A War of Reconstruction, largely conducted by
terror, mob action, and civil disobedience,
began with a terrorist act in a Washington theater,
on the evening of April 14, 1865.
Earlier on the same day, a large gathering at Fort Sumter,
offshore of Charleston, South Carolina, had marshaled
major symbols of Confederate humiliation:
Afro-American occupation troops,
William Lloyd Garrison and Henry Ward Beecher
(principal orator for the occasion), Major Anderson
who had surrendered the Fort just four years earlier, and
all kinds of boats festooned gaily and booming salutes.
The week before had seen the surrender of the
Southern Armies of the East and the
dissolution of the Confederate States of America.
But here in Washington, from a band of terrorist conspirators, came a
man who like Lincoln had been born in a log cabin, a man who had
won fame in the difficult profession of dramatic acting: John Wilkes
Booth. He walked into the Presidential box, where sat the President
and Mrs. Lincoln, and shot the President fatally. The security guard
was nowhere to be seen.
To bind himself to history, Booth shouted in the manner of Brutus
assassinating Julius Caesar nineteen hundred years before,
"Sic semper tyrannis!" When trapped twelve days later and
about to die himself, he called out, more typically American,
a message of love to his mother.
A sense of grief, remorse, and loss shook most of the Northern
population. The act was called criminal, insane, vengeful, futile, and
many people said that nobody could handle the problems of the
country as could have "Ol' Abe." Few thought it to be - for this it also
was - an opening signal to the unreconstructible South
that there were other ways of winning a war
than by full-dress battle.
With minimal help from the Federal government and their Northern
compatriots, the freedmen of the South had to engage the Southern
governments and the Southern population in a continual war of
resistance, fighting to protect themselves from reduction to a
condition worse than slavery and from the destruction of the most
meaningful parts of the Federal Constitution and its amendments.
The Southern people and governments, most of them - let there be
no doubt of it - wanted to reduce African-Americans to a point
where they would regret their freedom, and reduce the Federal
Constitution to a dead letter in those parts that hinted at or denoted
the loss of the War of the Rebellion.
The North was supine, and worse. For 100 years African-Americans
of the South felt like the Polish people of Warsaw in 1944
when, fighting for their existence against the Nazi army, they could see
their supposed allies, the Soviet Army, across the River, declining to
come to their aid, watching them being annihilated.
Too, like the Poles, they had to wait a long time before even their
voice could get through to proclaim what had happened. For there
was nothing but censorship in the South of Whites and Blacks, and
false historiography on questions of the Civil War and
reconstruction and the struggles that followed. It is up to honest
historians to abandon the characterization of the United States as a
democracy or a republic of law and order even until the mid-twentieth
century, given that, minimally, Blacks, Indians and
Hispanics were outcastes to these terms.
"Reconstruction" was the term used by its proponents to stand for the
civil and physical regeneration of the former Confederate states.
Historians and the Northern public described prejudicially the
attempted Reconstruction of the South; they set an arbitrary cut-off
point to the period of troubles at 1877 when Federal troops were
withdrawn; they gave only intermittent attention to the progress of the
South from that time onward, until something called
"the New South" was supposed to be generating
around the turn of the Twentieth century.
The total and integrated significance of what was occurring in the
South with reverberations in Washington especially was missed, with
unconscious purpose. The technique, charitably we can call it
unwitting, was to speak of the long period as full of incidents,
with the eternal implication that progress was slowly being made,
and that the African-American was a victim of prejudice,
but he did have bad qualities, and
prejudice was better than slavery, after all.
The story of the War of Reconstruction may be understood better if
we declare in advance what were the terms and conditions of the final
victory against slavery of 1965. In them we can see what
should have or might have come with the surrender of the armed
forces of the South in early 1865. Yet practically all of these
victorious conditions came about near the end of the century of
struggle, with most Southerners waging war against
the Constitution, the Federal government, and the
African-American population - man, woman, and child.
For reasons to be explained later the end of the struggle
has to be tentative, but may be tied temporarily to the
passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the
Voting Rights Act of 1965.
By 1997, one political generation later:
Most of the population had ceased continually to badger and
Overt respect for the achievements of African-Americans was
Fear of uncommon criminality and irresponsibility of the
African-American population was more common than 140 years ago,
but there was a determined successful effort by authorities
everywhere to stop at individual punishment for an individual crime.
Fear of a large-scale Black revolt, that had worried a great many
Southerners in 1865, was much diminished.
The national police of the United States, particularly the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, itself still blighted by racism, were now
interfering with the despotic, cruel, and unlawful tactics
of most Southern police.
The United States armed forces were in readiness to suppress riot
and rebelliousness by racist crowds, racist police forces, and racist
African-Americans eligible to vote were registered and could
actually vote, and rebels against this new order of affairs were sought
out and prosecuted.
The power of Southern Senators to engage in filibuster until their
points were won was sharply curtailed.
Schools and universities of the South and North were opened to
African-Americans students with little regard to race and some positive
inducements (these being termed "affirmative action").
The armed services were de-segregated and promotional
opportunities for African-Americans expanded greatly.
Access to government welfare benefits and other government
programs were no longer withheld from African-Americans.
African-Americans were elected to many offices in Southern
towns, counties, cities, state legislatures, Congress, and appointed to
courts of law.
Due process of law in criminal and civil cases was typically extended, both procedurally and substantively to African-Americans.
Public places such as restaurants, waiting rooms, hotels, toilets,
trains and buses, were opened on a non-discriminatory basis to African-Americans.
A number of government programs to give special benefits hitherto
not available were provided, such as small business loans, minority
business loans, etc. Again "affirmative action" was put into play.
Hundreds of active, passive and obsolete state laws and local
ordinances and administrative rules by which invidious discrimination
was practiced against African-Americans were repealed, and a great
many equal-rights ordinances and rules and laws were promulgated.
Laws effecting invidious discrimination in the apportionment of
seats in legislatures and other elective bodies were redrawn or repealed
The constitutions of thousands of voluntary associations, clubs,
schools, scientific and professional associations, that had discriminated
against African-Americans, were altered to abolish such practices.
The right to assemble in public places, to march, and to
demonstrate was handed over to the African-Americans and the same
level of delinquent and illegal disorderly behavior and rioting was
tolerated for Blacks as had always been tolerated for Whites.
The right of questioning and protesting without severe retaliation,
against the thousand picayune ways by which Americans of Caucasian
race typically tormented African-Americans, became ordinary.
