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He seems to think the debt has become outlawed. In success he is generally certain to pay his "store account," which is varied, and comprehends a history of his progress during the year. The shrewd Hebrew, who has entered into the commerce of the South in such a manner as almost to preclude Gentile competition, understands the freedman very well, and manages him in trade. The negro likes to be treated with consideration when he visits the "store," and he finds something refreshing and friendly in the profuse European manner and enthusiastic lingo of Messrs. Moses and Abraham. The Hebrew merchants have large establishments in all the planting districts. In Mississippi and in some other sections they have made more than one hundred per cent. retail profit, and excuse themselves for it by saying that as they do not always get their money, they must make good bad debts. They are

had to supply them and to watch over them, very much as he did before the war. He was willing to admit that the negro was better adapted to the work than any white man who might come there; but thought the younger generation of negroes was growing up idle and shiftless, fond of whisky and carousing, and that the race was diminishing in fiber and strength. Those who had been slaves were industrious, and conducted themselves as well as they knew how; but the others, both men and women, seemed to think that liberty meant license, and acted accordingly. They were wasteful, and there was but little chance of making them a frugal and foresighted farming people. Whenever they could secure a little money the ground in front of their cabins would be strewed with sardine boxes and whisky bottles.

The planters on the lowlands of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana have been

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obliged to watch both white and black | planters who procure advances from them, to make sure that they produce a crop. If the merchant sees that there is likely to be but half a crop, he sometimes notifies the planters that they must thereafter draw only half the amount agreed upon at the outset. In short, in some sections the Hebrew is taskmaster, arbiter, and guardian of the planters' destinies.

Many of the elder planters are liberal in their ideas, and would welcome a complete change in the labor system, but they do not believe it possible. One of the best known and most influential in the Valley told me that he and his neighbors in the magnificent Yazoo country, where the superb fertility of the soil gives encouragement to even the rudest labors, had tried every expedient to bring new labor into their section, but could not succeed. His laborers were now practically his tenants; but he

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particularly troubled to get and keep serviceable plantation labor; and are now importing large numbers from Alabama. In truth, the hundreds who flock in from the older cotton states were starving at home. On a plantation in Concordia Parish, in Louisiana, opposite Natchez, there are many of these Alabama negroes. One planter went into the interior of that State, and engaged a hundred and twentyfive to follow him. They did not succeed in leaving the State without meeting with remonstrances from the colored politicians, but were glad to flee from an empty cupboard. Densely ignorant as these negroes are, they are yet capable of fine development. They have sound sense and some idea of manners, seem well inclined toward their employers, and appear to recognize their own defects. On many of these plantations on the lowlands the negroes do not vote; on some they are even


hired with the distinct understanding that they shall not, unless they wish to be discharged. But sooner or later the politicians. reach them, and they become political victims. I took a ride one morning in this same Concordia parish for the purpose of conversing with the planters, and getting testimony as to the actual condition of .the laborers. Concordia was once the garden spot of Louisiana; its aspect was European; the fine roads were bordered with delicious hedges of Cherokee rose; grand trees, moss-hung and fantastic in foliage, grew along the green banks of a lovely lake; every few miles a picturesque grouping of coarsely thatched roofs marked. negro quarters, and near by gleamed the roof of some planter's mansion. In this parish there was no law and but little order-save such as the inhabitants | chose forcibly to maintain. The negroes whom I met on the road were nearly all armed, most of them carrying a rifle over their shoulders, or balanced on the backs of the mules they were riding. Affrays among the negroes are very common throughout that region; but, unless the provocation has been very great, they rarely kill a white man. In a trip of perhaps ten miles I passed through several once prosperous plantations, and made special inquiries as to their present condition. Upon one where six hundred bales of cotton were annually produced under slave culture, the average annual yield is now but two hundred and fifty; on another the yearly average had fallen from one thousand to three hundred bales; and on two others which together gave the market 1500 bales every year, now barely six hundred are raised. The planters in this section thought that cotton production there had fallen off fully two-thirds. The number of negroes at work on each of these plantations was generally much less than before the war. Then a bale to the acre was realized; now about one bale to three acres is the average. Much of this land is "leased" to the negro at the rate of a bale of cotton, weighing 430 pounds, for each six acres. The planters there raise a little corn, but are mainly supplied from the West. The inundation was upon them at the time of my visit, and they were in momentary expectation of seeing all their year's hopes destroyed. The infamous robberies, also, to which they had been subjected by the legislature, and the overwhelming taxation had left them bitterly


discouraged. One plantation which I visited, having sixteen hundred acres of cleared land in it, and standing in one of the most fertile sections of the State, was originally valued at $100 per acre; now it could not be sold for $10. In Madison Parish, recently, a plantation of six hundred improved acres, which originally cost $30,000, was offered to a neighboring planter for seven hundred dollars.

