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more like giving him a kick, as, somehow, the cause of their misfortunes. In many localities they resolved that, come what may, they would not sell him an acre of their soil. Every attempt from the North to educate the freedmen was naturally looked upon, at first by the Southern whites, not as a philanthropic effort to transform those idle human cattle into intelligent, industrious, and productive human beings, but as a scheme of outsiders to transfer political power and office from the white race to the colored.
The Southern whites, from prejudice and wrong education, and the Southern blacks, from ignorance and inexperience, were unfit at the close of the civil war to rule a State where each human being has equal civil rights.
A difficult problem, then, was twelve years ago presented to the national Government. If it followed historical precedents, it would establish military rule in the Southern States until the inhabitants were qualified to govern themselves according to the declaration of human rights contained in the Preamble to the National Constitution. But this was contrary to the theory of our Government, that each State or territory should rule itself, and was distasteful to the great body of the nation. If it yielded to the wishes of intelligent Southerners, it would give them the sole power of reconstruction. But this would simply have reha. bilitated the white oligarchy. If it followed the dictates of humanity and mere legal rights, it would have intrusted the restoration of the South only to the loyal inhabitants. But this would have confined it at first chiefly to the colored race, who, however well disposed, were utterly incompetent for the task, and would have wrecked the whole proceeding.
Every plan presented to President Lincoln had its difficulties; these were so manifest that he was unwilling to adopt any one method to the exclusion of all others. The only step that seemed clear, as a necessity in a free State, was to give the colored man the right of suffrage in order that he might protect himself with ballots instead of bullets. This was an act of beneficence to all, both white and colored. It was a guaranty of a final peaceful solution of the difficulty.
The objection to it was, it put into four millions of hands, wholly ignorant of its use, the most powerful and the most destructive weapon known to free governments, the ballot; and a weapon, too, which, once given, could never, without a revolution, be taken away.
Besides, in the late Slave States there were 317,281 adult whites who could not read the ballots they cast; and yet they (that is the male portion of them) possessed the right of suffrage. This unlettered white multitude were a large percentage of the voting white population; and the portion most dangerous to the freed., men; most given to mobs and murders.
In the Northern States, too, there were 411,399 adult illiterate whites, mostly foreign-born, it is true, but yet full-fledged voters. On the suppression of the Rebellion the color line disappeared from our Statute Books; and, on principle, the unlettered black had as good right to the ballot as the unlettered white, and would make no worse use of it. In fact, he is by nature much less given to violence than the white is, and more easily controlled. The right of suffrage was, therefore, conferred upon him.
Now, what temporarily followed in the cotton States? Just precisely what every student of history knew would follow the putting political power into unskilled hands, whether white or colored. The finances of these States were swamped; their industries, for the time being, deranged; public improvements stopped; public education neglected on the plea of poverty; and their elections a farce or a tragedy.
The three thousand unpunished political murders stated by a Southern member of Congress to have been committed there since civil government was restored to them, and the political slaughters at New Orleans, Coushatta, and Colfax, and the Chisholm massacre in Kemper Co., Miss., show that the tragedy is quite as frequent as the farce, though the actors in the former are whites, while in the latter they are more likely to be colored. Some people think these States have done badly; a more just
States have become hole opinion is, they have done better, on the whole, than we had a
in a mohouse right to expect. A complete social, industrial, and political trans. formation cannot be wrought in a people in a day; it takes an age, at least.
The result would have been similar, though more bloody, had the fifty-one and one quarter per cent. of illiterate voters been all white, instead of largely colored.
In 1793 France established the Republic and universal suffrage. But the majority of the voters, as in the Southern States, were illiterate; and the Republic, after shedding rivers of blood, became in seven years a military despotism. She repeated the experiment in 1848; but more than half the citizensethen, though white, could not read the ballots they put into the electoral urns; and after
Whitay one and one we been similar, the
four years of experiment they chose, in 1852, a military despot by an enormous majority.
Spain has just gone through a similar farcical and tragical experience. Her unlettered white rabble in a few months gladly ex. changed the republic of Castellar for the despotism of a Bourbon.
The Spanish Colonies in America fifty years ago founded half a score of republics, all based upon ignorant suffrage; they have enjoyed neither domestic peace nor prosperity since. Their normal condition is revolution; and will continue to be revolution, until either the ballot is restricted to the intelligent, or strong military governments, fitted for ignorant peoples, supplant the republics.
France, Spain, the Spanish American Republics—in fact, all countries where a large percentage of the adults are ignorantmust, in order to be peaceful and prosperous, have a strong government.
There must be a power guided by intelligence, outside of and above the ignorant mass, as long as this mass remains ignorant, capable of ruling and directing it.
