powerful and brilliant civilizations were developed,--the Egyptian, the Carthaginian, the Saracenic. That these civilizations had more than a surface contact with the interior, we know. To take the most ancient of them, and that which longest endured, the Egyptian, the Pharaohs carried their conquests and their power deep into Africa. In the story of their invasions and occupancy of the interior, told in pictures on temple walls, we find the negro figuring as captive and slave. This contact may not have been a fruitful one for the elevation of the negro, but it proves that for ages he was in one way or another in contact with a superior civilization. In later days we find little trace of it in the home of the negro, but in Egypt the negro has left his impress in the mixed blood of the Nile valley. The most striking example of the contact of the negro with a higher civilization is in the powerful medieval empire of Songhay, established in the heart of the negro country. The vast strip of Africa lying north of the equator and south of the twentieth parallel and west of the upper Nile was then, as it is now, the territory of tribes distinctly described as Negro. The river Niger, running northward from below Jenne to near Timbuctoo, and then turning west and south to the Gulf of Guinea, flows through one of the richest valleys in the world. In richness it is comparable to that of the Nile and, like that of the Nile, its fertility depends upon the water of the central stream. Here arose in early times the powerful empire of Songhay, which disintegrated and fell into tribal confusion about the middle of the seventeenth century. For a long time the seat of its power was the city of Jenne; in later days it was Timbuctoo. This is not the place to enlarge upon this extraordinary piece of history. The best account of the empire of Songhay is to be found in the pages of Barth, the German traveler, who had access to what seemed to him a credible Arab history. Considerable light is thrown upon it by a recent volume on Timbuctoo by M. Dubois, a French traveler. M. Dubois finds reason to believe that the founders of the Songhese empire came from Yemen, and sought refuge from Moslem fanaticism in Central Africa some hundred and fifty years after the Hejira. The origin of the empire is obscure, but the development was not indigenous. It seems probable that the settlers, following traders, penetrated to the Niger valley from the valley of the Nile as early as the third or fourth century of our era. An evidence of this early influence, which strengthened from century to century, Dubois finds in the architecture of Jenne and Timbuctoo. It is not Roman or Saracenic or Gothic, it is distinctly Pharaonic. But whatever the origin of the Songhay empire, it became in time Mohammedan, and so continued to the end. Mohammedanism seems, however, to have been imposed. Powerful as the empire was, it was never free from tribal insurrection and internal troubles. The highest mark of negro capacity developed in this history is, according to the record examined by Barth, that one of the emperors was a negro. From all that can be gathered in the records, the mass of the negroes, which constituted the body of this empire, remained pagan, did not become, except in outward conformity, Mohammedan and did not take the Moslem civilization as it was developed elsewhere, and that the disintegration of the empire left the negro races practically where they were before in point of development. This fact, if it is not overturned by further search, is open to the explanation that the Moslem civilization is not fitted to the development of the African negro. Contact, such as it has been, with higher civilizations, has not in all these ages which have witnessed the wonderful rise and development of other races, much affected or changed the negro. He is much as he would be if he had been left to himself. And left to himself, even in such a favorable environment as America, he is slow to change. In Africa there has been no progress in organization, government, art. No negro tribe has ever invented a written language. In his exhaustive work on the History of Mankind, Professor Frederick Ratzel, having studied thoroughly the negro belt of Africa, says "of writing properly so called, neither do the modern negroes show any trace, nor have traces of older writing been found in negro countries." From this outline review we come back to the situation in the United States, where a great mass of negroes--possibly over nine millions of many shades of colors--is for the first time brought into contact with Christian civilization. This mass is here to make or mar our national life, and the problem of its destiny has to be met with our own. What can we do, what ought we to do, for his own good and for our peace and national welfare? In the first place, it is impossible to escape the profound impression that we have made a mistake in our estimate of his evolution as a race, in attempting to apply to him the same treatment for the development of character that we would apply to a race more highly organized. Has he developed the race consciousness, the race soul, as I said before, a collective soul, which so strongly marks other races more or less civilized according to our standards? Do we find in him, as a mass (individuals always excepted), that slow deposit of training and education called "character," any firm basis of order, initiative of action, the capacity of going alone, any sure foundation of morality? It has been said that a race may attain a good degree of standing in the world without the refinement of culture, but never without virtue, either in the Roman or the modern meaning of that word. The African, now the American negro, has come in the United States into a more favorable position for development than he has ever before had offered. He has come to it through hardship, and his severe apprenticeship is not ended. It is possible that the historians centuries hence, looking back over the rough road that all races have traveled in their evolution, may reckon slavery and the forced transportation to the new world a necessary step in the training of the negro. We do not know. The ways of Providence are not measurable by our foot rules. We see that slavery was unjust, uneconomic, and the worst training for citizenship in such a government as ours. It stifled a number of germs that might have produced a better development, such as individuality, responsibility, and thrift,--germs absolutely necessary to the well-being of a race. It laid no foundation of morality, but in place of morality saw cultivated a superstitious, emotional, hysterical religion. It is true that it taught a savage race subordination and obedience. Nor did it stifle certain inherent temperamental virtues, faithfulness, often highly developed, and frequently cheerfulness and philosophic contentment in a situation that would have broken the spirit of a more sensitive race. In short, under all the disadvantages of slavery the race showed certain fine traits, qualities of humor and good humor, and capacity for devotion, which were abundantly testified to by southerners during the progress of the Civil War. It has, as a race, traits wholly distinct from those of the whites, which are not only interesting, but might be a valuable contribution to a cosmopolitan civilization; gifts also, such as the love of music, and temperamental gayety, mixed with a note of sadness, as in the Hungarians. But slavery brought about one result, and that the most difficult in the development of a race from savagery, and especially a tropical race, a race that has always been idle in the luxuriance of a nature that supplied its physical needs with little labor. It taught the negro to work, it transformed him, by compulsion it is true, into an industrial being, and held him in the habit of industry for several generations. Perhaps only force could do this, for it was a radical transformation. I am glad to see that this result of slavery is recognized by Mr. Booker Washington, the ablest and most clear-sighted leader the negro race has ever had. But something more was done under this pressure, something more than creation of a habit of physical exertion to productive ends. Skill was developed. Skilled labor, which needs brains, was carried to a high degree of performance. On almost all the Southern plantations, and in the cities also, negro mechanics were bred, excellent blacksmiths, good carpenters, and house-builders capable of executing plans of high architectural merit. Everywhere were negroes skilled in trades, and competent in various mechanical industries. The opportunity and the disposition to labor make the basis of all our civilization. The negro was taught to work, to be an agriculturist, a mechanic, a material producer of something useful. He was taught this fundamental thing. Our higher education, applied to him in his present development, operates in exactly the opposite direction. This is a serious assertion. Its truth or falsehood cannot be established by statistics, but it is an opinion gradually formed by experience, and the observation of men competent to judge, who have studied the problem close at hand. Among the witnesses to the failure of the result expected from the establishment of colleges and universities for the negro are heard, from time to time, and more frequently as time goes on, practical men from the North, railway men, manufacturers, who have initiated business enterprises at the South. Their testimony coincides with that of careful students of the economic and social conditions. There was reason to assume, from our theory and experience of the higher education in its effect upon white races, that the result would be different from what it is. When the negro colleges first opened, there was a glow of enthusiasm, an eagerness of study, a facility of acquirement, and a good order that promised everything for the future.
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