Popular Science Monthly/Volume 28/November 1885/Twenty Years of Negro Education
|TWENTY YEARS OF NEGRO EDUCATION.|
By J. M. KEATING.
THE negro is no longer a problem. He is part of the body politic and the body social of the republic. He is firmly rooted and can not be moved. He is here to stay; and any attempt to disturb him, or to excite his fears as to his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is nothing less than a crime.
A question touching the negro, like any other, must be considered from this common-sense stand-point, and every suggestion for its solution must be subjected to the probing and searching "What good?" Prejudice must not be allowed a voice in its solution, and passion must be excluded from counsel. The negro will not consent to his own deportation. The Southern planters, too, would not, if they could, consent to it, nor to any agitation of it, because it unsettles and unhinges the labor that is more profitable free than it ever was or could be in the days of slavery. The negro is more intelligent now than then, and therefore more valuable because a better, a closer, and more skillful worker. Deportation is not, for these reasons, to be considered. We must, therefore, deal with the negro and treat of him with the full understanding that we can not get rid of him. His commercial value, supplementing his rights under the Federal and State Constitutions, says we can not.
What, then, is to be done with the negro? Nothing but increase the number of schools and schoolmasters, make education compulsory, and make technical education easily available to him in all parts of the South. The negro must be taught the virtue of self-reliance, and the value of the courts as his safeguard and defense under the Constitution and laws of the nation and of the States. Agitation exalts the negro to a degree of imaginary importance that people at the North can not understand. He is a sensible man within his limits of mind and comprehension, so long as he feels that he is not the center of a pet anxiety. Agitation has retarded and interfered with his growth in the past; it has proved exceedingly mischievous, and is not to be thought of in the future. It breeds dissatisfaction, raises hopes that can never be fulfilled, and tends to widen the breach between the races. For these reasons Mr. Cable's suggestion of opening the schools of the South in common to blacks and whites is not to be entertained. The race-feeling and race-prejudice that everywhere, wherever the Anglo-Saxons come in contact with the negro, keep them apart, will not brook it, nor will it permit the acceptance of the opening of concert halls, theatres, or lecture halls indiscriminately to both races. The same may be said of hotels and steamboats. It will not do to arouse prejudices—we must allay them. But even if the race-instinct theory be wrong, and it is found that there is nothing more serious than a prejudice that may disappear before the sun of truth, of justice, and of right, it is not policy to arouse it by fixed or a purposed antagonism. It will disappear in time; it will be swept away by the uplifting of the negro to a plane whence he can prove his title to as high consideration in all respects as his white brother. The education of the negro has uplifted and will uplift him, and will prove the solid and enduring cause for the effect desired, if anything can. A soft answer turneth away wrath. What is most needed, then, is not an aggressive agitation for social recognition in public places and conveyances, and in schools and churches, but education. Educate the negro, that he may be really free. The whole power of public opinion should be brought to the enlargement of the means of educating the negro, giving him a practical training that will lit him for daily practical life, and enable him to compete successfully with his white brother in useful vocations. Elevation of character comes with education, pride with elevation of character, and uprightness, integrity, thrift, and decency are the sure products of pride. The homes of the educated and skilled labor of our country tell the whole story of the difference between that and unskilled and ignorant labor. Let us look at what has been accomplished by education. Let us review the past, year by year, as we find the figures and facts in Commissioner Eaton's reports, and see what has been done—see if we are justified in thus insisting that education is the sure hope of the negro; and while we look, let us keep constantly in view all the difficulties through which so much has been accomplished—the civil war; the period of political reconstruction, during which all passions and prejudices were allowed the freest play; the utter dejection and poverty of the white people; the extraordinary social upheaval, unequaled in any period of the world's history save during the French Revolution; the mastery of the negro in the political misrule of the Southern States, and the fears of utter ruin beyond recovery by the white people as a result of that mastery in misrule. Let us keep all this steadily in view, and the work of breaking so great a block of black ignorance will seem like a miracle indeed.
