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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/40

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cast them down. Those of the poorest imaginations looked for forty acres of land and a mule. In the resulting political corruption the native whites and blacks endured even greater losses than the war had inflicted, the most grievous being a great unsettling of the relations between the races. The way in which the white men of the better sort met this trial is fit to be compared with the best political achievements of their folk. Gradually, on the whole without violence, for they had to abstain from that, working within the limits of the Constitution to which they had been forced to trust for their remedies, they rewon control of their wasted communities, and brought them back to civilized order. There was a share of terrorism and shame from such devices as tissue ballots to lessen the dignity of this remarkable work, yet it remains a great achievement—one that goes far to redeem the folly of the secession movement. The full significance of this action is yet to be comprehended.

The overthrow of the carpet-bag governments, quietly yet effectively accomplished, removed the only danger of war between the blacks and whites. We can not well imagine another crisis so likely to bring about a conflict of that kind. The blacks were driven from power. Their desperate leaders would willingly have led them to fight, but the allegiance to the ancient masters was too strong, their trust in the carpet-bagger, for all his affectation of love, too slight to set them on that way. The negro fell back as near as might be to the place he held at the close of the war. His position was thereafter worse than it was at that station in his history, for the confidence and affection which the behavior of their servants during the rebellion had inspired was replaced in the mind of the dominant race by an abiding sense of the iniquities in which the ex-slaves had shared. Thereafter, and to this day, the black man is looked upon as a political enemy, who has to be watched lest he will again win a chance to control the state. In the greater part of the South this fear is passing away. In several States new laws concerning the franchise have made it practically impossible for the negro vote to be a source of danger for some time to come—until, indeed, the negro is better educated and has property. There is a share of iniquity in these laws, as there is apt to be in all actions relating to a situation that rests on ancient evils, but their effect is better than that of terrorism and tissue ballots which it replaces. They will afford time for the new adjustments to be effected.

In considering the present conditions of the negro, we may first note the important fact that he is hard at work. The production of the South clearly shows that the sometime slaves, or