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chapter 93: The South Since the War - Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 2 
The American Commonwealth, with an Introduction by Gary L. McDowell (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Vol. 2.
Part of: The American Commonwealth, 2 vols.
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The South Since the War
Though in the preceding chapters I have sought, so far as possible, to describe the political phenomena of America in general terms, applicable to all parts of the Union, it has often been necessary to remind the reader that the conditions of the Southern states, both political and social, are in some respects exceptional, one may almost say, abnormal. The experience of this section of the country has been different from that of the more populous and prosperous North, for the type of its civilization was till thirty years ago determined by the existence of slavery. It has suffered, and has been regenerated, by a terrible war. It is still confronted by a peculiar and menacing problem in the presence of a mass of Negroes much larger than was the whole population of the Union in 1800, persons who, though they are legally and industrially members of the nation, are still virtually an alien element, unabsorbed and unabsorbable. In the present chapter I propose to sketch in brief outline the fortunes of the Southern states since the war, and their present economic and social condition, reserving for the two chapters which follow an equally succinct account of the state of the coloured population, and their relations, present and prospective, to the whites.
The history and the industrial situation of the Southern states cannot be understood without a comprehension of their physical conditions. That part of them which lies east of the Mississippi consists of two regions. There is what may be called the plantation country, a comparatively level, low, and fertile region, lying along the coast of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and stretching up the basin of the Mississippi River. And there is the highland region, a long, broad tongue of elevated land stretching down from the north into this level plantation country, between the thirty-ninth and the thirty-third parallels of north latitude. Although the mountain country encloses within its network of parallel ridges many fertile valleys, while upon its outer slopes, where they sink to the plain, there is plenty of good land, the greater part of its area is covered by thick forests, or is too steep and rough for tillage. To men with capital and to the better sort of settlers generally, it was uninviting, and thus while the rest of the South was being occupied and brought under cultivation, it long remained thinly peopled and in many districts quite wild, with scarcely any roads and no railways. As the soil was not fit for tobacco, cotton, rice, or sugar, the planters had no motive to bring slave labour into it, not to add that the winter cold made it no fit dwelling place for the swarthy children of the tropics. Hence this region was left to be slowly and sparsely peopled by the poorest of the whites, and a race of small farmers and woodmen grew up. They were rude and illiterate, cut off from the movements of the world, and having little in common with the inhabitants of the low country east and west of them, yet hardy and vigorous, with the virtues, and some of the fierceness, of simple mountaineers, honest among themselves, and with a dangerously keen sense of personal honour, but hostile to the law and its ministers. While the whole cultivation of the plain country of Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky was done by Negroes, and these states, more particularly Virginia and the Carolinas, were ruled by an oligarchy of wealthy planters, Negroes were scarcely to be seen in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, western Virginia, North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee, and the scanty white population of these mountains had no influence on the conduct of public affairs. Hence when the Civil War broke out, this race of hillmen, disliking slavery, and having no love for the planters, adhered to the Union cause, and sent thousands of stalwart recruits into the Union armies. Even today, though, as we shall presently see, it has been much affected by the running of railways through it, the opening of mines and the setting up of iron works, the mountain land of the South remains unlike the plain country both in the character of its inhabitants and in the physical conditions which have created that character, conditions which, as will appear in the sequel, are an important factor in the so-called Negro problem.
Excluding these highlanders—and excluding also the three border states which did not secede, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—there were at the end of the war three classes of persons in the South. There was the planting aristocracy, which the war had ruined. The elder men had seen their estates laid waste, such savings as they possessed exhausted, their whole Negro property, estimated (over the whole country) at nearly $20,000,000, gone from them into freedom. Of the younger men, a large part had fallen in the field. All, old and young, had no capital left with which to work the estates that still remained in their hands. Land and Negroes had been their only wealth, for there were practically no manufactures and little commerce, save at the half dozen seaports; credit was gone; and everything, even the railroads, was in ruins. Thus the country was, as a whole, reduced to poverty, and the old plantation life broken up forever.
The second class consisted of the poor or, as they were often called, “mean” whites, who, in the lowlands and outside the few cities, included all the white population below the level of the planters. On them, too, slavery had left its hateful stamp. Considering themselves above field labour, for which in any case they were little disposed in the hot regions along the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts, they contracted habits of idleness and unthrift; they were uneducated, shiftless, unenterprising, and picked up their living partly by a languid cultivation of patches of land, and by hunting, partly by hanging about the plantations in a dependent condition, doing odd jobs and receiving occasional aid. To them the war brought good, for not only was labour dignified by the extinction of slavery, but their three or four years of service in the Confederate armies called out their finer qualities and left them more of men than it found them. Moreover with the depression of the planting oligarchy their social inferiority and political subservience became less marked.
