The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXVIII
EVOLUTION

THE story of slavery merges in the stories of the white man and the black man, to which there is no end. As the main period to the present study we have taken the beginning of President Hayes's administration in 1877, when the withdrawal of Federal troops from the South marked the return of the States of the Union to their normal relations, and also marked the disappearance of the negro problem as the central feature in national politics. From that time to the present we shall take but a bird's-eye view of the fortunes and the mutual relation of the two races.

The people of the Southern States realized gradually but at last fully that the conduct of their affairs was left in their own hands. From this time there was no important Federal legislation directed specially at the South. The restrictive laws left over from the reconstruction period were in some cases set aside by the Supreme Court and in general passed into abeyance. There was rare and brief discussion of a renewal of Federal supervision of elections. But the Northern people, partly from rational conviction and partly from absorption in new issues, were wholly indisposed to any further interference. Without such interference there was no slightest chance of any restoration of political preponderance of the negroes over the whites. The specter of "negro domination" haunted the Southern imagination long after it had become an impossibility. Then it was used as a bogy by small politicians. But the only serious attempt at national legislation for the South has been of a wholly,

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