THE NORTHERN BLACK WORKER DURING THE CIVIL WAR
The hostilities which had been brewing between blacks and the Irish immigrants, who competed for America’s menial jobs, came to a head during the Civil War as physical violence erupted between the two struggling groups. The flames of hatred were often fanned by irresponsible newspapers which openly taunted one group or the other. The Irish Catholic Boston Pilot, for example, spewed forth its racist venom against blacks, while the Liberator sympathized with Afro-Americans and denounced the Irish as hoodlums (Doc. 2–3).
In 1862 blood was shed along the levee in Cincinnati when Irish stevedores and draymen attempted to drive the black workers off the job (Doc. 5–10). Similarly, Brooklyn witnessed an assault by white workers upon defenseless Negro men, women, and children (Doc. 11–13). The following year, in 1863, numerous race riots erupted, one of the worst in Detroit where the military was called in to stop the bloodshed and destruction of property (Doc. 14–16).
The New York Draft Riots represented the worst of these anti-Negro outbursts. On July 11, 1863, the Provost Marshal’s office opened for conscription in New York City. That same day wild mobs began to riot, and for five infamous days they stormed through the streets of New York City, unleashing their hatred against the National Conscription Act and committing unspeakable atrocities against the black community, murdering or maiming any Negro whom they came upon. The riots went unchecked until eleven Union regiments were released by the Secretary of War to quell the rioters. The Draft Riots resulted from a combination of factors. The city’s poorer classes, sympathetic to the Democratic party, were not, in the main, sympathetic to the war’s purposes and feared the emancipation of the slaves would be followed by an influx of black workers who would compete for their jobs. There was a huge criminal class in the city, and the riots gave an opportunity for looting. The Conscription Act passed by the government aroused indignation because it allowed richer members of the community to buy their way out of the draft. More than 400 blacks were either killed or wounded and an estimated five million in property damage was sustained. Everywhere black workers were driven from their jobs. Documents 21–29 illustrate the breadth of the tragedy.
The federal government steadfastly refused to accept black recruits into the Union army, telling many applicants that this was a “white man’s war.” After considerable pressure by black leaders, however, coupled with growing manpower needs, Negro men were put into uniform. Afro-Americans experienced fewer obstacles enlisting in the navy where they had always constituted a large percentage of the personnel, about one-half in 1850. Documents 38–44 reveal the occupations of Negro enlistees and the degradation heaped upon blacks even as they wore the Union uniform.
When the war ended in 1865, the future still appeared bleak for Negroes. Whites feared that the ex-slaves would inundate the northern job market, rendering inevitable a new round of racial conflict among the working classes. Many responsible whites, therefore, concluded that the freedmen must be forced to remain upon the soil in the South, or be exported to colonies outside the United States (Doc. 45–48).
1. JOHN S. ROCK AT THE FIRST OF AUGUST CELEBRATION,51 LEXINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS
The present condition of the colored man is a trying one; trying because the whole nation seems to have entered into a conspiracy to crush him. But few seem to comprehend our position in the free States. The masses seem to think that we are oppressed only in the South. This is a mistake; we are oppressed everywhere in this slavery-cursed land. Massachusetts has a great name, and deserves much credit for what she has done, but the position of the colored people in Massachusetts is far from being an enviable one. While colored men have many rights, they have but few privileges here. To be sure, we are seldom insulted by the vulgar passers by, we have the right of suffrage, the free schools and colleges are opened to our children, and from them have come forth young men capable of filling any post of profit or honor. But there is no field for these young men. Their education aggravates their suffering. The more highly educated the colored man is, the more keenly he suffers. The educated colored man meets, on the one hand, the embittered prejudices of the whites, and on the other the jealousies of his own race. The colored man who educates his son, educates him to suffer. The more ignorant the colored man, the more happy he must be. If we are never to derive the benefits of an education, it would be a misfortune for us to see inside of a school-house. You can hardly imagine the humiliation and contempt a colored lad must feel in graduating the first in his class, and then being rejected everywhere else because of his color. To the credit of the nineteenth century, be it said, the United States is the only civilized country mean enough to make this invidious distinction. No where in the United States is the colored man of talent appreciated. Even in Boston, which has a great reputation for being anti-slavery, he has no field for his talent. Some persons think that, because we have the right of suffrage, and enjoy the privilege of riding in the cars, there is less prejudice here than there is farther South. In some respects this is true, and in others it is not true. We are colonized in Boston. It is five times as difficult to get a house in a good location in Boston as it is in Philadelphia, and it is ten times more difficult for a colored mechanic to get employment than in Charleston. Colored men in business in Massachusetts receive more respect, and less patronage, than in any place that I know of. In Boston we are proscribed in some of the eating-houses, many of the hotels, and all the theatres but one. Boston, though anti-slavery and progressive, supports, in addition to these places, two places of amusement, the sole efforts of which is to caricature us, and to perpetuate the existing prejudices against us. I now ask you, is Boston anti-slavery? Are not the very places that proscribe us sustained by anti-slavery patronage? Do not our liberal anti-slavery politicians dine at the Revere House, sup at the Parker House, and take their cream and jellies at Copeland’s?
The friends of slavery are everywhere withdrawing their patronage from us, and trying to starve us out by refusing to employ us even as menials. When our laboring men go to them for work, as heretofore, they reply, “Go to the Abolitionists and Republicans, who have turned the country upside down”! The laboring men who could once be found all along the wharves of Boston, can now be found only about Central wharf, with scarcely encouragement enough to keep soul and body together. You know that the colored man is proscribed in some of the churches, and that this proscription is carried even to the grave-yards. This is Boston—by far the best, or at least the most liberal large city in the United States.
Now, while our enemies are endeavoring to crush us, and are closing the avenues from which we have wrung out our humble subsistence, is there anything higher opened to us? Who is taking our boys into their stores at a low salary, and giving them a chance to rise? Who is admitting them into their work-shops, or into their counting-room? Or who is encouraging those who are engaged in trade or business? With the exception of a handful of Abolitionists and Republicans, there are none. This is the kind of friendship that we need. . . .
The Liberator, August 15, 1862.
The historic misfortunes of America commenced when Abolitionism broke the shell; they will not have disappeared until the blind virtue itself, its champions and its objects, be driven from the soil. Our country is now on the verge of lasting ruin, chiefly from mad philanthropy for the African. The greater part in the cause of the accursed rebellion of the South issued directly from it; and when the rebellion is trampled to death in mud and mire, the integrity of the republic will be yet in jeopardy, unless Abolitionism be made to feel its military weight, and unless the black be taken off to the climate intended for him by nature. To expel the negro, and to shut down the race of fanatic men whom he has bewitched, are indispensable remedies for a permanent restoration of the Union. While they are in the land, we shall have tumult and sedition.
After the war—which is the first consequence of Abolitionism—we have already upon us bloody contention between white and black labor—the second issue of that insanity. The North is becoming black with refugee negroes from the South. These wretches crowd our cities, and by overstocking the market of labor do incalculable injury to white hands. In Cincinnati, employers along the wharves have taken the negro by the arm, and given him the place of the white man. The result has been a terrible riot. The evil is increasing. Philadelphia, New York, and Boston may soon follow the example of the Western metropolis. In fact, it is a certainty that the exodus of plantation blacks now going on will lead to the most unfortunate excesses in the Northern cities.
What is to be done? That which the State of Illinois has very sagaciously done, namely, made a stringent law forbidding blacks to cross its boundaries. This is pre-eminently just. The negro indeed is unfortunate, and the creature has the common rights of humanity living in his breast; but, in the country of the whites where the labor of the whites has done everything, but his labor nothing, and where the whites find it difficult to earn a subsistence, what right has the negro either to preference, or to equality, or to admission? When rights collide, it is the stronger that should prevail: for it has the more reason—without which there can be no right—to support it. What has the African done for America? What great or even decent work has his head conceived, or his hands executed? We pity his condition: but it is unjust to put him in the balance with the white laborer. To white toil this nation owes everything; but to black, nothing. Furthermore, there is decided unnaturalness in preferring the negro to the white; therefore has Illinois done a just and prudent piece of legislation. It has saved itself from much tumult, and has done common justice to its own members.
If the other States of the North be true to themselves and just to their inhabitants, they will imitate Illinois. It is the whites that made and are to perpetuate this nation. The perpetuity of it may be measured by the circumstances of its chief props—its laborers in brain and hand. The condition of the negro—whether he be in dependence or misery—can have no effect whatever on the continuance of the Republic; neither himself nor his children can ever constitute a true part of the State. But such is not the case with the white laborer. He is a citizen, and his descendants have the rights of the Presidency before them with as much certainty and with greater probability than the descendants of the rich. It is they, more than the offspring of more fortunate parents, that will increase the population and constitute the soldiers and magistrates of America. Now the national value of those descendents greatly depends on the condition of the parent. The better paid he is for his toil, the better the culture he gives his offspring. And the better they are cultured, the better for the future of America. This is incontestible. No one calls it into doubt. So that improving the condition of the white laborer, no matter what the means may be, cannot have bad consequences on the future greatness of the empire.
Will our Northern Legislatures act with just and patriotic wisdom? But we prefer appealing to all the white operatives—the people—the bone and sinew of the nation. This country is theirs exclusively. It will belong exclusively to the generations that succeed them. As they are now, so will those generations be—so will their grand country be in the future. Therefore, by justice, and by patriotism, they have the right and duty to resist this black current that is invading them, for it will injure their condition. So, without violence, down with Abolitionism, and away, from the certainty of injuring the white laborer, with the African!
We counsel no tumult. The black is loaded with misery. But the author of the greatness of the country, he who owns the country, and who perpetuates it best with members, and with brain and muscle, must be preferred to him. As he is treated, so will the country be. Let no man employ a black while he can get a white laborer. He who prefers the black to the white may yet find his own injured by the choice.—Boston (Catholic Irish) Pilot.
The Liberator, August 22, 1862.
To the Editor of the Liberator:
SIR—The article under this caption, copied into your paper of the 22d, from the Boston Irish Pilot, is of a piece with the infuriate and blind prejudice entertained by the Irish and their descendants in America towards the African race; and it is the effects of such counsels as this we see cropping out in the riots at Brooklyn, Cincinnati and elsewhere, between the Irish and black. It is this narrow-sighted and unphilanthropical advice to Irishmen, by those who set themselves up as their leaders, that serves to strengthen the Slave Power of Rebeldom, by maintaining an element in our midst of disloyalty to humanity, to true liberty, and the common rights of man.
This blind leader of the blind, who will not see the hand of God in the present fearful reformation; who will not see that this glorious and extensive country if man were free everywhere in it, would be large enough for all; who will not wait until society, within the bounds of our common territory, rights and settles into its natural position, after this state of convulsion and unrest it is now in be past; who can see no destiny for the black man, no place for the sole of his foot, but the cities and towns of the Northern States, should be, in the Providence of God, become free,—sets himself up as the counsellor of the people, and stimulates this condition of unquiet by stirring up hatred for those who have as good a right in this land as himself. He does not stop to take a broad or rational view of the question, “What will become of the black man?” such a view as we would expect taken by an educated man; but, with nineteen out of twenty of the lowest intellectually and most ignorant Irishmen you could meet in the neighborhood of Fort Hill to-day, he falls into their groove of thought, and says—“Liberate the slaves throughout the land, and they will overrun the North, looking for work, and the white man will be destroyed by their attempt to find it.”
A few years ago, no voice than that of this Pilot was more loud in its denunciation of the cry of “America for Americans.” Now none is more furious in its own cry of America for the white man. By white man he means, of course, Irishman, as no other white man in the length and breadth of the land is the least afflicted at the prospect of general emancipation of the slaves, unless it be slaveholders and their political sympathizers.52
A philosopher-, such as, I have no doubt, the writer of that article would delight to have himself considered, would take a philosophical view of this question, and argue, a priori, that, wherever they are free to do so, like seeks like and run together, as do drops of water or grains of sand; that were the black man no longer restrained by the bond of slavery in this nation, he would prefer to dwell where he was born; and he who had wandered from there would seek happiness in that climate most favorable to his growth, which his very nature covets, and which he left to gratify but one object, the instinct of freedom implanted by nature in the heart of every man who is born upon the earth. From a high stand-point, and uncontaminated by the influences of his locality, in which is generated the belief that there is but one god—the institution of slavery—of which the faubourg of Franklin and Milk streets enjoy and were built up by the profit,—he would see some ten thousand of the black race in Massachusetts, some driven here by the instinctive desire for freedom, others born here, all Americans by birth and such education as they possess; all entitled, therefore, to the rights which the political privileges of this free land confer upon its inhabitants; and all fully as intelligent, as a class, as the same number and intellectual grade of Irishmen. That in the object for which those not born here came hither, both classes present an exact analogy—both came here seeking freedom, and to better their natural and political condition beyond what it was where they were born; and that were the reasons for that condition not being as good in the land of their birth as it is here, to be removed, thousands of them would instinctively desire to go back; for each love the land of their birth, and in that love exhibit the oneness of their humanity.
But neighbor Pilot (oh, what a misnomer! Heaven preserve us from such a pilot for our ship of State as he would make!) can see nothing but an exodus of black men setting towards the North Star, should the Abolitionists obtain the object for which they have striven alone, and been persecuted for thirty years; and that they are going on, in the course of the next twelve months, he is too sharp a Pilot not to see. Hence his uproarious cry of Down with the black man! enslave him! kill him! do any thing with him! but if you will make him free, drive him instantly out of the country, which is only large enough for the white man, and particularly for white Irishmen, this Pilot’s flock!
“To white toil,” says this Pilot, “the nation owes everything—to black, nothing.” Well, if that is not the height of audacious and cold-blooded lying, the height has never been reached! The four million slaves, not to speak of the one million free blacks and colored, have done nothing for this country! Why! before an Irish laborer had a foothold on this soil, the blacks were the only laborers the South had for fifty years. Does the Pilot know this? or is he so grossly ignorant of the chart of the country that has received him, and thousands like him, not for the benefit they would be to the country as a first cause, but to relieve them from that oppression which, if Irishmen are to be believed, (and I believe them,) they have groaned under for ten generations? So atrociously profligate an untruth as this is without a parallel. The blacks, the bone and sinew of some thirteen States, the toiling millions who, for a hundred years, have known nothing but labor, who are crucified by work, and die daily to supply the wants and luxuries of their owners and taskmasters, have done nothing for this country! while the few hundred thousand Irishmen and their descendants in that time have done all! Preposterous and unjust decision!
As mere laborers, hewers of wood and drawers of water, as the mass of the Irish emigrants to our Free States are, I deny them no jot nor tittle of all they deserve. They have hedged and ditched and borne burdens, built the earthwork of railroads, and dug out canals; they have extended a ready hand for labor wherever they have found it to do. As a class, they are industrious and willing to work; but in that particular, they are not superior, by one jot or tittle, to the black man in a state of freedom; and, as a class, it is well known that, for all the purposes of intelligent citizenship, free black men are more tractable and thoughtful, less inclined to fight among themselves or with others, to brawl, to quarrel about trifles, to drink whiskey and get themselves into the hands of the police authorities, than free Irishmen. Yes, I say boldly, and call for proof to the contrary, that in peace or in war, free black men—who have been long enough free to know the value and privileges of freedom—are as serviceable to the country as a like number of Irishmen, or any other nationality of their degree of intelligence. I would not take one grain of credit from the thousands of Irishmen who have gone forward to fight for the republic. They have done nobly. But I say, let the free black men of America have a chance, and they will do as well. History, wherever it has a chance, will support me in this assertion. And it is this fact that the Pilot fears. Of all things, he dreads that the opportunity should be given the black man to distinguish himself as a soldier of the republic upon the battle-field. That is a privilege not for the black man to enjoy, lest he should prove, by the most irresistible evidence, that he is in this particular, as in everything else, the equal of the Irishman of equal attainments and education. But even in the face of such proof, the Pilot would be found cursing him, and desirous to expel him from the land; and, basing its reasons upon the few isolated facts recorded within the past month, and which such incendiary publications have been the generating cause of riot between blacks and Irish, it would again hurl forth its manifesto that, “While they are in the land, we shall have tumult and sedition.”
