January 4, 1864: Seeds of Jim Crow

Jim Crow

This New York Times editorial makes the argument that the question of the social status of black Americans need not be settled before reconstruction takes place. Reading it charitably, perhaps the writer would have been surprised to learn how long it would actually take.

Published: January 4, 1864

— We find by the report of the proceedings of the “Convention of the Friends of Freedom,” held in New-Orleans last month, that there was no little trouble caused by the admission of negroes to seats as delegates. A resolution was introduced upon the subject, but the Chair decided it to be out of order. Subsequently one of the delegations made the admission of colored men the ground of withdrawal. It is a great misfortune that at this moment there should be such causes of dissension introduced among the loyal men of the reclaimed Southern States. If the process of political reconstruction has to be delayed in all the rebel States that are successively brought within the military lines of the Union until such time as the social status of the various races is settled, we fear that the thing will not go on as rapidly as might be desired. It is true that if the settlement of this question were a necessity of reunion, no one could complain that it was brought forward and forced to a settlement. But such is not the case; and the whole Union might be reconstructed tomorrow with this question left in abeyance for such solution as might come from discussion, time and circumstance.

When the happy days arrive in which the “federation of the world” is a fixed fact, and the “parliament of man” holds its sessions, there will doubtless be representatives in the latter from every race and tribe that inhabit the globe, including Yankees, Hottentots, Celts, Sclaves, Tartars and Toltecs, and there will doubtless be a perfect fraternization between men of every color and cerebellum. But we fear that over the greater part of this continent there has not yet come even the dawning of that epoch; and that where, as in the South, there are two races of such different characteristics as the whites and blacks, who have been placed for centuries in such antagonistic political, social and moral circumstances, the attempt to raise, or reduce, them all to a common level in these respects, will neither be attended with present advantage nor permanent success.

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