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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/539

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523
THE TRANSPLANTATION OF A RACE.

reunions and other exchanges, but when the negro was "sold South" the place and people that had known him would know him no more. My first impression of the iniquity of slavery came from the anxious questions of negroes as to the danger of their being sold to Alabama, that State being then the supposed destination of all those who were out of favor. They naturally strove to make interest with children whom they thought could successfully intercede for them.

There were several very diverse consequences arising from the exportation of slaves from the border States to the far South. It shook the confidence of the negro as to his safety in all that was dearest to him, and thus did much to degrade the relation between him and his master. It served, cruel as it was, to elevate the relatively uncivilized blacks of the more Southern districts, where the newly imported laborers were mostly accumulated. It curiously operated to elevate the quality of the blacks in what was termed the slave-breeding States, those where the institution had longest been established. This was due to the selection of those of lower grade for the market. As it became necessary to part with slaves, a choice was naturally made of men and women who had least endeared themselves to the household. Save in rare cases, the trader sought rather the lusty youths for their brawn than the more delicate, refined house people. Moreover, where a fellow had shown a tendency to any vice, the choice fell on him. In this way for two or three generations a weeding process went on, with the result that the negroes who were left in the districts where the work was done acquired a quality noticeably better than those on the Southern plantations. The difference is almost that we would look for between two distinct races. The faces of the selected folk are more intelligent, the lines of their bodies finer, their moral and intellectual quality very much above those of their lower kindred. They are at their best, in very numerous instances, as gentle as the elect of our own race.

Where, as in the Southern plantations, the institution of slavery was deliberately made the basis of large commercial interests, the motives were wholly different from whatever existed in the early and better days, when the slaves were appendages of a household. Even on the largest tobacco plantations the numbers were not such as to exclude a share of contact with friendly whites. But on the great properties of the South the negro was not to any extent subject to the influences which had in the earlier stage of his apprenticeship done so much for him. Worked in gangs that were counted by the hundreds, seeing no whites except the overseers, they tended to lose what little culture they had gained.