What to do with the Negroes?


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 5, 1862

This is part of our extensive online collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers have incredible content, including dramatic drawings made by eye-witnesses to the key battles and events in the Civil War.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)


Blockade Runner

Blockade Runner

What to do with Freed Slaves

What to do with the Negroes

Fort Craig

Fort Craig Defeat

Island Number 10

Bombardment of Island Number Ten


War in Tennessee

Camp Douglas

Camp Douglas

Battle of Newbern

Battle of Newbern


Iron-Clad Galena

Island Number Ten (10)

Attack of Island Number Ten

Battle of Newbern

Battle of Newbern


Lieutenant Morris

Rebel Prisoners

Rebel Prisoners

Civil War Cartoons

Civil War Cartoons




[APRIL 5, 1862.



WE devote the preceding page to an illustration of the escape of the rebel steamer Nashville, at Beaufort, North Carolina.

Immediately upon the capture of Newbern General Burnside started an expedition to Beaufort. The expedition left Newbern on Thursday, 20th, in steamers, and went partially down the river, and on landing struck the railroad, and took up the march for Beaufort, with hand-cars front Newbern loaded with ammunition and baggage. A few days before the gun-boat Stars and Stripes went outside and assisted the blockade, lest the Nashville might try to escape to sea when the troops come inland.

Upon the arrival of the expedition the first report stated that they found the city evacuated by the rebels, Fort Macon Mown up by the retreating enemy, and the rebel steamer Nashville burning to prevent her falling into our hands. Later accounts, direct from the blockading squadron, however, say that the Nashville ran the blockade successfully.

General Burnside then sent a force with several gun-boats to Washington. No opposition was made to landing. Our troops occupied the town, and the Union flag is flying on the Court-house.

Our pickets extend about eight miles from Newbern toward Goldsborough. The inhabitants of Newbern are gradually returning to the town and taking the oath of allegiance.

We subjoin a CHART of the Harbor of Beaufort, North Carolina.


THE Publishers of Harper's Weekly congratulate their readers upon the appearance in Number 272 of the first part of a new serial tale entitled "No NAME," by WILKIE COLLINS, Esq., author of "The Woman in White." Its opening gives promise of the same wonderful power and matchless dramatic skill which entranced the readers of "The Woman in White." It is seldom that a periodical is enabled to furnish its subscribers with such a series of attractive tales as have appeared consecutively for the past two years in Harper's Weekly, from the pens of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Bulwer. The commencement of this Tale affords a good opportunity for parties residing in the country to form clubs, and obtain Harper's Weekly at the reduced price of subscription.

The circulation of Harper's Weekly being now over 120,000 copies each week, it is the best advertising medium in the country.




THE American public have read with lively satisfaction the candid and honest speeches of Earl Russell, Mr. W. E. Forster, and the Solicitor-General of England on the subject of the blockade of the Southern ports. The tone of the leading British presses has been so uniformly unjust to the United States, and so notoriously under the control of secessionist emissaries, that there were many here who feared that Great Britain would be as false to her traditions and her laws on the subject of blockades as her people had been on the subject of slavery. These apprehensions have not been fulfilled. Members of the British Government have declared in the most positive terms—what we all knew here long ago—that the blockade of the Southern ports is as perfect as any blockade ever was, and that no foreign power can disturb it without flying in the face of the fundamental principles of international law.

The pleasure with which we record these evidences of official candor in England would have been greater if they had not been followed, in almost every instance, by the expression of opinions unfavorable to the success of the North. It is natural that British statesmen should cling to their cherished hope of seeing this country divided and weakened. But is it wise, is it

friendly, to proclaim the wish so constantly to the world? What would be said of a tradesman who was constantly predicting aloud the bankruptcy of his rival over the way? Would he not be set down as a dirty, mean fellow? Would it not have been better for Lord Russell to have left this sort of thing to Gregory and Ferguson, and other blacklegs and boobies?


