Purit answered in the affirmative, and Fend continued : "It has
reduced the farmers' income almost to nothing,"
" Well, the farmers," said Purit, "ought to have invested their
labor and capital in divers productions and not chiefly in cotton, the
price of which goes up and down in proportion to the quantity pro¬
duced or demanded, thereby affecting their whole interest."
Fend answered: "That is true, sir ; but prior to the war cotton
was our main crop. The war desolated and impoverished our country
and left us wrapped up head and ears in debt, without the experience
and means to assume any other but our former occupation. And to
complete the work of destruction our social structure was torn to pieces.
The negro that we used to order was to be consulted. I tell you,
sir, the change was so unexpected, sudden and thorough, till many
of us are not yet settled down to the new situation. We all expected
mischief from the negro as revenge for slavery, and that he would
idle away his time in joy of his freedom. We doubted that he, as
a freedman, would be the same trustworthy and faithful laborer he
was when a slave. So in that disordered state of affairs we bad to
temper on with our old way of planting. After twenty years have
passed I find that our progress exceeds our anticipation, and that
the behavior of the negro disappointed us."
"Iain glad to say," said Purit, "that the progress here is re¬
markable—the more so because it was made through unfavorable
circumstances of old customs and late years. As a laborer, the
negro deserves much credit. They have proven true to their trust."
How truthfully can cool, disinterested minds reason on facts. The
revolution which the Confederate war brought on left the negro as
laborer and the white man as capitalists. The past life of the laborer
was but a school of ignorance, vice and suffering—the bare memory
of which was enough to excite ill-feeling in him for the capitalist,
his former master He might have idled away his time, and if forced
to work by necessity, might have become unfaithful to his employer,
or he might have sought vengeance for past wrongs by burning and
stealing. All of these things were expected of him, but the pro¬
gress attained in the South is the best evidence that none of them
were generally clone. For there can be no progress in the various in¬
terests of a country where labor is not industrious, faithful and good-
natured. The qualities in the black laborer are the dependencies
that made the South what she is to-day Yet for want of opportuni-