Negro

n. The piece de resistance  in the American political problem. Representing him by the letter n, the Republicans begin to build their equation thus: "Let n = the white man." This, however, appears to give an unsatisfactory solution.

NEGRO.

The Negro.—This race appears to differ from the European more than any other. The skin of the Negro is quite black and shining, the hair black, closely crisped into a sort of wool, and never growing to any great length; they have but little beard, the nose is flat and broad, and the lips very thick and protruding, as is also the whole lower part of the face; the front teeth also project outwards, and the whole contour of the face and head is backwards, forming a gradually receding outline. They inhabit the interior and eastern parts of Africa conjointly with the Hottentot.

Negro.—The only negroes to whom practically all ethnologists are willing to apply the term are those inhabiting the central and western third of Africa, excluding even the Bantus, who occupy practically all Africa south of the Equator. The Bantus, well typified by the Zulu subdivision, are lighter in color than the true negroes, never sooty black, but of a reddish-brown. From the negroes proper of the Sudan have descended most American negroes.

To some extent the northern Negro stock has become intermixed with the African Caucasian, especially about the Upper Nile, in Abyssinia, and in Gallaland and Somaliland farther east. Keane's theory is that the Australians and Africans represent the earliest offshoots of the precursors of man who inhabited the continent now submerged in the Indian Ocean. In line with this theory is the claim that the Veddahs and Dravidians of India are still more divergent branches toward the north which have become more affected by Caucasian or, perhaps, Mongolian elements.

The Papuans and Nigritos of Australasia, having all or most of the characteristics of the African negroes, are classed with them.

There is a bewildering confusion in the terms used to indicate the different mixtures of white and dark races in America. Thus, all natives of Cuba, whether colored or white, are called “creoles,” as this word is loosely used in the United States; but creole, as more strictly defined, applies only to those who are native-born but of pure European descent. This is the use of the word in Mexico. In Brazil and Peru, on the contrary, it is applied to those possessing colored blood in some proportion; in Brazil to Negroes of pure descent; and in Peru to the issue of whites and mestizos. “Mestizo” is the Spanish word applied to half-breeds (white and Indian.)

Slave Traffic in America.—The importation of Negroes into America has been going on steadily since the early years of the sixteenth century, when it was begun by the Spaniards, even the good Las Casas recommending it in the interest of the native Indians. Both Queen Elizabeth and King James I. issued patents to English slave-trading companies operating between the coast of Guinea and the American colonies. Britain, by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, engaged to carry out the contract of the old French Guinea Company, and to import into the New World one hundred and thirty thousand slaves in the course of the next thirty years, and is said to have more than made good the engagement.

In the United States the traffic was open and active until the passage of the Act of 1794 prohibiting the importation of slaves into any of the federal ports. Long after this it continued to be a brisk business in the West Indies and South America. As late as 1840 there were seventy-five ships plying constantly between Brazilian ports and the African coast, bringing cargoes of three or four hundred slaves at each trip. The principal points at which the slaves were obtained were along the coast of Guinea, especially on what was known as the Slave Coast, between the rivers Lagos and Assinie, where were the crowded marts of Waidah and Anamaboe, and again along the Angola coast. In these two regions the traders encountered two quite different branches of the African race, and their human wares in America show that they were derived from different sources. Along the Guinea coast, whence most of the slaves brought to the United States were derived, the population belongs to the true negro type.

In Brazil and other parts of South America the preponderance of importations was from the negroid stock of the equator, whose dialects and physical traits are allied to those of the Kaffirs and Zulus of the east coast (Bantus). The slaves in all parts, however, being from mixed stocks, their descendants do not present any well-marked peculiarities inside those of the race. As a rule, they are in strength equal to the whites, and in endurance of exposure and labor under a tropical sun are superior to all other immigrants.

It is usually held that the negro is not naturally industrious; but this seems to some extent answered by the severe field labor of many tribes, both men and women, in their native continent, and by the official reports of the United States government showing a greater acreage of land under cultivation in the former slave states and a larger crop of cotton than before the Civil War. When under the control of a strong social organization, and with obvious motives for industry and economy before his eyes, the American negro is both industrious and provident, and the instances are numerous where members of the race have accumulated fortunes of respectable size. Their vitality appears on the whole to be about the same as the whites, except in the more northern states, where it is unquestionably much less. In New England and Canada negroes gradually but surely perish.

Negro Characteristics.—The negro is a tireless talker and story-teller. Many of them reveal a high stage of the art of story-telling, as the Georgia tales collected from the southern states by various writers attest. Many of them belong to the class of “beast-fables,” similar to some which have been collected among the American Indians and the natives of the African continent, and such as were favorite staples of amusement in Europe during the middle ages.

One of the principal figures is the rabbit—the “brer rabbit” of the “Uncle Remus” tales. He figures conspicuously not only in the southern United States, but in the West Indies and on the Amazons, and in the folklore of the Venezuelan negroes.

Along with story-telling, singing and music are favorite diversions of the colored population. This tendency is a direct inheritance from their African ancestry, as throughout that continent the natives are passionately fond of these diversions. In Central America the negroes still employ the marimba, a native African instrument with wooden keys placed over jars or gourds, the keys being struck with a stick. In the United States the violin, the fife, and the guitar are used, but the favorite is the banjo, an instrument of African derivation, modified from the guitars with grass strings still in use on the Guinea coast. With these simple means they produce music of pleasant though not artistic character. In individual instances (as Blind Tom, born in Georgia in 1849) members of the race have attained remarkable skill on the piano and organ, rendering the most difficult compositions with spirit. No negro composer, however, has attained wide celebrity. Their songs are numerous, many of them of a religious character, others turning on the incidents of daily life. They are generally defective in prosody and without merit, being often little more than words strung together to carry an air.