"To Kill a Negro They Do Not Deem Murder"
Col. Samuel Thomas, a Freedmen's Bureau official, describes the attitude of ex-
toward the former slaves.
Wherever I go-
street, the shop, the house, or the steamboat-
hear the people talk in such a way as to indicate that they are yet unable to
conceive of the Negro as possessing any rights at all. Men who are honorable
in their dealings with their white neighbors will cheat a Negro without
feeling a single twinge of their honor. To kill a Negro they do not deem
murder; to debauch a Negro woman they do not think fornication; to take the
property away from a Negro they do not consider robbery. The people boast
that when they get freedmen affairs in their own hands, to use their own
classic expression, "the niggers will catch hell."
The reason of all this is simple and manifest. The whites esteem the
blacks their property by natural right, and however much they may admit that
the individual relations of masters and slaves have been destroyed by the war
and the President's emancipation proclamation, they still have an ingrained
feeling that the blacks at large belong to the whites at large, and whenever
opportunity serves they treat the colored people just as their profit, caprice
or passion may dictate.
Source: Col. Samuel Thomas, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Refugees,
Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in 39 Cong., 1 Sess., Senate Exec. Doc. 2 (1865).