CHAPTER III -- The Future in the United States of the African Race.

        Among the problems connected with the future destiny of our country, this is one of the most important. And on no other great national question have more erroneous ideas prevailed, both among ourselves and among those who have looked on, even with favoring eyes, watching the progress of our republican experiment.
        There are evils so vast and radical that nothing short of a bloody revolution has hitherto been found sufficient to extirpate them. So the eradication of slavery throughout a country containing 4,000,000 of slaves, estimated by their masters as property worth $1,200,000,000 or $1,500,000,000. So (a difficulty greater still) the eradication of that prejudice of race and color which first suggested to the cupidity of white men the exaction of forced labor from negroes, and has ever since been fed and fostered through the influence of the abuse to which it gave birth.
        Such a revolution may bring about changes of national opinion and national condition which wise and philosophical writers had pronounced to be beyond the limits of possibility. Thus De Tocqueville, when, in his work on American Democracy, he said:

        To induce the whites to abandon the opinion they have conceived of the moral and intellectual inferiority of their former slaves the negroes must change, but as long as this opinion exists they cannot change.

        This would make the future of the American negro, free or slave, absolutely hopeless; but no absolutely hopeless future exists, under the economy of God, in this world of progress.
        There never were good reasons for saying this. But to say it to-day would be far more inexcusable than to have said it when De Tocqueville wrote. We have gathered, during the vast upheavals of the last three years, such experience as ages of undisturbed monotony might fail to furnish. Events have occurred which no human foresight could anticipate. Contingencies have arisen which not only convulse our political world, but stir to their foundations the social elements of society around us.
        The whites have changed, and are still rapidly changing, their opinion of the negro. And the negro, in his new condition as freedman, is himself, to some extent, a changed being. No one circumstance has tended so much to these results as the display of manhood in negro soldiers. Though there are higher qualities than strength and physical courage, yet, in our present stage of civilization, there are no qualities which command from the masses more respect.
        But De Tocqueville could never have imagined, even as a remote possibility, the raising and equipping in the United States of 100,000 negro troops.
        His anticipations turned in a different direction. He did not look forward to an insurrection of the whites against the Government; he predicted an insurrection of slaves against their masters. He predicted, further, that emancipation itself would not avert this catastrophe; but this last prediction was based upon the assumption that, free or slave, the whites would never accord to the blacks their civil rights. He says:

        I am obliged to confess that I do not regard the abolition of slavery as a means of warding off the struggle of the two races in the Southern States. The negroes may long remain slaves without complaining; but if they are once raised to the level of freemen they will soon revolt at being deprived of almost all their civil rights.

        If De Toqueville's premises were just, we might admit his conclusion. We cannot expect, in a democratic republic, to maintain domestic tranquillity if we deprive millions of freemen of their civil rights.
        Public opinion may not, at the present time, have reached this conviction, but it is fast approaching it. Three-fourths of the States might not to-day, but ere long they will, pass some such amendment to the Constitution as this: "Slavery shall not be permitted, and no discrimination shall be made, as to the civil or political rights of persons, because of color."
        Whenever we shall have so amended the Constitution, the path before us will be plain and safe. But short of entire justice there is no permanent security.
        In the immediate exigencies of our present situation is to be found strong additional motive for such an act. In withholding from the freedman his civil and political rights we leave disfranchised, at a critical juncture, 4,000,000 of the most loyal portion of our population. Besides the essential injustice of this, its political results might be of a serious and disastrous character. We need the negro not only as a soldier to aid in quelling the rebellion, but as a loyal citizen to assist in reconstructing on a permanently peaceful and orderly basis the insurrectionary States.
        In view of such considerations the Commission regard it of great importance that, before receiving back into political fellowship the insurgent portions of the Union, it should be legally established as one of the principles imperative in reconstruction that, in the constitutions of the States when taken back, all freemen shall be secured in equal rights, thus practically carrying out the section of the Constitution which provides that the United States shall guarantee to every State a republican form of government.
        Aside from any special consideration, however, what, in a general way, may we expect from the freedman if we assure to him his rights? We repeat here, as fully confirmed by all our subsequent experience, what we said nine months ago in our preliminary report:

        The observations of the Commission in the sections of country visited by them, together with the evidence obtained from those having most experience among freedmen, justify the conclusion that the African race, as found among us, lacks no essential aptitude for civilization. In a general way the negro yields willingly to its restraints, and enters upon its duties, not with alacrity only, but with evident pride and increase of self-respect. His personal rights as a freedman once recognized in law and assured in practice, there is little reason to doubt that he will become a useful member of the great industrial family of nations. Once released from the disabilities of bondage, he will somewhere find, and will maintain, his own appropriate social position.