In 1860 there were 244,492 adult free colored people in the whole Union, and of that number 95,265 were illiterate, a fact to be accounted for by the laws in force in the Southern States against the education of the negro. In the same year there were out of 4,000,000 of slaves 1,734,000 adults, all of them of course illiterates. The average increase of this 4,000,000 is given by the census of 1860 as 80,000 per year, so that in 1867, when colored school reports became accessible, the total colored population would be, for the eight years including 1860, 4,640,000. Of this number in 1867, according to the Freedman's Bureau statistics, 111,442 were enrolled in the day and night schools throughout the South, and in 1869 this number had increased to 114,522. Very slow progress, in part due to the indifference and opposition of the whites, who about that time were the victims of the reconstruction system, and in greater part to the reckless indifference of a majority of the negroes, who had been plunged in the excesses of political Saturnalias, and were helping the carpet-baggers to rob the States and burden posterity with bonded debts. Chaos and confusion, disappointment and despair prevailed in all the Southern States, and all classes were unsettled. It was no wonder, then, that with this attendance of 114,522 and an additional number of from 30,000 to 35,000 not regularly reported, together with 100,000 more attending Sunday-schools, the gain on the whole body of colored illiteracy was but a fraction of the annual gain of the negro population, not more than 20,000 successfully accomplishing the task of learning to read. But in eleven years all this had changed. The white people of the Southern States had resumed the control of their governments, had brought order out of chaos, diminished the burden of illegally made debt, and reduced taxation, and had thus given relief to all classes, and had established a public-school system for black as well as white children, which has ever since been steadily growing in public favor and increasing in efficiency and power. The result of this may be seen at a glance by the contrast of the statistics of 1869 with those of 1883. In the former year there was a total of 249,522 colored pupils enrolled at the South of all ages and grades, in day and night and Sunday schools; in the latter year there were 16,086 colored schools, colleges, and universities, etc., with an enrollment of 821,380 pupils, the average percentage of illiteracy being about seventy, except in Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia, where it was about fifty-six, a fact largely if not altogether due to the geographical situation of those States, and to their advantages as border States during the war, and to their freedom from the turmoil, dissensions, and difficulties of reconstruction. Nothing can be more instructive as to the position the negro is taking as a citizen and to his appreciation of his responsibilities. In twenty years of freedom he had blotted out thirty per cent of the illiteracy that was the heirloom of the slave, and he had done that under conditions for some years of a menacingly adverse and repressive character. The white people opposed his education because the expense of maintaining public schools would fall upon them, and most of them had a conviction that ever so little education would unsettle the brain of the freedman and elevate him "above his business" as field-hand, house-servant, or mechanic. They were justly incensed, too, at the hostile attitude of the negro and the readiness and eagerness in some instances with which he allied himself with the carpet-baggers and helped that class to postpone the restoration of peace, order, and law.
In 1870 Memphis, Nashville, and New Orleans furnished free schools for the education of negroes, but elsewhere throughout the South there was manifest indisposition and indifference to supporting them. In that year, signalized above all others by the establishment of the Bureau of Education at Washington, and the first of those instructive and exhaustive reports by Commissioner Eaton, which have been continued every year since, and from which all the data of this article are taken, the scholastic colored population between the ages of five and eighteen was, in the whole country, 814,576 boys and 806,402 girls, and the attendance was 88,594 boys and 91,778 girls, but little less than eleven per cent of the whole number, and only 70,000 more than was reported by the Freedman's Bureau in 1867, and 00,000 more than the number it reported the previous year, 1809. Prejudice was very stubborn, and the ignorance of 250 years of imbruting servitude was still an impervious crust. The brave men and women who opposed to this dreadful array the light of their love of humanity, the strength of a keen and alert intelligence, and their hope, looked about them, many of them with breaking hearts. No missionaries to China or Africa ever suffered as did these pioneers in the cause now fostered, encouraged, and supported by the States that at first rejected them. They were looked