six Deathly charges were thus made, when Col. Nelson reported to General Dwight his inability to take the fort because of the bayou being too deep for the men to wade. General Dwight replied: "I shall consider that he has accomplished nothing unless he takes those guns." The soldiers saw it was impossible, as well as Colonel Nelson, yet "again the order to charge" was obeyed with a shout.
Captain Andre Callioux commanded Company E in the next charge. He marched his colored brethren over the dead bodies of their comrades, crying, "Follow me!" and while flashing his sword within fifty yards of the belching Confederate guns, he was smitten down in front of his company by a shell.
Color-Sergeant Anselmas Planciancois said to Col. Nelson before the fight: "Colonel, I will bring back these colors to you in honor, or report to God the reason why." It was now between 11 and 12 o'clock in the morning. The fight began at 7 A. M. The gallant Callioux was lying dead on the field. His men now charged almost in the mouth of the Confederate guns. Planciancois bore the flag in front. A shell strikes the staff and blows off half of the brave sergeant's head; he falls, wrapped in the folds of his nation's flag, his brains scattered amid them, but still his strong grip holds the staff, even in death, till
Corporal Heath catches it up to bear it to the front again. Pierced by a musket ball, which split his head, he, too, falls upon the body of the brave Planciancois. Still another corporal lifts the flag and bears it through the fray. And thus the Negro troops, on almost their very first trial, silenced all clamors as to their bravery. Fort Hudson was not taken then, but the reason for defeat lay not in a lack of unrivalled daring and heroic courage on the part of the Negro troops. The loss was 37 killed and wounded, and missing, 271.
The New York Times says of this battle: "Gen. Dwight, at least, must have had the idea not only
that they (Negro troops) were men, but something more than men from the terrific test to which he put their valor. The deeds of heroism performed by these men were such as the proudest white men might emulate. Their colors are literally bespattered with blood and brains.
"The color sergeant of the 1st Louisiana, on being mortally wounded, hugged the colors to his breast, when a struggle ensued between the two color corporals on each side of him as to who should have the honor of bearing the sacred standard. One black lieutenant actually mounted the enemy's works four times." * * * "Although repulsed in an attempt, which -- situated as things were -- was all but impossible, these regiments, though badly cut up, were still on hand, and burning with a passion ten times hotter from their fierce baptism of blood."
Gen. Banks wrote, concerning the "Black Regiment" at Port Hudson: "It gives me pleasure to report that they answered every expectation. Their conduct was heroic." The success of the Negro troops at Port Hudson rang in the halls of Congress, in the lecture-room, in the pulpit, in the newspapers; poets sang of it, and Northern orators vied with each other in eloquent pictures of the
scene of that great fight which settled the question as to the Negro's fitness for the army.
Milliken's Bend, 6th of June, 1863. The Confederates came up from Louisiana about 3,000 strong. They rested over night while the Federals were collecting at the temporary fort in the bend of the Mississippi. The Union men-of-war "Choctaw" and "Lexington" appeared, coming up the river before daylight, on the morning of the 6th of June, which was the time the Confederates made their first charge, yelling "No quarter to Negroes and their officers." The Negro troops were without training, being lately recruited, but they fought like veterans. The Confederates fell back under their heavy fire in front and charged the Union flanks. Upon this the Union troops found shelter from the gun-boats, and broadside after broadside made the Confederates hasten away.
An Eye Witness' Description: "As before stated, the Confederates drove our force towards the gunboats, taking colored men prisoners. This so enraged them that they rallied and charged the enemy more heroically and desperately than has been recorded during the war. It was a genuine bayonet charge, a hand-to-hand fight, that has never occurred to any extent during this prolonged conflict. Upon both sides men were killed
with the butts of muskets. White and colored men were lying side by side pierced by bayonets, and in some instances transfixed to the earth. One brave man took his former master prisoner, and brought him into camp with great gusto. A Confederate prisoner made a particular request that his own Negroes should not be placed over him as a guard.
"Union loss one hundred killed, five hundred wounded, mostly Negroes. Confederate loss two hundred killed, five hundred wounded, two hundred taken prisoners, and two cannon."
The battles of Fort Pillow and Milliken's Bend made many friends for the colored soldiers. Their soldierly qualities were on trial; the experiment of arming Negroes to fight for the Union was being tried. This the colored troops seemed to realize, and it stimulated them to do their very best. They fought courageously, and fully satisfied all doubts concerning their valor.
The Draft Riot broke out in New York in July, 1863. An order came from Washington, authorizing soldiers to be drafted in New York City, The Democratic, newspapers ridiculed the idea of the people's being drafted into service "to fight the battles of 'niggers and Abolitionists.'" General Wood finally put down the riot after killing thirteen
of the rioters, wounding eighteen and taking twenty-four prisoners. "They had burned the Colored Orphan's Asylum, hung colored men to lamp-posts, and destroyed the property of this class of citizens with impunity."
The 54th Massachusetts was the first colored regiment organized in the free States, Colonel Shaw commander. It played a prominent part in the attempt to take Fort Wagner, near Charleston, S. C. It marched two days and nights through swamps and drenching rains to be in time for the assault. Soaking wet, muddy, hungry and fatigued, they reached the field in time and gladly accepted the "post of honor and danger," immediately in front. After a five minutes' rest they double-quicked a half-mile to the fort, where, after a most gallant and desperate fight, Sergeant William H. Carney planted the regiment's flag on the works. Nearly all the officers of the regiment were killed, and it was led off by a boy -- Lieut. Higginson.
"Sergeant Carney," says an eye witness, "received a severe wound in the thigh, but fell only upon his knees. He planted the flag upon the parapet, lay on the outer slope, that he might get as much shelter as possible; there he remained for over half an hour, till the second brigade came up. He kept the colors flying till the second conflict was ended.
When our forces retired he followed, creeping on one knee, still holding the flag." When he entered the hospital (bleeding from one wound in the head and another in the thigh) "his wounded comrades cheered him," and he said, "Boys, the old flag never touched the ground."
The Negro Soldiers. The sentiment against the Negro at the North had somewhat abated in the face of the irresistible bravery as exhibited by Negro troops at Wagner and Port Hudson. The North saw that wonderful results could be achieved by Negro soldiers.
The Confederates exchanged before this some Union officers, but refused to exchange Negroes.
This fort is located on the east bank of the Mississippi, about fifty miles above Memphis in Tennessee. It crowned the top of a steep bluff, covered with trees and shrubbery. Major L. F. Booth was in command with a garrison of 557 men, 262 of whom were colored. There were six artillery pieces. Gen. N. B. Forest, commanding a large corps of Confederate cavalry, appeared at the fort at sunrise on the 13th of April, 1864, and demanded its surrender. Major Booth drew up his force in the intrenchments around the parapet. Thus a continual firing was kept up till the afternoon, during which Major Booth was killed. Major Bradford took command. The firing ceased for the guns to cool off and to be cleaned. Meanwhile, under a flag of truce, Gen. Forest demanded the surrender of the fort, stating, "If I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter." The Confederates, taking advantage of the truce, were hiding in the trenches from which Major Bradford had withdrawn his men into the fort. A few
moments later they rushed in with their deafening yell -- "No quarter!"
The union troops offered stubborn resistance, but, with superior numbers crowding in from front, rear and sides, they were overcome and surrendered.
The War in the West was now about at an end. Sherman set out upon his famous march through Georgia; Grant, having opened up the Mississippi, marched on Richmond, which had now become the strategic point of the war. McClellan, Hooker, Meade and Burnside had failed in their assaults on this the Confederate capital. All hopes were now centered in Grant. To him was assigned the task, and this brings us to the
Twenty Thousand Strong marched the Negro troops into the campaign of Virginia. On their way they passed through Washington. Mr. Lincoln, with Gen. Burnside and friends, reviewed the long line from the balcony of Willard's Hotel. As the long, heavy columns filed past, the President acknowledged their almost continuous "Hurrah for Lincoln!" He was deeply touched by the spectacle; there were tears in many eyes that saw the
brave thousands of sable sons, but a little while ago slaves, now gallantly marching to defend the Union. It was a scene never forgotten by those who saw it.
