Christian Recorder: December 14, 1876
Mr. Editor:-- A few nights since, I was sitting in the Parquet circles of that immense edifice on the corner of 15th and Chestnut Streets, listening to the inimitable voices of the Hutchinson family; and they sang a solo, entitled, “Uncle Sam’s rich enough to give us all a farm.” The chorus of which was “Come en, come on, Uncle Sam’s rich enough to give us all a farm.” The gist of the words were, all nations Might come to this country, of every race, color, and grade and the United States government was rich enough, or her territory is simple enough, to give them all a farm. The solo electrified that crowded building, and the cheers, hand claps, and feet stamps, that followed were deafening. Every body seemed to be jubilant at the idea, with the exception of one, and that was a negro in the person of myself. I thought that if this nation was able to invite the nearly fourteen hundred millions of men, women, and children here, from the ends of the earth, and in the words of the solo, “give them all a farm;” it had better by a great sight to have given the Southern blacks some of them. Had I possessed at the time the voice of seven thunders, this announcement would have been vociferated so loudly, that its conclusion would have cracked the walls of the granite building.
A few years ago, the desire of the Southern negro to have forty acres of land and a mule, became proverbially ridiculous. He was laughed at by at by Democrats and Republicans all over the country; and the newspapers everywhere passed it around, as “something equal to superstition.” It was not superstition but it was instinct; an instinct too, as purely human in its force and conviction as the promptings of conscience itself. The lex nature in the constitution of the Southern negro, felt this was the poorest remuneration that could be given for the sweat and toil of centuries. There is not a man in a lunatic asylum who would not accord this to him, when left to his sober reflection. The liberation of four millions of intelligent moral, and religious human beings, without making any provision for their subsistence, was a crime before high heaven; and he so charged today upon the ledger of the Eternal. For one-half the money that has been expended in fizzling over the negro in other directions, the United States Government could have assigned every colored man in the South homestead somewhere in its public domain, and furnished the means of his transportation. And today three millions of them at least, would have been well to do, and three or four hundred thousand who have been either murdered or starved to death or died from disease contracted through poverty, would have been alive and in such independent circumstances, as to have defiled all the Democrats in creation to have forced them to vote or in any way act against the Republican party.
I have just read a letter from a white gentleman in Washington City, who is well posted in Southern affairs. He informs me that after the late election some white men remarked to him that every negro South who voted the Democratic ticket, ought to be remanded to slavery. While I am the last man heaven ever formed to excused or defend Democratic negroes, yet such language from any man, even if it was from President Grant, would simply be the jargon of a fool. Knowing the Southern negro as I do, I would be willing to stake my future existence, that ninety-nine of every hundred, who voted the Democratic ticket were Republicans in heart. It is said the devil told the truth once when he remarked, “that all that a man had, he would give for his life” Thousands in the South have seen others killed, and butchered by Ku-klux, turned out of house and home, & etc. And every species of villainy perpetrated upon their fellow, for being Republicans. Still nothing was done, nothing could be done.
Now I ask, is it unnatural that many should conclude to vote anything, be anybody rather than die for nothing, or rather than, be discharged from employment with a wife and a house full of children, to torture his soul with their cries for bread, with no prospect of satisfying their hunger. But would it not be unnatural if they did not quail before succumb to the contingencies of events, as forced upon them by the inertia or willful desertion of the Republican party? Would white men have done better? Would angles have done better? I am frank to confess, that the South is not full of democratic negroes. Some of these monstrosities roam at large, and infest every section of the land; but they are more than counterbalanced, by honest-hearted white men—men who love the right, as they love their God. The nation was virtually the guardian of the Southern negro, and they had a right to look to it for protection, and they did look to it; and the action of the nation, in cancelling their former condition, brought it face to face with the negroes as in no other case on record.
And as the guardian of the Negro, the nation was bound by every consideration to secure them protection of life and person; not to hurl them into the vortex of a new revolution, which would have taxed the skill and energies of the most enlightened people on earth to have measured arms with, and then desert them in the dark hour peril, for the enfranchisement of the colored men of the South, was actually reopening he war. Both congress and the President knew that the enfranchisement of the Southern negro, was as distasteful to the Southern Whites as his primal emancipation; or as above said, it was the inauguration of a new war, a war of rights to grant. But still it was unquestionably another war. Now for the nation to set the south to fighting, and for the part in power to desert its own partisan, was ingratitude, treachery and downright meanness.
It was as willfully mean, as it would have been to have refused to have sent General Grant supplies when fighting in the face of Petersburg and Richmond; especially so, when the southern Negros only asked for the recognition of the party in power, and for a small share of the surplus prestige of the nation; but as the columns of our paper are so crowded this week, we are compelled to close the article. We may or may not continue it though the outer suburbs of the question has not been touched. The meanness of this nation towards the negro, will never be known until it is read in the glare of eternity; but for fear I may discontinue this subject, as it is inexhaustible; permit me to say, by way of reducing the whole subject into a nutshell, that if some of these Northern fault finders…knew half the charges that the Southern Negros has against them they would never part their lips again to find fault with them.
When they say, we have done everything we could for the colored people of the South” they utter a thousand falsehoods in one breath; and there is not a negro whose blood has been shed, that does not crimson the garments of every white man in the North. The best that can be said for this country is that it is a nation of murderers. The North has been killing Southern negroes as virtually as the Ku-klux and White Leagues have, and every white statesman, orator minister of the Gospel, merchant, doctor, and private citizen in this whole nation, who has not fought these massacres (for holding your mouth is no excuse) and the injustice perpetrated the blacks, the nation’s wards are guilty before God. And if they ever get to heaven at all, they will have to swim there through the blood of forty-six thousand negroes, which it is reported in Washington have been killed since January 1866.
These words may startle somebody. I have already been denounced for my other two letters, but denunciations from such sources, I regard as compliments. I would laugh to scorn the denunciation of an angel from heaven were he to approve the crimes of this nation; ungodly, diabolical, and accursed as they are. My pen trembles with indignation as it traces lines of this paper, and I am only one out of ten hundred thousands of colored men whose hearts are galled and whose ire is inflamed. Bishop Payne, on Thanksgiving Day said; in one of the greatest sermons preached since the days of the Apostle Paul that God had his hand on this nation’s throat, and would hold it as with a grip of iron; unless it learnt to deal equally with the freedmen of the South. A grander truism never was uttered. It requires no renown sage to see that God is now lashing this nation upon its back and in my imagination I can hear it as literally crying; “Oh pray massa!” as ever I heard the slave men of the South. May God slash this nation; may it writhe; may it groan and sigh; and may I bleed and die, or else learn wisdom; learn humanity black or white, brown or red.