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  --  GENERAL SICKLES.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXXI.

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



ON Delany's return to his post, encouraged by the approval of the commanding general, he again turned his attention to resuscitating the lulled industrial powers of the people, by vigorously urging and aiding, in his official capacity, the reproduction of the staples which were once the traffic of the South.

The triple alliance system had now become popular, and his office was always thronged by those seeking advice, of all classes, blacks and whites, ex-slaves and ex-slaveholders.

This will be more readily comprehended when it is remembered that the freedmen had shown a determination that they would never again work for these ex-slaveholders.

In his interviews with either party, he never omitted to remind them that there existed no longer either slaves or slaveholders,--their relation to each other being essentially changed; that all were American citizens, and equal before the law; that the war having reduced many to poverty, unless some exertion should be made, starvation would soon ensue; and this while they had the support and self-sustenance within their own reach, by a mere alliance of their efforts. It had

been done before; it could be repeated in their case. Under the old regime , the master supported the slave by the slave's own production, which also supported the owner; hence the support was reciprocal by mutual dependence. The condition of each being changed, a union of interests was now required to bring prosperity to the country. The freedman was now to be a partner, having an equal share, and controlling his own affairs. This would induce him to be more self-reliant. His observation of the labor systems of other countries had given him experience. He explained in the clearest terms to them, that, throughout the world, the only established order of wealth and prosperity to a people was through the proper union of land, labor, and capital.

He frequently urged upon them that the blacks and whites were the social and political element of the South, and must continue the basis of her wealth by a union of their efforts and strength; that the displacement of the white southern planters for northern capitalists, would not be found desirable, as it would result in substituting for the black laborers, the poor whites from the North, relatives of the rich capitalists, or immigrants, while it was desirable that northern capitalists grants should unite with southern proprietors, and northern mechanical skill and intelligence be incorporated among the southerners, rich and poor. By this means the South would obtain her true civilization.

On this subject the editors of the New South, recognizing the success of the endeavors of this indefatigable work, and justly popular officer, pay the following deserved tribute to him in the issue of January 27, which

was but the public sentiment concerning his administration:--

" The Labor Question .--We are happy to report a continued improvement in this neighborhood. The freed-people--men, women, and children--are beginning to display, not only a willingness, but an anxiety, to get to work at once, as the time for cotton-planting will soon be over. While we are writing, several hundred are congregated around Major Delany's quarters, who acts as medium between the employers and employees, and carefully adjusts all points of difference."

An incident relative to his simple and decisive mode of disposing of cases is related.

The case was brought up a few weeks after his appointment in the Bureau, by a former slave-owner against her ex-slave. In deciding cases in which the freedmen are the aggressors, whatever may be his opinion in regard to their claims to the consideration of the planters, he ignores both color and condition, aiming solely to render unto Csar the things that are Csar's.

An intelligent-looking middle-aged woman, accompanied by her husband and two male friends, entered his office, apparently laboring under great excitement, followed by an intelligent-looking black youth. The lady being politely handed a seat, the major inquired her business, judging her, from her manner of acting, to be the complainant in the case. About this time horses were being sold in that section at very high prices, the most ordinary commanding from one hundred to a hundred and seventy-five dollars. The complainant had just left the Provost Court, where a horse, her favorite, and only remaining property left from the late

war, having been seized upon by the young lad,--a former "chattel," "Jim,"--had been restored to her in conformity with a current order of the government. But Jim persistently refused to return the property, declaring in the hearing of the judge, as he left the court, he would kill the horse the moment they should attempt to take him away.

They had been advised for protection to repair to the quarters of Major Delany.

The major gave his attention to both sides, and satisfying himself as to the proceeding, he decided that the case was regular and valid, and that, the decision of the Provost Court being just, the parties should comply with its demands ordering the young man to give it up. The horse, meanwhile, stood tied to the fence, directly opposite the window where sat the major at his desk. The lady hesitated to leave the office.

"Go and take your horse, madam," said he.

"Where is the guard?" inquired the lady.

"What guard, madam?"

"The guard to protect me and my property," she answered.

"You need no protection; you, being just from the interior, forget that hostilities have ended," said the major.

"Yes, but he'll kill the horse--he swore that he would, and I know that he'll do it."

"Take your horse, madam," said he, becoming impatient at her hesitancy," and don't be alarmed at the idle talk of a disappointed boy."

"Major," said she," I will not go without protection.

I know Jim well, and if you knew him as well as I do, you wouldn't talk that way; I must have a guard, or my horse will be lost, and all my trouble and expense in coming down here, and my only dependence, gone."

Turning to the woman and young man at the same time, with that stern expression that his brow sometimes assumes, said he, "Madam, do you really suppose that the power which put down the masters, compelling them to submit at discretion, is not sufficient to control one of their former slaves--an idle, babbling black boy?"

The young man, giving vent to laughter, which he evidently did to disguise his chagrin, replied, "Major, I ain't going to trouble the horse; she kin have um." The parties, being assured of this, left the office with better feelings towards each other, we trust, than when they entered.


  --  GENERAL SICKLES.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER XXXI.