        What that precise position will be, whether we shall find a fair proportion of our colored population worthy competitors with whites in departments of art and science and literature, we have, at this time, no means of determining. The essential is, that the enfranchised negro is as capable of taking care of himself and his family as any other portion of our people. On no one point have the Commission found more convincing testimony than on this.
        In the cities of New Orleans, Washington, Baltimore, Louisville, Saint Louis, and elsewhere the Commission found a numerous free colored population supporting themselves under grievous and depressing disabilities, without any aid whatever even from those legal sources appointed for the relief of indigent whites. They are not admitted to almhouses. They obtain no county or parish relief. Scarcely any beggars are found among them. Like the Quakers, they maintain their own poor. When a case occurs in which a family is unable to meet the expenses of sickness, or perhaps the cost of a funeral, it is among themselves alone that a subscription paper, usually called a "pony purse," passes in aid of the sufferers. A most striking incident illustrative of this pecularity among them came to the knowledge of the Commission when visiting Saint Louis. At the commencement of the war there were about 5,000 free colored people in that city. During a portion of the years 1861 and 1862, in consequence of the disturbed condition of Missouri and the frequent raids which desolated that State, great distress prevailed, and many persons from the country, both white and colored, took refuge in Saint Louis. Wages fell to 25 cents a day, and even at that low rate labor was scarce. Under these circumstances the suffering was so general that great exertions were made for its relief. For many months throughout these two years the city expended $200 a month to keep the unemployed from starving, and in the winter season from freezing. The Provident Association spent $5,000; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul $10,000. Private individuals contributed largely. In the management of these various charities no discrimination was made as to color. The total number relieved was about 10,000, and out of that number two persons only were colored. There were but two applications for relief from colored persons, both women; one bedridden, the other a cripple. These facts were communicated to the Commission by the register of the city of Saint Louis--a gentleman who was himself one of the managers in the distribution of the relief funds referred to. The testimony of all the gentlemen concerned in the management of the various relief societies was, he said, to the same effect, that "the colored people asked for nothing." The same was found true among the free negroes in Canada West, as will be seen by examining the supplementary report of one of the members of the Commission, who visited that country and took voluminous testimony as to the character and condition of the refugees who have settled there.
        It would be difficult to find stronger proof of the ability and willingness of poor blacks to maintain themselves than is shown in cases

(a)         Mr. James Speed, an eminent lawyer of Louisville, testified: "We have a law which makes it felony for a free negro to go out of the State and return to it; but I have never known a conviction under it here. I have heard of two prosecutions under it in another part of the State, of which one resulted in a conviction." (Testimony taken in Kentucky, p. 29.) [Here omitted.]
        Washington Spalding (colored) deposed: "The mother of a young colored man who lived here (in Louisville) moved across the river, and being on her deathbed sent for him; but on account of the law he could not go, and did not attend the funeral." (Testimony taken in Kentucky, p. 78.)
        Another law, equally oppressive, prevailing and enforced in Kentucky and other slave States, is that no free colored man shall keep a store or shop of any kind, or a tavern. What an unheard of disability would a white man consider such a prohibition as that?

where they "hire themselves," as it is called, and still pay their way. We have given two examples of this in the chapter on "Slavery; " and they but represent hundreds of similar cases to be found in all the chief cities of the South. In the one, it will be remembered, a mother paid $260 a year to be allowed the privilege of supporting herself and two children by washing. What white washerwoman would like to undertake that? In the other case, a man and his wife paid $372 a year, throughout eleven years, for permission to labor and to feed and clothe their children until they were old enough to work; and then they were taken from them. How few white laborers would stand up at all under the burden of such a capitation tax? How few, under circumstances of such cruel discouragement, would have maintained, as these two slaves did, a comfortable home, tidily kept, and children clean, well clad, and thriving?
        One hears current among slave-holders the assertion that negroes emancipated and left to themselves are worthless and helpless, and are sure in the end to become a burden on the community. But the Commission has not found in a single locality occupied by numbers of free negroes proof that there is any truth in such an opinion; on the contrary, the actual facts are all against it. In many free States colored immigrants are required by law to give bond that they will not become a county charge. There is no class of day laborers from whom, with equal justice, the same demand might not be made.
        There came to the knowledge of the Commission in New Orleans a fact which, more strikingly perhaps than any other they have met with, bears testimony to the ability of the colored population, when emancipated, to take care of themselves.
        The Commission ascertained that the free colored people of Louisiana, in the year 1860, paid taxes on an assessment of $13,000,000. But by the census of 1860 the free colored population of that State is put at 18,647. This would give an average for each person of about $700 of property.
        It is probable, however, that the actual average is considerably less than this. Those best informed on the subject expressed to a member of the Commission who visited New Orleans the opinion that the census return was below the truth, and that in 1860 there were probably in Louisiana 25,000 free colored persons. Assuming this to be the actual number, then the average wealth of each is $520.
But the average amount of property to each person throughout the loyal free States is estimated at $484 only. It follows that the free colored people of Louisiana are, on the average, richer by 7 per cent. than the people of the Northern States.  And this occurs, it should be remembered, under many civil disabilities, which are a great pecuniary injury--seriously restricting the means of accumulating property.
        It is not only as individuals, but, so far as they have had opportunity to show it, in a collective capacity, that these people appear to manage well. We have the following testimony from a well-known and respected citizen of Louisville:
        Question. Throughout the State do the colored people manage their own church affairs?

