educating them, calling them sir and madam, braving no end of public contumely, and showing them every exasperating consideration. Look at Berea, Kentucky, where every kind thing con-trivable that, according to our old ideas, could destroy a white man's self-respect and " spoil a nigger " has been practiced. What is the final fact ? Amalgamation ? Miscegenation ? Not at all. The letters of the presidents of these two famous institutions lie before the present writer, stating that from neither of them throughout their history has there resulted a single union of a white with a black person either within their precincts or elsewhere within the nation's wide boundaries. And of the two towns in which they are situated, in only one have there been from first to last three or four such unions. How have they been kept apart ? By law ? By fierce conventionality ? By instinct ? No! It was because they did ?iot follow instinct, but the better dictates of reason and the ordinary natural preferences of like for like. But, it is sometimes asked, admitting this much, will not undivided civil relations tend eventually—say after a few' centuries—to amalgamation ? Idle question ! Will it help the matter to withhold men's manifest rights ? What can we do better for the remotest future than to be just in the present and leave the rest to the Divine Rewarder of nations that walk uprightly ?


There is a school of thought in the South that stands midway between the traditionists and us. Its disciples have reasoned away the old traditions and are now hampered only by vague ideas of inexpediency. They pray everybody not to hurry. They have a most enormous capacity for pausing and considering. " It is a matter," says one of them in a late periodical, *' of centuries rather than decades, of evolution rather than revolution." The heartlessness of such speeches they are totally unconscious of Their prayer is not so much that our steps may be logical as geological. They propose to wait the slow growth of civilization as if it were the growth of rocks, or as if this were the twelfth or thirteenth century. They contemplate progress as if it were a planetary movement to be looked at through the telescope. Why, we are the motive power of progress ! Its speed depends on our courage, integrity, and activity. It is an insult to a forbearing God and the civilized world for us to sit in full view of moral and civil wrongs manifestly bad and curable, saying we must expect this or that, and that, geologically considered, we are getting along quite rapidly. Such talk never won a battle or a race, and the hundred years past is long enough for us of the South to have been content with a speed that the rest


of the civilized world has left behind. The tortoise won in the race with the hare, the race didn't win itself We have listened far too much already to those who teach the safety of being slow. " Make haste slowly," is the true emphasis. Cannot these lovers of maxims appreciate that " Delays are dangerous " ? For we have a case before us wherein there is all danger and no safety in floating with the tide.

Our fathers had such a case when African slavery was first fastening its roots about the foundations of our order of society. 1 hey were warned by their own statesmen to make haste and get rid of it. " You must approach the subject," cried the great Jefferson. " You must adopt some plan of emancipation or worse will follow " ; and all the way down to Henry Clay that warning was with more or less definiteness repeated. But our fathers were bitten with the delusion of postponement, and the practice of slavery became an Institution. It grew, until every element of force in our civilization—the political arena, the sacred desk, the legislative hall, the academical chair—all—were wrapped in its dark shadow. Where might not our beloved South be to-day, far on in front, but for that sad mistake ? At length, suddenly, rudely, slavery was brought to an end. What that cost we all know; yet let us hope there are many of us who can say with our sainted Lee, not merely " I am 14

rejoiced that slavery is abolished " ; but " I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained." ^

Such was our fathers' problem. The problem before us is the green, rank stump of that felled Institution. Slavery in particular—the slavery of the individual man to his one master, which rested upon the law, is by the law abolished. Slavery in general—the subordination of a fixed ruled to a fixed ruling class—the slavery of civil caste, which can only in part, and largely cannot, be legislated away, remains. Sad will it be for our children if we leave it for their inheritance.

A Southern man traveling in the North and a Northern man just returned from a commercial tour of the South lately fell into conversation on a railway train. / Said the Northerner, " What the South needs is to import capital, induce immigration, develop her enormous latent wealth, and let politics alone." " Sir," said the Southerner, " I know you by that sign for a commercial man, as I might know a hard student by his glasses and peering eyes. With you all things else are subsidiary to commerce ; hence, even commercially, you are near-sighted. It is true the South should seek those things you mention. They are for her better safety, comfort, and happiness. But 1 See open letter in The Century for May, 1885.



what are politics ? In this land, at least, simply questions concerning the maintenance or increase of our safety, comfort, and happiness ; questions that cannot be let alone, but must be attended to as long as those things demand to be maintained or increased."—The train stopped in a depot. Men could be heard under the wheels, tapping them with their hammers to test their soundness. —" To ask us to let politics alone is to ask us to leave the wheels of our train untested, its engine unoiled, its hot boxes glowing, while we scurry on after more passengers and passengers' fares; —which is just the way not to get them. Do not ask it of us. Our scantiness of capital, mea-gerness of population, and the undeveloped condition of our natural resources are largely owing, this day, to our blindly insisting that certain matters in our politics shall be let alone. It was our letting them alone that brought Federal interference, and that interference has been withdrawn upon our pledge not to let them alone but to settle them."

About a year ago the present writer visited the thriving town of Birmingham, Alabama. Its smelting furnaces were viewed with special interest. It w^as fine to see the crude ore of the earth, so long trampled under foot, now being turned by great burnings and meltings into one of the prime factors of the world's wealth. But another thought came with this, at sight of the

dark, brawny men standing or moving here and there with the wild glare of molten cinder and Hquid metal falling upon their black faces and reeking forms. These were no longer simple husbandmen, companions of unfretted nature. If the subterranean wealth of the South is to be brought to the surface and to market all over the land, as now it is in this miniature of the great English Birmingham; if, as seems inevitable, the black man is to furnish the manual labor for this vast result, then how urgent is our necessity for removing from him all sense of grievance that we rightly may remove, and all impediment to his every proper aspiration, ere the bright, amiable influences of green fields and unsoiled streams, of leafy woods, clear sky, fragrant airs, and song of birds pass out of his life, and the sooty, hardening, dulling toils of the coal-pit and the furnace, and the huddled life that goes with it, breed a new bad knowledge of the power of numbers and a thirst for ferocious excitements, and make him the dangerous and intractable animal that now he is not. For our own interests, one and all of them, we ought to lose no time.

Our task is one whose difficulties can never be less, its facilities never be greater. We have no wars to distract and preoccupy. ' Here is a kindly race of poor men unlearned in the evil charms of unions, leagues, secret orders, strikes and bread-riots : looking not upon the capitalist as a natural

enemy; stranger to all those hostilities against the richer and stronger world around them which drive apart the moneyed man and the laborer wherever living has become a hard struggle. What an opportunity is ours to-day that will never return when once it goes from us. Look at Ireland.

XII. "move on."

We occupy, moreover, a ground on which we cannot remain. It is not where we stood at the war's end. We approve the freedman's ownership of himself. We see and feel there is no going back from universal suffrage. And its advocate may make a point of tremendous strength in the fact that this very universality of suffrage is what has bred in the South a new sense of the necessity of public education for all and of whatever else will enlighten and elevate the lower mass. Ignorance, penury, unintelli-gence, and the vices that go with them—the bonds that hold the freedman down from beneath —we are helping them to cast off. But to cut these loose and still lay on the downward pressure of civil caste—is there any consistency in this? We cannot do it and respect our own intelligence. Socially we can do nothing for the freedman or against him by rule or regulation. That is a matter, as we might say, of specific gravity. But as to his civil rights, we cannot



stay where we are. Neither can we go backward.

To go forward we must cure one of our old-time habits—the habit of letting error go uncontradicted because it is ours. It grew out of our having an institution to defend, that made a united front our first necessity. We have none now. Slavery is gone. State rights are safer than ever before, because better defined; or, if unsafe, only because we have grown loose on the subject. "^We have nothing peculiar left save civil caste. Let us, neighbor with neighbor, and friend with friend, speak of it, think of it, write of it, get rid of it. Ruskin's words seem almost meant for our moment and region : " For now some ten or twelve years," he says, " I have been asking every good writer whom I know to write some part of what was exactly true, in the greatest of the sciences, that of Humanity." We speak for this when we speak truly against civil caste. It is caste that the immortal Heber calls " a system which tends ... to destroy the feelings of general benevolence." As far, then, as civil rights are concerned, at least, let us be rid of it. This done, the words North and South shall mean no more than East or West, signifying only directions and regions, and not antipodal ideas of right and government; and though each of us shall love his own State with ardor, the finest word to our ear as citizens shall be America.



To America we see irreversibly assigned the latest, greatest task in the " science of Humanity ": to burst the last chrysalis of the national relation and consummate its last grand metamorphosis. Once it knew no wider bound than the tribal relation. But the day is on us at length, the problem is ours, and its great weight and responsibility and the honor of it when achieved rest and will rest on our Southern States. It is to make national harmony and unity broader than race; to crystallize into fact the truth that national unity need not demand unification of race; to band together—without one single class disability or privilege diminishing or enhancing any individual's intrinsic value—in that one common, undistinguished enjoyment of every human civil right which only can insure national harmony and unity, two antipodal races; two races that have no wish to, and for all we know never will, mingle their two bloods in one stream.

Nationalization by fusion of bloods is the maxim of barbarous times and peoples. Nationalization without racial confusion is ours to profess and to procure. It is not a task of our choosing. But our fathers, unawares, entailed it upon us, and we cannot but perform it. We cannot hold American principles in perfect faith and not do it. The good doctrine of liberty to all and license to none thrusts it inevitably into our hands. To make national unity without

hybridity—the world has never seen it done as we have got to do it; but it is the business of every generation that comes into the world to bring into it better things than it has ever seen. We have got to build a nationality as free from all civil estrangement as from social confusion, yet wider than the greatest divergence of human races. This is the meaning of the great revolution upon us to-day. Daily the number increases of those who grasp it. A little while ago the whole nation rejected it. To reject it to-day is to be left behind the nation's best thought. How fast that thought is spreading in the South few know. Like the light of kindling watch-fires it is catching from mind to mind. The best men of the South are coming daily into convictions that condemn their own beliefs of yesterday as the antiquated artillery of an outgrown past; and to the present writer, as one who himself found this not easy, but hard, to do, it seems no improbability that our traditionist friends, even before this reply can reach them, may be found ranging themselves among that number, for the promotion of this revolution that everybody knows must come. To say what must, is to say what will be; and so shall the reproach of slavery, the greatest moral mistake made by the whole American nation, be swallowed up in the honor of this noble gain for the cause of humanity and universal peace.




HERE and there in the United States a penal institution may be found that fairly earns the pride with which it is pointed out by the surrounding community. In the whole country there may be four or five such. The visitor to them admires the fitness of their architecture.

"Yes," the warden replies; "this is not a house of pleasure, and so we have not made it pretty. It is not an abode of crime, and so we have not made it ugly. It is not a place where men seek justice, and therefore we have not made it grandiose and majestic. But it is the house of chastisement,—of chastening punishment,—and so it is made solemn, severe, and calm."

The visitor praises the grave and silent decency of all the internal appointments.

^This essay was first printed in 1883; but although it was followed by many efforts for reform, they have failed because of the political power of the " penitentiary rings," and except a very inadequate, superficial improvement in Texas no changes of moment have taken place to put these pages materially out of date. (November, 1889.)


" Yes," responds the warden ; " the peace and dignity of the State are here asserting themselves over the person of the prisoner who has violated them; there is no more room here for merriment or confusion than for strife."

The visitor extols the perfection of the sanitary arrangements.

"Yes," says the warden; "when the criminal was free and his life at his own disposal, he took no such care of it as this. He probably lived a sort of daily suicide. If he shortened his days, the State was, presumably, not to blame. But if we by malice or neglect shorten his days here, where he is our captive, we bring upon the State both blame and shame. For his life is in our custody, just as the clothing is with which he came here; the State, through its courts, has distinctly declined to tamper with it, and holds it subject to be returned to his own keeping, at the expiration of his confinement, in as good order as that in which it was received, the inevitable wear and tear of time alone excepted. Can the State maintain its peace and dignity as it should that commits breaches of trust inside its very prisons ? "

The visitor remarks that a wise benevolence is necessary even toward bad men.

" But," says the other, " it is not merely benevolence to bad men that puts in these elaborate sanitary appliances; it is the necessity of upholding the integrity and honor of the State."



The visitor shows his surprise at the absence of all the traditional appliances for the correction of the refractory. " Yet be certain," is the rejoinder, " a discipline, sure, prompt, and effectual meets every infraction of rules. How else could we have this perfection of order ? But it is a discipline whose punishments are free from brutalizing tendencies, increasing dispassionately as the culprit's passions increase, and relenting only when he has repented." ^

The visitor is impressed with the educative value of the labor performed by the inmates.

" Yes," says the warden; " send a man out from here with knowledge of a trade, and may be he will come back, but the chances are he will not. Send him away without a trade, and may be he will not come back, but the chances are he will. So, for society's sake,—in the community's interest and for its safety,—these men are taught certain trades that they cannot turn to bad account. We do not teach burglars lock-smithing."

Yet the visitor takes a momentary alarm.