With Equal Pay, a recognition as soldiers by Mr. Davis, and a brilliant record, marched the Negro troops into the Virginia campaign. Gen. Butler, who was now convinced by the scenes at Port Hudson, Forts Pillow and Wagner of the Negro's capacity for fighting, was stationed at Bermuda Hundreds with a large corps of Negro troops.
Grant Threw His Forces across the Rapidan and met the Confederates in The Wilderness. He left Gen. Ferrero with his colored troops to protect his wagon train in the rear. Ewell with the Confederate cavalry, whipped around in search of these supplies. Gen. Ferrero with his Negro troops met Ewell. The Confederates made a bold charge and captured twenty-seven wagons. The hungry soldiers prepared to feast on their plunder.
Gen. Ferrero opened fire. The Confederates charged again, giving the colored troops their very best, but the Negro regiments did not budge. Gen. Ferrero then ordered his troops to charge, and, in this the first fight between Negro troops and Virginians, the Confederates were driven "as the gale drives chaff." "It was the first time at the East," says Gen. Badeau in his Military History of Grant,
"when the colored troops had been engaged in any important battle, and the display of soldierly qualities won a frank acknowledgment from both troops and commanders, not all of whom had before been willing to look upon Negroes as comrades. But after that time, white soldiers in the Army of the Potomac were not displeased to receive the support of the black ones; they had found the support worth having."
Here it was that Negro soldiers covered themselves with merited glory in the presence of white troops on both sides; surprising in their daring to officers trained at West Point, and that, too, on the very soil where slavery first made its appearance in this country.
The City of Petersburg lies on the Appomattox river near the James, and not far from Richmond, with which it has railroad connection, and formed the base of supplies up the James for the troops in defence of Richmond. It therefore became an important point to reduce. It was strongly fortified on all sides for miles out.
The Task of Taking the "Cockade City," as it was called, fell to Gen. Smith, assisted by General Kautz, coming up on the East; Brooks, following Kautz; Martindale, who was to move up the Appomattox, and Hinks, who moved between the two. The black brigade was under Gen Hinks, who discovered a Confederate battery on a knoll six miles out from the city. Under range of the Confederate
guns he formed his line for a charge. The battery must be taken at the point of the bayonet. "Forward!" rang out along the line, and as the troops cleared the woods the enemy opened a raking fire with canister, siege gun and musket. But away swept the black brigade, their ranks shattered with deadly shells. As they closer came, a fusilade of musketry came down upon them; a hundred men fell; but leaping and dashing, with a wild cheer they burst over the bulwarks, drove the enemy from their guns, and instantly turned them on their scattered ranks beating a hasty retreat towards Petersburg -- and the colored troops had won the day.
Brooks and Martindale were now in front of the Confederates' main line near the river. Hinks, with his Negro corps of 3,000, was ordered towards "Dunn's House," three miles from the city on the road leading east.
To Reach His Position it was necessary to cross an open space in full reach of the sharp-shooters and artillery of the enemy. They crossed this space by moving forward a few paces and then lying down; at every quiet moment they would steal forward; they thus reached their position under the most trying test. But on reaching their post, so thick and deadly was the firing from all sides that
they dared not rise; so thus they lay from one till five o'clock P.M. while torrents of lead whizzed over their heads.
"Dunn's House" was defended by three forts, one in front, one north and another south. Deep ravines lay in front, while an almost impassable abatis of trees impeded the way to the forts. Seven hundred yards in front lay Hink's black troops hungry for the fray. Thus they lay in deep suspense, anxious for orders to go forward. Meanwhile, shells plowed the earth around them for four long hours, which seemed to them like days.
At Five O'clock the command "Forward!" was greeted with a rush and a shout. The brave Negro troops went forward at a double-quick; the skirmishers were the first to reach the embankments, and were greeted with a shower of bullets which tumbled many headlong and lifeless into the pits. But on came the main body as if impelled by lightning; they swept into the midst of the enemy, grabbed their guns and fired them upon them as they "ran for their lives." Three hundred Confederates were taken prisoners, and several pieces of artillery were captured.
Smith Had Petersburg now at his mercy. Brooks and Martindale had swept the enemy in front of them simultaneously with Hinks, and the way was
open to march immediately into the city. Gen. Smith, however, decided to wait for the arrival of Gen. Birney with the Second Corps -- and this delay caused the loss of many thousand lives.
Next Morning, as the sun peeped up over the yellow waters of the Appomattox, the condition of things had changed. The flower of Lee's army had come up in the night-time, and Grant was compelled afterwards to lay siege to the city, under which it finally surrendered.
Secretary Stanton was wild with delight over the valor of the colored troops at Petersburg. Said he: "The hardest fighting was done by the black troops. The forts they stormed were the worst of all. After the affair was over, Gen. Smith went to thank them, and tell them he was proud of their courage and dash. He says they cannot be excelled as soldiers, and that hereafter he will send them in a difficult place as readily as the white troops."
Petersburg was now surrounded by the Union army. There was continual skirmishing. Burnside commanded the Ninth Corps, composed partly of Negro troops. By fierce fighting he made his way up to within a hundred and fifty yards of the Confederate batteries. Projecting out in front of them was a strong fort. After consultation a trench was dug out some hundred and fifty yards long, branching off in two directions at the end under the fort. It was packed with powder and explosives, the design being to blow the place up. As arranged, on the 30th of July, 1864, the match was applied. Dampness prevented an explosion. Lieut. Jacob Douty and Sergeant Henry Rus volunteered to go into the trenches and ascertain and remove the difficulty and very soon after they came out, at 4:45 A. M., the match was again applied, and -- read the result, by Gen. Badeau: "The mine exploded with a shock like that of an earthquake, tearing up the Confederates' works above them, and vomiting men, guns and caissons, two hundred feet into the air. The tremendous
mass appeared for a moment to hang suspended in the heavens like a huge indented cone, the exploding powder still flashing out here and there, while limbs and bodies of mutilated men, and fragments of cannon and wood-work, could be seen. Then all fell heavily to the ground again, with a second report like thunder. When the smoke and dust had cleared away, only all enormous crater, thirty feet deep, sixty feet wide, and a hundred and fifty feet long stretched out in front of the Ninth Corps, where the Confederate fort had been."
At the moment of the explosion the Union batteries belched forth from one hundred and ten deadly cannon and fifty mortars, and verily the earth seemed to tremble from the shock.
The Plan was to follow the discharge of the batteries with a charge. Gen. Burnside had arranged his Negro troops for the post of honor. A dispute arose between him and Gen. Meade as to the wisdom of this plan. The whole matter was referred to Gen. Grant, who ordered lots to be drawn by the different Generals as to "who should go into the crater." The lot fell on Gen. Ledlie. Gen. Ledlie accordingly endeavored to draw up his troops into the mouth of the crater. The Tenth New Hampshire faltered and broke ranks. Generals Potter and
Wilcox marched their troops into the dreadful hole, where they halted long enough for the Confederates to make an attack.
Gen. Potter Struggled out with his division and charged the enemy, but had to retire. Gen. Burnside now ordered his colored troops around the edges of the crater; the Confederates were now gathering around from all sides, and under a heavy fire drove the colored troops into the deadly hole, from which they continued to rally until nightfall.
A Ridiculous Mistake was made by the Federals in not marching into the city immediately after the explosion, when the Confederates were nonplused and breaking away in mad confusion. Gen. Grant says of this disgraceful affair: "The four divisions of his (Burnside's) corps were commanded by Generals Potter, Wilcox, Ledlie and Ferrero. The last was a colored division; and Burnside selected it to make the assault. Meade interfered with this. Burnside then took Ledlie's division."
Before the committee that investigated the affair Gen. Grant said: "Gen. Burnside wanted to put his colored division in front; I believe if he had done so it would have been a success."
Four Thousand Four Hundred Union soldiers perished through the mistake then of not allowing
the colored troops to take the Confederate works, which Gen. Grant says they would have taken.
How the Colored Soldiers fought in the crater let the Confederate commanders (some of whose slaves were there) speak: "Ah, boys, you have got hot work ahead -- they are Negroes and show no quarter." (Col. Stewart.)