To be explicit, the foregoing constitute the peace terms of the
Hundred Year War of Reconstruction. They represent a proper
victory, not the happiest and most complete of victories, but a
substantial one. The reforms alluded to above are felt throughout the
South and ramify throughout the nation. Their positive effects
are greater than those of the victory won in 1865.
But the agonizing question remains: why were not all of these terms
of victory part of the complete victory of the North in 1865, with
the complete capitulation of the South? The answer to this question
lies in the study of the peace terms of 1865 and how the new war
began and was carried on by variegated means for a century.
Furthermore, although the recent listed changes amounted to a general
victory, true racial equality and harmony were still distant.
A later chapter can assess the chances of there occurring
another breakdown of the civil order.
All over the South, in 1865, disorder bordered upon chaos.
Hysteria and panic were common, led by paranoia: outlandish
rumors of freedmen conspiracies, of horrendous crimes committed,
flew about. Many freedmen were beaten or lynched in consequence.
Not enough federal troops were available to patrol the huge region.
Although psychological surveys cannot be cited, ample personal
observations and documents go to show that a profound depression
afflicted many White Southerners. They could not work, they felt
exhausted, they were totally apathetic.
Examining this fact exposes the importance of deference as a value.
Recall the plight of the planters, who could neither avoid the war nor end it.
For the nub remained unshaven: the Southern poor
lived off a social deference requiring the Blacks below;
they continued to require this deference, in fact, needed it
even more, after defeat. No idea of progress -
old or new - floated in the atmosphere.
They had nowhere to turn except, like the
fundamentalists waging global warfare
a hundred years later, to their historically-employed
Union soldiers frequently clashed with disbanded confederate
soldiers roaming over the countryside begging or stealing whatever
could be eaten, drunk, or carried off. Innumerable confederate
soldiers wandered westward and Southward; many of them
had never had much of a home before joining up.
The freedmen, who many planters thought would stay and work the
plantations as laborers, loving their locales as they did, did not love
it enough, apparently, for they, too, moved out in every direction,
looking very often for some agent of the Union who would show
them a piece of land and start them up in farming. In some areas,
the post-war disorder did not end for fifty years.
Center stage for Reconstruction in 1865 was Washington, D.C. The
ascendency to the Presidency of Andrew Johnson was an ugly surprise
to the Radical Republicans, the group of congressmen who had
prosecuted the war most fiercely and had the most concrete
ideas of what should be done now. To them, Lincoln had been
disappointing, but Johnson would be worse. (One would expect that
all the while the Confederacy was staggering to an end,
plans would have been properly laid for the hereafter.)
Generally the Radicals believed that seceded states should be
treated as conquered provinces, to be admitted to the Union under
whatever restrictive conditions the Congress might impose.
Reflected in the Wade-Davis Bill, one idea was
to require a loyalty oath from a majority of White male
adults of a seceded state before it could be considered for admission,
and to deny the suffrage to all who had fought against the Union.
Lincoln pocketed the bill and Congress adjourned without its having
passed into law. Lincoln, with his presumption that the States had
never left the Union because they legally could not - a position later
upheld by the Supreme Court (1869) - proposed that all who
accepted the Union and swore allegiance to its laws be forgiven
except those who had held high office or had left the Federal service
to join the revolt, and further that a State might return to Congress
after one-tenth of its 1860 qualified voters would
take a loyalty oath.
His death put Johnson in charge, who began to rule by decree,
granting amnesty to all Confederates
except top policy-makers and the richest men.
(He was a populist, unsurprisingly also was self-contradictory,
and of ungovernable temperament: when he first learned of the
Emancipation Proclamation, he exclaimed "Damn the Negroes, I am
fighting these traitorous aristocrats, their masters.")
He proclaimed provisional governments and authorized loyal Whites
to draft new state constitutions and to elect legislatures instructed to
repeal secession, and repudiate their war debts - a forced default, but
they could not pay anyhow - and ratify the Thirteenth Amendment
now making the rounds of the states.
However, the provisional governments began to enact so-called Black
Codes that subjected the former slaves to disabilities,
depriving them of most civil liberties,
including the right to vote, and limiting their
economic activity to farming, for instance.
This may all seem incredible, but the slave states and even some of
their conquerors might well be confused with all that had been said
about the war having to do with secession, not slavery, with
Abraham Lincoln to be quoted and fairly as of this opinion, nor was
there any law or even governing opinion to the effect that the
freedmen were now equals - all states had laws
making "some people more equal than others."
The Radical Republicans, now dominating the Congress, were led by
Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and Representative
Thaddeus Stevens. When the congressmen from the provisional
governments showed up at the convening of Congress in December of
1865, Congress refused to seat them.
Then Congress created a powerful Joint Committee on
Reconstruction of 15 members with jurisdiction over all questions
determining the settlement of the war. Earlier Congress had created
the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, which
came to be called the Freedmen's Bureau. In 1866 Congress
extended the life of the Bureau indefinitely in a bill that Johnson
vetoed. An even stronger bill was passed, however, and
overrode his veto later in the year.
The Bureau opened offices throughout the South and sought to ticket
abandoned land for the use of newly freed Blacks, to feed and house
the homeless, to set up schools, to peacefully and equitably settle
Blacks and Whites in old and new forms of employment.
Some attempts were made to give the freedmen small parcels of land
to farm. This was the dream of the former slave, as of the poor
Southern White as well. And many poor Whites were incensed at
being passed over for Negroes because they had not been slaves and
had been Confederate soldiers.
The White planters fully expected Johnson, who had long said the
most vicious things about them - including that he would like to
have them all shot - to begin a systematic confiscation and
parceling out of their land. It never happened. Running a
chaotic and resentful population was a tough job for a
crippled nation that had little experience with social
welfare programs, North or South.
Congress passed also a Civil Rights Act to confer citizenship upon the
Blacks and to seek equal treatment for them under the law. The
President declared that the measure invaded States Rights (sic!) and
tended to revive the spirit of rebellion.
Understandably, the Republicans saw Johnson as playing ball for the
wrong team. So the Joint Committee proposed and got passed a
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This created a national
citizenship for every person born or naturalized in the United States.
It prohibited any state from passing laws abridging the privileges and
immunities of any citizen of the United States or depriving any
person of "life, liberty, or property without due process of law."
