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

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIX
EBB AND FLOW

THUS, in broadest outline, have the two races at the South been faring on their way. And now in recent years, under their separate development and with their close intermingling, have come new complications and difficulties. The tendency has been in some ways to a wider separation. The old relations between the household servants and their employers, often most kindly, and long continuing to link the two races at numberless points, have passed away with the old generation. Once the inmates of mansion and cabin knew well each other's ways. Now they are almost unacquainted. The aristocracy and its dependents had their mutual relations of protection and loyalty, and gracious and helpful they often were. Now comes democracy,--vigorous, jostling, self-assertive,--its true social ideal of brotherly comradeship being yet far from realization. The negro is in a doubly hard position; under democratic competition the weaker is thrust to the wall, yet he has not even the equality which democracy asserts, but is held in the lower place by caste. And so there is a new or a newly apparent aggression upon the weaker race.

Its most obvious form is the legal limitation of suffrage. The irregular and indirect suppression of the negro vote which had prevailed since the close of the Reconstruction period, was not thorough and sure enough to satisfy the white politicians. And the lawless habit which it fostered, and whose effects could by no means be confined to one race, alarmed the better classes. So from two directions

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