The third class were the Negroes, then about four millions in number, whose sudden liberation threw a host of difficulties upon the states where they lived, and upon the federal government, which felt responsible not only for the good order of the reconquered South, but in a special manner for those whose freedom its action had procured. They were—even the majority of the (comparatively few) free blacks in the towns—illiterate, and scarcely more fit to fend for themselves and guide their course as free citizens than when they or their fathers had been landed from the slave ship.
In this state of things, three great problems presented themselves to the federal government whose victorious armies were occupying the South. How should the state governments in the states that had seceded and been conquered be reestablished? What provision should be made for the material support and protection in personal freedom of the emancipated slaves? To what extent should not merely passive but also active civil rights—that is to say, rights of participating in the government as electors or officials—be granted to these freedmen?
The solution of these problems occupied twelve eventful years from 1865 to 1877, and constitutes one of the most intricate chapters in American history. I must refrain from discussing either the party conflicts at Washington, or the subtle legal questions that were raised in Congress and in the courts, and be content with touching on the action taken by the federal and state governments so far and only so far as it affected the relations of the Negroes and the whites.
The first action was taken by the Southern states themselves. Conformably to his amnesty proclamation of 1863, President Lincoln had recognized new state governments, loyal to the Union, in Tennessee and Louisiana, as he had previously done in Arkansas. When the war had ended, the other reconquered states (except Texas) took a course similar to that which the loyalists of those states had taken. The white inhabitants, except those excluded by the terms of President Johnson’s amnesty proclamation of May 1865, chose conventions; these conventions enacted new constitutions; and under these constitutions, new state legislatures were elected. These legislatures promptly accepted the amendment (the thirteenth) to the federal Constitution by which (in 1865) slavery had been abolished, and then went on to pass laws for the regulation of Negro labour and against vagrancy, laws which, though represented, and probably in good faith, as necessary for the control of a mass of ignorant beings suddenly turned adrift, with no one to control them and no habits of voluntary industry or thrift, kept the Negroes in a state of inferiority, and might have been so worked as to reduce a large part of them to practical servitude. This was a false move, for it excited alarm and resentment at the North; and it was accompanied by conflicts here and there between the whites, especially the disbanded Confederate soldiers, and the coloured people; conflicts the more regrettable because the slaves had, during the war, behaved excellently towards the defenceless white women and children on the plantations, and had given their former masters little or nothing to revenge. It was, therefore, in a suspicious temper that Congress approached the question of the resettlement of the South. The victors had shown unexampled clemency to the vanquished, but they were not prepared to kiss and be friends in the sense of at once readmitting those whom they deemed and called “rebels” to their old full constitutional rights. Slavery, which at the beginning of the war they had for the most part disclaimed the purpose to abolish, had now become utterly detestable to them, and the Negro an object of special sympathy. They felt bound to secure for him, after all they had done and suffered, the amplest protection. It might perhaps have been wiser to revert to the general maxims of American statesmanship, and rely upon the natural recuperative forces and the interest which the South itself had in reestablishing order and just government. But the Northern leaders could not be expected to realize how completely the idea of another revolt had vanished from the minds of the Southern people, who, in a characteristically American fashion, had already accepted the inevitable, perceiving that both slavery and the legal claim to secede were gone forever. And these leaders—more particularly those who sat in Congress—were goaded into more drastic measures than reflection might have approved by the headstrong violence of President Andrew Johnson, who, as a Southern states’ rights man of the old type, had announced that the states were entitled to resume their former full rights of self-government, and who, while stretching his powers to effect this object, had been denouncing Congress in unmeasured terms. Very different might have been the course of events had the patient wisdom of Lincoln lived to guide the process of resettlement.
