THE SOUTHERN HOPE.
lp ARLY this month General Samuel McGowan, of Abbe- .1.1/ vine, South Carolina, issued to the electors of his district an address, in which occur these words :—" While I have ap- proved the course of the State in seeking to restore her old relations with the Government of the United States, it has been upon the faith and expectation that the State, as soon as reconstructed, is to have entire control of the whole subject of her domestic affairs. The State, and the State alone, must be left to decide to whom she will give the right of suffrage or other political rights. A new code noir must be enacted to protect and govern the population lately made free—to pre- vent idleness, vagrancy, pauperism, and crime. I am not prophet enough to foresee whether we can succeed, but I solemnly believe it will be impossible to live in the country at all, unless the State has exclusive control of the whole sub- ject." There spoke the true Southerner, there is expressed in the clearest words the secret hope which induces men just de- feated to re-assume so readily their place in the country which has defeated them. They seceded for slavery, they fought for slavery, and now, when the fight has ended in overthrow, they are half content, for they see that they can secure all the objects ever secured by slavery itself. Indeed they can secure more. The better planters—and the South contained men of all characters, from Legree up to St. Clair, from Wirz to Stonewall Jackson—always disliked some of the incidents of slavery, the auction sales, the separation of families, the in- terference with the master's right to be as lenient as he pleased. If only the negro were fairly kept down, made subject usque ad cadaver, compelled to labour for one master and one only, forced to obey every order, punished for disrespect, and liable to arrest if he attempted to fly, the better Southerner was willing to rest contented. He was sure of fortune, for the command of organized labour in a form which prohibits strikes, depar- tures, or demands for wages, is of itself fortune, certain of personal respect, unembarrassed by household worries, fearless of legal charges, and exempted from the personal attention necessary to govern whites, and for the rest, his conscience would have been rather relieved by his own disabilities. It would be as pleasant to rule serfs as to own slaves, perhaps even pleasanter, for after all the ideas of civilization could not be entirely excluded, and the planter despised the dealer as much as the abolitionist. Well, the struggle has been fought out, and the planter sees his way to all that he in his more moderate moods desired. He must surrender the right of sale, but he can keep every other power. President Johnson is re-admitting the States without conditions other than abolition, and the States, sovereign in internal transactions and governed solely by white men, can gratify the planters to the full. They can, as General McGowan suggests, pass a new Black Code, can prohibit idleness wider penalties other than the divinely ordained one of want, can forbid vagrancy and make vagrancy synony- mous with locomotion, can make of resistance a crime, can refuse coloured testimony in courts of justice, and can punish dis- respect as a distinct provocation to a breach of the peace. They have only to do these things to re-establish the old
system, modified only by these addenda, that the right to compel negro labour cannot be sold with him, but only with the land upon which he lives, and that the negro instead of having bare rations bought for him must have enough silver given him to spare his master the trouble. What is to pre-
vent it ? Mr. Johnson says the country is the black man's as well as the white's, but who is turning him out of it ? He says he must improve himself, and, subject always to the demand of his whole time for cotton-growing, who stops his self-improve- ment ? He declares that the problem of peaceable union among classes has to be solved, and the planter remarka that the union has been established,—the relation is as harmonious as that of the crackers to the nut. The Presi- dent's conditions are all fulfilled, and there are no guaran- tees to be evaded. The negro need not be conciliated for his vote, for he has none, or deceived from fear of re- sistance, for he is being disarmed, or spared from dread of emigration, for where is he to fly ? He has right of com- plaint if he is beaten outside the vagrant law, and the industrial law, and the law against impertinence, but the
does not particularly want to beat him, and if the overseer does, he can easily take an opportunity when white men are not looking on. Why should they be looking on say in a pine forest, in the midst of a plantation miles square ? Congress may, it is true, be refractory, but in Congress the planters will possess not only their own votes, but one-third more upon black account, and are aided by all who care no- thing for the negro, all who think Democratic rule the first necessity, and all who will sacrifice anything if only the Republicans can but be dismissed from power. It is possible indeed that this combination may fail, Southern members being excluded until they yield certain points, and in that event Southerners are already menacing, after the style of 1.859, that "seas of blood shall flow," but it is far more probable that it will not fail.
