Browsing "Race and the South"

White and Black Servants in Early America

Quoting John Rolfe’s account of the event, John Smith noted that “About the last of August came in a Dutch manne of warre that sold us twenty Negars.” Thus began the importation of Africans to America though their early status of servants or slaves may still be questioned.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

White and Black Servants in Early America

“Thanks to John Smith we know that Negroes first came to the British continental colonies in 1619. What we do not know is exactly when Negroes were first enslaved there. This question has been debated by historians for the past seventy years, the critical point being whether Negroes were enslaved almost from their first importation or whether they were at first simply servants and only later reduced to the status of slaves.

During the nineteenth century historians assumed almost universally that the first Negroes came to Virginia as slaves. So close was their acquaintance with the problem of racial slavery that it did not occur to them that Negroes could ever have been anything but slaves.

Philip A. Bruce, the first man to probe with some thoroughness into the early years of American slavery, adopted this view in 1896, although he emphasized that the original difference in treatment between white servants and Negroes was merely that Negroes served for life.

James C. Ballagh . . . took the position that the first Negroes served merely as servants and that enslavement did not begin until around 1660, when statutes bearing on slavery were passed for the first time. Writing on the free Negro in Virginia for the Johns Hopkins series, John H. Russell in 1913 tackled the central question and showed that some Negroes were indeed servants but concluded that “between 1640 and 1660 slavery was fast becoming an established fact. In this twenty years the colored population was divided, part being servants and part being slaves, and some who were servants defended themselves with increasing difficulty from the encroachment of slavery.”

Ulrich Philips of Georgia, impressed with the geniality of both slavery and twentieth-century race relations, found no natural prejudice in the white man and expressed his “conviction that Southern racial asperities were mainly superficial, and that the two great elements are fundamentally in accord.”

[Sociologists and social psychologists] . . . “Liberal on the race question almost to a man, [tended] to see slavery as the initial cause of the Negro’s current degradation. The modern Negro was the unhappy victim of long association with base status. Sociologists, though uninterested in tired questions of historical evidence, could not easily assume a natural prejudice in the white man as the cause of slavery. Prejudice must have followed enslavement, not vice versa; else any liberal program of action would be badly compromised.

Ironically there might have been no historical controversy [regarding when racial prejudice began] if every historian dealing with the subject had exercised greater care with facts and greater restraint in interpretation. Too often the debate entered the realm of inference and assumption. For the crucial years after 1619 there is simply not enough evidence to indicate with any certainty whether Negroes were treated like white servants or not. No historian has found anything resembling proof one way or the other. The first Negroes were sold to the English settlers, yet so were other Englishmen.

That some Negroes were held as slaves after about 1640 is no indication, however that American slavery popped into the world fully developed at that time. Many historians . . . have shown slavery to be a gradual development, a process not completed until the eighteenth century. [Some] Negroes served only the term usual for white servants, and others were completely free. One Negro freeman, Anthony Johnson, himself owned a Negro. Obviously the enslavement of some Negroes did not mean the immediate enslavement of all.”

(Modern Tensions and the Origins of American Slavery, Winthrop D. Jordan, Journal of Southern History, Volume XXVIII, February, 1962, pp. 18 -25)

Truman the Prisoner of Socialist Planners

Author John T. Flynn wrote in 1949 of the communist takeover of the Democrat Party, which was fairly complete in 1936 as FDR’s labor friend Sidney Hillman formed the first political action committee, CIO-PAC, to funnel labor unions funds into his political campaign. By the early 1940’s Southern Democrats had enough of party communists and railed at FDR’s running mate in 1940, Henry Wallace, who was very friendly with the Soviets. Thus came the Dixiecrat Party.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Truman the Prisoner of Socialist Planners

“The country recently witnessed a struggle in the United States Senate around a proposal of the president to put federal force behind the guarantee of what is called “civil rights.” Few of those who read of the filibuster conducted by the Southern Democratic senators understood the real purpose behind this bill.

Ostensibly it was to give our Negro citizens equality of rights of various kinds with their white brethren. But the real objective was little discussed and even less perceived by the casual newspaper reader.

