THE COUNTRY OF THE LOST CAUSE. T HERE is a certain
significance in the very name of the Lost Cause, by which citizens of the Southern States remember their late struggle. The old arrogant tone of the slaveholding fire-eaters has been succeeded for a time by prostration and despondency. It was part of their weakness in the past that they lived in a world which they could not understand, and drew their auguries of success even more from a belief in the baseness of other people than from con- fidence in their own strength. That Englishmen at large would face a cotton famine sooner than ally their country with slavery ; that public opinion in France would prove stronger than the Emperor's wish to secure his position in Mexico ; that the North would shed blood and treasure like water in defence of the national flag, were experiences the more painful because they had not been anticipated by the most acute Southern statesmen. Even after Lee's surrender there were men in the South who still thought that it was practicable and politic to assume a position of hectoring independence. Moderate terms were rejected, and the States proceeded to pass laws for enslaving the labour of coloured men, while they were left nominally free. The result has been deplorable for both sections of the Union. The North was forced in honour to defend the Blacks, and practically could only do so by making them the de- positaries of political power. The South is held down by military force, and is governed by its old slaves. Coloured men divide or dominate in the State Houses of Legislature, and are aspiring to judgeships and governorships. Seldom has a divine judgment on flagrant misrule been more visibly carried out, and it is not wonderful if the leaders and veterans of the Southern secession feel it bitterly. In the late Democratic Convention in New York nothing impressed observers more than the unfamiliar modesty of the Southern delegates. Men like Rhett, Wade Hampton, and Forrest, whose violence had precipitated the war, or who had disgraced it by savage licence, were now scarcely to be seen or heard in conference, and disclaimed all pretensions to dictate or indicate a policy. It seemed as if the country, which lately called itself an empire, lad sunk to be a little less than a province. It would not be safe, we think, to assume that these rela- tions of North and South will be maintained. The trade of New York and the settlement of the Western States are, it is true, elements of strength that nothing in Southern progress is likely to balance. But the South is recovering from the war with the elasticity of a young country, and in a few years will be all the stronger for the changes that have been forced on it. The mere abolition of slavery is an incalculable gain to the country. Four millions of people are no longer anxiously on the watch for whatever may ruin their masters or free themselves, while they have a direct interest in earning a livelihood and acquiring property. Apo- logists of the old order point to the fact that the production of cotton and rice has declined. They forget that a whole system of new industries has been developed. All along the Southern seaboard market gardens are springing up, and vegetables and fruits are exported in large quantities to the Northern cities. It was part of the slaveholding sys- tem to favour the planting industries, to the exclusion of all others. We have heard of a property in Virginia where a lode of plumbago was used for manure as marl, the proprietor not knowing its value and not caring to inquire. Large deposits of phosphate of lime, extending over a tract of many miles in South Carolina, are now being worked for the first time, and have already proved a valuable export. The rice flour, that used to be thrown away has proved to be an excellent food for stock. The real change, in fact, is that while the Blacks refuse at present to perform some of the more repul- sive labours, such as clearing the ditches on rice plantations, they are perfectly willing to work at all ordinary employments, are anxious to acquire land, and are finding out industries of their own ; while their masters are using their capital more thriftily. It seems certain that the general prosperity is returning. Atalanta has been rebuilt on a larger scale than before ; New Orleans is prospering ; Savannah is growing daily, and promises to be a great commercial centre ; and the new railway from it to Apalachicola has been built entirely or chiefly by local subscriptions. Of course, there are exceptions to this general revival. Charleston is a case in point. The rice plantations of South Carolina were in great measure ruined by Sherman's soldiers ; and the temporary loss to the employer from the abolition of forced labour has naturally been felt more where the proportion of slaves was large. At first, in South Carolina as elsewhere, a few Northerners tried to settle in the State and retrieve the ruined properties. The. Northern statement is that wherever this experiment has been tried the settler's life has been threatened or his property has been wasted by sudden fires. Southerners deny the charge- of violence, but say that the new immigrants were unable to manage the black freedmen, and were discontented at finding themselves excluded from society. Both accounts are probably- true of different parts of the country. Anyhow, it is certain that the adventurers were soon glad to return North ; and the Northern merchant who wishes to speculate in planting is now careful to engage a Southern partner. That the Southern gentry should not have learned to look with kindness upon their conquerors is natural. But it is only fair to remember that the list of plantations which cannot find a purchaser would be considerably reduced if two-thirds of the population of the Union were not practically excluded from the market for land in the South.
