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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/160

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was nothing but praise. One of the men dwelt with pleasure on the fact that in the nearest large town two negroes, trained at Tuskegee, were doing all the contract building, having 'run out' some cheap, ill-trained whites who had long been in the business. This talk was clearly not shaped for Northern ears, for the double reason that the Southern folk are not in the least moved to such deception, and also because I was with them as one of their own people. Very many such occasions for learning the temper of the ex-slaveholder class have convinced me that at present, and until the Southern conditions are assimilated to those of the North, there will be no difficulty in developing the technical skill of the blacks arising from the disinclination of the people when they are thus employed. It is true that the old slaveholder, with his care-taking humor towards the blacks, is passing away; but his motives are likely to be continued in his descendants at least for some generations.

There are at present in the South many thousand places for which it would be easy to train negroes—places which would give them a liberal education of the kind most needed by their race. It is not too much to reckon that each year, in the development of the industries of that region, adds some thousand chances which can not well be filled from the native white people, but are likely to go to men brought from elsewhere. Every opportunity to establish a family supported by a skilled mechanic is of value. With even five per cent of the male negroes thus employed, the prospects of their future would be greatly benefited. The means for attaining this end are not difficult to find. What is needed is an extension of the system followed at Tuskegee, where youths are trained with the intent that they shall be made ready for high-grade manual labor, the general schooling being limited to what is necessary to ensure success in such practical work. A system of trade schools for negroes, sufficient to supply the present demand for skilled mechanics, is now the gravest need of the South.

It has been suggested that the troops which are required for the Federal service in tropical lands might well be recruited from the negroes. It has indeed been proposed that these soldiers should be permitted to take their families with them so that they might become permanently and contentedly established in Luzon and elsewhere in the colonies. There is no doubt but that the abler negroes, when properly officered, make excellent soldiers—at least as infantry men. The experience had with them during the Spanish War makes this point perfectly clear. It may also be reckoned that they would endure tropical climates better than the whites. It may further be said that the existence of a large and well respected force of blacks in the Federal army would unquestionably add to the social position of the negroes in the estimation of both races. Again, the return of these men to their