This blind leader proposes no means of diverting the fertilizing stream of black emigration he so much dreads, but at once to open a way for it into the sea. Instead of going to the source of the stream, and there providing means for it to go gladly on its way into a thousand fields of usefulness and freedom on its own soil, and, by embankments properly constructed, keeping it within its natural bounds, he calls his laborers around him to dig deep and wide a single channel, through which it may rush out of the country, and thus deprive the country of the benefit of its teeming strength, its thousands of toiling hands, which know no direction but to work in the soil—know no art nor handicraft, but possess the main strength, the bone and muscle to till the soil, to grasp the plow and hoe, which provide bread for a nation of freemen. And what substitute does he provide? Nothing, unless it be a sparse future emigration of Irish laborers—an emigration that cannot, in the very nature of cause and effect, be but slender for years.
0, thou blind leader of the blind, who can see the mote in thy brother’s eye, but not the beam in thine own, didst thou suppose that any but thy slavish, ignorant followers would believe thy doctrines, thy incorrect statements, thy gross untruths? No, thou couldst not do so. Written and printed only for them, thou believedst they would help to leaven that spirit of riot natural to them, and which Jeff. Davis, whom thou indirectly servest, doth glory and rejoice to see, as it is as good for his cause as 20,000 men.53
Boston, August 23, 1862.
The Liberator, September 5, 1862.
The human form is often called divine and many other agreeable names, but after all it only affords presumptive evidence of manhood. Man is worked upon by what he works on. He gets something of all he touches. Vile and loathsome beasts do often get themselves better expressed in the human form than in the forms appropriated to them by nature. The Scribes and Pharisees were called wolves and vipers by Him who knew what was in man. The characterization was just they were men to the eye, but wolves and snakes to the touch—sleek and beautiful without, but full of hate and poison within . . . This train of thought was suggested by reading the following preamble and resolution, copied into the Rochester Union of yesterday, and by that every respectable journal evidently approved. Here they are:
Whereas, It has come to the knowledge of this meeting that it is the intention of one or more of the leading packers of this town to bring negro labor into competition with that of the white man, for the purpose of reducing the wages of the latter to the lowest possible standard.
Resolved, That we, the packing-house men of the town of South Chicago, pledge ourselves not to work for any packer, under any consideration, who will, in any manner, bring Negro labor in competition with our labor.
In all this may be seen the veritable swine. This preamble and resolution might have emanated from a body of “porkers,” rather than of pork-packers, had the former the gift of speech. A slight change in the wording would bring out the genuine animal:
“Whereas, It has come to the knowledge of the big pigs of this meeting, that it is the intention of one or more of the pig-owners of this town to bring little pigs into competition with big pigs, for the purpose of reducing the amount of swill to the lowest possible standard, therefore,
Resolved, That we, the big pigs of the town of South Chicago, will do our utmost to drive the little pigs away from the trough, and have all the swill ourselves.”
The Rochester Union is not surprised at the proceedings of the Pork-packers of South Chicago. No piggish development of Selfishness could possibly surprise that journal. It will one day be ashamed of the disgusting meanness of daily fanning the flame of prejudice and persecution against the humblest and least protected class of the community.
Douglass’ Monthly, November, 1862.
The levee was the scene of a disgraceful riot yesterday morning. It appears that the India laborers or deck hands, deeming $25 to $30 per month—the customary wages on black boats since the outbreak of the rebellion—too low, have seen fit to demand $40 per month. In the first place German laborers were abundent at $30 per month, but the Irish laborers, through threats and intimidations, finally succeeded in driving the Germans from the levee, a week or two since. Since then, the negro laborers have been a source of annoyance to the Irish. During the present week there have been several disgraceful assults on the negroes, while they were passing from the boat’s on which they were engaged to their homes up town. In no instances, however, have the police seen fit to interfere and simply discharge their sworn duty by keeping the peace.
As before stated, yesterday morning, a gang or mob of Irish attacked the negro laborers employed in loading the steamer Aurora, above the foot of Sycamore. The negroes were stoned and pursued on board of the Aurora, notwithstanding the timely remonstrance of the officers of the boat. Several of the negroes, after being chased on board, turned and “pitched” into their pursuers,—the result being several Irishmen pretty well whaled. On went the mob from boat to boat, in pursuit of every negro they could find. One poor “contraband,” who was in no way implicated in the melon was finally over taken and pelted with boulders. His teeth were knocked out, or down his throat, while his jaw bone was fractured, eight or ten of the rowdies having pounced on him at once. Several of the negroes were pursued up town through the principle streets up into Second Street, where they sought refuge in a tenement occupied exclusively by their race. There being no police about, as is usual in such cases, Capt. Lightner of the Aurora, called on Mayor Hatch and stated the case, when his Honor promised to send down a posse of police, and see that the officers of the boat were protected in the pursuit of their business. During the afternoon, gangs of Irish were standing about the levee, and at the gangway of the boat, out no violent demonstration was made, except the frequent exclamation that “no d—d niggers should work on the levee.” The police and protection guaranteed by the Mayor, did not arrive however. The levee police is inefficient, or at least, if we have a police force detailed in that quarter, they always manage to make themselves scarce when their services are needed. If Mayor Hatch, and his very efficient police force cannot find time to preserve order, and see that boatmen are protected in the pursuit of their business, it behooves the latter to at least make the usual preparations to protect their own lives and property. Our steamboat men are heavily taxed in wharfage fees, &c., and it is a hard case if our vigilent police can’t preserve order along that importance thoroughfare—the levee.
Cincinnati Commercial, July 11, 1862.
There was a shameful and most deplorable riot in the Thirteenth Ward last night. The houses of negroes were stoned, a number of windows being broken and doors battered.—The negro church on Sixth street was stoned, and several shops were fired. We did not hear that any persons were seriously hurt, but the wonder is they were not. The city is indebted to the forbearance of the unoffending negroes, whose houses were assulted, for the fact that the riot was not made a bloody one. It is imperatively necessary that this rioting should be stopped. If it continues any longer there is no telling how far it may go. The negroes are the victims thus far, but if the mob spirit is permitted to gather force, it will soon proceed to assualt and destroy irrespective of color or condition. The rioters at our wharf, who have been permitted to have their own way for several days, have not only driven off the negro, but the German laborers. This is exactly the way it goes.
Cincinnati Commercial, July 14, 1862.
How do our white laborers relish the prospect that the emancipation of the blacks spreads before them? What do they think of the inundation of two or three hundred thousand free into Ohio, which inundation will come, if we carry out the emancipation policy of President Lincoln. How many whites will be thrown out of employment. How much will it reduce the price of labor?
Cincinnati Enquirer, July 15, 1862.
The Irish, who along with the German, may be regarded almost as the sole representative of white labor in the United States, regards with the bitterest feeling of hate and dislike, the race who now begin to share with him the source of subsistence which he has always hitherto monopolized, and which habit has taught him to regard as peculiarly belonging to him.
Cincinnati Gazette, July 16, 1862.
There was more riotous and disgraceful conduct on the levee yesterday. About noon, several Irish draymen indulged in a free fight near the intersection of Water and Main. About the same time a gang of Irish stevedores, spying a solitary negro crossing the grade, pursued and peppered him with boulders chasing him on board of the steamer Golden Era. They only offense on the part of the negro, it appeared, was his color and the fact that he was engaged on a boat in the capacity of fireman or deckhand. The stones flew thick and fast, several boatmen and passengers on the Cricket and Golden Era barely escaping being struck. During the afternoon, the same party of rioters ran another negro across the levee, and finding that he was hemmed in by the Irish at or near the foot of Sycamore, he pulled trigger on his assailants, who escaped injury, however. Still later, the same offenders chased another disconsolate negro. In this case, however, several respectable and responsible citizens having urged on a policeman the importance of arresting the ringleader, the aforesaid officer very graciously acceded to the request. He perhaps led the chap up street a square or two, when he was doubtless released. Our boatmen having called upon the authorities for protection against mobs of this character, and the desired relief being promised but not executed, the fraternity, for their better protection are now discussing the propriety, as a matter of self defense, of taking the law in their own hands. It behooves the police authorities to give a little more of the valuable times and attention to these rioters.
Cincinnati Commercial, July 17, 1862.
It has been justly said that a man who abuses a dumb brute is a coward. The common instincts of men acknowledge the principle, and civilized communities punish the offence by the infliction of severe penalties. But how much more cowardly are they who want only insult and maltreat defenceless men, women, and children. We are ashamed to confess that there are gangs of miscreants in this city who thus degrade the name of men, and disgrace the community, but it is still more humilitating to know that the people of Cincinnati tamely submit to gross outrages upon both the property and persons of a humble class of persons whom they are bound by every principle of justice, humanity, and decency, to protect.
In view of a current riotous spirit, however, the question begins to come home to us sternly; shall we put down the germ of rebellion against the peace and order of society, or shall we wait until it expands into strength that will tax our whole municipal power to suppress? The trouble which now ripples the surface of society may seem trifling, but it is obvious that it has been long gathering head, and that it daily increases in strength. Not many days hence, unless it is crushed, it may become dangerous both to the property and persons of a very different class of people from those who are now stiffled.
Yesterday afternoon quite a large number of respectable citizens held a meeting to consider the condition of the city. Their resolutions were very well, but some of the speeches were unfortunate in being open to injurious misinterpretation. No question of riches or poverty is involved. The mob is nothing more or less than the effect of the influence of cunning and designing knaves and covert traitors, who are working upon classes who have not been accustomed to think upon any subject disconnected with their necessities, and who are too ready to atribute poverty and distress to any but the real cause. Besides, the shrewd rascals who take advantage of the ignorant and unthinking, adroitly seize upon the instrument that best serves their evil purposes, and that instrument is the unfortunate negro. The poor wretches who have been maltreating the helpers colored people of the city, are not morally responsible for the crimes they have committed, but the guilty are they who designedly encouraged them to disturb the peace and good order of the community to promote their own infamous projects.
The riots begun among the Irish stevedores on the public landing. They were instigated by the political clamor against negroes. They were wickedly deceived into belief that an alleged competition of negro with white labor would injuriously affect their interests, and they proposed to abate the supposed evil by violence. The feeling was contagious, and it extended to the most populous negro quarters of the city, designated in local slang as “Bucktown,” where there are also many poor Irish people. The antipathy of the latter towards the former was possibly, aggravated by the misconduct of some very disreputable negroes who live in that district. But the riot once begun, the rioters, did not discriminate, and some very worthy colored people were grossly insulted and abused, and the property of both white and black persons was injured or destroyed. As usual, the only person seriously injured was an innocent spectator—one WM. Burke, a young Irishman, whose father is a grocer on the corner of Sixth and Culvert streets, near the scene of the disturbances. Young BURKE was shot in the side, but it has not been ascertained by whom the shot was fired. The assailants and assailed are mutual accusers. It is just to say, however, that the negroes, were assulted and altogether they displayed extraordinary forbearance. The Irish people who sympathise with the rioters try to justify their conduct on two allegations—firstly, on the ground that the colored residents of that neighborhood are not virtuous, and secondly, that the negroes are the cause of war, want low wages and heavy taxes.
Cincinnati Commercial, July 17, 1862.
Brooklyn, the city of churches and noble charities, is usually so well behaved, we could scarcely credit the report that a riot had actually taken place there; but a careful and impartial investigation of facts show that the fair fame of our sister city has been sullied by a riotous mob of half-drunken and ignorant white men and women, whose jealously of the blacks was kindled by a fight, on Saturday afternoon, between a negro and a white man in front of grog-shop. The negro had taken a bill to the liquor-shop to get it exchanged for postage stamps or small coin, and was standing on the threshold, when a white man of the name of Spaulding pushed him aside. The indignity was resented by hard words, which soon ripened into hard blows, and the negro had the best of the fight, when Policeman Oats interfered and seperated the belligerents. The idea of a white man being whipped by a black man was a source of humiliation too grievous to be endured. Sunday being a day of leisure, grog-shop and street-corner committees had the subject of retaliation under discussion and finally determined to mob the black women and children on Monday, while the majority of the men were absent at a public demonstration at Myrtle-avenue Park, in another part of the city.
On Monday forenoon three or four scouts, wishing to ascertain the strength of the ‘enemy,’ called at Mr. Lorillard’s tobacco factory, and were denied admittance. The foreman, anticipating trouble, sent all the colored parents in his employment at their homes, and closed the front doors and windows of the establishment. Soon a committee of eight Irishmen effected an entrance, and searched the premises for ‘nagers;’ but finding none, they retired for reenforcements, which were easily obtained. They soon returned with thirty or forty other rioters, and forthwith commenced hurling bricks and paving-stones at the doors of windows of Mr. Watson’s shop, in which two-sets of hands are employed—a set of white hands under a white foreman, and a set of black hands under a black foreman. These parties work side by side without quarreling or jealousy.
In this factory where the fire originated seventy-five persons are employed, of whom fifty are colored and twenty-five white. The establishment was started eight years ago, and some of the negroes employed there at the time of the row have been faithful workers from the commencement of the concern.—Negroes have always been employed in Mr. Lorillard’s establishment, which is next door but one to Mr. Watson’s; but there have been no sign of disturbance there before, although it has been no sign of disturbance there before, although it has been in operation eight or nine years.
At the time of the commencement of this riot, which was 12 o’clock at noon on Monday, the white employees of the establishment had gone to their dinners—and there were only twenty colored persons within the walls of the building, five of whom were men, and the remainder women and children. These colored employees not having homes in the neighborhood, had brought their dinners with them, and were quietly eating at the time of assault.
Scarcely had the first missile been hurled by the leaders of the gang, when four or five hundred men and boys, some of them intoxicated, came rushing with shouts and yells toward the factory, from the vicinity of Columbia and Harrison streets, and at once surrounded the building, crying out, ‘Down with the nagers,’ ‘Turn out the nagers,’ some of them entering the lower story to look for the objects of their hatred. The mob continued to increase until it numbered thousands. Although it was well known for hours before this time that a riot was contemplated, no additional police force was sent to the neighborhood. The two officers, Oats and Burns, who belong to that beat, were on hand, but they could not control a drunken and infuriated mob. The negroes, who were on the upper floor, barricaded the stairway in the best manner they could, and then threw at their assailants, when they attempted to approach them, whatever they could find at hand. In this way these five men and fifteen women kept the mob at bay for two hours until Inspector Folk, with a strong detachment of policemen, made his appearance.
Just before the arrival of the police force the rioters finding it impossible to get at the negroes, at the suggestion of a grogseller near by, determined to set fire to the building and roast the niggers alive. A pot of licorice and whisky, which was mistaken for tar, was emptied, and an attempt was made to set it on fire, but the flame was put out by the police.
