Bill Arp on the Negro, Lynching, & the North – Bill Arp 7/7/1892

Bill Arp on the Negro, Lynching, & the North – Bill Arp 7/7/1892

As this is a president year, I was expecting that Northern politicians would raise the usual rumpus about the way the
South is treating the negro. We have gotten used to that and have been comforting ourselves that it would blow over
and pass away with the November election. The schemes and tricks of the politicians are not alarming to the veterans
for we know they are not sincere and are only devised for a temporary purpose. But there is just now a feature
connected with our relations to the Northern people that should give us great concern, and that is the malignant
attitude of the Northern preachers. When Joe Cook, of Boston, made his attack upon Henry Grady we didn’t pay
much attention, for he was only one preacher and we looked upon him as a fanatic and a fool. But is it possible
that all the Methodist preachers up North are fanatics and fools? Dr. Tigert was a Southern, visiting delegate to
the Omaha convention. He made a friendly address and ventured to tell them what the South was doing for the
negro and they groaned insultingly and hissed him, and the press says the presiding bishops joined in the hissing.
Then they passed a resolution calling upon the government and the church and the Northern people to use all
means and agencies to suppress the lawlessness and violence of the Southern people towards the colored race,
The press reports say this resolution was passed unanimously and by a rising vote. The Baptists have not yet
spoken in convention, but their leading paper in New York boldly advocated miscegenation as the only and best
remedy for the antagonism between the races. The Presbyterians have not spoken but their press is outspoken in
condemning our methods of lynching negroes for certain crimes, and a late number of Dr. Henry Field’s conservative
and friendly paper heads an editorial with the ominous inquiry “Are We Barbarians?” the whole purport of which
is aimed and intended for the South. The last issue has an article by Rev. Samuel T. Clarke, who is Southern born,
and writes tenderly of the patriarchal institution, and is inclined to sympathy with the views of Southern friends.

But he condemns the Presbyterian church North and South for neglecting the moral training of the negro. He
declares that “as a rule the negro is constitutionally mendacious, thievish and unchaste but if he be made a
conscientious Christian, his value to the Union is greater than all the wealth of the North., In the army,-in
household service, in labor he is s simply invaluable. He is the only foreigner we have who is not a foreigner.
He has no memories, no alliances, no socialistic taint. He is at heart an American. Let the North become
Irish, German or anarchist,-the South will remain American if filled with Christian negroes. But emancipation
will produce a horrible tragedy if it is not speedily supplemented by a moral training which will make the negro
a man and not a worse chattle than he was before the war. An indictment is swelling against the American
people and the muse of history with her iron pen will so inscribe that the future will summon the American
church to answer before the bar universal justice the charge of freeing and then ruining a subject and docile
race.” Senator Hoar says that many of us will live to see 50,000,000 of negroes oozing out of the cabins in
our land. The North American Review has recently declared that all efforts to elevate the negro are failures.
The American Commonwealth says that the negro question is the greatest of all American question. The
negroes of Boston have recently held a meeting and breathed out threatenings of dynamite in the dark
hours of the night and Fred Douglass has been to Atlanta for a purpose we know not what. Well, now, all
this looks ominously s evil, and would be alarming if our people were guilty of any wrong to the negro race.
We do lynch them for certain crimes-lynch them just like we would white people for the same crimes, and
do not think there is enough virtue in a governor’s proclamation to stop it in Georgia, or any other State. In
proportion to the number of similar outrages, lynching is just as common at the North as it is in this State.