The "wages" accorded the negro, when he works on the wages system, amount to $15 or $16 monthly. But few ever save any money, and this remark will, I think, apply to the majority of the negroes engaged in agriculture throughout the cotton region of the Mississippi Valley. Still there are praiseworthy exceptions to this general rule. Enormous prices are placed upon everything, because of the cost of transportation. The grangers have accomplished some good in the cotton states by buying for cash and selling for cash, the object being to keep supplies as near the wholesale price as possible, and have already become a formidable organization there, having scores of societies, small and large, in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi.

While there is no doubt that an active, moneyed and earnest immigration would do much toward building up the southern portion of the Mississippi Valley, it is evident that so long as the negro remains in his present ignorance, and both he and the planter rely on other states for their sustenance, and on Providence never to send them rainy days, inundations, or caterpillars, the development of the section will be subject to too serious draw


backs to allow of any considerable progress. All the expedients, the tenant systems and years of accidental success will not take the place of thorough and diversified culture, and intelligent, contented labor resulting from fair wages for fair work. Nothing but the education of the negro up to the point of ambition, foresight, and a desire to acquire a competence lawfully and laboriously, will ever thoroughly develop the Lower Mississippi Valley. As the negro is certain to inhabit it for many years at least, if not for ever, how shall he learn the much-needed lesson? On the other hand, the whites need to be converted to a sense of the dignity of labor, to learn to treat the laboring man with proper consideration, to create in him an intelligent ambition by giving him education. Something besides an introduction to political liberties and responsibilities is needed to make the negro a moral and worthy citizen. He is struggling slowly and not very surely out of a lax and barbarously immoral condition. The weight of nearly two centuries of slavery is upon his back. He needs more help and counsel. An old master will tell you that he can discover who of his employés has been a slave, "for the slave," he says, "cannot look you in the eye without flinching." Neither can the ex-slave be very moral, if indeed moral at all. It is hard for him to bear the yoke of the family relation. Although conscious that he is a freeman, and can leave his employer in the lurch if he desires, he is, here and there, almost content to slip back into the old devil-may-care dependence of slavery. The responsibilities of freedom are almost too much for him. He has entered upon a battle-field armed with poor and cumbersome weapons, weighed down with ignorance and "previous condition;" and I venture to say that no one feels the difficulty and bitterness of his position more keenly than he does himself.

Unable as he is to aid in his own upbuilding, it is to be considered whether there is not really more room now for ed ucational enterprises, and for a general diffusion of intelligence among his race, by Northern and Western men and women, than there was immediately after the war. Might it not be wise to appoint commissioners to investigate thoroughly the labor question in the South, and to make a final effort to remedy its evils by every proper means. Events have proven

that the National government must undertake the improvement and the control of the Mississippi river; why ought it not to devote some little attention to the removal of the obstacles to immigration into the most fertile sections of the Mississippi Valley?

Memphis now has a prosperous Cotton Exchange, and has had an excellent Chamber of Commerce for many years. Shelby county is rich. Its people were wont to grumble about taxes, but have at last become wiser, and it was even expected, at the date of my visit, that the mayor, a Republican, would succeed in collecting $700,000 of "back taxes." The negroes have, at times, held important municipal offices Party lines are not specially regarded in city politics, there being a general happy determination to take the best man. The negroes have great numbers of societies, masonic, benevolent, and strictly religious; and one often sees in a dusky procession, neatly clad, the "Sons or Daughters of Zion," or the "Independent Pole Bearers," or the "Sons of Ham," or the "Social Benevolent Society.' Memphis has a banking capital which for six months of the year is ample, but during the cotton season is by no means enough. Her schools are excellent, both for white and black, and the State Female College is in the neighborhood. There are numerous excellent Catholic schools, to which, as elsewhere in the South, those Protestant parents send their children who do not yet look with favor on the free public schools. schools. For about a year the number of pupils in the public schools has been increasing at the rate of two hundred monthly. One-fourth of the children in the free schools are colored, and one of the school-houses for the blacks contains seven hundred pupils.