Moreover, any state that deprived any males of the ballot would
have its representation in the Congress cut by the proportion that the
deprived ones constituted of all males. Former confederates could
not fill any offices similar in character to offices they held before
the war. The Confederate debt was repudiated and the debt of the
United States affirmed for repayment.
Johnson denounced the Amendment as unconstitutional (sic!) and
advised the former Confederate states not to ratify it. It was,
however, ratified, in July, 1868. The President and the Republicans
locked horns in the 1866 congressional elections; former
"copperheads" joined with the President. His candidates were
roundly defeated; the Republicans now had a clear mandate.
Now Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts. These divided up the
ten unreconstructed states into five military districts. Federal generals
became in effect their full governors. To be readmitted to the Union, a
state had to hold a constitutional convention under full male suffrage;
draft a constitution that guaranteed full male suffrage,
pass the proposed constitutions under the approval of Congress,
elect state legislatures under the new universal male suffrage
that were pledged to vote for the fourteenth amendment,
then finally apply for representation in congress.
Seeking to tie up the President more securely, Congress
passed a Tenure of Office Act in March of 1867,
forbidding him from removing the top appointive officers
without the approval of the Senate (who of course
would have had to consent to the appointment in the first place).
When Johnson fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton,
a Republican stalwart who had served first and well under Lincoln,
for refusing to obey an order properly,
the Congress decided to get rid of the President entirely.
The House impeached him, and the Senate tried him
on the impeachment.
There were eleven charges, including the violation of the Tenure of
Office Act, all of them said to constitute "high crimes and
misdemeanors." Some were trivial or silly, the one on the Tenure
Act was defending what looked like and would ultimately be termed an
unconstitutional law. The charge that bore most weight was that he
was "unlawfully devising and contriving" to evade the Reconstruction
Acts in violation of his constitutional function of
faithfully executing the laws.
Counsel for the defense argued for one thing that the Tenure Act
was unconstitutional and he, Johnson, could not violate his oath of
office and in good conscience obey it.
Nevertheless, the vote to convict and remove him from office was 35
to 19, only one vote short of the two-thirds required. Johnson's
powers were in fact circumscribed; he was frightened from blocking
Congressional will thereafter. His chief function, in retrospect, seems
to have been to encourage Southern resistance to the spirit of
The new state constitutional conventions convened.
(The occupying Army ensured full and equal suffrage.)
One-third of their total membership was African-American.
Their work was commendable. For instance,
the need was recognized for equally peopled legislative districts
to complement the right to vote by preventing gerrymandering
and other forms of deliberate malapportionment of representatives
to a favored partisan group.
"Unreconstructed" Southerners poured abuse upon their conduct and
upon the legislatures elected afterwards. They popularized two
epithets for the White men who took part in the new politics:
"scalawags" for the White Southerners who tried to implement the
Reconstruction Acts, and "carpetbaggers" for the out-of-state-Whites
who participated to the same end.
Fourteen African-Americans came to serve now in Congress, and
larger numbers in the state legislatures. Almost without exception
the African-American legislators were superior in mind and morality
to the average of their Caucasian colleagues.
Most of the ten states under surveillance qualified soon, but
Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia took until 1870, by which
time they had also to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment, which was
making the rounds of ratification and which forbade any state to
deny anyone the vote on grounds of race, color, or previous
condition of servitude. The Amendment passed in that year.
In the same year and the next, Congress devised the "Force Acts," that
decreed heavy penalties for violation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth
amendments, which allowed federal authorities to control
congressional elections, and which gave the President authority
to use the military to suppress violent disruption of the
exercise of civil rights.
The flow of legislation - punitive, reconstructive, beneficial - appears
to have been timely, reasonable and well-directed. But
Johnson's premature creation of provisional governments helped to
organize immediately the forces of a new rebellion. Before Congress
could react to the situation, an image of the intended rebellion was
created - led by many new men of populist and strongly racist
disposition, eager for personal gains, contemptuous in many cases of
the half-destroyed planter class, convinced that the war need not
have been lost nor need be lost now.
Unfortunately, as often will occur in occupying armies, the
fraternization of soldiers and populace turns to the advantage of the
interests and people that brought in the soldiers for protection of
others in the first place. So that Southern anti-reconstructionists -
who could be also termed racists, or anti-Yankees, or Dixiecrats (for
adhering to the ideology of Southern culture, the region defined
roughly by the Mason-Dixon survey line and the popularity of the
song "I wish I were in Dixie..") - were informally encouraged in
this manner as well.
Both African-American freedmen and Anglo-Celtic poor Whites
were victimized by planters and merchants. Planters
marked out the Blacks as their economic servitors, the merchants
signaled the poor Whites. Planters and merchants fought to preserve
their stake in the victims. Planters in many places had state laws
passed that would forbid selling anything at night in order to control
all sales to their Black workers. They also obtained legal and actual
control over the lending of money, credit, and supplies to Blacks,
while the merchants did the same with
regard to poor Whites.
Half the poor Whites were forever in debt. So were most Blacks. Both
groups cried continually over being cheated. Redress for either Black
or White was almost impossible. Both groups lost their farms
over a couple of decades of time to their "patrons." Instead of
becoming a vast land of small independent farmers, the South became
a region of tenants, share-croppers and farm laborers.
This happened by 1890, in the generation following the War.
County courthouse gangs - a sheriff, a court, a few deputies, a few
landowners, several lawyers, a couple of merchants, a land
surveyor, a county recorder, a council of friends of these - this was
the typical Southern elite in over a thousand counties during this
century of which we speak: they were the local troops of the "Second
Army of the Confederacy."
Cries of corruption were raised on all sides. There is no question, but
that all the reconstruction governments could be accused of inordinate
corruption at all levels, and that the army brought in its share of
crooks. The Dixiecrats raised the cry most successfully, and, given the
prevalent racism in the North as well as the South, the stigma of waste
and corruption branded the governments, in which were to be
found African-Americans and White collaborators.
The propaganda victory here was complete; for a century the whole
nation was given to believe that the reconstructed governments were
ridiculous and corrupt failures. Such was not the case. They appear
now not to have been worse than the average in these regards when
compared with pre-war or post-reconstruction governments; in any
event, the civil liberties and fairness and hope that they allowed to the
poor population might compensate for a large amount of corruption.
Too, the budgets that provided for the first time for public education in
some of the reformed states were commendable, not wasteful.