"Encouraged, Threatened, Emulating the white troops, the black men fought with desperation. Some Confederate soldiers recognized their slaves at the crater. A Captain of the Forty-first Virginia, gave the military salute to 'Bob' and 'Ben,' whom he had left hoeing corn in Dinwiddie."
Petersburg Being Captured, the siege of Richmond was begun with a vigor and determination as only a Grant could command. Meanwhile, a lively discussion was going on at the Confederate capital as to the proposition of Mr. Benjamin to arm the slaves in defence of the city. Gen. Lee and Mr. Jefferson Davis favored this plan, and recommended that such colored people as would join the Confederate ranks should be set free.
Some Score or More Blacks, three of whom were Mr. Benjamin's slaves, enlisted and were daily drilled in the capital square, which stands on an eminence in the center of the city.
Gen. Lee was now employing his best troops and military manoeuvres to keep Grant out of the Confederate capital. His retreats and skirmishes, executed with genius and tact, delayed the event; but, opposed by superior numbers, his army half-starved, and the Confederacy subjugated in the South-west, he saw the uselessness of a further hopeless sacrifice of his men and surrendered accordingly at Appomattox on the 9th of April, 1865, "he and his army, defeated in every way possible, numbering 27,516," and "every man was fed by the conqueror."
When the Union Army marched into Richmond the Confederates set the city on fire, and commenced a wholesale destruction and plunder of everything. Thousands of gallons of rum were emptied into the streets, and staggering destruction of everything useful seemed in order. The colored troops were organized into fire brigades and soon extinguished the fires and stopped the plunder their masters had begun.
Rodman's Point, N. C., was the scene of a brave deed by a Negro. A flat-boat full of troops, with a few colored soldiers among them, tried to land at this place. The Confederate soldiers were lying in wait for the boat, and the soldiers in it could only save themselves by lying flat on the bottom out of reach of their deadly guns. But if the boat remained where it was very long it would be surrounded, and captured. One of the colored soldiers saw the danger and knowing the boat must be pushed off or all would be killed, suddenly rose up and said: "Somebody got to die to get us all out dis 'ere, and it mout jes as well be me as anybody!" Saying this he deliberately stepped on shore and pushed the boat off. The men in the bottom were saved, but the Negro hero's body "fell forward into the end of the boat, pierced by five bullets." He had done what none of them dared do to save the lives of his comrades.
A Negro Established a Clothes-line Telegraph in the Falmouth camp on the Rappahannock in 1863. The Confederate and Union armies occupied opposite
sides of the river and used every means of gaining knowledge of each others movements. The colored attendant in the Union camp proved very valuable here as elsewhere during the war. A colored man named Dabney drifted into the Union lines one day from a neighboring farm, and soon proved very useful because of his full knowledge of the topography of the country. He was given employment as "cook and body servant." He became much interested in the system of army signals employed and begged to have them explained to him. This was done and he learned them readily. His wife soon came over, and after staying awhile was allowed to return as servant to a "secesh woman" whom General Hooker was about to send to her friends on the other side. She went over and took a place as laundress at "the headquarters of a prominent rebel General." Dabney, her husband, was on the Union side, and soon began to know all about what was to take place in the Confederate camp. An hour or two before any movement took place he could tell all about it, and it always turned out as he said. The wonder and puzzle to the Union men was how he got his information, as he didn't seem to neglect his work to go off for any information and did not converse with the scouts. After numerous questions and many
requests he finally took one of the officers to a prominent point near by, and pointed out a cabin on the banks of the river in the suburbs of the enemy's camp. He asked the officer if he saw a clothes-line with clothes hanging on it. The officer replied "Yes," whereupon Dabney said: "Well, that clothes-line tells me in half an hour just what goes on in their camp. You see my wife over there, she washes for the officers, and cooks and waits around, and as soon as she hears of any movement or anything going on she comes down and moves the clothes on that line so I can understand it in a minute. That there gray shirt is Longstreet, and when she takes it off it means he's gone down about Richmond. That white shirt means Hill, and when she moves it up to the west end of the line, Hill's Corps has moved up stream. That red one is Stonewall. He's down on the right now, and if he moves she will move that red shirt." One morning Dabney came in and reported a movement over there, but said it "Don't mean anything, they are only making believe." An officer went out to look at the clothes-line telegraph through his field-glass. There had been quite a shifting over there of the army flannels. "But how do you know but there's something in it?" "Do you see those two blankets pinned together at the bottom?"
said Dabney. "Yes, but what of it?" said the officer. "Why that's her way of making a fish-trap; and when she pins the clothes together that way, it means that Lee is only trying to draw us into his fish-trap." As long as the two armies lay watching each other on opposite banks of the stream, Dabney with his clothes-line telegraph continued to be one of the promptest and most reliable of General Hooker's scouts. (Taken from Civil War -- Song and Story).
William Staines, Hero of the Fight at Belmont, was servant to Gen. McClernand. He was close by his employer during many an engagement. On one occasion, in the course of the fight, a captain of one of the companies was struck by a spent ball, which disabled him from walking. Stains, the colored servant, rode up to him and shouted, "Captain, if you can fight any longer for the Stars and Stripes, take my horse and lead your men." He then dismounted and helped the wounded officer into his saddle, and, as he was walking away, a rebel dragoon rushed forward at the officer to take him prisoner. The brave Stains did not flinch, but drew his revolver and put a ball through the rebel's head, scattering his brains over the horse's neck. (Revised from Civil War -- Song and Story.)
For four years the American people had been fighting among themselves. At the outbreak of the struggle the freedom of the slaves was not looked for by many. But the Abolitionists, who grew stronger as the war progressed, pressed their views upon the leaders of the country. They took every advantage of every opportunity to make the freedom of the slaves the main issue of the war; and their efforts, coupled with the desire of the Union leaders to weaken the Confederacy by employing Negro troops, to whom they offered freedom, caused the final proclamation of Mr. Lincoln, in 1863, giving freedom to the slaves.
In this War there were employed on the Union side more than 186,000 colored soldiers, whose bravery stands vouched for by every Union, and many Confederate Generals, who saw them as daring in the face of death as their fellow white soldiers.
On the Confederate Side there were enlisted throughout the South, in various employments, some six thousand colored troops. But all over
the South, while their masters were away at war, the Negro women and men were enlisted in the ranks of the private duties of the Southern soldiers' home, which, ever be it remembered to the honor and credit of the Negro race of America, they protected faithfully and industriously. The opportunity for outrage and plunder was open on every side, but not a hurtful hand was laid on the thousands of white widows, orphans and aged who lay defenceless in the Negroes' power. This action on the part of the slaves proves that the race is not fond of bloodshed, and is kind even to its foes.
Some Plantations, on the contrary, were found in better trim on the return of the masters from the war than when they left them.
Negro Body-servants accompanied their masters into the war, shared the roughs of camp life, and often were the last to minister to their wants in the hospital, and the first to bear the tidings home to the anxious family after death; taking with them sometimes the treasured watch or ring.*
* He emphatically denies the assertion that has gained currency, to the effect that Mr. Jefferson Davis, while escaping from the Union forces, was attired in female clothes. Mr. J. states that the Confederate President used a large cloak, which he usually wore indoors, to disguise himself with.
Mr. James H. Jones, of Raleigh, N. C., served as messenger to Mr. Jefferson Davis during his
Presidency of the Confederacy at Richmond. He was with him when caught by the Union troops in South-west Georgia, and was also confined with him in the "Rip-Raps" at Hampton Roads, Virginia. After the war, Mr. Jones kept up a correspondence with Mr. Davis until his death, and received a new photograph whenever Mr. Davis had a new one taken. Mr. Jones is now an honored citizen of Raleigh, and a member of the Board of Aldermen.
After the Surrender of Lee at Appomattox, the question arose as to what should be done with the Southern States that for four years had rebelled against the flag of the Union and had set up a flag of their own. The Southern flag was now conquered; and the plan of the North was to restore these conquered States into the Union. Amnesty was offered all those who desired it. A Provisional Government was first established in North Carolina, with W. W. Holden at its head; other States were organized in the same way. Conventions were called by the Provisional Governors of the several States, and new Constitutions adopted in conformity with the Constitution of the United States.