upon as part of the machinery by which negro rule was to be perpetuated, and they were shunned as intelligent aiders and abettors of mischief and ruin. Besides this, the Freedman's Bureau was regarded as obnoxious in its workings and its tendencies. Under these circumstances it was to be expected that very discouraging reports would be made, and we are not surprised, therefore, to learn that Delaware had in 1870 made no provision for the education of negro children; that in Maryland the negro children were utterly ignored, save in Baltimore; Kentucky practically ignored the colored children; West Virginia seemed to be contemplating the destruction of its common-school system; Virginia was struggling through ignorance of what free schools should be to the establishment of a system; North Carolina was still in a hopeless condition; and Tennessee, save in Memphis and Nashville, and the counties of Davidson, Greene, and Montgomery, had no schools for whites or blacks. This is a very black picture, but it was not without its relief. Missouri had a free-school system firmly established; Arkansas, encountering the obstacles common to the regions where slavery had been abolished, had secured a greater success than a majority of the Southern States; South Carolina, with the largest percentage of illiteracy, was confident of final success; Florida, in spite of some drawbacks, presented more reasons for anticipating the general prevalence of free schools; but Alabama, after giving the most flattering promises, was debating the question of advancing or retreating; Mississippi, although commencing late, was progressing steadily and efficiently in the establishment of a system of free schools, notwithstanding the great and bitter opposition, appointing county superintendents, collecting the school-tax, and building school-houses; Louisiana's report was most unsatisfactory; Georgia had just passed a school law, but must wait a year for funds before commencing operations; in Texas things looked hopeless, there was no school legislation, and the entire population was left to grow up in ignorance, save as private enterprise threw a ray of light upon the general darkness. The District of Columbia alone made an exhibit that was encouraging, and that was relatively as good as that made by the white children. In public and private schools there were 4,613 colored children out of a total school population of 10,494. This was the one ray of positive light in all that darkness. Elsewhere and farther South there were only glimmers to encourage the mere "handful of men and women" who were laboring for the advancement of the negro. Governor "Joe" Brown, of Georgia, furnished one of these. As a result of the examination of the pupils of Atlanta University, he reported that "many of the pupils exhibited a degree of mental culture which, considering the length of time their minds have been in training, would do credit to members of any race." This was valuable and timely testimony from a high and reliable quarter. In the same year Dr. J. L. M. Curry, now of the Peabody Fund, in a speech in Brooklyn, admitting the defects in the public-school system at the South, declared that the people were awakening to the necessity of education, and "the colored people as citizens and wards of the nation need to be qualified for their exalted responsibilities. Especially do they need trained and educated teachers of their own race. If practicable, a degraded race should be elevated and delivered by their own class, as the patronage of the superior has a tendency to degrade character." This was as the voice of the awakened South, rising out of the ashes of despair and once more asserting her place in the Union and her responsibilities in helping to advance the work of American civilization. It found an echo here and there. A planter, witnessing the school examination at Athens, Alabama, in that year, said he had "no prejudices against the education of the colored race," and hoped "the children would improve their time." These were the breaks in the dense mass of opposition to the education of the negro. Few as they were, these echoes were encouraging to the noble and ever to-be-revered band of men and women engaged in the work, the servants of Northern institutions or churches whose voluntary contributions to sustain the work had by the beginning of 1871 reached, with the expenditures of the Freedman's Bureau, the grand total of $7,317,311. Of this sum, expended in from six to eight years, the American Missionary Association paid out $1,603,756; the Freedman's Bureau, $3,711,235; and in other things than cash, $1,551,270, making a total of $5,262,511; the Presbyterian Church (North), $220,704; the Freedman's Aid Society, $134,340; and the Baptists of the District of Columbia, $36,000. A noble return, surely, for the scorn, contumely, hate, and malevolent opposition with which the teachers of negro schools were mot by communities stung to the quick by the outrages put upon them by disfranchisement and political subordination to an ignorant race, the ready tools of designing knaves.