Supplementing the accusations of illegitimate (that is, Northern-enforced)
government, and of incompetence and corruption, was a
propaganda depicting general sexual and moral promiscuity and
conspiracies against the White communities and White property. Then
came the propaganda of terror, promising that active Blacks and
those cooperating with them could expect to be punished
economically, socially, and physically by the ever-swelling
Dixiecrat movement. And reality soon succeeded the threat.
In 1866 in Memphis, the Ku Klux Klan was formed, not with any
grand conspiracy in mind, but as a civic and social club. The idea
developed its full form and large interstate membership quickly. It
became a general revolt by all means against the efforts to make of the
South what losing a war, any war, would have been expected to make
of it. Similar secret "reform" associations, parading in awful gear,
had been long known in Europe, usually being
gilds of artisans or Catholic lay groups or Mardi Gras clubs.
There were similar organizations with the same goals, also: the
Knights of the White Camellia, the Boys of '76, etc. They wore
outlandish costumes - white robes and hoods for instance - pledged
secret vows, and used guns, knives, whips, clubs, branding, nooses,
torches, fires, and burning crosses to impress the world and
break the will of the opposition.
Once the repertoire of Dixiecrat tactics was learned and spread,
local vigilantism and the local communities knew just
what they had to do to "keep the Negro in his place,"
and to frustrate any local or outside intervention
on behalf of the African-American or - and
here was the equally great tragedy of the White South - to alter any
conditions that might interject wider opinions, progress,
new faces, or measures for the general welfare.
The expression is sometimes used pridefully in the history of a
country resisting oppression, "the whole people rose against the
occupying power:" this might be applied to the whole of the
South including the areas of Southern culture that
escaped membership in the Confederacy.
Indeed, the Confederacy gained allies; the border States that had
fought for the Union now turned against the Union and the
Constitution and joined the enemy! An enormous reinforcement of
political, economic, population, and propaganda power blessed the
Old South in the Reconstruction War. In these States - Maryland,
West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and portions of
Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and wherever else the borders of
the Confederacy were touched - Confederates, overtly or in
disguise, came to dominate.
But surely there were Southerners who knew what should be done
to recover from the war and achieve equality in agriculture, commerce,
politics, and social well-being with the North? They were a minority, a
subdued and silent minority who could hardly muster a quorum of
opposition to the general tenor and
pace of Southern affairs.
Few could realize, not then nor now,
how wretched were the souls of the gentle and kind
in the old South, particularly of the Coastal region,
who were citizens of the State, nation and world,
but were condemned to everlasting custody by vicious prejudice
around them, the contempt, too, and hatred of the cultured
national public, feeling no longer at one with
peace, plenty, and progress, cast into the
ignominy of the whole Southern culture.
The War increased the number of poor and destitute of the South to
over 85% of the White population, and in this same category had to be
placed practically all - say 98% - of the Blacks. This state of
degradation would not be alleviated before another
three biological generations.
But it was from this poor White population that the initiative and the
battles of the hundred-year Civil War sprang. Once more, the poor
Southerner valued more than anything his pride; this pride had been
mercilessly crushed by the Northerners; and the only way he could
think of to restore it was to continue what had been his tactic of
self-respect for centuries, the further degradation of the Blacks,
fortified now in his determination by Union's attempts
at the legal and forced emancipation of the Blacks.
The poor Whites of the South would continue to fight their kind of
war violently, socially, illegally and legally, economically, too,
until a great many of them (and the Blacks) had left the South and
until Federal troops descended upon them once more.
One coup d'état succeeded another. By illegal and violent means the
Dixiecrats expelled the cooperating Blacks and Whites from the state
governments. Efforts to organize biracial militias could not suffice
against the forces developed by the illegal elements. The national army
was sent in once by General Grant to curb Klan violence under the
Force Acts. Between 1865 and 1868 in Texas, an official and perhaps
correct report came up with 509 White and 486 freedman killings, but
almost all the White deaths came at the hands of other Whites.
There were scores of lethal riots occurring
throughout the period.
The Republican Party of the South, that the congressional radicals
had hope would develop, weakened rapidly until it lost control of
all states, and existed thereafter by tolerance, often
serving its Democratic political masters,
discriminating also against Blacks, and called "Lily White Republicans"
by contemptuous Northern Republican associates.
In 1872, a combination of Democrats and moderate Republicans
enacted a General Amnesty Act that gave back political privileges to
thousands of former Confederate leaders. The number of
Black office-holders declined farther as a result.
As if to lend the Dixiecrat rebels further assistance, the Supreme
Court in 1873 decided in the so-called Slaughterhouse Cases that the
fourteenth amendment was not intended to protect civil rights in
general, but only to protect the rights of U.S. national citizenship.
In 1875 Congress passed a law prohibiting racial discrimination in
public places, such as restaurants and hotels. It was not enforced,
but even so in 1883 the Supreme Court was pleased to find a case
for declaring it unconstitutional on grounds that the
Fourteenth amendment forbade acts of discrimination by States,
but not by private parties. By this time, most
hopes for a changed and cooperative South were lost.
Barely, one might accord a period of promise for African-Americans,
one-third of the Southern states' people then, in the
years 1865 to 1872. No sooner had the war ended, when
Black freedom and national unity, the two main objectives of the
war, which never were established anyhow,
began to erode farther.
The new Southern State legislatures, whose historical record before
the War was not at all positive or innovative, suddenly began to
show the ideal possibilities of federalism,
but in the wrong way.
They became exceedingly crafty in laws to resist Reconstruction and
to discriminate against African-Americans. They learned how to
evade federal jurisdiction and laws.
They wrote a new version of Southern honor, which boiled down to
ways of making a Black "respect" a White man regardless of merit,
and States Rights, which amounted to all the ways to circumvent,
cheat and milk the federal government.
In 1876 a Presidential election was held. Grant had served two terms
as a Republican, winning easily, yet doing nothing for the public
welfare in any part of the country. He encouraged speculations, many
of them practically swindles, and had nothing to offer when severe
economic depression struck the country and millions of people
suffered dismally and miserably. He tolerated a high incidence of graft
and corruption in his entourage.
The war that his supporters claimed him to have won was continuing
under his nose without his demonstrating frustration or regret. He
would have run for a third term, but his following deserted him and
nominated a non-entity named Rutherford Hayes, an Ohio politician.
Against him the Democrats, sensing the first victory since
1856, ran Samuel Tilden of New York; he was a millionaire, a
lawyer, and reform governor of New York State.
He had broken up the grafting Tweed Ring.