The Right to Vote was denied the colored people. Exclusion from public places was established by law. Thirty-nine lashes was the punishment for keeping fire-arms. When white persons were implicated colored people could not testify in the courts.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, making the race citizens, was virtually made null
and void by the legislatures of the reconstructed States. So it became necessary to pass The Civil Rights Bill, giving the colored people the right to enter public places, and ride on first-class railroad cars. This bill has been declared unconstitutional by our Supreme Court. Owing to the attempts of the Ku-Klux Klan to prevent colored people from voting, the fifteenth amendment was passed guaranteeing to them the right to vote and to have their votes counted. Thus the eleven Southern States were reconstructed on a basis of universal suffrage, and the colored race began to develop statesmen, orators, lawyers, judges, teachers of various kinds, ministers, and discreet, far-seeing business men.
The design of this institution was to educate the newly emancipated colored people into all the ways of freedom. Schools were opened, to which there was a general rush, so great was the thirst for knowledge. Many gray heads could be seen among the children, and the "Blue Back Speller" was often to be seen even in the Sabbath-schools. Such a stampede, such an ardent desire for knowledge, was possibly never witnessed anywhere before. Many very old people learned to read the Bible and,
the joy they seemed to get from this long coveted privilege was poured out in often, thankful and fervent prayer.
Gen. O. O. Howard was a leading Spirit in the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau. His design was to make the colored people better citizens in every respect. With him was associated a saintly corps of devoted, missionary inclined white men and women, who planted school-houses and churches in many a hamlet of this once slave-cursed but now free land.
Many of These People came from the best families of the North, were well educated, refined and cultured. Their pupils were not slow in catching the beautiful graces of these instructors, and their extra qualities are demonstrated in the wonderful educational progress the race has made within only twenty-six years of actual freedom.
The Plan was to locate schools at central points where teachers and preachers might be trained to go out into the rural districts in which the majority of the race still lived. The money was contributed by benevolent people of the North, and a wiser investment, both for God and humanity, was never made.
Through the Influence of the Freedmen's Bureau the Southern States got their present free-school
system, which they did not have before the war. Some schools established during this time were Shaw University, Raleigh, N. C.; Howard University, Washington, D. C.; Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn.; Atlanta University, Atlanta, Ga.; Hampton Normal School, Hampton, Va., and many others, whose influence for good is incalculable.
Through a Century and a Half we have now traced our ancestors' history. We have seen how they performed the hard tasks assigned them by their masters: following the hoe and the plow with a laugh and a song; making magnificent estates, building mansions, furnishing them with the splendor of the times; so eager in patriotism as to be the first to shed their blood on the altar of their country's liberty. All this they did with no other hope of reward than a slave's cabin and a life of bondage for themselves and children. Scarcely have they ever sought revenge in riot or bloodshed. Stolen from a home of savage freedom they found themselves in strait circumstances as slaves in America, but the greatness of the Negro's nature crops out plainly in the wonderful way in which he adapted himself to his conditions. The fact that he went to work willingly, worked so long and faithfully, and rebelled so little, marks him as far superior to the Indian, who never accepts the conditions of labor, either for himself or another; and universally enjoys the rank of a savage rather
than that of a civilized being. A plant placed in the window of a dark chamber gradually bends its foliage towards the sunlight; so the Negro, surrounded by the darkness of slavery, bent his life toward the light of his master's God. He found Him. In Him he trusted, to Him he prayed, from Him he hoped for deliverance; no people ever were more devout according to their knowledge of the word, no people ever suffered persecution more bravely, no people ever got more out of the few talents assigned them; and for this humble devotion, this implicit trust and faithfulness God has now rewarded them. The race comes out of slavery with more than it had before it went in. But there was no need of any slavery at all. Jamestown, New England, and the other colonies, might have held the Negro long enough to serve out his passage from Africa, and then given him his freedom, as they did their white slaves imported from England. The mistake was made then, the mistake became a law which the people were educated to believe was just. Many did not believe it, and some slaveholders sought to make the condition of their slaves comfortable. The affection arising between the slave and his master often governed the treatment. The Negro, being largely endowed by nature with affection, affability and a forgiving spirit, generally
won for himself good treatment. Then, too, the master had some soul, and where that ingredient of his make-up was deficient, a selfish interest in the slave as his property somewhat modified the venom that might have more often visited itself upon the unfortunate slave in lashes and stripes.
Many Affections and Friendships formed between master and slave exist to the present day. Some slaves are still at the old homestead, conditions entirely reversed, voting differently at the polls, but friends at home; and in death the family of one follows that of the other to the grave.
When the War Ended the whole South was in an unsettled condition -- property destroyed, thousands of her sons dead on the battle-field, no credit, conquered. But if the condition of the whites was bad, that of the blacks was worse. They were without homes, money, or learning. They were now to feed clothe and protect themselves in a government whose treasury they had enriched with two centuries and a half of unrequited labor, and a country whose laws they must obey, but could not read.
It Was Natural that they should make mistakes. But they made less mistakes than the bummers who came South for plunder during reconstruction times, and with the false promise of "forty acres
and a mule," led the unlettered race into a season of idleness and vain hopes. But this condition did not last. The Negro inherited the ability to work from the institution of slavery. He soon set about to utilize this ability. I ask what race could have, done more? And this the Negro has done, though virtually ostracised from the avenues of trade and speculation. His admission to a trades union is the exception, rather than the rule, in America. A colored boy taking a place as porter in a store at the same time with a white boy, may find the white boy soon promoted to a clerkship, then to a partnership in the firm, if he is smart; but the colored boy remains year after year where he first commenced, no matter how worthy, no matter how competent. His lot is that of a menial, custom assigns him there, and in looking for clerks and partners he is not thought of by the white business man; and thus, by the rigid laws of custom, he has continually lost golden opportunities to forge his fortune; yet he has prospered in spite of this, and it bespeaks for him a superior manhood.
Before the war the colored people of the South worshipped mainly in the white churches, or in separate churches usually ministered to by white pastors. But the colored people, naturally inclined to religion, soon developed preachers of their own. They composed their own music, which expressed, in their own way, thanks and petitions to heaven. Their music isoriginal, entertaining, and pathetic -- and the only original music of the American Contiinent, when we remember that other than Negro tecniques and melodies are all borrowed from the masters of Europe.
Debarred of the Privileges of schools, it is not surprising that the religion of the slaves should be otherwise than somewhat twisted from the cultured tone of the Bible to suit the whims of an unlettered race. It can be truly said though, that, considering the circumstances, they did not bury the talents given them. But the religious progress since freedom is so marvelous as to completely overshadow much of the darkness of the past. Let
us notice briefly several of the great religious denominations of the race. The colored people produce less infidels than any other similar number of people in America. They are proverbially religious and God-fearing.
BISHOP W. J. GAINES.
Bishop W. J. Gaines is a representative of what twenty-five years of freedom has done in many instances for the colored race. He was born a slave in Georgia on the plantation of the famous Robert Toombs, member of the Confederate Cabinet. He had reached his majority before the
war ended, and it is needless to say his chances for early culture were very meagre. But, nevertheless, he learned to read at odd moments, and after freedom applied himself to his books with undaunted and determined zeal. He often speaks of how "I made up my mind when I entered the ministry to reach the highest position in my church through merit." He has won his coveted prize in this respect; and each step of his life, from the plow-handle to the Bishopric, has been markedly illustrious. He is a living argument of the innate genius of the race, that might, like the poet's rose, have been "born to blush unseen," but for the fact that he embraced the possibilities that freedom opened up before him. He is of commanding presence, dignified, and a natural leader of men. It is an inspiration to be in his presence, and his appearance on the rostrum is natural and complete.
He has possibly built more church edifices than any other member of his denomination. Morris Brown College, of Atlanta, worth something over seventy thousand dollars, is the work of his hands, and that of itself would sufficiently speak for his ability, without referring to thousands of dollars raised for other purposes. Bishop Gaines can be counted on to foster and encourage any enterprise tending to the benefit of the Negro race,
and he never fails to encourage the young people who are anxious to rise.