Of course the problem of the Negro and his position in the South and, for that matter, in the North, is a perpetual irritant. It is not easy to square the discriminations against the Negro with a number of the most rapturously repeated phrases in accepted national philosophy. There are some aspects of the question that ought to be kept in mind.

First of all, the lurid and sensational stories about lynchings and hatreds and suppressions and oppressions have been outrageously exaggerated. It is a fact that almost all of the publicity about the outrages against Negroes in the South has originated in the propaganda agencies of the communist trouble-makers.

Why is the communist so deeply stirred about the Negro? Is he trying to correct injustices suffered by the Negro in order to improve his lot here and make him love America more? We know that the communist has one supreme interest and that is to excite and stimulate the hatreds of every class in the country.

Sooner or later this country must face the problem of the Negro. It is simple enough in New York. It is not so simple in Mississippi, where the Negroes almost equal the whites in number, or in Georgia, where Negroes outnumber whites in probably half the counties in the State.

White supremacy is a phrase encrusted with unpleasant connotations in the North. But in hundreds of Southern counties where Negroes outnumber whites the people are sure that if the Negroes voted there would be not white supremacy but Negro supremacy. In light of our professed beliefs about the rights of man, however, it is not an easy matter for our people to face up to this problem squarely.

One day an educated Negro population, rather than the poor cornfield worker and the illiterate serving man, will confront the people of the country. Time, education on both sides of the color line, patience, understanding, may lead us to a happier relationship. But one thing is certain. There is no spot for the trouble-maker, the revolutionist, the communist bent on mischief, on division and disturbance.

The problem was thrown into the Senate in 1949 by [Democrat President Harry Truman]. I have, I believe, made it clear that the President is the prisoner of the socialist planners among his supporters, who elected him and who could break him pathetically tomorrow if it suited their purpose. It was in obedience to their imperious demand that this hurry-up solution of the Negro problem in the south has hurled into the Senate.

Now what was their purpose? Was it love for the Negro? Was it a wish to advance his position? Not at all. The purpose was entirely a part of the effort of these socialist planners to solve the great crucial political problem which confronts them. The Negro is merely to be one of the tools in the job.

[The Republican Party after 1865 has sewn up the black vote] But with the advent of the New Deal and the distress among the Northern and Southern Negroes and the great streams of relief money at the disposal of Democratic politicians, the Negro was brought en masse into the Democratic fold. This, however, hardly describes the performance perfectly.

The depression and the rise of the communist and New Deal socialist wing in New York, with Harry Hopkins sitting at the cashier’s window, made it possible for the socialist wing of the Democratic-Red alliance to capture Negro votes. Today [1949] the socialist movements have that vote in their bag. And they believe they can do the same thing with the Negroes in the South if they can get the vote for them.”

(The War on the South, The Road Ahead to Socialism, America’s Creeping Revolution, John T. Flynn, Devin-Adair Company, 1949, pp. 98-100)

The South, Forever Tobacco Road

In the 1930’s, northeastern politicians and reformers once again were concerned about racial customs in the Southern States as both parties pursued the black vote in both sections of the country. FDR used government money and subsidies during the Depression to control Southern leaders, though his courting of labor unions, black communist activists and CPUSA votes would lead to the formation of the Dixiecrat party by 1948.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The South, Forever Tobacco Road

“In the North a new school of historians had rewritten the history of the Nation and had presented the South in fair appraisal, and had also made realistic diagnosis and criticism of the northern post-Civil War administration. The South had also made extraordinary strides in nearly all phases of its culture and economy. It had built industry, developed great highways . . . and had, with the cooperation and support of the Northeast, strengthened its colleges and universities, and especially a number of important institutions.

[The] Southern States put their hands to the task [of overcoming the Depression], and through State planning boards, through various technical ways of cooperating with New Deal agencies,  through public works, work relief, agricultural adjustment, through educational cooperation . . . Then a strange thing happened.

And it happened twice, once due to the depression New Deal pressure and once due to the pressure of war, namely, a sudden revivification of the old sectional conflict and recrudescence of the terms “North” and “South.”