Under the influence of these sentiments, Congress refused to allow the members elected from the reconquered states to take their seats, and enacted a statute establishing a Freedmen’s Bureau, armed with large powers for the oversight and support of the liberated Negroes. Passed in 1865, and in 1866 continued for two years longer, this act practically superseded the legislation of the reconquered states regarding the coloured people. Congress then passed and proposed for acceptance by the states (June 1866) an amendment (the fourteenth) to the federal Constitution, which conferred citizenship, state as well as federal, on all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, forbade legislation by a state abridging the privileges or immunities of a citizen of the United States, and provided for reducing the representation in Congress of any state in proportion to the number of its citizens excluded from the suffrage. As all danger of a return of slavery had already vanished, it was a tremendous forward move to put this pressure upon the Southern states to confer full voting rights upon their Negroes. These states, however, would probably have done well to accept the amendment, and might perhaps have accepted it had they realized what was the temper of the party dominant at the North. But they complained of the proposal to cut down representation in respect of excluded citizens, arguing that there were Northern states where colour was a ground of exclusion, and which, nevertheless, would suffer much less than the Southern states because the number of their coloured residents was far smaller; and they also resented a provision of the amendment which disqualified from voting or office all persons who having ever taken an oath to support the Constitution of the United States had been concerned in “insurrection or rebellion against the same.” Accordingly all these states, except Tennessee, rejected the amendment. This further stimulated the anger and suspicion of Congress, whic proceeded (March 2, 1867) to pass the so-called Reconstruction Act (a bill “to provide efficient governments for the insurrectionary States”) designed to create legitimate governments in the states not yet readmitted to the Union (ignoring the governments set up by the white inhabitants), and to determine the conditions proper for their readmission. By this act these states, that is, the whole seceding South except Tennessee, were divided into five military districts, each to be governed by a brigadier-general of the Federal army, until such time as a state convention should have framed a new constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment have been ratified and the state have been duly readmitted. The delegates to each convention were to be elected by all the male citizens, excluding such as, having previously sworn to support the federal Constitution, had been concerned in the late rebellion; and it was to these same voters that the new constitution when framed was to be submitted for ratification. This provision, while it admitted the Negroes to be voters and delegates to the conventions, debarred from both functions most of the leading whites, and left the conventions to be “run” by those few whites who had remained faithful to the Union, and by adventurers who had come from the North in the track of the Federal armies. The Reconstruction Act was duly carried out; conventions were held; constitutions granting equal suffrage to all, blacks and whites, were enacted, and new state governments installed accordingly, in which, however, the leading white men of each state, since not yet pardoned, could obtain no place either as legislators or as officials. By this procedure, six states were in 1868 readmitted to Congress, as having satisfied the conditions imposed, and the remaining states within the two years following. In July 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment became a part of the Constitution, having been accepted by three-fourths of the states, and in March 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment, forbidding the voting right of citizens to be “denied or abridged an account of race, colour, or previous condition of servitude,” also became by similar acceptance part of the Constitution and binding on all the states. With this, and with the passing in 1870 and 1871 of penal laws, commonly called the Force Acts, intended to protect the Negroes in the exercise of the suffrage, the direct interference of the federal legislature ended. In 1872, by the general Amnesty Act, it readmitted the great bulk of the ex-Confederates to full political rights.
Meanwhile, how had things been going in the Southern states themselves? All the leading whites having been disqualified from voting or taking part in the government, the only factors or forces left were:
The voting strength was, of course, with the Negroes, especially in South Carolina and the Gulf states (except Texas); and a certain number were chosen to sit in the legislatures and to fill the less important offices. In the legislatures of South Carolina and Mississippi, they formed the majority; and from the latter state they sent one of themselves to the federal Senate. But leadership, of course, fell to the whites, who alone were capable of it, and chiefly to those white adventurers whose scanty stock of portable property won for them the name of “carpetbaggers.” They organized the Negroes for elections, state and local, they tampered with the electoral lists and stuffed the ballot boxes,1 they “ran” the legislatures. They pounced upon the lucrative places, satisfying Negro claims with posts of less consequence,2 they devised the various methods by which taxation was increased, debt rolled up, offices created and lavishly paid, frauds of every kind perpetrated for the benefit of themselves and their friends. Such a saturnalia of robbery and jobbery has seldom been seen in any civilized country, and certainly never before under the forms of free self-government. The coloured voters could hardly be blamed for blindly following the guides who represented to them the party to which they owed their liberty; and as they had little property, taxation did not press upon them nor the increase of debt alarm them. Those among the Negroes to whom the chief profit accrued were the preachers, who enjoyed a sort of local influence, and could sometimes command the votes of their fellows, and the legislators, who were accustomed, in South Carolina, for instance, to be paid a few dollars for every bill they passed.3 But nine-tenths of the illicit gains went to the whites. Many of them were persons of infamous character who ultimately saved themselves from justice by flight. For the time they enjoyed absolute impunity, without even that check which public opinion imposes on the worst rulers when they themselves belong to the district which they rule.
