[Home] [Book] [Expand] [Collapse] [Help]

Clear Search Expand Search


    VI.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXIX.
  --  GENERAL SICKLES.

Rollin, Frank [Frances] A.
Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany

- CHAPTER XXVII -- A NEWFIELD
- VII.


VII.

I propose to conclude the subject of "THE PROSPECTS OF THE FREEDMAN OF HILTON HEAD" with this article, and believe that

raster
238
the prospects of the one are the prospects of the whole population of freemen throughout the South.

Political economy must stand most prominent as the leading feature of this great question of the elevation of the negro -- and it is a great question -- in this country, because, however humane and philanthropic, however Christian and philanthropic we may be, except we can be made to see that there is a prospective enhancement of the general wealth of the country-- a pecuniary benefit to accrue by it to society -- the best of us, whatever our pretensions, could scarcely be willing to see him elevated in the United States

Equality of political rights being the genius of the American government, I shall not spend time with this, as great principles will take care of themselves, and must eventually prevail.

Will the negroes be able to obtain land by which to earn a livelihood? Why should they not? It is a well-known fact to the statisticians of the South that two thirds of the lands have never been cultivated. These lands being mainly owned by but three hundred and twelve thousand persons (according to Helper) -- one third of which was worked by four millions of slaves, who are now freemen -- what better can be done with the Lands to make them available and unburden some to the proprietors, than let them out in small tracts to the freemen, as well as to employ a portion of the same people, who prefer it, to cultivate lands for themselves?

It is a fact --probably not so well known as it should be--in political economy, that a given amount of means divided among a greater number of persons, makes a wealthier community than the same amount held or possessed by a few.

For example, there is a community of a small country village of twenty families, the (cash) wealth of the community being fifty thousand dollars, end but one family the possessor of it; certainly the community would not be regarded as in good circumstances, much less having available means. But let this amount be possessed by ten families in sums of five thousand dollars each, would not this enhance the wealth of the community? And again, let the whole twenty families be in possession of two thousand five hundred dollars each of the fifty thousand,

raster
239
would not this be still a wealth, bier community, by placing each family in easier circumstances, and making these means much more available? Certainly it would. And as to a community or village, so to a state; and as to state, so to a nation.

This is the solution to the great problem of the difference between the strength of the North and the South in the late rebellion--the North possessing the means within itself without requiring outside help, almost every man being able to aid the national treasury; everybody commanding means, whether earned by a white-wash brush in black hands, or wooden nutmegs in white: all had something to sustain the integrity of the Union. It must be seen by this that the strength of a country --internationally considered--depends greatly upon its wealth; the wealth consisting not in the greatest amount possessed, but the greatest available amount.

Let, then, such lands as belong to the government, by salon from direct taxation, be let are sold to these freedmen, and other poor loyal men of the South, in small tracts of from twenty to forty acres to each head of a family, and large landholders do the same--the rental and sales of which amply rewarding them,--and there will be no difficulty in the solution of the problem of the future, or prospects of the freedmen, not only of Hilton Head, but of the whole United States.

This increase of the wealth of the country by the greater division of its means is not new to New England, nor to the economists of the North generally. As in Pennsylvania, many years ago, the old farmers commenced dividing their one hundred and one hundred and fifty acre tracts of lands into twenty five acres each among their sons and daughters, who are known to have realized more available means always among them--though by far greater in numbers--than their parents did, who were comparatively few. And it is now patent as an historic fact, that, leaving behind them the extensive evergreen, fertile plains, and savannas of the South, the rebel armies and raiders continually sought the limited farms of the North to replenish their worn-out cavalry stock and exhausted commissary department --impoverished in cattle for food, and forage for horses.

In the Path Valley of Pennsylvania, on a single march of a

raster
240
radius of thirty-five miles of Chambersburg, Lee's army, besides all the breadstuff's that his three thousand five hundred wagons (as they went empty for the purpose) were able to carry, captured and carried off more than six thousand head of stock, four thousand of which were horses. The wealth of that valley alone, they reported, was more than India fiction, and equal to all of the South put together. And whence this mighty available wealth of Pennsylvania? Simply by its division and possession among the many.

The Rothschilds are said to have once controlled the exchequer of England, compelling (by implication) the premier to comply with their requisition at a time of great peril to the nation, simply because it depended upon them for means; and the same functionaries are reported, during our recent struggle, to have greatly annoyed the Bank of England, by a menace of some kind, which immediately brought the institution to their terms. Whether true or false, the points are sufficiently acute to serve for illustration.

In the apportionment of small farms to the freedmen, an immense amount of means is placed at their command, and thereby a great market opened, a new source of consumption of every commodity in demand in free civilized communities. The blacks are great consumers, and four millions of a population, before barefooted, would here make a demand for the single article of shoes. The money heretofore spent in Europe by the old slave holders would be all disbursed by these new people in their own country. Where but one cotton gin and a limited number of farming utensils were formerly required to the plantation of a thousand acres, every small farm will want a gin and farming! implements, the actual valuation of which on the same tract of land would be several fold greater than the other. Huts would give place to beautiful, comfortable cottages, with all their appurtenances, fixtures, and furniture; osnaburgs and rags would give place to genteel apparel becoming a free and industrious people; and even the luxuries, as well as the general comforts, of the table would take the place of black-eye peas and fresh fish, hominy and salt pork, all of which have been mainly the products of their own labor when slaves. They would quickly

raster
241
prove that arduous and faithfully fawning, miserable volunteer advocate of the rebellion and slaveholder's rule in the United States--the London Times--an arrant falsifier, when it gratuitously and unbidden came to the aid of its kith and kin, declaring that the greatest and good President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation would not be accepted by the negroes; "that all Coffee wanted and cared for to make him happy was his hog and his hominy;" but they will neither get land, nor will the old slave holders give them employment. Don't fear any such absurdity. There are too many political economists among the old leading slave holders to fear the adoption of any such policy. Neither will the leading statesmen of the country, of any part, North or South, favour any such policy.

