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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

The Negro Question in the South

The Negro Question in the South
By Thomas E. Watson

The Negro Question in the South has been for nearly thirty years a source of danger, discord, and bloodshed. It is an ever-present irritant and menace.

Several millions of slaves were told that they were the prime cause of the civil war; that their emancipation was the result of the triumph of the North over the South; that the ballot was placed in their hands as a weapon of defence against their former masters; that the war-won political equality of the black man with the white, must be asserted promptly and aggressively, under the leadership of adventures who had swooped down upon the conquered section in the wake of the Union armies.

No one, who wishes to be fair, can fail to see that, in such a condition of things, strife between the freedman and his former owner was inevitable. In the clashing of interests and of feelings, bitterness was born. The black man was kept in a continual fever of suspicion that we meant to put him back into slavery. In the assertion of his recently acquired privileges, he was led to believe that that best proof of his being on the right side of any issue was that his old master was on the other. When this was the case, he felt easy in his mind. But if, by any chance, he found that he was voting the same ticket with his former owner, he at once became reflective and suspicious. In the irritable temper of the times, a whispered warning from a Northern “carpet-bagger,” having no justification in rhyme or reason, outweighed with him a carload of sound argument and earnest expostulation from the man whom he had known all his life; who had hunted with him through every swamp and wooded upland for miles around; who had wrestled and run foot-races with him in the “Negro quarters” on many a Saturday afternoon; who has fished with him at every “hole” in the creek; and who had played a thousand games of “marble” with him under the cool shade of the giant oaks which, in those days, sheltered a home they had both loved.

Messages In This Thread

The Negro Question in the South
Grover and His Scarecrow
Ethnicity and Populism
Re: The Negro Question in the South

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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