The position of these adventurers was like that of a Roman provincial governor and his suite in the later days of the Republic, or an English official in the East Indies in the earlier days of the Company’s conquests, save that they had less to fear from subsequent prosecution than Verres, and less from a parliamentary enquiry than the companions of Clive. The very securities with which the federal system surrounds state autonomy contributed to encourage their audacity. The national government was not responsible, because the whole machinery of state government was in form complete and to all outward appearance in normal action. But as voting power lay with those who were wholly unfit for citizenship, and had no interest, as taxpayers, in good government, as the legislatures were reckless and corrupt, the judges for the most part subservient, the Federal military officers bound to support what purported to be the constitutional authorities of the state, Congress distant and little inclined to listen to the complaints of those whom it distrusted as rebels,4 greed was unchecked and roguery unabashed. The methods of plunder were numerous. Every branch of administration became wasteful. Public contracts were jobbed, and the profits shared. Extravagant salaries were paid to legislators; extravagant charges allowed for all sorts of work done at the public cost. But perhaps the commonest form of robbery, and that conducted on the largest scale, was for the legislature to direct the issue of bonds in aid of a railroad or other public work, these bonds being then delivered to contractors who sold them, shared the proceeds with the governing ring, and omitted to execute the work. Much money was however taken in an even more direct fashion from the state treasury or from that of the local authority; and as not only the guardians of the public funds, but even, in many cases, the courts of law, were under the control of the thieves, discovery was difficult and redress unattainable. In this way the industrious and property-holding classes saw the burdens of the state increase, with no power of arresting the process. In North Carolina, $14,000,000 worth of railroad bonds were issued, and no railway made. In Alabama, the state debt rose in four years from $8,356,000 to $25,503,000, with little or nothing to show for it. In Mississippi, the state levy had been ten cents on the $100 of assessed value of lands. In 1874 it had risen to fourteen times that rate. In South Carolina, the state debt leapt in four years from $5,407,000 to $18,515,000, and Governor Moses, not content with his share of the plunder, openly sold his pardons, of which he granted 457 in two years. But the climax was reached in Louisiana, where, in a single year, the state debt was increased fourfold, and the local debt twofold, while in four years’ time the total state and city indebtedness was rolled up by the sum of $54,000,000, all of which went to the spoilers, and nothing to permanent improvements.
Whether owing to those amiable traits in the national character which often survive the sterner virtues, or to the fact that the thieves were too busy filling their pockets to have leisure for other outrages, this misgovernment was accompanied by less oppression and cruelty than might have been expected. Some such acts there doubtless were, particularly in the rougher districts of the extreme Southwest; and in several states the dominant faction, not satisfied with the presence of Federal troops, sought to preserve order by creating bodies of state guards or state police, or a Negro militia. In Mississippi the coloured people were enrolled in a “Loyal League.” Unlike the federal civil officials, who were often disreputable and unscrupulous partisans, sometimes most improperly combining the headship of the local Republican organization with an office demanding impartiality,5 the federal military officers, though their conduct was sometimes impugned, seem on the whole to have behaved with uprightness and good sense, making their military control as gentle as such a thing ever can be. Nor did the Negroes, untutored as they were, and jubilant in their new freedom, show the turbulence or the vindictiveness which might have been looked for in a less kindly race. Nevertheless, disorders broke out. A secret combination, called the Ku Klux Klan, said to have been originally formed in Tennessee by youths for purposes of amusement, spread rapidly through the country, and became credited with the numerous petty outrages which, during 1868, and the following years, were perpetrated upon Negroes, and (less frequently) upon whites supposed to be in sympathy with Negroes, in the rural South. Many of these outrages were probably the work of village ruffians who had no connection with any organization, still less any political motive. But the impossibility of discovering those who committed them, and the absence of any local efforts to repress them, showed the profound discontent of the better class of whites with the government which the coloured vote had installed, while unfortunately confirming Congress in its suspicion of the former rebels as being still at heart enemies of the Union and the Negro. No open resistance to the Federal troops was attempted; but neither their activity nor the penal laws passed by Congress were effective in checking the floggings, house-burnings, and murders which during these years disgraced some districts. Meanwhile, the North grew weary of repression, and began to be moved by the accounts that reached it of “carpetbag government.” A political reaction, due to other causes, had made itself felt in the North; and the old principle of leaving the states to themselves gained more and more upon the popular mind, even within the still dominant Republican party. Though some of its prominent leaders desired, perhaps not without a view to party advantage, to keep down the South, they were overborne by the feeling, always strong in America, that every community to which self-government has been granted must be left to itself to work out its own salvation, and that continued military occupation could not be justified where no revolt was apprehended. The end came in 1876–77. Between 1869 and 1876 the whites had in every Southern state, except South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, regained control of the government, and in 1876 those three states were also recovered.6 The circumstances were different, according to the character of the population in each state. In some a union of the moderate white Republicans with the Democrats, brought about by the disgust of all property holders at the scandals they saw and at the increase to their burdens as taxpayers, had secured legitimately chosen majorities, and ejected the corrupt officials. In some the same result was attained by paying or otherwise inducing the Negroes not to go to the polls, or by driving them away by threats or actual violence. Once possessed again of a voting majority, the whites, all of whom had by 1872 been relieved of their disabilities, took good care, by a variety of devices, legal and extra-legal, to keep that majority safe; and in no state has their control of the government been since shaken. President Hayes withdrew, in 1877, such Federal troops as were still left at the South, and none have ever since been despatched thither.