The difference is that it is white people who are lynched up there and ne-groes down here. Our white peo-ple are
not guilty of it, and as a rule are far more law abiding than the A white people of the Northern States. Georgia has
about 5,000,000 whites and only 198 white convicts in our penitentiary and not one white woman. Massachusetts
has 1,500,000 and 1,700 of them are convicts including sixty-seven women. This same disparity is general between
the North-and the South and yet the question is pointedly asked, “Are we barbarians ?” Well, yes; I reckon we are
in that sense. I know that I am and so are my neighbors, if the foul crime ever comes home to us, which God forbid.
The color would make no difference to me, nor would I wait for as much proof as the law and the lawyers demand.
It is very proper for the governor to issue his proclamation and advise everybody to let the law take its course, and
it is very conservative for the editors to denounce such summary vengeance but I wouldn’t risk either the governor
or the editor if their own homes were violated. The editor of The Preston Gazette, in Iowa, was right when he said:
“The Northern white man understands neither the Southern negro nor the Southern a man.” The danger is all ours
and we will devise our own remedies as far as we can. There is none that is effectual and every week and almost
every day adds to the black record. I lived in the country upon a farm for ten years. We built a school at house and
hired a good teacher, but there was mining going on not far away and wandering idle negroes were going to and
fro and it broke up the school. In fact, it broke up the settlement, for one by one my neighbors moved to town to
educate their children in safety, and finally I followed them. Does the Northern man undestand that? of Unhappily
there are thousands of farming familes who can’t move to town, but they feel the peril all the same, and when the
crime occurs they are aroused and as one man rush like a cyclone for vengeance.

We understand it and feel it, and if the mighty North were to rise in arms fit and say to the Southern people, “you
shall not lynch a negro for this crime,” they would simply say, “We will,” and take all the consequences. Might as
well declare that we should not shoot a burglar who was breaking into our house in the dead of night, but must
wait until he steals something then have him arrested and tried by the court. Rev. Mr. Clarke says that the negro’s
conscience is diseased and that he is constitutionally thievish and unchaste. He is more than that-when his bad
passions lead him on he is a brute-not unfrequently he kills his victim so as to leave no witness. There are hundreds
of them wandering over the country idle and who would do anything but for fear of detection and punishment.
The jail is no punishment, the convict ramp is not much and what shall we do? “Educate them,” say the preachers, “
and let them vote.” Well, we have been doing that. We have already spent millions upon them and are still spending
it. Schools are open to them everywhere, and yet there are scores in every town who neither work nor go to
school. They play base ball most of the time, or go on excursions, or go fishing or hunting or wander around in
idleness. They have good churches that the white folks built, and some of the churches have very clever well
-behaved preachers, and always have large congregations. I see the negro girls going there, some of them
with giltedged hymn-books and some of them eye-glasses on just like the white folks, and they are all happy.
All the negroes I know, are happy. They are happier on cornbread than white folks are on biscuit. Rev. Mr.
Clarke says a man passed by a half-opened door one night at a freedman’s college and heard a negro girl
saying evening prayers. “Father,” she pleaded, “take away this black skin; I loathe it, I cannot endure it longer;
l; or take me to thyself, where our vile bodies are made like our glorious white Saviour.” Well she was either
a fool or the man never heard her say any such thing.

There is no human nature or negro nature in it, and that little yarn made me lose confidence in Mr. Clarke’s
common sense. Some hypocritical fanatic poked off that lie upon him. I do not believe the people of the North
ever will believe us or understand us until they come down here stay and a while. I wish they would come
and bring their knitting and they shall have just as much chance to educate and train the negro as they want
to. Judge Tourgee tried it once and got sick of the job and went back and abused us about it. If he would come
down and try it again maybe he would be more sucessful. We are all here to stay, I reckon, white and black,
and we are not alarmed. The Northern people who move here soon learn the situation. The Northern Society of
Atlanta know how it is, and have spoken their sentiments. The Grand Army of the Republic of Louisiana has done
the same thing. Our solid Southern politics is all based upon the race question, upon our own preservation and
the protection of our wives and daughters. There is not enough difference between democracy and republicanism
to keep us solid were it not for this. Indeed, there are thousands of protection demcrats down here who would
rather vote for Mr. Blaine than for any Northern Democrat, they believed he could control his party upon the
Southern question. They say that he is a “broad-minded statesman and was the friend of Ben Hill and the
first man to send a contribution to his monument. It is not the offices that we want, but its friendship, We do
not expect it from Northern politicians or Northern preachers, but we do from statesmen. If I was travelling
in the North and found myself out of money and was obliged to ask for charity and to tell where I came from
I would ask it of a gambler or a saloon keeper or even a negro before I would ask it from a preacher. As a
class they are our enemies and of all enemies the fanatical preachers are the most unreasonable and
unrelenting. From all such may the good Lord deliver us.

Last Updated on November 11, 2021 by Bill Arp

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