ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
The upper class negro has seized with surprising readiness his new opportunity. No
sensible man in the North or in the South who is not blinded by passion will deny
that the better negroes of the country have made a remarkable record since the days
of emancipation. In the same way the lower class have also made a rapid progress.
Up From Slavery: A Documentary
History of Negro Education
Compiled By Rudolph Lewis
* * * * *
John Spencer Bassett
When John Spencer Bassett is mentioned it is almost always in reference to the Bassett Affair in 1903, the cornerstone of the university’s policy of academic freedom
John Spencer Bassett of Trinity College Describes Booker T. Washington the Greatest Man Born in the South in a Century, with the Exception of Robert E. Lee, and Starts Violent Controversy, 1903
The development of the negro since the war has been calculated to intensify this natural race feeling. Singularly enough both his progress and his regression under the regime of freedom have brought down on him the hostility of the whites. His regression might well do this because it has stood for his lapse into a lower state after the removal of the supporting hand of the white man. This lapse has not occurred in all sections of the race–perhaps it has not occurred with a majority of the race–but there can be no denial that some negroes today are more worthless than any negroes in slavery.
The master was always a restraining hand on the negro, holding back at both extremes. He kept the slave man from going into the higher fields of intellectual development; he confirmed his lack of high moral purpose and he weighed down his self-respect and his individuality, all of which were checks on the best negroes. On the other hand the master was a check on the lowest tendencies of the negro. He restrained his dissipations; he sought to save him from disease; he tried to make him honest and peaceable; and he was very careful that he should not he an idler. The removal of the master’s authority has produced a marked change on each of these extremes.
The upper class negro has seized with surprising readiness his new opportunity. No sensible man in the North or in the South who is not blinded by passion will deny that the better negroes of the country have made a remarkable record since the days of emancipation. In the same way the lower class have also made a rapid progress. Among them idleness and shiftlessness have increased; petty crimes and quarrels have increased; coarse ideas have found greater sway; and viciousness has augmented. These good and these bad habits are the fruits of his freedom.
. . . . A man whose mind runs away into baseless optimism is apt to point to Booker T. Washington as a product of the negro race. Now Washington is a great and good man, a Christian statesman, and take him all in all the greatest man, save General Lee, born in the South in a hundred years; but he is not a typical negro. He does not even represent the better class of negroes. He is an exceptional man; and, endowed as he is, it is probable that he would have remained uneducated but for the philanthropic intervention of white men. The race, even the best of them, are so far behind him that we cannot in reason look for his reproduction in the present generation. It is, therefore, too much to hope, for a continued appearance of such men in the near future. It is also too much to set his development up as a standard for his race. To expect it is to insure disappointment.
“Stirring up the Fires of Race Antipathy,” The South Atlantic Quarterly, II (October, 903), 298~99. In this article Bassett tried to give a calm and sane discussion of the “Negro Problem” but in doing so presented some views that sharply clashed with those commonly held in the South and led to considerable excitement.
Most of the press condemned Bassett, editor of the magazine, and also President Kilgo and Trinity College; while favorable editorials appeared in papers in Boston, New York, and Omaha which gave the little college more than a local reputation. The Omaha Daily Bee (December 6, t953) called the outcome of the case “A Victory for Free Speech,” The Independent (December 15, 1903) called it “A Southern Victory,” and The Brooklyn Daily Fade (December 3, 1903) gave to its editorial the title “Free Speech in the South,” The Boston Herald to its “Free Speech in the Universities,” and The New York Evening Post “College Freedom, South and North.” Josephus Daniels, editor of The News and Observer (Raleigh) spelled Bassett’s name “bASSett.”
The trustees of Trinity College met from 7 P.M. to 3 A.M., heard the case of Bassett’s resignation, voted 18 to 7 not to accept it. and then witnessed or soon read about the burning of the editor of The News and Observer in effigy by the students of the college who generally stood up for their very scholarly and popular teacher.
When Kilgo appeared before the trustees and made a powerful plea for academic freedom he had (in his possession his own resignation and the resignations of the members of the faculty; and if Bassett’s resignation had been accepted Trinity College (now Duke University) would have been without a president or a faculty. See Paul N. Garber, John Carlisle Kilgo: President of Trinity College, 1894.1910 (Durham, N. C., Duke University Press, 1937), pp. 239.86; Virginias Dabney, Liberalism in the South (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1932), pp. 339-41.
This was the first time The South Atlantic Quarterly had discussed racial issues. In the same issue of the magazine President Kilgo had an article on “Our Duty to the Negro.” (The statement in high praise of Booker T. Washington, which set off the controversy, was set in the original draft of the article. Bassett inserted it in the proof after wide and somewhat wild newspaper accounts of the serving of breakfast, by a hotel of the Seaboard Air Line Railway in Hamlet, North Carolina, to a group of Negro business men including Washington.)
For further discussion of cases involving freedom of speech in the South see Dabney, op. cit.; and for cases involving conflicts between religious orthodoxy and heterodoxy, fundamentalism and modernism, science and theology, and over Darwinism see Arthur M. Schlesinger, “A Critical Period in American Religion,” Proceedings of the Masachusetts Historical Society, LXIV, pp. 32348.
