But one of the unpleasant consequences of acknowledging this duty is the necessity of replying elaborately to men who answer facts with crude misinterpretations,

and deny the precious title of " Southerner " to whoever doubts the sacred dogma that the ohgarchy can do no wrong.

Here, for instance, is Mr. Johnston's assertion that my characterization of the convict-lease system as one ' whose brutal tasks and whippings kill in an average of five years " is predicated specially of Georgia. Not so. It is predicated of the aggregate results of the entire system throughout the South. In my essay on the convict-lease system I have spoken with specific accuracy of the mortality in the Georgia penitentiaries. I there showed that the official summary tables of Mr. Nelms, the State Marshal, whom Mr. Johnston quotes with such confidence, are not worth the paper they are printed on. The mortality in the Georgia prisons and prison-camps is not as bad as in some other leased prisons and camps. In the Texas wood-cutting camps, only a few years ago, half the average population died in two years. One of the habits of the system that screens much brutality is the lowering of the death rate by pardoning convicts whose health it has destroyed. In the two years ending October 20, 1882, there were 109 convicts pardoned in the Georgia penitentiaries, among whom more than half the number on time sentences had not served out half their termSj and many not a third or a fourth of them. Such a record is a record not so much of mercy as of criminal imbecility.

It is only as evidence against him and his kind that such documents are admissible evidence until these sworn signers of them have removed their implications by proving them false.

I repeat that as evidence in favor of his schemes or theories Mr. Nelms's reports are worthless. He reports 538 convicts received within two years; his rolls show 634. He reports 324 discharged; the list of their names


makes them 422. He makes three separate statements that the number of convicts on hand is 1243; the addition is incorrect: the columns foot up 1193, and in the classification by crimes not a single number in the list agrees with the actual count of the rolls ; while as to the total it is, by the rolls (which are not added up), neither 1243 nor 1193, but 1266 Everything goes to indicate that Mr. Nelms has not known for years how many living human beings he has in captivity, or ought to have. How is any one to know from such a source how many convicts have died that never went to hospital at all? The reports of the Alabama prisons are in a similar condition. When convicts are in the care of men that m.ake out such official reports as these, we need better evidence than their assurance, that the rate of mortality is low, and the more so when we know the frightful death-rates confessed by other convict-lease prisons, where, moreover, the rate is higher among the *' outside " than among the "inside" men.

Mr. Johnston's comparison of prison death-rates with city death-rates, which include infant mortality and the like, is too absurd for serious notice. Prison populations must be compared with prison populations. The usual annual mortality of a well-conducted penitentiary is about 10 to 1000—one per cent. Mr. Nelms, for 1880-82, claims this low figure without any foundation in fact. In reality his average prison population was 1266, and his surgeon's report for one year, August i, 1881-82, was 22, or nearly 2 per cent.—nearly twice what it should have been. From October, '78, to October, '80, the rate was nearly 2^^ per cent, which Mr. Nelms says is one-half what it had been in earlier years. In the year 1884 the rate was over 2}i per cent.

Yet this annual mortality, still nearly thrice what it should be when it had been reduced to half what it was,



is one of the least offensive features of the convict management of Georgia, and one of the lowest death-rates known to this execrable system in any of the States where it is found. The death-rate in the Mississippi convict camps, 1881-82, was 8 per cent, a year. In Louisiana in 1881 it was 14 per cent. Such are the official figures of a prison system which exists nowhere among civilized people except where two centuries of slave-holding have blunted our sense of the rights of man. To quote once more my own words so carefully left unquoted by Mr. Johnston, "If any one can explain them away, in the name of humanity let us rejoice to see him do so." And let the ex-Senator make room for him, for he has only made the case look worse than it did before.

Only the necessity of maintaining the truth of my pages, brought into question by Mr. Johnston and others has induced me to lay the present statement before the public. I maintain, and have asserted from the first, that much of the injustice and cruelty practiced upon the colored race springs not from malicious intent, but from mistaken ideas at war with the fundamental principles of human right and American Government; and the gentleman himself illustrates this by lifting up, after all, the standard of class-rule, race-rule, and status-rule, as against the right to earn domination without regard to race, class, or status, by intelligence, morality, and a justice that is no respecter of persons.

G, W. Cable.


Senator Johnston was right when he said Mr. Cable impeached a whole nation. If he meant, by his article on the *' Silent South," an impeachment of the justice of whites toward blacks, that impeachment covers the Union from Florida to Oregon and from Maine to California. The same facts that are true from Richmond to Galveston hold also from Boston to San Francisco.

I base my assertion on a statement, by states, of the number of prisoners in penitentiaries, jails, calabooses, workhouses, military prisons, and the hands of lessees. Tables were compiled by Fred H. Wines, for ten years secretary of the Illinois Board of Commissioners of Public Charities, and are the most accurate of the kind ever gotten up by the government of the United States.

