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Mr.

William Hannibal Thomas Defends his Book

of "The Critic"
To the Editors
" THE AMERICAN
:
" is a
tial arguments of this book rest is a
NEGRO seri full acceptance of the self-evident fact
ous sociological study; the matured that the pure Negro type of mankind
fruit of personal observation and pains is not only a physical monstrosity, but
taking analysis of the mental and social of such mental and moral perversion as
habits of the Negro and negroid types renders it incapable of self-regeneration,
of people. During the last twenty or of any substantial uplift, otherwise
years the subject-matter of this work than through physical amalgamation
has been given to the public through and the assimilation of exotic mental
various colored and white newspapers and moral ideas. This type of the
and magazines, but without arousing human form, as is well known, has
protest or denial in any quarter. When these inseparable physical characteris
it was deemed fitting to present these tics. It is dense black in color, with
discussions in book form, the prepared broad, flat feet, elongated heels, ape
manuscript was sent to the Macmillan like body, protruding under-jaws, wide
Publishing Company, accompanied by mouth, thick lips, flat nose, egg-shaped
a brief note from the author requesting head, stiff, woolly hair, with a brain
its consideration with a view to publi located in the apex of the cranium,
cation. Acceptance followed without and whose range of mental activities is
further intervention on the part of limited to rudimentary physical wants.
the author, or of any one else acting in This, it will be observed, is the an
his behalf. It is also befitting to say cestral type from which all American
that the writer did not then, nor has he Negro classes are derived, though it
now, personal acquaintance with any has now but limited existence in this
member of the Macmillan Company. country, and its ultimate eradication is
Some confusion in the public mind believed to be practically assured. But
has been observed regarding the appli while amalgamation has largely extin
"
cation of the word Negro," which guished the physical traits of the im
has been employed to designate the ported Negro stock, it is none the less
subject-matter of this book. That this true that its American descendants con
word is neither an exact nor an inclu tinue to exhibit in a greater or less de
sive term, and therefore cannot be cor gree pronounced traces of transmitted
rectly applied to all persons of color, mental and moral characteristics. Con
was presumed to be well understood. fronted by these undeniable facts, there
It was used, however, in this instance, is no escape from the conclusion that in
partly for the sake of brevity, but any given example where a maximum
largely on account of its association degree of mental, moral, and physical
with that class of persons under discus characteristics is manifest, these pre
sion. But as there are those of negroid dominant traits fix upon such individ
descent and affiliation among them ual the status of a Negro.
who have a greater percentage of alien It is evident then that, excluding
blood, derived from Danish, French, physical features, the final determina
Spanish, German, English, Jewish, and tion of Negro identity hinges on mental
white American sources, it follows that and moral qualities. For example, a
such persons cannot be fairly consid man may be black in color and have
ered either as Negroes or white men. pronounced traces of Negro features,
These people, who number hundreds but should he have acquired through
of thousands, and of whom the writer any degree of amalgamation and as
of this book is one, may, however, so similation superior mental and moral
far as color enters into racial definition, endowments, he is no longer to be re
be very properly termed colored garded as a typical Negro. On the
Americans. other hand, there are innumerable ex
The foundation on which the essen amples of negroid types having the
548
Mr. W. H. Thomas Defends his Book 549

