Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/686

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

records of sextons in the larger towns of the South confirmed this showing of the census. But, for all this, all through the South, there were such swarms of little colored people about the huts, that the writer was constrained to withhold his assent to the notion that the race was dying out, stating at the time that, "notwithstanding the showing of these statistics, we suspect that the greater number of births compensate for the greater number of deaths, and that the next census returns will show little if any diminution of the relative proportion of the negro to the native white population."

It must be mentioned, however, that the showing of the last two censuses is not altogether free from suspicion. It has been thought that either the census of last June made too many colored people, or that of 1870 made too few. Where most in doubt, the last census has been retaken with care, in parts of South Carolina three times in all, and the work first done thus verified as correct. The probability is, that the census of 1880 is as accurate as such work can well be done. The census of 1870 is not so well authenticated, but it was thought at the time to be correct. Whether it failed to enumerate all the colored is a matter of speculation only, which can never be satisfactorily determined. It is now believed in the Census-Office at Washington that all the colored were not enumerated in 1870. Possibly this is the case to a certain extent, but it is just possible that it may not be necessary to suppose error in either of the censuses to account for the great increase during the last decade. The census of 1870 shows that reproduction had been greatly checked in this as in other classes; and it shows this even if we allow a large margin for error. But this state of things rapidly changed, and the colored people of the South began life anew about the year 1870. They were no longer disturbed by the war, nor seriously molested by the lawless elements of the South. They had become comparatively well settled in their new status of freedom. They found something to do, and something that paid, as the successive great cotton-crops of the South show; and that hopefulness in life which followed the period of anxiety contributed an unusual stimulus to reproduction. With more settled habits came marriage and rapidly increasing families. The census of 1870 shows that the proportion of children under ten years of age was nearly one per cent, less among the colored than among the native whites. This is due, no doubt, to the American-born children of immigrants being counted as natives; but it is probable that the census report of 1880 will reverse this showing. Comparison can not be made in earlier reports because the native and foreign whites were not kept distinct.

The following is from an intelligent correspondent of Floyd County, Georgia, to the "Country Gentleman" of July 15, 1880—Mr. J. H. Dent: "So far as I have heard from the census enumerators, they report that the increase of negroes by birth is remarkable. The enumerator of this district told me that in three families he found thirty