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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/536

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ern people, who lived in clironic fear of insurrections. The error of it arose from the fallacious notion that the people of another race must feel and act as we would under like circumstances. The facts showed that the negro mind does not work in the fashion of our own. He had, it is true, suffered from slavery, but not as men of our race would have suffered. Against its deprivations and such direct cruelty as he experienced, not often great, he could set the simple comforts and small pleasures which are so much to him. That he was on the whole fairly contented with his lot, that his relations with his masters were on the whole friendly, is shown by his remarkable conduct during and since the civil war. If the accepted account of the negro had been true, if he had been for generations groaning in servitude while he passionately longed for liberty, the South should have flamed in insurrection at the first touch of war. We should have seen a repetition of the horrors of many a servile insurrection. It is a most notable fact that, during the four years of the great contention, when the blacks had every opportunity to rise, there was no real mark of a disposition to turn upon their masters. On thousands of Southern farms the fighting men left their women and children in the keeping of their slaves, while they went forth for a cause whose success meant that those slaves could never be free.

That the negroes desired to be free is plain enough. The fact that they fled in such numbers to our camps shows this. Their failure to revolt must be taken as an indication that their relations with their masters measured on their own instinctive standards were on the whole affectionate. They had the strength to have made an end of the war at a stroke. They were brave enough for such action. That they did not take it after the manner of their kindred of Santo Domingo is the best possible testimony as to the generally sympathetic relation which existed between master and slaves. Of this no better test can be imagined than that which the final stages of the institution afforded.

In taking account of the history of the slave in this Union it is not amiss for me to bear testimony as to the spirit with which the body of our slave owners met the singular obligations of their positions. There were here and there base men who abused their trust as masters—some, indeed, who never perceived its existence. But of the very many slave owners whom I can remember I can recall but three who failed to recognize the burden that fate had put upon them and to deal with it much as they dealt with the other cares of their households—conscientiously and mercifully, though often in the rude whacking way in which parents of old dealt with their children; so far as slavery was a household affair,