[Footnote 1: See “George Moses Horton: Slave Poet,” by Stephen B. Weeks, Southern Workman, October, 1914.]
[Footnote 2: See Washington: The Story of the Negro, II, 276-7.]
It is thus evident that honorable achievement on the part of Negroes and general advance in social welfare by no means began with the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1860 eight-ninths of the members of the race were still slaves, but in the face of every possible handicap the one-ninth that was free had entered practically every great field of human endeavor. Many were respected citizens in their communities, and a few had even laid the foundations of wealth. While there was as yet no book of unquestioned genius or scholarship, there was considerable intellectual activity, and only time and a little more freedom from economic pressure were needed for the production of works of the first order of merit.
THE CIVIL WAR AND EMANCIPATION
At the outbreak of the Civil War two great questions affecting the Negro overshadowed all others—his freedom and his employment as a soldier. The North as a whole had no special enthusiasm about the Negro and responded only to Lincoln’s call to the duty of saving the Union. Among both officers and men moreover there was great prejudice against the use of the Negro as a soldier, the feeling being that he was disqualified by slavery and ignorance. Privates objected to meeting black men on the same footing as themselves and also felt that the arming of slaves to fight for their former masters would increase the bitterness of the conflict. If many men in the North felt thus, the South was furious at the thought of the Negro as a possible opponent in arms.