color, features, and hair of white men, found in all walks of life. These per
but who, in all other respects, have the haps reach a scant million, though be
most pronounced mental and moral their number what it may, to them is
characteristics of the Negro, and un dedicated this work, and they alone
doubtedly should be classed as such. are pointed out as praiseworthy ex
Racial types of the freed people may amples of negroid regeneration.
be divided into three classes, — the Clearly, then, no colored man or
awakening, the unawakened, and the woman of good moral character and
unawakable. For the latter class, fair intelligence is included among the
which is of formidable proportions, various immoral types to which refer
there exists not the slightest hope of ence is made in the chapter on
" Moral
actual enlightenment. As for the Lapses," and elsewhere in this book.
other classes, suffice it to say, the There ought to be neither animosity
most pronounced results will be se nor pleasure in portraying the degrad
cured only in those cases where ances ing conditions surrounding any class of
tral traits exert the least influence on people; there certainly was absence of
individual life. These conclusions both in writing of the freed people,
emphasize the absolute need of intelli though there was ever present infinite
gent study of Negro characteristics by regret that incontestable facts forbade
all persons employed in movements for the drawing of a fairer picture of their
the upliftment of the Freedmen. moral living. Every sane man is aware
"
The American Negro
"
is an evo that there is no data in existence that
lutionary work, dealing with three would give with exactness the degree
aspects of race condition and develop and extent of Negro immorality; any
ment. Its discussions embrace such one, however, by a careful analysis of
" Decre
topics as" Alien Chattelism," a variety of facts, may obtain approxi
tal Freedom,"
" Industrial Bondage," mate results worthy of public confi
" Material Thrift," "
Characteris dence. Moreover, it is evident to all
tic Traits," "Ethnic Beliefs," fair-minded people that one who has
"
Moral Lapses,"
" Criminal In made a careful study of race conditions
stincts,"
" Mental Training," " Social is in a much better condition to state
Rights,"
" Enfranchised Functions," actual facts than those who have made
"
Chimerical Expatriation,"" Feasible no such study, or, at best, superficial
" National Assimi It is also apparent that no
Regeneration," and enquiries.
lation." Each of these chapters, in knowledge of any worth regarding the
telligent people concede, has to do Negro people as a whole can be had
with matters of profound interest to through casual intercourse with the
the public welfare. It is to be regret
" best colored There are
people."
ted, however, that the one on
" Moral millions of freedmen out of touch and
"
Lapses should have received such away from the influence of any uplift
overshadowing prominence, as greatly ing agency. Of such, no one who has
to obscure the paramount aim of this not been in their midst, and is familiar
work, which is "to. build a feasible with their ways, has any right to speak
structure over the chasm, which divides with any degree of authority.
the Negro as he is from that which he The sources from which the author
may become." Still, it is obvious that derived his information concerning the
no discussion of the Negro question immoral and non-moral features of
would be complete which did not in Negro life were a personal investiga
clude the moral status of this people. tion of a large variety of facts con
Readers of the
" American "
Negro nected with individual membership in
are, however, warned in advance not to many Negro churches and localities:
" indiscriminate inclu The disclosures of clerical immorality
indulge in any
sion of all persons of color in the same as attested by the records of Negro
category." They are frankly told that associations and conferences ; facts
men and women of color, of strict in of current knowledge in the lives
tegrity and upright living, are to be and acts of Negro preachers ; the
550 The Critic
confidential disclosures of many colored public the facts, coincident with race
and white physicians ; an intimate and submergment, with a view to future
comprehensive personal acquaintance amelioration, is to exhibit a studied in
with all phases of Negro social condi difference to the fate of a hapless class,
tions, supplemented by clinical re or else betrays such alliance with its
ports, presentments of Grand Juries, racial defects as shrinks from that ex
police records, court convictions, and posure which the slightest investiga
the statements of prison officials. Ob tion is bound to reveal. To question,
viously to enter into details here re then, under any pretext, the right of
garding specific persons or acts, either any American citizen to investigate
to gratify prurient curiosity or to ren social or civic conditions and express
der individual lives notorious, would judgment thereon is an odious attempt
be a cruel and barbarous proceeding, to silence free speech and free man
though were it feasible to institute a hood. And to acquiesce in assump
commission of open-minded persons, tions that logically lead to the extinc
having the character and intelligence tion of all intelligent research would
of the late ex-President Harrison, such evince a cowardice that is altogether
information and proof could be sub foreign to one who, neither in blood or
mitted, as would substantiate in each bearing, has the inheritance of a slave.
particular every statement made in this The remedial agencies suggested by
book. Meanwhile it is a significant this work constitute its chief merit.
confirmation of the veracity of this They embrace measures for Negro
work that not one of its statements has betterment through education, land
been refuted, nor has there been any acquirement, moral culture, social
serious attempt made in any quarter to privileges, and civic relations. The
" facts with facts." It futility of indiscriminate individual
meet may also
be said with entire confidence that no training is clearly pointed out; the
adequate answer within the limits of value of community education is
truth is possible. strongly emphasized, with greater
It may be further observed that the stress laid upon the institution of co
disclosures made in this book, regard operative industries within the race,
" moral the whole being advisedly placed under
ing the lapses" of the negro
ministry, and others of the race set efficient white supervision during form
in authority, are not made public to ative periods.
create sensation, nor purposely to bring The author of this work makes no
odium upon this people, but, in keep pretensions to scholarship, but does
ing with the spirit and aim of this claim to be thoroughly familiar with
book, they point out the fallacy of any his facts, and to have some substantial
hope that the Freedmen will ever be convictions concerning them. One is
come worthy members of society, so that Negro inferiority in mind and
long as they are kept under a system character is incontrovertible, despite
of spiritual and mental training utterly the commendable achievements of in
wanting in Christian integrity. They dividuals of mixed blood. He has
also serve to emphasize the extent of abounding faith in all sane efforts for
Negro turpitude, which is so powerful human betterment, but admits scant
in character and reaches out in so many respect for the delusions of optimistic
directions that any serious attempt to folly. He retracts nothing which ap
eradicate its abuses would necessarily
" The American Negro," be
pears in
involve every Negro religious associa cause he knows, as others may know
tion in ecclesiastical destruction. who seek the truth, that negroid ele
There are vast areas of Negro de vation will never be achieved otherwise
pravity North and South whose depths than through the acquirement and as
no moral plummet has yet sounded, similation of such ideals, principles,
and of whose existing phases a higher and qualities of mind and character as
morality is totally ignorant. Hence, are now wholly foreign to Negro nature.
to seriously deny the right to make WILLIAM HANNIBAL THOMAS.