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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/163

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FUTURE OF THE NEGRO IN THE SOUTH.

Although the country, as a whole, will, of course, suffer from the failure to elevate the Macks, the hurden will lie most heavily on those with whom they dwell.

The Southern whites have given evidence of political capacity of a high order. Even their blunder in the rebellion is in good part compensated for by the sagacity with which they accepted the results of the war and turned them to the best account they could. They are not likely to cower before the vast undertakings which the uplifting of the blacks will entail; as yet, they have not accepted the task as their own. They have indeed been brought to believe that their business was to defend their own class interests, as well as they might be able to, against the attacks of the negroes, aided by the Federal power. If they are forced to see that within the limits the Federal Constitution sets to action, the responsibility for the future of their several States is in the hands of those who control their politics, we may hope to find the political and economic skill which went to the development of the system of slavery given to the advancement of the Africans. While the work must needs be done by the men who are near to it, it should receive every possible aid and sympathy from those who, because they are far away, can not effectively control the matter. The cause is so large that it needs the help of all who wish it well.

It appears to me that the time has come for an effective union of endeavor on the part of those of North and South, ex-slaveholder and ex-abolitionist alike, who wish to see the negro have, not his rights in the common sense of the word (for mere rights are a pitiful share for a man), but rather a good human chance to climb the ladder of civilization, upon which our ancestors set him. The aims of these two ancient parties surely have for a common end the best that can be done for the negro people. It is just as much a mistake to suppose that the majority of the slaveholders in a malign spirit sought to oppress and torture the blacks, as to fancy that the abolitionists desired to set the negroes over their sometime masters; for history will probably write it down that the better men of these two parties were both dealing with the same very difficult problem: that their contentions grew from a failure on both sides to see the whole of the matter.

It is possible that something might be done to help towards effective work, looking to the end we have in view, through a society for the study of the African problem. Such an association, provided it included men who were guided by a true spirit of inquiry and had no political ends to win, especially if it was in part made up of Southerners who had a large-minded view of the matter, could do much to guide action in profitable ways. In general, I am opposed to the increase in the number of societies; so that, if there be any in existence that could fairly undertake this task, I should prefer to see it set about the work.