The A. M. E. Church, founded by Rev. Richard Allen, of Philadelphia, Penn., because of the spirit of caste and race prejudice of the Protestant Church during and after the American Revolution, has exerted a broad and unmeasured influence upon the Negro race. From a meeting held in 1816, at Rev. Allen's private house, has sprung surprising results. It has 3,394 churches, valued at $5,028,126; 660 parsonages, valued at $312,763.75, and the total valuation of church property is $5,341,889.25. It has a publication department, which sends out the Christian Recorder and A. M. E. Review to thousands of people. The salaries of the editors of these papers amount to $10,800. In 1887, the money raised for all purposes was $1,064,569.50, with an indebtedness of $509,113.24. Wilberforce University is a noted institution controlled by the A. M. E. Church. The influence of this church for good among the people cannot be measured. The bishops are an extraordinary set of learned men, many of whom are self-made, but yet are authors, orators, linguists, theologians and scholars that will compare favorably with the best theological brain of America.
REV. E. M. BRAWLEY.
Rev. E. M. Brawley, of Charleston, S. C., is noted especially for his sober, earnest and pious Christian life. He is a scholarly gentleman and thoroughly devoted to the interests of his people. It has been his fortune to be President of Selma University, Ala.; Sunday-school agent in South Carolina, and editor of the Baptist Tribune. Such a hard-working, zealous and thoroughly honest man should be a pride to any race.
The Baptist Church was founded by Roger Williams. The church officers derive their power from the members. In the beginning Roger Williams' influence had a tendency to keep down race prejudice. But from the rapid increase of slaves, the feeling grew until self-interest demanded a separation. They form a body of useful and intelligent people. Kentucky has a host of Baptists, who own much valuable property. There are more Baptists in Virginia than any other Southern State. Some of the churches have very large congregations. There are a large number of Baptist churches in the District of Columbia, some of which have interesting histories. Among the noble, true and faithful workers of the Baptists are Duke, Williams, Anderson and Leonard, Andrew Grimes and Dr. W. J. Simmons, of Louisville, Ky., who have consecrated their lives to their church in the spreading of the gospel.
The Baptist Church exercises a religious and educational influence over more colored people than any other denomination in America. I gather from the minutes of their National Convention of 1887, that they have a total membership in the United States of 1,155,486; and that they have 6,605 ordained ministers, 3,304 Sabbath-schools,
with 10,718 teachers and officers, and 194,492 pupils. They own $3,056,571 worth of church property. They operate twenty-five colleges and seminaries, worth $1,072,140, and in which are annually taught more than 3,609 pupils.
The A. M. E. Zion Church is another of the powerful religious denominations among the colored people, and is everywhere urging the race to a higher standard of living in all respects. Their membership is in the neighborhood of 500,000. They support and control entirely Livingston College, of Salisbury, N. C., a progressive and well manned institution, and the Star of Zion, the church organ, ably edited by Mr. John C. Dancy. The Livingston College Faculty is all colored, and it has property valued at over $100,000.
The Northern Methodist Church supports many churches in the South ministered over by colored pastors. There are several schools supported by them, prominent among which is Bennett College, of Greensboro, N. C., and controlled entirely by a colored Faculty. Other schools of this denomination manned by white Faculties are, with Bennett College, doing a most necessary and beneficial work among the colored people. So might be mentioned schools and churches supported by Northern Presbyterians, Northern Congregationalists, and other
denominations, all of which are to be reckoned as great uplifting agencies among the colored people. Some of the Northern societies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every year on Negro education and religion in the South.
Can the Negro learn anything? Was the first question he had to answer after schools were established for him. He has answered this question satisfactorily to the most incredulous in every instance where brought to a test. The fact that every slave State had laws against his being taught before the war, and that they opposed it afterwards, ought to be a sufficient answer. But if this is not sufficient, let speak the deeds of Professor Scarborough, of Macon, Ga., author of a series of Greek text-books which have been adopted at Yale; Geo. W. Williams, author of "History of the American Negro;" Jos. T. Wilson, author of "Black Phalanx"; C. G. Morgan, class orator at Harvard, 1890, and a host of others.
It would be a serious error to omit, in speaking of the educational progress of the Negro since freedom, what has been done to help him by the Southern States. Though at first bitterly opposed
to Negro education, there has been a wonderful change of sentiment on this subject. They made laws against Negro education before the war, now they make laws for it. In the more liberal portions of many Southern States, good schools are provided for the colored children. Some States have asylums for the deaf, dumb, blind and insane. The Institute for these unfortunates at Raleigh, N. C., is entirely supported by the State, which employs a most competent colored Principal in the person of Professor W. F. Debnam. The South spends annually about $6,000,000 on Negro schools, and this sum will soon be increased. Some of the States have Normal Schools, Universities and Training Schools for the colored youth. There are some who oppose Negro education on the ground that the whites pay two-thirds of the taxes. A false position this -- the laborer and consumer pay the taxes on capital. The Negro is the laborer of the South, and a large consumer. He produces more than a billion dollars worth of farm products annually, not estimating other products; and it is his toil, his muscle that makes the school-fund; and out of the inexhaustible store-house of his own labor does he draw his quota of the appropriation for the schools.
The High Schools, Seminaries, Colleges and Professional Schools for the colored people, number
nearly two hundred. Many of them are controlled entirely by colored Faculties, as Livingston and Bennett Colleges, N. C.; Kittrell's Normal and Industrial Institute, and Shaw University, except its President, who is white, but one of the first Presidents to recognize the ability of young colored men to teach the higher branches. Dr. H. M. Tupper inaugurated a movement by putting young colored men at work in Shaw University, which has been followed by many of the other schools supported by donations from white friends in the North. The plan works admirably well, and, besides teaching the race to confide in the ability of its own educated men and women, it affords lucrative employment to many, who are by nature and choice fitted for the work of teaching.
A Self-made Man is a worthy description when applied to a Saxon. But a knowledge of the facts will teach us that nine-tenths of all the leading Negroes were and are self made. The royal road to knowledge is beyond question closed to the young colored man.
There is No Large Estate to draw on for school bills; no rich uncle or kinsman to foot the bill and wait till success in after years for a settlement. His own brawny muscle is usually the young colored student's means of support. Many of
them work in school between hours. In fact, most of the schools for colored people in the South assign certain hours each day in which the students are to labor. Some institutions do not spend one cent for domestic labor during the whole of the school terms. Yet they, in some instances, raise quite enough farm and garden products for their tables, and sometimes make brick enough to put up extra buildings. The time usually used by the white student in foot-ball and other games is utilized by the colored student in faithful toil. The fact that in none of the colored schools the expense for tuition, board, lodging, laundry-work and incidentals is over $12 per month (and in some cases it is as low as $6), is a strong argument in favor of the help the Negro youth furnishes towards his own education. People with such a love for knowledge that they are willing to thus toil for it may be relied upon to use that knowledge properly.
When the War Closed there were about four million colored people in the United States. Scarcely a million of them could read. Now they number about eight millions, and nearly half of them can read. There are 1,158,008 colored children in the schools, anually taught by 20,000 Negro teachers. The colored people of the South have made more progress in education since the war than in anything
else; and they are still thirsty for knowledge. The schools everywhere are crowded. The love of knowledge seems to be instinctive, and thousands of faithful mothers spend many weary nights at the ironing-board and wash-tub, in order to get money to help their children obtain an education. With the start they now have, twenty-five years more of earnest work will show marvelous changes in the educational condition of the race. No people ever learned more in so short a time.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers have sung the fame of the Negro in all America, much of Europe and Australia. The slave music is the only original music of America. The Indian has none, and white Americans have borrowed from the masters of Europe. Negro melodies are now a part of the classical music of this country. The peculiarity of Negro song is its pathos and trueness to nature. It stirs the soul and revives a sunken hope. Travelers describe the music of the native African as sung in a major key, which key characterizes the songs of a conquering people. Slavery has not extracted this characteristic totally from the American Negro's songs. While he sings not the
conquering major of battle, he thrills you with the pleasing minor of hope. Dr. Talmage says: "Everybody knows the natural gift of the African for singing. No singing on this continent like that of the colored churches in the South. Everybody going to Richmond or Charleston wants to hear the Africans sing."
