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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/41

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THE NEGRO SINCE THE CIVIL WAR.

rather their children, are laboring even more effectively than they did in the time of legal servitude. This disposes of the notion that the blacks will not work without other compulsion than those needs which bend the backs of his white brethren. It is evident that the generation born since the war is laborious and productive up to, if not beyond, the average of men. It is also plain that they are fitted for a rather wider range of employment than they were accustomed to follow as slaves. The negro has proved himself well adapted for labor in mines and about furnaces—in all places, indeed, where strength and a moderate share of intelligence are required. The fear that he would desert the land and flock to the cities has not been justified. He appears less disposed to yield to the temptations of the great towns than the whites. The first rage of the freed people for schooling seems to have passed. A good many of them are getting the rudiments of an education, some few a larger culture, but there appears to be danger that the folk may lapse into indifference concerning all training that is not immediately profitable.

As to the moral condition of the negroes, there appears to be good reason for believing that it is now in the way of betterment. Little as they were disturbed in their conduct by the sudden change in their apparent place in the world, they were for a time somewhat shaken as regards the limits of their rights. So far as I have been able to learn, they are much less given to stealing than they were just after they were freed, or even as they were as slaves. Their marital relations, though leaving much still to be desired, are improving, as is all that relates to the care of their children. Most important is the fact that loose relations between white men and negro women have in great measure ceased, so that the unhappy mixture of the races, which has been the curse of tropical states, is apparently not likely to prove serious.

Although the negro is not rapidly gaining property, he is making a steadfast advance in that direction. The money sense in all that relates to capital he, with a few exceptions, is yet to acquire. This part of his task is certain to be difficult to him, as it is to all peoples who are in the earlier stages of civilized thought. The experiment of the Freedman's Bank, by which many suffered at the hands of designing white people, has left a bad impression upon the minds of the negroes. Where they save, they commonly hoard their store. As yet they have not become accustomed to associative action. They rarely enter into any kind of partnership. In this indisposition to attain the advantages of mutual support we have another evidence of the primitive condition of the folk.