1" Good order and discipline have been maintained during the past year. There has not been one case of insubordination or gross violation of any of the rules of the prison government; not one case that required punishment, either for the purpose of maintaining discipline or as penalty for an offense committed by an individual prisoner."—" Annual Report of the Inspectors of the State Penitentiary, Eastern District, Pennsylvania, 1882," p. 89.

"You put the housebreaker and the robber, the sneak-thief and the pickpocket into open competition with honest men in the community around them."

" Exactly," responds the other; "trying to Hve without competing in the fields of productive labor is just the essence of the crimes for which they were sent here. We make a short end of that."

The visitor looks with pleased interest at the statistical records of the clerk's office.

" We could not call our duty done without these," is the warden's response. "These are the keys to the study of the cause and prevention of crime. By these we weigh our own results. By these we uncover not only the convict and his crime, but society's and the State's own sins of omission and commission, whose fruits are these crimes and these criminals,"

"After all," at length the visitor says, " tell me one thing more. Here where a prisoner is safe from fire and plague and oppression and temptation and evil companionship, and is taught thrift and skill, and has only to submit to justice and obey right rules, where is his punishment? How is this punishment at all ? "

And the warden makes answer with question for question: " Had you a deformed foot, and an iron mold were made to close around it and press it into symmetrical shape and hold it so



would you ask where is the agony ? The punishment here is the punishment of a deformed nature forced into superficial symmetry. It is the punishment that captivity is to unrestraint; that subordination and enforced self-control are to ungoverned passion and inordinate vanity and pride; that routine is to the love of idle adventure ; that decorum is to the love of orgies ; that temperance is to the love of drink; that loneliness is to the social and domestic impulses ; that solitude and self-communion are to remorse. It is all the losses and restraints of banishment, without one of its liberties. Nothing tempers it but the repentance and reform which it induces, and these temper it just in degree as they are genuine and thorough."

" And your actual results ? " asks the visitor.

" Of those who come here for their first offense, a majority return to honest life."

" You have a model prison."

" No," says the warden, " not yet."


Now, the number of such prisons in America, we say, may be counted on the fingers of one hand. Communities rarely allow the prison its rightful place among their investments of public money for the improvement of public morals and public safety. Its outlays are begrudged because

they do not yield cash incomes equal to their cash expenses. Legislatures, public schools, courts of justice, and departments of police are paid for by the people in the belief that they will and must be made to yield conditions and results necessary to be obtained, for whose absence no saving of public wealth can atone, and that ultimately, though indirectly, even on their pecuniary side, they are emphatically profitable. But when it is asked by what course of reasoning the prison is left out of this count, there is heard only, as one may say, a motion to adjourn. Society is not ready for the question.

The error is a sad one, and is deeply rooted. And yet it is a glaring one. A glance at the subject is enough to show that unless the money laid out in prisons is devoted to some end far better than the mere getting it back again, then legislatures, public schools, courts, and police all are shortened in their results, and a corresponding part of their expenses is rightly chargeable to the mismanaged prison. The prison is an inseparable part of the system ; and the idea that the prison must first of all pay back dollar for dollar, if logically pushed on through the system, would close public schools, adjourn courts of justice, dissolve legislatures, and disband police. For not one of these could exist on a " self-supporting " basis.

Oftener, probably, than from any other one

source, this mistake springs from the indolent assumption that the call to make prisons what they ought to be is merely an appeal to public benevolence. It was so, in their earlier turn, with public hospitals and public schools; and the effect was similar. For only here and there, if at all, did they find their best iefficiency or a true public support, until society rose to the noble modesty that recognized them not as public charities, but as pubHc interests. The management of a State's convicts is a public interest that still waits for the same sort of recognition and treatment. In many directions this has been partly conceded; but there are few, if any, other State executives who would undertake to echo the lately uttered words of that one who said:

" In neither of the penitentiaries of this State has there ever been an attempt yet made to administer them on the vulgar, wicked, unworthy consideration of making them self-sustaining. In neither of them has it been forgotten that even the convict is a human being, and that his body and soul are not so the property of the State that both may be cnished out in the effort to reimburse the State the cost of his scanty food, and, at the end of his term, what then is left of him be dismissed, an enemy of human society."

The two dissimilar motives here implied govern the management of most American prisons. In a few the foremost effort is to make them yield, by a generous, judicious control, every result worth, to society's best interests, the money 16

paid for it; that is, to treat them as a public interest. In a much larger number it is to seek such, and only such, good results as may be got without an appreciable excess of expense over income; that is, to treat them as appeals—and unworthy appeals—to the public charity. One motive demands first of all the largest results, the other the smallest net expense. They give rise to two systems of management, each of which, in practice, has its merits and drawbacks, and is more or less effectively carried out, according to the hands and minds under which it falls. These are known as the Public Accounts System and the Contract System.^ Each has its advocates among students of prison science, and it is not the province of this paper further to press the contrast between them. It is truly the country's misfortune that in several States there is a third system in operation, a knowledge of whose real workings can fill the mind of any good citizen only with astonishment and indignant mortification.

By either of the two systems already named,

1 The Contract System is often miscalled by the public press the Convict Lease System. But the Contract System merely, under careful restrictions, leases the convicts' labor within the prison walls during certain hours of the day and is entirely subordinated to the official management of the prison. While under the Convict Lease System the prison, the prisoner and the prison management are all farmed out into private control and an intelligent reformatory system is impossible.


-» the Public Accounts System and the Contract

System, the prison remains in charge of State officials, the criminals are kept continually within the prison walls, and the prison discipline rests intact. All the appliances for labor—the workshops, tools, engines, and machinery—are provided by the State, and the convicts labor daily, prosecuting various industries, in the Public Accounts System under their official overseers, and in the Contract System under private contractors. In degrees of more or less excellence, these industrial operations, whether under official directors or contractors, are carefully harmonized with those features of the prison management that look to the secure detention, the health, the discipline, and the moral reformation of the prisoner, the execution of the law's sentence upon him in its closest and furthest intent, and, if possible, his return to the outer world, when he must be returned, a more valuable and less dangerous man, impressed with the justice of his punishment, and yet a warning to evil-doers. It is the absence of several of these features, and sometimes of all, that makes the wide difference between these methods on the one hand and the mode of prison management known as the Lease System on the other.




Its features vary in different regions. In some, the State retains the penitentiary in charge of its officers, and leases out the convicts in gangs of scores or hundreds to persons who use them anywhere within the State boundaries in the execution of private enterprises or public or semi-public works. In a few cases the penitentiary itself, its appliances and its inmates, all and entire, are leased, sometimes annually or biennially, sometimes for five and sometimes for ten or even twenty years, and the convicts worked within or without the prison walls, and near to or distant from them, as various circumstances may regulate, being transferred from place to place in companies under military or semi-miHtary guard, and quartered in camps or herded in stockades convenient to their fields of labor. In two or three States the Government's abandonment of its trust is still more nearly complete, the terms of the lease going so far as to assign to the lessees the entire custody and discipline of the convicts, and even their medical and surgical care. But a clause common to all these prison leases is that which allows a portion, at least, ^and sometim^es all of the prisoners to be worked in parts of the State remote from the prison. The fitness of some lessees to hold such

a trust may be estimated from the spirit of the following letters:

" Office of Lessee Arkansas State Penitentiary, "Little Rock, Arkansas, Januaiy 12, 1882. "Dear Sir: Your postal of request to hand; sorry to say cannot send you report, as there are none given. The business of the Arkansas State Penitentiary is of a private nature, and no report is made to the public. Any private information relative to the men will be furnished upon application for same. " Very respectfully,

" Zeb, Ward, Lessee. "Z.J."

" Office of Lessee Arkansas State Penitentiary, " Little Rock, Arkansas, July 2, 1882.

" Dear Sir : Yours of date to hand and fully noted.

Your inquiries, if answered, would require much time and labor. I am sole lessee, and work all the convicts, and of course the business of the prison is my private business. My book-keeper is kept quite busy with my business, and no time to make out all the queries you ask for. Similar information is given to the Legislature once in two years.

" Respectfully,

"Zeb. Ward."

The wonder is that such a scheme should not, upon its face, be instantly rejected by any but the most sordid and short-sighted minds. It is difficult to call its propositions less than an insult to the intelligence and humanity, of any enlightened community. It *was a Governor of Kentucky who, in 1873, justly said-to his State Legislature: " I cannot but regard the present system under which the State penitentiary is leased and

managed as a reproach to the commonwealth. ... It is the system, not the officer acting under it, with which I find fault." ^

This system springs primarily from the idea that the possession of a convict's person is an opportunity for the State to make money; that the amount to be made is whatever can be wrung from him; that for the officers of the State to waive this opportunity is to impose upon the clemency of a tax-paying public ^ and that, without regard to moral or mortal consequences, the penitentiary whose annual report shows the largest cash balance paid into the State's treasury is the best penitentiary. ' The mitigations that arise in its practice through the humane or semi-humane sentiments of keepers and guards, and through the meagerest of legislation, are few, scanty, and rare; and in the main the notion is clearly set forth and followed that a convict, whether pilferer or murderer, man, woman, or child, has almost no human right that the State is bound to be at any expense to protect.

It hardly need be said that the system is not in operation by reason of any malicious public intention. On the part of lessees there is a most unadmirable spirit of enterprise. On the part of State officials there is a very natural eagerness to report themselves as putting money

^ Quoted in " Transactions of the National Prison Congress, St. Louis, 1874," p. 325.



into the treasury, and a low estimate of public sentiment and intelligence. In the people at large there is little more than a listless oblivion, that may be reprehensible, but is not intentional, unless they are to be judged by the acts of their elected legislators, a rule by which few communities would stand unaccused. At any rate, to fall into the error is easy. Outlays for the maintenance of police and courts are followed with a jealous eye. Expense and danger keep the public on the alert. Since neither police nor courts can pay back in money, they must pay back in protection and in justice. The accused of crime must be arrested, the innocent acquitted and exonerated, and the guilty sentenced to the penalties of the laws they have violated. But just here the careless mind slips into the mistake that the end is reached; that to punish crime, no matter how, is to deter crime; that when broken laws are avenged that is the end; that it is enough to have the culprit in limbo, if only he is made to suffer and not to cost. Hence the public resolve, expressed and enforced through legislators and executive officers, to spend no more money on the criminal than will promptly come back in cash—nay, worse, to make him pay in advance; and hence, too, a total disregard of all other results for good or bad that may be issuing from the prison walls. Thus it follows that that arm of the public service by whose workings a large part

of all the immense labor and expenses of police and courts must become either profitable or unprofitable is handed over to the system which, whatever else of profound mischief its annual tables may betray or conceal, will show tlfe smartest results on the cash-book. And thus we see, annually or biennially, the governors of some of our States congratulating their legislatures upon the fact that, by farming out into private hands whose single motive is money the most delicate and difficult task in the whole public service, that task is changed from an outlay that might have been made nobly advantageous into a shameful and disastrous source of revenue.


If, now, we are to begin a scrutiny of this evil, we shall do well to regard it first as it presents itself in its least offensive aspect To do this, we turn to the State prison, or prisons of Tennessee.

The State holds in confinement about one thousand three hundred convicts. The penitentiary is at Nashville, the capital. On the 5th of December, 1881, its workshops were accidentally destroyed by fire, and those which have taken their place are, if we may accept the warden's judgment, the finest south of the Ohio River.^

1 Unfortunately for this pardonable boast, the boundary given cuts off all State prisons that exclude the lease management, except one small institution in West Virginia.

An advertisement from the Secretary of State, in a New Orleans paper of June 14, 1883, invites bids for a six years' lease of the " Penitentiary of Tennessee and the labor of the convicts, together with the building, quarry-grounds, fixtures, machinery, tools, engines, patterns, etc., belonging to the State." It is there asserted that the penitentiary has been conducted on this plan already for a number of years. The State's official prison inspectors remark, in their report of December 30, 1882: **The Lease System, during our term of office, has worked harmoniously and without the least scandal or cause for interference on the part of the inspectors. Rentals have been promptly paid, and the prisoners worked in accordance with law and most humanely treated. . . To our minds there can be no valid objection raised to the Lease System, under proper restrictions, especially if as well conducted as for the past few years." They add the one reason for this conviction, but for which, certainly, there would be none: " A fixed revenue is assured to the State every year under the lease plan, as against an annual outlay under State management." The advertisement shows one feature in the system in Tennessee which marks it as superior to its application in most other States that practice it: the lessees employ such convicts as are retained " in the prison building at Nashville (many of whom are skilled laborers and of long-term sen-17


tence) in manufacturing wagons, iron hollow-ware, furniture, etc." The terms of the lease are required to be " not less than one hundred thousand dollars per annum, payable quarterly, clear of all expenses to the State on any account except the salaries of the superintendent, warden, assistant-warden, surgeon, and chaplain, which are to be paid by the State."