While Officer Donnelly was standing at the foot of the stairs keeping the rioters away, he received a wound on the head from a box thrown by a colored man named Baker, at the rioters. The police finally drove away the rioters, and arrested Patrick Canna, the grogseller, who is charged with arson and riot; Michael Maher, Wm. Morris, John Long, Charles Baker (colored), Charles Baylis, Thomas Clark, Jos. Flood, Patrick Day, and Elias P. Riddle.
The rumor that fifty negroes had armed themselves with pistols purchased at a gun shop on Court street on Tuesday morning is untrue. It is not true that the negroes insulted white women in the neighborhood or the factory, as reported by The Hearald.—That report was circulated on Sunday by a number of evil-disposed fellows, who lounged about the liquor shops in that vicinity for the purpose of creating the riot that followed.—It is not true that the Irish assaulted the negroes because they had taken up their residence in that neighborhood, for the negroes live in New York and on the outskirts of Brooklyn. It is not true that they are a poor shiftless set, unable to take care of themselves or that they caused this disgraceful riot.
The riot raged from 12 o’clock until about half-past 2, when it was quelled by the police. Why did not the police officers in charge of that district, knowing as they must have known that a row was anticipated, send force there to protect the lives and property of peaceable citizens?
After the riot commenced, why were the police authorities so slow to move? It is not more than twenty minutes’ walk from the City Hall in Brooklyn to the tobacco manufactories, near the corner of Columbia and Sedgwick streets, where the riot occurred.—When this force arrived, why did it behave so strangely as to merit the following rebuke from The Brooklyn Eagle?
“It is stated that the officers who were first at the scene of the riot allowed their feelings against the negroes to interfere with their duties, and that instead of attacking the white rioters they struck at the negros with their clubs.”
Mr. Watson’s establishment, with its broken doors and windows, is closed and unoccupied, and the hands, white as well as black, are for no fault of theirs thrown out of employment. The colored people dare not return to Mr. Lorrillard’s factory even. Threats of future demolition and assault are made, and yet we found only five policemen there yesterday to defend the just rights of the people.
Douglass’ Monthly, September, 1862.
Months ago, when the Rebel cause seemed at its last gasp, its partisans in the loyal States were secretly impelled to get up a diversion in its favor by instigating riotous assaults on the unarmed and comparatively defenseless Blacks of our Northern cities. In furtherance of this plot, stories were started that thousands of negroes at Washington, Fortress Monroe, and elsewhere, were being subsisted in idleness at the public cost; next, that fugitive slaves were so abundant in Chester County, Pa. and its vicinity, that they were taking the bread out of the mouths of white laborers by working for ten cents per day! This was of course a falsehood, as the absence of laboring men in the army has produced a scarcity of laborers in Chester County, as almost everywhere else; no tolerably efficient white laborer having failed of finding constant employment there at $1 to $1-1/2 per day. We published repeated and explicit contradictions of the lie, but to no purpose—could be impelled to assault and despoil the poor fugitives, taking good care never to look into The Tribune.
Attacks on the negro population were commenced weeks ago at Cincinnati, and have since tried at Evansville, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio. In the latter place, they have been traced directly to the instigation of emissaries from this City. Probably no one has given them a whisper of encouragement who would not split his throat in cheering Jeff Davis if that potentate should ride by him in triumph.
The recent attack on the negro women and children employed in a tobacco manufactory at Brooklyn is most disgraceful to our sister city, and—if it be true that they were fore warned of it—to our Metropolitan Police, or at least to the Brooklyn branch of it. That a ruffian mob should be enabled to hold women and children in mortal terror for hours, gratifying meantime their groundless malice by earnest and all but successful attempts to roast them alive in their workshop, is a stain which Brooklyn will not soon efface.
Douglass’ Monthly, September 1862.
A species of violence and persecution towards colored people has been revived in Northern towns and cities during the present and past month, which can only be accounted for by the presence of some deadly inciting cause. Assulting individual negroes in the streets, and bodies of negroes at their work was years ago, of frequent occurrence even in the best of our Northern towns and cities.—But of late, this savage practice had well nigh ceased—and colored men were nearly as little liable to personal assault as other people. The case is now changed for the worse, and the unarmed black man, on the streets, at his work, and in his house, is constantly marked out for violence and persecution such as would disgrace a community of savages.
Cincinnati and Brooklyn have of late had their mobs of this character, and the colored people of those cities have suffered much in person and property from them, while scarcely a day passes when we do not hear of some individual assaults without any visible cause. The writer of these lines was standing in the Rail Road Station at Springfield Massachusetts, awaiting the departure of a train to Albany, perfectly silent and engrossed with his own thoughts, when he was confronted by a stalwart Irishman, who demanded two cents for an old and worthless postage stamp, and on being refused, poured out upon him a loud stream of vile abuse attempting meanwhile to clutch the writer by the throat. He laid the ruffian on the ground and mounted the cars and was off with the train, before he could rally to a second assault—though not without leaving the sleeve of a tolerably good coat behind him.
On reaching home we heard of similar outrages in Rochester, and in other parts of the country. The number, character, and simultaineous occurrences of such assaults all over the Northern States, render them highly significant, and suggests the idea that the poor miserable human brutes who openly perpetrate them are really the least guilty parties. The pretense that colored men are elbowing white men out of employment cannot be alleged as explanation. Work for all classes is abundant, and there are few of the whites who wish to compete with the negro in those few departments of labor which are still open to him. Nor is mere wantonness an explanation. There never was a time when this vice was more visibly checked in this country. Our young, daring, dashing young white men have gone to the war from all our towns and cities, and the wanton gaiety which sometimes leads to a brush at street corners, has been sobered down, and has in some instances wholly disappeared. If the base and brutal assaults made upon the colored people arose from wantonness, there would be less cause of concern. They would soon die out. But, if as some think, there is a secret slaveholding organization all over the free States, in secret sympathy with the rebels, and full of hatred to the negro, and who thinks the ends of the rebels can be better served by stirring up hate and wrath against our long abused and unprotected people, these assaults become just cause of alarm and searching enquiry.
It is remarkable that these demonstrations of hostility came along about the same time when it became probable that the necessities of the Government would lead to arming the negroes in common with others to fight the battles of the Republic. We can conceive of any number of base motives for opposing such arming, and for endeavoring to defeat it by all means. We take the following timely remarks on the subject from the New York Tribune:
Yesterday afternoon a colored man, was quietly walking along Furman street, in Brooklyn. Some white men hooted at him, or made offensive remarks. He had the audacity to answer. The whites set about the pleasing pastime of beating him. He defended himself as best he could—kept off five or six—when five or six more mixed to whip the negro because he was black. He picked up a stone, and knocked a man named Lyno on the head. Then a crowd collected and about a hundred brave, chivalrous white men undertook to kill the negro not only because he was black, but because he would not stand quietly at ease and be murdered for the sport of the Knickerbocker Ice men. The black man escaped from the infuriated crowd by being arrested and taken to the Station-House. There being no charge against him, he was set at large. It does not appear that any of the sportive crowd who hunted the negro down were arrested. We understand that many less prominent events of the kind have recently occurred in Brooklyn. Will not all good citizens unite in stopping this wicked business? If suffered to go on, their may be a fearful reckoning ere long. The men who instigate as well as those who make these outbreaks against a handful of helpless creatures are, playing with burning torches in a powder-house. If men are to be killed like dogs because they are black, the same spirit will kill them because they are anything else that an unreasonable mob may not like.-’They that sow the wind will reap the whirl wind.’
Douglass’ Monthly, September, 1862.
A despatch from Detroit, dated Friday, 6th, says—“A negro, who had committed an outrage upon a young white girl, was being taken from the courtroom to the jail, under escort of the military, this afternoon, when an attempt to take the negro from the hands of the officers was made by a gang of rowdies. The crowd was fired upon, and one man killed and several wounded. Being foiled in their attempt to get possession of the negro, the mob perpetrated the most horrible outrages upon the colored people residing in the vicinity of the jail.”
The Liberator, March 13, 1863.
Assault upon a Negro Hovel, and Murder of the Inmates—A Blood-thirsty and Unmanageble Mob—The City Fired in Twenty Places—The Military Called Out to Suppress the Riot.
Yesterday was the bloodiest day that ever dawned upon Detroit. Up to twelve o’clock, no disturbance of a serious nature had occurred. At about half past twelve, after the adjournment of the court, the clouds which portended the coming storm began to gather. The mob first inaugurated the day by petty persecutions of any negroes who chanced to come in the vicinity of the City Hall. Any of that unfortunate race who happened along were subjected to kicks, cuffs and blows, and were liable to be butchered upon the streets. Even women and children were not exempt, several of them being abused in a most shameful and outrageous manner.
In order to quell the disturbance, and to deliver the prisoner safe to the jailer, the Detroit Provost Guard had been ordered to escort him to the jail. Their arrival in front of the City Hall was greeted by threats of defiance from the crowd, who became more excited as the prospect of gratifying their blood-thirsty vengeance upon the negro became less favorable. The Guard formed in line upon Monroe Avenue, and everything being prepared for a vigorous defence, Faulkner was led down by the officers into the street. As the mob got sight of their intended victim, the yells, groans and hisses were almost deafening, and nothing but the fixed bayonets of the soldiers could have prevented them from rushing upon and tearing him in pieces. And it was with great difficulty they could be kept back. The throng of people which followed the prisoner to the jail was immense, and could only be estimated by thousands.
It was not until they had neared the jail that the riot commenced in earnest. Notwithstanding the array of flashing bayonets, and the danger of being shot down in the attempt, a large number of riotors simultaneously rushed for the prisoner, and came very near rescuing him. But he was got into the prison inclosure unharmed, without a single sacrifice. All would have been well, and the mob would have soon dispersed, had it not been for a wanton and malicious act of certain members of the provost guard toward the exasperated citizens. Without orders from any reliable authority, a number of random shots were fired promiscuously into the crowd, several of them taking effect, and one man, Chas. Langer, being instantly killed, shot through the heart. The Provost Guard, after this display, then hurried back to the barracks, leaving the crowd to disperse at their leisure. The cry of death and vengeance ran through the crowd like an electric shock. The sight of the bleeding corpse of the dead man, and the groans of a half dozen who were wounded, kindled anew the flames of insubordination and frenzy. The germans, especially, were maddened beyond description, because their countryman had been sacrificed, as they thought and expressed it, to protect a negro who was deserving of torture and death. The excitement among all classes, however, was intense. Being baffled in their attempt to rescue the criminal, they sought other channels to give vent to their malice.
The first house where a negro family resided, one end of which was used as a cooper shop, situated on Beaublen street, was assaulted with bricks, paving stones and clubs. About a dozen negroes were at work in the shop or stopping in the house at the time. The most of them were armed, and fired several shots into the crowd from the windows, taking effect in several instances, but not fatally injuring any one, as far as could be ascertained.
As each shot from the negro hovel reverberated through the vicinity, the fiendishness of the mob became more manifest, and their desperation more dreadful. The firearms in possession of the negroes deterred them from entering, for it would have been almost certain death for any man to attempt it. Any missile that could be obtained was hurled at the rendezvous of the negroes, the windows and doors burst open, and everything destroyed which could be seen by those outside. Finally, finding that they could not be forced out of their hiding place in any other manner, the match of the incendiary was placed at one end of the building, and in a very short time the flames spread so as to envelop almost the entire building.
The scene at this time was one that utterly baffles description. With the building a perfect sheet of livid flame, and outside a crowd of bloodthirsty rioters, some of whom were standing at the doors with revolvers in their hands, waiting for their victims to appear, it was a truly pitiable and sickening sight. The poor wretches inside were almost frantic with fright, undecided whether to remain and die by means of the devouring element, or suffer the almost certain terrible fate which awaited them at the hands of the merciless crowd. There was no more mercy extended to the suffering creatures than would have been shown to a rattlesnake. No tears could move, no supplications assuage the awful frenzy and demoniacal spirit of revenge which had taken possession of that mass of people.
One colored woman made her appearance at the door with a little child in her arms, and appealed to the mob for mercy. The monstrous fact must be told, her tearful appeals were met with a shower of bricks, stones and clubs, driving herself and the babe in her arms back into the burning building. At this juncture one man, moved to mercy at this cowardly and inhuman act, rushed to her assistance, bravely and nobly protecting her person from the violence which threatened her. But the negroes found no such protection. They were driven gradually to the windows and doors, where they were murderously assailed with every species of weapons, including axes, spades and clubs, and everything which could be used as a means of attack. The frightened creatures were almost as insane with fright as their persecutors were with madness. As they came out, they were beaten and bruised in a terrible manner, their shrieks and groans only exciting the mob to further exertions in their brutal work. Several of them were knocked down with axes and left for dead, but who afterwards recovered only to be again set upon and cruelly beaten to insensibility.
The scenes which followed were of a similar nature. Old men, eighty years of age, were not in the least respected, but knocked down with the same fiendish vindictiveness which characterized all the other proceedings of the day. After the first building had been reduced to ashes, the appetite for arson had only been whetted, and not at all appeased. As night approached, they grew bolder, and did not scruple to commit the worst crimes upon the calendar with perfect impunity. The houses on Lafayette st., between Beaublen and St. Antoine, were literally sacked of their contents, and the furniture piled in the middle of the street and burned.
Among the articles constituting the bonfires, a large number of musical instruments could be discovered—bass viols, violins, banjos, guitars, accordeons, and almost every musical instrument in existence. Feather beds were ripped open, and their contents scattered over the streets, and everything valuable totally destroyed. Then, no satisfied with having destroyed every vestige of furniture, the torch was applied to the buildings, and nearly the whole of the entire blocks, on both sides of the street, were soon levelled to the ground. The steamers were on the spot promptly, but would only be permitted to throw water on the houses of white men, to prevent the conflagration from becoming general. The mob threatened that the engines would be torn to pieces if they attempted to play upon any other buildings than those designated.
As there was no room for doubt that these threats would be summarily executed, if necessity compelled that course, it was deemed proper to cater to the wishes of the mob in that respect.
The work of destruction then progressed with fearful rapidity. No sooner was one building burned than another was set on fire, some of them being several blocks apart.
The notorious Paton Alley was totally destroyed, as were also several buildings in that vicinity.
It was impossible last night to ascertain the number of buildings destroyed, but it is safe to say that they will aggregate not less than forty or fifty.
An hour or two previous to this, the authorities, becoming alarmed, and being satisfied that no force that could be mustered in Detroit would be sufficiently powerful to quell the riot, or stop the outrages of the rioters, telegraphed to the commander of the Twenty-seventh Infantry, in camp at Ypsilanti, requesting him to forward a battalion of his men, by special train, to assist in dispersing the mob. About this time, a despatch was received, stating that the request of the city officials had been complied with, and that five companies were on the way. This news, together with the appearance of several squads of armed men in various parts of the city, had no influence in overawing the crowd, but rather tended to increase their rage and activity.
Great alarm and distress prevailed everywhere, as these fires successively burst forth, and in some localities the citizens armed themselves, and turned out to protest their families and property.
After the last fire had been extinguished, the rioters suddenly dispersed, completely worn out and dispirited by their labors.
It is impossible to give the names of all the persons injured.
Perhaps a dozen or more were struck, and more or less injured, by the bullets and shot fired by the soldiers and negroes. At one volley from the negro house on Beaublen street, several people were struck, including a boy ten or twelve years old, and a girl a little older.