We have on record but one instance of such a course in the history of modern states. The silly-brained, foolhardy king of France, Louis V., taking umbrage at the political course of he artisans and laborers against him, by royal decree expelled them from the country, when they flocked into England, which readily opened her doors to them, transplanting from France to England their arts and industry; ever since which, England, for fabrics, has become the "workshop of the world," to the poverty of France, the government of which is sustained by borrowed capital.

No fears of our country driving into neighboring countries such immense resources as emanate from the peculiar labor of these people; but whom worst comes to worst, they have among them educated freemen of their own color North, fully competent to lead the way, by making negotiations with foreign states on this continent, which would only be too ready to receive them and theirs.

Place no impediment in the way of the freedman; let his right be equally protected and his chances be equally regarded, and with the facts presented to you in this series of seven articles as the basis, he will stand and thrive, as firmly rooted, not only on the soil of Hilton Head, but in all the South--though a black, --as any white, or "Live Oak," as ever was grown in South Carolina, or transplanted to Columbia.

raster
242

These articles were published from September to December consecutively, with two weekly exceptions, until the command of the department was assumed by Major General Daniel E. Sickles. They were formerly published anonymously: until then the major was not at liberty to exercise the full functions of his office as a representative of the bureau, as more would be accomplished by concealing the author's name. Feeling free from a restraint which, while it may have been enjoyed by others, was distasteful to him, at last he ventured for the first time to give official publicity to these articles, as will be seen by the following letter:--

Triple Alliance --The Restoration of the South. -- Salvation of its Political Economy.

The restoration of the industrial prosperity of the South is certain if fixed upon the basis of a domestic triple alliance which the new order of things requires, invites, and demands.

Capital, land, and labor require a copartnership. The capital can be obtained in the North; the land is in the South, owned by the old partners; and the blacks have the labor. Let, then, the North supply the capital (which no doubt it will do on demand, when known to be desired on this basis), the South the land (which is ready and waiting), and the blacks will readily bring the labour, if only being assured that their services are wanted in so desirable an association of business relations, the net profits being equally shared between the three--capital, land, and labor,--each receiving one third, of course. The net has reference to the expenses incurred after gathering the crop, such as transportation, storage, and commission on sales

Upon this basis I propose to act, and make contracts between the capitalist, landholder, and laborer, and earnestly invite, and call upon all colored people--the recent freedmen--also capitalists and landholders within the limits of my district, to enter

raster
243
at once into a measure the most reasonable and just to all parties concerned, and the very best that can be adopted to meet the demands of the new order and state of society, as nothing can pay better where the blacks cannot get land for themselves. I am at liberty to name Rev. Dr. Stoney (Episcopal clergyman), Joseph J. Stoney, Esq., Dr. Crowell, Colonel Colcock (late of the Southern army)--all the first gentlemen formerly of wealth and affluence in the State; and Major Roy, of the United States Regular Army, Inspector General of the department; Colonel Green, commanding district, and Lieutenant Colonel Clitz, commanding post, also of the regular army, each having friends interested in planting, who readily indorse this new partnership arrangement. Of course it receives the approval of Major General Saxton.

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Your most obedient servant,

M.R. Delany,

Major & A.S.A. Commissioner Bureau R.F.A.L.

Hilton Head , December 7, 1865.

The planters of the islands and upland districts, recognizing the advantages of the bureau in their midst, when conducted by an efficient officer, consulted him when occasion required.

Among them was Colonel Colcock, with whom he had, on one occasion, an extended interview, previous to the publication of the foregoing article, in which interview the following resulted:--

Hilton Head , December 8, 1865.

Major M. R. Delany , A. S. A. C. Bureau R. F. A. L.

Major: I wish to employ sixty laborers on my hbomestead place on Colleton River, and two hundred on Spring Island, and will thank you to engage them for me, on the basis of the contract which I showed you on Friday. In engaging labor, you will please give the preferences to thhe freedmen who formerly re sided

raster
244
on these islands, provided there is nothing objectionable in their character.

Try to arrange it so that each family will average three field hands, as I have house-room to accommodate them on that basis.

Yours respectfully,

C. J. Colocock

Headquarters Bureau R.F.A.L.,
Hilton Head , S.C. December 11, 1865.

Colonel C. J. Colcock , late of the Southern Army.

Colonel: I received your communication on Saturday last, desiring to know whether or not two hundred and sixty laborers, or cultivators, can be obtained on the basis of copartnership of capital, land, and labor, or what I term the domestic triple alliance, embracing a series of articles drawn up by yourself, as the conditions of your contract.

I reply most positively, that you may confidently rely upon such aid in your business arrangements, as the people are waiting, ready and willing, to consummate such contracts as this plan proposes, alike advantageous to all the parties interested.

I may here be permitted to suggest in this connection, that there are generosity and liberality of feeling in the North towards the South, in its present position, scarcely believed by southern people; and all the North asks is, that their neighbors be disposed to do right, and they may obtain anything in reason, financially, that is desirable.

I have taken the liberty to suggest several modifications in the articles of agreement which you present, to prevent misconstruction or ambiguity, and added one more article, which I consider important (Art. 14). I name this, that it may not be thought that you have assumed to prescribe what should suit the people, but that the injunction of frugality and economy may come from themselves, through their own representative.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, yours,

M. R. Delany ,

Major and A. S. A. C.

raster
245

    VI.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXIX.
  --  GENERAL SICKLES.