Here, then, is the Lease System at its best. Let us now glance in upon it for a moment through its own testimony, as found in the official report of its operations during the two years ending; December i, 1882. At the close of that term the State held in custody 1336 convicts. Of these, 685 were at work in the penitentiary, 28 were employed in a railway tunnel, 34 were at work on a farm, 89 on another farm, 30 in a coal-mine, 145 in another coal-mine, and 325 in still another. In short, nearly half the convicts are scattered about in " branch prisons," and the facts that can be gathered concerning them are only such as are given or implied in the most meager allusions. It appears that they are worked in gangs surrounded by armed guards, and the largest company, at least,—the three hundred and twenty-five,—quartered in a mere stockade. As the eye runs down the table of deaths, it finds opposite the names, among other mortal causes, the following: Found dead. Killed. Drowned. Not given. Blank. Blank.

Blank. Killed. Blank. Shot. Killed. Blank. Blank. Killed. Killed. Blank. Blank. Blank. Killed. Blank. Blank.^ The warden of the penitentiary states that, '* in sending convicts to the branch prisons, especial care is taken to prevent the sending of any but able-bodied men"; and that " it has also been the custom to return the invalid and afflicted convicts from the branch prisons to this prison "—the penitentiary. Yet the report shows heavy rates of mortality at these branch prisons, resulting largely from such lingering complaints as dropsy, scrofula, etc., and more numerously by consumption than by any one thing else except violence; rates of mortality startlingly large compared with the usual rates of well-ordered prisons, and low only in comparison with those of other prisons worked under the hands of lessees.

The annual reports (taken as they could be procured, one for 1880, three for 1881, and one for 1882) of five of the largest prisons in the United States show that, from the aggregate population of those prisons, numbering 5300 convicts, there escaped during twelve months but one prisoner. In all the State prisons of the country not kept

* One might hope these blanks were but omissions of ditto marks, although such marks are not lacking where required in other parts of the table; but the charitable assumption fails when it would require us to supply them under "Sunstroke" and opposite the date of December.


by the Lease System, with a population, at dates of reports, of 18,400, there escaped in one year only 63. But in the one year ending December I, 1881, there escaped, from an average population of about 630 convicts at these Tennessee " branch prisons," 49 prisoners. Or, rather, there were 49 escapes; for some convicts escaped and were recaptured more than once or twice. The following year they numbered 50. If the tables in the report were correct,—it will be shown they are not,—we should know that the recaptures in the two years were about forty; but that which is not known is, what public and private expense in depredations on the one hand and the maintenance of police on the other, these ninety-nine escaped robbers, burglars, house-burners, horse-thieves, and swindlers, and these forty recaptures, have caused and are still causing. The superintendent of prisons, making exception, it is true, of one small establishment of less than a hundred population, whence over a third of these escapes were made, says the deputy wardens in charge " deserve credit for the manner in which they have carried out his instructions." Such is one feature of the Lease System under an exceptionally good administration of it. What a condition it had but lately come out of may be inferred frqm three lines found in the warden's report of the Texas penitentiary irui88o: "I noticed in a recent Tennessee report that, from

an average force of less than 600 convicts, there were 257 escapes in two years."

The convict quarters in the main prison, at Nashville, are three separate stone wings, in each of which the cells rise one above another in four tiers. The total number of cells is 352. They are of three sizes. According to modern sanitary knowledge, a sleeping-room should never contain less than 800 cubic feet of air to each occupant; but, of these cells, 120 contain, each only 309 cubic feet of space; another 120 contain, each, but 175 feet; the remaining 112 contain but 162 feet each; and nearly every one of these cells has two inmates. Thus a majority of the inmates are allowed an air space at night less than the cubic contents of a good-sized grave. The physician of the penitentiary reports that the air breathed in these cells is "almost insupportable." He says of the entire establishment, " No amount of remodeling or tinkering can make it comfortable or healthy." The hospital he and others report as badly constructed and too small. " There is no place for dressing the dead except in the presence of all the sick in the hospital, or in the wing in the presence of more than two hundred convicts." Other details are too revolting for popular reading.

The female department of the prison " overlooks the prison yard in plain view and hearing of the male convicts." " No womar^," says the


warden, " should be sentenced to the Tennessee penitentiary until the State makes better provision for their care." " Had I the pardoning power, I would reprieve every woman now in the peniten-tiaiy and those who may be sentenced, until the State can or will provide a place to keep them, in keeping with the age in which we live." The chaplain reports these women as having "abandoned all hope and given up to utter despair, their conversation obscene and filthy, and their conduct controlled by their unrestrained passions." He indicates that he has abandoned all spiritual and moral effort among them; but, it is to be regretted, does not state by what right he has done so.

The discipHne of this main prison, as of the *' branches," seems to be only such as provides for efficiency in labor and against insurrection and escape. The warden's report intimates that modes of punishment of refractory prisoners are left "to the discretion of wardens and inspectors." "When the labor is hired out," he says, "the lessee demands punishment that will not cause him to lose the labor of the man." Thus he lays his finger upon the fact that the very nature of the Lease System tends to banish all the most salutary forms of correction from the prison management. " Under the present»laws and custom," says this warden, " the Tennessee penitentiary is a school of crime instead of being a reformatory


institution. . . . There are now about fifty boys in the penitentiary under eighteen years of age. . . . Nine-tenths of them leave prison much worse than when they came. . . . They are thrown into the midst of hundreds of the worst criminals the State affords, sleeping in the same cell with them at night, and working at the same bench or machine in the day. . . . The young and the old, the comparatively good and the vilest and most depraved, are thrown promiscuously together." ^

Even that superficial discipline which obtains in the prison, addressed merely against physical insubordination, is loose, crude, and morally bad. The freedom of intercourse among the convicts is something preposterous. The State is actually put into the position of bringing together its murderers, thieves, house-break&rs, highwaym.en, and abandoned women, and making each acquainted with all the rest, to the number of about five hundred a year. In an intelligently conducted prison, each convict carries his food to his cell and eats it there alone; but in this one the warden recommends that a dining-room be fitted up for 1200 persons. Convicts are given duties

1 The roll of the Mississippi penitentiary shows, December, 1881, in a total number one-third less, seventy boys to have been received into the prison under eighteen years of age, some of them being but twelve and thirteen, sentenced for life and terms equivalent, in their probabilities, to a life sentence.


connected with the prison management; they are "door-keepers," and "wing-tenders," and "roll-callers." In one year the number of escapes from within its walls, not counting those made during the fire, was more than half as great as the total of escapes for an equal length of time from the State prisons of all New England, with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, where there were over 12,000 convicts. One woman escaped twice, and another one three times, both within the same ninety days.

The incapable simplicity of the prison's disciplinarians is pointedly shown again in a list of no less than loi convicts recommended for executive clemency, some for having helped to put out the fire in December, 1881, some for holding mutineers in check on the same occasion, and some for running and telling on certain fellow-convicts who were preparing to escape in disguise. Reformatory discipline can hardly be imagined as reaching a lower degree of imbecility.

The chaplain's report is a bundle of crude generalities, marked by a serene ignorance of the badness of affairs, and by a total absence of any tabulated or other form of accurate or useful observation. Some spelling, some reading, regular Sabbath service, Sunday-school,—all is recounted in indefinite quantities, except the 33 admissions


into the "prison church." No feature is lacking of that well-meant but melancholy farce which religious prison work always must be when performed without regard to the unique conditions of life to which it is addressed. During the winter of 1881—82, the chaplain preached sometimes to the convicts at Ensley's farm, where " they seemed to enjoy the services very much"; and this is all he has to say of the place where men were being "found dead," and "killed," and

" drowned," and " "-ed. Nor was his silence

a mistaken discreetness; for he writes:

" The objects sought by imprisoning offenders being the security of society and the punishment and reformation of the guilty, I am glad to say that these objects are certainly in a large measure being accomplished in many cases in the management of our State Prison."

Having thus claimed a proprietary share in this rotten institution, he wisely concludes with an expression of timid uncertainty as to how many of his "prison church" membership will finally reach " the haven of eternal repose."

But are these bad conditions necessarily chargeable to the Lease System ? No, and yes. They have been dwelt upon to show with what a state of affairs the system will content itself, its inspectors, the State legislators, and the community at large. It has nothing in it to produce a knowledge of and desire for a correct and honor-


able and truly profitable prison management. Its interests make directly against both individual and institutional reform. The plea of self-support on which it rests, the price it pays for its privileges, whether corruptly intended or not, are a bribe to officials and to public alike to close the ear against all suggestions of better things. For example, see the report of the two inspectors of the Tennessee prisons. Excepting a letter from another hand, quoted by them, their whole biennial report is less than one hundred lines. A little over half tells of the fire and the new workshops. A little less than half is given to the praise of the Lease System, upon the lonely merit of cash returns, and to a recommendation for its continuance. For the rest, they content themselves with pointing the Legislature to the reports of the superintendent, warden, physician, and chaplain of the penitentiary, whom, they say, " we indorse most heartily as attentive to their respective duties, and alive to every requirement of the law [which the warden reports as painfully barren of requirements] and the dictates of humanity in the discharge of their duty." However true this may be of the executive officers, it is certainly not true of the inspectors themselves. They do not certify to the correctness of a single roll or tabulated statement, or imply that they have examined any one of them. They do not present a statistical figure of their own, or recom-

mend the taking of a single record among all the valuable registries that should be made, but are not, because the facts they would indicate are either absent or despised. Indeed, their silence is in a certain sense obligatory; for the omitted records, if taken, would condemn the system they praise, and the meager records that are given swarm with errors. It would have been hard for the inspectors to say anything worse for themselves than that they had examined the reports. The physician's is an almost unqualified denunciation of the whole establishment; the superintendent's is three-quarters of a page of generalities and official compliments; and the warden's tabulated statements confusedly contradict each other. Even the numerical counts are incorrect. One convict, distinctly named and described, appears in the list of escapes but once, and among the recaptured three times. One, reported escaped twice, is not once mentioned among the recaptures. Four convicts (one of them serving a nineteen years' sentence) reported among the recaptures are not on the prison roll, nor are they reported as pardoned, discharged, transferred, died, blanked, or in any other way disposed of A convict, Zach. Boyd by name, under life sentence, expected soon to die of dropsy and recommended by the warden for executive clemency, is enrolled neither among the dead nor the living. The inference is irre-


sistible that the prison's officers do not know how many convicts they have or should have. In the list of *' Commutations," names occur repeatedly that are not in any list of inmates on hand or removed or released. Several convicts are reported as white men when they escaped and as colored when recaptured, and one or two pass through two such transformations. All search by the present writer for occasion to lay these errors upon the printer has proved unavailing. The fault is in the prisons themselves and the system on which they are managed. Such a condition of accounts might be excused in the rosters of a retreating army; but it is not to ^e" beUeved, while there is room for doubt, that the people of an American State will knowingly accept such stupid and wicked trifling with their State's good name and the safety of society, or even such a ghastly burlesque of net revenue.


Yet when we pass across the boundaries of Tennessee and enter any adjoining State, excepting only Missouri, we find the same system in operation, operating viciously, and often more viciously than in Tennessee. North Carolina, during the two years ending October 31, 1880, held in custody an average of 1090 convicts. The penitentiary proper and its interior industries were being controlled under public account.



Shoemaking, brickmaking, tailoring, blacksmith-ing, etc., the officers report, were either already profitable or could be made so, and their detailed accounts of receipts and expenditures seem to verify their assertions. The statistics of the prison are given, not minutely or very comprehensively, but intelligently as far as they go, and are valuable.

So much sunshine of right endeavor an unusually restrained Lease System lets in: the Lease System itself exists only without the walls. Only able-bodied convicts may be farmed out. But just at this point the notion bred from a total misconception of the true profits to be sought —the notion that a penal establishment must live upon its income—begins to show its fruit. "Every enterprise that the board of directors," says its president, " have been able to devise for using the labor that was compelled to remain in the prison has been either summarily crushed in its incipiency or seriously crippled in its progress by the fact that we had not the means to carry them to a successful issue. Attempted economy, we believe, has proven a waste, and . . . the State has suffered by a niggardly use of its resources. The [permanent] buildings, too, have been carried too far to be now torn down, and less costly ones erected in their stead. They must, therefore, at some time, be completed ; and so long as they are permitted to remain in their

present unfinished condition, they are subject to damage, from exposure to the weather, that will often necessitate work to be redone that would have been saved had they been steadily pressed to completion. There would, too, be incalculable economy in the police of the prison, if the convenient and compact building in progress of erection could speedily take the place of the scattered and imperfect wooden structures now in use; and the suffering endured by the convicts in extreme cold weather, which is no part of their sentence, but has been unavoidable under the circumstances, would cease to be a source of anxiety to the board of directors and a reflection upon the power whose duty it is to relieve it."

The warden reports these temporary buildings as devoid of all means for warming them, badly ventilated, and entirely unfitted for use. A part, at least, of the inmates were, it seems, congregated in a stockade, which was " liable to tumble at any time." The prison physician pronounced these temporary quarters ** the fruitful cause of many deaths." The population withm this penitentiary was generally about three hundred. About eight hundred, therefore, were scattered about in companies under lessees, and in the two years 1879-80 were at different times at work on six different railways and one wagon road. What their experiences were at these places can be gathered, by one at a distance, only from oi>e

or two incidental remarks dropped by the prison officers in their reports and from the tabulated records of the convict movement. There is no hospital record given concerning them, nor any physician's account of their sickness. When they drop off they are simply scored as dead. The warden says of them that many had " taken their regular shifts for several years in the Swannanoa and other tunnels on the Western North Carolina Railroad, and were finally returned to the prison with shattered constitutions and their physical strength entirely gone, so that, with the most skillful medical treatment and the best nursing, it was impossible for them to recuperate."