SENATOR DOOLITTLE made substantial progress in the slavery argument when he stated, the other day, that he would never vote for emancipation without colonization, though the Senate, by the casting vote of the Vice-President, has decided in the opposite sense. With the exception of the crazy people down South who are being whipped into reason by the armies of the Union, every body now agrees that, sooner or later, in one way or another, slavery ought to be abolished on American soil. The main question thus decided, it is high time that the people began to think of and discuss the questions yet undetermined of the how and the when.

We have two historical precedents—that of Great Britain and that of France. In the year 1833 the British Parliament passed an act emancipating the slaves in the British West India Islands, with compensation ($100,000,000) to the owners; the act was only to take effect in 1838. In 1848 the revolutionary Government of France with a stroke of the pen freed all the slaves in the French West Indies: no compensation was granted to the owners, and the act took effect immediately.

These two plans of emancipation were carried under the most diametrically opposite circumstances. Emancipation in the British colonies had been brought before Parliament every year for twenty years, and only succeeded at last through the support of London bankers, creditors of the slave-owners in Jamaica and Barbados, who saw in a parliamentary grant their only chance of collecting the debts due them. The measure was adopted after full deliberation, and five years were granted the slaves and their owners to prepare for the change. In France emancipation was decreed from the impulse of the moment, without outside pressure from any quarter, and without preliminary notice of any kind to the parties immediately concerned.

So far as practical results show, the French scheme succeeded better than the English. The British colonies began to decay after emancipation, relapsed almost into a desert condition, and have only begun to recover very recently. The French colonies have undergone but little change.

It would, however, be rash hence to infer, that immediate and unconditional emancipation works better than the gradual and conditioned abolition of slavery. Emancipation worked badly in the British colonies mainly in consequence of the besotted and imbecile nature of the white slave-owners. With stolid pigheadedness, they refused to accommodate themselves to the new condition of things; haughtily declined to pay wages to the colored laborers who had once been slaves, and sank into ruin with their estates for want of common sense. Slavery had rotted their hearts and minds out, as it has done with the whites of several of our Southern States; and the failure of emancipation, for nearly a quarter of a century, was due to their stupidity. The slave-holders of the French islands, on the contrary, with their national versatility, adapted themselves at once to the new order of things, paid wages cheerfully to the emancipated slaves, and went on growing tropical products as before.

In neither case was it proposed to expatriate the slaves after emancipation, and both British and French colonies, since the abolition of slavery, so far from seeking to get rid of the negroes, have complained loudly of the want of labor. The Jamaica government has even tried to import free negroes from the United States.

In studying these precedents it must be remembered that the slaves in our Southern States are at least ten times as numerous as the slaves in either the British or the French colonies. They now exceed four millions in number, and men now living will, in all probability, see the colored race on this continent more numerous than the entire population of the country at the present time.

It is pretty well understood that President Lincoln agrees with Senator Doolittle in advocating colonization of the blacks. This is the Western plan. Illinois has always refused citizenship to free persons of color, and Western men generally object as much to free negroes as to slavery. Those who have read "Sewell's Ordeal of Free Labor in the British West Indies," will understand this prejudice. In Jamaica and Barbados the mulattoes are steadily gaining power and influence, and the end can not be mistaken. The white race must eventually go to the wall. To avoid this result, Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Doolittle, Mr. Blair, and those who agree with them, propose to colonize the negroes of our Southern States—to send them to Hayti, or Central America, or somewhere else.

To be effectual this remedy must be thorough. The entire four millions must be exported.

Let us assume that the National Legislature adopts the colonization scheme, and decides to carry it into effect. To carry the 4,000,000 slaves now in the Slave States to a foreign port would require at least 8000 vessels of 1000 tons each—in other words, all the large sailing vessels in the world for a couple of years. The cost of transportation alone, assuming that the place of disembarkation were in the West Indies or Central America, could not fall short of $100,000,000. It would likewise be necessary to support the 4,000,000 slaves so exiled for at least one year in. their new abode, which could not well cost less than $100,000,000 more. The moment they were sent away our Southern States would raise the cry which has been raised by the British West Indies ever since emancipation—for more labor. Cotton, sugar, and rice plantations would go to ruin for want of labor. Prosperous regions would relapse into wilderness, and we should be driven, as the maritime nations of Europe have been driven, into adopting systems of coolie and negro immigration. In the mean while, under the fostering influence of a tropical sun, a negro empire would be rearing its head menacingly somewhere on our Southern border. This empire would number 10,000,000 souls in 1875, and 30,000,000 in 1900. Would not such a neighbor be more dangerous than any of the perils which we have tried to ward off by adopting the Monroe doctrine?

