War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0373 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

churches now owned by them had been failures in the hands of white people. The negroes bought and paid for them, and have improved them very much since the purchase. Mr. Adams" church is a much finer one now than when we sold it to them. Mr. Smethern's church was built by white people who were not able to pay for it, and was then bought by the negroes. Nobody would suppose it now to be the same house, its appearance is so much changed for the better.

And that is very common. They have much taste about such things. a

Upon the whole, no fear is more groundless than that the result of emancipation will be to throw the negroes as a burden on the community.

There is another popular idea in regard to the effect of emancipation, which has been used for political effect. This idea is based on an imaginary state of things, which happens to be the very reverse of the truth. It is alleged that so soon as the negroes are freed they will swarm to the North in search of work, and thus become the competitors of the laboring whites. Beyond all doubt they have a right to do this; and if they did, no just man would complain of it. But, in point of fact, no such thing will happen, unless emancipation be denied.

We repeat here, as applicable to the entire negro population of this continent, what we predicated in our preliminary report of the freedmen of South Carolina.

There is no disposition in these people to go North. General Saxton, who has had 18,000 freedmen under his care, offered them papers for that purpose, but not one availed himself of the offer. They are equally averse to the idea of emigrating to Africa. b These feelings are universal among them. The local attachments of the negro are eminently strong, and the Southern climate suits him far better than ours. If slavery be re- established in the insurrectionary States the North will indeed be flooded with fugitives fleeing from bondage, and the fears of competition in labor sought to be excited in the minds of Northern working-men will then have some plausible foundation. But if emancipation be carried out, the stream of negro emigration will be from the North to the South, not from the South to the Northern States. The only attraction which the North, with its winters of snow an ice, offers to the negro is that it is free soil. Let the South once offer the same attraction and the temptation of its genial climate, coupled with the fact that there the blacks almost equal the whites in number, will be irresistible. A few years will probably see half the free negro population now residing among us crossing Mason and Dixon's line to join the emancipated freedmen of the South."

This is a practical illustration of an important principle, to wit, that a primary law governing the voluntary movements of people is that of thermal lines.

The Commission found overwhelming evidence as to the truth of the above opinion in Canada West. Among the refugees there, there is not a single feeling so strong, or so nearly universal, as their longing to return to the Southern land of their birth a the earliest moment when they shall be assured that it is purged from slavery. One of the Commission says in his supplemental report already referred to:

If slavery is utterly abolished in the United States, no more colored people will emigrate to Canada, and most of those now there will soon leave it.

There can be no doubt about this. Among the hundreds who spoke about it, only one dissented from the strong expression of desire to "go home." In their


a Testimony of Dr. T. S. Bell. See Testimony taken by the Commission in Kentucky, p. 17.

b Since writing the above the following testimony was taken by the Commission in Louisville:

Colonel Hodges, who had lived all his life among slaves, deposed: "The State of Kentucky has appropriated $5,000 a year for several years to aid the Colonization Society in sending off the free blacks, but they have never been able to get more than two to apply." (Testimony taken in Kentucky, p. 104.)

c Preliminary Report, pp. 13 and 14. [Vol. III, this series, p. 436.]