        Answer. Entirely. Nobody has anything to do with them but themselves. Here is a curious fact to show what their capacity is. A great many of the churches now owned by them had been failures in the hands of white people. The negroes bought and paid for them, and have improved them very much since the purchase. Mr. Adams' church is a much finer one now than when we sold it to them. Mr. Smethern's church was built by white people who were not able to pay for it, and was then bought by the negroes. Nobody would suppose it now to be the same house, its appearance is so much changed for the better. And that is very common. They have much taste about such things.

        Upon the whole, no fear is more groundless than that the result of emancipation will be to throw the negroes as a burden on the community.
        There is another popular idea in regard to the effect of emancipation, which has been used for political effect. This idea is based on an imaginary state of things, which happens to be the very reverse of the truth. It is alleged that so soon as the negroes are freed they will swarm to the North in search of work, and thus become the competitors of the laboring whites. Beyond all doubt they have a right to do this; and if they did, no just man would complain of it. But, in point of fact, no such thing will happen, unless emancipation be denied.
        We repeat here, as applicable to the entire negro population of this continent, what we predicated in our preliminary report of the freed-men of South Carolina-

        There is no disposition in these people to go North. General Saxton, who has had 18,000 freedmen under his care, offered them papers for that purpose, but not one availed himself of the offer. They are equally averse to the idea of emigrating to Africa. (b) These feelings are universal among them. The local attachments of the negro are eminently strong, and the Southern climate suits him far better than ours. If slavery be re-established in the insurrectionary States the North will indeed be flooded with fugitives fleeing from bondage, and the fears of competition in labor sought to be excited in the minds of Northern working-men will then have some plausible foundation. But if emancipation be carried out,the stream of negro emigration will be from the North to the South, not from the South to the Northern States. The only attraction which the North, with its winters of snow and ice, offers to the negro is that it is free soil. Let the South once offer the same attraction, and the temptation of its genial climate, coupled with the fact that there the blacks almost equal the whites in number, will be irresistible. A few years will probably see half the free negro population now residing among us crossing Mason and Dixon's line to join the emancipated freedmen of the South."

        This is a practical illustration of an important principle, to wit, that a primary law governing the voluntary movements of peoples is that of thermal lines.
        The Commission found overwhelming evidence as to the truth of the above opinion in Canada West. Among the refugees there, there is not a single feeling so strong, or so nearly universal, as their longing to return to the Southern land of their birth at the earliest moment when they shall be assured that it is purged from slavery. One of the Commission says, in his supplemental report already referred to:

        If slavery is utterly abolished in the United States, no more colored people will emigrate to Canada, and most of those now there will soon leave it.
        There can be no doubt about this. Among the hundreds who spoke about it, only one dissented from the strong expression of desire to "go home." In their belief, too, they agreed with the Rev. Mr. Kinnard, one of their clergy, who said to us:
        If freedom is established in the United States, there will be one great black streak reaching from here to the uttermost parts of the South.

        Even those who by years of toil have obtained comfortable, well-stocked farms, worth $16,000 or $20,000, avowed their determination to abandon all--to sell out and depart as soon as they could do so without imperiling their personal freedom.
        Emancipation will directly tend to denude the North of its negro population. One circumstance that will materially hasten this result is, that the personal prejudice against negroes as a race is stronger in the Northern than in the Southern States, and at least as strong in Canada as in any portion of the Union. Of this our Commission had abundant proof.
        Mr. George Brown, a member of the Canadian Parliament, deposed before the Commission:

        I think the prejudice against the colored people is stronger here than in the States.(b)

        Mr. Sinclair, of Chatham, Canada West, said:

        Many of the colored people, even in this town, say that if they could have the same privileges in the States that they have here they would not remain here a moment. * * * In this county there is one township (that of Oxford) where no colored man is allowed to settle.