In 1871 but little improvement had been made. The general public was still indifferent, and there was much opposition to colored schools. A convention of Southern Baptists at Marion, Alabama, denounced the common-school system as fostering infidelity, and declared that the "only hope was in Christian education in our own schools." In Louisiana persons were deterred from accepting the position of school directors, dreading social ostracism and persecution. In the third district the teachers submitted to social and personal discomfort, ostracism, and opprobrium, and were compelled to wait for months for their pay. Yet progress was made. At one of the institutes a division superintendent stated that last year (1870) he could report but seventy-one schools, 97 teachers, and 3,600 pupils in fourteen parishes, whereas now he reported one hundred and thirty-three schools, 150 teachers, and 7,500 pupils, and the number constantly increasing. The difficulties as stated by the State Superintendent were "indifference and incompetency of the teachers; extreme poverty of the people, and the embarrassed condition of the State's finances; yet, notwithstanding this, they were laying the foundation of a thorough, practical, and liberal system of common schools." In Georgia there was great activity in wise ways to promote the free education of the whites, but the "colored people have hardly been permitted to do what they would for themselves freely." They had but ninety-seven public schools and only 5,208 pupils. Florida had little or no progress to note, but there were negro schools in nearly every county. Kentucky apparently refused to recognize "the desirableness or necessity of the education of the colored children." In Tennessee there was much agitation, but it was not attended with success, and the colored people were emphatic in the statement of the difficulties encountered by them in their efforts to educate their children. In Alabama the opposition to the free schools was discouraging, and while the colored people had the advantage of the Swayne School at Montgomery and the Emerson Institute at Mobile, they complained in many of the counties of great difficulty, or of the impossibility of "securing any school privileges." In Mississippi the enforcement of the free school law, especially as to negro schools, was opposed, even to "the whipping of teachers and burning of school-houses." Yet there were not less than three thousand schools in operation, and the system was gaining friends. Texas was the darkest field educationally in the United States, though the Governor, supported by a strong array of friends, was supporting and doing all he could for public instruction. Arkansas, though in some respects leading all the other ex-slave States, was yet far from the line of approximate perfection. The public schools were open to negroes, but only one fourth of the number of scholars were enrolled. In Missouri the public schools had passed beyond a period of peril, and only one county was especially opposed to negro education. In Delaware no provision had yet been made for the education of the negro. Of Maryland the same report was made. Virginia and West Virginia had both made progress. North Carolina had lost ground educationally, and the severe proscription of colored people had greatly discouraged their efforts for themselves. Of the schools in South Carolina very little favorable could be said. The friends of education struggled against overwhelming odds. In the District of Columbia there were sixty-nine colored schools; 4,986 children enrolled out of 9,323; average attendance, 2,990. More than sixty per cent failed to attend, a proof of the indifference of the negro to education at that time, a greater barrier to progress than the opposition of the whites.
In 1872 the reaction had fairly set in. There was much in the reports to encourage the friends of negro education. Delaware and Kentucky were the only States that had not made provision for the instruction of colored children.
In 1873 the improvement was most marked. Kentucky reported an educational revival, and steps had been taken toward a general education of the colored children. Delaware had not yet made any provision for the education of this class, and that work was still carried on by an association supported by the voluntary subscriptions of philanthropic people. Missouri had one school for training colored teachers.
In 1874 improvement could be observed in almost all the Southern States. Maryland increased her schools by 60, her teachers by 134, and her expenditures by $108,824.70. Virginia increased her expenditures by $58,651.21, her schools by 205, school-buildings by 263, and the number of pupils by 13,016. Two schools for training colored teachers had 300 pupils. In North Carolina, 50,000 colored pupils attended the public schools. South Carolina reported an increase of 162 teachers, 196 schools, 192 new school-houses, and 56,249 colored pupils enrolled. Georgia reported 669 schools for colored children, with an enrollment of 37,267. Florida reported an increase in the number of schools 46, and of pupils 1,586. Louisiana reported a gain in the receipts for schools of $110,595.43, in attendance of 16,866 pupils, in the number of schools 175, and of teachers 18. Delaware, Texas, Arkansas, and Alabama were at a stand-still. In Mississippi the free schools were receiving very general support, and one third of the whole number of children of school age were in attendance upon the public schools, on which $900,000 had been expended, the value of school property being $505,790.56. Tennessee reported more than half her school population enrolled, and more than one third in attendance. Missouri showed some elements of progress, such as an increase of 2,537 in school population, $72,198.41 in receipts, and $714,548.83 in permanent school funds. The normal schools—State, collegiate, city, and independent—had 1,887 pupils. In Kentucky public sentiment was more in favor of public schools, and one hundred and forty-one new school-houses were built. West Virginia reported an increase of school-buildings 21 H, and of attendance 27,256. Besides the general improvement in public schools, all the private schools were flourishing, and the same was to be said of the colleges and universities, the normal schools for both sexes and both colors reporting a greatly increased attendance, the result of a rapidly increasing demand for teachers. The American Missionary Association was rivaling the public efforts in furnishing educational facilities for the colored people, especially in preparing pupils for the field that was now widening every day as a result of its early missionary efforts. The Peabody fund was also being distributed in a discriminating and effective way, and the friends of education were greatly encouraged. The tide had turned. public sentiment had at last come up almost unto the strength of unanimity for public education, and it was being generally conceded that the most pressing duty was the breaking up of the great mass of illiteracy, and that the negro must be educated to be fitted for the duties of citizenship.
