Emancipation and Its Results–Is Ohio to be Africanized?

Samuel S. Cox, Congressman (OH)

June 03, 1862

Mr. Chairman: At the beginning of our civil conflict this House passed almost unanimously a resolution offered by the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Crittenden] as to the character of the war. It was a pledge that the war should not be waged in hostility to the institutions of any of the States. On the faith of its pledge men and money were voted. Since then that pledge has been broken both in this House and out of it….

Measures… which would create equality of black and white, such as passed the Senate, in carrying the mails; which abolished slavery in this District; which, like the acts of confiscation and emancipation here urged, are to free the whole or a portion of the black population; all these measures, sir, are subversive of the institutions of the States, and have created apprehension and distrust…

There is something needed in making successful civil war besides raising money and armies. You must keep up the confidence and spirit of the people. It must not only be animated by a noble passion at the outset, but it must be sustained by confidence in the cause. You dispirit the Army and destroy its power, if you give forth an uncertain sound. Is there a member here who dare say that Ohio troops will fight successfully or fight at all, if the result shall be the flight and movement of the black race by millions northward to their own State?…

You wish to put down this rebellion; yet you despise the counsels of the Union men of the South, who tell you that your anti-slavery crusade adds to the rebel army day after day thousands of soldiers and to the southern treasury millions of money. You presume on their forbearance, not caring to know that their lips are often sealed here, because by denouncing you, the secession element, which is kept alive by your action in their States, will point to their denunciations of their conduct as a justification of the rebellion. You will justify this crime to history, provided only your vengeance and your election are made sure.

Sir, I fear and distrust much which I cannot, from motives of prudence and patriotism, utter. Is it the policy here, as it would seem to be, to force the Union men South into some rash expression or act, by such proclamations as [General David] Hunter’s, and such legislation as we have had, and then to charge this rashness as an excuse for converting the war into a St. Domingo-insurrection, turning the South into one utter desolation? Is it in anticipation of this that we have arms for negroes sent to South Carolina and Louisiana?–We can get no information on these subjects, though we strive for it. Are we to be deceived by the prevarication of this Congress in regard to extreme measures? In the mean time, are these extreme measures to be taken as the Army advances with its triumphant flag? In the name of God, is no man’s hand to be raised to retard the downward, hell-ward course of these extreme men? Will not the President at once leap to fill the niche in history pointed out to him by my friend from Kentucky [Mr. Crittenden]? He has done so many noble acts, in spite of the lashings of his friends, will he not change this equivocal situation and give us reassurance in our doubt and trouble, like that which inspired his proclamation, and like that which dictated the Crittenden resolve? Such assurance would make the country ring with his praises. It would make our taxation light, our duty clear, and our patriotism resplendent beyond all that is written in the annals of man.

I trace the murmurs of discontent which come to us from Army and people to the alliance between Republicans and abolitionists. That alliance may be natural, but it is not patriotic. The Philadelphia platform of no more slave States, and Republicanism with its Chicago dogma of no more slave territory, may be innocent in intention, but, allied with abolitionism, with its raids and war upon slavery everywhere, and its defiance of the Constitution, it is crime.

Is this alliance the forerunner of that perfect Union when liberty shall be proclaimed through-out all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof? Is it the dawn of that millennial day which shall reflect back the saber, the musket, and the torch in the hands of the enfranchised African, already urged and voted for by thirty members of this House?

We want no more poetry about striking off chains and bidding the oppressed go. Plain people want to know whether the chains will not be put upon white limbs; and whither the oppressed are to go. If the industry of the North is to be fettered with their support; if they are to go to Ohio and the North, we want to know it. Nay, we want, if we can, to stop it…

It is beyond doubt that a large number of the four millions of slaves will be freed incidentally by the war…. It has been computed that already some seventy thousand blacks are freed by the war…. These are being scattered North, are becoming resident in this District and supported by the largesses of the Federal Treasury. It is said that eighteen thousand rations are daily given out to negroes by our Government. This is but a small number of those who are freed, or to be freed, by these bills. The mildest confiscation bill proposed will free not less than seven hundred thousand slaves. The bill which is before us frees three millions, at least. The bills which receive the favor of the majority of the Republican party will free four millions….

It may have been wrong to have held them in slavery. Is it right to set them free, to starve? What is to be done with them? This is the riddle, more difficult than that of the Ethiopian Sphynx….

Slavery may be an evil, it may be wrong for southem men to use unpaid labor, but what will be the condition of the people of Ohio when the free jubilee shall have come in its ripe and rotten maturity? If slavery is bad, the condition of the State of Ohio, with an unrestrained black population, only double what we now have[,] partly subservient, partly slothful, partly criminal, and all disadvantageous and ruinous, will be far worse.

I do not speak these things out of any unkindness to the negro. It is not for the interest of the free negroes of my State that that class of the population should be increased. I speak as their friend when I oppose such immigration.