        The colored people of Canada themselves testified to the same effect. Mrs. Brown, of Saint Catharine's, deposed:

        I find more prejudice here than I did in York State. When I was at home I could go anywhere; but here, my goodness! you get an insult on every side.

Mrs. Susan Boggs (colored), also of Saint Catharine's, said:

        If it was not for the Queen's law we would be mobbed here, and could not stay in this house. The prejudice is a great deal worse here than it is in the States.

        A colored woman living in a cabin near Colchester said "she was from Virginia, and the prejudice was 'a heap' stronger in Canada than at home." "The people," she added, "seemed to think the blacks weren't folks anyway." She was anxious to go back.  The home of the American negro is in the Southern States. Let it be made a free home, and he will seek, he will desire, no other.
        Whether as a freedman in a Southern home the negro will live down the cruel prejudice which has followed him, increasing in virulence, to a British province, some, with De Tocqueville, will continue to doubt. But powerful agencies are at work in his favor, some of terrible character. Such were the New York riots. Such, more recently, were the atrocities committed at Fort Pillow.
        We have found ourselves called upon to interpose in favor of the outraged and the unprotected. But such interposition tends to create, even in minds of ordinary sensibility, good will and sympathy toward the sufferers whom one interposes to protect.
        It will have a tendency to increase harmony between the two races if the colored people, whether in the North or the South, refrain from settling in colonies or suburbs by themselves, for such separation tends to keep up alienation of feeling and to nourish the prejudices of race. They will do well, therefore, to mingle their dwellings or farms with those of the whites, for the effect of this will be to take off the edge of national prejudice and weaken the feeling which regards them as a separate and alien race.
        Some may believe that the effect of such commingling will be to introduce amalgamation between the races; others, that such amalgamation is the natural and proper solution of the problem. We believe neither the one nor the other.
        In the first place, such evidence in this matter as the Commission have obtained goes to show that, at least in a Northern climate, the mixed race is inferior in physical power and in health to the pure race, black or white. A member of our Commission carefully investigated the condition of the refugees of mixed blood in Canada, and took evidence as to their health, physical stamina, and power of increase. He found them mostly of lymphatic temperament, with marks of scrofulous or strumous disposition, as shown in the pulpy appearance of portions of the face and neck, in the spongy gums, and glistening teeth. There is a general prevalence of phthisical diseases.  Doctor Mack, of Saint Catharine's, testified:

        The mixed race are the most unhealthy, and the pure blacks the least so. The disease they suffer most from is pulmonary. Where there is not real tubercular affection of the lungs, there are bronchitis and pulmonary affections. I have the idea that they die out when mixed, and that this climate will completely efface them. I think the pure blacks will live. (b)

        General Tullock, of the British Army, one of the authors of four volumes of military statistics, writes to one of the members of our Commission:

        The mulatto race are seldom employed in our army, chiefly owing to the want of that physical stamina which.renders the pure negro better fitted for the duties of a soldier or a laborer.