The outlook in 1875 was still more encouraging, Delaware had organized a thorough school system under a new law, the colored children being provided for by a special tax levied on the colored population. West Virginia reported five normal schools, having 557 students and 85 graduates; North Carolina, 600 teachers in training in teachers' institutes and normal schools "for a demand that could not be supplied"; South Carolina, 39 pupils in the State Normal School; Alabama, three State Normal Schools and five similiar institutions supported by societies, all having 659 students, of whom 533 were believed to be colored; Mississippi, two State Normal Schools for colored pupils, with 351 students. Arkansas had taken a fresh start under the provisions of its newly adopted constitution. In the State Industrial University 58 white students were being trained as teachers, and in another institution sustained by a society, 150 were in training for colored schools. In Tennessee, a normal school had been established. Kentucky for the first time included the colored children in the enrollment of school-children. There was no State Normal School as yet, but 140 normal pupils were reported in two institutions, and 29 graduates from the Louisville Normal School. Missouri returned three State Normal Schools, with 644 pupils.
The year 1876 was a presidential year, and was not favorable, on the whole, to the interests of education. Nevertheless, Commissioner Eaton, in summing up the results of all the reports from the South, was able to say that "after a careful review of these facts, and an attentive consideration of them in their several relations, and with full recognition of the same backward tendency in certain other localities, I am increasingly convinced that their local public sentiment will not tolerate any further retrogression in these States; and that the friends of education may, on the whole, anticipate for their efforts increasing public favor."
In 1877 the reports from the South were gratifying and encouraging. The reconstruction period was ended, and we found ourselves getting on rising ground. The total number of negro children of school age in the late slave States was 1,513,065, and those enrolled, 571,506, There were for these 10,792 schools; besides which there were twenty-seven normal schools, with 3,785 pupils; twenty-three institutions for secondary instruction, with 2,807 pupils; thirteen universities and colleges, with 1,270 pupils; seventeen schools of theology, with 462 pupils; two schools of law, with 14 pupils; three schools of medicine, with 74 pupils; and two schools for the deaf and dumb and the blind, with 99 pupils; making a grand total of 10,879 schools, colleges, etc., and 580,017 pupils enrolled.
The reports for 1878, notwithstanding the yellow-fever epidemic that prevailed throughout the whole of the lower valley of the Mississippi, were extremely encouraging. All the States did well.
The years 1879, 1880, and 1881 were years of general progress. The former year witnessed the fair inauguration of normal instruction in Texas for both white and colored. In Kentucky nine private normal schools and institutes held in fourteen counties, and a summer normal school, were doing good work for teachers. The report for 1880 was, taking in the whole field, more encouraging than any of the preceding ones. The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Mississippi was opened with two hundred students. In 1881, Delaware for the first time recognized its obligations to the colored children and appropriated $2,400 from the State Treasury for these schools. West Virginia made provision for the free education of eighteen colored pupils at Storer College. In 1882-'83 the white school population of the sixteen once slave States and the District of Columbia was 4,046,956, and the enrollment in public schools 2,249,263. The colored-school population was 1,944,572; enrollment, 802,982. Compared with the figures of 1877 there was clear evidence of the remarkable work that had been accomplished in the Southern States. The white-school population showed an increase of 13 per cent; enrollment, 23 per cent; the colored-school population showed an increase of 28 per cent; enrollment increase, 40 per cent. The expenditures during that time had steadily increased as follows: In 1878 they were $11,760,251; in 1879, $12,181,602; in 1880, $12,475,044; in 1881, $13,359,784; and in 1882, $14,820,972. And this, notwithstanding there had been a decrease in the value of the taxable wealth of ten of the Southern States amounting to $411,475,000. Notwithstanding which, these States now appropriated 20·1 per cent of their total levy of taxes for school purposes. New England at the same time paying 20·2; the Middle States, 19·5; the Western States, 26·2; and the Territories, 22·4; the average of the whole country being 22·6 per cent. This increase in funds corresponded with a radical change in public sentiment. Louisiana was the only State in which the prospect was in the main discouraging. Both races shared alike in the school fund in all the States except in Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, in which special provision was made for the colored race, and in South Carolina, where the basis of apportionment was the same for each race, but the amounts realized depended upon the extent to which the people availed themselves of the provision by attendance upon the schools.