We have said nothing of the probability that the negroes would object to be exiled, and of the monstrous difficulty of exporting 4,000,000 human beings against their will. This is an obstacle which could be surmounted, though to overcome it would involve much expenditure of money, time, and energy.

We offer no theories on this vital question, and are content to throw out a few facts by the wayside for the consideration of the people. Soon enough it will devolve upon us to decide upon a policy in regard to these negroes. Let us be prepared to act with a full knowledge of past history, present circumstances, and future prospects. It will not do to be led by passion or prejudice in the matter. Our action will determine the weal or woe of many generations of white people on this continent. On the face of it, the problem appears to be one of unparalleled difficulty—none the less because its true bearings are so constantly obscured by the fanatic teachings of partisans of naked material interest on the one side, and of abstract moral principle on the other. But we shall have to solve it some day.



IT is certainly tiresome to keep on exposing absurdities and errors; but if we were to be satisfied with a simple denial and exposure of untruth, then —not to put too fine a point upon it—the devil would have his own way easily. All that falsehood wants is to be let alone. It is all that treason wants—all that any crime wants.

The present error that cries aloud for reiterated correction is the querulous complaint—"What is the use?" Suppose you beat 'em wherever they make a stand. Don't you see they all run away? On the shores of the Potomac—in the Virginia Valley—at Newbern—they all go off with the army, except the old people and the slaves. Come, now, you may beat, but you can not conquer. They may hold out, but they can not secure their independence. It is as broad as it is long. Sooner or later you've got to compromise."

Compromise what? What is there to compromise? Here are a crowd of rebels, organized, drilled, intrenched, resolute, who defy the Government of the nation. Either they must succeed in bringing the Government to terms, or the Government must reduce them. If they can compel the Government to agree that they shall obey upon certain conditions, then they are successful, and the Government is overthrown. Suppose that South Carolina agrees to cease active hostility upon condition that she shall have the forts in her harbor, and that the United States will allow her to disregard the tariff? Or suppose that Jeff Davis says that he still do what he can to disband the rebel armies, on condition that the Administration will agree that a slaveholder may take and hold his slaves any where in the country? In that case Jeff Davis merely dictates terms to a conquered enemy. If you will do this, he says, I will lay down my arms; if not, I'll fight on.   -

Besides, practically, Jeff Davis is but a single rebel. He may make his own terms; but how can he bind any other rebel? And the Administration of our Government may accept terms which the next Administration may repudiate. So that the war is only suspended; and only suspended because neither side has conquered.

There can be no compromise, because there are no grounds for a compromise. A compromise belongs to peaceful legislation. Equal legislators say to each other, If you will favor me in this, I will favor you in that. That is a compromise. But if two commanders meet at the head of armies, and one says to the other, "If you will give me your arms and go home I will not fire," and the other assents, that is not a compromise, it is a surrender, a bloodless victory. Or suppose, in the midst of the fight in Hampton Roads, the Merrimac had said to the Monitor, "Let us each turn about and go home;" that would be a compromise. But what would be settled by it? Each would only have waited for the other to come out again.

In our war we have to beat absolutely, or to be absolutely beaten.


"WHEN the charge of the Fourth Rhode Island had been made, and the colors were carried along the whole length of the main battery, General Burnside asked some one what regiment that was. On being told the Fourth Rhode Island, he said, 'I knew it. It was no more than I expected. Thank God, the day is ours!'"   .

It is just about a year since the election in Rhode Island made William Sprague for the second time Governor of that State. He was a young man—the son of a great cotton manufacturer, from whom he had inherited a large fortune, and from his father and uncle the control of a large business. He had returned a year or two before from Europe, when the John Brown enterprise was still exciting the country, and had been selected as a moderate and uncommitted candidate for Governor by a coalition of the moderate but committed political leaders of the State. He was elected; and during the Presidential campaign was regarded as a Lincoln man of the palest possible hue. So very pale, indeed, that when, last spring, he was elected again, over a radical Republican candidate, the result was regarded as a half-Southern triumph, and was so hailed, we believe, by George Sanders, an eminent Democratic doctor of the school which holds that rich men ought to own poor ones.

