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Albion Tourgée on northern perception of freedmen not utilizing rights in An Appeal to Caesar, 1884

Title

Albion Tourgée on northern perception of freedmen not utilizing rights in An Appeal to Caesar, 1884

Description

In this excerpt from An Appeal to Caesar Tourgee describes the theme that if granted suffrage African Americans should be able to achieve the same level of success
as the white American. In this instance Tourgee calls out that it is the Northern who is making this faulty conclusion. In doing so Tourgee makes this point because again he is noting the false conclusion that African Americans should be able to quickly catch up with Caucasians in society because they had been given their freedom as well as the right to vote. In addition he also sheds light on the complicated viewpoint of the North. Tourgee argues that they certainly weren’t as understanding as they have been painted to be by some historians.

Creator

Albion Tourgée

Source

Tourgée, Albion. An Appeal to Caesar. New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1884.

Date

1884

Original Format

Book

Text

The other class who fail to estimate the negro correctly is composed of those peculiarly positive, undoubting Northern men who made up their minds, years ago, that all the negro needed to make him the equal, or a little more, than the equal, of the whites by whom he was surrounded, was liberty and the ballot. These two boons having been bestowed upon him, the positive Northern theorist expects to see him at once develop all the virtues of the highest civilization, with none of its attendant vices or weaknesses. After half a generation of liberty this dogmatic well-wisher of the blacks, whom he regards as his own individual protege's, comes among them and is disgusted at what he finds. To this scornful tourist-observer who comes with a fixed and clear idea of what he is to find and discovers something very unlike his expectation, the negro seems only a strange compound of gnome and satyr. His irresistible inclination to mirth, his seeming contentedness with the present, his invulnerability to all assaults of misfortune, pass as nothing in the eyes of the censorious Northern observer, who expects the recent slave, because he has become a freedman, by some sort of miracle to have become also suddenly an exemplification of all the virtues and capabilities which it has taken so many ages to develop among the whites. Such an observer is naturally disappointed to find that the colored man of the South goes barefooted ; lives in a hovel that it would be an affront to offer to a Chester pig at the North ; is apparently happy and contented,doing his day's work, getting his day's pay (if he does get it !),and going on month after month, and year after year, in much the same path ; gaining a little here and there ; gathering something of strength and dignity, and indulging in some quaint manifestations of the liberty which came to him as if by miracle and which he seems so little to appre- ciate. The Northern tourist-observer who goes through the South with the boastful declaration that he means to see with his own eyes, not finding what he had predetermined must exist, is naturally disgusted with all that he sees and hears of the negro race. He comes to regard the colored man as the great ethnological clown

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Citation

Albion Tourgée, Albion Tourgée on northern perception of freedmen not utilizing rights in An Appeal to Caesar, 1884, Civil War Era NC, accessed September 23, 2017, https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/576.