But such remarks convey but a faint idea of the dreadful lot of these unfortunate creatures. The prison physician, apologizing for the high death-rate within the walls, instances twenty-one deaths of men " who had been returned from the railroads completely broken down and hopelessly diseased." And when these deatlis are left out of the count, the number of deaths inside the walls, not attributable to outside hardships, amounted, in 1880, to just the number of those in the prisons of Auburn and Sing-Sing in a population eigJit times as large. Ten-elevenths of the deaths for 1879 ^^^ 1880 were from lingering diseases, principally consumption. Yet, year in and year out, the good citizens of Raleigh were visiting

the place weekly, teaching Sunday-school, preaching the gospel, and staring these facts in the face.

Now, what was the death-rate among the convicts working at railroad construction ? The average number of prisoners so engaged in 1879 and 1880 was yyS. The deaths, including the 21 sent back to die in prison, were 178, an annual death-rate of nearly eleven and a half per cent, and therefore greater than the year's death-rate in New Orleans in 1853, the year of the Great Epidemic. But the dark fact that eclipses everything else is that not a word is given to account for the deaths of 158 of these men, except that 11 were shot down in trying to escape from this heartless butchery.

In the light of these conditions, the warden's expressed pleasure in the gradual decrease in prison population since 1877 in North Carolina seems rather ill grounded and not likely to last. It is certainly amazing that men of the sincerest good intentions can live in full knowledge of such affairs, or, at least, within easy reach of the knowledge, and not put forth their protest against the system that fosters and perpetuates it. The North Carolina prison, it may be repeated, is managed, within its walls, on the public account; but it is the Public Accounts System suffocated under the Lease System and stabbed by the glittering policy of self-support. In 1880



alone the Lease System, pure and simple^ set free upon the people of North Carolina, from its railroad gangs, 123 escaped criminals. The prison added 12 more. The recaptures numbered 42. Ninety-three remained at large; just 5 more than the total escapes for an equal period in every State prison of every State in this country, excepting the other eleven managed in whole or part upon the Lease System. The moral effect of such a prison life on men herded in stockades may be left to the imagination; but one other fact must be noted. In the two years 1879-80 there were turned into this penitentiary at Raleigh 234 youths under twenty years of age, not one of whom was under sentence for less than twelve months.

It only remains to be asked, For what enormous money consideration did the State set its seal upon this hideous mistake ? The statement would be incredible were it attempted to give other than a literal quotation. " Therefore it will be seen," says the warden at the bottom of his resume of accounts, " that the convicts have earned ;^678.78 more than the prison department has cost for the two years ending October 31, 1880."



In Kentucky the management of the State prison seems to be in a stage of transition. Facts that need no mention here^ make allusion to it a particularly delicate task. Yet the writer may not assume that any one would desire that the truth be left unsaid. Upon the candor and generosity not only of Kentuckians, but of all the communities whose prisons come under this review, must the writer throw himself, trusting to find his words received in the same spirit of simple good citizenship in which they are offered.

After long experience with the Lease System, there was passed in May, 1880, an "Act to provide for the government, management, and discipline of the Kentucky penitentiary," by which the prison passed back from other hands into those of the State's appointed officers. The Lease System was not discarded; but certain very decided modifications were made in it, leaning toward the Contract System. The report made by the prison officers and board, eighteen months later, bears a general air of the sad confusion that commonly belongs to a late and partial extrication from disaster. It affords a retrospective view of the old system extremely

^ At Louisville, Kentucky, where the convention before vi^hich this paper was read was then enjoying the hospitality of the State.



unflattering; but it also gives evidence that cer* tain State officers, conspicuously the Governor, were making an earnest and sagacious effort to reform the entire penal system of their commonwealth. Yet it seems plain again that they are not a little handicapped by that false popular idea of the prison's place in the State's governmental economy, upon which the Lease System thrives while the convict falls into moral and physical ruin and society's real interests are sold for old rags. It may be assumed that there is a reserved determination on the part of those who have taken the matter in hand, to raise the work of reform to the plane it should occupy as soon as the general sentiment can be brought to require it; but, meantime, the State's penal system has risen, from something worse, only to the level of the system in North Carolina.

The officers whom the State, pursuant to its schem.e of renovation, placed in charge, put that scheme into practice, to use their own words, " whenever the costs of doing so involved only a small outlay." The building that contains the prisoners' cells, found " infested with all kinds of vermin known to institutions of the kind," with bad ventilation and rat-eaten floors was purged, by convict labor, with coal-oil, fire, whitewash, and tar. The grounds around the women's quarters, '* low and marshy, covered with water, in rainy weather, ankle-deep for days," were filled


up. " Long rows of shanties or sheds, . . . unsightly and inflammable in the extreme," long used in the hackling of hemp, were torn away. The hospital and chapel were cleaned and kept clean. Religious services were regularly afforded by an official chaplain and at intervals by a Catholic priest, and Sabbath instruction gradually took shape with (let it be said to their praise) members of the Governor's own family in charge. The diminutive and dilapidated library was put into shape and new books were added. But from here on, the friends of the prison could only pray for aid and relief The principal industry continued to be, as it had been for many years, working in hemp, under circumstances that made it a distressing and unhealthful hardship. On the 1st of last January, 350 men were working in that department without ventilation or bath, and, says the warden, "the dust so dense that it is frequently impossible to recognize a man twenty feet distant." " It is certainly an act only of common humanity that the evil created should be counteracted by good and ample bathing facilities." In the hospital, as a fit adjunct to the hemp department, there were, in 1881, 144 cases of inflamed eyes and 202 of acute bronchitis. The kitchen was not adapted to the proper cooking of the prisoners' food, and the hospital's response was 616 cases of acute disease of the bowels and loi of impoverishment of the blood.



There was an entire absence of an intelligent trained reformatory treatment, in accordance with a knowledge of criminal character, recognition of the criminal's unforfeited rights, and proper prison discipline. In this shape stood matters at the beginning of the year 1882, as viewed from without. The inside history can only be conjectured ; but we get one glimpse of the convict's sentiment toward his choking, blinding, life-shortening daily task in the fact that, within the eighteen months of the new regime, five men purposely mutilated their hands so as to compel the amputation of fingers, and two others cut off, each, a hand at the wrist What the fortunes of the convicts leased out upon railroad construction were and are, we are given no clew by which to tell; the report contains no returns from them, and we have only the same general assurance that all is well that is given as to those in Tennessee and North Carolina.


Another view of the Lease System under Hmtetions is afforded in the " Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Penitentiary for the fiscal year ending October 31, 1881." The prison is not only under a full corps of State officers, but, like the North Carolina prison, it is conducted on public account, the convicts only being leased,

and of these only such as are sent beyond the prison's walls. Yet the overwhelming consideration of self-support makes the spirit of the Lease System dominant over all. The reformatory features are crude, feeble, and purely accidental. The records are meager. The discipline is of that poor sort which is vaguely reported as "administered only when necessary," addressed simply to the prisoner's safe custody and the performance of his tasks. The escapes, from an average population of 632, were 36 ; the recaptures, 21. Most likely, to the popular eye, the numbers are not startling; but, if we look around to compare them with the record of some properly ordered prison of the same population, we see the warden of the Maryland penitentiary, under contract management, admitting with full explanation and apology the escape of one prisoner, the first in ten years. The number of escapes reported from the South Carolina prison would have been forty, had not four escaped convicts been " found drowned " within two or three days after their escape. A report with which such numbers will compare favorably can be found only by turning to other leased prison forces. One reason why it may there be found is that, in South Carolina, almost alone, a penalty attaches to the lessees for each escape. " There is now due the State," says the report, "in penalties for the escape of convicts under contract



[meaning leased convicts] about ;^25,ooo." In the chaplain's report, as in all chaplains' reports under the Lease System, and probably in many under better systems, is seen the familiar conjunction of pious intention with a strange oversight of the inadaptability, to the incarcerated criminal, of the ordinary technical methods of religion in society. What response can there be but a weary smile to the complacent announcement that in this prison " there are now about one hundred men and women who can repeat the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, and the whole of Capers' Catechism." But the humor fades out when it is added, "We have also a Sunday-school, regularly conducted by intelligent convicts!' " I regard the State Penitentiary, as designed by its originators, as a great reformatory school, and I am happy to believe, from personal observation, . . . that this prime leading object is . . . being faithfully carried out." So writes this evidently sincere and zealous divine, in the face of the fact that the very foundation principles of reformatoiy treatment were absent, and that constantly a larger number of convicts were kept beyond his reach than were left for him to preach to.

One of the peculiar temptations which the Lease System holds out to the communities employing it, as such communities are represented in the jury-box, needs a moment's careful notice.



The States where this system is in vogue are now, and have been for some years, enjoying a new and great development of their natural re-^ sources and of other industries than that colossal agricultural system that once monopolized their attention. There is, therefore, a vigorous demand for the opening and completion of extensive public works,—mines, railways, turnpikes, levees, and the like,—and for ways and means for getting them done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Now, it is with these potent conditions in force that the Lease System presents itself as the lowest bidder, and holds forth the seductive spectacle of these great works, which everybody ZjLA wants and no one wants to pay for, growing

\y'L^.n apace by convict labor that seems to cost nothing. [\ j What is the consequence? We might almost assert beforehand that the popular sentiment and verdict would hustle the misbehaving, with shocking alacrity, into the State's prison under extravagant sentences or for trivial offenses, and sell their labor to the highest bidder who will use them in the construction of public works. The temptation gathers additional force through the popular ignorance of the condition and results of these penitentiaries, and the natural assumption that they are not so grossly mismanaged but that the convict will survive his sentence, and the fierce discipline of the convict camp " teach him to behave himself."



But there is no need to reason from cause to effect only. The testimony of the prisons themselves is before us, either to upset or else to establish these conjectures. A single glance at almost any of their reports startles the eye with the undue length of sentences and the infliction of penalties for mere misdemeanors that are proper only to crimes and felonies. In the Georgia penitentiary, in 1880, in a total of nearly 1200 convicts, only 22 prisoners were serving as low a term as one year, only 52 others as low a term as two years, only ^6 others as low a term as three years ; while those who were under sentences of ten years and over numbered 538, although ten years, as the rolls show, is the utmost length of time that a convict can be expected to remain alive in a Georgia penitentiary. Six men were under sentence for simple assault and battery,—mere fisticuffing,—one of two years, two of five years, one of six years, one of seven, and one of eight. For larceny, three men were serving under sentence of twenty years; five were sentenced each fifteen years; one, fourteen years; six, twelve years ; thirty-five, ten years; and one hundred and seventy-two, from one year up to nine years. In other words, a large majority of all these had, for simple stealing, without breaking in or violence, been virtually condemned to be worked and misused to death. One man was under a twenty 20


years' sentence for " hog-stealing." Twelve men were sentenced to the South Carolina penitentiary, in 1881, on no other finding but a misdemeanor commonly atoned for by a fine of a few dollars, and which thousands of the State's inhabitants are constantly committing with impunity—the carrying of concealed weapons. Fifteen others were sentenced for mere assault and assault and battery. It is to be inferred— for we are left to our inferences—that such sentences were very short; but it is inferable, too, that they worked the customary loss of citizenship for life. In Louisiana, a few days before the writing of this paper, a man was sentenced to the penitentiary for twelve months for stealing five dollars' worth of gunny-sacks.


The convict force of Georgia, already more than once alluded to, presents the Lease System under some other peculiarly vicious aspects. For example, the State is bound by, and is now in the fourth year of, a twenty years' lease. The convicts, on October 20, i88o, were 1185 or II86 in number (the various exhibits of the biennial report differ widely in some of their statements). They were consigned to three penitentiaries in three different counties, each of which had " several branch camps." Thus they were scattered about in eleven camps over at


least seven counties. The assurance of the "principal keeper" is that in all these camps they are humanely treated. Every ** permanent camp " has a hospital, a physician, and a chaplain. But there are other camps that have none. Reports from other officials and from special committees of citizens repeat the principal keeper's assurance in the same general terms. And yet all these utterances unconsciously admit facts that betray the total unfitness of the management for the ends it ought to have in view and its gross inhumanity. From the " General Notice to Lessees " the following is taken, with no liberties except to italicize:

" In all cases oi severe illness the shackles must be promptly removed." " The convicts shall be turned off of the cham on the Sabbath and allowed to recreate in and about the stockade." Elsewhere the principal keeper says, " When a convict is sick, the chains are to be taken off of him." As to the discipline, he reports 35 escapes (7 burglars, 3 house-burners, 9 murderers and would-be murderers, i forger, 3 robbers, 7 thieves, and others whose crimes are best unmentioned), with no recaptures; and the surgeon reports nine men killed, three of them by fellow convicts. " You will observe the death-rate to have greatly decreased in the last two years," says the principal keeper; but the death-rate, when observed, was found to have decreased only to about twice


the rate of properly planned and managed establishments of the kind. This, he reports, is one-half what it had been. His tabulated statements relating to the convicts, though lamentably scanty, reveal an amount of confusion behind them that is hard to credit One table, purporting to show the whole 1186 convicts in confinement, classified by the crimes under which they were sentenced, has not a single correct number in it, and is an entire hundred short in its true total. The numbers, moreover, are so far out of the way that they cannot possibly be the true exhibit of some other date substituted in error. They report 184 under sentence for burglary, whereas the roll shov/s 467, and they entirely omit 25 serving sentence for forgery, and 23 for robbery.


