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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/808

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

maintained, certain States might become exclusively colored, and society therein sink toward a form of semi-barbarism. The white would eventually be driven out by political corruption, maladministration, and State bankruptcy. And let no man be deceived: if the native whites are compelled to abandon certain Southern localities on account of uninstructed colored predominance in local administration, the Yankee, or any other who is studious of thrift, will not take their place. Only a few sharpers, and the vultures in search of political carrion, will be found there. But this alternative of the "negro problem" is not likely to be adopted. Hardly any party is ready to go into history with such a policy, for, if it tripped, as it might, it would be bad for such party. It is the teaching of all history that those who have had freedom of self-rule have proved themselves competent to take it and hold it in spite of despots. This self-assertion is a necessary condition of freedom and its maintenance. There is no such thing as freedom under exotic tutelage. If a people who are numerically in the majority can only be secured in their political rights by national troops, then do such people illustrate political serfdom in becoming the tools of the party in power, and freedom becomes an abortion by the method used to secure it.

The problem, then, is to be determined on the presumption that local self-government in the South shall be in the hands of those who are competent to direct it; and that existing forces, under which the South has multiplied so rapidly in population during the last ten years, shall continue to operate.

Many of the planting-districts in the South contain already quite as large a colored population as is compatible with interest and comfort. This is thoroughly felt, if not clearly seen, by the colored people. They become the most dissatisfied with the situation, not where they are distributed among the whites in smaller numbers, but in districts where the colored population is greatest. Why so? Not on account of political terrorism by any means, but on account of the bad footing up at the close of the working-season. These are-the places and this the reason which give rise to that recent phenomenon known as the "negro exodus." The tables indicate that there is emigration from most of the former border slave States. But the movement is individual, and not gregarious. It is undertaken with a rational view of what is to be gained by the change, much after the fashion of the whites, and it makes no noise in the newspapers as an "exodus." Among the simple-minded and impulsive masses farther South it is different. There it takes the form of a psychological epidemic, with only a vague and fanatical conception of what is ahead. We have only seen the beginning of this, perhaps, though the movement has its drawbacks. Not the most provident now leave the South; very generally, no doubt, the least so. Not the best hands come—often the worst. They have the old slave way, and the inaptitude for diversity