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|The Montgomery Mail, in
alluding to a late article in the Weekly upon affairs in Alabama,
describes us as basely slandering the South, and every week picturing
horrible lies to inflame weak minds. It then demands whom we mean when we
speak of our "faithful fellow-citizens in Alabama and elsewhere who
are no ‘at the front?’" It proceeds:
"Are they the 78,000 registered Southern men, the 600 Northern men who have come among us since the war, and the 16,000 negroes who stood by us at the late election, making in all 100,000 men, not including the 20,000 good men who were denied registration; or are his fellow-citizens none but the 69,000 deluded negroes who voted for the infamous Constitution and the 1000 white candidates for office?"
It is not a very difficult question to answer. The political battle which is now engaged in Alabama and elsewhere is to determine the policy of reconstruction. Upon one side, both here in New York, and there in Alabama, are those who believe that, as there is no authority under the circumstances that can initiate civil government in Alabama but the United States, it is the duty of the United States to provide for its own security by not confiding the political power in the State entirely to those who say, with the Tuscaloosa Monitor, "We have not particular love of country now." Those who hold this view of reconstruction, whether white or black, we call our "faithful" fellow-citizens, because they are faithful to the principles of the Government and to common-sense, and because they have proved their fidelity during the war by resisting the rebellion. And when any of these citizens live in a State where their views or their color or their fidelity to the Union and National Government during the war make them peculiarly odious to a great multitude of their neighbors, so that they are incessantly denounced and injured in their business, and in danger of personal injury except for the presence of United States soldiers, we call them our fellow-citizens at the front.
There are others who insist that the political power in Alabama and elsewhere shall be at once committed to those whose feelings are fairly expressed by the Tuscaloosa Monitor. It is a party which hates and ridicules the freedmen; a party of which the Southern leaders were the chief conspirators in the rebellion, and whose Northern leaders did what they could to perplex and defeat the efforts of the Government of the United States to save itself; a party whose adherents in Alabama and other Southern States fiercely pursue with ribaldry and hostility men who were known not to favor the rebellion during the war, and who approve the policy of the representatives of the people now that the war is ended; a party which in Alabama sneers bitterly at the idea of the equal rights of every citizen before the laws; and which, by every kind of insult to those whom it calls Yankees, fosters a malignant hatred of other parts of the country. It is a party which secretly honors Wilkes Booth, and one of whose organs in Alabama as lately as the 25th of March frankly urges assassination. "The people about Hickman’s," it says, "are beginning to see the importance of ridding the community of political skunks; and some of the young men were so well pleased with our account of the ‘doings’ of the ‘Ku-Klux Klans’ elsewhere, that they avowed their purpose to at once form themselves into a company of these hyperbolical ghosts. So, ere long, we expect to hear that the nigger-vicegerent Stephens and the cotton-thief Davenport, besides many other notorious scalawags, are disposed of by lynch law in a manner agreeable to their crimes."
It may be very natural for baffled ruffians to print such stuff, but its effect upon ignorant and prejudiced minds is very calculable. And those who think and talk thus, wherever they live and of whatever color they may be, we do not call our faithful fellow-citizens. They are unfaithful to human-nature, to civilization, to the American principle, and to the hope of national pacification. We assure the Montgomery Mail that we have not the least hostility to any section of the country, nor to any class of the population. How the great question will be settled no man can say; but we can equally assure the Mail that the good sense of the American people will never abandon the colored population of the Southern States, in which they are probably two-fifths of the whole people, to those whose feeling toward them is expressed by such a paragraph as we have quoted and by the following. We do not say that all "Conservatives: would express themselves in so absurd and vulgar a manner, but the animus of this paragraph is the animus of the resolutions of every "Conservative" Convention yet held in the Southern States.
"A Burning Shame!
"It is a fact that the agent for Freedmen in this city—Mr. Blair—has received orders from Head-quarters to issue rations to all of those worthless negroes who were discharged from service by their employers on account of voting for the putrid Constitution. What better evidence of the utter corruptness of the miserable party now in power over the South could be adduced! In the history of demagogy nothing has ever transpired approximating in infamy this military order! The poor whites of the country are to be taxed—bled of all their little earnings—in order to fatten the vagabondish negroes, who have proved themselves to be their worst enemies, by avowing that they are in favor of measures conflicting with every interest of the white men! Think of this, white men, and abandon at once the foul scheme set on foot by raw Yankees, Southern deserters, and stinking niggers! ‘Touch not, taste not, handle not!’"
|Harper's Weekly, April 18, 1868, pages 242-243 (Editorial)|
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