Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/50

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negro mind, incomprehensible; nevertheless, it gradually permeated his brain that, should the Federal arms prevail, he would be free. But would the North prevail? Every man in the circle of his acquaintance in whom had heretofore resided authority hooted at the idea; the possibility of the South being conquered was openly scouted, and the effect of this on the negro's intelligence was to warn him to submission. Here and there, one more adventurous than the rest ran away and hid himself behind the Federal lines, but ninety-nine out of a hundred not only remained in bondage, but openly ridiculed the idea of their preferring to be free: the old farm and the old master were good enough for them. Of these a small percentage were sincere, as was proved by their remaining at home and serving their former owners after the necessity for so doing had ceased, just as if no edict had been issued; but in time the last one deserted, even the octogenarians, who set up their separate establishments, when they could, with a parting declaration to their old masters that so long as they were able to support themselves they would do so, but after that they proposed to return and be maintained as were the aged in times of slavery.

To the unreflecting white man it seemed as if chaos had come again; nothing like this had ever before come under the limited range of his reading or experience. To the student it was but a repetition of history; to him, beyond the loss of so much personal property, and the delay in the readjustment of social laws, no great cataclysm had occurred or was to be apprehended. Before emancipation, the negro had to work or be lashed; now, he has to work or to starve. Before the war, the owner was obligated to furnish the slave with provisions and clothing, to pay his doctor's bills when sick, to maintain him in idleness when superannuated, to bury him when dead. Under the new régime the freedman must do all these things and make these provisions for himself. The intelligent Southern man was prepared to pocket his losses and to go to work under the new order of affairs, but was met at the very beginning with obstacles. The poor emancipated slave had an idea that liberty meant license: all his life he had seen free white people living a life of, what appeared to him, perfect idleness, and his thought was to reach that blissful condition: he was willing to labor only sufficiently to supply himself with meat and clothes, and it really appeared that the South, instead of selling, as it now does, the produce of a single crop to the value of over three hundred million dollars, would sink into a semi-barbarous condition, with a population (all the enterprising ones having removed) satisfied with just enough to prevent absolute want. And thus it might have been but for the vim and determination of the Anglo-Saxon people+, who foresaw that, if but small crops were made, large prices would be obtained. Their example has told among the blacks, especially the men; the women have yet to learn; the example of white ladies, who lived luxuriously before the war, now doing a great part of their own