« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
southern States, life, liberty, and property, found itself subjected to a military despotism, resting upon a mass of semi-barbarous and newly emancipated slaves, and led by unprincipled adventurers. Long life to such a monster was out of the question. It became so oppressive and so odious that, as I have shown, General Grant, assured of its impracticability after a fair trial, declined longer to sustain it, and before he retired from the presidency, withdrew the national troops. It was a failure so conspicuous and so confessed that his immediate successor, Mr. Hayes, lent the full weight of his administration to its complete overthrow. During its existence rapine and murder had been the normal condition throughout the stricken country. State and county treasuries were robbed right and left; the public credit was mortgaged to satisfy the rapacity of the plundering birds of passage who had been put in places of command; the ignorant blacks, cajoled and infuriated, were set in unequal encounter with the outraged whites; the stronger race, driven back upon its lines of last resort, sought self-preservation at any and every cost; and in a reign of blood and terror, inevitable to an array of forces so unnatural and so dissonant from the spirit of free government, and designed to serve a purpose so wicked and impossible, there was safety nowhere for life or property, either of the blacks or the whites.
During this trial of the people of the South by fire no one stood for the repressive side of the machine with a confidence so undoubting and a credulity so unshaken and cheerful as Mr. Halstead. He drew all his pictures in black and white and with a brand of charcoal snatched from the burning. This bad no beginning, no middle, and no end. Under the master's bold treatment, and on his capacious canvas, every disturbance south of Cincinnati grew into a revival of the rebellion ; every fisticuff between a white man and a black man was elevated into a duel between treason and loyalty ; every riot expanded into the dimensions of an insurrection; until all the year round it proved to be an exceeding cold day which did not furnish some blood-curdling story to frighten the children and inflame the Republicans of Ohio. And now, after ten years of comparative peace and order, this irreconcilable statesman and journalist, still seeks to return to the era of federal interference and military seeks to return to the days of Kellogg, Moses, and Bullock, usurpation, on the ground that the failure of the uneducated and unorganized blacks to take a lively interest in political affairs which do not interest them, and to go to the polls and vote the Republican ticket without some pecuniary or promissory compensation, is a nullification by the whites of what be calls the war amendments to the Constitution.
I shall not imitate Mr. Halstead's thick-and-thin party view of this great question, involving the national unity and that complete and lasting agreement between the sections which is indispensable to that unity. I repeat that I make no pretense that there has not been violence on the part of certain among those whom he assails so indiscriminately. It would have been contrary to all human experience had there been none. Some of it was inevitable, and some of it might have been avoided ; some of it was in self-defense, and some of it was wanton and vicious; and all of it was cruel, and, in the long run, at greatest cost and loss to the weaker party to this war of races. On these points it seems to me that my word should go for more than that of Mr. Halstead, because, living amid the scenes he has attempted to describe from a distance, I was immediately and personally familiar with them, and concerned by them; and at risks, which sometimes included that of life itself, I sought late and early to reduce the state of affairs at the South to some intelligent and harmonious relation to the moving spirit of the North, and to the actual revolution which the war had wrought. I advocated the enfranchisement of the blacks by State law, and in 1865 drafted a bill to that end, which was thrown out by the Republicans of the General Assembly of Tennessee. I accepted, and advocated the acceptance of, the three new constitutional amendments as finalities, and discouraged and denounced all reactionary movements against them as visionary and unpatriotic. I fought earnestly for the obliteration of the black laws in Kentucky, and carried a measure giving the negro his equality before the courts, over an original majority against it so overwhelming as to discourage even Mr. Halstead, and to provoke in him a kind of derision. In all matters relating to the blacks I have contended for more than twenty years, in and out of season, that they should be constituted the wards, not of the nation, but of the States; not of the North, but of the South; not of strangers, or missionaries sent from afar, but of their own white neighbors and fellow-citizens, whose well-being is inextricably interwoven with their well-being, and whose only hope of the future lies in educating and elevating them to as near an approach to equality as race differences will allow. I still entertain this belief, and am encouraged to look with hope to the realization of the ideas on which it is founded; but not through the ill-judged partisan crusade of misguided philanthropy and mistaken political zeal urged upon the North by Mr. Halstead. That could end, if it could have a beginning and become an actual policy, with power enough behind it to give it efficacy, only in the restoration, in an exaggerated form, of all the evils of the period of reconstruction; that is, in race war and anarchy.