Mr. Sprague had military tastes—he was commander of a mounted company in Providence before he was Governor—and when the rebellion unmasked itself at Sumter, Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, was the first to telegraph to the President that he would march to Washington with a thousand men at a moment's warning. Thus he telegraphed himself into a national reputation; and when his words were made good—when the First and Second regiments of the State, under Colonels Burnside and Slocum—the bright flower of Rhode Island youth—passed fully equipped to Washington, and stood steady through the dark day at Bull Run, side by side with the New York Seventy-first, while Governor Sprague dashed about the field upon his horse, insensible to fear, and the calm, sagacious, heroic Burnside directed the brigade—then the name of the young Governor became fully known, and his personal pluck was praised by all men.

The year has passed and the patriotic readiness of the little State, symbolized by the prompt dispatch of her Governor at the beginning, has been always and every where maintained. She had two regiments at Bull Run, one at Port Royal, one at Roanoke, and two at Newbern; and to-day she has three in the field and one in camp in the District, unless it has moved with M'Clellan. She has sent to the war five regiments of infantry, a regiment of cavalry, besides several batteries. Nathaniel Greene is not dishonored by his children, and Perry long ago uttered the battle-cry of the Rhode Island line, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours!"

And you, brave boys, who have marched and shall return no more—you, passing in a moment from heroic life to honored death—you shall be the inspiration and the strength of those who remain end share the victory you helped to win. Sacred shall your names be, and sweet your memory. And many a wandering brother of yours, whose heart is not less faithful than your hearts were to the dear old native State, reads with tears of pride and sympathy the story of your valor, and thanks God that he too is a Rhode Islander.


IF the tone of the rebel newspapers indicates the condition of the public mind at the South, it is profoundly gloomy. A loud cry of peril rings through newspapers and proclamations. Governor Pettus, of Mississippi, invites volunteers, and announces that he has authority to draft. Governor Moore, of Louisiana, declares that "an insolent and powerful foe is at the castle gate." S. Choppin, the "surgeon of General Beauregard's staff"—portentous name—cries, in an appeal to the soldiers of New Orleans, that "greater disasters still are staring us in the face." General Beauregard himself telegraphs that he "will accept all good equipped troops;" and poor Governor Harris, of Tennessee, informs volunteer companies of that State where they may rendezvous. The Charleston Mercury complains that "a large submission sentiment was developed" at Nashville when General Buell arrived. The Government of North Carolina establishes Police Courts upon the sea-board to have charge of criminals and slaves; to inflict such punishments and to arrest such white persons as they may think that the public safety requires.

In Savannah a draft has been made; while the question is asked, in correspondence from Richmond, "Shall the cause fail because Mr. Davis is incompetent? The people of the Confederacy must answer this plain question at once, or they are lost." Meanwhile a correspondent wails in response from the army. "The death-like torpor which hangs like a spell over our beleagured country will speedily accomplish our ruin unless dispelled at once and forever. * * Will no one speak and break the spell ere we drift to destruction?" And Governor Pickens, of South Carolina, declares upon the 5th of March, that if certain volunteer regiments are not formed by the 20th, "then a conscription will be made to meet the balance of the requisition," The Paulding Clarion—a newspaper in some Mississippi village—declares that "It is now to do, and do at once, or our cause is dead, and we are hopelessly lost;" and thereupon exhorts the faithful to "imitate the Carthagenian women, who cut off their hair to make ropes for their vessels."

The cry of danger is universal. The rebellion has evidently .a sickening sense of incompetency somewhere. The Yankee mudsills whom "Southern gentlemen" were to mow down by the hundreds, and who were to turn and run like sheep before the "chivalry" bred of pone and bad whisky, are suddenly found to be men conscious of their cause and of their power. The contempt of Northerners on the part of the "gentlemen" of Mississippi whisky (Next Page)

Beaufort harbor Map




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