The revival of the term “The South,” in so far as the national administration was concerned . . . came about in two ways. One was typified by in the now noted slogan that the South was the Nation’s Economic Problem Number One. The South was Tobacco Road. It was again missionary territory. But whatever it was, it was “The South.”

In the second place, “The South” came to be synonymous with conservatism or reactionary policies due to the opposition of Southern senators and congresssmen, and of State governors and leaders to many of the New Deal policies. “What else could you expect, he is a Southerner?” came to be a common refrain. And then “The South,” with its usual sensitiveness and defense resentfulness revived with a vengeance the term “The North” which was again “trying to make the South over.”

And even more than the depression New Deal, the coming of the war . . . brought about an intensification of the North-South conflict, due, of course, to the South’s racial segregation, culture and laws. The Nation realized suddenly that its ideas of the American Dream guaranteed to all its citizens equal rights and opportunities, and that, while it had gone to war for global democracy, it had in its own two regions a negation of such democracy. And so there was the ever-recurring question, “what can be done about the South?”

And there were increasingly articulate individuals and agencies, private and public, setting themselves to the task of “making” the South change. The net result has been an unbelievable revival of the bitterness implied in the old “North” and “South,” what time the South resents what it calls northern interference and what time the North tries to coerce the South again.”

(In Search of the Regional Balance of America. Howard W. Odum, editor, UNC Press, 1945, pp. 18-19)

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

Virginia Governor J. Lindsay Almond was not surprised by the new moral code being forced by federal judges and did his best to confront it. His State had already witnessed the degradation of education caused by forced racial integration in the nearby District of Columbia, and wanted none of it for their children.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Federal Judges and Subjugated States

“On January 19, 1959, came the legal rejection of massive resistance that Governor [J. Lindsay] Almond expected. Both the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and a three-judge federal district court ruled, in separate cases, that the anti-desegregation statues adopted in 1956 were illegal and invalid. When the beleaguered governor went on television two days later to announce his response to the court rulings, his tone was strident and his message was one of continued defiance. An impassioned Almond told Virginians:

“To those in high places or elsewhere who advocate integration for your children and send their own to private or public segregated schools, to those who defend or close their eyes to the livid stench of sadism, sex immorality and juvenile pregnancy infesting the mixed schools of the District of Columbia and elsewhere; to those who would overthrow the customs, morals and traditions of a way of life which has endured in honor and decency for centuries and embrace a new moral code prepared by nine men in Washington whose moral concepts they know nothing about . . . to all these and their confederates, comrades and allies, let me make it abundantly clear for the record now and hereafter, as governor of this State, I will not yield to that which I know to be wrong and will destroy every semblance of education for thousands of the children of Virginia.”

(The Dynamic Dominion, Realignment and the Rise of Virginia’s Republican Party Since 1945, Frank B. Atkinson, George Mason University Press, 1992, pp. 1104-105)

 

Goldwater and Rebel Pennants

One of the most significant developments of the 1964 presidential election was the virtually solid anti-conservative stand of black voters across the South, which resulted in the defeat of Barry Goldwater. In 1968, the GOP ended their brief friendship with white conservative Southerners and actively pursued black voters with civil rights promises and entitlement programs.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Goldwater, Rebel Pennants

“When Senator Barry Goldwater brought his Presidential campaign to east Tennessee in September, 1964, he spoke from the Knoxville-Maryville airport, in the solid Republican county of Blount. It is Parson Brownlow’s home country; at a rural cemetery a few miles away a headstone proclaims the death of a local patriot, “murdered by Confederates.”

When Senator Goldwater spoke, however, the Confederates were out in much greater force than one hundred years before. A large Confederate flag dominated the platform, and smaller Rebel pennants were waved throughout the crowd.

Here was a candidate who spoke of States’ rights . . . The first signs [of Southerners sensing they had allies] became evident when there was outspoken opposition to the Kennedy-Johnson civil rights law in other sections of the country besides the South. Governor George Wallace of Alabama made impressive showings in Democratic presidential primaries in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland. Stirred by the scent of victory, the Mississippi legislature financed a national lobby against the bill.

