[Footnote 1: Minutes of the Fourth Annual Convention for the Improvement of the Free People of Color, p. 26.]
In opposing the encroachment of Negroes on their field of labor the northerners took their cue from the white mechanics in the South. At first laborers of both races worked together in the same room and at the same machine. But in the nineteenth century, when more white men in the South were condescending to do skilled labor and trying to develop manufactures, they found themselves handicapped by competition with the slave mechanics. Before 1860 most southern mechanics, machinists, local manufacturers, contractors, and railroad men with the exception of conductors were Negroes. Against this custom of making colored men such an economic factor the white mechanics frequently protested. The riots against Negroes occurring in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington during the thirties and forties owed their origin mainly to an ill feeling between the white and colored skilled laborers. The white artisans prevailed upon the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Georgia to enact measures hostile to their rivals. In 1845 the State of Georgia made it a misdemeanor for a colored mechanic to make a contract for the repair or the erection of buildings. The people of Georgia, however, were not unanimously in favor of keeping the Negro artisan down. We have already observed that at the request of the Agricultural Convention of that State in 1852 the legislature all but passed a bill providing for the education of slaves to increase their efficiency and attach them to their masters.
[Footnote 1: Buckingham, Slave States of America, vol. ii., p. 112.]
[Footnote 2: Du Bois and Dill, The Negro American Artisan, p. 36.]
[Footnote 3: Du Bois and Dill, The Negro American Artisan, pp. 31, 32, 33.]
[Footnote 4: Du Bois and Dill, The Negro American Artisan, p. 34, and Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed., 1871, p. 365.]
[Footnote 5: Du Bois and Dill, The Negro American Artisan, pp. 31, 32.]
[Footnote 6: Du Bois and Dill, The Negro American Artisan, p. 32.]
[Footnote 7: Special Report of the U.S. Com. of Ed., 1871, p. 339.]
It was unfortunate that the free people of color in the North had not taken up vocational training earlier in the century before the laboring classes realized fraternal consciousness. Once pitted against the capitalists during the Administration of Andrew Jackson the working classes learned to think that their interests differed materially from those of the rich, whose privileges had multiplied at the expense of the poor. Efforts toward effecting organizations to secure to labor adequate protection began to be successful during Van Buren’s Administration. At this time some reformers were boldly demanding the recognition of Negroes by all helpful groups.