We have already noticed, in the prison and convict camps of this State, the feature of cruel sentences. Let us look at another; to wit, lavish pardons. It is but typical of the prisons under the Lease System, wherever that is found in unrestrained operation. Here may be seen a group of penal institutions, the worst in the country by every evidence of their own setting forth : cruel, brutalizing, deadly ; chaining, flogging, shooting, drowning, killing by exhaustion and exposure, holding the criminal out to the public gaze, publishing him to the world by

name and description in its reports when he goes in, every alternate year while he stays in, and when he dies or goes out; putting under foot every method of reform worthy of prison science, mocking such intelligent sense of justice and mercy as he may have, and doing everything that can be done to make his heart and conscience harder than the granite of his prison walls. Yet these prisons are sending forth from their gates a larger percentage of their populations, pardoned, than issues in like manner from all the prisons of the country managed on intelligent reformatory systems. Nor can the fault be confidently imputed, as is often hastily done, to political design or mere pliability in State governors. The horrors of the convict camps, best known to the executive, the absence of a discipline calculated to show who is worthy of clemency, the activity of outside friends usurping this delicate office, are potent causes; and the best extenuation that can be offered is that a large proportion of these pardons is granted not because the prisoner has become so good, but because the prison is so bad.



This is conspicuously the case in Texas. In the two years ending October 31, 1880, the Governor pardoned one hundred State convicts from the Huntsville (Texas) penitentiary. Over one-fourth were children from ten to sixteen years of age, and nearly another fourth, says the superintendent, " were hopelessly diseased, blind, crippled, or demented, . . . simple objects of pity, the sight of whom would have excited commiseration in hearts of stone."

For some years past Texas has had in custody about two thousand convicts at once. They are under the Lease System, some of whose features, at least, give dissatisfaction to the State's prison directors and to its Legislature. The working of convicts remote from the prison, though practiced, is condemned, and the effort is being made to bring the management into conformity with a statute that requires as many of the convicts as can be to be employed within the penitentiary walls. Two different reports of the directors, covering a period of four years, impress their reader as the utterances of men of the best disposition, sincerely desiring to promote humanity and the public good, but handicapped, if not themselves in some degree misled, by the error of making self-support the foremost consideration in all their estimates of prison methods.


" To provide for their employment, so that they will cease to be a burden upon the taxpayers of the country',' would be counted a strange proposition to apply to courts, schools, or police, yet is assumed by them, as a matter of course, to be applicable to prison populations, and so becomes the barrier from which they recoil, and which they have allowed to throw them back into the mire of the lease system. " This problem," they say, " has long engaged the attention of philanthropists and statesmen." But they mistake. The real problem that has engaged such is. How to procure the most honorable and valuable results, and to pay for them whatever is necessary and no more. It was, unfortunately, under the shadow of these mistakes that the Texas board went so far as to " consider very seriously as to whether it should not adopt the Public Accounts or the Contract System," only to reject the one and to fail to get bids on the other. As a result the State stands to-day bound, for fourteen years to come, by the Lease System, the worst prison system in Christendom, a system that cannot be reconciled with the public honor, dignity or welfare. The board intimates plainly that this Lease System is not its choice, or at least would not be but for the nightmare of self-support. As it is, they strive to make the best of a bad matter. How bad it has been and is, a few facts will show.^ It is said of the Huntsville penitentiary, Texas ^The Legislature has rejected and annulled thie lease, but

(an additional one has just been built at Rusk), that it was built " on the old plan, looking altogether to security, and without any regard to proper ventilation or the health or comfort of the inmates, . . . the cell buildings ... to a considerable extent cut off from light and air, and in constant danger of destruction from fire." The prison board erected a new cell building to take its place, in which each cell has a cubic content of 384 feet, and, says the board, "can comfortably accommodate two men." This gives each occupant an air space one-quarter of the minimum necessary to health. Yet this was a great improvement. It may be mentioned in passing, as an incident very common under the Lease System, that about the same time a lot of machinery, the property of the State, valued on the inventory of one lessee after another at ;^ 11,600, was sold for ;^68i, and the proceeds laid out in fifty-one breech-loading, double-barreled shotguns. The following is from the superintendent's biennial report of October 31, 1880: "The most usual mode of punishment practiced at outside camps is by stocks. . . . Most of the sergeants, in order to make it effective, have lifted the convicts on the ball of the foot, or tiptoe, . . . jeopardizing not only health but life. The [present] lessees . . . abolished the use of stocks at

under a public accounts system has retained the most odious features of the Convict Lease System.

their wood camps, and I rejoice that you [the directors] have determined to aboHsh them altogether. On many of the farms sergeants have been in the habit of . . . v/hipping, as well as permitting their guards to do so, without first obtaining an order from the board of directors, as required by law." Of illegal punishments he says: " We have been compelled to discharge sergeants and a great number of guards on account of it. ... I am satisfied that many escapes have been caused by illegal punishments and by cursing and threats." The spirit of this officer's report does him honor throughout.

One can turn again only to leased prisons elsewhere, to find numbers with which to compare the ghastly mortality of some of these Texas convict camps. Men in large numbers, "who have contracted in the miserable jails of the State incurable diseases, or whose systems have been impregnated with diseases from having led lives of debauchery and dissipation, are put to the hardest manual labor and . . . soon break down in health." " Sick convicts are crowded into the same building containing well convicts, and cannot have proper nursing and quiet, even if they have good m.edical attention." '' Frequently sergeants, believing that convicts are trying to play off, have kept them at work when, in fact, they were seriously ill, ... or have tried to physic them themselves." On railroad con-

structlon the average annual rate of mortality, for 1879 and 1880, was 47 to the thousand, three times the usual death-rate of properly managed American prisons; at plantation labor it was 49 ; at the iron-works it was 54; and at the woodcutting camps more than half the entire average population died within the two years. So much as to the rate. The total number of deaths in the period was 256, of which only 60 occurred in the prison hospital, the rest in the camps. Nor was any considerable fraction of them by contagious diseases. They were from congestions of the brain, the stomach, and the bowels; from scurvy, dropsy, nervous fever, malaria, chronic diarrhoea, general debility, pneumonia. Thirty-five died of gun-shot wounds, five of " wounds niiscellaneo2is!' Of three, the cause of death was *' not stated." Three were drowned, four were sunstruck, two committed suicide, and two were killed by the explosion of a boiler. And all was reported without a word of apology or explanation. The whole thirty-five who were shot to death were shot in attempting to escape " from forces at work outside the prison walls." " In nearly all these cases the verdict of a coroner's jury has stated that the guard acted in discharge of his duty." As to the remainder, we know not what the verdicts were or whether there were any; nor do we know how many vain attempts were made to escape; but we know

that, over and above the deaths, there were treated in the prison hospital—where so few of the outside sick ever arrived—fifteen others with gunshot wounds and fifty-two with " wounds miscellaneous."

We know, too, by the record, that four men did escape from within the prison walls, and three hundred and sixty-two from the gangs outside. In the interest of the Texas taxpayer, from whom the Lease System is supposed to lift an intolerable burden, as well as for society at large, it would be well to know what were the favorite crimes of these three hundred and sixty-six escaped felons (since unreformed criminals generally repeat the same crimes again and again), what moral and material mischief one hundred and twenty-three of them did before they were recaptured, and what the record will be of the two hundred and forty-three remaining at large when the terms they should have served have expired. These facts are not given; we get only, as it were, a faint whiff of the mischief in the item of $6gQ0 expended in apprehending one hundred of them.

And yet this is the operation of the Lease System under a Governor who was giving the State prison and its inmates a far more rational, humane, and diligent attention than is generally accorded them by State executives, albeit such officers are not as negligent in this direction as


they are generally supposed to be; under a warden, too, who, if we read rightly between the lines of his report, is a faithful and wise overseer; and even under lessees whom this warden commends as"' kind and humane gentlemen." We have both the warden's and the directors' word for it, that this disciplinary and sanitary treatment of the convicts was *' a very decided improvement " on what it had been. The question remains, What may the system do where it is a State's misfortune to ha\*e a preoccupied Governor and unscrupulous prison lessees ? It is a positive comfort to know that for two years more, at least, the same officials and lessees remained in charge, that a second prison was added to the old one and a third projected, and that the total mortality was reduced by the abolition of the wood-cutting camps.

But it is far otherwise to know by the report for 1881-82 that the death-rate is still enormous, and has increased in the prison and in most of the camps; that the number of men committed to hospital with gunshot and ** miscellaneous " wounds was fifty-two ; that in the mortality lists are three suicides, six sun-strokes, and thirty-six victims of the breech-loading double-barreled shot-guns; that there passed through hospital fifty-one cases of scurvy; and that there were three hundred ivid ?ii/iety-sei'en escapes and but seventy-four recaptures.

It may be enough attention has already been given to chaplains' reports in these so-called penitentiaries, but the one for the Texas prison compels at least a glance. It makes sixteen lines of letter-press. White men's prayer-meeting on Sunday at one hour, colored men's at another, general Sunday-school at another, preaching at another. These services are believed to have been fruitful of good; it is hoped "that some will leave the prison reformed men "; but there is not the record of one positive result, or a single observation registered looking to the discovery of a result, either intellectual, moral, or religious, concerning hundreds of men whose even partial reformation would be worth to the State—if it must be reduced to money value—tens of thousands of dollars. Two lines of the report are certainly unique : " We endeavor to enlist all the men in this service [the Sunday-school] we can, and try to suppress all differences of opinion which are calculated to engender strife."

A single ten thousand dollars is the State's annual share in what are called the profits of this system of convict control. Were the convicts managed under the Public Accoimts System at an annual loss of a like amount (which need not be), making a difference of twenty thousand dollars, and were the burden lifted from the mass of the one million six hundred thousand inhabitants of Texas and thrown entirely upon the shoulders

of one hundred thousand tax-payers, it would be just one dime a year to each shoulder. But it would save the depredations of nearly two hundred escaped convicts per year, whatever they might be; such reprisals as about four hundred others, annually liberated and turned loose upon society, may undertake as an offset for the foul treatment they have undergone in the name of justice, and the attendant increase in the expenses of police; and the expenses of new trials and convictions for the same old crimes committed over again by many who might have in whole or in some degree reformed, but instead were only made worse. And two things more it would save—the honor of the State and the integrity of the laws and of the courts. For one thing, however, the people of Texas are to be congratulated: that they have public servants ready—let the people but give the word—to abjure the Lease System with all its horrid shams and humiliating outrages, and establish in its place a system of management that shall be first honorable and morally profitable, and then as inexpensive as may be.




Something like the same feehng was displayed by the Governor and some others in the State of Alabama in 1882. In the matter of its penitentiary and convict camps, it is not necessary to weary the eye again with figures. Between the dates of the last two biennial reports (1880 and 1882) a change of administration took place in the prison management, affording, by a comparison of the two reports, a revelation that should have resulted in the instant abolition of the Lease plan at any cost. Under date of October, 1880, the penitentiary inspectors reported to the Governor that the contractors (lessees) had "provided strong prisons for the safe-keeping and comfort of the convicts "; that these prisons had " generally been neatly kept," and that they themselves had " required much attention to be given to the sanitary regulations of them." They admitted the fact of considerable sickness at one or two places, but stated that two of the inspectors had visited the convicts employed there and " found the sick in a comfortable hospital, with medical attendance, nurses, and everything needed for their comfort." They reported their diligent attention to all their official duties, and stated, as from their own knowledge, that during the two years then closing the convicts had " generally been well clothed and fed, and kindly and

humanely treated; and that corporal punishment had only been inflicted in extreme cases." They closed with the following remarkable statement: " Notwithstanding our report shows a decrease of one hundred and fourteen convicts, . . . yet we think . , . the future of this institution is brighter than its past." There had been paid into the State treasury forty-eight thousand dollars, and the managers in general were elated. But a change in the prison's administration added a different chapter, and in 1882 a new warden wrote:

"I found the convicts confined at fourteen different prisons controlled by as many persons or companies, and situated at as many different places. . . . They [the prisons] were as filthy, as a rule, as dirt could make them, and both prisons and prisoners were infested with vermin. . . . Convicts were excessively and, in some instances, cruelly punished. . . . They were poorly clothed and fed. . . . The sick were neglected, insomuch that no hospital had been provided, they being confined in the cells with the well convicts. . . . The prisons have no adequate water supply, and I verily believe there were men in them who had not washed their faces in twelve months. ... I found the men so much intimidated that it was next to impossible to get from them anything touching their treatment. . . . Our system is a better training school for criminals than any of the dens of iniquity that exist in our large cities. . , . To say there are any refoiTnatoiy measures used at our prisons, or that any regard is had to kindred subjects, is to state a falsehood. The system is a disgrace to the State, a reproach to the civilization and Christian sentiment of the age, and ought to be speedily abandoned."