Figures deduced from these tables shov/ that in the South* the percentage of the negro population who were in prison convicted or accused of crime was 3.67 times as large as the percentage of the white population so imprisoned. At the North the percentage of the negro population who were prisoners was 4.82 times as large as the percentage of whites who were prisoners. Thus on the hypothesis that judges and juries unjustly discriminate against negroes, a calculation based on the foregoing figures shows that Southern jurymen are thirty-one per cent, kinder to the blacks than Northern men are.

Taking only the ten cotton states and Virginia, the results are still more favorable to the South, and making the comparison within those states between negroes

♦Under the tille South we include the fifteen old slave states (with West Virginia), and the District of Columbia. The term North is used as including all the remaining states.

and native whites (the best basis of comparison) slightly raises the percentage of superiority.

In some individual states, both North and South, the apparent discrimination is very great. It is extremely great in Georgia, but even worse in Michigan. It is greater east than west in both sections, but notably so in the South. This is probably for the reason that the drift of the criminal classes among the whites is westward, which is not the case among the blacks.

Northern negroes are richer. They are less illiterate. They are more scattered and more subject to civilizing white influence and less to that of each other. They would also, naturally, be less hated, because of being few, weak, and helpless. These and other considerations would induce the reasoner to expect greater discrimination South than North. It would take a year's or rather many years' work to determine their mathematical value; but they may all be offset by two things. The institution of slavery implanted in the Southern negro temperance and subordination, a combination of qualities which the freedom of the Northern negro from any such school could never give him. Northern negroes are urban. Southern negroes are rural. There is more crime in cities than in the country. Hence we would look for the proportion of Northern negro prisoners to be greater. We have no statement of the division of prisoners into urban and rural, but an estimate reduces the thirty-one per cent, of greater Southern kindness to fifteen per cent. But, could all the elements of difference be mathematically eliminated, I doubt if the original percentage would be altered. The residuum of difference could probably be explained by the kind feelings of the Southerners toward their old slaves, and the fact that their chivalry is rational. They are favorably inclined toward all weak and helpless classes,

whether a weaker sex or race. Thus I think it has been demonstrated, as near mathematically as such a thing can be done, that race dlscriminaiion in the administration of justice is not sectional.

In reality, it would be a miracle, under the circumstances, if absolutely no discrimination were exhibited. As much of it as exists should be blotted out by our vaunted ''chivalry" and "philanthropy." Indeed, in the North the negro is not protected by loving memories, and justice can be secured to him only by repeated, persistent efforts of noble philanthropists. In the South, where the problem chiefly lies, there is certainly room for improvement in the mutual feelings of the races. The negroes are the wards of the nation, perhaps, but each individual owes him the treatment due a fellow-citizen and fellow-man. He owes this not only to the negroes of a distant part of the country, but also to those in his own state, city, or his own street. He owes it not so much to those being tried before juries in a distant state as to the men who come up before the one on which he himself is impaneled. A. E, Orr.


A REPLY. Mr. Orr has, with great pains and accuracy and a most praiseworthy deference to truth, drawn his conclusions from the Census of 1880, vol, i., pp. 3 and 929. Yet his generalizing is crude. He says my " impeachment of the justice of whites toward blacks" "covers the Union from Florida to Oregon and from Maine to California." "The same facts," he says, " that are true from Richmond to Galveston hold also from Boston to San Francisco." Appealing to figures, he finds that in all the Southern states the comparative criminality of blacks and whites—if prison populations are conclusive

evidence—is less than four to one, and in the Northern less than five to one; the proportion being nearly a third greater in the whole North than in the whole South.

Now the first trouble here is that Mr. Orr is contesting a statement that nobody has made. In my reply to ex-Senator Johnston, my assertion as to an excessive disproportion of colored convicts is made only of " some Southern States," and specifically only of Georgia. Both there and in the earher pages in which ex-Senator Johnston found this and kindred statements, they are to the effect that such things are actually occurring here and there and are liable to occur wherever the "attitude of domination over the blacks" meets the '* seductions of the atrocious convict-lease system," which system, I wrote specifically, "does not belong to all our once slave States nor to all our once seceded States." Hence Mr. Orr is entirely wrong in resting his argument on aggregate statistics of the whole South.

But this is only the beginning of his error. He is wrong again in appealing to aggregate sums of all prisofiers; for I spoke only of penitentiary convicts leased into private hands. So that the U. S. Census tables of all prisoners in jails, calabooses, etc., are not the proper data to argue from. The proper data are the penitentiaries' official reports. In South Carolina, by the U. S. Census, the comparative criminality of blacks and whites in equal numbers of each shows six and three-fourths to one; while the report of the State penitentiary for 1881 shows the proportion of blacks and whites committed to it over ten to ojie. Is this excess entirely due to an excessive criminality, or does not faithfulness to truth compel us to consider the additional fact that, while other confinements do not, the penitentiary does disfranchise ? 27


I have not been so careless as to imply that even the convict-lease system works the same sort and degree of evil in all places alike. Varying conditions make varying evil results. This is plainly recognized in the seventh paragraph of my reply to ex-Senator Johnston and in other places in the general controversy. In Louisiana the disproportion of black convicts is not as large as in Georgia, and yet it has one of the most brutal lease systems in the whole South.