Of the negroes there are all sorts of rumors. It is believed that several were killed, but as far as known, nothing is positive concerning the matter. Our reporter saw a large number in an insensible condition in the gutters and alleys, but none entirely dead. A large number, however, were very seriously injured, and it is probable that many of them will never recover.
The colored population of the city, frightened and distracted, hurried from the mob, scattering in every direction, a large number going over the river to Canada, while many actually fled to the woods, with their wives and little ones. They were perfectly panic-stricken, and run hither and thither with a recklessness which rendered them totally unfit to take proper care of themselves. Those who did not leave the city huddled themselves together in the kitchens and out-houses of the buildings adjoining the places where the riotous proceedings were had.
LOUIS HOUSTON AND SOLOMON HOUSTON—We were working in Mr. Reynold’s cooper shop, between Fort and Lafayette streets. An immense crowd came to the shop, and the first thing we knew they smashed in the front window and door, and said: “Come out ye sons of b—-h.” They came around in the alley and smashed in the back windows. We did not go out, but they seemed too cowardly to come in, and they continued to smash and break up Mr. R’s house. Finding the mob directing their fury on the dwelling house where there was none but the wife of Mr. Reynolds, Mrs. Bonn and child, and Mrs. Dale and four children, all exposed to all kinds of missiles that could be thrown through the doors and windows, we all went to the house to try to defend the women. Then the mob set the shop on fire. During our stay in the shop, none of them dared to come in; but after we left it they then put the torch to it, and soon it was in flames! The mob then surrounded the house in every direction, as if determined to burn up the property and all the men, women and children that were therein; during which time they were throwing brickbats and missiles from every direction. I came to the front door of the house, and it was then partly consumed. A gentleman that I knew called me to come to him, and I made my way to him, and he forbade the mob interfering with me. He knew me well, and I was a peaceable man. Several laid hold of me and said they were intent on taking my life; that they saw me shoot. A German man rushed on me with a spade, and struck me with it over the head, inflicting a severe wound at each blow. A person who stood by him, as he raised the spade the third time, asked him what he intended to do? Said he, “I intend to kill him!”
The man said to him: “You ought to be ashamed to strike a man with such a weapon, whom you have never seen, nor has done you any harm!” At this, the assassin threw the spade down.
A gentleman, who I did not know at that time, being much excited, but I very well knew him afterwards, came to me and took me down Lafayette street to Mr. Thairs’, and the mob surrounded me again, and prevented the friend from taking me on. Here they knocked me down again. Mr. T. then came out and bade them not to interfere with me any more, and came and took me in. He sent for a doctor to examine my wounds, and washed me and took care of me kindly, till the next day.
I suffered for a couple of weeks severely; but, thank the Lord, I am now recovering, but have not been able to do a stroke of work since the 6th of March, five weeks, with a helpless family depending on me for protection! . . .
JOSEPH BOYD, a young man, and an excellent mechanic, was knocked in the head with an axe. After this he was unconscious, and was dragged out of the way of being destroyed by the flames. Officer Sullivan, who appeared the only authorized officer of peace that discharged his duty in the face of the mob, as was known as such. He gave poor Boyd some aid, and after having him taken to a saloon, the mob found out that the innocent victim was there, and they made a rush and dragged him out, though he was unconscious! His head gaping wide from the wounds by the axe, which were sufficient to kill him; and enough was the affliction inflicted upon him to have satisfied the most savage of a heathen tribe, even had he been guilty of some crime! But astonishing to tell, Dutch and Irish fell on him with hellish fury, and with all kinds of missiles; they beat and dragged him back as if determined to end his suffering in the flames, but came to a halt, as if their rage was abated, when they saw no stroke moved him. They considered him dead.
The Navy Yard is a great institution for strikes among the workmen, and if they don’t have something for excitement at least once a month, it is set down as a remarkable event. A very respectable colored man from Baltimore, a day or two since, applied for a situation as a caulker and graver, being recommended by parties who knew him as a good workman. He was hired, and went to work. There are about two hundred and fifty men in the caulker’s department, and yesterday, without taking any preliminary steps in the matter, such as a meeting or a consultation among the members of the whole gang, about one hundred and sixty of the workmen came to a conclusion that they would not work if the colored man was allowed to remain in the yard, and refused to answer to their names at the roll call. The Captain of the Yard, Mr. Taylor, who is acting Commodore, in consequence of the death of Commodore Montgomery’s daughter, upon learning the facts of the case, ordered the discharge of these men who refused to answer to the call.
There are now about one hundred caulkers left, and most of these did not know the intentions of their brother workmen until they learned of the discharges. A few strong-minded ones led on the rest and the result was, instead of compelling Uncle Sam to accede to their demand, they all lost good situations.
Douglass’ Monthly, June, 1863.
COLORED SAILOR’S HOME—WM. P. POWELL, Superintendent.
On Mr. Powell’s return from England, whither he had been for the education of his children, because the foolish and wicked prejudices of Americans would not permit them to enter our institutions, he has again opened a Sailor’s Home for the seamen of his race. The Society became responsible for furnishing the house, and aided at the outset in the payment of rent. Though a few boarders had been received previously, the Home was hardly in operation till the first of August, The whole number of boarders received during the nine months is 270. Of this number 61 were shipwrecked and destitute—several of them captures of the pirate Alabama—and relieved at the expense of the Society. For a time this new and worthy enterprise for the benefit of colored seamen was bitterly opposed by a combination of colored sailor landlords preventing the shipping of seamen from Mr. Powell’s house. Through the persuasive influence of the Home Committee, however, that has happily ceased, and the New Colored Sailor’s Home is prosperous.
A Beneficial self-protective Society for colored seamen has been organized among themselves which promises good to that class and to the interest of commerce, so far as affected by the improvement of our colored seamen.
Sailor’s Magazine (June, 1863):312.
WM. P. POWELL, No. 2 Dover Street, near Franklin Square.
Gentlemen:—With the close of the year 1864 ends the second year of the operations of the Colored Sailors’ Home. The difficulties, hopes and fears of its success from its opening up to the present, and the opposition with which it had to contend, to say nothing of the terrible riot of July, 1863, have all passed into the history of the AMERICAN SEAMAN’S FRIEND SOCIETY, in its Christian efforts to promote the moral and religious elevation of the colored sons of the ocean. Although the Home has not been patronized, so as to make it self-supporting, as well as we could wish, yet the problem, to make the sailor a better man, and the man a better sailor, in so far as our humble labors are concerned, in providing him with all the comforts of a well-regulated home, with all its moral and religious surroundings, is being daily worked out. For example, the vital statistics and the mode of life of colored seamen boarding at the Home, show only one having died in the hospital in two years, and he from old age, and not from dissipation; and only six have been sent to the hospital sick out of all the boarders since opening; and, also, not one imprisonment for mutiny or bad conduct. This is all owing to the sanitary regulations, and a due regard to the moral health of the boarders. In our visits to the various hospitals, we often find as many as five colored seamen from one boarding house. Then, again, with few exceptions, the boarders provide themselves with plenty of clothing, and save their money, sending their parents and families, through our agency, more than half of their earnings.
Since our last Report in September, one hundred stewards, cooks and seamen have boarded at the Home. Total number since the July riots four hundred and ninety-eight. Total amount received for board since September, 1863, $1,727 00. Total amount due from destitute shipwrecked seamen and delinquent boarders, $551 52. Total amount of expenses, current, since September, 1863, $2,693 01.
To sum up, taking into consideration all the contingencies incidental to every well-directed effort for good, we have every encouragement.
New York, Dec. 27, 1864.
Sailor’s Magazine (February, 1865):169–70.
A disturbance occurred, to-day, among the longshoremen, on the line of the East River, above the battery. The cause of the difficulty was the fact that negroes were employed on the docks, and white laborers, who were principally Irishmen, objected. To-day they undertook to beat the negroes.
The plan was arranged in an underground bar-room in South street, and simultaneously this forenoon the Irishmen, among whom the mode of operations appeared to have been previously agreed on, set out upon a negro hunt. The largest proportion of the Irishmen proceeded to the docks, where about two hundred of the negroes were employed, and they pommelled them without mercy. The negroes defended themselves as well as they could, and one of their number presented a pistol at the rioters, which he fired three or four times, but it does not appear that any shots took effect. The police interfered and drove off the assailants, arresting the negro who fired the pistol, and one of the rioters. The others fled.
Meanwhile, the Irishmen who had gone into the ward attacked all the negro porters, cartmen and laborers whom they could find, and subsequently the police went after the rioters, who were routed without a conflict. They were desirous of assaulting negroes, but declined to face the policemen, on sight of whom they made their escape.
The negroes are all at work. They are represented by the police as sober, peaceable men, industrious, but declining to work for less than usual rates, and as being of a better class relatively than their persecutors.
New York Evening Post, March 13, 1863.
If longshoremen or any other class of laborers do not choose to work with negroes they need not. No law compels them. But the negro, as well as the white man, has a right to work for whoever will employ and pay him, and the law, and courts, and police, and public opinion ought to protect him in that right, and will.
New York Tribune, April 14, 1863.
A disgraceful riot occurred among the longshoremen at pier No. 9, New York, on Monday, May 29. A number of unoffending negroes were brutally assailed, while quietly pursuing their labors, by a body of Irishmen who had struck, for higher wages. Most of the Negroes took refuge in flight, but not until many of them had become severely wounded with the stones and clubs employed by their assailants. One of them in self-defence, drew a revolver, which he fired several times, and succeeded in wounding one of the rioters. The arrival of the police checked any further hostilities. Two of the rioters and the negro who discharged the revolver were arrested. The latter was afterwards discharged, as he had acted only in self-defence. The two Irishmen were committed for trial.
Douglass’ Monthly, June, 1863.
A perfect reign of terror exists in the quarters of this helpless people, and if the troubles which now agitate our city, continue during the week it is believed that not a single negro will remain within the metropolitan limits.
New York Herald, July 15, 1863.
Report of the Secretary
Driven by the fear of death at the hands of the mob, who the week previous had, as you remember, brutally murdered, by hanging on trees and lamp posts several of their number, and cruelly beaten and robbed many others, burning and sacking their houses and driving nearly all from the streets, alleys and docks upon which they had previously obtained an honest though humble living—these people had been forced to take refuge on Blackwell’s Island, at Police Stations, on the outskirts of the city, in the swamps and woods back of Bergen, New Jersey, at Weeksville and in the barns and outhouses of the farmers of Long Island and Morrissania. At these places were scattered some 5,000 homeless and helpless men, women, and children.
The first great point to be gained was the restoring of the confidence of the colored people in the community, from which they had been driven. To do this a central depot was to be established to which they should be invited to come and receive aid with the fullest assurance that they should be protected.
Temporary aid might be sent them to their residences, as was done through the hand of Rev. Mr. Dennison, and through the Society for improving the condition of the poor.
This plan met your approval, and that evening, Tuesday, July 21st, I was instructed to look up an office and announce in the morning papers the contemplated purpose, and I did so.
On Wednesday, the present office, No. 350 Fourth Street, was secured, vacated by its former occupants, cleansed and opened for business the following day, Thursday, July 23d, when 38 applicants received aid. On Friday, July 24th, the wants of 318 were attended to, and on Saturday, July 25th, the streets in the neighborhood were literally filled with applicants. The N. Y. Express thus describes the scene:—
At ten o’clock, Fourth street, near Broadway, was filled with colored people of both sexes, and all ages. They presented an aspect of abject poverty; and many of them bore evidence of the assaults made on them during the riots.
The building where relief was given to the applicants at No. 350 Fourth street, was soon surrounded by nearly three thousand negroes. Some of them had come into the city from woods and fields in different parts of the State, where they took refuge. They appeared to be no strangers to hunger; for when the good soldiers of the Twelfth Regiment, who are quartered up stairs in the building, “brushed” out their rations to the throng, there was a pitiable scramble to obtain them, and the lucky blacks retired to eat them.
The method of conducting business is thus described in the N. Y. Times:
The above institution, located at No. 350 Fourth street, is doing an immense amount of good in relieving the immediate wants of the colored people who suffered during the late riots. Yesterday the building was thronged with applicants, all of whom were provided for to some extent. The amount of money already collected for this fund amounts to over $28,000, of which some $7,000 has thus far been distributed.
Yesterday, males only were admitted to the apartments. Last Saturday was devoted exclusively to females. That order will be observed in future—the males having the privilege of the institution every other day, commencing from yesterday, and the females the alternate days. The hours of business are from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. From 8 to 9 A.M. and from 4 to 5 P.M. the use of the room is extended to the legal profession, members of which assemble to give their services gratuitously to such of the colored sufferers as may desire to avail themselves of their valuable assistance. Yesterday over $2,500 was distributed to 900 men. A considerable amount of clothing has been received by the Committee, but as yet none of it has been given out, the great want of the applicants being, at present, money. In the basement of the building a receptacle for clothing is being fitted up, so that, when the proper time arrives, it will be systematically and judiciously distributed.
It is well worth the attention of any one who takes an interest in the objects of the institution, to witness with what regularity and quietness business is conducted. The applicants enter the building by the basement, arranged with railings, so that, although full, only a single line can be formed, and in the order in which they enter. On the floor above are the officers and clerks seated at desks inclosed with railing, and as applicants enter the room they are taken by policemen in attendance to them. By this means confusion is avoided, and each clerk has no more at one time than he can promptly give relief to. Policemen are on duty in and about the establishment, and they perform their duties well and kindly. Each clerk notes in a book the name of the applicant, his occupation and residence, the amount of loss sustained, and other particulars bearing upon his means and condition. If the person proves himself to be a worthy object of charity, he is furnished with a ticket which entitles him, on presenting the same to the Cashier, to receive a certain amount of money specified thereon. In no instance does the amount exceed $5, unless the Committee are satisfied upon evidence adduced, that the party is actually in need of more. It is the intention of the Committee to send out missionaries next week for the express purpose of looking up special cases of destitution. Rev. H. GARNETT (colored) is at present engaged at the institution in investigating the special cases which offer themselves there, as his extensive acquaintance among the colored people enables him to decide upon the veracity of the statements made by many of them.
The first object of the Committee is to relieve the immediate wants of the colored people who have suffered by the riots. When that has been accomplished measures will be taken to increase the sphere of their usefulness.
The New York daily Tribune speaks as follows:
The rooms devoted to this charitable enterprise are easy of access, and centrally located on a quiet street not far from Police Headquarters, where protection can soon reach the sufferers in the event of a disturbance. These rooms have been temporarily fitted up with benches and tables for the accommodation of those who apply for assistance.