Tilden won more votes than Hayes but, with 184 electoral votes, was
one short of the necessary majority. Once again, the Electoral College
would threaten the federal system; luckily neither Tilden nor Hayes
had a Jacksonian following. In three Southern states, where fraud and
intimidation were extensive, rival boards of
canvassers appeared, giving different totals. The Republicans
conceded Florida, but not Louisiana and South Carolina, where,
also, two different governments came forward to claim legitimacy.
The Constitution owning no word on this subject, Congress set
up an Electoral Commission of fifteen members, five each from House
and Senate and five from the Supreme Court, for the particular purpose
of reporting recommendations to Congress. The swing member
became Justice Bradley, a Republican, there being only Republicans
left in the Court, and he voted with the other Republicans in favor
of recommending Hayes to Congress.
The House finally accepted Hayes by a narrow margin, and it
developed that the margin had been provided by several Democrats,
who voted for the Republican because he promised to withdraw the
Federal troops that had been policing the reconstruction scene in
South Carolina and Louisiana.
The Republican governments in those states soon collapsed and they
became Democratic far into the future, along with the rest of the
The Democrats in on the deal had promised to observe the
Reconstruction laws and Constitutional Amendments, but had never
the slightest intention of doing so, as Congress might have realized.
Other promises were exchanged no less irresponsibly.
The election proved to be a major victory for the Caucasian South
against the North and African-American South. Like the other victories,
this also helped to perpetuate the degradation of Southern
culture and minimize its capacity for national leadership.
The Southern states now embarked upon a voyage of inventions
designed to eliminate the African-American as a voter and respectable
American citizen. These were accompanied by the
continual violence and intimidation already described.
At first the South was led in good part by an element that came to
be called "Bourbons,' for having connections with the pre-war elite,
and not so opposed as the poor whites to giving Blacks
some small role in civic affairs. They maintained stingy
governments that gave little in public education or social services.
They offered the nation an amusing panorama of romantic decadence.
They lost ground as time went on to harder and more populist
elements - rabble-rousing "men of the people" like Ben Tillman,
James Vardaman, and Jeff Davis. These wanted easier money, that is,
inflation, laws against extortionate interest rates, laws against fencing
their livestock from common lands, and laws restraining monopolies
such as railroads, docks, and grain elevators. The populists sometimes
tried joining with Blacks along social class and income lines, but
in the end, despite a few victories, the populists went the way
of anti-Black forces and abetted the degradation of the Blacks.
In 1896, the Supreme Court took up the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson,
a Louisiana situation in which a Black refused to be
evicted from a railroad car section reserved for "Whites." (He was
one-eighth Black, but as everywhere in the South, any amount of
proven Black ancestry placed a person in the discriminated category
of Black) Now was announced the infamous "separate but equal"
doctrine, holding that the states had every right to discriminate
between Black and White provided only that they provided
separate but equal facilities for each race.
To the complete segregation by private groups and facilities,
often resulting in a total exclusion of African-Americans from services,
there was added the whole range of possibilities
for the states to make life worse for the Blacks.
Every facility and service that the states provided became
superior for Whites and degenerated for Blacks.
Blacks had to ride to the rear of Whites in buses,
they were seated separately practically everywhere,
and barred from many recreation and other public areas.
Their schools were maintained to be universally inferior.
Laws were passed making literacy a requirement for voting, or
requiring a satisfactory rendering of the constitution of the state:
laws that would discriminate against the poor and uneducated,
but, as applied in fact, could let Whites pass through
and make Negroes fail.
A shocking evasion of the Constitution occurred in the case of the
"grandfather" clauses, measures that allowed to vote, in the failure of
other qualifications for voting, anyone whose
ancestors had voted before 1867.
The poll tax was widespread as a limitation on the vote. One could
not vote if he could not tender to the registrar of elections a receipt
for having paid last year's poll tax. The tax was low, but sufficient
to discourage a man who had nothing.
In 1900, 181,000 Alabama Black citizens were registered to vote
(already a severely reduced number); two years later the number had
dropped to 3,000.
Texas passed a law excluding Negroes from voting in the
Democratic Primary elections, rationalizing that the Party was a
voluntary association and therefore could determine who might
be allowed to belong or vote in to act in concert with the Party.
But the Supreme Court could not swallow this,
for the law governing the Party was a law of the State
and therefore clearly prohibited.
Later on, the Democrats passed a Party resolution to exclude
Negroes, but this too was regarded as an act that had come from an
association, the party, that was effectively an organ of government.
One way or another, however, Blacks had been almost entirely
excluded from their constitutional suffrage rights all over the South
by the turn of the century.
The perpetrators of these crimes, effectively the Southern political
elite, were aware of the unconstitutionality of the laws
they were passing, a bizarre collection, often nonsensical.
They expected that sooner or later the laws would be demolished,
but they would meanwhile and for some years be "victorious,"
and, upon the loss of one law, they might pass another,
equally ridiculous on its face, equally pernicious in its effects.
Like the mills of the gods, the legal mills were set to grind
exceedingly slow when it came to the rights of Afro-Americans.
Meanwhile, it should be clear, African-Americans in the South (and
much of this rubbed off on Northern practice) had no chance of
enjoying a wide range of civil rights, of economic possibilities and
rights, of educational rights, of social rights. As late as 1930,
Birmingham, Alabama, passed a law forbidding a White and a Black
person to play dominoes or checkers with each other.
Blacks were never called to serve on a jury.
Nor were they allowed to act as witnesses in a court proceeding.
They found it practically impossible to sue a White person.
They could not enter professional schools, because none existed
in many places. They were excluded from most of the skilled trades,
and in dealing with Whites, except on the most simple level of the
selling of produce or purchase of supplies, while having to rely upon
the Whites for the borrowing of money at usurious interest rates, the
employment of Whites to draw up their documents, etc. Laws
against mixed marriages of Whites and Blacks were universal.
Churches were segregated. The Black paid more for whatever he
bought. He had no professional medical care worth mentioning. He
had to step aside to let a White person pass. And by he, I mean, of
course, she, too, and the children.
Probably less than one in 100,000 (sic) violations of civil rights
ever received the sympathetic attention of the police, politicians,
press or courts. The world's foremost financier, whose advice the
White House lapped up, J.P.Morgan, was so
impressed by the Congo, then being exposed as a stable of horrors
owned personally by the King of Belgium, that he recommended the
region as "an ideal dumping ground for the South's surplus Blacks.".