In the busy season there are seven steamers a week from St. Louis to Memphis, and there are three which extend their trips to Vicksburg-a voyage of nine hundred miles. The Memphis and St. Louis Packet Company brings down about one hundred and fifty thousand tons of freight yearly, and carries up stream perhaps 40,000 bales of cotton in the same period. The gigantic elevator, built on the sloping bluff so that it was of the height of an ordinary three story house next the water, showed only its top floor, so high ran the Mississippi at the time of my visit. From Memphis

steamboats run up the Arkansas and the White Rivers, threading their way to the interior of Arkansas. There is a line to Napoleon, Arkansas, two hundred miles below; one to the plantations on the St. Francis River, and one direct to Cincinnati. The river freightage is often diminished by the lack of confidence between merchant and planter, causing a diminution in amount of supplies forwarded; but the dull seasons are brief.* The manufactures of Memphis are not numerous; there are some oil mills, a few foundries, and steam saw-mills for cutting up the superb cypresses from the brakes in the western district of Arkansas.

board. These men were put off at the upper levee, where there is a coal fleet, and in front of what is known as "Happy Hollow," not far from the remains of the government navy yard which Memphis once boasted. It is a low, marshy place, which the genius of Dickens would have delighted to picture, filled with shanties and flatboats, with old hulks drifted up during high water and then adopted by wretched 'longshoremen as their habitations. One of the two men died before he could be taken to the hospital; the other shortly after reaching it, and the physicians hinted that they thought the disease the yellow fever. For three weeks it was kept in "Happy

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The yellow fever came to Memphis in 1855 and again in 1867, each time having been brought by steamer from below. In 1867 it was quite severe in its ravages, but was confined to the section of the city where it first appeared. In August of 1873, it came again, and nothing stayed its course. Two boats arrived during the month of August, the "George C. Wolf" from Shreveport, and the tow-boat "Bee" from New Orleans, each with a sick man on

*The writer desires to express his obligations to Mr. J. S. Toof, Secretary Memphis Cotton Exchange, and to Messrs. Brower & Thompson, of the "Avalanche," for many interesting facts concerning the city's growth.


Hollow," then it moved northward through the navy yard, and suddenly several deaths on Promenade street, one of the principal avenues, were announced.

The authorities then went at their work, but it was too late, except to cleanse and disinfect the city. The deaths grew daily more numerous; funerals blocked the way; the stampede began. Tens of thousands of people fled; other thousands, not daring to sleep in the plague-smitten town, left Memphis nightly, to return in the day. From September until November hardly ten thousand people slept in town over night. The streets were almost deserted save by the funeral trains. Hero

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ism of the noblest kind was freely shown. Catholic and Protestant clergymen and physicians ran untold risks, and men and women freely laid down their lives in the service of others. Twenty-five hundred persons died in the period between August and November. The thriving city had become a charnel house. But one day there came a frost, and though too severely smitten to be wild in their rejoicings, the people ''knew that the plague itself was doomed. They assembled and adopted an effective sanitary code, appointed a fine board of health, and cleansed the town. Memphis to-day is in far less danger than Vicksburg or New Orleans or half a dozen other Southern cities, of a repetition of the dreadful scenes of last year. Half a million dollars contributed by other states was expended in the burial of the dead and for the needed medical attendance during the reign of the plague.

This terrible visitation did not prevent Memphis from holding her annual carnival, VOL. VIII.-42

and repeating, in the streets so lately filled with funerals, the gorgeous pageants of the mysterious Memphi,-such as the Egyptians gazed on two thousand years before Christ was born,-the pretty theaters being filled with the glitter of costumes and the echoes of delicious music. The carnival is now so firmly rooted in the affections of the citizens of Memphis that nothing can unsettle it.

Nearly two hundred miles below Memphis, at the mouth of the Arkansas River, and on lowlands which, when I saw them, were drowned and buried under the combined flood of the two great rivers, stands Napoleon, once a flourishing town, but now gradually slipping away into the stream. The only other towns of importance on the Arkansas bank of the river are Sterling, which lies at the mouth of the St. Francis River, and Helena, a rather thriving and vigorous community of five thousand inhabitants. The White river, which was the scene of much fighting during the war

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