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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/42

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Before endeavoring to go further with this account of the present state of the negroes of this country, it is well to note the fact that while much has been done to blend the original diversities of their stock, these differences have by no means passed away. The seekers after slaves in Africa were not choice as to their purchases or captures; they reckoned as black if he were no darker than brown, and they were not at all careful to see that his hair was kinky. Thus it came about that from the wide ethnic range of the Dark Continent there came to us a great variety of peopleā€”a much more diverse population than we have received from Europe. It might be supposed that the conditions of slavery would quickly have effaced these differences, but even in that state there was choice in mating, and certain stocks have such prepotency that a small share of their blood stamps those who have it in a definite manner. The result is that, under the mask of a common dark, though really very variedly tinted skin, we have an exceeding diversity of race and quality.

It is discreditable to our students of anthropology that as yet there has been no considerable effort made to determine the varieties which exist in our negro population or the source of their peculiarities in the tribes whence they come. In a small way, for many years, on numerous journeys in the South, I have endeavored to classify the blacks I have met. For a long time I kept these results in a roughly tabulated form. Although such observations, including no measurements and giving only eye impressions of the general form, can have no determinable value, they may, in the absence of better work, deserve consideration. The result of this rough inspection of many thousand of these peoples in nearly every State in the South has been to indicate that there are several, probably more than six, groups of so-called negroes which represent original differences of stock or the mixed product of their union. The more characteristic of these I will now briefly describe.

For convenience I will first note those who are termed mulattoes, in which there is an evident mixture of white blood. Such admixture seems to be distinctly traceable if it amounts to as little as one eighth; it is said that one sixteenth of negro blood, or less, will be revealed on close study of the hair and skin. The proportion of the negroes in our Southern States who have white ancestry in any degree does not, in my opinion, exceed one tenth, and may be as small as one twentieth of the whole number. Judging only by the hue of the skin, the observer will be likely to make the proportion larger, for the reason that he will include many persons who, because they come from stocks that were not black-