This sketch has been given, not so much because it is a curious phase in the history of democracy, and one not likely ever to recur, either in the United States or elsewhere, as because it has determined and explained the whole subsequent course of events and the present attitude, whereof more anon, of the Southern people. That Congress made some mistakes is proved by the results. Among those results must be reckoned not merely the load of needless debt imposed upon the Southern states, and the retardation of their recovery from the losses of the war, but the driving of all their respectable white citizens into the Democratic party and their alienation from the Republicans of the North, together with the similar aggregation of the Negroes in the Republican party, and consequent creation of a so-called “colour line” in politics. Habits of lawlessness have moreover been perpetuated among the whites, and there was formed in both parties the pernicious practice of tampering with elections, sometimes by force and sometimes by fraud, a practice which strikes at the very root of free popular government.
But was the great and capital act of the Republican party when it secured the grant of the suffrage to the Negroes en bloc one of those mistakes? To nearly all Europeans such a step seemed and still seems monstrous. No people could be imagined more hopelessly unfit for political power than this host of slaves; and their unfitness became all the more dangerous because the classes among whom the new voters ought to have found guidance were partly disfranchised and partly forced into hostility. American eyes, however, saw the matter in a different light. To them it has been an axiom, that without the suffrage there is no true citizenship, and the Negro would have appeared to be scarcely free had he received only the private and passive, and not also the public and active, rights of a citizen. “I realized in 1867,” said General Wade Hampton, one of the most distinguished leaders of the South, “that when a man had been made a citizen of the United States, he could not be debarred from voting on account of his colour. Such exclusion would be opposed to the entire theory of republican institutions.”7 It is true that there were Northern states, such as even the New England Connecticut and the half New England Ohio, as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania, in which persons of colour were so debarred.8 But the Abolitionist movement and the war had given an immense stimulus to the abstract theory of human rights, and had made the Negro so much an object of sympathy to the Northern people, that these restrictions were vanishing before the doctrine of absolute democratic equality and the rights of man as man. There was, moreover, a practical argument of some weight. The gift of the suffrage presented itself to the Northern statesmen as the alternative to continuance of military government. Without the suffrage, the Negro might have been left defenceless and neglected, unimproved and unimproving. In the words of another eminent Southern statesman, Mr. Justice Lamar, “In the unaccustomed relation into which the white and coloured people of the South were suddenly forced, there would have been a natural tendency on the part of the former masters, still in the possession of the land and intelligence of the country and of its legislative power, to use an almost absolute authority, and to develop the new freedman according to their own idea of what was good for him. This would have resulted in a race distinction, and in such incidents of the old system as would have discontented the negro and dissatisfied the general sentiment of the country. If slavery was to be abolished, there could be nothing short of complete abolition, free from any of the affinities of slavery; and this would not have been effected so long as there existed any inequality before the law. The ballot was therefore a protection of the negro against any such condition, and enabled him to force his interests upon the consideration of the South.”9
The American view that “the suffrage is the sword and shield of our law, the best armament that liberty offers to the citizen,” does not at once commend itself to a European, who conceives that every government is bound to protect the unenfranchised equally with the enfranchised citizen. But it must be remembered that in the United States this duty is less vigilantly performed than in England or Germany, and that there were special difficulties attending its performance under a federal system, which leaves the duty, save where federal legislation is involved, to the authorities of the several states.
It has been usual to charge those who led Congress with another and less noble motive for granting electoral rights to the Negroes, viz., the wish to secure their votes for the Republican party. Motives are always mixed; and doubtless this consideration had its weight. Yet it was not a purely selfish consideration. As it was by the Republican party that the war had been waged and the Negro set free, the Republican leaders were entitled to assume that his protection could be secured only by their continued ascendancy. That ascendancy was not wisely used. But the circumstances were so novel and perplexing, that perhaps no statesmanship less sagacious than President Lincoln’s could have handled them with success.