Almost the only gleams of light in these dark pictures are these condemnations of the system by

those whose official duties require them to accommodate themselves to it, but whose humanity, whose reason, and whose perception of the public's true interest compel them to denounce it. This is again pointedly the case.


There the State prison has been for a long time managed on Public Accounts; but the management was only a mismanagement and a neglect; and when this came to be known, those in authority, instead of trying to correct the needless abuse of a good system, rejected the system itself and adopted the contract system. The report of the prison board for the year ending September 30, 1881, indicates that the change was m.ade mainly, and probably only, on pecuniary considerations, and there seems to be reason to fear that this narrow view is carrying sentiment downward toward the Lease System itself The board reports itself " pleased to discover, for the first time, that the general agent has reached the conclusion that the ' best way to make it [the prison] self-sustaining would be to lease the convict labor.' " At the date of this report the mischievous doctrine had already made its way through the Legislature and into the convict management; and the prison becoming over-crowded, a large company of prisoners were leased to certain railroad companies, beyond the control of the penitentiary 22

superintendent. A glance at the surgeon's report shows one of the results of this movement. In the population within the prison, averaging about 600, the death-rate was i}4, per cent.; while among the 260 convicts on the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad it was nearly 8^^ per cent, even after leaving out of count certain accidental deaths that legitimately belong to the perils of the work and really should be included in the count. Including them, the rate would be 11 per cent. The superintendent does not withhold his condemnation : " The system of leasing," he says, " as is clearly shown by the statistics of the few governments. State and foreign, where it prevails, is barbarous in the extreme, and should be discountenanced. The dictates of humanity, if no other consideration prevailed, should be sufficient to silence any effort to establish this system of prison management in Virginia."



Even where the system enjoys the greatest favor from the State governments whose responsibilities in the matter it pretends to assume, it is rare that there is not some one who revolts and utters against it his all too little heeded denunciation. Such voices are not altogether unheard even in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana,



where undoubtedly the lessees are more slackly held to account, as they more completely usurp the State's relation to its convicts, than elsewhere. It is here may be found a wheel within this wheel; to wit, the practice of sub-leasing. So complete in these regions is the abandonment, by the State, of ail the duties it owes to its criminal system, that in two instances, Arkansas and Louisiana, it does not so much as print a report, and the present writer is indebted entirely to the courtesy of the governors of these two States for letters and manuscript tables imparting the information which enables him to write. " The State," says the clerk of the Louisiana penitentiary, " has no expense except keeping the building in repair." " The State," writes the governor's secretary in Arkansas, '' is at no expense whatever." In Mississippi, the terms of the present lease make no m.ention whatever of any moral, religious, or educational privilege, or duty. "All convicts sentenced for a period of ten years or less, said lessees may work outside the penitentiary, but within the limits of the State of Mississippi, in building railroads, levees, or in any private labor or employment!' One of the effects of such a rule is that a convict condemned to thirty or forty years' service, being kept within the walls, has fully three chances to one of outliving the convict who is sentenced to eight or ten years' service, and who must, therefore, work

outside. Yet it is not intended to imply that the long-term convict inside the prison is likely to serve out his sentence. While among a majority of commitments on shorter periods, men, women, and children are frequently sentenced for terms of 15, 20, 30, 40, and sometimes even of 50 years, a prisoner can rarely be found to have survived ten years of this brutal slavery either in the prison or in the convict camp. In Alabama, in 1880, there were but three who had been in confinement eight years, and one nine; while not one had lived out ten years' imprisonment. In Mississippi, December i, 1881, among yj convicts then on the roll under 10 years' sentence, 17 under sentences of between 10 and 20, and 23 under sentences of between 20 and 50 years, none had served 11 years, only two had served 10, and only 3 others had served 9 years.^ There were 25 distinct outside gangs, and their average annual rate of mortality for that and the previous year was over 8 per cent.

During the same term, 142 convicts escaped; which is to say that, for every four law-breakers put into the penitentiary, one got away; and against the whole number so escaping that were but 25 recaptures. The same proportion of

^ From the nature of the tabulated roll, the time served by those under life sentences could not be computed; but there is no reason to suppose it would materially change the result, were it known.



commitments and escapes is true of the Arkansas prison for the year ending the 30th of last April. In Louisiana the proportion is smaller, but far from small. A surer escape in Louisiana was to die; and in 1881, 14 per cent, perished. The means are wanting to show what part of this mortality belongs to the penitentiary at Baton Rouge and what to the camps outside; but if anything may be inferred from the mortal results of the Lease System in other States, the year's death-rate of the convict camps of Louisiana must exceed that of any pestilence that ever fell upon Europe in the Middle Ages. And as far as popular rumor goes, it confirms this assumption on every hand. Every mention of these camps is followed by the execrations of a scandalized community, whose ear is every now and then shocked afresh with some new whisper of their frightful barbarities. It is not for the present writer to assert, that every other community where the leasing of convicts prevails is moved to indignation by the same sense of outrage and disgrace; yet it certainly would be but a charitable assumption to believe that the day is not remote when, in every such region, the sentiment of the people will write, over the gates of the convict stockades and over the doors of the lessees' sumptuous homes, one word: Aceldama—^the field of blood.


There never was a worse falsification of accounts, than that which persuades a community that the system of leasing out its convicts is profitable. Out of its own mouth—by the testimony of its own official reports—what have we not proved against it? We have shown:

1. That, by the very ends for which it exists, it makes a proper management of prisons impossible, and lays the hand of arrest upon reformatory discipline.

2. That it contents itself, the State, and the public mind, with prisons that are in every way a disgrace to civilization.

3. That in practice it is brutally cruel.

4. That it hardens, debases, and corrupts the criminal, commited to it by the law in order that, if possible, he may be reformed and reclaimed to virtue and society.

5. That it fixes and enforces the suicidal and inhuman error, that the community must not be put to any expense for the reduction of crime or the reformation of criminals.

6. That it inflicts a different sentence upon every culprit that comes into its clutches from that which the law and the court has pronounced. So that there is not to-day a single penitentiary convict, from the Potomac around to the Rio Grande, who is receiving the sentence

really contemplated by the law under which he stands condemned.

7. That it kills like a pestilence, teaches the people to be cruel, sets up a false system of clemency, and seduces the State into the committal of murder for money.

8. That in two years it permitted eleven hundred prisoners to escape.

Which of these is its profitable feature ? Will some one raise the plea of necessity? The necessity is exactly the reverse. It is absolutely necessary to society's interests and honor that what the Lease System in its very nature forbids should be sought; and that what it by nature seeks should be forbidden.


There are two or three excuses often made for this system, even by those who look upon it with disfavor and protestations, and by some who are presumably familiar with the facts concerning convict management in other States and other countries. But these pleas are based upon singularly unfounded assumptions. One is that the States using the Lease System, in whole or part, have not those large prison populations which are thought to be necessary to the successful operation of other systems. In point of fact, much the largest population belonging to any one prison in the United States, in 1880, was


in Texas, under the Lease System. The fourth in numbers is that of Tennessee, also leased. That of Georgia, leased, is more than twice that of Maryland, managed on the Contract System. The smallest State prison population in the United States, that of Rhode Island, numberingr, at the close of last year, only eighty-one convicts, showed a loss that year, on the Contract System, of only eleven dollars. Missouri manages a convict population of the same size as that of Georgia, and boasts a cash profit, on the Contract System. Indeed the State prisons under the Lease System are, almost without exception, populous prisons, the average population among the whole twelve so governed being 920, while that of the thirty-three that exclude the system is but 560. Another unfounded assumption is that the prisons working under the Contract or the Public Accounts System receive their inmates largely from the ranks of men skilled in trade. The truth is, the strongest argument in favor of teaching trades in prison lies in the fact that men with trades keep out of prison, or appear there only in decided minorities, in any community; and prisons everywhere receive especially but few acquainted with the two or three or five or six skilled industries that happen to be carried on within their walls.

It is assumed, again, that the great majority of the ii:>mates of our leased prisons are not


only without mechanical training, but without mechanical aptitude. Yet, in fact, there is quite enough skilled work taught to just this class in just these prisons to make void the argument. Within the walls of the Virginia State penitentiary in September, 1881, under the Contract System, tobacco, shoes, barrels, and clothing were being made with a force of which three-fifths were black men. The whole force of the Maryland prison is engaged, within its walls, under contractors, in marble-cutting and the manufacture of shoes, stoves and hollow iron-ware, and in November, 1881, consisted of five blacks to every three whites, and of the entire number not one in ten was previously acquainted with any handicraft that could be of any service to him in any of these occupations.

Moreover, on the other hand, there is no leased prison that does not constantly receive a sufficient number of skilled convicts, both white and black, to constitute a good teaching force for the training of the unskilled. The Texas Penitentiary, in 1880, had on its rolls 39 workers in wood, 20 in leather, 50 in metals and machinery, 20 in stone and brick, 7 engravers and printers, and 11 painters.

The leased prisons, as it happens, have one decided advantage in this regard; the high average term of sentences affords an unusual opportunity for training the convicts to skilled labor,


and making the best use, both pecuniary and reformatory, of their occupations. The South CaroHna penitentiary is probably an exception; and yet it is in this prison that the manufacture of shoes, say its officers, might easily be carried on with cash profit. In the Georgia penitentiary, in 1880, there were 87 sentenced for life; 104 for terms above ten years and less than twenty; 101 for twenty years ; 10 for higher terms up to forty years, and only 22 for as low a term as one year,—in a total of 1185 inm.ates. In the Texas State prison, in October, 1882, with a population of 2378, only two were under sentences of less than two years' length.^ To increase the advantage, the long sentences fall with special frequency upon the class that is assumed to require an undue length of training. In the Georgia convict force just noted, for instance, only 15 were whites among the 215 under sentences above ten years.

But why need we linger to show that there is ample opportunity in these prisons to teach the inmates trades, if only the system were such as to permit it? The choice of a better system does not rest upon this. In the Contract and Public Accounts prisons, it is not at all the universal practice to make the unskilled convict

1 Some idea of the ferocity of these sentences may be got from the fact that 509 of these Texas convicts were under twenty years of age.



acquainted with a trade. This is done only in a few prisons. Generally,—much too generally,— he is set to some simple task, some minute fraction of the work of manufacturing some article, a task that he learns to do at most in a few days, becomes skillful in within a few weeks, and continues to do unceasingly from the beginning of his imprisonment to the day of his discharge. He works a lever or peddle that drives pegs into a shoe; or he turns down or up the rims of hats, or varnishes the heels of innumerable boots, or turns a small wheel that bottoms countless tin cans. He is employed according to his physical strength and his intelligence. It is no small misfortune to society that such industries leave the convict at last without a trade; but, comparing them with the tasks of the lessees' camps, it may be said they do not murder him, nor torture him, but are to those tasks what light is to darkness.

After all, these objections to the abandonment of the Lease System, even if they were otherwise well crrounded, would fail at last when it comes to be seen that the system does not make good even its one poor profession; it does not, even pecuniarily " pay." In flush times it hands in a few thousands,—sometimes even a few ten-thousands,—annually, into the State treasury. But its history is a long record of discoveries and rediscoveries on the part of the State that

she has been the losing party in a game of confidence, with nobody to blame but herself. How much has thus been lost morally baffles estimation; suffice it to say, enough ungodly gains have gone into the hands of lessees to have put every leased prison in the country upon a firm basis under Public Accounts. Every system is liable to mismanagement, but there are systems under which mismanagement is without excuse and may be impeached and punished. The Lease System is itself the most atrocious mismanagement. It is in its very nature dishonorable to the community that knowingly tolerates it, and in its practical workings needs only to be known to be abhorred and cast out. It exists to-day, in the twelve American Commonwealths where it is found, because the people do not know what they are tolerating.

But is there any need for them longer to be unaware of it ? There is none. Nor is there any need that the system should continue. We have heard one, who could give no other excuse, urge the unfavorableness of the Southern climate to prison confinement. But what have the reports of prisons in this climate shown us ? That the mortality outside, among the prisoners selected (as is pretended, at least) for their health and strength, is twice and thrice and som.etimes four and five times as great as among the feebler sort left within the walls. True, some of the

leases still have many years to run. What of it? Shall it be supinely taken for granted that there is no honorable way out of these brutal and wicked compacts ? There is no honorable way to remain under them. There are many just ways to be rid of them.