The distribution of funds has been reduced to such a perfect system, that in a few hours a dozen men can record the names, give out the tickets and disburse the money appropriated for that purpose, to three thousand persons. A set of books containing the name, occupation, residence, and necessities of each applicant is kept in the same exact and nice manner that a merchant or a banker would keep his accounts. The funds are not filtered through many hands. The sufferer has not to wait until patience ceases to be a virtue before his case is considered. There are no harsh or unkind words uttered by the clerks—no impertinent quizzing in regard to irrelevant matters—no partizan or sectarian view, advanced. The business is transacted in a straightforward, practical manner, without chilling the charity into an offense by creating the impression that the recipient is humiliated by accepting the gift. To the credit of the colored sufferers they gratefully receive the small sums given to them without criticism or jealousy, knowing that they can call again in the hour of need without being “bluffed” away with an unpleasant reminder that they had been assisted before. Those who are prudent and honest need not be afraid to repeat their requests in the time of necessity. The object of the fund is to help the sufferers along over the slough during this low tide in their affairs, and as fast as they can take care of themselves, they are expected to cease their applications for help from the committee. Among the volunteers who have put their shoulders to the wheel in this work, are the Rev. S. H. Tyng. Jr., Rev. H. B. Barton and George Hancock, Esq., the Rev. H. H. Garnett, the Rev. Mr. Ray, and others.54
During the month cirling August 21st there have been 3,942 women, and 2,450 men, making a total of 6,392 persons of mature age, relieved; full one-third being heads of families, whose children were included in the relief afforded by your committee, making a total of 12,782 persons relieved.
From these persons 8,121 visits were received and aid was given; to which add 4,000 applicants whose calls were not responded to, as they had previously been aided sufficiently, and you have 12, 121, applicants whose cases were considered and acted upon at the office during the month. Add to this the work of the members of the legal profession, Messrs. JAS. S. STEARNS and CEPHAS BRAINERD, who have been indefatigable in their labors, assisted by several other gentlemen, by whom 1,000 notices of claims for damages against the city, have been made out, copied and duly presented to the Comptroller, while our clerks have recorded on the books over 2,000 claimants for a sum of over $145,000, together with a considerable distribution of clothing by two colored clerks, and a fair idea of the work done in this office, during the month may be obtained and a reason for what might otherwise appear a large amount of expenditure.
Of the 2,450 men relieved, their occupations were as follows:
|1,267 Laborers and Longshoremen,||4 Tailors.|
|177 Whitewashers||3 Artists.|
|176 Drivers for Cartmen,||3 Music Teachers.|
|250 Waiters,||3 Coopers.|
|124 Porters,||2 Engravers.|
|97 Sailors and Boatmen,||2 Janitors.|
|72 Coachmen,||2 Measurers.|
|45 Cooks,||2 Oystermen.|
|37 Barbers,||2 Undertakers.|
|34 Chimney Sweepers,||1 Landlord|
|25 Tradesmen,||1 Flour Inspector.|
|20 Butchers,||1 Teacher.|
|15 Bootblacks,||1 Copyist.|
|11 Ministers or Preachers,||1 Farmer.|
|11 Shoemakers,||1 Botanist.|
|11 Tobacconists,||1 Physician.|
|11 Wood sawyers,||1 Book-binder.|
|8 Carpenters,||1 Tin Smith.|
|7 Basket-makers,||1 Upholsterer.|
|6 Scavengers||1 Black Smith.|
|5 Carpet shakers,|
Of the 3,942 women, were
|2,924 Day’s work women,||13 Hucksters.|
|664 Servants hired by month,||4 Teachers.|
|163 Seamstresses,||1 Artist.|
|106 Cooks,||1 Boardinghouse keeper.|
|19 Worked in Tobacco factory,||1 Basket-maker.|
|13 Nurses,||32 Infirm.|
In the height of the crowd of applications it was found necessary to employ as many as ten clerks, and several special policemen. These last, together with one regular patrolman who is still with us, preserved excellent order and were kindly furnished by Mr. Acton, of the Metropolitan Police, free of charge.
As soon as the most pressing necessities of the sufferers were relieved through the office, colored clergymen were employed by your direction as missionaries to visit the applicants for relief at their residences, four of the clerks were discharged and four clergymen employed in their places—The Rev. Mr. Ray, Rev. Mr. Leonard, Rev. Mr. Carey and John Peterson in addition to the Rev. H. H. Garnett, who was with us, and whose services have been invaluable from the first. These missionaries made 3,000 visits, relieving the wants of 1,000, and examining the cases of 3,000 persons, and nearly all the payments of the last week were made upon their representation.
I refer with pleasure to the valuable aid rendered the Committee by the City Tract Missionaries as Secretaries of the Association for improving the condition of the poor, not only in promptly supplying on our behalf, the pressing wants of the colored people in the different wards, but in giving such reports of applicants as facilitated our work at the office.
A good many applications for servants have been made, and as it seemed desirable that places should be provided for many of the sufferers as soon as possible, a book was kept open for employers needing servants and servants needing employment to register their names. Constant pressure of business, however, and the demand for servants in most cases far exceeding the supply, left this branch of useful mission work quite incomplete.
A large number of workmen having been discharged by their employers, who were in fear of damage to their property by the mob, the following appeal from the Executive Committee was printed and sent on 31st July to merchants and corporations employing colored laborers.
TO THE MERCHANTS AND OTHER EMPLOYERS OF LABORERS IN NEW YORK:
The undersigned, an Executive Committee appointed at a large and influential meeting of the Merchants of New York, to dispense the funds contributed by them in aid of the colored sufferers by the late riot, have been instructed by the General Committee to address their fellow-citizens in relation to the objects of their care. The Committee have learned, with deep regret, that in various ways obstacles have been thrown in the way of the attempt of colored laborers to resume their wanted occupation, cases having occurred where men, who had labored faithfully for years in a situation have been refused a restoration to their old places. Street railroads, by which many had been accustomed to pass from their distant homes to their usual places of business, have refused them permission to ride, and have thus deprived them of the ability to perform their customary duties and earn their needful pay. The undersigned, in behalf of the Merchants of this great Metropolis, respectfully but urgently call upon their fellow-citizens to unite in protecting the injured and persecuted class, whose cause the Committee advocate. The full and equal right of the colored man to work for whoever chooses to employ him, and the full and equal right of any citizen to employ whoever he will, is too manifest to need proof. Competition is indispensable to the successful management of commercial business; surely the energetic, enterprising merchants of this city will not allow any interference with their rights. On the other hand, if the colored population, from a want of firmness on the part of the whites, be deprived of their just rights to earn an honest living, they will become a dependent, pauper race. The Committee, therefore, earnestly appeal to the good feelings, to the sense of justice, to the manliness of every employer of whatever class, to restore the colored laborers to his customary place, and to sustain him in it. They appeal to the Board of Directors of our Street Railroads to give them all the immunities they ever enjoyed; and to the managers of all associations and corporations requiring many operatives, to restore the old order of things. While they enjoin upon merchants and others to maintain their right to employ whoever they please, it is no part of their purpose to recommend the discharge of one class and the substitution of another. What they do ask is that where colored laborers have been employed, they should not be discharged in this emergency; and the Committee would appeal to those laboring men who would drive colored men from the city, to consider the principle they would thus establish, and see how it may react upon themselves. Should they succeed in this attempt they would compel many white laborers now in the country to seek employment in the city, and before they were aware of it a new class of laborers would be brought into the city, and the wages of labor would be reduced. The laws of the demand and supply of labor cannot be permanently changed by combinations or persecutions.
The merchants of New York, the main supporters of every enterprise undertaken in our city, ask that this appeal may have the favorable consideration and support of every citizen.
In conclusion the Committee are fully authorized to state that the Police of our city who behaved so nobly during the recent troubles will render any aid which may possibly be needed, but the want of which is not anticipated.
J. D. McKENZIE, Chairman.
The work before us, is now, chiefly to take care of the claims against the city of those who have lost property by the riots. In the pressure with which sufferers applied for relief, it was not possible to do more than take a general estimate of their losses. These have now been revised and a more particular statement of items obtained. Others have been sought out at their residences, and notified to come and have their claims made out, and it will be our duty to see that they are properly presented to the Comptroller and prosecuted against the city, within the time prescribed by the law. . . .
Incidents of the Riot.
This young man who was murdered by the mob on the corner of Twenty-seventh St., and Seventh avenue, was a quiet, inoffensive man, 23 years of age, of unexceptionable character, and a member of Zion African Church in this city. Although a cripple, he earned a living for himself and his mother by serving a gentleman in the capacity of coachman. A short time previous to the assault upon his person, he called upon his mother to see if anything could be done by him for her safety. The old lady, who is noted for her piety and her Christian deportment, said she considered herself perfectly safe; but if her time to die had come, she was ready to die. Her son then knelt down by her side, and implored the protection of Heaven in behalf of his mother. The old lady was affected to tears, and said to our informant that it seemed to her that good angels were present in the room. Scarcely had the supplicant risen from his knees, when the mob broke down the door, seized him, beat him over the head and face with fists and clubs, and then hanged him in the presence of his mother.
While they were thus engaged, the military came and drove them away, cutting down the body of Franklin, who raised his arm once slightly and gave a few signs of life.
The military then moved on to quell other riots, when the mob returned and again suspended the now probably lifeless body of Franklin, cutting out pieces of flesh and otherwise mutilating it.
Peter Heuston, sixty-three years of age, a Mohawk Indian, with dark complexion and straight black hair, who has for several years been a resident of this city, at the corner of Rosevelt and Oak streets, and who has obtained a livelihood as a laborer, proved a victim to the late riots.
His wife died about three weeks before the riots, leaving with her husband an only child, a little girl named Lavinia, aged eight years, whom the Merchants’ Committee have undertaken to adopt with a view of affording her a guardianship and an education. Hueston served with the New York Volunteers in the Mexican War, and has always been loyal to our government. He was brutally attacked on the 13th of July by a gang of ruffians who evidently thought him to be of the African race because of his dark complexion. He died four days at Bellevue Hospital from his injuries.
At the end of the Mexican War Heuston received a land warrant from the government, which enabled him to settle on a tract of land at the West, where he lived but a short time previous to his coming to this city.
A crowd of rioters in pursuit of a negro, who in self defence had fired on some rowdies who had attacked him, met an innocent colored man returning from a bakery with a loaf of bread under his arm. They instantly set upon and beat him and after nearly killing him, hanged him to a lamp-post. His body was left suspended for several hours and was much mutilated.
A sad illustration of the painful uncertainty which hung over the minds of the wives and children of the colored men was found in the fact that two wives and their families, were both mourning the loss of their husbands in the case of this man, for upwards of two weeks after its occurrence. And so great was the fear inspired by the mob that no white person had dared to manifest sufficient interest in the mutilated body of the murdered man while it remained in the neighborhood to be able to testify as to who it was. At the end of two weeks the husband of one of the mourners to her great joy returned, like one recovered from the grave.
The principal evidence which the widow, Mary Jones, has to identify the murdered man as her husband is the fact of his having a loaf of bread under his arm. He having left the house to get a loaf of bread a few minutes before the attack.
One of our colored missionaries is still investigating the case.
From an old man in Sullivan street, a very patriarch in years and progeny, we gathered the following
I am a whitewasher by trade, and have worked, boy and man, in this city for sixty-three years. On Tuesday afternoon I was standing on the corner of Thirtieth street and Second avenue, when a crowd of young men came running along shouting “Here’s a nigger, here’s a nigger.” Almost before I knew of their intention, I was knocked down, kicked here and there, badgored and battered without mercy, until a cry of “the Peelers are coming” was raised; and I was left almost senseless, with a broken arm and a face covered with blood, on the railroad track. I was helped home on a cart by the officers, who were very kind to me, and gave me some brandy before I got home. I entertain no malice and have no desire for revenge against these people. Why should they hurt me or my colored brethren? We are poor men like them; we work hard and get but little for it. I was born in this State and have lived here all my life, and it seems hard, very hard, that we should be knocked down and kept out of work just to oblige folks who won’t work themselves and don’t want others to work.
We asked him if it was true that the negroes had formed any organization for self-defence, as was rumored. He said no; that, so far as he knew, “they all desire to keep out of the way, to be quiet, and do their best toward allaying the excitement in the City.”
The room in which the old man was lying was small, but it was the kitchen, sitting-room, bedroom and garret of four grown persons and five children.
Instances of this kind might be multiplied by the dozen, gathered from the lips of suffering men, who, though wounded and maimed by ruffians and rioters, are content to be left alone, and wish for no revenge.
CASE OF BRUTALITY
is one of the worst, so far as beating is concerned, which, has come under our observation: At a late hour on Wednesday night, a colored man, named Charles Jackson, was passing along West street, in the neighborhood of Pier No. 5, North river. He was a laboring man, and was dressed in a tarpaulin, a blue shirt, and heavy duck trousers. As he was passing a groggery in that vicinity, he was observed by a body of dock men, who instantly set after him. He ran with all the swiftness his fears could excite, but was overtaken before he had gone a block. His persecutors did not know him nor did they entertain any spite against him beyond the fact that he was a black man and a laborer about the docks, which they consider their own peculiar field of labor. Nevertheless they knocked him down, kicked him in the face and ribs, and finally by the hands of their leader, deliberately attempted to cut his throat. The body, dead they supposed it, was then thrown into the water and left to sink. Fortunately life was not extinct and the sudden plunge brought the poor fellow to his senses, and being a good swimmer he was enabled instinctively to seek for the net work of the dock. This he soon found, but was so weak from the loss of blood and so faint with pain that he could do no more than hold on and wait for day. The day after, Messrs. Kelly and Curtis, of Whitehall, discovered him lying half dead in the water. They at once attended to his wants, gave him in charge of the Police-boat and had him sent to the hospital. The escape of the man from death by the successive abuses of beating, knifing, and drowning, is most wonderful. So determined and bitter is the feeling of the longshoremen against negroes that not one of the latter dared show themselves upon the docks or piers, even when a regular employee of the place.
Report of the Committee of Merchants for the Relief of Colored People, Suffering From the Late Riots of the City of New York (New York, 1863).
All this time the fighting was going on in every direction while the fire-bells continually ringing, increased the terror, which was, every hour becoming widespread.
Especially true was this of the negro population. From the first day they had been made to feel that they were to be the objects of mob violence, and those who could fled into the country.
They crowded the ferry-boats and trains, fleeing for their lives in all directions.
But many, old men and women, were compelled to remain and meet the fury of the mob which made a regular hunt for them.
Deeds were done, and scenes occurred that one would not believe could have occurred in a civilized community.
C. L. Chapin, “Personal Recollections of the Draft Riots, New York City, 1863,” Ms., New York Historical Society.
On the afternoon of July [13th], a rabble attacked our house, breaking windowpanes, smashing shutters and partially demolishing the front door. Before dusk arrangements had been effected to secure the safety of our children. As the evening drew on, a resolute man and a courageous woman quietly seated themselves in the hall, determined to sell their lives as dearly as may be. Lights having been extinguished, a lonely vigil passed in mingled indignation, uncertainty and dread. Just after midnight a yell announced that a second mob was gathering. As one of the rioters attempted to ascend the front steps, father advanced into the doorway and fired point blank into the crowd. The mob retreated hastily and no further demonstration was made that night. The next day a third and successful attempt at entrance was effected. This sent father over the back fence while mother took refuge on the premises of a neighbor.
In one short hour, the police cleared the premises. What a home! Its interior was dismantled, furniture was missing or broken. From basement to attic evidences of vandalism prevailed. A fire, kindled in one of the upper rooms, was discovered in time to prevent a conflagration.
Under cover of darkness the police conveyed our parents to the Williamsburg ferry. There steamboats were kept in readiness to transport fugitives or to outwit rioters by pulling out into midstream. Mother with her children undertook the hazardous journey of getting to New England. After a brief rest in New London, we reached Salem tired, travel-stained, with only the garments we had on.
Lyons-Williamson Papers, Schomburg Collection.
