Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/812

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zation. It held a semibarbarous race in close contact with their superiors. When that bond was loosened, those negroes who had the fiber of freedom in them stood erect in independent manhood; the others sank to earth in abject hopelessness.

Twenty-eight years have elapsed since the close of the war. Those years have solved many problems and harmonized many differences, but they have not solved the problem of lifting the mass of the blacks to the plane of intelligent citizenship. There is much secret sympathy at the North with the suppression of the negro vote, because it is believed that it is not so much the result of race prejudice as of the determination of an intelligent minority not to be ruled by an ignorant and degraded majority. To begin civilization with the ballot is like beginning the Bible with Revelations; it is reading backward. Let us not reopen the question of the wisdom of the Government when, hurried on by the passions of both North and South, it armed the negro with the ballot as his sole protection. That is done. Our problem is before us. As the Oriental proverb runs: "To-day is ours; yesterday and to-morrow belong to God."

The negro must be educated; but how? Education is a good word, but, unfortunately, vague. It may include everything from the alphabet to the whole sweep of arts and letters. It may be general or technical; physical, mental, or moral. Let us try to arrive at a more definite understanding of it. There is perhaps no better parallel for the education of a race than the education of a child, only for every five years we must take five hundred. Men fall into vice but they climb into virtue. Nothing could be more unreasonable than to expect to see any marked change from the conditions engendered by slavery in so brief a period as thirty years; yet we hear the accusation constantly made against the negro that he is still a lazy, idle vagabond. Perhaps he is, but it is only another illustration of Franklin's parable, wherein Abraham is represented as wishing to cast the wanderer out of his tent because he will not worship Jehovah. But the Lord rebuked Abraham, saying, "Have I not borne with thee these ninety and nine years, and couldst thou not bear with him one night? "

Scarcely a day, as history measures time, has elapsed since the negroes, trained for centuries to depend on others for the means of livelihood, found themselves flung rudely into the grim struggle for existence. Not a foot of land was given them by the Government. No one ever heard of a negro reservation. They were left naked to their enemies, not the white men round them, but those far more relentless foes, the accursed slave habits, the inheritance of generations. The fatal weakness of slavery to the enslaved lies in the fact that its teachings strike at the root of