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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/161

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homes, after their period of service, would be advantageous. Their training and experience would make them of much value to their people.

There are, however, certain signal disadvantages which would arise from the employment of negroes as soldiers. In the first place, it would tend to remove from the body of the folk the abler men—those to whom we should mainly look for the uplifting of their race. This evil, great in the case of all levies, would be most serious in this case; for the reason that, while with white troops the rank and file are not commonly by nature leaders of their society, they would be so with black recruits. If the choice could be made of the Guinea type, this loss would not be serious; but it certainly would fall to the more militant stocks—those to which we have to look for advancement. In the next place, we must see that the negro does not need the training in passive obedience and mere order of life that the common soldier receives. He has had that already in quite sufficient measure. He now should have the lessons of individual responsibility—of control of his life from within—lessons that civil life alone can give. Therefore, the well-wisher of the race will be inclined to oppose this project of recruiting our armies from the negroes of the Southern States. If it is determined to enlist them it would be best to limit the age of the recruits to' about twenty years, and the period of active service to five years, so that the men may be returned to civil life young enough to enter on ordinary employments.

At present it is most desirable that the negroes of the South should be induced to save money, for until that habit is formed, there is little chance of lifting them in the economic scale or of developing in them the business sense, which is one of the corner-stones of civilization. It is probable that more could be done in the way of correcting the faults and stimulating the latent capacities of the race by developing this motive than by any other means. It is difficult to suggest any effective system by which this end can be attained. The general conditions of the South make rural savings-banks impossible. The receipts, at least for many years, would be too small to render the business remunerative. The only practicable method appears to be that of a Federal system operated through the post-offices. The institution of such a system appears to be justified by the two conditions: the exceeding need of such a provision and the impossibility of doing the work except through the postal machinery of which the Federal Government holds a monopoly. It may be said that this method has proved successful under other governments, and that it has been for some time established in Canada. In our own country it is clearly demanded, in all rural communities,, though nowhere else so gravely as in the Southern States.

In looking over the latent possibilities of the negro people, the