Let the terms of these leases themselves condemn their holders. There is no reasonable doubt that, in many States, the lessees will be found to have committed acts distinctly forfeiting their rights under these instruments. Moreover, with all their looseness, these leases carry conditions, which, if construed as common humanity and the honor of the State demand, will make the leases intolerable to men whose profits are coined from the flesh and blood of human beings. It is safe to say there is not a lessee in the twelve convict-leasing States who, were he but held to account for the excesses in his death-roll beyond those of prisons elsewhere in enlightened countries, would not throw up his unclean hands in a moment and surrender to decency, honesty, humanity, and the public welfare. But we waste words. No holder of these compacts need be driven to close quarters in order that, by new constraints, they may be made to become void. They are void already. For, by self-evidence, the very principles upon which they are founded are contra bonos mores; and though fifty legislatures had decreed it, not one

such covenant can show cause why the seal of the commonwealth and the signatures of her officers should not be torn from it, and one of the most solemn of all public trusts returned to those official hands that, before God, the world, and the State, have no right to part with it.



Burke said that no man could draw an indictment broad enough to cover a whole nation, but Mr. G. W. Cable has accomplished it in very brief space, in " The Silent South.'^ One charge in substance is that the Southern courts and juries, not in a few scattered and occasional cases, but habitually and generally, prostitute their offices and perjure themselves to convict the blacks of crime; that they affix a punishment, on the average, five times as great upon a negro as upon a white man for the same offence in the same courts; that whereas the penalty for burglary is greater than for larceny, the courts indict and convict a negro of burglary who has only committed larceny, or, indeed, no offence at all; and that these enormities are perpetrated in obedience to a public sentiment in favor of oppressing the negro.

That far more blacks than whites, in proportion to numbers, in the Southern States are convicted of crime is unhappily only too true. This must of necessity result from one of two causes ; either the blacks are the criminal class, or justice is prostituted and judges, witnesses, jurors, and people indulge easily and without scruple in perjury. Mr. Cable rejects the former solution and accepts the latter, and this in face of the fact that no man anywhere in the United States can be tried for felony without being furnished with a copy of the indictment and confronted with his accusers, and having the aid of counsel and the right to summon witnesses. 24 iS5

I propose to test the truth and accuracy of Mr. Cable's statements by official documents, which happily are at hand, and to show that he has made the grossest misstatements, to the prejudice of the Southern whites, in many important particulars.

He opens his indictment by charging that for larceny alone **such sentences are imposed as twelve, fourteen, fifteen, twenty, and in one case forty years of penal service, whose brutal tasks and whippings kill in an average of five years."

No such penalties as these are allowed by law in any Southern State, unless for a second offence. I have examined the criminal codes of most of them, and find that in Georgia, to which Mr. Cable particularly refers, the general crime of larceny is divided into: i. Theft or larceny from the person. 2. Simple theft or larceny. 3. Theft or larceny from the house. 4. Theft or larceny after a trust or confidence has been delegated or reposed.

The penalties are: Horse-stealing—confinement in the penitentiary not less than four nor more than twenty years. Cattle-stealing—not less than two nor more than four years. Larceny from the person—not less than two nor more than five years. Larceny from the house —not less than one nor more than ten years.

Want of space prevents similar quotations from other codes in the South, but in none of them are such penalties allowed as Mr. Cable indicates, and it is not credible that any judge would venture to put upon the records of his court a sentence against a prisoner for a longer term than the law affixed.

Proceeding with the counts of the indictment in the order made, we come to this:—



" Larceny is the peculiar crime of the poorest classes everywhere. In all* penitentiaries out of the South, the convicts for this offence always* exceed, and generally double, the number of convicts for burglary. Larceny has long been called the peculiar crime of the negro criminal. What then shall we say to the facts, deduced from official records, that in the Georgia penitentiary and convict camps there were, in 1882, twice as many colored convicts for burglary as larceny, and that they were, moreover, serving sentences averaging nearly twice the average of the white convicts in the same places for the same cr me."

Not only in the So:ith, but everywhere else, burglary is regarded as a more serious offence than larceny, and the penalty affixed to it is greater. But Mr. Cable says that the courts, the officers of the law, and the juries take advantage of this difference of penalty to send a negro to the penitentiary who has been guilty of larceny or some other inferior crime. Fortunately, the records are accessible to refute this statement, and the examples of the two great States of New York and Ohio are sufficient for the purpose.

Official reports give the following facts on this point: That in the two Northern States of New York and Ohio there'w ere eight hundred and ninety convicts for burglary and only seven hundred and seventy for larceny; and in the four Southern States of South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia there were seven hundred and forty-seven for burglary and seven hundred and eighty for larceny. In the Northern States quoted the convicts for burglary outnumber those for larceny and in the Southern States just the reverse is the case, and thus this count in the indictment is successfully refuted.

The next count states, "We are far from overlooking the depravity of the negro. But those who rest on this cheap explanation are bound to tell us which shows the greater maliciousness: for one man to be guilty of hog-

* Italicised only here.

stealing, or for twelve jurors to send him to the coalmines for twenty years for doing it?" I have already shown that such a sentence as this could not be rendered in any Southern State; unless possibly in a rare and occasional case, where the convict, after being once tried and sentenced, continued to repeat the offence, each time incurring an increased penalty. And the world—even its philanthropists—will not be inclined to think that a persistent and irreclaimable criminal like this is entitled to expect anything but the maximum punishment.

Next comes this from Mr. Cable's prolific reservoir: —

*' In Georgia, outside of her prisons, there are eight whites to every seven blacks. Inside, there are eight whites to everj' eighty blacks. The depravity of the negro may explain away much, but we cannot know how much while there also remain in force the seductions of our atrocious convict-lease system, and our attitude of domination over the blacks, so subtly dangerous to our own integrity."

By this he means to say that courts and juries in Georgia send colored men to the penitentiary merely to afford a few citizens the opportunity of getting convict labor.

But if it can be demonstrated that in the Northern States as well as in the Southern crime is much more common and flagrant among the colored race than the white, and that in this respect the sections stand on a common platform, then Mr. Cable will be compelled to fall back upon the proposition that the black man and woman are more prone to crime than the white. Once more the official records are needed, and referring to them, and taking some of the leading States, both North and South, what is developed?

In the Alabama penitentiary there are about seven and a half colored convicts to one white. In Georgia the ratio is nine colored to one white. But in the District of Columbia, according to the census of 1880, there



are 115,446 whites and 62,596 blacks, or nearly two whites to one black. And yet from January, 1881 (I quote from data given in the " Agricultural Review " for IMay, 1884, the accuracy of which I have verified by personal examination), to November, 1882, there were two hundred and fifty-three convictions for felony in the District of Columbia—sixty-four whites and one hundred and eight3'-nine colored.

In the State of New York there are 5,016,022 whites and 95,104 colored people,— a proportion of about seventy-seven to one. But in the three State prisons of Sing-Sing, Auburn, and Clinton there are 2395 whites and 17S blacks—about thirteen and a half whites to one black. Or, to state it as Mr. Cab e does, in New York, outside of her State prisons there are seventy-seven white persons to one black ; inside, there are only thirteen and a half to one.

In Ohio there are 3,117,920 whites and 79,900 blacks— a ratio of thirty-nine to one. In the penitentiary there are six hundred and three white convicts, and ninety-four colored—a ratio of six and a half to one. And in all the State prisons there were io8r white convicts and 190 colored—a ratio of five and two-thirds to one. Again stating it as Mr. Cable does, in Ohio, outside of prisons, there are thirty-nine whites to one black ; inside, six whites to one black.

In the city where our national Government is located, where Congress is effusive in its care of the colored people, where Howard University bestows its benign influence, and in the great States of New York and Ohio, substantially the same state of things exists, as to the conviction of the colored race, as prevails in the Southern States. This being the case, there can be but one explanation: North as well as South the colored race furnishes largely more criminals than the white,


and Southern courts, juries, witnesses, and people must stand acquitted in tlie minds of all fair men of the charges Mr. Cable brings against them.

It is in Georgia that Mr. Cable fancies he finds most to condemn. One of his main causes of complaint is that the courts inflict on colored convicts for larceny sentences five times as great as on white convicts at the same places. Biit the official report of the Georgia penitentiary and convict-camps for the period from October 20, 1S82, to October 20, 1884, is conclusive on the subject. I took one of the penitentiaries, where there were five hundred and thirty-five convicts, and went carefully through the sentences for larceny, putting the whites in one column and the blacks in another, and then ascertained the average of each. I found the average sentence of tne white convicts for larceny was actually greater than of the blacks ! That for the whites was six years and one month, and for the blacks five years and six months.

The most cruel of all the charges which Mr. Cable has published against the people of the South is when he characterizes its penal service as one "whose brutal tasks and whippings kill in an average of five years." This is predicated specially of Georgia, but the official reports are once more available to contradict and disprove, in the most conclusive manner possible, this dreadful aspersion. Dr. Westmoreland, the physician having general charge of all the penitentiaries, reports that from the ist of January, 1884, to October 20th of the same year there were sixteen hundred and thirty-nine convicts in all the penitentiaries, and during that period there were only thirty-eight deaths,—twenty-eight from acute or ordinary diseases, five from chronic or malignant diseases, and five from accidents or violence. This is really a low rate of mortality, and will compare

favorably with that existing in any city in the United States, among the colored people. It is only twenty-two to the thousand, while the mortuary reports for the cities named below show in every case a greater percentage :—

Richmond 37 to the looo

Norfolk 34 " "

Lynchburg 30 " "

Washington 32 " "

Mr. Cable speaks of the mines at which some of the convicts are employed, in Georgia, as particularly fatal to life, and denounces the treatment that the colored convicts receive there. But let Dr. Westmoreland and 'Mr. Nelms, the Marshal of Georgia, tell the facts about these mines. I quote from the report relative to the Dade coal-mines. There were three hundred and seventy-five convicts working at these mines, and from January i, 1884, to October 20,1884, there were only two deaths—one from cancer and one from accident. The physician says:—

" The above table of sanitary statistics shows most excellent results, particularly as to the mortuary list, as not one death has occurred from ordinary camp or acute diseases—nothing, certainly, that could be attributed to the management of the camps or their surroundings. One was killed from slate falling on him, and the other died from cancer. These favorable results, in my opinion, are due to three causes : First, to the humane and intelligent management of the officers directly in control of the camps,— I mean the physician and superintendent of the camps ; secondly to the well-arranged and roomy prisons and hospitals ; and thirdly, not the least, and perhaps above all, to the existence of a vegetable garden convenient to the camps, of one hundred acres, in the highest state of cultivation, thus furnishing, the year round, that variety of fresh vegetables so essential to the health of men in confinement."

And Mr. Nelms, the Marshal of Georgia, in reply to a question asked him by myself as to the relative advantages and disadvantages of the old penitentiary system and the convict-lease system, answers:—


" Your second question is, Is the treatment of the convicts as humane under the present system as under the former penitentiary system ? I have no hesitation in answering that it is more humane. They have a great deal more outdoor exercise, they are as well fed, they are as comfortably clad, they are as humanely treated, and worked as moderately, as they ever were within the walls of the penitentiary, under the former system ; and being out in the open air a great deal more, their health is generally better, and they are more cheerful and contented than the convicts under the former system were."

The two races are nearly equal in numbers in the Southern States; the blacks have the right of suffrage and all the other political rights that belong to the whites. Upon the conduct of the negro depends in a large degree the destiny of the white man; and no one who is not given over to a blind hatred of the Southern white race can believe that they desire anything but the success and prosperous advancement of those who are to be their neighbors and coadjutors in the matters that interest both.

Mr. Cable imputes much " domination" over the blacks to the Southern whites. If he means this term as synonymous with oppression or wrong, I deny it emphatically. But the Southern whites are Anglo-Saxons, and in one sense that race dominates all others with which it comes in contact— red, black, or white. By virtue of superior energy and force of character they remand other people to a secondary and subordinate position. In this sense, and this only, does "domination " exist in the Southern States.

I ask fair and candid men everywhere to judge the Southern whites by official facts, which certainly afford the best tests by which to measure their conduct to their colored fellow-citizens.

Richmond, Virginia. John W. Johnston.





Ex Senator Johnston seems to me to be a very careless reader. In "The Silent South" I presented certain official facts which on their face appear to justify the complaints of the colored people that they do not get justice in court in the Southern States. And then I wrote, " Shall we from these facts draw hasty conclusions? We draw none. If any one can explain them away, in the name of humanity let us rejoice to see him do so. We are far from charging any one with deliberately prostituting justice." Does that sound like an indictment ?

The utmost I can be said to have charged I can condense here into an axiom: that nowhere on earth can one people hold another people in political or civil subjection, and forcibly monopolize the administration of the laws, without putting judges and juries into constant imminent peril of distorting justice. If an axiom is an indictment, what does the gentleman propose to do?

That he reads without due care is still plainer when he reports me as charging Georgia courts with "affixing an average punishment five times as great upon a negro as upon a white man," etc. I did and do say that for burglary the average sentence of the colored Georgia convict (18S0-82) was twice as great as the white convict's ; a statement the gentleman makes no attempt to refute. "This, too,"—I quote from " The Silent South," —" notwithstanding a very large number of short sentences to colored men, and a difference between their longest a?id shortest terms twice as great as in the case of the whites."

