Negro’s Viewpoint


This takes us a certain distance away from the resolute conviction that the Civil War meant nothing more than a power struggle between two greedy imperialisms. It was that, to be sure, and it is easy enough to recite the manifold uglinesses that it brought in its train. But although Mr. Wilson can point out that when the federal government uses troops to get Negro children into schools, southerners “remember the burning of Atlanta, the wrecking by Northern troops of Southern homes, the disfranchisement of the governing classes and the premature enfranchisement of the Negroes,” it still remains to be asked: What do the Negroes remember? Let Mr. Quarles answer:

Lincoln and the Negro , by Benjamin Quarles. Oxford University Press. 275 pp. $6.50.

“Because freedom is a deep river, Negroes would prefer to cross over in a calm time. But cross over they must, being Americans. And the Negroes of the Civil War years and after could find strength for the struggle by reflecting upon the life of a man who, on the threshold of his career, had said that this nation could not endure half slave and half free; a man who, at the midpoint of his presidency, had called upon his generation to highly resolve that America should have a new birth of freedom; and a man who, as the unseen shadows gathered around him, had exhorted his countrymen to strive on to finish the great work they were in.”