* * * * *
Trinity College. President. John C. Kilgo
To The Board of Trustees of Trinity College
With due respect, and I trust with becoming dignity, I herewith hand you my resignation as President of Trinity College. This action is taken in the full light and sacred appreciation of cordial relations which have existed between us during the entire period of my occupancy of the administrative office of Trinity College,-a period now far into the tenth year. It is not worth while to recount any of the successes of these years. The record is before the eyes of men. However, it is becoming of me to express my thanks for all courtesies and confidences received from your honorable
Board. It is also due you as well as myself to place on record the reasons which have influenced me to present you my resignation.
First, as an American citizen, striving to cherish a genuine love of his nation, and having an abiding faith in the principles of freedom, I Cannot consistently, for the sake of punishing a foolish and needless act in a fellow-citizen, do violence to my faith in and love of my country’s principles, which were born Out of the holiest and intensest wish to found in the earth a nation resting on the spirit of human tolerance.
Second, having been born in the South, I openly confess a love of Southern life and the deepest sympathies with its traditions, and therefore cannot approve, and do not approve, any rash disregard of the feelings which belong to true Southern character. This spirit of loyalty to the South makes it impossible for me to consent to co-operate with any idea which seems to say that Southern people have nothing of a forgiving tolerance and a patient courage. The record of the noblest Southern spirits established just the opposite.
Third, from childhood I was taught the doctrines which belong to Methodism, a Church seemingly ordained to proclaim the doctrine of human tolerance and freedom, at a time when ecclesiastical, civic, and social intolerance was arrogant and tyrannical, and I Cannot have any part in an act which in the slightest way seems to repudiate the Church whose doctrines and principles I came, as a child, to believe and love.
Fourth, conscious of parental duties to those of my own home, and to the generations to come, I am unwilling for the sake of personal comfort, or any other temporal consideration, to make a record which may cause doubt of my faith in my country’s ideals, and the noblest virtues of the Christian religion.
Fifth, with a claim to a modest love of learning, I stand pledged for the defense of academic freedom. I assert, with due emphasis, and positiveness, that academic freedom is not set for the defense of academic folly. However, I cannot believe that academic folly should be punished with banishment and exile. It is nobler to forgive academic folly than it is–to banish men for it. I cannot consent to have the most foreign Connection with any act which enslaves thought, shuts any gate to truth and virtue, and intimidates the mind in its efforts to gain helpful knowledge.
Sixth, amid all the struggle of history, the chief struggle has been the incoming of an eternal kingdom founded upon truth and right and tolerance and love and freedom. This kingdom was born of blood; it is acquainted with the severest persecutions; but as the Centuries have multiplied it has grown. Having an unshaken faith in it, I am bound to its principles, and prefer to suffer in adherence to its spirit of tolerance than to escape any pain by the slightest denials of the spirit of the Christian religion.
In conclusion, I ask you to regard this act as being born Out of those impulses which carry in them permanent destiny.
Assuring you of love, I am,
John. C. Kilgo
Source: Paul N. Gueber. John Carlisle Kilgo: President of Trinity College, 1894-1915 (Durhurm, N. C., Duke University Press, 1937), pp. 274.75.
* * * * *
Chapter VI. “The Instruction of Negroes.” In Edgar W. Knight.. A Documentary History of Education in the South before 1860. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1953
Chapter 10 “Up From Slavery: Educational and other Rights of Negroes.” In Edgar W. Knight and Clifton L. Hall. Readings in American Educational History. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1951.
Many states had laws prohibiting the education of blacks; here black youngsters are turned away at the school door
* * * * *
Anti-Slavery Leaders of North Carolina
By John Spencer Bassett
- THE HOME OF THE ANTI-SLAVERY SENTIMENT . . . . 7.
- HINTON ROWAN HELPER . . . .11 .
- BENJAMIN SHERWOOD HEDRICK . . . .29 .
- DANIEL REAVES GOODLOE . . . .47 .
- ELI WASHINGTON CARUTHERS . . . .56 .
- LUNSFORD LANE . . . .60 .
Robert J. Norrell. Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington
Illustrated. 508 pp. The Belknap Press / Harvard University Press.
To the extent that Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) is remembered at all today, he is usually misremembered, which is a travesty…His unwillingness to practice protest politics, however, has earned him the scorn of many modern-day critics, who dismiss him as too meek in his dealings with whites…In Up From History, a compelling biography, Robert J. Norrell restores the Wizard of Tuskegee to his rightful place in the black pantheon…Many criticisms of Washington in more recent decades have echoed those of his contemporary black nemesis, W.E.B. Du Bois Much has been made of this rivalry, but the relevant point is that the two men differed mainly in emphasis, not goals…Putting their differences into proper perspective is yet another way that Up From History serves as a useful corrective.
Jason L. Riley (Wall Street Journal)
* * * * *
By Barbara Ransby
Skip Gates “End the Slavery Blame-Game” Nonsense
By Dr. Ron Daniels
Professor Charles Ogletree on Profiling to Beergate to the Obama
* * * * *
Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
* * * * *
By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power–and the enormous risks–of the dollar’s worldwide reign. The Economy
* * * * *
From The World and Africa, 1965
* * * * *
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
online through PayPal
* * * * *
Browse all issues
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
updated 22 July 2008