Tourgee continues describing significant indicators of progress by the Negro race

There are several factors identified by Tourgée as significant indicators of progression of African Americans if the argument of original inferiority were to be accepted: namely that most African Americans in the United States were no longer "purely negro” as the last federal census revealed that nine tenths claimed some white blood.

Second, African Americans had thus far not exhibited any of the "barbarous tendency” Jenks attributed to them if left on their own – as Tourgée points out they had been pretty much on their own since emancipation. Third, Tourgée compares the economic advances of the African Americans as compared with that of the "poor whites” in which the former seems to have proportionately progressed to a greater degree than the latter in terms of civilization, wealth, and education.

Tourgée also takes exception to the charge made by Jenks, "in the reconstruction period the Negro governments of the South invariably ran the States heavily into debt.”

To this, Tourgée responds:

 

Is this a racial quality?

...Does financial mismanagement of public affairs imply racial inferiority? If so what shall be said of the people of New York who during those very years lost more by Tweed and Tammany than any Southern State by ‘Negro’ government?

...what shall be said of the people who inaugurated the war of rebellion, by which virtually the entire accumulations of generations were wiped out in four years of useless strife? Financial mismanagement of public affairs is not held to imply incapacity in the white race, why should it in the colored?

Finally, Tourgée argues against the assertion made byJenks of "negro governments also passing ‘shameful and oppressive laws’ against the whites.” Not only does he chide Jenks for not recognizing the positive pieces of legislation enacted at that time (establishment of free public schools, abolition of property qualifications of voters and office holders, and so on), but citing his own experience and familiarity with the legislation generated during the years 1868-1875, when he resided in the South and was an active participant in state and local government affairs, Tourgée challenges Jenks to find anything specifically directed against the whites when, in fact, the legislation of the time was directed towards affirming rights of African Americans:

 

That portion of the Southern people who were opposed to the equal citizenship of the colored man, did indeed denounce as "shameful and oppressive” certain legislation which was deemed not only just but absolutely essential to the establishment of free institutions…

I do not recall, however, so much as a scrap of legislation drawing any distinction between the races or establishing any discrimination against the white people and in favor of the colored people in any of those States…

 

His letter concludes by reminding Jenks that during this time of "negro governments” there was absent any spirit of revenge for two hundred and fifty years of wrongs and atrocities:

No man was deprived of his life, liberty or property through oppressive laws or oppressive conduct…

There was neither riot nor sedition instigated by the colored people

…he never enacted a law denying any race or class the right of legal marriage…

I do not think these things should be left out of the account when estimating the character and value of the Negro citizen


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