Negroes were brought to America as labor recruits when indentured servants from Europe and Indian slaves could no longer meet the growing demands. From the first there were those who sought to prevent or overcome the evils of Negro slavery, but Americans were seeking cheap labor, and Europeans found profit in capturing, shipping, and selling Africans into the country. With the rise of cotton culture on a large scale, the profits made out of the business silenced or warped the humanitarian and the religious conscience of the majority and led many men to seek to defend the system. With the decline of tobacco and rice culture, slave labor would have brought diminishing returns except for the invention of the cotton-gin in 1792, the spinning jenny, and the power loom. These inventions enabled cotton and cotton fabrics to be produced in large quantities. Slave labor rapidly rose in productivity in Southern cotton fields, and slavery changed from a personal patriarchal institution to a wide agricultural system. Negro labor thus largely contributed to the building up of an agricultural and industrial enterprise that has since been one of the bases of American prosperity. Cotton mills in New and Old England brought increasing wages to thousands of white workers and millions of dollars' profit to mill owners, merchants, and traders. These economic motives soon became strong enough to challenge the religious and humanitarian impulses, seeking freedom for the slave through the emancipation organizations and activities mentioned in the preceding section. The issue then became a tense one between the flowering ideals of the young democracy and the system of enforced labor of the "Cotton Kingdom." Before the settlement of the question, native communities of a large part of the African continent were destroyed, whole regions were depopulated, native organizations were disrupted, African jungles were lined with bleached human bones, millions of souls were snatched from Africa, many of them to die in the "middle passage" of the slave-trade, a bloody, fratricidal war broke upon America, and a difficult race situation resulted, to perplex the present generation. Conscience, for the sake of humanity and religion, paid the price in blood and treasure and is to-day trying to control the situation through mission institutions, publicly supported schools, and in other constructive ways.
The present industrial relationship between employer and employee is perhaps the greatest problem of brotherhood among white men. The Negro in America is, to a large extent, a common laborer employed by white employers and cooperating or competing with white workmen. Between him and his white employer are many of the barriers which divide white employers and employees plus racial mistrust on the one hand and lack of appreciation on the other. It is very difficult, if at all possible, to divide the problems of race from the economic problems. As many a European lord thought of his peasant laborers, and some industrial employers think of their "hands," so, many white men think of Negroes as filling their ends in life by contributing to production.1 Many of the plantations of the Southern United States, of the West Indies, and of parts of South and East Africa are conducted upon such an assumption. 2
Some of the most intense race friction may be found where the races come in contact in the field of industry. Any one who is familiar with the circumstances leading up to the riots in East St Louis, Chicago, Coatesville, and Springfield will recognize the menace which disjointed labor conditions hold for race relations. Local labor unions have, themselves, not always been guiltless of using race prejudice to restrict Negroes in industry. The unemployed Negro is often assessed with an excessive share of the crime wave which accompanies general unemployment, and the Negroes who are employed are some-times targets for jealous unemployed white men. Broth-erly contact and understanding sometimes enable both sides to see that there is a common interest between them, that hunger is neither white nor black and that fair play requires all to share alike the pinch or prosperity of general conditions. In agriculture, also, friction sometimes arises. Under ante-bellum conditions there were two main economic classes, planter and slave, in the black belt's richer regions. To-day white people and Negro people are divided into owners, tenants, and farm laborers.1 The difficulties increase from the fact that Negroes, as well as Caucasians, are either farm owners, many of whom are prosperous, or farm tenants. Friction between the white population and prosperous Negroes or those struggling toward high economic standing often manifests itself,2 sometimes going to such extremes that it leads to murder and to the burning of Negro homes, churches, and schools.
1These statements may seem dogmatic, but they summarize considerable evidence. See Stone, Alfred H., The American Race Problem; Olivier Sydney, White Capital and. Coloured Labor, and others.
2 Evans, Maurice, Black and Whits in South Bast Africa, pp. 26-183; Black and White in the Southern States, pp. 224-230; Woofter, T. J., Negro Migration, Changes in Rural Organisation and Population of the Cotton Belt, pp.. 29-42, 82-91.
Attitudes toward education have been greatly influenced "by such economic motives. It is an open secret that some of the favor shown to agricultural and industrial education for Negroes was on the assumption that it made "better servants or more profitable workers. This has, at times, greatly confused the Negro people themselves and often led them to overlook the intrinsic worth of such "training and to oppose it from fear that it would in some -way keep them in subjection. Opposition of white people -to other forms of education sometimes arose from the feeling excited by economic fears that to educate a Negro was to spoil a field hand, a servant, or a laborer..