So determined and bitter is the feeling of the ‘longshoremen against negroes that not one of the latter dares show himself upon the docks or piers even when a regular employee of the place. The white workmen have resolved, by concerted action, to keep colored men from this branch of labor, and have evinced, by their conduct toward their former comrades in work, a spirit as murderous and brutal as it is illiberal and selfish. It is a prevalent rumor, to which the authorities give full credence, and which the ‘longshoremen seem proud of, that scores of these unfortunates have been thrown into the river and drowned, for no other reason than that they were abnoxious to the sensitive-minded individuals of a lighter color.
New York Times, July 17, 1863.
Longshoremen made no attempt to conceal their determination to keep negroes . . . from that sort of labor. They insist upon it that the colored people must and shall be driven to other departments of industry, and that the work upon the docks, the stevedoring, and the various job-work therewith connected, shall be attended to solely and absolutely by members of the ‘Longshoremen’s Association, and such white laborers as they see fit to permit upon the premises.
New York Daily Times, July 17, 1863.
Upward of two hundred colored persons have found shelter from the fury of the mob at Police Headquarters. They are of both sexes and all ages, from the infant at the breast to the white-haired grandfather. Notwithstanding their misfortunes and losses they are calm and cheerful. They are not unconscious of the dangers from which they have escaped, nor of the difficulties which surround them, but they have a strong faith in the power and justice of God. While they express the deepest gratitude to their benefactors, they show no spirit of vindictiveness toward the rioters, who with torches, halters, and firearms drove them from their homes.
They are furnished with rooms in the upper story of the Station-House. Trunks and boxes are used for seats and their beds are on the floor. They are abundantly supplied with good substantial rations, such as the officers and other persons connected with the Station have. Many of them make themselves useful by scrubbing and sweeping the rooms, waiting upon those who used their help and doing with the utmost cheerfulness any task assigned to them.
The following facts related in the language of the sufferers will give the reader an idea of the trials to which these poor unoffending negroes have been exposed. We omit their names and places of residences at their own request. Mrs. S—a very intelligent woman, the mother of three children—the eldest, a daughter, married, said:
“One of the rioters came into my house suddenly on Wednesday, and asked me for my man, I told him he had gone to sea. The rioter then said, I will give you just ten minutes to clear out, and then I will tear down your house and burn it. Just then another rioter spoke a word in my behalf, when the tall, savage looking man drew his revolver and hit my little boy over the head, and threatened to shoot the man who manifested sympathy for me. I then picked up my babe and sought shelter in a house on Lexington avenue. The next day I went to Police Headquarters, and soon after my arrival, some fireman of No. 39 Co. found my little boy hid in a box. I lost him in my haste from the rioters, and was almost crazy until they brought him here. The child still suffers in consequence of the blow he received at the hands of the rioter. Her oldest daughter had previously gone to headquarters for protection.”
William — makes the following statement of the manner in which he and two other men escaped, leaving the women and children in the house, knowing they had a better chance to get away from the rioters:
“On Wednesday evening a tall man with red whiskers and moustache, came to my house; with him were two boys with ropes in their hands, and a crowd followed crying, ‘Hang the niggers.’ We then made our escape from the third story window by means of a rope, and hid away in the furnace in the cellar. The women and children (ten in number), then fled into the street and sought refuge at Jefferson Market Precinct. After remaining in our hiding place until 2 o’clock in the morning we made our escape, and we all met at Police Headquarters on Saturday. There were white families in the same house, consequently it was not burned, but everything was stolen from it.”
G — is blind and lame. Here is in brief the plain account of his escape:
“A mob burst my door open on Wednesday afternoon. I had an aunt there, an old woman of sixty. I was hid in the wood-house. The mob said to the old lady that if she would give me up they would not harm her. She said I was lame and blind, and had to go on crutches, and was afraid of them. They found me, however, and carried me into the house, and gave me an hour in which to make my escape. I went to the Station House in the Eighteenth Ward, guided by my, aunt, and there some kind friend—I wish I knew his name—put me into a carriage and conveyed me to this place.”
A mother with her two children, one of them very ill, said:
“Last Wednesday I went to the Station-House on Twenty ninth street, and the officer in charge told me to return to my house. He said no person would injure me. I went home with my two children, and as soon as I entered the house a mob kicked the door open; he was followed by a crowd of men and boys who drove me away. One of my children was very sick at the time.”
Mrs. D., a very nice looking woman, gives the following statement:
“I was driven from my own home on Tuesday, and from the house where I sought refuge on Wednesday. I and my three children finally reached the Police Headquarters. I supposed that my husband had been killed—his death having been announced in the newspapers, but he made his escape by hiding away in outhouses, and moving from place to place under the cover of darkness, and is here with me.”
New York Tribune, July 21, 1863.
In accordance with a call issued at a meeting of merchants held on Saturday last, a second meeting convened at 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, at McCallough’s salesrooms, corner of Front street and Maiden lane, for the purpose of taking into consideration means to be adopted to aid colored men and their families whose homes and property have been destroyed during the pendency of the recent riots. The meeting was well attended, there being between 100 and 200 merchants present.
JONATHAN STURGIS occupied the chair, and on calling the meeting to order he said:
For the information of those who were not present at the meeting held here on Saturday, it is proper that I should state its origin and object. The meeting was called on the suggestion of several gentlemen in Front street, at a very short notice, to consider the destitute condition of the colored people of this city, who have been deprived of their homes, and their little property, by a mob during the past week, to devise means to relieve their immediate wants and to secure them in their peaceable and honest labor hereafter. I have been 41 years a merchant in my present location. During this period I have seen a noble race of merchants pass away. I cannot help calling to mind the many acts of charity which they performed during their lives. I hardly need to name them; you all know them. You all know how they sent relief to Southern cities when they were desolated by fire or pestilence; how they sent shiploads of food to the starving people of Ireland; this last act of brotherly love we have had the privilege of imitating during the past Winter—and as often as occasion requires, I trust we shall be quick to continue these acts of humanity—thus showing that the race of New-York merchants is not deteriorating. We are now called upon to sympathize with a different class of our fellow men. Those who know our colored people of this city, can testify to their being peaceable, industrious people, having their own churches, Sunday-schools, and charitable societies and that as a class they seldom depend upon charity; they not only labor to support themselves, but to aid those who need aid. This is their general character, and it is our duty to see that they are protected in their lawful labors, to save themselves from becoming dependent on the charity of the city. We have not come together to devise means for their relief because they are colored people, but because they are, as a class, persecuted and in distress at the present moment. It is not necessary for our present purposes to inquire who the men are who have persecuted, robbed, and murdered them. We know they are bad men, who have not done as they would be done by. Let us not follow their example; let us be quick to relieve those who are now in trouble, and should we ever find those who have persecuted the negroes in like trouble, let us be quick to relieve them also, and thus obey the injunction of our Divine Master, “Bless those who persecute you.”
On motion, the President, Mr. Sturgis, was made the treasurer of the fund to be raised in accordance with the objects of the meeting.
Mr. MACKENZIE, Chairman of the Committee appointed at the previous meeting, submitted the following resolutions:
The condition of the colored people of this city, who have recently been deprived of their kindred by murderers of their homes by fire, and of their accustomed means of support, having been forcibly driven therefrom by an infuriated mob without cause or provocation, is such as not out to excite the sympathy of every good member of the community of all parties and all creeds, but also demands and should receive prompt pecuniary assistance and aid.
That this may be effectually accomplished, we do hereby
Resolved, That a Committee of five merchants be appointed by the Chairman of this meeting, who, with the Treasurer of the fund to be collected as a member of same, shall have full power to receive, collect and distribute funds in the purchase of necessary food and clothing and in relieving the wants of the suffering colored population.
Resolved, That to said Committee are hereby granted full powers to assist all colored people whose property has been destroyed by the mob, in making the needful proof of the facts to obtain redress from the county, under the staute laws of the State of New York, and that they have authority to collect funds and employ counsel for that purpose.
Resolved, That we will exert all the influence we possess to protect the colored people of this city in their rights to pursue unmolested their lawful occupations, and we do hereby call upon the proper authorities to take immediate steps to afford them such protection.
Resolved, That we will not recognize or sanction any distinction of persons of whatever nation, religion or color, for their natural rights to labor peaceably in their vocation for the support of themselves and those dependent upon them, and that so far as we are able to contribute to the wants and necessities of our fellow men it shall be done without reference to their distinctions. And further that what we now propose doing for the colored man, we shall ever be ready to do for any of our fellow men under like circumstances.
New York Tribune, July 21, 1863.
The mob exults in the belief that, if it failed in its other objects, it has at least secured possession of the labor of the city, and has driven the blacks to seek work elsewhere. . . . It is the duty of merchants and other employers to take pains to recall their workmen immediately, and assure them of permanent protection.
New York Tribune, July 21, 1863.
This Institution, which owes its existence and former prosperity and usefulness to the energy and perseverance of its proprietor, Mr. Wm. P. Powell, under the patronage and aid of the American Seamen’s Friend Society, was completely rifled of all its furniture, books and clothing, by the mob of July 13th, the building greatly damaged—Mr. Powell, his family and boarders compelled to escape over the roof for their lives. After a consequent suspension of nearly three months, the building has been thoroughly repaired, newly painted, and re-furnished with new furniture, beds and bedding, is heated throughout with hot air, abundantly supplied with hot and cold water baths for the use of the boarders; is kept neat; airy, and well arranged for the promotion of health, and is designed to be a Home, with its religious, moral and social influences for our colored seamen. During the eleven months previous to the riot, 450 seamen had been inmates of this Home.
Mr. Powell is well known in the business community, as an enterprising, intelligent, and worthy citizen, though of dark complexion, as his ancestors, on one side, came from Africa. He is entitled to great credit for his persistent efforts in behalf of our colored seamen, and to the protection of the Law, and the patronage of the friends of humanity.
We confidently commend him, and his Home to the patronage of seamen and their friends.
Sailor’s Magazine (November, 1863):83.
Joseph Marshall, a boatman, was arrested yesterday by Officer Cornell of the Harbor Police, charged with a felonious assault and battery on Joseph Jackson, a colored man, residing on the corner of Broadway and Houston street. On the 15th inst. Jackson was attacked by a gang of rioters, and to escape them ran down to Pier No. 4, North River, where he had some business. The mob pursued him, crying “Here’s a d—d nigger,” and the prisoner, as is alleged, made a rush for him, and, seizing the frightened negro, beat him in the most terrible manner about the head and body with a large stone. Jackson was then thrown into the river for dead, but the plunge in the water revived him so that he was enabled to crawl under the pier, where he remained for nearly twenty-four hours before daring the venture from his hiding-place. The rioters robbed their victim of his watch and chain and $36 in money. The prisoner, who is reported to be a newly-imported rowdy from New-Orleans, was taken before Justice Quackenbush and locked up. He was positively identified by Jackson as one of the men who beat him.
New York Tribune, July 25, 1863.
For the last few days General Superintendent Kennedy and Inspector Carpenter, have received numerous anonymous communications, to the effect that the writers know who had mobbed and hung negroes, and committed other acts of violence against both persons and property, but they feared violence at the hands of the rioters should they betray them. Any person possessing such information, by making the necessary affidavits before Inspector Carpenter, will be protected from harm, and assurances given that their names will not be divulged, except by their consent.
New York Tribune, July 25, 1863.
The following notice was issued yesterday afternoon:
MERCHANTS’ RELIEF COMMITTEE FOR SUFFERING COLORED PEOPLE, DEPOT, NO. 350 FOURTH STREET, NEW YORK, July 21, 1863.
At a meeting of the Committee of the Merchants, for the relief of suffering colored people, held this morning, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, It has come to our knowledge that many parties heretofore employing colored men and women are now declining their further employment, from fear of molestation by the mob, therefore,
Resolved, That merchants, warehousemen, transport companies, and others are respectfully urged to employ colored men as heretofore, and are requested to rely upon the public authorities for protection.
Resolved, further, That all such cases be reported to the Board.
Resolved, That responsible persons residing out of town, knowing of colored refugees from the city in their neighborhood, be requested to report them to the Committee at their rooms, No. 850 Fourth street, and aid the Committee in returning such refugees to their accustomed labor as soon as possible.
A. R. WETMORE,
J. S. SHULTZ,
GEO. C. COLLINS,
J. D. McKENZIE,
JOS. B. COLLINS,
New York Tribune, July 25, 1863.
Quite a number of large corporations and mercantile firms are determined—not from any idle notions of venegeance, but on sound business considerations—to secure hereafter labor which shall not be liable to interruption from Irish prejudices. The longshore business is going to pass into the hands of negroes. Foundries and factories, whose business was interrupted by the striking of workmen who turned rioters, are going to gradually make such changes as will effectively preclude accidents hereafter. Employers who heretofore have preferred Irishmen to negroes are now going to take into consideration the riotous propensities of the former, and for the sake of their business—to which interruption is loss and possible ruin—at all events to dilute their operative force with enough colored men to secure themselves against the chance of another Irish riot. Individuals who never dreamed of employing negroes are being led by consideration of humanity and manhood to extend a helping hand to the oppressed race.
Harper’s Weekly, August 18, 1863.
Let us look at the labor question a little more closely, and see what must be the greed of those who would have us believe that there is not room and labor enough in this country for the citizens of foreign birth and the colored people of native growth. The legitimate territory of these United States, is about 3,306,863 acres. That is ten times larger than Great Britain and France together; three times larger than Britain, France, Austria, Prussia, Spain, Portugal and Denmark; and only one sixth less, in extent, than the fifty-nine or sixty republics and empires of Europe put together. And yet there are those who would teach the British and other foreigners the selfish and greedy idea that there is not room enough in this country for them and the colored man. Such a notion is ridiculous.
The foregoing state of fact suggests some lessons of duty.
First, we must study the use of arms, for self-defense. There is no principle of civil or religious obligation that requires us to live on in hazard and leave our persons, property and our wives and children at the mercy of barbarians. Self-defense is the first law of nature.
Second, we must enter into a solemn free colored Protestant industrial or labor league.
Let the greedy foreigner know that a part of this country belongs to us, and that we assert the right to live and labor here, that in New York and other cities we claim the right to buy, hire, occupy and use houses and tenements, for legal considerations, to pass and repass on the streets, lanes, avenues and all public ways. Our fathers have fought for this country and helped to free it from the British yoke. We are now fighting to help to free it from the combined conspiracy of Jeff Davis and Company; we are doing so with the distinct understanding, that we are to have all our rights as men and as citizens, and that there are to be no side issues, no reservations, either political, civil or religious. In this struggle we know nothing but God, manhood and American nationality, full and unimpaired.
The right to labor, earn wages and dispose of our earnings for the support of our families, the education of our children and to support religious institutions of our free choice is inherent. No party or power in politics or religion can alienate this right.
Third, let us place our daughters and younger sons in industrial positions, however humble, and secure openings where they may be usefully employed. Every father and every mother may be of service, not only to their own children, but also to those of others. You will have many applications for “colored help.” Be useful to applicants. Prepare your sons and daughters for usefulness in all the branches of domestic labor and service.
From address, “The Position and Duties of the Colored People,” August 24, 1863, Philip S. Foner (ed.), The Voice of Black America: Major Speeches by Negroes in the United States, 1797–1971 (New York, 1972), pp. 271–80.
On the same day that Irish Catholics destroyed the institution for colored orphans, they received a check of $50,000 from the city, for the establishment of a Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum!