To conclude here, the African ethnics in America by the year 1905
were in most regards in a situation worse than under slavery.
(Nine out of 10 Blacks lived in the South still.)
They had practically no economic value in their community,
where the Whites were measuring value. The
Republican Party still raked in their faithful votes up North,
yet gave nothing in return, since the Party had found
that it could win the Presidency and Congress
with the Northern White vote alone.
And, hoist by their own petard, the Southern Caucasians were
practically as badly off, except that they could escape into the North
and lose their cultural markings, or by competing successfully
achieve the limited opportunities to succeed financially in the South.
At great cost to themselves, greater even than the cost to the South
of the Civil War, which latter costs historians duly and continually
lamented, the South won the first fifty years' battles of the War of
Reconstruction. The next fifty years saw a
turning of the tide.
Black Americans were becoming more numerous in the North and
West. In the 1870's 7,000 Afro-Americans
moved from Kentucky and Tennessee into Kansas.
In 1879, outdoing the Mormon westward trek,
60,000 in families moved from the lower Mississippi
Valley to Kansas. Between 1891 and 1910,
there was a major migration into the Oklahoma Territory.
Blacks were settling everywhere, hoping for a majority.
In 1907, Statehood was granted, and the first act of the
legislature was to segregate public facilities and transportation.
In the 1920's the Ku Klux Klan reactivated.
But then the Northern trek was on. Some
170,000 headed North in the first decade of the twentieth century,
454,000 in the next decade,
749,000 between 1920 and 1930,
349,000 in the depression years,
and 1,599,000 in the nineteen forties.
It must be appreciated that these were people with the same
zero cash reserve as most millions of other immigrants from abroad.
They brought no property with them. And,
as with the European ethnics coming to America,
they may have left behind their families and a parched or swampy
patch of land which they owned.
New York, Philadelphia, Washington and other cities had a fairly
complete social class pyramid of Blacks, with all the distinctions of
White social class pretensions, plus a couple of distinctively Black
ones, such as the fairness of skin, although even this was to be found
among the Whites, with degree of blondness marking a
socially desirable feature.
It was mostly from this elite that the first generations of Black
scholars, university teachers and administrators, and professional
men came. It was also from this group that, despite their pretensions
to superiority and desire to separate themselves from the
overwhelming majority of Blacks, that the first agitators and
activists of the African-American counterrevolution to the
White Southern assaults came.
Generally, educated African-Americans had recourse to two schools of
thought on to proceed to complete emancipation and
equality. One was represented by Booker T. Washington: it held that
Negroes and Caucasians had to learn to work peaceably together in
mutual respect, but that meanwhile much could be done while the two
races remained segregated. Negroes, he felt, should not press for
integration as a necessary part of advancement, nor should they
demand immediate large changes, which were the views taken by
W.E.B. du Bois, the most influential agitator of the times. Of course,
White people liked Booker Washington; he was so sweetly reasonable.
He founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to provide Blacks with a
higher education. Later generations of Black agitators found
du Bois much more to their liking.
In the first years of the century, the National Association for the
Advancement of the Colored People was organized. Whites
participated from the beginning. The old abolitionist group had not
vanished. Much diminished and without a national audience any
longer, it worked through the Boston Transcript journal under
Edward Clement, who termed the South Carolina complete
disfranchisement of African-Americans in 1895 a "second
nullification," William Lloyd Garrison, Jr., a merchant who called
for the Blacks to rise up in combat against the savagery of the South
and the racial contempt of the North, and Fanny Garrison and her
husband Henry Villard who took over the New York Evening Post and
the Nation magazine and converted them into weapons of
liberation and equality.
In 1909, Mary White Ovington, William Walling, and Dr. Henry
Moskowitz (a Jewish name, indicative of a new source of strength for
reform causes in America, that would grow immensely influential in
the course of the century), enlisted Villard's leadership in calling a
National Negro Conference in 1909, from which grew the NAACP.
After it was formed, major outrages against the Blacks were met by
some kind of protest, lobbying, publicity, and meetings
(wherever in the public halls, schools, and social gathering places
the gatherings would be tolerated).
With the coming of World War I, however, a considerable
immigration of rural Blacks from the South - and poor Whites as
well - occurred to fill jobs in Northern industry, not so much
vacated by men joining the army as created by heavily increased orders
for war materiel of all kinds. In Chicago in 1919 grave riots
occurred. Blacks were moving into the worst neighborhoods, taking
the worst jobs available: still this was not enough to ward off
persecution and rioters. At that time not a single Black was to be
found in any lowly managerial position in Chicago industry, then the
world's most productive. Black workers moved into Detroit as
well, where the automobile industry was booming.
Much worse was the riot of 1921 in Tulsa, Oklahoma,
where merely a rumor of an attempted assault by a black of a
white woman led to an attack by an armed mob of
white men against the mostly black neighborhood of
north Tulsa; blacks responded in less
numbers and firepower. From 75 to 300 persons were
estimated to have been killed, many more wounded,
while the neighborhood was destroyed.
The National Guard stopped the battle, but
79 years later new facts emerged,
engendering suits against the government.
A second KKK Had been formed in Atlanta in 1915.
It grew far beyond the old South and
beyond even the border states into the Midwest and West,
with the Blacks as a secondary target - being already
completely suppressed - and Catholics, Jews, and foreigners as the
primary targets - yet at the same time the
Klan went out heavily to get at White
Anglo-Celtic Protestants offending against "Bible Belt" morality.
(The Bible Belt is the large portion of the States that
entertains a high proportion of revivalists, evangelists, and
literal Bible-readers; its area correlates well with Southern culture.)
The Klan dominated the government of Indiana until scandals of
sex and graft hit its own leaders.
Even states such as Oregon, Colorado,and Illinois were
affected by the tactics of the Klan. Over two million
White Protestants joined the Klan. The Bible Belt was
churning out racial and religious prejudice and
hostilities as fast as ever.
"The times they was a-changin'"
New personnel were being appointed to the Supreme Court. A new
climate of opinion was supportive of a people's yearnings. The New
Deal turned out to be a great victory for the African-American. First it
had to be a great victory for the poor Southern White.
Then the Blacks could share modestly.
But, in the North, Black opportunities soared.
Jobs were made for the pick-and-shovel man and the artist. And a
range of welfare and education benefits
suddenly became available.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a Fair Employment
Practices Commission of 1941 that directed American industry in all
of its ramifications to make jobs available to persons on an equal
basis regardless of race and creed. It had mostly a symbolic effect
for many years. Between 1933 and 1946 the number of Blacks
employed by the Federal government rose from 50,000 to 200,000.
