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ART. V.-1. The Ninth Census of the United States, 1870.
3 vols. Washington: 1873. 2. Compendium of the Ninth Census of the United States, 1870.
1 vol. Washington : 1873. 3. Speech of the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter at the Shenandoah
Valley Agricultural Society's Fair. Winchester, U.S. 4. Letter from General B. Butler to the Governor of the State
of Mississippi concerning the State Debt. Jackson, U.S. The difficulty of obtaining trustworthy information respecting
the condition of the Southern States imparts to the publication of the concluding volume of the American Census Reports an especial value. True, the information here presented is already more than three years old, and it reaches to no later date than five years from the downfall of the Confederacy. But though thus old and in many particulars imperfect, it is at least authentic, and the period to which it relates is undoubtedly one of the most interesting in modern history; for the experiment that is being worked out in these Southern States is without precedent or parallel in the records of the past. The revolution that converted the slaves of Roman times into the serfs of the middle ages, and in its subsequent progress finally abolished serfdom, was played on a grander stage; but its steps were so slow and to the ordinary understanding so imperceptible, that contemporaries missed its vast importance. In our own West Indian possessions, again, the slaves were redeemed with a price, and their owners offered none other than a constitutional opposition to their emancipation. So likewise in Russia, the liberation of the serfs was carried peacefully through. In both these latter cases, moreover, the masters formed but a small minority, a mere privileged class: the serfs and the slaves, respectively, were the people. Moreover, in Russia lord and serf were of the same race and colour; and practically throughout medieval Europe this was the case also : time had fused conquerors and conquered into one people. Lastly, in Hayti emancipation was the result of a servile insurrection, successful through the accident that France at the time was unable to keep the sea. The success of the insurrection disposed of the whites, and the only problem that remained for solution was, how a negro population which had rescued itself from slavery would manage its affairs.
From these and all similar cases the emancipation of the negroes of the Southern States differed in fundamental particulars. To begin with the most important: the masters there were not a mere privileged class; they considerably outnumbered their slaves, and constituted, in fact and in the full sense of the term, a people. The consequence was all-important. In the West Indies the masters, being a mere handful, were conscious of their weakness, were amenable to hostile public opinion, and were, in truth, half converted in the course of the long agitation that ended in their submission; and in Russia also the same thing was true. But in the South the masters were in a position to oppose a public opinion of their own to the public opinion of the outside world; they were absolute in their own states, and they ruled the government of the Union. Thus, they were able to silence abolitionists in the South, and even to prevent the conveyance through the post of everything favouring abolition. The result was that a generation grew up presenting the strange spectacle—incomprehensible, had it not been so often seen in the world's history-of a people applying to themselves democratic principles in their extremest forms, and yet upholding and honestly believing in slavery. As in the ancient Greek commonwealths, slavery in these Southern States secured to the free, wealth, leisure, and distinction. Releasing them from every kind of drudgery, it virtually made them supreme in the country. Southern whites directed the councils of the Union, officered its fleets and armies, and represented it at foreign courts. In short, negro slavery was for the whites of the South a patent of nobility constituting them in right of their colour a real aristocracy. They naturally clung to it with passionate attachment. In every proposal looking to its abolition they saw a design to degrade themselves, and they treated the abolitionist as a personal enemy. How gallantly they fought to perpetuate the institution that gave them their importance is fresh in the recollection of us all. While a man could be had to fill the gaps made by ever-recurring battles, by hardship, exposure, privation, and disease, they desperately maintained the contest. But a time came at last when men were no longer to be found, and supplies of all kinds failed. Broken in spirit, worn out in body, and impoverished in purse, they sullenly laid down their arms. It was while their resources were thus exhausted, while their private affairs were suffering from their long absence in the field, while the markets of the world were closed against them by four long years of blockade, while trade was extinct and debts accumulating, that Emancipation came, and at one stroke deprived them of the labour that gave value to their properties, and at the same time reduced themselves to the despised level of vulgar toiling humanity.
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To say that the measure overturned at a blow the political, social, and industrial organisation of the South is to leave out of sight the most characteristic feature of the whole revolution. On the part of the North the war had been waged not in any degree in the interest of the slaves : it had been waged solely for the preservation of the Union, for the maintenance of the integrity of the territory, and more particularly for retention of the command of the mouth of the Mississippi, the great waterway between Europe and the West. As long as there was a prospect of attaining the object in view without interfering with slavery, slavery was maintained: when the prospect faded away slavery was abolished. Emancipation was decreed in virtue of the President's war power, and from that power alone it derived legality. Thus emancipation was as much a military measure as the siege of Richmond itself; and as it was originally adopted to weaken the Confederates, to fill them with apprehension for their wives and little ones at home, and to enlarge the recruiting area for the North, so it was afterwards maintained, among other reasons, because it provided a garrison for the South. The policy is one that has been followed by conquerors in all ages; but this American adaptation is peculiar in this respect that, whereas elsewhere the garrisoning colony has always been of the kindred of the conquerors, and the population kept down an alien one, in the South it is the conquered who are bone of the bone and flesh of the flesh of the conquerors, while the garrison is altogether alien. Our own experience in Ireland teaches us how ineradicable is the resentment caused by such a system of holding a country, how deeply it compromises a government and drags it on from one false step to another. In the South all its usual evil fruits have been aggravated a hundredfold. The prejudices of the whites are in revolt at their subjection to their former slaves; and these liberated slaves are incapable of discharging the functions imposed upon them. During the four years of the Civil War, though the whole available white manhood of the Confederate States was drafted into the field, the negroes never ventured to strike a single blow for freedom, the women and old men sufficed to keep them to their tasks. They did not even dare to run away until the approach of a Northern army guaranteed them protection. Nor are they now more capable of meeting their old masters without support. To make of them, then, an ascendancy party is only exasperating the whites without really strengthening the government.
