This essay contains material that may be offensive and should be viewed in its historical context.
William Cowper Brann
"THE BUCK NEGRO"
from The Works of Brann the Iconoclast
(New York: Brann Publishers, 1898), vol. 2
I once severely shocked the pseudo-philanthropists by suggesting that if the South is ever to rid herself of the negro rape-fiend she must take a day off and kill every member of the accursed race that declines to leave the country. I am not wedded to my plan; but, like the Populists, I do insist that those who object to it are in duty bound to offer something better.
We have tried the restraining influence of religion and the elevating forces of education upon the negro without avail. We have employed moral suasion and legal penalties; have incarcerated the offenders for life at hard labor, and hanged them by the neck in accordance with statutory law. We have hunted the black rape-fiend to death with hounds, bored him with buckshot; fricasseed him over slow fires and flayed him alive; but the despoilment of white women by these brutal imps of darkness and the devil is still of daily occurrence. The baleful shadow of the black man hangs over every Southern home like the sword of Damocles, like the blight of death - an avatar of infamy, a decree of damnation.
There is not to-day in all this land of Christ an aged mother who is safe one single hour unless guarded by watchful sons, a wife who may rest secure beyond the reach of her husband's rifle, a female infant but may be sacrificed to feed some black monster's lust the moment it leaves its father's breast.
In the name of Israel's God, what shall we do?
This condition of affairs is becoming intolerable. A man's first duty is not to an alien or inferior race, but to his family. It is much better to shoot a negro before he commits an irreparable crime against the honor of a family than to hang him afterwards.
Drive out the " n . . . [ a racist term for African Americans] "—young and old, male and female - or drive him into the earth! It may be urged that the " good negro " would suffer with the bad. It is impossible to distinguish the one from the other until it is too late. It were better that a thousand " good negroes " -if so many there be- should suffer death or banishment than that one good white woman should be debauched. We must consider ourselves first, others afterwards. The rights of the white man are paramount, and if we do not maintain them at any cost we deserve only dishonor.
During the slavery regime the negro kept his place like any other beast of the field. He no more dreamed of cohabitation with white women than does the monkey of mating with the swan; but when his shackles were stricken off and he was accorded political equality with his old-time master he became presumptuous, insolent—actually imagined that the foolish attempt of fanatics to humanize him had been successful—that a law of nature had been repealed by act of Congress! If we could but restore the Negro to his old ante-bellum condition of involuntary servitude and give him time to forget the social fallacies with which he has been inoculated by misguided theorists, all might be well with Sambo; but that is out of the question. We do not want to re-enslave him—he is not worth it. And if we desired to do so, the world, which is crazed with its own foolish cackle of " equality and fraternity," would not permit it.
No, we could not revive the old customs if we would. There are too many long-haired men and short-haired women picking up a more or less honest livelihood by experimenting with Sambo at our expense, his wonderful "progress," his divine "rights" and his devilish "wrongs," to permit serious consideration of what is really best for him.
The negro is to the American social organism what a pound of putty would be in the stomach of a dyspeptic. The sooner we realize this fact and spew him out, the better. It were wise to make the eagle and the crow tenants of the same eyre as the white and black man of the same territory; as sensible to yoke Pegasus and a plow-horse as to make the Caucasian and African co-rulers of the same country. The attempts of sociologists to "harmonize the races" are as absurd as trying to bring into the same diapason the twanging of a jew's-harp and the music of the spheres—the effort to make the negro an element of strength to the nation's energy is as misdirected as the labors of Gulliver's scientists at the Academy of Lagado. The American nation would be billions of dollars better off today had Ham failed to get into the ark. The negro has been the immediate cause of more bitterness and bloodshed than his entire race, from its genesis to the present, is worth, and he will continue the fruitful cause of trouble so long as he is permitted to remain.
The XIVth amendment to the Constitution is a flagrant violation of natural law—of the law that the greater and less cannot be equal, that matter must be subject unto mind, that wisdom was born to rule and ignorance to obey. To deny that the greater shall govern the lesser intellect is to abrogate man's right to rule the beast and God’s authority over Adam's sons.
The greatest injury ever done the people of the South was self-inflicted—the introduction of negro slavery. The next greatest was the act of the Federal Government in making the black man coordinate sovereign of the State. It would have been a thousand times better for the Southern people had they adopted paganism or polygamy instead of negro slavery—a thousand times better for them and the nation at large had the Federal Government confiscated every foot of soil in the insurgent States, put the torch to every dwelling, destroyed every factory and filled every harbor with the wreck of railroads and the debris of business blocks instead of putting the ballot in the hands of the black. The ruin wrought by torch and torpedo could have been quickly repaired; the damage done by the XIVth amendment is well-nigh irreparable. Burning with the accursed lust for political power, the Republican party, like another shameless Tarquin, held the knife at the throat of the Southern Lucrece while it robbed her of her honor, made her an object of contempt, her name a byword and a reproach. Pitifullest blunder of all the ages! Most damning infamy ever perpetrated since the dawn of Time! Fearfullest penalty brave men ever paid for daring death for conscience's sake!