The Freedmen's Savings Bank, though it failed, furnishes a strong argument in favor of the thrift and industry of the recently emancipated slaves. In this bank the colored people deposited during the years between 1866 and 1871, about $57,000,000. The original design of this institution was doubtless good, but it fell into bad hands and the consequence was a most disgraceful failure.
The Negro's Confidence in banks was, on his first trial of them, badly shaken. He has not recovered yet. Many colored people who would deposit their money now, are reluctant to do so when they remember the "Freedmen's Bank failure." The branch offices of the bank in the different States were placed in the hands of colored men who worked for salaries under instructions from the home office. To this day sentiment attaches blame on these colored bank officers, who themselves were as much deluded as the depositors. It was a sad and disgraceful piece of legalized robbery. But the Negro is putting his money in other enterprises, and though unsuccessful in his first, his
last efforts at economy are bearing rich fruit. The property owned by the colored people now is computed at the following figures:
Twenty-five Years' Accumulations: Alabama, $9,200,125; Arkansas, $8,010,315; Florida, $7,900,400; Georgia, $10,415,330; Kentucky, $5,900,010; Louisiana, $18,100,528; Mississippi, $13,400,213; Missouri, $6,600,343; North Carolina, $11,010,652; South Carolina, $12,500,000; Texas, $18,010,545; Tennessee, $10,400,211; Virginia, 4,900,000.
The Colored Churches in the United States own $16,310,441; the total amount of property owned by the colored people in all the States is rated at over $263,000,000.
Much Property is owned by the colored people of the North and West. Some of their estates run high into the hundred thousands. Many of them, though shut out almost entirely from the trades and business avenues, have accumulated handsome homes and live in elegance and refinement.
Rev. A. G. Davis, of Raleigh, N. C., in an address at the North Carolina Colored Agricultural Fair, said, in reference to the Negro's progress, this, among other things: "Scan if you will the long line of eight million Negroes as they march slowly but surely up the road of progress, and you will find in her
ranks such men as Granville T. Woods, of Ohio, the electrician, mechanical engineer, manufacturer of telephones, telegraph and electrical instruments; William Still, of Philadelphia, the coal dealer; Henry Tanner, the artist; John W. Terry, foreman of the Iron and Fitting Department of the Chicago West Division Street Car Company; J. D. Baltimore, engineer, machinist and inventor, of Washington, D. C.; Wiley Jones, of Pine Bluff, Ark., the owner of a street car railroad, race track and park; Richard M. Hancock, foreman of the pattern shops of the Eagle Works and Manufacturing Co., and draughtsman; John Black, the inventor, whose inventions are worth tens of thousands; W. C. Atwood, the lumber merchant and capitalist." To this we might add a
All the States have numbers of colored individuals whose wealth is rated between five and ten thousand dollars.
In closing this chapter on the progress of the race since the war, we desire to say to you, our young
readers, that much has been done, as you have read in this chapter, to raise the race in the estimation of the world, but much more remains to be done. What has been said in this chapter is not to make you content and satisfied; but rather to inspire new zeal and fresh courage, that each one of you may add something more to what has already been accomplished. You can, you must, and we believe you will. Do not falter on account of difficulties. Set your standard high and go to it, remembering that labor, coupled with a strong devotion to integrity, will surely conquer.
Hon. Hiram R. Revels, a native of North Carolina, graduate of Knox, College, Ill., A. M. E. minister, President of Alcorn University, Mississippi, elected to the State Senate, Mississippi, was the first Negro to hold the position of U. S. Senator, elected to fill the place of Jefferson Davis in 1869, to the wonder and surprise of all America.
Hon. J. Mercer Langston, A. B., A. M., LL.D.; great Indian-Anglo-Saxon Negro. Grew to manhood, educated and pursued a business and official life in Ohio up to time of manhood. He made unsuccessful attempts, on account of his color, in New York and Ohio, to attend the law schools. After attempting private lessons, he grew discouraged and graduated from the Theological Department of Oberlin College, Ohio. He then studied law and was admitted to the bar. After this he was made Dean and Professor of Law at Howard University, where he received the degree of LL.D. President Hayes appointed him U. S. Minister and Consul
General to Hayti, which position he honorably held eight years. He was also President of the Virginia Normal Collegiate Institute.
Hon. Robert Small, the pilot and captain of the steamer Planet, also the Congressman, must not be
ROBERT SMALLoverlooked on these pages. Moving from Beaufort, South Carolina, to Charleston in '51, he was employed as "rigger," thereby getting a knowledge of ships and the life of sailors. His greatest work was with the Planter, a Confederate transport
steamer in '61, afterwards used as a dispatch boat. The officers retired from the boat on the night of May 13, 1862, and left eight colored men on watch, Small being one of the number. He was only called a wheelman then, but in reality was a pilot. He with the others on board conceived the risky plan of giving the boat over to the Federals. Everything being ready, and after taking on Small's wife and three children, they started out at 2 o'clock. In passing out of the harbor and by each fort the steamer gave her signals as though the Confederate captain was on board, and everything was all right. The dangerous plan, which if it had been found out would have ended in instant death, was a success. The boat was given over to the Federal Captain Nichols, who found her quite an additional help to the Union.
On the pages of history no name shines forth with more lustre than that of Hon. Bobert B. Elliott. He was one of earth's sons, plucked too soon to reap the harvest which was in store for him. This eloquent orator and distinguished lawyer was a graduate from an English college. After finishing there he studied law under FitzHerbert, of the London bar. He then came to the
United States, and began his brilliant and successful career. It was in the Forty-second Congress, while a representative of South Carolina, that he impressed himself indelibly upon the minds of his country as a man of giant intellect and rare oratorical ability. Alexander Stephens of Georgia, Beck of Kentucky, Harris of Virginia, had severely assailed the constitutionality of the Civil Rights Bill after which Mr. Elliott arose and addressed the House as follows an effort that bespeaks the ability of the man: "Mr. Speaker, while I am sincerely grateful for the high mark of courtesy that has been accorded me by this House, it is a matter of regret to me that it is necessary at this day that I should rise in the presence of an American Congress to advocate a bill which simply asserts rights and equal privileges for all classes of American citizens. I regret, sir, that the dark hue of my skin may lend a color to the imputation. that I am controlled by motives personal to myself in my advocacy of this great measure of natural justice. Sir, the motive that impels me is restricted by no such narrow boundary, but is as broad as your Constitution. I advocate it, sir, because it is right. The bill, however, not only appeals to your justice, but it demands a response to your gratitude. In the events that led
to the achievement of American independence the Negro was not an inactive or unconcerned spectator. He bore his part bravely upon many battle-fields, although uncheered by that certain hope of political elevation which victory would secure to the white man. The tall granite shaft, which a grateful State has reared above its sons who fell in defending Fort Griswold against the attack of Benedict Arnold, bears the name of John Freeman and others of the African race, who there cemented with their blood the corner-stone of your Republic. In the State, which I have had the honor in part to represent, the rifle of the black man rang out against the troops of the British crown in the darkest days of the American Revolution. * * * I meet him (Stephens) only as an adversary, nor shall age or any other consideration restrain me from saying that he now offers this Government, which he has done his utmost to destroy, a very poor return for its magnanimous treatment, to come here to seek to continue, by the assertion of doctrines obnoxious to the true principles of our Government, the burdens and oppressions, which rest upon five millions of his countrymen, who never failed to lift their earnest prayers for the success of this Government, when the gentleman was asking to break up the Union
of the States, and to blot the American Republic from the galaxy of nations." * * * He related to Mr. Beck the story of the fleeing of the Kentucky soldiers at a most urgent time during the second war with Great Britain, and then proceeded to say: "In quoting this indisputable piece of history, I do so only by way of admonition, and not to question the well-attested gallantry of the true Kentuckian, and to suggest to the gentleman that he should not flaunt his heraldry so proudly while he bears this bar-sinister on the military escutcheon of his State -- a State which answered the call of the Republic in 1861, when treason thundered at the very gates of the Capital, by coldly declaring her neutrality in the impending struggle. The Negro, true to that patriotism that has ever characterized and marked his history, came to the aid of the Government in its efforts to maintain the Constitution. To that Government he now appeals; that Constitution he now invokes for protection against unjust prejudices founded upon caste."
