Stone Collection: Volume 80 - Item 24
24. N. S. Shaler, “The Negro Since the Civil War,” Appleton’s Monthly [Popular Science Monthly] (May 1900): 29-39.
Appraisal of the status of African Americans in the South since the end of Reconstruction (despite what the title says). The author gives African Americans more credit than most of his contemporaries but asserts that they have some way to go if they are to gain economic and social equality. “In reviewing the condition of the Eu-Africans a third of a century after the war that gave them new estate, we have, I think, reason to be satisfied with the results of the change. The change has brought us no distinct economic evils, as shown by the statistics of the industries. The labor of the blacks is quite as productive as it was while they were slaves. Their moral situation is not evidently worse than it was before they attained the measure of liberty which they now possess. The first step, that which naturally caused the most fear, has been taken, the people are free and have not turned their liberty to license. In looking forward, however, we see that only a part of the task has been done. The negroes have failed to acquire, save in very small proportion, the capacity for a true political life. It has been found necessary to deprive them of the control they once exercised, to the peril of the States and their own great harm. The question is as to the ways in which they are to be lifted, or we shall in time see established in the South a system of serfdom under the control of an oligarchy—a state of affairs in some regards worse then that of slavery, for it will lack the element of personal interest which did much to help the black in the first stages of his life with us.”