        Doctor Fisher, of Malden, Canada, thinks that the mulattoes of Canada cannot maintain their numbers without assistance from emigration.
        This is in accordance with the census returns of the free colored population in some of the Northern States, where most of them are of mixed blood. A member of the Commission gives in his supplemental report a table of the births, marriages, and deaths among the colored population of Boston for eight years, namely, from 1855 to 1862, both inclusive. It shows 304 births, 316 marriages, and 500 deaths. In every one of these years the deaths exceeded the births, and in 1855, 1858, and 1860 the births were less than the marriages. This is the more remarkable when we take into account what the registrar of the city, in furnishing the above table, states, namely, that the number of marriages among the colored people was 50 per cent. more in proportion to population than among the whites, being among the former 1 in 58, and among the latter only 1 in 87.54.
        The United States census for 1860 shows in several of the other States similar results. In Providence the deaths among the free colored are over 4 per cent. a year. In Philadelphia, during the six months preceding the census, there were among these people 148 births to 306 deaths, the deaths being more than double the births. The same census shows that the total free colored population of the Union has increased about 1 per cent. a year during the last decade; and this includes slaves liberated and slaves escaped from their masters during that period. The actual rate of natural increase is certainly less than half that of the slaves, which, from 1850 to 1860, was 23.38 per cent.--say 2 1/3 per cent. annually.
        It is sometimes inferred from this that the slaves live in greater comfort than the free colored people, and that the latter cannot take as good care of themselves as masters take of their slaves. But the facts which have come to our knowledge touching the actual condition of these two classes, the slave and the free colored, are wholly at variance with any such conclusion. We believe the chief reason of the small rate of increase to be, that the proportion of mulattoism among the free colored is much greater than among slaves; and that the mulattoes, certainly in northern latitudes, are less healthy and prolific than the pure blacks.
        In support of the opinion that the same may be predicated of these two classes in Southern States, it may be alleged that a cold climate is, in all probability, as little suited to the pure black originally from the torrid zones of Africa as to the mulatto, with a cross of Anglo-Saxon blood; and that if, in such a climate, the mortality among the mixed race is greater than among pure blacks, the climate is not likely to be the sole cause.
        It is certain, however, that, both as regards blacks and mulattoes, their mortality, as compared with whites, essentially depends upon climate. As this is an important matter, the Commission has spent considerable time and labor in collecting reliable statistics which throw light upon it.(a) The following table, the most exhaustive summary, probably, that has yet been made public in connection with this subject, was carefully made up from the materials obtained:

Table of comparative mortality among white and colored persons in eleven cities of the United States.
(A = No. of years, B = White, C = Colored, D = Summary of annual population, E = Number of deaths, F = Population to one death)

Place Period A B/D C/D B/E C/E B/F C/F
Boston {1725 to 1774 } 57   { 689,000   59,500   23,7502   4,000 29.10 14.90
    " {1855 to 1859; 1861 and 1862   {1,188,452 15,620 7,522 500 43.18 31.24
New Bedford 1861-62-63 3 65,259 4,746 1,550 179 42.09 26.51
Providence 1840 to 1863 24 958,028 35,349 20,744 1,306 46.25 27.06
New York 1821, 24-29, 31-36, 38-62 38 15,427,466 531,544 479,879 20,428 32.14 25.39
Buffalo 1854-58, 62-63 7 530,582 5,466 14,013 120 37.86 45.55
Philadelphia 1821 to 1862 42 12,466,457 750,996 269,824 26,397 46.22 28.45
Baltimore 1818, 24-25,27-29, 33-34, 36-63 38 4,294,476 859,025 107,623 26,551 39.90 32.34
Washington 1849-1860 12 455,754 126,305 8,869 2,723 51.38 46.36
Charleston 1828 to 1857 30 457,756 523,536 13,945 16,868 32.83 31.03
New Orleans 1849-50, 1856, and two-thirds of 1855; 1860 4 2/3 547,523 121,343 32,143 6,277 17.03 19.51
Memphis 1851 to 1853 3 24,126 8,043 1,406 428 17.17 18.79
Total --- --- 37,104,879 3,031,473 1,001,268 106,217 37.57 28.54

        The total sum of white lives upon which the above calculations are based is, as will be observed, upward of 37,000,000; of colored lives upward of 3,000,000; while the deaths among whites are over 1,000,000, and among the colored over 100,000. The general inference from records on so large a scale may be taken as substantially correct, even if we admit the probability of partial inaccuracies in some of the returns.
        Thus we reach several interesting facts. The rate of annual deaths among the whites is less than 2 3/4 per cent., or about one to every 37 of the living; among the colored about 3 per cent., or one in every 28 (or, exactly, one in 37.57 whites against one in 28.54 colored).
        We remark, further, that the mortality diminishes as we approach our own time, in Boston especially. In that city, between 1725 and 1774, the average annual mortality was among whites one in 29.10, and among colored one in 14.9; whereas, from 1855 to 1862, it was but one in 43 among whites, and one in 31 among colored. This accords with the well-known fact that the average length of life in the United States is greater in this century than it was in the last.
        Again, the table shows that the mortality among blacks in the Northern cities is considerably greater than among whites, while in the Southern cities it averages about the same.
        As the returns from which this table is compiled do not distinguish between blacks and mulattoes, it gives us no information as to the relative mortality among these two classes. On that point it behooves us to abstain from confident generalizing in the absence of more exact and more extended statistical data. This, however, we may say: It would appear that there are certain races of men, the cross between which produces a race quite equal to either of the progenitors. This is said to be true of the Turk and the African. It may be that the Anglo-Saxon and the African, extreme varieties, are less suited to each other, and that the mixed race degenerates. Indeed, so far as a limited range of facts go, there seems a probability in favor of the opinion expressed by a member of the Commission that "the mulatto, considered in his animal nature, lacks the innervation and spring of the pure blacks and whites," and that "the organic inferiority is shown in less power of resisting destructive agencies; in less fecundity and less longevity. "
        If this be so, then amalgamation of these two races is in itself a physical evil injurious to both; a practice which ought to be discouraged by public opinion, and avoided by all who consider it a duty, as parents, to transmit to their offspring the best conditions for sound health and physical well-being. Like other evils of the kind, however, this is beyond the legitimate reach of legislation.
        The Commission believe that the effect of general emancipation will be to discourage amalgamation. It is rare in Canada, and public opinion there, among blacks as well as whites, is against it.
        Bishop Green, of the Methodist Church, Canada, deposed:

        You do not see any of our respectable people here marrying any persons but their own associates.

John Kinney, an intelligent colored man, said:

        The majority of the colored people don't like the intermarriage of colored and white people.

Colonel Stevenson said:

        The colored people don't like to have one of their color marry a white woman.

        Such marriages do occur in Canada, but they are rare. De Tocqueville had already remarked that emancipation, which might be supposed to favor amalgamation, does, in point of fact, repress it.
        Amalgamation in its worst form is the offspring of slavery. The facts seem to indicate that with the abolition of slavery it will materially diminish, though it may be doubted whether it will ever wholly disappear.
        Aside from this apparently injurious mingling of blood, the social influence of the two races on each other, so soon as their reciprocal relations shall be based on justice, will, beyond question, be mutually beneficial. There are elements in the character of each calculated to exert a happy influence on the other.
        The Anglo-Saxon race, with great force of character, much mental activity, an unflagging spirit of enterprise, has a certain hardness, a stubborn will, only moderate geniality, a lack of habitual cheerfulness. Its intellectual powers are stronger than its social instincts. The head predominates over the heart. There is little that is emotional in its religion. It is not devoid of instinctive devotion, but neither is such devotion a ruling element. It is a race more calculated to call forth respect than love; better fitted to do than to enjoy.
        The African race is, in many respects, the reverse of this. Genial, lively, docile, emotional, the affections rule; the social instincts maintain the ascendant. Except under cruel repression, its cheerfulness and love of mirth overflow with the exuberance of childhood. It is devotional by feeling. It is a knowing rather than a thinking race. Its perceptive faculties are stronger than its reflective powers. It is well fitted to occupy useful stations in life; but such as require quick observation rather than comprehensive views or strong sense. It is little given to stirring enterprise, but rather to quiet accumulation. It is not a race that will ever take a lead in the material improvement of the world; but it will make for itself, whenever it has fair play, respectable positions, comfortable homes.
        As regards the virtues of humility, loving kindness, resignation under adversity, reliance on Divine Providence, this race exhibits these, as a general rule, in a more marked manner than does the Anglo-Saxon. Nor do we find among them a spirit of revenge or blood-thirstiness, or rancorous ill-will toward their oppressors.  The exceptions to this rule, notwithstanding the great temptations to which the race have been exposed, are very rare. No race of men appears better to have obeyed the injunction not to return evil for evil, or to have acted more strictly in the spirit of the text: "Vengeance is mine! I will repay, saith the Lord."
        With time, as civilization advances, these Christian graces of meekness and long suffering will be rated higher than the world rates them now. With time, if we but treat these people in a Christian spirit, we shall have our reward. The softening influence of their genial spirit, diffused throughout the community, will make itself felt as an element of improvement in the national character.
        And, on the other hand, they will learn much and gain much from us. They will gain in force of character, in mental cultivation, in self-reliance, in enterprise, in breadth of views and in habits of generalization. Our influence over them, if we treat them well, will be powerful for good.
        If we treat them well! But everything depends upon that. There depends upon it not alone the future of 4,500,000 people, native born, and who will remain, for good or for evil, in the land of their birth, but also, looking to the immediate present, there depends, to a certain extent, the likelihood of thoroughly and speedily putting down the present rebellion. In this connection we deem it useful here to repeat what we already suggested in our preliminary report:

        Every aggression, every act of injustice committed by a Northern man against unoffending fugitives from despotism, every insult offered by the base prejudice of our race to a colored man because of his African descent, is not only a breach of humanity, an offense against civilization, but it is also an act which gives aid and comfort to the enemy. The report of it goes abroad, penetrates into the enemy's country. So far as its influence there extends, the effect is to deter the slave from leaving his master, therefore to secure to that master a bread producer and by the same act to deprive the Union of a colored soldier, and compel the Government, by conscription, to withdraw a laborer from a Northern farm.
        The practical effect, therefore, of abuse and injury to colored people in these days is not alone to disgrace the authors of such acts, but to compel conscription and to strip the North, already scant of working hands, of the laborers and the artisans that remain to her. Thousands of fields owned by white men may remain untilled, thousands of hearths owned by white men may be made desolate, all as the direct result of the ill-treatment of the colored race.
        Such a spirit is not treasonable in the usual sense of that term, yet its results are the same as those of treason itself. It becomes, therefore, in a military point of view, of the highest importance that all wanton acts of aggression by soldiers or civilians, whether against refugees or against free negroes heretofore settled in the North, should be promptly and resolutely repressed and the penalties of the law in every such case vigorously enforced. A prudent regard for our own safety and welfare, if no higher motive prompt, demands the taking of such precaution.
        We have imposed upon ourselves an additional obligation to see justice and humanity exercised toward these people in accepting their services as soldiers. It would be a degree of baseness of which we hope our country is incapable to treat with contumely the defenders of the Union--the men who shall have confronted death on the battle-field, side by side with the bravest of our own race, in a struggle in which the stake is the existence in peace and in their integrity of these United States. We are unjust to our enemies if we deny that this struggle has been a hard-fought one, contested bravely and with varying success. A people with an element of semi-barbarism in their society, giving birth to habits of violence and of lawless darings, are, in some respects, better prepared for war than one which stands on a higher plane of Christian civilization. Add to this that our task is the more arduous because to quell the rebellion we have had to become the invaders. Under these circumstances, can we overlook the fact that several hundred thousand able-bodied men, detached from the labor ranks of the enemy and incorporated into the Army of the North, may essentially influence the decision of the issue?
        There is an additional reason why a considerable portion of the Union armies should be made up of persons of African descent. The transformation of the slave society of the South into free society, no longer properly a question, has become a necessity of our national existence. Reflecting men have already reached the conclusion, and the mass of our people are attaining to it day by day, that the sole condition of permanent peace on this continent is the eradication of negro slavery. But the history of the world furnishes no example of an enslaved race which won its freedom without exertion of its own. That the indiscriminate massacres of a servile insurrection have been spared us, as addition to the horrors of a civil war, is due, it would seem, rather to that absence of revenge and blood-thirstiness which characterizes this race than to the lack either of courage or of any other quality that makes the hardy combatant, for these the negro appears, so far as we have tried him in civilized warfare, to possess. And in such warfare is it fitting that the African race seek its own social salvation? The negro must fight for emancipation if he is to be emancipated.
        If, then, emancipation be the price of national unity and of peace, and if a people, to be emancipated, must draw the sword in their own cause, then is the future welfare of the white race in our country indissolubly connected with an act of justice, on our part, toward people of another race; then is it the sole condition under which we may expect, and, if history speak truth, the sole condition under which we shall attain, domestic tranquillity, that we shall give the negro an opportunity of working out, on those battle-fields that are to decide our own national destiny, his destiny, whether as slave or as freedman, at the same time.
        The Commission have been instructed to report how colored freedmen "can be most usefully employed in the service of the Government for the suppression of the rebellion." The above remarks may suffice as the record of their profound conviction, that no more effectual aid can be had in the speedy suppression of the rebellion and the restoration of permanent peace than is to be obtained by inducing the hearty co-operation of these freedmen, and by giving full scope to their energies as military laborers and soldiers during the continuance of the war.