Neither does the gentleman attempt to refute this. Now the difference between the average sentences of white and colored convicts for larce?iy is almost noth-25

ing; but the preposterous difference between lowest afid highest sentences of colored convicts for larceny was thirty-nine years, while in the case of white convicts for the same crime it was but eight years; and thirty-nine lacks but one-fortieth of being five times eight; which is what I say in "The Silent South "—a difference between their longest and shortest terms twice as great as in the case of the whites. "For larceny the [this] difference is five times as great." One has only to add this short, simple statement on to Mr. Johnston's first fine-print quotation of me, to see how unnecessary it was for him to have misconstrued its meaning; for that is its place in the original text.*

I shall assume that all Mr. Johnston's citations of law are correct; but when he cites the letter of law merely to follow it with the assumption that because the laws are so and so therefore judges and juries could not and do not pass excessive sentences upon colored men, I can only point him to the official reports of the prisons, and without venturing to impeach any one pray him to explain them away. He offers but one explanation, and takes no pains to make it good. It is merely his assumption that the heavy sentences of black men are in cases "where the convict, after being once tried and sentenced, continued to repeat the offence, each time incurring an increased penalty." Even this would not explain the gross difference between white and black men's sentences, for surely the reconvictions are not all and always black. But what are the facts? In the Georgia penitentiaries, October, 1882, there were 1243 convicts; 736 of the 1074 adults were under sentences of seven years and upward, yet only four per cent., 50, were reconvicted criminals.! One child

* See page 93. + See Biennial Report of the principal keeper of Georgia Penitentiary, October, 1882, p. 7.

of thirteen years was under a twenty years' sentence for burglary, and one youth of seventeen was serving twenty-six years for the same crime committed in the night. It is a confession of fatal weakness for the gentleman to appeal only to laws that prescribe what must be, and pass by the official reports that tell what actually is. If the laws say one thing and the prison reports say another, why are not the prisofzs called upon to explain ? But in all this controversy the prison lessees are treated as tenderly as though they were honorable men engaged in a decent calling; and my critics spend their diligence to show that the cruelties officially recorded in these prison reports are fortified by statutes. Truth is, slavery and slave-holding fostered, and has bequeathed to the population of the Southern States, both black and white, a crudity and cruelty of criminal laws foreign to the humane spirit of the times. For stealing a horse a man can, under these laws, be sent for 20 years to a penitentiary, where in October, 1882, among the 218 convicts on sentence of 20, 30, 35, and 40 years, and for life, not one had suTvived over 19 years of sentence, and only four had lived out 17 years. There were then there 1126 convicts under time sentences, of whom 162 were under sentences of 15 to 40 years—that is, about every seventh man; yet in the whole two years preceding that date, out of 390 prisoners discharged only two had served 15 years of prison life, and none had been in longer. In Virginia, the least penalty for a larceny of fifty-one dollars' worth of property is three years in one of these penitentiaries.

Law or no law, the facts are terrible. In October, 1882, there were in the Georgia penitentiaries (among many others under higher sentences) 79 convicts under sentences of from only one to only three years for


committing and for attempts to commit all the gravest and foulest crimes on the calendar. One ought to suppose, therefore, that for first offences in the various forms of pilfering called larceny three years would be deemed an excessive sentence; and yet, of the 216 convicts for larceny, only 37 were under sentence of less than three years, while 62 were serving terms of from 10 to 40 years. If men found guilty of murder— let the palliations be what they may—can expiate their fault in two years, how much or often must a poor wretch steal to deserve a sentence which no physical strength can live out ?

It has not been my choice to lay special stress upon criminal affairs in Georgia. In South Carolina the law is, in one direction at least, more cruel than in Georgia. In my essay on the Convict Lease System a passage that to the hasty eye seems to apply to the Georgia prisons is meant, as a more careful reading will show, to apply to the system at large. The statement is that "Six men were under sentence for simple assault and battery—mere fisticuffing—one of two years, two of five years, one of six years, one of seven, and one of eight." This record really belongs to the South Carolina penitentiary for the year. I make these statements because I am an American citizen, and these things are happening in America, and are done by Americans in the jury-box and on the judge's bench. It is nothing to me that they happen in tJiis quarter or in that, so long as they have happened and are happening in our common country. In other States of the Union the laws are less cruel and the prisons far more so. Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkan. sas affix a maximum sentence of five years where Georgia imposes twenty, but their penitentiaries !

The inference which the gentleman draws from the first paragraph of mine quoted by him in fine print is a



false inference. As to his figures and mine, let us see: In the Maryland penitentiary, in 1883, the larceny convicts exceeded 260; the burglars were only 59. In the Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania there were received, in 1SS4,167 larceny convicts and only 49 burglars. In the Western, in 1883, the larceny convicts were 104, the burglars 35. In the Colorado State penitentiary, December, 1882, the larceny convicts numbered 118, the burglars 32. Of course, when a State has a number of correctional institutions, we must combine the statistics of all to find the true proportion between the numbers convicted of different crimes. In New York State, it is not enough to engross the tables of Sing Sing, Auburn, and Clinton; for the State has besides several other penal and reformatory institutions,—in New York city for instance, in Elmira, and, I believe, in Rochester; and these are just the sort to which culprits guilty of larceny would be sent to avoid throwing them into contact with the burglars of the State penitentiaries. The same is true of Ohio; but the same is not true of Georgia, though certain Georgians are making a noble effort to bring it about. In the Michigan State prison, September, 30, 1883, the year's admissions showed 71 larceny convicts against 35 burglars ; in the same State's reformatory at Ionia, the previous year, the larceny convicts were 295 as against 44 burglars; while the engrossed criminal statistics of the province of Ontario for 1882 show the commitments for larceny 1401, and for burglary 63. I have not said that the disproportion of these two crimes in Georgia prisons extended to South Carolina and other neighboring States. For the gentleman to engross with the prison records of Georgia the prison records of other States with which Georgia courts and laws, judges, and jurors have nothing to do, merely to get a more favorable showing, is worse than


no explanation. And even if this were justifiable, ..e does not by this device reach anywhere near a normal proportion; so, after all, he only drags the prison systems of these other States into the mire without pulling Georgia's out.

As to the gentleman's misinterpretation of the second paragraph quoted from me in small type: I do not charge judges and jurors with consciously or maliciously sending colored men to penitentiaries who should not go there ; but I cannot take up the official report of any prison where caste-rule and the convict-lease system dominate without finding it full of facts and figures whose accusations no Christian community ought to leave unanswered for a day. Look, for instance, at the number of colored men and boys sent to these penitentiaries for slight offences; for when not even extreme youth is saved from such cruel sentences as eight, ten, fifteen, twenty, and twenty-five years for crimes against property, and older men get even thirty, thirty-five, and forty, it seems to me such figures assert that those who are found in the same places for technically the same crimes, on sentences of but one, two, and three years, 7nust have been comparatively trivial oflTenders. And when, on the other hand, I see in these prisons white oflTenders against property serving heavy sentences,— though not nearly so heavy as the black man's heavier sentences,—it seems to me such figures imply that white men steal and break and rob in those communities, and when the misdemeanor is great are brought to even a cruel justice, if such a thing can be called justice, but that when the offence is light the offender must be dark, or the penitentiary gets him not. Cruel implication! enough to arouse the indignation of any community ! But whence comes it ? From me ? Nay, from the official returns of the prisons themselves! In

October, 1882, the Georgia penitentiaries held under sentences of only one, two, or three years, for various forms of larceny, 62 colored men and boys and only one white man. No wonder the black man's average sentence for larceny did not exceed the white man's!

Or look at another fact. I am challenged on every side upon the truth of the assertion that in 1880 a man was in the Georgia penitentiary on a 20-years' sentence for "hog-stealing." Yet no critic ventures to consult the official records. One, who said he could easily consult them but who would not, produces instead the following: —

Dear Sir: I was principal keeper of the Georgia Penitentiary in 1880, and there was not at that time nor has there ever been a man iu the Georgia Penitentiary under a sentence of 20 years for hog-stealing.

Truly yours,

John W. Nelms.

Yes, John W. Nelms; from whose official records I took the statement, and whose unsupported assertion is worth we shall presently show how much. The record is in his biennial report of October, 1880, page 45, as follows : "Holmes Barry, colored, age 39, crime hog-stealing, Jefferson County, term 20 years, received May, 1879." From Mr. Nelms's next biennial report, October, 1882, this convict mysteriously and utterly disappears, not being reported as either present, dead, pardoned, released, or escaped. Then in the same official's report of October, 1884, he as mysteriously reappears as having died in custody more than fifteen months after his disappearance from the previous record. And here the poor wretch's record has been changed from "hog-stealing" to "simple larceny"—from tweedle-dum to tweedle-dee.

But is this case an exception or an example ? By this officer's official rolls of 1S80-S2 there were two white convicts under the cruel sentence of ten years for ** simple larceny." It is some gratification to know that no white man was serving a longer sentence for this crime. But the fact remains that under the same charge and at the same time 18 colored men were under sentence for 10 years each, 3 others for 12 years, 6 others for 15 years, and 4 others for 20 years ; while one black man, William Williams, of McDuffie County, who was put in on a cumulate sentence for simple larceny at the age of 40, will, if he lives and serves out his term, emerge from the prison 80 years old. But this will not happen. These rolls show 406 convicts in the penitentiary under sentence of 10 years and upward ; that is, one-third of all the convicts. The official figures show that these "long-term" men were coming in just 3JS^ times as fast as they were being pardoned and escaping; yet the report shows that of 380 convicts discharged on expiration of sentence, the proportion of these " long term " convicts to the whole number had dropped from one in every three to but one in every ninety-five. Death had made the difference. Not one was left to go out alive whose sentence exceeded 10 years.

The explanation has been attempted that these brutal sentences were given before 1868, and so antedate the convict-lease system in Georgia. But in fact, of the more than 400 long-term convicts surviving in the Georgia penitentiary in October, 1882, under 10 to 30 years' sentences,—many for simple larceny only,— allbzdone had been received since 1868 ; he the previous year.

One word in this connection it is pleasant to say: that in the Georgia Legislature there are gentlemen even now denouncing this whole convict-lease system as a disgrace to civilization and humanity, and nobly struggling



to destroy it.* And like efforts are being made in every other State where the system exists. Would to heaven the same righteous and active war were waged by them against that spirit of race-subjugation which is the root of the whole trouble and the shame of our land.

Are Ex-Senator Johnston's efforts bent in the same direction ? Far from it. His endeavor is to show that the " depravity of the negro " is enough to account for everything. But error has its uses, and the gentleman, instead of proving his case, actually brings forward an incontrovertible, arithmetical proof, based on official figures, that the " depravity of the negro " accounts for barely half. For see: In the District of Columbia, January, '81, to November, '82, the convictions were 64 whites and 189 colored. But the white population of the District is to the colored, as Mr. Johnston says, about two to one, or more exactly nine to five, and the proportion of convictions in equal numbers of white and black is therefore i white to 5xV blacks. In New York State Mr. Johnston finds 77 whites to i black, and in its penitentiaries i3>^ whites to one black. This shows a proportion of convictions, in equal numbers of white and black, of i white to ^^-^ blacks. In Ohio the population shows 39 whites to i black; its penitentiaries 6^ whites to i black. The resultant proportion of convictions in equal numbers of whites and blacks is i white to 6 blacks.

Now, has the gentleman proved that in these regions "substantially the same state of things exists as to conviction .of the colored race as in the Southern States "? He proves just the contrary. In Georgia the population

* In the Georgia Legislature, June 9, 1885, Dr. Felton said: " If the fiends of hell had undertaken to devise a [penalj system, devilish, barbarous and malignant, they could not have succeeded more fully than Georgia has succeeded in her system." 26

shows 8whites to 7 blacks; in the penitentiaries, says Mr. Johnston, i white to 9 blacks, or more exactly 8 whites to 74 blacks; and the consequent proportion of convictions in equal numbers of whites and blacks is i white to loYz blacks, nearly twice what it isintheplaces with which he compares it. Is it urged that the colored population North is a higher style of people on an average than the same South? Then let us turn to some region where the colored man has lately come from the South with all his squalor, poverty, ignorance, thriftless-ness, and vices. Let us look at Kansas, the goal of the late exodus; what do we find? Population, 952,155 whites to 43,107 colored, or 22 whites to i colored. In the penitentiary, June 30, 1882, 504 whites, 113 colored, or 4x*(5- whites to i colored. Proportion of convictions in equal numbers of whites and blacks, i white to less than 5 colored.

And yet in these regions, where the proportion of penitentiary convicts among the colored race is but half what it is in some Southern States, it is freely admitted that the proportion would be still less were there not still a great deal of unreasoning prejudice against the black man on account of his color; while it is conspicuously in States where the freedman's consignments to the penitentiary are twice as frequent as his lower average moral condition will account for, that with the same mouth men justify race-subjugation and deny the warping moral effect of race-prejudice. Such is one of the foul fruits of slave-holding which it becomes the duty of every American—and especially of every Southern-born citizen—to help with all his might to destroy.