Life and Labor in the Old South

Life and Labor in the Old South

Life and Labor in the Old South

Life and Labor in the Old South

Excerpt

If intelligence is to be gauged in political programmes, the conditions of life which gave them origin must first be known. Hence the priority of the present volume in a group which is planned as a history of the South. The second will trace the course of public policy to 1861, and a third may bring the consolidated social and political themes onward from that epochal year.

Some of the chapters here printed run parallel to those in my "American Negro Slavery." The decade since that publication has not only brought much material to light but has wrought sundry changes of emphasis and revisions of judgment. More years of research and reflection would no doubt bring further modification; but a century of continuous effort would not relieve all uncertainties nor solve the riddle of human nature, individual and collective, Caucasian and African. Every line which a qualified student writes is written with a consciousness that his impressions are imperfect and his conclusions open to challenge. If he put upon paper all that is in his mind, every third or fourth sentence would contain a saving clause--"it seems to me", "the weight of evidence tends to show", or "as others have said and I accept." If the pages do not bristle with such phrases it is not a mark of duplicity or of cocksureness. In history, science and philosophy the tentative is implicit.

When I read of Howard Odum's Black Ulysses, of DuBose Heyward's Porgy, of Stephen Benét's plantation mammy and her mistress, esteem for their creations is mingled with chagrin that my fancy is restricted by records. The characters portrayed by these writers are as true as the men and women who figure in my pages, though the breath in their nostrils . . .

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