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A History of the United States by Cecil Chesterton

Romped freely with the little negroes


It

was a gross scandal, but it put an end to a grosser one. Some believe that there was a bargain whereby the election of Hayes should be acquiesced in peaceably on condition that the Negro Governments were not further supported. It is equally possible that Hayes felt his moral position too weak to continue a policy of oppression in the South. At any rate, that policy was not continued. Federal support was withdrawn from the remaining Negro Governments, and they fell without a blow. The second rebellion of the South had succeeded where the first had failed. Eleven years after Lee had surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, Grant's successor in the Presidency surrendered to the ghost of Lee.

Negro rule was at an end. But the Negro remained, and the problem which his existence presented was, and is, to-day, further from solution that when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The signs of the Black Terror are still visible everywhere in the South. They are visible in the political solidarity of those Southern States--and only of those States--which underwent the hideous ordeal, what American politicians call "the solid South." All white men, whatever their opinions, must vote together, lest by their division the Negro should again creep in and regain his supremacy. They are visible in those strict laws of segregation which show how much wider is the gulf between the races than it was under Slavery--when the children of the white slave-owner, in

Lincoln's words, "romped freely with the little negroes." They are visible above all in acts of unnatural cruelty committed from time to time against members of the dreaded race. These things are inexplicable to those who do not know the story of the ordeal which the South endured, and cannot guess at the secret panic with which white men contemplate the thought of its return.

Well might Jefferson tremble for his country. The bill which the first slave-traders ran up is not yet paid. Their dreadful legacy remains and may remain for generations to come a baffling and tormenting problem to every American who has a better head than Sumner's and a better heart than Legree's.

CHAPTER XI

THE NEW PROBLEMS

Most of us were familiar in our youth with a sort of game or problem which consisted in taking a number, effecting a series of additions, multiplications, subtractions, etc., and finally "taking away the number you first thought of." Some such process might be taken as representing the later history of the Republican Party.

That party was originally founded to resist the further extension of Slavery. That was at first its sole policy and objective. And when Slavery disappeared and the Anti-Slavery Societies dissolved themselves it might seem that the Republican Party should logically have done the same. But no political party can long exist, certainly none can long hold power, while reposing solely upon devotion to a single idea. For one thing, the mere requirements of what Lincoln called "national housekeeping" involves an accretion of policies apparently unconnected with its original doctrine. Thus the Republican Party, relying at first wholly upon the votes of the industrial North, which was generally in favour of a high tariff, took over from the old Whig Party a Protectionist tradition, though obviously there is no logical connection between Free Trade and Slavery. Also, in any organized party, especially where politics are necessarily a profession, there is an even more powerful factor working against the original purity of its creed in the immense mass of vested interests which it creates, especially when it is in power--men holding positions under it, men hoping for a "career" through its triumphs, and the like. It may be taken as certain that no political body so constituted will ever voluntarily consent to dissolve itself, as a merely propagandist body may naturally do when its object is achieved.


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