It has been erroneously stated in all the city papers that warning was given at the Asylum for Colored Orphans of the intention of the mob, in order that the inmates might be removed. This, says a correspondent of the Independent, is a very grave mistake. No notice whatever was given, and nothing saved the children from the flames and from the fury of these demons, except the fidelity and coolness of the Superintendent, and the protecting hand of God. The children did not leave the building until the wretches were thundering at the front door. A fireman who saved a sick child from being burned, was twice knocked down, and another, in endeavoring to direct the fugitives to a place of safety, was pulled away and had his clothes torn from his back for attempting to assist the “damned nagers.”
The Liberator, August 21, 1863.
TRADES AND OCCUPATIONS.
Record of the Service of the Fifty-Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Cambridge, Mass., 1868), pp. 110–12.
BLACK-WHITE OCCUPATIONAL COMPARISON 1861–1865
Rendezvous Reports for 1861–1865, RG 24, National Archives.
40. GIVE US EQUAL PAY AND WE WILL GO TO WAR By Rev. J. P. Campbell55
. . . If we are asked the question why it is that black men have not more readily enlisted in the volunteer service of the United States government since the door has been opened to them, we answer, the door has not been fairly and sufficiently widely opened. It has been opened only in part, not the whole of the way. That it is not sufficiently and fairly opened will appear from the action of the present Congress upon the subject of the pay of colored soldiers. It shows a strong disposition not to equalize the pay of soldiers without distinction on account of color.
When the news of the first gun fired upon the flag of the Union at old Sumner reached the North, the friends of the Union were called upon to defend that flag. The heart of the black man at that hour responded to the call. He came forward at once and offered his services to the government, and failed to act immediately, because he was denied the opportunity of so doing. He was met with the cold, stern and chilling rebuke, that this was not the Negro’s war, not a war upon slavery, and that in it the services of the Negro were not wanted; that slavery had nothing to do with the war, or the war with slavery; that it was purely a war for the safety of the Union and its preservation, without reference to the slavery question.
But the time came when it was thought that under very great restrictions, as by giving him unequal pay and restraining him from being an officer in the Army, the Negro might be allowed to bear arms. Afterward, the black man, saying nothing about officeholding for the time being, asked the government to acknowledge the justice of his claim to equal pay with the white soldier and to recommend the same to the then ensuing Congress, to be made law. The government pledged itself to this recommendation, and many colored men enlisted upon the faith which they had in the government and the future good legislation of Congress upon the subject of giving to black soldiers equal pay and equal bounties with white soldiers, and that all other necessary and needed provisions would be to both the same. Congress met, and the good President Lincoln, with the excellent Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, proved faithful to their promise. They laid the matter before Congress in their Annual Message and Report. But, alas, that honorable body hesitates to act, and that, too, while the country and its liberties are in danger and calamity by armed rebellion against the government.
Now, we say to our honorable Senators and Representatives in Congress, gentlemen, don’t be afraid to do the black man justice. He will not abuse your confidence in his fidelity to the Constitution and the Union. He will never prove himself a traitor by his acts. He will never prove himself to be unworthy of receiving at your hands the rights and privileges which justice and equity demand.
Give to the black man those simple demands set forth in this bill of particulars, and he will rush to the defense of his country by thousands. His heart within him pants for the opportunity to show himself a man, capable of discharging all the duties of a common manhood, in whatever sphere that manhood may be called to act. Here we are, by thousands and ten thousands, standing ready to move at the nod of your august and mighty fiat. The state of Maryland wants to fill up her last quota of men demanded by the call of the President. This, with a little more time allowed, may be done, if she will do justice to the black citizens of her own soil. They are strong men, and true to the country which gave them birth. They will be ready, at the first sound of the bugle, to fill up the balance of Maryland’s apportionment.
The law requires that black men shall pay as much commutation money as white men pay. We ask, then, that the same pay, bounty, pensions, rights and privileges be given to black men that are given the white men, and they will go to war, without paying the commutation money.
We want an equal chance to show our equal manhood and love for the Constitution and the Union. Under the above-named circumstances, we are standing ready to respond to the call of the government and go to defend our common country against the encroachments of an armed rebellion.
In conclusion, we ask the question, Will you have us? Will you accept of us upon equal terms with white men in the service of our country? We await, with deep solicitude and anxiety, the action of a government and people whom, with all their faults, we love, and whom we are willing to defend with our lives, liberty and sacred honor in common with white men. Will you have us so to do? That is the question. We ask for equal pay and bounty, not because we set a greater value upon money than we do upon human liberty, compared with which money is mere trash; but we contend for equal pay and bounty upon the principle that if we receive equal pay and bounty when we go into the war, we hope to receive equal rights and privileges when we come out of the war. If we go in equal in pay, we hope to come out equal in enfranchisement.
Is that an unreasonable hope or an unjust claim? It takes as much to clothe and feed the black man’s wife as it does the white man’s wife. It takes as much money to go to market for the black man’s little boys and girls as it does for the white man’s little boys and girls. We have yet to learn why it is that the black soldier should not receive the same compensation for labor in the service of his country that the white soldier receives. There is no financial embarrassment, as in the case of Mr. Jefferson Davis’s government at Richmond. Our great and good financier, Mr. Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, has money enough to carry on the war, and some millions of gold and silver to sell. Give us equal pay, and we will go on to the war—not pay on mercenary principles, but pay upon the principles of justice and equity.
The Christian Recorder, March 19, 1864.
And now another of those outrages practiced upon colored men during the war has come to light. It appears, from the correspondence published in another column, that all the colored men, numbering many thousands, employed during the war as wagoners, laborers, etc., were actually cheated out of five dollars of their wages per month under the pretence that the five dollars thus deducted was to be a contraband fund for the support of the liberated slaves. It is said the deductions were by the order of Hon. E. M. Stanton, We hope the statement will prove to be untrue. As it seems incredible that that gentleman would be guilty of what we conceive to be a crime. We do not understand that the President of the United States or the Secretary of War has authority to impose any such tax upon government laborers. It is evident it was not a legislative enactment else the public would have known all about it, and if Mr. Stanton issued the order without congressional authority, it is in our opinion plainly a usurpation and an outrage. Even if it was a congressional enactment it was unjust, for by what mode of reasoning can it be established that colored wagoners more than any one else, should support the liberated slaves. These people were properly the wards of the government, and it should have provided for them better than it ever did. If there was ever a class of people who deserved the sympathy of and protection by the American government, it was the people just liberated as a war necessity. They did not liberate themselves. They were not responsible for being thrown homeless, friendless and destitute upon the government. Neither were the slaves or the free colored people of the country responsible for their helpless condition, the white population alone were to blame. But one of the worst features in this deplorable condition of things is there is much doubt that not one cent of the money deducted from poor colored wagoners ever went toward the support of the freedmen. Then in whose pockets did it go?
The Christian Recorder, June 20, 1875.
MR. EDITOR: I wish to jot down a few thoughts if you will be kind enough to give them a place in your columns, in regard to the intolerable and incomprehensible prejudice which shows itself toward the colored people of this city on every possible occasion. The dividing line of light and darkness is not more distinctly drawn than are the lines of caste and prejudice, drawn between the white and colored people of this city. There is no more regard shown by the whites for the common and natural rights of the colored people here, than there is at Richmond; and nothing but an upheaval in this community, like that at New York, will bring the people to a sense of common justice. Proscription is written on the door post of every useful institution, from the church down to the lowest hovel kept by some Pat Murphy. If you go out of the city by railroad you will see posted up in each end of the cars, a notice like the following: “Colored people must take the back end of the car or ride in the baggage car;” and this is made imperative. It is not enough that you take the first end of the car, if you get in there, but you must go through to the lower end, which means behind all white folks. If you are going to Salem, N.J., or any other like insignificant town, you will meet in your journey around the boat, forward of the wheel, of course, a device like this over some door, “Colored People’s Room,” and, no mistake about it, you will find them there, as meek and as gentle as we ever saw them in old times on board the steamer Louisiana, plying between Baltimore and Norfolk, and apparently thinking and talking about everything under the sun, but their proscribed condition. In fact I have met a good number of colored people right here in Philadelphia, who are entirely averse to any sort of agitation whatever, whether in regard to their social or political rights; and you ask them the reason, and they will tell you, that it will make the case worse and injure our cause—that the white people will become still more prejudiced against us, and therefore it is best to wait until they shall see fit to treat us better.
Now I look upon this conduct as abominable sycophancy, for there is no colored man who has had his residence in the free States, a single twelve months, but who knows that the colored people as a class, get nothing so to speak, in the way of social and political privileges, only by long, persistent and obstinate agitation, and if the Abolitionists had been governed by such a feeling their time would have been thrown away, for in all the past thirty years of anti-slavery work we have not obtained anything by consent of the Northern people—every reform has been wrung from and comes to us by express statute. We do not melt and fuse into place and position as does the most outlandish foreigner, and the reason is obvious; from the very beginning of Southern slavery, the Northern whites have made color and condition a life-long barrier between them and us, and the legislation of the free States for the last sixty or eighty years, from the date of the Constitution, proves that that barrier has broadened and kept pace with the race, until caste has become an established American Institution, to be got rid of only by the success of the moral and physical forces which are now at work around us. We must open our eyes to this fact; that social and political equality will be harder to win back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey than in the South. Here prejudice to color is the effect of slavery, and the constant observer of a race held in bondage by the whites and at all times liable to be made slaves of by the latter, at any time, when they might desire to practice slave-holding. In the South, slavery actually existed in form without prejudice to the race or its color, save the law of subjugation, and now slavery once effectually abolished there by no matter what method, and all other social difficulties will melt away with the progress of the school.
The former dictators of Southern institutions will be more or less dependent upon the emancipated laborers. Force, no longer available; money worth nothing without labor will bring about instantly at the close of the war a degree of social and political privileges such as we have never enjoyed in the North, and I believe this state of equality will take place sooner at the South than here. What are the facts?
A few days ago the first regiment of colored men raised in Maryland for the war were marched through the streets of Baltimore, the very city which mobbed the Massachusetts 6th Regiment two years ago, and the New York Herald has not been refreshed with the news which it would have published with avidity, were they interrupted or had a single insult been offered to them; while on the other hand, the Third Regiment of Colored Pennsylvania Volunteers which left this State two months ago to give their bodies a living sacrifice for the white man’s Union and Constitution, could not parade through the streets of Philadelphia, from apprehension, which was not without a good deal of foundation too, that they would be mobbed by the Copperheads, those sickly vermin, which have always insiduously dragged the North along upon their slimy backs and made her kiss the feet of her Southern masters—and for what. Why for the sake of that ill-established trade which never had any real life in it, but whose vitality was just sufficient to enable this very class to float along, the hired and only lovers of Southern brutality and man-stealing, and who would today, to retrieve their lost Southern pottage and political hopes sell out the North and all the little hope left in her for mankind, a perpetual sacrifice to Jefferson Davis and his confederacy. Not until slaveholding Baltimore had set free Philadelphia an example would the Mayor allow the 6th Regiment which is to leave in a few days for the South to be paraded in this city.
From the railroad and steamboat we come to the eating-house. In this city it is thought impudent for a colored person to go into an eating-house where white people dine, and ask for a meal, and you are notified of the fact as soon as you try it. And that your readers may not think what I am saying over-stated, I will give you my experience: I went into Mr. F. Ford’s eating-house, 804 Market St., a few days ago; it was the only one I saw where I was then passing. Being quite hungry I took a seat, but had not fairly got seated before I felt the paw of a lame, swarthy-looking-white man, upon my shoulder, saying to me: “Out with you! Don’t you know better than to come where white people eat and take a seat, and ask for something to eat? You are an impudent fellow!” If I had made a mistake could he not treat me civilly? I was a colored man, that was enough, and I ought to know better. Now, this is Philadelphia, where 25,000 colored people are seen in the streets every day. And if in the past thirty years of anti-slavery labor here, the most progressive of us have not yet been able to penetrate the social atmosphere of the white, so as to ride in the same railroad car with them, or take a hasty meal in business hours in the same public eating saloon, or sit with suavity of mind anywhere in the same church, pray, what have we to expect from silence? Go from the eating house to the freest and most liberal church in this city, which is the Rev. Mr. Furness’, corner of 10th and Locust Sts., and colorphobia meets you at the door, and points you to a place in the gallery appropriated especially for the colored people, where if you go up you will see seated members and heads of a few families whose well-known business character, money and reputation ought to entitle them to a seat any where in that church.
But the dividing line is so visible and strongly drawn, that no colored person thinks of entering the body of that church save to a back seat, where you are almost hid in the darkness of the gallery. A man of keen sensitiveness might have as much religion as St. Paul had, and he could not enjoy it in a church where he knows he is pointed to the most diminutive corner in it. And palliate as we may, we cannot get over the fact that while colored people are so proscribed, they are nothing less than objects of constant remark, and will continue to be so long as the Negro pew is known to be in existence in a church where they may congregate, however few.
Mr. Furness is a good man, but he converts but few over to the faith. He is now approaching that after-life which seeks quest and would turn aside from the contentions of the hour, and be content to slide along in the smoother grooves which his labors of a more active date had helped to carve out.
What we want in this city is not a pulpit, but a platform, which shall give the scorching light of a Theodore Parker—that will penetrate through this immoral soil which has been hardened by the tread of a wicked, unrelenting prejudice, and discover to the people the grievous injustice they have so long practiced upon us. And among the worst prejudice here is that hateful feeling which excludes the colored people from the city horse cars. However remote may be their homes from the centre of the city, or whatever may be the emergency of their case, they cannot use this public conveyance, or if they do, they are compelled, women and men, to stand upon the front platform, by the side of the driver, in all weather, and under no circumstances are they allowed to go inside of the cars. We often see women, with their little children in their arms, standing upon the front platform of the cars. Yes, think of it, civilized and Christian white people of Philadelphia: colored women, unless they are white enough to run the gauntlet, have to stand upon the front platform of your city horse-cars, surrounded on either side with the vulgar, and compelled to listen to all the obscenity of the brothel which is invariably directed towards them! At the same time take a look into the cars through the window as they pass, and you will see dotted all through it the long white bonnets worn by a class called friends, but no word of remonstrance do they raise against the inhumanity which they witness every day practiced upon the colored women of Philadelphia, their own sex.
The altercation between Mr. Thomas Smith, President of the North American Bank, and a few roughts who wished to have a colored volunteer removed from the horse-cars, and which you have already noticed works no observable change in the public feeling, and this mean prejudice will have its way until it shall wreak itself out on some noble soul like the above, defending his weaker brother in these simple rights, and then Philadelphia will begin to remember justice. If communities will not do right, then God’s justice will carve its own way.
The Christian Recorder, October 31, 1863.
The subjoined statement is from the New York correspondent of the Philadelphia Press, of Jan. 4. We have heard rumors of similar transactions in this city; and many assert that agents are employed to visit the border States for the purpose of kidnapping slaves and emancipated negroes, and forwarding them to different Northern recruiting stations, where the darkies are put off with $25 or $50, and the balance of the $300 bounty is pocketed by these organized thieves. We have always avoided the “nigger question,” because we considered the discussion of it, in any shape, as foreign to the interests of this paper; but when it comes to the enactment of such scenes as those described below, the rascals should have their villainy heralded by every press in the country. The darkies thus treated, can scarcely feel jubilant over their emancipation from slavery, since they have only “jumped out of the frying-pan into the fire.” The statement is as follows:
The matter of kidnapping of negroes and their compulsory enlistment, is exciting much comment in the community. As far as is known, the outrages are committed on behalf of Gen. Spinola’s “recruiting” office only. It appears by statements that some one hundred and forty-eight men have been mustered in at Spinola’s headquarters, who have been partially defrauded out of their bounties, some receiving only $50 out of the $300 to which they are entitled, and this in defiance of an order forbidding the mustering of recruits who have not received the entire sum. The following facts, extracted from an affidavit which has just been given to the public, will convey some idea of the modus operandi of this abominable system.