With the disappearance of the carpetbag and Negro governments, the third era in the political history of the South since the war began. The first had been that of exclusively white suffrage; the second, that of predominantly Negro suffrage. In the third, universal suffrage and complete legal equality were soon perceived to mean in practice the full supremacy of the whites. To dislodge the coloured man simply as a coloured man from his rights was impossible, for they were secured by the federal Constitution which prevails against all state action. The idea of disturbing them by formal legislative action was scarcely entertained. But the more they despaired of getting rid of the amendment, the more resolved were the Southern people to prevent it from taking any effect which could endanger their supremacy. They did not hate the Negro, certainly not half so much as they hated his white leaders by whom they had been robbed. “We have got,” they said, “to save civilization,” and if civilization could be saved only by suppressing the coloured vote, they were ready to suppress it. This was the easier, because, while most of the carpetbaggers had fled, nearly all the respectable whites of the South, including those who had been Whigs before the war and who had opposed secession, were now united in the New Democratic, or rather anti-Negro, party. A further evidence of the power of the motives which have swayed them may be found in the fact that nearly every Northern man who has of late years gone South for commercial purposes, has before long ranged himself with this anti-Negro party, whatever his previous “affiliations” may have been.
The modes of suppression have not been the same in all districts and at all times. At first there was a good deal of what is called “bulldozing,” i.e., rough treatment and terrorism, applied to frighten the coloured men from coming to or voting at the polls. Afterwards, the methods were less harsh. Registrations were so managed as to exclude Negro voters, arrangements for polling were contrived in such wise as to lead the voter to the wrong place so that his vote might be refused; and, if the necessity arose, the Republican candidates were counted out, or the election returns tampered with. “I would stuff a ballot box,” said a prominent man, “in order to have a good, honest government”; and he said it in good faith, and with no sense of incongruity. Sometimes the local Negro preachers were warned or paid to keep their flocks away. More humorous devices were not disdained, as when free tickets to a travelling circus were distributed among the Negroes, and the circus paid to hold its exhibition at a place and hour which prevented them from coming to vote. South Carolina enacted an ingenious law providing that there should be eight ballot boxes for as many posts to be filled at the election, that a vote should not be counted unless placed in the proper box, and that the presiding officer should not be bound to tell the voter which was the proper box in which each vote ought to be deposited. Illiterate Negroes so often voted in the wrong box, the boxes being frequently shifted to disconcert instructions given beforehand, that a large part of their votes were lost, while the illiterate white was apt to receive the benevolent and not forbidden help of the presiding officer.
Notwithstanding these impediments, the Negro long maintained the struggle, valuing the vote as the symbol of his freedom, and fearing to be reenslaved if the Republican party should be defeated. Leaders and organizers were found in the federal officeholders, of course all Republicans, a numerous class—Mr. Nordhoff, a careful and judicious observer, says there were in 1875 three thousand in Georgia alone—and a class whose members virtually held their offices on condition of doing their political work; being liable to be removed if they failed in their duty, as the sultan used to remove a vali who sent up too little money to Stamboul. After 1884, however, when the presidency of the United States passed to a Democrat, some of these officeholders were replaced by Democrats and the rest became less zealous. It was, moreover, already by that time clear that the whites, being again in the saddle, meant to stay there, and the efforts of the Republican organizers grew feebler as they lost hope. Their friends at the North were exasperated, not without reason, for the gift of suffrage to the Negroes had resulted in securing to the South a larger representation in Congress and in presidential elections than it enjoyed before the war, or would have enjoyed had the Negroes been left unenfranchised. They argued, and truly, that where the law gives a right, the law ought to secure the exercise thereof; and when the Southern men replied that the Negroes were ignorant, they rejoined that all over the country there were myriads of ignorant voters, mostly recent immigrants whom no one thought of excluding. Accordingly in 1890, having a majority in both houses of Congress and a president of their own party, the Republican leaders introduced a bill subjecting the control of federal elections to officers to be appointed by the president, in the hope of thus calling out a full Negro vote, five-sixths of which would doubtless have gone to their party. The measure appeared to dispassionate observers quite constitutional, and the mischief it was designed to remedy was palpable. It excited, however, great irritation at the South, uniting in opposition to it nearly all whites of every class, while no corresponding enthusiasm on its behalf was evoked at the North. It passed the House, but was dropped in the Senate under the threat of an obstructive resistance by the (then Democratic) minority. Secure, however, as the dominance of the whites seemed to be against either Northern legislation or Negro revolt, the Southern people remained uneasy and sensitive on the subject, and have been held together in a serried party phalanx by this one colour question, to the injury of their political life, which is thus prevented from freely developing on the lines of the other questions that from time to time arise. So keen is their recollection of the carpetbag days, so intense the alarm at any possibility of their return, that internal dissensions, such as those which the growth of the Farmers’ Alliance party and (later) of the Populist party evoked, were seldom permitted to give Republican candidates a chance of a seat in Congress or of any considerable state office.
