Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/809

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
789
MOVEMENT OF THE COLORED POPULATION.

of labor, with characteristic indifference to their employers' interest. They are not generally satisfactory help. If they stay North, they live from hand to mouth, and when they die the town has to bury them. A few return to the warmer climate of the South where wants are less m-gent and more easily supplied, and where the work to be done is simpler in form and better adapted to their habits. There is, therefore, a mild form of counter-exodus.

No doubt many portions even of the planting-regions in the older Southern States will admit of a still denser colored population. And while this continues to be the case no continuous heavy emigration is to be expected. But the filling-up process will go on, and, when there is crowding, relief will be had by emigration, if it is possible. The richest portions of the country South are breeding-lands, whence must flow increasing streams of colored migration, mainly to the westward, as the last census indicates. At any rate, they will flow in the direction of least resistance; and such are the forces which guide them, whether they flow westward or northward, that the people they bear become very thoroughly interdiffused among the whites. And while they are less thrifty than white people generally, all are not so. There are two distinct classes of colored economists. One is satisfied with dependence on others for employment; the other affects independent homes, and struggles to secure them, however humble. Some even acquire wealth. With wealth and independence will come greater respect. Gradually will the race-prejudice weaken. Now there are occasional marriages across the color-line; then they will be more frequent. This will accelerate the relative increase of the colored people, and the Caucasianizing of the colored race. Even now they are no longer negroes. One third has a large infusion of white blood, another third has less, but still some, and of the other third it would be difficult to find an assured specimen of pure African blood.

An English writer of distinction has found the solution of the American race question, in the blending of the white and colored elements, in the production of an improved type of man. We who are on the ground are generally skeptical as to the benefit thus to accrue; and it is not at all likely that amalgamation will ever be complete, under the reign of whatever physiological philosophy. Nature does not act in that thorough way; and philosophy does little to coerce Nature. Race prejudices and antipathies may abate, but they never wholly die out. Even after the plebeians and patricians might intermarry and the former be consuls, the patrician dames would relent none of their inherited scorn and antipathy for their plebeian rivals. Such prejudice is imbibed as unconsciously, but as surely, as nourishment from the mother's breast. It never ends. There will always be a colored race, of more uniform and lighter shade than at present, and always a white, even though branches of it perish in the fatal folds of luxury and dissipation. It will not end by amalgamation with the colored