William Wells Brown, Esq., was born of slave parents; he escaped to the North and so improved his time from then on until he is now known to the world as M. D.; historian of the Negro race, lecturer and author.
BISHOP D. A. PAYNE.
Rev. D. A. Payne, D.D., LL.D., is the oldest bishop of the A. M. E. Church, also its true, tried friend. He is a great educator, and has the Negro's best interests at heart. Many generous and noble deeds has he done for his race. He is the scholar and reverenced father of the A. M. E. Church.
Rev. William T. Dixon, the pastor of Concord Baptist Church, greatly deserves notice. Rev. Dixon has been a great power in his church, and has been the means of exerting an excellent intellectual and moral influence upon his people at Brooklyn, N. Y. His efforts for the conversion of the souls of his fellow-men are untiring, patient, and full of sacrifice. Many faces brighten and hearts ring with joy when his name is called.
Bishop H. M. Turner is well known throughout the United States. He stands as a model for the poor boy to-day with scanty means. His early efforts for an education were accompanied with many disappointments and failures. Though free, he had to submit to the law, "no Negro must be educated." However, he got a start and added to his small stock until he could read the Bible and hymn-book. It is said that he learned fifty psalms in a night, and while plowing repeated them to his co-laborers. He was hired out most of the time by his father; his work was always with hard and
often cruel overseers. But he said, and kept his word, when a boy, no white man should whip and scar his back. When about fifteen years of age he was employed as a waiting-boy in a law office, where he attracted special notice by his tenacious memory and accuracy in delivering messages. The lawyers took an interest in him and taught him whatever he wanted to learn. From this he moved on from one level to the next higher -- being a hard student all the way up to the present. He now is known as bishop, philosopher, politician, author, devoted race-man, and ex-United States Chaplain.
Hon. P. B. S. Pinchback has the honor of having held more positions than any other colored man. He was a true and faithful soldier during the civil war. At the time of the impeachment of Governor Warmouth, of Louisiana, he became acting Governor of that State, finally becoming the real Governor until the term expired.
Prof. Richard Theodore Greener stands with the first scholars of the Negro race. His essays and orations rank high in the fields of literature and oratory. He has held the position of Chief Civil Service Examiner of New York City, lawyer, prize essayist, orator, and Dean of the Law Department of Howard University.
B. K. BRUCE.
Senator B. K. Bruce, another son of the Negro race, though not receiving his privilege as a man until 1865, and notwithstanding then having attained to the age of 24, smothered no longer the intellectual fires then burning in his soul. Though a Virginian he entered into public life in Mississippi. Much useful knowledge he gathered while
sergent-at-arms of the State Senate of Mississippi, which helped him to admirably fill his place as U. S. Senator. It was, also, his honor to hold the position of Register of the U. S. Treasury.
Prof. W. S. Scarborough is the author of a set of Greek text-books which have been adopted at Yale; he is also versed in many of the modern and ancient languages including, Gothic, Zend, Old Slavonic, Luthuanian, and Sanscrit. In every respect he is a representative man; having come up from poverty and obscurity to his present high position in life. He was born in Macon, Ga. When the war closed he, like many other colored boys, entered the "Yankee school" there, from which he subsequently attended Atlanta University. From there, he went to Oberlin, Ohio, where he graduated in 1875. He taught school in the vacation months to support himself while in school. Well may we say he is a self-made man, if unflagging industry, self-reliance, and an indomitable determination to succeed may be counted as ingredients in the make-up of such characters. He is now teacher of classics in Wilberforce University, which position he holds in preference to many others his scholarly abilities fit him for, and which he might attain. He is recognized as a thorough scholar by the world of learned men, and stands out as an unchallenged vindication of the race's ability.
Prof. B. T. Washington is what we so often hear of, a self-made man. Being left quite young an orphan to forge his own way through the world, he started out determined to get an education. With the assistance of friends, he reached Hampton Institute with fifty cents in his pocket. He finished the course by working out his expenses as janitor. After graduating at Hampton, he taught a while at Malden, Va., then his home, and then took a course of study at Wayland Seminary. He taught two years at Hampton Institute and then accepted the position of Principal of the Tuskegee Normal School, which he has held with a remarkable degree of success and honor to himself and his race. The school is now in a flourishing condition and doing much good throughout the State of Alabama, and even in other States.
Prof. E. E. Smith, a native North Carolinian, and a young man of the post-bellum school, has quickly risen to fame by an appointment under President Cleveland as Minister of the U. S. Government to the Republic of Liberia. Mr. Smith served in this position for four years with honor and credit to himself and his country. Prior to his appointment as Minister to Liberia he was the worthy Principal of the Fayetteville, N.C., Normal School. He is a graduate of the famous Shaw University, and destined to reflect still greater honors on this his Alma Mater.
J. C. PRICE.
Dr. J. C. Price, D. D., the well known temperance orator, lives in the hearts of many people. His clear and distinct voice, fascinating manner and excellent ability to handle a story, gives him a hearty welcome in every place to which he goes. He was the first colored preacher to stand in the
pulpit of Henry Ward Beecher, and now with the sympathy and love of a parent for his pupils, he with honor holds the position of President of Livingston College, North Carolina. He is a native of North Carolina.
The subject of this sketch, by the diligent use of the powers God gave her, has done much to demonstrate to the world what genius exists in the race she represents. Left an orphan in early life, she was not educated according to her desire, but was conscious of a power and a burning desire to make herself felt in the world.
Her first visit to Boston proved the turning point in her life. When she for the first time saw the statute of Franklin, her soul was touched. While the dull stone seemed cold to others, there was a chord in her young soul which the cold lineaments played upon, and she exclaimed exultingly, "I can make a stone man." Wm. Lloyd Garrison, always ready to help the race, introduced her to a leading Boston sculptor. He gave her some clay and a model of a human foot, saying, "Go home and make that; if there is anything in you it will come out." Her first effort was brought back to the
teacher, who examined it, then broke it to pieces telling her to try again. She did so, and succeeded. Her achievements since have placed her among the prominent artists of the world. She now resides at Rome, where her studio is the famed resort of art lovers the world over. Some of her works are, busts of Chas. Sumner, Lincoln, Hiawatha's Wooing, Forever Free, Hagar in the Wilderness, Madonna, with infant Christ and two adoring Angels. She was patronized by the leading Englishmen, such as Disraeli and others.
T. T. Fortune, Esq., the well known and fearless editor, was also a slave, born of slave parents in Florida. He is a deep thinker and an enthusiastic and true worker for his race. A great agitator and denouncer of the wrong and encourager of the right, also an author and pamphleteer.
Rev. W. J. Simmons, A. B., A. M., D. D., was, beyond question, one of the strongest characters of the race. He was the President of the Normal and Theological Institute at Louisville, Ky. At one time he was editor of the American Baptist, and did a telling work in that position by his strong editorials and telling points in behalf of the interests of the race. But Rev. Simmons is better known as an educator. He took charge of the
Institute at Louisville when nothing but failure seemed to stare it in the face; and from an appearance of hopeless ruin he has worked it up to a point of great excellency. It now stands as one of the most important factors of Negro education in the South, and its success is due to the indomitable energy, force and brain of Dr. Simmons. He has also furnished the literature of the race with a valuable work known as "Men of Mark." In it you will be pleased to read elegant sketches of many of the race's best men.
The Hon. H. P. Cheatham is a son of Shaw University, and a young man whose success is due to emancipation. He is now one of the colored members of our National Congress, having won his seat, through a most desperate contest, for the Second District of North Carolina. His record in Congress is good; not so much known, however, for his "much speaking," as for the devotion he shows to the interests of his race. Mr. Cheatham came up from the ranks of the school teachers, leaving off that work to take a position as Register of Deeds in his (Vance) county, which position he held creditably for a number of years, and which he resigned to run for Congress in 1888.
JOHN R. LYNCH.
Hon. John R. Lynch is another son of whom we may be proud. He bid not his talents, but rather multiplied them. It was his honor to preside at the National Republican Convention in 1884 at Chicago. We know him as orator, lawyer, Congressman and prominent politician.