Racial violence flared in a dozen points in the North and reached the riot stage in [New York’s] Harlem. At the San Francisco convention all the South watched as the forces of Senator Goldwater, who had voted against the civil rights law, turned aside disorganized elements which attempted vainly to moderate the Republican platform.

The final Goldwater campaign effort was a television spectacular beamed over the old Confederacy from Columbia, South Carolina. Fabled movie stars from California came to join old-line Southern politicians being retreaded as Republicans. Across the old Dixiecrat belt the elixir worked.

Georgia was added to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Mississippians who had voted 90 percent for Strom Thurmond in 1948, now voted with him 87 percent as Goldwater Republicans.

Mississippi gave Goldwater a larger percentage of its vote than any of the 44 States carried by Johnson gave the President, but even majorities like this failed to give the Republicans the majority of the popular vote in the South as a whole. The electoral vote, of course, went two to one for Johnson.

Negro votes made the difference between Johnson and Goldwater in Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, and possibly North Carolina. They also supplied the winning margin in several House and Senate contests in these same States. For the first time, Democrats in these areas are fully realizing the advantage of such an asset, and the local Republicans who deliberately set their course against soliciting Negro support now recognize the nature of the price they paid to prove themselves better [States’ rights advocates] than the Dixiecrats.

(Look Away From Dixie, Frank E. Smith, LSU Press, 1965, pp. 71-74)

Helping Those in Need

Though Southern people may have held Africans as slaves, a labor arrangement of the British colonial system and accelerated by Northern slave traders and New England cotton mills needing cheaply-produced raw material, this in no way indicated a hatred of black people by Southerners. Before and during the war black and white people attended the same churches; in the postwar interracial harmony ended as the Republican party sowed the seeds of racial hatred between black and white for political purposes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Helping Those in Need

“During the Depression my parents befriended an old Negro woman who didn’t have a husband but a house full of children. We had a smokehouse down here where we’d keep the meat, corncribs, potato bins, produce of the farm. And the woman’s family was fed out of that for several years. She was too old to do much work, but she was competent and she did what she could in gratitude and out of knowing that she’d been provided for.

Well, she brought along some little boys. There were Billy and Charlie and Lester and Matt and James. We’d play outside, ride the marsh ponies, hook up the old mule and ride him, go out and gather wood, get in fights, kill snakes, go fishing. I didn’t know that we were especially conscious of any strain.

We knew that on Sunday they went to their church and we would go to ours. We had three or four Negro servants in the house in those days – a housekeeper, a cook, a washerwoman, a gardener. Most of them were people who desperately needed food and shelter in the Depression.

When those boys I used to play with got to be teenagers, I went away to college. And we grew apart. I’ve seen then through the years, and once in a while we’ll stop and talk. I’ll ask them how they’re getting along. They don’t have any interest in talking to me. I don’t think there’s any resentment or hurt, but it’s hard to relate to them today as individuals the way we did back then. It’s part of the times.

One of them left these parts. He’s a bartender in Camp Lejeune over in Jacksonville. He makes more money than I make. I know he owns a better home than I have; he drives a new automobile. He certainly isn’t impressed. The fact is, he doesn’t need me anymore. His family does not need my family. We helped when he did need help, and I think maybe that’s appreciated. But there’s no more corn in the crib. There’s no more meat in the smokehouse.”

(William Dallas Herring: Rose Hill, Reed M. Wolcott, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1976, pp. 32-33)

Heart of the Race Relations Problem

The disruption of Southern race relations by federal authorities, the Supreme Court and imported agitators, has done more harm than good, according to author William D. Workman, Jr. He writes that “In many respects, the refusal of the North to leave the South alone has had a harmful effect upon the very individuals about whom the Northerners profess most concern – that is, the Southern Negro.” As they “helped” the Southern Negro, they also ruined his good relations with the white neighbors he had to live with.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Heart of the Race Relations Problem

“More [problems] can be expected in the future if Northern integrationists, with or without political backing, continue to pillory the white South under the guise of helping the black South.