These remarks apply to the true South, and neither to the mountain regions, where, owing to the absence of the Negro element, there is, save in the wider valleys, still a strong Republican party, nor to the border states, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri, in which the coloured voters are not numerous enough to excite alarm. When it is desired to eliminate their influence on elections, a common plan is to bribe them. In Louisville one is told that quite a small payment secures abstention. To induce them to vote for a Democrat is, to their credit be it said, much more costly.
This horror of Negro supremacy is the only point in which the South cherishes its old feelings. Hostility to the Northern people has virtually disappeared. No sooner was Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House known over the country, than the notion of persisting in efforts for secession and the hope of maintaining slavery expired. With that remarkable power of accepting an accomplished fact which in America is compatible with an obstinate resistance up to the moment when the fact becomes accomplished, the South felt that a new era had arrived to which they must forthwith adapt themselves. They were not ashamed of the war. They were and remain proud of it, as one may see by the provisions made by not a few states for celebrating the birthday of General Robert E. Lee or of ex-President Jefferson Davis, and by the zeal with which the monuments of the Civil War and its battlefields are cared for. Just because they felt that they had fought well, they submitted with little resentment, and it became a proverb among them that the two classes which still cherished bitterness were the two classes that did not fight—the women and the clergy. Even when fresh hostility was aroused by the reconstructive action of Congress in 1866 and 1867, and the abuses of carpetbag rule, no one dreamt of renewing the old struggle. Not, however, till the whites regained control, between 1870 and 1876, did the industrial regeneration of the country fairly begin. Two discoveries coincided with that epoch which have had an immense effect in advancing material prosperity, and changing the current of men’s thoughts. The first was the exploration of the mineral wealth of the highland core of the country. In the western parts of Virginia and North Carolina, in the eastern parts of Tennessee, the northern parts of Georgia and Alabama, both coal and iron, not to speak of other minerals, have been found in enormous quantities, and often in such close juxtaposition that the production of pig iron and steel can be carried on with exceptional cheapness. Thus, Northern capital has been drawn into the country; Southern men have had a new field for enterprise, and have themselves begun to accumulate capital; prosperous industries have been created, and a large working-class population, both white and coloured, has grown up in many places, while the making of new railways has not only given employment to the poorer classes, but has stimulated manufacture and commerce in other directions. The second discovery was that of the possibility of extracting oil from the seeds of the cotton plant, which had formerly been thrown away, or given to hogs to feed on. The production of this oil has swelled to great proportions, making the cultivation of cotton far more profitable, and has become a potent factor in the extension of cotton cultivation and the general prosperity of the country. Most of the crop now raised, which usually exceeds eleven millions of bales, and in 1908 exceeded thirteen and a half millions (being more than thrice that which was raised, almost wholly by slave labour, before the war), is now raised by white farmers; while the mills which spin and weave it into marketable goods are daily increasing and building up fresh industrial communities. The methods of agriculture have been improved; and new kinds of cultivation introduced: the raising of fruit, for instance (in Florida particularly of oranges), has become in certain districts a lucrative industry. Nor has the creation of winter health resorts in the beautiful mountain land of North Carolina, and further south in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, been wholly without importance, for the Northern people who flock thither learn to know the South, and themselves diffuse new ideas among the backward population of those districts. Thus from various causes there has come to be a sense of stir and movement and occupation with practical questions, and what may be called a commercialization of society, which has, in some places, transformed Southern life. Manual labour is no longer deemed derogatory by the poorer whites (who are less of a distinct class than they used to be), nor commerce by the sons of the old planting aristocracy. Farmers no doubt complain, as they do everywhere in the United States; yet it is a good sign that the average size of farms has been, in the Southeastern states, decreasing, the number of farmers and also the number of owners increasing, while the number of tenants who paid their rent in money instead of in kind almost doubled between 1880 and 1890. As capital, which used to be chiefly invested in slaves, has increased and become more generally diffused, it is more and more placed in permanent improvements, and especially in city buildings. Cities indeed have largely grown and are still growing, especially of course in the mining regions; and in the cities a new middle class has sprung up, formed partly by the elevation of the poorer class and partly by the depression of the old planting class, which has made the contrast between the social equality of Northern and the aristocratic tone of Southern society far less marked than it was before the war.