The total number of colored children of school age in the late slave States was in 1882, 1,944,572, an increase of 15,385; and of those enrolled, 802,982, an increase of 610. There were for these 15,972 schools a decrease of 1,681. Besides which there were fifty-six normal schools, an increase of nine, with 8,509 pupils, an increase of 888; forty-three institutions for secondary instruction, an increase of nine, with 6,632 pupils, an increase of 1,348; eighteen universities and colleges, an increase of one, with 2,298 pupils, an increase of 95; twenty-four schools of theology, an increase of two, with 665 pupils, an increase of 61; four schools of law, an increase of one, with 53 pupils, an increase of 8; three schools of medicine, an increase of one, with 125 pupils, an increase of 9; six schools for the deaf and dumb and the blind, an increase of four, with 116 pupils, a decrease of 4; making a grand total of 16,086 schools, colleges, etc., a decrease of 1,289, with 821,380 pupils, an increase of 3,015 over those reported in 1881.
Nothing in the progress of the South since the close of the civil war is so gratifying as these exhibits of growth in educational facilities and this steady increase in the number of scholars of both races. The people of the Northern States will never be able to understand or comprehend all that it is to us of the South. All the expenses and money losses of these States during the war were represented in bonds and other forms of Government indebtedness, which were so much of addition to the property values of that section. But the Southern States lost everything—their slaves, their crops, and all the profits of their industrial efforts for five years, their public (Confederate) debt, nearly all of their railroad and steamboat property, fifty per cent of their homesteads, their farm-fences, mills, and gins, the whole representing a total value variously estimated at from $9,000,000,000 to $11,000,000,000. It was a clean sweep—so clean that both Generals Grant and Sherman found it necessary to permit the officers and privates of the Confederate armies to retain their horses and mules to make crops; and Governor Legislature in Tennessee passed an act making the stealing of a mule or a horse punishable by death, on the expressed ground that the mule and the horse were essential to the life of the people—without them bread could not be made. Following upon the heels of this utter destitution and the consequent prostration and despondency, came the period of reconstruction, which increased the confusion that prevailed, re-excited the passions of the war, and added to it all a race-feeling that for a time was at a white heat—a feeling that was a new experience to the people of the South. Out of this extreme of general poverty, out of this race-feeling and political passion and prejudice, order was slowly evoked, and with it came the steady growth of a healthy public sentiment favorable first to public education and then to the education of the negro. As fast as they have been able, the Southern States have increased their taxes for school purposes and their facilities for the education of teachers until they have reached a point as high as that of New England—that is, they appropriate twenty per cent of the whole amount of taxes levied and collected for school purposes, just as Massachusetts docs. Beyond this they can not go any faster than their growth in taxable wealth will permit, and unless they have an even greater amount of help than has been given by the American Missionary Association, the Sears and the Peabody Funds, educational progress must be very slow—too slow to meet the demands of the people. It would take three times the amount now annually appropriated by the Southern States ($15,000,000) to satisfy the demands of the six million black and white children for education. With anything like an adequate sum, and compulsory laws to overcome the lethargy and indifference of the negroes, an inroad so broad might be made in a few years in the illiteracy that is now a positive menace and danger to these States as to encourage the friends of education in the belief of a possible millennium, when every human being would be able to stand an examination in at least the three R's. And this, however chimerical it may seem, contrasted with existing facts, is what must be kept steadily in view. The State owes it to every child to make it intellectually strong enough to understand the necessity for law, to submit to the restraints of law, and obey law. This can only be done by education.