But the rise appears to be less spectacular when viewed against
the great increase in government employment as a whole .
The Supreme Court, frightened by Roosevelt into a liberal attitude,
ordered a separate and equal law school to be constructed by a State
that did not admit Black law students; it reordered trials where
Negroes had been systematically denied selection as jurors; it
directed the Railroad Brotherhoods to grant membership rights to
Negroes or forfeit its right to be a bargaining agent for railroad
employees; only in 1946 did it ban separate
seating in interstate buses.
In 1948 the Court would rule that restrictive covenants of
private groups that aimed at barring certain areas for housing
to African-Americans were unconstitutional and unenforceable.
After a wide attack upon racism, after racial riots again occurred in
Detroit and other places, and while Blacks were widely
discriminated against all over the South and Southwest, and had
fought and were still trained in segregated units under principally
White officers, President Truman finally and under pressure ordered
the Armed Forces to admit and incorporate African-Americans on a
non-segregated basis. Truman's actions on behalf of racial justice
were not impelled by civil courage; on the contrary; he had done
almost nothing on his own initiative to boost African-Americans.
But once he was informed that enough Blacks were now voting in the
key states of the Union to determine the election of 1948, in which a
third "Progressive Party" candidate, Henry Wallace, a great
Agriculture Secretary and formerly Vice-President under Franklin
Delano Roosevelt and a proven life-long advocate of social justice,
could capture some of the old New Deal Black vote and thus let
Republican candidate Thomas Dewey win the election, Truman
somersaulted before the African-American leadership and
missed a pratfall on Election Day by a few votes.
Truman's new administration was also characterized by a
political witch-hunt, led by the FBI under
J. Edgar Hoover, Senator Joseph McCarthy, and the
usual clutch of red-baiters. Their continual tactic
was expressed well in the words of Cardinal Richelieu,
chief of the government of Louis XIII of France, long before:
"If one gives me six lines written by the most honorable of men,
I will find in them something with which to hang him."
In all of the Congress there were only two
radical voices regularly denouncing and voting against the
long-drawn-out persecution. A great nuisance
and infinite minor injustices were rendered incidentally,
but at most only several true "burnings,"
not at all comparable to what Stalin, Mao, and other great
men were simultaneously doing to their peoples.
So, the usual expression was in order,
"It could be worse. Look at what's
happening in Lower Slobbovia.")
The two voices were the dashing dusky Adam Clayton Powell
and Vito Marcantonio in the House of Representatives,
both from New York City.
During much of this time, the Supreme Court was working against the
national popular current. It found Alabama's allowance of wide powers
to its voting registrars to discriminate against voters without due
process of law to be unconstitutional; it ended segregation in railroad
dining cars, and it ruled in 1954 in the case of Brown vs. Board of
Education that segregation in public schools was inescapably invidious
discrimination and ordered the educational systems of America in
effect to integrate the races. Chief Justice Warren of the Supreme
Court led some of these major advances.
Numerous cases were bring brought in lower courts, and
increasingly the judicial system and the factory and the public sector
gave racial equality its due. The favorable edicts issued
with greater frequency. And so did pro-African-American agitators -
college students Black and White, the Students Non-violent
Coordinating Committee, the Committee on Racial Equality,
both with short-term spectacular histories in this period, and
the more enduring Southern Conference organization of
Dr. Luther Martin King.
The national media were alive and friendly now. An informal
system, a network of groups birthed, typically beginning
with a state-federal patterning, with local oligarchic control and
rising nationally to a pyramid peak of a few individuals with
national media exposure.
"Sit-ins" at discriminatory restaurants and other public places proved
to be highly effective, once the high risk of violence and bloodshed
was assumed; in the end, no disastrous encounters occurred. The
capacity to turn out great crowds on critical occasions had striking
effect upon national elite groups. They, including many Southern
politicians, made significant concessions; the elites of universities,
industry, government, non-profit groups, religions, the military, the
presidency and the legislatures -many of them caved in.
The techniques of stressed democracy -- the grand demonstration, the
threatened picketings, and the like -- proved able to do the job, in part
at least, that the traditional representative government
devices had failed at doing.
When President Kennedy was assassinated, President Johnson "got
religion" and pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which put
government squarely on a day-to-day basis into the business of
eliminating bias in many fields. The victory was theoretically won,
as it had been won a hundred years earlier.
In 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King was
assassinated, the killer captured, a typical
befuddled poor Southern White. Victory in the
Second Civil War ended like the first,
in the assassination of the victorious leader.
But most Americans, reneging on promises and
influenced by the deplorable Southern poor White culture,
continued in a hundred forms to begrudge only
second-class citizenship to African-Americans.
The promise of integrated education was dispelled,
despite the busing of millions of children tediously and
expensively to various schools in search of a racial balance.
Black colleges remained almost entirely black,
whether public or independent. Housing
segregation continued to obey the laws of
sociology rather than the law of the land.
In Chicago only 110 of 1,169
neighborhoods could be termed integrated,
containing 20% to 50% black residents,
in 1990. Five years later, only 27 of the
110 remained integrated.
Granting that the gains won by African-Americans
by the year 1965 leveled the playing field for
blacks and whites so far as much formal law was
concerned, we would have to say that racial hostilities
in thought and informal uncontrolled activity continued .
One might also ask what were the gains and losses of the
White Southerner by the degradation of a century of guerrilla
warfare, of economic and social hostilities against the North and
Blacks everywhere, and against the liberal Southerners
who wanted to accommodate to the new age.
The South won in Congress more and more. Because of the one-party
system, the Democrats always triumphant, over a long period
of time, the important committees of congress came to be dominated
and chaired by Southerners. Since the committees ran much of the
national government, the Dixiecrats had many ways of blocking the
equal rights of Blacks throughout America society. At the same
time, they lent to the legislative process and politics a cunning and
They, too, brokers for their districts and states (more truly
ringleaders of "good old boy" cliques), wormed disproportionately
large sums of federal money out of the more prosperous sections of
the country. But on the whole their influence was baleful. The South
brought itself to a low moral, psychological and cultural
level in order to suppress Blacks.