While slavery lasted the South was, except of course as regarded the children of planters and of the few merchants, an illiterate country. Even in 1870 the Southeastern states had only 30 per cent of their population of school age enrolled as school attendants, and the South Central and Western states only 34 per cent. The Reconstruction constitutions of 1867–70 contained valuable provisions for the establishment of schools; and the rise of a new generation, which appreciates the worth of education and sees how the North has profited by it, has induced a wholesome activity. The percentage of children enrolled to school age population has risen steadily.10 It is no doubt true that the sum expended on schools is very unequal in the various states—Arkansas, for instance, spent in 1910–11 more than Mississippi or North Carolina, though her population is smaller than that of either of those states; true, also, that the expenditure is much less than in the North or West—Washington, for instance, spends more than twice as much as Arkansas, with very little more wealth; true, further, that the average number of days the schools were kept was in 1910–11 smaller in the Southern states (130.6 in the Southeastern states, 127.8 in the South Central, as compared with 179.8 in the Northeastern states). Still the progress is great, when one considers the comparative poverty of the Southern states, and the predominantly rural character of their very sparse population.
Anyone seeking to disparage the South need not want for points to dwell upon. He might remark that illiteracy is far more common than in the North or West; that there is little reading even among those who can read—one need only walk through the streets of a Southern city and look into the few bookstores to be convinced of this—and far less of that kind of culture which is represented by lecture courses or by literary and scientific journals and societies. He would observe that hotels, railway stations, refreshment rooms, indeed all the material appliances of travelling comfort in which the North shines, are still on a lower level, and that the scattered population so neglects its roads that they are in some places impassable. Life, he might say, is comparatively rough, except in a few of the older cities, such as Richmond and Charleston; it has in many regions the character of border life in a half-settled country. And above all, he might dilate upon the frequency of homicide, and the small value that seems to be set upon human life, if one may judge from the imperfect and lenient action of the courts, which, to be sure, is often supplemented by private vengeance. Yet to the enumeration of these and other faults born of slavery and the spirit which slavery fostered, it would be rightly answered that the true way to judge the former slave states, is to compare them as they are now with what they were when the war ended. Everywhere there is progress; in some regions such progress, that one may fairly call the South a new country. The population is indeed unchanged, for it is only lately that settlers have begun to come from the North, and no part of the United States has within the present century received so small a share of European immigration.11 Slavery was a fatal deterrent while it lasted, and of late years the climate, the presence of the Negro, and the notion that work was more abundant elsewhere, have continued to deflect in a more northerly direction the stream that flows from Europe. But the old race, which is, except in Texas (where there is a small Mexican and a larger German element) and in Louisiana, a pure English and Scoto-Irish race, full of natural strength, has been stimulated and invigorated by the changed conditions of its life. It has made great advances in almost every direction. Schools are better and more numerous. The roads are being improved. Cotton mills are rising in some places, iron-works in others. It sees in the mineral and agricultural resources of its territory a prospect of wealth and population rivalling those of the Middle and Western states. It has recovered its fair share of influence in the national government. It has no regrets over slavery, for it recognizes the barbarizing influence that slavery exerted. Neither does it cherish any dreams of separation. It has now a pride in the Union as well as in its state, and is in some ways more fresh and sanguine than the North, because less cloyed by luxury than the rich are there, and less discouraged by the spread of social unrest than the thoughtful have been there. But for one difficulty the South might well be thought to be the most promising part of the Union, that part whose advance is likely to be swiftest, and whose prosperity will be not the least secure.
This difficulty, however, is a serious one. It lies in the presence of ten millions of Negroes.
 Sometimes the beautifully simple plan was adopted of providing the ballot box, carefully locked and sealed at its proper aperture, with a sliding side.
 In South Carolina, in 1875, according to the trustworthy evidence of Governor Chamberlain, two hundred persons had been appointed justices of the peace, with a certain civil as well as criminal jurisdiction, who could neither read nor write.
 An anecdote is told of an old Negro in North Carolina who, being discovered counting the fees he had received for his vote in the legislature, said with a chuckle, “I have been sold eleven times in my life, and this is the first time I ever got the money.”
 Nearly the whole representation in Congress of these states was in the hands of the then ruling Republican party. The Southern members were largely accomplices in the local misgovernment here described, nearly half of them being carpetbaggers from the North, while few of the Northern members had any knowledge of it, some perhaps not caring to enquire.
 In Louisiana, for instance, the Federal marshal, who was entitled to call on the Federal troops to aid him, was for a time chairman of the Republican State Committee.
 Those states in which the whites first recovered control, such as Georgia, have generally fared best subsequently. They have had less debt to carry, and commercial confidence was sooner restored.
North American Review for March 1879.
 Connecticut as late as 1865 and Ohio as late as 1867 declined to extend equal suffrage to Negroes.
North American Review for March 1879.
 Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1912. “School age” is taken in the United States as covering the years from 5 to 18 inclusive.
 In North Carolina in 1910 the foreign-born were only .4 of the population, in Mississippi 1.2, in Georgia 1.1. That the newcomers from Southern and Central Europe who now furnish the bulk of Old World immigration do not enter the South is deemed by its inhabitants to be an advantage.