Neither do I blame the negro altogether for his crime, improvidence, and sloth. He is under a sore calamity in this country. He is inferior, distinct, and separate, and he has, perhaps, sense enough to perceive it. The advantages and equality of the white man can never be his….

I lay down the proposition that the white and black races thrive best apart; that a commingling of these races is a detriment to both; that it does not elevate the black, and it only depresses the white…. The character of these mixed races is that of brutality, cowardice, and crime, which has no parallel in any age or land. If you permit the dominant and subjugated races to remain upon the same soil, and grant them any approach to social and political equality, amalgamation, more or less, is inevitable….

Is this the fate to be commended to the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic population of the United States? Tell me not that this amalgamation will not go on in the North. What means the mulattoes in the North, far exceeding, as the census of 1850 shows, the mulattoes of the South? There are more free mulattoes than there are free blacks in the free States….

The mixture of the races tends to deteriorate both races. Physiology has called our attention to the results of such intermarriages or connections. These results show differences in stature and strength, depending on the parentage, with a corresponding difference in the moral character, mental capacity, and worth of labor…. But how long before the manly, warlike people of Ohio, of fair hair and blue eyes, in a large preponderance, would become, in spite of Bibles and morals, degenerate under the wholesale emancipation and immigration favored by my colleague?

The free negroes will become equal, or will continue unequal to the whites. Equality is a condition which is self-protective, wanting nothing, asking nothing, able to take care of itself. It is an absurdity to say that two races as dissimilar as black and white, of different origin, of unequal capacity, can succeed in the same society when placed in competition. There is no such example in history of the success of two separate races under such circumstances….

Prejudice, stronger than all principles, though not always stronger than lust, has imperatively separated the whites from the blacks. In the school-house, the church, or the hospital, the black man must not seat himself beside the white; even in death and at the cemetery the line of distinction is drawn.

To abolish slavery the North must go still further and forget that fatal prejudice of race which governs it, and which makes emancipation so illusory. To give men their liberty, to open to them the gates of the city, and then say, “there, you shall live among yourselves, you shall marry among yourselves, you shall form a separate society in society,” is to create a cursed caste, and replace slaves by pariahs.

How will this immigration of the blacks affect labor in Ohio and in the North?

First, directly, it affects our labor, as all unproducing classes detract from the prosperity of a community. Ohio is an agricultural State. Negroes will not farm. They prefer to laze or serve around towns and cities….

But suppose they do work, or work a little, or a part of them work well; what then is the effect upon our mechanics and laboring men? It is said that many of them make good blacksmiths, carpenters, &c., and especially good servants. If that be so, there are white laborers North whose sweat is to be coined into taxes to ransom these negroes; and the first effect of the ransom is to take the bread and meat from the families of white laborers. If the wages of white labor are reduced, they will ask the cause. That cause will be found in the delusive devices of members of Congress. The helps of German and Irish descent, the workmen and mechanics in the shop and field, will find some, if not all, of these negroes, bought by their toil, competing with them at every turn. Labor will then go down to a song. It will be degraded by such association. Our soldiers, when they return, one hundred thousand strong, to their Ohio homes, will find these negroes, or the best of them, filling their places, felling timber, plowing ground, gathering crops, &c. How their martial laurels will brighten when they discover the result of their services! Labor that now ranges at from one to two dollars per day, will fall to one half. Already, in this District the Government is hiring out the fugitives at from two to eight dollars per month, while white men are begging for work. Nor is the labor of the most of these negroes desirable. No system of labor is so unless it be steady. They will get their week’s wages, and then idle the next week away. Many will become a charge and a nuisance upon the public charity and county poor tax….

And for this result directly to northern labor, what compensation is there to the southern half of our country by their removal? Herein lies the indirect effect of their immigration upon northern labor. By this emancipation, the labor system of the South is destroyed. The cotton, which brought us $200,000,000 per annum, a good part of which came to Ohio to purchase pork, corn, flour, beef, machinery, &c., where is it? Gone. What of the cotton fabric, almost as common as bread among the laboring classes! With four millions of indolent negroes, its production is destroyed, and the ten millions of artisans in the world who depend on it for employment, and the hundred million who depend on it for clothing will find the fabric advanced a hundred per cent. So with sugar, and other productions of slave labor. For all these results, labor will curse the jostling elements which thus disturb the markets of the world.

In conclusion, then, if the negro cannot be colonized without burdens intolerable, and plans too delusive; if he cannot be freed and left South without destroying its labor, and without his extermination; if he cannot come North without becoming an outcast and without ruin to northern industry and society, what shall be done? Where shall he go?…

What shall be done? I answer, Representatives! that our duty is written in our oath! IT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES! Leave to the States their own institutions where that instrument leaves them, keep your faith to the Crittenden resolution, be rid of all ambiguous schemes and trust under God for the revelation of His will concerning these black men in our land, and the overthrow by our power of this rebellion.

Source: Congressional Globe, 37th Cong., 2d sess., 1862, Appendix, pp. 242-249.

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