The Republicans are, we fear, very much too confident upon this matter. They trust, even after the defection of the President, that if Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Iowa still adhere to their principles, they may yet "lock the machine ;" in other words, send up men to Congress who will refuse to admit the- representatives of the South except upon conditions, such, for example, as the concession of civil rights to the negro, but to outsiders their confidence appears, to say the least, somewhat premature. It seems probable they will win their three States, and with them a majority in Congress, but even then they have to overcome first the resistance of the President, secondly, the rooted feeling in favour of State rights, and thirdly, the widely-spread hostility to black equality. To Englishmen accustomed to constitutional monarchy it seems a light matter to defeat the head of the Executive, but the American President represents the people quite as much as the Con- gress, and is not hampered by fears for the position of his successors. If he fights, meeting votes of censure by vetoes and gaining over individuals, he will but make it the easier for democrats to re-elect him, and in any ease can but miss his chance of a second official term. Congress, again, can hardly take any extreme step without rousing the
of the States, which will argue that if Alabama is compelled to concede negro suffrage, so also may Connecticut be, and if one kind of franchise is regulated from Washington, why not another, why not indeed all ? For, and this is the greatest danger of all, the Americans, with that strange instinct for politics which seems often to supply in them the absence of statesmanlike leadership, have jumped at the truth in decid- ing that the question at issue is the right of voting. Nothing but equality at the polls, no matter under what restrictions, provided they are imposed on all, can guarantee to the negro- real equality before the law. He may have right of action, but what is the worth of that before a judge elected by white men?— or of right of testimony before a white jury, or of right of property, with nobody in the Legislature to insist that it be protected. He must have the suffrage to be genuinely free, and in fighting for the suffrage Congress will have to face not only all we have said, but race hatred—the secret desire of Northern electors to maintain on some one point or other the visible superiority of the white man. In the midst of such difficulties, working under a Constitution designed to prevent Parliamentary absolutism, and amidst a population educated not only by the existence of slavery but by their Indian traditions to believe in distinctions of race, the victory of Congress over the President is by no means certain, while defeat would lay them chained and bound at the feet of the South. We believe that there is but one speedy and effectual way out of the dilemma, and that is to surround the negro with the sanc- tity, in our eyes the almost preposterous sanctity, attached to any right secured by the Federal Constitution. The free- holders throughout the States can now, by filling up one more State, secure a two-thirds majority for an amendment to the Constitution, debarring any State whatsoever from passing any law based upon distinction of birth, colour, or hereditary status. That innovation will not involve immediate negro suffrage, or even the full reception of negro testimony. It will still be possible to any State to impose a property qualification, or an edu- cational qualification, either of which for the hour would exclude the negro, only they must exclude the whites with him, and leave both to struggle back within the pale. All civil rights would be at once guaranteed, the excessive danger of violating the document which guards State rights would make judges fair, and in the event of legislative action against him the negro would have an appeal to the Supreme Court. There might be and would be some oppression still. It is very difficult to prevent violent men from hitting people who do not hit back again, but in a very short time the negro would gain the position of the Bengalee,—that of a race absolutely free, whom the white man does not cordially like and will not intermarry with, but whom he cannot and does not oppress. If a white man strikes a Bengalee, the blow is not returned, but he is nevertheless slower to strike than he would be if it were. The Bengalee is his equal before the law, and not being his equal in the ring seeks the arena in which he feels the equality, the result being that it is about as dangerous for a white man to strike the brown man hard as to rob one of his own colour. Moreover, this provision ex- tinguishes all difficulties about State rights and the constitu- tional limits of the central power. The President would have nothing to do except enforce the Constitution, the State would have absolute liberty within its well-defined preroga- tive, Connecticut would not be afraid to grant justice lest it should establish a bad precedent, Georgia would not be re- quired to vote the principle she had been all her life striving to vote down. The great conservative force of the Union, the one power within it which does not swerve with opinion, the reverence for the Constitution, would be finally enlisted on the side of equal freedom.
Of course if the majority of Northerners agree with our correspondent, "A Yankee," and the views he expresses to-day, and do not want equal freedom, our arguments will be without effect. If they are so afraid of an improbable anialgamation that to prevent it they will nullify their own principles, de- clare that men are not equal, refuse justice to citizens and wages to labouring men, and deliberately rebuild that aristo- cratic society which from its very nature must be hostile to the Republic, then indeed it is useless to do more than point out the inevitable retribution, a war of ideas to which that which the Union has just survived will be child's play. Only if they will do this unjust thing, and will risk this calamity to the world, let them at least allow that they do it of their will, and spare us the assertion that the cross between a pure white and a coloured race, which produced the Brahmin, can give the world only a race incapable of culture, of order, and of civilization. We can understand a national mania, but to tell us that a population of Rardolphs, who are Indian half-castes, or Gutzlaffs, who are Chinese half- castes, or of Dumases, who are mulattoes, are necessarily uncivilized, is only to call on pseudo-science to support oppression.