Personal accounts, biographies, autobiographies, histories local and
regional, newspaper files - all sources of information describe a
tragic apathy alternating with irascibility, of deterioration of the
environment and widespread greed - often called the "new South" -
of pandemic illnesses - rickets, pellagra, ringworm, trachoma,
malaria - largely defeated elsewhere by
preventive care and medicine.
When a Jewish businessman was lynched in Georgia in 1915 for
allegedly raping and murdering a young factory worker, almost all of
the Jews of the State moved out, in disgust and fear, a loss of the
State's most progressive element, making it a little easier to
understand why Georgia spent the twentieth century vying for
bottom place on the social indicators that bespeak the
welfare of the people of a state.
In a nation most of whose state and local governments have
persisted in various stages and forms of corruption, the Southern
states were notoriously worse than average. In education, the South
was universally at a lower level than any of the Northern states, no
matter how poor these were. By the turn of the century there were
more distinguished professors at the state University of Wisconsin
than in all Southern universities combined.
Northern businessmen were invited to establish factories and
services by many local Southern elites. They found no law to
impede them from a disgraceful exploitation of the White
Southern population - men, women, and children.
Wages and opportunities were less than
those allotted to Northern immigrant arrivals.
By 1890, Northern political mouthpieces of business were working
against efforts to reduce the oppression of African-Americans,
warning that the tender shoots of commercial cooperation between
North and South would wither in consequence. Call the roll of many
sections of the Northern elite and very few would respond with an
"aye" to commend the useful and nobly inspired
work of the Freedman's Bureau. Yet it was the total
elite, not the Bureau, that
failed to give the freed Black his promised
"forty acres and a mule."
Crimes of violence occurred in the South at higher rates than
anywhere else even if crimes against and between Blacks were put
aside. In the year of the infamous St.Valentine's Day Massacre
so-called, when Al Capone's gang wiped out a gang of Dion O'Banion,
killing 7 of them, there were in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia,
all of them together having no more people than the world-shocking
City of Chicago, ten times as many recorded murders, a larger
number of poor people's and police-enforcement
murders, unrecorded, and certainly as much wholesale intimidation
and robbing of the poor, the Black, and the liberals, as the again
infamous racketeers accomplished in the stores,
construction industry, and speakeasies of Chicago.
It was the attitude that Southerners adopted toward the Civil War,
their intent to carry it on by all means possible and "Ah hates the
Constitution.." (as a doggerel litany went), that brought out the
floods of violence throughout the South and borderlands, even
besides racial aggression. Thousands of Americans, White and Black,
were murdered every year. The family blood feuds that had nearly
disappeared before the Civil War broke out everywhere,
especially violent episodes characterizing the Southern
Appalachians, even at their western extremity in Texas.
Texas saw every kind of violence through the hundred years,
including vicious Indian war with the Comanche and Kiowas.
The same Southern culture that had moved from Arkansas and
Missouri, and from East Texas into Central Texas and then over to
New Mexico and Arizona, continued the history of violence. From
1886 to 1892, the Tewsbury sheep family and the Graham cattle family
waged a deadly feud to the last man; only one person
survived; numerous Black and Chicano cowboys also
bit the dust in the fracas.
A few Blacks in this gory and gruesome panorama of the Southwest
gained a measure of protection and dignity by serving under White
officers in the Army cavalry. Nicknamed the "Buffalos," they
fought, ironically, the other notoriously oppressed American
minority, the Indians.
A hatred of sheep was manifested in the wide West, and many
battles between sheep-herders and cowmen were noted. Wild West
fiction amplified the incidence of conflict, and sided with the
cattlemen, so that four generations of boys learned to hold shepherds
in contempt and would prefer eating beef to eating lamb. The canard
was circulated that sheep ate the grass down to its roots, killing it.
Cattle were instinctively conservationist, it seemed.
Nobody dared admit, even if they realized it, that a major source of
all of this nonsense was probably the appalling series of enclosures
in Britain and even on the continent that, to make way for sheep,
made homeless hundreds of thousands of peasants, ancestors and
clansfolk of the cowmen, and started them on the road to America.
Vigilantism was everywhere in the South and west. Often the "better
element" of a community was enlisted to keep order and run out of
town the frequent disorderly and criminal visitors and new settlers.
Vice and virtue lived cheek and jowl as everywhere in America, but
the case of the Bald Knobber vigilantes of the Ozarks was outstanding:
there gangs rose to wipe out theft, liquor, gambling and prostitution in
Christian and Taney counties; the militia had finally to be called in.
Most vigilante groups were used to put down the Blacks and poor
squatters, also gypsies and tramps on occasions ,others to combat vice;
the White Caps were in different localities of differing habits. In
Northern New Mexico the White Caps were a poor farmer and rancher
movement of the native Hispanics against rich
Hispanics and Anglo-celts, who wished to seize their land and water.
In the twentieth century, a hundred years would pass and the South
would still try to solve its problems, as would the North to a lesser
degree, in the shadow of the Civil War and racism. The cost to
African-Americans of the history of slavery and the struggles aimed at
excising its baneful influence has been enormous. One could offer in
dollar terms a figure of five trillion dollars and justify it, by assigning a
cost, in current dollars, of the deprivations suffered.
These five trillions would be made up of
the less than average portion given the African-Americans
out of the total product of values.
By values, we mean of course, power, wealth, respect, knowledge,
welfare, and affection. Of all these only affection, despite frequent
splitting asunder of families and friends, could be said to have been
possessed and enjoyed by the African-American with his fellow beings,
as much or more than the Whites managed to
bring it about among themselves.
In dollar figures, the White South in addition lost at least half as much
because they crippled their own cultural, economic, and affectional
development in order to preserve an evil institution
legally and then illegally. But theirs was voluntary activity, the Black
loss involuntary and therefore, if anyone should pay, it may
be said, it should be the Whites to the Blacks, and
then the Whites to themselves.
Then there is the ecology of the South, not counted in above, that
was wrecked by three centuries of abuse, its forests, its bays, its
river valleys, its soils, its fisheries, its animal life.
What was the damage here in dollar terms -
another two trillion dollars? Quite so.
Then the total damage amounts to nine trillion dollars, without
considering the North's fate. What is a trillion dollars?
It is what the whole American people earn in a year.
They would all starve to death a hundred times
trying to repay the sum.
In a later section, we shall enter farther these realms of heuristic
accounting. Religious people like to say that ultimately we shall each
and every one come to an accounting before our Lord. There is some
point to fabricating a preliminary accounting at the end of a history of
a people - to present it to the Sovereign People.