        But to give full scope to their energies in war we must not treat them as stepchildren. It is so manifestly just, to say nothing of the evident expediency for the benefit of the service, that no discrimination should be made either as to wages or in any other respect, between the white and the colored soldier, that the Commission would deem it unnecessary, but for recent indications, to express, as they now do, their conviction that of all petty schemes of false economy such discrimination against the colored soldier is the worst. Performing the same duties, subjected to the same fatigues, marshaled on the same battle-fields side by side with the white soldier, and exposing, like him, his life for his country, one would think that the innate sense of right would preclude the necessity of a single argument on the subject. What probability of future harmony between the races, if we begin our connection with the new-made freedmen by such an act of flagrant injustice?
        Let us beware the temptation to treat the colored people with less than even justice, because they have been, and still are, lowly and feeble. Let us bear in mind that, with governments as with individuals, the crucial test of civilization and sense of justice is their treatment of the weak and the dependent.
        God is offering to us an opportunity of atoning, in some measure, to the African for our former complicity in his wrongs. For our own sakes, as well as for his, let it not be lost. As we would that He should be to us and to our children, so let us be to those whose dearest interests are, by His providence, committed for the time to our charge.
        As regards the question, What amount of aid and interference is necessary or desirable to enable the freedmen to tide over the stormy transition from slavery to freedom? we have chiefly to say that there is as much danger in doing too much as in doing too little. The risk is serious that, under the guise of guardianship, slavery, in a modified form, may be practically restored. Those who have ceased, only perforce, to be slave-holders, will be sure to unite their efforts to effect just such a purpose. It should be the earnest object of all friends of liberty to anticipate and prevent it. Benevolence itself, misdirected, may play into the hands of freedom's enemies, and those whose earnest endeavor is the good of the freedman may, unconsciously, contribute to his virtual re-enslavement.
        The refugees from slavery, when they first cross our lines, need temporary aid, but not more than indigent Southern whites fleeing from secessionism, both being sufferers from the disturbance of labor and the destruction of its products incident to war. The families of colored men, hired as military laborers or enlisted as soldiers, need protection and assistance, but not more than the families of white men similarly situated. Forcibly deprived of education in a state of slavery, the freedmen have a claim upon us to lend a helping hand until they can organize schools for their children. But they will soon take the labor and expense out of our hands, for these people pay no charge more willingly than that which assures them that their children shall reap those advantages of instruction which were denied to themselves.
        For a time we need a freedman's bureau, but not because these people are negroes, only because they are men who have been, for generations, despoiled of their rights. The Commission has hereto-fore--to wit, in supplemental report made to you in December last---recommended the establishment of such a bureau, and they believe that all that is essential to its proper organization is contained, substantially, in a bill to that effect reported on April 12 from the Senate Committee on Slavery and Freedmen.
        Extensive experience in the West Indies has proved that emancipation, when it takes place, should be unconditional and absolute. The experiment of a few years' apprenticeship, plausible in theory, proved, in practice, a failure so injurious in its effects that the provincial legislatures, though they had been opposed to the abolition of slavery, voted, after trial, for the abolition of apprenticeship.
        The freedman should be treated at once as any other free man. He should be subjected to no compulsory contracts as to labor. There should not be, directly or indirectly, any statutory rates of wages. There should be no interference between the hirers and the hired. Nor should any regulations be imposed in regard to the local movements of these people, except such regulations, incident to war, relative to vagrancy or otherwise, as apply equally to whites. The natural laws of supply and demand should be left to regulate rates of compensation and places of residence.
        But when freedmen shall have voluntarily entered into any agreement to work, they may at first usefully be aided in reducing that agreement to writing, and, for a time, we may properly see to it that such freedmen do not suffer from ill-treatment or failure of contract on the part of their employers, and that they themselves perform their duty in the premises.
        It is of vital importance that the leasing and supervision of abandoned real estate in insurrectionary districts should be intrusted to the same persons who have in charge -the interests of the freed-men who are likely to cultivate the lands in question. Between two sets of agents, one having in charge the lands, and another the interests of the freedmen, jarrings and conflicts of authority would be sure to ensue.
        The Commission is confirmed in the opinion that all aid given to these people should be regarded as a temporary necessity; that all supervision over them should be provisional only, and advisory in its character. The sooner they shall stand alone and make their own unaided way, the better both for our race and for theirs.
        The essential is that we secure to them the means of making their own way; that we give them, to use the familiar phrase, "a fair chance." If, like whites, they are to be self-supporting, then, like whites, they ought to have those rights, civil and political, without which they are but laboring as a man labors with hands bound.
        There will for some time to come be a tendency on the part of many among those who have heretofore held them in bondage still to treat them in an unjust and tyrannical manner. The effectual remedy for this is, not special laws or a special organization for the protection of colored people, but the safeguard of general laws, applicable to all, against fraud and oppression.
        The sum of our recommendations is this: Offer the freedmen temporary aid and counsel until they become a little accustomed to their new sphere of life; secure to them, by law, their just rights of person and property; relieve them, by a fair and equal administration of justice, from the depressing influence of disgraceful prejudice; above all, guard them against the virtual restoration of slavery in any form, under any pretext, and then let them take care of themselves. If we do this, the future of the African race in this country will be conducive to its prosperity and associated with its well-being. There will be nothing connected with it to excite regret or inspire apprehension.