Looking back through the years the educational work of which has thus been traced in the foregoing pages, we find that several good results have been accomplished: 1. The prejudices of the Southern people against the education of the negro have been utterly and entirely dispelled; 2. The people of the South have become willing, in most cases enthusiastic supporters and helpers in the education of the negro; 3. Thirty per cent of the illiteracy of the negro has been wiped out; and, 4. The negro has steadily, though gradually, been brought to realize that in education he is to find perfect freedom, the soul and heart freedom of which no man may rob him; that by education he is to be elevated, lifted up above the chaos and confusion of ignorance, and prepared for whatever of destiny lies before him in the United States. With these results before us, to raise any side or outside issues that would tend to re-excite the prejudices of the whites against the blacks, to raise the social question, even in the least degree, is to be at enmity with the peace and prosperity of the negro, to hurt and injure the cause of his education, to retard his growth mentally and morally, and postpone the time when he might claim equality in both senses.
In the face of such progress, to advocate the deportation of such a race, or any scheme of separate colonization, is nothing less than a crime. It has the effect to disturb and check the flow of this steady tendency toward the average of civilization reached by the white race; it has the tendency to excite fear and to paralyze the race that still looks to the white man to continue to guarantee to it its political rights, and for the recognition of the full equality before the law that assures him the peaceful pursuit of happiness and the possession of property. By education a great gap has been made in the mountain of illiteracy that was first assailed in 1862 with many forebodings and much doubt. The philanthropic men and women who first undertook the task have many of them passed to their reward; but their works do follow them. The better outlook that enabled them to see away beyond the stormy years to come and predict this better day has been fully justified, and none more eagerly bear testimony, and willing testimony, to the beneficence and blessings of that work than the white men and women who were born again to their better natures out of and away beyond the prejudices of centuries, and to-day rejoice in the living light that shines from books on the negro's intellect and heart, enabling him to grasp hitherto hidden meanings and comprehend some of the treasures of our literature and make himself strong for the battle of life. The man who survives by his own strength and will excites admiration; the man who has to be helped becomes a burden, and a wearisome burden, to all about him. Educate, educate the negro. Make the ways of light broader; make the avenues to better life and living plainer. Illuminate him with the intelligence of the ages and the light of reason, and the negro will see his own way and walk without help. He will become a stronger, a more self-reliant man, and by that strength and self-reliance will beat down all the barriers and shake off all the make-weights that impede his progress and stand in his way. He will be a citizen, indeed, and not a halting, wailing child. He will be a man full of man's ways and purposes, with a comprehensive grasp of his duties and a sound, sensibly guided determination to be in every case a citizen equal to the maintenance of his own rights under the law, a strength and not a weakness to the republic. Education, and not agitation, is what the negro needs. He needs repose and rest, time to think of himself and for himself, to realize what he has accomplished in a few years, how closely he stands to his white neighbors, and how intimately his destiny is linked with theirs. Hitherto he has been constantly in a very sea of turmoil, tossed about, anxious, and confused. Under these circumstances, his own natural disinclination, the poverty of the Southern States, and the political bedevilments that made at the South confusion worse confounded until 1870, the advance he has made in education and in the acquisition of property is like the work of magic. In peace, in freedom from political agitation, with increased facilities for education, sustained by the good-will and the voluntary taxation of the white people, what may he not be expected to accomplish in the future? When seventy per cent of his illiteracy has been swept away, what a self-respecting man he will have become! But when ninety per cent has gone, he will be able to hold his head as high as the best; and the accomplishment of this percentage is not half so difficult now as the task encountered by the pioneers who first blazed a path in the wilderness of ignorance and superstition in which they found him in 1802. Educate the negro, and he becomes free indeed in "mind, body, and estate."
- ↑ The evil effect of an attempt at mixed schools was felt in Louisiana; the superintendent of which State, in 1871, complained that the act forbidding the establishment of public schools from which colored children should be rejected excited determined opposition on the part of many who would otherwise co-operate in the opening of schools, and in the raising of funds for their support.