A revolution of such a nature, effected in such a way, no innovator, however reckless of consequences, would have dared to propose in cold blood. The wildest and most visionary
and together.dicable is how
would have shrunk from it as impracticable, as his human instincts would have recoiled from the infliction of so great a mass of human suffering. But circumstances in their inexorable march have forced it on step by step, without anyone in particular being responsible for it in its entirety, and now one of the great nations of the world stands committed to its maintenance. The volumes before us for the first time afford us materials to ascertain the actual extent of this revolution, which we traced imperfectly in our review of Mr. Somers' visit to the Southern States.* For until the publication of the reports of the United States Census of 1870 was complete there were no data bearing upon it existing anywhere upon which we could fully rely. Even the Census itself, indeed, was not taken in a manner to inspire entire confidence in its results. In the first place, the Act of Congress, under which it was conducted, is very defective, and the staff at the disposal of the Superintendent of the Census was so insufficient that the mere enumeration of the people occupied more than a week. In the second place, the date fixed for taking the Census was an unfortunate one. The 1st of June corresponds neither with the beginning nor with the end of any natural year. This would have mattered little, perhaps, if the whole of the returns could have been obtained in a single day; but, as a matter of fact, the taking of the statistics consumed eight entire months. The consequence is that the agricultural returns—to take a special instance, do not all relate to the same season. The farmer, for example, who in June gave in an account of his crops would naturally have in his mind the last preceding harvestthe harvest, that is, of 1869; while he, who did not report till the following February, would, of course, speak of the harvest of 1870, the last then past. It would be easy to point out other defects, for, in fact, one has but to turn to the remarks of the Superintendent of the Census himself to find every possible objection raised ready to his hand. But when every exception is taken, it still remains true that in these reports we have a vast mass of information relating to every form of human activity represented in the United States, collected with painstaking care, and reported with commendable fidelity. If, then, the picture of the Southern States is not so minutely accurate as we could wish, it is in its broad features so true to nature as to enable us to judge with confidence of the results of the unprecedented experiment that is there being conducted.
Let us, then, inquire in the first place, what is the condition of the negroes, as it was in its probable influence upon them
that the policy pursued in the South has been most widely debated. One party, it will be recollected, were never tired of prophesying that, when set free, the negroes would speedily die out, or be exterminated. While another party with equal confidence predicted that they would rapidly begin to supplant the whites, at least in the warmer States. These predictions were the promptings of partisanship, and as cold experience seldom confirms the vaticinations bandied about in the heat of controversy, most persons will be prepared to learn that in this case also they have not been verified. Freedom has shown itself to the blacks of the South neither as a destroying angel mowing down the unworthy race that aspired to blessings reserved for its betters, nor as a beneficent fairy raising them, as if by the stroke of a magic wand, to an equality with those who had been prepared by a thousand years of well-ordered progress for the temperate enjoyment of its gifts. The entire coloured population of the United States, free and slave, Northern and Southern, was returned in 1860 as 4,441,830, in 1870 the same population was found to be 4,880,009. In the ten years, therefore, it has increased by 438,179 souls, or, just 9.21 per cent. Considering all the circumstances, the rate must be pronounced not discouraging, but it is certainly not such as to induce the belief that the South is destined to become a Negro country. The rate of increase of all nationalities throughout the Union was 22:22 per cent.; that of the whites alone was 24:39 per cent. Thus, the coloured increase was considerably less than half the average, or, to be more exact, where two blacks were added to the population, there were over five whites. It must be remembered that the white increase was largely augmented by immigration. It does not follow, therefore, from the figures just cited that there has been any falling off in the natural fertility of the negroes. Other figures, however, prove that there has. If the rate of increase that prevailed amongst them previous to 1860 had been maintained during the ten years that followed, the addition to the coloured population would have been about a million. As we have seen, it has fallen very far short of half that amount. Again, and this is the really surprising fact, the whites of the Confederate States increased during the ten years under review as much as 8.7 per cent. It will be recollected that three slave States did not secede, and, consequently, were not made the battlefields of contending armies. It will also be recollected that in 1860 there was a considerable number of coloured people scattered all over the free States. Yet it appears that the rate of increase of the entire coloured