A Social History of the American Negro eBook

Benjamin Griffith Brawley
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 546 pages of information about A Social History of the American Negro.

Important in this general connection was the fate of the deputation that the influential John Ross, chief of the Cherokees, was persuaded to send from his nation to induce the Seminoles to think more favorably of migration.  Micanopy, twelve other chieftains, and a number of warriors accompanied the Cherokee deputation to the headquarters of the United States Army at Fort Mellon, where they were to discuss the matter.  These warriors also Jessup seized, and Ross wrote to the Secretary of War a dignified but bitter letter protesting against this “unprecedented violation of that sacred rule which has ever been recognized by every nation, civilized and uncivilized, of treating with all due respect those who had ever presented themselves under a flag of truce before the enemy, for the purpose of proposing the termination of warfare.”  He had indeed been most basely used as the agent of deception.

This chapter, we trust, has shown something of the real nature of the points at issue in the Seminole Wars.  In the course of these contests the rights of Indian and Negro alike were ruthlessly disregarded.  There was redress for neither before the courts, and at the end in dealing with them every honorable principle of men and nations was violated.  It is interesting that the three representatives of colored peoples who in the course of the nineteenth century it was most difficult to capture—­Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Negro, Osceola, the Indian, and Aguinaldo, the Filipino—­were all taken through treachery; and on two of the three occasions this treachery was practiced by responsible officers of the United States Army.



1.  The Ultimate Problem and the Missouri Compromise

In a previous chapter[1] we have already indicated the rise of the Negro Problem in the last decade of the eighteenth and the first two decades of the nineteenth century.  And what was the Negro Problem?  It was certainly not merely a question of slavery; in the last analysis this institution was hardly more than an incident.  Slavery has ceased to exist, but even to-day the Problem is with us.  The question was rather what was to be the final place in the American body politic of the Negro population that was so rapidly increasing in the country.  In the answering of this question supreme importance attached to the Negro himself; but the problem soon transcended the race.  Ultimately it was the destiny of the United States rather than of the Negro that was to be considered, and all the ideals on which the country was based came to the testing.  If one studied those ideals he soon realized that they were based on Teutonic or at least English foundations.  By 1820, however, the young American republic was already beginning to be the hope of all of the oppressed people of Europe, and Greeks and Italians as well as Germans and Swedes

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