This is a republic. The supreme power is, ostensibly at least, vested in the people. The voter is the sovereign. Suppose that it were an absolute monarchy: Would it not be a mistake unparalleled, a crime unspeakable to take from an ignorant, brutal slave his shackles and place upon his stupid head a crown? The Republican party did even worse. A sovereign cannot long oppress a brave and spirited people. Let him issue an edict that meets with general disapproval and it is laughed to scorn. Should he attempt to enforce it he is dragged from the throne. But the Republican party corrupted a sovereign from whose edict there is no appeal. It has debased the great army of voters, poisoned the political organism by injecting into it a vast mass of ignorance destitute of even the saving grace of virtue.
Had the negro been naturally the intellectual peer of the white man, it would have been a grievous blunder to give him the ballot, to force political responsibility upon him until at least a generation after his emancipation. He was an untutored savage in his native land, making no appreciable progress. He was captured, like any other wild beast, brought to America and sold into slavery. Here he was taught, not how to wisely rule, but to servilely obey. It required a thousand years of education to fit the thoughtful Saxon and the quick-witted Celt for the duties and responsibilities of American sovereignty; the stupid Ethiopian was fitted for them by the scratch of a pen and a partisan vote! Transformed from semi-savagery to super-civilization by the power of a political fiat! From slave to sovereign by the magic wand of a genie! Fitted for American sovereignty! He was not fitted for it. Ten thousand years of civilization and education could no more qualify the negro for self-government than it could raise to the intellectual level of a lousy ape the piebald jackass who presides over the destinies of the Houston Post. True it is that there are some negroes with a suggestion of intellect; but they are usually negroes only in name— mongrels in whose veins flows the blood of some depraved Caucasian bum. The pure blood blacks who have exhibited intellectual and moral qualities superior to those of the monkey are few and far between. And yet the pure blood Ethiop is generally a much better and safer member of society than the " yaller n . . . [a racist term for African Americans]," who appears to inherit the vices of both races and the virtues of neither.
The negro vote is dangerous because of its ignorance, doubly so because of its venality. It is utterly irresponsible, altogether reckless, knows little of principle, cares less, and will follow wherever the most blatant demagogue or the most liberal purse will lead. Is it any wonder that there is occasional " bulldozing " at the polls in the Black Belt—that men whose ancestors wrung Magna Charta from King John and recognition of American independence from King George, should decline to be dominated by the bastard spawn of white bummers and black bawds?
The presence of the negro in the South has kept this section a century in arrears of what it would otherwise be. It has prevented white immigration; it has kept out capital; it has bred a contempt among the Southern whites for labor; it has fomented strife between sections and is still fostering provincial prejudice, fanning the fires of sectional hate. The South could afford to give the negro, black and " yaller," a hundred millions of money to leave the country and never return. The negro is, for a verity, the Bete noire of the South, a millstone about her neck, tending ever to drag her down into the depths of social and political degradation. Every Southern man, every man of whatever clone, long resident here, and not sans eyes, ears and understanding knows this to be true.
Does the Southern press proclaim it? Not at all. The Southern press, believing the black man a fixture—that the disease is incurable—with a burst of optimism that discounts that of the man who thanked God for the itch because of the luxury of scratching, proclaims his presence an inestimable boon, a transcendent blessing. Every day we are told that the negro is " the natural laborer of the cotton, cane and rice field "—whatever that novel economic theorem may mean. If it meant thereby that white labor is not adaptable to those industries, it needs no further refutation than a glance at existing conditions. In every Southern State and county white men are performing identically the same kind of labor as the black, and performing it better. There is not a spot within the broad confines of the United States where the African can live and labor that the Caucasian cannot live as well and labor with more effect.
Remove the negro from the South and this section will quickly become the most populous, prosperous and progressive portion of the American Union. But will the negro be removed? Not at all. The two great political parties need him in their manufacturing industry—the making of political " issues."
The negro will remain right where he is, wear the cast-off clothes of the white man, steal his fowls, black his boots, rape his daughters, while the syphilitic " yaller gal " corrupts his sons. Yes, the negro will stay, stay until he is faded out by fornication—until he is absorbed by the stronger race, as it has absorbed many a foul thing heretofore.
Scanned by Michael Van Dyke
Research by Mark Krasovic
H-Net, Humanities & Social Sciences Online
Michigan State University