Meanwhile, the harried Southern Negro, who may or may not agree with the fulminations made in his behalf, stands to lose more than he gains. In most of the South, he is now possessed of all the purely legal rights which are coming his way, and continued agitation from the North can add little to his political status . . . [and] On the other hand, and this has become quite apparent in the last few years, the Negro becomes – willingly or unwillingly – the object of the white Southerner’s resentment.

Basically, the white Southerner has little quarrel with his Negro neighbor, and frankly despises the Northern propagandists – including the Supreme Court of the United States – with far greater intensity than is ever directed toward the Negro.

When the Northerner preaches the “brotherhood of man,” the Southerner calls for “freedom of association” and proceeds to sever longstanding ties which formerly linked him amicably with his Negro fellow-Southerners.

The net result is that the Northern action brings about almost the reverse reaction from that desired. Instead of bringing Southern whites and Negroes closer together, it drives them farther apart since, in the eyes of the white Southerner, the Negro is identified with those forces which seek to pillory and persecute the South.

The heart of the problem lies in the achievement of community acceptance of whatever pattern of race relations seems best for that community. [Where] there is not acceptance, no amount of pressure – federal, religious, or otherwise – will bring about a satisfactory situation. The matter of race relations is too close a thing . . . and not a thing to be handled by impersonal formula and governmental edict . . . .

In the years preceding the Supreme Court decision of 1954, and in a diminishing degree since then, Southern communities were making notable progress in the expansion of not only racial amity but of bi-racial achievement. The pressures which have built up following the desegregation decision, however, tended in large measure to “freeze” things as they were, and indeed in many cases to undo the good that had been accomplished by slow, patient work over the years.

Florida’s Gov. LeRoy Collins had this to say on March of 1956:

“For as long as I can remember, the Florida A&M [Negro] University choir on Sunday afternoons has held vesper services open to the general public. Many white citizens have over the years attended these concerts with great admiration for the excellence of these Negro voices singing the spirituals of their race. But this has almost completely stopped, I am advised. The singing still goes on each Sunday, and it is as good as it has ever been, but there are no longer white listeners. Fear of being labeled integrationists has intimidated them into staying away . . .

These things don’t make good sense but they are happening nevertheless. They signal not just a halt in the advancement of good race relations, but actually a decided move backward. They show the insidious results when our people are pulled by one side or the other into the fighting pit of the extremists . . . “

(The Case For the South, William D. Workman, Jr., Devin-Adair, 1960, pp. 134-138)

Healing the Victims of the Avarice of Others

Major Joseph A. Engelhard served in the Thirty-third North Carolina Regiment in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. He was elected North Carolina Secretary of State in 1876, and in 1878 encouraged young Southern men at the University of North Carolina to be proud of their forefathers, and the country and constitution they created. Engelhard died in office in 1879.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Healing the Victims of the Avarice of Others

“If in any part of the United States there exists moral deformity, or outrage, or unseemly appearance of social or political evil, you can say that no portion of it can be traced to our door. It is true, we have been charged with the error and evil of Slavery, but history and the verdict of all men must be that slavery was introduced here against our will, first by the Dutch and afterwards by the Slave Merchants of the North.

Upon the garments of the South there is no stain of the “Slave Trade.” Those infamies and the profits of that traffic alike, belong to others.

Our lot has been to civilize, to humanize, to Christianize the victims of the avarice of others. Like men we fought for the institution, not, however, for its sake, but because through it all our sacred rights were assailed. The men who proclaimed victory at Mecklenburg; the men who fought seven years for it afterwards; the men who built the country’s strongest entrenchments in the Constitution; who extended most widely its area; who illustrated it with most honor in the National Councils, and who exposed and lost all to defend every approach of danger to it, never – never could be truly charged with the responsibility for human Slavery.

One thing all men must say of us, that the Southern people in two hundred years did more to elevate and render good and happy the African than all the world in all time ever did. And upon that record we stand.”