Among the Noted Singers should be mentioned Madame Selika, "the colored Jenny Lind." Her voice is, perhaps, sweeter than the renowned Jenny Lind (white), and capable of greater variation in length and pitch. Madame Selika stands as a
prodigy among singers. She would stand near the head of modern female voices were it not that she is colored.
Mrs. Francis Ellen Harper, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was denied the opportunities of an education in her early days, but as soon as the way was opened she applied herself with such energy and earnestness as to develope her rare intellectual abilities and put her before the world as a grand, good woman. She is known as an entertaining lecturer and pleasing essayist.
Miss Flora Batson Bergen is another representative of the art of song. The wonder is that she renders the most difficult classical music from memory, being unable to read notes. She is an undoubted genius.
Miss H. Q. Brown stands high as an elocutionist and reader of wonderful force and descriptive powers.
"Blind Tom," the Negro Musical Prodigy, is known as well in Europe as America. His correct name is Thomas Bethune. He was born May 25, 1849, at Columbus, Georgia. When a babe he seemed totally blind, but in later years he could see a little. His memory of dates, persons and places seems almost perfect. Shake his hand to-day and speak to him, tell your name, and ten years after he will recall your voice and name. He is uniformly and studiously polite, and entertains the highest regard for truth in all things. At four
years of age he found his way to his master's piano for the first time. He had attempted to use his voice in imitating the piano and other sounds before this. He imitated all the sounds he knew on the piano, and when his supply was exhausted he began to compose for himself. He would play, as he would remark, "what the wind said" or the "birds said," or the "trees said." When five years old, during a thunder-storm he composed his "Rain Storm" which is so true to Nature that one imagines on hearing it that he can hear the thunder roar, and "looks for the lightning to flash." One author says of him: "I can't teach him anything; he knows more of music than we know or can know. We can learn all that great genius can reduce to rule and put in tangible form; he knows more than that. I do not even know what it is; but I feel it is something beyond my comprehension. All that can be done for him will be to let him hear fine playing; he will work it all out for himself after a while."
He plays the most difficult classical music of Mendelssohn and Bethoven and cannot read a note. His marches include "Delta Kappa Epsilon," by Peace; "Grand March de Concert," by Wallace. He imitates as perfectly as if natural, "Battle of Manassas," "Douglass' Speech," guitar,
banjo, church organ, Dutch woman and hand-organ, a harp, Scotch bagpipe, and a music-box -- all on the piano. His equal, if it ever existed in the world, has not been known. He stands out as a phenomenon, a genius, a prodigy in black. He still lives, and is constantly improving and adding to his large stock of musical achievements.
BY THE HON. JOHN S. LEARY.
In the Revolutionary War there were enlisted as soldiers in the American army quite a number of colored men who served faithfully and fought gallantly for the cause of American Independence. Among others who enlisted from North Carolina, were Louie Revels, John Lomax, Thomas Bell, Charles Hood and John Pettiford. All of these surviving the contest, drew as long as they lived a pension from the United States Government. When the Congress of freemen (freeholders) assembled at Halifax and on the 18th day of December, 1776, ratified a Constitution for North Carolina, the elective franchise was extended to every freeman residing in the State who was twenty-one years of age and had paid a public tax. Under the provisions of this Constitution, all free colored persons living in North Carolina, who were twenty-one years of age and had paid a public tax, claimed and exercised the right to vote until the
year 1835, a period of more than a half century, when the Convention which assembled that year, acting on the principle that might makes right, adopted an amended Constitution which barred them of that right. Having been barred of the right to vote by the provisions of the Constitution of 1835, in the year 1838 the question as to whether they were or were not citizens coming before the State Supreme Court, the following extract from the opinion of the Court, delivered by Gaston, Judge, will show that the Court decided that they were citizens:
"Whatever distinctions may have existed in the Roman law between citizens and free inhabitants, they are unknown to our institutions. Before our Revolution all free persons born within the dominion of the King of Great Britain, whatever their color or complexion, were native-born British subjects -- those born out of his allegiance were aliens. Slavery did not exist in England, but it did exist in the British Colonies. Slaves were not, in legal parlance, persons, but property. The moment the incapacity -- or disqualification -- of slavery was removed, they became persons, and were then either British subjects or not British subjects, according as they were or were not born within the allegiance of the British King. Upon the close of the Revolution no
other change took place in the law of North Carolina than was consequent upon the transition from a colony dependent on an European king to a free and sovereign State. Slaves remained slaves. British subjects in North Carolina became North Carolina freemen. Foreigners, until made members of the State, continued aliens. Slaves manumitted here became freemen -- and, therefore, if born within North Carolina, are citizens of North Carolina -- and all free persons born within the State are born citizens of the State."
However, under the provisions of the amended Constitution, and the laws enacted subsequent to its ratification by the Legislature, there existed in North Carolina prior to the year 1865 three distinct classes of people: The free white man, enjoying and exercising all the rights and privileges of an American citizen; the free colored man, deprived of nearly all the rights and privileges of an American citizen; and the colored slave who, in legal parlance, was a mere chattel. Owing to this anomalous state of affairs, whatever was accomplished by the genius, industry, effort, culture and literary attainments of the colored American residing in the State, was studiously ignored and cast aside as not worthy to be recorded as a part and parcel of the history of the people of the State.
To preserve the memory, as well as to perpetuate the work and worth of a very eminent colored citizen of North Carolina, I here present for the information of the youths, and all other persons who do not know anything of the history of his life, a biographical narrative of the Rev. John Chavers. This gentleman, a regularly ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, came to the United States in the year 1822. He settled in North Carolina, and after remaining here for the period of time required by law, was naturalized and became a citizen of the State and United States. In culture and literary attainments he far excelled a majority of all classes of the people living in the State at that day and date. A Christain gentleman, possessing all the qualities which go to make a true and noble man, he was honored for his eminent ability and respected for his Christian character. He lived in the town of Fayetteville for a period of two years, preached and taught school. He removed from Fayetteville, and afterwards lived respectively in the counties of Franklin, Wake and Chatham, in each of which he preached and taught school. The school organized and taught by him in Chatham County was patronized almost exclusively by the white people. In the light of present surroundings, it may seem
strange and incredulous that the white people of North Carolina would send their children to a colored school teacher and consent to have their lives and characters shaped and moulded by him, but this is accounted for in the fact that the recorded history of those times goes to show that classical scholars and thoroughly equipped school teachers were not near so plentiful among the white people then as they are now, and they were not so very particular as to the color of the "Gamaliel" at whose feet their children should sit, provided he had the ability and learning to impart the desired information. As evidence of this gentleman's eminence as an instructor, and the influence which his precept and example had upon the lives and character of his pupils, I mention the names of a few who were so fortunate as to enjoy the benefit of his instruction and careful training. The late Honorable Kenneth Rayner, one of his pupils, was well known to the people of North Carolina as an eminent lawyer, and, before the civil war, as a Representative from North Carolina in the United States Congress, and after said war was the able and efficient Solicitor General of the United States Treasury under President Arthur's administration. Mr. Thomas J. Curtis, a successful business man, and for several years Mayor of the town of Fayetteville,
was another, and yet another was the late Honorable Abram Rencher, of Chatham County, who was one of the most distinguished men the State has ever produced. There were a great many others, but it is not necessary to mention by name any more. These are enough to show that if justice had been done, this illustrious colored gentleman would have had a place in the recorded history of the State of his adoption as one of her earliest, most successful educators and eminent men.
Up to the present time the Negro has been a success in every avenue of life. As a soldier and citizen he has always been faithful to his country's flag; as a politician he has filled successfully many honorable positions, from that of a Town Constable to the Registry of the Treasury of the United States; he has been a legislator, a senator, a judge, a lawyer, a juror, a shrewd business man, and won honor, respect and confidence in every such position, and all this in twenty-five years. Every sort of hindrance has been thrown in his way, but he is overcoming them all, and daily winning friends from the ranks of those most opposed to his progress. Time is yet to bring forth better things for the race. Let there be patience and an honest, persistent endeavor to do the very best in everything, and ere long we shall "reap if we faint not." We shall rise, not by dragging others down, but by encouraging those who are up to extend down to us the helping hand, which we must quickly grasp, and by its help lift ourselves up.