A wiser statesmanship would see, and a more humane philosophy would counsel, a surer, speedier, and gentler solution of the problem, because there is a perfectly simple and ready remedy for every evil complained of by Mr. Halstead.
This remedy is the removal of external pressure. The moment the North ceases to be sectional the South will cease to be solid. But as long as there is a party at the North which urges an interference in the local affairs of the South that would be tolerated by no Northern community as applied to itself, there will be found at the South the first and highest of all motives for united resistance, that of an inextinguishable race feeling. If the entire white population of Mississippi could by some miracle be transplanted elsewhere, and its place supplied by an equal number of white Republicans from the Western Reserve of Ohio, the case would be no wise altered. Within a year the same antagonisms would spring up, and the same need of self-protection would compel a union of the white minority, representing intelligence and property, against the black majority, representing ignorance and brute force. The federal govern
. ment cannot police the States. Maine may not make laws for Texas. Accepting, however, Mr. Halstead's figures and deductions as true, is his party not taking, in the electoral abuses he alleges, a dose of its own medicine? This time, according to his plaint, it is Mr. Halstead's ox which is gored. But during the years when the machine which works so ill now, worked so well for the Republicans, Mr. Halstead saw nothing amiss either in its construction or movement.
It is worse than a waste of words to bandy them with a critic so blind to his own commission of the sins he ascribes to others as Mr. Halstead. It is he who is nothing if not sectional, and not those he assails so savagely. I will, in closing, venture upon the prediction that the time is coming when Mr. Halstead will be found fighting as doughtily for the disfranchisement of the blacks as he is now fighting for what he calls “a fair vote." If the Republican Party be beaten in the next national election, it is likely to go to pieces, and be reformed on the lines of Protection and Prohibition. This will, as the saying goes, “split the South wide open.” The blacks will be arrayed to a man against Prohibition ; the whites will be divided by Protection. Then we shall see such a party struggle for possession of the southern States as was never known before; and Mr. Halstead, being a good Republican, will find the negro vote as little to his liking as its suppression now is; and, in short, and in conclusion, he is not the man I take him to be if he does not urge the Republican Party to apply to the blacks the identical policy of repression he now urges it to apply to the whites of the South.
WHAT SHALL THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACH?
To say that the great and perhaps the only object of teaching in public schools is to prepare boys to be useful citizens, and girls to be good wives and mothers, is to state a proposition so evidently true that it calls for no discussion or argument. It is, in point of fact, so generally appreciated by the people, that they are ready and willing to contribute freely by taxation to accomplish this object; and the universal desire of those who reflect upon the subject is, that the public moneys devoted to public education shall be so expended as to render the greatest service to the greatest number. How this is to be accomplished is one of the most important questions of the day.
Nearly all occupations in life are crowded in the cities, and in the large cities most of all. Certain professions, especially medicine and law, are crowded in nearly all countries. This is an evil—if it be an evil—which the people at large cannot remedy. The fault, perhaps, lies in easy access to the professions in comparatively new countries, and this will be gradually removed by the professional schools. In a large city the crowding of certain occupations which do not involve much, if any, manual labor seems inevitable. There is some indefinable force which attracts a certain number to a great city from smaller cities or from the rural districts, and only a few homeless boys and girls, exported to the country as a matter of charity, leave the great centers of population. In the city, we are in the presence of a population of youth which will remain, and should be prepared to struggle here for existence. How they are to be educated so that, in this inevitable struggle, they shall contribute their full share toward general prosperity and happiness, is a question of importance, and, with compulsory education, its solution depends largely on what the public schools teach.
There are many points of view from which the subject of