(Address of the Hon. Joseph A. Engelhard, Before the Philanthropic and Dialectic Societies of the University of North Carolina, June 1878, Edwards & Broughton & Co., 1879, pp. 11-12)

Introducing the Slaves to Jesus

In the small plantation communities where African slaves lived and labored it was Southern men like Presbyterian Rev. Charles Colcock Jones who brought them from heathenism to Christianity.  The elder Roswell King mentioned below was a Connecticut native who came South to manage the large antebellum estates of Pierce Butler in Glynn County, Georgia. The son, also named Roswell King, later moved to northern Georgia to establish cotton and woolen mills and the town of Roswell, Georgia still bears his name.  It was Northerner Eli Whitney who made large scale cotton production profitable — which supplied slave-produced material to hungry New England mills.  Manhattan bankers provided easy credit to enable land acquisition for more cotton production.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Introducing the Slaves to Jesus

“My experience with these people [African slaves] was very large, having been for long years the contract physician on the river plantations where religious opportunities were very limited. In many cases, the Negro preacher or watchman (as they were called) was the only teacher and leader they had. Though on a few of the larger estates, salaried chaplains were employed.

I recollect many years ago being engaged in correspondence on the subject. The Reverend Jones spent many years of his useful life, and liberally of his private resources, in endeavoring to do good to these ignorant and dependent people by religious teaching and preaching.

To reassure him in the self-sacrifice of time and means, he addressed a letter of inquiry to Mr. Roswell King of Butler’s Island, where there were nearly a thousand slaves, [asking] whether those professing religion were more orderly and faithful than the others.

I commended the pious work in which he was engaged, but it being often at night and involving a long ride, and his health not being strong, I begged him to assign his labors to some lesser light in the church who was more physically able.

There were wider and more congenial fields waiting for him where his education, talents, eminent piety, and zeal in his Master’s service made him an honored and distinguished name to his life’s end.”

(Dr. Bullie’s Notes, Reminiscences of Early Georgia, James Holmes, Cherokee Publishing Company, 1976, pp. 161-163)

Freedmen Intoxicated with the Idea of Power

Not content with devastating the American South and destroying its political power, the vindictive Radicals in Washington considered the conquered States as mere territories to be ruled by Northern proconsuls. To establish a veneer of democracy, blacks were herded to the polls by the notorious Union League to elect Northern men; the freedmen were instructed to burn the barns and homes of white citizens to keep them from the polls.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Freedmen Intoxicated With the Idea of Power

“It was to The Shrubs, the home of his former classmate, Judge Thomas M. Dawkins of Union [county], that Governor McGrath moved the State Capitol with the officials and archives just before General Sherman reached Columbia. There daily reports were received of the burning of Columbia, the position of Sherman’s and Cheatham’s armies, and finally the surrender of Lee and the flight of Jefferson Davis through Union.

In her diary Mrs. Dawkins wrote: “Young people were hopeful to the last so when soldiers were with us, music, dancing, charades, etc., made many enjoyable evenings never to be forgotten. There was a bon ami, a comradeship born of the situation very fascinating and rare.”

After surrender Mrs. Dawkins wrote, “We had 11 servants in the yard, and many of them were there. I said “I have told you, you are free and of course can leave at any time but would rather you wait and let us settle you comfortably.”

My seamstress Milly was Abraham Dogan’s wife, the carriage driver. He became a member of the Legislature. It was with difficulty we could get them to move out of the yard.

Finally in January 1866 Judge Dawkins hired for them a house and settled them with pig provisions, but poor ignorant creatures, they were intoxicated with the idea of power, and always fond of idleness began to steal and destroy property. Scarcely a night without burning. There was no redress, no law, and the Ku Klux Klan was formed to frighten the Negroes, so sensational superstition — all done to this point – masks, coffins, etc. This was done as patiently as possible for 10 years from 1866 to 1876. Then our hero, General Hampton came forward to help us.”

Thus Mrs. Dawkins, born in England, an imported schoolteacher from the North, married to a member of the aristocracy in Union [county], spoke to future generations through her diary of the tensions and problems of a tragic episode in American history.”

(Plantation Heritage in Upcountry, South Carolina, Kenneth and Blanche Marsh, Biltmore Press, 1965, page 107)

Pages:«1234567»