Assuming it, then, as proved that the South is repairing- the loss of wealth, the question whether it can regain its. political power remains. As regards community and compact- ness of sentiment the South is perhaps even stronger than before. Many of its best citizens deprecated the breaking-up of the Union,. though they cast their fortunes in with their countrymen. But such a party does not exist at present among the whites. The last 4th of July was celebrated south of the Potomac by negroes and officeholders almost exclusively. Accordingly, many Republicans look to government by the Negro vote as a. necessity for years to come ; while the landowners of Virginia and South Carolina are anxious to swamp the coloured population by attracting English and German immigrants. It is hazardous to dispute conclusions that are accepted by- two political parties, but it may be questioned how far either- of them has grasped the situation. Of course, if a war of - races should break out in the South, the unhappy division of• colour will distinguish parties to eternity, and the Blacks, if they are not exterminated or driven into separate States, will remain protected by the North and clients of the Republican party. But it may be hoped that this deplorable struggle will be averted. In that case, it cannot be long before the Southern landowners discover that English and German immigrants- will not settle in a country where the best land is already occupied, and where its price is much higher and the wages of- labour lower than in the West. Even if emigrants be brought. over they will not work for a dollar a day, or buy land for- twenty-five dollars in South Carolina, if they hear of the West, with its more temperate climate, its millions of acres at one- dollar and a quarter, and its railways offering two dollars. anda half a day to the labourer. The Southern gentleman on his side will soon be disabused of his present theories. His contempt for free labour is uneradicated, and he thinks that the English or German peasant may be as easily managed as "the• mean white." Six months' contact with the first immigrants will dispel this illusion, and the planter will be as• slow to invite as the free labourer to settle. A time may indeed come, and perhaps sooner than is expected, when the tide of emigration will be turned Southwards by want of land in the- West. But till then white and black will be left to adjust, their positions toward one another, with the sword of the- North protecting the weaker party. The result will probably be that the whites will accept their position and make the best of it. They retain in some degree the influence of old ascendancy, they possess money and land, and they outnumber- the coloured people in most of the Southern States. Living- habitually among them, they have no real feeling of race, and are only divided from them by the traditions of a dominant caste. They will sacrifice this to their craving for political power ; will recognize the enfranchisement with some dim project of laws limiting the suffrage ; and having reassured the negroes on the one point about which they are justly anxious, will draw the greater number of them into their ranks and drive the Northern officeholders from power. cided in point of time with the retirement of Lord Chelms- The late vote in Mississippi, when the Constitution was rejected, is a proof how triumphantly this policy may be carried out. It will probably be made easier by the fact generally stated that the coloured population in the South is visibly diminish- ing. Many, especially in Kentucky, are going Northwards slid taking service in the cities. It is said, too, that the coloured children are no longer as well cared for as in slavery. Then the master looked keenly after his property. Now the parents, demoralized by long years of slavery, are partly careless of their offspring, and partly unable to care for them intelligently. Whether, however, these losses will balance those that the whites sustained in the war is a fact that cannot be known till the next census.
Briefly, then, we think, the South is slowly but surely repairing the losses of war, that the negro question will be settled by the whites recognizing the Negro vote and the Blacks identifying themselves with Southern interests, and that the South will resume its place as a distinctive and powerful part of the Union. How far in such a case the antipathies that still rankle from the late miserable contest will influence the policy of the Southern leaders is a question on which it is difficult to speculate. In a country where population is so sparse a general system of education is difilcult or impossible, and the provincial feeling is stronger than the sentiment of nationality. The peculiar industries of the plantations are best managed by large proprietors. Accordingly, several distinctive features of the South in old times, a reeognized aristocracy, a half educated people, and certain separatist tendencies, are not likely to be effaced in a few years. On the other hand, the great cause of division has been removed by the abolition of slavery, and every year of peace is welding North and South more and more firmly together. A temperate and generous states- manship, which shall neither sacrifice the negro nor humiliate the white man needlessly, may assist the silent work of time in obliterating the old feud. If the issue of the coming elections end, as appears probable, in the triumph of the Republicans, with strength to govern but without strength to abuse, there is every hope that present difficulties may be adjusted. Mean- while,, we cannot regard it as a misfortune if the South should resume her place in the national councils at no very distant period, though her level of civilization be not equal to the Northern. The spectacle of vicarious government, a Poland or Ireland administered by its more powerful neighbour, is not one that any thinking man can wish to see repeated in the New World, To those, like ourselves, who think that the balance, of power had better be left to nature than adjusted by cabinets, the spectacle of a single State ruling from the Pacific to the Atlantic is rather subject for speculation than for alarm. But that another civil war should break out in America, or that the South should be deprived permanently of self-government, are contingencies that cannot be regarded with pleasure. We believe that the prospect is more hopeful than is commonly assumed, and that the war of freedom waged by the North will receive its last vindication in the restoration of the South to all the prosperity and power it may fairly claim as an integral part of the Union.