Free Government and Ignorant Suffrage. Free government and ignorant suffrage cannot long endure together. One or the other must go under. Like a ship at sea without master or navigator, free government in such connection founders in the first storm.
The late Emperor Napoleon, while President of France, published a book called “Napoleonic Ideas.” The gist of it is, that democracy, with universal suffrage, necessarily and logically, to secure public order and prosperity, culminates in choosing an emperor or despot for life. From the standpoint of ignorant suffrage, like France in 1802 and in 1852, he was right. The Southern States are to-day in a state of mind leading to a similar act of political suicide if they find no other way of escaping the dangers and disasters of ignorant suffrage; hence the intimidation and practical disfranchisement of the freedmen.
Intelligent and conservative England extends the ballot, but extends education with it. A distinguished liberal, the Hon. W. E. Forster, said, in Parliament, to the radical wing of his party, “You demand universal suffrage; I demand universal ed. ucation to go with it.”
In republican Sparta, Lycurgus, two thousand seven hundred and fifty years ago, compelled the education of every citizen. In democratic Athens, Solon, two thousand four hundred and fifty
years ago, made the education of all citizens obligatory. In the so-called Holy Roman Empire in the eighth century Charlemagne required the children of all participating in the government to attend school, so that political power might be in cultivated hands.
In the simplest form of government, military despotism, the officers before obtaining commands undergo careful training and discipline, and are even then selected by an authority still more intelligent.
In China the educated alone carry on the government. Confu. cius and Mencius taught that system, and it seems to have been practiced long before their time. As a consequence, the Chinese have endured longer as an independent nation, govern a larger population, and sustain more human beings to the square mile, than any other people on the globe. The intelligence of a coun. try must and will rule it, even if it requires a radical change of government to bring this about. It is a law of man's nature. Disaster follows the violation of this natural law.
In the face of these examples, could we expect the South, with universal suffrage, fifty-one per cent. of which cannot read, to be an exception to this heretofore universal rule, especially when the situation was not one of their own choosing ?
Education and Productive Industry. The illiterates, white and colored, in the Southern States, as in every other country, are not, as a body, of themselves and uncontrolled, capable of steady industry and economy. They eke out a subsistence, but add little or nothing to the permanent wealth and prosperity of their States. Their wants are few, and are simply and easily supplied; they are not provident and calcu. lating, and are not urged on to wealth and higher civilization by the spurs of ambition.
Give them education, and their wants multiply as their ideas expand. They at once begin to take thought for the morrow, and are stimulated to labor and to save. Their stolid faces, their rude huts, their tattered garments, their lazy motions, all begin to brighten up and quicken. They take better care of their health, work to more advantage, demand better tools, and cultivate the soil or labor in the mechanic's shop with more success. Common laborers, with such an education as the free common school gives, are found by actual experiment to be worth to the State, as mere producing machines, on an average fifty per cent. more than if illiterate. In other words, the 3,000,000 of illiter. ates in the South would, if they had a common school education, accomplish on the average fifty per cent. more of productive work per year than they now do. This would be equivalent, as a wealth. creating power, to adding a million and a half to the industrial population of the cotton States, and nothing to the cost of supo porting them. Allowing a hundred dollars as the year's production of a laborer, it would add $150,000,000 to the annual product of these States. Some of these States are now repudiating their State debts from alleged inability to pay them. Their whole amount is only some $150,000,000. Were their laborers not illiterate, these very laborers could out of their earnings pay this entire debt in one year, and still have left for their support as much as they now consume.
Education reduces Pauperism and Crime. The South is oppressed with pauperism and petty crimes. But these are the natural products of its illiteracy. In the three States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois the illiterates furnish thirty times their proportionate share of paupers, and ten times their proportionate share of criminals. Illiterates in the whole country commit ten times their numerical proportion of crimes; in New England, fifty-three times. In the State of New York a single illiterate family, as is shown in a work just published by an emiment investigator, have become in less than a century the progenitors of twelve hundred paupers and criminals. Illiteracy is prolific of public burdens, and contributes little or nothing to the public wealth. Yet it is possible by education to reduce crime in this country ninety per cent. and pauperism ninety-six per cent
The Grand Duchy of Baden by universal education in seven years reduced the number of crimes fifty-one per cent., and the number of paupers twenty-five per cent. The South, instead of multiplying crimes on her statute books and increasing the severity of their punishments, should multiply her free schools, and add to the rigor of her laws for compulsory attendance.
She has millions of acres of rich but unoccupied and unsalable land. The land in a State peopled by cultivated citizens is in de mand at a high price, while in an illiterate community it can hardly be sold for the taxes. She invites immigration. But the current of immigration cannot be turned to States where fifty-one and a quarter per cent. of the adult population are illiterate, and where the education of children is not provided for at public ex.