The deponent states that while walking in Broadway, near the headquarters of Gen. Spinola, he observed a colored man walking between two men in uniform, who were talking to him. The negro showed some evidences of fright in his actions,. and the deponent, following them, passed into Lafayette Hall, where the negro was thrust into “the crib.” Deponent, who is himself colored, had some brief altercation with one of the men in uniform, and was ultimately seized by them, with the remark: “You d—d nigger, you’ve got to stay here now.” At the same time he was told that he must enlist, and the guard at the door was ordered to run him through with his bayonet should he attempt to escape. Fortunately, the deponent was already connected with a colored regiment, and, on representing this fact to the kidnappers, they allowed him his liberty. He states, in his deposition, that he saw five or six negroes “in the crib or pen,” all of whom complained to him that they had been kidnapped. One had his face swollen from a blow received while resisting his captors. All this occurred at mid day, in a building nearly opposite the Metropolitan Hotel, and in the very central portion of Broadway. How much better this “crib” is than the slave pens of the South, let thinking men decide. And if a thrust of the bayonet is better than a blow from the slave-driver’s lash, it is only because it has less of the elements of torture and degradation in its results. Not the slightest doubt of the reality of the devillish crime can exist, and Heaven only knows how many more of these slave-pens may exist in other portions of this city, in connection with the brigade of this same political general. When General Spinola shall march out his regiment, and claim the enthusiasm and respect of the people as the reward of his recruiting services, it will be well for the country to ask how many of the men, in his blue-coated ranks, are the victims of a cruelty and an abominable traffic, whose details are scarcely less revolving than those of the genuine slave trade, and how many of them are bullied into a desperate silence regarding their wrongs, by threats of court-martials, or the hideous and unnatural punishment of camps. General Spinola will, of course, disclaim all knowledge of these outrages; but a quibble of the tongue is no vindication. What the public knows, and has known for weeks, General Spinola knows; and so long as he retains uniformed men-stealers in his service, so long is he chargeable with their misdeeds.
Fincher’s Trades’ Review, January 9, 1864.
I think I cannot be mistaken in assuming that the election will turn upon the necessity of sustaining our National Government in its effort to uphold itself, and maintain its territorial integrity, and especially upon the Proclamation of the President, issued to that end, and referred to the fourth resolution of the Convention.
I entirely approve of that proclamation, and commend it to the support of the electors of New-York, for the following reasons:
1. It is an effectual aid to the speedy and complete suppression of this rebellion.
Six or eight millions of whites, having had time to organize their government, and arm their troops, fed and supported by the labor of four millions of slaves, present the most formidable rebellion recorded in history.
Strike from this rebellion the support which it derives from the unrequired toil of these slaves, and its foundation will be undermined.
2. It is the most humane method of putting down the rebellion, the history of which has clearly proved that the fears of slave insurrections and massacres are entirely unfounded. While the slaves earnestly desire freedom, they have shown no disposition to injure their masters. They will cease to work for them without wages, but they will form, throughout the Southern States, the most peaceful and docile peasantry on the face of the earth.
The slave-owners once compelled to labor for their own support, the war must cease, and its appalling carnage come to an end.
3. The emancipation once effected, the Northern States would be forever relieved, as it is right that they should be, from the fears of a great influx of African laborers, disturbing the relations of these Northern industrial classes who have so freely given their lives to the support of the Government.
This done, and the whole African population will drift to the South, where it will find a congenial climate and vast tracts of land never yet cultivated.
New York Times, October 6, 1862.
Upon one point of considerable importance, Gen. WADSWORTH’S view will be read with interest. One of the favorite devices of the enemies of the Government in the North is to endeavor to alarm the laboring population by the cry that emancipation will fill the Northern States with freed negroes, and bring them largely and disastrously into competition with Northern labor. Gen. WADSWORTH meets this very directly. “Emancipation once effected,” he says, “the Northern States would be forever relieved, as it is right that they should be, from the fears of a great influx of African laborers, disturbing the relations of those Northern industrial classes who have so freely given their lives to the support of the Government. This done, and the whole African population will drift to the South, where it will find a congenial climate and vast tracts of land never yet cultivated.” There can be no reasonable doubt of the substantial soundness of this view of the case. The negro is a creature of local attachments to a far greater degree than the white race, and nothing will induce him to leave the South; if he can possibly remain there. Emancipation would be much more likely to draw all the free negroes South, than to send the slaves North.
Gen. WADSWORTH thus takes direct issue with Gov. SEYMOUR and the party which has put him in nomination. The latter opposes the Government—Gen. WADSWORTH supports it. Gov. SEYMOUR denounces the proclamation—Gen. WADSWORTH upholds it. Gov. SEYMOUR is for maintaining and preserving Slavery,—in face of the fact that it is the main stay and strength of the rebellion,—Gen. WADSWORTH, on account of that fact, is for destroying and exterminating it. Gov. SEYMOUR bestows all his censure upon our own Government, and devotes all his effects in weakening and crippling it in its contest with the rebellion,—Gen. WADSWORTH summons all the enemies and resources of the State to the support of the Government and the extermination of those who are in arms for its overthrow.
New York Times, October 6, 1862.
To the Editor of the New York Times: colonization in Florida. Waiving the consideration of all incidental questions, such as the derangement of labor over the whole face of the country, as well as others that would require to be considered in any thorough examination of this matter, let us suppose the whole race transferred to the soil of Florida, and to be so distributed and so circumstanced as to be immediately self-supporting. At the rate of the natural increase of the race, how long would it be before their numbers would be so great as that, in sheer self-defence, they would require additional territory for even their bare subsistence. I will not pursue the argument. The measure, if it were even practicable, would be inexpedient, and the difficulties of our position would be intensified to an utterly unmanageable degree.
The black race must be dealt with substantially upon the soil where they now are, and public sentiment must be brought to the point of dealing with them honestly and fairly as men, and for the most part upon the soil where they now are. Any legislation in regard to them in the future must follow in the track of Providential laws, or we shall continue to pay the penalty of transgression. We are now suffering the penalty of a violation of God’s laws in having taken a race of men from its normal position on the surface of the earth, and transferring it to an abnormal one. The negro race is a tropical race, and we have undertaken, in violation of natural laws, to adapt it to a temperate climate, and to subject it to unnatural relations, and we are simply paying the penalty of our transgression. But they are here, and have become a nation in numbers. They cannot be removed, and we must deal with them, therefore, not as heretofore, regardless of God’s laws, but in harmony with them—with becoming modesty. I beg leave to say that hereafter any policy that tends to concentrate the blacks to a point territorially, or as slaves in few hands, as the present system of Slavery does, will only increase the evils under which we now labor with respect to them. On the other hand, any policy that tends to scatter them widely among the dominant race, and to gradually remove all artificial dams across the natural flow of the race South, will tend to diminish the evils of our situation, and if this is carried to an extent which the writer believes to be practicable, the dangers of our situation will, in time, if not very soon, wholly disappear.
Considering the present numbers of the black race now on this Continent, and considering that for the present, at least, they must for the most part be subjected in a measure to the control and direction of the white race, it is submitted that the relations of the two races are continental in their proportions and significance. Under these circumstances the whole subject of their general treatment should be remitted at once to the General Government. State legislation is wholly unequal to the task of duly providing for all the contingencies involved. We have already painful evidence of this, and if this method is to continue, the nation has greater sorrows still to endure. Let the President, as Commander-in-Chief, decree the abolition of Slavery, and let the whole system of legislation in relation to the blacks be remitted to Congress and this will simplify the problem materially. Then let a wise and beneficient apprenticeship system be adopted, spplicable to the whole country; one that shall not only not outrage, but recommend itself to the commendable philanthropy of the age, and in this way the race will become widely scattered again, and then they will slowly, but surely, gravitate South to those regions relatively more congenial to their nature, and where they may be useful to themselves and us. It is admitted that there are difficulties in the way of executing such a plan as this; but they are far from insuperable, and are of vastly less magnitude than those we are now suffering. I do not now go into details in regard to such a system, having neither time nor space to do so. I am confident, however, there is no serious difficulty in the way, and the change, I am fully warranted in saying, will, if brought about in a proper manner, be hailed by the black race as a breat boon.
W. L. B.
New York Times, October 12, 1862.
A somewhat extended acquaintance with the colored population in several of the seceded States induces me to believe that you will regard the following lines as not altogether inopportune or unimportant. From education, and still more, from experience, I confess myself thoroughly Anti-Slavery, but I must admit, at the same time, that I never felt satisfied of the negro’s capacity for self-government until convinced of it by several months’ residence in the South. Lest I should be accused of negro-phobia, I will say, in as few words as possible, that I do not regard this country, or any section of it, as a suitable home for the colored man, and his speedy removal to other climes will inure not less to his own advantage than to that of the white population. Nature placed him originally in the torrid zone, as she placed us in the temperate, and, if left to his own volition, he will move further and further South, until a negro or mulatto will be as much a curiosity in the United States as in Europe. This I believe to be only possible by placing him on a perfect quality with white laborers, and leaving him to himself as you do them; and, if my conclusions be correct, the institution of Slavery must perpetuate the existence of the two races side by side, inasmuch as you compel the negroes to remain within your confines. The tendency of all races is to separate themselves into distinct nationalities, and we need go no further than the City of New-York to find that the negro is not an exception to the rule, for he dwells with his own people away from the whites, and many streets are almost wholly given up to him. History proves that where two or more races are thrown together in the same territory, the more numerous or powerful absorbs the other, or the weaker moves off into other regions. The Britons are an example of the latter, and such will assuredly be the case in reference to the colored population of this country, when they are left to battle, unassisted, with the energetic, domineering Saxon.
I shall, of course, be met with the objection that the negro alone can labor in the fields of the South. This defence of Slavery, or, if you will, this assumed necessity of colored labor there, is either based upon ignorance or purposed misstatement. In no portion of this country is the climate too hot for white men to labor at all seasons, and, what is more, the hardest work in the South, such as railroad and other engineering operations, is performed to a great extent by whites, and imported whites at that. I have seen Northern troops at Port Royal felling tree after tree with the sun at 95 in the shade, others throwing up earthworks with no lack of energy, blacksmiths and carpenters at their trades, and yet scarcely one of these had ever before been further south than this State of New-York. Furthermore, I have no less authority than the official report of the Seventh Census of the United States for asserting that the ratio of mortality amongst the white population of the South is considerably below that of their fellow citizens in the North, a fact somewhat incompatible with the assumed unhealthiness of the former region.
Wherever I have traveled among the negro population, in South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia or Maryland, I have always found them docile, tractable and unassuming—much more so, I am afraid, than whites would be under similar circumstances. Nor have I ever found amongst them the slightest disposition to quit their plantations, or their runaway owners, when the latter had treated them with humanity and kindness. I have not seen the slightest evidence of any chimerical ideas of prospective freedom, nor the faintest anticipation of political advantage accruing to them from emancipation. If I may be allowed the expression, they all, men and women alike, take a practical, common-sense view of future liberty, regarding it as simply a right to keep what they make by their labor, not by any means as placing them socially or politically on a par with the white man. A conversation I had with a coal-black negro at Port Royal, last December, proved satisfactorily to my mind that he at least was actuated by much the same motives as the pale faces; and although he put the issue more tersely than most of his race are accustomed to do, yet I have invariably found that similar views are held by others in the same position as himself. JIM had formerly belonged to Miss PINCKNEY, but at the period in question he earned his living and wages as cook and servant to the Postmaster of the Expedition, and a better servant no man could possibly desire. I asked him one day, “To whom did you belong, JIM, before the Uankees came here?” and the following conversation ensued: “To Miss PINCKNEY, Sar.” “Was she a kind mistress, JIM?” “Oh, very kind, Sar.” “Were you a field-hand or house-servant?” “A house-servant, Sar.” “And was Miss PINCKNEY kind to the field-hands, too, JIM?” “Oh, yes, Sar. When any ob them war sick she always went to them, and ‘tended to them herself.” “Well, JIM, if Miss PINCKNEY was so kind as you say, don’t you want to return to her?” “Oh, no, Sar.” My question, “Why not?” seemed to hurt the poor fellow; but at last he replied, with much discomposure, as though ashamed to acknowledge such a motive, “Why, Sar, all I made before was Miss PINCKNEY’S, but all I make now is my own.”
This unsophisticated remark of JIM’S reminded me of a circumstance, which, at this moment, strikes me forcibly. I was dining with a wealthy planter several years ago, and observing the peculiar flavor of the ham that was served at the table. I took the liberty of asking whether it was his own raising or foreign produce. “I am not astonished at your observation,” he replied, “because the pork you generally eat has been permitted to run loose and to feed upon any and everything it came across, but I make it a point to buy mine from my own negroes, for you must know that our servants are allowed to raise pork and poultry on their own account, and sell them in the market. Self-interest, as you are aware, is a great incentive to exertion, for the negroes are particularly careful in feeding their stock so as to obtain the highest price for their produce. Hence the superiority of this over other hams!”
I might multiply such examples as the above to an indefinite extent, and cite the experience of American naval officers on Southern stations as to the willingness of the colored man to labor for his own interest, even without the supervision of the whites. We need not, however, go outside the City of New-York to prove this position. The colored people here are a very slight burden, if any upon the community. Happening lately to be in the store of a merchant in Front-street, a negro entered the office and solicited charity. The merchant surveying the applicant from head to foot, and, having cross-questioned him, finally took out a five dollar bill and gave it him. Knowing my friend’s conscientious scruples against bestowing eleemosynary aid upon beggars, aware also of his strong bias against the negro, this circumstance took me by surprise, and I could not help telling him so. Thereupon he replied, “You may depend upon it that little assistance is well bestowed, for no negro will beg unless he is forced to it by absolute necessity.”
The colored people and their children, as a class, are much cleaner and better clothed than other portions of the laboring population. A peregrination through Church, Thompson, Laurens and contiguous steeets—particularly on Sundays—will satisfy any one of the correctness of this statement. Where they get their clothes from has always been a mystery to me. The love of the negro for dress is very much greater than that of any other race, and this fact, which nobody can possibly deny, should be an additional inducement with Northern men to set them free in their labor. Four millions of people offer a magnificent market for manufactures—a market which, for cotton goods, will certainly be greatly more valuable than any other community of equal numbers.
I would repeat in conclusion that all my acquaintance with the negro in this country convinces me that he regards emancipation as naught else than a freeing of his labor and the protection of his right to live and amass property. Emancipate labor and you place him immediately in conflict with the more energetic and shrewd Caucasian, and to save himself from the competition and rivalry in which he is certain to be beaten, he will move gradually away into other regions, and leave this “a white man’s country.” Continue to recognize Slavery as an institution and you compel him to remain here; but, rely upon it, if he do remain here, designing politicians will soon find means to build up anew that domineering sectionalism which the Northern armies are in a fair way to destroy.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
FREDERICK MILNES EDGE.
New York Times, October 13, 1862.