But do Mr. Orr's mistakes end here? By no means. He errs seriously if he would imply that I do not admit a greater depravity among blacks than among whites. The fact is palpable; the fault—we will not speak of that, for who would be innocent? In my reply to ex-Senator Johnston I said that gentleman had accounted for barely half the excess of black convict population attributed by him to " the depravity of the negro." And now comes Mr. Orr, and from another set of statistics accounts for the same five to one that ex-Senator Johnston had accounted for and leaves the same additional, remaining five to one without explanation in the states where it exists.

And still again the gentleman is wide of the mark when he says, "The same facts that are true from Richmond to Galveston hold also from Boston to San Francisco." They do not hold uniformly North or South, and only Mr. Orr has said they do. They fluctuate. There are regions where there is something like a general disposition to treat the negro as a man, regardless of race; as in Massachusetts, for instance. There are other Northern regions where—to quote my reply to ex-Senator Johnston—"It is freely admitted that the proportion of colored penitentiary convicts would be less were there not still a great deal of unreasoning prejudice against the black man on account of his



color"; for example, in Illinois or Indiana. Again, there are Southern states, Tennessee, for example, where the proportion of colored criminality seems to compare favorably, not with such states as Massachusetts, but with such as Illinois or Indiana; though even this momentary advantage is more than lost when we leave census figures of "all prisoners," and turn to the states' own official lists of their penitentiary convicts. And, lastly, there are such states as Georgia and South Carolina, where the figures are simply indefensible Here is a small table of comparative figures:—


Mr. Orr's census figures are well enough, but his conclusions have an embryotic immaturity. He is not more to blame than a thousand others for overlooking entirely the figures of lynch law; it is the fashion to ignore them. And yet there they stand, in all their naked, shameless, unpardonable savagery. But passing them by, there is still between certain states this additional unestimated difference: that while in one the great majority of all questions of offence against


persons or property, small or great, are brought before the bar of law and authority, in another the great majority of such questions are submitted only to the law and authority of one's good right hand. South Carolina will doubtless maintain its civilization to be not greatly inferior to that of Massachusetts. On the other hand, with three-fifths of her population of such sort that the other two-fifths deny them full citizenship on the ground of mental and moral unfitness, she will not claim to be greatly superior. But in Massachusetts the total of prisoners, even exclusive of reformatories, was in i8cSo one in every four hundred and ninety-three of the state's population; while in South Carolina—almost destitute of reformatories—it was but one in every fifteen hundred and fifty. The total white prisoners in South Carolina, a State more than one-fifth of whose white population of ten years and upward could not write, were only one in every six thousand nine hundred and eighty-four. To assume that such a record indicates conclusively the amount of criminality in a population is too preposterous for serious notice.

Such facts as these make it quite superfluous for Mr. Orr or ex-Senator Johnston to find ingenious reasons to account for excess of Northern over Southern incarceration of colored men. The North, the East, the West, shall never find in me a champion of any error in them. If I do not enlarge upon the presence of race prejudices there, it is because I see their best people recognizing, lamenting, and steadily crowding out the wicked error. Moreover, I find but half a million dark sufferers from this error in all the North. There are twelve times that number in the South. Meanwhile I see in the South the seat of the contagion, and her intelligent but deluded people alternately denying and boasting its presence, and openly proposing to perpetuate it, against the



peace of the nation and their own good name, happiness and prosperity. I have never yet spoken first in this matter, save under the conviction that silence was treason to the South. It is treason.

But I must be done replying to such critics as ex-Senator Johnston and Mr. Orr. Why will not some one for once attempt a reply to what I have actually said or implied? There are my statements; The Convict Lease System, The Freedman's Case in Equity, The Silent South; not one assertion actually made in any one of them has been even seemingly refuted. The false doctrines which so many have claimed to be the true sentiment of and right system for the South have thus far found no advocate able to speak to the point. I shall make no more replies to those who cannot; but if any can—there lies the gage in the open arena.

Mr. Orr seems to me the fairest-minded of any critic I have yet had. He seems really ready not only to acknowledge the truth, but to be in search of it. If he is he will presently find his way to an outlook whence he must see that this corrupting and execrable penal system distinguishes the majority of our Southern States from the rest of the enlightened world, and that the true duty of every Southerner is to make peaceable but inexorable war against it, as against all the foul errors bred in the South, and only in less degree in the North, by slavery.

George W. Cable,